Sunday, January 31, 2010

Scoop: Fatah's New Charter Shows Why Peace Won't Happen

Barry Rubin

Many people seem to think that the Israel-Palestinian or Arab-Israeli conflict or the “peace process” is the world’s most important issue. So who's going to determine whether it gets resolved or not? No, not President Barak Obama; no, not Israel’s prime minister; no, not Palestinian Authority (PA) “president” Mahmoud Abbas or Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

That choice is in the hands of Fatah, which controls the PA and rules the West Bank. Only if and when Fatah decides that it wants a two-state solution and a real end of the conflict based on compromise will that be possible. So the fact that Fatah has issued a new charter seems to be a matter of great importance. Yet up until now nobody has noticed that such a charter emerged from the August 2009 Fatah General Congress. The document was translated by the U.S. government and has just been leaked by Secrecy News. You are now reading the first analysis of this charter.

Secrecy News remarks: “The document is not particularly conciliatory in tone or content. It is a call to revolution, confrontation with the enemy, and the liberation of Palestine, ‘free and Arab.’" But then the newsletter continues:

“But what is perhaps most significant is what is not in the document. The original Fatah charter (or constitution) from the 1960s embraced `the world-wide struggle against Zionism,’ denied Jewish historical or religious ties to the land, and called for the `eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.’ None of that language is carried over into the new charter, which manages not to mention Israel, Zionism, or Jews at all.”

Now here’s an important lesson for you. When a radical group is portrayed as moderate based on some position it supposedly has taken or some statement made there has to be a catch somewhere. Here’s the tip-off in this case, a single sentence in the new charter:

“This internal charter has been adopted within the framework of adherence to the provisions of the Basic Charter.”

In other words, every detail of the original charter still holds; nothing is repealed, no error admitted, no explicit change of course accepted.

Of course, Fatah has changed a lot from the 1960s. It is less focused on violence (though that doesn’t mean it has renounced terrorism necessarily), less explicitly militant in its demands, more willing to deal in a cooperative manner with Israel. Neither genuine moderation nor remaining intransigence should be exaggerated. On practical day-to-day matters, Israel can work with Fatah and needs to ensure that Hamas doesn't overthrow it. At present Fatah leaders understand well that a return to large-scale violence is against their interests. But make a comprehensive peace agreement? Not going to happen.

And yet offered an opportunity to become a parliamentary political party, a movement clearly dedicated to peaceful politicking and a diplomatic solution, despite massive Western financial subsidies and frequent expressions of support for a Palestinian state from President Barack Obama, Fatah has chosen to remain a revolutionary organization. Indeed, there is no word more used in this charter than “revolutionary.”

“Let us train ourselves to be patient and to face ordeals, bear calamities, sacrifice our souls, blood, time and effort,” says the charter. “All these are the weapons of revolutionaries.

"You must know that determination, patience, secrecy, confidentiality, adherence to the principles and goals of the revolution, keep us from stumbling and shorten the path to liberation.

"Go forward to revolution. Long live Palestine, free and Arab!”

At the same time, though, Fatah remains non-ideological. It sees itself as a broad nationalist movement, just as when Yasir Arafat founded it more than fifty years ago. Indeed, despite the challenge from Hamas, the word “Muslim” or “Islamic” is mentioned nowhere in the charter.

In structure, though, Fatah is still a revolutionary organization. Membership is secret; decisionmaking is supposedly based on the Marxist concept of “democratic centralism;” the Maoist phrase “criticism and self-criticism” is recommended; and the organizational structure is based on cells.

Yet while Fatah sounds like some Communist party or tightly disciplined revolutionary underground, the reality is quite different. Arafat set forth an institutional culture that has always been somewhat anarchical. Cadre are undisciplined and the command structure is anything but organized. When Hamas staged a coup in the Gaza Strip, Fatah simply collapsed and didn’t even put up much of a fight. Local bosses prevail; cadre do pretty much whatever they want; indiscipline and corruption is rife.

And so it is sort of a joke to read in Article 95 that members are enjoined to be, “Undertaking their tasks enthusiastically and sparing no effort in achieving the movement's objectives and principles; exerting strenuous efforts to enhance interaction with the masses and winning their respect and confidence.”

What is intriguing, however, is that there is a detailed discussion of transgressions of Fatah rules and punishments for doing so. Clearly, if members do anything the leaders don't like they are going to face severe penalties. Thus it is significant that no Fatah member has been ever disciplined for committing acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians or for making the most extremist statements. Indeed, it isn’t even clear that Fatah has the determination or ability to punish members for collaborating with Hamas against their own leaders.

But the most fascinating aspect of all is the definition of the movement’s structure. Overwhelming power is in the hands of a 23-member Central Committee, including control of Fatah’s military forces. As I have shown previously, the Central Committee elected at the same Congress which formulated this new charter is quite radical. There are few members ready for real peace with Israel. When it comes to making any big decision, Abbas and Fayyad are mere figureheads.

Beneath the Central Committee is an 80-member Revolutionary Committee and, as the next level, a 350-member General Council. The Central Committee chooses a fairly large portion o both groups. Indeed it also selects the Fatah members of the Palestine National Council (the PLO’s legislature); PLO Executive Committee, which rules the PLO; Palestinian Legislative Council (the PA’s legislature); and the PA itself.

What this means is that Abbas and Fayyad do not control the PA, nor can they make peace or even conduct serious give-and-take negotiations. The Central Committee is really in control and the Central Committee is overwhelmingly hardline--at least 16--roughly three-quarters--of the 23 are that way. They still hope to take over Israel and thus reject agreeing to resettle Palestinian refugees in a state of Palestine. Equally, they aren't ready to declare that a two-state solution is the end of the conflict.

Most of the hardliners are supporters of Abbas. But the main reason they back him is their conviction that Abbas is weak both in character and in political base. They want him to be leader because they know he doesn't threaten their power. Like the famous exchange between Senator Lloyd Bentsen and Vice-President Dan Quayle they can say: "I knew Yasir Arafat. I worked with Yasir Arafat. And Chairman Abbas, you are no Yasir Arafat."

He will not, he cannot, do anything they don't like. And one of the things Abbas has done to appease them has been to make Muhammad Ghaneim, perhaps the most hardline among all the committee members, his designaed successor.

These 23 committee members are in control of the fate of the Palestinians (except for Hamas’s considerable say in that matter) and the peace process. Due to their radicalism, there will be no peace or Palestinian state for many years.

Why don’t more people study the details of Palestinian politics? For the same reason that they don’t want to look closely at how sausages are made. It’s too unpleasant. After doing so, one could never go on naively believing that peace is within reach.

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

Is TIME Magazine Afraid of The Truth?
Hat tip: Shy Guy

Being afraid of the truth is the only reason I can imagine as the true reason that TIME Magazine doesn't like the archaeological search for Jerusalem's ancient history.

TIME's accusing us, Jews of " extreme case of the willful jumbling of science..." but if anyone is "jumbling" science and facts it's TIME Magazine. The Jewish People predate Christianity and Islam. Both of those religions have attempted over the millenium, from day one until this very day to hijack our Land, history and forefathers as their own.Neither Christianity nor Islam would exist without Judaism. We're the authentic article. There's no comparison between their references to Jerusalem and the centrality it plays in Judaism (the Jewish Religion) and Jewish History.

Thank G-d there are groups like Elad, the Ir David Foundation, that aren't afraid to show the world the truth! Jerusalem is the Jewish People's holiest city. It doesn't play that role to any other religion or People. That's what the archaeologists can prove. That's the truth that TIME considers dangerous.
Archaeology in Jerusalem: Digging Up Trouble
By Tim McGirk / Jerusalem Monday, Feb. 08, 2010

Contested ground Workers at a site in East Jerusalem have uncovered bones and other evidence of early habitation
Yoray Liberman — Getty for TIME

The Jerusalem syndrome is a psychological disorder in which a visit to the holy city triggers delusional and obsessive religious fantasies. In its extreme variety, people wander the lanes of the Old City believing they are biblical characters; John the Baptist, say, or a brawny Samson, sprung back to life.

Archaeologists in the Holy Land like to joke that their profession is vulnerable to a milder form of the syndrome. When scientists find a cracked, oversize skull in the Valley of Elah, it can be hard to resist the thought that it might have belonged to Goliath, or to imagine, while excavating the cellars of a Byzantine church, that the discovery of a few wooden splinters might be part of the cross on which Christ died. This milder malady is nothing new. In the mid-19th century, British explorers who came to Jerusalem with a shovel in one hand and a Bible in the other used the holy book as a sort of treasure map in the search for proof of Christianity's origins. (See a video of the Pope visiting the Holy Land.)

Now an extreme case of the willful jumbling of science and faith is threatening Jerusalem's precarious spiritual balance. It could not come at a worse time: Israeli-Arab peace talks have stalled; Israel has a hawkish government disinclined to compromise; and radical Islamist group Hamas remains powerful among Palestinians. Any tilt in Jerusalem's religious equilibrium could create a wave of unrest spreading far beyond the city's ramparts. Eric Meyers, who teaches Jewish studies and archaeology at Duke University, says: "Right now, Jerusalem is a tinderbox. "

The story begins with a right-wing Jewish settler organization called Elad, but also known as the Ir David Foundation, which for the past four years has exerted control over most of the holy city's excavations. Led by David Be'eri, an ex-Israeli commando who used to disguise himself as an Arab for undercover missions in the Palestinian territories, Elad now has the backing of the Israeli Prime Minister's office, the municipality, and the vaunted Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), which monitors all archaeological work in the country and which Elad helps finance. Elad's own funding comes through unnamed private donors. (Israeli newspapers have reported that a few Russian-Jewish oligarchs, including Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, attended a 2005 Elad fundraiser.) The organization's aim is best expressed in a religious website's 2007 interview with development director Doron Speilman. He gestures toward Silwan, an Arab neighborhood that spills down from the Mount of Olives, and says: "Our goal is to turn all this land you see behind you into Jewish hands." (See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)

Elad's activities, in the views of its opponents, amounts to turning over Jerusalem's archaeology to extremist Jewish settlers. That has alarmed many Israeli and international scholars, Palestinian officials, and human-rights advocates. On a political level, it complicates efforts by the White House to enable both Palestinians and Israelis to share Jerusalem as their respective capitals, a key demand of the Palestinians. For scholars, it sparks concerns about whether Elad can be independent and objective in its work. And for Jerusalemites it raises a fundamental question: What matters more, the stones and bones of antiquity, or the lives of the people who live on top of all that history?

