News and Opinion Based on Facts

Friday, March 27, 2009


By Barry Rubin

It is silly to say that the Pat Oliphant Cartoon in the New York Times and many newspapers around the world is antisemitic. But it’s also a bad mistake because the cartoon deserves serious analysis to show just how dangerous and wrong it is, in ways that not only hurt Israel but all Western democracies.

You can see the cartoon at this URL or view it at the top of this article:

Let’s deconstruct the cartoon to show the basic ideas that underlie it and that make it lie.

  1. To begin with, it is not a very good cartoon and bears a striking resemblance to anti-Israel propaganda cartoons in its crudity and one-sidedness. Aesthetic decline has accompanied political crudeness. It doesn’t just say: these people are wrong but these people are 100 percent evil and hateful. The next step is, of course, they deserve to die and their state deserves to be wiped off the map. Is that what Oliphant thinks? Who cares? That’s what he said.

  2. On the left is a huge figure. On the right is a small figure. The implication that need not be spoken here is that the big figure—the powerful side—must be wrong. Oliphant like many or most Western intellectuals, academics, and policymakers, still doesn’t understand the concept of asymmetric warfare. In this, a weaker side wages war on a stronger side using techniques it thinks can make it win. What are these techniques? Terrorism, indifference to the sacrifice of its people, indifference to material losses, refusal to compromise, extending the war for ever. This is precisely the technique of Hamas: let’s continue attacking Israel in order to provoke it to hit us, let’s target Israeli civilians, let’s seek a total victory based on genocide, let’s use our own civilians as human shields, and with such methods we will win. One way we will win is to demonize those who defend themselves, to put them in positions where they have a choice between surrender and looking bad. This cartoon is a victory for Hamas. But it is also a victory for all those who would fight the West and other democracies (India, for example) using these methods. Remember September 11?

  3. The big figure has no head, and hence is not a human being. Israelis are not human. Moreover the headless figure is irrational. We are to believe that Israel attacked Gaza for no reason. Forget about thousands of rockets, hundreds of mortar shells, and scores of cross-border attacks. The tiny figure on the right is no threat. So there is no reason to attack it. Attacking is immoral and irrational. The same could—and has—been said about al-Qaida, Hizballah, Pakistani terrorists striking at Mumbai, etc.

  4. Dehumanization: The figure on the left is a monster, a robot. Monsters and robots deserve no sympathy; they have no right to self-defense. If tomorrow an Israeli child or civilian is killed in a terrorist attack, how can one have sympathy for these people since they are not people?

  5. Goosestep: The leg is raised In a Nazi goosestep; the shoe is a jackboot. Thus, Israel is a Nazi power. But why is it a Nazi power? Because it isn’t human and just attacks women and children for no reason at all. And what happens then? Since Israel is said to be Nazi, any sympathy for 2000 years of Jewish suffering—including Arab terrorist attacks—is thus erased. Incidentally, this is all being done when there is still no proof (not even weak proof) for a single Israeli soldier having committed a single atrocity. Where, then, is the rationality here?

  6. Sword: Ironically, the sword is the weapon used by Islamists to behead people. Why a sword? Because it is a primitive weapon for a primitive people. The hand which is very hairy—again the ape, dehumanized image—holds the sword at a 45 degree angle reminiscent of a Nazi salute. See point 5 above.

  7. The Magen David is Israel’s symbol. Therefore, despite the fact that it is also a general Jewish symbol, it is not antisemitic to use it. Of course, the context matters, too. But that is not what is most important in this cartoon. Still, the author could have labeled the monster “Israel.” Note, however, that “magen” means shield, and the name of Israel’s army is the Israel Defense Forces. In Gaza, they were acting in a defensive manner but that of course escapes much of the media coverage and things said about the war. What strikes me as most bizarre about the usage of this symbol is that it is being wheeled forward, as if Israel seeks to install itself in the Gaza Strip. But Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, openly stating that it wanted peace. The symbolism is to make the action purely offensive, an aggressive war to annex territory, which of course is untrue

  8. The shark is to me the most offensive part of the cartoon because it shows that the cartoonist has lost any sense of his tradition. Aren’t all the other elements enough to show his theme? The “over-kill” puts it into the category of Arab propaganda cartoons. It says: Israel is innately aggressive, that the whole state of Israel is permanently aggressive and exists for no other reason. If the cartoonist had shown Israel doing mean things to helpless Palestinians, the suggestion is that the Gaza War is a terrible thing. The way this cartoon is done it suggests that Israel’s existence is a terrible thing.

