Thursday, June 30, 2011

Barry Rubin: Afghanistan: Deal With the Taliban The Basis for U.S. Withdrawal?

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

Ahmad Rashid is widely considered to be the best journalist on Afghan and related Pakistani issues. And he has a scoop over the secret U.S. negotiations with the Taliban. I respect him though I don’t necessarily agree with him. And Rashid’s points must be integrated into the U.S. and Western debate over Afghanistan.

Here’s the key section:

The Other Shoe Drops: Hezbollah Indicted In Assassination Of Rafik Hariri

I don’t know how this will go over just yet, but the word “smoothly” does not come to mind.
Michael Totten
Was Nasrallah's admission of spy infiltration into Hezbollah prep for a possible exit from blame in Hariri killing? Just a thought.
Michael Young, Daily Star (Lebanon)

Keeping track of the Special Tribunal of Lebanon (STL) is not easy.

Video: Why Is The Freedom #Flotilla2 Helping Hamas?

If the Flotilla is concerned with human rights, they sure do have an odd way of showing it.

Netherlands Journalists Uncovering What #Flotilla2 Doesn't Want You To Know

In my post, If You Think #Flotilla2 Is Peaceful, Just Take A Look At Who Is Behind It!, I wrote about 2 articles in the Dutch online magazine, De Telegraaf, which uncover serious questions about the Flotilla that need to be answered.

Here, translated from the Dutch, is another indication that Dutch newspapers are taking the lead in revealing the Flotilla for what it is.

I received the following via email. If you follow the link to the online newspaper and use Google Translate, you'll see that the translation is accurate.
Hasna El Maroudi, 26, can be described as a “Dutch pro-Palestinian activist/journalist of Moroccan descent.” She had planned to join other activists aboard a Dutch ship to Gaza, until she learned that she would be going on a secret Hamas-organized mission and canceled her participation. On Wednesday she published a rare inside account of what she saw in Greece as the activists were preparing to set sail. This English translation of her account is meant to meant to help her discoveries traverse the language barrier.

Parting with the Gaza Flotilla

Joop, opinion section, June 29

Why I am not sailing aboard the Dutch ship after all

If You Think #Flotilla2 Is Peaceful, Just Take A Look At Who Is Behind It!

The obligation of the Islamic Nation to open the crossings - all crossings - in and out of Palestine permanently, in order to allow access to all the needs of the Palestinians - money, clothing, food, medicine, weapons and other essentials, so that they are able to live and perform the jihad in the way of Allah Almighty. [emphasis added]
Istanbul Declaration of February 13, 2009, Signed by Muhammad Sawalha, coordinator of the current Flotilla 

Instead of listening to self-professed "humanitarian activists" who are intent on breaking the legal Israeli blockade of those who have fired thousands of rockets at civilians--instead of listening to them, let's take a look at those who are actually behind the Flotilla:
  • The second flotilla is coordinated by Muhammad Sawalha, a senior UK-based Muslim Brotherhood figure connected to Hamas. Many of the participating organizations can be directly linked with the Union of Good (UoG), a coalition of European charities affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which in 2008 was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury for transferring funds to Hamas. The UoG was initiated by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on a global scale, shortly after the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000.

Is There Any Radical Islamist Group The Obama Administration Won't Talk To?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the U.S. would not intervene militarily in Syria as it is doing in Libya, and drew a distinction between Libya's Muammar Qaddafi and Syria's Bashar Assad. The latter, she explained, is seen by congressmen from both parties as “a reformer.”

...Even as Clinton explained the fine differences between Qaddafi and Assad, videos from Al-Sanamayan, near Daraa, appeared to document a massacre of civilians as it occurred.
Arutz Sheva, Clinton Calls Assad 'Reformer' as Video Shows Massacre, March 27, 2011

I suppose if a leader who murders his own people is a reformer, then the legitimacy of a group that tried to assassinate Nasser should be a slam dunk:

New Book On Rethinking Israeli Sovereignty Over Judea and Samaria--The West Bank

Last week, I reposted an email Arlene Kushner sent out as part of her "From Israel" series on the issue of retaining Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria--the West Bank. Kushner describes a conference on the issue and a summary of the positions of 4 speakers there: Yoram Ettinger, Danny Dayan, Dr. Mordecai Kedar and Caroline Glick.

Now Mordechai Nisan has come out with a book, Only Israel West of the River: The Jewish State & the Palestinian Question

According to the product description on Amazon:

Michael Young: The End Of US Dominance In The Middle East

You may think that is a good thing, but whether you do or not, the fact remains that it appears that is the direction we are headed towards.

The reason, according to Michael Young is that Obama's America prefers to ignore the Middle East:
Obama is hastening the end 60 years of American pre-eminence in the Middle East

The debate over America's global decline rages on. However, in one context there is less disagreement. As we know it, the American-dominated order, or what we can call Pax Americana, in the Middle East seems to be on its last legs, even if the military power of the United States will remain unrivalled for some time to come.

Three events last week highlighted Washington's economic challenges, which are also psychological.

Video: Graphic Illustration Of How Much Aid Israel Gives To Gaza--And How Little #Flotilla2 Brings

Despite the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ensures the daily transfer of nearly 6,000 tons of goods and roughly 260 truckloads via Kerem Shalom, an Israel-Gaza land crossing.

Lawfully enforcing the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip allows the Israeli Navy to halt rocket and missile attacks into Israel by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

Arlene Kushner On Delegitimization--By #Flotilla2, UNESCO And The PA

From Arlene Kushner

June 29, 2011
It's a constant battle, and one we must continue to fight with vigor.  Here, a couple of examples:
Six Democrats in the House of Representatives have written a letter to Secretary of State Clinton urging her to "do everything in [her] power" to "ensure the safety of all American citizens on board 'The Audacity of Hope (a ship that will participate in the Flotilla, carrying 36 Americans and flying the US flag).'" 