Digging In to Push Out
Because it involves burrowing near the geographic core of three faiths — Christianity, Islam and Judaism — archaeology in Jerusalem has always been fraught. All three religions believe that it was here, on a stony hill, under roiling clouds speared by light, that God stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son. Christians also believe that Jesus walked, taught and was crucified in Jerusalem, and that he rose from the dead there. Muslims say that in the early days of Islam, Prophet Muhammad prayed first in the direction of Jerusalem before turning to Mecca, and that he was once transported by a flying horse to Jerusalem where he ascended to heaven. The city is embedded in the psyche of every Christian, Jew and Muslim.

Elad's opponents accuse it of using archaeology as a means to expand Jewish settlements in Arab East Jerusalem. That would make it virtually impossible for the Palestinians to turn their section of the city into a future capital. According to Duke University's Meyers, Elad is "misusing archaeology as a tool of dispossession." Putting an ideologically motivated settler group in charge of excavations, says Daniel Seidemann, a lawyer from Ir-Amim, 
 a Jerusalem-based civil rights organization, is like "outsourcing the fire department to a pyromaniac." (Elad founder Be'eri did not respond to repeated interview requests from TIME for this article.)

The flash point in the dispute is Silwan, an Arab village now listed in Israeli guidebooks as the City of David. It lies on the steep hillside just below the Old City's ancient, gleaming stones, facing towards the Dead Sea. Most of Silwan's Arab residents arrived in the 1930s, building homes that cling to the sides of the valley. Arab boys still canter on horses along the far hills. Some say that Job lived in Silwan, and that today's residents have inherited his ceaseless woes. According to Elad's Spielman, Be'eri was doing undercover work for the Israeli military in the mid-1980s in Silwan when a friendly Arab pointed out some ruins buried under a pile of garbage. "We know this is yours, we know this is your archaeology," the commando reported the Arab telling him.

The villager had a point. In the mid-19th century, British explorer Charles Warren, while searching for the legendary treasures of King Solomon, uncovered a shaft leading down to an underground stream. He hypothesized that this was the water source for the city founded in 1000 B.C. by the Jewish King David. This underground stream, which surfaces in the Pool of Siloam about 500 ft. (150 m) below the ancient city walls, was Jerusalem's only source of water, so it made sense to Be'eri, and to many archaeologists, that David would have built his citadel over the stream or nearby. Inspired, in part, by Warren's claims, the multimillionaire and philanthropist Baron Edmond James de Rothschild in the early 20th century bought several acres of land in Silwan.

For Rothschild, Be'eri and a succession of 20th century archaeologists the lure was a powerful one: evidence of David's reign would be proof that a major Old Testament protagonist was a true historical figure, and not mere legend. Politically, the discovery of David's citadel would strengthen Jewish claims to a contested part of Jerusalem beyond its pre-1967 borders.

Late on a chilly October evening in 1991, Jewish settlers commandeered 11 buildings in Silwan and dug in. The case went to Israel's Supreme Court and Ariel Sharon, then Construction Minister (and later Prime Minister), rallied to the settlers' defense, arguing that "it is the policy of the government of Israel to encourage Jewish residence in Jerusalem." The settlers were allowed to stay, and Elad began building its presence in Silwan. The Israeli government turned over its property to the settlers, and Elad bought up Arab homes through intermediaries. Today, more than 500 settlers, along with Uzi-toting security guards, live among Silwan's 14,000 Arabs. Elad's archaeological expansion continues, with 88 Arab homes marked for demolition to build an "archaeological park." The group also has plans for a parking lot, a synagogue, 11 new houses for settlers and a cable car to the Mount of Olives, where many believe the Messiah will arrive.

With official Israeli backing, Elad has ambitions beyond Silwan. Lawyer Danny Seidemann claims that since mid-2008, the Israeli government has accelerated a policy of "aggressively and covertly expanding and consolidating control over Silwan and the historic basin surrounding the Old City." The plan, he says, involves "the take-over of the public domain and Palestinian private property ... accelerated planning and approval of projects, and the establishment of a network of a series of parks and sites steeped in and serving up exclusionary, fundamentalist settler ideology." In its essence, the plan places a large area of Arab Jerusalem under Jewish control. "It risks transforming a manageable, soluble political conflict into an intractable religious war," he warns. For their part, many religious Israelis defend Elad's efforts to unearth their buried heritage. "For us, and for anyone who believes in the Bible, this is the real history," says Urieh King, a Jewish settler and activist. "These are our roots."

Welcome to Bible Land
For now, Elad's centerpiece is the City of David, a cross between an archaeological site and a Jewish theme park that draws more than 400,000 tourists a year. Visitors are led through a honeycomb of caverns and excavations propped up by scaffolding. Then they wade through an underground canal that emerges into sunlight at the Siloam pool, where Christ is said to have cured the blind. Nearly half the visitors are Israeli army conscripts and schoolkids who hear lyrical description from Elad's guides about how the site is the very foundation of Jewish culture and history. "In fact," Elad's development director Speilman boasted to Nachum News, an Israeli website, "60% of the Bible was written on this little hill." (See pictures of John 3:16 in pop culture.)

But many experts find Elad's archaeological claims dubious. Israel Finklestein, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University says that while there may be ruins on the Elad site dating back to the 9th century B.C., "there's not a single piece of evidence about David's palace. These people are mixing faith with science." Yoni Mizrahi, an independent archaeologist formerly with the IAA, concurs: "You'd think from Elad's guides that they'd excavated a sign saying WELCOME TO DAVID'S PALACE. Their attitude seems to be that if you believe in the Bible, you don't need proof." Raphael Greenberg, lecturer at Tel Aviv University, says Elad ignores key archaeological practices. "You're supposed to dig for six weeks and then report on what you find. In the City of David, they've been digging nonstop for two years without a satisfactory report," Greenberg says. He accuses Elad of using archaeology as a "crowbar" to "throw out the Palestinians living in Silwan and turn it into a Jewish place."

Elad's chief archaeologist, Eilat Mazar, says that "our working theory is that David's palace is down there." Mazar, an associate of the right-wing Shalem think tank, claims that workers have uncovered pottery shards from the 11th century B.C. and Phoenician motifs. "We know the Phoenicians built a palace for David," she says. (See pictures of a divided Jerusalem.)

All excavations in Jerusalem are overseen by the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority), and its director, ex-General Shuka Dorfman explained to TIME that while Elad manages and funds more than a dozen digs around Jerusalem, an IAA archaeologist is always on-site to analyze findings. Dorfman concedes that the settler organization's interpretation of its findings in Silwan "is different from ours." He adds: "They emphasize only the Jewish heritage." Sometimes, according to archaeologist Mizrahi, the Elad-sponsored digs ignore other strata of Jerusalem's multi-cultural history. "They're only focusing on one tradition — the Jewish one," he says.

He has a point. In 2008, it emerged that while Elad-sponsored archaeologists were digging near the Western Wall, they found and removed dozens of skeletons from a Muslim graveyard without properly documenting the find, according to Haaretz, an Israeli daily. The skeletons have since gone missing. After a barrage of complaints against the IAA by academics, Palestinians and civil rights groups, the agency's chairman, Professor Benjamin Kedar, conceded in a statement that the IAA is "aware that Elad — an association with a pronounced ideological agenda — has presented the history of the City of David in a biased manner." So far, though, the cash-strapped IAA says it has no plans to review its ties with the settlers, who are its main funders.

A Fragile Peace
Naturally, archaeology's Jerusalem Syndrome is not limited to a single religion. Many Muslim scholars refuse to believe that a Jewish temple ever existed beneath the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, even though thousands of Jews flock every day to pray at the Western Wall. The Waqf — Jerusalem's Islamic authority — made Jews furious in 1999 when they built an underground mosque inside the Haram al-Sharif and, according to irate Israeli scholars, gouged out "several hundred" trucks' worth of debris, destroying evidence that might shed light on Judaism's holiest site. "This was politically motivated," fumes archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, who leads a team of volunteers that has spent years sifting through large mounds of material from the sacred precinct that was rescued from a city dump. "In places where you should have used a toothbrush, they used a bulldozer."

But few projects threaten Jerusalem's peace as much as that at Silwan. In 2007, Arabs there began hearing strange banging under their homes "like an earthquake," one resident recalls. Soon, cracks opened up in the floors and snaked up the walls. The Silwan residents protested against the settlers' tunneling, without the necessary permits or safeguards. "All that happened was that the police arrested us," complains Jawan Siyam, a Silwan local. Elad was opening up a 650 yd.-long (600 m) drainage tunnel, running under Arab homes, that Elad claims dates back 2,000 years, and may have been used by Jewish rebels to escape a Roman siege. Civil rights groups last year got the Supreme Court to suspend the diggings. In its ruling, the court said that the local authorities had failed to obtain consent from the owners of the houses marked for demolition.

Could Elad's work upset Jerusalem's fragile balance between Islam and Judaism? Palestinian historian and Waqf religious affairs archaeologist Yousef Natsheh believes so. He points out that one of the main triggers of the 2000 Palestinian uprising — which led to the deaths of more than 5,500 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis — was a visit to the Haram al-Sharif precinct by Sharon, then Israel's opposition leader, along with a phalanx of armed police. "The situation now is very, very tense," he warns.

It shouldn't be. Jerusalem is one of the world's richest archaeological sites. In its 6,000-year history, the city has changed hands more than 120 times. It has been ruled — and this is an incomplete list — by Jebusites, Israelites, Romans, Persians, Greeks, crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, British, Jordanians and modern Israelis. "We Jews are not alone here," says archaeologist Finklestein. Would that all who treasure the holy city — of any religion and none — could agree on sharing its sacred past.

— With reporting by Yonit Farago, Jamil Hamad and Aaron J. Klein / Jerusalem

COP:The Movement

The rise of Tea Party activism.
by Ben McGrath February 1, 2010

Liberals saw the activists as caricatures—mere tools of right-wing media figures like Glenn Beck. They were wrong.

