Monday, August 31, 2009

Right of Reply: Isolating Israel through language of human rights

Gerald Steinberg , THE JERUSALEM POST

At a conference in Europe, Sa'ad Eddin Ibrahim, the respected Egyptian human rights activist, stopped abruptly in the middle of his presentation to embrace Prof. Irwin Cotler, who had just arrived. Cotler had been active in the fight to secure Ibrahim's freedom from jail on trumped-up charges - one of many such battles that the former Canadian justice minister has led, including in behalf of Natan Sharansky and Nelson Mandela. For this and many other reasons, readers should add more than the usual grain of salt in reading Kenneth Roth's article "Don't smear the messenger" in The Jerusalem Post August 26. As head of Human Rights Watch since 1993, Roth's accomplishments do not come close to Prof. Cotler's. Instead, Roth has led the politicization and erosion of universal human rights as a moral force.

The main focus of Roth's tendentious attack is to defend the legitimacy of Judge Richard Goldstone, head of the the United Nations "fact finding mission" whose report on the Gaza war earlier this year is expected to be released soon. But in his tirade, Roth forgot to disclose his relationship with Goldstone - a long-time member of HRW's board. And in many ways, the attempt to malign and disparage Goldstone's critics is also part of Roth's efforts to protect himself and HRW.

Indeed, as Goldstone is discredited, Roth has good reason to worry. The appointment of Goldstone was another step in the strategy adopted by the 2001 Durban NGO forum, with the goal of isolating Israel through the language of human rights. NGO Monitor's detailed research shows that HRW has promoted this strategy by issuing at least 68 calls for "independent investigations" of Israel - including Jenin (2002), Rafah (2004), the Gaza beach incident and the Lebanon war (2006). Roth lamely sought to avoid the evidence of targeting Israel, rather than doing more on human rights in Iran, Africa or Libya: "We've got to pick and choose - we've got finite resources."

THE GAZA war gave Roth the opportunity to expand these efforts, and HRW worked closely with the UN Human Rights Council in creating the "independent inquiry" headed by one of its own - Judge Goldstone. Since then, HRW has provided the investigators and the accompanying media campaign with three more tendentious "reports" accusing Israeli forces of "war crimes." (To claim "balance," HRW also published a belated report on Hamas, omitting Iran's role in supplying weapons and training.) In addition to the one-sided mandate (which Goldstone claims was revised by the president of the UNHRC to include an investigation of Hamas), the Gaza inquiry and HRW are tainted by bias among the people involved.

HRW's Middle East division is run by Sarah Leah Whitson, who had organized protests against Israeli "brutality" at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee before she was hired by Roth. At HRW, Whitson continued to promote anti-Israel boycotts, and in May 2009, Whitson led HRW's fund-raising trip to Saudi Arabia, where she denounced "pro-Israel pressure groups," which "tried to discredit" HRW's "work on Israel and Gaza," including its role in creating the Goldstone inquiry.

Furthermore, Joe Stork, Whitson's deputy in HRW, spent over 20 years as a founder and editor of MERIP, an anti-Zionist and anti-American organization. Following the Munich attack, Stork and his colleagues published an editorial headlined "Who are the real terrorists?" which denounced "Israeli terrorists, equipped with US-supplied jets and tanks" and "their policy of murder and destruction against the Palestinians." (The authors added a disclaimer that such acts were not "justification" for the Munich attack.) In 1996, Stork joined HRW.

The biases displayed by Whitson and Stork violate the basic principle of political objectivity for human rights fact-finding, as codified in the International Bar Association's "London-Lund" guidelines. Similarly, the appointments of Goldstone and Prof. Christine Chinkin to the UN's Gaza investigation are inconsistent with these common-sense rules. (UN Watch's call to disqualify Chinkin quotes a letter she signed declaring Israel the aggressor and perpetrator of war crimes, and "categorically rejecting" Israel's right to self-defense against rocket barrages.)

HRW'S REPORTS, like the NGO submissions to Goldstone, consistently reflect this bias and lack of professional standards. Behind the façade of "factual research," the work of the Middle East Division consists of multiple pages of carefully picked Palestinian "eyewitness testimony." These reports mix speculative, plausible Palestinian claims that are unverifiable, bad fiction and pages of irrelevant technical "facts" and contorted legal verbiage.

In HRW's latest publication, co-authored by Stork, which accused the IDF of the odious moral crime of deliberately killing civilians waving white flags, the first incident is based entirely on the claims of the Abed Rabbo family. However, Western and Arabic versions show that as the Palestinian "fixers" brought journalists and NGO officials, including HRW "researchers," for interviews, the story evolved with each telling.

In parallel, the videos and other evidence clearly showing Palestinian abuses, including routine use of "human shields" to protect terrorists and weapons, are omitted because they do not fit the desired conclusions. No serious court would accept this testimony as evidence, or the publications as "research." .

There are dozens of similar examples repeating Palestinian claims in HRW publications. Every phase of this long war is also opportunity for promoting this agenda through reports, press conferences, letters and e-mails. These indictments (Roth was trained as a prosecutor) routinely repeat the odious charges of "indiscriminate attacks against civilians," "war crimes" and collective punishment. (HRW's "White Flags" publication uses the term "war crimes" 15 times.) This anti-Israel obsession is part of the broader transformation of HRW from its original goal of battling for the freedom of political prisoners in repressive regimes, to an ideological power directing its guns ($42 million in 2008) against embattled democracies such as Israel.

HRW's warped agenda has also led to increasing disquiet among key donors and board members. In understated terms, Robert Bernstein expressed his anger over the direction taken by the organization that he founded in 1978 as Helsinki Watch. "The overall result of HRW's current work... is to say we're being evenhanded in a way that makes it come out that both sides are equal abusers of human rights - I don't agree with that."

The exposure of HRW's bias and research façade, and the resulting criticism from HRW's core supporters and donors are the real source of Roth's angry outburst against Cotler. The fate of Roth and Goldstone's commission are closely connected, and exposure of one's failings unmasks the other.

The writer heads NGO Monitor and is a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1251145154715&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Take the one-minute test proving Syria is an Ally of al-Qaida & see How This Fact is Kept Hidden

Barry Rubin

It is an open secret that Syria is behind most of the terrorism in Iraq. The Syrian regime let’s in would-be Sunni terrorists, arms them, trains them, serves as a supply base, and then helps them cross the border. They murder Iraqi civilians and American soldiers alike. But here’s something else that’s an open secret: Syria is cooperating with Usama bin Ladin’s al-Qaida organization to do so. I can prove that to you within one minute. Ready? Check your watch and read on.

Terrorists get into Iraq almost exclusively through Syria. Syria provides assistance to the terrorists. The U.S. government provides statistics of how many terrorists infiltrate across the Syria-Iraq border every month.

Oh, yes, and the terrorists belong to al-Qaida, the leading organization in the anti-Shia, anti-American insurgency in Iraq.

Therefore: Syria works with the terrorists, the terrorists are al-Qaida, Syria works with al-Qaida.

Beat my deadline by 15 seconds! And no one can refute the previous paragraphs two linkages.

Here’s another logical progression that doesn’t work out so well

The United States says it is at war with al-Qaida and its partners, Syria is a partner of al-Qaida, therefore Washington perceives Syria as part of its war against al-Qaida? No, on the contrary, the United States is seeking engagement with Syria.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s government played a videotape of a captured al-Qaida terrorist, Muhammad Hassan al-Shemari, a Saudi arrested in Iraq as a leader of al-Qaida. He describes an al-Qaida training camp in Syria, headed by a well-known Syrian intelligence agent.

But there's another element to this story that tells all too much about the current sad state of academia and intellectual exchange. A student at American university who I know and is very credible, after reading the article you've just finished, wrote me as follows:

"I made the argument you presented in Middle East class; The retort by my pro-Syrian professor, `well it's much more complicated than that. This sounds a bit neo-conservative to me.'"

Note that, as so often happens nowadays, the response is not a series of well-honed arguments with proof provided but a slogan, an insult.

There are sectors in Western democratic society--including areas of academia, social enclaves, journalism, and publishing--where norms of discussion increasingly seem to resemble those of a Stalinist state. One need merely respond with such well-chosen names as "racist," "imperialist," "Islamophobic," "Zionist," "conservative," or "pro-American" to claim triumphantly to have won the argument.

Yet this methodology must be used precisely because of the weakness of the arguments purveyed by the newly imposed conventional wisdom from the far left disguised as liberalism, enthusiasts for dictatorships concealed as the friends of the masses who those dictatorships repress, and apologists of anti-democratic ideologies who pretend to be the champions of an even higher freedom.

There is no better response to this sad state of affairs than that made by George Orwell, a man of both the left and the Enlightenment, both socialism and democracy, in 1944:

“The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is...that it attacks the concept of objective truth….There is some hope…that the liberal habit of mind, which thinks of truth as something outside yourself, something to be discovered, and not as something you can make up as you go along, will survive....A certain degree of truthfulness was possible so long as it was admitted that a fact may be true even if you don't like it."

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

Lion of the Senate?

