Jewish Right To Israel

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Connecticut Post Attacks Joe Lieberman, "The Senator From Israel"

An editorial in the Connecticut Post has no qualms using the I-word in attacking Lieberman's allegiances:
Joe Lieberman is a politician without a state.

The long-time Democrat, now a party of one who is accused of crimes against the Democratic State Central Committee, thinks he transcends state lines.

In reality, he's now the senator from John McCain -- and Israel. [emphasis added]
Interestingly, the title of the editorial is Democrats should aim higher than Lieberman. It is clear that Lieberman’s aim is far higher than that of the Democrats, or the editors of The Connecticut Post.

More to the point--what is it that makes a newspaper feel free to write something like this, and what does this portend down the road?

[Hat tip: Jennifer Rubin]

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The Treaty Of Versailles--And The Palestinians

On Sept. 30, 1938, Chamberlain and Hitler (yimach sh'mo) agreed that the German-speaking "Sudetenland" of Czechoslovakia should be ceded to Germany.

Cliff May has some thoughts, concluding:
Statesmen understand that sometimes grievances can be addressed and sometimes grievances are manipulated to camouflage other ambitions and ulterior motives. Churchill clearly understood that Hitler’s appetite would be whet, not satisfied, once he had consumed the Sudetenland. As he put it:
“We have suffered a total and unmitigated defeat...you will find that in a period of time which may be measured by years, but may be measured by months, Czechoslovakia will be engulfed in the Nazi régime. We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude...”
By the same token, it should be clear—but is not to many in the Foreign Policy Establishment — that it will be impossible to appease the Islamist regime in Tehran and the Islamist leadership in Gaza and the West Bank. Iranians and Palestinians may have “legitimate grievances” (let’s debate that another day). But the more salient fact is that they will see appeasement as weakness, and they will find weakness provocative. If there are any well-established laws in international relations, this is among them – despite attempts by revisionists to repeal it. [emphasis added]
This is a point emphasized by the fact that just today, one day before the 70th anniversary of that agreement, Olmert gives an interview claiming that Israel must withdraw from East Jerusalem and the Golan.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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U.S. Deploys Radar, Troops To Israel: The Price (Updated)

This revelation on Defense News is supposed to be sending 2 messages, one to Iran and one to Israel:
A U.S. government source said the X-band deployment and other bilateral alliance-bolstering activities send parallel messages: "First, we want to put Iran on notice that we're bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we're telling the Israelis, 'Calm down; behave. We're doing all we can to stand by your side and strengthen defenses, because at this time, we don't want you rushing into the military option.'"
But according to Emanuele Ottolenghi, there is potentially more than a simple message that the US is sending Israel:
But knowing that the U.S. wants to reassure Israel and at the same time restrain it does not address another concern: the U.S., once it has deployed radar to monitor incoming threats, can also use it to monitor outgoing activities. It may be an additional layer of defensive tools for Israel - but it could also be a warning to the Jewish state no less than to the Iranians: we are now watching all that you are doing - please don’t surprise us with some unexpected and rash action. We’ll know about it before you’d like us to. And that is not exactly the kindest message from ally to ally.
Everything comes with a price tag.

UPDATE: Israel is aware of the implications:

According to defense officials, the IDF has asked to be allowed to station its soldiers in the radar station to be able to process the information received.

"The Americans have so far said no, but this could change over time," one official explained. "We would prefer to have complete independence when it comes to our warning systems."

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Olmert Ties East Jerusalem To Golan

Haaretz reports on an interview the irrepressible Ehud Olmert gave to Yedioth Aharonoth
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in remarks published Monday that Israel would have to withdraw from East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights if it was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and Syria.

..."Ariel Sharon spoke about painful costs and refused to elaborate," Olmert told the daily. "I say, we have no choice but to elaborate. In the end of the day, we will have to withdraw from the most decisive areas of the territories. In exchange for the same territories left in our hands, we will have to give compensation in the form of territories within the State of Israel."

"I think we are very close to an agreement," Olmert added. [emphasis added]
While Aluf Benn sees this as Olmert's epiphany is too little, too late, David Hazony has a different perspective, as Olmert runs counter to what has been considered the national concensus on both the Golan and Jerusalem. Hazony addresses the logic--or lack thereof--in dividing Jerusalem, in terms of the continuing integration of 'East' and 'West' Jerusalem and the problem of maintain a true border:

On the ground, Jerusalem is not a city you can divide. The Arab neighborhoods of “East” Jerusalem are spotted all over the northern, northwestern, and southern parts of the city. And all across the “East” there are big and bustling Jewish neighborhoods as well. The new rapid-transit system being built will further integrate the city, passing through both Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. New roads and commercial centers have obliterated the old green line, which, unlike in the one separating the West Bank from Israel, no longer appears on maps and is scarcely a memory now. My own neighborhood, Ramot, straddles the line. The only way I could tell which side I was on was by looking in the map of Jerusalem in the World Book Encyclopedia.

But there is another reason why Jerusalem is not going to be divided. The Arabs of Eastern Jerusalem are mostly non-citizens, but unlike in the rest of the West Bank, the vast majority carry blue ID cards — just like Jews — which enable them to travel freely, and therefore find work, throughout Jerusalem and Israel. When Israel unilaterally closed the doors to the Gaza Strip, it was called a “siege.” What Palestinian government will have the strength to set up a border cutting East Jerusalem off from West? None, of course: This will be a weak regime, and getting weaker, and any Palestinian government will insist that Israel let the Palestinians keep crossing the border freely, which is something Israel will never do, any more than it allows Jordanians or Egyptians to travel unrestricted in Israel.

The problem used to be being stuck with Olmert. Now the issue is becoming being stuck with the results of his last minute actions.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Nachum Segal Interviews Malcolm Hoenlein On Last Weeks Rally

Malcolm Hoenlein saw last week's rally as a success:
Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in live for the latest Weekly Update. Nachum began this week's Update by asking Malcolm for his impressions about Monday's "Stop Iran Now" rally and Malcolm responded that this year's attendance was higher than previous years. Malcolm emphasized the importance of moving forward and focusing on the real problem, Iran's President Ahmadinejad. This point lead to a full discussion of the latest news from Iran and the attitudes of Russia and other key countries toward Iran and their actions/policies. They discussed several other important issues including: The New York Times interview with President Ahmadinejad, the possibility of a deadline in regard to military action against Iran, elections in Israel, how we can get involved on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, and MUCH more. Click the link to listen.
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McCain vs Obama On Israel: Worldviews Apart

Yoram Ettinger notes in a piece in YnetNews.com that the worldviews of past US presidents have been the key to how they have dealt with Israel. Thus, while Nixon did not owe anything to Jewish voters, his worldview led him to provide key arms to Israel during the 1973 War. On the other hand, despite Clinton's affinity towards Israel, his worldview led him to make Arafat a frequent welcome guest at the White House.

With this in mind, Ettinger takes a look at the worldviews of McCain and Obama and how they would influence their dealings with Israel. Here is a summary:

1. According to McCain, there is currently a war going on between Western democracies and Islamic terror. According to Obama, this conflict is with a radical Islamic minority. Thus, according to Obama there are viable options through diplomacy, talk and negotiations. Another consequence of this difference in worldview is that McCain sees Israel as a strategic ally, while Obama downplays that role.

