Monday, November 30, 2009

Obama's amnesia about Zionism


After the Obama administration voiced "dismay" earlier this month at the decision by the Jerusalem municipality to approve 900 new housing units in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, straddling the Green Line, former housing minister Meir Sheetrit quipped that the White House seems to think that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel since Camp David, not King David. Criticisms of Obama's earlier Cairo speech - which urged Arabs and Muslims to accept the reality of the Holocaust but not the Jews' historic claim to Jerusalem or the modern Zionist movement's century-long connection to the Holy Land - are on point but are only half the story. America's first African-American president not only suffers from historical amnesia regarding Israel's pre-1948 roots, he is also oblivious to African and African-American debts to the Zionist movement.

The story begins in 1898 when Edward Wilmot Blyden - whose status as the founding father of the modern pan-African movement was recognized by Cheikh Anta Diop, George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah - lauded Theodore Herzl's launching of "that marvelous movement called Zionism" in Der Judenstaat (1896). Born into a free black family on Charlotte-Amalie, capitol of St. Thomas, Danish Virgin Islands, Blyden always prided himself on his ties to Amalie's 400-strong Jewish community which produced such expatriate luminaries as Impressionist painter Camille Pisarro and whose rabbi taught him the rudiments of Hebrew.

After unsuccessfully pursuing a theological education in the US, Blyden became an agent of the American Colonization Society to Liberia, the American "Back to Africa" experiment that in 1847 became an independent nation. Devoting the rest of his life to Africa as an educator, publicist, and diplomat, he traveled widely including an 1866 trip to Jerusalem about which he wrote in From West Africa to Palestine (1873).

Blyden did not visit early Alliance Israelite Universelle projects, but nevertheless predicted that "Jews are to be restored to the land of their fathers" once "the misrule of the Turks" was overcome. He also longed for the emergence among African-Americans of "a Negro of Negroes, like Moses was a Hebrew of the Hebrews - even if brought up in Pharaoh's house."

Without any knowledge of Blyden, Herzl in his 1902 novel, Altneuland, has Zionist Professor Steineck remark: "Now, that I have lived to see the return of the Jews, I wish I could help to prepare the return of the Negroes... All men should have a homeland." This was Blyden's view until his death in 1912.

FAST FORWARD to the 1920s. Americans, white and black, are riveted by the pyrotechnic conflict between Marcus Josiah Garvey, the Jamaican-born "Black Moses" and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, and W. E. B. Du Bois, godfather of the NAACP. In 1918, when he launched his newspaper, The Negro World, Garvey cabled British foreign minister Arthur Balfour to do for Africans what the Balfour Declaration promised to do for Jews. Subsequently, his attitude soured toward American Jews, whom he unfairly blamed for his conviction and deportation in 1927 for mail fraud and for their support for Du Bois's civil rights agenda. Yet, despite praising Hitler after 1933, Garvey never abandoned "white Zionism" as the model for his own "Back to Africa" crusade.

Du Bois outgrew the patina of genteel anti-Semitism he absorbed at Harvard and German universities as he worked with Jews such as Joel and Arthur Spingarn and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in founding the NAACP. The issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 helped crystallize Du Bois's decision to launch the Pan African Congress in 1919. In Paris that year, he declared: "The African movement must mean to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews, the centralization of race effort and the recognition of a racial front."

In 1921, Du Bois commented favorably on the completion of blueprints for a Hebrew University on Mount Scopus "in the new Palestine." In 1929, he blamed "the murder of Jews in Palestine" by "ruthless and bloodthirsty evil-doers" primarily on British maladministration. His sympathy for Jewish victims of persecution worldwide made him one of a handful of intellectuals to recognize in the midst of World War II the unfolding of the Holocaust.

Polish Jewish adventurer and Zionist Jacques Faitlovich established the American Pro-Falasha Committee in 1922 and brought Emmanuel Taamrat, the first Falasha to come to the New York, to study in the US around 1931. Arnold J. Ford, leader of one among many "Black Jewish" congregations asserting a hereditary connection with the biblical Hebrews, decided after a meeting with Faitlovich to move his congregation to Addis Ababa where he showed them films about the Holy Land and preached Jewish-Arab reconciliation. Carried over from Haile Selassie's heroic resistance to Mussolini in 1936, "the Ethiopian mystique" among Christian as well as "Black Jewish" African-Americans remained overwhelmingly pro-Zionist through 1948 - with the exception of such fringe groups as Elijah Muhammad's The Nation of Islam.

Menachem Begin, who met secretly with the UN's Ralph Bunche, winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize for his mediation of an end to the first Arab-Israel war, recalled Bunche saying: "I can understand you. I am also a member of a persecuted minority."

THE SUBSEQUENT anti-Israel shift in African-American and African opinion - far from being a natural evolution of historical attitudes - was very much driven by the white leftist party line. It began as early as the 1956 Suez Campaign with Du Bois. During the Popular Front era when the Kremlin's line had been pro-Israel, Du Bois denounced Saudi Arabia's unrepentant continuation of the slave trade and criticized the Arabs for "widespread ignorance and poverty and disease and a fanatic belief in the Mohammedan religion." U-turning after the new anti-Israel party line, Du Bois in a 1956 poem, "Suez," portrayed Israelis as "the shock troops" of Anglo-American imperialists.

The 1967 Six Day War completed rather than began the transformation of Israel, in the minds of African-American radicals like Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, from an anti-colonial David battling the British Goliath to an imperialist ally of America's Philistines, intent on conquering the Egyptian frontier of African anti-colonialism. Rejecting the pro-Israel spin placed by earlier African-American preachers on Psalms 68:31 - "Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands to God" - Carmichael had already enlisted under Gamal Abdel Nasser's banner: "We are Africans wherever we are. [Israel] is moving to take over Egypt. Egypt is our motherland - it's in Africa." Israel's Trotskyist Matzpen movement subsequently encouraged American Black Panthers to go one step further by staging a hostile occupation of the Jewish state.

It took until the 1973 Yom Kippur War and Arab oil embargo for African nations to follow African-American nationalists by drastically distancing themselves from Israel.

Yet the Zionist template's hold on African and African-American thought - about which Malcolm X declared toward the end of his life: "Pan Africanism will do for the people of African descent all over the world, the same that Zionism has done for Jews all over the world" - still occasionally surfaces in black memory. It remains to be seen whether it will survive the age of Obama.

The writer is an historian with a PhD from UCLA for a dissertation on the history of black-Jewish relations. He lives in San Diego.
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The Obama Plan: Raising "Palestine" Upon The Corpse Of Israel (Part III)

Louis Rene Beres

In all world politics, but especially in the Islamic Middle East, the ultimate form of power is power over death. Directed toward Jews, the violence of Palestinian terrorism is always "sacred" violence, and it is always oriented to eternal life for the terrorist. Unlike most other terrorists, the Palestinian movement fighters openly aspire to immortality. Paradoxically, that is why they enthusiastically commit uniquely homicidal forms of suicide. Urged on first by Arafat, and now by Abbas-lieutenants and his appointed clergy in the mosques, these terrorists believe fully that by dying in the religiously mandated act of blowing up Jews, they will buy themselves freedom from the penalty of their own personal deaths. As for their fiery self-immolation.... it is assuredly a small matter, really only a momentary inconvenience on the Islamic "martyr's" glorious journey to union with Allah. Identifying the PLO as "a father, a brother, a relative, a friend," the Hamas Charter instructs: "We (all Palestinians) know the Palestinian problem is a religious one, to be dealt with on this premise.... `I swear by that (sic) who holds in his hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill."

For other terrorists, suicide is usually something "crazy," and not a proper tactic to be used for revolutionary confrontation. For the Palestinians, however, suicide in the act of murdering Jews represents the very highest form of political engagement, a correctly Islamic method warranting very high praise. How different, just for example, was the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, a Latin American terrorist group that took 74 hostages at the Japanese Embassy in Lima, Peru on December 17, 1996.

After the MRTAkidnapper's initial demands were rejected by the government, the terrorists threatened to blow up the entire embassy as an act of suicidal desperation. Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's response was to say simply: "There cannot be peace talks or agreements while terror is being used as the principal argument." Again, the terrorists threatened: "If the government doesn't cede, we will die with all the hostages." Five months later, on April 22, 1997, all the hostages were rescued, and not a single one had been harmed. Unlike Palestinian terror groups, who seek to inflict gratuitous harm on noncombatants - often by filling bombs with nails, screws and razor blades - the more typical MRTA organization had rejected suicide terrorism.

"Nail in brain; nail in heart." For a time, such graphic labels attached to X-Rays in Israeli hospitals, had become routine. Several years ago, a victim of Palestinian suicide terror arrived at Rabin Medical Center in Petach Tikva with nearly fifteen nails and metal fragments embedded in his body. One of the "merely wounded," this thirty-one year old man presented with multiple shrapnel penetrations along the left-side of his body, second and first-degree burns on the left side of his face and chest, on his hands and on his left leg. His injuries required five types of surgery. After regaining consciousness, he was weaned from a ventilator and now - in 2009 - still faces additional years of painful rehabilitation.

What kind of search for "national self-determination" inflicts such harms upon defenseless noncombatant populations, and then cheers the most awful casualties in gleeful ceremonies conducted with their own young children? What kind of an America could ever accept such harms as understandable or even permissible? Is there any reasonable way in which a sitting president of the United States could justifiably equate the search for self-determination of such a people with the victims of the Holocaust?