Diana West

Something about the death of a famous liberal person turns the media into grieving widows whose dictum against speaking "ill" of the dead eliminates all sober analysis of the life in question. Once, death in the passing parade came to us, more or less, in "just-the-facts, ma'am" obituaries. Now, breaking, live and for the duration, a celebratory loop plays on about even the most mixed and controversial public lives. This week's column examines the embargo the media, from left to right, slap on fact after death. They may think it's good manners (or good politics), but it's not only a disservice to readers and viewers, it's dangerous for democracy.

Something about the death of a famous liberal person turns the media into grieving widows whose dictum against speaking "ill" of the dead eliminates all sober analysis of the life in question. Once, death in the passing parade came to us, more or less, in "just-the-facts, ma'am" obituaries. Now, breaking, live and for the duration, a celebratory loop plays on about even the most mixed and controversial public lives.

Notice I said "mixed" and "controversial," restrained terminology to describe the life and times of Sen. Ted Kennedy, whose death triggered a media dump of Hallmark-curlicued tributes that all begin with "lion of the Senate" -- as though that were his official title -- and finish with "the end of Camelot," as though that were his actual residence, not the tagline of an ancient PR campaign.

Question: How does the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne -- whom the married, panicked and first-term Sen. Ted Kennedy left to drown in 7 feet of Chappaquiddick water -- apply to the "lion" from "Camelot"? Answer: It doesn't. Remember? Don't speak ill of the dead. Kennedy fixture Ted Sorensen's gloss in Time magazine is typical, depicting "the Chappaquiddick incident" as merely ending Kennedy's "bright prospects for still higher office."

The "Chappaquiddick incident" ended more than presidential prospects. It ended the life of a woman unlucky enough to have depended on Ted Kennedy. But it didn't end Kennedy's political career as it should have -- and would have any non-Kennedy's., maybe more perversely still, paints Kopechne's death as the reason Kennedy became the "lion of the Senate" in the first place: "But oddly, the darkest moment in Kennedy's career ... ultimately transformed him into one of the most highly regarded politicians in Congress."

A dainty segue back to the "lion of the Senate," no? Remember: Don't speak ill of the dead -- and particularly "not at this time," which, in truth, describes a summer that has taken a toll on our celebrity class. From Michael Jackson to Walter Cronkite, deaths of the rich and famous have led the season's news as much as health care and town-hall meetings. Add Farrah Fawcett, Robert Novak, Don Hewitt, and now, Dominick Dunne (RIP), and it becomes clear that this was a summer in which death did not take a holiday. It also claimed Saudi billionaire and serial-libel tourist Khalid bin Mahfouz.

Not everyone gets the star treatment from the media -- in fact, Mahfouz, world-famous bane of the free press, didn't get an obituary. (This is likely due to media fear of being sued from the grave: Don't speak ill of the dead, or else.) But Michael Jackson was a cash cow the media milked for everything they could, ignoring -- that is, not speaking "ill" of -- Jackson's freakish life to elevate the pathetic, unsavory pop idol to national iconhood and reap maximum ratings.

In showering approval on Walter Cronkite, the media were showering approval on themselves, or at least on their notion of their own importance. Oh, and about the fact that Cronkite misreported the 1968 Tet Offensive as an American defeat? Don't speak -- you know the rest.

It's an old story by now. But there is so much the media consider "ill" in Kennedy's life -- thus, unmentionable -- that we are not getting a straight story. Besides the "Chappaquiddick incident," there were the decades of public debauchery. His political career was indeed at times momentous, but "controversial" is a mild word for it. The first legislation he managed as a U.S. senator, the 1965 Immigration Act, effectively tipped the immigrant pool of this nation from Europe to the Third World. His despicable and notorious slander of Judge Robert Bork not only spearheaded the assault on Bork's 1987 nomination to the Supreme Court, it opened the sewer gates to slime politics. We get scant consideration of such consequential facts. We get an emotional rush.

This would matter less if the man were quietly going to his rest. But Democrats have already seized on the Disneyfied Kennedy -- The Lion-Senator -- as the posthumous mascot of nationalized health care, and will be adding Kennedy's name to health-care legislation. This would make zero political sense if the media told the whole mixed and controversial truth. But they haven't marked the passing of a consequential scion of a power-wielding, privileged American family. They have showcased the debut of a cartoon superhero. The eyes and ears of democracy have failed us again.

Here's Your Story: No Engagement Game Because Iran Burned Down

Barry Rubin*
August 28, 2009

Gerald Seib’s article in the Wall Street Journal is worth responding to because it does symbolize the curious mentality about Iran prevailing in American policymaking and opinion-making circles. The article is entitled, "Iran Collapse Complicates U.S. Moves."

On the contrary! I think it makes things much simpler and clearer.

But first a story told to me many years ago by famed radio host Barry Farber:

A reporter is dispatched to cover a high school basketball game but doesn’t file a story. As deadline approaches the editor irritably calls the journalist into his office and asks where is the story? “There isn’t any story,” says the reporter.

“Why not?” asks the editor.

“There wasn’t any game,” the journalist replies.

“Why not?” asks the editor.

“The gym burned down.”

For those of you who are journalists with certain mass media outlets, I should explain the point of the anecdote: The gym burning down was the story.

Now back to Seib.

He explains there is an alleged irony in the fact that, “America's most vexing enemy is plagued by growing internal dissension, a vocal opposition movement that won't die and a crisis of legitimacy.”

What is it?

“The upheaval there actually is making the job of crafting an American strategy more difficult.”


Because, you see, it is harder to engage Iran when it is so busy with domestic matters and in disarray. I’ve heard this from others in Washington as well. And Seib gives us the likely Obama administration conclusion:

“And here's the most likely outcome: The U.S. will leave the door open to engagement with Iran, but won't be trying as hard as before to coax the Iranians into walking through it.”

Well, why are we even talking about this? It is time for a new view of Iran and U.S. policy. Memo to Obama: The situation has changed big-time.

Why engage a country where the most extreme of the extreme have seized power and anyone prepared to make compromises has been kicked out or put on trial (not that they were so moderate either)? There can be no illusion that while the president of Iran is a loudmouth the spiritual guide is a secret moderate.

Why engage a country which has ignored every effort to do so and has gone full speed ahead on nuclear weapons?

Why engage a regime which has just appointed a wanted terrorist involved in killing Americans as its defense minister, who will have control over nuclear weapons?

Why engage a country whose ambitions are clearly regional hegemony and is making gains in that direction precisely because of perceived U.S. weakness?

What the United States needs now is not an engagement policy or even a sanctions' plan (though that is a part of it) but a strategy to compete with Iran and its allies throughout the region and defeat their ambitions. (Just because George W. Bush thought that way does not mean it's wrong, a concept it is vital for the Obama administration to grasp.)

What comes next? The United States gets increased sanctions in September and the regime ignores or circumvents them. Iran goes further and further down the road to nuclear weapons and in implementing its regional ambitions.

It is time for the debate to get beyond engagement. Of course, there’s a reason that isn’t happening: because then the problem of what to do and its costs becomes more serious and expensive and dangerous.

But that debate better begin.

I’ve got news for you. There is a story: Iran burned down.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to

Politics Before Justice at Obama’s DOJ

Heritage Foundation

On Friday of last week, following the announcement that Attorney General Eric Holder would appoint a prosecutor to re-investigate the CIA’s treatment of detainees, former Vice President Dick Cheney taped an interview with Fox News. During the interview, which aired yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Cheney describes Holder’s decision as an “outrageous political act” that will have “devastating” consequences within the CIA.

Cheney is dead on. But unfortunately Holder’s political CIA witch hunt is just the latest example of a troubling pattern of politicization of the Justice Department under Holder.

Voter Intimidation: On Election Day 2008, members of the New Black Panther Party dressed in military-style uniforms were filmed standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia. According to a complaint filed by career lawyers at the Justice Department, the New Black Panther Party violated section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act by engaging “in coercion, threats, and intimidation” of voters, including “racial threats and racial insults” as well as brandishing “a deadly weapon.”

One of the defendants named was Jerry Jackson, a Democratic Committeeman of the 14th Ward in Philadelphia. The front-line career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division recommended that Justice seek sanctions against the party and three of its members after the government had already won a default judgment in federal court against the men. But then Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, the politically appointed No. 3 official in the Obama Justice Department, intervened. Instead of following through and getting an injunction to prevent this behavior in future elections, the suit was dismissed against all defendants, but Jackson, who received a watered-down injunction to prevent him from carrying a weapon in a polling place. But only in Philadelphia and only until 2012!

Public Corruption: In 2008, a federal grand jury began an investigation into a possible pay-to-play scheme in which lucrative work on New Mexico bond deals went to a Gov. Bill Richardson (D) donor. But then just last week, news leaked that that no one would be charged in the investigation with sources telling the Associated Press: “It’s over. There’s nothing. It was killed in Washington.” Heritage senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky explains why this is so troubling: “For anyone familiar with internal Justice Department procedures, this is particularly suspicious. The DOJ has a manual called “Federal Prosecution of Election Offenses” (I helped edit the latest edition when I was at Justice) that sets out the rules and procedures for U.S. attorneys when they are investigating these types of public-corruption cases. It is the U.S. attorney in New Mexico who would normally make the final call on a local public-corruption case, not ‘top Justice Department officials’ in Washington.”