My first immersion in the social movement that helped take Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat away from the Democrats, and may have derailed the President’s chief domestic initiative, occurred last fall, in Burlington, Kentucky, at a Take Back America rally. My escort was an exceptionally genial sixty-seven-year-old man named Don Seely, an electrical engineer who said that he was between jobs and using the unwanted free time to volunteer his services to the Northern Kentucky Tea Party, the rally’s host organization, as a Webmaster. “I’ve never been a Webmaster, but I’ve known Webmasters,” he explained, with a chuckle, as he walked around a muddy field, near a horse-jumping ring, and introduced me to some of his colleagues, one of whom was a fireman. “And he’s also our finance guy.” Being the finance guy, from what I could gather, entailed volunteering a personal credit card to be used for the group’s PayPal account. The amateur nature of the operation was a matter of pride to all those who were taking an active interest, in many cases for the first time in their lives, in the cause of governance. Several of the volunteers had met at Bulldog’s Roadhouse, in a nearby town named Independence, where they assembled on weekdays for what you might call happy hour, were it not for the fact that Bulldog’s is a Fox News joint and five o’clock is when Glenn Beck comes on, warning from a studio that he likes to call the “doom room” about the return of a Marxist fifth column.

Seely wore a muted plaid shirt, rumpled khakis, and large, round glasses that seemed to magnify his curiosity, a trait that he attributed to his training as an engineer—an urge to understand the way things work. He told me that he used to listen to Beck on the radio, before Beck got his Fox show. “I didn’t like him,” he said. “He was always making fun of people. You know, he’s basically a comedian. But the reason I like him now is he’s kind of had a mind-set change. Instead of making fun of everybody, he started asking himself questions. His point was ‘Get out there, talk to your neighbor, see what they feel. Don’t sit back under your tree boohooing.’ ” The Bulldog’s gang was a collection of citizens who were, as one of them put it, “tired of talking to the TV.” So they watched Beck together, over beer, and then spent an hour consoling one another, although lately their personal anxieties had overtaken the more general ones of the host on the screen, and Beck’s chalkboard lectures about the fundamental transformation of the Republic had become more like the usual barroom ballgame: background noise. “We found that you really have to let people get the things off their chests,” Seely said.

Burlington is the seat of Boone County, and the rally took place at the Boone County fairgrounds, on an afternoon that was chilly enough to inspire one of the speakers, the ghostwriter of Joe the Plumber’s autobiography, to dismiss global warming, to great applause. A second-generation Chrysler dealer, whose lot had just been shut down, complained that the Harvard-educated experts on Wall Street and in Washington knew nothing about automobiles. (“I’ve been in this business since 1958, and what I know is that the American public does not want small cars!”) The district’s congressional representative, Geoff Davis, brought up the proposed cap-and-trade legislation favored by Democrats, and called it an “economic colonization of the hardworking states that produce the energy, the food, and the manufactured goods of the heartland, to take that and pay for social programs in the large coastal states.”

Boone County borders both Indiana and Ohio, and was described to me by a couple of people I met there as “flyover country,” with a mixture of provincial anxiety and defensive skepticism—as in “What brings you to flyover country?” The phrase is not quite apt. Home to the Cincinnati airport, which serves as a Delta hub, the county owes much of its growth and relative prosperity over the past two decades to large numbers of people flying in and out, not over. But Delta’s recent struggles, and rumors about the impending contraction of its local subsidiary, Comair, have contributed to a deeper sense of economic anxiety. “You go to the warehouses around the airport, probably at least a third or twenty-five per cent are empty,” Seely said. “We need to give somebody a break here, so people can start making money.” As it happens, the largest employer in northern Kentucky today is the I.R.S.

Another Bulldog’s regular, a middle-aged woman dressed in jeans, a turtleneck, and a red sweatshirt, stood beside some stables, hustling for signatures to add to the Tea Party mailing list. “I tell you, it’s an enthusiastic group,” she said. “Talk about grassroots. This is as grassroots as it gets.”

“And she works full time,” Seely added.

“Not as full time as I’d like.”

About a thousand people had turned up at the rally, most of them old enough to remember a time when the threats to the nation’s long-term security, at home and abroad, were more easily defined and acknowledged. Suspicious of decadent élites and concerned about a central government whose ambitions had grown unmanageably large, they sounded, at least in broad strokes, a little like the left-wing secessionists I’d met at a rally in Vermont in the waning days of the Bush Administration. Large assemblies of like-minded people, even profoundly anxious people anticipating the imminent death of empire, have an unmistakable allure: festive despair. A young man in a camouflage jacket sold T-shirts (“Fox News Fan,” for example), while a local district judge doled out play money: trillion-dollar bills featuring the face of Ben Bernanke. An insurance salesman paraded around, dressed as though guiding a tour of Colonial Williamsburg. “Oh, this is George Washington!” Seely said. “Hey, George, come over here a minute.”

“I’m back for the Second American Revolution,” the man said. “My weapons this time will be the Constitution, the Internet, and my talk-radio ads.”

If there was a central theme to the proceedings, it was probably best expressed in the refrain “Can you hear us now?,” conveying a long-standing grievance that the political class in Washington is unresponsive to the needs and worries of ordinary Americans. Republicans and Democrats alike were targets of derision. “Their constituency is George Soros,” one man grumbled, and I was reminded of the dangerous terrain where populism slides into a kind of nativist paranoia—the subject of Richard Hofstadter’s famous essay linking anti-Masonic sentiment in the eighteen-twenties with McCarthyism and with the John Birch Society founder Robert Welch’s contention that Dwight Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” The name Soros, understood in the context of this recurring strain—the “paranoid style in American politics,” Hofstadter called it—is synonymous, like Rockefeller or Rothschild, with a New World Order.

The Soros grumbler, who had also labelled John McCain a Communist, was dressed in jeans pulled up well above his waist with suspenders, and wearing thick, oversized shades. When he saw my notebook, he turned to Seely and asked, “Where’s he from, supposedly?” Informed that I live in New York, he replied, “There’s a nightmare right there.” What he had in mind was not a concentration of godless liberals, as it turned out, but something more troubling. “Major earthquake faults,” he said. “It’s hard in spots, but basically it’s like a bag of bricks.” Some more discussion revolved around a super-volcano in Yellowstone (“It’ll fry Denver and Salt Lake at the same time”) and the dire geological forecasts of Edgar Cayce, the so-called Sleeping Prophet, which involved the sudden emergence of coastlines in what, for the time being, is known as the Midwest. I asked the man his name. “T. J. Randall,” he said. “That’s not my real name, but that’s the one I’m using.”

Seely saw our encounter with the doomsayer more charitably than Hofstadter might have. “That’s an example of an intelligent person who’s not quite got it all together,” he said. “You can tell that. But he’s pretty interesting to talk to.” Seely’s own reaction, upon learning where I’d come from, had been to ask if I was familiar with the New School, in Greenwich Village. His youngest daughter, Amber, had gone there.

I asked Seely what Amber thought of the Tea Party. “We kind of hit a happy medium where we don’t discuss certain things,” he said, and added that at the moment Amber, who now works for a nonprofit that builds affordable housing in New Orleans, was visiting his son, Denver, who is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering at Mississippi State.

By most accounts, the Paul Revere figure of this Second American Revolution is an excitable cable-news reporter named Rick Santelli, a former futures trader and Drexel Burnham Lambert vice-president who stood on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange last February and sounded the alarm on CNBC about the new Administration’s planned assistance for homeowners facing foreclosure. He proposed a nationwide referendum, via the Internet, on the matter of subsidizing “the losers’ mortgages,” winning both the attention and the vocal support of the working traders in his midst. “President Obama, are you listening?” he shouted, and then said that he’d been thinking of organizing a Chicago Tea Party in July, urging “all you capitalists” to come join him on Lake Michigan, where “we’re going to be dumping in some derivative securities.” It was a delicate pose—financial professionals more or less laughing at debtors while disavowing the lending techniques that had occasioned the crisis—but within a matter of hours a Web site,, had gone live, and by the end of the following week dozens of small protests were occurring simultaneously around the country, invoking the legacy of early New England colonists in their revolt against King George.

Santelli’s rant was delivered at 7:10 A.M., Chicago time, but it was highly YouTube-able, and all the more effective to the alienated masses—“the rabble,” as some have taken to calling themselves—because Santelli was not a known conservative mouthpiece like Rush Limbaugh or Beck or Sean Hannity. The primal narrative of any insurrection benefits from the appearance of unlikely spontaneity. Another early agitator who merits a retrospective footnote is Keli Carender, a.k.a. the Liberty Belle, a blogger and “random woman,” as one admirer says, “from Seattle, of all places.” Carender was a week ahead of Santelli in voicing her dissent; her mistake was choosing the wrong animating metaphor. Borrowing terminology from Limbaugh, she organized a Porkulus Protest in response to the economic-stimulus bill, and tried tagging Democratic leaders with epithets like Porky and Piggy and Porker. (Not the least of tea’s advantages is the ease with which it can be converted into a handy acronym: Taxed Enough Already.) But Carender identified a tactic that would prove invaluable in the months of raucous town-hall meetings and demonstrations to follow: adopting the idealistic energy of liberal college students. “Unlike the melodramatic lefties, I do not want to get arrested,” she wrote. “I do, however, want to take a page from their playbook and be loud, obnoxious, and in their faces.”

Spring brought the founding of the Tea Party Patriots, a centralized Web destination for decentralized malcontents, and the start of Glenn Beck’s side gig as a social organizer, through his 9.12 Project. The numbers nine and twelve referred to a checklist of principles and values, but their greater significance lay in the allusion to September 11th. “The day after America was attacked, we were not obsessed with Red States, Blue States or political parties,” the project’s mission statement read. “We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12, 2001, again.” The chosen values were inarguable: things like honesty and hope and courage. Only two of the principles (“I believe in God and He is the center of my life”; “I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable”) indicated any kind of political agenda. Inclusiveness was the point.

