Thursday, July 31, 2008

Israel: Lessons Learned

Lisa Schiffren sums up a post at The Corner about Olmert's resignation:
Israel has now obtained clear results from a bunch of recent political experiments. The watching world has learned what happens when you make a good will gesture and hand your enemies various cities and regions with nothing expected of them in return. We have learned how responsibly Palestinians behave when they are given the right to self-government. And we have learned that new and worse existential threats to Israel's very existence can arise as older ones fade. Given these newly clarified realities, it would seem especially important for the people to express their views, in a general election, on which direction the country should take militarily and politically, vis-s-vis the neighbors. How frustrating to have a system that impedes that process — and no incentives to change it.
I hope politicians in Israel are paying attention--they may be tested later.

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Israel Is Looking More And More Like China

In Meeting The Chinese Giant, Rabbi Shalom Salomon Wald writes about Steven Spielberg's resignation as artistic advisor to the 2008 Olympic Games and the statement issued by 168 rabbis calling for a boycott of the Beijing Games, based on China's relationship with Sudan and its actions in Tibet.

Hmmm, next thing you know, groups will be issuing calls for divestment...

In response to worldwide--and Jewish--criticisms of China, Rabbi Wald issues a familiar rebuttal, noting that:
the list of countries that offend human rights is long. Why single out one country, China, and ignore others? In June 2008, the Delhi-based Asian Centre for Human Rights asserted that since 2002, approximately 7,500 detainees have died in Indian police custody; that is four per day, many of them under torture. Even the most severe critics of Chinese human rights violations have never suggested anything close to such numbers.

But in contrast to China, India is a democratic country where such abuses can be criticized by a free press and public. More importantly, India is a pro-Western country that is not yet seen as a challenge to American power. The point is: no Jewish protests have been raised against India. Nor have any been raised against Muslim or Arab countries that seek contacts or peace with Israel, even if their human rights record is anything but spotless. In other words, American Jewish condemnations of human rights violations are selective, and are colored by other motivations, including the tenor of America's overall relations with that country. American citizens single out China for condemnation because their government, media and business interests feel threatened by the Red Giant. But Israel's strategic position is different, and there are more heinous human rights abuses on which Israelis and Jews should focus their attention.

Regarding Rabbi Wald's claim about criticizing abuses in India--as he himself points out, as a democracy India is itself capable of addressing such issues. As far as criticizing human rights abuses in the Arab world--has Rabbi Wald ever attended a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council?

But there is a third, and to me more interesting comparison between China and Israel--the comparison between Taiwan and Jerusalem. Eric Olander writes about the well-known and strong feelings China has about Taiwan. Olander writes:
What really surprises me though is that despite China vast differences across economic, social, ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic and even political lines, 99.9% of all Mainlanders have one thing in common: Taiwan. While a student at Beijing University, I onced asked my professor why it was that everyone from the taxi driver on the streets of Changsha to the highest government official in Zhongnanhai was uniform in their determination on the Taiwan question, it was simply put to me: "Taiwan is our Jerusalem." China, my professor explained, is simply not complete without the re-unification of Taiwan with the Mainland. He went to say that if Taiwan was to ever to formally declare its political independence Beijing would have no choice but to claim the island by force for the Chinese leadership very legitimacy would be at stake. No Chinese leader, he concluded, could stay in power overseeing the formal end to the dream of a unified country. It just won't happen he demured. [emphasis added]
If only Israel's attachment to Jerusalem was declared as openly and forcefully--without hint of concession--as China's attachment to Taiwan. You can argue about the legitimacy of China's feelings about Taiwan and the actions China has taken as a result, but I would like to see the Israeli government declare itself and act just as unambiguously.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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Why Obama Is Bad News For Israel

If Obamas claims Israel will be a high priority, just what does he have planned?

Obama: Still Not Ready for Prime Time

On the eve of Senator Barack Obama's visit last week to Israel, Yossi Klein Halevi penned a gem of an essay in The New Republic (the new republic) in the form of an open letter to the Democratic presidential candidate. Halevi began by assuring Obama that Israelis have paid little attention to such diversions as his middle name (Hussein), his early years spent in Indonesia being raised by a Moslem step-father, or any of the other topics so beloved by viral e-mailers. Nor does Barack's color evoke any concern in a country that "rescued tens of thousands of African Jews and turned their arrival into a national celebration."

Halevi did not even mention Obama's former spiritual mentor pastor Jeremiah Wright. He was writing as a citizen of Israel, and the question of Obama's views on America are of necessity of far less moment to Israelis than they are to American. The former are far more interested in knowing Senator Obama's views on Israel.

Here too Halevi was quick to assure Obama that few in Israel doubt his friendship: "Your description of Israeli security as 'sacrosanct' and your passionate endorsement of Israel's cause at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington were greeted with banner headlines in the Israeli press."

But precisely because Israelis do not suspect Obama of harboring any ill-will towards them were they hoping for something more from him than professions of friendship and sympathy for the people of Sderot. Above all, they want some indication that Obama understands their predicament.

Here too Halevi was forthright: [A]s much as Israelis want to embrace you, there is anxiety about your candidacy. . . . Israelis worry that, as president, you might act too hastily in trying to solve the Palestinian problem, and not hastily enough in trying to solve the Iranian problem."

In truth, Obama's visit to Israel had less to do with allaying the fears of Israelis – few of whom will vote in the American presidential election – and more to do with providing American Jews the fig leaf they need to vote for Obama. And for that purpose the photo-ops in Sderot, Yad Vashem, and at the Kotel were all that was required. General professions of support for Israel's right to exist and an aye vote on the annual appropriations have long been the only thing most American Jews require to drape upon a Democratic candidate the mantle pro-Israel.

ISRAELIS, however, were far less likely to be reassured by Senator Obama's statements in Israel on precisely the two issues pointed to by Halevi: negotiations with the Palestinians and Iran. Senator Obama announced that he will make the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict a high priority from day one of his administration.

That is bad news indeed for Israel. For one thing, it indicates that he believes there is a ready solution to the conflict. No president knowingly makes something a priority item unless he views success as likely. And if Obama thinks there is a ready solution to the conflict that can only come in one form: Israel's return to the '67 borders. For once Prime Minister Olmert got it right last week when he said that even Israel's best friends, when they envision Israel's eventual contours, think "in terms of the '67 borders."

Obama basically confirmed that last week. Asked by Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz (Jerusalem Post) about Prime Minister Olmert's description of the great achievement of the Bush administration as its recognition that realities on the ground make a return to the '67 borders impossible, Barack acknowledged that Israel might justify "'67 plus" in terms of the need for a security buffer, "but they've got to consider whether getting that buffer is worth the antagonism of the other party."

