Monday, January 31, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood is the Enemy

Frank Gaffney

Suddenly, Washington is consumed with a question too long ignored: Can we safely do business with the Muslim Brotherhood?

The reason this question has taken on such urgency is, of course, because the Muslim Brotherhood (or MB, also known by its Arabic name, the Ikhwan) is poised to emerge as the big winner from the chaos now sweeping North Africa and increasingly likely to bring down the government of the aging Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak. In the wake of growing turmoil in Egypt, a retinue of pundits, professors and former government officials has publicly insisted that we have nothing to fear from the Ikhwan since it has eschewed violence and embraced democracy.

For example, Bruce Reidel, a controversial former CIA analyst and advisor to President Obama, posted an article entitled “Don’t Fear Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood” at the Daily Beast. In it, he declared: “The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced violence years ago, but its relative moderation has made it the target of extreme vilification by more radical Islamists. Al Qaeda’s leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, started their political lives affiliated with the Brotherhood but both have denounced it for decades as too soft and a cat’s paw of Mubarak and America.”

Then, there was President George W. Bush’s former press spokeswoman, Dana Perino, who went so far on January 28th as to tell Fox News “…And don’t be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This has nothing to do with religion.”

One reason we might be misperceiving the MB as no threat is because a prime source of information about such matters is the Muslim Brotherhood itself. As the Center for Security Policy’s new, best-selling Team B II report entitled, Shariah: The Threat to America found: “It is now public knowledge that nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB or a derivative organization. Consequently, most of the Muslim-American groups of any prominence in America are now known to be, as a matter of fact, hostile to the United States and its Constitution.”

In fact, for much of the past two decades, a number of these groups and their backers (including, notably, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal) have cultivated extensive ties with U.S. government officials and agencies under successive administrations of both parties, academic centers, financial institutions, religious communities, partisan organizations and the media. As a result, such American entities have been subjected to intense, disciplined and sustained influence operations for decades.

Unfortunately, the relationships thus developed and the misperceptions thus fostered are today bearing poisonous fruit with respect to shaping U.S. policy towards the unfolding Egyptian drama.

A notable example is the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). A federal judge in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial – which successfully prosecuted the nation’s largest terrorism financing conspiracy – found that CAIR was indeed a front for the Ikhwan’s Palestinian affiliate, Hamas. Nonetheless, Fox News earlier today interviewed the Executive Director of CAIR’s Chicago office, Ahmed Rehab, whom it characterized as a “Democracy Activist.”

True to form, Rehab called for the removal of Mubarak’s regime and the institution of democratic elections in Egypt. This is hardly surprising since, under present circumstances, such balloting would likely have the same result it did in Gaza a few years back: the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood and the institution of brutally repressive theocratic rule, in accordance with the totalitarian Islamic politico-military-legal program known as shariah.

An important antidote to the seductive notions being advanced with respect to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – and, for that matter, in Western nations like ours – by the Ikhwan’s own operatives, their useful idiots and apologists is the Team B II report. It should be considered required reading by anyone who hopes to understand, let alone to comment usefully upon, the MB’s real character and agenda.

For example, Shariah: The Threat to America provides several key insights that must be borne in mind in the current circumstances especially:

* “The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928. Its express purpose was two-fold: (1) to implement shariah worldwide, and (2) to re-establish the global Islamic State (caliphate).

* “Therefore, Al Qaeda and the MB have the same objectives. They differ only in the timing and tactics involved in realizing them.

* “The Brotherhood’s creed is: ‘God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.’”

* It is evident from the Creed, and from the Brotherhood’s history (and current activities)…that violence is an inherent part of the MB’s tactics. The MB is the root of the majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world today.

* The Muslim Brotherhood is the ‘vanguard’ or tip-of-the-spear of the current Islamic Movement in the world. While there are other transnational organizations that share the MB’s goals (if not its tactics) – including al Qaeda, which was born out of the Brotherhood – the Ikhwan is by far the strongest and most organized. The Muslim Brotherhood is now active in over 80 countries around the world.

Of particular concern must be the purpose of the Brotherhood in the United States and other nations of the Free World:

* “…The Ikhwan’s mission in the West is sedition in the furtherance of shariah’s supremacist agenda, not peaceful assimilation and co-existence with non-Muslim populations.”

* “The Ikhwan believes that its purposes in the West are, for the moment, better advanced by the use of non-violent, stealthy techniques. In that connection, the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to establish relations with, influence and, wherever possible, penetrate: government circles in executive and legislative branches at the federal, state and local levels; the law enforcement community; intelligence agencies; the military; penal institutions; the media; think tanks and policy groups; academic institutions; non-Muslim religious communities; and other elites.

* “The Brothers engage in all of these activities and more for one reason: to subvert the targeted communities in furtherance of the MB’s primary objective – the triumph of shariah.”

In short, the Muslim Brotherhood – whether it is operating in Egypt, elsewhere in the world or here – is our enemy. Vital U.S. interests will be at risk if it succeeds in supplanting the present regime in Cairo, taking control in the process not only of the Arab world’s most populous nation but its vast, American-supplied arsenal. It is no less reckless to allow the Brotherhood’s operatives to enjoy continued access to and influence over our perceptions of their true purposes, and the policies adopted pursuant thereto.

Obama Egypt Strategy Could Place US at Risk

Ken Timmerman

The Obama administration continues to turn up the heat on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after two years of quietly monitoring human rights abuses by his regime and doing nothing.

The rapid response of the White House to the protests in Egypt contrasts starkly with the Obama administration’s total silence during the first two weeks of the Green Movement protests in Iran in June 2009, even though the Iranian protesters openly called for U.S. support in their struggle to over-turn the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

At the time, Obama said the United States did not want to give the impression of interfering in Iran’s domestic politics.
"It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be,” Obama said after millions of Iranians defied the government for more than four days in massive street protests demanding that their votes be counted. “We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.”

The administration displayed no such restraint in responding to the massive street protests in Egypt this past week, and even seemed to time its statements in such a way as to spark additional protests.

“I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform — political reform, economic reform — is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt,” Obama said in a YouTube forum. “And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets.”

The very next day, millions of Egyptians received their marching orders during Friday prayers at mosques in Cairo and other major cities, and poured out into the streets in massive demonstrations that have rocked the Egyptian regime.

On Saturday, Mubarak announced that he was promoting his long-time intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman as his vice-president, a move that was coordinated between the White House and top Egyptian military officers who met with President Obama the day before in an effort to manage a peaceful hand-over of power.

Just hours later, the State Department dismissed Mubarak’s efforts, undercutting the very officers who thought they had struck a deal with the White House.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowly said in a Twitter message. “President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.”

The flurry of U.S. government statements against Mubarak and in favor of the protesters in Egypt have been described by some commentators as a clever attempt to convince the Egyptian people that the United States supports their struggle for civil and political rights, easing the transition to a pro-Mubarak government while retaining Egypt as an ally.

But even some of the administration’s strongest supporters have warned that Obama is playing with fire.

The administration’s support for the protesters “is a slide toward the unknown,” former New York Times editor Leslie H. Gelb wrote in Newsweek on Sunday. “Senior officials have no idea of exactly who these street protesters are, whether the protesters are simply a mob force incapable of organized political action and rule, or if more sinister groups hover in the shadows, waiting to grab power and turn Egypt into an anti-Western, anti-Israeli bastion.”

Most observers fear that the U.S. efforts to encourage the protest movement will lead to a behind-the-scenes takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-outlawed Islamist movement responsible for the assassination of Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, and that spawned Ayman al-Zawahri, No. 2 of al-Qaida.

Such a takeover in fact may be Obama’s intention, just as his intention during the post-election protests in Iran was to support the regime in place because he saw it as a potential partner in resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The Obama administration has taken numerous steps over the past two years to convince the Muslim Brotherhood that this White House no longer views them as an enemy.

Two months before Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, where he offered a “new beginning” to Muslims in their relations to the United States, he welcomed two members of the Egyptian group to the White House for quiet political consultations, according to the Egyptian army newspaper, Al Masry al-Ayoum.

He also lifted a ban on travel to the United States on Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Islamist scholar who is the grandson of the founder of the Brotherhood, and went out of his way to invite Muslim Brotherhood members of Egypt’s parliament to attend his Cairo speech.

During the April 2009 White House meeting, the unnamed Muslim Brotherhood leaders reassured Obama that a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt would “abide by all agreements Egypt has signed with foreign countries,” according to the Egyptian newspaper account. They also said they favored democracy and would support the U.S.-led war on terror.

But similar statements by Muslim Brotherhood in the past have regularly been parsed to mean the exact opposite of what they appeared to mean on the surface.

For example, the Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize Israel as a country, so their pledge to abide by Egypt’s agreements with “foreign countries” does not apply to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.

Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood does not consider groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah to be terrorist organizations, and calls al-Qaida attacks on U.S. servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan acts of legitimate resistance against a foreign occupier.

