March 31, 2010

The Despicable Tom Friedman – Archetypical Self-Hating Jew

Tom Friedman, Again

By Jason Maoz, Senior Editor

Jewish Press, March 19, 2010

Thomas Friedman, who in the past has written of American officials being held “under house arrest” in the White House, by an Israeli prime minister, used a crass Yad Vashem metaphor to describe Israel. He viewed Menachem Begin’s pride in things Jewish as “his pornography” (more on those statements later), is at it again, this time likening Israeli leaders to dangerously inebriated motorists.

Vice President Joseph Biden, wrote Friedman on Sunday, should have reacted in the following manner to the Israeli announcement, made during Biden’s visit to Israel last week, of new apartments being built in East Jerusalem:
“He should have snapped his notebook shut, gotten right back on Air Force Two, flown home and left the following scribbled note behind: ‘Message from America to the Israeli government: Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And right now, you’re driving drunk.’”

When it comes to Israel, Friedman, the New York Time’s foreign affairs columnist, has long had a short fuse, especially when Israeli officials have had the temerity to disagree with Friedman’s presumed wisdom. Usually Friedman expresses his anger in the plodding, workmanlike prose for which he’s been lampooned by a number of writers (not that it’s prevented his books from automatically becoming best-sellers). But, on occasion he lets loose and the invective goes flying.

He did so in a 2004 column in which he wrote of Israel’s then-prime minister “Mr. Sharon has the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat under house arrest in his office in Ramallah, and he’s had George Bush under house arrest in the Oval Office. Mr. Sharon has Mr. Arafat surrounded by tanks, and Mr. Bush surrounded by Jewish and Christian pro-Israel lobbyists, by a vice president, Dick Cheney, who’s ready to do whatever Mr. Sharon dictates....”

As former New York City mayor Ed Koch noted at the time on Bloomberg Radio, “Of all the anti-Semitic slurs, one of the most outrageous is that Jews secretly control the world. Last week we heard yet another version of the same old lie, this time from Tom Friedman.” Koch continued: “Friedman, who is so full of himself, believes he can resort to the anti-Semitic slur of secret Jewish control, and avoid criticism because he is a Jew. In reality, Friedman disgraced himself and his newspaper. His false words, coming at a time when anti-Semitism is skyrocketing worldwide, are particularly irresponsible and repulsive. If he is capable of feeling shame, I hope he feels it now.”

Friedman’s vicious streak when it comes to Israel was on full and painful display in his 1989 book From Beirut to Jerusalem. As the Monitor has noted on a couple of occasions, Friedman boasted of how his disdain for Menachem Begin colored the dispatches he filed as a Times Middle East correspondent, first in Lebanon and then in Israel.

Friedman’s contempt for Begin led him to crudely psychoanalyze the Israeli prime minister. “Begin,” he wrote, “loved the idea of Jewish power, Jewish tanks, Jewish pride. They were his pornography. He needed a war to satisfy his deep longings for dignity....”

Friedman ascribed much of what he found objectionable in Israel to what he characterized as the country’s unhealthy obsession with the Holocaust, which he blamed in part on the presence of Holocaust studies in Israel’s high school curriculum.

In a turn of phrase so flippant and insensitive it’s hard to believe it could come from a Jew, Friedman dismissed the State of Israel as “Yad Vashem with an air force.” And in writing about his coverage of the 1982 Lebanon war, Friedman came as close as a journalist (how demeaning to the profession to call this ignorant hack a journalist – jsk) can to admitting a lack of objectivity.

Friedman didn’t appreciate the answers he was getting during an interview with Major General Amir Drori, commander of Israeli troops in Lebanon, so he proceeded to turn in a classic hatchet job. “I buried Amir Drori on the front page of The New York Times,” boasted Friedman, “and along with him every illusion I ever held about the Jewish state.”

Two decades later, nothing’s changed. On the bright side, Friedman is now an opinion columnist and readers know in advance they’re getting Friedman’s subjective views rather than the unvarnished, undisputed truth. In that position, he’s considerably less harmful than he was as a foreign correspondent shoehorning his personal issues with Israel, Jewish pride and Holocaust remembrance into news slots supposedly reserved for objective coverage.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2010

Join the Union, Sup at the Public Trough, vote Obama and Live well on Other People’s Taxes

Government Workers Feel No Pain

By DAVID M. DICKSON

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, March 15, 2010

The recession and the ongoing jobless recovery devastated much of the private-sector work force last year, sending unemployment soaring, but government workers emerged essentially unscathed, according to data released March 10 by the Labor Department. Meanwhile, the compensation for state and local government employees continued to easily outdistance the wages and benefits for workers in private business, a separate Labor Department report showed.

Private-industry employers spent an average of $27.42 per hour worked by their employees in December, while total compensation costs for state and local government workers averaged $39.60 per hour. The average government wage and salary per hour of $26.11 was 35 percent higher than the average wage and salary of $19.41 per hour in the private sector. But, the percentage difference in benefits was much higher. Benefits for state and local workers averaged $13.49 per hour, nearly 70 percent higher than the $8 per hour in benefits paid by private businesses.

Paul Booth, executive assistant to the president at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), attributed the pay difference to a changing government work force that has increased its proportion of higher-skilled workers during the past 15 to 20 years. “In government payrolls, you no longer have low-wage occupations, such as janitors, whose jobs have been contracted out to the private sector:’ he said. This trend has effectively increased the average wage of those higher-skilled workers who remain, said Mr. Booth, whose union represents 1.6 million workers.

Small-government advocates see it differently. Compensation for government workers “is a gigantic problem” that will only get worse m future years, said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, which advocates less government and lower taxes. “The defined-benefit pension plans for state and local workers and their post-retirement health care costs do not include the extent to which those benefits are under funded or over promised’ Mr. Edwards said. The cost of today’s benefits for government employees ($13.49 per hour) assumes that these retirement benefits are fully funded. However, Mr. Edwards estimated that the benefits are under funded by $3 trillion.

Benefit costs eventually will soar, and taxpayers will be required to pay the difference between available resources and the over-promised benefits as government workers of the baby boom generation, who start to turn 65 next year, begin to retire en masse. Government workers also have the rare privilege of being able to retire at age 55.

With state budgets under extreme stress, the pension problem is worsening because workers are accruing future benefits that are not reflected in current data, Mr. Edwards said.

Meanwhile, private-sector workers who are unemployed or working part time are not paying as much in taxes, simply because they are out of work! Fifteen states and the District of Columbia reported double-digit unemployment during January the Labor Department said Wednesday, as the private sector continued to shed jobs. The recession reportedly ended in July, but the private work force suffered its biggest percentage decline in 2009 for any year since the end of World War II.

After shedding 3.8 million net jobs during 2008, private employers slashed an additional 4.7 million last year. During the same two-year period, the public sector, including the federal government, gained more than 100,000 jobs. The combined work forces of state and local governments added 35,000 jobs during the 2008-09 period. While private-sector jobs declined in every state except North Dakota over the previous 12 months, public-sector employment increased in 23 states, the Labor Department report showed. Even in North Dakota, as the private work force gained 300 jobs over the past year, the government sector surged by 1,000 new workers.

In states where government employment declined during the previous 12 months, the drop has been relatively inconsequential, while the decline in private employment has been far more severe. In California, where the state government is still in the grips of a wrenching budget crisis, private employment has plunged 5.5 percent, nearly four times as fast as the 1.5 percent dip in government employment.

Mr. Booth of AFSCME, (mentioned above) acknowledges that total government payrolls are higher today than they were at the beginning of the recession. During the two years since the recession began, government workers took their economic medicine by accepting furloughs in lieu of layoffs, he said. Workers kept their jobs but received pay for two fewer days per month, he said. He noted that government payrolls have been shrinking since April. State and local government work forces historically decline after a lag, he said. School district payrolls, for example, are based on property-tax revenues, which generally follow a two-year lag, he said.

Citing projections by Moody’s Economy.com and Goldman Sachs, Mr. Booth said state and local government work forces could decline by as many as 900,000 workers during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Furloughs are likely to yield to RIF's (Reductions in Forces).

Taxpayers in the private sector fortunate to have jobs were working more days and for less money to finance the vacation and holiday time of state and local workers, according to the compensation report. For every hour worked in December, state and local government workers earned $2.99 in paid leave. Private-sector workers earned $1.86 per hour worked for paid leave, or nearly 40 percent less. Holiday pay for state and local workers was 50 percent higher per hour than it was for workers employed by private businesses.

The biggest difference in compensation was in payments for defined-benefit pension plans, in which employers (a private company or, in the case of government workers, the taxpayer) commit to paying their employees a specific benefit for life beginning at retirement. State and local-workers received an average of $2.86 for each hour worked for their defined-benefit pensions. That compares with 38 cents per hour paid for defined-benefit plans for private workers, the vast majority of whom now participate in defined-contribution pension plans.

“Many private companies have eliminated their defined-benefit plans, and others have reduced the value of benefits and shifted to providing benefits through 401 (k) and other defined contribution plans,” notes the AFL-CIO Web site. “Defined contribution plans shift the risk and responsibility to individual worker and typically reduce corporate costs.”

In the cases of state and local government workers, the pension costs are principally borne by the taxpayer. The trillions of dollars of under-funded pension liabilities are augmented by increasingly expensive and under-funded health care costs in retirement before and after government workers become eligible for Medicare at age 65, Mr. Edwards of Cato said.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2010

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton hand-pick “Peace Partner” for Israel - Mahmoud Abbas

A lot like PM Netanyahu picking Al Qaeda and the Tanzim as peace partners for the US

From: Press Release by Zionist Organization of America

P.A.’S ABBAS REAFFIRMS “NATIONAL RIGHT” OF PALESTINIANS TO USE TERRORISM AGAINST ISRAEL

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to continuing, prolific examples of Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas’ ongoing support for the legitimacy of anti-Israel terrorism and rejection of Israel as a Jewish state.

This week, it was reported, “Abbas … said that the Palestinian people had a national right to resistance against Israeli occupation” This statement came only days after the PA honored terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who commanded the terrorists that perpetrated the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered. Abbas’ PA has also honored Mughrabi on previous occasions, including holding a public celebration for her 50th birthday last January.

