November 30, 2010

Misdiagnosing Barack Obama - to our own great peril

The naive, the misinformed, the wishful thinkers and the useful idiots of the world believe Barack Obama is simply inexperienced, himself naive, misguided, surrounded by malcontents and destroyers (who, he himself, appointed), or a humanist, an idealist - whatever rationale remotely available to explain his bizarre behavior.

Dinesh D’Souza, President of King’s College, New York City, paints a far different picture in his astute, well documented article from Forbes Magazine, September 27, 2010.

It is excerpted below but should be read in its entirety.

The article is titled, Obama’s Problem with Business, but, in all deference to D’Souza, should more accurately be titled, Obama’s Problem with Us.

Jerome S. Kaufman

Obama’s Problem with Business.
By Dinesh D’Souza

Barack Obama is the most anti-business president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the U.S. government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.

The President's bizarre actions mystify critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: "Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling." Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling--but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro--not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.

More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans "consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's resources." What does this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's resources?

The oddities go on and on. Obama's Administration has declared that even banks that want to repay their bailout money may be refused permission to do so. Only after the Obama team cleared a bank through the Fed's "stress test" was it eligible to give taxpayers their money back. Even then, declared Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Administration might force banks to keep the money.

The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more. The rich, Obama insists, aren't paying their "fair share." This by itself seems odd given that the top 1% of Americans pay 40% of all federal income taxes; the next 9% of income earners pay another 30%. So the top 10% pays 70% of the taxes; the bottom 40% pays close to nothing. This does seem unfair--to the rich.

Obama's foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that "our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable," seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero

....What then is Obama's dream? We don't have to speculate because the President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father's dream. Notice that his title is not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams; he is writing about the dreams he received from his father.

So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anti-colonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen to study in America and then to shape his country's future.

Obama Sr. writes, I know a great deal about anti-colonialism, because I am a native of Mumbai, India. I am part of the first Indian generation to be born after my country's independence from the British. Anti-colonialism was the rallying cry of Third World politics for much of the second half of the 20th century.

Anti-colonialism is the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and South America. As one of Obama's acknowledged intellectual influences, Frantz Fanon, wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, "The well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races."

It may seem incredible to suggest that the anti-colonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder.

Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.

For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neo-colonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anti-colonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.

He wants neo-colonial America to have less and the former colonized countries to have more. More broadly, his proposal for carbon taxes has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer or colder; it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce, America's carbon consumption. Both as a U.S. Senator and in his speech, as President, to the United Nations, Obama has proposed that the West massively subsidize energy production in the developing world.

Rejecting the socialist formula, Obama has shown no intention to nationalize the investment banks or the health sector. Rather, he seeks to de-colonize these institutions, and this means bringing them under the government's leash. That's why Obama retains the right to refuse bailout paybacks--so that he can maintain his control. For Obama, health insurance companies on their own are oppressive racketeers, but once they submitted to federal oversight he was happy to do business with them. He even promised them expanded business as a result of his law forcing every American to buy health insurance.

If Obama shares his father's anti-colonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more. The anti-colonialist believes that since the rich have prospered at the expense of others, their wealth doesn't really belong to them; therefore whatever can be extracted from them is automatically just. Recall what Obama Sr. said in his 1965 paper: There is no tax rate too high, and even a 100% rate is justified under certain circumstances.

....In an eerie conclusion, Obama writes that "I sat at my father's grave and spoke to him through Africa's red soil." In a sense, through the earth itself, he communes with his father and receives his father's spirit. Obama takes on his father's struggle, not by recovering his body but by embracing his cause. He decides that where Obama Sr. failed, he will succeed. Obama Sr.'s hatred of the colonial system becomes Obama Jr.'s hatred; his botched attempt to set the world right defines his son's objective. Through a kind of sacramental rite at the family tomb, the father's struggle becomes the son's birthright.

Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except Obama. He is the last anti-colonial. Emerging economies such as China, India, Chile and Indonesia have solved the problem of backwardness; they are exploiting their labor advantage and growing much faster than the U.S. If America is going to remain on top, it has to compete in an increasingly tough environment.

But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anti-colonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

Dinesh D'Souza is the author of the forthcoming book The Roots of Obama's Rage (Regnery Publishing).

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2010

Ban the Burqa?

Ban the Burqa?

(Excerpted from a much larger article) jsk

By Phyllis Chesler
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2010

Should other Western states follow the Belgian and French examples and ban the full Islamic body and face-covering veil—or more specifically, the burqa and the niqab? In other words, should the West ban any and all clothing which obliterates one's identity? Most Europeans, according to recent surveys, seem to think so.[1] Still, significant numbers, especially in the United States,[2] and including quite a few feminists,[3] have viewed such a ban as religiously intolerant, anti-woman, and anti-Western. They maintain that the state has no place in deciding what a woman can and cannot wear—it is her body, not public property; [4] that given the worldwide exploitation of women as pornographic sex objects, wearing loose, comfortable, modest clothing, or actually covering up, might be both convenient and more dignified;[5] that because of the West's tolerance toward religions, the state cannot come between a woman and her conscience for that would betray Western values;[6] and that women are freely choosing to wear the burqa.[7] Some Western intellectuals oppose banning the burqa although they understand the harm it may do and the way in which it may "mutilate personhood."[8] Algerian-American academic Marnia Lazreg, for example, implores Muslim women to voluntarily, freely refuse to cover their faces fully—to spurn even the headscarf; however, she does not want the state involved.[9]

..... Conclusion

The same Islamists who subordinate women also publicly whip, cross-amputate, hang, stone, and behead human beings. Iran continues to execute women and men by stoning for adultery.[83] The burqa reminds us of such practices. Many Westerners, including Muslims, ex-Muslims, and Christians, Jews, and Hindus who have fled Muslim lands, may feel haunted or followed when they see burqas on Western streets. Does their presence herald the arrival of Islamist supremacism?

Many Muslim governments know something that their Western counterparts are just learning. Covered women signify Islamist designs on state power and control of political, military, social, personal, and family life. Were these designs to be extended to the West, it will spell out the end of modernity, human rights, and the separation of state and church, among other things; in short, the end of liberal democracy and freedoms as now practiced.

Apart from being an Islamist act of assertion that involves clear security dangers and creating mental and physical health hazards, the burqa is a flagrant violation of women's most basic human rights. However, were the government to attempt to ban the burqa in the United States, a team of constitutional legal scholars would have to decide whether to follow the French ethnicity- and religion-neutral approach of no "face coverings," "face masks," etc., or whether to ban outright the public disappearance of women's faces and their subordination in the name of Islam as a violation of their civil rights.

It is impossible for Western governments and international organizations to prevent the acid attacks or honor killings of women in Muslim countries who refuse to cover their faces, but why tie society's hands on Western soil? Why would Western countries prize the subordination of women and protect it as a religious right at a time when many Muslim states refuse to do so? When it is understood that the burqa is not a religious requirement but rather a political statement—at best merely an ethnic and misogynistic custom—there is no reason whatsoever for Western traditions of religious tolerance to misconstrue the covering of women as a religious duty at a time when the vast majority of Muslims do not see it as such.

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women's studies at the Richmond College of the City University of New York and co-founder of the Association for Women in Psychology and the National Women's Health Network. The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Nathan Bloom in the preparation of this paper.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2010

No Shortage of Scum in the World

THE THIRD OLDEST PROFESSION

By: Michael Freund

The Jewish Press
November 17 2010

The Jewish world was rocked last week by still another scandal, one so twisted and nefarious that it simply defies belief. In a news conference held last Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Preet Bharara announced that 17 people were being charged with taking part in a massive scam that defrauded some $42.5 million from the Claims Conference, an organization that assists elderly and poor Holocaust survivors.

The swindle, which allegedly began back in 1994, is said to have involved current and former Claims Conference employees who participated in the preparation, submission and approval of thousands upon thousands of falsified claims. According to the charge sheet filed in federal court, there were cases in which the dates of birth of applicants were doctored in order to make it appear as if they had been born during or prior to World War II, thereby enabling them to falsely claim they had suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

In other instances, evidence of victimization by Hitler's henchmen was simply made up to justify demands for restitution. On some applications, bogus claims were made that the applicant had spent at least six months in a concentration camp, or 18 months confined in a ghetto.