Statements in favor of free elections do not transform the Muslim Brotherhood into a democratic group, says a former top Israeli military intelligence analyst, Dr. Mordechai Hadar.

“Democracy is not just about elections,” Hadar told congressional staffers last week in Washington. “It’s also about rights — women’s rights, minority rights, freedom for gays and lesbians."

Hadar had warnings for the Israeli Embassy: “If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Egypt, it means the end of the peace treaty [with Israel], and the life expectancy of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo will be calculated in minutes."

Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, the former secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that he is working hand in glove with the Muslim Brotherhood on CNN’s “GPS” program with Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.

“I have been reaching out to them, that we need to include them, that they are a part of Egyptian society,” ElBaradei said.

Read more on Muslim Brotherhood Throws Support to ElBaradei.

ElBaradei tried to downplay the Brotherhood’s radical agenda, and dismissed any hint that Egypt would go the way of Iran in 1979, when the former shah’s regime was replaced by an Islamic dictatorship.

Even if the Egyptian army agrees to allow ElBaradei to head some form of transition government, “he is likely at best to be an interim figure — putting a face acceptable to the West on a government he doesn’t control — until either the army or the Brotherhood takes over,” says Shoshana Bryen, senior director for security policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Read more on Obama Egypt Strategy Could Place US at Risk
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

Huckabee in Knesset: "Construction Freeze is Irrational"

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

Republican presidential frontrunner Mike Huckabee visited the Knesset today, and warned that Islamic fundamentalism could threaten not only Israel, but also the entire world.

Huckabee took part in a special session of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, centering on the challenges of anti-Semitism that face Israel and the Diaspora. egarding the situation in Egypt, Huckabee said, “a threat upon Israel is a threat upon all those in the world who love peace and freedom... Radical Islamic jihadism is an anti-freedom threat.“

"Good Israeli-U.S. relations are not just an option,” Huckabee told the MKs. “They are rather a necessity for both sides, and an obligation upon all of us in the American government.” He said he would continue to work to preserve the Nation of Israel’s historic right to live in the Land of Israel.

"I don’t see why bedrooms for their children built by Jews on a hilltop in Samaria pose a threat to world peace," Huckabee said. "It's the lack of construction that is irrational, not the opposite... Those who aim their rifles at Jewish babies are irrational; the danger is not the weapons, but the hatred behind the weapons."

Against Giving Land

"Why should Israel give any territory to people who don’t recognize its right to exist?" the American candidate asked.

Committee chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud) attacked U.S. President Barack Obama’s Middle East vision, outlined in his famous Cairo University speech in June ’09. “Obama’s vision has failed,” Danon said. “It led to the toppling of the Hariri regime in Lebanon, and the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria has led the Palestinians to believe that if they received a finger, they’ll be able to receive the whole hand. Bringing democracy to Arab countries has led to anarchy in Egypt. Obama must understand that in the Middle East, you have to speak the language of the Middle East.”

MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovitz (Israel Our Home) praised Huckabee for having spoken "very Zionistically," adding that there are some Israelis who could learn from him.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) added that the developments in Egypt show that "the conflict in this region is not a matter of territory [as Israel has already given Egypt all the territory it won from Egypt in various wars - ed.], but simply Islam against Judaism... The issue now is not the 1967 borders, but the very formation of the state in 1948."

Voight: Torah Has All the Answers

Former Gov. Huckabee is being accompanied on this, his 15th visit to Israel, by known Zionist figures Dr. Joseph Frager, Dr. Paul Brody and Ms. Odeleya Jacobs, as well as by actor Jon Voight, who told the MKs, "The Jews have given the world the Torah, which includes every possible answer to your life’s needs... I witnessed the victims of barbaric Palestinian attacks, and it is outrageous that the world accepts this barbarism as a means of attaining political goals such as a state."

Why We Should Fear the Moslem Brothers

Karin McQuillan

As we follow the unfolding story in Egypt, we are torn between hope and fear, hope that democracy will gain a toehold, fear that the fundamentalist Moslem Brothers could take control of Egypt. Perhaps you have heard the Moslem Brothers are the oldest and largest radical Islamic group, the grandfather of Hezbollah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda.

What you haven't been told is this: the Moslem Brothers were a small, unpopular group of anti-modern fanatics unable to attract members, until they were adopted by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich beginning in the 1930s. Under the tutelage of the Third Reich, the Brothers started the modern jihadi movement, complete with a genocidal program against Jews. In the words of Matthias Kuntzel, "The significance of the Brotherhood to Islamism is comparable to that of the Bolshevik Party to communism: It was and remains to this day the ideological reference point and organizational core for all later Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and Hamas." What is equally ominous for Jews and Israel is that despite Mubarak's pragmatic co-existence with Israel for the last 30 years, every Egyptian leader from Nasser, through Sadat, to Mubarak, has enshrined Nazi Jew-hatred in mainstream Egyptian culture, out of both conviction and political calculation. Nasser, trained by Nazis as a youth, spread the genocidal conspiracy theories of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, making it a best seller throughout the Arab world. On the Ramadan following 9/11, Mubarak presided over a 30-week long TV series dramatizing the Elders and its genocidal message.

It is impossible to assess the danger posed by a takeover of Egypt today by the Moslem Brothers without knowing that Nazism launched the Brothers and is still at their core. This response to modernity and to Jews was not predetermined by Egyptian history or culture. It was Germany under Hitler that changed the course of history for Egypt and the Middle East.

How do we know all this? We know it because the Third Reich was a meticulous keeper of records. We have the memos, the planning documents, the budgets, even photos and films of the Reich's spectacularly success campaign, implemented by the Moslem Brothers, to turn the Middle East into a hotbed of virulent Jew-hatred. We have the minutes, the photo and the memo of understanding, when Hitler and the head of the Moslem Brothers in Palestine, the Mufti of Jerusalem, shook hands on a plan for a Final Solution in the Middle East.

We have the records of this meeting, in which Hitler and the head of the Moslem Brothers in Palestine shook hands on a Final Solution for the Middle East - years before the creation of Israel.

The Moslem Brothers helped Hitler succeed in genocide by slamming shut the door to safety in Palestine. This was a key part of the success of the Final Solution. The anti-Jewish riots in Palestine that lead the British to cave to Arab pressure and shut off Jewish escape are well known -- how many of us know they were funded by Hitler? Winston Churchill protested the closing of Palestine to the Jews in the House of Commons, arguing against the appeasement of Nazi-funded Arab violence :

"So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population. ...We are now asked to submit, and this is what rankles most with me, to an agitation which is fed with foreign money and ceaselessly inflamed by Nazi and by Fascist propaganda."

Who knows how many Jews would have escaped Hitler if the Jewish National Home in Palestine had remained open to them?

We do know that without the work of Hitler's allies, the Moslem Brothers, many signs indicate that Israel would have been a welcome neighbor in the Middle East, but this path was closed off by Moslem Brotherhood terrorism. This is not ‘ancient history.' According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yasser Arafat (born Mohammed Al-Husseini, in Cairo) adopted the name Yasser to honor the Moslem Brothers' terror chief, who threw moderate Palestinians into pits of scorpions and snakes, eliminated the entire Nashashibi family of Jerusalem because they welcomed Jews into Palestine, and drove forty thousand Arabs into exile. The corpses of their victims would be left in the street for days, a shoe stuck in their mouth, as a lesson for any Arab who believed in tolerating a Jewish homeland. Arafat as a member of the Moslem Brothers was directly trained by Nazi officers who were invited to Egypt after the fall of Hitler in Europe.

Like the pro-democracy demonstrators out in the streets of Cairo this week, immediately after World War I, Egypt was filled with hopes for developing a modern, tolerant society. The Egyptian revolution of 1919 united the country's Moslems, Christians and Jews around the slogan, "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood." The constitution of 1923 was completely secular, establishing a constitutional monarchy. It took Western democracy as a model and worked for the equal status of women. Jews were an accepted part of public life. There were Jewish members of parliament. The Zionist movement was accepted with "considerable sympathy," because the government's priority was to maintain good relations between the three most important religious groups - Moslems, Jews and Christian Copts. Today the Jews are gone and the Copts are viciously persecuted. But in 1919, there was even an Egyptian section of the International Zionist Organization. Its founder, Leon Castro, a Jew, was also the spokesman of the largest Egyptian political party, the Wafd, related to the largest opposition party taking part in this week's demonstrations.

When in March 1928, the charismatic preacher Hassan al-Banna founded the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt, it was a flop. It promoted world domination by Islam and the restoration of the Caliphate, focusing on a complete subjugation of women. In its first decade, the Moslem Brothers attracted only 800 members.