Palestinian terror seeks national self-determination, but shouts endlessly to the world that even after statehood, - a statehood eagerly sought by President Obama - violence would continue against "The Jews." Significantly, every map of every Palestinian group features a new Arab state (the 23rd) that incorporates all of Israel. Therefore, not only Hamas, but also "moderate" Fatah, has already exterminated Israel cartographically.

Terrorism has brought suffering throughout the world, but Palestinian terrorism in particular will remain fiendishly unique even where it is manifestly counter-productive. Given the opportunity, it is probable that, ultimately, Palestinian terror groups will seek to exploit the particular horrors that still lie latent in weaponized pathogens and/or fissile materials. Earlier, in Latin America, groups such as MRTAand Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path") had resorted to bloodshed in a more-or-less class-based fight for social, economic and political equality. But their violence was plainly instrumental, and their ultimate goals had nothing to do with genocide. In Peru, moreover, whenever Sendero Luminoso exploded bombs in cars and buses, the citizens themselves had uniformly condemned the terror.

If undertaken by Palestinians, who would openly condemn bioterrorism against Israel? Certainly President Obama would, but to what end? The proper position of any American president seeking peace in the Middle East must be to prevent war and terror, not to use American resources only after the fact to help bury dead Israelis.

All Palestinian terror groups are relentlessly determined to use violence against noncombatants, even on those occasions where it is plainly unsuitable for political gain. To these organizations, "Palestine" refers to all of Israel proper, as well as to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. As for Palestinian civilian populations, they still regularly applaud even the most heinous forms of anti-Jewish terrorism. When, several years back, two lost Israelis were lynched outside a PA "police station" in Ramallah, a mob of literally thousands danced a frenzied bacchanal on top of the mutilated bodies. This is undeniable. We know this because of the heroic film work done that day by an Italian television crew in the area.

What defensible human emotions can move a mob of "ordinary" Palestinians to torture, gouge out the eyes, beat and then burn two utterly helpless human beings? What, one must inquire, was more incomprehensible that October morning in Ramallah, the elbows-deep-in-blood attacks launched by a desensitized people, or the spontaneously twisted celebrations of the multiple Arab bystanders?

Arab women as well as men could not contain the ecstasy of their cruel involvement. What kind of human beings can commit the horrors that Palestinian mobs inflicted on that terrible day upon Vadim Norjitz and Yossi Avrahami? While the answers to these questions are complex, they have a great deal to do with understanding the incessantly distinctive barbarism of Palestinian terror groups, a barbarism that now frequently manifests itself in intra-Palestinian battles between Fatahand Hamas as well.

Latin American terror groups have sometimes fought for human improvement and survival, but then seemed to look ultimately toward some forms of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. Palestinian terrorists, on the other hand, fight only to expunge an entire people, the Jews, from (at a minimum) the face of the Middle East.

Whatever the rhetoric of the moment, Palestinian terrorism is never really a plea to Israel to relieve material needs, but rather a hideous demand to die so that certain Muslims can realize their alleged spiritual wants. Citing a major hadith (an Arabic term that refers to the oral tradition by means of which sayings or deeds attributed to the prophet Muhammad have been handed down to Muslim believers), King Sa'ud once informed a British visitor to his court: "Verily, the word of God teaches us, and we implicitly believe it, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty."

Palestinian terrorism now based solidly upon fanatical religious hatreds and intentionally wanton killings, bears no close resemblance to other forms of contemporary terror violence. Starkly medieval, it seeks the death and dismemberment of individual Jews and, cumulatively, the annihilation of the Jewish State. There can, therefore, be no justification for its manifold crimes and harms; President Obama's plea for Palestinian statehood will only hasten genocidal terrorist goals.

Mr. President, for Mahmoud Abbas, as well as earlier for Yasser Arafat, "Palestine" can never be allowed to coexist with any Jewish State. Rather, religiously and ideologically, it mustbe raised triumphantly upon the ruins of Israel, an irremediable objective that could imperil not only Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, but also New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

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The Fight Over HLF's Millions

IPT News
November 30, 2009

After years of investigations, and criminal and civil litigation, it is beyond question that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) acted as a front group for Hamas, funneling money to the designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. All of these proceedings, however, have left many unanswered questions. All of these proceedings, however, have left many unanswered questions. Among them, what happens to the money and other assets that once belonged to the now-defunct criminal enterprise known as HLF. In a surprising turn of events, this question has pitted the Justice Department against the families of Hamas terrorist attacks, as they fight for the funds.

Although the current controversy is less than a year old, it may be helpful to trace the lineage of HLF assets to their present state. On December 4, 2001, the Treasury Department designated HLF as a terrorist organization under Executive Orders 12947 and 13224. Pursuant to these designations, all HLF assets and property were frozen immediately. A comprehensive investigation of the group revealed that beginning on January 25, 1995, HLF and a number of its directors:

engaged in a money laundering conspiracy intended to promote the underlying unlawful activity or raising of funds for Specially Designated Terrorist Hamas.

Following this investigation, the government filed a criminal indictment against HLF in July 2004 which sought the forfeiture of all assets that were involved in or derived from HLF's criminal activities. After a first trial ended with a hung jury despite mountains of evidence and expert testimony documenting HLF's connections to and support for Hamas, a federal jury in a retrial convicted the HLF defendants on November 24, 2008. The jury also found that over $12 million could be linked to the offenses charged and was subject to forfeiture proceedings.

As the criminal investigation and prosecution played out, a number of families who had been the victims of Hamas terrorist attacks brought suit against Hamas under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Among those families who now are vying for rights to the HLF assets are the Ungars and the Rubins.

On June 9, 1996, Yaron Ungar and his pregnant wife were murdered in a machine-gun attack carried out by Hamas. A 25 year-old New York native, Yaron was a schoolteacher studying for rabbinical ordination when his car was ambushed returning from a wedding. In March 2000, his orphaned sons, parents, and siblings filed suit in federal court in Rhode Island against Hamas. Without a response from the terrorist organization, a federal judge entered a $116 million judgment.

On September 4, 1997, nine American citizens, among them the Rubins, were injured in a suicide bombing carried out by the terrorist group Hamas at an outdoor pedestrian mall in Jerusalem. In May 2002, the victims of this horrific attack sued Hamas under the same statute that the Ungars used and won $214 million.

Recognizing that these judgments were effectively unenforceable against the terrorist organization, both of the plaintiffs received orders assuring them that the verdicts could be enforced against the Holy Land Foundation. Consequently, the Ungars and the Rubins filed motions in the Northern District of Texas last spring seeking to satisfy their respective judgments. If their motions were granted, they could end up with all $12 million from HLF. For reasons of law and policy, the government has chosen to oppose these motions, arguing that the Ungars and Rubins have no greater entitlement to the money than any other American victims of terrorism.

The government's opposition to the motions filed by the Ungars and Rubins draws extensively on the application of criminal asset forfeiture laws, specifically a technicality known as the "relation back doctrine." As the government explains in its brief:

The purpose of asset forfeiture is to dismantle criminal organizations and schemes by preventing defendants from resuming their criminal activities when they are released from prison, and to prevent defendants from benefiting from their ill-gotten gains. In anticipation of forfeiture, criminals often transfer their property to third parties before a criminal prosecution is ever possible to avoid forfeiture if they are caught. To derail these efforts, Congress codified the 'relation back doctrine.'

Under the doctrine, "all right, title, and interest in [property subject to forfeiture] vests in the United States upon the commission of the act giving rise to forfeiture…" In this case, that concept means that as of January 25, 1995—the date HLF began funneling money to Hamas—all assets and property belonging to HLF were subject to government forfeiture. The result of this forfeiture, as the government argues, is that neither the Rubins nor the Ungars can make out a right to the assets which they seek since their injuries were sustained and judgments rendered after the government's rights vested in the assets via the "relation back doctrine."

Despite the technical nature of these arguments, there are public policy reasons to explain the Department of Justice's position on access to the HLF funds. Since 1995, hundreds of U.S. nationals have been the victims of international terrorism. At least 17 have been killed and over 100 have been injured in attacks for which Hamas publicly took credit. Among those attacks are:

* The August 21, 1995 suicide bombing in Jerusalem which left one U.S. citizen dead and more than one hundred injured.
* The February 25, 1996 suicide bombing in Jerusalem which killed 26, including three Americans, and injuring 80 others.
* The March 4, 1995 suicide bombing in Tel Aviv killed 20 people and injured 75 others, including a number of Americans.
* The May 13, 1996 machine gun attack on a Beit-el hitchhiking stand that killed David Boim, a 17 year-old New Yorker.
* The July 30, 1997 bombing of the Mahane Yehuda market which killed 15 people including a U.S. citizen and wounded another 168.
* The September 4, 1997 suicide bombing on Ben Yehuda Street which killed a 14-year-old from Los Angeles and injured another 10 Americans.
* The August 9, 2001 suicide bombing at a Sbarro's in Jerusalem which killed 15 people and wounded more than 90. Among the casualties were a number of U.S. citizens.
* The July 31, 2002 bombing at the cafeteria at Hebrew University which left five U.S. citizens dead and another four Americans injured.