In those words, lies the implicit assumption that the crux of the issue is Israeli settlements on territory seized in 1967 and the antagonism they engender, not the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel in any borders. Consider, however, the results of a June 5-7 poll by the Palestinian enter for Policy and Survey Research (Palestinian Center). In response to a question whether reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis would be possible after the conclusion of a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state, a plurality of Palestinians (43%) answered that reconciliation is impossible ever; 20.5% that it is only possible in many generations; and 12.4% that it is only possible in the next generation.

Nor does there seem to be any more acceptance of Israel among the senior political echelons with whom Israel is supposed to conclude some kind of peace treaty. Last week, the PA sent its warmest congratulations to child_murderer Samir Kuntar on his release from an Israeli jail and announced plans for festive celebrations in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the mastermind of the Coastal Road massacre in which 37 Israelis were murdered. Those gestures make it difficult to understand how Obama could credit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayd with doing everything possible "to address some of the systemic failures of the Palestinian Authority," (unless ceaseless incitement against Israel is not one of those systemic failures in his eyes.)

In sum, it seems likely that an Obama administration will push Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria, just as it did from Southern Lebanon and Gaza, without retaining any security buffers lest it incur Palestinian antagonism. That is pretty close to Einstein's definition of insanity – the repetition of the same action with the expectation of different results.

A SECOND IMPLICIT assumption behind Senator Obama's promise to commence his efforts at Mideast peacemaking from day one is that the Palestinian-Israel conflict lies at the heart of the region's problems. Otherwise why make its resolution such a high priority? In an interview with Atlantic, Obama characterized the Palestinian-Israel conflict as "constant sore" that "infect[s] all of our foreign policy" and "provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists." It is not altogether clear why anti-American jihadists need an "excuse." The Ayatollah Khomeini did not hesitate to call America "the Great Satan" and Israel "the Little Satan." In his view, Israel was an American outpost, not vice versa.

Obama's view of the centrality of the Palestinian-Israel conflict is consistent with his choice of foreign policy advisors. One of those advisors is former Congressman Lee Hamilton, co-chairman, along with James Baker, of the Iraq Study Group, which described the Arab-Israeli conflict as the crux of Middle East instability, and recommended dramatic Israeli concessions as the cure. Other advisors, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security advisor, are even more hostile (Yoram Ettinger). Brzezinski is one of the few academic defenders of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby," and shares those authors' view that Israel is a strategic liability to the United States.

The view that the Palestinian-Israel conflict is at the heart of all that ails the Middle East cannot bear scrutiny. Most of the major conflicts in the region: the Iraq-Iran war, the first Iraq War; civil wars in Lebanon; Sunni-Shiite tensions throughout the region; the Syrian killing of over 20,000 of its own citizens in a few days in Homa have absolutely nothing to do with Israel. Despite its vast oil wealth, the region continues to rank at the bottom or near it on the Freedom Index, literacy, empowerment of women, and other indicia of development. Again, these failures have nothing to do with Israel.

Obama's downplaying of the dysfunctions of the Arab world is of a piece with his refusal to see the West as at war with militant Islam. He continues to view defending against terrorism from a criminal law perspective rather than as a war on a highly ideological, albeit amorphous, enemy. In a study prepared for the Journal of International Security Studies comparing the foreign policy positions of John McCain to those of Barack Obama, Michael Oren concluded that Obama still perceives terrorism in terms as criminal acts to be tried after the fact by court. Thus he points to the trial of the first World Trade Center bombers as proof of the strength of our criminal justice system.

The problem with that approach is that criminal trials, such as those of the first World Trade Center bombers, always come too late.. The Clinton administration’s approach to terrorism of rounding up a few bad guys and putting them on trial led straight to 9/11.

While in Israel, Obama told David Horowitz of The Jerusalem Post that the number of Moslems who embrace the ideology of jihad is relatively small. But given the number of suicide bombers various Islamic groups have been able to attract, and the euphoric reaction to 9/11 throughout the Arab world, including in the Palestinian Authority, that conclusion seems doubtful.

Obama's de-emphasis of the ideological/theological nature of the enemy helps explain both his total failure to understand the costs of a precipitous American retreat from Iraq or the threat from a nuclear Iran. Even today, after the evident success of the surge, Obama continues to stubbornly insist that it was not worth the effort. Because of his deafness to theology/ideology he cannot comprehend how America fleeing Iraq would add another new chapter to the jihadist narrative of Islam ascendant, which begins with the expulsion of the Russians from Afghanistan in 1979. A defeated America would have emboldened Iran and attracted thousands of Moslems around the world to the jihadi banner.

His claim that he wants to cut troop levels in Iraq in order to increase them in Afghanistan is profoundly unserious – the Democratic base that nominated Obama opposes all military endeavors, not just the war in Iraq. Talk about more troops in Afghanistan is nothing more than an effort to burnish his tough-guy credentials, just like the recent claim that he would not take the military option off the table versus Iran. And it would be ludicrous if Obama were serious about switching America's military focus from Iraq – a country of huge strategic importance because of its large oil reserves and proximity to Iran and the Gulf – to Afghanistan, which is of no such importance.

Initially, Obama rated Iran as no more a serious threat to the United States than Cuba or Venezuela. When the discredited National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran had suspended its covert nuclear program, Obama hailed the finding and condemned the Bush adminstration's sabre-rattling. Yet even a cursory reading of the NIE report itself failed to support its authors' summary conclusion (which they too have now repudiated.). The Iranians had, at most, only suspended certain covert work on weaponization, even as they continued to openly pursue uranium enrichment, the major hurdle to producing a nuclear warhead.

Of late, Obama has hardened his rhetoric about Iran, but still insists that the Iranians "must be given an opportunity to change” (Haaretz) before any military action against Iranian nuclear sites would be justified. But by the time a new Obama administration would be ready for negotiations, the Iranians would likely have completed their acquisition of nuclear weapons.

In his demand for open negotiations with the Iranians, Obama seems blissfully unaware that such negotiations have been going on for five years between the Europeans and Iran, and all they have achieved has been to bring Iran to the doorstep of acquiring nuclear weapons without any serious Western response. At the very least, Obama should explain why he hopes to succeed where the Europeans failed: Does he have a tastier carrot to offer or a bigger stick to wield?