What kind of human being would do such a thing?
As Bharara told reporters, "If ever there was a cause that you would hope and expect would be immune from base greed and criminal fraud, it would be the Claims Conference, which every day assists thousands of poor and elderly victims of Nazi persecution." "Sadly," he added, "those victims were themselves victimized."

To their credit, it was Claims Conference officials who first contacted law enforcement authorities after they uncovered irregularities in submissions that were made by various claimants. And the only reason the fraudsters succeeded for so long - over some 16 years! - is because the conspiracy itself involved Claims Conference staffers who were in on it in exchange for a percentage of the payouts. Nonetheless, it is difficult to digest what some scoundrels are capable of doing.

And it is simply unconscionable to think that Jews would do such a thing: to dishonor the real victims of the Holocaust just in order to steal a few bucks.
The Chillul Hashem - desecration of God's name - this episode entails is even larger than the fraud itself. And the story itself reinforces many of the negative and anti-Semitic stereotypes that are already dangerously widespread.

One talkback to a news story about the bust on the New York Post website had this to say: "Behavior like this is why the Nazis whacked the Jews in the first place." The fact is that when Jews cheat, steal and swindle, it has ramifications far beyond the individual. Rightly or wrongly, it reflects on our community as a whole. Moreover, this despicable act of theft could potentially have far-reaching consequences on efforts to win additional compensation in the future for Holocaust victims.

Since its founding shortly after the end of World War II, the Claims Conference has processed over 600,000 individual claims, disbursing more than $4.3 billion. The bulk of those funds came from the German government, and the Claims Conference continues to negotiate with Berlin regarding the enlargement and perpetuation of the program.

A scandal of this sort is unlikely to inspire the Germans to continue to pay into a system that was beset by theft and bereft of proper safeguards and controls. It has tarnished the just cause of providing aid to needy survivors, and left a stain that will not be easy to remove.

Sadly, this outrage is just one of many in recent years which have plagued the Jewish community, from Madoff to Agriprocessors. The common thread running through all these incidents is, of course, greed and theft.

We all know what the oldest profession is, and it is said that politics comes in a close second. But I think a good case can be made that stealing is right up there near the top of the list as well, perhaps coming in third.

This epidemic of dishonesty needs to be nipped in the bud. We must stop burying our heads in the sand and ignoring these developments.

Lying and cheating are antithetical to Judaism and it is time for educators, religious leaders and community heads to do more to get this message across.
There is something very wrong when a community is hit time and time again by thieves and scam artists emerging from its midst. Let the Claims Conference scandal serve as a warning: our community needs to clean up its act, and fast.


Michael Freund is founder of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that helps "lost Jews" return to Zion. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.


Copyright 2008 www.JewishPress.com

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

November 24, 2010

Knesset finally wakes up

Knesset Passes Referendum Law With Large Majority

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu and Elad Benari

The Knesset passed on Monday evening the bill that would require a referendum before any land officially under Israeli sovereignty is surrendered, specifically the Golan Heights and Jerusalejm.  65 MKs voted in favor of the bill while 33 opposed it.

Labor ministers Ehud Barak, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Isaac Herzog, and Avishay Braverman did not participate in the vote. However, two other members of the Labor Party, Minister Shalom Simchon and Deputy Minister Matan Vilnai were present and voted in favor of the referendum.

Prior to the vote, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office rejected the idea that the referendum law would hurt the chances for peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors.

"A referendum prevents an irresponsible agreement and on the other hand makes it possible to achieve a strong public backing for an agreement that will respond to Israel's national interests," said Netanyahu.

A recently-passed law already required an absolute majority of 61 Knesset Members before any of the Golan could be handed over to Syria, which has been demanding the entire Golan Heights.  A referendum would place a major obstacle if any government were able to win a majority in the Knesset for giving up the area and its rich water resources.

The referendum bill also covers United Jerusalem and the rest of Israel except for Judea and Samaria which officially are under military control.

Earlier on Monday Kadima leader Tzipi Livni made a U-turn on the bill the party once backed. The Kadima leader said her opposition to the Golan referendum bill is based on a principle that the Knesset, and not the general public, should have the final say on legislature. However, despite Kadima's decision to oppose the referendum bill, two of its members, MKs Otniel Schneller and Eli Aflalo, voted in favor of the referendum.

Consistent with her previous attacks on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Livni said that he is a ”weak prime minister. This has nothing to do with left or right, but with decision-making in this democracy. There is one referendum, and that's general elections, and the prime minister must say the same thing before and after the elections."

Her move to the left is surprising because Kadima formerly had encouraged the bill, which would create a major obstacle to any future effort to surrender any part of the Golan. However, her opposition is consistent with an almost automatic disagreement with every policy promoted by the prime minister and the Likud coalition.

MK Livni lost a bitter contest to form the current coalition two years ago. She has claimed she should be heading the government because her party won one more seat than the Likud in the winter 2009 elections. However, she was not able to win over Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Shas, leaving her with minority support that did not enable her to form a coalition.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2010

What is the Arab Lobby?

(Below, just a couple of paragraphs from a 13 page erudite analysis that should be read in its entirety.)

The Arab Lobby - The American Component

By Mitchell Bard

Middle East Quarterly (Publisher, Daniel Pipes)
Fall 2010

What Is the Arab Lobby?

The term "Arab lobby" may be somewhat misleading because it suggests that the principal members are Arabs and that their focus is on the Arab world, but Arab Americans are only a small and mostly ineffective part of the overall lobby. Moreover, while one might think that the Arab lobby would reflect the interests of the various Arab states and the Palestinians, it has historically shown little sustained interest in other Arab countries or issues within those countries.

The lobby does not campaign for human rights or better governance in any of these countries; does not defend women, Christians, or other minorities in Arab states; and does not even try to get aid for Arab governments. The only time any interest is shown in an Arab country is if Israel is involved as was the case in the recent Israel-Lebanon war when the lobby expressed great concern for the people of Lebanon. Prior to the event, the lobby never talked about issues such as the Syrian occupation, Hezbollah's takeover of the organs of government, the undermining of democracy, or the massacres perpetrated by Lebanese factions against each other.

Most lobbies focus predominantly on a single issue—for example, the National Organization of Women on abortion rights and choice, the National Rifle Association on second amendment rights and gun control—but the Arab lobby really has two issues, which occasionally overlap. One is based on oil, is pro-Saudi, and is represented primarily by representatives of that government, and corporations with commercial interests in the kingdom, including weapons-related firms.

Even before an Israel lobby was organized, an Arab lobby that included American missionaries, State Department Arabists, and small organizations of Arab and non-Arab Americans had evolved to build ties with the Arab world and, following the discovery of oil in the region, to secure access to that resource.

The other issue of concern to the Arab lobby is the Palestinian question, which is the exception to the rule of lack of interest in Arab issues. The Palestinian question is the focus for Arab Americans who do not seem, however, to be working together actively and whose approach is primarily negative, aimed at criticizing Israel in an effort to drive a wedge between the United States and the Jewish state.

These groups are backed by Christian anti-Zionists, such as Mennonites, Quakers, and a variety of mainline churches, and occasionally other elements of the lobby, such as State Department Arabists, who argue that the Palestinian issue must be resolved for the sake of U.S.-Arab relations.

One of the most important distinguishing characteristics of the Arab lobby is that it has no grass roots support. While the Israel lobby has hundreds of thousands of active members, and U.S. public opinion polls consistently reveal a huge gap between support for Israel and the Arab nations or the Palestinians, the Arab lobby has almost no foot soldiers or public sympathy.

On the other hand, while the Israel lobby is principally extra-governmental, a significant component of the Arab lobby may be part of the U.S. governing power structure. The Arabists, in particular, have been a force whose actions will remain unknown for decades until the State Department declassifies its correspondence and, even then, it is impossible to know how much of their activity will be kept secret for national security reasons, concealed to avoid embarrassment, destroyed purposely or inadvertently, or simply omitted because historians can only publish a tiny fraction of the correspondence produced each year.

... The charge of dual loyalty, a throwback to the longstanding anti-Semitic caricature of Jews as lacking true patriotism, is one that Israel's enemies have never tired of making against the "Israel lobby" and Jewish Americans more generally. Arab lobbyists have been no exception to this rule. It is far easier, after all, to blame a mythological Jewish cabal for their repeated failure to advance an anti-Israel agenda than to concede that one's arguments are unpersuasive and have, therefore, been rejected by the majority of Americans.