These attacks are only demonstrative of the types of horror to which U.S. citizens have been subjected at the hands of Hamas. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it should lead to a simple conclusion. In the government's view, granting the $12 million in proceeds forfeited by HLF only to two families would disregard countless other American victims of Hamas terrorism.

The government's brief reflects a desire to seek an equitable distribution of the terrorist assets. As the government explains, "in some form or fashion, the funds will be distributed to those American citizens who have been harmed by Hamas." That could involve some sort of permanent trust, akin to the current International Terrorism Victim Expense Reimbursement Program. The government could appoint a neutral arbiter to oversee the trust, allow for forfeited funds to be deposited into the account, and provide a remedial device for all who suffer from acts of terrorism.

Although no compensation would remedy the injuries these victims have suffered, there may be some comfort in knowing that money intended for Hamas via HLF will go to the victims of terrorism rather than its perpetrators.

The Obama Administration’s Giant Problem: How to Get the Palestinians to Negotiations without Pressure and Threats?

Barry Rubin

The Obama Administration now has a huge problem in its Israel-Palestinian policy about which no one is yet speaking. Since the White House lacks the stomach to deal with it the problem won't be evident for some time, except perhaps to the readers of these words.Here’s the issue. It’s simple. It should be obvious: How is the Obama Administration going to get the Palestinians to the table now that Israel has proved itself flexible, ready for negotiations, and willing to make peace. Because, despite President Obama's claim in his Cairo speech that the Palestinian situation is "intolerable" and they are ready to do a deal, that just isn't true.

After eight months of back and forth, Israel has agreed to freeze construction on West Bank settlements. Despite the Administration’s earlier promise to get something for Israel from the Arab side in exchange for this concession, the White House failed completely.

The White House did issue a statement setting forth its own ideas for a peace agreement which, while asking big concessions of Israel also promises several very important things that Israel wants. (On this, see here). But skepticism is understandable: Will the Administration just keep taking away from what Israel gets by adding to what it gives the Palestinians hoping to appease the latter into negotiating seriously?

The bottom line, however, is this: The Obama Administration has run out of unilateral concessions it can demand from Israel. The Palestinian Authority (PA) still refuses to do anything. It merely whines, complains, and demands more. Every time Israel makes a concession, the PA says it is worthless. Now it is insisting, just as a start, that Israel also stop all construction in Jerusalem and make the freeze permanent.

To put it simply: A pressure Israel only policy won't work because Israel won't give any more and no matter of Israeli concessions will change PA policy any way. The PA will, following its pattern, argue: you got us this much, now get us some more.

So what is the Obama Administration going to do? To get the PA to talk it must either get more from Israel, which is unlikely, or—gasp!—pressure the PA.

In principle, the PA should be eager for talks. Obama believes that the Palestinians situation is "intolerable," so aren't they eager for progress? And also the PA owes Obama big-time. The United States pressures Israel on its behalf; gives it military training; diplomatic support; and lots of money. Obama has made speech after speech promoting their cause and exalting the Palestinians without any real criticism.

He could ask for concessions. He could demand concessions. He could pressure them for concessions.

And what’s the big concession? Come negotiate and get your state, which would be the same size as all the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza Strip, plus billions of dollars in compensation payments, pretty please?

Yet it is hard to see this happening. Why? The traditional reason for not wanting to pressure the Palestinians is that US. governments thinks it must prove itself champion of their cause in order to gain backing from the Arab and Muslim world.

With the Obama Administration, however, there is something more. First, it hates to pressure anyone (or at least anyone except Israel). Second, it is less fond of Israel. Third, it sees itself as progressive and Third World in its orientation and thus has a horror of pushing anyone perceived to be on the “left” by the strange definitions prevailing today.

Then there’s still another problem. No matter what the Obama Administration does the PA will say, “No.” And then what will the White House do? Provoke an open rift; heated criticism; cutting off aid? Not a chance. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas might even, gasp!, threaten again for a week or two that he's going to resign.

Mind you, the PA leadership can’t give in even if it wants to do so because of internal politics. Abbas knows, too, that his colleagues will broil him if he makes concessions. We already saw how this works. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas promises Obama to hang back on pushing the Goldstone report. Even more radical PA leaders attack Abbas. Abbas gives in.

Also, never forget Hamas. Fear of Hamas, combined with hope that Hamas will make an alliance with itself, also keeps the PA from doing anything conciliatory. Does the Obama Administration really think it can make a permanent full peace agreement with a bunch of genocidal-intentioned Usama bin Ladin clones sitting over in the Gaza Strip? That’s a joke.

Then, too, the chickens are coming home to roost on the Obama Administration policy of being so determined not to scare anyone. If Abbas stubbornly refuses to do anything, he knows that Obama won’t do anything to him. Is he going to rush to go off to Camp David under these conditions? If this is going to happen at all the administration is going to have to spend about six months intensive effort on this project.
What’s left? Can the U.S. government go back to Israel and demand it stop building in Jerusalem in exchange for nothing? This will tear up a U.S.-Israel agreement just made, reducing American credibility to zero.

Remember that Israel has frozen construction for ten months. Will any progress be made, or the PA make any compromises, before that deadline expires? And having achieved nothing is the U.S. government going to demand an extension? (Probably, but will Israel give it one; and will the Administration, having failed to pressure the Palestinians or obtained any compromise from them really punish Israel for saying that the experiment had failed and it is returning to normal construction?)

So unless you hear about tremendous U.S. pressure on the PA to back down, setting off an angry anti-American reaction in Palestinian politics, don’t believe that the administration is serious about advancing the peace process. And if you do hear about such things, don't believe they will get anywhere.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

The Good Rapprochement: Why Obama Will Praise Erdogan

Soner Cagaptay
Hurriyet Daily News

What will U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan discuss when they meet in the White House on Dec. 7? There is going to be some give and take on a variety of issues, including Iran. But both leaders will agree on Iraq. Ever since coming to power in 2002, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government in Ankara has come under fire for pursuing rapprochement with the wrong international partners. The AKP has faced criticism for warming up to Sudan and Iran, whose authoritarian and anti-Western regimes contrast with Turkey's political system. Yet, another rapprochement the AKP has pursued deserves praise: The party has painstakingly built ties between Ankara and Baghdad, and improved relations with the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG. Mr. Erdogan should expect praise from President Obama for holding Iraq's and the KRG's hands, and for helping the Iraqis emerge from the trauma of the war and rebuild. What is more, in a region wrought by win-lose thinking, the improvements in Turkish-Iraqi ties nurtured by the AKP serve as a sign that at least part of the Middle East is open to win-win politics.

The most symbolic sign of Turkish-Iraqi rapprochement is the opening of two Turkish diplomatic missions in Iraq, respectively in Basra and Arbil. A Turkish consulate was opened in Basra recently, and another mission is scheduled to be opened in Arbil soon.

These two missions serve as a sign that Turkish-Iraqi and Turkish-KRG ties have come around. Only two years ago, I was getting calls from frantic journalists asking whether the Turkish military was going to invade Iraq. Today, it is Turkish diplomats and businessmen who are doing the invading.

One reason driving this change has been the shift in Iraqi Kurds' evaluation of their strategic environment. Between 2003 and 2006, when a majority of Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs fought against the United States, the Iraqi Kurds were a significant ally for Washington in Iraq. This equation earned the Kurds American backing in Baghdad. In due course, the Kurds achieved many gains, such as recognition of the KRG as a federal entity.

That situation, however, changed after 2006. First, the United States co-opted the Sunni Arabs through the Awakening Councils. Then, Washington made peace with the Shiite Arabs. The new relationship with both Arab groups allowed the United States to zoom out from Baghdad and see the big picture in Iraq. Washington realized that if the Iraqi state is to function, its modus operandi must continue to satisfy the Arabs, who constitute the vast majority of Iraq's population.

Hence, the United States started to back the Arabs over the Kurds on several crucial issues. In February 2007, Washington pressured the Kurds until they agreed to a hydrocarbon law favorable to the Iraqi Arabs and the central government. The United States dealt a second blow to the Kurds on the Kirkuk issue. Washington pressured the Kurds to drop their insistence on carrying out a referendum in Kirkuk by the constitutionally mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2007. The referendum would have annexed oil-rich Kirkuk to the KRG, fulfilling a Kurdish dream.

These U.S. actions convinced the Kurds, perhaps somewhat prematurely, that America had abandoned them in favor of the Iraqi Arabs. This rationale forced the Iraqi Kurds, already fearful of Iran's influence in Iraq, to turn to their remaining neighbor: Turkey.

The KRG's turn towards Ankara brought the Iraqi Kurds into closer cooperation with Turkey against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. In the 1990s, the Iraqi Kurds helped Ankara against the PKK when Turkey helped them. At this time, Ankara provided the Iraqi Kurds with access to U.S. military protection against Saddam. After Saddam was removed in 2003, the Iraqi Kurds shortsightedly concluded that they did not need Turkey anymore. This calculus precipitated four years of KRG foot dragging on the PKK issue. That ended in 2007. Within the background of their new security environment, the Iraqi Kurds decided that they still needed Turkey and that they were better served by building a long-term relationship with Ankara.

