Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Obama's Oil Spill To-Do List

Heritage Foundation

The oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico gets worse by the day. Oil spews from the broken well, further polluting our water and shores. The clean-up efforts drag on with bureaucratic interference, making matters worse. And what is the Obama administration doing? It continues to push for unrelated responses that will have a disastrous effect on our economy, especially the economy of the Gulf states most affected. In fact, President Obama summoned a bipartisan group of senators to the White House on Tuesday to discuss his climate change legislation. When Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander suggested that any such energy meeting should include a focus on the oil spill and BP, Obama responded: "that's just your talking point" and refused to discuss the crisis.

Unfortunately, the American people are not hearing any of this. Day after day, blind allegiance to the president causes his supporters on the left to simply say the government is doing all that it can. The national media, prone to attention deficit disorder when a president they support is in the White House, have already moved on to a myriad of other subjects, offering only sporadic updates on the continuing crisis.

When the president answered questions following the G20 conference, not one reporter asked him about the situation in the Gulf. Not one question. When attention is paid, it is focused on BP, which is only half the story — the other half being government incompetence or an ideological rigidity that prevents commonsense solutions.

The Heritage Foundation has offered a great deal of research and analysis related to the current crisis. It can be found indexed here. Starting today, we will also highlight the top actions the federal government must take immediately to assist the citizens of the Gulf as they cope with this tragedy. As the government responds or acts on these actions, we will directly update this post online to reflect the news and add new actions as we deem appropriate.

Please let us know in the online comments section any other deficiencies we should be monitoring. Until this crisis is resolved, you will be able to find this post, as well as future updates, under our Foundry Features labeled: Oil Spill To-Do List. Without further delay, here are the first ten actions President Obama can take immediately to help solve the crisis in the Gulf.

1. Waive the Jones Act: According to one Dutch newspaper, European firms could complete the oil spill cleanup by themselves in just four months, and three months if they work with the United States, which is much faster than the estimated nine months it would take the Obama administration to go at it alone. The major stumbling block is a protectionist piece of legislation called the Jones Act, which requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flagged ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. But, in an emergency, this law can be temporarily waived, as DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff did after Katrina. Each day European and Asian allies are prevented from helping us speed up the cleanup is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die. For more information on this, click here.

2. Accept International Assistance: At least thirty countries and international organizations have offered equipment and experts so far. According to reports this week, the White House has finally decided to accept help from twelve of these nations. The Obama administration should make clear why they are refusing the other eighteen-plus offers.  In a statement, the State Department said it is still working out the particulars of the assistance it has accepted. This should be done swiftly as months have already been wasted.

Take Sweden, for example. According to Heritage expert James Carafano: "After offering assistance shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Sweden received a request for information about their specialized assets from the State Department on May 7. Swedish officials answered the inquiry the same day, saying that some assets, such as booms, could be sent within days and that it would take a couple of weeks to send ships.  There are three brand new Swedish Coast Guard vessels built for dealing with a major oil spill cleanup. Each has a capacity to collect nearly 50 tons of oil per hour from the surface of the sea and can hold 1,000 tons of spilled oil in their tanks. But according to the State Department's recently released chart on international offers of assistance, the Swedish equipment and ships are still 'under consideration.' So months later, the booms sit unused and brand new Swedish ships still sit idle in port, thousands of miles from the Gulf. The delay in accepting offers of assistance is unacceptable." For more information, click here or here.

3. Lift the Moratorium: The Obama administration's over-expansive ban on offshore energy development is killing jobs when they are needed most. A panel of engineering experts told The New Orleans Times-Picayune that they only supported a six-month ban on new drilling in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. Those same experts were consulted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar before he issued his May 27 report recommending a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. A letter from these experts reads: "A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation's economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do."

And just how many innocent jobs is Obama's oil ban killing? An earlier Times-Picayune report estimated the moratorium could cost Louisiana 7,590 jobs and $2.97 billion in revenue directly related to the oil industry. For more information on this, click here.

4. Release the S.S. A-Whale: The S.S. A-Whale skimmer is a converted oil tanker capable of cleaning 500,000 barrels of oil a day from the Gulf waters. Currently, the largest skimmer being used in the clean-up efforts can handle 4,000 barrels a day, and the entire fleet our government has authorized for BP has only gathered 600,000 barrels, total in the 70 days since the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The ship embarked from Norfolk, VA, this week toward the Gulf, hoping to get federal approval to begin assisting the clean-up, but is facing bureaucratic resistance.

As a foreign-flagged ship, the S.S. A-Whale needs a waiver from the Jones Act, but even outside that three-mile limitation, the U.S. Coast Guard and the EPA have to approve its operation due to the nature of its operation, which separates the oil from the water and then releases water back into the Gulf, with a minor amount of oil residue. The government should not place perfection over the need for speed, especially facing the threat of an active hurricane season. For more information on this, click here.

5. Remove State and Local Roadblocks: Local governments are not getting the assistance they need to help in the cleanup. For example, nearly two months ago, officials from Escambia County, Fla., requested permission from the Mobile Unified Command Center to use a sand skimmer, a device pulled behind a tractor that removes oil and tar from the top three feet of sand, to help clean up Pensacola’s beaches. County officials still haven't heard anything back. Santa Rosa Island Authority Buck Lee explains why: "Escambia County sends a request to the Mobile, Ala., Unified Command Center. Then, it’s reviewed by BP, the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard. If they don't like it, they don’t tell us anything."

State and local governments know their geography, people, economic impacts and needs far better than the federal government does. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government has actually been playing a bigger and bigger role in running natural disaster responses. And as Heritage fellow Matt Mayer has documented, the results have gotten worse, not better. Local governments should be given the tools they need to aid in the disaster relief. For more information on this, click here.

6. Allow Sand Berm Dredging: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently prevented the state of Louisiana from dredging to build protective sand berms. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser immediately sent a letter to President Obama requesting that the work continue. He said, "Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil. Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil." For more information on this, click here.

7. Waive or Suspend EPA Regulations: Because more water than oil is collected in skimming operations (85% to 90% is water according to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen), operators need to discharge the filtered water back into the Gulf so they can continue to collect oil. The discharged water is vastly cleaner than when it was skimmed, but not sufficiently pure according to normal EPA regulations. If the water has to be kept in the vessel and taken back to shore for purification, it vastly multiples the resources and time needed, requiring cleanup ships to make extra round trips, transporting seven times as much water as the oil they collect. We already have insufficient cleanup ships (as the Coast Guard officially determined); they need to be cleaning up oil, not transporting water. For more information, click here.

8. Temporarily Loosen Coast Guard Inspections: In early June, sixteen barges that were vacuuming oil out of the Gulf were ordered to halt work. The Coast Guard had the clean-up vessels sit idle as they were inspected for fire extinguishers and life vests. Maritime safety is clearly a priority, but speed is of the essence in the Gulf waters. The U.S. Coast Guard should either temporarily loosen its inspection procedures or implement a process that allows inspections to occur as the ships operate. For more information, click here.

9. Stop Coast Guard Budget Cuts: Now is not the time to be cutting Coast Guard capabilities, but that is exactly what President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress are doing. Rather than rebuilding and modernizing the Coast Guard as is necessary, they are cutting back assets needed to respond to catastrophic disasters. In particular, the National Strike Force, specifically organized to respond to oil spills and other hazardous materials disasters, is being cut. Overall, President Obama has told the Coast Guard to shed nearly 1,000 personnel, five cutters, and several helicopters and aircraft. Congress and the Administration should double the U.S. Coast Guard's active and reserve end strength over the next decade and significantly accelerate Coast Guard modernization, but for the time being, they should halt all budgetary cuts. For more information, click here.

10. Halt Climate Change Legislation: President Obama has placed his focus to the oil spill on oil demand rather than oil in our water. Regardless of political views, now is not the time to be taking advantage of this crisis to further an unrelated piece of legislation that will kill jobs and, in the President’s own words, cause energy prices to "skyrocket." Less than 5% of our nation's electricity needs are met by petroleum. Pushing solar and wind alternatives is in no way related to the disaster in the Gulf. It's time for President Obama to focus on the direct actions he can take in the Gulf rather than the indirect harm he can cause in Congress. As Heritage expert David Kreutzer opines: "Fix the leak first, and then we’ll talk." A crisis should not be a terrible thing to waste, as Rahm Emanuel said, but a problem to be solved.

IDF Footage under-reported in Flotilla coverage

Just Journalism

The UK liberal media under-reported Israeli video evidence depicting flotilla passengers violently attacking Israeli soldiers

London, 28 June 2010 - The Guardian and The Independent seriously under-reported and downplayed the Israel Defense Forces video footage that vividly depicted passengers on board the Mavi Marmara boat attacking Israeli commandos as they boarded the vessel last month in the Gaza flotilla incident. The report, published today by Just Journalism, entitled, 'Gaza flotilla raid: Media presentation of Israeli video evidence,' is a comprehensive review of coverage of the events in the five UK broadsheets - The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times - in the week following the raid.

The study shows a stark contrast between the publications which awarded due prominence to the film and incorporated its contents into their overarching narrative of events, and those which excluded it and belittled its significance, often dismissing it as public relations material.