  9. Palestinians are portrayed as only women and children. There are no fighters. Was there no army in Gaza, no 20,000 Hamas men under arms? Did Israel attack a defenseless area? Again if the cartoonist wanted to portray Israel carelessly attacking into a civilian area, the implication would be that it used excessive force or insufficient care. I would disagree but the extremism of the cartoons suggestion, and its falseness, exceeds the usual bounds of Western rationality.

  10. The evil Israel is heading right toward the Palestinians and they are running in fear. Here is an accurate way to describe the war: After Hamas unilaterally announced it was cancelling the ceasefire, it launched even more rockets and mortars at Israel than it did during the “normal” ceasefire. Their range was increasing and the lives of one million Israelis became impossible. Hamas leaders openly bragged that Israel was afraid to fight back and they would keep escalating. Israel then attacked, the Hamas forces retreated into the middle of highly populated civilian areas. After some fighting, where civilians were used by Hamas as human shields, Israel had no intention of going into the most densely populated neighborhoods. It thus ended the war, and withdrew. Hamas then came out of hiding and bragged that it had won a great victory. The fantasy Israel created by Oliphant and others would have continued the war, wiped out Hamas, and retaken the Gaza Strip. In military terms, Israel could have done this with minimal casualties for its own side. Far from proving anti-Israel claims, the history of the Gaza War proved the opposite.

This is, then, a loathsome cartoon. But to dismiss it by the single word “antisemitism” will foreclose thought as to why it is a loathsome cartoon. It will allow its defenders to avoid facing the real problems with this cartoon and the worldview it represents. And worst of all: that argument implies that the only problem was using the ambiguous Mogen David, that it would have been acceptable if he had just written the word “Israel” on the Nazi monster he created to represent the Jewish state.

Finally, this cartoon represents the mentality that will plague every Western and democratic state in the coming years. Imagine the exact same cartoon but with the Magen David replaced by the Stars and Stripes—the evil America attacking the Taliban or al-Qaida, or Iraq, or Muslims in general. Indeed, this is the kind of cartoon which has appeared aimed against America or the West in general. It is part of the merging of much Western fashionable intellectual and cultural thinking with that of extremist Third World, and especially radical Islamist, propaganda.

The cartoonist doesn’t hate Jews; he probably doesn’t even hate Israelis. What is involved here is a lack of understanding so enormous that it will both incite hatred; cause violence and death; and block policies needed to help people—including Palestinians who, are supposedly the object of its sympathy but thus doomed to suffer under a repressive regime with a permanent war policy.

Antisemitism? Ask not for whom the bell tolls because Israel, the canary in the mine—the one who first they came for—can tell you that you are all next.

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

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's Worse Than a Crime, It's Blundering Analysis