Enter the AKP. The party utilized this strategic opening, building ties with Iraqi Kurds. At the same time, the AKP was smart enough to also cultivate good ties with non-Kurdish Iraqi factions. In due course, Turkey emerged as an honest broker inside Iraq, enjoying good ties with Kurds and Arabs, Sunnis and Shiites alike.

Subsequently, the KRG and Turkey have built strong ties, extending from Iraqi Kurdish commercial contracts awarded to Turkish companies, to likely pipeline and energy deals between Turkey and the KRG, to close contact between Turkish and KRG intelligence officials. Meanwhile, Turkey has become a force to reckon with inside Iraq, from Arbil in the north to Basra in the south.

Turkey's rapprochement with Iraq and the KRG has been quite smart. Iraq is more stable today thanks to Turkey. Ankara enjoys unprecedented political and economic power inside Iraq, and moreover, it has managed to align the Iraqi Kurds along its policy of countering the PKK.

Furthermore, the AKP's rapprochement with Iraq has earned it brownie points with the Obama administration. Since the administration wants to wrap up the Iraq war while ensuring the nation's future stability, Turkey's constructive involvement in Iraq has made Ankara an asset for President Obama ahead of Erdogan's Dec. 7 Washington visit. The Turkish-Iraqi-KRG rapprochement is indeed a win-win case. That is rare indeed in the Middle East, and this is one reason why Erdogan should expect some praise from President Obama.

Soner Cagaptay is a senior fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute.

EC: Washington’s Anti-Capitalist Strategy

Dick McDonald

Most Americans are unaware of the strategies and tactics being used today to destroy America’s free enterprise economic system by radical leftists in our government. This is understandable because America’s President and Congress – including government bureaucrats all the way down to representatives in municipal government – are using these strategies and tactics, knowingly or unknowingly, to undermine the very economic principles that have made America the most successful economy on the planet. The strategies are those of Cloward-Piven, two Columbia University sociology professors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Pivenwho, frustrated by the inability to turn America into a socialist state, decided to promote a strategy to force political and economic change through orchestrated crisis. They first advanced this strategy in an article titled "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty" in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation.

Their article, according to

called for "cadres of aggressive organizers" to use "demonstrations to create a climate of militancy." Intimidated by threats of black violence, politicians would appeal to the federal government for help. Carefully orchestrated media campaigns, carried out by friendly, leftwing journalists, would float the idea of "a federal program of income redistribution," in the form of a guaranteed living income for all -- working and non-working people alike. Local officials would clutch at this idea like drowning men to a lifeline. They would apply pressure on Washington to implement it. With every major city erupting into chaos, Washington would have to act.

This was an example of what are commonly called Trojan Horse movements -- mass movements whose outward purpose seems to be providing material help to the downtrodden, but whose real objective is to draft poor people into service as revolutionary foot soldiers; to mobilize poor people en masse to overwhelm government agencies with a flood of demands beyond the capacity of those agencies to meet. The flood of demands was calculated to break the budget, jam the bureaucratic gears into gridlock, and bring the system crashing down. Fear, turmoil, violence and economic collapse would accompany such a breakdown -- providing perfect conditions for fostering radical change.

Sound familiar?

Today’s economic demands are examples of just how impossible such burdens can be: welfare, massive entitlements, union blackmail, hyper-taxation, over-regulation, inflation, environmental obstruction, global warming fraud, ethanol production, emission standards, health care takeover and Cap and Trade…on top of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Disability…to name a few.

Their strategy has worked. Coupled with the tactics of Saul Alinsky and his Rules for Radicals, America’s financial system is being brought to its knees by the strategy of Cloward-Pliven. As an example, ACORN (the Left’s army) along with complicit government hacks forced banks to make NINJA loans to those who couldn’t afford them, compelling the government to use taxpayer money to rescue the banks. While there is lots of blame to go around, the Left played a major role in orchestrating this recession/depression following the instructions of these professors.

The current administration is an advocate of Cloward-Piven strategies and Alinsky tactics. They have deceived and manipulated the country by claiming to (1) rescue the people from the income disparity caused by the Republicans, (2) cut the budget line by line and eliminate Washington corruption then (3) appoint the most corrupt people and organizations – most if not all of them unvetted, unelected and unaccountable - to positions of power while imposing policies that will only make the people poorer.
Even some on the Left are starting to wake up to this plan to destroy capitalism and the golden egg it lays. Robert Samuelson wrote last week in the Washington Post:

"The disconnect between what President Obama says and what he's doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president, his advisers and allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.”

The actual cost, at a minimum, over the next ten years of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid takeover of your health care is $2.5 TRILLION. The cost for the next five years is $1.7 TRILLION. "The Senate Republicans' chart demonstrates that the total for all of these costs – based on CBO projections for the bill's true first 10 years – is $2.5 TRILLION. And costs would only skyrocket from there, as the chart's trajectory suggests. In the 5 years to follow (2024-28), spending on "expansions in insurance
coverage" alone would be $1.7 TRILLION, making the bill's total costs in its real first 15 years well over $4 TRILLION – based on CBO projections."
The current Administration is following the destructive strategies of Cloward-Piven by designing a future where the American economy, along with health care delivery systems, will collapse and set the stage for socialism to take over.

For years, even before the Obama administration, Americans has been whistling past the grave ignoring the economic disaster of the Cloward-Piven strategies. The weapons the Left uses to push the economy into crisis are entitlements which now comprise 58 percent of our national budget. Tragically, on top of that annual burden, the Left with the help of useful idiots on the right have made $110 TRILLION dollars worth of promises to deliver future entitlement benefits in excess of anticipated receipts. True to their belief in capsizing capitalism, the Obama crowd has been proposing adding tens of trillions even to this unsustainable debt.

What makes any thinking American stark raving mad is the current wave on the Right (and in some quarters on the Left) to balance the budget to reduce the deficit. That may be the call to defeat healthcare reform, cap and trade, bailouts, etc., but it doesn’t even pinch the 800-pound gorilla in the room. America needs a sea change in policy, not a Band-Aid.

America must replace entitlements with a system that works. The present one doesn’t and the Left is driving the country right off the cliff ignoring it. As we said, Cloward-Pliven is working and, in implementing that strategy, the leftists in society are bringing down the most successful economy – and civilization - in the history of man. Why are so many standing on the sidelines content to be entertained by talking points propaganda and a clean suit?

Tea Parties must be more than assorted complaints – they need teeth. Contributing Editor Dick McDonald is formerly a CPA at Arthur Andersen & Co. Dick maintains a website at

Of course this will stop under Obamacare-yeah and I have a bridge for sale ...

Medicare fraudsters rake in billions

Jerry Seper and Chuck Neubauer

Medicare fraud is a multibillion-dollar business preying on an ever-increasing number of retiring baby boomers who often are being charged for medical treatments and products they don't need and for services they don't receive. The health care reform legislation pending in Congress - and under debate in the Senate - relies on reining in these fraudulent schemes to help finance coverage for the uninsured. But analysts in and out of government question whether those savings will ever be found.

Despite bolstered efforts by federal, state and local law enforcement authorities to crack down on fraudsters, abuse continues to grow.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who heads the Justice Department's criminal division, told the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime and drugs in May that 3 percent to 10 percent of the $800 billion spent on Medicare and Medicaid each year "is lost to waste, fraud and abuse."

"As government spending on health care for the elderly, disabled and poor increases, so does the opportunity for fraud. Criminals are devising more sophisticated ways of stealing billions of dollars from federally administered health care programs, and they are stealing it faster now than ever before," he told The Washington Times.

Mr. Breuer said the theft of taxpayer money from these programs drives up health care costs and ultimately damages the economy.

"We have to fight health care fraud in any way we can," he said. "We are working hard to meet these challenges."

Much of the dishonesty is in regions deemed "high risk for Medicare fraud," such as Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit and Houston. But Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson of the Department of Health and Human Services said his office finds fraud "everywhere it looks."

Even dead people are receiving benefits.

Malcolm Sparrow, a faculty member at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a specialist on health care fraud, told the same Senate panel that heard Mr. Breuer's testimony that the inspector general's office at HHS reported in 2000 that $20.6 million in claims had been made for medical services performed after the Medicare recipient had died.

In 2006, he said, the office said states made $27.3 million in Medicaid payments for services after the patient was dead.

Mr. Sparrow said the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reported in July 2008 that "between $60 million to $92 million was paid for medical services or equipment that had been ordered or prescribed by dead doctors."

He told The Times in an interview that the government has to increase its spending on fighting health care fraud by as much as 10 times to reduce fraud in a meaningful way.

But he warned: "There is not a lot of political will for massive beefing-up."

Medicare is government-paid insurance, providing health care to about 40 million people age 65 and older and another 7 million younger recipients who have some type of permanent disability. The programs, which pay for hospital visits, physician services and prescription drugs, accounted for 13 percent of the total federal budget and 19 percent of national health care expenditures in 2008.

Americans spend in excess of $2 trillion on health care annually, and more than $60 billion is lost to schemes that rely on falsified records, elaborate business structures and the cooperation of health care providers, suppliers and even beneficiaries, according to HHS officials and the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association, a partnership of more than 100 private health insurers and federal and state government officials.

Making inroads

But the federal government is making some inroads, most noticeably through the Medicare Fraud Strike Force it created two years ago, which initially targeted the Miami area.