Mideast Media Sampler 06/30/2011

From DG:
1) More flotilla

Barry Rubin 
and J.E. Dyer have roundups.

Col Richard Kemp recommended Freedom Flotilla II Tests Israel’s Sovereignty by Twitter

Freedom Flotilla II, as with the original failed endeavour, is being sponsored by a coalition of shady figures who amount to nothing more than the Western arm of the Friends of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. The umbrella group heading the whole thing is again IHH, a charity with links to international terrorism that masquerades as a humanitarian organisation. IHH boasts a history of involvement in Islamic extremism, having been connected with a failed plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport.

Barry Rubin: A Major U.S. Policy Shift Toward the Muslim Brotherhood Disguised

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

Here’s the headline: “U.S. to resume formal Muslim Brotherhood contacts.” But that’s not true. In fact, as the Reuters article itself admits there have never been “formal” contacts before but only informal ones. Let’s examine the language, which stems from a “senior U.S. official” to see what the Obama Administration thinks about the Muslim Brotherhood.

“A step that reflects the Islamist group’s growing political weight but that is almost certain to upset Israel and its U.S. backers.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Barry Rubin: Israel’s Strategic Standpoint: Mid-2011 and Mid-“Arab Spring”

This post was written by Barry Rubin -- and is reposted here with his permission.

By Barry Rubin

There are two types of strategic perspectives in Israel today. They aren’t contradictory but they have different priorities. These can be called the “northern” and the “southern” views.

The “northern” approach is the more traditional one, focusing on the situation in that direction. The key longer-term concern is over Iran and its drive for nuclear weapons. More closely, there are both concerns and hopes regarding Lebanon and Syria.

Regarding Iran, the new feature is the assumption that Israel will not attack Iran to prevent it from getting nuclear weapons. This means that Israel will be constructing a multi-level defensive system that includes long-range attack planes, a capability of subverting Iran’s nuclear force through covert operations, possibly submarine platforms, and several types of anti-missile missiles and defenses.

The goal here is four-fold:

Anne Bayefsky: North Korea to Head U.N. Conference on Disarmament

For Immediate Release:
June 29, 2011

Contact:  Anne Bayefsky
(917) 488-1558

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on The Weekly Standard. 
On Tuesday, the United Nations again made itself an international laughing stock – except perhaps to the American taxpayers who continue to foot 22 percent of the bill – by appointing North Korea chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. That would be the same North Korea that, according to an article this week by Senator John Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has “twice tested nuclear weapons…is developing missiles to carry them…has built facilities capable of producing highly enriched uranium for more nuclear weapons” and has defied a U.N. arms embargo by exporting weapons and sensitive technologies to rogue regimes.

Alas, Senator Kerry is also one of the lead champion of the United Nations in the Senate.

Congress May Respond To The Growing Influence Of Hezbollah

Between 2006 and 2010, the US has given over $1.2 billion in aid to Lebanon, according to a 2010 report by the Congressional Research Service.
Now Lebanon, Aid on the chopping block?

There may be more where that came from--but not necessarily. The Obama administration has requested an additional $246.3 million for 2011, but a budget for this year has not yet been passed--and if Hezbollah's influence in the new Lebanese government becomes more pronounced, US aid to Lebanon might not be so forthcoming:

Alice Walker--#Flotilla2 And Literary License

Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman.
Alice Walker, Why I'm joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Alice Walker is a writer, whose defense of joining the flotilla is naturally expressed more in a literary turn of phrase than argument based on facts--appealing to emotion rather than reason.

The above quote continues:

The Real Goal Of #Flotilla2 Goes Way Beyond Gaza

Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab one between the rest of the world and Israel...
Adam Shapiro, quoted by Melanie Phillips, The Flotilla and The Third Intifada

The above quote, of Adam Shapiro--a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement as well as a board member of the Free Gaza Movement which is behind the "freedom" flotilla, comes from a meeting last November at Rutgers university in New Jersey to raise money to fund an American flotilla boat. It is from a speech Shapiro gave, a video of which Melanie Phillips obtained.

Pigs Fly--And Donkeys May Follow: Is Obama Losing The Jewish Vote?

Ben Smith of Politico describes a dinner Obama recently had with some Jewish Democrats that turned into a screaming match.

Is this an indication that Jewish Democrats may be wary enough to desert Obama?
Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.

Your Taxpayers Dollars At Work--In The Middle East

Newsweek has come out with an article indicating that Pentagon billions are flowing to strongmen in the Middle East:
Officially, the U.S. does not pay other governments for rights to military bases. The logic is straightforward: funneling money to the treasuries of foreign dictators cannot form the foundation of genuine strategic alliances. Yet, to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while staring down the mullahs in Iran, over the last decade the Pentagon has come to rely in an unprecedented way on a web of bases across the Middle East. And a NEWSWEEK investigation of Pentagon contracting practices in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, and Bahrain has uncovered more than $14 billion paid mostly in sole-source contracts to companies controlled by ruling families across the Persian Gulf. The revelation raises a fundamental question: are U.S. taxpayer dollars enriching the ruling potentates of friendly regimes just as the youthful protesters and the Arab Spring have brought a new push for democracy across the region?
Who would ever think that the Gulf states were that hard up for money?

Obama's Middle East Policy Is Based On Fear

Last year, I posted about how Obama used the threat of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear reactors to China to stop supporting Iran.

He has also, in turn, used the threat of Iran as a club to get peace talks going.

In addition, Obama recently used the threat of Palestinian demographics to urge Israel on the need for concessions on the way to a 2 state solution.

