September 29, 2010

George Soros’ money usurps power of US voting booth

George Soros vs. judicial elections

By Dan Pero

The Washington Times, September 20, 2010

Stripping people of power, giving lawyers control of courts

During the past decade, a lavishly funded, highly coordinated campaign has been under way to shift America's judiciary fundamentally to the left by keeping conservative judges off state courts. This campaign is being orchestrated and funded by the Open Society Institute (OSI), the political arm of billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros.

According to a study released this week by the American Justice Partnership, OSI has spent at least $45.4 million to promote the so-called merit selection system and reduce the influence of citizens and their elected representatives when it comes to picking judges.

Approximately 95 percent of civil disputes in the United States wind up in state courts, giving the judges who hear these cases enormous influence over our lives, property and business affairs. The authors of our state constitutions recognized the need for a check on this power, which is why 39 states hold some form of judicial elections.

The goal was to balance the virtues of independence and accountability in the judiciary by requiring judges to assume office by the consent of the people. Under "merit" selection, however, the power to select judges is transferred from the people to a small, unelected, unaccountable commission made up primarily of legal elites - and is often stacked with representatives of powerful special-interest groups such as state trial lawyers' associations.

The plan is sold as a way to keep politics out of America's courtrooms, but it merely shifts politics to the backrooms where merit selection committees meet outside of public view to determine who will control our courts.

The best way to understand "merit" selection is to consider what would happen if the federal system for selecting judges was modified by requiring the president to choose a Supreme Court nominee served up by the American Trial Lawyers Association and the American Bar Association.

Imagine a committee made up of seven people - three lawyers from the American Bar Association, three lawyers from the American Trial Lawyers Association, and Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation thrown in to "prove" that this committee is "nonpartisan."

Does anyone seriously believe there's a chance that committee would give us a Justice Antonin Scalia, or Clarence Thomas, or Samuel A. Alito Jr. or a Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. - or any nominee whose judicial philosophy is to follow strictly the Constitution and the law?

That, in a nutshell, is what "merit" selection has become in our states - a rigged game that puts legal special interests in charge of choosing our state judges. OSI's $45 million (and counting) judiciary campaign is run by another Soros-grantee organization, called Justice at Stake.

Other groups supping at the Soros trough include the People for the American Way Foundation ($2.1 million in funding), the American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education ($2.2 million) and the League of Women Voters Education Fund ($1.7 million). Even Planned Parenthood gets in on the act.

What type of judges can we expect under merit selection if and when the OSI network succeeds in abolishing democratic judicial elections? A good example can be found in Wisconsin. In 2004, Democratic Gov. James E. Doyle appointed Louis Butler to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. According to Charles Sykes in a report for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, Justice Butler was appointed in "open defiance" of voters who had rejected him by a 2-1 margin when he had run for election four years earlier.

As soon as Justice Butler joined the bench, he immediately shifted the direction of the court sharply to the left. Before long, the new activist majority in Wisconsin began inventing new legal theories out of thin air that exposed businesses to new litigation threats and destroyed the medical malpractice reforms painstakingly enacted by the state legislature. Fortunately, Justice Butler had to go before the people one more time to secure his spot on the seat and was defeated in his election campaign.

Or consider Missouri, the birthplace of "merit" selection. In the Show Me State, three of the seven members of the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission have ties to the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers. Perhaps that's why 20 of the last 21 nominees to the state Supreme Court have been supporters or contributors to the Democratic Party or members of the state's trial bar lobby. When Gov. Matt Blunt tried to appoint a justice who would practice judicial restraint - as he had specifically pledged to Missouri voters - he was blocked by the merit selection commission.

The political intent behind Justice at Stake, the Open Society Institute and the entire $45.4 million judiciary campaign is readily apparent. Because the far left has been unsuccessful at persuading the public to elect judges who share its partisan ideological views, it is determined to end the public's role in selecting judges.

For proponents of judicial restraint, the question comes down to this: Are we going to trust the good intentions of the trial bar and other legal elites? Or are we going to put our faith in the wisdom and judgment of the people?

Dan Pero is president of the American Justice Partnership, a national organization dedicated to promoting judicial accountability and legal reform at the state level.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:46 AM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2010

The Myth of ACORN'S Dissolution - "A Shell Game"

Excerpted from report by:
US House of Representatives
Staff Report - Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Darrell Issa (CA-49) Ranking Member

On February 18, 2010, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans, in a staff report, described ACORN'S financial management as a "shell game ... designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators.'" ACORN officials, however, appear to be trying to dupe government officials and the American public through false and misleading claims about ending operations.

ACORN officials told the New York Times that "at least 15 of the group's 30 state chapters have disbanded and have no plans of re-forming." On Sunday March 21,2010, it was reported that the ACORN Board met to discuss the closing of state affiliates and field offices. However, claims that ACORN is disbanding have been greatly exaggerated. ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told National Public Radio, "[ACORN is] not dead, yet."

ACORN'S new affiliates have filed corporate registrations in Secretary of State offices throughout the country. Based upon its review of these corporate filings. Committee investigators have discovered that Affordable Housing Centers of America, Inc. maintains the same Tax Identification Number as ACORN Housing, Inc., its predecessor. This means that, for tax purposes. Affordable Housing Centers of America and ACORN Housing are the same.

Additionally, Committee investigators found that several new ACORN affiliates maintain the same boards, staff and Employer Identification Numbers as former ACORN offices. This reflects the lack of true change or reform between these new organizations and their predecessors. ACORN affiliates in various states are also changing their names in what has been described as, "a desperate bid to ditch the tarnished name of their parent organization and restore federal grants and other revenue streams."

In California, ACORN is now the Alliance of Califomians for Community Empowerment ("ACCE"), In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, ACORN is New England United for Justice. In New York, ACORN is New York Communities for Change. In Arkansas, ACORN has become Arkansas Community Organizations ("ACO").

...These rebrandings and transactions indicate that local chapters are not forcibly separating themselves from ACORN, but are attempting to reinvent themselves through a process done in full coordination with ACORN and its national senior leadership including Bertha Lewis. The close coordination of the rebranding process signals a level of continued control that ACORN'S senior officials exert over newly rebranded affiliates.

ACORN and its affiliates appear to be following a strategy that will allow it to rehabilitate important state and local chapters under new names and then solicit private donations and public grants. ACORN is clearly reeling from public and official scrutiny of its many misdeeds. Documents and investigation, however, reveal that changes taking place at ACORN are the result of financial hardship and a desire to rebrand without real reform. Rebrandings should not be mistaken for real reforms which would, at a minimum, have to include a house cleaning of ACORN leadership, organizational transparency, and an exclusive focus on charitable work and services.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2010

Security pros say Shari'ah (Islamic Law) a danger to U.S.

Obama policy change urged

By Bill Gertz

The Washington Times
September 14, 2010


A panel of national security experts who worked under Republican and Democratic presidents is urging the Obama administration to abandon its stance that Islam is not linked to terrorism, arguing that radical Muslims are using Islamic law to subvert the United States.

In a report set for release today, the panel states that "it is vital to the national security of the United States, and to Western civilization at large, that we do what we can to empower Islam's authentic moderates and reformers."