The findings raise serious questions about the willingness on the parts of The Guardian and The Independent to deal appropriately with evidence which supports Israel's side of a contested story. Given the high profile given by these same publications to stories involving serious allegations of wrongdoing by Israel, this is particularly noteworthy.

Executive Director of Just Journalism, Michael Weiss, said:

"The most show-stopping evidence to have emerged within hours of the deadly confrontation on board the Mavi Marmara was IDF video footage showing the passengers assaulting the Israeli commandos with crude but effective weapons. You'd think that such evidence would have been unignorable as forensic proof of what really happened on the night of May 31 but, as Just Journalism's report clearly shows, The Guardian and Independent did their utmost to prove that assumption wrong."

Key findings of the report:

· The Guardian and The Independent severely under-reported the IDF footage showing Israeli commandos coming under sustained attack from Mavi Marmara passengers

· The Guardian and The Independent presented Israel's key evidence as public relations material and refused to incorporate it into their broader narratives on the event

· The Times and The Daily Telegraph gave the footage due prominence from the outset of reporting and treated it as a natural counter-point to passengers' claims

· The Financial Times gave the footage due prominence but often treated it as public relations material

Obama’s Ten Commandments

Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought”
YnetNews, June 30, 2010,7340,L-3912687,00.html

Tell me who initiates the meeting and who wants a photo opportunity, and I’ll tell you who has the inferior position. The July 2010 meeting was initiated by Obama, who is concerned about the outcome of the November election and his declining support by Democrats and Independents. He hopes that a jovial photograph with Netanyahu would obscure severe disagreements, while enhancing his image among Israel’s friends in the USA. He presumes that Netanyahu will not leverage his (Obama’s) political predicament and the significant support for Israel among constituents and legislators, and will once again commit Israel to concessions Obama is an ideologue, determined to change the USA and the world, irrespective of his declining fortunes internally and externally. Obama’s reaction to Netanyahu’s about-face on the “Two State Solution” and the de-facto freeze of construction in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, demonstrates that concessions do not improve Obama’s attitude toward Israel; they intensify pressure. Netanyahu’s concessions have not diverted Obama from the following “Ten Commandments” of his world view:

1. End of American Exceptionalism. Obama does not believe in America’s moral, economic or military exceptionalism. He perceives the US as a power in retreat, which sometimes abused its super-power role. His appointed legal advisor at the Department of State, Harold Koh, contends that the US Constitution should be interpreted, also, on the basis of foreign legal precedents and that even the Shariah (Muslim) law could find a home in the US. Koh stated that some US actions classify it as a member of the “Axis of Disobedience.”

2. Not Confrontation but Engagement. Obama is convinced that the globe is not an arena of confrontation, but a platform of engagement with enemies/rivals, including Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas. Hence, strategic partners such as Israel are less relevant. Moreover, he has cut the budget for the development of new military systems and of missile defense, canceled the deployment of missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic and initiated nuclear arms reduction agreements, which erode America’s posture of deterrence.

3. The UN - the Playmaker of International Relations. Obama is the most UN-like President since Woodrow Wilson, considering the UN as the chief global policy-maker. Accordingly, he appointed Susan Rice – his Guru on international relations who considers Jimmy Carter and Jim Baker her role models – to the UN Ambassadorship with the rank of a Cabinet Member. He expressed preference for an international investigation of the Gaza Flotilla, supported the anti-Israel resolution by the UN nuclear non-proliferation conference, joined the anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, who led the anti-Israel and anti-US UN Durbin Conference.

4. Not Unilateral but Multilateral. Obama wants to minimize unilateral - and maximize multilateral - US policies. It subordinates US considerations to multinational common denominator, which is dominated by an anti-US majority. His advisor on multinational affairs is his personal friend, Samantha Power, a leading opponent of Israel and a proponent of a dialogue with Teheran.

5. Europe is a Role Model. Obama aspires to adopt the European state of mind, which is critical of Israel, while appeasing terror regimes. However, global sanity requires a “US Marshall” and not a “European Cop.”

6. Islam is a Partner, not a Rival/Enemy. Obama has instructed his advisors to refrain from using the terms “Islamic Terrorism” and “Jihadist Terrorism.” He has consistently pandered to Islamic audiences, claiming that the US and Islam share a solid foundation of values. His top White House Counselor and personal friend, Valerie Jarrett (“Obama’s second brain”) transmits such messages to US Muslim organizations, which support Hamas. The Quadrennial Reviews of the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security do not use the terms “Islam,” Islamist” or “Islamic.”

7. No Global or Muslim Terrorism. According to Obama, Counter-Terrorism Advisor John Brennan, National Security Advisor Jim Jones, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, there is no “Global Terrorism,” “Islamic Terrorism” or “Terrorists.” Instead, there are “Extremists,” “Isolated Cases” and “Man-Caused Disasters.” They consider terrorism, primarily, law enforcement rather than military challenge. Consequently, they accord terrorists civil rights. John Brennan claims that “Violent extremists [‘terrorists’ in common English] are victims of political, economic and social forces.” One cannot expect operational clarity when there is no moral clarity!

8. The Department of State School of Thought. While Secretary Clinton has minimal impact on the formulation of foreign policy, the cosmopolitan Dovish school of thought of the Department of State bureaucracy has been embraced by Obama. The Department of State did not want the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948 and has been a key critic of Israel since then.

9. The Centrality of the Palestinian Issue. Obama avers that the less-than-100 year old Palestinian issue is the root cause of the 1,400 year old Middle East turbulence, the core cause of anti-US Islamic terrorism and the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He has adopted the Arab contention that the Holocaust – and not 4,000 year history – constitutes the moral foundation of the Jewish State. It implies that Jews were persecuted by the Nazis and were – supposedly - given land at the expense of the Palestinians…

10. Yes, We Can! Obama is confident that each problem has a solution, which he is able to obtain. He assumes that pressure must be applied in order to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, democracies (e.g. Israel) are very susceptible to pressure, while dictatorships (e.g. the PA and the Arab regimes) are less susceptible.

President Obama’s adherence to his “Ten Commandments” demonstrates the unbridgeable gap between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Will Netanyahu learn from past mistakes, leverage the sweeping support of Israel by the American People and on Capitol Hill and refute Obama’s assessment that Netanyahu is easily persuaded to transform Red Lines into Pink Lines?

Mitchell, Armed with US Media, Trying to Extend Building Freeze

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell begins three days of talks with Israel and the Palestinian Authority Wednesday following PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ statement he will accept direct talks in return for an extension of the building freeze.
Abbas’ move gives him the upper hand in what has become a diplomatic struggle over which side can blame the other for what is widely viewed as fruitless efforts by the United States.

Mitchell began his visit by examining the flow of previously embargoed commodities being transferred by Israel to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing. Earlier in the morning, Gaza terrorists attacked a nearby Jewish community in the western Negev with a powerful Kassam rocket that destroyed a packing house.

Residents told Voice of Israel government radio that Mitchell should be concerned with their humanitarian situation in the face of Gaza terror instead of worrying about increased shipments for Gaza while its terrorists continue to attack Israel.

Mitchell is armed by mainstream American media that generally have accepted U.S. President Barack Obama’s view that Israel should freeze all building for Jews in areas of Jerusalem claimed by the PA, as well as all of Judea and Samaria. Last fall, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month freeze as a concession to both the Obama administration and Abbas.

The PA leader now has made a permanent freeze a condition for returning to face-to-face talks with the Prime Minister’s negotiating team.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threw ice water on Mitchell’s attempts Tuesday, telling his visiting Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, that there is no chance of the PA becoming an independent state before 2012.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has strong backing for a thaw in the building freeze that has left growing families and schools without solutions. Gershon Mesika, chairman of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council, told the Knesset Education Committee Wednesday morning that the September school year cannot be opened unless immediate approval is given for 27 permits for classrooms.

The Likud party has lined up solidly for Prime Minister Netanyahu to fulfill his promise that the 10-month freeze will not be extended, despite support for Mitchell's stand from left-wing Israeli media such as Haaretz, and the highly influential American weekly news magazine Newsweek.

The publication carried an article in early June that alleged similarities between the Bush and Netanyahu governments. Newsweek described both leaders as ideological and right-wing, with a population traumatized by terrorist attacks and a government of military officers as advisers who advocate a campaign against Muslim terrorism.

The Newsweek article continued its comparison and added, “The world doesn’t see it that way, and despite impressive deployments of troops—and plenty of military victories—the nation becomes more and more diplomatically isolated, tarnishing its reputation as a beacon of freedom.”

Newsweek’s conclusion resembles the strategy of the Obama administration. Netanyahu has “deployed overwhelming force where nuanced, tactical approaches would have worked better, spurned international opinion; and ignored gathering discontent among voters at home,” the magazine asserted. “Staying the course…could do serious harm to Israel’s reputation abroad and be disastrous for Netanyahu and his Likud Party at home.

“As the world is turning against Netanyahu, so are Israelis: a poll last month showed that a majority of voters don’t approve of the prime minister…. Policymakers in Washington, its lockstep ally, are tearing their hair out over Netanyahu’s settlement intransigence.”