In short, the likelihood of Obama doing anything to stop the Iranian nuclear program, or countenancing an Israeli attempt to do so, remain low. And where does that leave Israelis? Still afraid that a President Obama would push too early for agreement on a Palestinian state and too late to do anything to prevent Iran from attacking Israel. Just as he found us.

Read more articles by Jonathan Rosenblum at Jewish Media Resources

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A Handy Video Guide On How To Boycott Israel

Which just goes to show you that there really is a YouTube video on any given topic.

[Hat tip: Miriam at Israelplug]

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"Bombs in Gaza, Parties in Ramallah"

That's the title of an article by Rinat Malkes for Pajamas Media, and the parties in Ramallah are not celebrating death--they're celebrating life:

...While the Palestinian political world remains in turmoil, the West Bank still struggles for normality — and achieves it, but only selectively. While northern West Bank cities like Nablus and Jenin remain tense, in the heart of Palestine the city of Ramallah seems more effervescent than ever — full of tourists, crowded coffee shops, and active daily life even as the headlines spell trouble; it is as if the city is in a strange quiet before a storm.

The violent escalation over the past week may challenge Palestinian and Israeli analysts who are currently asking themselves whether the situation can deteriorate even more, but the news doesn’t seem to bother Ramallah’s citizens. Many new and trendy Western-style coffee shops and restaurants have opened this summer, tourists came back to the streets around al-Manara Square, and despite the price index high of 10.20% during the first quarter of the year, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, commerce is buzzing.

It’s easy to notice a huge variety of languages, cultures, and Western faces among the crowded tables of Cafe de la Paix, next to Ramallah’s city hall. Pilgrims, foreign NGOs’ personnel, journalists, and Palestinians from other West Bank cities have found a perfect place to spend some quality leisure time. The peace is broken only when nearby mosques play the muazzin calls for prayers.

Palestinian analyst and businessman Sam Bahou says the city is definitely going through a “five-star occupation,” pushed by the resumption of hundreds of millions of dollars received by the Palestinian Authority by international donors. Besides that, the recent high oil prices have created additional revenues for oil-rich countries like Qatar and other Gulf nations, which are investing: music festivals and other cultural activities haven’t been so lively in the past few years, says Mohammad B, a shop owner.

“I know it sounds like a cheap cliché, but trust me, it’s true. Life here can be good and we are working to make it a better place. Even though there’s no extra money in the Palestinians’ pockets, at least in Ramallah we still can have some fun, go out for a good dinner, watch a movie. If it depended on politics and politicians, we would sit at home in deep depression. We have to improve our lives ourselves. We can’t stand this political impasse anymore, so trying to have a normal life is kind of an obligation. We have fun, move forward, and forget the official mud we are immersed in. If we can’t go to Manhattan, we at least decided to bring a bit of Manhattan here,” he laughs.

Read the whole thing.

I blogged earlier this week about how contrary to the West that insisted on pouring more millions into the Palestinian Authority to no effect, the Arab countries knew better and have resisted giving money to the PA that they have previously promised. Now it seems that the Arab countries are even smarter than that--they have approached the situation as capitalists, investing in the people instead of squandering it on the leaders.

In the earlier post I concluded: "The Arab world knows what they are not doing."
I was wrong--the Arab world knows exactly what they are doing.
Let the Arab world invest in the Palestinian people even more (and even less to the terrorists).

Update: Meanwhile, the US still does not get it:
The United States remains the largest single state donor to the Palestinian Authority. We have provided $562 million in total assistance in 2008, surpassing our pledged level of $555 million. This includes $264 million in project assistance through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL); $150 million in direct budget support - the largest single tranche for funds provided to the Palestinian Authority by a single donor country; and $148 million in contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
And what do they have to show for it.

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Seeing The Seriousness Of The Battle

I received a link to this article in an email:
We have met the enemy & he is us!
by Rav Avram

I don’t know if you have noticed it yet, but in what is called, “Old Thornhill”, that is north of us on Yonge St, there is a sign on an attractive storefront with the words, “Gates of Zion” in English and the Hebrew equivalent, Shaarei Tzion.

What is it?

Well, it appears to be a Shul, a storefront shul opening its doors in a less obviously Jewish area. Is it outreach? Perhaps a new effort to reach Jewish students?

Not at all, it is the new home of a centre of missionary activity that previously was called “City of David” and had operated in the plaza by Bathurst & Steeles.

Simply put, it is, in my opinion, a church masquerading as a synagogue. Similar to the famous Jews for Jesus and other similar Hebrew/Christian missionaries, the Gates of Zion is the enemy. Let us strip away our PC, their goal is to convert Jews to Christianity and they do it in what I believe is a deceptive & destructive manner.

They are the ones who play on the ignorance of our brothers & sisters, they are the ones who remind us how seriously important our outreach activities are- they take Jews and take away their heritage replacing it with a falsified form of Christianity wrapped in a Talis.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not writing about Christians. They believe in their religion, they practice their religion and have very little in common with the people behind Gates of Zion.

I am writing about a church that, I believe, uses Jewish ritual & Jewish customs and corrupts them to a point that they can be used to convert Jews into the belief system of Christianity and then have the audacity to call themselves a Synagogue and their minister a rabbi (sic).

The saddest part of it all is that we have had and continue to have the ability to stop this charade in its tracks. We have, without question, an effective way to make the entire Hebrew/Christian movement a thing of the past, no longer a threat to any Jew and totally ineffective.

That is education, outreach & community.
Read the whole thing.

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Olmert To Make Dramatic Announcement At 1:00PM (Updated)
Olmert to make dramatic announcement this evening

PM to address public live at 8 pm Wednesday, summons press to his office. Earlier Olmert slammed Israeli public's propensity to 'grumble,' said State cannot handle Iranian threat while juggling all education, welfare, housing needs

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will make a dramatic announcement to the public on Wednesday at 8 pm. Hee summoned reporters to his residence, and the address will be made from there.

The prime minister became enraged with the actions of the coalition and the Labor Party earlier in the day, and has previously threatened to dismiss ministers who vote against the government's directives, but it is unclear whether his announcement will pertain to this matter.
So will Olmert--
a. Announce making cabinet related measures
b. Announce Peace in our time
c. Resign
d. Announce: "Gotcha!"

What do you think?

Olmert Won't Run, Will Resign in September

At a sudden press conference, the Prime Minister announced he will not participate in his party's primaries. He said he would resign when a new party leader is chosen, "in order to enable the new leader to form a new government."

Kadima's primaries are to be held on September 17.

Olmert began his speech, timed to coincide with the national televised evening news broadcasts, by boasting of his administration's economic successes, such as low unemployment. He added, however, that he believes that peace with the Arabs is the most important mission he faces.

