Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Assumptions Beneath Obama's Disastrous Middle East Policy

Barry Rubin writes that we are in luck: At Long Last! An Explicit Admission of What Obama Middle East Policy Believes, noting the basic assumptions upon which both the Obama administration and the media operate:
  • Only al-Qaida is a real threat because only al-Qaida wants to attack the United States directly right now.

  • Al-Qaida has been defeated due to the great policies of the Obama Administration.

  • The remaining revolutionary Islamist groups are potential friends. After all, [sarcasm warning] they only want to seize state power, overthrow all existing relatively moderate regimes, create Sharia dictatorships, suppress women’s rights, persecute Christians, wipe Israel off the map, and drive U.S. influence out of the region.
The key to understanding what the Obama administration believes is reassuringly provided by one Robert F. Worth who writes about Al Qaeda-Inspired Groups, Minus Goal of Striking U.S..

Rubin notes:

Daniel Pipes on The Three Types Of Islamists

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permisssion:

Islamism's Unity

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
October 30, 2012

A Sept. 14 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tunis left 4 dead, 49 injured, several buildings looted and burnt out, and the black Salafi flag flying above the embassy grounds. In response, the ruling "moderate" Islamist party of Tunisia, Ennahda, forthrightly condemned the incident; Minister of the Interior Ali Larayedh recognized that the government "failed to protect the embassy and we should offer our apologies to the Americans." Ennahda's leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, more vehemently condemned the Salafis as a "danger" to freedom and security in Tunisia and called on a fight against them through every legal means.

The Salafi black flag flew over the U.S. embassy in Tunis on Sept. 14.
These statements reassured Americans that if long-bearded and burqa'ed crazies want to kill them, moderate-sounding Islamists in ties and hijabs are civilized, law-abiding allies.

Arlene Kushner On Hamas Renewed Rocket Attacks From Gaza

From Arlene Kushner:
October 30, 2012


I realize that many of my NY readers, who took the brunt of the storm, may be without electricity now and for some undetermined time into the days ahead.  May they all be safe and able to return to reasonable normality before too long.  Full recovery of the city will be a long and heavy haul.
Credit: NYPost


Hamas continues to remain in the news, and I think it's worth taking a look at a couple of things here. With the resumption of rocket attacks yesterday and the day before, it's important to note that it was not renegade groups that had refused to cooperate with an Egyptian-negotiated ceasefire that were claiming credit.  It was Hamas itself.

In fact, Hamas let down some of its facade this week, when it released a video showing their rockets being fired from within a populated area.

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/31/2012: New York Times In Tank For Obama

From DG:

Osama bin Laden is dead

Barry Rubin in A short guide to the Benghazi issue, writes:
Al-Qaeda, however, is a relatively weak organization, capable of staging only sporadic terror attacks, with the exception perhaps of remote Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan. It cannot take over whole countries. The fact that Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Turkey, and perhaps soon Syria are governed by Islamists is a far greater strategic threat.
Then why couldn’t the Obama administration have said that the consulate was attacked by evil al-Qaeda for no reason other than its lust to murder Americans, with the perfect symbolism of the attack having been staged on September 11? 
There was a dual problem. First, the group involved was one the U.S. government had worked with during the Libyan civil war so it could not admit they were close to al-Qaeda. Second, the official line was that al-Qaeda had been defeated so it could not still be a threat. Therefore, an alternative narrative and a cover-up were needed.
How did the mainstream media report this?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/30/2012: How Badly Has Fatah Failed?

From DG:

1) Compromised
Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror.
President George W. Bush, June 24, 2002
While President Bush's hopes for the Palestinians were high, as he said further:

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.
President George W. Bush approaches the podium to unveil his plan for the Middle East during a Rose Garder press conference Monday June 24. White House photo by Eric Draper In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable, and I am confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation. A Palestinian state will never be created by terror -- it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.
Khaled Abou Toameh demonstrates how empty those aspirations are now. In Which Fatah won? he writes:
The low turnout and the success of Fatah rebels in the elections should be seen as a vote of no-confidence in Abbas and the old guard leadership of his ruling faction.
For decades, Abbas and his veteran loyalists in Fatah have blocked the emergence of fresh and younger leaders – something that has seriously affected Fatah's credibility. Failure to reform Fatah and get rid of corrupt officials has also driven many Palestinians away from Abbas and his loyalists.
Abbas's term in office expired in January 2009, but this has not stopped him from continuing to cling to power. In wake of the results of the local elections, it has become obvious that Abbas does not have a mandate -- even from his Fatah faction -- to embark on any significant political move, such as signing a peace treaty with Israel or applying for membership for a Palestinian state in the UN.
In an article for the Baltimore Sun in 2005, Shoshana Bryen argued that the bet on Abbas was likely to fail. HonestReporting highlighted the key paragraph in the essay:
There is irony in the sight of a semi-reformed terrorist meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a dictator for life, to air his fears that non-semi-reformed terrorists will depose him and carry out the terrorist agenda more efficiently.
2) Hamas reporting #fail

With an politically ineffective Fatah controlling the PA, there's room for competition. The New York Times reports on Arrests for Rebuilding Hamas. What do we know about Hamas from this article?
Hamas won legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006 and took full control of Gaza a year later. Its rival, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, has limited control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has also worked to suppress Hamas there.
Though the article also calls Hamas an "Islamic militant group," the impression given by the article is that Hamas is democratic and has been (unjustly) suppressed by Fatah. But there's no mention of its continued commitment to the destruction of Israel as well as its continued terrorist activity aimed at southern Israel.

Joel Greenberg writes in Israel reckons with unraveling Gaza policy for the Washington Post.
The Israeli government adopted measures to isolate Gaza, sharply restricting supply shipments at border points, tightening bans on movement out of the territory, and promoting an international diplomatic boycott of the Hamas government.
The policy, strongly backed by Washington, was coupled with moves to promote economic development and foreign aid in the West Bank, where the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is dominant. The intention was to squeeze Hamas by blockading and imposing austerity on Gaza, while boosting Abbas and Fatah through improved living conditions in the West Bank.
But the policy essentially backfired. Hamas rallied popular support in Gaza through a shared sense of siege, and it consolidated economic control by taxing goods smuggled through tunnels from Egypt.
Greenberg is misleading here. The point of the blockade was primarily to deprive Hamas of material that could be used for terror. Had Hamas focused on building Gaza rather than destroying Israel, Israel wouldn't have imposed a blockade.