Undermining National Security: In 2004 the CIA Inspector General issued a report documenting alleged detainee abuse by CIA interrogators and contractors. The DOJ’s career, not political, prosecutors then examined that document and other incidents from Iraq and Afghanistan for legal accountability. In one case, the DOJ decided to prosecute, and has already obtained a criminal conviction of a CIA contractor. Furthermore, the CIA has also taken their own disciplinary action against others involved in the incidents. As Heritage senior fellow Peter Brookes explains, Holder’s decision to re-investigate the CIA will have a chilling effect on the morale at the agency and will leave officers in the field wondering whether they should be more concerned about getting terrorists or getting lawyers.

Anyone familiar with Holder’s history should not be surprised by the politicization of the Justice Department under his leadership. In 1999, Holder promoted clemency for 16 members of FALN and Los Macheteros, terrorist organizations linked by the FBI to more than 130 bombings and six murders. Then in 2000 Holder played a prominent role in the pardon of Marc Rich, whose ex-wife gave considerable sums to the Democratic Party ($867,000) and the Clinton Library ($450,000).

Now, as the head of DOJ, Holder’s political decisions are undermining core rule of law concerns including the integrity of elections, ethical governance, and national security. Holder reports directly to his boss, President Barack Obama. Someone needs to be held accountable.

According to Rasmussen Reports, 57% of Americans would vote to replace the entire Congress and start all over again.

Public interest groups are concerned that the Obama administration is spending billions in stimulus dollars to expand high-speed Internet networks without first knowing where they are most needed.

According to the Associated Press, politics, not need, is dictating how $720 million is spent for border upgrades.

According to the National Association of Small Business Contractors, the Obama administration has repeatedly failed to meet its obligation to set aside 23 percent of its contracts to small businesses.

More than $3.1 billion in stimulus money for state unemployment insurance programs is sitting in a federal trust fund because 23 states (only 11 under GOP control) have refused to change their unemployment system as dictated by Congress to qualify for the program.

Palestine problem hopeless, but not serious

Asia Times

By Spengler

"The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable," declared United Sates President Barack Obama in his June 4 Cairo address. Really? Compared to what? Things are tough all over. The Palestinians are one of many groups displaced by the population exchanges that followed World War II, and the only ones whose great-grandchildren still have the legal status of refugees. Why are they still there? The simplest explanation is that they like it there, because they are much better off than people of similar capacities in other Arab countries The standard tables of gross domestic product (GDP) per capital show the West Bank and Gaza at US$1,700, just below Egypt's $1,900 and significantly below Syria's $2,250 and Jordan's $3,000. GDP does not include foreign aid, however, which adds roughly 30% to spendable funds in the Palestinian territories. Most important, the denominator of the GDP per capita equation - the number of people - is far lower than official data indicate. According to an authoritative study by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies [1], the West Bank and Gaza population in 2004 was only 2.5 million, rather than the 3.8 million claimed by the Palestinian authorities. The numbers are inflated to increase foreign aid.

Adjusting for the Begin-Sadat Center population count and adding in foreign aid, GDP per capita in the West Bank and Gaza comes to $3,380, much higher than in Egypt and significantly higher than in Syria or Jordan. Why should any Palestinian refugee resettle in a neighboring Arab country?

GDP per capita, moreover, does not reflect the spending power of ordinary people. Forty-four percent of Egyptians, for example, live on less than $2 a day, the United Nations estimates. The enormous state bureaucracy eats up a huge portion of national income. New immigrants to Egypt who do not have access to government jobs are likely to live far more poorly than per capita GDP would suggest.

Other data confirm that Palestinians enjoy a higher living standard than their Arab neighbors. A fail-safe gauge is life expectancy. The West Bank and Gaza show better numbers than most of the Muslim world:

Life Expectancy by Country in Years
Oman 75.6
Bahrain 75.6
West Bank and Gaza 73.4
Saudi Arabia 72.8
Jordan 72.5
Algeria 72.3
Turkey 71.8
Egypt 71.3
Morocco 71.2
Iran 71.0
Pakistan 65.5
Yemen 62.7
Sudan 58.6
Somalia 48.2
Source: United Nations

Literacy in the Palestinian Authority domain is 92.4%, equal to that of Singapore. That is far better than the 71.4% in Egypt, or 80.8% in Syria.

Without disputing Obama's claim that life for the Palestinians is intolerable, it is fair to ask: where is life not intolerable in the Arab world? When the first UN Arab Development Report appeared in 2002, it elicited comments such as this one from the London Economist: "With barely an exception, its autocratic rulers, whether presidents or kings, give up their authority only when they die; its elections are a sick joke; half its people are treated as lesser legal and economic beings, and more than half its young, burdened by joblessness and stifled by conservative religious tradition, are said to want to get out of the place as soon as they can." Life sounds intolerable for the Arabs generally; their best poet, the Syrian "Adonis" - Ali Ahmad Said Asbar - calls them an "extinct people".

Palestinian Arabs are highly literate, richer and healthier than people in most other Arab countries, thanks to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and the blackmail payments of Western as well as Arab governments. As refugees, they live longer and better than their counterparts in adjacent Arab countries. It is not surprising that they do not want to be absorbed into other Arab countries and cease to be refugees.

If the Palestinians ceased to be refugees, moreover, it is not clear how they would maintain their relatively advantaged position. They cannot return to farming; for all the tears about bulldozed olive groves, no one in the West Bank will ever make a living selling olive oil, except perhaps by selling "Holy Land" products to Christian tourists. Apart from tourism, the only non-subsidy source of income the Palestinians had was day labor in Israel, but security concerns close that off. Light manufacturing never will compete with Asia, and surely not during a prolonged period of global overcapacity.

An alternative is for the Palestinians to continue to live off subsidies. But why should they? Why should Western taxpayers subsidize an Arab in Ramallah, when Arabs in Egypt are needier? The answer is that they represent a security concern for Western countries, who believe that they are paying to limit violence. That only makes sense if the threat of violence remains present in the background and flares up frequently enough to be credible. One cannot simply stage-manage such things. A sociology of violence in which a significant proportion of the population remains armed.

To contain the potential violence of an armed population, donors to the Palestinian authority hire a very large proportion of young men as policemen or paramilitaries. According to a February 10, 2008, report by Steven Stotsky [2]:

Overhauling the Palestinian security forces will cost $4.2 to $7 billion over the next five years. What's more, the recent aid package agreed on in Paris committing to $7.4 billion for the Palestinians doesn't contain any provision for the security services.

The Reuters report follows a piece in the Jordan Times announcing plans to train a 50,000-person police force for the West Bank. This translates to one police officer for every 42-70 citizens (depending on which population figures for the West Bank are accepted), an unprecedented concentration of police presence. Currently, there are only 7,000 Palestinian police officers in the West Bank (Reuters, January13, 2008), so the new plan calls for a seven-fold increase. The planned expansion would result in a density of police at least three to four times that of major American cities that have to contend with much higher crime rates than the West Bank.

Add to this bloated police force the numerous other state security organizations as well as private militias, and it is clear that security is the biggest business in the Palestinian territories and the largest employer of young men. The number of armed Palestinian fighters is estimated at around 80,000 or more than six times the soldiers per capita in the United States. About one out of four Palestinian men between the ages of 20 and 40 makes a living carrying a gun.

That is, the economic structure of "pre-state" Palestine is heavily skewed towards the sort of institutionalized means of violence that is supposed to disappear once a state has been established. This is absurd, and creates a double disincentive for the Palestinians to maintain a low boil of violence. Just how this violence-centered society is supposed to make the transition to an ordinary civil society is an unanswerable question.

Once the problem is diagnosed with this kind of clarity, the solution becomes obvious:
# Cut Western support to the Palestinians with the aim of reducing living standards in the West Bank to those prevailing in Egypt, as an incentive for emigration.
# Demilitarize Palestinian society: offer a reward for turning in weapons, seize them when necessary, and give newly-unemployed gunmen employment weaving baskets at half pay.

Like many obvious solutions, this one never will be put into practice. The problem all along has been the wrong set of expectations. Once Palestinian Arabs adjust their expectations to correspond to levels of income, education and health prevailing in other Arab countries in the region, they can either form a state similar to other Arab states in the region, or simply emigrate to those states as individuals.

The Palestinians cannot form a normal state. They cannot emigrate to Arab countries without accepting a catastrophic decline in living standards, and very few can emigrate to Western countries. The optimal solution for the Palestinians is to demand a state and blackmail Western and Arab donors with the threat of violence, but never actually get one.

That is why the Palestinian issue is "hopeless, but not serious", in the words of my old mentor Norman A Bailey, a former national security official. As long as all concerned understand that the comedy is not supposed to have an ending, the Palestinians can persist quite tolerably in their "intolerable" predicament.

1. The Million Person Gap: The Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza, Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael L Wise, February 2006. The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-ilan University, Mideast Security and Policy Studies No. 65. Click here.
2. Plan for Palestinian Police Force Seven Times Larger than Current Force by Steven Stotsky, February 10, 2008.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman, associate editor of First Things.

