Deja vu - Judith Apter Klinghoffer
Dr. Judith Apter Klinghoffer taught history and International relations at Rowan University, Rutgers University, the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing as well as at Aarhus University in Denmark where she was a senior Fulbright professor. She is an affiliate professor at Haifa University. Her books include Israel and the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences and , International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights
The same media that hyperventilates about civility whenever Democrats or Barack Obama are mistreated, show no similar concern when Republicans are on the receiving end even at the very same time.
Compare the media outrage at claims that John Lewis was spit and the inattention at the recorded beating up by union men of a Black Republican, Kenneth Gladney, while handing out flyers at a Tea Party. It took place after Barack Obama's men personally urged their followers to punch back twice as hard. No one noted that the violence followed such incitement. Moreover, it took the police months to arrest anybody and then they were charged with mere misdemeanor.
Consider the case of Jewish Republican Eric Cantor who had a bullt fired through his office window.
Philadelphia resident Norman Leboon, 33, was charged for posting a YouTube video in which he threatened to kill Cantor and his family, just days after a bullet was fired through the window of Cantor’s Richmond campaign office by an unknown gunman.
"You receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer's abominations," Leboon reportedly said in the video. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Leboon is a Barack Obama supporter, who donated $505 to the Democratic National Committee in June, 2008.
A discussion of the matter at In side Washington before the arrest was made demonstrates the double standard not only of the media but also the police.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: You showed Eric Cantor protesting how Democrats have turned this into a partisan, anti-Republican issue. How come you didn’t mention that his offices in Richmond had taken a bullet?
MR. PETERSON: Well, the police say it was – the bullet was on a downward trajectory, meaning somebody fired it up into the air. There’re some questions as to whether it was vandalism.
MR. KING: It wasn’t aimed at him.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: Were you there?
MR. KING: No, the police said that.
MS. TOTENBERG: It was at one in the morning. It was one in the morning. It’s – come on, come on, come on. This is stupid.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: Can I say anything –
MS. TOTENBERG: No. This is stupid. (Cross talk.)
MR. KING: I want to hear Charles.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: I think it’s a remarkable coincidence that a bullet goes in the air and ends up in the office of a representative in the House of Representatives who’s a Republican. I think you might at least have mentioned it. And I think what’s going on here is all of this is being traced to rhetoric on the part of Republicans. This is free country. This was an impassioned debate over an extremely important issue. I did not hear incitement to any violence on the part of any officials in the Republican Party. And to attribute nut cases and loonies and people holding a sign to Republican leadership is partisan rubbish.
MS. TOTENBERG: On the floor of the House, when Stupak spoke, one of his Republican colleagues yelled out, “baby killer.” This is not – we should be going there and I wouldn’t care if it was the flipside either.
MR. PETERSON: Let’s have more on this talk of violence, next.
Democratic offices trashed around the country. Somebody cut the gas line at the house of the brother of the Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello. They got the wrong man apparently. Anyway, this is a kind of thing that makes people very nervous, Charles?
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: Well, the only bullet fired in this episode is one that went through a window and into the offices of Eric Cantor, the number three guy in the Republican Party in the House. But I’m told I shouldn’t worry about it because the bullet was on its way down instead of on its way up.
How many of you have gotten a bullet in your offices, going up or down, and what was somebody doing firing up or down outside of his offices?
Secondly, I would say that during the Bush years, when there was all kinds of hate speech, accusations of Bush being a Nazi, war criminals, “The New Republic” started an article with “I hate George Bush,” I don’t remember anybody here protesting about hate speech or over-the-top language.
MR. PETERSON: Colby.
MR. KING: The police said that the bullet may have been fired in another area and may have been virtually going to that building where he happened to have an office, but that’s beside the point. What did happen last Sunday was that you had members of Congress cheering demonstrators who were disrupting the floor of the House and those were Republican congressmen.
MS. TOTENBERG: The point is not who gets threatened. The point is that there are these kinds of threats. And it can get very much out of hand. It’s going in that direction at the moment.
MR. SHIELDS: A cautionary note. Evan Thomas’s grandfather, the great Norman Thomas, told the antiwar protesters at the height of that frenzy, “don’t burn the American flag. Wash it.” That is wise counsel to anybody who wants to have a political effect rather than just threaten their fellow Americans.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: Well, let’s all agree on that.
MS. TOTENBERG: We all agree. The question –
MR. SHIELDS: The cutting of the gas line into somebody’s house is violation, is a criminal act and ought to be prosecuted.