The study group, sponsored by the conservative-oriented Center for Security Policy, says in its report that proponents of advancing Islamic law mark the "crucial fault line" in Islam's internal divisions separating truly moderate Muslims, like the late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, from the large portion of the world's 1 billion Muslims who advocate imposing what they call Shariah law throughout the world. Mr. Wahid, who died in December, is a widely respected Muslim visionary who promoted pluralism in Indonesia, which has the world's largest population of Muslims.

According to the report, proponents of Shariah are "Muslim supremacists" waging "civilization jihad" along with the Islamist terrorists engaged in violent jihad, like al Qaeda. The 19-member study group was led by retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the George W. Bush administration, and retired Army Lt. Gen. Harry E. Soyster, Defense Intelligence Agency director from 1988 to 1991.
Included in the team of former defense, law enforcement and intelligence officials were Clinton administration CIA Director R. James Woolsey and Andrew C. McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney in New York, a career counterterrorism prosecutor during the Clinton administration.

Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy, said the Obama administration's policy is based on an incorrect assumption. The Team B report seeks to expose flaws in anti-terror programs, including the policy of not referring to al Qaeda and similar groups as "Islamist" to avoid offending Muslims, he said. "What if it turns out that some of the people the Obama administration has been embracing are actually promoting the same totalitarian ideology and seditious agenda as al Qaeda, only they're doing it from White House Iftar dinners?" said Mr. Gaffney, referring to the daily meal eaten by Muslims to break their fast during Ramadan.

The group of experts was modeled after the official CIA Team B, whose 1976 contrary analysis said U.S. intelligence assessments had underestimated Soviet nuclear forces. That Team B report led to the military buildup under the Reagan administration.

John Brennan, deputy White House national security adviser for counterterrorism, told the Washington Times in June that he disagrees that, “there is an Islamic dimension to terrorism.”
The administration’s policy of not using the word “Islam” and its derivatives to describe today’s fundamentalist terrorist is aimed at “ not according these individuals any religious legitimacy,” he said.

A White House spokesman could not be reached for comment on the report.

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

September 22, 2010

Netanyahu Flunks Litmus Test of Israeli Prime Ministers

So, what else is new?

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

By: Jerold S. Auerbach
The Jewish Press, September 15, 2010

Earlier this month in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu bent over backward to placate President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Urging everyone to "think outside the box," he called for a "historic compromise" between Israelis and Palestinians. Even before negotiations began, Netanyahu reassured Abbas: "You are my partner in peace."
 
That very week, as if to demonstrate the folly of Netanyahu's expectations, Palestinians acted with pitiless brutality. Hamas terrorists murdered four Israelis from Beit Hagai outside Hebron. Yitzhak and Talya Imes left six orphaned children. Kochava Even-Hayim, mother of a young daughter, was in her ninth month of pregnancy. Avishai Shindler had only recently moved to Beit Hagai with his wife.
 
This horrific tragedy had no discernible impact on Netanyahu. He was not deflected from his hollow rhetoric of peace, nor did he return to Israel for the multiple funerals. He seemed content merely to reiterate that "the Jewish people are not strangers in our homeland . But we recognize that another people share this land with us."
 
He must have been pleased when a New York Times editorial, with its predictable rhetorical denial whenever Israelis are murdered, praised him for not leaving Washington after the massacre by Hamas "rejectionists."
 
There are, to be sure, multiple issues for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve: final boundaries; the status of Jerusalem; the return of so-called Palestinian refugees (the overwhelming majority of whom have been born since 1948); and, not least, the status of Jewish "settlements," the communities built since the Six-Day War in Judea and Samaria, the biblical homeland of the Jewish people.
 
At the moment, the settlement issue looms largest. The ten-month moratorium on settlement construction, to which the Netanyahu government agreed after vigorous arm-twisting by Obama, is due to expire on September 26. Shored up by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu has declared he will not extend it. If he doesn't, Abbas has promised to exit the newest chapter in the "peace process" charade that began at Oslo nearly twenty years ago.
 
Will Netanyahu flinch or stand firm when Obama holds his hand to the fire?
 
Anyone who believes that settlement in the Land of Israel is what Zionism has always been about may, for good reason, be wary of Netanyahu's assurances. In 1997, during his first term as prime minister, he caved in to pressure from President Clinton to relinquish all but a tiny sliver of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority. In their most ancient holy city, burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, Jews are confined to a ghetto, surrounded by (and also living among) hostile Palestinians - including those who committed the recent murders.
 
For more than forty years Jewish settlements have provided a litmus test for Israeli prime ministers. In one vital respect, they all have failed it. Regardless of their party affiliation, or their location on the hawk/dove spectrum (personified at its extremes by Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres), they have declined to articulate the compelling, indeed irrefutable, justifications for these settlements in this location.
 
There is, of course, the two-thousand-year-old yearning of religious Jews, endlessly repeated in prayer, to return to their ancient homeland. And settlement, after all, is what Zionism has always been about. But Israeli politicians have been oblivious to the reinforcement of these claims, ever since 1920, under international law. Their silence reinforces the incessant and erroneous worldwide allegations that settlements violate international legal norms.
 
By now, however, an array of legal scholars has convincingly demonstrated otherwise. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, calling for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," was endorsed by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine three years later at the San Remo Conference. The Mandate recognized "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," where they would now be guaranteed the right of "close settlement." Geographically defined, "Palestine" comprised the land east and west of the Jordan River that eventually became Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
 
Jewish settlement in Palestine was limited in only one respect: Great Britain, the Mandatory Trustee, retained the discretion to "withhold" the right of Jews to settle east but not west of the Jordan River. Consistent with that solitary exception, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill removed the land east of the river, comprising three-quarters of Palestine, to create Trans-Jordan (now Jordan). But the right of Jews to "close settlement" in truncated Palestine, west of the Jordan River, and to build their national home there, remained unchanged.
 
These terms of the Palestine Mandate have never been modified, abridged or annulled. In the Charter of the United Nations, drafted in 1945, Article 80 explicitly protected the rights of "any peoples" under "the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties." Drafted by, among others, Ben-Zion Netanyahu (Prime Minister Netanyahu's father), it became known as "the Palestine clause." It preserved for Jews the right of "close settlement" throughout western Palestine.
 
When Jordan invaded the fledgling State of Israel in 1948, it illegally annexed the territory that became known as the West Bank. But with Jordan's defeat nineteen years later in the Six-Day War, a "vacuum of sovereignty" existed there. Under international law, the Israeli military administration became the custodian of the West Bank until its return to the rightful sovereign. In November 1967 United Nations Resolution 242, approved by the Security Council, authorized Israel to administer the West Bank until - not before - "a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" is achieved.
 
Even then, Israel would only be required to withdraw "from territories," not from "the" territories or "all the territories." Such proposals were defeated in both the General Assembly and Security Council. No prohibition on Jewish settlement, wherever the League of Nations Mandate had guaranteed it, was adopted. Under international law Jews retain the same right to live in Hebron that they enjoy in Tel Aviv.
 
According to Stephen Schwebel, who served as a judge on the International Court of Justice (1981-2000), the allocation of land in Palestine west of the Jordan River to Jews for their homeland remains in force until the signing of a peace treaty determines otherwise. The persistent attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Jewish settlements, international law expert Julius Stone has written, is a "subversion of basic international law principles."
 