President Bush began that effort in March 2007, and the Obama administration has since expanded it. The task forces are comprised of HHS and FBI agents and state and local law enforcement officials, along with prosecutors from the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney's offices.

Their mission is to identify, investigate and prosecute medical equipment suppliers and health care clinics suspected of Medicare fraud.

Within weeks of its creation, the Miami strike force brought its first case, accusing 38 people of improperly billing Medicare for $142 million in fraudulent services and prescriptions. Seized assets included a $200,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom and more than $1.2 million from a corporate bank account.

During a speech earlier this year to a joint session of Congress, President Obama said Medicare was subject annually to "hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud" and the fight against fraud was a major priority of his administration. He called Medicare a sacred trust that must be passed on to future generations.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the administration was committed to "turning up the heat on Medicare fraud and employing all the weapons in the federal government's arsenal to target those who are defrauding the American taxpayer."

Mr. Sparrow described efforts by the Obama administration to combat Medicare fraud as a "positive development," telling The Times that the strike force concept was "all good," but adding that it was "still not enough." He said the health care industry has done "a terrible job of crime control," with almost no procedures in place to routinely verify that the claims presented are true or that services provided are medically necessary.

"But criminals, who are intent on stealing as much as they can and as fast as possible, and who are prepared to fabricate diagnoses, treatments, even entire medical episodes, have a relatively easy time breaking through all the industry's defenses," he told the Senate committee.

Another health care specialist, James Frogue of the conservative Center for Health Transformation, estimates that total fraud and waste could exceed $120 billion a year, citing improper payments for durable medical equipment as an example of Medicare's inability to stop fraud.

Total indifference

Mr. Frogue said he was pleased Mr. Obama has made Medicare fraud a major issue, but that there had been "a total indifference" at HHS' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in dealing with fraud of durable medical equipment. He said Government Accountability Office studies have documented abuse in the durable medical equipment area that are "several steps beyond laughable."

Mr. Levinson's office also has reported on rampant fraud in the durable medical equipment industry, which is supposed to provide wheelchairs, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies to patients. It found that 31 percent of the suppliers of such equipment in Florida either did not maintain offices or were not open during posted hours.

His office said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' oversight of durable medical equipment suppliers was inadequate to prevent fraud and that sham companies had been allowed to bill Medicare for nonexistent or unnecessary supplies. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, formerly known as the Health Care Financing Administration, has estimated that Medicare improperly paid $1 billion in a one-year period for durable medical equipment.

"It is more efficient and effective to protect the programs and beneficiaries from unqualified, fraudulent or abusive providers and suppliers upfront than to try to recover payments or redress fraud or abuse after it occurs," Mr. Levinson said.

Comment: Even those of you who support Obamacare know the above information is accurate. Would you continue to provide your own children an allowance if you caught them stealing from your personal wallets? Those of you who own a small business but "see this as a possible boondoggle" for your family, would you continue to employ a worker caught stealing from you? Yet, you are willing to fund a program that will ask us to pay amazing new taxes for the first 4 years, adding to our debt beyond the pale and then only receive health benefits the next 6 years? Do you run your business or home in this manner?

No surprise: Health bills fail to block illegals

Stephen Dinan

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants could receive health care coverage from their employers under the bills winding their way through Congress, despite President Obama's explicit pledge that illegal immigrants would not benefit.The House bill mandates, and the Senate bill strongly encourages, businesses to extend health care coverage to all employees. But the bills do not have exemptions to screen out illegal immigrants, who usually obtain jobs by using false identities and are indistinguishable from legal workers.

A rough estimate by the Center for Immigration Studies suggests that the practical effect of the mandates would be that about 1 million illegal immigrants could obtain health insurance coverage through their employers.

Democrats who wrote the House bill said that employer coverage for illegal immigrants is not intentional, but rather the outcome of people breaking the law.

“It's possible an employee could deceive an employer with a fraudulent document, just as under current law, to gain employment, just as it's possible for all sorts of criminal activity to occur, and why we have law enforcement," said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who wrote the final House bill.

Republicans said that loopholes in the bill could allow coverage to just about any illegal immigrant who wants to cheat the system.

"This is a complete cover-all-the-gaps federal health insurance for illegals, whether it be under Medicaid, the refundable tax credit or whether it be under their employers who would not be able to verify their employers unless we fix E-Verify," said Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee.

How to deal with immigrants, both legal and illegal, remains one of the thorniest issues in the health care debate. In his address to a joint session of Congress in September, Mr. Obama specifically challenged Republicans who said his plans would extend coverage to illegal immigrants.

"This, too, is false - the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally," Mr. Obama said.

That statement elicited an outburst of "You lie" from Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican.

Most of the focus has been on whether the bills in the House and Senate go far enough to screen out illegal immigrants applying for public benefits. The Senate bill is generally considered to have stronger provisions than the House version to exclude participation by illegal immigrants.

The employer mandate could play a major role in coverage for illegal immigrants, but the effect has not been widely understood.

Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, said about 6.5 million illegal immigrants work in the United States, though nearly half do so off the books and wouldn't be counted for purposes of employer-sponsored health insurance.

Of those who work on the books, about 2.3 million already have insurance through their employers. That leaves at least 1 million who would need insurance and could obtain it from an employer under the proposed mandates.

"It's definitely significant," Mr. Camarota said.

Democrats said their bill doesn't change eligibility for benefits for illegal immigrants but it does change laws on who must provide insurance. Any employer with a payroll higher than $500,000 would be required to provide insurance for employees.

The House bill offers tax credits for two years to help small businesses provide insurance, including businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

But Mr. Elshami said businesses are already prohibited from hiring illegal immigrants.

The Senate bill is more complex. It would urge companies to provide insurance, then penalize them for each employee who applies for credits for the health care exchange.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the bill includes a screening process to keep illegal immigrants from getting credits in the health care exchange. But even illegal immigrants would be counted in the penalty against employers, so companies would be paying for having hired them.

"In this scenario, an employer would have to provide a responsibility payment for an undocumented worker. But that undocumented worker wouldn't be getting coverage through the exchange," Mr. Manley said.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called the debate "an absolute charade" because Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders have signaled their intent to try to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants next year.

Once their legal status is secured, Congress would have to decide their eligibility for public benefits. Democrats have been pushing for broad inclusion, and their health care proposals give equal treatment to legal immigrants and citizens.

Republicans say the government should do more to push for a legal work force in the first place.

"If it was not bad enough that illegal immigrants take jobs that rightfully belong to citizens and legal immigrants, now they will get health care benefits that should go to Americans," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. "If they were not in the country, we wouldn't have to worry about emergency room or health insurance costs at all. And Americans would have these jobs."

A Congressional Research Service report notes that the House Democrats' bill does not expressly prohibit illegal immigrants from getting health insurance and, in fact, would mandate that they obtain insurance if they meet the "substantial presence test."

That test calculates U.S. residency based on the number of days per year a person is in the country.

COP:Global Warming Consensus: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Michael Barone
Monday, November 30, 2009

As Air Force One heads to Copenhagen for the climate summit Dec. 9, it will presumably not make a U-turn while flying over the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at University of East Anglia near Norwich, England. But perhaps it should. The 61 megabytes of CRU e-mails and documents made public by a hacker cast serious doubt on the ballyhooed consensus on manmade global warming that the Copenhagen summit was called to address.

The CRU has been a major source of data on global temperatures, relied on by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But the e-mails suggest that CRU scientists have been suppressing and misstating data and working to prevent the publication of conflicting views in peer-reviewed science periodicals. Some of the more pungent e-mails:

"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"

"Can you delete any e-mails you may have had with Keith re AR4?"

"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty we can't."

"I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU temperature station data. Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!"

You get the idea. The most charitable plausible explanation I have seen comes from The Atlantic's Megan McArdle. "The CRU's main computer model may be, to put it bluntly, complete rubbish."

Australian geologist Ian Plimer, a global warming skeptic, is more blunt. The e-mails "show that data was massaged, numbers were fudged, diagrams were biased, there was destruction of data after freedom of information requests, and there was refusal to submit taxpayer-funded data for independent examination."

Global warming alarmist George Monbiot of the Guardian concedes that the e-mails "could scarcely be more damaging," adding, "I'm dismayed and deeply shaken by them." He has called for the resignation of the CRU director. All of which brings to mind the old computer geek's phrase: garbage in, garbage out. The Copenhagen climate summit was convened to get the leaders of nations to commit to sharp reductions in carbon dioxide emissions -- and thus sharp reductions in almost all energy usage, at huge economic cost -- in order to prevent disasters that supposedly were predicted with absolute certainty by a scientific consensus.

But that consensus was based in large part on CRU data that was, to take the charitable explanation, "complete rubbish" or, to take the more dire view, the product of deliberate fraud.

Quite possibly the CRU e-mailers were sincere in their belief that they were saving the planet. Like Al Gore, they wanted to convince the world's elites that the time for argument is over, the scientific consensus is clear and those who disagree can be dismissed as cranks (and should be disqualified from receiving research grants). If they had to cut a few corners, well, you have to break eggs to make an omelette.

For those of us who have long suspected that constructing scientific models of climate and weather is an enormously complex undertaking quite possibly beyond the capacity of current computer technology, the CRU e-mails are not so surprising.