MR. KRAUTHAMMER: Who disagrees with that?
This is the type of hate speech Krauthammer was referencing. Try to remember any media outrage against it.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 17:08
Well-placed contacts within jihadi circles confirm to Asia Times Online that the attackers were in all probability from the North Caucasus, but add that they could have been trained in Pakistan as part of a broad plan that al-Qaeda has been working on for many years - to stir unrest across Central Asia. The insiders who spoke to Asia Times Online point out that Monday's attack could signal a new salvo in this battle. The last metro attacks in Moscow were in 2004, when 40 people were killed in two separate incidents.
The al-Qaeda vision is to use the separatist struggle in Chechnya as a rallying point for a broader fight against Russia and its allies in Central Asia. In this new war it is envisaged that Chechens will be joined by, among others, ethnic communities of Uzbeks, Uyghurs and Tajiks under one front to establish an Islamic emirate of Khurasan.
As top al-Qaeda ideologues see it, the map of ancient Khurasan (comprising the present Central Asian republics, parts of Afghanistan, parts of Iran and parts of Pakistan) would be revived. Victory here would then lead to the"end-of-time battles" in the Middle East.
It appears that the training may have been done in Pakistan:
Asia Times Online has written how control of all foreign fighters in North Waziristan and South Waziristan was generally in the hands of Arabs, who are astute and trained commanders. (See The Pakistani road to German terror) For example, Abu Nasir commands the Uyghurs and Pakistanis; Abu Akash looks after the Uzbeks and Tajiks while Abu Hanifah takes care of Turkish Kurds, Bosnians and Chechens.
After 2007, foreign fighters began to arrive in Pakistan in increasing numbers as al-Qaeda had consolidated its position in the tribal border areas. Most of the jihadis came from Turkey, where there are large Chechen and Uzbek communities.
After mid-2009, the fighters were able to travel through Iran as al-Qaeda struck a deal with the Iranian Jundallah militant group to allow them transit through restive Sistan-Balochistan province in the southwest. The fighters were also able to return via the same route.
Conceivably, this was the route taken by Monday's suicide bombers after receiving training in the al-Qaeda camps that dot the border areas.
So, neither poverty nor emptying part of Jerusalem of Jews would make any difference. Jihadists have their own agenda and the sooner the rest of the world to come to terms with that fact the better.
Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 16:27
Their (she stood at his side) supporters used the funeral to raise their voices -
MSM will not tell you but Iran emerged as the top journalist jailer in the world and her journalist deserve that name unlike Western ones that tow the administration line.
Journalists have become a prime target in an Iranian government crackdown on the opposition following last June's disputed presidential election, with 52 of them currently held — making Iran the top jailer of journalists in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The wave of arrests, which has only accelerated recently, has sent a chill through journalists in Iran at a time when the opposition is struggling to maintain its challenge against the government in the face of a heavy crackdown on pro-reform figures.
In response, a sort of"underground" journalism has emerged, said Reza Valizadeh, 32, who used to work for the state-run radio and television but who fled the country amid the postelection crackdown.
"We have a kind of guerrilla journalists, who wear masks, have no names, write under pseudonyms and send e-mails without mentioning their real names to news outlets outside Iran, or publish in weblogs with pseudonyms," said Valizadeh, who now lives in Paris."A very, very bitter and black period awaits journalists," he told The Associated Press.
The at least 52 journalists now in Iranian jails range from freelance reporters to writers for opposition blogs and newspapers and even several for government-owned media, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists wrote in a report released Tuesday. Seven of them were imprisoned before the June election.
Eleven of those in prison were arrested in February, according to CPJ — and the total number does not include 50 other journalists who were arrested since the election and were since released on bail.
At least a hundred journalists have fled the country, at least 80 of them are in neighboring Turkey.
Charges against the detainees have been vague in most cases, CPJ said, such as"propagation against the regime," insulting authorities, and disrupting public order, while many other cases are shrouded in secrecy, without even formal charges being disclosed.
Some have received prison sentences of up to six years, lashes, internal exile and lifetime bans on writing and other social and political activities. At least two face heresy charges that, upon conviction, would bring the death penalty.
"I understand the price I have to pay," one of the journalists on the CPJ list, Kouhyar Goodarzi, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press shortly before he was picked up by Iranian security forces in December.