After dismissing Israel's blockade of Gaza as a failure, Greenberg gets to the point of his article:
Giora Eiland, a former general who headed Israel's National Security Council during the withdrawal from Gaza, asserted after the emir's visit that Israel should shift away from trying to undermine Hamas rule and focus exclusively on security concerns, such as halting rocket attacks across the border.
"Israel has an interest that Gaza resemble, as much as possible, a state with a stable government. That is the only way to have an address for both deterrence and dealing with security issues," Eiland wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily. "Israel has an interest in economic improvement in Gaza of the kind Qatar can bring. Such improvement creates assets that any government would be concerned about damaging, and thus it will be more moderate and cautious."
Eiland is one of several experts or activists who are quoted to the same effect, that it is in Israel's best interests to deal with Hamas. There's no evidence that if Israel dealt with Hamas or that if Hamas had a bigger stake, it wouldn't risk an escalation with Israel. In fact, the evidence suggests otherwise.

The word "terrorist" appears twice in the article and "rocket" once. This isn't reporting. It's propaganda.

3) When Barry Rubin agreed with the New York Times

In the New York Times Libya Warnings Were Plentiful, but Unspecific reported:
Interviews with American officials and an examination of State Department documents do not reveal the kind of smoking gun Republicans have suggested would emerge in the attack's aftermath such as a warning that the diplomatic compound would be targeted and that was overlooked by administration officials.
What is clear is that even as the State Department responded to the June attacks, crowning the Benghazi compound walls with concertina wire and setting up concrete barriers to thwart car bombs, it remained committed to a security strategy formulated in a very different environment a year earlier.
In the heady early days after the fall of Colonel Qaddafi's government, the administration's plan was to deploy a modest American security force and then increasingly rely on trained Libyan personnel to protect American diplomats — a policy that reflected White House apprehensions about putting combat troops on the ground as well as Libyan sensitivities about an obtrusive American security presence.
The first paragraph quoted above shows the orientation of the article: that there's no proof to Republican charges. Still the final sentence, shows that the administration's policy was governed by sensitivity to Libyan perceptions.

Barry Rubin,in A Short Guide to the Benghazi Issue: What Is It Really All About? writes:
As noted above, the establishment view today is that America has been a bully in the past, acting unilaterally and not respecting the views of others. Obama has said this directly when speaking to foreign — including Middle Eastern — audiences.
But how does one stop being a bully? By showing that one isn't tough and doesn't protect one's interests fiercely. Thus, in the Benghazi case, the U.S. government didn't send the ambassador to Benghazi with Americans to guard him, nor did the consulate have Americans to provide security. To do so would be to show disrespect for the Libyans, to act in a way that might be perceived of as imperialistic.
Similarly, the president would not call in an airstrike against the attackers or send an armed rescue team to the consulate because to do so would have signaled an arrogance and aggressiveness, putting Americans first and not acting as a citizen of the world.
The difference is that the New York Times uncritically reported the concern for perceptions of others; Barry Rubin identified it as a handicap. However much of what was reported by the New York Times, though, is more in line with Rubin's view:
"Given the large number of attacks that had occurred in Benghazi that were aimed at Western targets, it is inexplicable to me that security wasn't increased," said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the senior Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, one of the panels holding inquiries.
"The lethality of an armed, masked attack by dozens of individuals is something greater than we've ever seen in Libya over the last period that we've been there," Patrick F. Kennedy, the State Department's under secretary for management, told reporters at a news conference on Oct. 10.
But David Oliveira, a State Department security officer who was stationed in Benghazi from June 2 to July 5, said he told members and staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that he recalled thinking that if 100 or more assailants sought to breach the mission's walls, "there was nothing that we could do about it because we just didn't have the manpower, we just didn't have the facilities."
Even the mostly positive spin of the New York Times fails to defend the administration from its less than thorough efforts to secure the Benghazi consulate.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Arlene Kushner -- As US Elections Draw Near, Time Grows Short

From Arlene Kushner:
October 29, 2012

"Time Grows Short"

Until US election day, that is.

I know some of my readers may be awaiting the megastorm Sandy and others may be into it already. I wish all of you an easy time, without personal injury or damage to property and with uninterrupted electrical service. You'll catch this when you can.

In the meantime, I want to begin by sharing a piece of mine that just went up on Frontpage Magazine. It is election-oriented. Former head of Mossad, Ephraim Halevy wrote a strange piece in the NYTimes, attempting to show that Obama is good for Israel by demonstrating that Republicans are not. This line of thinking fails abysmally. In my article, I comment on his approach, and offer facts demonstrating that, in fact, Obama is the worst of presidents for Israel.

Please, read it and share it: Who Threw Israel Under the Bus?

Jimmy Carter's "Argo" Boast Easily Debunked

Paul Bedard writes that In 'Argo' brag, critics say Jimmy Carter ignores Desert One deaths:
Former President Jimmy Carter is winning new criticism over the 1979 Iran hostage crisis for his comments at the end of the blockbuster Ben Affleck movie "Argo" that everyone made it home safely and "we did it peacefully," overlooking the horrific deaths of eight killed in the Desert One fiasco, say critics.

Obama: Benghazi vs The Myth of “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden”

Barry Rubin provides A Short Guide to the Benghazi Issue: What is it Really All About?:
The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the murder of four Americans there has become a huge issue. There are many stories and rumors that are still being debated and more information is coming out. What I’m going to try to do here is to analyze the enduring themes raised by these tragic events.
Among the topics Rubin addresses are:
  • Why Do They Hate Us?
  • Why Do Some of Us Hate Ourselves?
  • Is America a Bully or a Leader?
  • Who is the Enemy?
On the topic of Competence and Courage, Rubin writes:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Humanitarian Hypocrisy of Turkey And Some Protestant Groups

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted here with permission:

Humanitarian Hypocrisy

by Raymond Ibrahim
Investigative Project on Terrorism
October 26, 2012

The world's double standards concerning which peoples qualify as oppressed and deserving of help are staggering. Two recent stories illustrate this point:

First, a report exposed, in the words of the Turkish Coalition of America, "Turkey's continued interest in expanding business and cultural ties with the American Indian community" and "Turkey's interest in building bridges to Native American communities across the U.S." Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., even introduced a bill that would give Turks special rights and privileges in Native American tribal areas, arguing that "[t]his bill is about helping American Indians," and about "helping the original inhabitants of the new world, which is exactly what this legislation would do."