Of course, he's right--peace with the Arabs is important. But when there is no one with the authority or leadership to negotiate with, Olmert just ended up offering one "painful concession" after another.

In the end, Olmert made the most painful concession of all.

Check out Israel Matzav, who liveblogged Olmert's speech.

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Tonight: Israel--Leading the World into the Post-Oil Age

From an email:
RSVP NOW - Energy & Israel - TONIGHT - July 30 @ Lincoln Square Synagogue
Israel: Leading the World into the Post-Oil Age

with *Michael Granoff
Head of Oil Independence Policies,
Project Better Place <>*

Come hear how Israel is breaking its oil dependence, and how the US can too.

*Wednesday, July 30 2008 7:30pm
Lincoln Square Synagogue
200 Amsterdam Ave. & W 69th Street*

Event co-chairs: Anne Gontownik & Jill Helene
Student chair: Rochelle Lipsky

Students: Free / Non-Students: $10.00

This event is sponsored by *Stand*With*Us* <>.
RSVP:, 212 398 2524


Michael Granoff founded Maniv Energy Capital in 2005. MEC is a lead investor
in, and Mr. Granoff a board member of, Project Better
Place<>which will enable
country-wide adoption of electric vehicles by building and
operating an electric charge network allowing countries to eliminate their
dependence on oil for transportation. MEC also has holdings in ISE Corp,
which manufactures drive trains for hybrid commuter buses, and GreatPoint
energy, which is pioneering an inexpensive process of converting coal into
clean natural gas. MEC was a seed investor in Israel Cleantech
the first venture capital fund to focus exclusively on opportunities in the
cleantech sector in Israel, and Mr. Granoff now sits on its advisory board.
Prior to MEC, Mr. Granoff managed Maniv Bioventures, a private venture fund
that took positions in 10 early stage life science companies from 1997 to

In 2004, out of concern for the economic, geopolitical and environmental
consequences of continued oil dependence, Mr. Granoff helped conceive the
highly regarded Washington-based advocacy group, Securing America's Future
Energy <> (SAFE) ( and
continues to serve on its board.

In addition to SAFE, his current non-profit involvements include membership
on the Board of Governors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life;
chairmanship of a division of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
(AIPAC), and president of Kesher: the Community Synagogue of Tenafly and
Englewood. He served on the National Finance Committee for Joe Lieberman for
President 2004. Mr. Granoff received his B.A. from Tufts University and his
J.D. and M.B.A. Northwestern University and its Kellogg School of
Management, and is a member of the Bars of New York and New Jersey.
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So Where Does The US Stand On An Israeli Attack On Iran THIS Week?

In the past, it's been pretty iffy trying to pin down where the US stands on an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities:

US denies IAF likely to hit Iran in '08
The US State Department on Tuesday dismissed an ABC News report based on comments by an unnamed US defense official that Israel was likely to strike Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of 2008.
Pentagon Official Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran
Senior Pentagon officials are concerned that Israel could carry out an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities before the end of the year, an action that would have enormous security and economic repercussions for the United States and the rest of the world.
Now, with the US apparently softening its stance towards Iran by re-establishing a diplomatic presence, it would appear that the US is opposed to a strike.

Not necessarily:
Strike on Iran still possible, U.S. tells Israel

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense chief, is visiting as Washington is perceived to be softening its stance toward Tehran.

Bush administration officials reassured Israel's defense minister this week that the United States has not abandoned all possibility of a military attack on Iran, despite widespread Israeli concern that Washington has begun softening its position toward Tehran.

In meetings Monday and Tuesday, administration officials told Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the option of attacking Iran over its nuclear program remains on the table, though U.S. officials are primarily seeking a diplomatic solution.
Glad we have that settled. Iran no doubt is suitably impressed by US determination.

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Sometimes The Numbers Make No Sense

The JTA has the results of a survey of Muslim students in Great Britain.

On the one hand:
Nearly one-third of British Muslim students support killing in the name of religion, a new survey found.
On the other:
Some 79 percent of Muslim students polled said they respected Jews, with 7 percent answering that they had not very much or no respect at all for Jews.
That sounds very impressive, though apparently many of those same Muslim students would kill a Jew in the name of religion. Apparently, respect only goes so far. Still, I wonder how many of those students are from Saudi Arabia?

From 2004:
MEMRI TV Project: Saudi IQRA TV Examines Public Attitudes toward Jews

...excerpts from a show on Saudi Arabia's IQRA TV Channel, which featured "man on the street" interviews about feelings about Jews.

Interviewer: 'Would You, as a Human Being, be Willing to Shake Hands with a Jew?'
Respondent 8 kind of sums it up:
"Allah's wrath is upon them, as the Koran says. Allah's wrath is upon them and they all stray from the path of righteousness. They are the filthiest people on the face of this earth because they care only about themselves - not the Christians, not the Muslims, nor any other religion.
The Saudi school system is definitely doing their job--I'm sure they are very proud.

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No, Obama Did NOT Leak A Copy Of His Western Wall Note

Zvika Krieger at The New Republic checked out the story and...

I just got off the phone with a Ma'ariv spokesman who says that the accusation is "completely false," and that he has no idea who these papers were quoting from Ma'ariv. "No official spokesman for Ma'ariv told this to any of the papers." I've got some calls in to these papers to find out where they got the quote. (I'll update here when I hear back.) He told me definitively that "the Obama campaign did not give us a copy of the letter or approve it for printing."

UPDATE 1: I just spoke with an editor at one of the four publications who quoted the alleged "Ma'ariv spokesman." This editor broached the possibility that Ma'ariv was trying to deflect criticims of it by releasing these spurious rumors about the Obama campaign, but upon realizing that they'll have to back up those accusations, is now disavowing them. This editor is going to look into this alleged "Ma'ariv spokesman" they quoted in his publication so we can try to ascertain if this is a Ma'ariv cover-up. I'll update here when I hear back from him and if I get anything interesting from the other publications who also quoted this alleged spokesman.

Obama comes out of this clean--but Maariv is now on the defensive.
Now we can get back to the issues of Obama's lack of experience, flip-flopping, his proposals--and where he really stands on Jerusalem and Israel.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just How Much Influence Does The US Have In The Middle East

According to The Daily Star, there is actually less to Iranian-Syrian ties than meets the eye:
Signs emanating from the Iranian-Syrian alliance this year have been increasingly bizarre - especially when Western and Arab isolation of Syria intensified over Damascus' reticence to help end the presidential gridlock in Lebanon. On February 12, the senior Hizbullah operative Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in Damascus - a mere stone's throw away from the headquarters of Syria's security services in a country that often claims to be the Arab world's safest. Surprisingly, Damascus branded as "baseless" Tehran's announcement a few days later of a joint Iranian-Syrian investigation, despite Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's visit to Damascus the day after the murder. Then a high-profile Iranian project to replace Damascus' aging public bus fleet with Iranian vehicles was mysteriously cancelled and awarded to a Chinese company.