In fact, all public opinion polls that past year have shown that if elections were held today, the Likud party and the nationalist camp would maintain their strength -- if not grow even stronger. Surveys all show that a large of majority of Israelis, as well as PA Arabs, do not believe that the PA and Israel can come to an agreement.

More media fraud:Telegraph recycles Gaza war photo to distort today's reality

Jihad Watch

Pro-jihad mainstream media bias is universal and relentless. And the Telegraph is one of the more modest offenders. "Telegraph Caught Recycling Gaza War Photo to Distort Today's Reality," from Honest Reporting, June 29 (thanks to Andy Infdl): Why does the Daily Telegraph choose to reuse an image from the 2009 Gaza conflict to inaccurately portray the present day?

Photo bias is one of the most insidious forms of anti-Israel media bias and HonestReporting has addressed a number of recent examples, including AFP/Getty and Reuters wire services. Sometimes, however, the newspapers themselves are responsible for misusing imagery.

The following story and accompanying photo appeared in the UK's biggest selling broadsheet, the Daily Telegraph, on 17 June 2010:


Although there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and even more aid is pouring in from Israel, the Telegraph's photo gives the impression that Gaza is a warzone.

We weren't convinced. Unable to locate this AP photo in searches of recent images from the wire services in Gaza, we dug a little deeper until we found the very same photo with its original caption taken on 14 January 2009 during Operation Cast Lead...

The Tree of Zionism

Daniel Greenfield

Helen Thomas suggested that Jews should go back to Poland and Germany. The Turkish flotilla headed to Gaza was more specific, radioing, "Go back to Auschwitz." But both are only bubbles on the surface of the larger narrative in the Muslim world that is widely redistributed by the left and the far right, that Jews are foreign strangers to the land. On the surface this would seem to be plainly absurd. Israel is not some sort of obscure footnote in history or some forgotten fragment of the past that has to be looked up in an encyclopedia. Both of the world's two dominant religions derive their background from Israel. David and Solomon, the kings of Israel, are considered prophets in both Islam and Christianity. Jewish history is indivisible from the history of Christianity and Islam. No believer in either religion can deny the history of the Jewish people, without also denying their own scriptures and faith. Which means that the current state of affairs in which Muslims and some Christians pretend that Israel came out of nowhere in the 1940's after the world felt guilty about the Holocaust, is an obscene bit of chutzpah.

Israel was not created after the Holocaust. It was recreated after the fall of the Ottoman Empire opened the door for peoples who had been formerly living under the Ottoman boot to rebuild and govern their own countries. The irony is that Israel is only one short entry on the list of countries that were to be created after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, and that list includes most of the Arab world. It also includes countries that could not successfully able to gain independence at the time, such as Armenia. Zionism was simply another national liberation movement, one of many that gained new momentum after the breakup of the Ottoman and Austria-Hungarian empires.

The anti-Zionist narrative insists that Jews are foreigners because they came from the diaspora. However the very word "diaspora" highlights the fact that the Jewish returnees were members of a religious and ethnic group that had been forced to leave the region, and were now coming back. Nor were Jews unique in this regard in the post-Ottoman period. There also was and is a large Armenian diaspora around the world. Even today there are more Armenians living outside Armenia than inside it. This does not negate the rights of Armenians to their homeland or make them foreigners. There are other similar diasporas of peoples from the territory of the Ottoman Empire.

The majority of Jews living in Israel today are refugees or the children of refugees from Muslim countries, from the USSR and from Nazi occupied Europe. That diaspora is continually ignored in favor of sneers about "Settlers from Brooklyn". Yet the same media that forcefully pushed this mischaracterization, did not apply the same standards to American Arabs who moved to the Palestinian Authority in the mid 90's (before moving back once they experienced the shakedowns and corruption of Arafat's cronies). That diaspora was somehow more legitimate than the Jewish one. This is the prejudice at the heart of the case against Israel.

It is natural for Arab Muslims to feel that they have more right to Israel, than the Jews do. Conqueror peoples tend to feel that way. It is certainly commonplace in the Muslim world. That is Turkey's attitude when it denies rights to its Kurdish minority. Iran's attitude when it denies rights to the Azeri minority. Regarding Israel, this repressive attitude finds support in the Koran, from Mohammed's persecution of the Jews, and his insistence that Islam had replaced Judaism and Christianity, and that non-Muslims had no right to govern Muslims. But
the idea that a conqueror people have more rights to a land than the indigenous inhabitants whom they usurped and oppressed, is a bizarre perversion of liberalism's own doctrines.

Yet the left goes on insisting that Zionism is racism, while applying no such standard to the Arab Nationalists they championed, from Yasser Arafat to Saddam Hussein, nor to the Islamists that they whitewash. Unlike them, Zionism has created a country in which ethnic and religious minorities have full legal and political rights. This is a unique phenomenon in a region where Islamic and Marxist fanatics have been battling it out for the chance to create repressive states in which only their dominant group has any power or influence. If the idea that distinct national and ethnic groups have the right to self-government in lands that were historically theirs, is racist-- then so is virtually every single nationalist group on the planet-- the majority of whom the left does support.

Synagogue stone, Galilee, 1800 years ago
Once again the delegitimization of Zionism is logically indefensible. If the Jews had no right to form their own state, then by what possible standard do the Arabs of the Palestine Mandate, an administrative region created in the Post WW1 environment, without regard to any unique culture and ethnicity? If the Jewish diaspora is illegitimate, then how legitimate was a movement run by the Cairo born Yasser Arafat? If Israel is a historical mistake, as some pundits insist, then what is Palestine. Or for that matter Syria and Jordan? Instead so many of Israel's critics still act like colonial mapmakers, insisting that they have the power to define which people have the rights to what land. And therefore which national liberation movements are legitimate, and which are not.

The colonial mapmakers had once upon a time made Israel's road to independence that much more difficult, as it was forced to contend not only with the rabid hostility of Islamists and Arab nationalists who refused to share the region with the country's indigenous inhabitants. This was hardly a new problem. The Arab Muslim tide had drowned and repressed nearly every religious and ethnic in the region. From Mohammed's massacres and enslavement of the Jews of the Arabian Peninsula, to the plight of the Kurds, the Circassians, the Armenians, Gypsies, Copts, Zoroastrians and many others-- the campaign against Israel was an attempt by the region's ethnic and religious to reassert its supremacy over an upstart minority. It was also obstructed by the view of some in the British Empire that client states run by puppet Arab monarchies were more in their interest, than an independent Israel.

For this reason the larger portion of the Palestine Mandate was turned over to the rule of an imported royal family from the Arabian Peninsula, the Hashemites. The kingdom they were given was designated as Jordan, and should have served as the home for all Arabs in the territory of the Mandate. Unfortunately the Empire decided that all of the Mandate should consist of such Arab client states. For this reason Jewish immigration was curtailed, and millions of Jews died, some in Auschwitz, because the Empire thought it in their interest to turn all of Israel into another Jordan. Only when the flood of survivors after the war made the mandate unsustainable, and the United States refused to support the ongoing British occupation, did Israel have the chance to stand on its own two feet and fight for its independence.

And even then, British officers commanded the Jordanian Arab Legion that they had trained. And when the Arab Legion ethnically cleansed the eastern part of Jews, driving out the residents of the Jewish Quarter and destroying its synagogues, the Empire recognized Jordan's annexation of Jerusalem. An annexation that Israel undid in 1967 when it reunited the city. A reunification that Britain, along with the rest of Europe, refuses to recognize. And that Obama turned into an international incident when he demanded that Israel stop building housing in Jerusalem, while making no such demands of the Arab side. Once again, the bottom line is that Jews have less rights in their own country than Arab Muslims do.

The denial of our rights to our land is not new either. For thousands of years empires have been marching their way across Israel. From chariots to tanks and from spearmen to infantrymen, they have all come and gone. The Assyrian and the Babylonian, the Greek and the Roman, the Arab and the Frenchman, the Turk and the Brit. Some wiped out the Jews who had lived there. Others only oppressed them. But one way or another, the Jews survived and endured, or escaped and returned. Palestinian propagandists boast of some 50 years of resistance. Jews look back on 2500 years of resistance. Israel's rebirth is the legacy of that long struggle. Both the sudden armed clashes with Roman and Jordanian legionaries, and the more arduous struggle or working farms and planting forests. It is a struggle that can be seen today as Israeli residents care for small plots of land, even as Muslim thugs and left wing anti-Israel groups, such as "Rabbis for Human Rights" tries to uproot, vandalize and destroy their farms. It is the slow patient endurance of a people of history who are not going anywhere.

This is best expressed in the apocryphal story of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, the destroyer of Jerusalem, who saw an old man planting a fig tree. "Why do you bother when you will surely not live to see its fruits," Hadrian inquired of him. "If I will not live to see them, then my children will," the old man answered. That old man was a Zionist. And across the land, fig trees are still being planted today. If the Muslim terrorist is defined by the bomb, Zionism is defined by the tree. 240 million trees have been planted in Israel. Some are torched by Arab Muslim vandals, and then more trees are planted. Because while rocks and bombs may bruise or kill, it is the trees that hold the land with their roots. As the tree is seen, but the roots are not, so too Zionism is only the surface growth of the Jewish commitment to the lands of their fathers. The Tree of Zionism has been cut down by empires before, but after a time, green leaves rise again, for when a tree's roots go back thousands of years, neither axe nor torch, neither firing squad nor gas chamber can part it from its sacred earth.