Glenn Beck: Questions to Ask Your President and Your Congressional Representatives

The Editors

We’re just loving the service Glenn Beck is providing to America on his Fox News television program, using his crack team of investigators to uncover intriguing and potentially explosive information about key players in our federal government, particularly in the executive branch, whose presence may threaten American sovereignty and security. This past week, Mr. Beck focused on Mr. Obama’s unelected, unvetted, unaccountable czars who have been given the use of gargantuan budgets funded by the use of our personal, hard-earned money (without our permission, of course). Since some of the czars have served prison terms or are self-proclaimed Communists (and more), we found the facts to be so shocking, we reported on it here and continue to advance the discussion.

While it is most definitely the responsibility of our press to ask Mr. Obama the tough questions about his strategies in choosing such people, it is clear that the press has abandoned that duty for reasons only known to them. In light of that, Mr. Beck has offered We the People some questions we should ask of our Congressional representatives (and the questions must be asked not only in today’s town hall meetings, but in town hall meetings to come), and of the White House itself (someone’s got to do it and, when all is said and done, they all work for us). After all, this is a president who promised unparalleled transparency in all his dealings; in fact the White House contact web site says, “President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history,” so let’s see if he was telling us the truth.

So in order of the days they were introduced on his show, here are the questions for which we should be demanding answers from our politicians.

Day 1
- Our unfunded liability for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is close to $100 trillion. Is there any way to pay for these programs without bankrupting America?

- We are in so much debt, why spend more borrowed money on cap-and-trade and healthcare programs before we stop the flow of red-ink?

- The stimulus package funneled billions of dollars to ACORN. How does giving billions of dollars to ACORN stimulate the economy?

- If it was so important for congress to pass the stimulus bill before they even had time to read it why has only a fraction of the stimulus money been spent 6 months later?

- Bush said he had to abandon free market principles in order to save them – how exactly does that work?

- Why won’t members of Congress read the bills before they vote on them?

- Why are citizens mocked and laughed at when they ask their congressman to read the bills before they vote on them?

- Was the cash-for-clunkers program meant to save the earth or the economy? Did it accomplish either?

- How did Van Jones, a self-proclaimed communist, become a special advisor to the president?

- Did President Obama know of Van Jones’ radical political beliefs when he named him special advisor?

- The Apollo Alliance claimed credit for writing the stimulus bill—why was this group allowed to write any portion of this bill?

- If politicians aren’t writing the bills and aren’t reading the bills, do they have any idea what these 1,000-plus page bills actually impose on the American people?

- If the “public option” health care plan is so good why won’t politicians agree to have that as their plan?

- If town hall meetings are intended for the politicians to learn what’s on our mind – why do they spend so much time talking instead of listening?

- Politicians are refusing to attend town hall meetings complaining, without evidence, that they are scripted. Does that mean we shouldn’t come out and vote for you since every campaign stop, baby kiss and speech you give is scripted?

- Why would you want to overwhelm the system?

- Is using the economic crises to rush legislation through congress what Rahm Emanuel meant when he talked about "not letting a crises go to waste"?

- What are the czars paid? What is the budget for their staffs/offices?

Day 2

- Who is "surrounding" the President in the White House?

- Do any of the President's advisers have criminal records?

- Are the President's advisers working to better the country or their own ideals?

- Who are the anti-capitalists in Washington?

- What roles do they have in crafting bills?

- What was "STORM"? What happened to the founders, where are they now?

- What qualifications must one have to be a Presidential adviser?

- What is the difference between a community organizer and a community activist?

- Do the czars have power?

- Should a communist have the ear of the President of the United States?

- What role did the Apollo Alliance play in crafting bills?

- Does the President know the co-founder of the Weather Underground is a board member of the Apollo Alliance?

- How many people in the administration are connected to the movement for a democratic society?

- What role does George Soros play...CONSTITUTIONALLY?

Day 3
- Why does the FCC have a diversity "czar"?

- Who is Mark Lloyd and how does he plan to "balance" the airwaves?

- Will he bring back the Fairness Doctrine or worse?

- Cass Sunstein once said he wants to balance the Internet; is that next?

- Will broadcasters who leave the airwaves be allowed to go to satellite or Internet without government regulation?

- Is there any place (that has a mass audience) where the government wont regulate free speech?

- Why does it seem every member of the Obama advisory team hates capitalism, unless those companies (like G.E.) are in bed with the administration?

- If Lloyd has his way, stations who don't comply to the governments definition of the "public interest" will have to pay a massive fine — that helps support public broadcasting:

- What will be the definition of "public interest"?

- Who defines "public interest"?

- Why should it be balanced? Because it's public airwaves? (Well, there are public roads that go by my house and I don't count how many Republicans and Democrats are driving on them)

Day 4
- Why do we need a civilian force?

- Who is posing a threat to us?

- Who will this "force" be made up of?

- Who is the real enemy?

- Does the president know of a coming event? If not, who builds an army against an unrecognized enemy?

- Why won't the media get off their butts and look into these radicals in the White House? And into this civilian army?

If you are unknowledgeable about any of the above-named individuals or organizations, run web searches on them and you will find all the (shocking) information you’ll need.

Last, it is true that these people in Washington DO work for us. You have heard high level appointees, when asked about their futures working for a particular president, respond noncommittally, “I serve at the pleasure of the president.” Well, the president and Congress serve at the pleasure of you and me - The People. What that means is that unfortunately, this team in Washington was our choice, so we have no one to blame but ourselves and they will continue to have their jobs until we fire them at the ballot box (unless voter fraud overwhelms us).

On the other hand, making bad hires is a fairly common mistake, as it happens 50 percent of the time, so even though in a bad hire we suffer a loss of time, money and culture, the mistakes are correctable and somehow we survive. So let’s not be tough on ourselves; let’s just ACT.

Politicians ignore us because they are not afraid of us. Let’s hope that our stunning display of guts, will and determination at recent town hall meetings has at least riveted their attention so that they understand they will be fired in a heartbeat if they cease to do our constitutionally-authorized will.

Brought to you by the editors and research staff of

What Obama is missing in his policy on Israel
Published: August 30, 2009

On my run along the Tel Aviv boardwalk, I pass the Dolphinarium, a former disco now decaying and vacant. In 2001, a Hamas suicide bomber detonated there, killing 21 teenagers. A memorial states, "We’ll never stop dancing.” As I continue, I catch a glimpse of the back of the building, now converted into a chic seaside nightclub. Israelis keep dancing, but are constantly reminded that the perverse accomplishment of the Second Intifada was death of innocents with no improvement in the Palestinian predicament. This intifada followed the Bill Clinton-brokered Camp David summit of 2000. The view from Tel Aviv is unlike that from Washington. Several misconceptions have permeated American foreign policy in the Middle East. First, that applying pressure on Israel will placate its adversaries enough to bring them to the negotiating table. Second, that an Israeli settlement-freeze is the key to unlocking peace in the region. Third, that an American-imposed agreement will take hold. Fourth, that there is a Palestinian government capable of striking and implementing a peace deal on behalf of all Palestinians.

Historical due diligence clearly shows that pressure on Israel will only yield Israeli resistance to negotiations and will embolden Arab opponents of a peaceful solution. The Obama administration’s preoccupation with a settlement freeze legitimizes further Arab finger pointing and is antithetical to progress. As evidenced in Sinai, Israel has shown willingness to uproot settlements when there is hope for a lasting peace. An enduring American-brokered peace agreement must involve two willing and capable parties, as were Egypt and Israel in 1979.

Though Fatah shows signs of attempted restructuring, its latest conference in Bethlehem highlighted deep inner divisions and an eternal deadlock with Hamas. The Palestinians have perpetually failed to demonstrate the ability to unite and self-govern. Preponderant corruption, tribalism and internal strife have preoccupied and jaded Palestinian society. Sadly, there is no unified or competent partner for negotiations in the West Bank or in Gaza.

President Obama’s insistence on the ripeness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for solution is fundamentally miscalculated. With whom should Israel sign a peace deal? With Fatah, whose calls for peace ring hollow by its failure to recognize Israel’s basic right to exist? With Hamas, who is openly committed to Israel’s destruction, rules Gaza by brute force, and whose fruitless rocket campaign against Israel left the Palestinians in greater despair and destitution?

Unless the Palestinians create a cohesive government, recognize Israel and eliminate hateful indoctrination, peace attempts will prove futile. Israel must make a concurrent effort to quell settler behavior that disregards Palestinian dignity, and must remain steadfast in its ban on settlement expansion.

I studied in Israel during the Second Intifada, when suicide bombers disrupted the social and economic fabric of Israel but stiffened its resolve. Regrettably for me, as for many Israelis, today’s relative quiet is the "peace” that is most realistic until there is a viable partner on the other side. A hasty American solution will only lead to unsustainable peace and deepened hostility.

Reshef of Oklahoma City is studying at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the IDC Herzliya, Israel.

A hasty American solution will only lead to unsustainable peace and deepened hostility.