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/28/2012: The Surprise Moderate Arab From Syria

From DG:

1) Buying peace from a tyrant

After dismissing the significance of a recent report that PM Netanyahu is negotiating peace with Syria, Natan Sharansky writes in Trying to buy peace from the Syrian tyrant:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Netanyahu and Lieberman Joining Forces and The Sudan Bombing

From Arlene Kushner:

October 27, 2012
Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

"How About That!"

The news broke yesterday that Likud, headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, and Yisrael Beitenu, headed Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently foreign minister, have decided to run together in the election, with a joint list.

Credit: guardian

The logic is obvious: After the election, the party that has garnered the most mandates (seats in the Knesset) will be asked by the president to form a coalition (a number of parties that together have 61 or more mandates), which will constitute the new government.

There has been considerable talk on the left/center about a joint party --

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Myth of Barack Obama Has Been Punctured Forever

The following by Jonathan Rosenblum is reposted here with permission:

Obama Betrayed by Media Adulation

by Jonathan Rosenblum
October 12, 2012

The first debate between President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney turned out to be the most decisive in the history of presidential debates dating back to 1960. In the week following the debate, Romney went from over three points down in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls to take his first ever lead over the President.

While Obama may still win the election, the myth of Barack Obama has been punctured forever.

Louis Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam Discover Scientology!

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

The Nation of Islam Discovers Scientology

by Daniel Pipes
October 25, 2012

The Nation of Islam's historic role as a bridge between American blacks and Islam ended in 1975 when W. Deen Mohammed followed his father, Elijah Muhammad as leader of the Nation and immediately disavowed his father's folk religion, bringing his followers to normative Islam, the Islam of the Middle East. From then on, despite the theatrics of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation has been in a long downward trajectory. Now comes evidence, thanks to Eliza Gray writing about "Thetans and Bowties" in The New Republic, of a jaw-dropping turn by Farrakhan, 79, to Scientology; as her subtitle puts it, "America's two weirdest sects join forces."

The connection goes back seven years:

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/26/2012: Overview Of Media And Hamas

From DG:

Let Hamas rule 

From Confused on Hamas, Editorial Washington Post, February 18, 2006
Another is the temptation of the Bush administration to join with Israel, which is lukewarm about Arab democracy, and Egypt, which is doing its best to prevent one from emerging in Cairo, to strip Hamas of its victory or force it out of office. The three governments have been consulting about ways to bolster secular Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and push him into a confrontation with the Islamists. This week the outgoing Palestinian legislature voted to hand the president extensive new powers, and Mr. Abbas himself has asserted his control over the security forces and media. While some of the maneuvering may be permitted by the Palestinian constitution, the Bush administration will destroy its larger democracy policy if it is seen to conspire with Israel and Arab autocrats to reverse the outcome of one of the freest elections in Arab history. Letting Hamas rule and be judged by Palestinians on its results will require more patience. But it is also more likely to bring about, in the long run, a Palestinian government that the world can welcome.
From Hamas at the helm, Editorial, New York Times, February 2, 2006

Video: Latma's Love Song To Obama From The Arab World

Here is the latest from Latma -- featuring the return of Aryeh Deri and a special love song dedicated to Obama:

Remember When They Said It Would Be Impossible To Make Fun Of Obama?

Over the last year or so, I seemed to remember that there was a time, near the beginning of Obama's term as president, when people were saying that there was something about Obama that was going to make it difficult for comedians to make fun of him.

I finally decided to do a check if I was recalling correctly, and for the most part it seems I was.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yesterday Was UN Day; Today The Human Rights Council Celebrated

In case you missed it, yesterday on October 24, Obama declared United Nations Day, concluding:
...Through the better part of a century, we have seen what is possible when a strong and united international community takes action to advance the interests and values we share. The founding values of the United Nations remind us that countries can resolve their differences peacefully, and that all people deserve the chance to seek their own destiny, free from fear and empowered with their most fundamental rights. As we recognize this 67th anniversary of the United Nations, let us recommit to carrying that vision forward in the years ahead.

Arlene Kushner On The Politics Behind Hamas's Attack On Israel

From Arlene Kushner:

October 25, 2012

The Inside to Hamas

Since midnight last night, no rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel, although there was one mortar shell. This quiet is a result of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt.

On Army Radio today, Amos Gilad -- head of the Diplomatic-Security Bureau of the Ministry of Defense -- said that Egyptian security forces have "a very impressive ability" to convey to the militants that it is in their "supreme interest not to attack."

However, according to Arutz Sheva, there are reports coming in indicating that not all terror groups have agreed to the ceasefire and some reserve the right to fire on Israel.

Sound like deja vu? That's because it is.

American Jews Don't Care About Obama's Islamist Guests

David M. Weinberg writes about Obama’s red carpet for Islamic radicals, noting the silence surrounding the report on the hundreds of radical Islamists who have been Obama's guests at the White House:
Consider: Among the American-Arab visitors to the Obama White House have been officials representing groups which have been designated by the Justice Department as unindicted co-conspirators in terrorist trials; people who have extolled Islamic terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah; people who have obstructed terrorist investigations by instructing their followers not to cooperate with law enforcement; people who regularly sermonize about the “U.S. war against Islam”; and people who claim that the U.S. government is framing Islamic terrorists as part of an anti-Muslim profiling campaign.

Emir of Qatar's Visit To Hamas Could Change Everything

Khaled Abu Toameh writes about how the Emir of Qatar's visit to Hamas changes everything -- after all, if this was all about Qatar's concern for Palestinian Arabs, what took him so long?

The visit is not so much an issue of good will or solidarity as it is an opportunity for Qatar to further its own interests, interests that do not further the goals of moderation in the region:
Qatar has always been supportive not only of Hamas, but Muslim Brotherhood and many jihadi organizations.

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/25/2012: Are Republicans Bad For Israel?

From DG:

1) Halevy vs. the GOP 

Former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy asks Who Threw Israel under the bus?
Despite the Republican Party’s shrill campaign rhetoric on Israel, no Democratic president has ever strong-armed Israel on any key national security issue. In the 1956 Suez Crisis, it was a Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who joined the Soviet Union in forcing Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula after a joint Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt. 
In 1991, when Iraqi Scud missiles rained down on Tel Aviv, the administration of the first President Bush urged Israel not to strike back so as to preserve the coalition of Arab states fighting Iraq. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir resisted his security chiefs’ recommendation to retaliate and bowed to American demands as his citizens reached for their gas masks.