Only weeks earlier, Fatah-controlled PA TV broadcast a sermon from Nablus’s Bourin Mosque on January 29, in which Jews were declared “the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger … Enemies of humanity in general” and Muslims exhorted to murder them with the words “The Prophet says: ‘You shall fight the Jews and kill them…”

Last December, Abbas himself referred to the three Fatah terrorists that murdered an Israeli, Rabbi Meir Chai, as “shahids” [holy martyrs] and dispatched a personal emissary to visit the families of the terrorists. Abbas said, “Our latest Shahids (Martyrs) are the six who were killed in cold blood by Israeli forces in Nablus [terrorists who killed Rabbi Avshalom Meir Hai] and in Gaza [terrorists carrying explosives and a ladder near Israel's border fence]” Dec. 31, 2009,

Mahmoud Abbas in his own words:

· On recognizing Israel: “It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or of the Popular Front to recognize Israel” “I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will.”

· Fighting Israel: “We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation … Our rifles, all our rifles are aimed at The Occupation” On Jews: “The sons of Israel are corrupting humanity on earth”

· On wanted Palestinian terrorists: “heroes fighting for freedom” “Israel calls them murderers, we call them strugglers”

· “The ways of the shahids [martyrs] Arafat, Abu Jihad [Khalil Ibrahim al-Wazir], George Habash and even Sheikh Ahmed Yassin – are the ways we recognize. These are the ways in which we are meant to preserve the national interests of the Palestinian people”

· On Hamas: “We must unite the Hamas and Fatah blood in the struggle against Israel as we did at the beginning of the intifada. We want a political partnership with Hamas”

· · On Yasser Arafat: “It is our duty to implement the principles of Yasser Arafat” “We will continue in the path of the late president until we fulfill all his dreams” “The Palestinian leadership won’t stray from Arafat’s path”

· On disarming Palestinian terrorists: a “red line” that must not be crossed (‘Candidate Abbas confronts delicate balance on Hamas,’

· On jailed Palestinian terrorists: “our heroes.” In a statement broadcast by PA radio on ‘Prisoners Day,’ “Our position was and is still unwavering – that it is not possible to make peace with Israel unless all prisoners and all detainees are freed …There will be no signing of any agreement that does not guarantee freedom for all of them”

· On the so-called ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants - If implemented would end Israel as a Jewish state: “The issue of the refugees is non-negotiable … We … reject any attempt to resettle the refugees in other countries” (Khaled Abu Toameh, ‘Abbas: Aim guns against occupation,’ “We will not give up the right of return” (Ali Waked, ‘Abbas: We won't waive right of return.’

· On the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah: A source of pride and sets an example for the “Arab resistance”

· On Saddam Hussein: “Saddam Hussein has entered history as a symbol of Pan-Arab nationalism”

ZOA National President Morton a. Klein said, “The ZOA has long maintained that Mahmoud Abbas, the PA that he heads and the Fatah party that controls it and which he co-founded, are unreconstructed supporters of terrorism and not genuine moderates and peace makers. In the midst of the honoring of Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi by his PA and having made no concession or gestures to either Israel or the Obama Administration, Abbas is willing to say publicly that terrorism is a Palestinian “right.”

“A Palestinian leader who neither arrests terrorists nor ceases to honor them is not one who will lead Palestinians on a new path of peace and reconciliation. We have here a clear demonstration that Mahmoud Abbas and the PA cannot even be shamed into ceasing to honor a bloodthirsty terrorist. It should come as no surprise that this glorification of terror and terrorism continues when Abbas’ Fatah calls to this day in its Constitution for the destruction of Israel (Article 12) and the use of terrorism as an essential element in the campaign to achieve that goal (Article 19).

· “As we noted at the time of Fatah’s August 2009 Conference:
· It is clear that Fatah still does not accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, that it seeks its destruction,
· That it demands the so-called ‘right of return’ whereby Israel would be inundated with Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war and their millions of descendants and
· That it will not conclude the conflict even were a peace agreement to be signed.

Given this shocking record, we renew our long-standing call for the Obama Administration to desist from ignoring the incitement to hatred and murder within Abbas' PA and to insist in talks with Abbas and other PA officials that the PA takes immediate action to comprehensively end this glorification of terror. Only when Palestinians reject the idea that it is a religious and national duty to murder Jews and to celebrate those among them who act on this instruction will there be any prospect of peace.”


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2010

PM Netanyahu, Are you listening to a true friend of Israel - Ambassador John Bolton?

Israel and the Crisis With Obama

Benjamin Netanyahu made the mistake of believing the president is serious about stopping a nuclear Iran.

By JOHN BOLTON

MARCH 17, 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as Israeli prime minister collapsed in 1999 in part because he had an unhappy relationship with President Bill Clinton. It is understandable then that Mr. Netanyahu's current government had, until last week, strived to stay close to President Barack Obama. That strategy would have been entirely sensible if Mr. Obama were simply another president in the long line since Franklin Roosevelt who vigorously asserted U.S. national interests, championed our friends (especially beleaguered ones), and kept alliances strong.

But, Mr. Obama is different. He is our first post-American president. He looks beyond American exceptionalism and believes that our role on the world stage should be merely one nation among many. Mr. Netanyahu's strategy is therefore out-of-date and flawed.

Israel has sought to accommodate Mr. Obama on two critical issues: negotiations with Palestinians and Iranian nuclear weapons. These efforts have largely kept bilateral disagreements out of sight. But, now the suppressed conflicts are fully visible and will either be resolved or cause a serious collision between Israel and the U.S.

On the Palestinian front, Mr. Netanyahu's government has tolerated 14 months of feckless administration diplomacy that has not altered geopolitical realities between Israel and the Palestinians. Last week's announcement of the construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel was an unnecessary step. But, optics are not the real problem. Mr. Biden's response ("I condemn the decision"), approved in advance by Mr. Obama, and then emphasized by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a blistering Friday phone call to Mr. Netanyahu, foreshadows what lies ahead. It won't be pretty. Mr. Netanyahu's efforts to avoid open disputes with Washington have not won him White House plaudits. Mr. Obama almost certainly believes the real obstacle to peace is not new housing or unfortunate timing but so-called Israeli intransigence.

On Iran, Mr. Netanyahu has faithfully supported Mr. Obama's diplomacy, hoping to build credibility with the president against the day when Israel might have to strike Iran's weapons program pre-emptively. Jerusalem, for example, currently backs U.S. efforts to increase sanctions against Iran's nuclear program, doomed to failure though they are. As time passes, Israel's military option grows more difficult and the chances for success shrink as Iran seeks new air-defense systems and further buries and hardens nuclear facilities.

Mr. Netanyahu's mistake has been to assume that Mr. Obama basically agrees that we must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But, the White House likely believes that a nuclear Iran, though undesirable, can be contained and will therefore not support using military force to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions. What's more, Mr. Obama is also unwilling to let anyone else, namely Israel, act instead. That means that if Israel bombs Iranian nuclear facilities, the president will likely withhold critical replenishments of destroyed Israeli aircraft and other weapons systems.

We are moving inexorably toward, and perhaps have now reached, an Israeli crisis with Mr. Obama. Americans must realize that allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is empowering an existential threat to the Israeli state, to Arab governments in the region that are friendly to the U.S., and to long-term global peace and security.

Mr. Netanyahu must realize he has not been banking good behavior credits with Mr. Obama but simply postponing an inevitable confrontation. The prime minister should recalibrate his approach, and soon. Israel's deference on Palestinian issues will not help it with Mr. Obama after a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear program. It would be a mistake to think that further delays, in such a strike, will materially change the toxic political response Israel can expect from the White House. Israel's support will come from Congress and the American people, as opinion polls show, not from the president.

Mr. Obama is not merely heedless of America's predominant global position. He is also embarrassed enough by it not to regret diminishing it. In fact, we have achieved pre-eminence not simply to preen our American ego, but to defend our interests and those of like-minded allies. Ceding America's role in world affairs is not an act of becoming modesty but a dangerous signal of weakness to friends and adversaries alike. Israel may be the first ally to feel the pain.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2010

Charles Krauthammer sums up the Joe Biden “incident” as only he can

The Biden incident

By Charles Krauthammer

Palm Beach Post, March 24, 2010

Why did President Obama choose to turn a gaffe into a crisis in US - Israeli relations? And, a gaffe it was: the announcement by a bureaucrat in the Interior Ministry of a housing expansion in a Jewish neighborhood in north Jerusalem. The timing could not have been worse: Vice President Joe Biden was visiting, Jerusalem is a touchy subject and you don’t bring up touchy subjects that might embarrass an honored guest.

But, it was no more than a gaffe. It was certainly not a policy change, let alone a betrayal. The neighborhood is in Jerusalem, and the 2009 Netanyahu-Obama agreement was for a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlements excluding Jerusalem. Nor was the offense intentional. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not know about this move — step four in a seven-step approval process for construction that, at best, will not even start for two to three years.

Nonetheless, the prime minister is responsible. He apologized to Mr. Biden for the embarrassment. When Mr. Biden left Israel on March 11, the apology appeared accepted and the issue resolved. The next day, however, the administration went nuclear. After discussing with the president specific language she would use, Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton called Mr. Netanyahu to deliver a hostile and highly aggressive 45-minute message that the Biden incident had created an unprecedented crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations.

Ms. Clinton’s spokesman then publicly announced that Israel was now required to show in word and in deed its seriousness about peace. Israel? Israelis have been looking for peace — literally dying for peace — since 1947, when they accepted the U.N. partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. (The Arabs refused and declared war. They lost)

In these long and bloody 63 years, the Palestinians have not once accepted an Israeli offer of permanent peace. Nor have they ever countered with anything short of terms that would destroy Israel They insist instead on a “peace process” — the point of which is to extract preemptive Israeli concessions, such as a ban on Jewish construction in parts of Jerusalem conquered by Jordan in 1948, before negotiations for a real peace have even begun.

Under Mr. Obama, Mr. Netanyahu agreed to commit his center-right coalition to acceptance of a Palestinian state. The Israelis took down dozens of anti-terror roadblocks and checkpoints to ease life for the Palestinians; assisted West Bank economic development to the point where its (DP is growing at an astounding 7 percent a year; and agreed to the West Bank construction moratorium, a concession that Ms. Clinton herself called “unprecedented.