Israeli Arab used membership of same gym to spy on Chief of Staff

DEBKAfile Special Report
August 31, 2009, 12:33 PM (GMT+02:00)

Rauy Sultani, 23, from the Israeli Triangle town of Tirah was brought to trial before the Petach Tikva district court Monday, Aug. 31, accused of being recruited by the Lebanese Hizballah to spy on the Israeli chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi. Sultani is accused of grave offenses against state security, passing information to the enemy and contact with a foreign agent.According to the indictment, he was recruited by Hizballah operative Salman Harb at a summer camp run by the Israeli-Arab Balad party in Morocco in August 2008.

Sultani told Harb that he was perfectly placed to spy on the Israeli army chief because they belonged to the same gym in Kfar Saba. He said he was familiar with Ashkenazi's movements and daily schedule.

Told to do nothing at that point, in December he was instructed by his instructor to travel to Poland and meet up with "Sammy Harb," his recruiter's brother. The Israeli Arab was then assigned with gathering information on IDF bases and troops. But first he was thoroughly grilled on the routes of access to the gym, Ashkenazi's regular workout times, his gear and the state of security around him at those times.

The next day he was given an email address for corresponding with his controller together with an encryption disk.

On his return to Israel, the accused spy regularly reported to his controller, transferring coded messages by telephone and email. In December, Israeli police investigators picked up the correspondence and launched an inquiry. Sulmani was then put under arrest and questioned. He confessed to spying on the chief of staff and passing information to Hizballah in Poland.

The security surrounding Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi has been tightened following this and another breach: A soldier serving at general staff headquarters in Tel Aviv was discovered last month to have stolen the general's credit cards from his office and passing them on to criminals who used them on a spending spree.

HC: Throwing Darts at HR3200 - Day 2

William A. Jacobson

This is the second in a series of posts analyzing randomly selected provisions in HR3200, the House Democratic health care restructuring bill. In the prior post, I examined the almost incomprehensible section 1721 concerning payments to primary care practitioners. The page selected for this post, using the dartboard method, is page 692 of the House Bill which contains the final paragraph of Sec. 1613, "Enhanced Penalties for Delaying Inspections." As set forth below, the title is apt. The section gives the government a huge hammer, in the way of sizable daily penalties, to ensure that providers and suppliers to federal health care programs permit federal officials access for inspections.

Section 1613 amends Section 1128A(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a–7a(a)), "as amended by sections 1611 [enhanced penalties for false statements on provider or supplier enrollment applications] and 1612 [false statements in support of a false claim]" of the House Bill, by adding penalties where a person:

10) fails to grant timely access, upon reasonable request (as defined by the Secretary in regulations), to the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, for the purpose of audits, investigations, evaluations, or other statutory functions of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services;

Looking at the cross-references, this is part of increased fraud penalties in the legislation, in this case having to do with providers and suppliers under any federal health care program. Section 1613 imposes penalties for any provider or supplier who refuses to grant access for an inspection under applicable regulations.

But determining the exact application is very tricky. The proposed amendment says that the penalty is determined using the following formula:

(4) in the matter following paragraph (10), as inserted by paragraph (3)—
(A) by striking ‘‘or’’ after ‘‘$50,000 for each such act,’’;
(B) by inserting ‘‘, or in cases under paragraph (10), $15,000 for each day of the failure described in such paragraph’’ after ‘‘false record or statement’’.

It is hard to figure out this language, because of the use of the words “in the matter” and the reference to “paragraph (3).” There may be a logic to this wording, but it is not obvious. I think it means that penalties for violation of this new paragraph 10 will be $15,000 for each day on non-compliance. So if someone delays for a week, the penalties would be $105,000.

Unlike the provisions of section 1721, examined in the prior post, these penalty provisions are not incomprehensible. But they are hard to follow, requiring a time-consuming comparison of existing statutes and other provisions in the House Bill.

This provision creates a new inspection regime giving the government access to a supplier or provider’s premises, and gives the government a very heavy hammer to enforce compliance with the government's inspection requirements. I don't know enough about these specific types of inspections to determine if they exist elsewhere in the law, but the drafters obviously felt the need to add these access requirements.

Is this a good thing? The positive is that fraud in government health care programs is rampant, so anything which gives the government additional investigative tools could be helpful.

The downside is that government is given substantial new powers, under threat of heavy daily fines, allowing it access as, if, and when it deems necessary. Certainly, one can imagine scenarios where a person believes the government is acting unreasonably in requesting access, but the fear of daily penalties would put such person at severe financial risk. The lesson would be that if you do business with the government health care system, your business is an open book subject to inspection and access at any time.

William A. Jacobson is Associate Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School in Ithaca, NY, and author of the Legal Insurrection Blog ( ).

Page Printed from: at August 31, 2009 - 07:52:55 AM EDT

Well...actually...the economy is headed...

The Worst is Yet to Come
Vasko Kohlmayer | Monday, August 31, 2009

"Today, we're pointed in the right direction... While we've rescued our economy from catastrophe, we've also begun to build a new foundation for growth,” said President Obama recently.

Unfortunately, the president's declarations and all the talk about the green shoots by his acolytes in the media are merely wishful thinkingFar from rescuing it, the Bush/Obama stimulus has dealt a damaging blow to the economy, and one which will exert its harmful effects for years to come. We only need to take a quick look at the big picture to see why.

Last year the American economic system experienced major trauma as more and more banks, companies and individuals were brought to the verge of bankruptcy. In most cases their plight was caused by their inability to service their liabilities. Buoyed by the easy availability of cheap credit and loose monetary policy of preceding years, government, commercial entities as well as private persons had taken on unprecedented levels of debt. Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, correctly points out that we lived in “a debt economy.” Writing in Journal Sentinel, John Torinus, a banker with experience in leveraged buyouts, described the astonishingly lax mindset that had come to dominate the whole sphere of borrowing:

The investment banks that crashed and burned were leveraged as high as 35 to 1. Their 3% equity base disappeared in a sinkhole of excessive debt... The excessive leverage went far beyond the investment banks. Homebuyers could get insured or federally backed mortgages with 5% down or sometimes less. They were leveraged 20 to 1 or more. Credit checks were loose.

The cheap credit – which was made possible by artificially low interest rates – brought on the borrowing frenzy to a feverish pitch. Paul Craig Roberts observes:

The debt economy caused Americans to leverage their assets. They refinanced their homes and spent the equity. They maxed out numerous credit cards. They worked as many jobs as they could find. Debt expansion and multiple family incomes kept the economy going.

Toward the end of 2008 the overall debt level – public, commercial and personal – in the American economy was well over $50 trillion. This was three and a half times the size of the country's total economic output (around $14 trillion) and more than double the debt level of 2000. At over 350 percent, this made ours the most over leveraged economy in history. To put it bluntly, all of us – individuals, businesses and especially government – lived beyond our means. The American economy was over-leveraged through and through.

The racket held while the economy boomed. But once it seized, the over-indebtedness became unsustainable and things began falling apart. Describing this process, Nouriel Roubinini, one of America's leading financial commentators, wrote in Forbes:

Americans lived in a "Made-off" and Ponzi bubble economy for a decade or even longer. Madoff is the mirror of the American economy and of its over-leveraged agents: a house of cards of leverage over leverage by households, financial firms and corporations that has now collapsed in a heap.

Painful as the impending bankruptcies tsunami would have been, it would have ultimately delivered a remedy. In order for an economic system to remain viable, excessive indebtedness must be corrected and those responsible chastised for their misjudgment. It is for this purpose that the market evolved the institution of bankruptcy. Had it been left to unfold unimpeded, the process would have reduced the overall leverage and the economy would have eventually found itself on a sound footing once again.

The government, however, resolved not to allow the market do its work. In a misguided attempt to avert the necessary pain, it began propping up failing enterprises and individuals with more easy credit and direct cash injections. And even though it was initially advertised as a relatively short-term and targeted effort, the operation has been ongoing for nearly nine months while continually expanding in scope.

This approach is fundamentally flawed on a number of levels. To begin with, the government's actions interfere with the market's corrective forces. But the most obvious problem is that the government simply does not have the money to do this. It is ironic that even before it embarked on its “rescue” effort, the government itself was already more deeply indebted than the companies it sought to save. With some $65 trillion in total obligations, the federal government was, in fact, the most over-leveraged institution in America.

The rescue has unsurprisingly turned out to be a singularly expensive undertaking. So much so that the government's deficit at the end of this fiscal year will exceed the previous record by nearly a factor of four. At some 11 percent of GDP, this is also the highest peacetime deficit in American history when measured as a portion of the overall economy.

If the government's strategy – bailing out debt-ridden companies and individuals by enlarging its own astronomical debt – seems misguided, it is. There is an old truism that says you cannot get out of debt by running deeper into debt. And yet this is precisely what the government has been trying to do. This is why its approach will ultimately fail.

The authors of the latest Comstock Partners special report put their finger on the crux of the matter. Countering the conventional wisdom of the spend-and-stimulate Keynesians, they write:

We, however, don't believe that the U.S. massive stimulus programs and money printing can solve a problem of excess debt generation... If this were the answer Argentina would be one of the most prosperous countries in the world. This excess debt actually resulted from the same money printing and easy money that we are now using to alleviate the pain.