He said in the e-mail that he was willing to risk"imprisonment, torture, pressures of interrogation and solitary confinement ... in pursuit of my precious goals."
Although no formal charges have been laid against Goodarzi, he has since told his family that interrogators have mentioned"moharebeh," a vague charge that literally means"waging war" against God and normally carries a death sentence under Iranian law, as well as propaganda against the system through interviews with foreign media and participation in illegal gatherings.
"Iran is entering a state of permanent media repression, a situation that is not only appalling but also untenable," said a statement by CPJ quoting its Executive Director Joel Simon."The Iranian government will eventually lose the war against information, but we are saddened every day that our colleagues are paying such a terrible price."
The crackdown is an extension of the wave of arrests that Iran has carried out in a bid to crush the opposition movement, which carried out widespread protests claiming that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory in the June election was fraudulent. Hundreds have been detained
Part of the aim appears to be to shut down information about the opposition movement. A number of protesters and activists have been jailed in part for talking to foreign press. Several pro-reform newspapers have been shut down — including the Etemaad daily and Irandokht weekly in March, as well as a business journal critical of government policies.
Currently, China is the world's second largest jailer of journalists, with 24 in prison, followed by Cuba, with 22. The number of jailed journalists is the highest CPJ has recorded in a single country since December 1996, when it documented 78 imprisonments in Turkey.
Another of those on the CPJ list is Shiva Nazar Ahari, who has been jailed twice in the last nine months. The second time, she and Goodarzi were detained as they were on their way to the holy city of Qom on a bus to attend the funeral of dissident cleric Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri in late December.
"We don't know what the charges against her are," her mother, Shahrzad Kariman, said in a telephone interview from Tehran."I haven't been able to speak to anyone, not to the judge. We don't know anything right now. Her lawyer hasn't had access to her files either."
She said when she last saw her daughter in a prison visit two weeks ago, she told her interrogators had said she faces 19 charges but did not say what they were. Ahari spent the first 60 days of her detention in solitary confinement but was moved to another ward about two weeks ago where she shares a cell with another prisoner, Kariman said.
With the coming of the Iranian New Year on March 20,"the family will be together. We would like to celebrate with her," Kariman said.
Fariborz Soroush, 37, who worked for the U.S.-sponsored Radio Farda and was jailed twice for his work, said reporters who write on sports, the economy, social and cultural issues are not spared either these days. They are being summoned to the Intelligence Ministry, interrogated and even jailed.
He left Iran in September, six days after being released. He's now in France.
Valizadeh, the former state TV journalist in exile as well, says the increase in arrests likely indicates interrogators are trying to get information on reporters now working anonymously and underground.
"The detainees may give away information about friends and colleagues under torture," said Valizadeh."This is what the authorities are looking for."
Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 20:40
Russians are happy. They know Obama needed a win and were determined to make him pay for it. They got many of the concessions they wanted including an acknowledgment that they are again to be considered a super power on par with the US. The two countries will have equal number of nuclear weapons.
"Russian nuclear weapons are being reduced anyway, so one would like the Americans to reduce theirs at the same time. And this can be done only through treaties," military commentator Pavel Felgengauer said on Gazprom-owned, but editorially independent, Ekho Moskvy radio."If, as a result of this treaty, they (USA) will also reduce the level of their nuclear weapons, while Russia is forced to do so, or is inevitably doing so anyway, this is good news for Russia," he said.
Moreover, they will not have to put up with the" constant presence" of inspectors at the plant in Russia's city of Votkinsk, where Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles are produced, Aleksey Arbatov, head of the Center for International Security at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations pointed out. Arbatov told Russia Times that Russian diplomacy"has won a great victory" by successfully exploiting Obama's need for a diplomatic victory.
Obama's minions praise Obama's personal involvement. After boxing him in by announcing the deal was done, Russians are careful not to play it cool for fear of alerting the Senate. After all, they are also aware of the count down towards November.
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2010 - 12:27
GEORGE MITCHELL: … So what we got was a moratorium, ten months, far less than what was requested, but more significant than any action taken by any previous government of Israel for the 40 years that settlement enterprise has existed. …
CHARLIE ROSE: And you and Secretary Clinton praised Prime Minister Netanyahu for agreeing to that.
ROSE: It does not include East Jerusalem. There’ve been announcement in the last 48 hours of new settlement construction in East Jerusalem where the Palestinians want to make their capital.
ROSE: And it’s in the midst of Palestinians.