Now, Obama has come up with a new threat to push Israel into making concessions, as U.S., EU to present Mideast peace plan in last push to prevent Palestinian UN bid:

Video: Why #Flotilla2 Is Wrong--In Under 3 Minutes

This is simply one of the clearest explanations I've heard, explaining what is wrong with the reasons given to justify the Gaza Flotilla:

Video: Netanyahu Again Invites Everyone To Send Him Questions On YouTube

This is the second time that Netanyahu is doing this.
Here is his personal invitation on YouTube:

More information:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invites web users from around the world to send him video questions via YouTube. He is particularly interested in broadening the direct dialogue with people from the Arab world and would welcome questions from the countries undergoing what has been termed "the Arab Spring." Questions may be on any topic, including peace talks, democracy in the Arab world, and even the Gaza flotilla.

To date, the Prime Minister's office has received dozens of questions from Arab web users. Most respondents expressed support for peace with Israel and are interested in understanding its positions regarding "the Arab Spring" and the future of negotiations with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will answer questions from video clips on his YouTube site in the coming weeks. Following is a link to the site, including the Prime Minister's invitation to send questions, with Arabic subtitles:
Technorati Tag: and and .

Mideast Media Sampler 06/29/2011

From DG:
1) If you're going to publish propaganda, at least get your story straight

There's a reasonable story in the New York Times, Israeli Advocacy Group Helps Delay Departure of Gaza-Bound Flotilla, which tells how Shurat Hadin managed to get Greek Authorities to delay the flotilla.

However towards the end of the article we read:

Israel, the United States and the European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist group. Flotilla activists, however, say their intentions are only to assist civilians in Gaza and not to express support for any particular Palestinian political group. 
I suppose this is meant to convey "balance." Israel says this; its critics say that.

But the other day, Ethan Bronner reported in the New York Times:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Six Congressmen Who Defend #Flotilla2

A year ago, Israel took military action against the "Gaza flotilla" in international waters, which resulted in the deaths of nine civilians, including one American citizen. In addition, ten Israeli commandos and more than 20 passengers were injured in this tragic incident. In order to avoid another confrontation this year, we urge all parties to practice maximum restraint and avoid violence.
From a letter from 6 Congressmen to Secretary of State Clinton (hat tip: Z Street)

No one expects Congress to march in lockstep in favor of everything Israel does, but one would hope that when they disagree, what they say makes sense.

Does The Media Know The Goal Of #Flotilla2?

The New York Times, for one, does not seem absolutely sure.

The New York Times apparently describes the purpose of the second Flotilla from sailing:
The departure of a pro-Palestinian flotilla of international ships with plans to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza has been delayed, in large part due to the efforts of an Israeli advocacy group, both sides said Tuesday.

Shurat HaDin Takes Next Step To Deny Essential Satellite Communications To #Flotilla2 (Update: Copy Of Complaint))

Couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Shurat HaDin and the 3-pronged approach being taken by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner to stop Flotilla2 from setting sail.

One element of that attempt centers around UK and US based global satellite company Inmarsat, whose network for communicating with ports, naval authorities and other vessels is essential--and without which the Flotilla would be unable to sail.

Video: The Proof That Jordan Is Palestine

A collection of quotes from Arab leaders indicating how they thought of Jordan.

From the YouTube page:
Where is the Kingdom of Jordan? What is its history?

Jordan was created in the part of the British Mandate of Palestine east of the Jordan River, the majority of the Mandate. It was carved out of the Mandate and given to the Hashemite tribe of Arabia as payment for the Hashemites cooperation with the British in World War I. In todays Jordan, the Hashemites are a minority, but control the state's power - the Monarchy. As a product of the British Mandate of Palestine, the majority non-Hashemite population identify themselves as 'Palestinians', or 'Southern Syrians' depending on the political climate.

- Society for Rational Peace -

If Jordan's majority population is Palestinian, why are we trying to give them a second homeland?

Concerning Palestine East Of The River Jordan

Each day brings me closer to the realization that Palestine, as it wants to exist within the boundary of Israel, and impose this view on the world community, is a farce... an imaginative place with imaginative people. History proves over and over again that JORDAN IS INDEED PALESTINE.

Here are several quotes from "officials" in the so-called Palestinian community.


Barry Rubin: Thoughts and Facts on the Gaza #Flotilla2

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

A second flotilla of ships is going to the Gaza Strip. Or should I say, trying to go there since it will be stopped if necessary by a legal Israeli blockade. In the first flotilla, the Islamist holy warriors organized by the Turkish government-backed IHH group all gathered on one ship. The other boats, the ships of (political) tools cooperated, no one was injured, and they were towed into port. The ship of jihadists attacked Israeli soldiers, kidnapped and beat up a couple of them, and had the “victory” of getting nine martyrs out of it.

Video: Elliot Abrams Critiques Obama's Israel Policy

The Israelis and the Palestinians have been negotiating for 30 years, but not for the last 2 year, for the last 2 1/2 years of the Obama administration so that is in a way a measure of how ineffectiveness the policy has been.
Elliot Abrams

Ed Morrissey, blogger at Hot Air and talk show host, interviews Elliot Abrams, the former adviser to both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush:

Video: The Rabbi And The Paratroopers

The video is in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Description from the YouTube page:
A wonderful, heartwarming story about Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, from Migdal HaEmek, and paratroopers from the IDF's Brigade 85 during the Second Lebanon War.

Find out more about Rabbi Grossman at the Migdal Ohr website.

If you like what Rabbi Grossman is doing, you can to assist Rabbi Grossman in his amazing work at Migdal Ohr.

