Monday, April 30, 2012

Zionism Is In. Get Used To It.

To understand the distance Israel has traveled since then, consider Tuesday night’s Memorial Day ceremony at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. None of the performers attacked their fellow Israelis. And the best-received artist and song was Mosh Ben-Ari and his rendition of Psalm 121 – A Song of Ascent.

The psalm, which praises God as the eternal guardian of Israel, became the unofficial anthem of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009. And Ben-Ari’s rendition of the song propelled the dreadlock bedecked, hoop earring wearing world music artist into super-stardom in Israel.
Caroline Glick

Caroline Glick has a great column pointing out the change in Israel that has practically passed unnoticed as Post-Zionism is so 1990s. It is a change that has taken place as Israelis have absorbed the reality of what has happened around them:
Israel’s return to its Zionist roots is the greatest cultural event of the past decade. It is also an event that occurred under the radar screen of the rest of the world. No one outside the country seems to have noticed at all.

Obama Rewards Abbas Regime's Human Rights Violations With $192 Million

It is clear that Mahmoud Abbas's government is pursuing a policy of quashing critical media coverage and stifling free speech on the Internet.
Jonathan Schanzer

The Media has long ignored the abuses of the Abbas regime in the West Bank. The fact that alleged moderate peace partner of Israel Abbas regularly incites hatred against Israel, that Abbas stopped legally being President over 3 years ago or that Fayyad's term as Prime Minister was illegally renewed do not interest the Media.

Apparently some minor details do not concern Obama either.

Americans Don't Agree "War On Terror" Is Over (Neither Does The White House)

"The war on terror is over," or so claims an unnamed senior State Department official, as reported by National Journal's Michael Hirsh in his recent article "The Post al-Qaida Era."
Cal Thomas, The war on teror is over? Don't believe it, Baltimore Sun, April 28, 2012

Whether or not you want to take an anonymous quote of a State Department official as the opinion of the Obama administration, according the the definition of terrorism the White House established back in 2009, I suppose the War on Terror actually must be over.

Back in August 2009, The Washington Times reported -- White House: ‘War on terrorism’ is over:

"7 Greatest Quotes by IDF Generals"

From the IDF Blog: 7 Greatest Quotes by IDF Generals
Great men say great things. Here’s a collection of quotes by the leaders of the IDF — its Chiefs of Staff — over the years.
“A man talking fast has something to hide.”
–Haim Bar-Lev 
Lt. Gen. (res.) Haim Bar-Lev served as Chief of Staff between 1968-1972, and inventor of the Bar-Lev Line. He later became a Knesset member and was appointed ambassador in Russia, until his death in 1994.


Barry Rubin: How Egypt's Presidential Election Will Change the Middle East and the World

The following by Barry Rubin is reposted with permission:

How Egypt's Presidential Election
Will Change the Middle East and the World

By Barry Rubin

What might well be the most significant election in Middle East history is about to happen yet the situation and its implications are simply not understood abroad. On May 23-24, with a probable run-off on Jun 16-17, the most important country in the Arabic-speaking world is almost certainly going to choose a revolutionary transformation that will ensure continuous earthquakes of war, suffering, and instability for decades to come.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay Repeats False NGO Claims About Israel

April 30, 2012
Jason Edelstein
NGO Monitor

JERUSALEM - In response to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay including Israel among countries she alleges "curtail the freedom of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society actors to operate independently and effectively," Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor today released the following statement:

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/30/12: Benzion Netanyahu Dies At 102

From DG:
1) Benzion Netanyahu 

Unsurprisingly the New York Times obituary of Benzion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister's father is titled, Benzion Netanyahu, Hawkish Scholar, Dies at 102. I'm uncertain why the adjective, "hawkish" is necessary.
Ultimately, Israel was created as a result of the partition the revisionists opposed. Nonetheless, Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, said in a letter to The Jerusalem Post in 2005 that Mr. Netanyahu was instrumental in building American support for the smaller Israel that did emerge.

Is The US Syria's Last Hope?

The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl writes that events indicate that the US is Indispensable but invisible in the Syrian crisis:
For a year, a chorus of pundits has been proclaiming that the Arab Spring has ushered in a new era in the Middle East in which the United States no longer is the “indispensable nation” Bill Clinton once described. Syria has proved them wrong.

Benzion Netanyahu, Father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Passes Away At Age 102

Maariv reports on the death of Benzion Netanyahu, father of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu:
Benzion Netanyahu, the prime minister's father passed away

In February, the Spanish Consulate in New York decided to grant a medal to Professor Netanyahu for his research on the history of the Inquisition and the Marranos.

...Prof. Benzion Netanyahu was born on March 25, 1910 in Warsaw as Benzion Milikovsky writer and Zionist activist. He was a leader of the Zionist movement in the United States and is considered one of the important historians in dealing with the study of Jewish life in medieval Spain and the study of the Inquisition, the organization pursued the Marranos in Spain. He also served as adjunct professor at the Academy for Jewish Research, a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Science history Spain and professor emeritus at Cornell University.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Barry Rubin: Experts Agree: Anti-American Repressive Radicals Taking Power in the Middle East Makes the World A Better Place

by Barry Rubin

Let me sum up the situation regarding U.S. policy toward revolutionary Islamism like this. A man threatens, “Surrender or I’ll kill you!” The victim surrenders and then boasts of how he put an end to violence by offering an alternative, peaceful “channel” of expression!

Michael Hirsh has responded to my critique of his article. Amazingly, yet typical of our era, he didn’t engage with a single—not a single—idea I presented. It’s clear that Hirsh knows nothing about the Middle East and so is merely arguing based on unsuitable analogies, a lack of knowledge about history, and a blind faith in “experts” who don’t seem to be very expert at all.

Hirsh’s main point is a partisan political characterization This’s how things work now. You cast the person in a political category your readers detest, signaling the readers that they should ignore the substance of what that person says. Thus, Hirsh begins:

“On the Web, other conservatives joined in: Barry Rubin, a zealously pro-Israel writer, addressing what he called the “great controversy” that “erupted” over my article, acknowledged that Obama had discarded the GWOT.”

Arlene Kushner On Latest On Givat Ha'Ulpana And Iran

From Arlene Kushner:
April 29, 2012

"A Start"

In the interests of accuracy, an addition to the information I provided last week on the excellent video "Israel Inside":  Tal Ben-Shahar did not generate the original idea for this film -- although he did run with it once he was approached.  The producer of the film, Rafael Shore, conceptualized it and came to Tal with the idea.