Then Hitler ascended to power. A branch of the Nazi party was set up in Cairo. The Egyptian government was told that if they did not begin to persecute their Jews, Germany would boycott Egyptian cotton. When the government caved and began a press campaign and discriminatory measures against Jews, they were rewarded by Germany becoming the second largest importer of Egyptian goods. The Egyptian public was impressed by the propaganda about Germany's economic progress and impressive Nazi mass marches. The pro-fascist Young Egypt movement was founded in 1933. Abdel Nasser, later Egypt's most famous leader, was a member and remained loyal to Nazi ideology for the rest of his career. During the war there was a popular street song in the Middle East, "Allah in heaven, Hitler on earth."

In the 1930's, the Third Reich poured men, money, weapons and propaganda training into the Moslem Brotherhood. It was the Reich that taught the fundamentalists to focus their anger on the Jews instead of women. By war's end, thanks entirely to Hitler's tutelage and direct support, the brotherhood had swelled to a million members and Jew-hatred had become central to mainstream Arab culture. Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini listened daily to the Nazi propaganda broadcast from Berlin by Moslem Brother Haj Amin al-Husseini. So did every Arab with a radio, throughout the war, as it was the most popular programming in the Middle East. Thanks to Hitler, the Moslem Brothers enshrined antisemitism as the main organizing force of Middle East politics for the next 80 years.

Egyptian society has lived in Hitler's world of hate ever since. According to leading expert on the Third Reich's fusion with Islamism in Egypt, Matthias Kunztel, "On this point (Jews), the entire Egyptian society has been Islamized. In Egypt the ostracism and demonization of Jews is not a matter of debate, but a basic assumption of everyday discourse. As if the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty had never been signed, Israel and Israelis are today totally it lawyers, journalists, doctors or artists...all Egyptian universities, sports associations, theatres and orchestras." "If there is one theme in contemporary Egypt which unites Islamists, Liberals, Nasserites and Marxists, it is the collective fantasy of the common enemy in the shape of Israel and the Jews, which almost always correlates with the wish to destroy Israel."
In launching the Moslem Brother's modern jihadi movement, Hitler did far more than enshrine antisemitism in the Middle East. As if some kind of divine punishment, the creation of jihadism also sabotaged the move towards modernity and representative government, ruining hopes for freedom and prosperity for the Arab people. The Brothers were the excuse for Mubarak's 30 years of emergency rule. The Brothers were central to both PLO and Hamas, killing all hope for peaceful coexistence and prosperity for the Palestinian people. They had an early role in founding the Ba'ath Party in Syria and Iraq, turning those countries over to kleptocratic tyrants. Moslem Brothers taught Osama bin Laden, and their philosophy is considered the foundational doctrine of al-Qaeda.

Egypt and the Failure of the Obama Doctrine

Heritage Foundation

Hundreds of Egyptians determined to drive President Hosni Mubarak from power spent all last night in Tahrir Square to keep the military from taking over the plaza. Today marks the seventh day of unrest in Egypt as the U.S. State Department began chartering evacuation flights for thousands of U.S. citizens stranded in the country. The longer the protests continue to rage, the more danger there will be that the army will wither into the crowds, throwing Egypt—and the region—into potentially violent chaos. On Sunday, the military raised its presence, sending a column of tanks to enter Tahrir Square and buzzing the crowds with fighter jets. These actions came a day after the country’s most notorious prisons, Abu Zaabal and Wadi Natroun, were emptied of criminals and Islamic militants; uniformed police forces have all but disappeared (but appear to be trickling back to their posts today). Only the army and roving bands of armed vigilantes are in charge. With all but a few businesses closed and the economy at a complete standstill, it is unclear how long this standoff can last. One banner in Tahrir Square read: “The army has to choose between Egypt and Mubarak.”

There is a danger that the protests could lead to less, not greater, liberty in Egypt. While many of the groups organizing the protests (such as the April 6 Movement) do use pro-democracy rhetoric, there are powerful forces in the country that harbor Islamist goals that are incompatible with genuine democracy, including the anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood. As Egypt’s biggest and best-organized political group, the Brotherhood will be well-positioned to hijack a revolt.

Some in the West are hoping that former IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei can emerge as a leader of the opposition. There are even reports that the Muslim Brotherhood may endorse ElBaradei’s leadership. But ElBaradei’s hold on power is extremely weak. The New York Times reports that the crowd’s reaction to a Sunday speech by ElBaradei was mixed, with one Muslim Brotherhood supporter telling the Times: “ElBaradei doesn’t live here and doesn’t know us. We need a leader who can understand Egyptians.” For his part, ElBaradei seems completely out of touch with what the Brotherhood represents, telling ABC’s Christiane Amanpour: “The Muslim Brotherhood is in no way extremist.”

The Obama Administration’s response so far has been slow and they have sent mixed signals. On Friday, Vice President Joe Biden denied that President Mubarak was a dictator and stated that Mubarak should not step aside. And on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” But yesterday she appeared on Fox News and urged the start of an “orderly transition” to bring about a “democratic, participatory government” while stopping short of calling for Mubarak’s ouster.

The Obama Administration has been slow to embrace calls for liberty in Egypt is completely consistent with the Obama Doctrine as applied in the Middle East. When the Iranian people rose against the regime in Tehran in the wake of a disputed national election, Obama offered virtually no support for the cries for freedom. He was too committed to his engagement strategy with the Iranian regime, believing his “charm offensive” would be enough to deter them from pursuing nuclear weapons. Those efforts have completely failed. Nevertheless, the “playing nice initiative” with Tehran fell flat. Today, the regime is more aggressive than ever—backing a terrorist takeover of the government in Lebanon, snubbing Western nuclear negotiators, and promoting an Islamist agenda across the region. As Elliott Abrams, who coordinated the Bush Administration’s Middle East policy at the National Security Council, wrote in The Washington Post:

This has been the greatest failure of policy and imagination in the administration’s approach: Looking at the world map, it sees states and their rulers, but has forgotten the millions of people suffering under and beginning to rebel against those rulers. “Engagement” has not been the problem, but rather the administration’s insistence on engaging with regimes rather than with the people trying to survive under them.

To give Egyptians the greatest possible prospects for liberty, the Obama Administration should change course and press any government that emerges to:

* Pledge to minimize the use of force and the loss life in its efforts to restore order;
* Agree to open up the political system to allow meaningful participation by Egyptian citizens in forming a representative government; and
* Restore Internet service and access to the world.

The Obama Administration should review U.S. assistance to Egypt and make further assistance contingent upon undertaking these actions.

Quick Hits:

* Moody’s Investors Service cut its rating on Egypt’s sovereign debt on Monday, saying the government might damage its already weak finances by increasing social spending.
* South Sudan has voted to secede from the north.
* Pakistan has doubled its deployed nuclear weapons over the past several years.
* President Obama’s science czar John Holdren said there’s a need to “educate” GOP climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill.
* According to Gallup, about seven in 10 adults say it is important that Republican leaders in Congress take the Tea Party movement’s positions and objectives into account as they address the nation’s problems.

The Middle East’s Intifada

Robert Spencer

Now that the Muslim Brotherhood has begun talks with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei to form a national unity government after the fall of Mubarak, which apparently all concerned expect to be imminent, the character of the Egyptian revolution has become clearer. Whether or not the majority of demonstrators were pro-Sharia, the Brotherhood was the sole entity in Egypt capable of constituting an organized and energized vanguard that could put an ideological cast on the rapidly unfolding revolt. And so Egypt now stands on the brink of installing in power a group that wants to see it become an Islamic state. Many Western analysts have welcomed the demonstrations currently roiling Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East as an outpouring of democratic sentiment against repressive authoritarian rulers – and that they are. But it is no coincidence that Islamic supremacist pro-Sharia leaders and groups are also applauding these demonstrations. They know that if the people truly rule in the Middle East, so will Islamic law (Sharia). For belying the widespread assumption in the West that Islamic supremacists, whether violent or stealthy, represent only a tiny minority of extremists among Muslims, in reality the imperative for Islamic rule (which is also the ultimate goal of jihad terror attacks) enjoys broad popular support among Muslims.

It thus came as no surprise that when Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled from power and fled to Saudi Arabia, Rached Ghannouchi, the London-based leader of the banned Tunisian pro-Sharia party, the Tunisian Renaissance Party (Hizb al-Nahdah), quickly dubbed the Tunisian uprising an “intifada,” claimed it as a victory for Islam, and returned to the country. In Egypt, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who has the backing of the pro-Sharia Muslim Brotherhood, adopted the same language, warning that “if the regime does not step down, the people’s Intifada will continue.”
The word intifada in Arabic signifies resistance to oppression, but in this case the oppression that Ghannouchi and others, possibly including ElBaradei, had in mind was clearly that of secular rule and the failure of Ben Ali, Mubarak and other Arab rulers to implement Islamic law fully. The internationally influential Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, also applauded the demonstrations; a website linked to him last week posted a chapter of his 2009 book Laws of Jihad, including this passage: “The laws of Islam instruct us to… oppose the tyrant… All types of oppression [including] of subjects and peoples by their rulers — are reprehensible and forbidden, and jihad must be waged against them.”