Video by Moshe Buzaglo,  of, English subtitles by Yosef Kaner.
Watch this amazing video:

That Jewish Illegal Homes In Israel Are Twice As Likely To Be Demolished Than Arab Ones

Sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring illegal Palestinian building is going to get us in big trouble.
Israeli MK Uri Ariel

Notice that Ariel did not say that Israel's current destruction of illegal Palestinian building will cause Israel problems--he said that Israel's current ignoring illegal Palestinian building will cause problems.

The problem derives from the fact that Jewish Homes Twice as Likely to Face Demolition:

Mideast Media Sampler 06/28/2011

From DG:
1) Iranian silos

Good news from the New York Times: Iran Unveils Missile Silos as It Begins War Games

Iran unveiled underground silos on Monday that would make its missiles less vulnerable to attack, marking the country’s latest show of force in the long standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

Barry Rubin: The Social Networking Revolution Meets Islamists with No Sense of Humor

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

Naguib Sawiris is an Egyptian business tycoon. He’s also the founder of the new, liberal Free Egyptians Party. He also tweets and has an Internet site. He’s also in big trouble. For something he posted. Pictures of Muhammad founder of Islam? Anthony Weiner type photos? No. Cartoons of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Read on.

Flotilla Facts: Website Dedicated To Disseminating Facts About #Flotilla2

Stand With Us has put together a website dedicated to disseminating information about the Flotilla:
Last year, anti-Israel extremists and Turkish jihadists organized a flotilla to violate Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The Israeli Navy redirected five of the boats to the Israeli port of Ashdod without incident. However, those on the sixth boat refused to cooperate. When Israeli officers boarded the ship, the Turkish jihadists brutally attacked them with knives, metal bars, and guns. Nine jihadists were killed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

#Flotilla2 Will Be Non-Violent--Except For That Sulfur They're Bringing Along

The Australian contingent has also said they are "committed to peace and non-violence", but how do they square that with Hamas's record of violence, including the firing of some 13,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since 2001?
The Australian, June 24, 2011

Apparently, it doesn't--some members of the flotilla apparently have every intent of attacking the Israeli soldiers:

Barry Rubin: Seinfeld’s Advice for Obama Administration Policy: Do the Opposite

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

Jerry: Well here’s your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.
George : Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.
Jerry : If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

By Barry Rubin

Just your normal Middle East policy day in which every instinct the Obama administration has is wrong. Allied forces in Libya accidentally drop bombs on civilians. I thought the NATO forces were in Libya to protect civilians. Libya didn’t attack the United States. When Israel is attacked, responds directly, and accidentally kills civilians it is called a “war crime”; when the United States and its allies do it thousands of miles away in an unnecessary and ill-defined mission that’s an excusable accident. What are Western forces doing in Libya? And if they are really there to overthrow dictator Muammar Qadhafi why is he still in power?

#Flotilla2: Self Described "Human Rights Activists" Specializing In Condescension

In one breath she [Alice Walker] talks about the “cruel and inhuman” treatment meted out to Palestinians, who are “frazzled and suffering everyday”. And in the next she talks about chickens that are “raised under horrible, torturous conditions”, and the fact that people who tuck into chicken dinners don’t realise that they are eating “something precious, beautiful, rare”.
Brendan O'Neill

While Israel protests that Flotilla2 does not understand the international law that is the basis of the blockade of Gaza, a case can be made that these activists don't understand the Palestinians either.

Brendan O'Neill finds Alice Walker's comparison of Palestinians with the inhumane raising of chickens somewhat telling:

Iranian Conference: Anti-Terrorism Must Be Limited; Terrorism--Not So Much

I really have sympathy for Iran and their The International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism. After all, given the ridiculous premises they were forced to work with as it bent over backwards to condoned the murder of civilians, is it any wonder their conclusions are so preposterous?

Here are some of the conclusions the conference came to--hat tip Dr Aaron Lerner

International Conference on Global Fight against Terrorism

Tehran, 25-26 June 2011
o The participants underlined, as also reiterated by Iran's Supreme Leader, the need for providing a consensual definition for terrorism without prejudicing or affecting, in any manner, the recognized rules and principles of international humanitarian law. It was emphasized that legitimate struggles of peoples under colonial rule or foreign occupation for their inalienable right of self-determination should not be labeled as terrorism;

Israel Having Some Success In Thwarting #Flotilla2

According to Babylon and Beyond, Israel has had some success in preventing ships from joining Flotilla2:
The ships are supposed to rendevous in the Mediterranean and then sail to Gaza but some of the likely candidates in the region are dropping out. Cyprus has announced it will not let the ships in, Greece will let them in but is stalling them with red tape at Israel's request, activists complain. Greece has its own issues this week and will have limited energy to spend on this, one way or the other.

Barry Rubin: NY Times “Scoop”: Israel Claims Media Coverage is Unfair

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

Sometimes when one of the better reporters around tries to be fair the result shows up the low quality of Middle East coverage generally. In an article on the Gaza Strip, Israeli policy, and the flotilla of anti-Israel, pro-Hamas activists, the New York Times informs us:

“Israel’s relationship with the foreign news media has grown strained in recent years; the country increasingly believes that foreign portrayals of its conflict with the Palestinians are harsh and one-sided.”

Hamas Complaining Over Treatment Of Palestinian Prisoners--The Heart Bleeds (Update: 2 Hamas Videos Mocking Shalit)

Awwww, Hamas is all upset that Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisoners are losing privileges above those required by international law:
Hamas operatives who are imprisoned in Israel have announced that they will go on a 24-hour hunger strike starting Monday, in protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intention to revoke some of their privileges.

Andrew Bostom: Understanding the Jihad Against Israel and America

The following is from a transcript of a speech last week by Andrew Bostom at the national meeting of ACT for America.

The late Southern Sudanese leader John Garang, in 1999, posed the following dual-part existential question for our era:

Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right of those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?