But Israelis, like the international community that vilifies them, have forgotten, or chosen to disregard, the legal foundation for Jewish settlements. Beginning with David Ben-Gurion, as Howard Grief indicates in The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel Under International Law, Israeli political leaders - and their ambassadors - have ignored the San Remo Resolution of 1920. But it remains the legally binding definition of the right of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, in western "Palestine."
 
President Obama, doubtlessly ignorant of these legal guarantees, has described Jewish settlements as "illegitimate." Palestinian Authority chairman Abbas, recognizing a sympathetic fellow traveler, has asked Obama to "intervene" to divest Israel of land that properly belongs to the Jewish state. Even if Netanyahu remembers the lesson he surely learned at his father's knee, it is unlikely he will stand up to Obama. Like his recent predecessors, he has already clearly signaled his willingness to surrender the land on which Jews still retain the right of "close settlement."
 
It is time for an Israeli prime minister to finally affirm the legal right of Jews, guaranteed ninety years ago by the League of Nations and never rescinded, to settle anywhere within their national homeland west of the Jordan River. That would truly demonstrate Netanyahu's commitment to thinking outside the box.
 
Jerold S. Auerbach, author of "Hebron Jews" (2009), is completing a book about the sinking of the Altalena.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:06 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2010

What now Israel? Iran has a nuclear bomb

Predictably, the pathetic Obama, UN, EU, Russian sanctions have done exactly nothing

The Nuclear Year

By Moshe Feiglin
The Jewish Press, September 10, 2010

Translated from the Hebrew article in Makor Rishon. September 1, 2010

As these words are being written, the door on Israel's military option to destroy the Iranian nuclear threat is being closed tight. An attack on a "hot" nuclear reactor near a crowded city is tantamount to dropping a nuclear bomb on a civilian population. It is not reasonable to think that Israel, which did not muster up the necessary courage to withstand the expected response to bombing cement and steel, will dare bomb a live nuclear reactor. If Israel does not attack Bushehr in the wee bit of time left – and clearly, it won't – we can sorrowfully say that Israel has failed miserably in dealing with this major existential challenge.

While Israeli society is busy with "life and death" issues like the reportedly forged Galant document or the trial of former president Katzav, the curtain is slowly closing on Israel's ability to prevent the modern day Hitler from equipping himself with nuclear weapons.

This does not mean immediate destruction of the State of Israel. It is much more likely that what will happen is a steady deterioration of Israel's sovereignty – a snowball that will be unstoppable using our current tools. A country that is incapable of halting an enemy that threatens to destroy it loses its deterrence and invites intensifying political and terrorist pressure. The "solution", as always, will be total retreat from Judea and Samaria, with an assortment of other solutions on the way to the final one.

This does not really surprise any Israeli. Deep down, the Nation of Israel has come to terms with this reality. The average Israeli lives his life on borrowed time, feels that reality is closing in on him and that the arena on which he lives is shrinking under his feet. The Iranian nuclear threat is one million times too big for the average citizen – no matter how intelligent he may be. In addition, Israelis receive a 24 hour a day brainwashing about Katzav, Galant and the latest reality show – and cannot begin to think about anything serious. They have no choice but to depend on Israel's political leadership.

In this seemingly impossible reality, our current leadership seems to be the best that we can hope for. Our government is exquisitely balanced between the Jewish majority - that has been totally desensitized by the media - and the leftist power elites in Israel's society. This government is being run without any major corruption scandals and maintains a high standard of living and government services for its citizens. What more can we ask for? And if this government did not manage to stop the Iranian bomb – then it must really be unstoppable.

To understand what can be done, we must understand the roots of the failure. Israel lost the battle against Iran in Gush Katif. (The Jewish settlements within Gaza). The expulsion of the Jews and destruction of their settlements was justifiably understood by the world as an absolute admission of the justness of the "Palestinian" narrative. It "proved" that the "Palestinian" claims on the entire Land are true. A person doesn't readily volunteer to give up parts of his home. If he does so, he essentially recognizes the fact that the house belongs to the party claiming that all of it is his.

Since the Expulsion, pressure on Israel has not weakened, as the proponents of the "Disengagement" promised. On the contrary, it has intensified by leaps and bounds. The ethical backbone of those who "compromised for peace" was not strengthened. It completely disappeared. Achmadinijad lectures in the West, while Israel's ministers are wanted as international criminals.

The State of Israel that flees its Jewish identity and attempts to base itself on the values of enlightened man – in other words, on the values of the Western world – finds itself with no tools with which to deal with the international attack against its legitimate right to exist. From the Western mentality arena – enlightened, Christian, secular, seemingly practical – it is no longer possible to supply an answer to the existential threat hanging over Israel. It is amazing to see how although Israel is at its highest point ever both economically and militarily, we cannot effectively counter the most basic threat against us.

There is, though, a different mentality-arena on which we can play. At one point or another, we will have no choice but to stand upon it. No, it is not an expanded alliance with Greece or just one more maneuver on the existing, shrinking arena. It is the Jewish arena. When the State of Israel will firmly plant itself upon it, it will enjoy full justification for its existence. When Israeli society will make peace with its Jewish identity; when it will be willing to fight and make sacrifices for the values that derive from this identity - we will be able to announce our intention to bomb the nuclear reactor in Bushehr, give the civilian population ample time to evacuate – and destroy the threat.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2010

A problematical Rosh Hashanah blessing from Barack Obama

No Sweetness for Jews from Obama on Rosh Hashanah

2010 September 12

by Karin McQuillan
 
For once could Obama show a little sweetness for America’s Jews?
This week Jews across America celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and received holiday greetings from our President that were remarkable for their offensive preachiness. 

Beyond a perfunctory wish for a sweet New Year, Jews got a lecture on the Two State solution.  American Jews were told this is a time to repent, think of those in need, embrace diversity, cultivate humility and compassion, move beyond differences with the Palestinians, and choose the Two State solution. Not a single word of praise for Judaism or American Jews.  Not one.

For that matter, after the first sentence, the word Jew does not appear, and Judaism is not mentioned by name at all. Obama doesn’t seem to like speaking about Jews or Judaism.  (In his Ramadan message which is one hundred words shorter, the words Muslim and Islam are used seven times.)

For the sake of comparison, look at President George Bush’s 2001 message , or President Reagan’s superb Rosh Hashanah message in 1984:
Nancy and I hear (the shofar’s) call and are reminded by it that so much in our American heritage is drawn from the religious values enunciated during the Jewish High Holy Days…. The ties between the Jewish and American traditions run deep and are related in no small way to the special relationship that exists between the United States and Israel — a relationship based on the common spiritual and ethical values encompassed in the shofar’s call to prayer.

To appreciate how arrogant Obama’s Rosh Hashanah statement was, compare it to Obama’s words on Christmas, Ramadan, or St. Patrick’s day.  St. Patrick’s is a model of normal politic blarney on an ethnic holiday.  Obama’s Ramadan message is a weird world of sycophantic praise:

“Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. … Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.”

Obama seems to have a tin ear about how cartoonishly false his list of Muslim virtues sounds – it’s actually a list of what Islam is not.  Yet these precise virtues are strikingly true of American Jews, for whom Obama had not a word of praise. 

On Rosh Hashanah Obama did not recall any Jewish contributions to America, while on Ramadan we were told Moslem contributions to America are ‘extraordinary.”  Can you think of a single one?  Can you imagine American medicine, physics, the space program, hi tech industry, finance industry, the entertainment industry from Bogey & Bacall to White Christmas, the civil rights movement…the list is endless… without Jews?