MITCHELL: … But for the Israelis, what they’re building in is in part of Israel.
Now, the others don’t see it that way. So you have these widely divergent perspectives on the subject. Our view is let’s get into negotiations. Let’s deal with the issues and come up with the solution to all of them including Jerusalem which will be exceedingly difficult but, in my judgment, possible.
The Israelis are not going to stop settlements in, or construction in East Jerusalem. They don’t regard that as a settlement because they think it’s part of Israel. …
ROSE: So you’re going to let them go ahead even though no one recognizes the annexation?
MITCHELL: You say “Let them go ahead.” It’s what they regard as their country. They don’t say they’re letting us go ahead when we build in Manhattan.
Please do not believe he is beating up on Israel in order to garner Arab support for taking on Iran. The opposite is true. The Sunni Arab states first priority is stopping a nuclear Shia Iran, a preoccupation Obama administration's mouth piece, Tom Friedman, characterizes as"obsessive." Indeed, nothing would delight the Arabs more than Israel taking out Iran's nuclear weapons. Israel is used as a scapegoat to atone for doing nothing nothing about Iran.
The most ridiculous aspect of this policy is that it is self defeating. As the Russians have more pull in Iran, Arab states have a good reason to down grade their relations with the US in favor of Russia.
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2010 - 10:20
POLITICO spoke with several officials who confirmed the debate and its intensity. Ross did not respond to a query, nor did a spokesman for George Mitchell.
“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu's coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn't seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”
What some saw as the suggestion of dual loyalties shows how heated the debate has become.
Ross deserves the accusation. He should have known enough not to vouch for Obama in the manner he did for this has nothing to do with Netanyahu and everything to do with Israel against whom Barry Rubin argues the Obama Administration, Against U.S. Interests, Declared Diplomatic War on Israel Note that merely two months ago George Mitchell justified Israel continuing to build in Jerusalem and compared it to America building in Manhattan!
To be honest, he is not the only Jewish expert to be proven naive. 78% of the Jews were similarly fooled. To be naive sons is forgivable. To be wicked sons is not. How to prevent moving from one category to the other is the problem facing Obama's Jewish supporters this Passover night. This is the time to call their Congressmen, 327 of which have already sent a letter to Obama urging him to cease this self defeating Israel bashing, the White House and their local Democratic Party offices. It is the least they can do.
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2010 - 12:26
Recent Russians opinion polls reveal that the American frantic efforts to appease Russia failed miserably. Not only does Putin do his best to sabotage US foreign policy goals but more and more Russians dislike and dismiss the West in general and Obama's America. So much for reset buttons and"smart" diplomacy.
The ever useful Johnson's Russia List includes this eye opening article from the March 26, issue of Vremya Novostei by Natalia Rozhkova:
MORE AND MORE RUSSIANS DISTRUST THE WEST AND PARTICULARLY THE UNITED STATES
Opinion polls conducted by the Levada-Center show that the Russians become increasingly less susceptible to criticism from the West. Instead, most respondents believe that Russia has to defend itself from NATO. Figures compiled over the years and finally published by sociologists indicate that Russians' trust in Western partners is ebbing.
Number of the respondents confident that Russia should heed Western criticism of its foreign and domestic policy dropped from 46% in February 2007 to 42% in February this year. On the contrary, the respondents claiming that this criticism ought to be ignored numbered 38% then and 45% this year. Considering that the respondents who did not know what to say to the question numbered 16% then and 13% earlier this year, it stands to reason to assume that some of them opted to join the"ignore'em" group.
Attitude toward NATO underwent even greater changes. Forty- three percent respondents in January 2003 thought that Russia ought to cooperate with the Alliance in the interests of common security. In February 2010, this group numbered only 26%. The group confident that Russia must concentrate on prevention of NATO's expansion and form alliances of its own increased from 14% to 25%. Faith in neutrality and non-alignment meanwhile increased from 22% to 37%. Number of the respondents assuming that Russia should join NATO has remained unchanged (3-5%).
Neither are the Russians particularly endeared to the United States. The reload presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama seems to be frustrating Russian general public to an ever greater degree. In February 2010, 73% Russians called the United States world's number one aggressor and Russia's likeliest potential enemy. (Three years ago, they numbered 75%.) In the meantime, faith in rapprochement with the United States dropped from 24% three years ago to 14% this February. Thirty-six percent actually said that Russia should stay away from the United States.