Israeli Policy in the Age of Islamism

Israeli Policy in the Age of Islamism

David Ben-Gurion's policy of reaching out to Islamic states on the periphery of the Middle East — Iran and Turkey, among them — is now inoperative as Israel must adapt to new realities in the region.

Posted By Larry Hall

It is a short walk from here to nowhere, if you are a Jewish state (or even a state of mostly Jews) in the midst of the Mideast. When your back is to the sea and history, and your face is to the inhospitable desert, both the feeling and the view can be cramped and inhibiting. Once upon a time, Israel had a prime minister named David Ben-Gurion, one of the founders of the state and a politician with strategic grasp. While he often flew solo, sometimes to the detriment of his nation, Ben-Gurion grasped Israel’s dilemmas well enough. The young state was surrounded by implacable Arab enemies; virtually all political factions in each Arab state opposed Zionism absolutely. No matter whether a nationalist, a pan-Arabist, or a Marxist ruled a particular Arab state, a policy of politicide towards Israel always worked at home. Anything else was an invitation to accusations of treason and heresy to the nation and to Islam.

Ben-Gurion saw a way out of this, or at least around it. He would form alliances with important states on the periphery of the Arab world — non-Arab states with historic bones to pick with their Arab adversaries. Chief candidates were Iran, Turkey, and Ethiopia. Iran and Turkey (especially) were both under secularizing regimes that emphasized national identity, which worked against Muslim sentiments and highlighted differences with Arab rivals.

This in fact became Israeli regional policy in the 1950s and 1960s. As Gamal Nasser emerged as Egypt’s strong man and developed his pan-Arab nationalism, it became a matter of survival. In the absence of any demonstration of genuine friendship from the United States, Israel also developed a warm relationship with France. While this was shattered in the wake of the 1967 war [1] — when Charles de Gaulle, freed of Algeria and conscious of the size and potential markets of Araby, suddenly remembered “Jewish arrogance” — this relationship served Israel well for years.

Israeli policy was thus two-pronged and sensible, featuring 1) cultivation of ties with powerful Mideast periphery states, and 2) maintaining suitable European alliances. The success of the periphery alliances can be seen by the fact that Turkey and Iran remained on good terms with Israel after de Gaulle and the French turned on the Jewish state.

Why were these policies effective, and what do they tell us about current events in the region? After all, Iran and Turkey have emerged as Israel’s most threatening adversaries in the region — with all respect to the hostile Syrians, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other factors. Iran clearly spearheads ideological and practical opposition to Israel’s existence as a sovereign, non-Muslim, and Jewish state in the Middle East. It practices a virulent form of Shiite messianism that is interwoven with its foreign policy. The Iranian government and its most visible spokesman, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, breathe fire and brimstone as they promise Israel’s destruction and constantly repeat that it is a cancer to be removed from the region.

The Turks are rushing to catch up. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has emerged as a full-fledged Islamist, instructing historian Bernard Lewis that there is no such thing as extreme Islam, that “Islam is Islam” and all other interpretations are insulting. Mr. Erdogan has referred to “mosques as barracks” and minarets as bayonets for Islam. His political party, the Justice and Development Party (“AK”), has enthusiastically promoted the Islamic sentiments of its supporters.

Erdogan is essentially attempting to remake Turkey as a smaller, more Islamic Ottoman Empire, one that discards the Western-facing experiment instigated by Turkey’s national hero, Mustafa Kemal (“Ataturk”). He is trying to purge Turkey of its democracy and its mostly secular national identity. That is, Erdogan and his allies are anti-Turkish, assuming that modern Turkish identity indeed manifests Ataturk’s vision. Only if Erdogan and the AD destroy the concept of Turkey can they implement their Islamist vision. If they succeed, then Turkey essentially becomes a Sunni variant of today’s Iran.

These are profound changes, suggesting a permanent shift in Turkey’s very identity. Political identifications, alliances, and enemies are all shuffled organically as a result. The turn back to Islam inevitably strengthens Iran, most of whose major allies are of convenience and based on “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Looked at in Islamic terms, Turkey joins Iran and Saudi Arabia as the major sources of Islamic “outreach” in the world. This has also meant attempts to influence “infidel” governments, encourage conversion to Islam, and impose Sharia law. These are ominous precursors to a potential Islamic wave. Yet reality is more complicated, given the relationships between these three countries:

1. The Arabs, particularly the Saudis, view Turkey as ex-colonizer and overlord;
2. Saudi Arabia and Iran vie as, respectively, the representative of Sunni, Arabic-based Islam and that of Shiite, Persian-rooted Islam. This is exacerbated by the bloody warfare between Sunni Iraq and Iran for decades. Iran has made it clear that it regards Saudi Arabia as a rival and enemy, in part because of the Saudi alliance with the United States;
3. Iran and Turkey also face each other across a Sunni-Shiite divide, and Turkey has a historic dispute with Syria, Iran’s client.

Beyond this, the Saudis and most of the Arab world — excepting Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas — are mortified at the prospect of the Iranian bomb. The Saudi fear is quite legitimate, based on Iran’s pretensions to control the Middle East and its historic rivalry with the Arabs.

Since Iran has territorial conflicts with the Gulf states and is open about its desire to lead the world into Islam through the mechanism of its expanded sovereignty, the Saudis could not realistically join such an axis. More specifically, they prefer that an Israel that they despise lead an effort to set back Iran’s nuclear program rather than that program succeed.

For Israel, this presents massive problems and certain opportunities. To the extent that the Israeli-Arab conflict is still that, and not simply a subset of the war between Islam and the non-believers, the Arab problem with Iran is a chance to find some common ground. To the degree that Turkey “complements” Iran as a self-proclaimed champion (or ruler) of the entire region, the Arabs have a second non-Arab actor to fear — one with a past history of ruling over them with cruelty and disregard. In other words, the principle of “the enemy of my enemy” could apply here as well.

In theory, Israel has an opportunity for a practical rapprochement with all parts of the Arab world save Syria and Hezbollah-controlled/influenced Lebanon. Certainly Israel has demonstrated, often to its detriment, its desire for peace. The problem — aside from the quality of Israeli outreach — is the measure of Arab animosity to Israel. Using the Camp David Accords as a guide, hope is not the best guideline. The Egyptian government often deals with Israel in the nature of a man who must walk on hot coals to reach the other side of a pit. When Mubarak has an opportunity to embarrass Israel, he has done so (witness Egypt’s enthusiastic sponsoring of a recent UN resolution whose purpose is to disarm Israel’s suspected nuclear arsenal).

Saudi Arabia remains the linchpin of ideological Arab/Islamic hostility to Israel, despite Syrian and Hezbollah arsenals. Saudi Arabia is the real test. Given its fierce Wahhabist leanings, the union between Islam and the Saudi leadership, and the many “missions” of its native sons for jihad and Islam, it is nearly impossible to hold onto hope. Approximately 40% of all suicide bombers in Iraq have been Saudi. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. The funding of extremist mosques and the efforts to convert Westerners are hardly indicative of a state that is ready to normalize and coexist with the hated Jewish “inferiors” in its backyard.

David Ben-Gurion is long-gone, and the region transformed since his passing. The real question that 2010 brings us is: Can any Muslim state ever be a normal state operating on rational, Western assumptions in its dealings with other states? The answer remains generally and persuasively no.

Why So Much of the Western Elite Hates (or Doesn’t Like) Israel

Barry Rubin

Aside from all the traditional reasons—antisemitism, oil money, strategic weight of the Arab world, guilt over colonialist pasts, fear of Islamist violence, etc)—there are some very important new ideological reasons for the dislike (or hate) of Israel by large elements of the Western elite, especially what is called the intellectual elite, there are some new ones of the greatest importance. If you understand these factors, it also explains a lot more generally about the (temporarily?) hegemonic ideology that has taken over much of Western academia, media, and politics.

1. Religion
As a Jewish state, and a country where religion plays an important role, Israel is anathema to Western leftists and intellectuals who are against religion, or at least against Judeo-Christian religions. Incidentally, though, Israel is not a theologically based or defined states. In fact, Jews are a people who happen to have a distinctive religion, something rather common in history. The idea that Jews are only a religious group is a very recent idea in world history.

But the allergy to religion in public life is a powerful force in Western elites today. Why doesn’t this apply to Islam? There are a number of reasons but one rarely mentioned is that Islam isn’t “their” religion, meaning that they have never personally or collectively rebelled against it, nor has it shaped elements in their own society that these people hate. Islam may be a repressive religion in Saudi Arabia, but it isn't responsible for Jerry Falwell or the "Christian right." Hence, to a member of the Western elite, it isn't "their" problem.

While this is a simplification, to get across the idea I will use the following phrase: Islam for them is in the class of a “quaint, alien custom” rather than something they viscerally hate or believe their societies have dispensed with for the better. This is especially true, of course, for the anti-religious Jews among them.