It is Judaism that is an essential part of the Judeo-Christian values that forged this country starting with the Mayflower. (Read On Two Wings: Humble Faith and Common Sense at the American Founding by Michael Novak.  The first American to fight against discrimination was Asser Levy, who won the right to bear arms rather than pay a special Jewish tax levied by Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant.

Obama praises “Islam’s role in advancing justice…and the dignity of all human beings.”  Islam is world famous for its injustice.  BHO has not a word of praise for Jewish justice.  Yet the Hebrew Bible invented equality before the law, starting with Genesis where all humans are created equally in G-d’s image, and going on to teach in Leviticus 19, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” and “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”  (Get that Justice Kagan?)

And for Christmas?  When it comes to Christianity, Obama can’t even finish a complete sentence. Obama is capable of sweet talk when he wants to.  When it comes to Israel, American Jews, or America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, the feeling just isn’t there.  All he wants to do is wag his finger at us.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2010

Obama Pay-off of Trial Lawyer’s Support with Tax Payer Dollars!

EDITORIAL: AMA vs. greedy lawyers

The Washington Times
6:23 p.m., Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A proposed special-interest tax break for plaintiffs' lawyers would add billions of dollars in federal spending and jack up costs to consumers. It's nothing more than a direct subsidy from taxpayers to ambulance chasers.

That was the message of a strongly worded letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner from the American Medical Association 42 national medical groups representing specialties such as radiology, cardiology and gastroenterology, and the medical associations of 47 states and the District of Columbia.

The Treasury is considering an administrative ruling - as an end run around Congress - that would allow trial lawyers to take tax deductions upfront for client expenses the lawyers can later collect from clients if they win their cases. The AMA is right to blow the whistle on this naked political payoff to the trial lawyers who so lavishly fund liberal Democratic campaigns.

The Joint Tax Committee estimated the tax subsidy would cost the Treasury $1.57 billion. According to the medical associations, the change introduces "a financial incentive" for lawyers to file frivolous suits against doctors and health care organizations, which average $22,000 to defend. "This leads to increased costs for physicians and patients - money that could otherwise be spent expanding coverage to the uninsured," the association letter states. "Given that ... the Congressional Budget Office estimates that effective medical-liability reforms would decrease defensive medicine and save the government $54 billion over 10 years, we find it perplexing that the Treasury Department would consider a change in policy that could add to the cost of health care."

The reason the Obama Treasury Department is entertaining such a costly policy was revealed last year by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, himself a medical doctor. At a town-hall meeting held by Virginia Democratic Rep. James P. Moran Jr., Dr. Dean explained that Obamacare didn't contain tort reform "because the people who write it did not want to take on the trial lawyers." This obeisance is because the top trial-lawyer lobby routinely gives 95 percent or more of its political donations to Democrats.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, wrote to Treasury on July 22 demanding all documents related to the proposed trial-lawyer tax break and an explanation for it. As of yesterday, Treasury hadn't replied. That's hardly a surprise, because there is no justification for the payoff.

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

September 14, 2010

Finally, a rational approach to the Koran-burning Fiasco

Islam must turn other cheek

By Nolan Finley, Editorial page Editor
The Detroit News, September 12, 2010

How absurd is it that the deranged pastor of a tiny Florida church can make the entire world hold its breath just by threatening to burn a book?

The Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville is a hate-filled nut, for sure. But nothing he's done or vowed to do in offering what can only be viewed rationally as a minor insult to Islam merits the paranoia in the West about a worldwide wave of bloodshed at the hands of offended radicals.

Jones was implored not to carry out his promise to burn a copy of the Quran by, among others, the United Nations, the pope, Gen.general David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. His back-and-forth deliberating was covered as if it was another Bay of Pigs stand-off and this scruffy preacher had his finger on the button.

Come on. Jones should have been entirely ignored. He's not an official of our government, nor is he a national leader in any fashion. He's an obscure redneck, or at least he was until the cameras showed up at his 50-member church. That Jones captured so much attention is an indication of what the West is up against in its effort to coexist with Islam.

Yeah, I know -- all Muslims aren't mayhem makers. But the lunatic fringe is apparently wide enough to trigger an extreme overreaction from our nation's top offices to a silly little publicity stunt. If Muslim sensibilities are so tender they can't ignore the bizarre rants of an insignificant American fanatic then this is a culture with a serious anger management issue, and one the West can't help with.

There's no way to head-off every potential slight to Islam. Last time it was Danish cartoons, this time it's a Pentecostal pew jumper who lays down his snakes to strike a match. Tomorrow, an atheist in Italy may name his dog Mohammad, or a biker in Australia will have a likeness of the prophet tattooed on his backside.

The only answer is for Islam to grow up. Religion invites antagonism; get used to it. Using the destruction of a book as an excuse to rampage is unacceptable and immature. A Quran, like a Bible, is a physical thing. What makes both books holy are the ideas and inspiration they contain, not the pages and ink. The religion won't be broken by taunts, or by bonfires.

Burning a Quran in the Florida swamps doesn't weaken the foundation of Islam any more than burning an American flag in Pakistan dents our nation's underpinnings, or coating an icon of the Virgin Mary with elephant poop, like that "artist" once did in Cincinnati, undermines Christianity.

Grown-ups shrug off such affronts for the ignorance they are, and move on. They don't go nuts, as the radicals did after the cartoon episode. We've had the mantra "Islam is a religion of peace" drilled into us for the past nine years. But Muslims still have some work to do to make that case. Peaceful religions aren't so easily provoked to violence. Religions of peace turn the other cheek.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:33 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2010

1. Why is Israel Retreating?

By Professor Paul Eidelberg
The Jewish Press, September 3, 2010

2. POLL: Palestinians Endorse Violence
From: Week in Review
Compiled by Jason Maoz, editor, Jewish Press

3. Query to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

1. Israel is constantly retreating. Why? Is it U.S. pressure? What prevents Israel from standing up to pressure? There may be several answers to this question, but I dare say the decisive answer is this:

Israel's policy-makers and opinion-makers - politicians and political analysts - have removed G-d and the Sinai Covenant (with G-d Almighty) from the domain of statecraft. Israel's ruling elites have therefore emasculated themselves and eroded the Jewish people's confidence in the justice of Israel's cause. This is not so with Arab rulers and that's why they are advancing.

Stated another way: Whereas Israeli politicians and political analysts view the conflict between Jews and Arabs in political terms. Israel's enemies view the conflict in religious or theological terms. As a consequence, Israel's elites believe that the conflict between Jews and Arabs can be resolved by negotiations and mutual concessions. In contrast, the Arabs may agree to engage in negotiations, but their Koran precludes them from reaching any lasting agreement with infidels based on compromise or reciprocity.

Now, you don't have to be religious to understand that compromising with an uncompromising foe is self-defeating. But, if you lack religious convictions and the courage of such convictions, you're likely to succumb to a smug political "realism" even though such realism is demonstrably unrealistic in the Arab-Israel conflict.

Furthermore, once politicians and political analysts have pursued and construed the Arab-Israel conflict in secular or political terms - and have done so year after year - it would be extremely difficult for them to change their language of discourse and adopt a religious or meta-political approach. It needs to be stressed however, that their failure to change their secular peace process rhetoric has pernicious consequences.