As to that "start," I am referring to a delay that was requested by the government on the demolition of Givat Ha'Ulpana:

Biden's Comparison Of Obama With Truman On Israel May Be More Accurate Than He'd Like

No president since Harry Truman has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama.
Vice President Joe Biden, April 2012

If we take a closer look at Joe Biden's comparison of Obama to Truman based on the discovery of recent documents, there may indeed be a basis for comparison.

It is now being reported that the US State Department made threats in 1948 to prevent the establishment of Israel:

Raymond Ibrahim: Muslim Persecution of Christians: March, 2012

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted with permission:

Muslim Persecution of Christians: March, 2012

by Raymond Ibrahim
Gatestone Institute
April 25, 2012

The war on Christianity and its adherents rages on in the Muslim world. In March alone, Saudi Arabia's highest Islamic law authority decreed that churches in the region must be destroyed; jihadis in Nigeria said they "are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women"; American teachers in the Middle East were murdered for talking about Christianity; churches were banned or bombed, and nuns terrorized by knife-wielding Muslim mobs. Christians continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for allegedly "blaspheming" Islam's prophet Muhammad; former Muslims continue to be attacked, arrested, imprisoned, and killed for converting to Christianity.
To understand why all this persecution is virtually unknown in the West, consider the mainstream media's well-documented biases: also in March alone, the New York Times ran a virulently anti-Catholic ad, but refused to publish a near identical ad directed at Islam; the BBC admitted it will mock Jesus but never Muhammad; and U.S. sitcoms were exposed for bashing Christianity, but never Islam.

Friday, April 27, 2012

ADL's Abe Foxman Called Upon To Resign

In their article The ADL Must Be Stopped, Charles Jacobs and Ilya Feoktistov of Americans for Peace and Tolerance call for the resignation of Abe Foxman, head of the ADL:
The Jewish community's largest "defense" organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has adopted a policy, consistent with the progressive agenda, not to speak up much about the global tsunami of Muslim anti-Semitism, but instead to campaign against "Islamophobia."  This while FBI statistics show that hate crimes against Jews in America are five times the number of hate crimes against Muslims.  The rationale for this policy, as the ADL's chief, Abe Foxman, told the Boston Jewish Advocate, is that "[y]ou can't fight the fight against anti-Semitism without fighting against bigotry. ... You cannot ask people to stand with you unless you are ready to stand with them."

The Middle East Sampler 4/27/12: Obama And The Failure In Syria

From DG:
1) Not saving Syria

America's Syria Abdication by Fouad Ajami
The defining truth of this struggle is the abdication of the Obama administration. For a year now, American officials have skillfully run out the clock. They made much of the authority of the U.N. Security Council when any model U.N. team in any high school would have predicted the vetoes of Russia and China. It was clear that the Obama administration did not want to arm the opposition for fear of "escalating" the conflict.

Barry Rubin: Exclusive: An Islamist Nazi Collaborator is Transformed into a Moderate

by Barry Rubin

Suppose you read in the Washington Post about a democratic politician who was a refugee from persecution by a dictatorship. Would you be surprised to learn that he was in fact a vicious antisemite, a radical Islamist, and—by the way—a wanted war criminal for his collaboration with the Nazis?

In fact, all of the facts about this politician are easily available in the public record. The man in question is Maarouf al-Dawalibi, whose son, Nofal, has now declared himself leader of a Syrian “government in exile.” I don't want to be unfair to the Washington Post, which in this case merely reports what someone told it and had no reason to research this specific point. Still, this story amply illustrates the daily misrepresentation and apologies for revolutionary Islamism so common in the media, academia, and among Western government officials. It also shows how a naive West is repeatedly duped and how knowledge of Middle East is so shallow among the supposed experts and pundits.

According to the Post:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"What Israel Needs From American Jews"

As Yom Haatzmaut draws to a close, it is worth pondering the question Jonathan Tobin asks: What Israel Needs From American Jews.

No, Israel does not require blind devotion. It is only those self-proclaimed "brave" people who stand up to the Zionist state who believe that.

The reality, however, is quite a bit different:
This is a basic truth that most Israelis intuitively understand but which continues to elude some of their liberal American friends. Israeli Independence Day is as good a day as any for some of these preening liberal Zionists to ask themselves why is it that the average Israeli regards their impulse to save Israel from itself with a mixture of humor and contempt? After a generation of territorial withdrawals, peace accords and peace offers that have been consistently rejected by the Palestinians, Israelis are right to view those who act as if the history of the last 20 years never happened as simply irrelevant.

Report: Syrian Regime Executes Activists Who Met UN Monitors

Asharq Alawsat is reporting that the Syrian Regime executes activists who met UN monitors
Syrian armed forces on Monday “summarily executed” nine political activists who had met with UN monitors during their visit of Hama on Sunday, whilst the city was also shelled following the UN observer mission’s visit, resulting in the deaths of 45, according to a human rights organization.

Arlene Kushner On Yom Haatzmaut and Current Events

From Arlene Kushner:

April 26, 2012

"Celebrating Our Nation"

Feeling good about Israel is great.  But I would like to suggest that it's just a first step.  Once you understand what we're about, and what there is in Israel to be celebrated, you can then help others to understand --- especially is this the case if you are outside of Israel.  In light of all the attempts today to delegitimize Israel, this is not a small thing.

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is an Israel who left for the States years ago, and ended up teaching at Harvard. 
When he returned to Israel recently -- he's now teaching at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya -- he was astounded at the changes in his native land.  This ultimately prompted him to created a film, "Inside Israel: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference."

"[It] shows Israel to be a dynamic, inventive and humanitarian society.  Tal helps us discover that the deep-seated Jewish values such as freedom, education, family and responsibility (tikun olam), mixed in with a good dash of chutzpah, contribute to Israel’s accomplishments in both the economic and humanitarian spheres.   We learn that these core values define Israel and have fueled this tiny, resource-challenged country’s drive to become an invaluable asset to the world."

(It is breathtakingly ironic, of course, that enemies of Israel, for perverse political reasons, would destroy a state that does so much good for the world, including for those enemies.  But I digress from the focus of this film...)


Barry Rubin: The Media Discovers What Obama’s Been Doing All Along: Al-Qaida Bad, Islamists Good

by Barry Rubin

A great controversy has erupted over a National Journal article by Michael Hirsh entitled, "The Post Al Qaida Era." I think this is an important issue there is absolutely nothing new here that couldn’t have been seen—as I’ll show in a moment—five years ago.