In other words, most Russians regard the United States as an enemy, a country Russia should remain politely neutral to and stay away from. Mostly pro-American are men aged 25-29 whose mentality was shaped by the years of the perestroika. Noticeably less friendly toward the United States are the Russians aged 55 and more who grew up during the Cold War.
It is fair to add that the West is mostly dismissed by the Russians aged 40-55 (49%), with college or university diplomas (52%), impressive income (50%), and residents of Moscow and other major cities (51% and 52%). Respondents with technical education (47%), the poor (47%), and villagers (48%) are more likely to heed criticism from abroad. These figures show that the social strata where representatives of the Russian middle class might be found are considerably less supportive of Western values than domestic democrats like to pretend. As for the Russians who are wealthy, their respect for the opinion of foreign countries keeps dwindling.
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2010 - 14:08
In a message sent to the 22nd Summit of Arab Leaders that kicked off on Saturday in Sirt, Libya, President Medvedev expressed hope that an international conference on the Middle East could be held in Moscow with a view to resuming the negotiating process.
According to his letter that was broadcasted from the presidency website, he hoped that the Arab nations will contribute to the ongoing efforts in order to hold the international conference on the Middle East in Moscow that aims to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as well as achieve progress on the Syrian-Lebanese tracks with Israel. Medvedev called Arab nations to support the conference.
On the Iranian file, he stressed the importance of solving the nuclear issue through diplomatic solutions, but did not rule out the use of additional sanctions.
He stressed that sanctions would not be against civilians in Iran.
May I suggest that the United States would be silly, indeed, to sacrifice or weaken its sole real strategic Middle East asset, Israel. With Russia back in the game, she is more valuable than ever.
Posted on Sunday, March 28, 2010 - 16:27
Ralph Peters, Bam's triple-diplo-whammy day
Melanie Phillips, Moral Blindness – and Truth and Justice
Jackson Diehl, Obama and Netanyahu pointless poison
Nile Gardiner, Obama's Humiliation of Israel is a disgrace
Alex Grobman, Enabling Arabs
Eytan Gilboa, Obama's Pressure Will Backfire
Jonathan Spyer, A reality too terrible to admit
Joel C. Rosenberg, Netanyahu stands his ground
William A. Jacobson, We are all Bibi Netanyahu Now
Posted on Saturday, March 27, 2010 - 14:33
Posted on Friday, March 26, 2010 - 18:21
During the presidential campaign the American people were divided between those who argued that the real Barack Obama is the one revealed in his autobiography and those who maintained that the real Obama was the man who gave centrist sounding campaign speeches. Those angry with George W. Bush and those perceiving themselves as non whites were the most anxious to believe the latter. Jews and Indians proved particularly vulnerable to this appeal. Leftists and Muslims knew a good thing when they saw one though Arab and Iranian opponents of the current Iranian regime have since changed their mind.
The political elite may continue to subscribe and to try to sell Americans a centrist Obama but most Americans now know better. Obama's total disinterest in the fate of the unemployed and his fanatical focus on Health care has opened their eyes. The Obama administration's treatment of India is doing the same for Indians and that of Israel for American Jews.
Ultimately, the fate of independent states is in their own hands. Russia is waiting for India with open arms but Israel must stand alone. Still, as Efraim Inbar argues that Netanyahu Can Say"No:"
The Obama administration’s attempt to force Israel to accept the division of Jerusalem as a prerequisite for peace talks is astonishing. Despite the obvious reluctance to confront an American president, Prime Minister Netanyahu can effectively resist such American pressure on Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem is the issue on which Netanyahu can best make a stand against Obama.
I would add"No" is all Obama understands. America's enemies know it and its allies cannot learn it too soon as they must saved themselves and thereby limiting the damage on America itself. These United States are in the hand of a president seeking to weaken it and with it the Western world. Steadfast democracies, like Israel, must learn to say NO or they will suffer the fate of Czechoslovakia.
Have you noticed the recent silence on Iran? This fracas is partially designed to cover up for Obama's failed Iranian policy. It is partially an effort to compensate Sunni Arab states for forcing to live with a nuclear Shia Islamist regional hegemon. Hillary Clinton is right. Israel's survival is a stake if it fails to say no. Israel is not alone. Britain, Eastern Europe, India, Colombia not to mention democratic hopefuls world over are in the same boat.
For the Obama confrontation with Israel is also part of the acceleration of the Obama agenda. Obama and his minions understand that their power would be curtailed in November. They may also doubt his chances to be reelected. So, they have set politics aside and are hastening to ram through as much of their radical foreign and domestic agenda as they can.