For those from that general approach, of course, the alternative is to accept secular Zionism and support for non-religious forces in Israel, which are in the large majority of course.

2. Nationalism
Israel represents a nationalist movement and is thus anathema to Western leftists and intellectuals who are against nationalism. As with religion, of course, it is usually only the nationalism of their own people or patriotism toward their country they oppose. As with religion, they think this is a remnant of the “dark ages” of human division and mutual hatred which should be dispensed with as soon and completely as possible. Just as religion is identified with obscurantism and superstition, nationalism is identified with fascism and national chauvinism.

And, again, for the Jews among them who are assimilationist or believe the role of Jews is to be the most steadfast fighters for revolutionary change, Israel is especially repugnant.

Their idea is to make assimilation (and the disappearance of the Jews as a people) count by helping to create a glorious utopian society, the same kind of idea that mobilized Jews to be Communists in earlier generations. [If you are interested, read my book, Assimilation and its Discontents.] Jewish Communists fought, sacrificed, and died for decades only to find that the USSR's Communism became the most powerful antisemitic ideology during the Soviet Union's last four and a half decades.

For those from that general framework, a variant of acceptable Zionism historically has been support for left-of-center forces in Israel, not necessarily even far-left ones.

3. Nation-state/peoplehood
The idea that a country should consist of a distinct people, a central idea during the last two centuries and still dominant in most of the world, has become a sin in the thinking of the hegemonic view in the West, indeed the sin of “racism.”

It is important to note that this is true on two different levels:

First, in opposition to the idea that a specific ethnic group be virtually coexistent with the nation-state (the French in France; the Italians in Italy)

But also, second, that the population of a given country should have a coherent culture, identity, and worldview. After all, various countries have absorbed large numbers of immigrants but integrated them into a national community based on common beliefs. Multiculturalism has abandoned this approach.

In other words, it is not enough according to this ideology to have a multi-racial, multi-religious group of people who are "English" or ""French" for example, but a multi-racial, multi-religious group that belongs to multiple communities without an overarching identity and a basic common worldview. (Now that's a formula for the failure and collapse of a society into violence, poverty, and collapse if I've ever heard one.)

Actually, Israel is an example of a country that has absorbed large numbers of immigrants. In proportionate terms there is no nation state in the world that has done this to a greater extent. But Israel is a Jewish state, a state built around a people with a common identity, and this framework, which has been the norm for several centuries in the West, has suddenly been branded illegitimate. And so Israel is hated for this reason by those who would destroy their own people and nation-state. They don't want a successful example around to discourage suicidal tendencies in their countries.

Incidentally, if a Palestinian state ever comes into being it will be governed according to the constitution already written for it by the Palestinian Authority: An Arab state whose official religion is Islam and which will grant or withhold citizenship depending on whether one is a member of the Palestinian Arab people. And the world is now also accepting in practice a Hamas-ruled Palestinian Islamist state which even further restricts the definition of the nation. How ironic!

4. Israel Fights Revolutionaries
True, the Western Left is…leftist. It supposedly stands for widespread democracy, equality for women and homosexuals, secularism, and various other things. The revolutionary Islamists are rightists and have the opposite position on all of these issues.

But that’s not important. The self-identified revolutionaries of the West, even though they use no violence, see the revolutionaries of the Middle East as kith and kin. The latter are “fighting the man,” to use American slang. They want to overturn the system; they hate the West’s values and policies. So the parlor radicals of the West embrace them. After all, Che Guevara is dead and there are no Marxist revolutionary movements doing much.
So in revolutionary solidarity, elements of the Western elites embrace those who would love to torture or shoot them as romantic figures. For them, precisely because Israel is pro-Western, it is on the side of the “reactionaries.”

5. Israel Fights to Defend Itself
If you are under attack because people want to wipe you off the map and deliberately attack your civilians as their main strategy (it’s called terrorism), and you defend yourself, there is going to be violence. If there is violence and you are the least bit successful, there will be casualties on the other side. And inevitably in modern war—no matter how hard you try to avoid it—some of those casualties are going to be civilians.

There are many in Western elites who are against war and violence, at least unless it is waged “perfectly” with no casualties, or no military casualties, on the other side.

“Worse” yet, you might win the war. If the other side refuses to give up and make some kind of equitable peace, the conflict will go on. If you capture their territory and they refuse to make peace, you have to occupy it. All these things are impermissible according the (temporarily?) dominant ideology in much of the West.

Thus, Israel’s “sin” is to defend itself and to win. There are, however, rational people in the West who think this is a good thing. The cleverness of the strategy of Israel’s enemies is to use their own people as human shields, to promote their suffering to gain sympathy abroad and mobilize militancy at home. This fools many people in the West, though there are others who see through this ploy.

6. Israel is involved in Conflict
There are those in the West who think that conflict is not only a bad thing but a wholly unnecessary thing. There’s a Yiddish proverb that goes: Only a dead man has no problems. The extreme form of this as applied to contemporary views is if there’s a conflict caused by Israel’s existence, end Israel’s existence and there’s no more problem.

In addition, however, there is a more moderate version: Since conflict is unnatural, the conflict can and should be quickly ended. By demanding that the conflict only be ended on terms that ensure its security and end the conflict, Israel is being obstructive.

So for much of the anti-Israel left, the conflict can be ended real fast and would be only if Israel gave in on every point. Thus, there would be no violence or anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East and no terrorism in the world.

This leads into…

7. Causes of Radicalism
To paraphrase Paul Berman, the new ideology refuses to face the fact that there are deep conflicts in the world and that there are anti-freedom forces seeking to take power and oppress others or even wipe them out. Consequently, there are two ways to deal with this: ignore the threat or insist that it can be wished away. (This one is also prevalent on the Israeli far left.)

Ignore the threat: There are no radicals, just people seeking to be free and materially well-off. So the threat to Israel would disappear if only Israel changed its policy or made huge concessions.

Wish away the threat: Be nice to the radicals, apologize to them, engage them, give them what they want, and they will become moderate.

Israel is thus in the way to solving all these big problems. Consequently, it is at fault for their continuation. Possibly Israelis are stupid and don’t understand that their real interest is to give in and give away. Of course, it is the “great geniuses” who understand nothing and would be in the crocodile’s belly before you can say, “Tom Freedman is an appalling sycophant.”

8. If you’re “non-white,” you’re automatically right; if you’re the underdog we’ll roll your log.
[This was a tough rhyme. Log-rolling is an old American political slang word, meaning that I will help you get what you want.]

Reacting against centuries of discrimination and racism, the current idea is not to banish racialism—as Martin Luther King advocated, to create a color-blind society—but merely to reverse it. Israel is seen as stronger, whiter, and First World. [In reality, the skin tone test wouldn’t work between Israel and some of its enemies.]

If you are a Western elite left-wing hegemonic type, you feel guilty for being rich. But that’s ok. You can hold onto everything you have (even a gas-guzzling car] and redeem yourself by having Israel pay the bill for you.

Being the underdog, however, does not make someone automatically virtuous, especially if your problem is largely your own fault. African-Americans faced slavery and discrimination and thus are legitimate underdogs; Israel’s enemies have repressive dictatorships, waged war and terrorism, and refused compromises that would have solved their problems (with Israel, at least). That’s why they are worse off. It is political vice, not virtue that has landed them there.

So if Israel has "made the desert bloom," produced so many great inventions and innovations that benefit humanity, won the wars and survived, that is all the more reason for those who hate Israel to hate Israel. As Bob Dylan writes, they say, "There's no success like failure." But, in fact, "Failure's no success at all." Or as I wrote years ago about Yasir Arafat, the trouble with having your strategy based on being an underdog is that you have to keep losing.

Another element here is the view that, to paraphrase an intellectual famous for intellectual, Susan Sontag, Western civilization is the cancer of the world. Israel is thus part of that cancer which must be cut out. Or to paraphrase a famous slogan of the last group that seriously tried to wipe out the Jews, "Today Israel, Tomorrow the Western World!" Again, Israel's virtues--reasonably regulated capitalism, democracy, modernism, freedom, success--are precisely the reasons for it to be hated.

The success of America is poison to this portions of the elite because they don't want to believe that these techniques lead to success. The same applies to Europe. And they refuse to realize that their proposed policies will wreck their own countries. They want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, eat it, and then expect to still get golden eggs every day.

And so in many ways, Israel is merely a stand-in for everything they hate closer to home. This is an important secret that must be kept from its own people because it will lose the anti-Israel mob support. (Reminds me of the Canadian anti-Israel group which talked too much, going from condemning Israel as a settler-colonial state that should be abolished to saying the same thing about Canada. Oops!)

This is quite a long list. I should hasten to add that brevity forces simplification and that not all the above characteristics can be found in one person or political group. To do a proper job of explaining this, especially by offering the dozens of examples going through my mind as I write this, would require a book. Hopefully, though, this effort is useful for you.

Finally, there is an important other side to this analysis. Those in the West who don’t agree with the above list of items tend to be supportive of Israel. This doesn’t just mean conservatives but real liberals (in the American sense of that word). And as the extreme left wears out its welcome mainly due to other issues—a process that is happening pretty fast and steadily—the pendulum is swinging back. In fact, if one examines public opinion polls and looks beyond the elite mass media this trend is already visible.