2. According to Obama, the US must accommodate the UN, Western Europe and the Third World, which hold the West and Israel responsible for the problems of the Third World and the Arabs. McCain, on the other hand, says the US has a strong leadership role to play in the world--both ideologically and militarily.

3. According to Obama, Islamic terrorism is an issue for international law and terrorists should be brought to justice. According to McCain, this is a military challenge. The effect these differing worldviews would have on the US dealing with Israel is obvious.

4. Obama and his advisors assume that Islamic terrorism is a result of despair and poverty--compounded by erroneous US policy and its presence in Iraq. McCain sees Islamic terrorism as being driven by ideology, which conflicts with US values of freedom. Again, this impacts directly on how the US would deal with Israel.

5. Obama believes that the Palestinian issue is at the heart of Middle East violence and terrorism--requiring assertive US involvement and pressure on Israel.

Ettinger concludes:

Obama's worldview would be welcomed by supporters of an Israeli rollback to the 1949 ceasefire lines, including the repartitioning of Jerusalem and the opening of the "Pandora Refugees' Box." On the other hand, McCain's worldview adheres to the assumption that an Israeli retreat would convert the Jewish State from a power of deterrence to a punching bag, from a producer – to a consumer – of national security and from a strategic asset to a strategic burden in the most violent, volatile and treacherous region in the world.

Read the whole thing.

To claim that McCain and Obama have identical positions on Israel is to completely overlook how each of the candidates sees the world, instead being satisfied with the usual litany of glowing promises and fancy talk.

Bottom line: are Obama's statements about Iraq and US policy in general consistent with the defense of a strong Israel?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Historic U.S. Presidential Style Debate Held in Jerusalem

From an email:
On Thursday, 25th September, the American Israel Action Coalition (AIAC) held an historic event. The first ever U.S. Presidential Style Debate in Israel was held at Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem. Unlike the presidential debate between Senators Obama and McCain in Mississippi the night after, the Jerusalem version was feisty and controversial. Hundreds of American citizens resident in Israel saw a Republican and a Democratic representative lay out their particular policies according to instructions sent by their campaign headquarters in the United States. Research indicates that this may have been the first time a debate of this type has been held outside of the United States.

The event was not short on passion and action as accusations repeatedly flew between the two representatives. At one point the Republican representative rose to his feet and demanded a retraction to an assertion made by his Democrat opponent. The audience was full of cheers and appluase in what appeared an equally politically divided packed-out auditorium. The event was considered such a success that the audience called for more time to ask questions to which the representatives dutifully agreed.

A post-event summary is attached [see below] which details some of the more interesting and controversial moments of the night.

If you have any questions, would like more details or images from the event, please contact me at the details provided.

Sincerely,
Ashley Perry

Mr. Ashley Perry
Media Relations
American Israel Action Coalition (AIAC)
www.aiacoalition.org
054 555 1974


Feisty First Ever U.S. Presidential Debate Held in Jerusalem

(September 27, 2008) While many found the first Obama-McCain presidential debate on Friday night "lukewarm" or "tepid gruel", the night before a far more feisty and controversial debate was held in Jerusalem. In an historic first, the American Israeli Action Coalition (AIAC) organized and sponsored a U.S. Presidential Style debate held in Israel. Research indicates that this was may have been the first time a debate of this type was held anywhere outside of the United States.

AIAC is a non-partisan, non-political, issue-oriented NGO which is devoted to effectively recruiting and activating the more than 250,000 expatriate American citizens living in Israel in order to create a united voice that will be heard by the governments of the United States and Israel on issues that pertain to the continued safety and security of Israel and the Jewish People worldwide.

A full house of hundreds of American citizens residing in Israel listened attentively and enthusiastically as representatives of the U.S. Presidential candidates spelled out their respective campaign’s policies on issues of interest to the Israel-based voter as well as American domestic issues.

At the debate, Senator John McCain, the Republican Presidential nominee, was represented by Marc Zell, co-chair of Republicans Abroad - Israel. Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic Presidential nominee, was represented by Sheldon Schorer, counsel to Democrats Abroad - Israel. Harvey Schwartz, AIAC's Chairman, was the Moderator.

Schwartz stated that “in order to make the debate as authentic and meaningful as possible, AIAC adopted a very innovative approach. AIAC presented to the debaters a list of questions—many of which were suggested by its members—about matters relating to Israel and American society. The debaters, in turn, submitted those questions to the candidates for their responses. It was those responses which the debaters reported at the debate as their respective candidate’s actual answers to those questions. “Thus”, said Schwartz, “it was as close as possible to having Senators Obama and McCain actually present at the debate and answering questions in person. The audience really appreciated the innovation”.

The issues discussed were as diverse as the Iranian threat, peace between Israel and its neighbors, the status of Jerusalem, granting a pardon to Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. current economic crisis, energy policy, healthcare and why each of the candidates would make the best President and Vice-President.

The latter issue became so heated that Zell rose to his feet and challenged Schorer's assertion that Governor Sarah Palin had authorized books to be banned from an Alaskan library.

“That’s an outright lie. That is an outrageous fabrication," said Zell, jumping out of his seat. "I challenge you, Sir, to produce competent evidence of that charge. This is just another in a long series of outlandish slanders the Democrats have been concocting to disparage the reputation of Governor Palin."

“I made a statement based on what I heard and read,” a somewhat shocked-looking Schorer said.

This outburst was typical for an evening where no punches were pulled on all the substantial issues. The audience loved the back-and-forth and contributed with its own cheers and applause from both Democrat and Republican supporters.

The Republican representative, Zell, started the evening explaining to the crowd of Americans residing in Israel that "Obama does not get it" in reference to the peace process and claimed that an Obama administration would be a return to the failed Clinton policies in the Middle East.

Schorer shot back declaring that he can "not understand how anybody who is concerned about Israel's security and the threat of Iran could be supportive of George Bush's foreign policy" and that McCain would be more of the same.

Zell again launched an attack on Obama's foreign policy inexperience. Obama was attacked by the Republican for calling on the United Nations Security Council to create a resolution calling for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia in the recent conflict, before later realizing that Russia has a veto in the Security Council.

Schorer conceded that although Obama had to qualify an earlier statement calling Jerusalem "Israel's undivided capital", the original statement was obviously where the Illinois Senator's true feelings were on the issue.

Unlike the Mississippi event, the Jerusalem version entertained some questions from the audience.

Members of the audience threw out some tough questions on diverse issues like offshore drilling and healthcare which were each in turn handled well by the two representatives.

One young American stated that she was very nervous at the increasing invasion of privacy in American citizen's lives. Governor Palin was a controversial subject for some in the audience and Schorer described her as "an extremist".


The debate was defined as a resounding success by many of the audience who urged Schwartz to extend the time to allow for more questions. Even when the debate was over, many audience members surrounded the two representatives pressing for more answers on key issues of importance.