By Barry Rubin*
March 21, 2009
The problem, as we see repeatedly, with much media coverage of issues involving Israel is the way the story is defined. There need not be any sense of bias by a reporter.
Merely copying what other journalists do or from a specific ideological framework—not because reporters have preconceptions but because they make far less effort than in the past to balance them—leads to a conception of the story that is skewed.
This appears subtly in news stories but very openly in analysis pieces. Consider Steven Gutkin, “Analysis: Mideast peace up to interlocking deals,” March 16, 2009.
The lead is innovative but a bit clunky:“The fate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become a collection of moving parts that somehow need to come together in a single package: an Israel-Hamas prisoner swap, a truce for Gaza, and new governments on both sides of the firing line that could pursue peace.”There is an attempt to present the issue as involving a number of aspects. Yet the article mixes two very different things: the situation between Israel and Hamas regarding Gaza, and prospects for a comprehensive peace.
In a very real sense, these are not related or, to put it another way, they are inversely related.
The undercover assumption here is that the more peace there is between Israel and Hamas, the more likely a comprehensive peace becomes.
In fact, the first would damage the second.
The reason why should be obvious: Hamas is against any compromise peace but favors long-term, bloody struggle using terrorism.
If Hamas survives as ruler in Gaza, and even more damaging if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas make a coalition, the chances for a comprehensive peace—low enough already—decline to zero.
All-out war is guaranteed.
The article next discusses the ups-and-downs of Israel-Hamas negotiations over a prisoner exchange and continues:“Such a swap could have helped pave the way for a long-term Israel-Hamas truce deal that in turn might have opened the Gaza Strip's blockaded borders to allow for reconstruction after Israel's punishing offensive there.”
This can be summarized as: truce brings open borders brings reconstruction to repair damage caused by Israel.The words “rockets” or the phrase cross-border attacks do not appear in the article.
There is no hint that Hamas aggression is the cause of conflict, nor that the fighting started because Hamas unilaterally rejected the existing truce (which it wasn’t enforcing any way). Equally, there is no mention that the issue is not just opening the borders but what is allowed to go across them, nor that there is some problem with rebuilding things in order to benefit a radical and repressive Islamist regime to keep it in power.Thus the story is this: Israel attacked and destroyed Gaza, let’s have a truce so it can be rebuilt. And who do you think that places the blame on?Then we turn to an equally important—and misexplained—subject:“Rebuilding Gaza will almost surely also depend on the success of current reconciliation talks in Egypt between Hamas militants and the Western-backed Fatah movement in efforts to reverse the results of a brief 2007 civil war that left rival Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank.”
At least the reporter wrote “Western-backed” rather than moderate, though no hint is given that the civil war was started by Hamas.
It was a rather one-sided civil war.
Yet next comes a truly terrible and profoundly misleading sentence:“Getting Hamas and Fatah to reconcile is also key to the success of U.S.-backed Mideast peace talks, as it's unlikely Israel would sign on to a deal if moderates are in control of just the West Bank while militants rule Gaza.
The latest news from Egypt is that the Hamas-Fatah talks are not going well.”Well, where to begin? While it is true that Israel understandably wants to sign a peace deal only with a united Palestinian side which can deliver on its pledges, putting Hamas and Fatah together will ensure no such deal can ever be signed. There is no hint in this article of why the word “militants” is used to describe Hamas.
A lot of people critique the media for not using the word “terrorists” I don’t agree.
Terrorism is a tactic and Hamas uses terrorism yet that does not encompass the organization’s views or goals.
I’d prefer to see such phrases as: radical Islamist or determined to wipe Israel off the map or repressive, or even genocidal.
But the implication is not that Hamas would block peace—much less that the Palestinian Authority would—for we are next told:“The biggest question now is whether Israel would sign a deal under any circumstances. Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, a political hawk, early Monday initialed a coalition agreement with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party, increasing the likelihood that Israel's next government will spurn peace talks.”
“The bottom line is that the obstacles to Palestinian unity, open borders for Gaza and a peace deal that would usher in Palestinian statehood seem as formidable as ever.”Note that there has not been one phrase or sentence to suggest that Hamas or Fatah or the PA are obstacles, only Israel. The Palestinians problem is just that they cannot unite, not that they oppose peace.By the way, from a purely analytical point of view it should be pointed out that the reason PA-Hamas talks don’t go well is that both want to be in command, while Hamas is not going to give up control of Gaza.
There isn’t going to be any Palestinian unity at all. You can bet on it. And of course both Netanyahu and the Yisrael Beitenu party support a two-state solution.But that one sentence is so important let me repeat it:“The bottom line is that the obstacles to Palestinian unity, open borders for Gaza and a peace deal that would usher in Palestinian statehood seem as formidable as ever.”So this is what is allegedly needed for peace:---Palestinian unity (in which Hamas would veto any peace);--Open borders for Gaza (which would not only make Hamas rule permanent but would allow in items used for military purposes so Hamas could build up its army).--“A peace deal that would usher in Palestinian statehood”
As always, there is no mention of a peace deal that would: end the conflict forever, bring full recognition of Israel, or provide Israel with security structures and guarantees.
This is the standard practice of AP and a lot of the media. What Israel wants in a peace deal is never ever mentioned.
The rest of the article discusses the prisoner exchange using such phrases as “Israel's crushing economic blockade of Gaza” and “bloody Israeli military offensive in Gaza.” No criticism of Hamas; no mention of rockets; no mention of repression and executions of oppositionists in Gaza.And we are told:“Hamas is desperate to reopen the area's borders to allow in reconstruction supplies.”
This makes Hamas seem humanitarian.
But usually those who are desperate are ready to make concessions to get what they need. This is not true in Hamas’s case.
And finally, the ending:“If Hamas sticks by its refusal to recognize the Jewish state, as seems likely, a new right-wing Israeli government could use that as an excuse to shun a future Palestinian unity government, and perhaps even intensify the blockade of Gaza.”
Let us consider the full implications of this sentence: If Hamas says that it will never recognize Israel, will continue to attack Israel, does continue to attack Israel, teaches children to be terrorists, and has the goal of wiping Israel off the map, this merely gives Israelis of the “right-wing” an “excuse” to be mean to them.
Can people really be writing this kind of drivel, the slightest examination of which shows its absurdity? Can the AP and other news organs sneeringly reject any criticisms and assert that this is fair and balanced and good and accurate coverage?Yes.
But is this fair, balanced, accurate, and accurate coverage?No.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at IDC Herzliya and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Truth About Syria.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Iranian group threatens to murder ex-Muslim Christian pastors

I first became aware of this article through Twitter.
It's an important report, and its sad that the media doesn't give the story any play.

Greece: Iranian group threatens to murder ex-Muslim Christian pastors

"Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him" -- Muhammad
Threat to apostates and a larger threat also: "Very quickly all the Europe, America, Israel, and all other satanic authorities of the world will be destroyed with the hands of Islam, the only most holy religion would be increased and scattered throughout all the world and will lead the world.”
Not that this has anything to do with Islam!
"Iranian Extremists Threaten to Kill 3 Ex-Muslim Pastors," by Ethan Cole for the Christian Post, March 20 (thanks to Jeffrey Imm):
An Iranian Muslim extremists group identifying themselves as “Hezbollah” sent a letter to three Iranian pastors with a Muslim background threatening them to return to Islam or else risk being murdered.
The radical group calls itself “The Hezbollah Party, Army of the World’s Imam” and accused the pastors of being spies for foreign powers, according to Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN). The extremists demanded the Iranian pastors denounce their faith in Christ and return to Islam.
In the letter delivered to the Iranian pastors on March 11, the group said they are “aware of all anti-Islamic activities” that the men were doing in the churches in Athens and other places.
“And we know that you with some other agents of espionage organizations in the disguise of European and American pastors are deceiving the Muslims, that unfortunately are escaping and going adrift from Iran and Afghanistan and other Arabic countries and changing their religion and their faith, converting them like this into the false Christianity,” the letter read, according to FCNN, which received a copy of the letter from the Farsi-speaking Christian Church in Athens and translated it to English.
Although the three Iranian pastors live and serve in Athens, the Iranian extremists threatened them and their families with death.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Camp David 1978 is back

Arutz Sheva Blog

Camp David 1978 is back in the news. With a new administration, everyone and his mother's uncle are advising President B. H. Obama what to do regarding Israel and especially, those "obstacles to peace", the Jewish communities located in areas of the Jewish national home that was to be reconstituted by international law and where revenant Jews reside legally.

One historian, Arthur Herman, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the subject of Camp David and attacks Jimmy Carter. Here's a portion of what he wrote:

Yet for all their bluster and intransigence in public, Begin and Sadat were more than ready for a deal once they understood that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary to stop the Soviet Union and its Arab allies, such as the PLO, from derailing a peace. An agreement was hammered out for an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai, coupled with vague language about Palestinian "autonomy." The item Mr. Carter had really wanted on the agenda -- a Palestinian state -- was kept at arm's length.

Camp David worked because it avoided all of Mr. Carter's usual foreign policy mistakes, particularly his insistence on a comprehensive solution. Instead, Sadat and Begin pursued limited goals...

Above all and most significantly, Camp David sought peace instead of "justice." Liberals say there can be no peace without justice. But to many justice means the end of Israel or the creation of a separate Palestinian state. Sadat and Begin, in the teeth of Mr.Carter's own instincts both then and now, established at Camp David a sounder principle for negotiating peace. The chaos and violence in today's Gaza proves just how fatal trying to advance other formulations can be.

This is fine reading of what happened. But then he goes a bit further than the facts would support:

The true story of Camp David is one of two ironies...The second irony is that if any one man deserves credit for Camp David, it is not Jimmy Carter but Anwar Sadat. It was Sadat who managed to save Mr. Carter from himself and revealed the true secret about forging peace in the Middle East: The Palestinian issue is the doom, not the starting point, for lasting stability in the region.

And earlier in the article, Herman implies that Sadat, seeking peace, supposedly, after 1973, sought allies with Nixon and Kissinger. That, I would suggest is revisionism. Sadat? All by himself?

Should we not be asking what happened between 1973 and 1977? Why was there not peace? Could it have been that it was only with Menachem Begin coming upon the scene as Israel's Prime Minister in 1977, that the peace agreement became a possibility? Perhaps it was Sadat's fault there was no peace? Or, could it be that it was really Menachem Begin that deserves the major credit for the success of Camp David, to the extent it was a success?

That peace agreement was achieved by Israel surrendering physical things and Egypt awarding intangibles, easily withdrawn. Who gave up the Sinai despite the 1967 Egyptian aggression? Who gave up the oil fields developed by Israel? What did Sadat yield? Who agreed to an autonomy plan for the Arabs of the Land of Israel? Who only permitted a cold peace to develop?

Whether one agreed with that peace agreement, and I didn't, or not, history should not be permitted to be toyed with and rewritten.

To his credit, Begin managed to keep the Jerusalem issue out of the main body of the agreement, relegating it to an "exchange of letters" on "positions". Sadat, unlike what Herman writes, at least on this issue actually did pursue a "justice" path and, in doing so, almost sabotaged Camp David. Sadat sought to pursue an "Islamic comprehensive peace" but, it seems, Herman doesn't know his own material.

Another item on this subject is provided to us by Gershom Gorenberg, an almost rabid opponent of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. He has reviewed, naturally for the New York Times, Jimmy Carter's newly published book, We Can Have Peace In The Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.

Here's my comment on what he wrote:

A beginning student of the Middle East should not learn diplomatic history from this text. In Carter’s telling, the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat went to Jerusalem at his prodding. More objective accounts portray Sadat as making an end run around Carter’s stubborn intent to reconvene the Geneva peace conference.

...The agreement with Egypt arguably improved Israel’s security as much as any other single event in its history. Yet a portion of American Jewry has never forgiven Carter for his success. This hints at a key lacuna in Carter’s agenda: though he got into the peacemaking business as a politician, he gives too little attention to the need for building political support for a diplomatic initiative — among voters at home as much as among Israelis and ­Palestinians.

Indirectly, Carter’s title also hints at a second lacuna. Looking for a neutral name for the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, he chooses “Holy Land,” a phrase from Christian tradition. Carter’s perspective is explicitly religious. Though that can irritate secular observers, it has served him well. His faith helped him build personal connections both to Sadat and to the Israeli ­leader Menachem Begin, despite Begin’s intransigence. Yet when he finally presents his outline of a peace agreement here, he makes no new, creative proposal for the future of the holy place claimed by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. Given Carter’s sensitivity to religious issues, this is surprising and disappointing.

My comments:

a) "arguably". That's an understatement. True, no war has broken out but there have been terror attacks and most of the Hamas arms are coming in through Egypt, stored there in Sinai and transported to Rafah. Terror agents and their Beduin supporters are quite active.

b) "a portion of American Jewry". That's a snide swipe at Jews who support the legitimate right of Jews to live in their homeland, who care for Israel's security and who campaign for US support for those policies as America, unlike Gorenberg it might seem, is democratic. The old "ost-juden"* complaint: it's them you should be angry at, implicate Gorenberg, not me who is grovelling to be accepted by liberal and progressive forces.

c) "'Holy Land', a phrase from Christian tradition". Of course, the Land of Israel is refered to in Jewish tradition as אדמת הקודש - the Holy Land. Since the Land of Israel is where the Divine Presence is, which must be treated with several unique mitzvot (מצוות התלויות בארץ), then Eretz-Yisrael became the Holy Land. As the Prophet Zechariah 2:16 wrote ונחל יה-ה את-יהודה חלקו, על אדמת הקודש; ובחר עוד, בירושלים (in English: And the LORD shall inherit Judah as His portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again) and this verse in Isaiah 14:2, וְהִתְנַחֲלוּם בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל אַדְמַת יְה-ה (and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD). The exact term Eretz-Yisrael is in I Samuel 13:19.

Yes, there is an element of religion in the term but it is Jewish primarily.

Of course, if Carter had used "Judea and Samaria" (it does appear in Acts 8:1), Gorenberg would have gone ballistic.

d) "the Temple Mount". Gershom, leave the Temple Mount to us. We know what to do.

And so, if Obama and Hillary and Mitchell take these two men's advice and opinion into consideration, they will fail.

But, will they?

* a derogatory term of German Jews for their brethren from Poland and the East who were considered by them to be uncultured for acceptance into modern society and that they cast shame on these German Jews.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BackFrom the Precipice

I am pretty sure everyone has read read enough about the issue of money being given to the Palestinians to be aware of safeguards and other issues regarding the 900 million dollars going to the PA.
I don't believe Obama wishes to destroy Israel.
There are leaders in Israel who have called for the creation of a Palestinian State.
I haven't heard anything from President Obama that I haven't heard, in an even more extreme view, from inside Israel.
Too many people on the left and the right solidify their opinion and reinforce it by only reading from a source that backs them up.
That may feel good, but it is not the same as being informed.
I don't know if we will ever have a President who has actions regarding Israel that will meet with my total satisfaction, we haven't yet.
I do know, however, that if we did have such a President, he would meet with LOTS of opposition within Israel.
I think the best option for Israel is annexation and a State of Israel from the sea to the river.
But I am not the most powerful man in the world with a host of competing factions with opinions as strong as likud's on the one hand and Peace Now on the other, and a world full of other issues to decide.
In short, I think Obama is doing the best he can under the circumstances, and like Bibi Netanyahu, I think the Secretary of State understands the issues and is a good friend of Israel.
I see the 20% or so of Americans who view Obama as, whatever they view him as, an "uppity nigger" or the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin, are not being helpful.
I do not believe that compassion is a bad thing.
I do not believe that it is a weakness.
I don't believe government action is always bad.
Like most Americans, according to a recent WSJ poll, I believe most of America's problems were inherited from Bush, and I believe that Obama is a decent. intelligent man, who is trying to stave off a severe depression.
I believe Americans should unite behind this President, and I believe they are doing so.
We've got to find common ground.
Not neutral ground.
Common ground.
During and before Cast lead, Jews united, they cast aside name calling and united around the idea of survival and self-defense.
FM Livni was the staunchest supporter for the Operation, she didn't want it to end when it did.
The Jews have found a way to unite for thousands of years, to survive.
The U.S. has been a country for over 200 years, but our existence is under attack as well.
I could go on, but everyday I see the strains at the fabric of our society, and something is going to give.
I see ignorance and hate, I see it up close.
At this time, for different reasons, more Americans are united than ever before, and see common threats and common goals,
I believe that this should be encouraged, and is necessary for our country to come back from the precipice.

Monday, March 9, 2009

There Must be a Better Way

You know, there was episode of the original Star Trek, where two aliens, who were virtually indistinguishable from one another fought and tried to kill each over the span of centuries because of their hate for one another.
Star Trek tried to teach us things, sometimes, in a symbolic way, that we could understand in a visceral way.

The scientific evidence I have seen states that Palestinians and Jews are genetically "virtually identical".
I haven't seen anything scientific that argues anything different, has anyone else?

Are the Jews and the Arabs doomed to be locked in mortal combat, killing each other until one side is wiped out completely?
Is that the best we can do?

You would not believe how many arguments I have had with people on these issues, from both wings, from all sides, the same arguments are advanced, and they all lead to the same conclusions.

Both sides do have legitimate issues.
The only thing permanent in life is CHANGE.
Daniel Pearl was murdered while trying to present a fair picture of the situation in this conflict that we discuss here.
Is that a cause for rejoicing?
Did that teach us that all Arabs are bad, and we shouldn't talk to them at all?

Dr Goldstien, OBM, was murdered while avenging the death of Jews, were the Jews who say, "We as Jews do not practice terrorism" wrong to say that?

Is the extent of our response to terrorism confined to killing them back?
I am not just being rhetorical.
I am looking for answers.
Does anyone here have any new ideas?
Does anyone realize that there are solutions more complex than the left's, "Stop Being Jews" or the right's "Nuke 'em"?

Before you answer, PLEASE listen to this video from a Jew and an Arab that are entered in the Eurovison song of the year program.
It features Achinoam Nini, a Yemini Jew, and Mira Awad, an Arab.
Listen to the song a couple of times, and tell me if there is not a better way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Problems With the "Drug War"

The Drug War has been a fiasco.
A failure.
An argument can well be made that the major problem with drugs is the drug war itself, and its destruction of lives, and freedoms, and its corruption.
It hasn't failed because enough money hasn't been spent on it.
Billions have been spent to incarcerate pot smokers and other drug users.
Countless homes have been invaded by hordes of policemen looking for evidence of drug use.
Americans must prove they are not drug users to gain employment, so much for the presumption of innocence.
Barrack Obama used cocaine.
Bill Clinton smoked Pot.
George Bush said he couldn't remember if he used cocaine or not, which means he used cocaine.
One of the things they have in common is none of them had to surrender thier personal liberties as a result.
None of their lives were ruined as a result of their usage.
William F. Buckley, the founder and editor of the National Review, as well as a prolific writer, smoked pot and called for its legalization.
Bill Buckley was a conservative who believed in individual liberties, and keeping the government out of our private lives.
The drug war is the modern day witch hunt.
Prohibition has always failed.
The only tangible result from prohibition is the enrichment of criminals.
In view of the immeasurable harm caused by the so-called drug war, a new direction is needed.
A direction that calls for more personal responsiblity and less government control.

I do not comprehend how any conservative could say that heavily armed police have the right to kick down a citizen's door, invade her home, and drag him off to prison in chains because he or she may be smoking a marijuana cigarette.

Bibi Proclaims Talks with Clinton "Deep and Good."

Clinton met with Prime Minister-designate
Binyamin Netanyahu today. Netanyahu said the Secretary of State showed a
deep understanding of Israel and America's common
goals and said that he was satisfied with the meeting.
Netanyahu did not reveal the content of his discussion with Clinton other than to say that
the two had spoken about “the Iranian issue and the Palestinian issue” and had agreed to meet
again once a new government has been formed. Netanyahu described the talks as “deep, important and good.”
"We need to think creatively in order to move forward and create a different reality, both in
terms of security and politically,” Netanyahu said Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Clinton Says Israel Can’t ‘Stand Idly By’ Over Gaza

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. understands Israel’s need to respond to rocket fire on its southern towns from the Gaza Strip and pledged to work with any new Israeli government.

“There is no doubt that any nation including Israel cannot stand idly by while its territory and people are subjected to rocket attacks,” Clinton said after meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem today during her first foray into Middle East diplomacy.

Clinton came to Jerusalem from Egypt, where the U.S. and international donors sought to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the West Bank, and undercut the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. Israel fought Hamas two months ago in a 22-day military operation it said was intended to stop rocket attacks.

After parting from Peres, Clinton went straight to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust remembrance complex. She was escorted by Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Israeli chief rabbi, to a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance in which she rekindled the eternal flame for the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis and laid a wreath on a crypt of ashes of Holocaust victims.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is "a good friend of Israel," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Jerusalem, FM Livni said that Clinton had "shown a deep understanding of the needs of Israel," as well as "an understanding of the nature of the threats that we have here in the region"
Noting this week's US decision to boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism, Livni said the move was "symbolic," and added her personal gratitude."
Clinton stressed the "unrelenting" US commitment to Israel's security, specifically criticizing continuing rocket attacks out of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Clinton also discussed the threat from Iran.
"When we talk about engagement with Iran, do not be in any way confused, our goal remains the same: to dissuade and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and continuing to fund terrorism," she said. "Whatever we do will be done thoughtfully in consultation with our friends and Israel, most particularly Israel.

"It's up to the people and the government of Israel to decide how to define your interests," she said.

Monday, March 2, 2009


There has been lots of controversy over the Obama handling of the situation so far, even though little has actually been done, up to this point.
The proposed 900 million dollar giveaway to Gaza is not too many people's idea of a good thing, its not mine, at any rate.
We did pull out of Durban II, that was a sign that people are thinking in Washington.
Here's Barry Rubin weighing in on the new Secretary of State.

Michael Blackburn

Gloria Center

Most Israelis are genuinely glad that she was appointed to this job.

By Barry Rubin

March 01, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel on the first of what will no doubt be many visits. Beyond the simple self-interest of making her feel appreciated, most Israelis are genuinely glad that she was appointed to this job. The reason why is critical to understanding the future of U.S. Middle East Policy and U.S.-Israel relations.
What is most important is that Clinton is regarded as a realist. She watched her husband try really hard and put his prestige on the line in attempting to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace and saw him being made to look foolish by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Syrian ruler Hafiz al-Asad who rejected his proposals. During the presidential campaign she courageously—and to her own cost—tried to explain the dangers to those dreaming only of a fast getaway from Iraq.
Moreover, it’s not just that she spoke positively about Israel—a senator from New York could do no less—but that the way she explained her positions seemed to indicate she really understood the situation.
All things considered, then, one can believe the secretary of state doesn’t accept four myths that some—though not all--of her colleagues in Washington and Europe embrace. She seems to know that:
--The Israel-Palestinian conflict is not the fulcrum of the Middle East whose solution will make Islamism, terrorism, Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program, anti-Western or anti-American sentiments, Iraq’s instability, and all other regional problems disappear.
--The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not easily solvable by pressure, the perfect plan, or hard work. Not only is peace not at hand, it isn’t even at arms’ length.
--Whatever part of the blame for continued conflict is due to Israel, a very large and decisive portion rests on the Palestinian side for reasons including the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, the division into Hamas and Fatah regimes, and other issues.
--Bringing Hamas into the negotiating process is a mistake that would doom any chance for peace and might even bring the Palestinian Authority (PA) crashing down altogether. U.S. interests require that the PA survives as recognized Palestinian leader, while Hamas is an Iranian client whose triumph would hurt the U.S. strategic position in the region.
Secretary of State Clinton also knows that the new Israeli government is not yet in place and her first visit must be dedicated to getting acquainted with leaders and issues.
What are the problems for bilateral relations? A critical aspect is that no matter how skeptical Clinton is of the chances for progress, she wants to make it appear that she is actively engaged and making progress. The thing that will make her furious is that which makes her look bad. And she wants Israel to make her look good.
On some items, this is no problem. A high level of cooperation with the PA, supporting funds and military training for it within reason, is in Israel’s interest. The West Bank economic and security situation is improving. Here, Clinton and Israel should agree.
Her next goal is a bit more difficult but reasonable: that Israel should dismantle more settler outposts, as Israel has promised. True, this presents political difficulties and potential confrontations with settlers, yet Israel’s government should assert its authority. A serious effort on this front would bring a positive return from Washington with no cost to Israel’s security.
Beyond this, the United States is likely to ask for Israel to stop expanding settlements, even for natural growth. Since the peace process’s start 16 years ago Israel has publicly asserted that building homes for “natural growth,” new adults on existing settlements, is part of the Oslo agreement.
If this were to change, Clinton could claim a victory of stopping settlements, usually portrayed by the PA as its main grievance, that is, excuse for not doing more itself. Such a concession should not be unthinkable but the question is what would Israel get in exchange? U.S. pressuring the PA to stop officially inspired anti-Israel incitement; changing its schools and media to advocate a two-state solution; greater U.S. backing for Israel’s security regarding Gaza? Asking Israel to do something on the settlement issue is all right if—but only if--there is more real compliance from the Palestinian side.
Finally and importantly there is the question of Gaza. Clinton wants some quick success on that front, namely a ceasefire and resolution of humanitarian problems there. It will be tempting for her to insist that Israel reopens crossings unconditionally, without a real ceasefire or any release of Hamas’s Israeli hostage. And Israel will explain why it has legitimate concerns which must be realized, lest a new war crisis emerge.
Of course, the two governments must begin to reach understandings about Iran. The new administration is determined to try engaging Tehran. Israel must convey the point that Washington should be alert to Iranian efforts to bully or fool the new president. The goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons’ drive has to be the top priority; unilateral concessions in exchange for nothing should be avoided.
And the White House will hopefully not be shy in admitting when it finally concludes that Iran doesn’t want to be friends. President Barack Obama has spoken of opening Iran’s clenched fist. The danger is that Iran will do so only in order to slap America silly.
Early on this administration must comprehend that reputations will not be built, Nobel Peace Prizes won, or Arab and European cooperation won by sacrificing Israel’s vital interests. In exchange, Clinton must see that Israel wants to make her look successful and to cooperate on reasonable terms. On such a basis of understanding and good will a very successful partnership can be built.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at IDC Herzliya and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal . His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Truth About Syria.
The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
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