Today, two high-profile Iranian-Syrian joint ventures to assemble automobiles in Syria - the first in the country's history - are barely scraping by due to Syrian government foot dragging on promises to cut tariffs on the plants' imported components. This is particularly odd as the Syrian state owns a 35 percent stake in one of the projects. Even more ambiguous are statistics recently released by Syria's State Investment office which put direct Iranian investment in Syria at $544 million, a mere 8 percent of Arab investment in Syria - a far cry from Iranian reports last year (also citing Syrian government statistics) that estimated Iranian investment at 66 percent of Arab investment in the country.
The weakness of these ties--due to a large extent widespread corruption--in conjunction with the economic sanctions that the US already has in place against Syria are supposed to offer the US an opening. The article optimistically concludes:
Understanding an Arab country's economic woes and their impact on policy should be old hat for Washington. A key reason why Egyptian President Anwar Sadat attacked Israel in 1973 and then sued for peace five years later was that decades of war and domestic authoritarian rule had put Egypt on its back economically. The US understood this and manipulated the situation to its advantage when it brought about a breakthrough in Middle East peacemaking at Camp David in 1979. The US and its allies should plan to do the same with Syria in the years to come.
This of course brings up a whole other issue. If the US is so adept at manipulating the economic problems of Middle East countries to their advantage, just what is happening between the US and the Palestinian Authority? If the economic problems of Egypt put the US in the driver's seat and allowed it to get Sadat to tow the line, why is it unable to do the same today with Abbas?

I cannot recall Begin being called upon to make 'painful concessions' in order to 'bolster' Sadat in the eyes of his people to make the agreement work. Of course, one could argue that the assassination of Sadat is evidence of the consequences of not bolstering Arab peace partners. Then again, it is not clear how bolstering Abbas has helped.

The point is why, following the logic of The Daily Star, the US was able to direct matters to a successful conclusion, while when it comes to the Palestinian Authority the US flounders.

An obvious answer is that The Daily Star is wrong about Egypt, or that Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are not comparable. Fair enough. But with all of the carrots being offered by the US, the EU and others to the PA, while do they constantly have to fall back to applying the stick to Israel?

The bottom line is that Sadat and Begin on their own knew what they wanted and had the wherewithal as leaders of their countries to make it happen--the US (and Carter) came in to close the deal. Olmert and Abbas are merely pale imitations of stronger and better leaders from a previous generation.

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Palestinian Terrorists: Got Milk?

What could be more wholesome...

Gaza smuggling tunnels are for milk, say Palestinians

Palestinian officials from the Gaza Strip have distributed a set of carefully-staged photographs they say are evidence that the smuggling tunnels running under the Gaza-Egypt border are for milk and other essential goods, not weapons.

The photographs show masked Palestinian militants lifting jugs of milk and sacks of baby food from the entrance to one of the tunnels on the Gaza side of the border.
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Add Yourself To The Jewish and Israeli Active Twitters Page

Jacob Richman has started a page featuring Jewish and Israeli Active Twitters

He writes:
If you are Israeli or Jewish, please send me via email or your Twitter name and a few words description and I will add you to the list above.
Note that vulgar or sexual oriented twitters will be removed.
Get yourself added to the list!

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Has The Washington Post Stopped Giving Obama A Free Ride?

In an earlier post, I mentioned that notes that a recent Obama ad
touts three bills that Obama "passed," and once again we're not told whether the bills were products of the Illinois Senate or the U.S. Senate. We'll fill you in: In this ad, all three pieces of legislation mentioned were passed in the Illinois Senate.
I thought about this purposeful vagueness of Obama's campaign when I read this from Richard Cohen:
Obama argues that he himself stuck to the biggest gun of all: opposition to the war. He took that position back when the war was enormously popular, the president who initiated it was even more popular, and critics of both were slandered as unpatriotic. But at the time, Obama was a mere Illinois state senator, representing the (very) liberal Hyde Park area of Chicago. He either voiced his conscience or his district's leanings or (lucky fella) both. We will never know.

And we will never know, either, how Obama might have conducted himself had he served in Congress as long as McCain has. Possibly he would have earned a reputation for furious, maybe even sanctimonious, integrity of the sort that often drove McCain's colleagues to dark thoughts of senatorcide, but the record -- scant as it is -- suggests otherwise. Obama is not noted for sticking to a position or a person once it (or he) becomes a political liability. (Names available upon request.) [emphasis added]
Read the whole thing.

Jennifer Rubin marvels that it has taken this long for Cohen to make this, and other, reservations about Obama--while being gratified that he has come around.

Actually, Richard Cohen may just be reflecting a view that his paper--The Washington Post--is coming around to.

The National Review noted earlier this month an editorial from The Washington Post that blasted Obama for his arbitrary 16 month timetable for pulling out of Iraq:
After hinting earlier this month that he might "refine" his Iraq strategy after visiting the country and listening to commanders, Mr. Obama appears to have decided that sticking to his arbitrary, 16-month timetable is more important than adjusting to the dramatic changes in Iraq...

The real difference between the various plans is not the dates but the conditions: Both the Iraqis and Mr. McCain say the withdrawal would be linked to the ability of Iraqi forces to take over from U.S. troops, as they have begun to do. Mr. Obama's strategy allows no such linkage — his logic is that a timetable unilaterally dictated from Washington is necessary to force Iraqis to take responsibility for the country.

At the time he first proposed his timetable, Mr. Obama argued — wrongly, as it turned out — that U.S. troops could not stop a sectarian civil war. He conceded that a withdrawal might be accompanied by a "spike" in violence. Now, he describes as "an achievable goal" that "we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future — a government that prevents sectarian conflict and ensures that the al-Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge." How will that "true success" be achieved? By the same pullout that Mr. Obama proposed when chaos in Iraq appeared to him inevitable.

...American commanders will probably tell Mr. Obama that from a logistical standpoint, a 16-month withdrawal timetable will be difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill. Iraqis will say that a pullout that is not negotiated with the government and disregards the readiness of Iraqi troops will be a gift to al-Qaeda and other enemies. If Mr. Obama really intends to listen to such advisers, why would he lock in his position in advance?