The bailouts reward bad management and irresponsible businesses practices and forestall the remedy the market is trying to administer. Contrary to what we have been told, all those injections of credit and capital do not contain a cure. Instead they are filled with the noxious serum of public debt whose toxic effects are slowly poisoning the whole system. The festering sores of the economic crisis have been only temporarily masked with government made bailout band aids, but those are no thicker than a dollar bill. The sickness will eventually break out again, but next time it will hit with greater intensity.

Our over-leveraged government can give out those lavish bailouts only because it can still borrow at low interest. But bond investors have been growing increasingly vocal in expressing their doubts about the government's ability to make good on its debts. It is only a matter of time before they start demanding higher bond yields. When that happens, borrowing will become prohibitively expensive. Saddled with an enormous debt and with no one to advance easy cash, the government will find itself in the same position as the companies it is trying to save today. When that moment finally arrives, there will be no one to finance the ultimate bail out. If you thought that letting a couple of big banks fail would have been bad, wait what happens when the federal government itself goes under.

Make no mistake: The worst is still yet to come.

Psssst, Don't Tell Anyone But the CIA's Enhanced Interrogation Techniques Worked

National Review Online
[Andy McCarthy]

On a Saturday morning in late August, while country was away on summer vacation and those who closely watch politics were watching Ted Kennedy's funeral, the Washington Post quietly hung up the mainstream media's white flag on the CIA's harsh interrogation tactics. It turns out, they work — who knew? Fortunately, Steve Hayes has stayed on the case and, at the Standard's blog, he's got the story about the story — along with excerpts from the essential report by FDD's Tom Joscelyn (also in the Standard, here) relating the effectiveness of the CIA program and an important op-ed by FDD's Reuel Marc Gerecht (in the Wall Street Journal, here) about the devastating consequences of the Obama administration's decision to investigate the CIA over interrogation practices. My own assessments of the legal meritlessness of the case against the interrogators and the reasons why it is being persued anyway by President Obama and Attorney General Holder are here and here.

As they say, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts. The MSM has tried to have both for the last five years, arguing against experience and common sense that tactics like sleep-deprivation and waterboarding were not effective. Clearly, they worked, and to great effect. As Steve says, that case should now be closed.

Obviously, there is still a principled argument to be made that the nation should not engage in such practices. But the burden of making it in a principled way should be to say: "While this is an excruciating choice, it would be better for thousands of Americans to be killed than to allow the CIA to use non-lethal coercive tactics (that cause no lasting physical or mental damage) on a terrorist who refuses to tell us what he knows about ongoing mass-murder plots."

Fitzgerald: Salam al-Marayati, loyalty, and patriotism

“Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati is the newest blogger for the popular website The Huffington Post. . Here is an excerpt from his first blog: ‘As Muslims, when we take an oath of citizenship or allegiance, it is tantamount to making an oath with God: “And be true to your bond with God whenever you bind yourselves by a pledge, and do not break [your] oaths after having [freely] confirmed them and having called upon God to be witness to your good faith: behold, God knows all that you do.” - Quran 16:91. As Muslim Americans, when we take the oath of allegiance to America witnessed by our families and our friends (and now DHS), we must remain true to our word. It is an Islamic obligation to defend what we are taking an oath to, namely the constitution of the United States of America. That does not equate with supporting the policies of the government. Patriotism is not waving the flag or using it to intimidate others; patriotism is love of country, and when we as Muslim Americans see a danger to our country, such as terrorism or xenophobia, or policies that hurt the image and interests of the United States, it is our American and Islamic responsibility to change toward the betterment of America….’” -- From the Huffington Post, which apparently will now regularly include articles by Salam Al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (see the announcement here)

This is the purest taqiyya, or kitman, or combination of both.

Islam teaches -- inculcates, rather -- the notion that Muslims do not owe any allegiance to non-Muslims, not to their countries, not to their institutions, legal and political, not to anything. Within Islam -- uniquely, among world religions -- such a doctrine has arisen, and has been elaborated, and has been written about, one that is based on both the letter and spirit of the Qur'an and on the example of Muhammad, the Model of Conduct (uswa hasana), the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil). See the assurances given the Meccans in the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya.

Look at the false equivalences: “terrorism or xenophobia,” with the first referring to real acts of terror by Muslims, following promptings that are found in the texts of Islam (see the Qur’an, see the Hadith, passim) and the “xenophobia” in question merely being, in this case, not “hatred of foreigners” but, of course, the fear and suspicion of those who are adherents of Islam, a fear and suspicion that are entirely rational, and that are felt most by those who have taken the most time to inform themselves about the texts and tenets and history of Islam.

And note how carefully he says that “we must remain true to our word” when we “take the oath of allegiance to America.” Why? It makes no sense to remain true to a word, or an oath, given to an Infidel polity in order to obtain American citizenship or to relieve the suspicions of non-Muslims. Islam is a Total Belief-System that reinforces, through a whole variety of means, again and again the idea that for a Muslim the main thing, possibly the only thing, in life that truly matters is being Muslim, and that loyalty to fellow Muslims and to the teachings of Islam are the only things that matter, not the trivial and the transient, the without-worth because non-Muslim, Infidel polities.

Al-Marayati pretends that Muslims are just full of the patriotism and loyalty that animates other Americans. Is this true? Have Muslims rallied to the cause of fighting against “Muslim extremism” abroad? Have they flocked into the military, imitating the Japanese-Americans of the 422nd Regiment during World War II, the first (or possibly second) most decorated regiment in the entire U.S. military? Or have the handful of Muslims who have served reported how difficult it has been for them, how they have been repeatedly criticized and attacked by other Muslims for fighting “for the Infidel”?

And what has been the behavior of Muslims, and Muslim organizations, in this country? Have they encouraged Muslims to report on that “tiny handful of extremists,” or have they repeatedly refused to do so? Have Muslim organizations, and not only CAIR, exhibited a spirit of cooperation, or have they repeatedly urged Muslims not to voluntarily cooperate but to carefully go through them, and what’s more, have encouraged Muslims to report any and all supposed “anti-Muslim incidents,” all of which are scrupulously investigated, and almost all of which have been found to be baseless, or greatly exaggerated? Have they not encouraged in Muslims themselves, and in a credulous media that believes uncritically Muslim complaints, the idea that Muslims are being “victimized”?

There are a handful of exceptions. These consist of those who, having through no fault of their own been born in to Islam, have decided that they no longer are believers. But they are unwilling, out of fear or filial piety, to declare themselves openly to be apostates, and so signal to the outside world their disenchantment with Islam by identifying themselves as “cultural Muslims” or in some other way as “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslims. They are as yet unwilling to wholeheartedly declare that disenchantment and their own falling-away from the faith.

All over the countries of Western Europe, as in the Muslim -dominated lands (Dar al-Islam), one can find the message of Islam clearly set out in the sermons of imams who are either uninhibited or perhaps, in some cases, simply unaware that they are being eavesdropped on by agents of the various Infidel governments. That message is clear: loyalty to Islam and to fellow members of the Umma comes first. And if one goes to Muslim websites (it isn't hard to do) and reads around, one discovers that the universal answer to the question "do I have to obey the laws of Infidel states if I have managed to obtain citizenship in those states" is not a resounding and unqualified "Yes" but, rather, the obvious: obey the laws of Infidel states only insofar as those laws do not contradict the principles of Islam, of the Holy Law of Islam or Shari'a. In other words, "be a good citizen" just so long as what you do does not contradict Islam.

The "loyalty" and "patriotism" that Salam Al-Marayati describes sounds fine. Anyone who knows little or nothing of Islam might be taken in. One might be if one has ignored all the evidence, in both the clearly-stated doctrines of Islam, and in what might reasonably be called the necessary developments from those doctrines -- including kitman ("mental reservation") and taqiyya. These have naturally been developed and are practiced, as we can all see, in every encounter with non-Muslims, when Muslims feel they need to conceal, in order to preserve Islam and Muslims from critical scrutiny, and to delay for as long as possible the widespread understanding of the texts and tenets of Islam.

The passage above should raise eyebrows and more than eyebrows. It is clear that Al-Marayati is determined to misrepresent Islam. It will be interesting to see what protests there are in comments, and how informed those protests are. The level of preparation of those who answer him will be important.

But all you need to do is look at Islam from the inside out -- look at the ample testimonies provided by a growing army of defectors from that other army, the army of Islam. Look at what Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells us in her Infidel about all the ways that Muslims talk about fooling the non-Muslims of the Netherlands. Look at Ibn Warraq, or Ali Sina, or all the many ex-Muslims who have contributed to such websites as the latter's Look at the opinion polls, where Muslims in Western Europe support attacks within, and against, the countries and non-Muslim peoples among whom they have been allowed to settle. There they are treated by the innocent and the ignorant with great generosity, which has been repaid with a malevolent determination to relentlessly spread the power and might of Islam, and to undercut, in every way that is deemed effective, the legal and political institutions, the liberties, the social understandings, of Infidel peoples and polities.