The passage of Health care and student loan has whetted their appetite and they off to the races. November cannot come too soon. In the meantime, we all must hunker down, say no as loud as we can and pray that war will not follow the current depression.
Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 17:42
The following is less of a satire than I would have liked. I googled it. Here is Gerald Steinberg's take on it. Try to smile:
This year, in reciting the Passover story and Exodus from Egypt, I suggest extending the discussion to include stories that might have been featured in newspapers, blogs, and nightly news broadcasts of 4,000 years ago (give or take a few centuries).
In this not-so-imaginary world, the headlines and video clips highlight stark images of blood flowing in the Nile and the devastation from frogs, boils, locusts and other plagues. The BBC sends a team of reporters to document the devastation in Egypt for a 10-part series – one for each plague. Editorials attack pro-Israelite conspirators, and NPR features moving interviews with carefully chosen Egyptian victims, reached in their suddenly servant-less Cairo villas.
These media stories are accompanied by United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions condemning the Israelites for brutal violations of international law and the disproportionate use of force. (European diplomats, are seen squirming awkwardly in their seats and wagging their fingers at the Israelite delegation.) In parallel, the leaders of non-governmental superpowers and allegedly moral watchdogs, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, hold press conferences and give sage-sounding interviews to voice their condemnations, while demanding independent investigations and prosecution of Moses.
HRW’s Middle East division publishes glossy research reports filled with Egyptian eyewitness testimony and characterizing each of the 10 plagues as collective punishment, a war crime on an unprecedented scale. Ken Roth's ancestor helps his good buddy (an early Richard Goldstone) in getting appointed to head a committee that collects all of these NGO claims into a United Nations report for use in the case against Moses, Aaron and the 70 Israelite leaders.
Nowhere in these reports is there any mention of the almost 400 years of slavery and brutal treatment that preceded the plagues and march to freedom, with little more than hard crackers for food. And Pharoah's order to drown the firstborn boys is patronizingly excused as the exercise of a"right of resistance" by victims of colonialism. Instead, in this narrative, the Israelites are presented as foreign occupiers who conspired with Joseph to steal the land of Goshen from the natives. The record of failed negotiations, which could have ended the conflict peacefully, is completely erased, as are Pharoah’s trail of broken promises (peace breakthroughs of the time) to let the Israelites go.
On university campuses, NGO activists mark Israelite Apartheid Week (actually two weeks, but who pays attention to such details?). Frogs and red water are brought in to simulate the suffering caused by the plagues, and mock trials are held, which start with the conclusion that Moses is guilty. Speakers at conferences and mass rallies call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions to punish and isolate the Israelites.
Then, as now, these condemnations and activities are supported by a small but noisy group of apologetic Israelites with an exaggerated sense of self-importance and the belief that a right-wing conspiracy led by Moses is responsible for all of the problems. Through grants provided by donors to the New Israelite Fund, these “independent voices” join the demands that the Israelites return to Egypt immediately, apologize and provide compensation for damages.
And these problems did not end with the parting of the Red Sea, or Sea of Reeds, and the drowning of Pharoah’s army (another war crime) in hot pursuit of the runaway slaves.
Later, in the desert, as the Israelites prepared for returning to their homeland in the Land of Israel, first Moses and then, 39 years later, Joshua dispatched groups of spies. The biblical text provides many details of these complex intelligence operations, including the role of double agents, but it doesn’t describe the nature of the passports they used. Today, this action would have led to self-righteous denunciations about the invasion of Jericho’s sovereignty, and calls for more investigations.
Thus, as our generation struggles for justice, like our ancestors, the Passover story and the Exodus remain very relevant. The names and details may change, but the overall situation has a great deal to teach us, 4,000 years later.
Chag sameach v'kasher,
Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor and Bar Ilan University
Posted on Thursday, March 25, 2010 - 18:04
John Yoo was introduced by his friend, professor Saikrishna Prakash. With friends like him, no one needs enemies. In an obvious reference to Oscar Wilde's famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Prakash noted that Yoo has changed so little in the past two years that he must have an aging photo in his basement.
I stared. Such a comment would be insulting under the best of circumstances. But given the fact that the left have focused their wrath against the Bush administration on Yoo, the comparison was especially cruel. The picture of Dorian Gray did not merely age but was disfigured by his dissolute crime filled life. Was Prakash trying to signal the demonstrators that he agrees with their opinion of Yoo? I asked him. He responded:"A joke to be sure. And John seemed no worse for it. I can assure you we are still very good friends."