In Iran, the Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi claimed that the Iranian Islamic Revolution was the model for the new demonstrations: “Today, as a result of the gifts of the Islamic revolution in Iran, freedom-loving Islamic peoples such as the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt and nearby Arab countries are standing up to their oppressive governments.” He praised the Egyptian demonstrators, asserting that what they were doing was “based on the principles” of revolution that installed the Islamic regime in Tehran in 1979.
Likewise, when the demonstrations first began in Tunisia, pro-Sharia MP’s in Kuwait applauded “the courage of the Tunisian people,” and Abdelmalek Deroukdal, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, hailed the revolution as a jihad and expressed solidarity with the Tunisians. In Gaza, the jihadist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad were both thrilled at events in Tunisia. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hailed the victory for democracy, and Gaza Foreign Minister Fathi Hammad emphasized that “we are with the Tunisians in choosing their leaders, no matter what sacrifices it takes.”

Islamic Jihad praised the Tunisian people for liberating themselves “through blood, sacrifices and the expression of free will,” adding ominously that the toppling of Ben Ali was “a message to Arab and Islamic countries to pay attention to the aspirations of their people that are rejecting hegemony and tyranny before it is too late.” Islamic Jihad held a rally in Gaza City, featuring hundreds of jihadists waving Tunisian flags festooned with the words “Revenge against tyranny.”

With Islamic supremacism comes Islamic anti-Semitism, and that abundantly true in the case of these demonstrations. Islamic Jihad spokesman Dawud Shehab sounded a drearily familiar note in accusing the Ben Ali regime of maintaining “suspicious ties” with Israel. In Egypt, meanwhile, demonstrators toted signs depicting Hosni Mubarak with a Star of David drawn on his forehead. CNN’s Nic Robertson, interviewing demonstrators on a street in Alexandria, Egypt, found several who explained that they hated Mubarak for the uneasy peace he maintained with Israel. “Israel is our enemy,” one said flatly, explaining why she wanted Mubarak to go. Another added, “If people are free, they’re gonna destroy Israel. The country who controls the United States is Israel.”

Iran’s PressTV interviewed a lawyer, Marwan al-Ashaal, in Cairo; al-Ashaal also ascribed much of the popular resentment of Mubarak to his non-belligerence toward Israel: “Currently the Egyptians demand a new rule for the country, a new government, a new leader. The American-Egyptian relationships were based on Israeli security and I think Mubarak has been very dedicated to Israeli security more even than to his own people’s security or the national interests.”

The American Left and the Crisis in Egypt

David Horowitz

The Mubarak dictatorship is crumbling, the Muslim Brotherhood is warning that regimes will fall all over the Middle East and the radical left in America and internationally is cheering them on. Of course. The unholy alliance between the radical secular left and the forces of the Islamic jihad was forged a long time ago in the crucial of the Palestinian Islamic jihad against Israel and the West. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood as are the Muslim Students Association, CAIR and every major Muslim organization in America. The MSA and the pro-Palestinian left was part of the coalition of radical organizations that defended the Saddam regime during the lead up to the Iraq war and was on the steering committee of the International Answer demonstrations. Yassir Arafat was one of Saddam’s leading cheerleaders when Iraq tried to swallow Kuwait, triggering the first Gulf War. The roots of the alliance we see shaping up in the Egyptian struggle are deep. We saw the unholy alliance at work in the Hamas inspired campaign to break the Gaza blockade. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were leaders of the American wing of the Hamas coalition against the blockade and went to Gaza to meet with Hamas shortly before the terrorist Flotilla was intercepted by Israeli forces. The Gaza blockade was jointly instituted by Israel and Egypt – by the Mubarak regime in Egypt. Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood’s army. If the Muslim Brotherhood topples the Mubarak regime, Hamas’s war against the Jews will be immeasureably strengthened. The radical left in America and internationally is committed to Hamas and its genocidal campaign against the Jews and its general war against the United States. That is why the fate of Egypt in this crisis resonates for all of us.
And if this story is correct and the snake Mohammed ElBaradei forms a national unity government with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Brotherhood will be the new government of Egypt.

When Good Muslims Go Bad

Lt. Colonel James Zumwalt, USMC (ret)

As we struggle to understand an Islamic extremist mindset that influences followers to abandon all sense of humanity in a bid to establish a world order ruled in accordance with 7th century sharia law, it is important to recognize when and why this happens. For there is a definitive line over which a good Muslim, gone bad, steps in committing himself to the Islamist cause.

To best understand, one need heed the experience of would-be Islamist Tawfik Hamid. An Egyptian doctor now living in the US under a pseudonym, Hamid lectures on the extremist mindset and how it came into play in trying to recruit him as a young medical student. He was approached by members of the Islamofascist group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyah who visited him and other students daily to develop a rapport.

Tawfik Hamid

He remembers the indoctrination starting slowly. “Why do you think Allah blessed Saudi Arabia with such vast wealth,” his handlers would ask. Without waiting for a response, they answered, “To encourage the revival of Islam.” But, as the indoctrination continued and intensified, Hamid remembers an admonishment he received—and has never forgotten since.

Hamid regularly attended prayers with his handlers at a nearby mosque where he listened to “fire and brimstone” sermons. The imam preached that those who failed to be true believers would suffer an afterlife of torment and pain, extolling how boiling water would be poured down upon non-believers, consuming their skin. Afterward, Hamid questioned some of the imam’s statements. In a response that goes to the crux of Islamofascist indoctrination, his handler sternly warned, “If you start to think for yourself, you will become an infidel!”

Hamid immediately realized this brand of Islam demanded followers surrender all independent thought, blindly serving religious masters enforcing upon Muslims a lifestyle mandated under sharia law—i.e., Allah’s will—as interpreted by them alone. This was a line Hamid was unwilling to cross—leading him to abandon the cause and go into hiding.

The late Western 20th century Islamic law scholar Joseph Schacht described sharia as the “canon law of Islam,” tracing the term’s origin to verses in the Koran. According to Islamists, it mandates that life be lived by believers the same way it was lived by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century—with draconian punishments imposed for failing to do so.

Schacht explained, while sharia is representative of “Islamic thought and forms the nucleus of Islam itself,” it is difficult to modernize its application due to salient characteristics of the law creating insurmountable obstacles to doing so. Schacht wrote, “Allah’s law is not to be penetrated by…intelligence…i.e., man has to accept it without criticism, with its apparent inconsistencies and its incomprehensible decrees, as wisdom into which it is impossible to (inquire). One must not look in it for causes in our sense, nor for principles; it is based on the will of Allah which is bound by no principles, therefore evasions are considered as a permissible means put at one’s disposal by Allah himself.”

Many factors relative to practicing Islam today raise issues for those seeking to be sharia law-compliant:

- Muslims believe the Koran was revealed by Allah to Muhammad via the Archangel Gabriel in the early 7th century; but it is extremely difficult to live life in the 21st century based on a lifestyle memorialized in a 7th century holy book—raising issues of interpretation.
- As it is impermissible for man to interpret Allah’s words, it is difficult for followers to resolve conflicting interpretations they have on Allah’s intended wisdom in a particular verse, relative to 21st century life.
- Where followers need guidance in such situations, they turn to their religious leader; but, as no Islamic equivalent to the Vatican’s Pope exists to ensure uniformity of guidance on an issue, any learned religious leader can issue his own interpretation—thus defeating uniformity and only creating more confusion among followers.
- Because followers are told they cannot use independent thought, they cannot exercise their own reason to determine what Allah would want them to do—leaving them to follow their religious leader’s interpretation.

These factors converge to create mass confusion, thus making compliance with sharia a continuing exercise in hurdling hypocrisies generated by it.

Such hypocrisy was shown with the death of an innocent merchant in Baghdad soon after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. He made his living by making and selling ice to the public. He was approached by extremists who warned him, as Muhammad did not have ice in the 7th century, that he had to terminate the activity. Since it was the only financial means of support for his family, the merchant continued selling ice. The extremists returned and killed him, doing so with AK-47 rifles—which also did not exist in Muhammad’s time.

Another example of hypocrisy appears to have been lost upon those Muslims who have surrendered their independent thought. While Islamist imams encourage them to become suicide bombers and target Allah’s enemies (the victims of which bombings often include more believers than non-believers), there is no recorded case of an imam ever practicing what he preaches by donning a suicide bomber’s vest himself—or, for that matter, of the children of an imam doing so. Radical imams “talk the talk” yet prove reluctant to “walk the walk”—a result apparently reached by their exercise of the independent thought they bar followers from using.

Stained glass image of the Four Chaplains

Contrast this example set by Islamist clerics failing to practice what they preach to that set by “The Four Chaplains” of World War II fame. These four religious leaders—two Protestant pastors, a Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi—were onboard a US troop ship sunk by a German submarine. With insufficient lifejackets for all, the four chaplains surrendered theirs so others might live. As the ship went down, survivors recalled seeing the four men-of-the-cloth, standing arm-in-arm, each praying in his own way for the survival of the others onboard fighting for their lives. Having talked the talk about the value of human life, the four walked the walk as the final act of their lives played out.