In the final tally, it would seem that most Americans would rather support their longest and most loyal Middle Eastern ally—and the only country in the region that shares their democratic ethos and ideals—than heed organizations that have consistently opposed American values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights or which are linked to nations that have, or are seen to have, undermined U.S. security interests.

Mitchell Bard is the executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and Jewish Virtual Library. His latest book, The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance that Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East has just been published by HarperCollins.

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

November 21, 2010

Netanyahu again sacrifices Israel's ability to defend itself against the next inevitable Arab attack.

Netanyahu's concessions for talks go far beyond a building freeze but, lifted only a corner of the deal

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 14, 2010, 10:16 PM

The package Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has accepted for US-sponsored talks with the Palestinians contains more substantial concessions than merely a freeze on settlement construction and goes far beyond the deal put before the security cabinet Saturday night, Nov. 13, debkafile reports from Jerusalem and Washington.

The deal unveiled in Jerusalem early Sunday is only stage one of a larger secret package to which only Netanyahu and his close adviser Yithzak Molho are privy - not even Defense Minister Ehud Barak or the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi. This package has been in secret negotiation for several weeks in the Jordanian capital Amman - and possibly European venues - between American, Israeli, Palestinian, Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian representatives.

According to US and Saudi sources, Israel has made four major concessions that will go into force if and when peace is signed with the Palestinians.
Under the one-year deal concluded with the United States - as reported to the Security Cabinet Saturday night - Israel has accepted a second three-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction including starts made after the expiry of the first 10-month freeze on Sept. 26. It will not apply to Jerusalem. No third moratorium will be requested.

In return, the United States agreed to:

1.  To request congressional approval for the sale of 20 F-35 stealth warplanes worth $3 billion in addition to the 20 already allocated.
2.  To follow an Israel-Palestinian peace accord, if it is concluded, by signing a mutual defense treaty with Israel, negotiations for which to begin in the coming weeks.
3.  To veto any anti-Israeli motions put forward at the UN Security Council or other international bodies on four subjects:
--- Initiatives for imposing political solutions on Israel;
--- Any unilateral Palestinian bid to establish an independent state;
--- All acts aimed at undermining Israel's legitimacy;
--- Any attempt to use the Security Council to deny Israel's right to self-defense.

While the prime minister presented this deal to the security cabinet ministers as a draft still under discussion, debkafile's sources report that it was finalized with Washington and the negotiations have raced beyond that point and gone a lot deeper into the substance of a peace accord with the Palestinians in the secret round table under the American aegis to which Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have been co-opted.

These negotiations, still in mid-course, were first revealed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly Nov. 11, together with the issues on the table:

A. The presence of foreign, namely Jordanian, troops in the Jordan Valley in a deployment that would satisfy Israel's security requirements and provide a barrier against the smuggling of missiles, other munitions and fighters into the West Bank when it comes under independent Palestinian rule.

Since 1967, every Israeli government since the 1967 War has stipulated that any peace accord must leave this strip with Israel as its security border to the east. Netanyahu has accepted in principle that the Hashemite Kingdom, for the first time since the Jordanian Army withdrew from the West Bank 43 years ago, would regain a military presence on the both the West and East Banks of the River Jordan.

B.  The Jordanian military's functions along the Jordan River and on West Bank soil would be governed by agreed rules of conduct. Those rules would extend to other parts of the West Bank where the deployment of foreign forces is under negotiation.

C. The Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley would remain in place and continue to develop - on the understanding that after several decades, 30-50 years, their disposal would be renegotiated with the possible option of passing the area to the Palestinian state. This item is still open to discussion.

D.  Israeli Defense Forces positions remaining there for now would be gradually reduced in size and number.

E. The above provisions would go into effect only after an independent Palestinian state is established.

Debkafile's Washington sources add that these secret talks have hit a sticking point: The United States and Israel propose that the final borders of a Palestinian state be based on the pre-1967 War boundaries with adjustments dictated by Israel's security requirements and the demographic changes that have taken place in the territory since then - the main settlement blocs will be part of Israel. The Palestinians stipulate that their state precisely follow the 1967 borders without changes.

It is important to note that the widespread reports of a crisis in US-Israel relations during Netanyahu's five-day American trip were unfounded (as Netanyahu folds to Obama pressure and re-enforces Israel's role as a banana republic - Jsk)

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2010

Obama The Great

American Narcissus

The vanity of Barack Obama

(I started to redact this long overdue and painfully obvious, superb analysis but it is just too good. Please read every word) jsk

BY JONATHAN V. LAST
The Weekly Standard, November 13, 2010

Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.

It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.

My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:

I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.

So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.

People have been noticing Obama’s vanity for a long time. In 2008, one of his Harvard Law classmates, the entertainment lawyer Jackie Fuchs, explained what Obama was like during his school days: “One of our classmates once famously noted that you could judge just how pretentious someone’s remarks in class were by how high they ranked on the ‘Obamanometer,’ a term that lasted far longer than our time at law school. Obama didn’t just share in class—he pontificated. He knew better than everyone else in the room, including the teachers. ”

The story of Obama’s writing career is an object lesson in how our president’s view of himself shapes his interactions with the world around him. In 1990, Obama was wrapping up his second year at Harvard Law when the New York Times ran a profile of him on the occasion of his becoming the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. A book agent in New York named Jane Dystel read the story and called up the young man, asking if he’d be interested in writing a book. Like any 29-year-old, he wasn’t about to turn down money. He promptly accepted a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Poseidon imprint—reportedly in the low six-figures—to write a book about race relations.

Obama missed his deadline. No matter. His agent quickly secured him another contract, this time with Times Books. And a $40,000 advance. Not bad for an unknown author who had already blown one deal, writing about a noncommercial subject.

By this point Obama had left law school, and academia was courting him. The University of Chicago Law School approached him; although they didn’t have any specific needs, they wanted to be in the Barack Obama business. As Douglas Baird, the head of Chicago’s appointments committee, would later explain, “You look at his background—Harvard Law Review president, magna cum laude, and he’s African American. This is a no-brainer hiring decision at the entry level of any law school in the country.” Chicago invited Obama to come in and teach just about anything he wanted. But Obama wasn’t interested in a professor’s life. Instead, he told them that he was writing a book—about voting rights. The university made him a fellow, giving him an office and a paycheck to keep him going while he worked on this important project.

In case you’re keeping score at home, there was some confusion as to what book young Obama was writing. His publisher thought he was writing about race relations. His employer thought he was writing about voting rights law. But Obama seems to have never seriously considered either subject. Instead, he decided that his subject would be himself. The 32-year-old was writing a memoir.

Obama came clean to the university first. He waited until his fellowship was halfway over—perhaps he was concerned that his employers might not like the bait-and-switch. He needn’t have worried. Baird still hoped that Obama would eventually join the university’s faculty (he had already begun teaching a small classload as a “senior lecturer”). “It was a good deal for us,” Baird explained, “because he was a good teaching prospect and we wanted him around.”

And it all worked out in the end. The book Obama eventually finished was Dreams from My Father. It didn’t do well initially, but nine years later, after his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention made him a star, it sold like gangbusters. Obama got rich. And famous. The book became the springboard for his career in national politics.

Only it didn’t quite work out for everybody. Obama left the University of Chicago, never succumbing to their offers of a permanent position in their hallowed halls. Simon & Schuster, which had taken a chance on an unproven young writer, got burned for a few thousand bucks. And Jane Dystel, who’d plucked him out of the pages of the New York Times and got him the deal to write the book that sped his political rise? As soon as Obama was ready to negotiate the contract for his second book—the big-money payday—he dumped her and replaced her with super-agent Robert Barnett.

We risk reading too much into these vignettes—after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama’s high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn’t the best player on the team—or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self. That’s common. What’s rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his political life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.” After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.

Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan’s mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama’s response to him was, “I won.” A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, “There was an imbalance on the opening statements because”—here he paused, self-satisfiedly—“I’m the president. And so I made, uh, I don’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly.”

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about—you guessed it: “Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night,” he told the committee, “people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of .  .  . ” and away he went.

A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a “deal.” Which turned out to be worthless. In January 2010, Obama met with nervous Democratic congressmen to assure them that he wasn’t driving the party off a cliff. Confronted with worries that 2010 could be a worse off-year election than 1994, Obama explained to the professional politicians, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”

In the midst of the BP oil spill last summer, Obama explained, “My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.” Read that again: The president thinks that the job of the president is to make certain the citizens correctly understand what’s on the president’s mind.