Come to think of it, that's a really good reason for the anti-Israel group to hate Israel: It is living proof that they are wrong.

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 (PalgraveMacmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; The West and the Middle East (four volumes); and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

Iran is Surrounded by US Troops in 10 Countries

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A507 News

Iran literally is surrounded by American troops, notes an oil market analyst, Energy and Capital editor Christian A. DeHaemer. There is no evidence of an imminent attack, but he connects a number of recent events and the presence of American soldiers to warn that oil prices might soar -- with or without a pre-emptive strike aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear power ambitions. Iran is bordered on the east by Pakistan and Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been waging a costly war, in terms of money and lives, against Taliban, Al-Qaeda and other terrorists.

The Persian Gulf is on Iran’s southern border, and last week’s report, confirmed by the Pentagon, that 11 warships had sailed through the Suez Canal, raised alarm bells that the U.S. is ready to fight to keep the Persian Gulf open.

Iran has threatened it could close the waterway, where 40 percent of the world’s oil flows in tankers, if the United Nations or the United States by itself carry out harsh energy sanctions against the Islamic Republic. An Israeli ship has also reportedly joined the U.S. armada.

Kuwait, which is heavily armed by the U.S. and is home to American bases, is located on the southwestern border of Iran. The country’s western neighbors are Turkey and Iraq, also home to American bases, and Turkmenistan, the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan are the Islamic Republic’s northern neighbors.

The last year advanced military cooperation with Turkmenistan. An independent Caspian news agency has confirmed unusually heavy activity of American troops along the border with Iran. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Brigadier General Mehdi Moini said last week that his forces increased patrols, including tanks and anti-aircraft units, along the border with Azerbaijan because they noticed increased American activity. Iran charged that Israeli forces were also present, sparking a virtual war alert among the Iranian Guards.

In addition, the Times of London reported earlier this month that Saudi Arabia has agreed to open its air space for Israel Air Force jets, a claim that the Saudi monarchy denied. It similar denied Iranian news agency claims that Israeli helicopters unloaded military equipment at a northwestern Saudi Arabian air base, from where Israeli planes theoretically could reach Iran in the shorts possible time.

There has been no confirmation of Israel-Saudi cooperation from any other source, but one IDF reserve officer, who has been involved in secret military projects for private companies, told Israel National News that the it could be true if both countries found it in their common interests. Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and has treated the Jewish State with disdain. However, the possibility of Iran's dominating the Arab world with nuclear power has changed all political scenarios.

Several defense websites have reported that Israel is deploying one to three German-made nuclear submarines in the Persian Gulf as a defensive measure against the possibility of a missile attacks from Lebanon and Syria, as well as Iran.

“The submarines of Flotilla 7 — Dolphin, Tekuma and Leviathan — have visited the Gulf before,” DeHaemer wrote, “but the decision has now been taken to ensure a permanent presence of at least one of the vessels.”

Amid the buzz of increased military activity around Iran looms the specter of higher oil prices, which is DeHaemer's field of expertise. “The last oil price shock in the Middle East was in 1990 when the United States invaded Iraq for invading Kuwait. The price per barrel of oil went from $21 to $28 on August $46 by mid-October. The looming Iran War is not priced in,” he warned in his news letter.

Iran has the third-highest oil reserves in the world and is second only to Saudi Arabia in production. If any action prevents the flow of Iranian oil, the price of “black gold” would soar, he added.

Alternatives to surrender

To the roaring cheers of the local media, on Sunday the Schalit family embarked on a cross-country march to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's residence. They set out two days after the fourth anniversary of IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit's captivity. Outside their home in the North on Sunday, Gilad's father Noam Schalit pledged not to return home without his son. The Schalit family intends to camp out outside of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's home until the government reunites them with Gilad.

For weeks the local media - and especially Ma'ariv and Yediot Ahronot - have portrayed the Schalit family's trek to Netanyahu as a reenactment of Moses' journey to Pharaoh. Like Pharaoh, the media insinuates that Netanyahu is evil because he refuses to free Gilad from bondage.

The only drawback to this dramatic, newspaper-selling story is that it is wrong. Gilad Schalit is not a hostage in Jerusalem. He is a hostage in Gaza. His captor is not Netanyahu. His captor is Hamas.

And because the story is wrong, the media-organized cavalcade of ten thousand well intentioned Israelis is moving in the wrong direction. And not only is it going in the wrong direction, it is doing so at Gilad Schalit's expense.

The truth that Yediot and Ma'ariv's marketing departments ignore is that Schalit's continued captivity is a function of Hamas's growing strength. To bring him home, Israel shouldn't release a thousand terrorists from prison. It shouldn't strengthen Hamas.

To bring Gilad Schalit home a free man, Israel must weaken Hamas. And this is an eminently achievable goal. Gilad's father Noam knows it is an achievable goal. That is why last week Noam Schalit was the most outspoken critic of Netanyahu's decision to abandon Israel's economic sanctions against Hamas-controlled Gaza. That is why over the past four years the Schalit family has staged countless protests against Israel's massive and continuous assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza.

If anything positive is to come from this march, then when the Schalit family arrives in Jerusalem they should abandon the newspapers' demand that Israel surrender to all of Hamas's demands. They should acknowledge that doing so will only guarantee that more Israelis will be kidnapped and murdered by Hamas and its allies.

If the Schalits wish to criticize the government, they should criticize Netanyahu and his government for the steps they have taken to strengthen Hamas. The Schalits should demand that the government reinstate and tighten Israel's economic sanctions against Gaza. They should demand that Israel end its supply of electricity and gasoline to Gaza and take more effective action to block smuggling into Gaza through the tunnels along the Gaza-Egypt border. All of these actions will weaken Hamas, and so contribute to the prospect of Hamas being forced by the Gazans themselves to release Schalit to his family.

ONE OF the important truths ignored by Israel's pathological media is that Hamas and its Iranian sponsor are not all powerful. They are vulnerable to criticism from their own publics. And Israel is capable of fomenting such criticism.

For example, the imprisoned terrorists whose release Hamas demands in exchange for releasing Schalit have consistently responded rationally to Israeli threats. The Knesset is slowly debating a bill that would worsen prison conditions of terrorists. And the terrorists are worried. Their worry provoked them to demand that Hamas be more forthcoming with Schalit.
By the same token, were Israel to cut off electricity to Gaza - an act that is not merely lawful, but arguably required by international law - we could expect residents of Gaza to express a similarly rational demand to Hamas. That is, were Israel to weaken public support for Hamas, Hamas would be more likely to bow to Israel's will.

And if Hamas is vulnerable to public criticism, the Iranian regime is downright terrified of public criticism. Take the regime's behavior in the wake of the Turkish-Hamas flotilla campaign. In the days that followed Israel's bungled May 31 takeover of the Mavi Marmara terror ship, Iran announced it was sending two of its own ships to Gaza. Israel responded rationally and forthrightly. The government warned that any Iranian ship would be viewed as an enemy ship and Israel would respond in accordance with the rules of war.

As Iran expert Michael Ledeen has argued repeatedly, the Iranian regime is terrified of getting the Iranian people angry over its radical foreign policy. In light of its precarious standing with its own public, Israel's forthright threat of war brought the regime to its knees.

Last Thursday Hossein Sheikholdslam, the Iranian regime functionary responsible for the Gaza-bound ships told the Iranian news service IRNA that plans to send the ships were scrapped because Israel "sent a letter to the United Nations saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on [Israel] and it will confront it."

During the war with Iran's Hizbullah proxy in 2006, thousands of Iranians demonstrated against Hizbullah. They demanded that the regime invest its money in the local economy and not in Hizbullah and the Palestinians. Were Israel to present Schalit as an Israeli victim of the Iranian regime, it could provoke a similar popular outcry against Iran's support for Hamas.

The media-manipulated Schalits are not the only ones acting precisely against their own interests. The government is acting with similar madness in its relations with the Obama administration. Indeed, Netanyahu ended Israel's lawful economic sanctions against Hamas-controlled Gaza, (sanctions that served, among other things as a bargaining chip for freeing Schalit), because the Obama administration placed overwhelming pressure on him to do so.

Not wishing to let the Mavi Marmara crisis go to waste, US President Barack Obama has used it as a means to weaken Israel against Hamas. Obama announced that he is giving Hamas-controlled Gaza $400 million in US aid. He forced Netanyahu to end Israel's economic sanctions against the illegal Hamas regime. And he continues to threaten to abandon US support for Israel at the UN. Moreover, according to remarks by a senior Hamas terrorist to the London-based al Quds al Arabi newspaper on Friday, the Obama administration maintains direct ties to the Hamas leadership in Syria.

When Netanyahu entered office last spring his desire to appease Obama was understandable. At the time, he was operating under the hope that perhaps Obama could be appeased into ending his onslaught against the Jewish state. But the events of the past year have made clear that Obama is unappeasable . Every concession Israel has made to Obama has merely whetted the US President's appetite for more.