One detects in the soft-spoken assurances of Tariq Ramadan the hiss of a slitherer. Read Caroline Fourest, or many others, on his slitherings. And then re-read carefully the excerpt from Al-Marayati above. Then go to, or, or to the books of Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or to the articles by many defectors from Islam, or the studies of Islam by the great Western scholars who wrote during the century of flourishing Western scholarship on Islam, roughly from 1870 to 1970, which is roughly when the portcullises came down, to defend the castle of Islam, and the Age of Inhibition began.

When Al-Marayati utters his sly remarks about “love of country” and the “betterment of America,” what do you think he means? What could he possibly mean, if he is a believer in Islam? If you believe in Islam, if you believe in the Message of the Last of the Prophets, then what would be best for America, what would bring about its “betterment”? Surely not more of the same, not more of the same belief that mere men should, through the ballot, decide on the political and legal institutions of this country. Men are, or should ideally be, “slaves of Allah.” And a well-ordered world, according to Muslim doctrine, is that in which the will, not of mere mortals, but of Allah himself, is obeyed. So it is not the will of the people, expressed through elections and representative government, but rather the will of Allah, as expressed in the Qur’an and glossed by the Sunnah, that should prevail. That is surely what Al-Marayati sees as the best hope for this country, the “betterment” for which he, and all of the Believers, will naturally strive. In other words, the entire basis for the American policy is flatly contradicted by the most essential understandings of Islam.

And what does Al-Marayati think of the Constitution of the United States? What, for example, does he think of the First Amendment, and the rights of free speech, and of freedom of conscience, as guaranteed by both the Free Exercise and the Establishment clause? Does Al-Marayati think that anyone in this country who wishes to leave Islam should be perfectly free to do so without any repercussions whatsoever? What does he think about the case of Rifqa Bary? What punishment does he think should properly be meted out to those Muslim men who have, on their own, killed or greatly harmed their own daughters or wives, because they thought their daughters or wives had left Islam, or behaved in a way that brought “dishonor” to the family? And if he thinks such people should be properly punished by the full force of the law, does he also think that people guilty of similar behavior in other countries, such as Jordan or Syria or Iraq or Saudi Arabia, should also be punished? Or does he merely counsel acquiescence in the American legal system because, at present, Muslims cannot change it, and it is more important to outwardly conform -- temporarily -- with the American system so as better to work, over the long term, for changes in America that will lead to what Al-Marayati and those who think and believe like Al-Marayati consider to be the “betterment” of America?

And what could be “better” for America than the onward march of Islam, and an end to all of those elements, including the Constitution of the United States, that flatly contradict the spirit and letter of Shari’a? Just look around the world, look at the vast lands that over the past 1350 years have been conquered by Islam, ordinarily, though not exclusively, through military force. And look at the wiles and guiles that have helped Muslims avoid having to declare, in their mental baggage, as they leave the Lands of Islam (where all the failures of those lands can be intelligently attributed to the teachings of Islam itself), that they are quite different from refugees from the Nazis, who hated the Nazis and Nazism, and refugees from Communism, who hated the Communists and Communism, despite in a sense being “refugees” from the Misrule, in every sense, of Islam.

No, most of those who leave the awful societies of Dar al-Islam take a bit of Dar al-Islam with them. Yet they flee its natural violence, and aggression, and corruption, and political paralysis, and economic paralysis which are natural results both of the Muslim hatred of bida (innovation), and of the Muslim encouragement of an attitude of inshallah-fatalism. They flee an intellectual wasteland, reflected in such things as openness to the world as suggested by the number of translated works, because in Islam, what is pre—Islamic, or what is non-Islamic, is part of one vast and contemptible Jahiliyya -- save in the one area that seems truly to interest Muslims, and that is the area of weapons manufacture. While they are indifferent to pure science, they seem terribly concerned to acquire the ability to rival or surpass the West in the production, or at least accumulation, of weaponry.

There’s much more, but you can elaborate on the theme -- including the moral squalor that the mistreatment of women and of all non-Muslims reveals.

Oh, yes.

What could be better?

What could be worse?

Is the death penalty for apostasy in the Qur'an? Yes it is, sweet little Rifqa

Robert Spencer

Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a thoroughly unpleasant character with whom I have appeared on many radio shows (on which he invariably likens me to Osama bin Laden, although I have never flown any planes into buildings, beheaded anyone, or exhorted anyone to do so), attacks Rifqa Bary, the seventeen-year-old girl who converted from Islam to Christianity and fled from her home and father after he threatened to kill her (as she explains here), and her supporters in a contemptuous, dishonest, condescending and arrogant piece at the Huffington Post, "Rifqa, the Reverand [sic] and Apostasy" (August 18).

Hugh Fitzgerald and Andy Bostom have already weighed in on this utterly contemptible article, but I have a few things to add.

Al-Marayati is intent on impugning Rifqa's own testimony in favor of her father's protestations that he does not intend to kill her -- and indeed, it is her word against his, and the only price we will have to pay if al-Marayati turns out to be wrong is a murdered teenage girl. To support his case, al-Marayati makes essentially two points, both encapsulated in this sentence: "Mohamed Bary allowed his daughter to become a cheerleader and says she can practice any faith she wants -- clearly, he is not a fundamentalist."

His first point is thus that Mohamed Bary, by allowing his daughter to prance around in skimpy cheerleader costumes, clearly was not the sort to insist on the finer points of Islamic law like the death penalty for apostasy (which al-Marayati implies does not exist anyway, so it's hard to see why it would be a feature of "fundamentalism" in the first place). However, honor killing victims in the West have invariably been girls who have been Westernized, adopting Western non-Muslim mores to the growing dismay of their male relatives. Al-Marayati's point is that if Mohamed Bary were a "fundamentalist," he would not have allowed Rifqa to become Westernized in the first place. Real life, however, is not always that simple. Honor killing victims like Amina and Sarah Said in Texas and Aqsa Parvez in Canada appear to been quite Westernized for a considerable period before their relationships with their fathers reached a tipping point, and they were murdered. Rifqa Bary fled before that could happen, but the fact that she was a hijab-less cheerleader indicates nothing. Pamela Geller explains further in responding to the same claim from Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel:

Victims are generally beautiful, Westernized, and dressed in a manner that perhaps Thomas would term “provocative.” Muslim girls who live in the West lead two lives. Amina and Sarah Said, allegedly murdered by their father in Texas on New Year’s Day 2008 for having non-Muslim boyfriends, were honor students, star athletes, soccer players, tennis players, etc. Rifqa was the same way in Ohio before she fled. These girls led double lives. The murder always happens when the family sees they have lost control of the child.

Al-Marayati's second point is that, contrary to Rifqa's own claim, the Qur'an says nothing about killing apostates:

She claims that her parents "love God more than me" and therefore have to perform an honor killing on her. She argues "it's in the Quran". No it's not, sweet little Rifqa. It's not in the Quran. Whoever told you that is either ignorant or a liar. You should look it up yourself before claiming it's in the Quran.

Rev. Lorenz is then quoted in a local television station report saying that if a Muslim leaves his religion and does not return to Islam in a couple of days, then he must be killed. He claims that someone showed him the verse. There is no such verse, Rev. Lorenz. In every faith, apostasy is shunned but ultimate judgment is left to God, not people.

Two things are being confused here: honor killing and the death penalty for apostasy. Honor killing is not discussed directly in the Qur'an, although it is given strong implicit support by 18:74, 80-81, when the mysterious figure known in Islamic tradition as Khidr, traveling with the prophet Moses, kills a young man Moses terms "innocent" (18:74). Khidr explains: "And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection." The young man is murdered because he is an unbeliever, so that his parents may be given a believing child in exchange. (Why the unbelieving son has to be killed before the believing son can be given to them is not explained.) Thus the precedent is set: a child who is an unbeliever is killed for his unbelief.

The death penalty for apostasy is found more directly in the Qur'an -- Islamic authorities generally root it in two Qur'anic verses, 2:217 and 4:89, as Hugh has noted. Here is 2:217:

They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Say: "Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members." Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.

What does it mean that the works of those who "turn back from their faith and die in unbelief" will "bear no fruit in this life" as well as in the next? Let's go for an answer to the Tafsir al-Qurtubi, a classic and thoroughly mainstream exegesis of the Qur'an. About 2:217, Qurtubi says this:

Scholars disagree about whether or not apostates are asked to repent. One group say that they are asked to repent and, if they do not, they are killed. Some say they are given an hour and others a month. Others say that they are asked to repent three times, and that is the view of Malik. Al-Hasan said they are asked a hundred times. It is also said that they are killed without being asked to repent.

Did you notice one option that Qurtubi never mentions? That's right: he never says anything like "some say the apostate should not be killed." The only point of contention seems to be how long the Muslim must wait before he kills the apostate.

Meanwhile, 4:89 says this:

They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they). But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.

Thus those who have fled from what is forbidden, i.e., embraced Islam, should be killed if they "turn renegades." The Tafsir al-Jalalayn, another venerable and respected commentary on the Qur'an, explains that a Muslim should not trust these people "until they emigrate in the way of God, a proper emigration that would confirm their belief" -- that is, if they leave their homes to join up with the Muslims. "Then, if they turn away, and remain upon their ways, take them, as captives, and slay them wherever you find them." Here again, no attempt is made, in this Qur'an commentary or any of those that Muslims revere as trustworthy, to explain that this does not actually mean that one should kill the "renegade."