Obama’s vanity is even more jarring when paraded in the foreign arena. In April, Poland suffered a national tragedy when its president, first lady, and a good portion of the government were killed in a plane crash. Obama decided not to go to the funeral. He played golf instead. Though maybe it’s best that he didn’t make the trip. When he journeyed to Great Britain to meet with the queen he gave her an amazing gift: an iPod loaded with recordings of his speeches and pictures from his inauguration.

On November 9, 2009, Europe celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was kind of a big deal. They may not mention the Cold War in schools much these days, but it pitted the Western liberal order against a totalitarian ideology in a global struggle. In this the United States was the guarantor of liberty and peace for the West; had we faltered, no corner of the world would have been safe from Soviet domination.

President Obama has a somewhat different reading. He explains: “The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.” Pretty magnanimous of the Soviets to let the long twilight struggle end peacefully like that, especially after all we did to provoke them.

So Obama doesn’t know much about the Cold War. Which is probably why he didn’t think the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was all that important. When the leaders of Europe got together to commemorate it, he decided not to go to that, either. But he did find time to record a video message, which he graciously allowed the Europeans to air during the ceremony.

In his video, Obama ruminated for a few minutes on the grand events of the 20th century, the Cold War itself, and the great lesson we all should take from this historic passing: “Few would have foreseen .  .  . that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.” The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the freedom of all humanity—it’s great stuff. Right up there with the election of Barack Obama.

All presidents are hostage to self-confidence. But not since Babe Ruth grabbed a bat and wagged his fat finger at Wrigley’s center-field wall has an American politician called his shot like Barack Obama. He announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, on the steps where Abraham Lincoln gave his “house divided” speech. He mentioned Lincoln continually during the 2008 campaign. After he vanquished John McCain he passed out copies of Team of Rivals, a book about Lincoln’s cabinet, to his senior staff. At his inauguration, he chose to be sworn into office using Lincoln’s Bible. At the inaugural luncheon following the ceremony, he requested that the food—each dish of which was selected as a “tribute” to Lincoln—be served on replicas of Lincoln’s china. At some point in January 2009 you wanted to grab Obama by the lapels and tell him—We get it! You’re the Rail Splitter! If we promise to play along, will you keep the log cabin out of the Rose Garden?

It’s troubling that a fellow whose electoral rationale was that he edited the Harvard Law Review and wrote a couple of memoirs was comparing himself to the man who saved the Union. But it tells you all you need to know about what Obama thinks of his political gifts and why he’s unperturbed about having led his party into political disaster in the midterms. He assumes that he’ll be able to reverse the political tide once he becomes the issue, in the presidential race in 2012. As he said to Harry Reid after the majority leader congratulated him on one particularly fine oration, “I have a gift, Harry.”

But Obama’s faith in his abilities extends beyond mere vote-getting. Buried in a 2008 New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza about the Obama campaign was this gob-smacking passage:

Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”

In fairness to Obama, maybe he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. After all, his speechwriter was a 27-year-old, and the most affecting part of Obama’s big 2008 stump speech was recycled from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, with whom he shared a campaign strategist. But it’s instructive that Obama thinks he knows “more about policies on any particular issue” than his policy directors. The rate of growth of the mohair subsidy? The replacement schedule for servers at the NORAD command center? The relationship between annual rainfall in northeast Nevada and water prices in Las Vegas?

What Scott Fitzgerald once said about Hollywood is true of the American government: It can be understood only dimly and in flashes; there are no more than a handful of men who have ever been able to keep the entire equation in their heads. Barack Obama had worked in the federal government for all of four years. He was not one of those men. More important, however, is that as president he shouldn’t be the chief wonk, speechwriter, and political director.

David Remnick delivers a number of insights about Obama in his book The Bridge. For instance, Valerie Jarrett—think of her as the president’s Karen Hughes—tells Remnick that Obama is often bored with the world around him. “I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually,” Jarrett says. “So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that they had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy.” Jarrett concludes, “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”

With one or two possible exceptions, that is. Remnick reports that “Jarrett was quite sure that one of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father.” So the only job Barack Obama ever had that didn’t bore him was writing about Barack Obama. But wait, there’s more.

David Axelrod—he’s Obama’s Karl Rove—told Remnick that “Barack hated being a senator.” Remnick went on:

Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. “He was so bored being a senator,” one Senate aide said.

Obama’s friend and law firm colleague Judd Miner agreed. “The reality,” Miner told Remnick, “was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn’t nearly as stimulating as he expected.” But even during his long, desolate exile as a senator, Obama was able to find a task that satisfied him. Here’s Remnick again: “The one project that did engage Obama fully was work on The Audacity of Hope. He procrastinated for a long time and then, facing his deadline, wrote nearly a chapter a week.” Your tax dollars at work.

Looking at this American Narcissus, it’s easy to be hammered into a stupor by the accumulated acts of vanity. Oh look, we think to ourselves, there’s our new president accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. There’s the president likening his election to the West’s victory in the Cold War. There’s the commander in chief bragging about his March Madness picks.

Yet it’s important to remember that our presidents aren’t always this way. When he accepted command of the Revolutionary forces, George Washington said,

I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust. .  .  . I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.

Accepting the presidency, Washington was even more reticent. Being chosen to be president, he said, “could not but overwhelm with despondence one who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

In his biography of John Quincy Adams, Robert Remini noted that Adams was not an especially popular fellow. Yet on one of the rare occasions when he was met with adoring fans, “he told crowds that gathered to see and hear him to go home and attend to their private duties.”

And Obama? In light of the present state of his presidency, let’s look back at his most famous oration:

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

The speech was given on June 3, 2008, and the epoch-making historical event to which “this moment” refers throughout is Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

A senior writer at The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last covered the Obama campaign in 2008.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2010

Predictably Disastrous Recommendations of James Baker III and Lee Hamilton's Iraq Study Group

Saudi Arabia’s Iraq Policy - Confused and counterproductive.

The Weekly Standard
NOV 6, 2010

BY TONY BADRAN

Last week, the Saudi monarch King Abdullah extended a public invitation to Iraq’s president and all its parliamentary coalitions to come to Saudi Arabia in order to hold talks and reach an agreement over the formation of Iraq’s government. The timing of this surprising move suggests that Riyadh may have finally realized—perhaps with U.S. prodding—that its disastrous Iraq policy has hit a dead end.

The king’s offer comes as a response to perceived Iranian primacy in Baghdad, especially after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent visit there. The Saudis’ assessment of Iranian power in Baghdad is somewhat crude and simplistic. However, they are correct that the Obama administration has projected an unmistakable sense of indifference to Iraq that has allowed others to fill the vacuum. Worse yet, it is not just American adversaries, like Iran, who have taken steps detrimental to U.S. interests in Iraq, but clients like Saudi Arabia have done so as well. Blame this ugly state of affairs on the Iraq Study Group.

Long before the surge turned U.S. fortunes around in Iraq, Washington’s foreign policy establishment counseled retreat. The members of the bipartisan committee chaired by Lee Hamilton and James Baker known as the Iraq Study Group distilled their collective wisdom into a 2006 report with several key recommendations. Among others, the ISG report advised the Bush White House to renew the Arab-Israeli peace process, engage Syria and Iran and, in order to prepare the way for an American withdrawal, reach out to regional states, and offer them a stake in Iraq’s future.

What we are now seeing in Iraq is how this disastrous recommendation is playing out. With the current White House unable to chart any coherent strategy in Iraq other than to make good on a campaign promise to withdraw, the Obama administration is running on ISG autopilot.

Under this new American dispensation, where Iraq’s neighbors are invited to have a say in Baghdad’s political wrangling, some regional states are doing well while others are flailing. Iran has plotted a realistic Iraq strategy that has taken full advantage of Washington’s flagging attention, while Saudi Arabia has failed to come to terms with the new Iraqi order and its balance of power. The Saudis are consumed by fear of Iranian expansion, and view the Iraqi Shiite political class as nothing but Iranian assets and facilitators of Iran’s influence over post-American Iraq. In particular, they have been unwilling to work with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Prior to the March elections, Maliki had tried to reach out to Riyadh but was constantly rebuffed. The Saudis made it clear that they would not normalize relations with Iraq under Maliki. Instead, they sought to undermine him while backing former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi. Here the Saudis made common cause with the Syrians, whose ostensible support of Allawi gave Riyadh the belief that Damascus could be enlisted to help counterbalance Iranian influence in Iraq. This hope was misguided.