What reciprocal gesture, let alone concession, has Mr. Abbas made during the Obama presidency? Not one. Indeed, long before the Biden incident, Mr. Abbas refused even to resume direct negotiations with Israel That’s why the Obama administration has to resort to “proximity talks” — a procedure that sets us back 35 years to before Anwar Sadat’s groundbreaking visit to Jerusalem.

And, Ms. Clinton demands that Israel show its seriousness about peace? Now that’s an insult.So, why this astonishing one-sidedness? Because Mr. Obama likes appeasing enemies while beating up on allies — therefore Israel shouldn’t take it personally (according to Robert Kagan)? Because Mr. Obama wants to bring down the current Israeli coalition government (according to Jeffrey Goldberg)? Or is it because Mr. Obama fancies himself the historic redeemer whose irresistible charisma will heal the breach between Christianity and Islam. Or, if you will, between the post-imperial West and the Muslim world — and has little patience for this pesky Jewish state that brazenly insists on its right to exist, and even more brazenly on permitting Jews to live in its own ancient, historical and now present capital?

Who knows? Perhaps we should ask those Obama acolytes who assured the 63 percent of Americans who support Israel — at least 97 percent of those supporters, mind you, are non-Jews — about candidate Obama’s abiding commitment to Israel?

Charles Krauthammer’s e-mail address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2010

ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE, BREATH-TAKING ISRAEL, DESPITE THE OPPOSITION OF VIRTUALLY THE ENTIRE WORLD

It grows food in sand, powers homes from the sun and this year launches the world's finest city-wide electric car system. So how has war-torn Israel become such an eco-pioneer?

BY THE end of this year the world’s first all-electric car network will be up and running in one of the most unlikely settings. The cars built by Renault-Nissan need a network of re-charging points and battery changing stations and these are being set up in Denmark, Hawaii, California, Canada and Australia.

Nevertheless, the first place to host a national electric car network will be one that has almost permanently been at war with its neighbors since its inception. This is Israel, which invented the original technology and is home to Better Place, the company that came up with the idea.

“Israel will be the first country in the world with this new technology. Jerusalem will be the first city,” says Better Place boss Shai Agassi, who recently unveiled Israel’s first car charging points. The car looks like a regular Renault Megane except it has no exhaust pipe and an electric socket where the petrol cap should be. It drives noticeably quieter than a regular car and powered by a 450 lb lithium-ion battery it can run for about 140 miles without re-charging, compared with 300 miles for the average family car on a full tank of petrol.

Drivers will plug in their cars to recharge for several hours at home, work or at designated free car parks throughout the country. Or, they will swap empty batteries for fully-charged ones at a network of up to 200 “swap stations” throughout Israel. The electricity for the cars will come from solar technology being developed in the desert in southern Israel. Amid the gunfire this tiny country, the size of Wales and with a population of just under 7.5 million, leads the world in developing and exporting green technologies that could save the planet.

Ironically, it is precisely because of its precarious position that such eco-inventions have flourished. Surrounded by hostile neighbors, with few natural resources of its own and two-thirds of its area inhospitable desert, Israel has had to use its wits to survive.

When Warren Buffett, the world’s wealthiest man, decided to make his first investment outside the United States, he chose Israel. “Some Americans have come to the Middle East looking for oil so they didn’t stop in Israel. We came to the Middle East looking for brains and we stopped in Israel,” Buffett explained as he put $4 billion into Iscar, a precision tool maker.

“We found that the real trick in business is not to be a genius yourself but to go around associating with geniuses who are already doing a good job and stay out of their way.” Israeli innovations range from Intel microprocessors to messaging systems that ensure the safety of nearly all the world’s financial transactions. Micro soft Intel, IBM and NDS, a firm that designs TV set-top boxes to unscramble cable and satellite signals all have research and development centres in Israel drawing on the brainpower of those “genius.”

There are more than 1,000 clean-technology start-up companies in Israel, a country that has attracted more foreign investment in high-tech businesses in the past decade than all of Europe. It has more companies quoted on the high-tech NASDAQ stock exchange in New York than any other country outside the United States. In innovation, it outshines all its neighbors. Between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the US, Saudis registered 171, Israelis registered 7,652.

“We are flexible and we are smart because we know that we have to be to survive,” says Shraga Brosh, chairman of the Israeli Manufacturers’ Association. A primary motor of this technical innovation is the Israeli army. Its units cream off the top teenagers ram them through accelerated university training and give them sophisticated military assignments. Agassi of Better Place, like the founders of computer security pioneers Check-point, de-mobbed from Unit 8200, a top-secret division of military intelligence where every other soldier is a computer whiz-kid.

TALPIOT, another military program veiled in secrecy, whips its high-achieving teenagers through electronics, engineering or physics degrees before setting them up in state-of-the-art laboratories to build next-generation defense solutions. “The ingenuity in technology is tremendous. Israel is a fountain of knowledge,” says Avishay Braverman, an Israeli cabinet minister and former World Bank economist.

“The reason for the success in high-tech industry is that the army invested so much in research. Where else do you have men and women operating the most sophisticated computers in the world at such a young age?” The ingenuity and training is mixed with a need to solve Israel’s problems due to its geography and political isolation. Its main water sources are controlled by its enemies, Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The land is sandy and infertile. “Israel has become a world power in terms of green technology because of our long experience in dealing with scarcity,” says Jon Medved, head of the pioneering video ringtone company Vringo and an investor in Israeli clean technology companies. “ We’ve created these technologies to solve problems that are acute here.”

Israel and experts such as Dov Pasternak lead the world in countering the creeping desertification that has made large swathes of Africa and Asia uninhabitable. Satellite photographs show that only two countries have increased the area of land covered by forest and agriculture – the United States and Israel. Israeli farmers revolutionized the watering of agricultural crops more than 40 years ago through the drip irrigation system which has since been adopted worldwide.

Water is carried directly to the roots of the plant through tiny holes in small tubes that can be easily redeployed according to need. The system is set on a timer, reducing evaporation and eliminating run-off. Because the water is delivered direct to the roots of the crop, there is less moisture on the leaves and surrounding soil, suppressing mould and weeds. That reduces the need for chemicals and pesticides.

Netafim, which markets the technology, says it is now used in more than 110 countries and has helped create self-sustaining agricultural communities in drought-stricken areas, particularly in Africa. Israel now recycles 70 per cent of its waste water – a huge amount that puts it way ahead of any other country. The water is used for agriculture, waste management and for fish farms in the desert.

Israel is also a pioneer in geothermal and solar energy. The world’s leading company in geothermal power – harnessing Earth’s heat to generate electricity – is Ormat, an Israeli company. For decades, visitors to Israel have been struck by the solar heating panels and water tanks on the top of almost every building. These provide solar-heated water to just about every home and business.

Now Israel is leading the way in a new technology that harnesses solar power for clean electricity production. One company, Solel, was snapped up by the German industrial giant Siemens last year for more than $400 million. It is competing with Brightsource, another Israeli company, for contracts to supply more than two million homes in California with electricity produced without any fossil fuels.

But, Israeli ingenuity in electricity is not limited to the sun. Innowattech is developing a system to generate electricity from the pressure of traffic driving along roads. Piezo-electric generators are installed inches beneath the upper layer of asphalt and convert the mechanical energy of traffic passing over them into electrical energy. INNOWATTECH estimates that its generators placed along a half-mile stretch of a four-lane motorway would produce about 1MWh of electricity – enough to power 2,500 households. It is testing
prototypes for roads, railways, pedestrian walkways and airport runways – all of which could generate completely clean electricity.

Before too long it will be possible to drive an electric car powered by a battery whose electricity was generated by the sun or by other cars driving across sub-surface generator, and whose engine is cooled by recycled water.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2010

Who is George Soros?

Soros Group Preparing to Steal 2012 Election.

(This is one of over a dozen articles appearing in Whistleblower Magazine, March 2010. For those interested in seeing that our country and way of life is not indeed stolen, please read Whistleblower)

Redacted from article By Matthew Vadium

copyright 2009 The American Spectatorm


History’s most notorious Georgian turned-Russian, the politically astute Joseph Stalin once remarked, “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” The lesson has not been lost on the increasingly notorious Hungarian-cum-American George Soros.

A group backed by Soros is gearing up to steal the 2012 election for President Obama and congressional Democrats by installing left-wing Democrats as secretaries of state across the nation. From such posts, secretaries of state can help tilt the electoral playing field. This is, of course, the same Soros, the same hyper political left-wing philanthropist, who makes no secret of his intention to destroy capitalism. In an interview with Der Spiegel last year, Soros said European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now. I am against market fundamentalism. I think this propaganda that government involvement is always bad has been very successful — but also very harmful to our society.”

The vehicle for this planned hijacking of democracy is a below-the-radar non-federal “527” group called the Secretary of State Project. The entity can accept unlimited financial contributions and doesn’t have to disclose them publicly until well after the election. It was revealed during a panel discussion at the Democratic Party’s convention last year that the Democracy Alliance, a financial clearinghouse created by Soros and Progressive insurance magnate Peter B. Lewis, approved the Secretary of State Project as a grantee. The Democracy Alliance aspires to create a permanent political infrastructure of nonprofits, think tanks, media outlets, leadership schools, and activist groups — a kind of “vast left-wing conspiracy” to compete with the conservative movement. It has brokered more than $100 million in grants to liberal nonprofits, including ACORN.

The latest fundraising appeal from the SoS Project warns: “In the 2000 and 2004 elections, we saw the results of extreme Republican tactics to intimidate voters steal the presidential election — the disastrous presidency of George W Bush. Today, we watch as Republicans go to even greater extremes — even carrying guns to town hall meetings. If they are willing to go to such extremes now, how far will they go on November 2012 to steal the election from President Barack Obama?

At the top of the SoS Project’s slate of candidates for level secretary of state positions in 2010 is Minnesota’s radical left-wing Mark Ritchie, a former community organizers cavalier attitude toward electoral fraud and whose shamelessly partisan conduct during the recount process cleared the way for Al Franken to steal last year’s U.S. Senate election then-Senator Norm Coleman. R-Minn. Ritchie was first elected Minnesota secretary of state in 2006. Franken and Obama, by the way, were endorsed last year by ACORN Votes, ACC federal political action committee.