“The American citizens in Israel are very politically sophisticated. An overwhelming majority of those eligible to vote will do so. They are acutely aware that in what everyone thinks will be an extremely close election, their votes will carry great weight in determining the final outcome. They are convinced that their actions will be of material assistance to Israel and American society as a whole” noted Schwartz. “AIAC is delighted to have produced this historic event in Jerusalem and to have provided to the Americans in Israel an exciting preview of what Senators Obama and McCain will say when they finally meet to debate. This is exactly the type of activity in which the AIAC membership will continue to be involved”.

The event was co-sponsored by VotefromIsrael.org, who invited the audience to register for an absentee ballot for the upcoming elections. The organization signed up numerous eligible voters to add to the thousands they have already registered to vote.

After the debate, David Forster, a long time American resident said "Hats off to AIAC for running this debate, it was really meaningful to me as an American. I'm amazed that this was never done before."

Shanel Melamed from California, who is currently studying at the Hebrew University, said "The event was amazing and I will not be able to stop talking about it with my friends for days."

AIAC can be reached at www.aiacoalition.org.

# # #

For additional information please contact:
Mr. Ashley Perry, Media Relations
American Israel Action Coalition
Email: presidentialstyledebate@gmail.com
Phone: +972 54 555 1974

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What Condoleezza Rice Has Joined Together Let No Israeli Prime Minister Put Asunder!

That is the message delivered by The Gang Of Four Quartet on Friday in the statement they issued. Below is a key paragraph that Dr. Aaron Lerner points out as having 2 key components designed to push Israel blindly forward with the one-sided negotiations with Olmert:
The Quartet reaffirmed its support for the bilateral and comprehensive
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and commended the parties for their serious
and continuous efforts since the Annapolis Conference. The Quartet
recognized that a meaningful and results-oriented process is underway and
called upon the parties to continue to make every effort to conclude an
agreement before the end of 2008. It noted the significance of this process
and the importance of confidentiality in order to preserve its integrity.
The Quartet underlined its commitment to the irreversibility of the
negotiations
; to the creation of an independent, democratic and viable
Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, living in peace and security
alongside Israel; and to an end to the conflict. The Quartet expressed its
desire to see the continuation of the solid negotiating structure, involving
substantive discussions on all issues, including core issues without
exception, in order to ensure the fulfillment of the Annapolis goals. The
Quartet reiterated its previous call for all Palestinians to commit
themselves to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of
previous agreements and obligations. Restoring Palestinian unity based on
the PLO commitments would be an important factor in this process.
Dr. Lerner explains:
When U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice got together with her colleagues and issued a statement, they decided, in light of the changes taking place in Israel and the possibility that either as a result of understandings and commitments FM Livni has to make in order to form a coalition - or the victory of Netanyahu should there end up being snap elections, to let the democratic Jewish State know that as far as Ms. Rice and the rest are concerned that they could give a damn about the Israeli democratic process.

" importance of confidentiality in order to preserve its integrity" = the Israeli public and Shas has no business knowing what Israel has already put on the table "The Quartet underlined its commitment to the irreversibility of the negotiations" = what Olmert put down on the table, Livni or Netanyahu can't take back.]

This is what happens when you invite 'friends' like this to help: they come for the negotiations; they stay for the concessions--every. last. one. of. them.

The question now is whether either Livni or Netanyahu have the backbone to stand up to the Quartet.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Obama's Ongoing Threats Against Free Speech (Updated)

The first glimmer of the kind of strong arm tactics Obama would use came back in 1996 when Obama ran (over his competition) for the State Senate:
The day after New Year's 1996, operatives for Barack Obama filed into a barren hearing room of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

There they began the tedious process of challenging hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of state Sen. Alice Palmer, the longtime progressive activist from the city's South Side. And they kept challenging petitions until every one of Obama's four Democratic primary rivals was forced off the ballot.

Fresh from his work as a civil rights lawyer and head of a voter registration project that expanded access to the ballot box, Obama launched his first campaign for the Illinois Senate saying he wanted to empower disenfranchised citizens.

But in that initial bid for political office, Obama quickly mastered the bare-knuckle arts of Chicago electoral politics. His overwhelming legal onslaught signaled his impatience to gain office, even if that meant elbowing aside an elder stateswoman like Palmer.

A close examination of Obama's first campaign puts a hard edge on the image he has honed throughout his political career: The man now running for president on a message of giving a voice to the voiceless first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it.
So much for "empowering disenfranchised citizens."

Silencing critics by whatever means are available is nothing new to Obama--and it has not stopped either. Far from it. One of the most recently uncovered attempts by Obama to squelch opposition comes from Missouri:
Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.
Cnsidering what Obama is up to, Gov. Blount may be guilty of an understatement. From The National Review:
A St. Louis television station reports — their words — "The Barack Obama campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign."

Prosecutors and sheriffs from across Missouri are joining "The Barack Obama Truth Squad."

They mention Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis Circuit Attorney and Bob McCullough, prosecutor for St. Louis County in Missouri.

The reporter says, "They will be reminding voters that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year."
AllahPundit at Hot Air notes the other times that Obama and his campaign have threatened people who have criticized him:

Add this to the threatening letters his lawyers sent to station managers over the NRA ads, the flash-mob smearing of David Freddoso, and the appeal to the Justice Department to prosecute the American Issues Project for its perfectly factual yet devastating Ayers ad. Oh, the fun we’ll have with a deep blue Congress and an Obama-run DOJ and FCC.

Here's the Ayers ad. Obama is free to dispute it in public. Why doesn't he?



With all due respect to Obama, he does not have a monopoly on squelching free speech--or is the Democratic Senate leadership taking pointers from the Islamists when it threatens to take away ABC's broadcasting license:
[T]he manner in which this program has been developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bent unbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and well respected news organization like ABC… Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation…

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events…

These concerns are made all the more pressing by the political leaning of and the public statements made by the writer/producer of this miniseries, Mr. Cyrus Nowrasteh, in promoting this miniseries across conservative blogs and talk shows…

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.
So when the sponsors of the anti-Ahmadinejad rally at the UN were threatened with having their tax exempt status removed unless Palin was disinvited, it was just business as usual.

With Obama, some things actually do not change.

UPDATE: Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis Circuit Attorney has come out with a statement about the Obama truth squads in Missouri:

As a citizen, I believe that elections should be about issues. I also have enormous respect for our First Amendment and freedom of speech. My sole purpose in participating in this initiative is about getting truthful information to the voters. This has never been or never will be about prosecuting people.

Clearly there are those who are attempting to twist the purpose of this initiative for their own benefit. This attack is a great example of how the truth is distorted in campaigns and what we’re trying to stand up against.

Also see Volokh Conspiracy here and here--especially the second one which points out that McCain Truth Squads also include law enforcement officials.

Also see Obama’s Scorched Earth Policy by Bernard Chapin on Pajama's Media

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain Hits Obama Hard On Meeting With Ahmadinejad (Bonus: Kissinger To Obama: I Didn't Say That!)