There is an ongoing debate over what causes good Muslims to go bad—i.e., whether a lack of education is a factor. Since the 9/11 terrorists were all educated, it is argued by some that lack of education is not a factor. But it is important to remember the 9/11 terrorists were educated within Arab educational systems. primarily focusing on rote memorization of the Koran and not on stimulating creative thought. This is underscored in a study done several years ago by China to identify the top 500 universities in the world. Not a single Arab university made the list.

There are other indicators a lack of education—and thus the absence of the creativity to which it gives rise—is a factor.

A good measure of any society’s creativity is to examine the number of industrial patents it has filed. A review of patents filed by all 22-member Arab League nations during the period 1980-2000 is most telling as a meager 400 filings were recorded. Compared to South Korea—an evolving democracy during that same timeframe with one-sixth the population—the numbers spell out the story of what a people’s unbridled independent thought can achieve as more than 15,000 patents were filed. (The filing of so few Arab patents is particularly revealing if one considers the fact the American inventor Thomas Edison alone received more than a thousand during his lifetime.)

Another indicator of a society’s creativity, and thus its underlying education level, is the quantity of products sold for export. If one factors oil out of the equation, all the Arab League nations together export fewer products than the country of Finland.

Even Arab scholars recognize the Arab world’s lack of economic success. In the United Nation’s Development Program’s “Arab Development Report 2002,” they reached some startling conclusions as to why. They determined: (1) for the prior 20 years, per capita income growth in the Arab Bloc averaged a stagnant 0.5%--lowest in the world except for sub-Saharan Africa; (2) unemployment was three times the world average; and (3) there were three deficits serving as serious obstacles to human development in the region including (a) a lack of freedom (the Freedom Index ranks the Bloc last in civil liberties), (b) a lack of empowerment of women (half cannot write) and (c) a lack of knowledge.

A lack of education begets a lack of independent thought, which begets a lack of creativity, which begets a lack of economic vitality, which begets an atmosphere of hopelessness. Such an atmosphere then provides fertile ground within which Islamists can plant their extremist seed to nurture others to follow.

Benjamin Franklin noted, “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” Unfortunately, for Islamist followers who cross over the line—abandoning their independent thought—that responsibility is the furthest thing from their mind.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (ret) is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the US invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields" and frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues."

Obama Loses the Middle East

Daniel Greenfield

It's no coincidence that major revolutions against Western backed governments have occurred under weak American presidents. The Iranian revolution against the Shah happened on Jimmy Carter's watch. The current violence in Tunisia and Egypt is taking place under Obama. And the timing is quite interesting. Revolts which coincided with a new opposition congress almost suggest that they were scheduled for a time when Obama would be at his politically weakest. Additionally the 2010 defeats would have indicated to the Iranian regime that they might only have a 2 year window in which to act before Obama is replaced by an unknown, but probably more conservative politician. A "Now or Never" moment. The Iranian Revolution might never have happened under Reagan. But Carter's weakness, left wing politics and contempt for the very notion of defending American interests made it possible. Similarly despite attempts by some Bush advisers to take credit for Tunisia and Egypt, it is unlikely that they would have taken place on Bush's watch. Not because the Bush administration was so omnipotent, but because it had regional credibility. The general perception was that the Bush Administration was on alert and supportive of allies. That is not at all the regional perception of the Obama Administration which doesn't seem to know what an ally is.

Obama's mistreatment of the UK, Israel and Honduras, the alienation of Karzai and continuing humiliation at the hands of China and Russia through diplomatic insults, showed weakness and stupidity. The Iranian takeover of the region is premised on that incompetence. Lebanon was a test. The next step was Tunisia. Then Egypt.

Iran has three major obstacles to regional dominance. Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Of these three, Egypt with its radicalized population, great poverty and limited influence in Washington D.C. was the most vulnerable. Any overthrow of Mubarak will move the Muslim Brotherhood closer to taking power. But for Iran the priority is to take Egypt out of the game. Whatever happens in Egypt, it will weaken the country. And what weakens Egypt, only strengthens Iran.

Turkey and Syria are part of Iran's regional coalition. Jordan appears to be leaning that way. Lebanon has been taken over. Iraq is set to fall when America leaves. If Egypt falls, that just leaves Saudi Arabia and Israel in the way. The Saudis will face domestic unrest, possibly from that alliance with Al-Qaeda that Bin Laden originally rejected. And there's a nuke with Israel's name on it somewhere in Iran. All this has happened because the Obama Administration has been too weak, confused and incompetent to stand for anything.

Iran is showing us its cards now, knowing that there's very little we will do about it. Its plans are moving forward. Ours are not only going nowhere, but actually helping the enemy.

Why did the Second Iranian revolution fail, while the revolts in Tunis and even Egypt seem to be gaining some traction? One element is foreign backing. No one outside the country provided support to the Iranian protesters. But the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt have not only Iranian backing, but also Western support. We provided training and political support to the "liberal" Egyptian pawns of the Islamists like El Baradei. And even now we're on the verge of endorsing a provisional government under a man who is allied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran's backers in Russia and China did not in any way indicate a loss of support during the protests in its cities. But Obama has made it muddily clear that he doesn't really support Mubarak, certainly not Ben Ali. Rather than endorsing one side or the other, he tried to play both sides. A non-committal statement that communicates that we will support whoever wins. Which means that unlike Russia and China, we don't support the current regime. That withdrawal of support from our allies, translates into a win for the opposition. It's a tacit boost to efforts to overthrow the government.

The key determinant of whether a revolution will succeed in ousting a government is its staying power. The key players who make or break a revolution rarely go out into the street waving banners, at least not until they have an armed escort and the foreign photographers who conveniently snap photos of their best side. Those key players are the power brokers, tribal leaders, heads of the army and the intelligence services and leaders of various influential associations who don't choose sides until they have a pretty good idea which side will prevail.

The game of revolution is really about two sides trying to tote up how much support they each have. One side is the government, the other side is usually a coalition of factions who are pooling their resources in order to overthrow it. That leads to odd alliances and strange marriages between leftists and Islamists. Once the government is out, then the process will begin again with the coalition members playing the same game against each other.

The game takes place on several levels. Violent street protests are a show of force. Their purpose is to demonstrate that the government is weak and cannot control or subdue their protests. The riot police display dominance by trying to drive them away. These displays are common enough in the primate kingdom, but here they are dressed up in self-righteous rhetoric and riot gear. Whoever wins scores dominance points. If the riot police succeed, then they show that the government retains control over the cities. If they fail, then the protesters show that the government has lost control.

It doesn't matter how ruthless the government crackdown is. Brutality may create more enemies in the long run, but if it succeeds in controlling the cities, then the revolution cannot move forward. The politicians associated with the protests (and they're always there) become impotent and irrelevant. Men and women who gambled on a revolt and lost. They may become martyrs or they may find a way back into the government, depending on their own principles and whether the government is willing to have them. But brutality is also a sign of weakness. A last resort to maintain control. But it is also a sign of strength. A government that unleashes total violence on its own people demonstrates that it has staying power.

If the riots continue, the next step in this chess game is to call for the restoration of order. The politicians attached to the protest movements will claim to be the only ones who can calm the public's anger and restore order. The government will step up enforcement to show that it is perfectly capable of restoring order. Foreign diplomats will counsel the government to negotiate with the politicians representing the protesters. This is usually the last step in the dismantling of the government.

A government with staying power will refuse to negotiate and play the waiting game. A revolution runs off the energy of ongoing protests and street violence. But that energy is not a perpetual motion machine. Even with new government outrages, keeping the protests going takes dedication and resources. Eventually the casual looters and bored teenagers who fuel such protests go home. The working class men go back to work in order to feed their families. This leaves the protest core of middle-class and wealthy students exposed. They are the educated core of the protest movements, the ones who actually seem to know what they want. But they are also much easier to scatter and break than their poorer compatriots. Occasional protests will still go on, inspired by the events of that month, they may in time succeed in toppling the government, but only if it weakens significantly.

That means Mubarak might still survive, but our influence won't. The endorsement of Suleiman means that we won't see a dynasty of Mubaraks, which is probably a good thing, but also means that Egypt's secret police will call the shots in the future. The Cedar revolution has been swallowed up by Hezbollah. Lebanon will almost inevitably see another civil war, along with ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide. Jordan is falling under the Iranian umbrella. The days of the Hashemite kingdom are numbered. Imagine a Gaza four times the size of Israel. That's what we're on track for now.

Once Israel is bracketed in by enemies, an Islamist Turkey, a Muslim Brotherhood run Egypt and a Palestinian Jordan, and Iranian dominated Syria and Lebanon-- the game will move into its final stages. Iran needs to destroy Israel in order to prove its right to rule the region, but Israel is also one of the few points of agreement between Sunnis and Shiites. Iran's real foe is Saudi Arabia, but it can't act directly against it without bringing America into the game. If Iran can take Mecca, its leaders become the supreme authorities of Islam. Shiite control over Mecca might trigger a global Muslim civil war. Or a global accommodation.