Do we really suppose that anyone can construct a database of weather observations for the entire planet and its atmosphere adequate to make confident predictions of weather and climate 60 years from now? Predictions in which we have enough confidence to impose enormous costs on the American and world economies?

Copenhagen, despite Barack Obama's presence, seems sure to be a bust -- there will be no agreement on mandatory limits on carbon emissions. Even if there were, it would probably turn out to be no more effective than the limits others agreed to in Kyoto in 1997. In any case, China and India are not going to choke off their dazzling economic growth to please Western global warming alarmists.

The more interesting question going forward is whether European and American governmental, academic and corporate elites, having embraced global warming alarmism with religious fervor, will be shaken by the scandalous CRU e-mails. They should be.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

HC: Obamacare To Hike State Taxes

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Monday, November 30, 2009

While Obama has been at great pains to make a show of avoiding taxes on the middle class to pay for his health care changes, his proposed increase in Medicaid eligibility will have a huge impact on the 39 states whose income cutoffs for the program are below those required in the new federal legislation. All states except for Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin (plus the District of Colombia) will have to raise their eligibility for Medicaid under the Senate health care bill. And they will have to pay for part of the cost. Under the House bill, with a higher Medicaid eligibility standard, Massachusetts and Vermont would also have to pay more.

The magnitude of the new Medicaid spending required by Obamacare is such as to transform the nature of state finances. A large part of the reason that some states, particularly in the South, have been able to avoid higher taxes is because they have chosen to keep down the Medicaid eligibility level.

The hardest hit states would be Texas ($2.8 billion in extra state spending), Pennsylvania ($1.5 billion), California ($1.4 billion) and Florida ($909 million). Who knows if Florida could avoid imposing an income tax if it has to meet so high an unfunded mandate?

In many of the states represented by swing senators in the health care debate, the required increases in state spending are likely to be quite high. In Arkansas, where swing Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln live, the increased state spending required under the Obamacare bill would come to $402 million (not counting the federal share), about a 10 percent increase in state spending. In Louisiana, where Marie Landrieu has sold her vote in return for more Medicaid funding, the increase would come to $432 million (a 5 percent hike in state spending), more than wiping out the extra funds she got in return for her vote. In Indiana, where moderate Evan Bayh is senator, spending would go up by $586 million, a hike of 4 percent. In Ben Nelson's Nebraska, the additional state spending required under the bill would be $81 million, a 2 percent increase. The Obamacare bill would cost North Dakota, home of Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, $14 million, and in South Dakota, represented by moderate Democrat Tim Johnson, Medicaid spending would have to rise by $33 million.

The Medicaid expansion provisions of the Senate bill are complex.
In the first year of the program (2013), states must enroll anyone who earns less than 133 percent of the poverty level in their programs. For a family of four, the national average poverty level in 2009 is $22,000 a year. So any family that size that makes less than $29,000 would be eligible for Medicaid. Many states, particularly in the South, actually have Medicaid cutoffs that are below the poverty level. Arkansas, for example, cuts off its Medicaid eligibility at only 17 percent of the poverty level, and in Louisiana, it goes up to only 26 percent. For these states, the spending increase required by the new bill is huge.

For the first three years of the program (2013-2015), the federal government would pay for all of the costs of the Medicaid expansion. But, starting in the fourth year of operation -- 2016 -- the average state would be obliged to pay 10 percent of the extra cost.

For Democratic governors, this provision means sudden death. Particularly in states with limited Medicaid coverage, it would require huge tax increases that would bankrupt their states. This mother of all unfunded mandates is a tsunami coming at the states as Obama tries to shift to them as much of the program cost as possible.

The following chart indicates the amount of new state money each of the 39 affected states would have to come up with apart from federal aid to cover the unfunded mandate in the Baucus or Senate version of the health care bill:


Alabama $394 million
Alaska 39
Arizona 217
Arkansas 402
California 1,428
Colorado 163
Delaware 35
Florida 909
Georgia 495
Hawaii 41
Idaho 97
Iowa 77
Indiana 586
Kansas 186
Kentucky 199
Louisiana 432
Maryland 194
Michigan 570
Mississippi 136
Missouri 836
Montana 29
Nebraska 81
Nevada 54
New Hampshire 59
New Mexico 102
North Carolina 599
North Dakota 14
Ohio 399
Oklahoma 190
Oregon 231
Pennsylvania 1,490
South Carolina 122
South Dakota 33
Texas 2,749
Utah 58
Virginia 601
Wash State 311
Wyoming 25
West Virginia 132

These data are rough calculations prepared under the advice and guidance of the Republican staff of the committee. The exact numbers -- which have not yet been released -- will vary due to a number of factors, some not even worked out yet in the bill. But they present a clear indication of the order of magnitude of what is coming down the pike for 39 states under this bill.

Copyright © 2009 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

COP: Climategate – by Andrew Walden

Geoff Jenkins is the self-described “front man explaining climate change.” The UK Guardian in 2004 called him, “the man Tony Blair turns to for the facts about climate change.” And as the mid-1990s global warming hype was being cranked up to full volume, Jenkins in 1996 formed a “cunning plan”, “inventing” temperature readings, and releasing fake “estimates” of temperature data for the year even before the year is over. In a November 22, 1996 email to other top global warming scientists, Jenkins writes:

“Remember all the fun we had last year over 1995 global temperatures, with early release of information (via Oz), “inventing” the December monthly value, letters to Nature etc etc? I think we should have a cunning plan about what to do this year….”

According to Jenkins, the fake temperature information would be fed “selectively to Nick Nuttall (who has had this in the past and seems now to expect special treatment) so that he can write an article for the silly season.”

Nuttall is the Spokesperson and “Head of Media” for the United Nations Environment program. Global warming is not Nuttall’s only media manipulation enterprise. In October, 2008 his claims that Somalia had been used as a dumping ground for European toxic waste were immediately picked up by Islamists to justify Somali pirate attacks.

Another source seemingly preferred for the execution of Jenkins’ “cunning plan” is Neville Nicholls, the Senior Principal Research Scientist and Leader, Climate Forecasting Group at the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melbourne Australia. Does this explain Jenkins’ “via Oz” remark? According to his online CV, Nicholls is, “an editor of the Journal of Climate, and was a Convening Lead Author of the IPCC Second Assessment Report on Climate Change.”

Jenkins’ chosen mouthpieces would create a media frenzy “for the silly season.” Then when the real temperature data comes out: “We relesae (sic) the final estimate on 20 Jan, with a joint UEA/MetO press release. It may not evoke any interest by then.”

Jenkins is not exactly a household name. But he has been at the center of the global warming movement since the beginning. The UK Guardian explains:

Jenkins began in the climate prediction business in 1988 when, in response to scientific concerns, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was set up with Sir John Houghton, then head of the Met Office, as chair of the first scientific group.. Jenkins’s job was to pull together the science from round the world and put together 1990’s groundbreaking Group One report. “It was huge fun. It was not political in those days, it was scientists pooling their best knowledge to produce the best report. They were great days.”

Margaret Thatcher’s enthusiasm for science led to the establishment of the Hadley Centre, programmed to begin to find out how the climate would change over the next century or so with more carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere.

Jenkins was among the 25 original staff in May 1990 – now the staff has tripled. “At first we were entirely in the business of predicting what would happen in the future. It was all very academic, with universities and research institutions. We were the sort of people whose outlets for information were papers in Nature.”

Once the first Earth Summit in Rio had taken place in 1992, the Hadley Centre began to move into the policy area and how to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. This eventually led to the Kyoto Agreement of 1997, which was to be the first step to reducing emissions from industrialised countries.

But by 2000 the mission had changed again – particularly with the floods of that year. The environment department had set up the UK Climate Impacts Programme in Oxford to start dealing with adaptation – something that had not even been considered when the Hadley Centre opened.

The hacked global warming emails are now posted online in a searchable database. Jenkins’ addressees are led by Phil Jones. Jones, along with now-discredited tree-ring fraudster Keith Briffa, led the CRU’s defense of the so-called “Hockey Stick Graph” which relied heavily on Briffa’s bogus tree-ring data to falsely show a relatively stable temperature pattern followed by steady temperature increases which coincide with the beginning of the industrial revolution. The fraudulent chart was included several times in an IPCC report even though its faked data neglected to include neither the well-established ”little ice age” nor the equally well-documented ”mediaeval warming period”.

Searches for the names of Mann, Jones, and Briffa each bring up about 500 emails.

Mann is a leading author on the global warming blog “real climate”. Scientific American in 2005 tagged Real Climate, “A refreshing antidote to the political and economic slants that commonly color and distort news coverage of topics like the greenhouse effect, air quality, natural disasters and global warming.”

The scientists do not work alone. As RealClimate explained in 2005: “…our domain is being hosted by Environmental Media Services, and our initial press release was organised for us by Fenton Communications….”

Activist Cash explains what EMS and Fenton are:

If you’ve ever been advised to steer clear of a food, beverage, or other consumer product based on the claims of a nonprofit organization, you’ve likely been “spun” by Fenton’s multi-million-dollar message machine — and Environmental Media Services (EMS) has probably been the messenger.

EMS is the communications arm of leftist public relations firm Fenton Communications. Based in Washington, in the same office suite as Fenton, EMS claims to be “providing journalists with the most current information on environmental issues..” A more accurate assessment might be that it spoon-feeds the news media sensationalized stories, based on questionable science, and featuring activist “experts,” all designed to promote and enrich David Fenton’s paying clients, and build credibility for the nonprofit ones. It’s a clever racket, and EMS & Fenton have been running it since 1994….