First of all, their pliant political language encourages Arabs to persist in their religious objective, to destroy Israel. Second, their merely political approach induces the people of Israel to believe that by making territorial concessions to the enemy, reciprocity will follow and thus lead, eventually, to an end of the conflict.

Gulled by their political and intellectual leaders, Israelis do not understand that reciprocity is impossible! It's impossible because the Arabs can offer no equivalent to Jewish territory - nothing more than words on a piece of paper. But, while Israeli politicians and political analysts persist in omitting G-d from public discourse - omitting, therefore, Israel's G-d-given right to the Land of Israel - they render the people of this country more inclined to support territorial concessions to the enemy, thus risking their survival.

Now, in contrast to Israel's secular elites, who minimize the all-important religious dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict, consider their Arab counterparts. Thus, even before the Six-Day War, one Arab commentator declared: "The propagandists of secularism, who leave out of account the religious factor in the Palestine problem, ignore the fact that this is the only bone of contention in the world which has persisted for thirty centuries..."

Another Arab spokesman avowed: "... apart from the political conflict, there is a basic philosophical and spiritual incompatibility between the two contending nationalisms. Even if all political disputes were to be resolved, the two movements, Zionism and Arab Nationalism, (And, the entire Western world, for that matter) jsk, would remain spiritually and ideologically, worlds apart - living in separate 'universes of discourse' which are incapable of communication or meaningful dialogue."

These Arabs are serious - something that cannot be said of Israel's secular elite who, even if they recognize Islam's genocidal objectives, fail to adjust their policies and analyses to the theological reality of the Middle East. They fail to see that Israel's only realistic approach is to sanctify G-d's Name, that is, to go on the offensive by emphasizing the Sinai Covenant, which alone can inspire and solidify the Jewish people on the one hand, and justify as well as perpetuate Jewish possession of Eretz Yisrael on the other.

Professor Eidelberg is the founder and president of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, a Jerusalem-based think tank for improving Israel's system of governance. He can be reached through the FCD website:
http://www.foundationl.org

And, to absolutely prove Professor Eidelberg's discussion above:

From the same Jewish Press, Week in Review
Compiled by Jason Maoz, editor:

POLL: PALESTINIANS ENDORSE VIOLENCE:

A survey of 3,001 Arab residents in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, conducted last month by the PA-affiliated Arab World for Research & Development, found that 86.3 percent of respondents see violence for the purpose of achieving a Palestinian State as anywhere between "essential" and "tolerable."

In addition, 75 percent of those polled say the demilitarization of a future PA State is "unacceptable and over 84 percent say it is "essential" that all of Jerusalem, including the areas that have been Israel's capital since 1948, be part of a future PA state.

Query to PM NETANYAHU:
So with whom and for what are you negotiating and giving away vital Israeli territory in your obvious disregard of the simple facts above? Are you hellbent on destroying your own country? Do you really want another terror state breathing on your back and making you even more defenseless?

Jerome S. Kaufman

PS Comment from reader, V.L., Sept. 13:

Mr. Kaufman i agree with you that Israel is losing because they remove God in negotiating with Arabs. [Deuteronomy 4:5-6] One day the only safe place for Israel is the ancient forgotten city of Petra.That will be the time they will call on God to save them.I am sorry that your politicians are so thirsty with peace that they are so blinded to see the sword of Omar hidden in the waist of this traitors and betrayers of peace. Israel had sacrifice much, Namely- the Sinai, Gaza and the innocent victims of political accommodation and compromise that is endless.The same in the Philippines, the Muslims wants to have their own homeland but that is beyond the galaxy


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:14 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2010

Ford Motor, Obama and TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program)

Newsmax Magazine September 2010

"The Hype does not match the reality"

FORD MOTOR CO.'S REFUSAL to take a government bailout in 2009 seemed like an act of pure business bravado. Today, it seems brilliant. Despite record losses and plummeting sales, (at that time), Ford spumed a financial lifeline in the form of controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, funds in January 2009. Ford's rivals at General Motors and Chrysler, however, snapped up billions in bailout cash.

While Ford has weathered the recession and seen sales stabilize, GM and Chrylser have struggled to repay their debts and have been damaged by onerous federal meddling in their businesses that came attached to the TARP funds. Perhaps worst of all is the damage to their reputations as poorly managed corporate welfare recipients who have been unwilling to pay back the government that rescued them.

(Not to mention the very questionable diversion of near 1/3 of their assets to the United Auto Workers, reneging on corporate bond obligations to the general public and pension funds in which they had placed their life savings) jsk.

When General Motors claimed in April that it had re-paid $6.7 billion it took from the government, a top Republican lawmaker fired back, saying that the automaker simply shuffled federal bailout funds to pay back taxpayers. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa scolded GM for failing to acknowledge that the government still owns nearly 61 percentof the Detroit automaker. He questioned whether taxpayers would ever be compensated fully: "The hype does not match the reality. Taxpayers have not been repaid in full - far from it. Much of it will never be repaid."

In fact, GM made the loan payment from a $16 billion escrow fund the government created as part of the company's bankruptcy last year. Also, the majority of the $52 billion in federal aid to GM was converted into a 61 percent government ownership stake. Grassley calls it "an elaborate TARP money shuffle amounting to "taking TARP money out of one account to pay back TARP loans in another account."

Chrysler has paid back $1.9 billion to settle a $4 billion TARP loan. In a statement, a Treasury spokesman said. This repayment, while less than face value, is significantly more than the Treasury expected to recover on this loan." The government owns 9 percent of Chrysler. By taking the money, GM and Chrysler also were saddled with another burden Ford avoided: government orders for drastic business decisions such as shuttering under-performing dealerships.

The governments's own auditor recently concluded that the hasty decision to close scores of dealerships actually exacerbated job loss, while failing to achieve the promised cost savings. GM shutdown more than 2,000 dealer Chrysler eliminated 789 dealers, or about a quarter of its network, with less than a month's notice.

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

September 06, 2010

Will Obama Use His UN Veto?

By Steven J. Rosen

COMMENTARY

September 2010

Just before dawn on May 31, 2010, a team of Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship to enforce a blockade against the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza. As they came aboard, the Israelis were assaulted by a violent faction of Islamic militants. A melee followed in which several of the commandos were seriously injured and nine of the Turkish militants were killed. The clash was over before the sun came up.

It was still daylight when, 5,600 miles away, the Israeli delegation to the United Nations was summoned to appear before an emergency session of the Security Council to be chastised for the actions of the commandos. Convened just hours after the violence, the council spent the night of May 31, into the wee hours of the morning, absorbed in "a highly emotional emergency session...[to express] international anger over the Israeli attack," as the Washington Post described it.

The scene was a familiar one. In 1983, Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, described it thus: "What takes place in the Security Council more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem-solving....Israel is cast as villain...in [a] melodrama...that features...many attackers and a great deal of verbal violence....The goal is isolation and humiliation of the victim....The attackers, encountering no obstacles, grow bolder, while other nations become progressively more reluctant to associate themselves with the accused, out of fear that they themselves will become a target of bloc hostility."