As I hope to make plain, the answer to both parts of John Garang’s query is “Yes!”
Hamas cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita was interviewed July 13, 2008, on Al-Aqsa TV. After reminding listeners that the Koran’s opening prayer itself, the Fatiha, which pious Muslims repeat 17 times daily, declares that the Jews are “those who incur Allah’s wrath,” specifically in the 7th verse of the Fatiha, re-affirming the verse’s standard exegesis, or interpretation, for over 13 centuries, he declared:
The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings forPalestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God.
Three months earlier Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal had made these more elaborate remarks during a speech which aired on Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV April 11, 2008:
Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs [i.e., Jews, Koran 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166, and other foundational Muslim texts] in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam — this capital of theirs [Rome] will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and evenEastern Europe. I believe that our children or our grandchildren will inherit our Jihad …

Video: Gaza's Suffering

Let's face it: videos debunking the idea that Gaza is a prison camp filled with destruction everywhere around you--such videos are becoming more and more common.

But this video raises the point: which of the 2 is really isolated--Israel or Gaza?
And which actually lives in fear on a daily basis: Gaza or Sderot?

The American contingent of Flotilla claims:
our boat will carry thousands of letters of support and friendship from people throughout the U.S.
Sderot is in need of that support at least as much as Gaza is.

Mideast Media Sampler 06/27/2011

From DG:
1) Blockade legal

Article in Ha'aretz, Israeli official: Turkey wants UN to tone down report on Gaza flotilla raid (h/t Hillel Neuer rt by Noah Pollak)

Assuming the article is accurate, the report prepared by the UN about the Mavi Marmara incident drew some interesting conclusions.

Anne Bayefsky: UN Elects Iran VP of General Assembly

For Immediate Release:
June 24, 2011
Contact:  Anne Bayefsky

The U.N. Prepares for Durban III 

Elects Iran VP and Qatar president of the General Assembly. 

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on The Weekly Standard. 
On Wednesday, the U.N. General Assembly elected Iran one of its vice presidents and Qatar as president, each for a year-long term starting in September. At one and the same time the Obama State Department has been blanketing the airwaves with speeches on this administration’s love affair with the UN under the title “principled engagement.” But with Wednesday’s U.N. elections, what kind of principles might the Obama administration be talking about?

In theory, the mission of the General Assembly includes making “recommendations for the purpose of…assisting in the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” But that’s only in theory.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Video: Netanyahu On The One Thing Required For Peace

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, lays out his vision for Israel's future at the President's Conference in Jerusalem, June 23, 2011.

The video is broken into 4 parts.
Here is the 4th part, where Netanyahu discusses what it will take for there to be peace:

Arlene Kushner: Gilad Shalit; Plus: Abbas Is A Bore

from Arlene Kushner
June 26, 2011

"Five Years"

That's how long it has been, to the day, since Gilad Schalit was first captured by Hamas.

A corporal in the Armor Corps at the time he was taken, he has since been promoted to staff sergeant. He was abducted by terrorists who had entered Israel via an underground tunnel, near the Kerem Shalom crossing where he was patrolling. To this day, his exact whereabouts have been kept secret.

Hamas has not permitted even a single visit to Gilad by the International Red Cross -- which just last Thursday made a (futile) request for such a visit, or at least proof that he is still alive. (There has been no such proof for about two years.)

12 Human Rights Groups Refuse To Demand Gilad Shalit's Release

12 "human rights"  groups get together on the 5th anniversary of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit--but HRW and friends are not demanding Shalit's release. Yes, Shalit should be able to contact famiy. Yes, he should have access to the Red Cross. But there is no mention of the thousands of rockets fired by the terrorist group Hamas which is the context of the kidnapping.

Noah Pollak notes that the moral outrage of the self-proclaimed defender of international law has its limits--and its threshold is when Israel is the victim:

Yet here these same champions of international law have lost their voices, and their outrage, when it comes to making what should be the easiest of judgments: That it is against international law to raid a sovereign state for the purpose of abducting its citizens, that Shalit’s imprisonment is barbaric and utterly without legitimacy, and that Hamas must release him immediately.  

 Does anyone doubt why these 12 groups have suddenly lost their voice?

Blogged from my Android

Barry Rubin: My Own Private 1984: Why Is Saying the Muslim Brotherhood is Radical A Controversial Claim?

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

In 2003, I and the publication I edit, the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, became the world’s biggest story for two or three days. Last week I became a “story” without knowing it until later.

First, the 2003 experience. An Iraqi-American author submitted a good article that explained how Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime’s intellience agencies worked. As I edited the article I said to myself–this is absolutely true–that this was one of the most uncontroversial articles I’d ever publish because it was so bland, though useful as a database inventory of Iraqi institutions

Since The #Flotilla2 Isn't About #Gaza--Why Do They Call It The Gaza Flotilla?

Odd that many of the people celebrating gay marriage in NY are today celebrating the #flotilla to strengthen the gay-executing Hamas.


#gaza flotilla - There's huge crisis in Syria why do you not help the Syrian's?

There is something odd about Gaza Flotilla II--by all appearances, the people behing the new Gaza Flotilla have no interest whatsoever in helping people in general, let alone the Gazans in particular.

Mideast Media Sampler 06/26/2011

From DG:
1) A letter to Joseph Dana; what you will see in Gaza

Dear Joe,

Since you are headed to Gaza you might like to know what you will see when you arrive.