In 2006, the Minnesota ACORN PAC endorsed Ritchie, a longtime ACORN ally, and donated to his campaign. According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disc Board, contributors to Ritchie’s campaign included liberal philanthropists Soros, Drummond Pike and Deborah Rapp along with veteran community organizer Heather Booth, Alinsky disciple who co-founded the Midwest Academy, a radical ACORN clone that breeds Marxist agitators. One article in Ritchie’s 2006 campaign website brags about the fine work ACORN did in Florida to pass a constitutional amendment to raise that state’s minimum wage.

The 2010 slate also includes California Secretary of Debra Bowen, whom the group describes as “one of the progressive Secretaries of State in the nation.” California ACORN PAC endorsed Bowen, in her previous run. SoS Project is also endorsing Jocelyn Benson, candidate for secretary of state in Michigan, whom it lauds as an election law “scholar and community organizer.” Benson is a candidate ACORN would love. Assuming the desperately mismanaged Michigan continues to exist through Election Day next year, count on the desperately evil ACORN endorsing Benson.

To the Secretary of State Project, Republican secretaries of state are always snidely whiplashes trying to undermine progressive Dudley Do-Rights. SoS claims to advance “election protection” but only backs Democrats, and religiously believe that right-leaning secretaries of state helped the GOP steal the presidential elections in Florida in 2000 (Katherine Harris) and in Ohio in 2004 (Ken Blackwell).

The secretary of state candidates the group endorses all sing the same familiar song about electoral integrity issues that we routinely hear from ACORN: Voter fraud is largely a myth, vote suppression is used widely by Republicans cleansing the dead and fictional characters from voter rolls should be avoided until embarrassing media reports emerge, and anyone who demands that a voter produce photo identification, before pulling the lever, is a racist, democracy-hating fascist.

The group was co-founded in July 2006 by James Rucker, formerly director of grassroots mobilization for MoveOn.org Political Action and Moveon.org Civic Action. Rucker is also a co-founder of Color of Change, a race-baiting left-wing hate group. Its website claims, “A modest political investment in electing clean candidates to critical Secretary of State offices is an efficient way to protect the election.” Indeed. Political observers know that a relatively small amount of money can help swing a little-watched race for a state office few people understand or care about.

The strategic targeting of the SoS Project yielded astounding results in 2008 and 2006. In 2008, SoS Project-backed Democrats Linda McCulloch (Montana), Natalie Tennant West Virginia), Robin Carnahan (Missouri) and Kate Brown (Oregon) won their races. Only Carnahan was an incumbent. The Center for Public Integrity reported that the group performed this electoral feat in the 2008 election cycle with a mere $280,000.

In 2006, along with Minnesota’s Ritchie, SoS Project-endorsed Jennifer Brunner (Ohio), who defied federal law last year by refusing to take steps to verify 200,000 questionable voter registrations, trounced her opponent 55 percent to 41 percent. Democrats supported by the group also won that year in New Mexico, Nevada and Iowa. The group claims it spent about $500,000 in that election cycle.

Talk about return on investment! Stalin would be impressed.

Matthew Vadium is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D. C, think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy. The preceding first appeared on The American Spectator website at spectator.org and is reprinted with permission.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2010

Yoram Ettinger, “Support for Israel by the US a One Way Ticket?” Hardly.

By Jerome S. Kaufman

It was truly a revelation listening to Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Israeli consultant on US affairs, former Israeli Consul General in Houston, Texas and former Minister for Congressional Affairs. He was the scholar in residence at Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida and thank you to the Congregation and Rabbi Leonid Feldman for hosting Ambassador Ettinger.

Ambassador Ettinger’s message was very clear. Support for Israel is not a one way ticket with the US doing all the giving and Israel all the receiving. In fact, an objective observer could well come to the opposite conclusion - most of the giving traffic goes the other way!

He began his discussion by advising us that Israel’s relationship with the US did not begin with Israel’s founding and acceptance by the United Nations in 1948 nor did it begin with empathy for the Jews because of the horrors of the Holocaust. In fact, the earliest settlers to this country in the 17th century considered calling the land Canaan, thus commemorating the Hebrews entering the land of Canaan from the desert after their escape from Egyptian slavery. These settlers felt an affinity with the Hebrews because they themselves had escaped from various forms of political and religious slavery in Europe.

Our American founding fathers in 1776 were also well aware of the Jews, their 3000 year biblical history and their unparalleled contribution to Western civilization. The Hebrew leader, Moses’ statue, with his 10 commandment tablets, is found in prominent buildings all over Washington, DC. Moses presides in the central position looking down upon the Justices of the Supreme Court seeing to it that they administer proper justice. In the House of Representatives, Moses is the largest of 23 statues and the only one looking directly down upon the Speaker of the House.

Biblical Israel pervades the entire landscape of this country. There are more cities, bridges, rivers given Hebrew biblical names here than there are in the State of Israel! So-called leaders come and go but the basic fabric and understanding of Israel and its biblical origins always pervades the beliefs and value system of this country. This is the basis for the special US Israel relationship not some trumped up domestic issue of Israeli housing. Is it not bizarre and counterproductive for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to be concerned with 1600 Israeli housing units when their attention should rather be completely directed to Iran’s nuclear war heads, Russian and Chinese attempts at greater world dominance and our huge budget deficit due greatly to dependence upon Arab oil?

Ambassador Ettinger then related how the late General Alexander Haig, former Secretary of State and Commander in Chief of the armed forces, replied when asked why he has always been such a passionate supporter of Israel? He replied, because he is an American patriot and Israel to him is like a huge American aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, guarding the entire Middle East and protecting American interests. And, for that priceless service, not one American boy or girl nor billions upon billions of our dollars are being used for this huge contribution.

The Ambassador then ticked off some of the many recent, very tangible contributions Israel has made to the well being of the US and the immediate world:

The very establishment of Israel in 1948 was a huge victory for the United States. Israel has become a pillar of democracy and an agent that could elevate the downtrodden of the Arab countries just as the downtrodden of Europe were finally elevated as they passed beneath the benign arms of the Statue of Liberty.

The Israeli story book victory in the Six Day War of June 1967 was also a huge victory for the United States of America. The Israelis, with American arms, demonstrated their eye-opening superiority over the weaponry lavishly given by the Russians to the Arabs in its attempt at expansionism into the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. From that point forward, Russia has been virtually gone from the scene as a threat to the US. Of course, now with the inane international policies of the current administration weakening American power, who knows what will happen? Our enemies have been rejuvenated.

In 1970, Syria attempted to obtain its life-long dream of a “Greater Syria” which they consider not only their current area but the countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. Syria understood the weakness of the Hashemite kingdom and sent a force of Syrian tanks directly into Jordan, believing the US, mired in Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, would not be able to defend its ally. President Richard Nixon made a quick call to PM Golda Meir and asked her to please interfere with the Syrian onslaught. Israel responded immediately, sent their own forces to intercept the Syrians. The Syrians saw the Israelis, remembered their experience in 1967 and within 24 hours quickly turned back, burying their grandiose dreams - at least for that moment.

Richard Nixon, an American patriot, came to understand Israel as a staunch and irreplaceable ally. Predictably, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon again attacked Israel on the Jew’s holiest day of Yom Kippur 1973. The Israelis were caught by surprise and under-armed. The call went the other way this time and Richard Nixon responded, re-arming the Israelis with waves of transport planes carrying vital munitions and insuring victory once again.

In 1981, Israel, ignoring the pusillanimity of the world, took out the just constructed Iraqi missile site in Osirak and was roundly condemned by the US and its supposed friends for its spectacular courageous efforts. It was not until 1991, when Iraq under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and was in the process of taking over all the Middle East oil that the Americans went to war against an Iraq without a nuclear weapon, thanks to Israel. Dick Chaney, Secretary of State, publicly thanked Israel for having taken out the nuclear reactor 10 years previously, directly saving thousands, if not millions of American lives.

The Ambassador continued with several other vital contributions however, most important, let us not forget the deeply intertwined relationship between the American and Israeli military. Israel has been at war since its very existence and has had to develop cutting edge capability in aircraft, tank warfare, missile defense, counter terrorism, etc. The United States has been made the direct beneficiary of all this hard-earned expertise, again saving the US thousands of lives, millions of dollars and years of delay in developing this knowledge themselves.

No, this is not the one way ticket ignorant Jew haters, like to present. This is a two way ticket; it is not about 1600 apartment units. It is not about very dubious leadership. It is about two long time friends, fellow democracies with mutual admiration, respect and goals, trying to keep the world safe for democracy and individual freedom. And ... it is not easy, especially when supposed leaders and friends have no idea the consequences of their disastrous policies.

Jerome S. Kaufman

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2010

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich: “Economic Recovery Is a Government 'Sham'”

(And, so, of course is the hurry up and pass Health Plan before people know what it really says) jsk

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich says the recovery is a sham. “Part of the perceived growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is due to rising government expenditures,” he says. “But, this is smoke and mirrors.”

“The stimulus is reaching its peak and will be smaller in months to come,” Reich recently wrote in The Huffington Post. Moreover, a bigger federal debt eventually has to be repaid. In addition, even though the U.S. economy grew at a 5.9 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2009, those GDP figures are badly distorted by structural changes in the economy.

For example, part of the increase is due to rising healthcare costs. When Well-Point ratchets up premiums, that enlarges the GDP. But, you can’t consider this evidence of a recovery. Big global companies, Wall Street and high-income Americans who hold their savings in financial instruments are clearly doing better, Reich notes. As to the rest of us small businesses along Main Streets, and middle and lower-income Americans - forget it, he says.

Business cheerleaders naturally want to emphasize the positive, Reich points out, because they assume the economy runs on optimism and that if average consumers think the economy is getting better, they'll empty their wallets more readily and the economy will expand faster. The cheerleaders fail to understand that regardless of how people feel, they won't spend if they don't have the money, Reich says.

Analysts at Wells Fargo expect that the economy's growth rate will likely slow from above 3 percent in the current quarter to less than 2 percent by the middle of the year. "Going forward, growth is going to be much more dependent on the private sector," senior analyst Mark Vitner told the Associated Press. "And consumer demand hasn't picked up that much yet."

© Moneynews. All rights reserved.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2010

The Biden/Clinton/Obama Myth of a “Divided,” “Occupied,” or “Arab East Jerusalem”

Redacted from:

I The 'Two Jerusalems" Myth By Eli Hertz
II Letter of Correction to Fox News By Ed Kohl

March 17, 2010

Palestinians have nurtured a myth that historically there were two Jerusalem’s - an Arab 'East Jerusalem' and a Jewish 'West Jerusalem.' However, Jerusalem was never an Arab city; Jews have held a majority in Jerusalem since 1870, and 'east-west' is a geographic, not political designation. It is no different than claiming the Eastern shore of Maryland should be a separate political entity from the rest of the state.