As spring passed into summer, the scores at local Tea Party gatherings turned to hundreds, and then thousands, collecting along the way footloose Ron Paul supporters, goldbugs, evangelicals, Atlas Shruggers, militiamen, strict Constitutionalists, swine-flu skeptics, scattered 9/11 “truthers,” neo-“Birchers,” and, of course, “birthers”—those who remained convinced that the President was a Muslim double agent born in Kenya. “We’ll meet back here in six months,” Beck had said in March, and when September 12th arrived even the truest of believers were surprised by the apparent strength of the new movement, as measured by the throngs who made the pilgrimage to the Capitol for a Taxpayer March on Washington, swarming the Mall with signs reading “ ‘1984’ Is Not an Instruction Manual” and “The Zoo Has an African Lion and the White House Has a Lyin’ African!”

Politics is ultimately a numbers game, and the natural excitement surrounding 9.12 drove crowd estimates upward, from an early lowball figure of sixty thousand, reported by ABC News, into the hundreds of thousands and across the million mark, eventually nearing two million—an upper limit of some significance, because 1.8 million was the figure commonly reported in mainstream or “state-run” media outlets as the attendance at President Obama’s Inauguration. “There are more of us than there are of them, and we know the truth,” one of the Kentucky organizers, who had carpooled to D.C. with a couple of co-workers from an auto-parts warehouse, told me. The fact that the mainstream media generally declined to acknowledge the parallel, regarding the marchers as a loud and motley long tail of disaffection, and not a silent majority, only hardened their resolve.

Consider our peculiar political situation at the end of this first decade of the new century. An African-American Democrat is elected President, following the collapse of the two great symbols of postwar prosperity, Detroit and Wall Street. Seizing on the erosion of public trust in élite institutions, the C.E.O. of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon, announces her candidacy for the U.S. Senate, touting her opposition to a federal banking bailout whose principal beneficiaries include many of her neighbors in Greenwich, Connecticut. Another pro-wrestling eminence, the former Minnesota governor Jesse (the Body) Ventura, begins hosting a new television show called “Conspiracy Theory,” evincing a distrust in government so deep that it equates environmental crusaders with the Bilderbergs. A multimillionaire pornographer, Larry Flynt, is moved to branch out from his regular perch as an enemy of moral hypocrisy with an expanded sense of purpose, lamenting the takeover of Washington by “Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich,” in an op-ed for the Huffington Post, and calling for an unspecified form of national strike inspired by Shays’s Rebellion. And an obscure state senator who once posed naked for Cosmopolitan emerges, after driving a pickup truck around Massachusetts, as a leading contender to unseat the aforementioned President.

American history is dotted with moments like this, when, as the Princeton historian Sean Wilentz says, “panic and vitriol come to the fore,” occasioning a temporary realignment of political interests. Flynt cited Franklin Roosevelt’s use of the phrase “economic royalists,” which was itself an echo of the moneyed interests targeted by Andrew Jackson, who earned the nickname King Mob after his Inauguration, in 1829, brought hordes of precursors of the Hustler subscribers and WrestleMania fans of our time to the White House lawn. Jackson’s staunch opposition to the Second Bank of the United States set a precedent for generations of Wall Street resentment to come.

Between the demise of the Whig Party and the consolidation of the modern Republican Party, under Lincoln, there came a nativist movement of Know Nothings, as they called themselves—or “the Lou Dobbs party,” as Michael Kazin, the author of “The Populist Persuasion,” now says. Marx and Engels had just published their manifesto, and German immigrants were suspected of importing Socialist ideas. The new waves of Irish Catholics couldn’t be trusted, either: who was to say they wouldn’t take their orders from the Pope instead of the President?

Gilded Age excesses gave rise to a new People’s Party, a movement of Southern and Western farmers and miners united in opposition to railroad speculators, and the panic of 1893 accelerated their cause. By 1896, William Jennings Bryan was addressing the Democratic Convention with his famous critique of “the idle holders of idle capital.” (The convention, held in Chicago, loosed “a wild, raging, irresistible mob which nothing can turn from its abominable foolishness,” as the Times put it.) “That basic kind of vocabulary, against the monarchy and the aristocracy, has informed every conceivable American dissident group in one way or another,” Wilentz says. “Lyndon LaRouche does that whole Queen of England thing. He’s still fighting the American Revolution.”

The Tea Party movement, identified by some commentators as the first right-wing street-protest movement of our time, may be a reflection of how far populist sentiment has drifted away from the political left in the decades since the New Deal. “The original Populists were the ones who came up with the income tax,” Charles Postel, the author of “The Populist Vision,” said recently. “They were for the nationalization of everything. Their idea of a model institution was the Post Office.” Bryan believed that the “right to coin money and issue money is a function of the government,” and railed, most memorably, against the “cross of gold.” Yet few ideas stir the Tea Party faithful more than a fear of creeping nationalization and the dangers—both moral and practical—associated with printing money to suit momentary needs. The sponsors of Glenn Beck’s nightly history lessons on the depredations of American progressivism frequently include purveyors of gold.

One historical comparison that some Tea Party champions have made is to the civil-rights movement, and, to the extent that the analogy holds, it may reflect the fact that the Tea Party seems to derive much of its energy from the members of that generation who did not participate in the cultural revolution of the sixties, and are only belatedly coming to terms with social and demographic trends set in motion fifty years ago. Don Seely invited me to his house for coffee the day after the rally at the Kentucky fairgrounds, and showed me his Air Force Commendation Medal, awarded for meritorious service from 1967 to 1971. “At this age, I was so ignorant,” he said. “Every once in a while, you’d catch a glimpse on TV of Martin Luther King—all that kind of stuff was going on. I graduated college in December of ’66. About a year after I left, that’s when all the riots happened. I’m thinking, What is going on?” Seely had always wanted to be a pilot, but, because of poor eyesight, he ended up an engineer in a satellite-control facility. The medal was accompanied by a photograph of Seely in his captain’s uniform, and he said that Amber, after looking at the image, had proclaimed that he was the only person she knew who’d kept the same hair style for nearly fifty years: short, straight, and parted neatly on the far right.

Seely grew up across the street from a dairy farm that his father owned, in Ohio, and he considers himself a “green,” by the mid-century standards relating to productive use of the land, in contrast with the “weirdos” whom he now associates with environmental causes. “If they had their way, all the buildings, all industry, all fossil fuel would stop,” he said. “And you can’t have that.” He and his wife, who works at the Creation Museum, an institution dedicated to promoting a Biblically literal account of the earth’s origins, raised their family in a Columbus suburb and moved south across the Ohio River about a year ago, to be closer to their grandchildren. Their new Kentucky home has a large expanse of freshly mowed grass out back that Seely’s brother-in-law at first mistook for a golf course. “Those towers over there, that’s actually Ohio,” Seely said, stepping onto his back porch and pointing at the nearest tall buildings. “Ohio has a problem: money is leaving, educated people are leaving. ’Cause we have a lot of good universities in Ohio, but there’s no jobs there, so you educate your kids and then you send them off.”

Seely had a history in local politics to reflect on as he thought about how to reverse the tide of urban progressivism. Many of his cohorts did not, however, and he worried about the transition from the strange euphoria of collective exasperation. Like the sixties radicals, they risked suffering from a kind of idealistic naïveté. “I don’t think the Tea Party quite understands how the system actually works,” he said. For about a decade, he served as a Republican central committeeman, a volunteer position, in Ohio’s Franklin County, where the general level of civic engagement was such that politicians were known to be willing to appear at any home where five or six neighbors might assemble. Democracy as he experienced it was practiced in a largely backroom fashion, with the committeemen and the county chairs trading favors for endorsements. The local Republican Party, in his telling, consisted of three competing factions: moderates, fiscal conservatives, and Seely’s group, the social conservatives. A few years ago, when the longtime Franklin County chair, a friend of Seely’s, stepped down, the first two groups banded together to block the social conservatives from retaining power. “And guess who they elected to be the chairman?” he asked me. “An open homosexual!”

“People are finally getting to the point where they want to educate themselves,” Seely went on. “We’ve got to get to the point where people are educated enough to find out about ‘Well, how do you endorse candidates?’ That’s really where the power is. It’s been very frustrating to me, because I tell people about my experience and it goes pffft pffft”—he gestured to indicate something passing over his head. “They say, ‘You know, we’re not interested in local things. We’re interested in national things.’ I go, ‘Well, fine. That’s good. But, really, you got to be local.’ ”

After we finished our coffee, Seely took me to the Creation Museum, a mile down the road. The museum, which opened in 2007, at a cost of twenty-seven million dollars, features a planetarium, animatronic dinosaurs, and a partial replica, built to exacting scale, of Noah’s Ark. Several staff Ph.D.s work on site. The first exhibit showed two paleontologists, a Darwinist and a Biblical literalist, examining a fossil. “Depending on what your world view is, and what you believe and what you’ve been taught, you can look at the same thing and come to a different conclusion,” Seely explained. The exhibit, called “Starting Points,” was intended to demonstrate the plausible divergence in theories about man’s relation to dinosaurs, but it could just as easily have spoken for the assumptions we make about Barack Obama’s past associations with figures like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Obama’s selection last summer of the Republican congressman John McHugh to be his Secretary of the Army created the need for a special election, and provided the first opportunity for Tea Party activists to make an electoral impact both locally and nationally. It served as a dress rehearsal for the Massachusetts Senate race, and enabled activists to learn from their mistakes. McHugh’s district, New York’s Twenty-third, covers most of what locals call the North Country, from the Adirondacks to the St. Lawrence River and extending west to Lake Ontario. Primarily rural, its politics and class markers have more in common with Kentucky than with Manhattan, and the Republican Party had been in control since before the turn of the twentieth century. But Obama carried the district, with fifty-two per cent of the vote, and the eleven Republican county chairs made what seemed like an expedient choice in nominating the veteran state assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava to run for McHugh’s seat. Scozzafava was a big-tent selection: pro-choice, in favor of gay marriage, and a friend of the teachers’ union.

Tea Party adherents responded by backing a third-party challenge from an earnest accountant named Doug Hoffman, who had served as the C.F.O. for the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980. “We formed the foundation that created the Miracle, and I think the miracle was the start of the Reagan Revolution, and it eventually brought down the Soviet Union,” Hoffman told a group of supporters. “Since this is the first congressional race of 2010, we’re going to break down the wall again. And the miracle is we’re going to take America back, and we’re going to get our freedom back.”