Barry Rubin: The Scene of the Crime: I Accidentally Stumble Into A Hotbed of Educational Indoctrination

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

My son took a computer design course in a summer camp that rented space in an Anglican private high school in the wealthiest Washington suburb. On the last day, students demonstrated the games they’d designed. I went for the presentation in the classroom, that was usually used by the school for teaching history, I was shocked but not surprised.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Video of Barry Rubin: How Western Foreign Policy Experts Got The Middle East Wrong and Why They're Getting It Wrong Again

Here is a lecture by Dr. Barry Rubin, given in Los Angeles on March 10, 2011

The protests cascading across the Middle East are shaking much more than the Arab autocracies that have dominated the region for decades. Things that we thought were stable in the Middle East have turned out to be fragile, while movements that were supposed to be weak have turned into powerful tsunamis of change. Long-held beliefs are falling by the wayside.

Despite these upheavals, the same old self-styled experts are trotting out the same tired and debunked conventional wisdom about the region.

They have had to change the players around, but the apologies and fantasies are all the same. Instead of secular Arab nationalists like Yasser Arafat moderating before signing Oslo, now it's that fanatical Muslim leaders like Yusuf al-Qaradawi can be dealt with. Instead of Hamas professionalizing after seizing Gaza, now it's that Hezbollah will integrate into Lebanon. The contexts are different but the excuses remain the same.

Here is Barry Rubin:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Obama And Clinton: Did We Say That?

Victor David Hansen discussed Obama's Real Legacy, in particular contrasting Obama the Senator with what he says now:
Barack Obama’s cries from the heart as a senator about the possibility of a Bush intervention in Iran being a de facto violation of the War Powers Act have been widely circulated — juxtaposed to his sophistic gymnastics about bombs over Libya not really being much more than “kinetic action” and thus exempt from the Act. Then we have another doublet with Hillary Clinton, who said this month:

Humor: Scientific Achievements Of Ancient Israel

A friend passed this on to me:
After digging to a depth of 100 metres last year, Russian scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network one thousand years ago.

So, not to be outdone,in the weeks that followed, American scientists dug 200 metres and headlines in the US papers read: "US scientists have found traces of 2000 year old optical fibers, and have concluded that their ancestors already had advanced high-tech digital telephone 1000 years earlier than the Russians."

One week later, the Israeli newspapers reported the following:

New Video: #Gaza-Bound #Flotilla Pose Danger to Israeli Civilians

In order to protect Israeli civilians from attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas, the IDF lawfully enforces a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. Given previous attempts by the terrorist organization in smuggling weapons via land and sea and the inherent difficulties in conducting inspections at sea, it is critical that Israeli forces inspect all goods and material marked for Gaza prior to their transfer into the Strip.

Video: Latma--Tom Friedman And Egypt

Arlene Kushner: Are Netanyahu And Abbas Each Having A Change Of Heart?

June 22, 2011

"Now What?"

PM Netanyahu was doing great -- standing strong against Obama's demands.

But then on Sunday, at the Cabinet meeting he made statements that seemed to indicate a reversal -- or perhaps a shift -- in his position. Or perhaps not...

Melanie Phillips On The World Turned Upside Down

Melanie Phillips addresses the world of no reason that we live in today--and she is not limiting herself only to the issue of Israel. Listen as she puts everything in context.

Technorati Tag: and .

Mideast Media Sampler 06/24/2011

From DG:
1) I on the other hand am in the positions to do nothing

According to AP, Palestinians say they will seek UN membership even if peace talks with Israel are underway

The Palestinians will seek membership as an independent state at the U.N. in September even if peace negotiations with Israel are underway, the Palestinian U.N. envoy said Thursday.
Riyad Mansour said the Palestinians are working on three separate tracks — restarting negotiations, completing the institutions for an independent state and gaining additional recognition for a Palestinian state.
"[R]estarting negotiations?"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Delta To Ban Jews On Flights To Saudi Arabia

Delta Adopts Saudi No-Jew Fly Policy:
Delta Air Lines’ plan to add Saudi Arabian Airlines to its SkyTeam Alliance of partnering companies would require the American carrier to ban Jews and holders of Israeli passports from boarding flights from New York or Washington bound for Jeddah, prompting outraged accusations of illegal religious discrimination.

German Expert On What International Law REALLY Says About The Gaza #Flotilla

Here are some excerpts from an interview from Zeit online, translated into English

 Interview with Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg--international and maritime law expert. He was an adviser to Israel's Turkel Commission on last years flotilla, which determine how and why violence erupted.

ZEIT ONLINE: The deployment of Israeli forces in May of last year against a humanitarian convoy headed for Gaza unleashed cries of protest worldwide. Now a second and far larger international convoy is on its way to Gaza – a convoy that aims to break Israeli’s sea blockade of Gaza. Is this blockade even allowable from a legal standpoint?

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg: Well that depends on how you characterize the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. When jurists come together, they often disagree on this matter. But there’s definitely a consensus on one thing – namely that what you have here is an armed conflict. Which means that the laws governing such conflicts apply; and under these laws, sea blockades are allowed.

What The Palestinians Can--And Cannot--Get From The UN In September

Elliot Abrams addresses that question in a post, answering the question of why Abbas is still pursuing the UN option.

First of all, Abrams clarifies the issue of the "Uniting for Peace" resolution in the UN, designed to allow for getting around a deadlock in the Security Council. This was originally described as a way for the Palestinians get around the expected US veto in the Security Council:

Barry Rubin: What Obama Didn’t–And What We Should– Learn From The War In Afghanistan

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

by Barry Rubin

This article discusses why the United States was in Afghanistan, why it failed to achieve its goals, why the Obama administration set the wrong goals, what Obama didn't tell the American people, what he failed to learn, what he should have done, and wider lessons showing the incompetent and counterproductive policies of this administration.

I am in favor of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, but I was fascinated–in a negative way–with how President Barack Obama handled the issue. He didn’t deal with any of the real issues or the consequences. It was a speech by someone who doesn’t understand what’s been going on in Afghanistan or the world generally, a man with no real background in international affairs or military matters.