"What's missing in our debate," Mr. Obama said yesterday, "is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq." Indeed: The message that the Democrat sends is that he is ultimately indifferent to the war's outcome — that Iraq "distracts us from every threat we face" and thus must be speedily evacuated regardless of the consequences. That's an irrational and ahistorical way to view a country at the strategic center of the Middle East, with some of the world's largest oil reserves.

That National Review piece toys with the idea that the Post might be headed in the direction of endorsing the first Republican presidential candidate since Eisenhower. That is a big jump, but at the very least, it would be gratifying to see Barack Obama being held accountable for what his ideas and his record.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Gary Baumgarten Interviews David Saranga Tonight 7/29

Back in March I wrote:

Israel's "New" Image

The Israeli Consulate in New York sent out an email recommending an article in AdWeek: Best Face Forward. The good news is that Israel is doing more than concentrating on facts and figures to counter negative propaganda.

On the other hand, apparently they have not given up on figures altogether:
The Maxim shoot, designed to help redefine Israel's public image, was initiated by David Saranga, the consul for media and public affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York. It was part of a larger effort to give a new face to the nation as it approaches its 60th anniversary this spring.

...In the U.S., Saranga's office has launched a range of initiatives, both virtual and offline, to shift the image of Israel among audiences typically indifferent or even hostile towards the country. "Our research indicated that Israel is perceived primarily through two lenses: militarization and religion," says Saranga, who worked with New York-based Insight ResearchGroup (IRG) to conduct focus groups measuring Israel's appeal across the U.S. "What was lacking was a human lens."
Human lens? Just what is it about Judaism in Eretz Yisrael that lacks a human lens? Maybe they should come right out and say that what Israel is looking for is to look more 'fun'.
Read the whole thing.

Tonight, David Saranga is going to appear on News Talk Online on Paltalk Tuesday July 29 at 5 PM New York time with Gary Baumgarten. To talk to Saranga you can go to and click on the link to the show. There is no charge.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

30 Years After Camp David: A Peace Of Ice

Eric Trager was recently in Egypt, "where he met with democracy advocates and their opponents, investigated media culture, and examined other aspects of contemporary Egyptian political life". He has been blogging about his experiences. Today he posted about the reason for the discrepancy between the number of Israelis who visit Egypt and Egyptians who visit Israel. After discussing some of the natural reasons for the difference, he goes into the lengths the Egyptian government has gone to in order to dissuade Egyptians from meeting Israelis:
According to an Egyptian evangelical pastor who asked that his name be withheld, Egyptians who wish to travel to Israel must apply for special single-use passports - a process that automatically places them on an official government register. Upon returning to Egypt, they are frequently questioned by state security officials and closely monitored. Egyptian friends who have expressed their desire to visit Israel have confirmed this account.

Moreover, even when Egyptians seek to interact with Israelis without visiting the Jewish state, Egyptian security services may intervene. One Egyptian academic, who asked that his name be withheld, shared the following story. Recently, he had been invited to an event sponsored by the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, and intended to attend. Shortly before the event, however, Egyptian security services contacted him, “advising” him not to attend - the implication being that there would be retribution if he did otherwise. Apparently, Egyptian security had learned of his intention to attend the event by monitoring his mail.
Mubarak feels no obligation to reciprocate with Israel after the windfall he received from his predecessor's signing a peace treaty. Just what, if anything, would Abbas' successor--or Abbas himself--feel obligated towards Israel once he gets a Palestinian state? Israel should be so lucky that all they would get is the cold shoulder.

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The West Should Learn From How The Arab World Deals With The PA

The Daily Star responds to the recent uptic in violence between Hamas and Fatah forces with an editorial:

In some circles, it is still fashionable to blame Israel for all of the Palestinians' troubles, but in this instance, the leaders of Hamas and Fatah have committed crimes of equal magnitude against their own constituents. Not only have scores of people died at the hands of their armed forces, the fighting has also served to greatly undermine the Palestinian cause. It has become increasingly difficult for the international community to feel sympathy for the Palestinian people when their own leaders provide so much media ammunition to distract the world from their plight. The image of lawlessness and internecine warfare conveys the image of a people who are simply not ready for self-governance or an independent state.

The lessons from the Occupied Territories ought to also weigh heavily on Lebanese leaders, who have also shown a propensity to allow their power struggles to degenerate into violence that claims the lives of innocent victims. International mediators will soon grow tired of helping those who show no interest whatsoever in helping themselves.

If only. Still, the Arab world does have a better handle on what is going on between Hamas and Fatah, even if they are doing nothing about it--actually, that may be the best sign that they actually do understand the situation. Unlike the West, they are in no hurry to pour their money and resources into a bottomless pit.

The Washington Post has some of the numbers on the promises made by Arab countries to the Palestinian Authority--broken and otherwise:
Out of 22 Arab nations that made pledges, only three -- Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- have contributed funds this year, while oil-rich countries such as Libya, Kuwait and Qatar have sent nothing and still owe the Palestinian government more than $700 million in past-due pledges.

The Palestinian Authority uses the contributions to help pay salaries for civil servants, health-care specialists and other workers in the Palestinian territories. European governments, the World Bank and the United States have provided more than three times as much money as Arab countries this year to keep the government afloat, but officials said the Europeans and the World Bank have virtually depleted their resources, leaving a funding gap of about $800 million for the rest of 2008.
Noah Pollak responds to Obama's interview on Meet The Press where Obama ties the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the resolution of tensions in the entire area. Pollak notes:
In this worldview, the ineffectiveness of Arab states as U.S. allies is due primarily to genuine — as opposed to claimed — objections over the lack of American involvement in the conflict, as if America’s failure to “create” a Palestinian state is because 15 years of Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, the Road Map, Annapolis, and billions of dollars in foreign aid represent an insufficient dedication of resources to the conflict.
After targeting all of these resources over all that time--and nothing accomplished.

The Arab world knows what they are not doing.

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Join Rabbi Brovender's WebYeshiva for Free This Elul Zman!

From an email:
Join WebYeshiva for Free This Elul Zman!

Elul Zman has always been an intense and special time for the Jewish people, a time where we try a little harder to become the type of people that God wants us to be. In light of the seriousness and importance of Elul Zman, WebYeshiva has decided to open its doors to anyone who is interested in seriously studying Torah.

Now is your opportunity to join the thousands of people from around the world who have experienced Torah the WebYeshiva way. Regardless of your schedule or learning background, WebYeshiva has a shiur for you. With 27 online, fully interactive shiurim offered at all times of the day, 6 days a week WebYeshiva makes it easier than ever for you to join an engaging, challenging shiur that's right for you.