Syria had no political leverage in Iraq aside from the terrorism it sponsored there, and which it used to try to extract concessions from both Washington and the Iraqi government. With the Obama administration focused on withdrawal, rather than protecting the American investment in Iraq, Syria embarked on a campaign of terror in late August 2009 that was aimed explicitly at destroying Maliki’s political fortunes.

Riyadh’s decisions showed how badly they misread the political situation. Maliki, as the incumbent, was always the favorite to return to office, having had years to build up his power base through patronage and administrative appointments. Allawi’s chances, on the other hand, were always poor. While his list barely edged ahead of Maliki’s, he personally received fewer votes than Maliki, which, coupled with the fact that his list was predominantly Sunni, meant that he was a long shot. The Syrians understood as much, which is why Damascus shifted its position in September and pulled the rug out from under Riyadh. Allawi, the Syrians concluded, could not be Iraq’s next premier, and the only real option was Maliki.

The Saudis had always believed that Maliki was Iran’s primary choice for prime minister, but this was yet another inaccurate Saudi assessment. In fact, Maliki had irked the Iranians by refusing to join the broad Shiite umbrella coalition that included Iran’s closest allies. He had sought, moreover, to marginalize his opponents—and Iran’s friends—and had even moved militarily against Moktada al-Sadr, Iran’s most formidable asset in Iraq. By trying to undermine Maliki, the Saudis were doing Iran a favor. A weakened Maliki, the Iranians calculated, could not risk it on his own and would be forced to come back under their tent.

In stark contrast to the Saudis, the Iranians have played their hand in Iraq pragmatically. They knew that none of their Shiite friends had a serious shot at challenging Maliki, so they figured that it was better to stick with him and find a way to plant Sadr in his cabinet. Iran sees Sadr as its long-term investment—head of a political and military movement similar to its Lebanese asset, Hezbollah—and with him in Maliki’s coalition, Tehran would have a seat in the cabinet. From that perch, the Iranians believe that they would be able to pressure the government on their key issues of concern, like security appointments and U.S. basing rights in Iraq.

Either the Obama administration did not appreciate the damage the Saudis were doing, or, even worse, were not able to lean on Riyadh to fall in line. In either case, it is the end result of the magical thinking behind the ISG report. Washington’s authority regarding Iraq is now diminished because ISG strategy is premised on a fundamental misconception—if all of Washington’s efforts were directed toward the goal of withdrawing, none of Iraq’s neighbors would take the American bargaining position seriously. If we wanted to give everyone else in the region a stake in Iraq, the region saw it otherwise—that we were abandoning our own stake and getting nothing in return.

Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2010

Video guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and “warm the cockles of your heart”

The Honorable Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Yes, I finally looked up “cockles of the heart”, having never found the reference in my anatomy studies. And, the reason it was not there is because:

It is idiomatic. Cockles refers to wrinkles or puckers!

From: Webster Dictionary
Idiom:
cockles of (one's) heart
One's innermost feelings: The valentine warmed the cockles of my heart.

cockles of my heart.>

November 13, 2010

THE WAR AGAINST THE JEWS

By Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdochis founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of News Corporation, whose numerous worldwide holdings include the New York Post, Dow Jones & Company, The Times (London), Fox News Channel, HarperCollins Publishers and 20th Century Fox. This essay is adapted from his remarks upon being presented with the Anti-Defamation League's International Leadership Award in New York on Oct. 13. 
(And, by the way, Mr. Murdoch is not Jewish, which is probably the reason he sees the problem as clearly as he does - jsk).

Posted Oct 20 2010

We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews.
For the first decades after Israel's founding, this war was conventional in nature. The goal was straightforward: to use military force to overrun Israel. Well before the Berlin Wall came down, that approach had clearly failed.
 
Then came phase two: terrorism.

Terrorists targeted Israelis both home and abroad - from the massacre of Israeli athletes at Munich to the second intifada. The terrorists continue to target Jews across the world. But they have not succeeded in bringing down the Israeli government - and they have not weakened Israeli resolve.
 
Now the war has entered a new phase. This is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it. The battleground is everywhere: the media multinational organizations NGOs. In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah.
The result is the curious situation we have today: Israel becomes increasingly ostracized, while Iran - a nation that has made no secret of wishing Israel's destruction - pursues nuclear weapons loudly, proudly, and without apparent fear of rebuke.
 
For me, this ongoing war is a fairly obvious fact of life. Every day, the citizens of the Jewish homeland defend themselves against armies of terrorists whose maps spell out the goal they have in mind: a Middle East without Israel. In Europe, Jewish populations increasingly find themselves targeted by people who share that goal. And in the United States, I fear that our foreign policy only emboldens these extremists.
 
When Americans think of anti-Semitism, we tend to think of the vulgar caricatures and attacks of the first part of the 20th century. Now it seems that the most virulent strains come from the Left. Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate disagreement with Israel. Far from being dismissed out of hand, anti-Semitism today enjoys support at both the highest and lowest reaches of European society - from its most elite politicians to its largely Muslim ghettoes. European Jews find themselves caught in this pincer.
 
We saw a recent outbreak when a European Commission trade minister declared that peace in the Middle East is impossible because of the Jewish lobby in America. Here's how he put it: "There is indeed a belief - it's difficult to describe it otherwise - among most Jews that they are right. And it's not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East."
 
This minister did not suggest the problem was any specific Israeli policy. The problem, as he defined it, is the nature of the Jews. Adding to the absurdity, this man then responded to his critics this way: Anti-Semitism, he asserted, "has no place in today's world and is fundamentally against our European values." Of course, he has kept his job.
 
Unfortunately, we see examples like this one all across Europe.
Sweden, for example, has long been a synonym for liberal tolerance. Yet in one of Sweden's largest cities, Jews report increasing examples of harassment. When an Israeli tennis team visited for a competition, it was greeted with riots.
So how did the mayor respond? By equating Zionism with anti-Semitism - and suggesting that Swedish Jews would be safer in his town if they distanced themselves from Israeli actions in Gaza.
 
You don't have to look far for other danger signs:
 
● The Norwegian government forbids a Norwegian-based, German shipbuilder from using its waters to test a submarine being built for the Israeli navy.
● Britain and Spain are boycotting an OECD tourism meeting in Jerusalem.
● In the Netherlands, police report a 50 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents.
 
Maybe we shouldn't be surprised by these things. According to one infamous European poll a few years back, Europeans listed Israel ahead of Iran and North Korea as the greatest threat to world peace. In Europe today, many of the most egregious attacks on Jewish people, Jewish symbols, and Jewish houses of worship have come from the Muslim population. Unfortunately, far from making clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, too often the official response is what we've seen from the Swedish mayor - who suggested Jews and Israel were partly to blame themselves.
 
When Europe's political leaders do not stand up to the thugs, they lend credence to the idea that Israel is the source of all the world's problems - and they guarantee more ugliness.If that is not anti-Semitism, I don't know what is.
 
That brings me to my second point: the importance of good relations between Israel and the United States. Some believe that if America wants to gain credibility in the Muslim world and advance the cause of peace, Washington needs to put some distance between itself and Israel.
 
My view is the opposite. Far from making peace more possible, we are making hostilities more certain. Far from making things better for the Palestinian people, sour relations between the United States and Israel guarantees that ordinary Palestinians will continue to suffer. The peace we all want will come when Israel feels secure - not when Washington feels distant.
 
Right now we have war.
 
There are many people waging this war. Some blow up cafes. Some fire rockets into civilian areas. Some are pursuing nuclear arms. Some are fighting the soft war, through international boycotts and resolutions condemning Israel. All these people are watching the U.S.-Israeli relationship closely. In this regard, I was pleased to hear the State Department's spokesman clarify America's position. He said that the United States recognizes "the special nature of the Israeli state. It is a state for the Jewish people." This is an important message to send to the Middle East. When people see, for example, a Jewish prime minister treated badly by an American president, they see a more isolated Jewish state. That only encourages those who favor the gun over those who favor negotiation.
 
Back in 1937, a man named Vladimir Jabotinsky urged Britain to open up an escape route for Jews fleeing Europe. Only a Jewish homeland, he said, could protect European Jews from the coming calamity. In prophetic words, he described the problem this way: "It is not the anti-Semitism of men," he said. "It is, above all, the anti-Semitism of things, the inherent xenophobia of the body social or the body economic under which we suffer."
 