The Obama Administration has long thought along the following lines:

Al-Qaida is an evil and terrible organization. It attacked America on September 11, 2001. It is a sworn enemy of the United States and it uses terrorism. Consequently, to protect the American homeland, al-Qaida must be destroyed. Our “war on terror” is then a war on al-Qaida.

Oh, yes, one more thing:

Al-Qaida is the only enemy and the only threat. So once al-Qaida is destroyed there is no more problem, no more conflict.

In this context, then, all other revolutionary Islamist groups—the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, Hamas, and so on—are not enemies. They can be won over or at least neutralized as threats to U.S. interests. And perhaps even they can become allies because they also oppose al-Qaida or, as they are now called, really radical Salafist groups.

So when the administration now says the “war on terror” is over because al-Qaida has been defeated, it is speaking with total consistency.

Missing Peace: Jordan and the ‘Arab Spring’

The following by Missing Peace is reposted with permission:

Jordan and the ‘Arab Spring

by Missing Peace

Jordan’s ‘Arab Spring’ protests started as a peaceful small-scale demo against corruption in the town of Theeban in January 2011. Since then the protests have spread out to the outlying governorates, along with the rise of so-called popular movements. However, the unrest never reached the magnitude of the uprisings in countries such as Yemen, Egypt and Libya.

As in other Arab countries, protests in Jordan were being led by the Islamist movement, which dominates the political opposition, as well as by the popular protest movement which includes numerous pro-reform organizations.


The Jordanians mainly protested against corruption and favoritism.

Demonstrators called for investigations into regime corruption at almost all the protests.

Later the protests were directed against the worsening economic situation in the country. The deterioration of the economic situation is alarming as it could lead to a full-blown revolution as happened earlier in Tunis and Egypt.

Jordanian demonstrators demanded reform and change general in a peaceful way. Lately however, some protests have turned violent. Last week dozens of people were injured during clashes between Salafists and pro-government demonstrators in the city of Zarqa.

Compared to the protests in other countries across the region, those in Jordan have been relatively few. This situation can be explained by a lack of organizational skills among the few political parties and an effective security system. In addition, from the outset of the protests consensus existed that political and economic reform – not regime change – were the solution.


The fact that the Palestinians, who make up almost two thirds of the population, have not joined the protests may explain why there hasn’t been a full-blown revolution in Jordan.

However, the Palestinian Arabs in Jordan have good reasons to be angry at King Abdullah and his government.

On Yom HaAtzmaut, Netanyahu Sings

Just remember: it's Bibi Netanyahu--not BB King:

Video: Latma Egyptian Minister of Conspiracy Theories Celebrates Israel with Felafel

This week's Latma--a day early.


Machon Shilo: Al haNissim for Yom HaAssmauth and Yom Yerushalayim

Al haNissim for Yom HaAssmauth
and Yom Yerushalayim

From Michon Shilo 
Published 5/5/2011

The story is told of the Hassidic rebbe who, upon the establishment of the State of Israel, began to recite the thanksgiving prayer of Hallel on Yom Ha'assmauth, Israel's Independence Day. After a few years, his followers noticed that the rebbe no longer recited Hallel. When queried about this he explained: "When a child is born, everyone is happy. But if, as he grows up, he goes off the correct path and moves away from the Torah, the earlier jubilation becomes inappropriate".

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Yom HaAtzmaut

From Arlene Kushner:

April 25, 2012

"The State of Israel"

Another Zakkai update:
Another 25-hour Tehillim/Psalms rally (hopefully last!!)
Without a doubt, the incredible success of Zakkai's last surgery (on 4/4) was due to the world-class medical team in Boston and the overwhelming outpouring of prayer by friends around the world.  The medical team is lined up, including the phenomenal anesthesiologist who took great care of us last time - we found this out today and we're very relieved!

Now we need our friends again for the prayer part.  As we did last time, we are organizing a 25-hour Tehillim/Psalms reading during the halachic/Jewish day that Zakkai will be undergoing (hopefully his last) surgery in Boston this coming Monday morning, April 30.  There are 20-minute time slots during which one can read Tehillim/Psalms of his/her choice.  The timelines start 7:20 pm Sunday, April 29 and end 8:40 pm Monday, April 30.  Please see for the details.  Thank you in advance to all who participate (as well as to those who don't participate but keep Zakkai in their prayers nonetheless).


Tonight we begin the celebration of Yom Ha'Atzmaut -- Israeli Independence Day. 

Israelis Are Not Just Happy; They Are Proud To Be Israeli

Last month, it was reported that Israel ranked 14th in the United Nations’ first World Happiness Report. Now Aharon Lapitdot writes about a survey that has come out that Israelis are not only happy: they are happy to be Israeli--and proud:
It might be hard to believe when you look at recent newspaper headlines, but 93 percent of Israelis are proud to be Israeli, and the majority, 70%, even describe themselves as "very proud."

Video: Prime Minister Netanyahu's Message for Israel's 64th Independence Day

Here is Prime Minister Netanyahu's Message on Israel Independence Day 2012:

Google Doodle for Israel's 64th Birthday

There is an ongoing debate about the Google Doodle: which holidays and occasions does Google commemorate with a "Google Doodle,"--and which ones they don't.

I don't recall past years, but this year Google recognizes and commemorates Israel's 64th Birthday:

Raymond Ibrahim: The Jihadist Roots of the Norway Massacre

The following article by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted with permission:

The Jihadist Roots of
the Norway Massacre

by Raymond Ibrahim
April 25, 2012

Anders Breivik, who went on a shooting spree in Norway last year, killing some 70 people, recently confessed his inspiration: al-Qaeda, the jihadists par excellence of the modern world.
According to AFP, "The gunman behind the Norway massacres said he was inspired by al-Qaida as he took the stand Tuesday [4/17] at his trial…. he described himself as a 'militant nationalist' and, using the pronoun 'we' to suggest he was part of a larger group, added: 'We have drawn from al-Qaida and militant Islamists. You can see al-Qaida as the most successful militant group in the world.'"
Not only was he "inspired" by al-Qaeda, but his very tactics mirrored those of the jihadist organization.