This offer is available to EVERYONE - former students, present students and (hopefully) future students.

To learn more about this special offer or to sign up now, please follow one of the links below:

Personal Invitation from Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Brovender

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Only In Israel Could Problems Like These Be Ignored

Isn't anybody thinking about the future?
Think Again: Whatever happened to the future?
by Jonathan Rosenblum
Jerusalem Post
July 24, 2008

"It is frantic, disorganized, exceptionally neurotic, but somehow the necessary things get done - a metaphor for all of Israeli life." So Martin Sieff describes Israel's UN mission, in a Jerusalem Report review of Gregory Levey's memoir of his stint as the mission's chief speechwriter. Unfortunately, it is far from clear that the metaphor still works and "the necessary things get done."

In recent weeks, at least two "crises" briefly gained media attention. The first concerns the country's "worst water crisis" ever; the second the continued viability of our higher education, with Nobel Prize winner Aharon Ciechanower comparing the brain drain of Israeli academics to that of Jewish scientists and thinkers from Germany after the Nazis' rise to power.

After garnering headlines, both "crises" just as quickly receded from the limelight. Only in this country could forecasts of an impending lack of water to drink not even merit front-page headlines. And that is part of the problem. Our media, like our politicians, suffer from severe attention deficit disorder.
Sure, there are plenty of distractions: the ongoing corruption investigations of the prime minister and a host of other senior government officials, past or present; the Iranian nuclear threat; the never-ending jockeying in the governing coalition.

Yet the failure over much of the past decade to attend sufficiently to either the water or the educational crisis will have as much impact on our future as those "distractions," with the obvious exception of a possible nuclear attack by Iran. Even in the unlikely event that a sustainable peace was possible with a Palestinian entity or Syria, chronic water shortages would make peace negotiations dramatically more difficult and create an ongoing tinderbox if they were successfully concluded. Currently one-third of Israel's water comes via the Golan, and aquifers under land likely to be part of any Palestinian state contribute significantly. A parched country could not dispense with those water sources.

True, since the last time water merited large headlines in 2001, Israel has built the world's largest desalination plant in Ashkelon. But even so, its total capacity combined with that of three desalination plants currently projected to be completed by 2012 are only equal to the capacity that the Water Authority's master plan projected for 2004.

In the meantime, both the Kinneret and the coastal aquifer have nearly reached or fallen below their black lines, beyond which further pumping is impossible. Since 2001 virtually nothing has been done about purification of brackish underground water or conservation. Even now, there is no sustained effort to raise the public's consciousness of its role in lowering consumption.

The crisis in education is no less serious. Israel is a country almost totally lacking in natural resources other than the brainpower of its citizens. The economic miracle of present-day Israel is powered entirely by intellectual creativity. Yet our brainpower is not being replenished; indeed it is being depleted almost as fast as our water.

In the 1950s, a far poorer country ranked at or near the top of all international testing of elementary and high-school students. For the past decade, however, Israeli students have consistently ranked below those of countries from which we import manual workers. And yet not one single serious reform of the education system has been successfully implemented by a succession of education ministers.

At the upper levels of academia, where those who will sustain economic growth must be produced, the situation is equally grave. Academic degree holders are 2.5 times as likely to emigrate as the less educated, making this one of the only developed countries with a significant brain drain. From 2002 to 2004, the rate of emigration of academics nearly doubled, and few return. The number of Israeli professors on American campuses is nearly a quarter of all those in Israel itself.

Some of the causes of that drain are obvious. At every level, American academics command salaries many times their Israeli counterparts. And even for those who wish to remain, there are simply too few jobs. The country's most prestigious research universities - the Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, and the Technion - have either lost positions or remained the same over the past three decades, even as the country's population has doubled. Again, none of these problems have been addressed, even though they are well known.

THE CAUSES of the failure to address issues of such long-range consequence are many. One, of course, is the well-known Israeli propensity to think that things will somehow work out - an assumption increasingly in doubt since the Second Lebanon War. At the time of the last great water crisis in 2001, it was pointed out that already in 1990 the state comptroller had issued a scathing critique of the previous 25 years of water mismanagement and nothing had been done about it in the intervening decade.

The pervasive corruption of the country's political leadership greatly exacerbates the failure to plan for the future. Who can think about anything beyond those matters requiring immediate attention while spending all one's time trying to stay out of jail or thwarting the designs of those seeking to depose you?

Nor is the problem limited to those under multiple criminal investigations. Even the ceaseless self-promotion of those accused of no wrongdoing takes its toll. Can there be a group anywhere in the world so shameless about proclaiming themselves the most qualified for any available cabinet position as Israeli politicians? And on so little evidence?

Our ministers jump from one position to another as more prestigious ones open up. And it often appears that they are so busy plotting their next career move that they have little time left for supervising their ministry or worrying about the problems they are charged with solving. Many make no secret of the fact that they consider their ministries beneath their abilities and therefore their attention.

The failure to enact a Norwegian Law, requiring ministers to give up their seats in the Knesset, ensures that even fairly high-ranking ministers like the minister of national infrastructure will spend most of their day in coalition politics and other matters having nothing to do with their ministries.

The high self-regard of our politicians and pursuit of their personal interests demoralizes the entire society. As Yossi Klein Halevi has observed, in no country is widespread cynicism about the country's leaders so pernicious because in no country are so many of the leaders' decisions ones of life or death, or the burdens of citizenship so high.

In her sharp essay on the brain drain, "Losing Our Minds" (Azure, Spring 2008), Marla Braverman notes that the Zionist ethos of individual sacrifice for collective goals is in critical condition in Israel, and nearly without a pulse in academia. When our best young minds view the nation's leaders as concerned primarily with their self-interest, they inevitably ask: Why shouldn't I do the same, even if it means leaving the country?

Finding leaders capable of thinking beyond their own self-interest to focus on planning for the future holds the key to convincing our enemies and ourselves that we have one.
Read other articles by Jonathan Rosenblum at Jewish Media Resources

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Is It Too Late To Have The 2012 Olympics In Iran?

"Many countries have the death penalty, but the Islamic Republic executes more people than any other nation except China."

Read the whole thing.

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May an American Comment on Israel?

That is the title of Daniel Pipes' article in response to an article by Yoram Schweitzer, Not That Bad A Deal, on the topic of the Kuntar deal.

Schweitzer is described as "the director of the Terrorism and Low Intensity Warfare Project at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies and was a member of the prime minister's special task force that looked for the Israeli MIAs."