The reenactment of this familiar drama on May 31 opened with a presentation by Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the assistant secretary-general of the United Nations for political affairs. His job was to speak for the institution as a whole and to frame the issue objectively for the debate, on behalf of his boss, Ban Ki-moon. Fernandez-Taranco explained that the bloodshed had occurred because Israel had refused to end "its counterproductive and unacceptable blockade of Gaza," which was exacerbating "the unmet needs of Gaza's civilian population." For balance, Fernandez-Taranco took note of Israel's claim that the demonstrators on board the Mari Marmara had used knives and clubs against Israeli naval personnel.

Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, followed in lockstep. This was, he said, "murder conducted by a state" with "no justification whatsoever" against a flotilla whose "sole aim had been to provide much-needed relief." The doctrine of self-defense "did not in any way justify the actions taken by the Israeli forces." It was an "unlawful ambush...an act of barbarism...aggression on the high seas."

One speaker after another repeated the themes of an unjustified blockade using excessive force with no legal basis. None made any distinction between a blockade of arms and one against civilian goods. Each called for an end to the blockade, without explaining how Israel is to protect itself from terrorist contraband.

Finally, the Israeli representative, Daniel Carmon, got his chance to respond. He was the only speaker to point out that a state of armed conflict exists between Israel and Hamas; that Gaza is dominated by terrorists who seized it in a violent coup; and that arms were being smuggled into the territory, including by sea. He pointed out that a maritime blockade, even in international waters, is a legitimate and recognized measure in an armed conflict. Any responsible government would act accordingly in similar circumstances to protect its civilians. Israel regretted the loss of innocent life, but could not compromise its security. The soldiers boarding one of the ships were violently attacked and threatened with kidnap and lynching. They acted in self-defense.

I have saved the American delegation's response for last, because it is the one we want to examine closely. This emergency session of the Security Council was a moment of truth for the Obama administration, the kind of agonizing decision that reveals character and intent and priorities. Had George W. Bush still been in the White House, the action of the U.S. delegation could have been predicted with some confidence.

In July 2002, the Bush administration announced a policy toward Security Council resolutions against Israel, known as the Negroponte Doctrine. The Negroponte Doctrine, which was explicitly posted on the website of the U.S. mission to the United Nations in 2003, says, We will not support any resolution that dodges the explicit threat to Middle East peace posed by Hamas and other such terrorist groups....Any Security Council resolution...must contain...an explicit condemnation of Hamas [and other] organizations responsible for acts of terrorism; and...call for dismantling the infrastructure, which supports these terror operations.

The Obama administration has not yet revealed whether the United States remains committed to these Negroponte principles. As a candidate running against Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama implied that he was. On January 22, 2008, on the eve of the Democratic presidential primaries, he wrote to Zalmay Khalilzad, who was then Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, in words that could have been written in response to the post-flotilla meeting:
I urge you to ensure that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on the Gaza situation that does not fully condemn the rocket assault Hamas has been conducting on civilians in southern Israel....All of us are concerned about the impact of closed border crossings on Palestinian families. However, we have to understand why Israel is forced to do this. Gaza is governed by Hamas...a terrorist organization sworn to Israel's destruction, and Israeli civilians are being bombarded....Israel has the right to respond while seeking to minimize any impact on civilians. The Security Council should...make clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against such actions. If it cannot bring itself to make these common sense points, I urge you to ensure that it does not speak at all. In other words, he was urging an American veto.

The 6 million Jews of Israel, who have only one vote in the UN, face a billion and half Moslems, who have 50 votes. It is the American veto in the UN Security Council that provides a potential line of defense for them. But the statement actually made by Obama's spokesman at that emergency session on the Gaza flotilla incident in May 2010 fell far short of the pointed language used in Obama's 2008 letter to Khalilzad.

Alejandro Wolff, the deputy permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations, did not threaten to veto. He did not put the focus on the threat of Hamas. He did not mention the danger of arms infiltration. And he was silent on the legitimacy of the Israeli blockade. He did say that nonconfrontational mechanisms were available for the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza and that direct delivery by sea was not appropriate. He said that Hamas's interference had complicated humanitarian efforts in Gaza and had undermined security and prosperity for all Palestinians. But Wolff balanced this by saying that Israel had to do more to allow humanitarian goods, including construction materials, into Gaza, while recognizing Israel's legitimate security concerns.

At the end of the 90-minute public session devoted to these statements, the council went into a private executive session for intense behind-the-scenes bargaining over the wording of a statement to be issued by the council's president. Turkey demanded that the Presidential Statement condemn "in the strongest terms" the "Israeli act of aggression" as a "clear violation of international law"; that it ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to "undertake an independent international investigation by the U.N.," including "punishment of all responsible authorities"; and that it call for the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

The adoption of such a Presidential Statement requires consensus. Votes are not recorded. Here was an opportunity to defend Israel without necessarily going the whole way to a formal veto. Obama could have ensured, in his own words of 2008, "that the Security Council issue no statement and pass no resolution on the Gaza situation that does not...make clear that Israel has the right to defend itself....[and] why Israel is forced to do this." He could have insisted, as he once urged Khalilzad to insist, that if the Security Council "cannot bring itself to make these common sense points...it [should] not speak at all."

But that is not what happened. Negotiations produced a Presidential Statement weaker than the one demanded by Turkey but still very unfriendly to Israel. The statement condemned only "those acts" that resulted in deaths and did not cite Israel by name -- an elision for which the administration deserves credit. But it contained none of the elements that Obama had said were indispensable and should be sine qua non for the U.S. to agree to a Security Council statement.

It made no reference to the threat that gave rise to the blockade; no mention of Hamas or its commitment to destroy a member-state of the United Nations; no acknowledgement that Israel's purpose is to prevent smuggling of arms; no affirmation of Israel's right of self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter; not a syllable about terrorism; and overall, not one word that could be said to reflect the Israeli point of view.

Then there was this sentence: "The Security Council takes note of the statement of the U.N. Secretary-General on the need to have a full investigation into the matter ...conforming to international standards." This was taken to mean an investigation conducted by an international commission appointed by the secretary-general. This just months after the Goldstone Report, a UN report on the situation in Gaza about which the Obama administration declared it had "serious concerns" because of the report's "unbalanced focus on Israel" and its "moral equivalence between Israel...and the terrorist group Hamas."

American diplomats did prevent the Council Statement from authorizing such a UN investigation outright. The U.S. said that Israel, a country with a fiercely independent judiciary and strong democratic institutions, should be allowed to conduct its own investigation with the participation of international observers.

The result of Obama's reluctance to state unequivocally that he is opposed to a UN investigation was summarized by a Politico headline: "Secretary-General Gaza investigation gathers steam, as U.S. stays neutral." As former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said in response, "President Obama has not moved decisively to quash the idea, and his inaction is understood in U.N. circles as implicitly consenting to Mr. Ban's illegitimate initiative."

Obama's stance at the May 31 emergency session on the Gaza flotilla incident was the second time in a week that this administration put its multilateralist objectives ahead of the defense of Israel. At a UN conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which ended three days before the flotilla crisis, the Obama delegation agreed to unanimous adoption of a final statement. It did so even though the administration let it be known that it had "serious reservations" about its section on the Middle East, which singled out Israel as a violator of nonproliferation efforts and made no mention of Iran.

U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones said after the vote, "The United States deplores the decision to single out Israel in the Middle East section...[as well as] the failure of the resolution to mention Iran." The U.S. let it pass anyway, so that the conference could be considered a success.