In 1880, Jews constituted 52 percent of the Old City population in East Jerusalem and inhabited 42 percent of the Old City in 1914. In 1948, there were 100,000 Jews in Jerusalem, with 65,000 Arabs. A joint Jordanian-Israeli census reported that 67.7 percent of the city's population in 1961 was Jewish. A 1967 aerial photo reveals the truth about the area called 'East Jerusalem': it was no more than an overcrowded walled city with a few scattered neighborhoods surrounded by villages.

(The true history of modern day Jerusalem is that in 1967 Israel regained the city from Jordan that had, with the help of Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon conquered it along with all of Judea and Samaria (West Bank), Gaza and the Golan Heights after attacking Israel in 1948 attempting to eliminate the new state at its birth. These nations thus became the true “occupiers” not Israel since all these lands were to have been part of the original League of Nations/British Mandate that was to become the Jewish Homeland, in the first place. After these territories return to Jerusalem in June 1967, the Israelis re-united the Jerusalem that the Jordanians had split in 1/2 under the terms of the 1948 armistice.) Jsk

Israel then rapidly transformed all of Jerusalem into the largest city in Israel and a bustling metropolis. Even moderate Palestinian leaders reject the idea of a united city. Their minimal demand for 'just East Jerusalem' really means the Jewish holy sites (including the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall), which Arabs have failed to protect, and the return of neighborhoods that house a significant percentage of Jerusalem's present-day Jewish population. Most of that city is built on rock-strewn empty land around the city that was in the public domain for the past 42 years. With an overall population of nearly 750,000 today, separating East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem is as viable and acceptable as the notion of splitting Berlin into two cities again, or separating East Harlem from the rest of Manhattan.

(Any Arab re-occupation would herald the death knoll of Israel itself, which, of course, has always been and remains the only real Arab goal) jsk


Arab claims to Jerusalem, a Jewish city by all definitions, reflect the what's-mine-is-mine, what's-yours-is-mine mentality underlying Palestinian concepts of how to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
That concept is also expressed in their demand for the ‘Right of Return' of hundreds of thousands - three generations of Arabs – most of whom have never even seen Israel. They are to return not just in Jerusalem - Israel's capital, but 'inside the Green Line' as well.

II Correction Letter to Fox News
By Ed Kohl

Your running news along the bottom of the TV screen reports that Israel plans to build 1,600 housing units in "disputed East Jerusalem.” "Disputed East Jerusalem" is a factual distortion and a glaring error that must be corrected. The whole of Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and no part of the unified city is “occupied.” Israeli law does not recognize a distinction between the two sections of the city.

In a letter from President George Bush to Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, (March 20, 1990), Bush wrote, “The basis of our position remains that Jerusalem must never again be a divided city. We did not approve of the status quo before 1967; in no way do we advocate a return to it now.”
In 1990, Congress passed a resolution declaring, “Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel" and "must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected." During the 1992 Presidential campaign, Bill Clinton said: "I recognize Jerusalem as an undivided city, the eternal capital of Israel, and I believe in the principle of moving our embassy to Jerusalem."

Congress overwhelmingly passed Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This landmark bill declared that, as a statement of official U.S. policy, Jerusalem should be recognized as the undivided, eternal capital of Israel. Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for nearly two millennia. They have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants there since the 1840's. Jerusalem contains the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. In fact, it was a backwater for most of Arab history. Jerusalem never served as a provincial capital under Muslim rule nor was it ever a Muslim cultural center. For Jews, the entire city is sacred, but Muslims revere a site — the Dome of the Rock — not the city. "To a Muslim," observed British writer Christopher Sykes, "there is a profound difference between Jerusalem and Mecca or Medina. The latter are holy places containing holy sites." Besides the Dome of the Rock, he noted, Jerusalem has no major Islamic significance.

“For three thousand years, Jerusalem has been the center of Jewish hope and longing. No other city has played such a dominant role in the history, culture, religion and consciousness of a people, as has Jerusalem in the life of Jewry and Judaism. Throughout centuries of exile, Jerusalem remained alive in the hearts of Jews everywhere as the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment and modern renewal. This heart and soul of the Jewish people engenders the thought that if you want one simple word to symbolize all of Jewish history, that word would be 'Jerusalem.”
Former long term Mayor Teddy Kollek.

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

March 15, 2010

Never mind vacationing in Europe. How about your next trip to beautiful Brazil?

From Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

March 15, 2010

Brazil has given its final approval for a free trade agreement between Israel and the Mercosur trade block of South American countries. Members of the block are now Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay It is the largest economic trade block in South America.

Israel is the first country outside South America to sign a free trade agreement with the regional bloc whose members produce over $3 trillion in GDP and have a combined population of over 270 million.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was pleased to announce today to President Peres that Brazil has given its final approval for a free trade agreement between Israel and the Mercosur bloc. Israel is the first country outside South America to sign a free trade agreement with the bloc. President Peres and President Lula opened an economic conference together in front of hundreds of Israeli and Brazilian business leaders. The Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor Mr. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the Israeli President of the Manufacturers Association Mr. Sharga Brosh, the Brazilian President of the Sao Paulo Industrialist Association (FIESP) Mr. Paulo Skaf, and the Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Mr. Miguel Jorge, joined the presidents.

President Peres spoke first, thanking President Lula personally for working towards the free trade agreement between Israel and Mercosur: “Although Israel and Brazil may be distant from each other geographically, we can grow close through economic and scientific cooperation. Brazil has a strong and stable economy and we are willing and happy to cooperate with you in every sector including science, defense, high-tech, agriculture and advanced space technologies.

The President of the Sao Paulo Industrialist Association said, “President Peres’ visit to Brazil gave a big push forward to the economic relations between Israeli and Brazil. A joint work group was established between Israel and Brazil to advance and implement the Mercosur agreement. Both countries have declared their intention to triple their current level of trade.”

President Lula stated “this is an important visit for me and for the economic delegation traveling with me to Israel. We hope to advance economic and business ties between Israel and Brazil as trade has increased significantly between our two countries in the past few years. We can continue with the current momentum. I am launching a new investment plan in Brazil soon and I invite Israeli companies to take an active and significant part. Israel is known for its strong capabilities in technology and science. Thus, we encourage intensive cooperation with Israel.”

It should be noted that both chambers of Brazil’s Congress ratified a free trade agreement between Israel and the Mercosur Common Market last fall because of President Peres’ visit to Brazil. The agreement was given final approval right before President Lula’s current visit to Israel. Its passage reflects in large parts the efforts of President Lula. When it comes to affect in April, the agreement is expected to rapidly increase the level of commerce between the two countries.

Although both chambers of Brazil’s Congress ratified the agreement, it still required Paraguay’s approval. Paraguay approved the agreement on February 24th and Brazil gave its final approval on March 4th in before the upcoming visit. The agreement takes 30 days to take effect. Brazil is Israel’s largest trade partner in Latin America, with the approval of the agreement trade is expected to increase by the billions of dollars, especially in the sectors of agriculture, education, science, medicine, space, and will reinforce the mutual investments by both countries.

Background:

Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country (8.5 million km2) and possesses its ninth largest economy ($2 trillion—larger than India, Russia, or South Korea). It has a population of 200 million people with a growth rate of 1.2% and an average GDP/per capita of $10,000. Israel currently runs a trade surplus with Brazil. In the year, 2008 trade between the two countries totaled $1.6 billion, out of which $1.2 billion represented exports from Israel. One fourth of Israeli exports were chemicals and fertilizers used in Brazilian agriculture.

Mercosur (Mercadu Comun del Sur) is a common market established between four countries—Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. The Mercosur bloc produces over $3 trillion in GDP and has a combined population of over 270 million people. The bloc was launched in Asuncion in 1991 and has played an important role in political integration across the continent. Between the countries in the agreement, there exists free trade. Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador are each in a different phase of integration into the agreement. Venezuela is on the path to full admittance.


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

March 13, 2010

Do you know to what specific causes your Jewish (or other) charitable donations actually go?

By STEVEN PLAUT

THE JEWISH PRESS, February 19, 2010

Israel’s Im Tirtzu student organization bills itself as the “Second Zionist Revolution.” Until a few weeks ago, that sounded like youthful bravado. But, the group has raised eyebrows — and hackles — with its unprecedented grand slam in the Israeli media against the New Israel Fund (NIF). Led by Hebrew University graduate student Ronen Shoval, Im Tirtzu has emerged as the leading campus organization among Israeli students. It is solidly Zionist and nationalist; and has both secular and religious members.

Im Tirtzu had been making headlines even before the controversy surrounding NIF. It earlier collected complaints from students at several schools, especially Tel Aviv University, concerning harassments of Zionist students by anti-Israel faculty radicals. Many students claim they are penalized, by leftist faculty members, if they dare challenge the classroom biases imposed on them. In response to Im Tirtzu’s complaints, the administration of Tel Aviv University launched an investigation into those abuses and the matter was also raised for debate in the Knesset.

The New Israel Fund is a left-of-center outfit funded in part by American Jews but mainly by the Ford Foundation and some groups in the European Union. Critics of NIF sometimes claim the “New Israel” the NIF seeks to fund is really Palestine! Some of what NIF funds is harmless, or even beneficial, like shelters for battered women. But the bulk of its funding goes to leftist political activism inside Israel.

The current media frenzy began when Tm Tirtzu released a 120-page report on the activities supported by the New Israel Fund. As Im Tirtzu’s Shoval told me: “Supposedly, in the name of freedom of speech, the New Israel Fund has financed a massive campaign of defamation against Israel and its soldiers, but then has demanded that Im Tirtzu be silenced. Inventing imaginary war crimes by Israel is NIF’s idea of progressive democracy, but criticism of NIF by students is incitement and must be suppressed.

The new controversy was triggered by the UN’s Goldstone report, which denounced Israel for war crimes and human rights abuses supposedly committed by Israeli soldiers during Operation Cast Lead while glossing over the thousands of rocket attacks that had made military action necessary in the first placc. The fairy tales of Israeli “human rights abuses” and “war crimes” by Goldstone were taken not from the usual anti-Israel propaganda websites and media outlets but were provided to the Goldstone “investigators” by numerous radical Israeli propaganda groups.