Arlene Kushner On The Hamas Barrage Of Rockets

From Arlene Kushner:
October 24, 2012:

How Much Is Too Much

Today alone more than 70 rockets and mortar shells have been fired into southern Israel from Gaza, with the Iron Dome intercepting seven Grad Katyusha rockets headed for populated areas.
Five people have been injured, two -- Thai workers -- seriously. Others are suffering from shock.  Seven houses have been hit, with one damaged significantly.  Schools in the area are closed.
Credit: YNet
In addition, last night a bomb exploded at the border of Gaza, critically injuring an IDF soldier as he was doing a routine patrol near the fence.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Picture: 68 Rockets Targeted Israeli Civilians in the Space of 12 Hours On Oct. 24, 2012

At least 68 rockets targeted Israeli civilians in the space of 12 hours on Oct. 24, 2012. The image below reflects the lives of innocent Israeli civilians who are under daily threat from Gaza rocket attacks, and reflects the terror facing southern Israel.

When I set up the post, there were in fact 68 rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza.
Now the number is 80.

Obama's "Blueprint for America’s Future" Does Not Add Up

This would be hilarious if it weren’t so … well, hilarious, really, but in a very sad way. The Barack Obama campaign officially launched in April 2011. They have raised something close to a billion dollars, and they’ve certainly spent almost as much on field offices, GOTV efforts, and tons of campaign advertising. They even created their fantasy of a woman living under Barack Obama’s benevolent governance, “Julia,” that managed to creep out so many women that they have done their best to send Julia to the Island of Misfit Political Mascots.

The one thing they didn’t have is a reason for anyone to vote for Barack Obama — a second-term agenda.
Ed Morrissey, New Obama ad: Dude, I found my second-term agenda!, Hot Air, October 23, 2012

Well, Obama has finally come out with a "Blueprint for America’s Future" and decided to tell the American people what he would do if re-elected. I suppose he could be forgiven if he thought that everyone in the media would jump on board and trumpet the merits of his newly available plan.

The fact is, not everyone in the media does not seem to be buying it.

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/24/2012: History of US Failure To Defend Diplomats

From DG:

1) Not responding

Earlier this week Lee Smith wrote America's 40 year embassy crisis. Ben Affleck's movie "Argo" about the Iranian takeover of the American embassy in Tehran prompted the article. In short, American diplomatic personnel have often been targets of hostile elements and America - under both Democratic and Republican presidents - has failed to respond. Here are a few examples from Smith's list:

Today's Rocket Barrage By Hamas Was Foreseeable -- And Part of A Trend

The Israel Project has posted on its website about Worrisome Trends in Gaza Mirror Hamas's 2008 Lead-Up To War.

What is perhaps more worrisome is that this post is not about today, but rather about the Hamas rocket attack that came out of Gaza 2 weeks ago when 30 rockets were fired at Israeli civilians.

Bother Hamas attacks pale in comparison to the attacks during late June 2012, when over 80 rockets were fired at Israeli towns and communities over 4 days. Back then also, Hamas took credit for firing the rockets.

However, even more worrisome is the possibility that Hamas may be looking for a repeat of December 2008, when the terrorist group refused to renew a its ceasefire with Israel and instead fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians towns and cities. In response to the bombardment, Israel responded with Operation Cast Lead to bring an end to the Hamas assault, leading to a war that went on for weeks.

The Israel Project article notes parallels between Hamas's December 2008 infrastructure and strategy and its reinvigorated aggression:

Hamas Unleashes Massive Rocket Attack On Israel From Gaza -- Why Now?

Times of Israel reports on the latest Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians as 68 rockets were fired from Gaza:
More than 65 rockets were fired into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, wounding five people, two of them seriously, and causing extensive property damage.

US Has Identified One Of Benghazi Terrorists -- But Have No Access To Him

Fighters involved in the assault [in Benghazi], which was spearheaded by an Islamist brigade formed during last year’s uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder, as a villainous, homosexual and child-molesting buffoon.
Libya Attack Brings Challenges for U.S., New York Times, September 12, 2012

At the moment of the terrorist attack, it was apparently not impossible to speak to those who were actually behind it -- maybe in part because those behind the terrorist attack were eager to give the impression that the attack was merely a response to the Muhammed video, an impression the Obama administration itself went to great lengths to perpetuate.

But since that time, how successful have the efforts been to track down and capture those behind the attack?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Anne Bayefsky: Obama's Real Record on Israel

For Immediate Release:
October 23, 2012
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Obama's Real Record on Israel

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears on Fox News.

During the final debate, President Obama pointed to his 2008 pre-election visit to Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, as an answer to Governor Romney’s criticism of his foreign policy on Israel. That stop was made by over a million visitors and hundreds of world leaders and dignitaries the same year. Invoking it as a means to establish the President’s pro-Israel credentials is an insult to the intelligence of voters who care about the welfare of the Jewish state.

The President’s move is reminiscent of a similar game played by the United Nations. The organization trashes the state of Israel 364 days a year, and pauses on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27th for an “International Day of Commemoration.”

Undoubtedly, keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is a service not only to Jews but to anyone interested in preserving and protecting universal human rights and freedoms.

But the question before American voters, who value our special bond with the Middle East’s only democracy, is whether the specifics of the President’s four-year record are consistent with the well-being of the people who live and breathe Jewish self-determination as a bulwark against modern antisemitism.

Just a partial rap-sheet speaks for itself.

"Key" To Stability In The Middle East Was Not Mentioned During Debate -- With Good Reason

Foreign Policy asks: Which country was mentioned most at the foreign-policy debate?

It then goes on to answer it's own question -- but see if you can spot the omission from the debate: who used to be touted as central to stability in the Middle East, but was not mentioned even once:

With 14 Days Till Election, Obama "Unveils" His Agenda If Re-elected

If you have been wondering just what it is that Obama plans to do differently for the next 4 years that he did not do during the last 4 years -- you wait is over, because Two weeks from the election, Obama unveils 20-page agenda for his second term
Team Obama has announced that they will unveil a physical 20-page “Blueprint for America’s Future” today, answering accusations from the Romney campaign that they Obama doesn’t have a second term agenda.
Of course, one might find it strange that Obama waited till 14 days before the election before finally revealing what he is going to do.