Freedom Center Hits Antisemitism In New York Times Ad

The David Horowitz Freedom Center put an ad in the New York Times yesterday, singling out academics who promote hatred of Israel and Jews:
This ad is part of our ongoing effort to counter the campaign of hatred against Israel and Jews in general that takes place on a daily basis in our universities and has begun to leak into our popular culture. Anti Israel Apartheid Weeks, “Nakba” Day demonstrations, and, perhaps most harmfully, the Boycott/Divest/Sanction movement have contributed to an atmosphere of Jew hatred on American campuses that echoes the murderous anti Semitic propaganda campaign of the Third Reich. And that was, as we now know, a prelude to genocide.

The Freedom Center has drawn a line in the sand. It is time to name names and call out these academic merchants of hate for what they are. This advertisement is an important step in our campaign. But it is not by any means the last step.
Here is the ad:

"When the Israeli Soldier Arrived in Heaven…"

When the Israeli Soldier Arrived in Heaven…

by Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu
Posted by JewishMom
This powerful and intensely moving story was written by Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu in 1974, when he was a young student at Yeshivat HaKotel, shortly after many of his classmates were tragically killed in the Yom Kippur War. With special thanks to Yedidya Meir and Sivan Rahav Meir.
And when he arrived there, in Heaven, the gate was open

And he entered inside like a regular visitor, with a sure step

And from all sides, from all over

Dozens and dozens of elderly men surrounded him

Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor Addresses Myths In UN Security Council Speech

I would like to use today's debate as an opportunity to address just a few of the myths that have become a permanent hindrance to our discussion of the Middle East here at the United Nations.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor, "The Situation in the Middle East"

Thank you, Madame President.

Churchill once said, "In the time that it takes a lie to get halfway around the world, the truth is still getting its pants on."

In the barren deserts of the Middle East, myths find fertile ground to grow wild. Facts often remain buried in the sand. The myths forged in our region travel abroad - and can find their way into these halls. I would like to use today's debate as an opportunity to address just a few of the myths that have become a permanent hindrance to our discussion of the Middle East here at the United Nations.

Madame President,

Myth number one: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region.

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/25/12: Israeli Settlements Condemned; Fatah-Hamas Unity Is "Internal Matter"

From DG:
1) Settlements > Hamas?

In Israel Retroactively Legalizes 3 West Bank Settlements, new New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren reports:
But while antisettlement advocates saw it as a significant shift in policy that could undermine the prospects for a two-state solution — and the United States and other foreign governments immediately raised concerns about the move — a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argued that it was simply a matter of resolving technical problems such as improper permits and mistakenly building on the wrong hill. 
“One can be critical of the Israeli settlement policy, that’s everybody’s right, but you can’t tell me that the Israeli government has built new settlements, and you can’t tell me this is legalizing unauthorized outposts,” said the Netanyahu spokesman, Mark Regev. “These decisions are procedural or technical. They don’t change anything whatsoever on the ground.”
To support her reporting, Rudoren gets two statements from two anti-settlement Israeli organizations, one the Palestinian Authority (“Netanyahu has pushed things to a dead end yet again.” ) and  a disapproving statement from the State Department.

Contrast that with Unity Deal Brings Risks for Abbas and Israel, by Ethan Bronner from two months ago.
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority embraced reconciliation with the Islamist movement Hamas on Monday, agreeing to head a unity government to prepare for elections in the West Bank and Gaza.  
His move was welcomed cautiously by a broad range of Palestinians who are fed up with the brutal split at the heart of their national movement. It promised to upend Israeli-Palestinian relations, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Mr. Abbas that he could have peace with Israel or unity with Hamas, but not both.
Bronner only cites the government of Israel as opposing the deal. The State Department dismissed the unity deal as an "internal matter."

Now these unity deals don't ever seem to work out. However, the differing treatment of these two stories illustrates a disturbing dynamic. "Settlements" are automatically designated an obstacle to peace. Any Palestinian objections to existing or potential settlements are taken at face value - by the media, even by the American government - though it isn't at all clear that the Oslo Accords forbid them.

However, a Fatah-Hamas deal demonstrates a blatant rejection of the premise of the peace process - that the PLO would reject terror. No NGO's who have reporters' attention object to this. The State Department yawns.

In the end the Palestinian Authority's objections and actions are what drives the peace process, not the documents they signed with Israel. As long as Palestinian obstructionism continues to be tolerated and rewarded, there will be no peace.

2) The road to Arab democracy?

In The Islamist Road to Democracy Reuel Marc Gerecht argues:
We can easily find truly disturbing commentary and actions by members of the Egyptian Brotherhood, or by the Tunisian Rachid Ghannouchi, the intellectual guru behind the ruling Nahda Party. But we can just as easily find words and deeds that ought to make us consider the possibility that these men are neither Ernest Röhm and his fascist Brownshirts nor even religious versions of secular autocrats. Rather, they are cultural hybrids trying to figure out how to combine the best of the West (material progress and the absence of brutality in daily life) without betraying their faith and pride.v We know that in Iran, under theocracy, once die-hard members of the revolutionary elite have become proponents of evermore liberal democracy. Fundamentalists became fundamentalist critics. The Islamic Republic's controlled elections created a powerful appetite for real ones. 
In Arab lands, militant Muslims who once espoused violent revolution now back representative government. They do so, in part, because they know how powerful the appeal of democracy is among the faithful. They also do so, as Iraq's Shiite clerics have made clear, because they are certain that free Muslims voting can't do worse than the Westernized dictators before them. Democracy is thus a means to keep Muslims more religious whereas theocracy actually secularizes society.
Gerecht even explains Turkey's - which would seem to be a counterexample to his thesis - growing radicalism as a response to previous liberal governments that persecuted its minorities.

Barry Rubin, though, in The Iraq model: as good at it gets writes:
Of the greatest importance is the fact that Islamist elements have been defeated (in the Sunni case) or held at bay (in the Shia case). Things can certainly get worse but some stability seems to have been achieved at this time. 
Another key factor is that Iraq is acting more “normally” as a state by minding its own business. It is not subverting neighbors or trying to take over the Middle East. Iraq also has decent relations with the West. This is a country that is trying to deal with its own problems. And if there is factionalism and corruption, at least it appears to be clear that no force can monopolize power and establish a repressive dictatorship. 
Call it chaotic pluralism as an alternative to Islamist dictatorship. And, yes, that appears to be the best that can be expected in those countries not still dominated by traditionalist monarchies. It is certainly preferable to the “Turkish model.” Yet I don’t expect many people in the West to appreciate that point.
Neither Gerecht nor Rubin is discussing a near term political horizon, but just what is the preferable first step on the long road to democracy.