And of course al-Marayati focuses narrowly on Rifqa's statement about the Qur'an. He never mentions, although he surely must know, that Muhammad said "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him," and that this statement in the Hadith (in which it appears several times) became the foundation for the unanimous verdict of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence: the apostate must be killed.

That he does not mention this key point is just one indication that as a witness to Islamic teaching on this (and other) matters, Salam al-Marayati is not to be trusted.

American and Israel

Ira Sharkansky
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 10:35 AM

When I was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during 1968-75, I occasionally spoke out against anti-war students and faculty colleagues. I also learned the smell of tear gas, as it was impossible to avoid the mass demonstrations and the responses of police and National Guard. At the same time, I was lecturing several times a year to junior officers at military bases in the United States and overseas. Numerous students came to class while on leave from Vietnam. One of them had earned a Congressional Medal of Honor. My topic was domestic policymaking, in the framework of an MA program in public administration, but there were conversations about other things.

I do not recall just when I turned against Vietnam. I still think there was justification, in the context of the time, in making a forceful statement against expanding Communism. I knew it was a confused situation, with corruption in the South and perhaps as much national liberation as Communism per se in the Vietcong and those who supported them. The results were not worth 58,000 American deaths and many more broken lives.

In Vietnam, more than Korea, we saw a dynamic of war and politics that kept the thing going far beyond the point of utility. I fear the same for Afghanistan. I have no doubt that 9-11 justified a hard blow against the Taliban. But controlling Afghanistan and seeking to reform that country? It is one of the least governable places on earth.

What the United States has lacked is another Dwight Eisenhower, who knew the costs and limitations of combat, got out of Korea, and stayed out of Vietnam and most other places. Colin Powell expressed something similar: do not enter a conflict except with the intention of using the force necessary to succeed, define goals clearly, and do not stay longer than necessary. His advice prevailed more in Iraq I than Iraq II, and not in Afghanistan.

Neither George W. Bush nor Barack Obama are anything close to Eisenhower or Powell.

I have been in Israel since 1975. I was drafted at the age of 42 and spent 10 years as a reservist in the lecture corps., talking about public policy to support personnel and fighters throughout Israel, in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. Here I have sharpened my perception of the United States as an arrogant and naive meddler in areas that its leadership and military do not understand.

Israel has been led by individuals who have shown something of what motivated Eisenhower and Powell. It has also learned from its own mistakes. Unlike Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, and earlier Israeli efforts in Lebanon, current thinking among the Israeli leadership is to strike hard in response to aggression, and not to remain as an occupying force. Lebanon II was more successful than Lebanon I, and even more successful was the recent conflict in Gaza. Neither played well on international television, but both were less costly for all sides than either Iraq or Afghanistan. And despite the heroic claims of victory by Hizbollah and Hamas, Israel's border areas have been quiet since those operations.

Shimon Peres was not a military person, but heavily involved in the development of Israel's nuclear option. Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon were military professionals who became successful politicians. Each has a well documented record of success on the battlefield, and--along with Shimon Peres--later achievements in withdrawing from conflict. Peres and Rabin tried peace with the Oslo Accords of 1993. Barak made the controversial decision to withdraw unilaterally from a "security zone" in southern Lebanon, and Sharon tried to break a stalemate by withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza. Former head of the general staff Amnon Lipton-Shahak is another military figure who entered politics on the left, and became one of the leaders of the Geneva Initiative. This has not gone far, but was meant to join non-governmental Israelis and Palestinians in a draft that might provide the basis of a peace agreement.

Eisenhower could stop the fighting a half world away from his White House, and work to avoid conflicts in other distant places. Israelis who might be compared to him have a more difficult task. Palestine is across the street. Israeli citizens who identify as Palestinians comprise 20 percent of the population. Other Palestinians demand a right of return, and individuals who claim leadership of Palestine claim part or all of what Israelis call their country.

Neither Eisenhower nor Powell would be useful here. Israelis are learning by themselves how to deal with their problem. No doubt Jimmy Carter helped at Camp David, but lately has been more of a nuisance than facilitator. The engager Barack Obama may have good intentions, but only 4 percent of Israeli Jews view him as supportive. An earlier poll showed that 6 percent of Israeli Jews viewed Obama as supportive. The drop of two percent follows what Americans say have been efforts to improve their relations with Israel.

The American president should attend to Washington, do something better in Iraq and Afghanistan, show whatever mettle he has in Iran, and leave us alone.

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University

HC: Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother and Obama’s Health Advisor, manages your Right to Life

Israel Commentary
Redacted from an article by Betsy McCaughey

The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2009

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health adviser to President Barack Obama, is under scrutiny. As a bioethicist, he has written extensively about who should get medical care, who should decide and whose life is worth saving. Dr. Emanuel is part of a school of thought that re-defines a physician’s duty, insisting that it includes working for the greater good of society instead of focusing only on a patient’s needs. Many physicians find that view dangerous, and most Americans are likely to agree.

The health bills being pushed through Congress put important decisions in the hands of presidential appointees like Dr. Emanuel. They will decide what insurance plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have, and what seniors get under Medicare. Dr. Emanuel, brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, has already been appointed to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. He clearly will play a role guiding the White House's health initiative.

Dr. Emanuel says that health reform will not be pain free, and that the usual recommendations for cutting medical spending (often urged by the president) are mere window dressing. As he wrote in the Feb. 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA): "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change."

True reform, he argues, must include re-defining doctors' ethical obligations. In the June 18, 2008, issue of JAMA, Dr. Emanuel blames the Hippocratic Oath for the "overuse" of medical care: "Medical school education and post graduate education emphasize thoroughness," he writes. "This culture is further re-enforced by a unique understanding of professional obligations, specifically the Hippocratic Oath's admonition to 'use my power to help the sick to the best of my ability and judgment' as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others."

In numerous writings, Dr. Emanuel chastises physicians for thinking only about their own patient's needs!! He describes it as an intractable problem: "Patients were to receive whatever services they needed, regardless of its cost. Reasoning based on cost has been strenuously resisted; it violated the Hippocratic Oath, was associated with rationing and derided as putting a price on life. . . . Indeed, many physicians were willing to lie to get patients what they needed from insurance companies that were trying to hold down costs." (JAMA, May 16, 2007).

Of course, patients hope their doctors will have that single-minded devotion. However, Dr. Emanuel believes doctors should serve two masters - the patient and the society. Medical students should be trained "to provide socially sustainable, cost-effective care."

Dr. Emanuel argues that to make such decisions, the focus cannot be only on the worth of the individual. He proposes adding the communitarian perspective to ensure that medical resources will be allocated in a way that keeps society going. ... In the Lancet, Jan. 31, 2009, Dr. Emanuel and co-authors presented a "complete lives system" for the allocation of very scarce resources, such as kidneys, vaccines, dialysis machines, intensive care beds and others. "One maximizing strategy involves saving the most individual lives, and it has motivated policies on allocation of influenza vaccines and responses to bio-terrorism. . . . Other things being equal, we should always save five lives rather than one.

Dr. Emanuel concedes that his plan appears to discriminate against older people, but he explains: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination . . .. Treating 65 year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not."

The youngest are also put at the back of the line: "Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments. . . . As the legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin argues, 'It is terrible when an infant dies, but worse, most people think, when a three-year-old dies and worse still when an adolescent does,' this argument is supported by empirical surveys." (, Jan. 31, 2009).

To reduce health-insurance costs, Dr. Emanuel argues that insurance companies should pay for new treatments only when the evidence demonstrates that the drug will work for most patients. He says the "major contributor" to rapid increases in health spending is "the constant introduction of new medical technologies, including new drugs, devices and procedures . . .. Dr. Emanuel says the United States should erect a decision-making body similar to the United Kingdom's rationing body—the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)—to slow the adoption of new medications and set limits on how much will be paid to lengthen a life.

Dr. Emanuel's assessment of American medical care is summed up in a Nov. 23, 2008, Washington Post op-ed he co-authored: "The United States is No. 1 in only one sense: the amount we shell out for health care. We have the most expensive system in the world per capita, but we lag behind many developed nations on virtually every health statistic you can name."

This is untrue, though sadly it's parroted at town-hall meetings across the country. Moreover, it's an odd factual error coming from an oncologist. According to an August 2009 report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, patients diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. have a better chance of surviving the disease than anywhere else. The World Health Organization also rates the U.S. No. 1 out of 191 countries for responsiveness to the needs and choices of the individual patient. That attention to the individual is imperiled by Dr. Emanuel's views.

Dr. Emanuel has fought for a government takeover of health care for over a decade. In 1993, he urged that President Bill Clinton impose a wage and price freeze on health care to force parties to the table. "The desire to be rid of the freeze will do much to concentrate the mind," he wrote with another author in a Feb. 8, 1993, Washington Post op-ed. Now he recommends arm-twisting Chicago style. "Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda," he wrote last Nov. 16 in the Health Care Watch Blog. "If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration's health-reform effort." Is this what Americans want?

Ms. McCaughey is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former lieutenant governor of New York State.

Comment: You don't believe the "Brave New World" has arrived-then you have your head buried in the sand!