Schweitzer writes:
Daniel Pipes is a distinguished Middle East scholar. Yet even the most penetrating eyes can ignore painful truths, and the contents and tone of his latest article, "Samir Kuntar and the last laugh" (The Jerusalem Post, July 21), are patronizing and insulting, overlooking as they do the fact that the government and public have the right to decide for themselves to which of the conflicting principles and values that arise in blackmail situations they will adhere, and to shoulder the resulting price.
What slowly dawned on me as I read Pipes--and double-checked in Schweitzer--is that this is not a criticism that Jews who want to criticize Israel should make Aliyah. This is an argument that no one outside of a country have the right to criticize the decisions made by that country and their government.

To his credit, Pipes takes the argument more seriously than I do and addresses it accordingly--but I wonder if this is what Israel is slowly coming to: telling the world to bud out of Israel's business.

I'm not sure that is such a bad thing in general, but it would be more meaningful if Israel would tell the UN or the EU to go take a hike. Telling pundits not to criticize Israel is easy and safe--and will have absolutely no affect. On the other hand, being able to to tell the organizations and countries (including the US) that feel perfectly free to lecture Israel on what is in her best interests to bud out--that would do Israel a world of good.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Nachum Segal Interviews Malcolm Hoenlein 7/25/08

Last Friday, Nachum Segal spoke with Malcolm Hoenlein:
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 sharing words from Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser who spoke about the recent Israeli-Hizbollah prisoner for Israeli soldier exchange. Malcolm addressed the exchange and the feelings toward it in Israel and the Middle East. Nachum asked Malcolm about the latest bulldozer attack in Jerusalem and if this will become a new trend in terrorist activity. They covered several other topics including: potential talks between Iran and the United States, Presidential candidate Barack Obama's visit to Europe and Israel, a new lawsuit being brought against Marwan Barghouti, head of the Palestinian Authority, the upcoming Kadima primary, and MUCH more. Click the link to listen.
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Glick On Obama

Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Caroline Glick for The National Review about Obama's trip to Israel. One of Glick's observations:
His [Obama's] repeated assertions of his commitment to Israel’s security were repeatedly contradicted by the policies he wishes to adopt if elected. On the one hand he opposes permitting Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, but on the other hand, he insists that the way to make this happen is to sit down and talk to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has made annihilating the Jewish state one of his main goals in office. He says he understands Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terror attacks but then he says that Israel’s interests are served by strengthening the Palestinian terror groups by extending Palestinian sovereignty from Gaza to the West Bank. Gaza is ruled by jihadists from Hamas who are bankrolled, trained and armed by Iran. How are Israel’s interests served by importing jihadist control to the outskirts of Tel-Aviv and to Jerusalem?

Then again, like Israeli Jews, American Jews are not too caught up in details. He said he supports Israel and got his picture taken at Yad Vashem and the Wailing Wall wearing a kippa. So he probably succeeded in pulling more American Jews into his camp of supporters.
No doubt.

Read the whole thing.

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Jewish Neocons And Uncle Toms

David Bernstein writes at The Volokh Conspiracy about Joe Klein, who has fulminated against Jewish Neocons who have acted on behalf of Israel in manipulating John McCain. Bernstein notes that liberals in general, and sometimes Jewish liberals, have used the accusation of dual-loyalty to silence Jewish conservatives:
The purpose, then, of associating "neocons" with Jews, and neoconservatism exclusively or primarily with concern for Israel, is to delegitimize conservative Jews, just as conservative blacks are called "Uncle Toms" and whatnot.
But there is a subtle difference in the way that liberals try to manipulate Jewish vis-a-vis African American conservatives:
One interesting aspect of all this is that the standard left-wing "Uncle Tom" attack on black conservatives accuses them of being insufficiently supportive of "their people," while the emerging attack on Jewish conservatives accuses them of being too supportive of "their people" and thus having dual loyalties. Hmm.
Apparently whatever convenient claim that is at hand will do.

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An Explosion In Gaza That No One Blames On Israel

From Haaretz:
Tensions high in Gaza as Hamas cracks down on rival groups

Hamas security forces fanned out across a tense Gaza Strip Sunday, following a mysterious weekend car bombing that killed six people and sparked the toughest Hamas crackdown against its Fatah rivals in months.
David Hazony obaserves:
Perhaps there is nothing new here, except that to use the word “crackdown” when the crackers are Hamas and the crackees are loyalists to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas suggests how far we have come in accepting Hamas rule in Gaza as a fait accompli. There really are two Palestinian governments now, two authorities. So please, speak not of a “Palestinian State” happening any time soon. Right now it looks like there will be two of them, or none at all.
Looking back to the Hamas 'crackdown' in November last year as covered by the LA Times, it seems that this has been going on for awhile:
Hamas cracks down on Fatah in Gaza

Abbas' party says 400 of its members have been detained in raids. The rival faction denies political motivation.

Officials of the Fatah faction said Tuesday that hundreds of its members were detained by Hamas after deadly violence marred a massive rally in the Gaza Strip a day earlier.

Fatah leaders said a wave of arrests in Gaza targeted activists, including ranking party figures who had organized the rally marking the third anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death. The gathering erupted in gunfire, leaving seven people dead and dozens injured.

The radical Hamas movement has controlled Gaza since its forces in June overwhelmed fighters from the Fatah faction, which was founded by Arafat and one of whose leaders is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

... Hamas has cracked down on smaller Fatah rallies and has accused Abbas' forces in the West Bank of rounding up Hamas members.
I don't know if the term 'crack down' necessarily connotes the acceptance of a ruling power so much as an implication of force and ruthlessness. Then again, the idea that Hamas control of Gaza was merely the result of 'overwhelming' Fatah seems to be a deliberate attempt to avoid addressing what really happened in Gaza in June of last year.

Maybe the fact that there are approximately 2,440 hits on Google for "Hamas cracks down" is just the media's way of welcoming Hamas to the family of tin pot despots.

UPDATE: I spoke too soon--Judeopundit points out that while one member of Fatah blames Hamas, another member of Fatah did indeed blame Israel.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Haveil Havalim #175 Is Up!

This week, Frume Sarah's World is hosting Haveil Havalim #175--with the expected wide range of posts from around the JBlogosphere.

Check it out.

Next week's host: Little Frumhouse On The Prairie.

For information about hosting, email Jack at talktojacknow-at-sbcglobal-dot-net.
You can submit your post to the next edition of haveil havalim using the carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found at the blog carnival index page.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.

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