With so little time, cartoonist A. F. Branco knew what you were thinking:

UNRWA Keeps Reinventing Itself And Now Wants To Negotiate On Behalf Of Palestinian Arabs

The following by Emanuel Marx is reposted here with permission:

Some UNRWA Refugees Have Resettled

by Emanuel Marx
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2012, pp. 37-44 (view PDF)

The question whether the U.N. Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has successfully reintegrated Palestinian refugees into the normal life of the Middle East has long been a central bone of contention. Anxious to fend off criticism by the refugee population and by various political factions, UNRWA officials mince their words and disguise their actions in this regard.[1] UNRWA publications and documents tend to discuss reintegration without ever using the term as if the agency was not required by its original mandate to work for "the reintegration of the refugees into the economic life of the Near East, either by repatriation or resettlement."[2]

This evasiveness is not difficult to understand: If UNRWA has successfully reintegrated the refugees into the economies of the host countries and the region,[3] as it may have well done, what justification is there for its future existence? Indeed, since the huge labor force it has accumulated in the course of its work may never permit it to disband, UNRWA seems to be searching yet again for a new reintegrative task that would give it a new sense of purpose.

The Middle East Sampler 10/22/2012: Reporter Succeeds In Benghazi Where FBI Fails?

From DG:

1) Benghazi

In his initial reporting of the attack on the American consulate, David Kirkpatrick reported in Anger Over a Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt:
Protesters angry over an amateurish American-made video denouncing Islam attacked the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday, killing a State Department officer, while Egyptian demonstrators stormed over the fortified walls of the United States Embassy here. 
The United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. An American staff member was killed there, Libyan officials said. 
On the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the assaults were a violent reminder that the changes sweeping the region have hardly dispelled the rage against the United States that still smolders in pockets around the Arab world.
The next day he (and Steven Lee Meyers) followed up in Libya Attack brings challenges for the U.S.:

Third Debate: Romney vs Obama -- Not With A Bang, But With A Whimper

The following by Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission

Romney Stumbles on Foreign Policy

by Daniel Pipes
October 22, 2012

updated Oct 23, 2012
Cross-posted from 
National Review Online, The Corner

The final presidential debate focused disproportionately on the Middle East. Four of the six segments were on the Middle East, just two on other topics (one about the U.S. role in the world, the other about China). Egypt was mentioned 11 times, Libya 12 times, Iraq 22 times, Pakistan 25 times, Syria 28 times, Afghanistan 30 times, Israel 34 times, and Iran 47 times. In contrast, the European crisis got no mention, nor did India, Germany, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, or Australia.

Barack Obama has a weak record in the Middle East, but one would not learn this from the debate, where Mitt Romney praised Obama's achievements ("It's wonderful that Libya seems to be making some progress"), agreed with Obama more than he disagreed, and rarely pointed out his failings. Presumably, Romney took this mild approach to establish his likeability, competence, and suitability to serve as commander-in-chief.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Latest Revelations About Obama And Benghazi

From Arlene Kushner:
October 22, 2012:

As Time Draws Near

Tonight is the last presidential debate and two weeks from tomorrow comes the election.  Tensions are high and the sharing of credible information that impinges upon electoral choices becomes increasingly important. 
This is from the Investigative Project on Terrorism, founded and headed by Steve Emerson -- a most reliable and trustworthy source (emphasis added):

George McGovern, a Pacifist Who Wanted to Bomb Auschwitz

The following by Rafael Medoff is reposted here with permission:

George McGovern,
A Pacifist Who Wanted to Bomb Auschwitz

by Rafael Medoff


George McGovern receives Distinguished
Flying Cross in 1944. (AP Photo/McGovern

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- George McGovern is widely remembered for advocating immediate American withdrawal from Vietnam and sharp reductions in defense spending. Yet despite his reputation as a pacifist, the former U.S. senator and 1972 presidential candidate, who died Sunday at 90, did believe there were times when America should use military force abroad.

Case in point: the Allies' failure to bomb Auschwitz, an episode with which McGovern had a little-known personal connection.

In June 1944, the Roosevelt administration received a detailed report about Auschwitz from two escapees who described the mass-murder process and drew diagrams pinpointing the gas chambers and crematoria. Jewish organizations repeatedly asked U.S. officials to order the bombing of Auschwitz and the railroad lines leading to the camp. The proposal was rejected on the grounds that it would require “considerable diversion” of planes that were needed elsewhere for the war effort. One U.S. official claimed that bombing Auschwitz "might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans."

Enter McGovern. In World War II, the 22-year-old son of a South Dakota pastor piloted a B-24 "Liberator" bomber. Among his targets: German synthetic oil factories in occupied Poland -- some of them less than five miles from the Auschwitz gas chambers.

Arab Lawyers Union Honors Attorney Who Murdered Children

This Ongoing War blog has a post about a disturbing story about Arab Lawyers Union Honors Attorney Who Murdered Children:
"One of the world's respected associations of lawyers has just made a special award in honour of one of its deceased members. Her career was not long. But it was not the quality of her contract drafting, her client interview technique or her appearance work before the courts that earned her the award. It's the way she departed from the profession.

And quite an award it is - described by the association who created it as "the highest honor awarded by the Union in esteem for any lawyer in the Arab homeland".

...The award about which we are writing was presented in the form of a plaque to the family of Hanadi Jaradat, formerly from Jenin in the Palestinian Authority territory, "on the sweet anniversary of her martyrdom". It's formally signed by the chairman of the Arab Lawyers Union (ALU), Palestine Committee.

Here's what the honoree did.

Did Hillary Clinton Really Give Instructions To Increase Security In Benghazi?

That is what is being claimed.

At The Daily Caller, Edward Klein writes about Hillary’s non mea culpa:
At the second presidential debate this week, Barack Obama finally appeared to man-up and acknowledge that, as president and commander in chief, he was responsible for the deaths of four Americans during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

After all, said the president, the secretary of state “works for me,” and as the top person in the administration’s chain of command, the buck stopped at him.

It was, at best, a late and half-hearted admission of culpability.
But was Clinton's own mea culpa any less half-hearted?

Egypt's Morsi Holds Israel In "Highest Esteem" -- But Wants To "Destroy Jews and Their Supporters"

The Times of Israel reports that Atef Salem, New Egyptian ambassador brings Israel ‘message of peace’:
“I came with the message of peace and I came to confirm that we are really working for mutual trust and transparency,” Ambassador Atef Salem of Egypt told Peres at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. “We are committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel and we’re also committed to the peace treaty with Israel.”