The funding of these extremist groups has long been the focus of the NGO Monitor watchdog group, headed by Bar-Ilan University professor Gerald Steinberg. His website exposes non-governmental organizations that pretend to be human-rights or peace organizations but are in fact nothing more than Bash-Israel hate groups. They invariably get the bulk of their funding from outside Israel, often from sources hostile to Israel.

The Im Tirtzu students gathered data from NGO Monitor and other sources and issued their devastating report (which includes 60 pages of tables). According to it, 92 percent of the anti-Israel smears in the Goldstone report came directly from organizations financed by the New Israel Fund. Within days, the Israeli daily Maariv carried the story of the Tm Tirtzu report on its front page, with several news and opinion pieces congratulating the students for their work and denouncing the New Israel Fund.

The Maariv story was followed up, by the rest of the Israeli’s mainstream media. Only Haaretz, the daily described by some wags as the Palestinian newspaper published in Hebrew, denounced the students as “inciters” and “right-wing extremists” and launched a shameless campaign of vilification and defamation against them.

The Knesset announced it would hold hearings into Im Tirtzu’s findings. Within days, public statements endorsing the student report and denouncing the New Israel Fund were being published, notably one by a group of Israeli army generals. Meanwhile, Im Tirtzu students escalated their criticism of the current president of the New Israel Fund, former Meretz MK Naomi Chazan. They mischievously issued a poster advertisement with a cartoon showing Chazan with a rhino horn coming out of her forehead.

It was all a play on words: “new fund” in Hebrew is exactly the same expression as “new horn.” So the poster shows Chazan wearing her “new fund” as a rhino horn on her forehead. The cartoon also played on the Israeli slang expression, l’hitkarnef, literally “to become a rhinoceros,” a popular term referring to “selling out.” Chazan and her leftist legions were not amused.

She and NIF decided to bully the students by threatening to sue. They also instituted a lawsuit against the Jerusalem Post for running the Im Tirtzu ad. The Jerusalem Post responded by sacking Chazan, who had been a Post columnist. A “progressive” group of Jews in Australia, hearing about Chazan’s behavior, decided to withdraw an offer to host her for a speaking tour.

Leftist groups, led by the anti-Israel Human Rights Watch, repeated their familiar take on democracy: Israelis denouncing and demoralizing Israel are building peace and progress, but people denouncing leftists threaten democracy itself. A few dozen far-left academics, joined by some others, placed large ads in newspapers denouncing Im Tirtzu and endorsing the agenda of the New Israel Fund.

Leftist professors filled the chat lists with messages insisting Im Tirtzu was a clear and present danger to democracy and freedom of speech in Israel. Several tenured leftists insisted that Im Tirtzu’s exercise of freedom of speech would lead directly to political murder, repeating the old calumny about how right-wingers exercising their freedom of speech caused the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Others, led by Haaretz writers, argued that the rhino horn in the Chazan cartoon was anti-Semitic.

That so many of Israel’s leftists have stooped to such nonsense shows only one thing: They are in a high state of panic over the appearance of possibly the most important (and proud) authentically Zionist grassroots movement in Israel in decades.

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2010

A terrifying litany of nation-destroying policy

By JEFFREY T.KUHNER

The Washington Times, February 15, 2010

Civilizations die from suicide, not murder,” said the great historian Arnold Toynbee. Under President Obama, America is losing its superpower status. It is in decline, slowly being transformed into a second-tier nation. America’s collapse has been sudden and stunning — soaring deficits, economic stagnation, appeasement of radical Islam and revolutionary socialism. Mr. Obama’s policies are undermining U.S. pre-eminence on the world stage.

Once the world’s largest creditor, we have become the greatest debtor nation. Two weeks ago, Mr. Obama unveiled his fiscal 2011 budget. The $3.8 trillion in federal outlays is the highest ever. The budget deficit will be a record $1.6 trillion. The administration brags about the need to make “tough choices?’ But, the budget dramatically augments spending on pet Democratic projects. Mr. Obama wants $25 billion in new spending for Medicaid, $100 billion for a so-called “jobs program’ huge boosts in expenditures for low-income family programs, education and health research. In total, Mr. Obama’s proposals represent a nearly 30 percent increase in federal spending since 2008.

His reckless agenda of big government~ big deficits and big spending are driving America toward national bankruptcy From 2009 to 2011, Mr. Obama will have added $3.7 trillion to the national debt. He will have accumulated more debt in three years than in the first 225 years of our nation’s history. This is the road to fiscal suicide. Mr. Obama seeks to implement huge spending programs and runaway deficits to achieve one fundamental goal: permanent, massive tax increases that will empower the ruling liberal elite to exert greater control over the private sector.

Mr. Obama is demanding $2 trillion in tax increases over the next decade. His soak-the-rich class-warfare strategy will strangle economic growth, curb capital formation and cripple job creation. Unemployment~~ remains at 10 percent — and likely will rise over the next several years. Mr. Obama believes he is finishing the liberal project begun by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Contrary to popular myth, however, FDR was one of the most destructive US leaders in the 20th century. His New Deal failed to restore economic recovery and prolonged the Great Depression.

FDR often railed against “economic royalists” and “the forces of selfishness,” blaming them for the country’s misery. His war on business and bankers may have struck a populist chord, but it did nothing to reverse high unemployment or kick-start industrial productivity. In fact, it badly damaged economic confidence, hampering much-needed investment and entrepreneurship.

Moreover, FDR was a liberal internationalist in foreign policy. Diplomatic multilateralism trumped America’s national interests. He slashed military spending for most of the 1930s. He championed the appeasement of Nazi Germany. He deliberately did nothing to save the Jews during the Holocaust — for example, refusing to order Allied bombing of Nazi railroad lines carrying Jews to the death camps. At Yalta, he sold out Eastern Europe to Soviet domination.

FDR’s policies contributed to the outbreak of World War II, the 50 million deaths it caused and the enslavement of Christian Eastern European nations by communism. Rather than being a great defender of freedom, he was its very opposite: a globalist progressive who wrecked capitalism at home and emboldened America’s totalitarian enemies abroad.

Many of FDR’s disastrous mistakes are being repeated by Mr. Obama. His crushing tax increases and Keynesian deficit spending threaten America’s long-term prosperity. His drive for a bloated public sector and expensive new entitlement programs are draining the private sector, subordinating the market to a bureaucratic, corporatist state.

His decision to grant the Underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Miranda rights, as well as give the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a trial in civilian court reflects a lack of will in defeating Islamist terrorism. Mr. Obama’s appeasement of the apocalyptic mullahs in Iran is enabling them to acquire the nuclear bomb, potentially triggering an all-out Middle East war. He has betrayed Eastern Europe by scrapping the promised missile-defense shield, abandoning the region to Russia’s sphere of influence.

He also is undermining America’s military strength. He has reduced our nuclear arsenal. His attempt at nation building in Afghanistan is another Vietnam. The troop surge without a clear strategy for victory bogs down the U.S. in a protracted guerrilla campaign, expending precious blood and treasure. Mr. Obama’s push to have homosexuals openly serve in the military will fracture unit cohesion, decimate troop morale and erode discipline. It is the worst thing a president could do in the middle of two wars.

Nature abhors a vacuum. The West’s decline is being replaced by the dynamic capitalist economies of the East. Wealth is being transferred to Asia — and with it, growing might. The United States’ chief rival, China, remains embarked on an unprecedented military buildup. Beijing is simultaneously flexing its muscles while buying up much of our national debt. America was to imperial Britain a century ago what China is to us today: a rising regional colossus determined to achieve global hegemony.

Mr. Obama’s policies have led to the loss of US power and prestige. They have left us weaker — economically, politically and militarily. His presidency is America’s attempt at suicide.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2010

Go West!

www.gowest2010.com

By Jerome S. Kaufman

Just a few days ago, I had the great privilege of listening to an American patriot. He reminded me of Jack Kennedy – bright, personable, easy and an eloquent speaker. No teleprompter, no notes, no microphone and yet he kept an audience of near 200 spell-bound for an hour and a half. His name is Lt. Colonel (retired) Allen West. He is the Republican candidate for Congressman in the 22nd District of Florida. Moreover, even if you do not vote in the Florida election, please read what Lt. Colonel West has to say on his web page listed above and support candidates in your own districts that believe as he does.

He spoke before a non-partisan political group called Act! For America, Palm Beach County, Florida Chapter. Lt. Col West, like the current president is black. However, there, the similarity ends. He also speaks of the “dreams of his father” but his father was a little different. His father was born in Ozark, Alabama and his mother in Camilla, GA. His grandfather and father both served in the US military.

His parents’ primary ambition was that he become an officer in the US Army. Lt. Col. West fulfilled their ambition when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the US Army, July 1, 1982. This American family tradition continues with Lt. Col. West’s son now serving as a Captain in the US Artillery corps. His father died at age 86 and his mother at 94. They are buried side by side in an Atlanta, GA cemetery.

The father also taught Lt. Col West free market economics – make your own living, do a competitive job to earn your keep and become a victor rather than a victim dependent upon the largess of the government. Don’t look for bail-outs. He also never heard the word, “entitlement” but rather the emphasis was always on achievement. Lt Col was educated within a strict Catholic school system, went on to graduate from the University of Tennessee and obtained a Master’s degree in political science from Kansas State University. He regularly attended a Methodist Church, experienced many different ministers but never recalls any of them damning the United States of America.
Lt. Col West is also proud to speak of this country as founded on Judeo-Christian principles, well documented in the works of our founding fathers. He has no animosity to any other religion and has no problem with its practice in the United States as long as it obeys the Constitution of the United States, the Federal Papers and the other basic instruments upon which this country was founded.

Lt. Col. West spoke of the abject failure of the current political leadership and listed the obvious reasons this country is losing in the International arena and in our war against Islamic terrorism. He never confused or obfuscated the identity of our enemy with the politically correct but fraudulent term, “War on Terrorism.”He stated our leadership has failed and we are losing when:

· The present administration wants to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, grant Miranda rights and the civilian courts to foreign enemies that have no right to those privileges.

· Prosecutes CIA officers for using interrogation techniques disfavored by the American Civil Liberties Union

· Approaches the war on Islamic terrorism and supremacism as a legalistic exercise distorting its primary goal - our destruction.