Whoever you want to say won the debate, it's clear there was no knockout punch. Among McCain's best shots came in addressing Obama's willingness to meet personally with Ahmadinejad--among other dictators--without precondition. Jennifer Rubin gives the play-by-play:
John McCain’s shining moments came in large part when discussing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. McCain had this to say:
My reading of the threat from Iran is that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it is an existential threat to the State of Israel and to other countries in the region because the other countries in the region will feel compelling requirement to acquire nuclear weapons as well. Now we cannot a second Holocaust. Let’s just make that very clear. What I have proposed for a long time, and I’ve had conversation with foreign leaders about forming a league of democracies, let’s be clear and let’s have some straight talk. The Russians are preventing significant action in the United Nations Security Council. I have proposed a league of democracies, a group of people - a group of countries that share common interests, common values, common ideals, they also control a lot of the world’s economic power. We could impose significant meaningful, painful sanctions on the Iranians that I think could have a beneficial effect. The Iranians have a lousy government, so therefore their economy is lousy, even though they have significant oil revenues. So I am convinced that together, we can, with the French, with the British, with the Germans and other countries, democracies around the world, we can affect Iranian behavior. But have no doubt, but have no doubt that the Iranians continue on the path to the acquisition of a nuclear weapon as we speak tonight. And it is a threat not only in this region but around the world. What I’d also like to point out the Iranians are putting the most lethal IEDs into Iraq which are killing young Americans, there are special groups in Iran coming into Iraq and are being trained in Iran. There is the Republican Guard in Iran, which Senator Kyl had an amendment in order to declare them a sponsor of terror. Senator Obama said that would be provocative. So this is a serious threat. This is a serious threat to security in the world, and I believe we can act and we can act with our friends and allies and reduce that threat as quickly as possible, but have no doubt about the ultimate result of them acquiring nuclear weapons.
But when Obama suggested that talks with Iran wouldn’t be a bad thing, McCain pounced:
Senator Obama twice said in debates he would sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Raul Castro without precondition. Without precondition. Here is Ahmadinenene [mispronunciation], Ahmadinejad, who is, Ahmadinejad, who is now in New York, talking about the extermination of the State of Israel, of wiping Israel off the map, and we’re going to sit down, without precondition, across the table, to legitimize and give a propaganda platform to a person that is espousing the extermination of the state of Israel, and therefore then giving them more credence in the world arena and therefore saying, they’ve probably been doing the right thing, because you will sit down across the table from them and that will legitimize their illegal behavior. The point is that throughout history, whether it be Ronald Reagan, who wouldn’t sit down with Brezhnev, Andropov or Chernenko until Gorbachev was ready with glasnost and perestroika. Or whether it be Nixon’s trip to China, which was preceded by Henry Kissinger, many times before he went. Look, I’ll sit down with anybody, but there’s got to be pre-conditions. Those pre-conditions would apply that we wouldn’t legitimize with a face to face meeting, a person like Ahmadinejad. Now, Senator Obama said, without preconditions.
But Obama gave him yet another shot when he again claimed that direct talks would be a good idea, one supported by Kissinger. McCain correctly stated that this was not Kissinger’s view and then swooped in for the kill “What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand that if without precondition you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a “stinking corpse,” and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimize those comments.”

And then Obama insisted that some talks were in order. McCain delivered the knock-out blow:
So let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, “We’re going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,” and we say, “No, you’re not”? Oh, please.
If there are voters for whom national security and Israel are key that portion of the debate may be decisive.
And here is the Annie Hall moment, where Henry Kissinger talks about what he actually did say:
Obama claimed that Kissinger approved of his view that an American president should meet with adversaries without preconditions. John McCain disagreed. And Kissinger, who is advising McCain’s presidential campaign, not surprisingly thinks that McCain is right.
“Senator McCain is right,” said Kissinger. “I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.”
Indeed, in a recent appearance at George Washington University, Kissinger said that while he is “in favor of negotiating with Iran,” he “preferred doing it at the secretary of state level.”
Now we wait and see what effect, if any, tonight's debate has on the polls.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Rosh HaShannah And The Presidential Election

On Rosh HaShannah, there are no absentee ballots.
MOMENTOUS MOMENTS

Rabbi Avi Shafran

The weeks before a presidential election provide spiritual fodder for the week between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Throughout political campaigns, candidates and their handlers are keenly aware of the great toll a simple gaffe or misjudgment can take. Four years ago, Howard Dean, the then-governor of Vermont (today Democratic National Committee chairman) was a credible candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.

But he crashed and burned, according to many because of what came to be dubbed his “I Have a Scream” speech. After an unexpectedly weak showing in the Iowa caucus, Dr. Dean declared his undeterred determination to forge on, in a rousing address that culminated in a vocalization somewhere between a Zulu war cry and a locomotive horn. That single moment’s decision to let loose in that way at that juncture spelled the end of the doctor’s road to the highest office in the land.

There have been other such moments for presidential candidates: Edmund Muskie’s tears of pain, Gary Hart’s infelicitous mugging for his “Monkey Business” snapshot, Michael Dukakis’s donning of an ill-fitting combat helmet. Each unguarded moment, deservedly or not, brought a national campaign to a screeching halt.

Every one of us, too, in our personal lives, comes face to face at times with opportunities of our own that, wrongly handled, can lead to places we don’t want to go.
And we are vying for something infinitely more important than a mere nomination for President. We’re in the running, after all, for the achievement of worth, racing to achieve meaning in our lives.

In the bustle and haste of everyday existence, it is alarmingly easy to forget that decisions we make, sometimes almost unthinkingly, can be crucial; that seemingly insignificant forks in the roads of our lives can lead either to achievement and holiness, or, G-d forbid, to setbacks, even ruin.

Every single decision we make, of course, is important. Each day of our lives presents occasions for choices, chances to seize meaningful things – a mitzvah, a heartfelt prayer, an act of charity – or to forgo them. Every opportunity to be morose or angry is a chance to hurt others, and ourselves – and likewise a chance to do neither, and achieve something priceless.

But there are also particularly momentous opportunities, when we are presented with roads that diverge in entirely different directions. The Talmud teaches that “one can acquire his universe” – the one that counts: the world-to-come – or “destroy” it “in a single moment.”

Potentially transformative decisions are more common to our lives than we may realize. When we make a decision about, say, where to live or what synagogue to attend – not to mention more obviously critical decisions like whom to marry or how to raise and educate our children – we are defining our futures, and others’. And it is of great importance that we recognize the import of our decisions, and accord them the gravity they are due.

We can even, through sheer determination, create our own critical moments. Consider the Talmudic case of the “conditional husband.”

In Jewish law, a marriage is effected by the proposal of a man to a woman – the declaration of the woman’s kiddushin, or “specialness” to her husband, followed by the acceptance by the woman of a coin or item of worth from her suitor. If the declaration is made on the condition that an assertion is true, the marriage is valid only if the assertion indeed is. Thus, if a man betroths a woman on the condition that he owns a car, or still has his own teeth, unless he does, they aren’t married.

What if a man offers a woman a coin or item and makes the kiddushin-declaration “on the condition that I am a tzaddik,” a “totally righteous person”? The Talmud informs us that even if the man in question has no such flawless reputation the marriage must be assumed to be valid (and only a divorce can dissolve it).

Why? Because, the Talmud explains, the man “may have contemplated repentance” just before his proposal.