The world of 2010 is not the world of the 1930s. The threats Jews face today are different. But these threats are real. These threats are soaked in an ugly language familiar to anyone old enough to remember World War II. And these threats cannot be addressed until we see them for what they are: part of an ongoing war against the Jews.
 
 
 

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2010

In Iraq, Christians fear they could be wiped out

Redacted from article by Jane Arraf

JewishWorldReview.com

BAGHDAD — (TCSM) In the flickering candlelight of Our Lady of Salvation Church, Nagam Riyadh sits against a pillar singing Ave Maria, her voice rising to the shrapnel-marked rafters. "We are singing the hymns we couldn't finish on Sunday," says Ms. Riyadh, who was in the choir on Oct. 31 when gunmen stormed the church in an attack that has traumatized the Christian community here and raised questions about its future.
 
On the first Sunday mass after the attack, Nov. 7, she's one of hundred of survivors and mourners who have gathered here. They light candles in the shape of a cross on the marble floor next to the names of more than 50 dead. At the top are photographs of the two slain priests.
 
Riyadh, wearing a bandage around the bullet wound in her leg, pauses her singing to hand her passport to a church official. She's among more than 50 of the wounded being flown to France and other countries for treatment. Like many hundreds of others who are leaving after the attack, it's not clear whether she will ever come back. "I was one of the ones who wanted to come back but now we're all leaving," says one member of the community who did not want his name used. "What's happening to us is what happened to the Jews."
 
ONE PARISH DWINDLES FROM 2,500 FAMILIES TO 300

Iraqi Jews, once an integral part of society here with a history dating back to Babylon, began fleeing in the 1940s. Now only stories of their once vibrant community remain. Christians, most of them eastern rite Catholics, trace their history in this country to the earliest days of Christianity. Before the 2003 war, there were up to a million Christians here — about 3 percent of the population. Half that number is estimated to have left in the past seven years, continuing an exodus begun after the 1991 Gulf War when Saddam Hussein's secular regime turned increasingly Islamic.
 
Although thousands of Assyrian Christians and others were killed under Iraq's Ottoman rule a century ago, the attack on the church last week is the worst in the country's recent history. The attack, claimed by an Al Qaeda-linked group, was followed two days later by 16 bombings in Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad that killed at least 70 people.

The vast majority of the tens of thousands of victims of Iraq's violence since 2003 have been Muslim, but the small size of Iraq's Christian minority and the nature of the attack have sent shock waves throughout the community.
 "They kill us not because we are Iraqi but because we are Christian," says Father Douglas al-Bazi, who has permanent injuries after being kidnapped and tortured four years ago. "It is different if I die by a bomb or in an accident — I will not say that I'm dying because of Christianity but they entered the church and they know inside the church there are only Christians. Our leaders say, 'We ask the Christians to be patient — to have the courage to live together to live hand in hand with the Muslims ... Why are we begging? Saying, 'Please, please,' for what? To let us survive?"
 
Father Douglas says his Chaldean Catholic parish in the working class neighborhood of New Baghdad has dwindled from 2,500 families in the 1990s to less than 300. His Muslim neighbors help protect the church, but almost every day, he says, more Christians decide to leave. "Of course I cannot ask anyone to stay," he says. "Everyone tells me 'Father, I am sorry — I will leave.' I tell them, 'Don't be sorry, OK? No one is pushing you to die, what's the benefit of dying?' "
 
IRAQI CHURCH LEADERS IN EUROPE URGE EXILE
The siege of the Our Lady of Salvation Church sent shock waves through communities in Europe, which have grown used to news of frequent attacks on mosques in Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq, which took responsibility for the attack, has pledged more violence against Christians. A team of gunmen dressed in military uniforms stormed the church and opened fire on worshippers, calling them infidels, before detonating suicide vests after an standoff with Iraqi special forces. In London on Sunday, a senior Iraqi church leader called on Christians here to leave the country.
"Which is better for us, to stay and be killed or to emigrate to another place and live in peace?" Archbishop Anthanasios Dawood told the BBC after delivering the same message at his Syrian Orthodox church. He asked European governments to grant asylum to Christians in Iraq.
 
'DOES OUR COUNTRY LOVE US?'
Church officials in Iraq are more circumspect. But in the light of the security breach that allowed the attack, they are far from reassuring about the ability or willingness of Iraqi security forces to protect them.
 
"Today we the Christians demand that our country answer us — does our country love us or not?" asked Monsignor Pius Kasho in the courtyard of the damaged church the day after the attack. "We humble ourselves and work for our country — does our country love us? Who will answer this question? This land is silent but we demand that the entire situation, the officials and the government answer us."
 
With neighboring countries overflowing with Iraqi refugees, Christians say the attack has sparked another exodus to the Kurdish territories in northern Iraq. In the overcrowded Christian enclave of Ankawa, on the outskirts of Arbil, property prices rose by thousands of dollars the day after the siege.
"There is nothing left here — staying in this situation with all this threat is very difficult," says Atheer Elias Medhat, a parishioner whose face was marked with the shrapnel. "There isn't a strong government that can imprint its authority on the country."
 
 
 

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2010

Barney Frank and Barack Obama

Defeat followed by Denial

By Jonah Goldberg
Palm Beach Post, November 8, 2010

In 2007, when police busted Rep. Barney Frank's partner for illegally growing pot. Rep. Frank waved away the controversy by saying he hadn't noticed since "he's not a great outdoorsman" and has trouble recognizing any plants. Twenty years earlier, Rep. Frank endured another controversy when his one-time partner, personal aide and roommate was revealed to be running a prostitution service out of Rep. Frank's home. The Massachusetts congressman insisted he hadn't noticed anything amiss until informed by his landlord. And when Rep. Frank helped fuel a housing bubble that has nearly crippled the economy for a generation, he again failed to notice anything was awry until it was obvious for all to see.

While lesser men might worry about accountability, Rep. Frank considers it an affront given his very solid record of obliviousness, denial and entitlement. Watch his remarks from election night on YouTube, if you missed the spittle-flecked invective live. It's a rare specimen - an angry victory speech. He seems simply aggrieved that he was forced to take a race seriously Indeed he was aggrieved that Republicans refused to get off the mat. "The collective campaigns that were run by most Republicans were beneath the dignity of a democracy," he huffed.

Rep. Frank was hardly alone in the sore-winner caucus. Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia refused to accept a congratulatory concession call from his opponent. Why? One reason might be that Rep. Moran, like Rep. Frank, believed it was beneath him to have to compete for his seat in the people's House. Or perhaps it was simply because his opponent, Patrick Murray, wasn't worthy in Rep. Moran's eyes. Apparently rising to the rank of Colonel in the US Army and serving in Iraq did not count as public service.

To his credit. President Obama eschewed the nasty arrogance of Reps. Frank and Moran. But his denial runs just as deep. In a news conference that was humble in tone but myopic in substance, Mr. Obama re-iterated again and again that he got all of the policies right and the American people who disagreed hadn't studied the issues closely enough. It only felt like the government was getting too intrusive, Obama explained. Voters had simply misunderstood the nature of his purely "emergency measures."

And, just like before the election, Mr. Obama's self-exonerating narrative is simply wrong. His agenda was never back-burned for emergency measures. In the summer of 2009, he pushed health care reform while his aides swore he'd eventually get around to "pivoting" to jobs. Government spending seemed to go up and get more intrusive because it did go up and did get more intrusive. And, how was "intrusive health care reform" an "emergency measure" to grapple with the financial crisis. It's not slated to go fully into effect until 2014. It hasn't had — and was never intended to have — anything like an immediate positive effect on the economy. Republicans—virtually all of them — won by running against ObamaCare. But Mr. Obama says: "We'd be mis-reading the election if we thought the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments we had over the last two years."

Now, I will admit that anticipating voters' desires these days can be tricky. But. given the last two years, I would sooner trust Bamey Frank to spot a pot bush in his backyard, or Jim Moran to identify legitimate public service, than trust Barack Obama to spot the will of the voters.

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online



Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2010

The Cultural Divide between American Civilians and their Military

The Invisible War

By Michael Gerson

November 3, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Among the most striking development of the 2010 campaign season was the vast silence on matters of war and peace. President Barack Obama seldom raised the topic on the campaign trail, and his Tea Party critics had no discernible foreign policy. Reacting to a list of public issues, fewer than 10 percent of Americans ranked the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as their top concern. When Gallup recently asked voters an open-ended question about their main priorities, war in general was brought up by 3 percent and Iraq by 1 percent. Afghanistan was an asterisk, mentioned by less than one-half of 1 percent of respondents.