If Iran can checkmate America in an armed conflict, it may have a chance. So it will try to initiate a limited conflict on its terms, once it has a nuclear deterrent to prevent the United States from escalating the conflict. A likely scenario is a regional version of the Korean War in a divided Iraq or Afghanistan, in which Iran plays the China role, overwhelming an undermanned US presence with a show of force and then negotiating an armistice. The goal will be for Iran to inflict enough damage on the United States to gain credibility as the ultimate Muslim superpower. And that would lead to some of the bloodiest battles since the Tet Offensive, with a courageous showing by American forces acting under severely restricted rules of engagement fighting a war that their government has already decided it can't win. Even if Obama is not in office by then, whoever is would be faced with a choice or prolonging a conflict against the Taliban/Mahdi Army to reclaim territory that the United States has already withdrawn from. It's not an enviable decision.

That is the path that Iran's leadership is following. We are being maneuvered into a tighter and tighter corner, with fewer and fewer allies left. The Middle East is being lost. And it's happening on Obama's watch.

Assad: Syria in better position than Egypt since it has no ties with Israel

Syrian President Bashar Assad says he will promote political reform in his country in the wake of popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
By Haaretz Service

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Syrian President Bashar Assad suggested that the pressure he will face from the Syrian people to institute reforms will be less than that faced by embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because he has not pursued close diplomatic relations with the U.S. and Israel, a position that he said puts Arab leaders at odds with their citizens.

Assad also said that he will advocate for political and economic reform in Syria, following the massive protests that have recently swept the Middle East, which he said have ushered in a "new era." "Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue. When there is divergence…you will have this vacuum that creates disturbances," the article quoted Assad as saying.

Assad said that after the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Arab leaders will now need to do more to accommodate their people's mounting political and economic ambitions.

"If you didn't see the need of reform before what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, it's too late to do any reform," Assad told the American journal, signaling that he would attempt to pre-empt a popular uprising against his own regime before potentially destabilizing demonstrations reached the streets of Damascus.

Bashar Assad assumed the presidency of Syria in 2000, and prior to that his father Hafez Assad had occupied the office of president for three decades.

Demonstrations in Egypt have demanded the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has held that office for over 29 years, and in Tunisia, protesters succeeded in chasing President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of office, after 23 years of rule.

Assad said that he was open to negotiating with Israel over the transfer of control over the Golan Heights, but that he doubted that Prime Minister Netanyahu was as interested in reaching a deal as the previous Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had been, with whom Assad claimed that he had almost clinched a peace deal in 2008.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War.

Although he said that he planned to push through some specific reforms in the coming year, Assad admitted that relatively few changes have been made during his terms as Syria's president.

Despite this, he doubted that he would move at the speed that the protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt were demanding for their own countries, suggesting that some peoples were not ready for rapid reform.

Comment: No surprise here-of course it is our fault. The nonsense is once again picked up by fawning media types who have sold their souls and journalistic integrity in order to remain "in favor" with these despicable "leaders"-do not believe a word they say,print or put on your screens. There, I said it!!

Beware Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

Leslie Gelb

As Washington reviews its policy toward Cairo this weekend, officials should think hard about fostering a Mubarak-led transition rather than one led by protesters. Plus, full coverage of the uprising in Egypt.

Difficult as it may be, let's try for an honest and realistic discussion of Egypt. Of course, the Obama administration, most Americans, most Egyptians, and I myself would prefer a democratic government in Cairo instead of President Mubarak's corrupt and repressive establishment. That's not the issue. The real issue is this: If Mubarak tumbles and if Washington uses its influence—and yes, it does have influence at approximately $3 billion in annual total aid—to push him out, what kind of government will follow his? Will it be even less democratic and more repressive? And what will be the implications for U.S. security in the region?So, let's stop prancing around and proclaiming our devotion to peace, "universal rights" and people power. Instead, let's step back and look hard at what we know and don't know about this popular explosion in the bosom of one of America's most vital allies—and what the United States can and can't do about it.

The devil we know is President Mubarak. In the history of Mideast bad guys, he's far from the worst. Remember Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomenei, President Ahmadinejad, President Assad of Syria, and the many and varied leaders of Muslim terrorist groups? No sensible American would excuse Mubarak's corrupt regime—a bureaucracy that would make Kafka blush, a nasty police force, and a repressive political system. Very bad, indeed. On the plus side, he's led Egypt's economy to 6 to 7 percent real growth in past years and has conducted a foreign policy highly supportive of U.S. interests.

Most seriously, he failed to institute gradual political and economic reforms. Consequently, his nation is in flames. U.S. administrations haven't been successful in the past when they tried to push Mubarak in this direction. But it stands to reason that he might now be more amenable to reforms and transitions as long as he is not humiliated.

Now, what about the devils we know less—like the protesters? Of course, there's a slew of journalists, pundits, policy experts and professors who say these aren't devils at all, just "the people": democrats, lawyers, and college-educated and moderate women. No doubt, many of the protesters fit that description. But the dutiful press has interviewed only, say, a few hundred of these good souls. Perhaps many are not so democratic. Perhaps many are Egyptian Tea Partiers who want every Egyptian to have Islamic guns like the Founding Pharaohs. Or perhaps many are just furious and poor and unknowledgeable. My guess is no one really knows a great deal about the protesters.
As for most of the other "devils," they are pretty well known. One leadership candidate, of course, is Mohamed ElBaradei, the former U.N. chief nuclear inspector and a good man. But he has almost no constituency inside Egypt, where he's spent little time in recent years. The people aren't going to give him power, and he probably wouldn't know what to do with it anyway. But he could be part of a future government in an ideal world.

The other "devil," now being proclaimed as misunderstood Islamic democrats, is the Muslim Brotherhood, and they should give us great pause.
Baloney and wishful thinking aside, the MB would be calamitous for U.S. security. What's more, their current defenders don't really argue that point, as much as they seem to dismiss it as not important or something we can live with. The MB supports Hamas and other terrorist groups, makes friendly noises to Iranian dictators and torturers, would be uncertain landlords of the critical Suez Canal, and opposes the Egyptian-Israeli agreement of 1979, widely regarded as the foundation of peace in the Mideast. Above all, the MB would endanger counterterrorism efforts in the region and worldwide. That is a very big deal.

It would be delusory to take the MB's democratic protestations at face value. Look at who their friends are—like Hamas.

As for the MB's domestic democratic credentials, let me show some restraint here. To begin with, no one really has any sound idea of how they might rule; they haven't gotten close enough to power to fully judge. But they'd be bad for non-orthodox Islamic women.
And while MB leaders profess support for democracy and free speech, my mother's response still holds: "They would say that, wouldn't they?" What I see is that they've quieted their usual inflammatory rhetoric in return for Mubarak not banning them. It would be delusory to take the MB's democratic protestations at face value. Look at who their friends are—like Hamas.

The real danger is that our experts, pundits and professors will talk the Arab and American worlds into believing we can all trust the MB. And that's dangerous because, outside of the government, the MB is the only organized political force, the only group capable of taking power. And if they do gain control, it's going to be almost impossible for the people to take it back. Just look at Iran.

For the record, I am not saying that Arabs or Muslims are incapable of democracy. I am most certainly saying that Arabs, Muslims, or anyone else would find it almost impossible to establish a stable democracy out of chaos and years of corruption and injustice.

The Egyptian Army is another power alternative. And it's possible they could provide a bridge to a future civilian democratic government in Cairo. All we know here is that they've kept their noses out of politics and are thought to be generally loyal to Mubarak. The United States could help persuade the parties—if asked to play that role by the military, Mubarak officials, and "the people."

Now, a final word about America's power in this situation. We haven't got any power to shape events. But that does not mean we are without influence. We have influence by virtue of the billions in aid we provide annually, by dint of years of positive contacts with the Egyptian government and business people, and the like. This means something. If the Obama administration leans to the protesters, that would embolden the protesters and demoralize Mubarak supporters. And mind you, those Americans screaming to support "the people" should understand that no matter how much President Obama sides with "the people," few of them will thank him or America for it. And our soothsayers should also understand that when our other Arab friends watch us help remove Mubarak from power by not backing him, they'll believe that they'll be next on the list if they run into trouble. U.S. power would crumble in the region.

In these circumstances, the least problematic of U.S. policies are as follows:

1. Call on all sides to restore order and stability—with as much restraint on government force as possible. Little or nothing can get done if the killings mount. Under present circumstances, Mubarak won't compromise, and if he did, "the people" would only demand more. And everything would fly out of control again. The Army is best positioned to do what's necessary here, including using minimum necessary force.