3) Black gold blues

The Iranian oil industry suffered a cyberattack. In Facing Cyberattack, Iranian Officials Disconnect Some Oil Terminals From Internet, Thomas Erdbrink of the New York Times reports:
Iranian officials said the virus attack, which began in earnest on Sunday afternoon, had not affected oil production or exports, because the industry is still primarily mechanical and does not rely on the Internet. Officials said they were disconnecting the oil terminals and possibly some other installations in an effort to combat the virus. 
“Fortunately our international oil selling division has not been affected,” said a high-level manager at the Oil Ministry who asked not to be mentioned for security reasons. “There is no panic, but this shows we have shortcomings in our security systems.” 
There were some reports that the virus had forced widespread Internet shutdowns. “The ministry has disconnected all oil facilities, operations and even oil rigs from the Internet to prevent this virus from spreading,” said another Oil Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous, because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the attack. “Everybody at the ministry is working overtime to prevent this.” His assertion about the extent of the shutdowns could not be independently verified.
Technorati Tag: and and and .

Barry Rubin: Seated Among the Heroes and Watching the Faces of the Martyrs

The following by Barry Rubin is reposted with permission:

Seated Among the Heroes and
Watching the Faces of the Martyrs

By Barry Rubin

As we set out down Ibn Gvirol Street to the Herzliya Gymnasia high school, all the stores were closing. The police cordoned off the street to vehicles and, as on Yom Kippur, hundreds of people strolled down the middle of the pavement. Past the city hall, where a concert was starting up, we walked and then past the small memorial of restless stones that marks the place where Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

That night in November 1995, I’d come home from the peace rally that had turned into a mass of mourners when the news spread that Rabin had been murdered a few meters away. I walked, crying, into the small room, then a family room and now our office where I’m writing this. Our daughter sat on my wife’s lap.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Barry Rubin: Whoever is President There: France Fries While Its Leaders Avert Eyes

by Barry Rubin

In the tiny town of Barr, France—population 6000—in Alsace near the German and Swiss borders, there is a tiny parking lot near the main street. You pull into it, take one of the dozen or so spaces, and then notice the sign, “Parking de Synagogue.”

For a moment one thinks that this is the parking lot of a synagogue. But then you see the small sign saying that in 1882 a synagogue was built on this spot and in 1985 it was torn down to make the parking lot. It isn’t the parking lot for the synagogue but the Synagogue Parking Lot, the only one in town.

The next village down the road, Bergheim, population 1500, is far tinier and even more charming, about the closest thing to a perfectly preserved Medieval place I’ve ever seen. There, too, is a sign where a synagogue once stood. In both places, I visited the well-organized tourist information bureaus but they could find no picture of the synagogue and knew nothing of their village’s Jewish history.

In the big city of Nancy, in Lorraine, is the famous Musee de l’ecole de Nancy, with brilliantly designed and executed neavaux arte furniture and porcelain. Look at the names of those who bought the items or for whose homes it was made. Many of them, too, were Jews. One remarkably beautiful vase on display was a gift more than a century ago of the Horticulture Club to its honorary president, also a Jew.

CBS 60 Minutes: Not Only Can't They Report--They Can't Even Count

Jennifer Rubin reports how Backlash builds over ‘60 Minutes’ hatchet job on Israel.

Instead of responding to Rubin's questions about the inaccuracies in the 60 Minutes report and whether there would be an internal review, CBS released the following statement:
We received an organized negative email campaign of the type we don’t count because all of them were duplicates of the same letter sent from the same organization, Christians United for Israel, which apparently wrote the letter and urged others to resend it to CBS News. So far they number a few hundred, far less than 500 and well below what other such organized issue-based responses in the past have generated.

Video: Petition For Moment Of Silence At London Olympics For Victims Of 1972 Munich Massacre

There is now a petition asking the International Olympic Committee for a moment of silence at the London Olympics in honor of the 11 Olympians murdered at the 1972 Games in Munich.

"It's been more than 20 million minutes since the 1972 Olympics, all we're asking for is one."

Here is the video--and a link to the petition:

Eli Hertz: Bob Simon - Nothing New Under the Sun

The following by Eli Hertz of Myths and Facts is reposted with permission:

In January 25, 2009 he had this to say:"Palestinians ... when they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank." 

In April 22, 2012 he had this to say:"For all Palestinians, just leaving Bethlehem is a struggle. Getting to Jerusalem, only seven miles away, whether it's to pray, go to a doctor, visit family members, or work, means going through this Israeli checkpoint. That can take hours but before Palestinians can get even this far, they need a permit from the Israelis which can take weeks or months to obtain and is frequently denied."

So Who is Humiliating Whom?

April 24, 2012 |Eli E. Hertz
Revised, originally published 2004 & 2009

Bob, you say Palestinian Arabs feel humiliated and harassed when Israeli authorities search them and their belongings; when they are prevented from traveling freely because of checkpoints, roadblocks, closures and curfews. You say they feel "corralled."

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/24/12: Obama Redefines "Always"

From DG:
1) It depends what the meaning of "always" is

From President Obama's remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum yesterday:
"Never again" is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security -- and that includes the State of Israel. And on my visit to the old Warsaw Ghetto, a woman looked me in the eye, and she wanted to make sure America stood with Israel. She said, "It’s the only Jewish state we have." And I made her a promise in that solemn place. I said I will always be there for Israel.
From yesterday's press briefing at the State Department:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Arlene Kushner On One Year After The Revolution In Egypt

From Arlene Kushner:

April 23, 2012

"Too Much, Really"

As I write, I have no further word on the situation at Givat Ha'Ulpana.  Time is short, and I am mindful that all of the words from nationalist members of the government and the Knesset might end up being no more than words, unless the proper strings are pulled.  What there is genuine determination to accomplish here, can be accomplished.

What I do have is a video of the plea of Beit El resident Yoel Tzur to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  I wrote last night about the fact that this neighborhood had been constructed in memory of Ita Tzur and her son Ephraim, who had been killed by terrorists.  Yoel is the bereaved husband and father, who was in the car when it was attacked by three terrorists.

2 Cyber Attacks So Far On Iran's Oil Industry Since Yesterday

Reuters is reporting in an updated story that Iran has now had 2 cyber attacks on its oil terminal since yesterday:
UPDATE 2-Suspected cyber attack hits Iran oil industry

Iran is investigating a suspected cyber attack on its main oil export terminal and on the Oil Ministry itself, Iranian industry sources said on Monday.