The policy implications of this state of affairs are clear. First, Israel must strive to weaken Obama. Since Israeli concessions to Obama strengthen him, Israel must first and foremost stop giving him concessions.

Weakening Obama does not involve openly attacking him. It means Israel should act in a way that advances its interests and forces Obama to reconsider the desirability of his current foreign policy.

Regionally, Israel should make common cause with the Kurds of Iran, Iraq and Syria who are now being assaulted by Iran, Turkey and Syria. Doing so is not simply the moral thing to do. It weakens Iran, Syria and Turkey and demonstrates that Obama's appeasement policies are harming those who love freedom and empowering those who hate it.

By the same token, Israel should do everything it can to strengthen the Iranian Green movement. Every anti-regime action in Iran - regardless of its size - harms the regime and therefore helps Israel. And every anti-regime action in Iran exposes the moral depravity and strategic idiocy of Obama's policy of appeasing the mullocracy.

As for the US domestic political realm, in Ambassador Michael Oren's all but schizophrenic recent statements about the Obama administration's policy towards Israel we may at last be witnessing an embrace of political sanity on the part of the government. For the past several months, Oren has acted as the Obama administration's most energetic cheerleader to the US Jewish community. Oren has repeatedly and wrongly reassured US Jewish audiences that Obama is a great friend of Israel, that his Democratic Party remains loyal to the US-Israel alliance and that the Republicans are wrong to claim that there is a difference between the two major US political parties when it comes to supporting Israel.

The pinnacle of Oren's pro-Obama campaign came with his interview last week with the Jerusalem Post. There he brought all of these false and counter-productive claims into the public realm. Apparently Oren's decision to make his adulation of the Obama administration public finally forced his bosses in Jerusalem to order him to cease, desist and do an about face.

And so, last week, Oren told a closed audience of Israeli diplomats the truth. Under Obama, Oren whispered, there has been a "tectonic rift" in US relations with Israel. While some of Obama's advisors are sympathetic to Israel, these advisors have no influence on Obama's positions on Israel. No doubt recognizing how silly his about face made him look, Oren tried to deny his statements at the Foreign Ministry. But it is hard to imagine anyone will take him seriously.

During his visit to the White House next week, Netanyahu should follow the path set by Oren's quickly leaked remarks. Netanyahu should abstain from praising Obama for his friendship and speak instead about the fact that the US-Israel alliance is vital for both countries' national security.

NETANYAHU SHOULD insist on the right to call on questioners at his joint appearance with Obama. And he should use those questions and those appearances to discuss why Israel's actions are not only legal and necessary for Israel, but vital for US national security. During his stay in the US, Netanyahu should discuss the global jihad, Islamic terrorism, the freedom loving Kurds and the freedom loving Iranian people every chance he gets. Indeed, he should create opportunities to discuss them.

Here we see a crucial point of convergence between the Schalit family march to Jerusalem and Netanyahu's trip to Washington. To increase the effectiveness of their efforts on behalf of Gilad, ahead of Netanyahu's visit to Washington, the marchers should split into two groups.

The first group should continue to Jerusalem and demand that Israel take a firmer stand against Hamas. The second group should walk to Tel Aviv and camp out outside the US Embassy. There they should demand that the administration end its contacts with Hamas, end its pressure on the Israeli government to strengthen Hamas, cancel Obama's plan to give an additional $400 million dollars in aid to Hamas and use the US's position on the UN Security Council to condemn Turkey for its material support for Hamas.

For too long, by allowing themselves to be led by our deranged media, Israeli citizens and governments alike have ignored the basic fact that the answer to every question is not more Israeli concessions. Contrary to what our tabloids would have us believe, surrender is only one option among many. It is time we try out some alternatives.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Socialist Government is One that Distrusts its Citizens

Daniel Greenfield

The definition of a socialist government is one that distrusts its citizens. It may distrust them in a "benevolent way", that is its leaders believe that the people are insufficiently competent to look after themselves, or it may distrust them in a "paranoid way", in that its leaders believe that the people are dangerous and must be rigidly controlled for the state and society to function along their guidelines. The practical difference between these two lies primarily in their viewpoints and attitudes, in how ruthless and undemocratic the advocates of socialism are willing to be when they don't get their way. To be a socialist is to assume that the people cannot care for themselves, that they cannot work or run businesses properly, that they cannot eat properly or shop for anything on their own, that they cannot care for their children or teach them, that they cannot choose their own beliefs in a marketplace of ideas or decide what their government should do. That they cannot decide which system of measurements to use, how to open a can of soda or throw a lawn dart on their own. That they cannot go to a doctor on their own or leave their driveway or raise a barn or so much as sneeze, without the enlightened instruction and overlordship of the nanny state.

And that is why we call it a nanny state. Adults do not need nannies, children or the incompetent do. A nanny state is a declaration by the rulers that the people cannot look after their own interests or make their own decisions. A people that willingly and enthusiastically accept the provisions of a nanny state are declaring their own unfitness to be citizens and manage their own affairs. A nanny state is a velvet gloved tyranny, the disenfranchisement of the people for their own supposed benefit.

Socialism reverses the political gains made against royalism and tyranny. It puts the people back in the box, tucks them in and then slams the cage door shut. Where revolutions were once fought to give the franchise to the people from a ruling elite, socialism reverses democracy in favor of an "enlightened" oligarchy. Where the growth of democracy that the people do not need a chosen few to rule over every aspect of their lives, socialism pats the foolish people on the head and promises to take care of them, if they promise to behave themselves and not make any trouble.

By prioritizing social benefits as an absolute moral good, socialists effectively displace freedom and democracy as the moral arbiters of a free society. If free health care is more important than the right to vote, it follows logically that a country with free health care is better off than one that has the right to vote. Every time liberals defend Cuba and tout its health care system, they are explicitly making this exact argument. The problem is that all too few people are willing to call them on it. Because that is exactly the undemocratic and totalitarian premise at the heart of socialism-- that government services are more important and more moral a thing, than democracy or freedom.

Small wonder that Obama and the Democratic party in the United States firmly refuse to hear the American people saying a loud and clear, "No" to their health care plans. Because you can't say "No" to a socialist. To do so is to brand yourself as either ignorant, extremist or greedy-- these are the only legitimate motives that the left will accept for opposing its policies. This is why socialists disenfranchise the public, because agreement with them is a redundant show of support, while opposition to them is counter-revolutionary activity instigated by rich white men who want to keep their grip on the country-- and is therefore illegitimate. Much like the Muslim Caliph Omar, who on capturing Alexandria, commanded that the Library of Alexandria be burned since if the contents of its books were to be found in the Koran they were redundant, and if not they were heretical.

This is a typically extreme worldview held by those who cannot tolerate the notion of people making choices that they disagree with. And that rigidity in a nutshell defines socialism, which insists that only its leaders and bureaucrats are capable of making the people's choices for them. Democracy is a redundant intrusion into a process which is held to be inherently correct because, like the Koran, it is based on the absolutely right philosophy. (And if you think this is an exaggeration, the left regularly purges its own ranks over philosophical differences, though generally not with firing squads as in the USSR.) Of course if your philosophy is absolutely right, your approach can't help but be absolutely correct. And when it fails, someone has to be blamed. Which is when the purges of the enemies of the state begin.

The inability to tolerate dissent is of course one of the more obvious signs of tyranny. Which translates easily into the need to impose your way by force. And the easiest way to do so is by becoming the government. The secular theology of socialism battles perpetually to create a perfect society against the fallen state of the people and the forces of right wing reaction. Naturally the only way to overcome both obstacles is through the use or threat of force.

Since socialism already assumes preemptively that the people are incapable of managing their own affairs or participating in the process, unless their choices are reduced so narrowly that they cannot help but make the right decision-- naturally there are times when the mob will have to be brought into line. And the counter-revolutionaries, who unlike the saintly revolutionaries, want nothing more than to greedily control everyone and stuff their faces with sugarplums, must of course be suppressed as well. Piously the socialists intone that one day such measures will no longer be needed, when every child for numberless generations has been processed through the maw of their cradle to grave propaganda system, and brainwashed to within an inch of his, her or it's life. But for now, it's oppress or be oppressed, in the black and white view of the country that they use to justify every lie, every dirty trick and every act of corruption.

To shield themselves against accusations that socialism is essentially a totalitarian and undemocratic system, its proponents maintain that government imposed controls are necessary in order to end the oppressive economic and social controls of the "elite", often defined by American liberals as "Rich White Men". The obvious absurdity is of course that the average liberal is himself a rich white man. But the left routinely fails to see the hypocrisy in this as its revolutions were traditionally run by the scions of the upper and upper middle class. Lenin's father was a member of the Russian nobility. Fidel Castro came from a wealthy family that owned its own sugar cane plantations and was connected to the Cuban government. Bill Ayers is the son of a man who sat on the boards of the biggest corporations in America.