...During a solemn ceremony, Salem, the new Egyptian ambassador in Tel Aviv, handed Peres his letter of credence — a diplomatic missive in which one head of state asks his or her counterpart to accept the bearer as new ambassador.

“Great and good friend,” Egypt’s Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, wrote in the letter to his Israeli counterpart, “being desirous of maintaining and strengthening the cordial relations which so happily exist between our two countries, I have selected Mr. Atef Mohamed Salem Sayed El Ahl to be our ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary.” Morsi closed his letter, which largely followed standard diplomatic language for the exchange of ambassadors, by expressing “highest esteem and consideration.”
While Morsi's letter to Peres may have followed "standard diplomatic language" on Wednesday, October 17 -- two days later, on October 19, Morsi was following standard Muslim language:

Raymond Ibrahim: The Rape and Murder of Pakistan's Christian Children

The following by Raymond Ibrahim is reposted here with permission:

The Rape and Murder of Pakistan's Christian Children

by Raymond Ibrahim
Investigative Project on Terrorism
October 17, 2012

The West sighed in relief when Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl arrested in Pakistan on August 16 for allegedly burning pages of the Quran, was finally released. Yet the West remains clueless concerning the graphic abuses—including rape and murder—Christian children in Pakistan routinely suffer, simply for being Christian. Consider two stories alone, both of which occurred at the same time Rimsha's blasphemy ordeal was making headlines around the world.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 10/21/2012: Implications Of Lebanon Assassination

1) Wissam al-Hassan

Last week a car bomb blast in Beirut killed Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan. The New York Times reported, Blast in Beirut Is Seen as an Extension of Syria’s War:

Within hours of the attack, the Lebanese authorities announced that the dead included the intelligence chief of the country’s internal security service, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, instantly spurring accusations that the Syrian government had assassinated him for recently uncovering what the authorities said was a Syrian plot to provoke unrest in Lebanon.
“They wanted to get him, and they got him,” said Paul Salem, a regional analyst with the Carnegie Middle East Center.

By Helping Obama, Iran Hopes To Help Itself Create A New Distraction

Barry Rubin addresses the question Negotiations with Iran: Obama’s `October Surprise’ to Help Win Election?:
Are supposed negotiations with Iran the “October Surprise” intended to win the election for President Barack Obama, an Iranian trick for buying time, or both? The answer is both. It’s an incredibly transparent ploy though with the cooperation of the mass media such a gimmick might well have some effect.

Arlene Kushner On How Netanyahu Avoided Bringing Levy Report For Acceptance

From Arlene Kushner:
October 21, 2012

That Was Fast!

And it's not OK.

Last week I wrote that reports had been leaked that Prime Minister Netanyahu was going to bring the Levy Report, or some undefined parts of it, to the Cabinet today for acceptance.

But by Friday word was out that he would not be doing so after all.  That was because Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein was opposed.

Mike Ramirez Cartoon: Obama And The Video Claim

Mike Ramirez, Investors Business Daily -- on the 'consistency' of the Obama administration's story on the Benghazi terrorist attack:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

If Obama Was Planning An October Surprise With Iran, It's Not Working

Yesterday, I posted Is Obama Making Behind The Scenes Deal With Iran To Win Election?, based on an article in WND that claimed Obama has cut a pre-election deal with Iran for a temporary halt to its nuclear program.

The story claimed that matters had gone beyond an agreement to talk to a near consensus on an agreement where Iran would halt its nuclear program. 

Now The New York Times seems to have picked up on the theme, though has scaled it back: U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks:

Friday, October 19, 2012

From Cairo Speech To Benghazi: Addressing Obama's Foreign Policy At Last Debate

The following by Jonathan Rosenblum is reposted here with permission:

The Foreign Policy Debate Ahead

by Jonathan Rosenblum
Yated Ne'eman
October 19, 2012

Foreign policy has long been considered the one area in which President Obama has a decisive edge over challenger Mitt Romney in the eyes of most voters. Or at least that was the case until Sept. 11 2012, when mobs overran the U.S. embassy in Cairo and Al Qaeda terrorists killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, together with three other State department personnel.

Voters do not normally pay a great deal of attention to foreign affairs, at least in the absence of obvious disaster or war, and that has served to protect President Obama's foreign policy from closer voter scrutiny. While the United States' determination and ability to secure its vital interests and guard the stability of the international order have declined on his watch, these are matters far from the purview of most voters. As long as the President removed American troops from Iraq – no matter what the cost in terms of expanding Iranian influence in the country – and is well along in the process of doing so in Afghanistan, voters were sure to give him the nod over Governor Romney when it comes to guiding America's foreign affairs over the next four years.

Video: Addressing Misleading Statements In Obama's Account of Libya Terrorist Attack?

American Crossroads has a new video that highlights the contradictions and inconsistencies in Obama's claim that with 24 hours he knew that the murder of US Ambassador Chris Stevens was the result of a terrorist attack:

Charles Krauthammer writes that Romney failed in the second Presidential debate to capitalize on Obama's statements and actions in regards to the Libya terrorist attack and did not counter Obama's statment during the debate:

Is Obama Making Behind The Scenes Deal With Iran To Win Election?

WND is reporting that Obama has cut a pre-election deal with Iran for a temporary halt to its nuclear program

Reza Khalili is the pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who now serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, who writes:
Iranian and U.S. negotiators have reached an agreement that calls for Iran to halt part of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many of the U.S. sanctions against the Islamic regime, according to a highly placed source.

Latma Video: The Spinmaster's Finest Hour and What Truly Motivates Obama

Here is the newest issue of Latma, featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the campaigning in the upcoming elections. Also: how Obama really feels about Israel, and Elhanan gets a late night call from Yizhar Ashdot after the Army radio station bans his song because it calls IDF soldiers murderers.

Here is the video:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Other War In Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria: Preserving The Records of the Regimes

The following by Alex Joffe is reposted here with permission:

Preserving the Syrian Paper Trail

by Alexander H. Joffe
The National Interest
October 17, 2012

When the regime of Bashar al-Assad is destroyed or pushed out of Damascus, it will leave behind a wrecked capital and unparalleled record of supporting terrorist groups and covert deals with Russia, Iran and North Korea. What we understand of that record will be shaped by the documents that are preserved and analyzed. What Syrians will understand about forty years of rule by the fascist Baath party and its crimes against the Syrian people also depends on preserving something vital yet almost out of sight: the regime's archives and files.