After the fact, the administration tried to undo the damage it had caused. "The United States will not permit a conference or actions that could jeopardize Israel's national security," Jones said. "We will not accept any approach that singles out Israel or sets unrealistic expectations." But just hours earlier, the U.S. had done just that.

The questions raised by the U.S. response to the flotilla ambush and the proliferation issue are pointed and pregnant. Are we in for a stream of Security Council Presidential Statements and resolutions that are silent on the terrorist threat, that delegitimize and condemn Israel, summon it before hostile tribunals, curtail its freedom of action to defend its citizens, indict its leaders, and maybe eventually put it under sanctions?

FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS, since Richard Nixon's first veto in Israel's defense on September 10, 1972, every American president has used the veto to block resolutions hostile to Israel. Richard Nixon vetoed two such draft Security Council resolutions, Gerald Ford four, Ronald Reagan 18 (!), George H.W. Bush four, Bill Clinton three, and George W. Bush nine. Even Jimmy Carter mustered the courage to veto one, on April 30, 1980, because it was inimical to the Camp David Accords he had brokered.

In all, seven American presidents have recorded 41 vetoes in Israel's defense at the UN Security Council. Lack of balance in the 41 draft resolutions vetoed was the reason stated or implied most frequently to explain the need for a veto. Resolutions deploring Israel's use of force or Israeli security measures have been vetoed for failing to acknowledge and equally criticize actions on the Arab side, especially terrorist acts, that gave rise to the Israeli measures for self-defense. Resolutions proposing international conferences and other diplomatic initiatives favored by the Arabs have been vetoed because they would conflict with U.S. peace initiatives and direct negotiations among the parties. Several draft resolutions were vetoed because they were deemed inconsistent with Resolutions 242 and 338 or with signed peace agreements. At least two draft resolutions were vetoed because they blamed the government of Israel for extreme acts that were committed by a few Israeli citizens who were being investigated and prosecuted by the Israeli authorities.

In about half of the 41 veto statements, the American representative acknowledged that the United States shared concerns about a given Israeli action but objected to the wording of the resolution or with the appropriateness of bringing the issue to the Security Council. The actual number of anti-Israel resolutions and Presidential Statements that have been prevented from coming to a vote at all due to the credible threat of an American veto was probably far larger than these 41 recorded votes.

Céline Nahory, an expert on the Security Council, says they "must add up to many hundreds...in closed-door informal consultations [where] the Council largely conducts its business."
But this "hidden veto" is only as effective as the perceived threat of an actual veto.

If it becomes clear that there is an Obama policy of Veto Reticence, other members may lose their fear of an American slapdown—and the hidden veto will be lost, too. Is Obama soft on the veto? There are many reports suggesting exactly that. On April 29, the Guardian reported that David Hale, a deputy to U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Obama "may consider allowing the U.N. Security Council to censure Israel on settlement activity...rather than use its veto."

Foreign Policy magazine's Josh Rogin reported on June 14 that National Security Adviser Jones said the White House planned to support a separate international investigation if one was initiated at the UN. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley responded noncommittally that day, "We'll listen to what the Secretary-General has in mind and make a judgment then."

Reuters concluded on June 8 that "under President Barack Obama, the United States no longer provides Israel with automatic support at the United Nations, where the Jewish state faces a constant barrage of criticism and condemnation."Obama may face more draft Security Council resolutions on Israel before long.

In November 2009, "chief negotiator" Saeb Erekat said that the Palestinian Authority was preparing to approach the UN Security Council for a resolution declaring a Palestinian state within the 1967 boundaries, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas had presented it to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and to Russia, Erekat said, and had received positive responses. If the Security Council recognized a Palestinian state conforming to the boundaries that prevailed before the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli communities across the "Green Line," including those in East Jerusalem, would be considered null and void.

Erekat said that the Arabs would approach the Security Council when the time was right. And it might be—soon. If the Israeli cabinet resumes construction in settlements when the self-imposed 10-month moratorium ends on September 26, the Palestinians may think it prudent to move on their provocation.
Other matters could also reach the UN Security Council in the next 12 to 24 months. Obama's decision to reject compromises over settlements that had been crafted by previous administrations and to confront Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue in May 2009 and March 2010 may have planted ideas in Arab minds. They may think that a wedge can be driven between the United States and Israel by putting the settlements and Jerusalem issues in a Security Council resolution that Obama might be loath to veto.

Nor does this exhaust the list. Hamas and Hezbollah could launch terrorist acts against Israel from behind civilian shields, and when, inevitably, the Israeli response causes civilian casualties on the Arab side, their allies can go to the Security Council to condemn Israel for "excessive" or "disproportionate" use of force.
It is reasonable to predict that Barack Obama will soon face the veto issue again at the Security Council.

If Obama intends to be the first president since 1970 not to cast a veto in Israel's defense, the consequences for the Middle East are going to be grave. If the United States will no longer stand in the way, why would Palestinians and Arabs feel they might have to make sacrifices in honest and direct negotiations with Israel when they have an automatic majority at the Security Council that can give them what they want for free?

Obama himself might pay a price. History tells the tale. On nine substantive votes on the Middle East taken in the Security Council between January 1979 and August 1980, the administration of Jimmy Carter abstained seven times, and, in March 1980, it voted for a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity in Jerusalem. Democrats were aghast. New York Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, who had served as UN ambassador five years earlier, said, "As a direct result of [Carter Administration] policy, the Security Council was allowed to degenerate to the condition of the General Assembly."
Carter admitted that the March 1980 Security Council vote against Israeli housing in Jerusalem hurt him badly in the 1980 Democratic presidential primary in New York, where earlier polls prior to that vote had shown him leading. Senator Edward Kennedy beat the incumbent president, by 59 percent to 41. Carter told the New York Times, "it was the United Nations vote," a conclusion shared by his top strategists. An interesting augur for the future, perhaps.

Steven J. Rosen served for 23 years as a senior official of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He is now the director of the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum.

The Middle East Forum

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:45 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2010

PM Netanyahu: Are you negotiating for another Gaza?

Why Gush Katif still matters

By Moshe Dann  
The Jewish Press, August 27, 2010

The expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes five years ago was not a localized event in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. It was a national implosion, a national disgrace. It caused enormous physical, psychological, social, cultural, military and strategic damage to the entire nation – and it still does. Like an ecological disaster, its foulness still seeps through our foundations, and continues to poison us.

Undermined by enforcing a political agenda, the entire political system, the media and judicial institutions refused to act responsibly. Basic civil and human rights of Jews were abandoned. Those responsible for welfare and proper compensation misled and lied; led by Sela, the Disengagement Authority, our country was in denial. Our own political and many spiritual leaders – those for whom we voted, in whom we trusted – failed to organize and prevent this catastrophe. Ministers who disagreed were fired; public debate was suppressed.

The Knesset was impotent and negligent; it did not insist on proper procedures, to which all citizens are entitled; and no one was held accountable. Our IDF, of which we are part, in which we believed, was brainwashed and turned into zombies; those who refused to participate were heavily punished – a misuse of the IDF which was illegal and immoral.

The media protected Arik Sharon and those who planned, organized and carried out their pernicious plans because they agreed with his agenda. The perpetrators were even honored and promoted. Military and strategic advisers who disagreed with Sharon remained silent in order to keep their positions.