2. Shut up publicly as much as possible and use American influence privately to guide Mubarak toward a power transition "he could be proud of." He can't stay in office for long, but he can go in a way that befits a strong ally and allows for a legacy he can be proud of. (And by the way, the White House should also stop threatening publicly to cut off aid to his government. Make such points in private.)

3. Bring in Egyptian voices and others respected by them to speak truth to the people. Tell them it will take years to fix Egypt's mountain of problems. Urge them to say that the start would be a coalition government with Mubarak as president for as short a period as possible and no more than a year, followed by elections supervised by the United Nations.

After a daylong meeting on Saturday, the White House decided to lean in this direction—i.e., away from the protesters and toward Mubarak. But according to officials, Obama will not be saying so explicitly.

Our foremost fear should be an abrupt change of power or chaos that will benefit only extremists. Our foremost worry should be self-delusion.

Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official, is author of Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (HarperCollins 2009), a book that shows how to think about and use power in the 21st century. He is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

For inquiries, please contact The Daily Beast at

How the Israeli Press is Interpreting Obama's Policy on Egypt

Dore Gold

In a striking newspaper column in the liberal Israeli daily, Ha’aretz, its chief diplomatic correspondent, Aluf Benn, writes that if Jimmy Carter went down in history as “the president who lost Iran,” Barack Obama will be known as the president who “lost Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt.” U.S. policy has indeed been the focus of Israeli commentary in the last 24 hours. President Obama’s tone towards President Mubarak struck many in Israel as surprisingly harsh. Obama disclosed in a press conference on January 28 that after hearing Mubarak’s speech to the Egyptian people, he told the Egyptian president over the phone that “he had a responsibility to give meaning to those words.” Obama insisted that the Egyptian leadership “take concrete steps” and not limit itself to rhetorical promises alone. But it was White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs who went beyond Obama by issuing what sounded like an implicit threat to Egypt. At a press briefing, Gibbs stated that the Egyptian government had to address the “legitimate grievances” of the Egyptian people “immediately.” A journalist in the press briefing room then popped the question to Gibbs: “You say that these legitimate grievances have to be addressed. I’m wondering. Or what?” Gibbs came back: “We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days.” In other words, precisely when the Egyptian government had its back to the wall with the worst protests in recent Egyptian history, the White House press secretary threatened the embattled Mubarak with a cut in U.S. foreign aid. Israel’s largest newspaper, Yisrael Hayom, reported these events with a headline: “Obama Against Mubarak.”

Presumably, the U.S. government had its reasons for holding Mubarak at arms length. If they embraced their old ally, at this time, they could undermine him. Moreover, Washington was displeased with the Egyptian government for not adhering to U.S. political advice. Mubarak had been reluctant to take U.S. advice on political reform. In 2005, when he listened to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s demands to open up the Egyptian parliamentary elections, the numbers of elected members of the Muslim Brotherhood vastly increased from 15 seats to 88 out of the 454-member Egyptian Parliament. The Obama administration was not alone in expressing its frustration with Mubarak. Indeed, leading editorials took a hard line against him, as well. Aluf Benn thus concluded that there was a sense in the last few days that “the U.S. foreign policy establishment was shaking off its long-term protege in Cairo.”

Whatever the motivation was in Washington, the rough handling of Mubarak will have long-term implications. Egypt is a critical country. The Suez Canal, that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, runs through its territory. With Egypt in hostile hands, how will the U.S. reinforce the Persian Gulf from Europe? Intercontinental air routes fly over Egyptian territory, as well. But the real problem will be the reaction of other American allies in the Middle East. What kind of signal did Gibbs’ threat about cutting aid send to King Abdullah of Jordan or to President Saleh of Yemen, as well as to other allies in the Persian Gulf? Did it mean that as soon as an Arab leader gets into trouble, he starts to get disowned? Egypt had its problems, but the approach taken towards this old U.S. ally will have implications across the Arab world in the months ahead.

The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


Tundra Tabloids

Can’t be any more clear than that. Allowing these nut-jobs who are presently loose on the streets of Egypt to get ‘their favored party’ (read=Muslim Brotherhood) into government would be an act of lunacy for the region. KGS “Because we know, if Hosni Mubarak fell, we are, the whole people in Egypt, we’re gonna be free, we’re gonna be free. If the people are free in Egypt, we’re gonna go free (unclear) we’re gonna go free Palestine, we’re gonna destroy Israel!”

Comment: Watch the short video clip by clicking on Tundra Tabloids-you will then be able to view the tape. The media is so misrepresenting what is going on, what the consequences will be if the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in the take over of Egypt.If I didn't know better I would truly question the intentions of the American Government-they have failed the people of Egypt. It is as though we do not study history, it is as though we do not believe we can learn from history and we are "destined" to repeat what happened in Iran back in 1979-1980.

The DC interview: Michael Oren, Israel’s face in America

Jamie Weinstein - The Daily Caller

“What do you need to know about our situation in the Middle East?” asked Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, at the beginning of an extensive interview with The Daily Caller at the Israeli Embassy in Northwest Washington last Wednesday.

I wanted to know a lot. About Israeli policy. About Israel’s position on breaking news in the region. About Oren himself.

And Oren the man is fascinating. Raised in New Jersey, Oren moved to Israel shortly after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University. He joined the Israeli Defense Forces, serving as a paratrooper during the Lebanon War. He was among the first Israeli troops to enter Beirut in 1982, where he said in a C-Span interview his “unit was decimated in an ambush.” Oren returned to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in Middle East Studies at Princeton, which he was awarded in 1986.

Lebanon was not the last conflict in which Oren served. He was one of the few Israelis to participate in the first Gulf War as a “strategic liaison” between the U.S. Sixth fleet and the Israeli army, and would go on to serve in some capacity – more recently a media relations role – in just about every major conflict Israel has engaged in during the last three decades, including the 2008-2009 Gaza war just months before he was offered the ambassadorship.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tapped Oren in 2009 to become ambassador, he was a visiting professor at Georgetown University and the author of what many consider the most authoritative account of the Six Day War, “Six Days of War.” Previously a dual American and Israeli citizen, he had to sacrifice his U.S. citizenship to take the job, which he told the New York Times was the hardest part of accepting the post. With no political experience, Oren was an interesting choice to be Israel’s face in America. He was also in some respects the perfect choice. Few are as familiar with America’s role in the Middle East as Oren, who wrote a New York Times bestseller, “Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East,” detailing U.S. involvement in the region dating back to 1776.

To understand Oren’s worldview, I asked what books most shaped his outlook.

This question appealed to him and his intellect. He approached it seriously, taking time to sit quietly and think it through. He broke it down into two categories – books that shaped his view of the Middle East and books that shaped his worldview generally.

For the Middle East, Oren pointed to “The Arab Predicament” by Hoover Institution fellow Fouad Ajami, “Islam in Modern History” by the late religion scholar Wilfred Cantwell Smith, the whole corpus of writings of Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, the Quran, and the writings of the medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, one of whose books Oren said “was probably the most important book I’ve ever read on the Middle East.”

“I learned more from a medieval Islamic philosopher than anybody,” Oren said.

Taymiyyah’s writings, which I read in graduate school, were somewhat obscure until they became frequently cited by Islamists justifying the wave of terrorism that threatens the Western world today.

As for his general worldview, Oren cited “The Siege” by Connor Cruise O’Brian, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, and “Making It” by Norman Podhoretz as influential on him.

He also cited the Philip Roth novel “Portnoy’s Complaint,” which inspired his press aides to jump in with their favorite Philip Roth quotes and novels.

“Don’t miss a Philip Roth book,” the ambassador advised, summing up the Philip Roth discussion.

Asked what he’s learned about the U.S-Israel relationship that he didn’t anticipate before taking the job, Oren said he came to greater appreciate the commercial side of the partnership.

“I learned about the U.S.-Israel commercial relationship, which I knew nothing about, which is quite big and getting bigger all the time,” he said. “I’m always learning about it. I just learned last week that an Israeli plant in Puerto Rico makes 70 percent of the antibiotics in North America. Think about that. It’s the Teva plant. All the generic antibiotics.”

“I learned that an Israeli-made bandage saved [Ariz. Democratic Rep.] Gabby Giffords’s life,” Oren added. “A special bandage that clots blood.”

The tenure of an Israeli ambassador to the U.S. usually ranges from two to four years, at least over the last three decades. With Oren nearing the low end of that window, is he considering stepping down in the near future?

“The longevity of Israeli ambassadors is subject to a couple of factors,” he explained. “One, is the person who appointed you still in government? Do you enjoy the job? … Not all Israeli ambassadors enjoyed it. Do you feel like you’re getting anywhere?”

While Oren said he has “no plans of leaving” and he enjoys the job “immensely,” he did note that it is “physically challenging.”

“It’s a wear and tear, it’s a major outlay of energy,” he said. “Last week I went to visit Miami and Puerto Rico. The average day began around 7 and 8 and ended around midnight or 1 in the morning. That’s a day’s work, typical. So it’s very similar to work in the White House in that way. So it’s physically challenging.”