That determined choice of a moment, in other words, if sincere, would have transformed the man completely, placed him on an entirely new life-road. The lesson is obvious: Each of us can transform himself or herself – at any point we choose – through sheer, sincere will.

This season of the Jewish year, our tradition teaches, is particularly fertile for making choices, for embarking on new roads. All we need are the sensitivity and wisdom to be open to crucial opportunities, and the determination to craft some of our own – to make choices that will change our lives and futures for the holier.
© 2008 AM ECHAD RESOURCES

[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

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AJC Survey Of Which Candidate Jews Prefer

No surprise about which candidate is prefered, according to The American Jewish Committee poll:
With less than six weeks to go to Election Day, American Jewish voters favor Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain for U.S. president by a margin of 57-30 percent. At the same time, an unexpectedly large number, 13 percent, remain undecided about their vote, according to a new American Jewish Committee (AJC) survey.
Basically, the poll offers all kinds of other information as well, for pundits--and bloggers--to cut and paste. For instance, according to the AJC poll:
In terms of party affiliation, 56 percent of American Jews identify as Democrats, 17 percent as Republicans, and 25 percent as Independents.
Based on this, Daniel Halper comes to the following conclusion as to how only 17% of Jews identify themselves as Republicans while 30% support McCain:
And my guess, clearly not scientific, is that those Independents have primarily voted for Democratic candidates in the past. So, I believe it’s most salient that the number of people intending to vote for McCain is almost twice as high as the number of self-described Republicans. Jews are wary of Obama (considering their historical propensity to align themselves with Democratic presidential candidates). Though it seems, too, Jews are wary of being called a Republican.
It's nice to see the Jewish electorate show some backbone. It remains to be seen whether this minor swing of the Jewish vote will be of any consequence come November.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Is Iran Shipping Chemical Weapons? (Updated)

One question is what kind of cargo was Iran shipping, possibly to Somalian Islamist insurgents:
A tense standoff is underway in northeastern Somalia between pirates, Somali authorities, and Iran over a suspicious merchant vessel and its mysterious cargo. Hijacked late last month in the Gulf of Aden, the MV Iran Deyanat remains moored offshore in Somali waters and inaccessible for inspection. Its declared cargo consists of minerals and industrial products, however, Somali and regional officials directly involved in the negotiations over the ship and who spoke to The Long War Journal are convinced that it was heading to Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia's Islamist insurgents.

...The MV Iran Deyanat was brought to Eyl, a sleepy fishing village in northeastern Somalia, and was secured by a larger gang of pirates - 50 onboard and 50 onshore. Within days, pirates who had boarded the ship developed strange health complications, skin burns and loss of hair. Independent sources tell The Long War Journal that a number of pirates have also died. "Yes, some of them have died. I do not know exactly how many but the information that I am getting is that some of them have died," Andrew Mwangura, Director of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program, said Friday when reached by phone in Mombasa.
Read the whole thing.

The other question is whether Iran would, or has been, providing the same material to Hizbollah to use on Israel.

Update: For more on these pirates, read this piece from Pajamas Media.

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Another Vote Of Support For Obama

Obama is racking up those overseas endorsements:
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad weighed in on the US presidential election today, noting that only one of the candidates supports restoring diplomatic contact with Iran.

In response to a question from an American student about whether he supports Democratic nominee Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, Ahmadinejad did not explicitly name Obama but said: “The American government 28 years ago decided on its own to cut its ties with Iran . . .We do prefer to have relations, whereas one of the candidates in this election would prefer that.”
True, the US did decide 'on its own' to cut ties with Iran--after Iran decided 'on its own' to kidnap Americans and hold them hostage.

But hey--let's talk.

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The Evolving Russia-Israel Relationship

Aluf Benn, in Israel's Little Cold War, about Israel's relations with Russia during and after the invasion of Georgia, touches upon how life in Israel has changed since the days of the marches for Soviet Jewry:
Israelis have always regarded Russia with a mixture of fear and admiration. After all, many of the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish state were born in the Czarist Empire, and many were devoted socialists. More recently, Israel absorbed about one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union who not only changed Israel's society profoundly, but also brought a highly visible Russian presence into public life. Russian is the unofficial third language in Israel, along with Hebrew and Arabic. Russian rock stars perform regularly in Tel Aviv and Jewish "oligarch" billionaires (some of them Putin's sworn enemies) have made a mark in the Israeli business community and real estate market. Tourism is booming on both sides.

These personal and cultural ties mark a stark contrast to the Soviet days, when there were no diplomatic ties (Moscow severed its official relation with Israel in 1967 and renewed them in 1991) and Jewish emigration was blocked. The Soviet Union was the main backer of Israel's enemies, treating the Jewish state as an American satellite in the Middle East, where Russia was a key power player since the Czars.

Now there is free travel, and Israeli leaders meet and talk to their Russian counterparts frequently. Ariel Sharon was fond of Putin's power politics and of his insistence on preserving Russia's national pride. Ehud Olmert, Israel's outgoing prime minister, traveled to the Kremlin last autumn to brief Putin personally on Israel's bombing of the suspected nuclear reactor in Syria.
Now of course, matters have become more complicated--one more issue that Tzipi Livni is going to have to deal with after she puts together a government.

Another complication will be the November elections--what would a Putin-Assad vs. Obama-Livni matchup look like?

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Facebook: Attacking Israel Is Not The Same As Attacking Israelis (Updated)

The Canadian Jewish News has an article on the exploits of the Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) in combating Anti-Semitic groups on Facebook. JIDF defends the actions it has taken to take over such groups and delete members based on the lack of cooperation it has received from Facebook in dealing with the issue.

CJN compares what JIDF found with what they themselves found on Facebook:

JIDF claims that clients on Facebook, a social networking website, spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, demonizes Zionists, praises attacks on Israeli or Jewish civilians, promotes violence, hatred and Islamic jihadist propaganda, recruits people to Islamic terrorist organizations and supports white supremacy and Nazi groups.

Scanning the pages highlighted by the JIDF revealed in short order the offering of the Protocols of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery that alleged Jews controlled governments and media, on the Eliminate Israel Facebook page.

So, what does Facebook have to say for itself?
A Facebook spokesperson responded to queries from the CJN with an e-mail that stated, “Facebook carefully reviews the notices we receive regarding groups that may violate our Terms of Use (ToU). In this particular case, the ‘How Many People Hate Israel’ group [one of four The CJN asked Facebook to comment on] does not violate our ToU, because the group attacks Israel and Zionism, not Israelis or Jews. As stated in our ToU, we make a clear distinction between countries or ideas and people: groups that express views on a particular country or idea are permitted, while groups that explicitly threaten people are regarded as a violation of our ToU and are subsequently taken down. Our ToU also stipulate that we do not allow recognized terrorist organizations on the site.” [emphasis added]
The spokesperson hedges a bit there, contrasting groups that express views on Israel as opposed to explicitly threaten Israelis. So apparently explicitly threatening Israel is OK?

