Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Laurel Street Fair and the Sad Lack of Baseball Brawls

Michael L.

pinella munson
Yankee left-fielder, Lou Pienella,
and catcher, Thurmon Munson in 1976.
Anyone who follows my writings knows that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In fact, I lived in a variety of apartments in San Francisco with Laurie throughout the late 1990s and 00s before we purchased a home in the Laurel District of Oakland.  I have lived in North Beach, two separate residences in the Richmond District, and the Excelsior in SF.  Now we own a place in the Oakland foothills and I love our neighborhood, in part because I love good food.

I am actually kind-of a skinny guy.  I do not really eat that much, but I used to cook for a living and know a thing or two about deliciousness.  The worst food on the planet comes from people with money and the best food comes from the poor.  Anthony Bourdain would definitely agree. Nobody on this planet eats worse than the ignorant rich.

They obviously eat more, but they definitely do not eat more deliciously.

They like to think that they do because they can afford expensive restaurants, but on a day-to-day matter they do not.

There is something pathetic about rich people spending considerable money in cities throughout the United States and Europe for inferior food.  What I would recommend to anyone who wants to eat deliciously is to go into your local poor neighborhoods.

I live on the cusp of rich people and poor people.  If I look east, toward the Oakland hills, I see the homes of the wealthy.  If I look west, toward downtown, I see ghetto between here and there.

Downtown, itself, is actually doing pretty well and Oakland, in general, while always struggling, is seeing some very interesting development in various spots around the city and Laurie and I are even considering buying into Oakland's waterfront area just opposite the cute island town of Alameda, which, itself, is just east across the Bay from San Francisco.

I am not jumping into anything, but we shall see.  One thing is certain, more and more white, middle-class, upward-mobile yupsters are buying housing in the East Bay because San Francisco is just too damn expensive.  The median home price there is now upwards of one million dollars and it is turning San Francisco into a ginger-bread town.  I love the place but, year upon year, it is becoming more a tourist destination than a place for people to live... but this has been going on for a long time.

In any case, come next month we are having the Laurel Street Fair, which actually takes place on MacArthur Boulevard, but who is counting?

This is a little video concerning the upcoming event that one of my neighbors put together and it says a lot about the best of human diversity.

People from a huge variety of backgrounds can, in fact, live in harmony.  We have not seen a whole lot of JayinPhiladelphia recently, but I know for certain that he would agree with that sentiment.

This is diversity in its positive aspect.

Not only do I get to see these beautiful women dance, but I am within a stone's throw of great Chinese food, great Soul food, great Indian food, great Japanese food, great Pakistani food, and a new joint that just opened up down the road called Sequoia that is bringing the regular American diner to the next level.

This, obviously, is not my usual kind of post.  I am not bitching about the heinous Obama administration and its loathsome foreign policy in the Middle East and I am not fretting over what I have to say that might be more acceptable to university professors or the editors of news.

But sometimes it is nice to look out your window and know where you are.

{This piece is for Jay.}

Go Giants!

Go A's!

We live where we are and, I have to tell you, I am exceedingly happy to live where I do.

The Giants play in AT&T Park while the A's play in the Oakland Coliseum, otherwise known as "the bunker."

The park is beautiful.  The bunker is not.

I've actually learned to appreciate the bunker.  I cannot get sushi - not that I would ever want to eat sushi there - but the fans are one hell of a lot more fun.  These are not polite upscale yuppies, but rowdy working-class people who scream their bleeding heads off.

In fact, I am becoming more and more convinced that there is a direct and mathematical correspondence to the downfall of the United States and the lack of baseball brawls in recent decades.


Well, alright, perhaps not mathematical.

But what does it say about the character of the United States if we no longer have baseball brawls?

Anyone who knows anything about American baseball knows about the ugly rivalry between the noble New York Yankees and the insidious Boston Red Sox.

In 1973 the Yanks slugged it out with the Sox and Red Sox pitcher, Bill Lee - who I actually have considerable fondness for - claimed that seeing the Yankees fight was like watching a bunch of women sling around their purses.  I am paraphrasing, but this is essentially what he told the Boston sports press at the time.

Three years later, in Yankee Stadium, Yankee third-basemen, Graig Nettles (a palooka, for sure) absolutely kicked Bill Lee's ass.

He was later quoted as saying something like, "I just did not want Bill to think that he was being hit by a purse."

I am pretty sure that the announcer was Phil Rizzuto, otherwise known as the Scooter.

{Holy Cow!}

Bill Lee never quite recovered from Graig Nettles beating.

Lee later claimed that he suspected Yankees manager, Billy Martin, of encouraging his players to hit him in the head.  He referred to "Yankee Brownshirts" or "Martin's Brownshirts."

Well, Billy Martin was a tough guy, but a small fellah.  As a second basemen in the glory days of the Yanks in the 1950s he never hit many home runs, but he certainly hit enough guys in bars.

He said that it was not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog.

Laurie and I are going to watch the insidious Cleveland Indians get their tushkies beaten by the Oakland Athletics in the bunker on this coming Saturday afternoon.

I intend to eat a few dogs and maybe drink a few beers.