· Surrounds the Presidency with people like Rahm Emmanuel who “ never let a crisis go to waste (especially one he has created himself, in this administration’s race to dismantle the American free enterprise system and turn us into a socialist state)

· Has the US government virtually take over the auto industry, the banking industry and attempt to take over the entire energy industry if they are able to pass so-called Cap and Trade.

· Turn the entire health care system over to the government and in one fatal blow assume control of 1/6 of the American economy.

· Appoint 110 additional government agencies and 30 plus Obama “Czars” thus by-passing the elected representatives of the American people.

· Fails to recognize Islamic terrorism as our mortal enemy and allow Islam to impregnate our entire culture, our school system and even the way we do banking.

· Allows the construction of gigantic, deliberately intimidating Islamic mosques financed by Saudi Arabia all over the United States while the Saudis allow not one church or synagogue or any form of worship or presence other than their own fanatical Islamic Wahhabism.·

Through taxes, dramatically increase the entitlement class vs. those that actually produce, adopting socialism as the government modus operendi, at least until, as PM Margaret Thatcher stated, “ You run out of other people’s money.”

It was a fantastic speech by a fantastic guy – hard hitting, direct and motivated in the best interests of the United States of America. Lt. Col. West ended his presentation by warning us that the 2010 election is crucial. If we continue with Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Chas. Schumer, the Obama Czars in power and hundreds of other dedicated appointed lackeys in place, there will be nothing left to save by the time 2012 comes along. So, please get out to campaign, vote and donate to people in your own areas like Lt. Col. West, right this moment, before it is too late

Jerome S. Kaufman

Also, if you are a Palm Beach County resident, please send me your snail mail address and I will return a petition for you to sign and mail in making sure Lt. Col. West is included on the Republican Primary Ballot.

Send address to: israelcommentary@comcast.net


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2010

The Homegrown Terrorist Threat

Redacted from an article By James Kirchick

COMMENTARY February 2010

IF 2001 WAS the year when international terrorism hit American soil, then 2009 was the year when Americans became the targets of domestic terrorism. In November, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, born in Virginia to Palestinian Muslim parents, killed 13 and wounded 30 in his one-man attack on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas. The massacre, which Senator Joseph Lieberman properly labeled “the most destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since 9/11,” capped a year of terrorist plots or conspiracies inside the United States, most of which were stopped by law enforcement in their planning stages. The notable fact about all these cases is that they are examples of so-called homegrown terrorism—meaning that, they were planned by individuals either born or raised in the United States and executed, without significant assistance, from overseas networks.

In October, the American-born David Coleman Headley, who had changed his name from Daood Sayed Gilani to disguise his half-Pakistani origins, was arrested for planning an attack on the Danish newspaper that published cartoons depicting Muhammad in 2006 and for providing assistance to the Pakistan-based terrorist group that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 170 were killed.

Two days after Headley was charged. Pakistani authorities arrested five Muslim men born and raised in and around Washington. D.C. for planning to take up arms against coalition forces in Afghanistan. The Washington Five were all college students - “fun-loving, career-focused children that had a bright future for themselves,” in the words of a youth coordinator who knew them?

On June 1. 2009, a 23-year-old Army recruiter in Little Rock was shot and killed by an African-American convert to Islam who, upon his arrest, began complaining about American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. A week before that, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which coordinates some 40 local and federal law-enforcement agencies, arrested four men for attempting to shoot down military planes based at a National Guard base in Newburgh, New York, and detonate bombs at two synagogues in the Bronx.

Of the 30-odd attempted terrorist plots against the United States or American installations abroad that have been foiled since 9/11, roughly a third have uncovered in the past year alone. What is new, particularly frightening, about these recent attacks is that the budding perpetrators were initially indoctrinated inside the United States, with help from extremist websites or Islamic preachers. It was only after had been brought some ways along the road to holy war, that at least some of these would-be jihadists sought training and logistical support from al-Qaeda and others overseas.

... ULTIMATELY, there is little more that the United States can do to prevent homegrown terrorism, other than maintain the counter-terrorism policies enacted by the Bush administration in the aftermath of 911, policies that proved so successful in preventing another terrorist attack on American soil. Given the rhetoric and actions of the present administration, which wants to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, prosecute CIA officers for using interrogation techniques disfavored by the American Civil Liberties Union, and generally approach the war on Islamic supremacism as a legalistic exercise, it is hardly certain that such a course will be followed. But, the least we can ask of our nation’s political and intellectual elite is that they stop wailing about the phantom menace of “right-wing” terrorism and start paving more attention to the genuine article.

(Incidentally, how about we stop obfuscating the source of the terrorism by referring to it as some vague, politically correct nonsense called, “War on Terrorism”? Virtually 100% of the time, it has been a war against Islamic terrorism. If this honest terminology is finally accepted perhaps our huge but stifled investigative agencies can function properly) jsk

JAMES KIRCHICK is an assistant editor of the New Republic and online columnist for the New York Daily News.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:35 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2010

An Intelligence Agency Misused Passports: Oh My Gosh!

By Alan M. Dershowitz

March 2, 2010 2:38 PM

The complaints leveled against Israel by European countries and Australia, regarding the alleged misuse of passports by the Mossad in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, ring hollow and smack of blatant hypocrisy.
Whoever did kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh—whether it was the Israeli Mossad or someone else—clearly did have their agents use stolen or forged passports. Big deal.

Every good intelligence agency uses stolen and forged passports. The British have been especially adept at this means of spycraft. No country that uses fake passports in their intelligence operations has the moral authority to complain about the alleged misuse of passports in this case. The only ones that have a legitimate grievance are those individuals whose passports may have been misused without their knowledge.

I guess it’s the job of foreign ministries to complain publicly when other nations do what they themselves do secretly. Hypocrisy is, after all, the homage that vice pays to virtue. I’m reminded of the famous scene in Casablanca, when officer Renault declares, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” A croupier then approaches Renault, and hands him a roll of currency: “Your winnings, sir.” The hypocrisy in this case seems even more blatant than usual. Is it because Israel is the alleged offender, and the world has gotten accustomed to singling out Israel for double standard condemnation?

Shortly after the terrorist attacks in Bali, which killed a large number of Australian tourists, I had the opportunity to meet with the Australian Prime Minister. I was writing a book at the time on pre-emption, and I asked him whether he would have authorized a preemptive attack on the terrorist who killed Australian citizens, if such an attack would have saved their lives. His response was that Australia would have done anything it could, to prevent these terrorist attacks. Anything, I guess, except misusing passports? Is there anybody who believes that Australia would not have used forged or stolen passports to prevent the Bali massacres?

If Great Britain could have stopped the London subway attack by misusing passports, would M6 have allowed the terrorism to go forward in the name of preserving passport integrity? Of course not! The same is true of Spain with regard to the Madrid bombing and to every other country in the world that seeks to prevent terrorism. Well, if the Mossad did in fact kill al-Mabhouh, they too did it to prevent the killing of their innocent civilians.

The Israelis are always accused by their enemies, and sometimes even by their friends, of taking “disproportionate” action to stop terrorists. But, what could be more proportionate than a carefully planned and specifically targeted attack on an admitted terrorist who boasted of being an active combatant? Whoops! I guess I forgot about those darn passports. That must be the disproportionate action complained about. Saving innocent lives, on the one hand—misusing passports on the other. I guess the right moral resolution, according to some foreign ministries, is to let innocent victims die—at least as long as its only Israeli victims.

It’s interesting, and disturbing, that more criticism is being directed against Israel for allegedly using stolen passports than for allegedly killing a terrorist. That’s because no Western country wants to appear to be sympathetic to a terrorist. The “victims” of passport fraud are innocent civilians, but the injury they have suffered pales in comparison to the injuries—deaths prevented by the well-deserved death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. If the deaths of a small number of innocent civilians is deemed “proportional” to the killing of a terrorist combatant, than surely the discomfort of a small number of innocent victims of passport fraud is proportional.

The high dudgeon expressed by foreign ministries over stolen passports is worse than hypocritical. It undercuts the war against terrorism. There ought to be concern, among Western democracies, about how easy it is to use forged or stolen passports. Dubai should be conducting an investigation, but the focus should be on how simple it was for those carrying these phony passports to get into their country. The misuse of passports is, after all, a primary tool used by terrorists to smuggle themselves into Western countries, from which they can engage in worldwide terrorism. There are thousands of forged and fraudulent British passports circulating around the world today. Many are in the hands of terrorists. That should be the focus of any investigation, not the occasional and controlled misuse of passports by Western intelligence agencies to combat terrorism.

Whoever sneaked into Dubai using fake passports may have done that country a service in warning them to tighten up their passport procedures. Next time, it may be a terrorist who tries to enter the country. Wait! Isn’t that exactly what happened when al-Mabhouh walked through security using a real passport with his real name? I guess in Dubai you don’t have to use a fake passport if you’re a terrorist, but you do if you’re trying to stop terrorists—at least if the terrorism is directed only against Israel. I guess Dubai is less concerned about letting terrorists into their country with real passports than in letting those who would stop terrorism into their country with fake passports. It’s a topsy turvy world out there.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2010

Our Misinformed and Misdirected Approach to Arab Culture

What’s the matter with Umma?

The Strong Horse: Power, Politics and the Clash of Arab Civilization

By LEE SMITH
Random House, 256 pages

Redacted from a review by MICHAEL C. Moynihan
COMMENTARY February 2010

Jabbing a thick finger in my direction, the former al-Qaeda recruiter and veteran of the Afghan mujahideen proposed a unified theory for the cultural, political, and economic malaise afflicting the peoples of the Middle East. The problems of the Islamic umma (all encompassing Islamic society) would melt away, he explained with mechanical certainty, if only the United States abdicated it’s superpower role and stopped interfering in the affairs of Muslim countries. Naturally, this entailed first and foremost scrubbing its alliance with imperial Israel.

This is a shopworn and deeply unconvincing explanation of the problems afflicting countries that have been ruled by his co-religionists for the better part of a century. But, it is one that stubbornly persists, propped up with the help of many Western academics and pundits who seem more interested in issuing indictments of American policy than in confronting the political and social backwardness fettering much of the Arab world. Together they have set out a narrative whereby America is but the latest colonial power to have insinuated itself into the Muslim world and impaired its culture.