Shortly before the election, I went to Cicero, New York, to hear the former House majority leader Dick Armey address what one listener referred to as a “glorified sticker club.” A group of about thirty people had assembled in the cavernous interior of Drivers Village, a cluster of adjoined auto dealerships. They had been meeting regularly for months to talk politics. “This could be the single most important election that any of us will ever get to work on in our lifetime—the game-changer,” Armey, who now heads a supply-side nonprofit called FreedomWorks, declared. He predicted—correctly—that Scozzafava would end up conceding before Election Day, and said that the only remaining question was whether Hoffman, who was polling in third place, could manage to overcome the Democrats’ likely election fraud, which he estimated to be worth three percentage points. “In ’93, when the worm started to turn, it started to turn with a special election in Kentucky,” he said, referring to a 1994 contest that was prompted by the death of an incumbent Democrat, and won by a little-known Republican, a Christian-bookstore owner named Ron Lewis. “That election changed everybody’s mood,” Armey said. It also paved the way for the Republican takeover of the House in the ’94 midterms.

“None of us knew this was going to hit,” a young woman named Jennifer Bernstone said, looking up from a laptop. “We all went to D.C. in September: ‘Woo hoo, that was awesome!’ We all came home. ‘Now what?’ This is the what. Who the heck knew? I sing for a living. I’m an actress. I don’t do this stuff.” Her immediate concern was the effective deployment of Hoffman supporters from Connecticut and Westchester, with whom she’d been e-mailing. They were coming to canvass for the weekend, and needed places to crash.

“I feel a kinship with the Afghan hill men,” a young man with wavy hair and glasses said, eying Armey’s young associates with an air of caution. “We’re a bunch of ordinary people, and a bunch of very powerful groups are coming in with very different philosophies—maybe sometimes I agree with them, most of the time I don’t—and they’re having a proxy war in our back yard.”

The group at Drivers Village had organized through under the name Central New York 9.12, and, according to one of them, a Constitutionalist, they represented about eight political subgroups, including that most prized Tea Party scalp: Obama voters. They had brought no props, and none were dressed in period garb. They seemed united principally by their acute sensitivity to the raging-teabagger stereotype, and, as if to reassure each other, compared notes of their experiences on the Mall:

“You saw the lack of litter.”

“I think it had more to do with the calibre of the people involved.”

“As you can see, we’re not really what a lot of people portray us as,” William Wells, the Afghanistan analogist, told me, after apologizing for the mud stains on his jeans, which he attributed to harvesting pinot gris earlier in the day. Wells’s father is an astronomer turned vintner, and his mother is a doctor. “I used to work at Fannie Mae,” he said. “I was a research analyst in the loss-forecasting division. If you understand that, you understand kind of why I’m here. In some ways, this, for me, is paying off my debt when I should have said something.” He added that Sean Hannity and Keith Olbermann had each got the story of the housing crisis about half right, despite “very different angles of approach,” and that Glenn Beck, “whatever you think of his histrionics,” had been closer to ninety per cent correct.

As the meeting was breaking up, a soft-spoken project manager, and father of six, named Paul Dopp asked me if I knew who had won the Battle of Saratoga. “It was General Arnold,” he said—Benedict Arnold. “Part of the reason he turned traitor was that he didn’t get the recognition for it. He got ticked. But what he did is he rode right out in front between the soldiers, looked at the Americans, and said, ‘I’m fighting. Are you coming?’ And they came. Someone is going to stand up for principle.” Dopp said that his brother had travelled to the Soviet Union in the nineteen-eighties, while studying détente, and returned with a sober lesson on the corrupting effects of power. “For a lot of people, government is their religion,” he said. “That’s their place of worship, because they truly believe in the betterment of man.”

At night, with the dealerships closed, Drivers Village felt vast and lonely. “This used to be a mall before the economy crashed around here,” Dopp said, referring not to the recent tumult but to the Rockefeller era. “We’ve been ravaged so well, so long, we’re kind of like, ‘The last person that leaves Schenectady, please turn the lights off.’ The only reason we’re still alive is because of the bubble created by the financial system down in the city.” The mall had been resuscitated by a born-again car salesman whose political sympathies inclined him to let the Commons, as the interior corridors of Drivers Village are known, be put to revolutionary use.

Without paying attention, I followed the group out a different exit from the way I’d come in, and quickly realized that it would take a long time to find my car—parked amid acres of cars awaiting sale in a recession. One of the men at the meeting offered to drive me around the lot to speed up the search, taking the opportunity to show me a three-ring binder that he kept in the back seat of his van, full of homemade graphs showing the growth of the national debt, and Internet printouts that hinted at links between, for instance, ACORN and an Obama campaign office in Louisiana. “That’s what got us mad, those sorts of things,” he said. “You know, it drives us nuts. I would love for someone to actually come out and say this—someone that is credible, other than myself, in my own mind.”

The involvement of people like Dick Armey in the Tea Party movement led many Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to dismiss the significance of the activism as a creation of right-wing moguls. FreedomWorks and a host of lobbying firms and think tanks, including Americans for Tax Reform, the Club for Growth, Campaign for Liberty, and the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, sponsored the march in Washington last September. Lobbyists and think tanks in turn rely on financial support from corporate interests with enormous stakes in much of the prospective legislation on Capitol Hill. “Astroturfing” is the critics’ preferred term for this phenomenon, with its imputation of a synthetic, top-down structure to contrast with the outward appearance of grassroots independence. Yet the presence of paid FreedomWorks operatives at meetings like the one in Cicero, handing out Obamacare Translator leaflets and legislator “leave-behinds,” would be cause for greater skepticism if the civilians in attendance weren’t already compiling binders of their own and reciting from memory the troublesome implications buried on page 59 of House Resolution 3200. The blogosphere can make trained foot soldiers of us all, with or without corporate funding.

“If you listen to the Democrats, they’re completely convinced somebody’s in charge of all this,” Dick Armey said, sitting at a hotel café in Syracuse with a press aide, the day after his pep talk to the sticker club. He took off his Stetson and said that he’d only just learned about the existence of the Tea Party Patriots and “a group that call themselves the 9.12 Project, and I’m not quite sure where they come from.”

“It’s Glenn Beck,” his press aide interjected.

“I don’t know Glenn Beck,” Armey said. “I think I was on his show one time. Was I?”

FreedomWorks has an annual budget of only seven million dollars and a paid staff of eighteen, most of whom travel comfortably within the Washington establishment, where debating the sanity of Beck remains a common cocktail-party gambit. Its employees are well versed in the differences between the Austrian and Chicago economic schools, and in the biographical details of Howard Roark and John Galt, but tend to cringe at some of the paranoid elements within the Ron Paul contingent. They provide logistical support and tactical know-how, like the dreaded community organizers mocked by Rudy Giuliani, to a network of some four hundred activists scattered around the country. In their advisory capacity, their aims are to push fiscal concerns, not social issues, and to deëmphasize personal attacks on Obama, which could be perceived as having racial overtones; instead, they take on Pelosi and Harry Reid.

“Where did come from?” Armey asked, citing the grassroots liberal group that was until recently the envy of all its conservative counterparts, and then answered his own question, incorrectly: “From George Bush.” In fact, as Armey’s aide was quick to point out, MoveOn originated in the Clinton impeachment proceedings, and subsequently gained wider attention under Bush, and specifically through its unofficial association with the grassroots campaign of Howard Dean—or “the governor from back East that ran for President,” as Armey put it, adding, “His name will come to me tomorrow.”

An absent-minded professor in cowboy boots, Armey saw his role as eliciting coverage of the growing conservative opposition from news organizations (like this one) that exist outside the Fox and Friends echo chamber. “I don’t know if you noticed, but in August, all of a sudden, I became the bogeyman,” he told me, with undisguised pleasure, and said that he’d received an e-mail from an old friend, “a liberal English prof from a small college down the road,” in Dallas, that read “Shame on you.” The outburst had been prompted by a blog post linking FreedomWorks to a town-hall strategy memo distributed by activists in Fairfield County, Connecticut. (The memo, which was written by a Tea Party Patriots volunteer, included such suggestions as “Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early” and “The goal is to rattle him.”) In his defense, Armey offered the folksy alibi of having been “back in Texas, tending to two sick goats,” on the weekend of the town-hall event in question, with the veterinary receipts to prove it. “They made a walking, talking, attention-getting device out of me,” he said.

Even as Armey welcomes the attention, he must be wary of attracting too much. The Tea Party Express, a road show funded by a PAC called Our Country Deserves Better, has earned the scorn of many activists for being too slickly produced—its buses too flashy, its steak-house tabs too high. Some even call it the Astroturf Express, in an attempt to own the opposition’s slur. “That’s a Republican PAC,” one board member of the defiantly nonpartisan Tea Party Patriots declared recently, and, to be sure, Armey’s aide recommended “a great YouTube” in which the Republican Senator John Cornyn can be seen being booed and heckled on a stage in Austin for his support of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. TARP, because it happened on President Bush’s watch, makes for a better Tea Party litmus test than anything since.

“There you are, Leader,” the aide said at another point, drawing Armey’s attention to a television above the hotel bar, which was showing the local news. Armey was standing behind a lectern, touting the virtues of a flat tax, while Doug Hoffman stood off to the side, smiling. The footage was from a boisterous rally in downtown Syracuse, which is not part of District Twenty-three.

Most liberals mistook Hoffman’s eventual defeat, which came after a bitter Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat Bill Owens, as a sign that the movement had overshot. “If the tea party right can’t win there, imagine how it might fare in the nation where most Americans live,” Frank Rich wrote in the Times, noting that New York’s Twenty-third District is ninety-three per cent white. The headline over Rich’s column was “THE NIGHT THEY DROVE THE TEA PARTIERS DOWN.” Rich and others, including senior members of the Obama Administration, underestimated the strength of the movement, and the extent of the resentment that fed it. By fixating on the most egregious protest signs, and making sport of Tea Party infighting, they ignored the movement’s gradual consolidation.