Rabbi Avi Shafran: "Ferry Tales"

The following by Rabbi Avi Shafran is reposted with permission.

Open and Shut Case

Rabbi Avi Shafran

The lady on the Staten Island ferry the other day was clearly grunting for my ears.

With my unfashionable beard, dark suit and black hat, tagging me as an Orthodox Jew is pretty much a slam dunk. And, having commuted, along with my beard and hat, on those huge orange floating shuttlecocks four or five days a week for the better part of two decades, I have many memorable (at least to me) stories to tell. I’ve never gotten around to setting them down in writing (though choosing the imaginary collection’s title, “Ferry Tales,” was easy).

Barry Rubin: Egypt’s Elections: Titanic of Western Interests, Meet Iceberg of Islamist Revolutionary Zeal

by Barry Rubin

Egypt will hold its presidential election May 23-24 with a possible run-off on June 16-17. It is impossible at this point to predict what’s going to happen but I can make a good guess. Eight weeks from now Egypt will be led by either a radical anti-American Islamist who wants to wipe Israel off the map or by a radical anti-American nationalist who just hates Israel passionately.

Let’s review the background and then analyze the likely events to come.

Since Egypt’s revolution began a year ago five propositions have monopolized the Western debate and coverage, all of which were wrong:
  • –That Egypt would become a real democratic state in which human rights and civil liberties would be respected.

  • –That this state would be dominated by moderate and modernist secular groups.

The Middle East Sampler 4/23/12: Media Bias And The New York Times

From DG:
1) Selective
At The Times, a mention of CAMERA frequently induces eye-rolling or shrugs. Editors have clearly lost patience with the group.
Neil Lewis - Israel in The New York Times Over the Decades
Last week, the "Lede" blogger for the New York Times scored a cheap point against Israel, Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map’. Back in 2005, President Ahmadinejad reportedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Israel's Planned Demolition of Givat Ha'Ulpana

From Arlene Kushner:

April 22, 2012

"Crossing a Red Line?"


First, a Zakkai update. This time I quote verbatim from the parents:

"After two surgeries in 7 weeks, it's very hard for us to believe but we are heading to Boston again for surgery, this time to remove the thoracic component of the tumor.  Surgery is scheduled for Monday, April 30th at 7:30 am and is expected to take 5-6 hours.  Due to the more complex and higher risk nature of this surgery, which will involve cutting through muscle to spread his ribs as well as fully collapsing his left lung, he will go straight from the OR to the ICU for 1-2 days (with a tube sticking out of him to maintain the pressure in his chest).  Our expected stay in the hospital is 4-5 days (hopefully, our trooper will surprise us again just as he has after the first two surgeries!)

"On February 11 (the day before our lives were transformed), we would never have imagined that our son would undergo 3 surgeries in less than 3 months.  We truly hope and pray this upcoming surgery will be the last one Zakkai will ever need."

Keep praying, my friends!  Rephael Zakkai Avraham ben Yakira Avigael


The red line I am referring to is with regard to the scheduled government (or more precisely the Defense Ministry/Civil Administration) demolition of the Ulpana neighborhood (Givat Ha'Ulpana) of Beit El by the end of this month.

Credit: Haaretz

Yedidya Atlas: Personal Reflections on Yom HaZikaron for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror

By: Lt. Colonel (res.) Rabbi Yedidya Atlas

As we approach the double days of Israel’s Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzma’ut this week, I once again reflected on the meaning of this juxtaposition of official holidays – one representing the ultimate sadness of a people, the second, the ultimate national joy.

Last year, we read the weekly Torah portion – Parshat Emor on the 3rd of the Hebrew month of Iyar, which would have been on the Eve of Yom Hazikaron – the official Memorial for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror – were it not to have fallen on Shabbat.

In Parshat Emor it is written: “And I will be sanctified among the Children of Israel…” (Leviticus 22, 32). The great medieval commentator Rashi (Rabbi Shlomi Yitzhaki) explains that this verse implies a positive act of sanctification, that this act of making holy G-d’s Name is understood to mean that if necessary, in certain circumstances, one sacrifices oneself and by doing so, one makes G-d’s Name holy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Raymond Ibrahim: Media Whitewashes Muslim Persecution of Christians

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted with permission:

How the Media Whitewashes Muslim Persecution of Christians

by Raymond Ibrahim
Gatestone Institute
April 13, 2012

When it comes to Muslim persecution of Christians, the mainstream media (MSM) has a long paper trail of obfuscating; while they eventually do state the bare-bone facts—if they ever report on the story in the first place, which is rare—they do so after creating and sustaining an aura of moral relativism that minimizes the Muslim role.

Barry Rubin: Secrets of the Soft-Core Obama Supporters

by Barry Rubin

It’s really interesting when I talk to Obama supporters who are soft-core, meaning they are open to discussion and not completely closed-minded or ideologically set in granite. There are several themes that constantly recur in such conversations though one rarely or never sees these points in print.

Of course, these people get their information from the mainstream media, which protects the administration and repackages its talking points while largely censoring out critical responses and the failures or scandals. But there are also some important assumptions they are making on their own.

–A key argument is that Obama really hasn’t done that much to change anything. The subtext of this claim is that the person who believes it is only looking at legislation passed by Congress. In that category, once one goes beyond Obamacare or the disastrous Stimulus Plan this administration has gotten far less in the way of major bills through the legislature than have many of its predecessors.

Video: Latma -- Making Danish ISMers An Offer They Can't Refuse

Latma addresses the clash between IDF's Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner and the ISM.

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/20/12: Springtime For Fatah and Hamas!

From DG:
1) Springtime for Abbas 

Last May, the Associated Press carried a story, Inspired by Arab Spring, Palestinian protest is bursting with new energy
Sunday's protests were driven by renewed hopes that Palestinian statehood - at least as an internationally approved idea within specific borders - is approaching after years of paralysis.
The optimism is fed by reconciliation efforts between the Islamic militant Hamas and the Western-backed Fatah movement after a four-year split, as well as growing international support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' plan to seek UN recognition of a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem in September over Israel's objections.  
Although some say UN recognition will change little on the ground, the pro-democracy revolts in the Arab world have instilled a new sense of possibility among Palestinians, who had been dejected after two failed uprisings against Israeli rule and fruitless peace talks over the past 20 years.  
The premise here is that there was a parallel between the Arab Spring and Palestinian statehood aspirations. That's not quite right.