It’s called “black marketing,” and Environmental Media Services has become the principal reason Fenton Communications is so good at it. EMS lends an air of legitimacy to what might otherwise be dismissed (and rightly so) as fear-mongering from the lunatic fringe. In addition to pre-packaged “story ideas” for the mass media, EMS provides commentaries, briefing papers, and even a stable of experts, all carefully calculated to win points for paying clients. These “experts,” though, are also part of the ruse. Over 70% of them earn their paychecks from current or past Fenton clients, all of which have a financial stake in seeing to it that the scare tactics prevail. It’s a clever deception perpetrated on journalists who generally don’t consider do-gooder environmentalists to be capable of such blatant and duplicitous “spin.”

The first rule of this game is that it’s strictly pay-for-play. For a price, you too can promote your product by maligning the competition with junk-science smear tactics. To Fenton Communications, you’ll be a “client”; down the hall at EMS, though, you’ll join the ranks of its “project partners.” And nobody will be the wiser.

Environmental Media Services was founded in 1994 by Arlie Schardt, who would later serve as communications director for Al Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign. Schardt in the 1970s left his position as a Sports Illustrated writer to head the Environmental Defense Fund. He was also a project director for Teresa Heinz Kerry’s and George Soros’ Tides Center, then chaired by ACORN founder Wade Rathke. In 2005, shortly after the RealClimate admission, Schardt retired and EMS was renamed the Science Communication Network. Their website carries a running feed of articles they have planted in the media on behalf of ”organic” food processing and marketing clients of Fenton Communications.

Why would Jenkins want to cover up the real data? Well, even with the faked data, he did not look forward to having to explain that 1996 was in fact cooler than 1995. So he suggested:

“We explain why the globe is 0.23k (or whatever the final figure is) cooler than 95 (NAO reversal, slight La Nina). Also that global annual avg is only accuirate (sic) to a few hundredths of a degree (we said this last year – can we be more exact, eg PS/MS 0.05K or is this to big??)”

In spite of this, their scam was noticed at the time–but not by Fenton’s spoon-fed media outlets. For instance, on March 18, 1996 Michael Fumento of the Washington Times wrote:

In early January, the Climatic Research Unit at England’s University of East Anglia made headlines, including the New York Times, with a preliminary report saying 1995 was the hottest year on record. But their data were for only 11 months. Rather than risk December’s temperatures spoiling everything, they jumped the gun and sent out their press releases.

Their fears were fulfilled when December’s average temperature came in at the lowest in 17 years. “It was a pretty ordinary year,” said NASA scientist John Christy, who has been analyzing satellite data on temperature since 1979. And James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who pretty much started the whole global-warming scare, admits his study of land areas – where the effects of global warming would be most severe – revealed that 1995 was about 0.02 degrees celsius cooler than 1990.

In Jenkins’ email, “NAO reversal” refers to an inconvenient cooling of ocean temperatures labeled: “North Atlantic Oscillation.” “Slight La Nina” refers to an equally inconvenient cooling of the Pacific called the the South Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The same excuses for global cooling are still being used 13 years later. For instance, consider this item from an October 9, 2009 BBC article titled, “What happened to global warming?”:

But those scientists who are equally passionate about man’s influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.

The UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.

In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures – all of which are accounted for by its models.

In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.

What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.

Tom Wigley is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science described as “one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change and one of the most highly cited scientists in the discipline..” He has argued that the global warming alarmists are not alarming enough asserting: “the human-induced changes that are expected over the next 100 years are much, much greater than any changes that societies experienced in the past.” In an October 14, 2009 email, Wigley discusses similar methods for making cooling look like warming by manipulating the data:

…here are some notes of mine on the recent lack of warming. I look at this in two ways. The first is to look at the difference between the observed and expected anthropogenic trend relative to the pdf for unforced variability. The second is to remove ENSO, volcanoes and TSI variations from the observed data. Both methods show that what we are seeing is not unusual. The second method leaves a significant warming over the past decade.

While trying to figure out what degree of inaccuracy they could get away with asserting, and dithering over how to play with numbers to make cooling into warming, Jenkins had no problem peddling the wildest global warming claims. For instance the September 28, 1996 London Evening Standard reports:

An alarming picture of how London would be affected by global warming was painted by the Government’s top climate change adviser today.

Dr Geoff Jenkins fears that summer temperatures could hit 45C (113F), raising the spectre of thousands dying through heat-related illnesses; the number of days of extreme heat will rise 20-fold and rainfall will be down by a fifth making droughts a common occurrence.

What rain we get will be in heavier bursts and, as it hits parched ground, will increase the threat of floods threefold. Rising sea levels will see the Thames rise by 3ft, requiring billions to be spent on flood defences …

That was the propaganda required to peddle global warming in the mid-1990s. But in the next decade, global warmers sought to look past their wild claims and pretend that a “consensus’ exists. Jenkins, in lockstep, provided the “scientific” veneer for these claims telling the BBC July 27, 2004:

“We’ve reached the point where it’s only by including human activity that we can explain what’s happening.”

Doing their part to make up the story, the emailing global warming scientists are just cogs in this machine. But if the cogs seize up, the machine breaks down.

Ohio Imposes Sharia on a Muslim Girl – by Jamie Glazov

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Pamela Geller, founder, editor and publisher of the popular and award-winning weblog She has won acclaim for her interviews with internationally renowned figures, including John Bolton, Geert Wilders, Bat Ye’or, Natan Sharansky, and many others, and has broken numerous important stories — notably the questionable sources of some of the financing of the Obama campaign. Her op-eds have been published in The Washington Times, The American Thinker, Israel National News, Frontpage Magazine, World Net Daily, and New Media Journal, among other publications. FP: Pamela Geller, welcome back to Frontpage Interview.

Tell us about how the The Rifqa Rally went and where the case stands now.

Geller: The Rifqa Rally on November 16 in Columbus, Ohio, was an enormous success. Freedom lovers traveled from far and wide to stand up for Rifqa’s religious freedom and human rights — from Wisconsin, Toronto, California, Dearbornistan (so they said), Michigan, New York, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Louisiana and it was good.

Police said about 250 people were there. The Sudanese ex-slave Simon Deng spoke out powerfully about Sharia law, showing how what he suffered under Islamic law (as he was taken into slavery in the Sudan) was the same force that threatens Rifqa’s life and religious freedom in Ohio today. Nonie Darwish, the courageous ex-Muslim and expert on Sharia, spoke about how Islamic law does call for the death of the apostate, and how Ohio authorities should be protecting Rifqa, not throwing her to the Islamic wolves. James Lafferty of the Anti-Sharia Coalition gave the crowd some tips on what we can do to fight for Rifqa and for freedom. Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, who helped me organize the Rally, also spoke, along with Rifqa’s friend Jamal Jivanjee, a Christian pastor in Columbus and himself also an ex-Muslim.

The crowd came away energized and excited, determined not to let Sharia prevail in the U.S., and to stand up against the Islamic machine that is compelling Ohio authorities to implement (unwittingly) Sharia laws about isolating the female apostate.

FP: What is happening to Rifqa right now?

Geller: The vise is tightening further on her. The authorities, at the command of the Barys’ lawyer Omar, continue to isolate her. She has been in Ohio for well over a month and still there is no “approved visitation” list. How can this be? How can it be that friends who request a visit, and whom Rifqa requests to visit, are repeatedly told “there is no approved visitation list”? Is it not the very mission by objective of children’s services to protect the health and welfare of a child? Why has Rifqa been denied “pastoral guidance”? Convicts, murderers, rapists, and pedophiles have access to “pastoral guidance”. Is that how powerful and influential Islamic jihad has become in the state of Ohio — that one young girl is starved of spiritual nourishment so as not to insult Islam? Has everyone gone mad?

No phone. No net. No religious succor.

This is why I so fiercely fought her return to Ohio. Columbus is home to one of the largest Somali Muslim populations in the United States, 70,000 and growing. This is the group, Somali Muslims, that has been at the epicenter of myriad busts for jihad in recent weeks (and one coming soon). Is she safe in a devout Muslim community?

The office of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (recipient of boucoup Islamo-bucks) issued a statement back on September 14th, on why Rifqa Bary should be returned to Ohio.

“Child welfare agencies and authorities in Ohio and Franklin County are fully capable of providing for the security and well-being of Ohio’s children,” the statement said. “The governor believes this is a family matter and therefore would most appropriately be handled here in Ohio with the assistance of the child welfare and foster care system.”

“We have no reason to believe that she would be unsafe in Ohio,” his statement said.

FP: It appears that the authorities are actually forcing Rifqa to live under Sharia law right now. Yes?

Geller: Yes. One can see the stark difference in how Florida and Ohio are handling Rifqa. This speaks to my fear of Rifqa’s being returned to Ohio. There is a level of corruption and Islamic influence all the way up to Governor Strickland’s office that is deeply troubling. Strickland is on their payroll. And so now Rifqa Bary’s civil rights are being violated by the state of Ohio. She is being for all intents and purposes held prisoner, deprived of access to a phone, to the Internet, and to public school. And why is all this being done? What crime has she committed? The Ohio authorities may not realize what they are doing, but they are holding Rifqa under house arrest in accord with Sharia law, which stipulates that female apostates are to be imprisoned until they recant. Ohio is effectively practicing Sharia law.