But the socialist argument that we need them to protect us from the "elites" who would otherwise oppress us and deprive us of opportunities fails to hold water, especially as the people oppressing us and rationing our opportunities through oppressive taxation and quotas are in fact the socialists themselves. Stripped of its pretensions then, the socialist argument is essentially this. Give us power and we'll protect you from the other elites because our rule will be more favorable to you than theirs would. This sort of approach might have marginally held water in 19th century Europe, but completely falls flat today as liberals engage in a never-ending search for new "persecuted groups" they can adopt and protect, whether they have to import them through immigration or manufacture them through political correctness, for the sole reason of maintaining their monopoly on power.

Socialists have to define themselves as anti-elitists, precisely because they are elitists. They have to shout loudly that they are fighting for our rights, precisely because they are fighting to take away our rights. They have to claim that they are the only ones who will actually represent us, precisely because they are the least likely to represent us. In reality, the socialist cause is totalitarian and elitist, it does not credit the people with any rights except those granted to them in the name of social utility. They do not believe in bottom up democracy, unless they have already created and nurtured it from the top down with training and grant money to do exactly what they want. That is because the one thing socialists can never do is trust the people.

Erdogan: "Obama will ask Israel to apologize for flotilla"

Elder of Ziyon

From News.AZ:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday his gathering with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of a G20 summit meeting in Canada covered a wide array of issues, adding that the meeting was "very fruitful". "I can say that our meeting opened a way for a useful perspective for our future bilateral relations as well as for regional and world peace," Erdogan told reporters upon his arrival in the Turkish capital, Ankara, from Toronto.

Erdogan said he discussed with Obama issues including Iran's nuclear program, a deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid convoy, as well as Afghanistan and the Palestinian problem.

Responding to a question whether his meeting with the US president would make any contributions to the mending of Israeli-Turkish relations, Erdogan said Obama was in agreement with the Turkish premier that Israel should make an apology for the raid on the aid flotilla, Turkey's demand for redress and the lifting of Gaza blockade.

"Obama has expressed that he would convey these points to the Israeli prime minister who is set to visit to Washington on July 7," Erdogan said.

So is Erdogan telling the truth?

Hopefully, some reporter will ask this question in today's White House briefing.

"Still Determined"

Arlene Kushner

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, that is, with regard to carrying out the municipality's development plan, which will include the demolition of 22 illegally-built houses in Gan Hamelech, in Silwan. This in spite of major Arab rioting last night. Good going for the mayor, at least so far. Sorry that I cannot say the same for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The Border Police, it was reported today, will be holding a massive drill in Judea and Samaria this week aimed at dealing with an escalation in Israeli and Palestinian Arab violence. One of the scenarios being rehearsed is the situation that will ensue if the building moratorium is extended.

I would not say with certainty that Netanyahu has already decided that the freeze will be extended -- that he already knows he will give the nod to Obama when he visits Washington next week. That decision, one would guess, is going to be played out within a larger dynamic -- with various factors to be considered, such as how supportive the president shows himself to be on other issues and how hard Netanyahu's arm is twisted. But it is clear that a scenario in which the freeze is extended is being given weight as a distinct possibility.

How nice it would have been to read, simply, that the police were preparing for the eventuality of increased Palestinian Arab violence in response to the resumption of building in Judea and Samaria in late September. That, of course, is what should have been the case, given the prime minister's repeated insistence that the freeze will not be extended.


If Netanyahu does cave, my guess is that we will not know it right away: Our prime minister is not likely to return and say, "My fellow Israelis, I know I gave my word, but the threats were so ominous, or the deal offered so attractive, that I reversed myself while sitting in the Oval Office." Nah...

The pertinent information will come to us slowly, piecemeal. Perhaps there will be leaks and innuendoes. Or maybe the freeze will be continued de facto, with approvals for building held up, and awareness dawning after some measure of time.

While Netanyahu is in Washington, he will have a photo op with Obama and will smilingly tell reporters how wonderful his visit with the president was.


Indeed, the prediction is that Netanyahu will find a very warm welcome at the White House, for Obama is trying to undo the political damage that ensued as a result of his hostile attitude to Israel. There is a multitude of signs indicating a shift in how the administration is conducting itself with regard to Israel. Yet it's imperative that form and substance not be confused.

Commentator Isi Leibler, in his recent piece, "Netanyahu, Place not your trust in princes," addresses this very issue:

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to receive a red carpet reception from President Barack Obama at the White House combined with a reaffirmation about the 'unshakeable US-Israel alliance.' However we should not delude ourselves. It is clear that Obama’s recent charm campaign was primarily in response to pressure from the American people and in particular from Jewish Democratic supporters shocked into action by the administration’s increasingly negative approach toward Israel and the crass reception accorded to Netanyahu during his last visit.

"The bonhomie was intended to assuage domestic anger to avert loss of votes and funding for the forthcoming congressional elections. Even though administration officials, including Rahm Emanuel, conceded that they 'had screwed up the messaging' and are unlikely to repeat their previous boorish humiliation of Israel, there are no signs that the US administration is about to modify its policy."


One more dumb move:

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef. But he is also a convert to Christianity who worked with the Israeli Shin Bet (Security) for nine years, providing information on terrorists that averted attacks and saved numerous lives.

In the US for three years, he has had his request for asylum rejected because he alluded in his memoirs to the fact that he worked with Hamas. His book, "Son of Hamas," was published earlier this year; when he wrote it, he had no idea that it would sabotage his appeal for asylum. In spite of his explanation that his association with Hamas was undercover and that he was working to subvert Hamas, authorities came to the conclusion that he was a Hamas-supporting terrorist. Thus he is threatened with deportation.

Mosab was honored Wednesday night at a Washington DC dinner, at which the pro-Israel organization run by Sarah Stern, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), granted him a "Rays of Light in the Darkness" Award.

Mosab faces a death threat because of his renunciation of Islam.

This past week, his former Israeli handler, G. Ben-Itzhak, a Shin Bet agent, revealed his identity for the first time in order to speak on behalf of Mosab Yousef. "Mosab is not a terrorist! He risked his life every day in order to prevent [violence]," he told those present at the EMET dinner.

Ben-Itzhak is in the US in order to testify at Mosab's deportation hearing on June 30. "I need to come to the courthouse," he said, "and tell the judge the truth."


According to one documentary about Mosab Yousef, when he was asked if the Palestinians and Israel can live together, he replied: "There is no chance. Is there any chance for fire to co-exist with the water?"

It has been suggested that Obama would benefit from reading this book.


While I believe that the Lebanese ships may still be on their way, Iran has cancelled plans to send a flotilla to attempt to break the blockade of Gaza.

According to Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary general of the International Conference for the Support of the Palestinian Intifada:

"The Zionist regime has made the blockade a political issue and we do not wish to politicise this kind of humanitarian aid because the most important thing for us is to break the blockade of Gaza."

Cute, no?

He said the voyage was cancelled as Israel "had sent a letter to the United Nations saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on that regime and it will confront it.

"In order to deprive the Zionist regime of any excuse, the aid collected for the oppressed people of Gaza will be delivered to them by other means without mentioning the name of Iran."

There is a great deal going on behind the scenes, and I do not wish to speculate on exactly what did discourage the Iranians. Not yet, at any rate. What I will say is that things may not be as bad as we often feel they are. The fact of the matter is that Iran pulled back, unprepared to confront us -- our deterrence power must be OK.

With the emphasis on Gaza in recent weeks, there has been a resurgence of publicity here to bring home Gilad Shalit.
Right now, a march for Shalit, from the north to Jerusalem, is underway, led by Noam Shalit, who is accompanied by thousands.

I will not belabor this here. I've made my position clear over time. I, too, would dearly love to see this man brought home. But not -- not ever -- at the cost of releasing a thousand terrorists who would put many other Israeli civilians at risk and increase the likelihood of further kidnapping of soldiers to boot. We must not be blackmailed this way, and it cannot be Gilad Shalit at any cost.

So far, thankfully, no movement from our government on this. It has been made clear that a deal was offered six months ago, which would permit the release of 600 prisoners, but would not include those responsible for major terrorist operations. Certain Hamas people who would be released would be required to go somewhere other than Judea and Samaria -- it is felt their release to this area is sought in order to strengthen Hamas operations there.

This deal is not to Hamas's liking.

Unfortunately, the pressure on the government to bring Shalit's release at any cost may serve to strengthen Hamas resolve that if they hold out they can get what they want.


Obama is opposed to the release of prisoners in this deal. Not because he cares one iota about endangering Israelis, but because this would give Hamas a victory that would weaken Abbas. It would be very ironic indeed if Obama's opposition helped to maintain the starch in Netanyahu's spine on this issue.


I strongly recommend the video provided here:

This is an interview of Itamar Marcus, who heads Palestinian Media Watch, here in Israel, by Richard Landes, academic and author who is an associate professor at Boston U and spends part of his time in Israel. Landes coined the term "Pallywood, which means "productions staged by the Palestinians, in front of camera crews, for the purpose of promoting anti-Israel propaganda." Ignore the pitch to become a subscriber to PJTV and wait for the interview. The 16 minutes is well worth it.

In the course of discussing the need to pay attention to what PA leaders say to their own people in Arabic (something that the Obama administration apparently does not at all!), Marcus touches upon a great many important facts. The video ends with a clip of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, speaking in Arabic recently, and putting the lie to all the sweet and lovely "moderate" things he said while in the US to see Obama.

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