Just four years ago, polls consistently found the Iraq war the most important issue to voters. Iraq seemed headed toward civil war. America seemed headed toward a global humiliation more consequential than Vietnam, beginning a period of retrenchment and isolation. Barack Obama won his party's nomination promising early troop withdrawals from Iraq. Though tens of thousands of American troops remain in Iraq, its declining political significance is explained by success. Obama received the gift of a more stable Iraq from his predecessor, which allowed for a responsible drawdown in forces.

But there is no comparable success that accounted for the irrelevance of Afghanistan in the midterm debate. Majorities of Americans now describe the Afghan war as a "lost cause" and a "situation like Vietnam." Yet it was barely a factor in a national election. What explains this lack of urgency? The economic diva, of course, has driven competing issues off the stage. But there are other reasons. The Afghan war has a new general with a sterling track record, resulting in an extension of public patience. And a Democratic president has advantages in conducting an unpopular conflict. Democrats -- more naturally anti-war -- were perfectly willing to savage George W. Bush on the Iraq war, declaring it "lost" and moving to defund it.

In general, Republicans remain supportive of the Afghan war and have refused to use it in partisan ways. The political cease-fire on Afghanistan will eventually break down. The best advice of military commanders is likely to conflict with Obama's arbitrary July 2011 deadline for the beginning of American withdrawal, reopening all the poorly healed wounds of the administration's Afghan policy process.

But some posit a deeper reason for widespread public indifference to America's wars. We are a society, the argument goes, that does not broadly distribute military hardships. A group of volunteers, often from small towns and rural areas of the South and Mountain West, bears much of the burden of service. "I do not think that any nation should go to war," says Ted Koppel, "simply on the backs of a few hundred thousand men and women and their families. When a nation goes to war, it needs to be as an entity." Koppel and others point to World War II as a model, in which the draft and rationing imposed sacrifice on citizens of every background.

The cultural gap between the military and civilians is a challenge. "There is a risk over time," says Defense Secretary Robert Gates, "of developing a cadre of military leaders that politically, culturally and geographically have less and less in common with the people they have sworn to defend." Gates suggests in particular that colleges and universities should be more open to ROTC programs and that more college students should consider military careers.
But at a recent dinner I attended that included military officers, there was no nostalgia for the draft.

A drafted military did indeed reflect America -- including a significant portion of young Americans in need of remediation or imprisonment. Much of the military's time and effort was spent on the challenges of the bottom quintile. The volunteer force allows for recruitment of a higher quality soldier with a precise set of skills. A draft is no solution in a nation where about 75 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds are unfit for military service due to poor education, obesity, criminal records, drug use and other disqualifications.

Given the kind of skills and experience required in the modern military, those who defend us will be a professional class. Given the continuing threat of terrorism, they will remain active even when our attention lags or turns inward. They are not like the rest of America -- thank God. They bear a disproportionate burden, and seem proud to do so. And they don't need the rest of society to join them, just to support them.

Michael Gerson is a columnist for The Washington Post.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2010

After the Fall

By Cal Thomas
Tribune Media Services
November 4, 2010

The cynic in me says that Democrats will learn nothing from the midterm election. They not only took a bath, they were effectively water-boarded by voters. Democrats lost the House by a margin not seen since 1948. They lost 10 governorships while retaining two - New York and California. Both states are insolvent and can be expected to ask for bailouts from the federal government, something a Republican House is unlikely to grant.

Republicans will get to re-district most states in ways favorable to them for at least the next decade. Nancy Pelosi will step down as speaker, (Cal seems to have this prediction wrong, November 6, 2010) though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid managed to survive a nose-holding election in Nevada.

While Democrats have complained about lack of cooperation from Republicans in enacting President Obama's agenda, don't look for them to show the way by cooperating with Republicans. The GOP has swept solidly into the House on a wave of voter anger at the elitism and condescension shown by so many Democrats and their big media allies who think the public is stupid because a majority do not agree with the notion of government as savior.

Democrats are not in a cooperating mood, as they usually are not when they lose. And make no mistake they have lost big. By every measuring stick-governorships, legislatures, independents, women - Democrats have lost. Republicans would be crazy to water down what clearly is a mandate to stop the Obama-Reid-Pelosi liberal agenda.

I expect congressional Democrats, in collusion with the White House, to attempt to maneuver Republicans into another government shutdown. It worked before and since Democrats have not had a new idea in years's or even a good, old idea. All they know is class warfare, entitlement and grievance.

At his post-election news conference Wednesday, President Obama said many of the things he thought people wanted to hear - common ground, consensus, working together. But, he steadfastly and perhaps understandably would not cede any territory on his administration's core policies, especially national health insurance.

Newly-empowered Republicans are not likely to compromise, since that usually means they are the only ones doing the compromising, which in the past has led to disgust by Republican voters who don't want watered-down conservatism, but spending reductions and smaller government.

Don't look for President Obama or the Democrats who survived the carnage to admit their policies were wrong, or that they misjudged the public. After so many in the leadership denigrated voters as being insufficiently enthusiastic about all government was attempting to do for them and questioning the smarts and the sanity of those ingrates who don not agree with their policies,
I would not expect such people to have a change of heart or mind. That is especially so since the mainstream media can be relied on to question every Republican effort to reverse the policies and spending initiatives of the last two years.

For Republicans the challenge is to maintain their purity in an environment that is the political equivalent of a brothel. Both Senators-elect Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, and Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, said in their victory statements that Washington is broken and they are going there to fix it. That reminds me of an old lyric: 'It seems to me I've heard that song before. It's from an old familiar score. I know it well, that melody."

A little more than two years ago, outgoing (thankfully) Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to "drain the swamp" that is Washington. Instead she built a hot tub. It is difficult to change Washington. More often, Washington transforms the reformers. It is the political equivalent of Prohibition. Maybe this bunch will avoid the speakeasy?ť Maybe?

(Direct all MAIL for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Readers may also e-mail Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.)

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2010

Obama’s Policies and US/Israel Post-Election Dynamic

Political Earthquake in the USA
                                                    
By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
Jerusalem, Israel   

YnetNews, November 3, 2010

The November, 2010 mid-term election produced a seismic political effect:
The most rapid and wide-in-scope Congressional and Gubernatorial victory
since 1948. The outcome of the election repudiates Obama's policies and dramatically erodes his political clout. It feeds the confrontational nature of a
systematically pro-Israel Congress and increases the number of pro-Israel
legislators. It highlights the centrality of the historically pro-Israel American People in the shaping of the American political scene.  The outcome of the mid-term election has reconfirmed that the USA is indeed The Center-to-Right Nation, which has always been pro-Israel.

The outcome of the November, 2010 election behooves a reassessment of
Jerusalem's policy toward Washington, which has erroneously assumed that US
Presidents are omnipotent in foreign and national security matters, while
Congress is supposedly a "support actor."  In fact, Jerusalem's policy toward Washington should reflect the policy co-determining power of Congress - the most authentic representative of the American People, and therefore a bastion of support of the Jewish State. Contrary to the "Jerusalem Misperception," Congress can force Presidents to follow the will of the People in domestic as well as in foreign and national security areas.

In two years, President Obama has been transformed from an electoral asset to a lethal electoral liability, threatening Democrats on Capitol Hill. From a consensus, moderate Democratic President in 2008, he is perceived in 2010 as a President of political polarization, representing the radical Left of the Democratic Party. Never have Americans been so insecure - personally and nationally - and so indecisive about the future of the USA.  As high as were the expectations from Obama, so devastating is the perception of his performance domestically (unemployment, foreclosures, taxes, regulations, big government, deficit, controversial health reform, etc.) and internationally (eroded US stature, threat of Islamic terrorism, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, etc.).  

The Obama Cloud has cost Democrats the support of many Independents, Women, Youth and the Elderly, who were responsible for the sweeping Democratic victory in 2008.   The new 112th Congress will be more confrontational within a political system which constrains the power of the President through an elaborate system of Checks & Balances, an effective Separation of Powers, a Congressional Power of the Purse, a Congressional role in policy-making, an exclusive Congressional legislative role and the preconditioning of policy-implementation upon Congressional approval.  