Perhaps so. Teaching at Berkeley, John Yoo had little choice but to develop a very thick skin, an implacable demeanor and an excellent sense of humor. He began by referencing his appearance at the Daily Show. It was not too difficult to beat him (as John Stewart admitted the following day), he reported. John Stewart was not so different than the average student; full of opinions but in possession of little information. We knew precisely what he meant.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Daily Show: Exclusive - John Yoo Extended Interview Pt. 1|
He presented the central argument of his book Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush very elegantly. Every ten minutes or so, one of the agitators interrupted with some predictable slogans and had to be removed. John kept his cool. It was obvious he had been through it all many times.
Yoo argues that the constitution intentionally has given its Commanders in Chief wide latitude during wartime and that constitutional scholars rank those presidents who made the greatest use of those powers very highly. He notes that Congress can always check a president by refusing to fund the war. He also points out that deferring to the supreme court is a post W.W.II. phenomenon and that activist Lincoln not only suspended Habeas Corpus but refused to abide by the Dred Scott decision not to mentioned that he used his authority as a commander in chief to free the slaves in Confederacy.
Berkeley students are lucky. He is a truly impressive individual and able teacher. I considered asking him about Obama's Al Qaeda seven but changed my mind. It seemed too cruel to make such a comparison. He, unlike Holder's men, has not asked for the job. America is a country with second acts. I hope John Yoo gets one. He, certainly, does not deserve to have his life defined by the infamous"torture memos."
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 10:47
Seven fat years followed by seven lean is the biblical standard for booms and busts. It might be tempting then to ask what sort of famine lies ahead for the US. One of the more remarkable facts about recent history is that, for all the exuberance of stock and property markets, the last seven years were a rather thin time for the American economy.
From the trough of the 2002 recession – as measured by the National Bureau of Economic Research – to that in 2009, real US gross domestic product grew on average only 1.7 per cent a year. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta calculates that only straight after the second world war, when the economy shrank in real terms, has growth been weaker in any trough-to-trough period since 1933.
More concerning for the prospects of recovery, however, is the recent gap between real consumption and income growth, also the second worst on record. For seven years, real spending grew by an average 2 per cent a year, while incomes grew at half that pace. A steady decline in the personal savings rate to a sub-1 per cent low in 2008 helped to keep shoppers busy. Now, however, saving is again rising while high unemployment is keeping wages in check.
Furthermore, during the 1991 to 2001 period, when real economic growth was almost twice as fast, US inflation declined from 6 per cent to almost 1. As studies suggest a fall in inflation can permanently boost output, the great moderation itself helped to keep economic growth ticking over. Unfortunately, with inflation now conquered and falling prices the great worry instead, this trick cannot be repeated.
So even if the US does see a “V”-shaped recovery, sustaining growth will require a top-notch performance. But for the past seven years, American consumers and businesses had the benefit of tax cuts, expanding credit, low interest rates and inflation and massive stimulus spending. There may not be much milk left in the cow.
This is hardly news for Americans. 79% tell pollsters that U.S. Economy Could Collapse under the combined weight of the debt and big government.
The latest Fox News poll finds that 79 percent of voters think it’s possible the economy could collapse, including large majorities of Democrats (72 percent), Republicans (84 percent) and independents (80 percent).
Just 18 percent think the economy is"so big and strong it could never collapse."
Moreover, 78 percent of voters believe the federal government is"larger and more costly" than it has ever been before, and by nearly three-to-one more voters think the national debt (65 percent) is a greater potential threat to the country’s future than terrorism (23 percent). At the same time the number saying the White House doesn’t have a plan for the economy has increased from 53 percent in July to 62 percent in the new poll. That includes almost all Republicans (88 percent), two-thirds of independents (67 percent), as well as a third of Democrats (33 percent).
Even fewer people think Democrats in Congress (24 percent) and Republicans in Congress (16 percent) have clear plans to fix the economy.
Recovery depends on Main Street writes Obama supporter, Robert Reich. But main street is spooked by unknowable health care costs and the prospect of new taxes and all Obama does is print money and give it to the rich:
Optimists also point to rising stock prices that supposedly make consumers feel wealthier. But the net worth of most Americans is tied up in their homes, which are worth less than in 2007. The “wealth effect” is relevant to the richest 10 per cent of Americans whose net worth is mostly in stocks and bonds. The top 10 per cent accounted for about half of total national income in 2007, but they represent only 40 per cent of total spending. A sustainable recovery cannot be based on the top 10 per cent.