So “endlessly fascinating” is the job, that Oren says he “sometimes think[s] about how I go back to sitting in a room and writing books after this.”

But go back to writing books he ultimately will.

“I had signed a contract for a book just before I got into the job. I didn’t know I was getting the job and I had signed a contract with Random House for my next book, which was going to be a four- or five-year project,” he explained. “Each of these books take four or five years to write, with no breaks. And the next book was going to be on the creation of the State of Israel because we don’t really have a book that talks about how Israel was created. We have a lot of books on the ‘48 war but no books on how a Jewish state after 2,000 years actually came into being and three years after the Holocaust, which I think is the most extraordinary story in history.”

One area that that is impossible to avoid when discussing Israel’s situation in the Middle East is the seeming tension in the U.S.-Israel relationship since Barack Obama was elected president. Oren’s job is to improve relations, so it is unlikely he will speak ill of the American president to any journalist. So, instead of asking Oren whether President Obama was a good friend of Israel, I asked him whether the president could be considered the best friend Israel has ever had in an American president?

“I think Obama is the best friend in ways that are different sometimes than other best friends,” Oren said diplomatically. “We have had a number of best friends as president.”

“Here, I’ll give you an example,” Oren elaborated. “December 2 there was a Hanukkah party at the White House. That was the night that a huge fire broke out in the Carmel forest. It was our largest natural disaster. And I’m walking into the White House and I get a call from Prime Minister Netanyahu saying we need emergency, right now we need planes, firefighting planes, we don’t have any firefighting planes. Go ask the president of the United States for firefighting planes. So I go in the White House, meet the president, tell him the message from the prime minister. He turns to Reggie Love [the president’s personal assistant] and says, ‘Whatever Israel wants, get Israel immediately.’ And then that night he flew off to Afghanistan … The first call he made when he arrived in Afghanistan was back to the White House to find out if Israel had gotten the planes … Of the 11 fire fighting planes that the United States had, we got eight of them — including special firefighting units, these commando units, amazing, called hot spots. All within 24 hours. Now that’s what I call a best friend.”

But does Obama rise to the Bush standard?

That isn’t just a standard TheDC invented. It is, in fact, a standard that Oren wrote about before he was ever under consideration for the job of Israeli ambassador. He outlined the new Bush standard of pro-Israel presidential friendship in an article he wrote during the 2008 campaign discussing whether John McCain or Barack Obama would be a better president for Israel to have in the White House.

“During his eight years in office, George W. Bush established new standards for the term ‘pro-Israel.’ He repeatedly affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against terror, and praised its value as America’s primary Middle Eastern ally. He also expressed a deep ideological attachment to Israel as a democracy and, spiritually, to Israel as the biblical homeland,” Oren wrote at the time in the fall 2008 edition of the Journal of International Security Affairs. “Less publicly, the president also authorized an unprecedented level of cooperation between the U.S. military and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), including intelligence sharing, anti-terror training, and the joint development of missile defense systems.”

Has Obama really lived up to the Bush standard, as outlined by Oren himself?

“I think he’s on that standard,” Oren posited, a point many of Israel’s supporters in the United States would certainly contend with. “Bush had said that the United States, that the relationship between the Israel and the United States was unshakable, unbreakable. He had put that commitment into words with a 10-year memorandum of understanding of $30 billion dollars in military aid. And he had undertaken to ensure Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME), which means simply that Israel can defend itself by itself against any Middle Eastern adversary, any combination of Middle Eastern adversaries. These were the historic undertakings that Bush had made. Obama’s held up all of them and QME, on the question of Qualitative Military, he has even gone further and tried to redress some of the imbalance and erosion that has occurred over the years.”

What about the peace process? Hasn’t the Obama administration shown a stunning naïveté, at best, by seemingly making the issue of Israeli settlements the overriding issue in the Middle East, or at the very least in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations? Indeed, Mr. Ambassador, was it not you who hit the nail on the head in that same aforementioned 2008 article when you wrote that, “An Obama presidency … may well launch an entirely new [peace] initiative, one based on zero tolerance for Israeli settlement-building and checkpoints, as well as on the belief that the road to Baghdad and Tehran runs through Bethlehem and Nabulus.”

“That was the article I wrote on McCain and Obama, I invested a lot of energy in that,” Oren said proudly, before saying, “Listen I don’t want to comment on anything I wrote before I got into this job ’cause this is like government service. Once you’re in government service anything you wrote previously is irrelevant.”

He then proceeded to comment on what he wrote previously.

“But the Obama administration made, and the president-elect before made his position on the settlements clear. It’s not a new position, I mean the American administrations going back to Nixon have had problems with settlements,” he explained. “This was very much a doctrine of Obama’s dealing with the Middle East, that linkage, and I want to give it fair voice here, that the United States and its allies could better handle the Iranian nuclear threat if there were peace between Israel and the Arabs — and the Palestinians. Our position was more that unless you deal with the Iranian threat, making peace would be vastly more difficult because the Iranians can stop it at anytime. They can get Hamas to stop it, they can get Hezbollah to stop it.”

But don’t the Wikileaks releases show the president’s whole guiding Middle East philosophy is off-base by illustrating that even Arab leaders are obsessed with the threat of Iranian nuclear proliferation and not the Arab-Israeli peace process?

“We’re only getting a partial picture from Wikileaks,” Oren cautioned. “You should know that we regard them as irresponsible and reckless. I mean, people who supposedly care about peace are the people who are undermining diplomacy, which is the best way to avoid war.”

“But,” he continued, after providing that necessary caveat, “the Arab leaders in the documents leaked so far seemed to care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s Iran. They weren’t quoted as expressing any particularly urgency about the need for Arab-Israeli peace.”

Anyone who has followed Israeli issues in the past decade knows that the Iranian nuclear threat is the Jewish state’s greatest concern. So I asked Oren about the comments reportedly made earlier this month by now-former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. Dagan reportedly said, “If the world stands by and does nothing, the soonest Iran will have a nuclear device is 2015, if that.”

Many credit this reality to Dagan himself, who may or may not have been the catalyst for the creation of Stuxnet, the computer worm praised for doing electronically what some once thought Israel or America might have had to do militarily to set back Iran’s nuclear program. Considering Dagan’s reported statement, is Iran the pressing, existential threat it once was?

“I have great regard for Meir Dagan but his assessment is one assessment of one person. It’s not an assessment that reflects all of Israel’s intelligence community or Israel’s military community or Israel’s political echelon,” Oren said. “There are other opinions out there and the other opinions are that we do not have a lot of time here.”

Translation: Iran remains at the top of Israel’s concerns, Stuxnet or no Stuxnet.

Another concern is the Arab uprisings erupting across the region. When I met with Oren, it was just after the Egyptian protests began, and while noteworthy, they had yet to intensify to the level of crisis they have since become. I asked Oren what he and the Israeli government made of the protests in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere.

“Well I think Israel welcomes democratization of the Middle East. I think we see democratization as a factor for stability. Looking forward to any future Palestinian state, we want that Palestinian state to be democratic,” he said. “At the same time we have concerns about the stability of some neighboring states where stability is very important for us and the peace process. And we are concerned lest the uprising in Tunisia goes the way of the uprising in Iran in 1979 — what began as a sort of secular, very diffuse, popular movement was rather quickly hijacked by Islamic extremists because they are the most organized and best-funded of these groups. And they’re very focused. They know exactly what they want. And it’s always a danger in the Middle East that these movements can be hijacked.”

What is true of Oren’s fear for Tunisia, is certainly 10 times more poignant as it applies to Egypt, Israel’s direct neighbor.

Towards the end of the interview, I asked Oren about the “Palestine Papers,” which according to some demonstrate that the Palestinians were willing in 2008 to make major concessions for peace. Specifically, I asked him to respond to comments by Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, the self-proclaimed “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby. Ben-Ami said that the “Palestine Papers” show that the Palestinians were willing to make peace in 2008 and that the documents reveal the “ongoing intransigence of the Israeli government” which must be overcome by “bold American leadership.”

Oren dismissed the charge, saying, in part, “the fact of the matter is at the end of the day — and this you will hear from all the participants, particularly from Condoleezza Rice who went to the Middle East 26 times to try to mediate this – it was [Palestinian President] Abu Mazen that turned the deal down. It wasn’t [former Israeli Prime Minister] Ehud Olmert who turned it down. That’s a matter of record. And just because it is not in these records, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Everybody knows it. He turned it down.”

As Oren’s assistant came in for a third time to urge the ambassador to wrap up so he could get to his next appointment, I asked a final question, whether the ambassador actually considered J Street, some of whose supporters incidentally don’t think it is a bad idea to have Israeli leaders tried for war crimes, a pro-Israel organization?

“They claim they’re pro-Israel,” he said, providing a less than ringing endorsement of the George Soros-funded organization. “They are calling for Israel to be condemned in the Security Council for the settlements and they are condemning some of our best friends on the Hill. So they can call themselves what they like.”

Read more: