News and Opinion Based on Facts

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why We Should Support Israel

Saturday, June 26, 2010

RIP, Michael

Michael Jackson (1958-2009):

At the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's untimely death, take a look back:
Read more: 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Big Lie About the Israel "Delegitimization" Threat

By Barry Rubin*
June 13, 2010

Golda Meir, Israel's prime minister, once memorably said, "Better a bad press than a good epitaph." In the Western world, where a cushioned elite increasingly mistakes headlines or academic studies for the real world, the difference between the material world and words is often lost.

At the same time, we are getting something along these lines: "Joe [Israel] is a stupid, lazy, dishonest, lying, no-good criminal who deserves to be punished. And you know what his main problem is? People saying stuff like that about him."

Let me give two examples and then point out why this tells us a great deal about the Western world's malaise and why Israel should ignore such advice. Keep reading because the last point is the most important of all.

One can always depend on Roger Cohen for a good quote since he never seems able to open his mouth without saying something stupid that he thinks his wisdom. Here's how he begins his latest column:

"I took a short break for my daughter's bat mitzvah, Israel killed nine activists on a Gaza-bound ship in international waters, and its bungled raid prompted international uproar and Jewish soul-searching."

He couldn't be more obvious. First, he lets us know that he's a Jew (bat mitzvah) and then he let's forth with no less than five anti-Israel points in 21 words:

Killed nine (no mention of the attack on the soldiers) activists (no mention of lots of evidence that they were radical Islamist Jihadists seeking martyrdom), international waters (implication this is some kind of piratical aggressive act and no mention that this is how blockades are conducted, international law experts point out it was legal, see Cuban Missile Crisis, British operation in the Falklands, etc.), bungled raid (it is Israel's fault that it went in without lethal force and faced greater violence than expected), Jewish soul-searching (Oy! Where have we gone wrong! We used to let people beat us up and murder us and now Israel-gasp!-defends itself).

There is an Arab proverb to the effect that the guy hits me and then runs off screaming that he was assaulted.

And so after purveying anti-Israel propaganda that delegitimizes Israel, Cohen then goes on to say that the main threat to Israel is...anti-Israel propaganda

Cohen goes on to say that "Israel is a liberal democracy stuck in the blind alley of a morally corrupting 43-year-old occupation that has made force its reflexive mode of operation." Yet Israel's main problems today are caused by the fact that it withdrew the "occupation" from the Gaza Strip and most of the West Bank. I'm not saying this was a bad thing overall but obviously Hamas wouldn't be in power in the Gaza Strip smuggling in weapons, lobbing in rockets, mortars, with cross-border terror attacks, etc., if Israeli forces were still all over the place.

If anyone can't start from that point they aren't worth listening to at all. But here we come to Cohen's conclusion and it is this:

"What Israel in turn must realize-before it is too late-is that the real threat it faces today is not one of destruction but of de-legitimization."

This sentence deserves the greatest attention. Delegitimization is a real problem for Israel today but actually the threat of destruction--or at least, loss of life in terrorist and rocket attacks, nuclear attack from Iran, assaults that shut down normal life--are the real threat. Having people call you names and an obscure boycott here and there doesn't compare to being destroyed or dead.

Where does Cohen's thinking, and a very similar approach by Bernard Kouchner, Franco Frattini, and Miguel Angel Moratinos come from?

--Two of the four authors are Jews, and their view expresses the traditional Jewish Diaspora (or Galut, if you prefer) attitude: What our neighbors think of us is the most important issue. Why? Because lacking their own country, economy, and means of defense, Jews were helpless. The response was that we had to make people like us, we had to prove we were the best citizens of all, and that we didn't have (as the antisemites charged) our own selfish agenda.

And that's why so many Jewish intellectuals criticize Israel. On the one hand, they are dedicated to a universalist agenda which involves the dissolution of any Jewish peoplehood. On the other hand, Israel goes against the Diaspora (Galut) strategy of trying to prove that Jews are as close to being perfect as possible. They want the conflict ended not because it is Israel's interest but because it interferes with the image they hold of themselves and want to project. For such people, Israel's interests are secondary and they won't hesitate to betray them.

Of course, like Cohen, they are generally ignorant of the facts any way and don't want to know more. And while Cohen pretends to "defend" Israel (he has to throw in one point for pretended balance), like most such people he picks a "Jewish" not "Israeli" point on which to do so, specifically that the "Star of David" should not be equated with the "swastika."

--Once you admit the fact that the Gaza flotilla and other problems (including the continuation of the Israel-Palestinian and Israel-Syria conflicts) are caused by actions of the other side, you remove the ability to solve them from Israel's hands. You might have to blame the Arab or Palestinian or Islamist side. This type of article never ever does so. What if they said that there are deliberate campaigns to undermine Israel's legitimacy as part of the broader strategy of destroying Israel? Then they would have to take Israel's side, which is what they most want to avoid.

And so while there are a few safe targets--bin Ladin, Ahmadinejad--these people can criticize they will never criticize the Palestinian Authority for, as examples, rejecting the two-state peace offers of 2000 or refusing to negotiate at all from January 2009 to May 2010. BUT if you only blame Israel for the problems and never its enemies you are--ta-da!--delegitimizing Israel!

--And thus those complaining that Israel is, in effect, delegitimizing itself are energetically involved in the process of delegitimizing Israel. What if they were to say: Israel is being delegitimized! This is a big lie and must be fought against so we are going to give you the facts about what really happened. Instead of Cohen's defamatory 21 words they would be quoting things like the testimony of the ship's captain about how the Jihadists prepared to attack the Israelis and he tried to stop them. Then, the delegitimization campaign would falter and--guess what?--the threat would be dismantled. Instead, they are the single main cause of delegitimation in the West!

--But now we come to the most important point, because it goes far beyond Israel: the confusion of image and reality. Even in the world of 2010, power still matters. Violence settled quarrels. Individual men are greedy for power. Revolutionaries seek state power in order to transform fundamentally their societies. Regimes aggress against their neighbors. Power is respected.

And yet the idea has taken hold in most Western governments that what is most important is image. If we are nice to our enemies we will win them over. If we are popular we will avoid trouble. If we apologize we will be forgiven. If we tell everyone we are weak we will be pitied. If we sympathize with the underdog, even one that wants to be the overdog and maul us to death, we will be noble and thus succeed.

It is a world in which Senator Barbara Boxer can say, "Our national security experts...tell us that carbon pollution leading to climate change will be, over the next 20 years, the leading cause of conflict, putting our troops in harm's way...." Now even if you believe that "carbon pollution" is an important global problem that needs to be addressed, is this the way to think about it? Forget about the ambitions of Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, and revolutionary Islamists and terrorists, the real cause of war is going to be carbon pollution?

Well, she is from California after all, but Boxer is expressing the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) also, though even "national security experts" don't talk like that. (Theory: She is reflecting Obama's national security doctrine and the White House-influenced Department of Defense Quadrennial Report which barely mentioned real-world threats.)

In short, what we are seeing is the abandonment of realpolitik and in a real sense of the real world itself. No! If a Canadian labor union or a British teacher's union (dominated by leftists) want to boycott Israel, or if newspapers write nasty articles about Israel, or if college professors want to teach slanted anti-Israel courses that is not the principal threat to Israel.

Of course, the concern is that eventually Western governments, staffed by people so indoctrinated, will turn against Israel. Yet after all the op-eds are written, governments make decisions based a bit more on the real world. After a half-century in which the threat of pressure on Israel has been discussed every day it has in fact amounted to little. Or as Professor Frédéric Encel put it in Le Monde: "L'émotion et la compassion sont une chose, la diplomatie en est une autre." Emotion and compassion is one thing, diplomacy is something else entirely.

The real threat to Israel is not being unpopular in certain circles (and check out U.S. public opinion polls for a corrective there) but Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, the Muslim Brotherhoods, and others of that ilk. And guess what? They are also the real threat to the West, too.

But you know what? In the end, it doesn't matter what people say, what matters is how the real world hits them upside the head. In 2001 an article ridiculed me for warning about a threat of revolutionary Islamist terrorism against the United States. It came out in early September, just before the eleventh day of that month. A few conks on the noggin coupled with elections will force more realistic policies. The only problem is who is going to do the bleeding, but it won't be from delegitimization but rather from being blown up.

So what's the bigger threat to Israel: Hamas becoming established permanently as the government of the Gaza Strip, training thousands of terrorists and importing arms or Western politicians and media criticizing Israel for stopping that from happening? It's no contest.

Golda Meir was right. Policy may be adjusted to reduce criticism but interests should not and will not be sacrificed.

[Note: The article by Kouchner and the other two foreign ministers called on Israel to drop the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the UN not to have an investigation that is designed to attack Israel, as happened with the Goldstone report. It also urged Israel not to use violence. What you do when your soldiers are attacked, beaten, and held hostages by radical Jihadists is not precisely clear. But these points lie outside the subject of this article.]

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Joran Van Der Sloot.

Joran Van Der Sloot is currently in a holding cell in  Peru.
After 5 years of playing with the authorities in Yoruba, it took less than one night for Van Der Sloot, in  tears, to confess to murdering Stephanie Flores.

His mother is flying in from Denmark to visit the alleged killer in jail.

According to a reporter in Peru, the Peruvian authorities are, “Not very nice. They don’t play.”
The next step in Van Der Sloot’s odyssey is to go to the scene of the murder, and reenact it..
Where ever he goes in Peru you can hear people screaming for his blood.
This is not a peaceful vacation spot like Yoruba.

An attorney who is familiar with Peru visibly cringed as he recalled Peruvian prison life.
He said, “Peruvian prisons are among the world’s worst. He is going to be entering the gates of Hell.”

I won’t talk about what he did to Stephanie Flores, on what for her was a magical night, until she met the killer.
It does seem, however, that Van Der Sloot is about to learn, first hand, what it feels like to be a helpless victim.

Friday, June 4, 2010

They have no credibility at all.

The situation outside of Gaza seems to be fading in a  worldwide issue.
Today, in what was a bit of a surprise the top democrats of the U.S. Senate issued a public declaration of support for Israel and stated emphatically, "Israel has a right to defend herself."

Obama also expressed this sentiment but seemed to be presenting the image of neutrality , I believe for geo-political reasons.
He did say, "Gaza  has launched thousands of bombs into Israel."

He added, "I've been to Israel. I've stood in a child's bedroom where a missile has come through the roof."

 I believe the man is honest, intelligent, and loves Israel.
I believe he knows the situation, he knows that Israel just wants peace, he knows Hamas are blood-thirsty terrorists.
Obama is just trying to keep things from getting violent.
So he is acting as if he is impartial.
He has called for a complete investigation.
Obama already knows exactly what happened.
He knows that an impartial investigation will clear Israel of wrong doing, and that will slow the momentum of the anti-Jews.

I think we are seeing more and more that intelligent responsible leaders are less and less willing to accept Arab interpretations of events.
Arabs are killing each other at an unprecedented rate, and everyone knows it.

They have no credibility at all.

There is a coterie of strongly opinionated anti-Israelis on the internet and in the media.
Democracy Now, which performs many valuable hours of truth and alternative ideas,
at least so far, has been completely wrong on the Gazan barricade defiance of last week.

The IDF had planned for the interception to be very low key.
According to at least some reports the IDF intelligence fell short of perfect, and the Israeli military , expecting to greet and dialogue with Peace Activists, were attacked by knife and bar weilding terrorists .

We would like to see the President and every world leader be more forthright in their support of Israel.
Obama was vague about what he expected Israel to do for the Palestinians.
He was exact about what the Arabs are going to be required to do.
"They have to stop the violence, they have to guarantee that they support Israel's right to exist, and they have to make sure that the people of Israel live in peace and security."

That's what we want, too.
If Obama said tomorrow, "The Arabs are violent and savage. They want to exterminate the Jews.
The tenets of Islam are wrong."
I would be overjoyed.
It would be true, but at least in the opinion of some experts, it would create unnecessary hostility and is not the best use of diplomacy.

Carter is an anti-Israeli, bordering on or even crossing over into being an anti-Semite.

We believe Obama is in Israel's corner.

Islamist Extremists Hit Israeli Soldiers with Iron Bars, West Surrenders?

By Barry Rubin*
June 4, 2010

"I have not yet begun to fight!" --Captain John Paul Jones 1779

"Don't Give up the ship!" -- Captain James Lawrence, 1813

"Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!" --Admiral David Farragut, 1862

"You may fire when ready, Gridley!" --Commodore George Dewey, 1898

"Oh no! Israel stopped a ship near Gaza, the militants attacked the troops, and nine were killed. Our policy is untenable and we better give in." --President Barack Obama, 2010?

I hope the above turns out to be an exaggeration. Some minor changes--letting private groups send in goods over the border after Israeli inspection--would not damage the effort to isolate and defeat Hamas. But things may go far beyond such cosmetic alterations.

For some reason the Obama Administration may be deciding that its policy toward Hamas is no longer working and it's time to begin to raise its arms in surrender, give up the ship, put on the brakes, and make room for Hamas. But it should be remembered that a policy is not wrong or untenable because some--even a lot of people--don't like it or because it doesn't work real fast. The question is whether the policy fits the resources available and goals that are vital ones.
And here, regarding the Gaza Strip issue, there are major strategic issues that should not be forgotten:

--Is the United States and others ready to accept a new Islamist state, equivalent to the Taliban regime of Afghanistan, in the heart of the Middle East?
--Are they willing to have an Iranian client state in such a strategic position, spreading revolutionary Islamism to Egypt and other countries?
--Leaving aside the proven fantasy of a Fatah-Hamas moderate cooperative regime, are they ready to accept such a huge blockage of any hope for the peace process?
--In the name of humanitarianism do they want to take responsibility for preserving a regime that intends to turn its society into a mechanism for mass production of terrorists and suicide bombers, with a policy dedicated to permanent war?

These are all very real questions that are getting lost in the scramble to deal with this latest incident and the battle-weariness of countries that bear no burden in keeping up the pressure on the Hamas regime.

Incidentally, we have already seen that approach in Lebanon, where promises made to Israel in 2006 by the UN to keep Hizballah out of the south and stop arms smuggling have been completely broken. This is not a good precedent for the Gaza case.

The proper policy would be to overthrow that government in Gaza which, after all, violates the Oslo accords, came to power by a bloody coup (though it had earlier won elections, it overthrew the results), and helps block peace. The fact that the previous sentence is considered to be unthinkable and even bizarre in the contemporary debate shows just how irrational that discussion has become.
But since nobody will move toward such a goal-and won't let Israel do it-the next best thing is to keep Hamas as weak as possible, stop it from consolidating power, and undermine its popularity by economic pressure.

Now, however, there are increasing voices in the West wanting to hand Hamas a victory even though it has in no way moderated its positions and intends to return to violence as soon as possible. Why? What is the compelling reason for surrender to a terrorist, antisemitic, repressive, misogynist, anti-American group that would give another extension of power to revolutionary Islamists and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran?

Well, it is claimed by U.S. officials that the blockade is not sustainable, "The Gaza policy is bankrupt and needs to be changed."

In other words, Hamas has not surrendered yet. It would be interesting to see the results of this position being applied more widely. For if the extremists and terrorists don't give up after a little while, then surely the democratic world must. Really? Like this?:

Hey, we've been fighting against Germany and Japan for several years and they haven't given up and their people are suffering. Obviously, unconditional surrender is an unsustainable policy.

Or perhaps the policy is bankrupt because it hasn't brought down Hamas yet and thus a tougher policy is needed? That option isn't even considered.
According to a New York Times article:

"The world powers have grown increasingly disillusioned with the blockade, saying that it has created far too much suffering in Gaza and serves as a symbol not only of Israel's treatment of Palestinians but of how the West is seen in relation to the Palestinians."

Naturally, if Hamas entrenches itself and creates another Taliban regime, there won't be any suffering in Gaza. Who cares if women are suppressed and everyone is repressed and children are brought up to be suicide bombers? What's important is that they have more material goods.

A senior American official 

"Gaza has become the symbol in the Arab world of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and we have to change that..We need to remove the impulse for the flotillas. The Israelis also realize this is not sustainable."

This is a textbook case of appeasement: fearful your enemy will hurt you, quickly give them so much that they will hopefully leave you alone. Tell me, do you think the Palestinians, Arabs, and Islamists will find a new symbol? Might they come up with more demands?

Precisely the same approach motivated the Oslo accords and the turning over of most of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Palestinian rule, Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon, and Israel's pull out from the Gaza Strip. And we all know how well that defusing of symbols and removal of excuses worked out.

Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron calls for ending the blockade and the latestevents, the American officials say, "have given Hamas a dangerous lift."

Right, and no doubt ending the blockade will send them crashing down. No, it will give Hamas a far, far bigger lift.

Don't these people have any clue of how Middle East politics works? Hamas would be seen as the victor over Israel and the West. The dismantling of the blockade will be taken as proof that their methods work and that the Palestinian Authority gets nothing done. Similarly, it will be one more proof-soon to be followed by nuclear weapons-that Iran is the patron to have, not America.

Yet these arguments aren't even part of the current debate. Of course, an underlying problem is that battling Hamas is seen as a purely Israeli interest. Only when the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip became a base for subverting Egypt and other Arabic-speaking countries and when the region is flocking behind Iran's banners might these great geniuses discover what they've done. Hopefully, they won't get a chance to find out and are saved from the consequences of their own stupidity by those they revile and slander at present.
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*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  You can read and subscribe to his blog at

We depend on your contributions. To make a tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card, click the Donate button in the upper-right hand corner of this page. To donate via check, make it out to "American Friends of IDC," with "for GLORIA Center" in the memo line. Mail to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003.