Video: Obama Campaign Demonstrates How To Make An Anti-Romney Commercial

The Obama campaign literally takes Romney's words out of context by cutting out a piece of Romney's response to a question posed on 60 Minutes.

Newsbusters asks: Has CBS News Allowed A Political Campaign To Use And Alter Their Footage?

Or will CBS merely excuse it.

Here is the video:

Arlene Kushner On The Ongoing War Of Terrorism Obama Ignores

From Arlene Kushner:
October 18, 2012

Grappling with Complexities

Multiple complexities, actually.  There is very little that is being dealt with these days that is simple and above board.
Just days ago I cited an article from the NYTimes that discussed the issue of why Obama spent two weeks avoiding the fact that what happened in Benghazi was terrorism.  It was the opinion of the author, Ross Douthat, that Obama was loathe to admit that US actions in Libya had created a vacuum that made it more possible for terrorists, notably al-Qaeda, to operate
I wrote at that time that, while it was not directly relevant to Douthat's point, it should be noted that "Obama's meddling in Libya also created a situation, still on-going, in which weapons that had belonged to Ghaddafi found their way out of the country and into the hands of Islamists."
And now, Barry Rubin has put out a piece that is very pertinent and potentially of great import with regard to issues of weapons in the hands of terrorists.  It goes beyond anything I had suggested.

Cartoon: When Obama Says "The Buck Stops Here"

Cartoonist A. F. Branco's cartoons are showcased on Legal Insurrection
Here is his cartoon from Tuesday: The Buck Stops

How Little Are We Being Told About What Ambassador Chris Stevens Was Doing In Benghazi?

Barry Rubin wrote a post the other day shedding unexpected light on The Murders in Libya, The Presidential Debate, and The Pattern of Obama Foreign Policy.

Rubin goes further than just addressing the standard questions that have been raised about both the terrorist attack itself and the inconsistencies and contradictions in the the behavior of the Obama administration since that day.

There may be another yet untold story about the Ambassador Chris Stevens and his actual mission in Benghazi:

Is Israel Still Enemy Number One In The Arab World?

The following by Gary Gambill is reposted here with permission:

For Israel, every crowd has a silver lining

by Gary C. Gambill
The Jerusalem Post
October 16, 2012

Addressing the UN General Assembly last month, the Arab world's most popular elected leader railed against what he called the "tragedy of the age," decried the victimization of a people dear to "the hearts" of his countrymen, and condemned an oppressor that "kills … day and night." This strident rhetoric might have passed unnoticed but for one important detail – the speaker was not talking about Israel.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Netanyahu Submitting Levy Report On West Bank For Acceptance

From Arlene Kushner:
October 17, 2012

The Levy Report

From where I sit, this is the news of the day. 
Back in January Prime Minister Netanyahu appointed a committee -- consisting of former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, former deputy president of the Tel Aviv District Court Tchia Shapira, and former Foreign Ministry legal adviser and expert in international law Alan Baker -- to examine the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria.
That report was released on July 8.  It offered both conclusions and recommendations.
What the committee concluded was that the decades-long presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria was sui  generis -- that is, a unique situation.  That presence does not constitute an "occupation," and, based on historical and legal evidence, is not illegal.  From the perspective of international law, Israel has the right to build in Judea and Samaria.

The Inconsistencies In Obama's Story About Benghazi That Must Be Answered

Regarding Obama's claim to have already acknowledged that Benghazi was a terrorist attack the next day, Alana Goodman writes about Obama and the “T” Word.

Specifically, she quotes Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy who found a statement by Obama on September 13 while campaigning in Colorado. Obama again used the phrase "acts of terror" -- and there it is clear Obama is referring to Benghazi:
So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.
The interesting thing is that this does not get Obama off the hook.

Video: Who Won Last Night's Debate? It All Comes Down To The Undecided Voters

The polls generally seem to say that Obama won last night's debate, though not nearly as decisively as Romney trounced him in the first debate.

If you then go to the analysis of the conservative pundits, you find that while he nailed Obama on the economy, Romney missed an opportunity to make the point on Libya.

Maybe so, but thanks to the interference of Candy Crowley in backing up Obama on his erroneous claim of stating early on that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, the issue is still on the front burner -- and not as a purely partisan political attack.

Bottom line, Democratic and Republican voters remain where they've been all along, and Independents remain tilted towards Romney.

And that leaves the undecided voters.

Obama Did NOT Tell Us It Was A TERRORIST Attack In Benghazi -- And Why It Matters

Daniel Pipes may very well have pinpointed the key the second debate between Romney and Obama:
Obama got away with saying that he had characterized the attack on the Benghazi consulate as a terrorist incident because the moderator confirmed his point; in fact he misrepresented the facts when he said
"The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that … this was an act of terror."

Did Hillary Clinton Really Take Responsibility For The Security Failure In Benghazi?

Much has been made about Hillary Clinton's apparent acceptance of responsibility for the security failure at the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya that led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and staff during a terrorist attack.

But there is something missing from Clinton's statement:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gaza: More Than Just Fancy Restaurants And Malls

To counter the tired propaganda points about Gaza being "the worlds largest outdoor prison" or that Gaza is facing a "humanitarian crisis" we often point to a fancy restaurant in Gaza or the Gaza malls.

But Evelyn Gordon writes that the issue goes further, and talk about poverty in Gaza and the harshness of Israel's defensive blockade still avoid the truth:
First, the new iPhone 5 – which isn’t even available in Israel yet – is selling like hotcakes in Gaza, despite prices ranging from $1,170 to $1,480, roughly double what they are in the U.S.  This, you’ll recall, is the same Gaza that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon characterized in an address to the UN Human Rights Council last month as suffering “unremitting poverty” due to Israel’s “harsh” blockade, a humanitarian crisis so grave that he devoted more of his speech to Gaza and the Palestinians than he did to the slaughter in Syria, where the death toll is over 30,000 and rising daily. It’s also the same Gaza that a UN report in August said would be “unlivable” by 2020 if the blockade continued.

Second, Palestinian doctors recently opened a cystic fibrosis clinic in Gaza that now treats 80 Palestinian children – thanks to Israel. The story began a few years ago, when an Israeli doctor, Eitan Kerem, saw a Palestinian cri de coeur on the Internet: After Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, it began strongly discouraging Gazans from seeking treatment in nearby Israel, sending them instead to Egyptian clinics located much farther away, and cystic fibrosis patients were finding the 24-hour journey unbearable. Kerem promptly joined forces with an Israeli nonprofit to organize a program to train Gazan specialists at Israel’s Hadassah Hospital, thereby enabling them to start treating cystic fibrosis patients in Gaza instead.
Read the whole thing.