On the 1967 Lines, Netanyahu Is Following A Long Tradition--And Obama Is Breaking One

Presidential love is not a substitute for defensible borders, any more than a “guaranty” or a “binding” UN resolution would be. And it is essential to recognize that defensible borders for Israel are as much an American interest as an Israeli one: indefensible borders will simply produce another Middle East war, no matter what the peace agreement says, or who signs it, or how many Nobel Prizes result from it.
Rick Richman

Rick Richman writes that when in Washington Netanyahu was following a long tradition in opposing a 1967 border:

Video: Hamas Still Teaching Kids To Slaughter Jews, Courtesy Of Nassur The Bear

I can't even remember the different animals that the Hamas children's TV show has used to teach children to hate Jews.

Now Hamas has a bear is teaching kids to slaughter Jews:

While Policing Border, Rock Thrower Is Shot And Killed--In The US

I wrote a few days ago that like Israel, the US has had to deal with illegal tunnels crossing the border from Mexico

Now we find that Israel does not have a monopoly on rock throwers either:
The fatal shooting of an illegal Mexican immigrant in the head for throwing rocks at a U.S. Border Patrol agent was justified, U.S. authorities said.

UN Human Rights Council Has Outdone The UN Human Rights Commission As A Failure

And they said it couldn't be done.

It doesn't matter what you call it, as Anne Bayefsky writes--a Commission or a Council--the UN continues to make Israel a prime target, with a membership which is a who's who of human rights violators:
From the day it began, the council has proved to be even worse than its predecessor. Sitting in judgment on human rights violations worldwide are such luminaries as China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Member Libya had no difficulty being elected, and its suspension didn’t occur until March of this year, when the numbers of dead finally proved too embarrassing. But throwing women in jail for driving, outlawing freedom of religion, rendering homosexuality a capital offense and periodically cutting off heads haven’t made a dent in Saudi membership.

Barry Rubin: An Example of the Fantasy Middle East: Spinning the Palestinian Economy to Claim the Opposite of Reality

This post was written by Barry Rubin -- and is reposted here with his permission.

This article was published in the Jerusalem Post. I own the rights and this version is somewhat different from the published one.

By Barry Rubin

Here’s the West’s biggest problem at this moment in the Middle East (there will be bigger ones soon): The creation of an absolute fantasy world in place of the actual real Middle East.

Consider an article in the Financial Times.

The lead:

“Palestinian workers in the West Bank have so far failed to benefit from the recent surge in economic growth, with new research showing that unemployment is high and rising while wages continue to fall.”

Mideast Media Sampler 06/23/2011

From DG:

1) Blockade blackout

In an article about a Saudi pledge to contribute $70 million for housing in Gaza there's this paragraph:

Israel, which controls the cargo crossings into Gaza, has largely banned the entry of construction materials into the coastal strip since Hamas militants seized control in 2007. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Like news items which bemoan the difficulty that checkpoints impose upon the Palestinians, this provides no context for the blockade.

Can US Supply Aid To Fatah If They're Connected To Hamas? They Already Have

Palestinians may think that the proposed unity government based on the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah is just what they need, but it is posing a major problem to the US.

After all, Hamas has been designated as a terrorist entity, thus making support of Hamas illegal--and open to punishment.

But this is not a new problem. An article in Foreign Policy, Aiding Friends and Foes in Palestine addresses how the US was able to support Fatah after Hamas won in the 2006 and the two groups were part of the PA:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barry Rubin: Look Who Wants to lead the Middle East!

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

In the absence of U.S. leadership, others want to direct the Middle East. The battle is becoming a competition of radicals for run the region. That’s what happened in the 1950s and 1960s and it isn’t good. Then, the competition was between Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Today, the contestants are Turkey, Iran, and a radical Egypt, with Iraq and Syria sidelined due to internal issues. Meanwhile, the Saudis have been forced to take over leadership of the remaining moderate Arab states (the Gulf sheikdoms, plus Morocco and Jordan) since they can no longer depend on America for protection.

CAIR Loses Its Tax Exempt Status

No, this has nothing to do with CAIR being an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial.

Instead, CAIR lost its IRS status because they failed to file the require reports:
Donations to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) no longer are tax deductible after the organization was among 275,000 tax-exempt organizations purged earlier this month by the Internal Revenue Service.

Apple's iPhone App Builds On The Success Of Violent Arab Anti-Israel Videos

First there were the anti-Israel video games produced in the Arab countries.

In 2003, Hezbollah came out with a video game where you win points for killing Israelis:
The introduction is an exploding Israeli tank. A row of burning Israeli flags marks time while the computer loads a ''training session'' in which shooting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's electronic forehead on a target is worth 10 points.

Turkey And Syria: Most Tension Since 1998 When Turkey Put Troops On The Border

Turkey has been telling Syria that it needs to institute reforms in the face of protests that continue despite soldiers killing at least 1,000 unarmed protesters.

Now, Turkey is growing more irritated: They are reacting to the Syrian refugees crossing the border into Turkey:
Turkey’s growing impatience toward next-door neighbor Syria over Damascus’ failure to implement reforms has not only shaken the country’s reputation as a mediator in the Middle East, but also recalls an event 13 years ago that brought both states to the brink of war.

BBC Reports Jerusalem Court Sentence Dog To Death By Stoning

Of course, the fact that the BBC reported this is by itself an indication that the story is false--just an example of sloppy reporting.

The Christian Science Monitor reportsthe BBC was gullible enough to report that a Jewish court wanted to stone a dog, thinking it was someone's reincarnation:

It's Safe Now To Say Muslim Who Killed Two American While Screaming Allahu Akbar Was A Terrorist

Authorities in Europe are calling the shooting at a Frankfurt, Germany, airport that claimed the lives of two U.S. servicemen an act of Islamic terrorism, though U.S. investigators said it is too soon to tell.