Meanwhile, FreedomWorks and other activist groups refocussed their attention on Florida, where a thirty-eight-year-old fiscal conservative named Marco Rubio was mounting a strong primary challenge for the Senate against the popular but moderate governor, Charlie Crist. Rand Paul, son of Ron, caught up with Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Trey Grayson, in the race to succeed Senator Jim Bunning. And in Tennessee’s Eighth Congressional District, earlier this month, a conservative named Donn Janes opted out of the Republican primary in order to run as “an independent Tea Party candidate.” Bill O’Reilly, who has never seemed entirely comfortable with the anarchic impulses of the activist fringe, told his new Fox News colleague Sarah Palin that he wouldn’t be surprised to see her lead a Tea Party ticket in 2012. “Well, there is no Tea Party ticket,” Palin demurred. “There could be,” he said. If a registered national Tea Party existed, a recent Rasmussen poll suggested, its popularity would exceed that of the Republicans. Among independent voters, a hypothetical Tea Party candidate beat a Democrat, too.

The lesson that the Republican establishment drew from upstate New York was not to shun the movement, for fear of losing moderates, but to court it (the embattled Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele recently used teacups as props during a speech) or get out of its way, as evidenced by last week’s special election in Massachusetts. While Scott Brown, a telegenic state senator, visited the kinds of coastal New England towns that had always counted Ted Kennedy as their own, the National Republican Senatorial Committee deliberately chose not to offer him much public support, because of voters’ dissatisfaction with party politics.

As in upstate New York, volunteers from elsewhere flocked to canvass and man phone banks: not crazed sign-carriers but quietly dedicated engineers and winemakers and singers. By the end, Brown was raising a million dollars a day from donors who saw an opportunity to make the election a referendum on health care.

The Democrats were “caught napping,” as David Axelrod admitted to the Times. Massachusetts already has a more generous health-care system than anything that either the Senate or the House has yet proposed. Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate, appeared at times barely to campaign at all, and flubbed the kinds of exchanges—about the Red Sox, say—designed to showcase blue-collar cred. While Coakley carried the city of Boston, the site of the original Tea Party, with nearly seventy per cent of the vote, Brown, notably, won the neighborhood of South Boston, where the sting of forced busing still lingers from the seventies.

The lesson that the Tea Party movement seems to have learned is, in effect, Don Seely’s: to respect local preferences and work selectively within the system. Rather than back a libertarian third-party candidate, the activists this time rallied behind the equivalent of Dede Scozzafava. Scott Brown at one point likened himself to a “Reagan Democrat” and is something of a moderate on abortion rights. One of Dick Armey’s associates told me in November, “We have got to show that this movement can be successful outside the South.” Now they have, and New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer, who made the mistake of describing Brown as a “far-right teabagger,” in a last-ditch fund-raising appeal on behalf of Coakley, has invited talk of a movement to depose him in November by drafting Rick Santelli’s CNBC colleague Larry Kudlow.

What remains to be seen is whether the anti-establishment bent of the Tea Partiers will drive them to disown their greatest coup in the weeks to come. Less than twenty-four hours after the victory, Glenn Beck was suggesting that Brown might be morally unfit for office. (“This one could end with a dead intern. I’m just saying.”)

Back in New York City, you can feel the tremors in the social bedrock, if not in the earth’s crust, as T. J. Randall would have it. An online video game, designed recently by libertarians in Brooklyn, called “2011: Obama’s Coup Fails” imagines a scenario in which the Democrats lose seventeen of nineteen seats in the Senate and a hundred and seventy-eight in the House during the midterm elections, prompting the President to dissolve the Constitution and implement an emergency North American People’s Union, with help from Mexico’s Felipe Calderón, Canada’s Stephen Harper, and various civilian defense troops with names like the Black Tigers, the International Service Union Empire, and CORNY, or the Congress of Rejected and Neglected Youth. Lou Dobbs has gone missing, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh turn up dead at a FEMA concentration camp, and you, a lone militiaman in a police state where private gun ownership has been outlawed, are charged with defeating the enemies of patriotism, one county at a time.

Not long ago, at a restaurant in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, I stood next to Kellen Giuda, a twenty-seven-year-old self-described “party guy” (in the night-life sense) and the proprietor of a Web site,, that he describes as a “Rolling Stone from the right.” He was listening to a couple of deficit hawks from Hoboken who were worried about potential demagogic influences on the Tea Party movement from the likes of Sarah Palin. Giuda is a co-founder of Tea Party 365, a local New York City battalion, which had convened this particular meeting, as well as a national board member for the Tea Party Patriots. While the Hoboken pair were making their case, he glanced at his iPhone and skimmed a newly arriving e-mail from yet another upstart organization, Tea Party Nation. It announced a national convention to be held in Nashville on the first weekend in February, with Sarah Palin as the keynote speaker.

Dick Armey, despite his contention that “the Republican Party is undergoing the most massive identity crisis in the history of politics,” was nearby, talking happily with Ed Cox, the newly elected chair of the New York Republican State Committee, who seemed to recognize that a shift in the power center had occurred.

Eventually, a couple of men dressed in black silenced the crowd with an impassioned presentation that called to mind lefty gatherings of the sixties, or even the thirties. One of them was from Maine, the other from Fresno, and they were driving across the country to raise awareness of the plight of farmers in California’s Central Valley, where a water shortage had been creating a “new dust bowl” and threatening the local way of life. Women handed out flyers for a campaign called Saving the Valley that Hope Forgot. (“Americans need to ask themselves whether they are willing to settle for foreign food, like they have settled for foreign oil.”) A gray-haired man in a blue velvet jacket and sneakers started inching toward the center of the room with an acoustic guitar. He had a “Reagan for President” button on his shoulder strap and a “Hoffman for Congress” sticker on his case.

The cause of the water shortage was not a natural drought, the men in black explained, but “radical environmentalism”: a government effort to protect an endangered “two-inch bait fish” called the Delta smelt. (They had recently barbecued a smelt and found it wanting.) And they had opted for a four-wheel-drive S.U.V. instead of a beat-up van for their road trip. But they invited the guitarist to play, and before long Hank from Gravesend and Julie from Chelsea and Kellen from Morningside Heights were singing along to the chorus of a folk anthem in that great American tradition:

Take it back,
Take our country back.
Our way of life is now under attack.
Draw a line in the sand, so they all understand
And our values stay intact.
Take it back. ♦
Thanks Nurit G.

Terrorists 'plan attack on Britain with bombs INSIDE their bodies' to foil new airport scanners

Christopher Leake, Mail On Sunday Home Affairs Editor
Last updated at 10:01 PM on 30th January 2010

Britain is facing a new Al Qaeda terror threat from suicide ‘body bombers’ with explosives surgically inserted inside them.

Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, Underground trains and buses by secreting bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection.

But an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting ‘surgical bombs’ inside people for the first time.New weapon: To avoid detection by airport body scanners (above), Al Qaeda are said to be planning to surgically insert explosives into suicide bombers' bodies

Security services believe the move has been prompted by the recent introduction at airports of body scanners, which are designed to catch terrorists before they board flights.

It is understood MI5 became aware of the threat after observing increasingly vocal internet ‘chatter’ on Arab websites this year.

The warning comes in the wake of the failed attempt by London-educated Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up an airliner approaching Detroit on Christmas Day.

One security source said: ‘If the terrorists are talking about this, we need to be ready and do all we can to counter the threat.’

A leading source added that male bombers would have the explosive secreted near their appendix or in their buttocks, while females would have the material placed inside their breasts in the same way as figure-enhancing implants.

Experts said the explosive PETN (Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate) would be placed in a plastic sachet inside the bomber’s body before the wound was stitched up like a normal operation incision and allowed to heal.
Umar Farouk Abdulutallab

Failed attempt: Abdulmutallab tried to detonate a bomb sewn into his pants

A shaped charge of 8oz of PETN can penetrate five inches of armour and would easily blow a large hole in an airliner.

Security sources said the explosives would be detonated by the bomber using a hypodermic syringe to inject TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide) through their skin into the explosives sachet.

PETN – the main ingredient of Semtex plastic explosive – was used by Richard Reid, the British Al Qaeda shoe-bomber, when he unsuccessfully tried to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami in December 2001.

In November, a Somali man who attempted to board a flight carrying a syringe, liquid and powdered chemicals was arrested before take-off.

The airliner had been due to fly from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to Dubai.

The Somali was carrying a nearly identical package to that of Abdulmutallab, who tried to detonate it by injecting TATP from a syringe.

Abdulmutallab had stuffed explosives down his underpants as the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam made its final descent to Detroit carrying 280 passengers.

But the detonator fluid set his clothes on fire rather than the device, and he was overpowered.

Security sources fear the body-bombers could pretend to be diabetics injecting themselves on airliners, Tubes or buses in order to prevent anyone stopping their suicide missions.

Companies such as Smiths Detection International UK, which is based in Watford, Hertfordshire, manufacture a range of luggage and body scanners designed to identify chemicals, explosives and drugs at airports and other passenger terminals around the world.

These include high-specification X-ray equipment that could identify body bombs.

But one source with expertise in the field said: ‘They can make as many pieces of security equipment as they like but there is no one magic answer that can spot every single potential terrorist passing through.’

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Commons Counter-Terrorism Sub-Committee, said: ‘Our enemies are constantly evolving their techniques to try to defeat our methods of detection.

‘This is one of the most savage forms that extremists could use, and while we are redeveloping travel security we have got to take this new development into account.’

Senior Government security sources confirmed last night that they were aware of the new threat of body bombs, but were not prepared to make any official comment.

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So Much Wasted Green for Climate Change Talks

Debra J. Saunders
Sunday, January 31, 2010

It was bad enough last month watching Washington politicians merrily flying off to the U.N. climate change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen (or COP-15 for short), ostensibly to draft a global warming treaty, when all the players knew that no meaningful pact would result and that the only sure outcome was that much energy would be squandered.

Now comes the sticker shock.

When CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson dug into the latest House expenses filing for the climate confab, she found that the cost for a hotel room for the congressional delegation of 15 Democratic and six Republican members of Congress and 38 staffers was $2,200 per person per day -- more than most Americans spend on their monthly mortgages. In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members flew on three military planes, at an estimated cost of $168,000. Many staffers, however, flew on commercial airlines, at fares ranging from $4,163 to $10,038. The tab for the House delegation -- not including the military planes -- was $553,564. We still do not know the price tag for the 60-plus administration officials who, like President Barack Obama, attended the summit. Ditto the unknown bill for the two senators -- John Kerry, D-Mass., and James Inhofe, R-Okla. -- and 30-plus Senate aides.

I asked Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill about the $2,200-a-day tab. "We don't get to pick the hotel we stay in," he answered; the State Department picks hotels for congressional delegations, and it chose a five-star Marriott with a six-night minimum during the summit -- hence the $4,406-per-room tab for a 48-hour stay. My journalist pal Ola Tedin of Ystad, Sweden, suggested, "They would have found a better deal in Malmo, Sweden," where many attendees stayed. No, I am told, the delegation worked nonstop and didn't have time for the 35-minute train ride.

As for the airfares, Hammill explained they are "government rate." Government rate means that taxpayers fork over as much as $10,000 for a flight that could be purchased online for $800. "Government rate," then, is D.C.-speak for "money is no object."

No worries on the greenhouse gases spewed to fuel the trek. The House bought "offsets" for the journey's emissions.
Of course, that very act explains why so many Americans have come to doubt global warming true believers: Their great crusade is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet they globe-trot to be seen with one another and produce meaningless pieces of paper. Then they tell others that their exhaust fumes don't stink because, like sinners purchasing indulgences, they offset their vapor trails -- with other people's money.

Surely the best "offset" would have been for more Democrats to stay home. And what were all those Republicans doing in Denmark? I get Inhofe's parachuting into enviro territory to serve, as he likes to style himself, as a one-senator "truth squad." Spokesman Matt Dempsey noted that Inhofe "would prefer not to go" to an event he has dismissed as "the biggest party of the year," but someone had to counter COP-15's cap-and-trade agenda.

Surely some (or, better yet, all) of the six GOP House members -- James Sensenbrenner, Joe Barton, Fred Upton, Shelley Moore Capito, John Sullivan and Marsha Blackburn -- and their 10 committee staffers could have stayed home.

It would have been a great photo op -- in contrast to all those global warming enthusiasts ducking from the blizzard that they flew thousands of miles to experience -- if House Republicans had held a low-carbon, low-cost Skeptics Summit in D.C. at which they announced their refusal to participate in a process that, if somehow magically successful, would be harmful to the U.S. economy.

So you have two sets of big spenders. There are the U.S. officials who were so busy being important at COP-15 that they couldn't be expected to think about saving taxpayer dollars, and there are the Republicans who generally opposed COP-15, but not enough to skip it.

The disconnect in this story doesn't end. Participants could have put together a nonbinding treaty to try to halve emissions in 40 years by phone or the Internet. But the circus always was more important than the cause.

And you paid for it.

Copyright © 2010 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Analysis: Lebanon: Conflict Widens to Syria

Jonathan Spyer *
January 31, 2010

In the last week, senior Israeli policymakers made statements of an uncharacteristically bellicose nature regarding Syria.

It is unlikely that these statements were made because of sudden random irritation toward Israel's hostile northeastern neighbor. Rather, the statements probably constituted part of a message of deterrence to Damascus.

The need to project deterrence itself derives from a series of significant changes currently under way on the ground in Lebanon - reflecting Syria's ever tighter alignment with Hizbullah and the pro-Iranian regional bloc of which it is a part. These changes take place against the backdrop of awareness that the tactics likely to be adopted by Israel in a future war with Hizbullah carry with them the very real possibility that Syria could, on one level or another, be drawn in.

On Saturday night, Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled said that another conflict on the northern border was a "matter of time." Peled noted that in the event of such a conflict breaking out, Israel would hold "Syria and Lebanon alike responsible."

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, meeting with Michael Williams, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon earlier this week, expressed his concern that Hizbullah fighters have been training on surface-to-surface missile systems in Syria.

Then, on Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted in a speech that if Israel was forced to fight Syria, "we won't fear and we'll defeat them." Why the sudden ministerial loquaciousness?

It may with some justification be asserted that to assume any coordination behind the statements of Israeli ministers is to betray a touching naivete. All the same, the near-simultaneous ministerial recollection of the Syrian threat should be considered in conjunction with the following facts:

Hizbullah has in the last weeks deployed advanced Syrian-made surface-to-surface M-600 missiles on the territory of Lebanon. The missiles, which according to Jane's Defence Weekly are copies of the Iranian Fateh-110 system, have a range of 250 kilometers and carry a 500-kg warhead.

They bring the entirety of central Israel within Hizbullah's range. The missiles are precision-guided, meaning that in the event of renewed conflict, Hizbullah would be able to use them to target military facilities or heavily populated areas.

According to Jane's, the deployment of the M-600s adds to concerns already expressed by Israel at Syrian supplying of the (relatively unsophisticated) SA-2 air defense system and the SS-N-26 surface-to-sea missile to Hizbullah.

Syria's undaunted and increased support for Hizbullah appears to reflect a clear strategic turn taken by Damascus. Lebanese analyst Tony Badran this week drew attention to a recent and relevant report in the Qatari daily al-Watan which quoted Syrian sources who claimed that "a strategic decision has been taken not to allow Israel to defeat the resistance movements."

Such statements, if genuine, indicate that the Syrian regime is aware of the potential price to be paid for its current orientation, but feels that the risk is worth taking.

The Syrians have not, according to available evidence, yet passed the point of no return - which, as Badran notes, would be the provision of sophisticated anti-aircraft systems to Hizbullah. The SA-2, if deployed, could constitute a danger to IAF helicopters, but not aircraft.

Israel has made clear that the deployment of systems capable of threatening Israeli aircraft by Hizbullah would constitute a casus belli.

But beyond the specific issue of weapons systems, the logic of confrontation in Lebanon suggests that Syria may find it hard to avoid direct engagement in a future Israel-Hizbullah clash.

Since 2006, Lebanon's eastern border with Syria has formed the key conduit for weapons supplies to Hizbullah. And Hizbullah is reported to have relocated its main military infrastructure north of the Litani River, in the Bekaa Valley, in areas close to the Syrian border.

Which suggests that if Israel wants in a future conflict to strike a real blow against Hizbullah, this implies an Israeli ground incursion into the Bekaa.

Should such an incursion take place, the Syrians would be intimately involved in supplying Hizbullah just across the border, and the possibility of Syrian casualties at Israeli hands would become very real.

It is again worth remembering that on August 4, 2006, 34 Syrians were killed when the IAF bombed a packing house on the Syrian side of the border thought to contain weapons for Hizbullah. The Syrians did not respond at that time.

But an Israeli incursion into the Bekaa would logically raise the question of either the Syrians ceasing their real-time supplying of Hizbullah (very unlikely), or Israel acting to prevent this.

Of course, the point of deterrence is to deter. The ominous statements from Israeli officials are not meant to signal an imminent war. Rather, they are intended to convey to the Syrians that they should not think their alliance with Hizbullah is cost free, and that they would be advised to adhere to red lines.

The developing logic of the situation in Lebanon is nevertheless widening the circle of future conflict.

The bottom line is that any future strike at Hizbullah that does not take into account its status as a client of Iran and Syria, is unlikely to be able to land the kind of decisive blow to the organization which alone would justify such a strike.

*Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Herzliya, Israel

Democrat Grayson Leaps From Reality on MSNBC, Says Obama Suffering From Stockholm Syndrome

Liz Blaine

Appearing on the Ed Schultz Show last night, Rep. Alan Grayson (D) displayed the turmoil and progressive dysfunction associated with failure to pass the leftist agenda. Erupting in cognitive confusion Grayson lept over the edge of reality as he reacted to President Obama’s appearance before the House Republican Conference, declaring Obama and Democrats ”have been held hostage” by Republicans this past year! “The White House has been so accepting of the Republicans, for so long, and the fact that they just won’t vote for anything, that I was beginning to think the White House was suffering from the Stockholm syndrome. Their agenda’s been held hostage for a year now“

Wow! A Republican stealth super minority, and the President bonding with his legislative captors? You can’t make this stuff up.

It was the People, not Republicans, who voiced outrage at the willful reckless behavior conducted by Congress and the Obama administration. And the opposition to Obama’s policies has been far more bipartisan than its support.

Until Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts this month, the Democrats held a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate and a 79 vote majority in the House of Representatives. And they still do! Democrats are illegally permitting Paul Kirk to vote so they can pass their agenda. Acts such as this, late night backroom deals, pay-for-vote schemes, lack of transparency, and the use of Alinsky tactics to push their radical agenda have led voters to reject the Democrat’s rule in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

I don’t know what virtual reality Grayson’s been living, but it’s obviously not the same as the rest of America. Perhaps it’s not Obama who’s suffering from psychological phenomena, but the Democrat Congress who need the reality check. Check out the video below to catch progressive dysfunction in action.

Berlusconi Doubts Wisdom of Gaza Pullout

Gil Ronen Berlusconi
A7 News

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi hinted in an interview published Sunday that the Gaza pullout ("Disengagement") was a mistake, noting that it ended in "burned synagogues" and missiles being fired into Israel.

Berlusconi arrives in Israel Monday for a three-day visit. He will be accompanied by eight Italian cabinet ministers, who will for the first time participate in a joint cabinet meeting with the Israeli cabineThe meeting will also highlight bilateral cooperation in the fields of science, technology and culture. A special conference will be held bringing together leaders of Italian business, industry and science and their Israeli counterparts. Three laboratories that were funded by the Italians will be dedicated in the course of the visit.

Speaking to Haaretz regarding the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Berlusconi criticized Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria: "Israel's settlement policy could be an obstacle to peace. I would like to say to the people and government of Israel, as a friend, with my hand on my heart, that persisting with this policy is a mistake. I welcomed Prime Minister [Binyami Netanyahu's courage in his announcement of a 10-month [Jewish residential settlement constructio freeze. It will never be possible to convince the Palestinians of Israel's good intentions while Israel continues to build in territories that are to be returned as part of a peace agreement.”