FP: Where are all the feminists in America coming to the defense of this young Muslim girl?

Geller: Where indeed? Whenever feminist groups are asked to comment on an honor killing or gender apartheid, they always defer and suggest that the media speak to the Muslim groups. How courageous. It is despicable that feminist groups and child welfare groups are nowhere to be seen. Feminist groups are either afraid of the Islamic supremacists who are trying to deny Rifqa her religious freedom and human rights, hate Christianity for its position on abortion, or they hate America so much that they will be silent when women are being oppressed by a force that also hates America.

The barbaric oppression of women under Sharia has never mattered to American feminists. Hillary Clinton has never said a word about it. Gloria Steinem hasn’t touched the subject. Code Pink has never come out against the barbarians. But they will go to Israel and protest freely their against the Jewish people right to self defense. Morally ill.

If she was a pregnant girl who had run away from a devout Christian home because she wanted an abortion, she would never be returned to home. The left would make her iconic like Roe in Rove v Wade.

FP: What is the meaning of all these events?

Geller: Everyone is watching to see what happens to Rifqa. She has become a test case for everyone. The Muslims, the Islamic supremacists, want to prove that a young girl cannot break free, cannot break out of their web, even in America. More importantly, it is a case being watched by every subjugated Muslim dying to break free of the shackles of Islam. If Rifqa can do it and is protected, so can they. This is why it is so critical that she be broken by the Islamic machine.

It’s a test case for free people, and for America also. Will American courts knuckle under to Islamic intimidation and implement Sharia provisions for the isolation of female apostates? Will we stand up and defend religious freedom? Do Muslim girls in the same situation as Rifqa have any hope? Rifqa’s case will show the answer.

FP: So what’s coming up and what can we do?

Geller: Well, first Jamie, I’m asking everyone at Frontpage and all of Frontpage readers to please send Rifqa a Christmas card. Let her know you stand with her. Send it to:

Rifqa Bary
c/o Angela Lloyd
255C Drinko Hall
55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201

There is a dependency hearing on December 22 in Columbus. I know it’s awfully close to Christmas. I know people will be busy. My kids are in from school too. But we are going to hold another rally.

So join me and other freedom fighters at the Christmas rally for Rifqa the day of her dependency hearing December 22 in Columbus Ohio. Be there. She could be sent back to her devout Muslim home on the 22nd and that extremist Noor Mosque.

How frightening it all must be for her.

FP: Thank you Pamela Geller.

Legal Appeal Against Freeze: 'Gov’t Didn’t Approve It'

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria (Yesha). The appellants say the mini-security Cabinet has no right to enforce a blanket freeze on construction without receiving a full Cabinet decision. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hurriedly convened his 15-member security cabinet last week, and rushed through an 11-1 vote in favor of the 10-month freeze. The two Shas ministers, opposing the decision, refused to take part in the vote – they walked out and did not vote against – and Minister Silvan Shalom, who later strongly opposed the decision, was abroad at the time. Only Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau voted against.

The other members – Prime Minister Netanyahu and fellow Likud party Ministers Ne’eman, Yaalon, Meridor, Steinitz, Saar, and Begin; Ministers Lieberman and Aharonovitz of Israel Our Home; and Barak and Ben-Eliezer of Labor – voted in favor of the freeze.

The Legal Forum says the decision has no standing without full Cabinet approval. Netanyahu did not bring the matter to a vote at the this week's Cabinet session Sunday, nor does he intend to – unless the Supreme Court forces him.

“A non-security related decision that involves such a grave blow at the property rights of so many people may not be made so secretly with no prior warning and with no possibility for Cabinet members to appeal it,” Attorney Yossi Fuchs of the Forum explained. “The mini-Cabinet did not even claim that this was a security decision, but rather stated vaguely that its purpose is to encourage the renewal of talks with the PA…”

Fuchs also noted that, despite objections by Cabinet ministers, the matter was not brought before the full government. It was noted that Minister Landau announced that he would work to force the Cabinet to discuss the matter, and that Minister Shalom had strong criticism of the decision.

The Forum demands that the construction freeze be itself frozen: “Residents of Yesha have been harmed as of the moment that the decree was signed, but the government will lose nothing if it simply waits until after a government decision before proceeding with the freeze.

“This is not an urgent matter,” Fuchs continued. “It is not related to any agreement with the Palestinian Authority, which has even announced that it does not accept the freeze because it does not include Jerusalem. There is therefore no need to relate to it as a ticking time-bomb.”

Hamas Bans Women Dancers, Scooter Riders in Gaza Push (Update1)

Daniel Williams

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Islamic Hamas movement banned girls last month from riding behind men on motor scooters and forbade women from dancing at the opening of a folk museum. Girls in some public schools must wear headscarves and cloaks. Signs of Hamas’s creeping Islamization are everywhere in Gaza, the Mediterranean coastal enclave that Hamas has run by itself since 2007. Gaza is already politically divided from the West Bank, the Palestinian territory administered by the secular Fatah movement.

“Ruling by itself, Hamas can stamp its ideas on everyone,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University. “Islamizing society has always been part of Hamas strategy.”

Hamas-Fatah infighting has diverted Palestinians from their quest for statehood and from presenting a united front at proposed U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel. With no Palestinian elections on the horizon -- a vote scheduled for January was canceled -- Hamas has free rein to rule in Gaza.

Hamas swept Palestinian legislative balloting in 2006 and took over the Gaza Strip a year later when its gunmen routed forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who still governs the West Bank. Syria and Iran back Hamas, while the U.S., its Middle East allies and the European Union support Abbas’s rule.

Caftans in Court

Some of the efforts are meeting resistance. When Supreme Court Justice Abdel Raouf Al-Halabi ordered women lawyers on July 26 to wear headscarves and caftans in court, attorneys contacted satellite television stations including Al-Arabiya to protest. On Sept. 6, Hamas’s Justice Ministry rescinded the directive.

Hamas officials say they have no plans to impose Islamic law. “What you are seeing are incidents, not policy,” said Younis al-Astal, a Hamas legislator. “We want Islamic law to be the standard, but we believe in persuasion.”

In an Oct. 13 speech, Abbas said Hamas was establishing an “emirate of darkness” in Gaza. Abbas’s Fatah movement has long viewed itself as a secular nationalist movement open to Muslims and Christians.

At the immigration office at Gaza’s border with Israel, a sign warns that alcoholic beverages, forbidden under Islam, will be poured out “in front of the owner.”

The government’s Islamic Endowment Ministry has deployed Virtue Committee members to preach at public places to warn of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing and dating.

Dancing Ban

The opening of the Palestinian Heritage Museum on Oct.7 was meant to include a rendition of the dabke, a line dance performed by girls and boys. Except that no girls were allowed.

Black-shirted men from Hamas carrying AK-47s appeared at the gates of the museum, on Gaza’s waterfront, said Jamal Salem, the curator. They said girls shouldn’t dance because it wasn’t religiously proper. Nor could they share the stage for the inaugural speeches, said Salem.

“They are trying to take Palestinian culture and make it all their own,” Salem said. “They say our traditions are against the law. Their law.”

In August, headmasters of several schools ordered girls to don white head scarves and black cloaks called jilbabs. They sent several girls in jeans home, according to Gaza press reports. The Education Ministry later said the orders were unauthorized acts of individual school officials.

No Defiance

“The episodes had an effect anyway,” said Eyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist and human rights campaigner. “What parent wants to be seen to defy Islamic rules?”

Abusada, the Gaza political science professor, said Hamas only retreats from overt Islamization for fear of “provoking” such secular-ruled Arab countries as Egypt, with which it competes for support with Abbas.

“At the same time, Hamas is under pressure from some of its own members as well as even more radical groups to implant a purist version of Islam,” he said.

Hamas is also wary of openly pressing for rule by religious edict because it undermines the group’s claim to legitimacy under Palestinian civil law, which set guidelines for the 2006 legislative vote, said Subhia Juma, a lawyer at the Independent Commission for Human Rights in Gaza.

“Hamas backs off when it looks like they are governing under Islamic law and people complain,” she said.

Israel, the U.S. and the EU say Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Swimming in Pants

In June, black-clad constables approached journalist Asmaa al-Ghoul, 27, and friends on a north Gaza beach, al-Ghoul said. Her offense: swimming in trousers and a blouse, not robes.

Male companions, including her brother, tried to defend her. Al-Ghoul said she phoned the government spokesman, who called off the police.

Hamas police spokesman Rafik Abu Hani said the crackdowns were abnormalities.

“Even here, we don’t make everyone wear Islamic-style beards,” he said, pointing to a clean-shaven aide.

Everyone backs alcohol prohibition, Abu Hani said, and the motorcycle restriction is a safety issue.

Al-Astal, the Hamas legislator, said it wasn’t a coincidence that youth were the principal targets of the push.

“We are working on young people, the next generation, to be more correctly Islamic,” he said. The older generation “is lost.”

And as for motorcycles: “A girl has to hold onto a boy’s waist to ride in the back. Things can happen. You know what I mean,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Williams in Gaza at
Last Updated: November 30, 2009 08:06 EST