Video: New Video Reveals ISM Provocation of IDF Col. Eisner

The footage below of the clash between ISM and the IDF is from Palestinian TV.
Watch the video and then check out the notes below.
The provocation by ISM, not visible in the original, edited ISM video, is evident here:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just How Desperate Is The NJDC To Pin Antisemitism On Republicans?

I wrote earlier about the hypocrisy of The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) which condemned Romney for lack of sensitivity when appearing at the museum for antisemite Henry Ford, but yet is silent when Obama does the same thing.

Apparently, the NJDC is still determined to tar the Republicans as antisemites--this time by putting words in House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's mouth.

Alana Goodman writes about NJDC’s False Claims About Eric Cantor:

Video: Michael Coren On Hypocrisy of the Case of Shalom Eisner And the Danish Anarchist

Michael Coren, television host, radio personality, syndicated columnist and author, speaks out about the confrontation between Colonel Shalom Eisner and the Danish anarchist--and the hypocrisy involved:

Barry Rubin: Who Gets to be the Caliph?

by Barry Rubin

Who gets to be the caliph? After all, if you want to have a caliphate , as revolutionary Islamists do with much popular support among Muslims, somebody has to get the job and he has to have his capital somewhere. And that’s why the caliphate issue, beyond the most abstract demagoguery, is a potential suicide machine.

Once the issue is raised the battle begins. Should the caliph be Sunni or Shia? In all of Muslim history there has never really been a Shia caliph and today’s Shia would not accept any Sunni caliph. The starting point, then, would be a Sunni-Shia war or, rather, a set of such wars.

As for the Sunnis, who among them might be a legitimate candidate? Ironically, the two who have the best credentials are anti-Islamist monarchs: the kings of Morocco and of Jordan who both claim—a claim that is generally recognized—descent from Muhammad, Islam’s founder.

Video: Iranian Website Displays Antisemitic Cartoons About the Holocaust

Watching the cartoons that appear on Iranian TV, one gets a sense of why the Iranian regime is doomed to mediocrity

Here's the video from MEMRI:

Lebanese Lawyers File Lawsuit against Syria's Assad at ICC

Naharnet reports that Lebanese lawyers are filing a lawsuit against Syria's President Assad with the International Criminal Court.
Lebanese lawyers representing Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon filed a lawsuit to the first chief prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo against Syrian President Bashar Assad, the Kuwaiti al-Anba newspaper reported on Thursday.

Iran Sidesteps Sanctions By Stealing $17 Billion Of Iraqi Oil Annually

Al Arabiya reports that according to a report Iran steals $17 billion worth of Iraqi oil annually:
A report issued by the London-based International Centre for Development Studies confirmed that Iran is stealing large amounts of oil from neighboring Iraqi fields.

According to the report, Iran steals $17 billion worth of Iraqi oil from fields that are mostly Iraqi and not shared between the two countries. Those fields are home to more than 100 billion barrels and the majority of them are inside the borders of Iraq.

Survivors Of Bergen-Belson Sing HaTikvah in April 20, 1945

In rare and moving footage dated to April 20th 1945, inmates at Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp sing the anthem of hope 'Hatikva.'

Here's the video:

Arlene Kushner On Yom HaShoah

April 19, 2012

"Additional Perspective"

Yesterday I wrote about Holocaust remembrance.  Today I want to expand on this, for the day being observed right now is most properly called Yom Hashoah v'Hagvurah -- Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism.  That second part is important, because the Jews did not all go -- as was said by Vilna resistance leader Abba Kovner  -- "like sheep to the slaughter."  There was resistance, which also must be remembered and honored. 

The most powerful example of that resistance we have is what took place in the Warsaw Ghetto, and it is for this reason that this day of remembrance has been set to coincide with the most significant part of that resistance, which was initiated on April 19 (1943).

Video: Obama Has Kind Words For Everyone--The Same Kind Words

Seems that everyone "punches above their weight"--except for Obama himself.
From the show Detektor, from the Danish Broadcasting Corporation DR, host Thomas Buch-Andersen notes that Obama just can't help himself for giving the exact same compliments to every country he hosts.


Here's the video:

Will Ira Forman Condemn Obama For Appearing At Henry Ford Museum--Like He Condemned Romney?

Adam Kredo writes about the apparent hypocrisy of the NJDC--that former NJDC chief Ira Forman attacked Romney for speaking museum of antisemite Henry Ford, but is silent over Obama doing the same thing.

Of course, one reason for Forman's silence may be that besides Obama being after all a Democrat, the fact is that Ira Forman is himself an Obama advisor:

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/19/12: Journalists Regain Their "Objective Detachment" When Safe

From DG:
1) Sticks and stones 

In "The Rocks in Tom Friedman's head," Michael Widlanski recalled an incident in which the columnist was stoned (h/t My Right WordIn Context):
Friedman knows very well that rocks are not a peaceful means to a peaceful end. He was attacked by Palestinian Arab rock throwers who stoned his car on Jerusalem’s Salahadin Street in 1988, just before leaving his job as the Jerusalem-based bureau chief of the Times. Friedman did not think of rocks then as peaceful protest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Solution To The Iranian Nuclear Issue Is Obvious--Just Like The Palestinian Issue

The mechanics of an eventual settlement are clear enough after Saturday’s first session in Istanbul: Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium to the 20 percent level and to halt work at an underground facility near Qom built for higher enrichment. Iran would export its stockpile of highly enriched uranium for final processing to 20 percent, for use in medical isotopes.
David Ignatius, The stage is set for a deal with Iran

It's wonderful to know what appear on the surface to be sticky problems are in reality issues whose solutions are staring us in the face.

I just wonder if these obvious solutions are limited to Middle East problems or if obvious solutions are waiting just around the corner for all global issues.

Jonathan Tobin is a bit less sanguine than Ignatius. Tobin sees the Iran Agreement as Obvious — and Unlikely — as Peace with the Palestinians:

Video: Pat Condell On Bedbugs, The UN and The Muslim World

This particular video by Pat Condell came out in November 2010, but it has been making the rounds again. One reason I find it interesting is that watching this video seems to show that over the last 2 years, Pat Condell has toned down his rhetoric--a little.