Berlusconi added, however, that "at the same time, what happened in Gaza should prompt some thought. It is not [acceptable for Israe to evacuate communities [and then have face burned synagogues, acts of destruction, and inter-Palestinian violence and missiles being shot into Israeli territory."

Israel's Friend Calls for Return of Golan

The Italian prime minister and business tycoon called on Syria and Israel to “act together for the sake of peace, in the framework of which the Golan Heights will be returned and at the same time diplomatic and friendly relations will be established between the two countries, and Damascus for its part will stop supporting organizations that do not recognize Israel's existence.”

Author of report urging opening to Hamas to visit KC area

Rick Hellman, Editor
Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

The co-author of a 2009 U.S. Institute for Peace report that argues for engagement with the Palestinian militant group, Hamas — one Jewish commentator called it "pro-Hamas propaganda" — is to be the featured speaker at a local event Feb. 7.

altThe Illinois-based group American Muslims for Palestine is organizing the Feb. 7 event at the Overland Park Doubletree Hotel, commemorating the one-year anniversary of Israel's military campaign known as Operation Cast Lead. It's one of several events being held across the country under the banner "One Year Later: Besieged Gaza Standing Tall."The featured speaker Feb. 7 is Osama Abu Irshaid.

Irshaid is co-author of the June 2009 USIP report, "Hamas: Ideological Rigidity and Political Flexibility," along with Paul Scham, a visiting professor of Israel studies at the University of Maryland-College Park. The report lists Irshaid as founder and editor of Al-Meezan newspaper, published in Arabic in the United States, and a Ph.D. candidate at a British university.

In an Aug. 6 column published by his Washington-based Investigative Project on Terrorism, Steve Emerson ripped the report as "pro-Hamas propaganda" that "twists reality to argue that Hamas has moderated." Emerson called the authors' best-case scenario of a temporary truce with Hamas "(not) a peace agreement in any genuine sense, but a formula for Israel's destruction."

Emerson's column also noted that Irshaid was once editor of Al-Zaytounah, an Arabic-language newspaper published by the Islamic Association for Palestine. The IAP, like Hamas, is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egypt-based, worldwide Islamist organization.

Irshaid makes no bones about his anti-Israel animus. In a July 22 article in Foreign Policy magazine (published by Washington Post/Newsweek Interactive), he described himself as "a Palestinian Muslim whose father was expelled from his home at Israel's creation and who believes the state should not have been established."

Jewish groups urge crackdown

The Feb. 7 event is being promoted by the local group Citizens for Justice in the Middle East. The Doubletree was where CJME co-sponsored last year's visit to Overland Park by the controversial British, pro-Arab lawmaker George Galloway.

CJME's Matt Quinn's follow-up report on the July 2 event was cited by Emerson's IPT in a recently issued report on the links between Galloway's "Viva Palestina" campaign and Hamas. Quinn said Galloway raised more than $100,000 here, which Galloway said at the time would be folded into the effort to "break the siege" of Gaza. Galloway led a group that arrived in Gaza in late July and again in late December, by means of convoy through Egypt.

Two of the other speakers of the Feb. 7 event, Sara Jawhari and Mohammad El-Housiny, are said to be "participants who just returned from Gaza." According to a report by Quinn posted Jan. 7 at, "Kansas City's own Mohamed El-Housiny was unfortunately among approximately 50 Viva Palestina convoy participants injured in attacks by Egyptian police during a standoff at El-Arish port on January 5."

In recent days, American Jewish groups have stepped up the pressure on the U.S. government to crack down on Galloway's stateside fundraisers for Hamas, which, even Irshaid's USIP report admits, has a history filled with anti-Semitism and terrorist acts.

On Jan. 21, after issuing a similar call itself, the Zionist Organization of America praised the larger Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations "for urging the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the solicitation of funds for a group called Viva Palestina at a Muslim Student Union event at the University of California, Irvine on May 21, 2009, and whether those funds were provided to the terrorist group Hamas."

ZOA's press release continued:

"In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., Alan P. Solow and Malcolm Hoenlein — the Chairman and Executive Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Presidents' Conference — said, 'We strongly support an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether funds solicited were provided to Hamas, which has been designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Federal law prohibits furnishing material support or resources to U.S.-designated terrorist groups like Hamas.' "

On Jan. 19, ZOA issued a press release praising U.S. Rep Sue Myrick, (R-N.C.) the founder of the bipartisan congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, for writing to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, urging that he designate Viva Palestina "a supporter of a Foreign Terrorist Organization," and thus subject to penalty under federal law.

Scoop: How a "Leftist"-Islamist Alliance is Subverting Democracy in Turkey

Barry Rubin

Scary stuff is happening in Turkey. The stealth Islamist regime is increasingly threatening critics and creating phony plots against itself to justify taking more power into its hands. The process is a slow-motion one but the direction is away from moderation and democracy.

Foreign admirers of the AKP regime like to say it is a moderate Islamic government which proves that Islamism is compatible with democracy. It is possible that a few years in the future—when it is too late—observers will look back on its example to prove the opposite. But here’s an obscure angle on what’s happening that tells a mountain-load about contemporary politics. Stick with me as we expose a covert operation that ties up the far left with the drive toward an Islamist dictatorship. Briefly, here are the themes:

--A nominally left-wing newspaper is an Islamist front fed disinformation by the regime in order to discredit the regime’s rivals, both the army and the left of center political parties.

--This front is praised by leftists in the West as a heroic venture when it is funded by Islamists and does their bidding.

--The Turkish regime is moving increasingly toward demonizing its secular enemies to the point where they can be repressed and Turkish democracy is, at best, limited and the country is moved toward being at least a partial Islamist state with authoritarian rule by a single party. While there will continue to be elections, the AKP is using extra-parliamentary means to ensure that it always will win.

And this is a pattern we’ll see repeated elsewhere. In fact, we’re already seeing it, in the West as well.

Slick neo-Islamist prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is quoted in Today’s Zaman, which with its Turkish-language partner Zaman is owned by the Islamist Gulen movement and supports the regime, warning of a new alleged coup plot, supposedly called the “Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan,” to overthrow the government. The army is accused of planning a terrorist campaign of placing bombs in mosques to blow up innocent worshippers.

Creating such phony plots is one of the AKP regime’s main techniques for discrediting opposition and putting critics on trial. Previous alleged plots have included ones called Blonde Girl, Moonlight, Sea-sparkle, and Glove. But the main so-called army-opposition conspiracy is called Ergenekon. Those who have waded through thousands of pages of indictments and the disparate group of those arrested point out a rather important fact: there are no specific acts that took place and no real evidence against anyone.

One of the accused, for example, is Turkan Saylan, a secular leader in the grassroots opposition to the regime who has organized several mass demonstrations. The pro-AK media has accused her of being an Armenian-lover, supporter of the terrorist PKK Kurdish group, and a Christian missionary. But the missionary charge was only made in the Turkish-language Islamist media so it would not become known abroad so that the regime can still pretend to be tolerant and non-Islamist.

The real defenders of Turkish democracy are slandered as those who want to destroy it, while the destroyers are portrayed as the defenders.

The Ergenekon label is used to smear all critics of the regime. When an AKP parliamentarian close to Erdogan attacked my daring to point out how the Islamists repressed women’s rights, she accused anyone of agreeing with me of being part of the Ergenekon conspiracy and thus traitors to Turkey. Erdogan, who is portrayed abroad as a democratic leader, is now accusing the opposition of every political assassination in modern Turkish history, which is pretty serious incitement, and threatening newspaper columnists who criticize his government.

Here’s Today’s Zaman teaming up with the prime minister to make false statements labeling the peaceful parliamentary opposition as a group of terrorist coup-makers:

“Erdoğan said he was unable to understand why some parties act as advocates of illegal groups. He was referring to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), whose leader Deniz Baykal declared that he was an advocate of Ergenekon. Ergenekon is a clandestine crime network that has alleged links within the state and is suspected of plotting to topple the government…[charged with being] a terrorist organization.”

Baykalm leader of the left-of-center opposition party, is hardly an advocate of Ergenekon, terrorism, or overthrowing the regime in a violent coup.

And what is the source of the latest accusation? A mysterious leftist newspaper called Taraf. If you were to read the media column of the world’s leading leftist English-language newspaper, the Guardian, you’d think Taraf is a heroic champion of free speech. It calls Taraf “Turkey’s most courageous newspaper” and regards Ergenekon as a completely true story.

While pointing out there seems to be a mystery about how this newspaper is financed it explains that the editor does so out of his own pocket. In fact the editor is a journalist who owns a small bookstore which does not explain how he comes up with $6.6 million a year.

So where does the money come from? Apparently, though this requires further investigation, from a group of pro-Islamist, Gulen-connected businessmen of whom the most prominent is Ahmer Calik—in other words to the same people who back the regime and run Today’s Zaman. Calik gets big favors from the government, for example a major pipeline project.

Despite supposedly being a leftist newspaper, Taraf never criticizes Islamism or the government. When the regime’s police beat up leftist demonstrators on May Day the story went unreported in Taraf.

The newspaper’s sensationalism is pretty extreme. For example, last year it ran a story accusing NTV television network, a pro-secular station, of sending out electronic signals to crash the helicopter of an Islamist/ultra-nationalist extremist politician to crash. This is an accusation of murder. When NTV released its full phone records showing the accusation was false, Taraf and other pro-regime newspapers ignored the fact that their story was wrong and moved on to new accusations.

Intimidating newspapers and television stations—as well as buying them up--is one of the regime’s main tactics. For example, the main media empire supporting the opposition was hauled into court and given a fine of several billion (that is not a typo) dollars on trumped-up charges. The message is: shut up or we'll put you out of business.

The real threat to Turkey's remaining a free and democratic state is not the made-up Ergenekon nonsense but Erdogan, Gulen, Today's Zaman, and Taraf, with help from varous foreign dupes.
So there you have it. An Islamist regime pretending to be moderately conservative, a “leftist” newspaper set up to smear the opposition, false charges of terrorism against rival politicians, the use of the courts to jail or intimidate democratic critics, and the cheers of the Western left for all of these techniques.

Coming soon [if not already there already] to a country near you.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, He is editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal and of Turkish Studies. 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).