Considering the obvious failure of the UN to put a stop to the massacre being perpetrated by the Assad regime, we can sympathize with Ban Ki-Moon's need to regurgitate the required talking points about the dire and hopeless situation of Gazans.

But there is a difference between difficult and hopeless.

And if Ban Ki-Moon and the UN actually do have a serious desire to address the problems in Gaza, it is past time for them to make good on the UN mandate -- and they can start by being honest about the role of the terrorist government of Hamas.

If you found this post interesting or informative, please it below. Thanks!

Technorati Tag: and and and .

Why Is Turkey At War With Syria?

The following from Daniel Pipes is reposted here with permission:

Ankara at War

by Daniel Pipes
National Review Online
October 16, 2012

NRO title: "Erdoğan and Assad at War"

Why does the Turkish government act so aggressively against the Assad regime of Syria?

Perhaps Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hopes that lobbing artillery shells into Syria will help bring a satellite government to power in Damascus. Maybe he expects that sending a Turkish war plane into Syrian air space or forcing down a Syrian civilian plane en route from Russia will win him favor in the West and bring in NATO. Conceivably, it's all a grand diversion from imminent economic crisis due to borrowing too much.

If Israel Can't Attack Iran -- Is It OK For US To Go After The Benghazi Terrorists?

One can only imagine the enormous implications and multiple considerations going through Obama's head in deciding whether to go after the terrorists who murdered US Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Then again, the decision to go after the Libyan terrorists sounds like the question of Israel attacking Iran:

The Democratic Decline And The Failure of the American Jewish Left

The following by David Brog is reposted here with permission:

The Failure of the American Jewish Left

by David Brog
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2013

In early September 2012, many in the pro-Israel camp were disturbed by a series of events at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. First, the committee drafting the party platform eliminated traditional language recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Next, the party elders chose to restore the language and called for a pro forma voice vote from the delegates in support of this amendment. Instead, what looked and sounded like an angry majority of the delegates voted against recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

This hostility should not have come as a surprise. For many years, the liberal base of the Democratic Party has been steadily turning against the Jewish state. So much so that for the first time since 1948, one of America's two major parties has begun to abandon its commitment to Israel. This trend has less to do with the behavior of President Obama or other national party leaders than with the far more troubling phenomenon of changing opinions at the grassroots. The Jerusalem flap at the Democratic convention was not a warning sign. It was the final bell.

Another Mosque Attacked By Muslims -- And Why It Keeps Happening

In Aleppo, Syria, Muslims badly damaged a landmark mosque:
A landmark mosque in Aleppo was burned, scarred by bullets and trashed — the latest casualty of Syria's civil war — and President Bashar Assad on Monday ordered immediate repairs to try to stem Muslim outrage at the desecration of the 12th century site.
According to one of those interviewed, the Syrian army was stationed inside the mosque "because of its strategic location in the Old City".

Of course, the simpler answer could be that the Syrian army used the mosque because the mosque itself was a strategic location.

After all, what Muslim would attack and destroy a mosque?

Quite a few actually -- for example:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Arlene Kushner On Why Obama Mishandled Benghazi Aftermath

From Arlene Kushner:
October 15, 2012

Reconcile This

Yesterday, the NYTimes ran an op-ed by columnist Ross Douthat -- "The Mystery of Benghazi" -- in  which he describes the Obama administration's "very strange" behavior following the Benghazi attack:
"Having first repudiated the embassy's apology to Muslims offended by a movie impugning their prophet, the Obama administration decided to embrace that apology's premise and insist that the movie was the crucial ingredient in the Sept. 11 anniversary attack.

"For days after the attack, as it became clearer that the Benghazi violence was an al-Qaeda operation rather than a protest, White House officials continued to stress the importance of the 'hateful' and 'disgusting'   video, and its supposed role as a catalyst for what Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, insisted was a spontaneous attack.

"...Eventually, the White House let the video slip quietly out of its public rhetoric, and refocused on terrorism instead.  But everything else that's come out about Benghazi has seemed much more damaging because the administration practiced a strange denial at the outset.  The missed warnings, the weakness in security...all of it would have been received differently if the White House hadn't spent a week acting as if it had something big to lose by calling terrorism terrorism."
Asks Douthat, "What explains this self-defeating strategy?"

It Is Obama, Not Israeli Settlements, That Foments Instability In The Middle East

Barry Rubin addresses The Powerlessness Excuse: Debunking the Claim that Obama Could Not Have Affected the “Arab Spring” and Islamist Takeovers.

He notes tangible steps taken by Obama that strengthened the hands of the more radical forces in Egypt.

Obama's Biggest Middle East Policy Failure -- And Can Romney Do Better?

According to Jackson Diehl, the prime example of Obama's failed Middle East policy is not the disaster in Libya, but rather How Obama bungled the Syrian revolution:
The president’s handling of Syria, on the other hand, exemplifies every weakness in his foreign policy — from his excessive faith in “engaging” troublesome foreign leaders to his insistence on multilateralism as an end in itself to his self-defeating caution in asserting American power.
As a result of Obama's failed policy in Syria:

The Middle East Sampler 10/15/2012: Arab Spring and Arab Shakedown

From DG:

1) Funding the Arab Spring

The New York Times (or, more specifically, the International Herald Tribune) has an odd article, Arab Countries Waiting for Promised Aid:
Data from Thomson Reuters in June showed that of the $60 billion in aid pledged to needy Arab countries last year, around $15 billion had actually been disbursed. Egypt was expecting over $10 billion, but received only about half of that amount. A planned $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund was inconclusive last year and is currently under negotiation.

Forget The "Israel Lobby" -- What About The "US Lobby" In Israel!?

An Op-Ed in the New York Times last week addresses the issue of Israel's pushing for US intervention with Iran's nuclear program and -- Why Netanyahu Backed Down:
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Obama administration was conducting a quiet campaign that would strengthen the view, already circulating among Israeli security professionals, that prematurely attacking Iran would not advance Israel’s interests and would damage Israel’s relationship with America. Instead of holding Israel at bay or threatening punitive action, the administration was upgrading American security assistance to Israel — so much so that earlier this year Mr. Barak described the level of support as greater than ever in Israel’s history.