See what you think:

International Solidarity Movement (ISM) Tactics In Israel: Neither Non-Violence, Nor Justice Nor Peace

To shed light on the current controversy of Colonel Shalom Eisner and the Danish ISM activist, the Jewish Press has an article by Lee Kaplan, who writes: ISM Exposed: How the ISM Sucker-Punched the IDF Again, based on his personal experiences writing ISM and took their training program while under cover:

ISM activists pose with AK47s in Jericho alongside Al Aksa Martyrs
Brigade terrorists. 
I’ve spent the last eight years of my life as a journalist under cover and reporting on the inner workings of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in the United States and abroad. I’ve been through their training orientations and I have their training manuals.  I operate a website where it lists the history, tactics, and media manipulations of the ISM and their leadership. I’ve also been responsible for the deportation of over 200 ISM activists from Israel, including some of their North American leadership.

Barry Rubin: Hillary Clinton Implies: Pro-Israel Sentiment Doesn’t Reflect America

by Barry Rubin

Sometimes a secretary of state is asked tough questions. How they are answered shows the underlying philosophy of official and government. I genuinely don’t want to make too much out of a single exchange between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a Tunisian audience. Yet the problem is how the approach she took fits into consistent themes of the Obama Administration.

Whatever Clinton tried to do when talking to a group of young Tunisians (video here), it’s also important to consider how her audienceinterpreted her statement. Either they thought she was saying that the United States doesn’t really support Israel or they thought that she was telling them a transparent lie that made them more suspicious. Or both of the above.

The exchange also fits with Obama’s own statement to Russian leaders who wants America to get rid of much of its nuclear arsenal, that elections are a nuisance that will only temporarily interfere with him doing what his government–and his interlocutor, too–wants him to do.

The Middle East Media Sampler 4/18/12: New York Times Covers For Abbas And Gunter Grass

From DG:
1) Mahmoud Abbas, man of letter

Both the Washington Post and New York Times report on the letter that Mahmoud Abbas delivered to Binyamin Netanyahu. The New York Times reports in Palestinians Restate Demands to Netanyahu:
Israeli-Palestinian talks have essentially been frozen since the fall of 2008, although there have been numerous efforts by Washington to move them forward. In 2010, at President Obama’s urging, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu held three meetings after Israel carried out a partial 10-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Fund Bets You'll Agree Palestinian Start-Ups Are The Way To Go!

Israeli Yadin Kaufmann and Palestinian Arab Saed Nashef have started Sadara Ventures to invest in the Palestinian Territories:
The firm, Sadara Ventures, which has the backing of prominent institutional investors including Cisco, the European Investment Bank, the George Soros Fund and Google, is poised to make its first investment.

“There’s a small but significant number of very educated entrepreneurs who need capital and access to international markets,” Mr. Kaufmann said.

Did You Really Think That Fayyad Was Going To Meet With Netanyahu?

According to Palestinian Arab officials, it seems that Fayyad backs out of meeting with Netanyahu:
A planned meeting Tuesday between the Israeli and Palestinian Authority prime ministers may be canceled or postponed after Salam Fayyad refused to attend, senior Palestinian officials said.

Fayyad was reluctant to be seen as engaging with Israel on a day when more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to protest against their conditions in Israeli jails, the officials said.

Jordan Joins Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya In Denying Entry To Palestinian Arabs

The continuing slaughter of Syrians at the hands of the Assad regime highlights the dilemma of Syria refugees in general--and the plight of Palestinian refugees in particular, as Khaled Abu Toameh explains Why Is Jordan Keeping Out Palestinian Refugees?
More than 1,000 Palestinians who fled from the violence in Syria and were hoping to find temporary shelter in Jordan, have been stranded along the border between Syria and Jordan for the past few weeks. The Jordanian authorities have been refusing to allow them into the kingdom.

Barry Rubin: Obama’s “Secret” Plan on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Issue and Why (Even the Saudis Tell You) It Will Fail

by Barry Rubin

The problem with the Obama administration is that it wants to pursue policies that may be acceptable to the day-dreaming cultural elite, but not to regimes that are full of cunning and deceit, like the Iranian regime, whose primary objectives do not include development, openness, humanitarian values, the well-being of its citizens, or even religious tolerance; rather, all that the Iranian regime – and the ideology behind it – cares about is expansion and infiltrating other countries.

Oops! I didn’t write that and there’s no plagiarism intended! These are the words of Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of al-Sharq al-Awsat in that Saudi-backed newspaper’s April 15 issue. He once again illustrates a point I keep trying to make: anti-Islamist and moderate Arab states, intellectuals, and democratic opposition movements are just as upset with the Obama Administration as I am. And they are just as endangered by current U.S. policies as Israel is.

Arlene Kushner On "Talks" With Iran and The Case Of The IDF Assault On The ISM Provovateur

From Arlene Kushner:
April 17, 2012

It passes for diplomacy these days, but its hallmarks are pretense, illogic, and a self-serving posture.  Not an aberration, it has become something of a widespread norm.

Prime Minister Netanyahu -- whom I am not accusing of being absurd in this context, but quite the contrary -- actually had the temerity to speak the truth with regard to the "negotiations" between the six powers and Iran.  What he said was:
" initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie. It has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition."

But Obama wasn't having it.  The US, he declared, "has not given anything away."  While he believed there was still room for diplomacy, he would not allow the talks to become a "stalling process."

Barry Rubin: Romney’s Road: Blast Obama’s Failures and Policy; Expose the Lies; Seize the Mainstream

by Barry Rubin

I wrote this article before Mitt Romney made what might be called his first speech directed at the general election (see the end of this article for the link). And I was pleasantly surprised that he seems to be following the strategy I’ve outlined below. It appears that Romney is changing gears after being bland, centrist, and nasty to win the Republican nomination. This is a superb speech full of sharp and clear points, and I urge you to read it. But please do so only after finishing my article that sets a framework for it!


What are the weaknesses of Obamaism that my “Marxist-style” analysis highlighted, and how do they suggest the way in which the presidential and congressional electoral campaigns should be conducted?

  1. The current policies don’t work for a basic structural reason. You cannot apply highly statist, left-wing socialist policies to the American system and have them work. It is like beating your automobile with a buggy whip to make it go faster or, alternatively, buying a Leaf electric car that is overpriced and doesn’t work very well.

    There is no way that Obama’s policies can revive the American economy precisely because they are based on an ideology that doesn’t fit the system it is supposed to govern. And if he’s reelected, things will become far worse. Mitt Romney and others must highlight this total mismatch.

    Obama ignores the facts and doubles down on applying failed strategies, as he did by refusing to increase drilling for oil and a pipeline from Canada in the face of high prices or as he continues investing in “green energy” when the green in it is the mold growing on bankrupt facilities.