And just what qualifies as explicitly threatening Israelis and Jews? Apparently not this, found by CJN:
A posting by a member of the “Israel is not a country” page advocated another Holocaust: “wat do u think only arabs will come 2 bust ur ass? i guess u all r mistaken cuz time will come not only the arabs the whole muslim world will come 2 bust ur ass and each and every jew will be eradicated from the surface of the earth and that day will be the day off armageddon [sic].”
Will Facebook not act unless the Jews are mentioned by name?

According to the Facebook Terms of Service, users agree not to:
upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.
No distinction is made on whether the defamatory content is directed towards countries or merely their citizens--until Facebook decided to create one.

No wonder such hate groups have found a home there.

Update: Just wondering...If a person/group on Facebook threatens a country, it is not an issue--until they threaten people. How about if a country threatens another country: if Ahmadinejad opens an account on Facebook and creates a group dedicating to wiping Israel off the face of the earth--does that violate Facebook's TOS?

Or would Ahmadinejad find himself quite at home on Facebook?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Obama: Now He'll Let Ahmadinejad Talk...Now He Won't

The Weekly Standard points out that Obama has changed his position on having Ahmadinejad speak at the UN--

From a September 2007 news conference:
The other point I'd make about President Ahmadinejad's presence here in New York is that although I probably would not have invited him to speak [at Columbia]--he's got other forums, he's got the United Nations available to him--hateful lies that he may utter about Israel or the Holocaust, the answer to those lies is for us to promote the truth and show the world the kind of values and ideals that we hold dear. ... We don't need to be fearful of the rantings of somebody like Ahmadinejad.
That was then, this is now:
"I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad's outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views. The threat from Iran's nuclear program is grave. Now is the time for Americans to unite on behalf of the strong sanctions that are needed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime.

"Once again, I call upon Senator McCain to join me in supporting a bipartisan bill to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by allowing states and private companies to divest from companies doing business in Iran. The security of our ally Israel is too important to play partisan politics, and it is deeply disappointing that Senator McCain and a few of his allies in Congress feel otherwise," said Senator Barack Obama.
Question 1: So where exactly does Obama stand now on Ahmadinejad?
Question 2: Where will Obama stand on Ahmadinejad should he get elected?

Just wondering out loud...

[Hat tip: Jennifer Rubin]

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The Washington Post Had The Real J-Street Pegged Back In April

David Bernstein at The Volokh Conspiracy writes about how J Street has apparently squandered its credibility by showing itself to be too partisan, going beyond being merely a pro-Israel advocacy group:
J STREET SQUANDERS ITS CREDIBILITY: Has any political organization squandered its credibility as quickly as J Street, a new organization that promotes itself as a peacenik alternative to AIPAC? Supposedly, the machers at J Street thought that AIPAC was not properly representing the Jewish community's views on Israel because AIAPC too "right-wing." It's become obvious, however, that the J Street founders' problem with AIPAC is not that it's too right-wing (in fact, despite claims emanating from left-wingers about AIPAC's "right-wingedness", AIPAC rarely deviates from supporting current Israeli government policy, and its leadership has been largely Democratic for decades--the architect of AIPAC's prominence beginning in the 1980s was former Ted Kennedy staffer Tom Dine), but that it is too nonpartisan; AIPAC, as a nonpartisan pro-Israel lobby, cooperates with both Republicans and Democrats, exactly as a non-partisan lobby should. J Street, it turns out, wants to be an adjunct of the Democratic Party, and apparently wants to discredit pro-Israel Jews who cooperate with the Republicans.
But the thing is, it should not be surprising to learn that bottom line J Street is just another partisan group--you could have read about that back in April in The Washington Post:

Some of the country's most prominent Jewish liberals are forming a political action committee and lobbying group aimed at dislodging what they consider the excessive hold of neoconservatives and evangelical Christians on U.S. policy toward Israel.

The group is planning to channel political contributions to favored candidates in perhaps a half-dozen campaigns this fall, the first time an organization focused on Israel has tried to play such a direct role in the political process, according to its organizers.

As the Washington Post notes later in the article--endorsing specific candidates and channeling donations into political races is something new, that AIPAC does not do. By comparison, collecting names to have a Republcan candidate removed as a speaker at a rally is child's play.

What J Street pulled off is not an accident; it is its raison d'être. As far as J Street is concerned--they haven't lost their credibility. On the contrary, they just went one step closer to gaining their street creds.

The fact they were successful will only whet its appetite.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Help Save Baby Gili



The Galilean Word has an update:
As of midnight, September 24, 75% of the neccesary funds have been raised for Baby Gili's life-saving operation. Baby Gili, her parents and doctors are planning to leave Israel for London on Thursday. Please do your part to help save this little girl.

100% of money raised go directly to medical costs - no organizations are involved...
For more information, or if you would like to help, you can contact Mike at The Galilean Word at pundit02@yahoo.com

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Livni Starts Off With More Similarities To George Than To Golda

George Bush started off his presidency at a decided disadvantage, not merely because it took so long for the results of the vote to be decided--but because of the claims of impropriety and the resentments that resulted.

That seems to be Tzipi Livni's starting point as well:
The current foreign minister earned the right last week after she beat Shaul Mofaz in a primary by a grand total of 431 votes. Even that narrow 1% margin overstates her controversial victory. On election day, Livni’s lawyers, alarmed by what looked like a low turnout, successfully petitioned the party courts to keep the polls open longer than scheduled — nobody knows what the results might have looked like if that hadn’t happened.

As if that weren’t bad enough, 15 minutes before the precincts closed, media outlets broadcast exit polls forecasting a double-digit win for Livni, which may have discouraged supporters of her opponent from making their voice heard. Perhaps worst of all, 430 votes from the Bedouin village of Rahat, where Mofaz is said to have had overwhelming support, were disqualified.
In addition, there is a parallel to Bush's second election campaign as well--the loss of a constituency. In 2000, George Bush captured roughly about 50% of the Muslim vote, yet in 2004 Gore received between 70-80% of the Muslim vote. Just as Muslims vote Republican seem to be a one-time occasion, the same may be true in Israel of Sephardim voting for Kadima:
Given his standing as a prominent Sephardi Jew, Mofaz’s bitterness at losing a race to a full-fledged member of the Ashkenazi elite should resonate with a community that has long felt discriminated against. Sephardi voters have called the Likud party their home for three decades and as a result of the Mofaz defeat, the decision of many in 2006 to vote for Kadima may prove a one-time aberration.
Like Bush, Livni is also coming in to lead a government with the reputation of being inexperienced. Georg Bush didn't have that long to wait before he was test by 9/11. Should Livni be able to cobble together a coalition and take control as Prime Minister, her tests will come much sooner.

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YU's Rosh HaShannah To-Go 5769

Here are the individual shiurim avaliable from YU on Rosh HaShannah:

  • Rabbi Reuven Brand - "The Mitzvah of Shofar: Who’s Listening?"
  • Rabbi Daniel Feldman - "The Teshuvah Beyond Teshuvah"
  • Rabbi Joshua Flug - "Rosh HaShanah's Role as the Beginning of a New Fiscal Year and How It Affects Us"
  • Rabbi Shmuel Hain - "Aseret Yemei Teshuva: The Bridge Between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur"
  • Cantor Sherwood Goffin - "The Music of the Yamim Noraim"
  • Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer - "Selected Minhagim of Rosh Hashana"
  • Mrs. Daphna Fishman Secunda - "The Personal and Collective Journey to Har haMoria"
  • You can also download all the shiurim in one PDF document.