Increasingly dissatisfied with the narrow and disingenuous Orientalist critique of the West, Smith engages in years of on-the-ground investigation, moving about the Middle East in search of a narrative that places the people and political leaders of the region at the center. Two years into the occupation of Iraq, he has concluded that a top-down imposition of democracy will falter. Arab liberals, many frustrated by the policies of the Bush White House, submit that a reorientation of society must advance from the bottom up. Democracy is “society’s flower, not its root,” Smith writes. And, everywhere he travels in the region, it becomes uncomfortably clear that the flower is not on the verge of blooming.

To those who believe that an infusion not of Western military might but of culture—in the form of television, films, and music—can have a profound impact on regional mores, Smith says that this, too, is a chimera. When he turns to the retailing of Middle Eastern history by Western journalists and intellectuals, Smith bracingly dispenses with comfort able shibboleths. Though the crimes of Western imperialism are frequently hauled into the dock by such thinkers, Smith reminds us that “the umma was an imperial power of the first order,” and “the Islamists want to restore the umma to its rightful place in world affairs to be the strongest tribe?’ They are frank, unapologetic and unselfconscious about this. ... “The United States is hated not because of what it does, or because of what it is. The United States is hated for what it is not, not Arab and not Muslim.”

The search for Arab moderates, Smith continues, has led Western Arabists to grade using a steep curve. The Arab nationalism of the recent past may have “looked like secularization,” he says. “But, it was merely a veneer laid over a society that had been proudly Muslim for over a millennium.” Many of those who appeared to be voices of moderation were only moderate relative to the dominant politics of the region.

...The history of the entire region has led Smith to the unavoidable conclusion that “violence is central to the politics, society, and culture of the Arabic-speaking Middle East?’ He finds this uncomfortable truth lost on many in Washington. In his Cairo address last spring and on many other occasions, President Obama has said that if only America spoke directly to the citizens of the Middle East, it would convince them that there was no enmity between Islam and the West. This, says Smith, is simply a “delusion?’ Anti-Americanism is the “region’s lingua franca.”

What, then, does Smith see as the policy consequences of his discoveries? At the least, America should lower its sights and settle for reasonable facsimiles of Western democracy. “It was inevitable,” he writes, “that the Arabs would take a pass on some of the social values that Americans tend to associate with a democratic way of life, like gender equality and other issues like ‘anti-religious speech and behavior?”

But if American power can’t reverse illiberal impulses, and if popular culture has only a negligible impact on Arab culture, it isn’t clear how liberal forces can be empowered in any way to change the despotic governments under which they suffer. It is as though Smith has been so disappointed by his decade-long immersion in Islamic culture that he cannot see the signs that a peculiarly Arab version of democracy, with all its deficiencies, is indeed developing in Iraq—by Iraqis—with the help of steadfast American action.

Smith closes with a reminder that “despite the setbacks in Iraq, the reality is that American power is as great as it ever was?’ Power to do what or effect what he shies away from saying, and on the basis of the tale he has told, one senses that his feeling is: not very much. ‘

MICHAEL C. MOYNIHAN is a senior editor of Reason magazine.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2010

For the Jews of the world its once again 1938

The Jews Of Shushan (Persia) (apx. 550 BCE)

CREATING NEW JEWISH LEADERSHIP

By MOSHE FEIGLIN

The story of Purim, as related in the Megillat (book of) Esther, is the bridge between the destruction of the First Temple (apx. 586 BCE and the building of the Second Temple (apx 520-515 BCE with the return of the Jews from exile in Babylonia). Interestingly, the eastern gate to the Temple Mount is called the Shushan Gate, as if to symbolize that the path to the future Temple goes through Shushan.

The feast of Achashveirosh in Shushan was a low point in Jewish history. The Jews of Achashveirosh’s kingdom were so deep in exile mentality that they actually reveled and feasted at the Persian mega-party, despite the fact that the (kosher) food was served on the holy vessels of their destroyed First Temple. But, this low point was actually the first hint of future salvation.
The marriage of later Queen Esther to Achashveirosh led to the birth of Darius, who would eventually allow the reconstruction of the Second Temple to be completed.

Who were these Jews of Shushan? They were our forefathers, exiles from Eretz Yisrael. They were despondent after 70 years with no redemption in sight, as the Persian king defiled the treasures of the Temple. They lived at his mercy, thrown a few “kosher” royal crumbs at the year-long banquet that celebrated their defeat — unaware of the humiliation, and groveling for acceptance. But, one was not subservient. He was Mordechai the Jew, leader of the Jewish community. He would not attend the banquet, nor would he bow to the prime minister, the evil Haman.

Mordechai’s behavior frightened the masses. In their hearts, they agreed with him and admired him, but they did not follow him openly. Following an established pattern, they preferred the “safer” course of action: “Do not ruffle the king’s feathers; you will endanger us.” “Let us remain as slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.” Today the exact cowardly equivalent is “Give them land for peace; give them whatever they want.”

The Jews who offered gold for the golden calf later contributed gold to build the Mishkan. (The Tabernacle is known in Hebrew as the Mishkan. It was a portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Its elements were made part of the final Temple in Jerusalem about the 10th century BC).
It was all a question of leadership. Haman did not fret over the political aspirations of his subordinates. He was not troubled by political opposition or by rivals in the court. No, Haman worried only about Mordechai — Mordechai the Jew. Mordechai did not bend. He was prepared, with his agent, Esther, strategically placed in the king’s palace. With self-sacrifice, he and Esther waited. Haman’s evil decree threatened all the Jews of the kingdom, all the lands from Hodu to Cush, with no place to run. Fearing for their lives, the Jews of Shushan rallied behind Mordechai and Esther providing them with the support that they needed. And, for these miracles, the story of Purim highlights the eternity of the nation of Israel.

We are currently experiencing another period of darkness and despair. People may think it’s the year 2010, but it’s actually 1938 — with one major difference. Then, it was the Jews of Europe who had become de-legitimized. Now, it is the State of Israel that the world is de-legitimizing — putting the entire Jewish world in deep danger.

The solution is authentic, faith-based Jewish leadership for Israel.
Manhigut Yehudit (the Israel political party of Moshe Feiglin) is building that Jewish leadership. Our job today is to make people aware, and to prepare ourselves to lead. If we persevere, we will have the support and tools to step in when the time is ripe. Then, when God deems fit, we will be poised to take the leadership reigns and bring the Jewish nation back from Shushan to Jerusalem — to itself, its God, and its Jewish destiny. True Jewish leadership will not bow to the Hamans of the world.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2010

Syria - Another Obama Diplomatic Triumph

By MICHAEL FREUND

The Jewish Press, February 19, 2010

If you listened carefully this past week, you could almost hear the sound of champagne glasses clinking together loudly in Damascus, as Syrian President Bashar Assad undoubtedly raised a toast to celebrate Washington’s latest act of groveling before his autocratic government. Just days after Assad’s regime had engaged in a war of words with the Jewish state, threatening America’s closest ally in the region, Barack Obama decided to respond by conferring upon him yet another undeserved diplomatic gift.

In a truly breathtaking display of weakness, the U.S. State Department indicated it was ramping up its “dialogue” with Assad and had agreed to send a high-level American diplomat — Undersecretary of State William Bums — to pay him a courtesy call in the Syrian capital. Incredibly, when asked about the matter last Friday at the daily State Department press briefing, spokesman Phillip J. Crowley told reporters that the Burns visit “reflects our growing interest in working constructively with Syria and the leaders of that country.” Now isn’t that sweet.

The Obama administration would like to “work constructively” with a government that is allied with Iran, supports Hamas and Hizbullah terrorists, and has aided the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq to do battle with American servicemen. Good luck with that one, Mr. Bums.

Indeed, it was just two weeks ago, on February 3, that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem made the following “constructive” comments to reporters: “Don’t test the determination of Syria, Israelis. You know that war this time would move to your cities.” Muallem’s remarks raised eyebrows even among the Western press, with ABC News noting that, ‘The threatening language implied Syria would be willing and able to target Israeli population centers with long-range missiles in a conflict. It was the first time such a threat had been made.” But, that brazen act of intimidation on Syria’s part barely seemed to register with the White House, which appears determined to rush headlong into a warm embrace with Muallem’s boss.

Another compelling sign of the sea-change in American policy came last month. On a visit to Damascus, Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell reportedly notified Assad that a new American ambassador to Damascus would soon take up his post. This will mark the first time the U.S. is sending an ambassador to Syria since February 2005. At the time, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recalled diplomat Margaret Scobey after the Syrian government allegedly ordered the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Now, five years later, all that is forgotten, as Washington intensifies its inexplicable romance with this brutal regime.

To be sure, one could argue it is in America’s interests to attempt to pry Syria away from its Iranian allies, particularly in light of the mounting tension with Tehran over its nuclear program. And, there is no doubt that were Syria to change tack, and abandon its extremist policies, it would have a profound impact on the stability of the Middle East. That is precisely where Obama is making such a terrible and foolhardy mistake.

Attempts to woo Damascus into the so-called moderate Arab camp date back to the Clinton administration, and they have produced nothing but frustration and failure. Here is just one example: back in May 2003, Secretary of State Cohn Powell met with Assad and declared that Syria had promised to close the offices of terror groups such as Hamas which were operating in downtown Damascus. Nearly seven years later, that simple and very basic promise remains unfulfilled.

The fact is, Syria is firmly ensconced in the rejectionist camp and no amount of cozying up to Assad or kowtowing to his demands is going to change that. Moreover, the message Obama is sending is both hazardous and counterproductive, as Damascus has done nothing to deserve the gestures and attention that it is getting from Washington. If anything, the Syrians will see that they can persist with regional mischief-making while still reaping some handsome diplomatic rewards in the process.

Only a firm stance, which directly links American gestures to verifiable changes in Syrian behavior, can possibly hope to elicit any modification to Damascus’s policies. But, such an approach does not currently appear to be in the offing. Instead, Assad and his cronies will continue to enjoy a good laugh at Obama’s expense, as they surely marvel at how the last remaining superpower beats a hurried and ill-conceived path to their door. As for the rest of us, we can only look on in wonder and distress as America’s position and role in the world are weakened still further. And, that, of course, is no laughing matter.

Michael Freund served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews seeking to return to the Jewish people.”

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:38 AM | Comments (0)