Unemployment or fear of it continues to haunt the population. That is a major reason consumer confidence is still dropping. There is also the extra need to save as boomers face retirement. Given all this, it is sensible for Americans to continue holding back from the malls, but this means a painfully slow recovery. American consumers account for 70 per cent of the total demand for goods and services in the US economy, and a sizeable chunk of world demand.
The economy shows signs of improvement largely because the government is spending huge sums and the Fed is essentially printing even more money. But where will demand come from when the stimulus is over and the Fed tightens? That question hangs over the economy like a dense cloud. Until there is an answer, a sustainable recovery for any other than America’s largest corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy is a mirage.
In other words, Atlas is shrugging with predictable consequences.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 11:33
No, indeed. Obama stands up only to allies. He reminds on of Herod of whom Caesar remarked that he would rather be Herod's pig than Herod's son! Countries would rather be Obama's enemies than his allies and the Chinese authorities understand that only too well. XINUA reports: China says Google issue will not affect China-U.S. ties;
Google's withdrawal from the Chinese mainland will not affect China-U.S. relations"unless someone politicizes the issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday.
Qin told a regular press conference the Google issue was a commercial matter and would not damage the image of China.
He said moves to tie the issue to the China-U.S. relations were"making a fuss" and"overstating the issue."
In the meantime, Iranians bemoan:
"The Islamic Republic of Iran, the regime that you congratulated last year, is [now] beginning the new Persian year under conditions when nearly 70 Iranian citizens' eyes were shut forever by the regime in the streets of Tehran. These citizens had peacefully come to the streets to ask for their missing votes, but the response to their call was blood and violence.
"This year, officials of the Islamic republic are celebrating Norooz as hundreds of political activists, students, women and ordinary citizens are either behind bars, or are imprisoned in a larger prison called Iran after having posted huge bail for their release, or have had their passports or titles to their property confiscated.
"The officials that you so kindly congratulated last year in observance of their ancient celebration, this year called another ancient tradition, held on the last Wednesday of the year [i.e. Ashura Day, December 27, 2009], as superstition and issued a religious decree authorizing violent attacks on the youth celebrating the tradition. The crime of some was dancing, of others chanting freedom slogans, and of still others chanting death to the dictator."
Obama cannot care less. When forced to meet with dissenters such as the Dalai Lama or leaders of democratic states like Benjamin Netanyahu, he makes them come and go by the back door to insure no pictures would be taken.
Cry, my beloved country!
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 12:23
Dore Gold,in Diplomatic dispute obscures Israel's invaluable help to US military gives a partial accounting of Israeli help to US. I would add that Israel developed first those drones (UVAs)Obama is so enamored and continues to be a leader in drone technology.
Netanyahu argued at AIPAC that Israel has actually helped save the lives of Americans. Historically, he is absolutely correct to paint Israel's strategic partnership this way. In August 1966, the Mossad succeeded in recruiting an Iraqi Air Force pilot who flew his MiG-21 to Israel.
The intelligence on the MiG-21 was shared with Washington and would prove to be extremely valuable, considering the fact that the MiG-21 was the work-horse of the North Vietnamese Air Force in the years that followed.
Israel supplied the Americans with many other Soviet weapons systems, from 130mm artillery to T-72 tanks. Gen. George Keegan, the former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence, was quoted in the New York Times on March 9, 1986, saying that the intelligence the U.S. received from Israel could not have been obtained if the U.S. had"five CIAs."
Keegan went further:"The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence."
Even after the Cold War, Israel continues to be a vital American strategic partner. In 2007, the U.S. ambassador to Israel revealed that Israeli technology was being used by the U.S. armed forces in Iraq to protect them from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) that were responsible for most U.S. casualties in the Iraq War.
In short, Israel was helping save American lives in Iraq.
On March 15, 2007, the commander of EUCOM, Gen. Bantz Craddock, told the House Armed Services Committee that"in the Middle East, Israel is the U.S.'s closest ally that consistently and directly supports our interests."
During his AIPAC speech, Netanyahu disclosed:"Israel shares with America everything" that it knows about their common enemies, especially intelligence.
Posted on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - 15:43