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    Monday, September 22, 2008

    The Speech Sarah Palin Would Have Given At Today's Anti-Ahmadinejad Rally

    This post will remain on top all day long--please scroll down to read other posts.

    Those who saw to it that Sarah Palin was disinvited from speaking at today's rally no doubt are oddly proud of themselves, but thanks to The New York Sun, we can all know what Sarah Palin would have said.

    Hat tip to Boker Tov, Boulder for pointing this piece out--and for suggesting that it be blogbursted.
    Governor Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, was scheduled to speak today at a rally in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to protest the appearance here of President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Her appearance was canceled by rally organizers who sought a nonpolitical event. Following are the remarks Mrs. Palin would have given:


    ***

    I am honored to be with you and with leaders from across this great country — leaders from different faiths and political parties united in a single voice of outrage.

    Tomorrow, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come to New York — to the heart of what he calls the Great Satan — and speak freely in this, a country whose demise he has called for.

    Ahmadinejad may choose his words carefully, but underneath all of the rhetoric is an agenda that threatens all who seek a safer and freer world. We gather here today to highlight the Iranian dictator's intentions and to call for action to thwart him.

    He must be stopped.

    The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a "Final Solution" — the elimination of the Jewish people. He has called Israel a "stinking corpse" that is "on its way to annihilation." Such talk cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a madman — not when Iran just this summer tested long-range Shahab-3 missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, not when the Iranian nuclear program is nearing completion, and not when Iran sponsors terrorists that threaten and kill innocent people around the world.

    The Iranian government wants nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is running at least 3,800 centrifuges and that its uranium enrichment capacity is rapidly improving. According to news reports, U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Iranians may have enough nuclear material to produce a bomb within a year.

    The world has condemned these activities. The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its illegal nuclear enrichment activities. It has levied three rounds of sanctions. How has Ahmadinejad responded? With the declaration that the "Iranian nation would not retreat one iota" from its nuclear program.

    So, what should we do about this growing threat? First, we must succeed in Iraq. If we fail there, it will jeopardize the democracy the Iraqis have worked so hard to build, and empower the extremists in neighboring Iran. Iran has armed and trained terrorists who have killed our soldiers in Iraq, and it is Iran that would benefit from an American defeat in Iraq.

    If we retreat without leaving a stable Iraq, Iran's nuclear ambitions will be bolstered. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons — they could share them tomorrow with the terrorists they finance, arm, and train today. Iranian nuclear weapons would set off a dangerous regional nuclear arms race that would make all of us less safe.

    But Iran is not only a regional threat; it threatens the entire world. It is the no. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors the world's most vicious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Together, Iran and its terrorists are responsible for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, and in Iraq today. They have murdered Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and other Muslims who have resisted Iran's desire to dominate the region. They have persecuted countless people simply because they are Jewish.

    Iran is responsible for attacks not only on Israelis, but on Jews living as far away as Argentina. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of Iran's official ideology and murder is part of its official policy. Not even Iranian citizens are safe from their government's threat to those who want to live, work, and worship in peace. Politically-motivated abductions, torture, death by stoning, flogging, and amputations are just some of its state-sanctioned punishments.

    It is said that the measure of a country is the treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. By that standard, the Iranian government is both oppressive and barbaric. Under Ahmadinejad's rule, Iranian women are some of the most vulnerable citizens.

    If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed.

    If she walks down a public street in clothing that violates the state dress code, she could be arrested.

    But in the face of this harsh regime, the Iranian women have shown courage. Despite threats to their lives and their families, Iranian women have sought better treatment through the "One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws." The authorities have reacted with predictable barbarism. Last year, women's rights activist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 20 lashes and 10 months in prison for committing the crime of "propaganda against the system." After international protests, the judiciary reduced her sentence to "only" 10 lashes and 36 months in prison and then temporarily suspended her sentence. She still faces the threat of imprisonment.

    Earlier this year, Senator Clinton said that "Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the forefront of that" effort. Senator Clinton argued that part of our response must include stronger sanctions, including the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. John McCain and I could not agree more.

    Senator Clinton understands the nature of this threat and what we must do to confront it. This is an issue that should unite all Americans. Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Period. And in a single voice, we must be loud enough for the whole world to hear: Stop Iran!

    Only by working together, across national, religious, and political differences, can we alter this regime's dangerous behavior. Iran has many vulnerabilities, including a regime weakened by sanctions and a population eager to embrace opportunities with the West. We must increase economic pressure to change Iran's behavior.

    Tomorrow, Ahmadinejad will come to New York. On our soil, he will exercise the right of freedom of speech — a right he denies his own people. He will share his hateful agenda with the world. Our task is to focus the world on what can be done to stop him.

    We must rally the world to press for truly tough sanctions at the U.N. or with our allies if Iran's allies continue to block action in the U.N. We must start with restrictions on Iran's refined petroleum imports.

    We must reduce our dependency on foreign oil to weaken Iran's economic influence.

    We must target the regime's assets abroad; bank accounts, investments, and trading partners.

    President Ahmadinejad should be held accountable for inciting genocide, a crime under international law.

    We must sanction Iran's Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guard Corps — which no one should doubt is a terrorist organization.

    Together, we can stop Iran's nuclear program.

    Senator McCain has made a solemn commitment that I strongly endorse: Never again will we risk another Holocaust. And this is not a wish, a request, or a plea to Israel's enemies. This is a promise that the United States and Israel will honor, against any enemy who cares to test us. It is John McCain's promise and it is my promise.

    Thank you.
    And thank you, Sarah Palin.

    Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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    Listen To Malcolm Hoenlein On How Sarah Palin Got Disinvited From The UN Rally

    In an interview with Nachum Segal, Malcolm Hoenlein explains what happened behind the scenes that led to Sarah Palin being disinvited from speaking at today's UN rally to protest Ahmadinejad:

    Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in live for the latest Weekly Update. In light of the controversy regarding this Monday's rally at the United Nations vis a vis the attendance of Senator Hillary Clinton and Governor Sarah Palin, Nachum had Malcolm respond to an article in The New York Times and set the record straight. Malcolm explained how Senator Clinton and Governor Palin originally got involved in the rally and what transpired to result in neither attending. Malcolm Hoenlein stressed that it was not his decision to disinvite Governor Palin to Monday's rally. Malcolm continues to emphasize the importance of taking part in the rally on Monday, September 22, and to not get sidetracked by the accompanying political goings-on, losing sight of the goal which is to stand up to terror and Iran's President Ahmadinejad. Nachum recommended that the listeners contact Senator Clinton's office and express their feelings for her refusing to attend the rally. Click the link to listen.

    This doesn't make Jewish groups--both those that exercised and buckled under pressure--sound any better.