For example, it was Congress - and not the President - which terminated US military involvement in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola and Nicaragua and severed US ties with the white regime in South Africa.  Congress has the power - which is not always exercised - to initiate, rescind and curtail arms sales, to award, cut and suspend foreign aid, to expand, limit and suspend US funding of the UN and other international organizations and to direct the President to implement a policy toward other countries and the UN.

Obama cannot count on a solid Democratic support in the 112th Congress.  A
substantial number of Democratic legislators distanced themselves from the
President, during the 2010 campaign, in order to survive the wrath of the
constituent.  Additional legislators may refrain from cooperating with the
President, in order to avoid the list of "Obama Casualties" in 2012. For
instance, first-term West Virginia Senator, Democrat Joe Manchin, won
largely on the coattail of a TV commercial featuring him spraying Obama's
initiatives with shotgun bullets and calling for the repeal of Obama's
healthcare reform.  At a time when "800 pounder gorillas," such as 17 and 14
terms Representatives Ike Skelton and John Spratt - Chairmen of the House
Armed Services and Budget Committees - are defeated, hardly any Democrat
feels safe toward the 2012 election.

A few Democratic legislators, known for their critical/negative attitude toward Israel - such as 21 terms David Obey the powerful Chairman of the Appropriations Committee - announced retirement in view of Obama-driven
electoral rage. At the same time, scores of newly-elected legislators joining Congress in January, 2011 share a world-view, which is usually consistent with pro-Israel sentiments: patriotism, tradition, Judeo-Christian Values, national security, 2nd Amendment, anti-UN, Europe-skeptics, anti-terror and associating Arabs and Muslims with terrorism.

The freshmen legislators were elected by the real winner in the 2010 election: The American Constituent, who is cognizant of his/her crucial role in shaping US democracy (e.g. bi-annual district election). The Constituent is aware of his/her capability to challenge the Washington establishment and elect legislators in defiance of party headquarters. The Constituent believes in the potency of the electoral battle cry: "We Shall Remember in November," which haunts legislators who renege on their commitment to voters.  

Moreover, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Independent has reached an all time high, twice as many Americans identify themselves as Conservative than Liberal and the number of Democrats exceed the number of Liberal folks. Most Americans are indeed Center-to-Right.  They respect the Jewish State as a moral and a strategic ally, which is not a classic foreign policy issue, but largely a domestic issue, whose values are part of the moral foundation of the USA.

Will Jerusalem leverage the post-election bolstered platforms of support in the USA in general and on Capitol Hill in particular?  Will Jerusalem learn from current errors and refrain from subordinating its policy toward Washington to Presidential state-of-mind?  Will Jerusalem accord the US democracy and its representatives in Congress their due high-respect and due decisive-role, thus advancing critical joint American and Israel values and interests?

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2010

Is Islam Really the Second-Fastest Growing Religion?

By Ryan Mauro, PAJAMAS MEDIA

It’s a stated fact everywhere from the media to academia to churches: Islam is the second-fastest growing religion. It will become the biggest religion during this century. Christianity is going out of style and Islam is the new kid on the block. We hear it from those wanting to give the Muslim community a bigger voice; from those complaining about Western ignorance; from those trying to put Islam on the same plane as Christianity and Judaism; and even in churches decrying the lack of evangelical fervor among the congregation.

But is it really true?

It’s true that Islam (as well as atheism and universalism) is growing in the West, mostly because of high birth rates among Muslims and immigration, but the exploding growth of evangelical Christianity around the world through conversion is unreported. The analysis is distorted because of the lack of reporting from places like Africa, where nearly half of the population is estimated to be Christian.

In other places like China, news of such trends is suppressed, leaving few to know that some estimates put the Christian population there at up to 111 million. There may be more members in the underground evangelical movement there than in the 75-million strong Chinese Communist Party. It’s been reported that 10,000 Chinese convert to Christianity per day. That number may be a stretch, but if current trends hold, predictions that China will become the country with the largest number of Christians by the middle of the century could come true.

The image in one’s mind of a Christian is usually of an American or European. The decline of Christianity in the West gives the impression that the religion is collapsing when it is really transforming. In Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity, he writes that in 1900, over 80 percent of Christians lived in Europe and the U.S. Now, two out of three evangelicals live in Asia, Africa, and South America. South Korea now holds the title as the second-place country in sending out missionaries, despite the fact that the number one country, the U.S., has over six times as many people.

Another fact to consider is that while the number of Christians overall is declining in the West, the number of evangelicals is rising. There are less of those “Sunday Christians” who do the church routine and don’t make having a relationship with God part of their very being. They are falling away from church as it becomes more socially acceptable to do so and are turning to agnosticism, atheism, and a universalism that believes all religions are one and the same. Christianity is changing into a smaller but more devout and active force.

It is much harder to detect “Friday Muslims” in the Islamic world than it is “Sunday Christians” in the West because of the societal repercussions and the suppression of other religions. Those questioning their faith are likely to keep it private and still go to mosque even if they party on the weekends. The dismal state of the Islamic world economically and politically and the savagery of extremism is turning many Muslims away. For example, I’ve been surprised at how many Iranians I’ve communicated with are atheists or aren’t devout Muslims. There is a clandestine movement to acquire Bibles and practice Christianity in private homes, as up to 1 million are said to have turned to Christianity in the past five years.

This is a problem that raises significant concern in the Muslim world, but the West misses it. In April 2008, Andrew Walden wrote a top-notch piece here at Pajamas Media about this phenomenon. One top Islamic scholar in Libya says that 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every day and Walden writes that evangelist Wolfgang Simpson says that “more Muslims have come to Christ in the last two decades than in all of history.” He writes that the mufti of the Malaysian state of Perak says that about 250,000 Muslims in his country have filed to officially leave Islam, including 100,000 that have converted to Christianity. The mufti warned that this number doesn’t include those who are non-practicing Muslims.

It is undeniable that Islam is growing in the West, but there are signs that the number of Muslims that don’t diligently practice the faith is increasing just as is the case with Christianity. In February 2005, the Sunday Times wrote that “one estimate suggests that as many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies have lost their faith.” A Pew poll in July 2007 found that Muslim-Americans are in third place in how many describe religion as playing a “very important” role in their lives, with 72 percent affirming the statement as compared to 79 percent of white evangelicals and 85 percent of black Protestants. Most interestingly, only 50 percent of Muslim-Americans take their holy book, the Koran, literally, whereas 66 percent of white evangelicals and 68 percent of black Protestants take the Bible literally.

The religious makeup of the world is changing, but the media’s focus on the West is causing many to be blind to Islam’s losing of ground in the third world. Adam Housley reported for FoxNews.com in January 2003 that “most experts agree Christianity does have the most believers. And recent reports estimate that by 2025, that gap will widen even further, making Christianity by far the world’s largest religion.”

The geographic distribution of Christianity, specifically of the evangelicals, is changing as it spreads more evenly throughout the world. At more evangelical-oriented churches today, funds are raised to send missionaries to places like Africa, India, and South Korea. The day may soon come when it is these places that are reaching out to the U.S. and Europe.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2010

Down to the wire - Florida Cong. District 22 - Allen West or Ron Klein?

I Ron Klein

Redacted from article by Joe Kaufman
Chairman, Americansagainsthate.org

Just one more shard of light to illuminate the importance of due diligence.  We cannot afford to simply pull the lever for politicians who cleverly parade their Jewishness when it suits them politically by dropping a Yiddish slang word, cracking a Jewish joke or simply show up to Jewish events and fundraisers to gladhand and solicit campaign contributions.  But when push comes to shove, where are many of them? Shame on us if we don't hold ALL our elected representatives accountable, not just for their words and rhetorical flourish, but for their actions --  and lack thereof --  as well.
 
Congressman Ron Klein, who represents tens of thousands of Jews in his district, refuses to remove Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison from his seat on the Congressional Task Force on Anti-Semitism. Klein appointed Ellison to his seat knowing full well that Ellison was a member of Farrakhan's Nation of Islam as well as the Council on Islamic American Relations. Ellison is also a guest speaker at groups that openly call for the destruction of Israel. Klein counts on the Democrat-Liberal bent of his community to re-elect him although, his actions in support(?) of Israel are nil and controlled by Obama and the Democrat anti-Israel policies.

II Allen West

GO WEST!

From: Israel Commentary, March 10, 2010

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.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)