We believed that those we elected, and the institutions of government, were fair and honest. We were wrong. The expulsion and destruction of 25 Jewish communities is a symbol of national betrayal. The same toxic thinking led to the removal of Jewish communities from Sinai in 1982, and the Oslo Accords, which brought PLO terrorists to power and caused the slaughter of thousands of Jews, and wounding of tens of thousands more. The product of corruption, deception, greed and arrogance, disengagement is an example of cruel indifference and the abuse of power. We are still stuck there.

DISENGAGEMENT LEFT a deep wound that will not heal, not only because lives and homes were destroyed, but because it was immoral, unjust and irrational. The knife of perfidy is still in our spiritual guts; it is an ongoing trauma of our neshama – not just the people who suffered physically and mentally, but a national deception. Disengagement, Hamas and Hizbullah remind us, symbolizes not pride and victory, but our shame and defeat. The tragedy of the policy of retreat – unilateral withdrawal – still advocated by Defense Minister Ehud Barak – is that it accomplished nothing.

Billions of dollars were wasted that could have been spent to improve roads, which would have saved hundreds of lives every year, improve our educational and health systems, build a fence along the Egyptian border to prevent smuggling and illegal immigration, provide public housing, and build an efficient rapid transit system. Imagine the billions that would have been saved and more billions earned every year by implementing such projects!

Obsessed by the task of destroying Jewish communities and brainwashing the public, prime minister Sharon’s government neglected Israel’s security, endangering us all. For example, it failed to respond to Iran’s nuclear threat – which in 2005 consisted of only one facility; it failed to prepare the IDF for the threat from Hizbullah – which led to Israel’s failures in 2006; it failed to protect Israelis near the Gaza Strip from bombardment, failed to stem the rise of Hamas in Gaza, and failed to stop the proliferation of smuggling tunnels, thereby setting the stage for the incursion into Gaza in 2008/9.

Those who planned and executed the disengagement, who supported it, especially those who volunteered to help, and those who remained silent, are responsible for this trauma. While talking incessantly about peace with Arabs, they ignore the need to make peace with their fellow Jews. Yet, there has been no investigation; no one has been blamed, punished, or even taken responsibility for this failure.

DISENGAGEMENT WAS a denial of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael; it was part of an anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish and anti-democratic plan of unilateral withdrawal that began with the Oslo Accords (1993), was followed by the retreat from South Lebanon (2000), and continues with the arbitrary and discriminatory destruction of Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.

Had those responsible learned something from these mistakes, it would make the sacrifices bearable. Instead, they pursue the same policies, as if nothing had happened.

Yet, we are not helpless. We can resist brainwashing and resignation by supporting Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem. We can insist that Eretz Yisrael (“Palestine” as it was called by the League of Nations and in the British Mandate) is the national homeland of the Jewish people; Jerusalem is our spiritual and national capital. We will not be broken. That is the meaning of Gush Katif today.

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

September 02, 2010

Commentary on the New York Times OpEd by Gadi Taub

Those Damn Settlers

By Jerome S. Kaufman

Once again the New York Times publishes an OpEd promoting a fool proof solution for the Israeli/Arab conflict. Gadi Taub, assistant professor of communications and public policy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem solves the problem by simply getting rid of those awful 130,000 orthodox settlers and their settlements in Judea Samaria (West Bank).

The Israel Foreign Ministry however, reminds us that these settlements are perfectly legal under international law: "The Fourth Geneva Convention was certainly not intended to prevent individuals from living on their ancestral lands or on property that had been illegally taken from them. Many present-day Israeli settlements have been established on sites that were home to Jewish communities in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in previous generations, in an expression of the Jewish people's deep historic and religious connection with the land. Many of the most ancient and holy Jewish sites, including the Cave of the Patriarchs (the burial site of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and Rachel's Tomb, are located in these areas. Jewish communities, such as in Hebron (where Jews lived until they were massacred in 1929), existed throughout the centuries. Other communities, such as the Gush Etzion bloc in Judea, were founded before 1948 under the internationally endorsed British Mandate."

Never mind removal of the settlements will result in the loss of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) along with Israel’s priceless defensive barrier, the Judean Mountains rising steeply from the Jordan valley. Never mind, an Arab Palestinian state with Barack Obama’s blessing, would be quickly created. According to this strategy Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah will become Israel's bosom buddies with peace reigning forever.

Forget the fact that every piece of territory given to the Arabs by the Israelis in their abject hope for “peace” has become just another launching pad for lethal terror. Have the Israeli academic Leftists chosen to forget the Lebanese Security Zone withdrawal with the abandonment of Israel's Lebanese Christian allies and the resultant complete take-over by Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border?

What about Ariel Sharon’s abandonment of Gaza and its brave Israeli settlers allowing it to become Hamastan, a permanent huge thorn in Israel’s underbelly and a launching pad for thousands of rockets further and further into southern Israel? Is there any doubt a viable Ariel Sharon would be turning over in shame over what he has created.

Does it take any foresight to understand that is exactly what will happen with the abandonment of the territory of Judea and Samaria? Will it take more than 48 hours for it to become another Fatahstan and, in the wink of an eye, another Hamastan?
Will Israel continue to force march itself on this road to self-destruction? In the meantime, Israel is rapidly shrinking its borders and natural defensive barriers to a point where even the glorious IDF will be unable to defend its citizens.

Taub pronounces, with great foreboding, that the religious settlers will, “spell the end of the Israel “we” have known.” He may be right there. Maybe the Israelis will finally get rid of his particular “we” - the legions of Left wing academics that have taken over the educational system of the country, defamed its glorious 3000 year history, warped the minds of the Israelis against their own religion, their special existence and their amazing competence.

In fact, the Israel “known” by the rest of Israelis is a smashing success. In just 60 plus years, Israel has become an economic, scientific and military powerhouse - the envy of all its neighbors, enemies and supposed friends round the world. It has grown from 600,000 destitute powerless souls to a nation of near 7 million incorporating about 1.5 million Arabs that live light years better than their brothers in the surrounding Arab nations and show no inclination to leave.

Also, completely ignored by Taub is the major contributions of the religious Zionists. They enthusiastically embrace the defense of their homeland and make up a large percentage of the most dangerous volunteer military units of the Israel Defense Forces. These are the true defenders of Israel rather than far Left academics distorting history, using discredited demographic statistics, demeaning religion and spewing hatred against an essential element of the Israeli population.

Taub has also descended to historical revisionism as a basic tool for his discourse. Yes, there were isolated ultra Orthodox Jews that opposed the Jewish State but it was rather establishment Jews that campaigned against Herzl and, some 50 years later, did the same against the great Ze’ev Jabotinsky, thwarting his every move to form a self-sufficient Jewish nation.

These establishment Jews lived in fear, immersed in their sad, desperate attempt to disappear into the woodwork, to assimilate as Russians, Brits, Slavs, Hungarians, Germans, Communists, Socialists, and now have switched to universalists, environmentalists, conservationists, academics - whatever designation that could becloud their Jewish identity. One would think that the lessons of Adolf Hitler would discourage later Jews from this sick self-deception. Not so.

Finally, if G-d forbid, the Israeli government chose to abandon these 130,000 exemplary citizens, where will they put them? How would the government support them? Would they be doomed to the same poverty and homelessness as the refugees from the Gaza withdrawal? It is beyond belief that any one who truly understands our history and the existential importance of this land and these settlements could make such recommendations.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)