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    The Disinvitation: A Wakeup Call To Jews In Both Parties

    Roger L. Simon writes an Open Letter to My Fellow Jews: The Democratic Party is not your religion (or anybody’s), putting into perspective the implications of the refusal of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to attend the UN rally to protest against Ahmadinejad's appearance :
    The events leading up to Monday’s anti-Ahmadinejad demonstration by Jewish organizations at the UN put the final nail in an already long-moldering coffin. Jews should no longer align themselves with the Democratic Party any more than they should align with the Republicans. They should act and think for themselves, devoid of ideological or partisan bias. They should first be Americans, not Democratic Party Americans.

    ...remember that Hillary Clinton – that paragon of the Democratic Party, a woman who calls herself a “progressive” (oh, desecration of the English language!) – was willing to forego the protest of the man who is arguably the most significant enemy of the Jews since Hitler for partisan and (most likely) personal pique reasons. How morally repellent is that! [emphasis added]

    And then Joseph Biden told us he was busy–too busy to protest a nuclear-armed madman who fervently believes that his mysterious Twelfth Imam (Mahdi) is destined to unite a chaotic globe under Allah.
    Simon concludes:
    No, those Democrats thought of themselves and their party first, the citizens of this country and the world later. When Republicans behave in a similar reprehensible manner, we should condemn them with all ferocity. But fellow Jews, stop being slaves to the Democratic Party. End this illicit love affair – not just for your own good, but for the good of humanity. [emphasis added]
    Read the whole thing.

    Every four years we discuss again the Jewish vote and the Democratic Party. Maybe this is the year serious thought should be given to showing the Democrats they should stop taking the Jewish vote for granted.

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    National Jewish Democratic Council and J-Street: Politics Before Israel

    Jennifer Rubin writes at Pajamas Media about the anger that has been generated in the Jewish Community over the disinviation of Sarah Palin from the UN rally. She pinpoints those who worked so hard to have Palin removed:
    The National Jewish Democratic Council took credit for nixing the invitation. And the leftwing “J Street” crowed over its victory: “We collected over 20,000 signatures in 24 hours asking Iran Unity rally organizer Malcolm Hoenlein to take Sarah Palin off the schedule for Monday’s rally, and he caved to our pressure on Thursday afternoon citing the fact that the rally had become too partisan.” They made clear that they viewed this as a victory for precisely the policy which Barack Obama favors: “smart diplomacy.” (MoveOn.org’s financier and godfather George Soros was an initial backer of J Street. Its board of advisors contains notable leftwing activists such as Matt Stoller –who previously blogged for Ned Lamont’s Senatorial campaign and the netroot MyDD website– and Eric Alterman of the netroot attack group Media Matters – who recently was exposed for suggesting that a column on ABC News’ website was influenced by its Jewish reporter’s affiliations with other Jewish journalists – and individuals such as Robert Malley who served as an informal advisor to the Obama camp but was dismissed after his negotiations with Hamas were revealed.)
    NJDC is a partisan group which we expect to put the Democratic Party before Jews and the safety of Israel--after all, their existence is dedicated to the furtherance of the Democratic Party.

    J Street, which is eager to find any opportunity to find a way to make a name for itself--has succeeded. Any mention of the name J Street should immediately remind everyone of the divisiveness of the group in putting self interest before the interests of Israel. A look at their list of supporters makes that clear:
    A perusal of J Street's list of supporters further undermines its pretensions to mainstream credibility. One of the most prominent Israelis involved with the group is Avrum Burg, former speaker of the Knesset. A member of a distinguished Israeli political family, he set off a political scandal last year when, in an interview with Ha'aretz, he claimed that "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end"; he has also compared contemporary Israel to pre-Nazi Germany. Naomi Chazan is a former Knesset member from the left-wing Meretz Party, which has just five seats (out of 120) in the Knesset. Henry Siegman, a former Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has compared Israel to apartheid South Africa, accused Israeli leaders of having the U.S. government "in their pockets," and claimed (absurdly) that
    Noah Pollak, who participated in a journalists conference with J-Street notes, notes that J Street has been less than honest on Burg's background:
    J Street places near the top of its list of supporters someone named Avram Burg, who may not ring a bell to many Americans, but who is notorious in Israel. Burg advocates, among other things, the dissolution of Israel as a Jewish state; recommends that Israeli parents secure foreign passports for their children; and compares Israel today to late 1930’s Germany. When asked during the call why someone like Burg is affiliated with J Street, the group’s proprietors downplayed and misrepresented the man’s radicalism. It is difficult to imagine how the J Streeters believe their organization will be taken seriously as a pro-Israel lobby at the same time they advertise the endorsement of a figure like Avram Burg. [emphasis added]
    Soccer Dad details the hypocrisy of J-Street which whines about those who claim to know what it means to be pro-Israel, and then turn around and take that mantel for themselves for their own purposes when it comes to Sarah Palin.

    Again, the name J Street should be forever associated with its selfish weakening of Jewish unity in defense of Israel in the face of Ahamdinejad's visit to the UN today--and the National Jewish Democratic Council is simply another advocacy group for the Democratic Party.

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    When 300 Rabbis Agree On Anything...

    When 300 Rabbis Agree On Anything You Know Something Is Going On
    Rabbi Steve Bob, Co-Chair Rabbis For Obama

    Maybe...but what?

    Jacques Berlinerblau, program director and associate professor of Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, notes what is missing from the letter written by the rabbis--and nails it:
    To begin with, the letter of support on the "Rabbis for Obama" website is puzzlingly bereft of any reference to classical Jewish texts. In constructing their case for the Senator from Illinois the signatories make passing reference to the notion of tikkun olam (i.e., the repairing of a broken world). Yet they fail to invoke in any substantive manner the Hebrew Bible, Mishna, Gemara, Midrash, Responsa literature, and so forth.

    I am a secular Jew. I am a secular Jew who views the aforementioned sources as instructive, valuable, worthy of my study and respect but, ultimately, not determinative of my worldview. I don't, however, think it's logical or appropriate for a couple of hundred Rabbis representing Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative and Orthodox denominations to reason as if they were secular Jews. I would have preferred (and expected) to see the signers--who are a learned lot, I assure you--grounding their endorsement somewhere in the vast universe of Jewish knowledge.

    ...Even here I would urge caution. For the Jewish intellectual tradition famously evinces a deep suspicion regarding political engagement. At the beginning of the Pirkei Avot tractate of the Mishna we come across the well known adage "Love work. Hate authority. Don't get friendly with the government." Shortly thereafter we read: "Be careful with the government, for they befriend a person only for their own needs. They appear to be friends when it is beneficial to them, but they do not stand by a person at the time of his distress."
    Read the whole thing.

    Funny what politics will do to you.

    The very idea that "When 300 Rabbis Agree On Anything" is a positive thing comes across as rather pompous at a time that you cannot get Jews to agree on Israel or put together a rally to protest Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN.

    The fact that Obama was able to muster together more Jewish content than these 300 Rabbis in his conference call last week with 900 Rabbis is just telling. After all, these rabbis are not addressing Jews who are liberal; they are addressing liberals who happen to be Jews. They underestimate their own constituency.

    Bottom line, Rabbi Bob is absolutely right: "When 300 Rabbis Agree On Anything You Know Something Is Going On."

    And it's called politics.

    [Hat tip: Shmuel Rosner]

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