...The U.S. has launched an FBI-led investigation into the shooting and officials told ABC News it is too soon to determine whether the attack was an act of terror and if the suspect acted alone. However, a senior U.S. intelligence official told ABC News the attack was likely terror-related.
ABC News, March 3,2011

Considering the fact that from the beginning it was being reported that Arid Uka, it's not clear what else the US investigators thought the attack could have been.

Video: Mary Poppins Recut As A Horror Movie Trailer--And How It Applies To Israel

I posted this back in 2007 and came across it while looking for another post.

Back then, I posted it with anti-Israel propaganda in mind--particularly the kind that is twisted out of context to present a very different and distorted picture.

The video also happens to be very well done.

Is The Arab World About To Withdraw Its Backing Of The War In Libya?

David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner note what is lacking in Obama's war in Libya: Obama has avoided going to Congress for approval, he refuses to admit this is a war--and Senator John McCain is saying this war is being successful at a time that is looks like anything but.

Now it looks like there may be something else missing from this war: Arab approval.

Mideast Media Sampler 06/22/2011

From DG:
1) Spontaneous?

The headline of this New York Times news story from Syria is curious, Thousand turn out for Assad.

The second paragraph reads:

The scenes across the country illustrated the complexity of the three-month crisis in Syria, which has deeply isolated Mr. Assad’s leadership. Though orchestrated, the rallies underlined the reservoirs of support Mr. Assad himself still draws on. But even as his government sought to suggest at least the intention of reform, violence erupted again as security forces fired on counterprotests, killing nine people, activists said.

Jonathan Pollard Unable To Say Kaddish For His Father--So Chief Rabbi Metzger Will

Besides not being allowed to attend his father's funeral, Jonathan Pollard is unable to say kaddish for his father either:
Chief Rabbi Metzger says kaddish for Pollard since agent has no minyan

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger will be saying kaddish for Jonathan Pollard's father, a religious duty the imprisoned agent cannot fulfill since that prayer needs a quorum of Jewish men, the rabbi announced on Tuesday.

Photos: New Blog: Israel's History - a Picture a Day

Utilizing a newly available collection of old photographs, Israel's History - a Picture a Day is open for business:
The Library of Congress has digitalized thousands of photographs in its collection and made them available online. Many of them are over 100 years old. We bring you a picture a day from this amazing collection, pictures that show the history of the Land of Israel in the last century, putting them into historical, Biblical and contemporary context.
By the way, the posts each have more than one picture.

Illustrating a history of the Jews in Palestine that the Arabs often deny ever existed, the blog has photos such as the Jewish evacuation from Jerusalem's Old City after 1929 pogroms, Jews evacuating the Old City during the 1936 Arab revolt against Britain and The expulsion of Jews from the Old City under the guns of Jordanian soldiers--with background information.

Here are some of the photos:

Barry Rubin: “Peace Process” Silliness from Obama and Abbas

Barry Rubin's posts now appear on Pajamas Media:

By Barry Rubin

Speaking to Jewish donors (or should we say possible Jewish donors?) to his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama pledged that his administration would “devote all of its creative powers” to trying to bring about Mideast peace.

This is not an art project. What is needed is not “creative powers” but to deal with the actual, real situation. To me, “creative powers” (Samantha creative Powers?) means to come up with gimmicks, to do anything possible to bring about the supposed signing of a peace of paper [pun] as fast as possible. If they know the Palestinian Authority is inflexible, then they will just demand more concessions from Israel. And they won’t bother to ask whether the “peace agreement” they are pushing would last a month or produce a more stable region and a more secure Israel.

Every time Obama says that the “status quo is unsustainable,” he’s suggesting that anything would be better than the status quo. What he would produce, then, is a worse status quo.

Meanwhile, as if to prove the point, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would drop seeking UN approval of unilateral Palestinian independence if the United States offers something better: “I don’t know if the U.S. has another option, but if it does, we will not go to the U.N..”

This is a beautiful example of Palestinian leaders’ chutzpah disguised as victimhood. Let’s consider the following points:
Continue reading “Peace Process” Silliness from Obama and Abbas

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, to be published by Yale University Press later this year. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reportsand now on his new blog, Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media

Technorati Tag: and and and .

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Arlene Kushner On Conference: Israeli Retaining Sovereignty Over Judea & Samaria

From Arlene Kushner:
June 21, 2011
"Israeli Sovereignty"
Last night I attended a mini-conference at the Israel Center in Jerusalem on the topic of "The Preferred Option: Israeli Sovereignty Over Judea & Samaria."
Organized privately by Yoel Meltzer, it was intended to be a kick-off for a process that, it is hoped, in time will significantly change perceptions regarding our situation here in Israel.  It was not intended to be a definitive statement on that process, but a beginning. 
Some 250 people attended the event.  In the course of a few days, a video will be up on the Internet and I will share the URL.  Here I provide a summary of what was said by four speakers.

Jonathan Pollard Not Allowed To Attend Father's Funeral

Now Pollard has not been allowed to attend the funeral of each of his parents:
A former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel was not permitted to attend his father's funeral in Indiana on Monday, despite requests from Israeli officials that he be allowed out of prison to pay his respects.

Rabbi Avi Shafran: Anti-Milah Activist's Jewish Problem


Rabbi Avi Shafran

Two new twists emerged in the West Coast wars against bris milah, or circumcision, recently.  The bid to outlaw the practice in the seaside city of Santa Monica, just north of Los Angeles, was dropped by its promoter, Jena Troutman. And the measure that would outlaw circumcision in San Francisco and fine violators up to $1000 was placed in a new and harsh light as the result of two deeply offensive comic books promoted by one of the proposal’s main supporters.