I doubt that I will get into a fight, unless my brother Steven shows up... and, in that case, I would love to get into a fight.  There are sometimes people who deserve a good slug in the mouth, after all.

{Am I wrong?}

Who is an extremist?

Sar Shalom

One of the common epithets hurled at those exercising Jewish rights to visit the Temple Mount is that of "extremist." For the Arabs to use that language is understandable, however, even the UN has taken to doing so. Without going too deep into the UN's designation of Jews visiting their own holy sites as "extremists," it is worth reflecting on the history of making such designations.

In this country there is a history of calling anyone promoting unpopular rights an "extremist." One notable example is Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, "At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergyman would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist."

What the example of King shows is that branding someone an "extremist" does not necessarily mean anything about the target of the branding. Rather, it can simply mean that the person doing the branding, due to extreme bigotry, viscerally opposes the target's goals. In the meantime, we should start to compare those who, like the UN Special Coordinator, call Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount "extremists" to the bigots who labelled King an "extremist."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ding Dong Kuntar Is Dead!


According to reports, the IDF has killed baby killer Samir Kuntar. Woo hoo! One down.

{Editor's note - what Doodad is referring to here is the fact that the IDF targeted and struck a vehicle in the Golan Heights containing Hezbollah fighters and tacticians, along with an individual, Samir Kuntar, who became a hero within Hezbollah because  killed a Jewish father and his four your old daughter by smashing her head in with the butt of a rifle.}

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Hunchbacked Warthog Makes Growling Sounds at Israel

Michael L.

Adiv Sterman, writing in the Times of Israel, tells us:
warthogAs part of the Obama administration’s current campaign to push the Iranian deal signed July 14 in Vienna, Kerry told an audience at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York on Friday that should Congress vote against the agreement, “our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated, and more blamed.”

The statement was promptly rejected by the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, now a member of the centrist Kulanu party.

“If American legislators reject the nuclear deal, they will do so exclusively on the basis of US interests. The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal,” Oren said in a statement.
 "our friends in Israel"?

John Kerry has friends in Israel?  This is rather difficult to imagine, actually, but I suppose that there must be one or two people in Israel who do not actively despise Barack Obama and John Kerry.

This administration is about as popular as a hunchbacked warthog with herpes in Israel... and that goes at least as much for the Arabs as the Jews, because both understand that in allowing Iranian nuclear weaponry it is enabling the potential holocaust of both people.  It must also be remembered that Sunnis and Shias distrust one another almost as much as they distrust and despise Jews.

This is not the first time, by the way, that Kerry has made these kinds of veiled threats and the "isolation" of Israel is an ongoing theme with the Obama administration.  Israel is constantly admonished by the U.S. administration in terms that I interpret as follows:
You guys better do as you are told or something bad could happen.   
We are your best friends and we would not want to see you get hurt, so you better listen up.
You will allow the murderers of Jews out of Israeli prisons.   
Your leadership will apologize before the international community to those who seek you harm by supporting efforts to break the blockade of Gaza and, thus, allow-in weaponry against you.
You will not let your people build housing for themselves on the parts of your land where we disapprove of your presence.   
We will arm your Iranian enemies with the world's most dangerous weapons and you will be quiet.   
We will also flood the Iranian economy with one hundred and fifty billion dollars which they can use to bolster genocidally anti-Semitic organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, but you will remain quiet.   
When Arabs shoot rockets at your people you will sustain the suffering of your children without response because to do otherwise would constitute an act of aggression and a war crime.
One of the memorable catch-phrases of the Obama administration is this notion of "leading from behind."  This is a very real thing and Obama has perfected it in terms of Israel.  In order to lead "from behind" one needs both the authority of position and the enthusiasm of those one is behind leading.  Obama knows very well that both the EU and the UN are hungry for more sanctions and harassment of the lone, sole Jewish state.  All Obama needs to do is remark about how displeased he is with the Jews Israelis in order to send a message throughout Europe that it is open season and to give the BDS movement a shot in the arm.

At the same time, however - given Israel's economic, technical, and diplomatic relationships all around the world - Kerry's forebodings of "isolation" seem more like an attempt to play on Jewish fears more than anything else.  The last thing that Israel is, or is likely to be going forward, is "isolated."  The Jewish people in the Middle East are a people under siege, that is certainly true..  European Jewry is under siege, as well, because of the deterioration of Enlightenment values throughout that continent.

American, Canadian, and Australian Jews are doing nicely because of the strength of secular democracy within those countries.  Nonetheless, the history of the Jewish people, as a whole, is that of a people under siege and, therefore, it is not difficult for powerful people, such as those from the Obama administration, to manipulate Jewish fears, which is precisely what they are doing.

Whenever the Obama administration starts making noises about Israeli "isolation" or the likelihood of Israel becoming a heinous "apartheid" state unless it does what it is told, these are veiled threats exploiting historically-based Jewish fears.  It is a way for non-Jews with an agenda, like John Kerry, to use Jewish apprehensions, given our history, as a weapon against us.  When people like Kerry claim that Israel is becoming, or already is, an "apartheid state" what they are saying is that like apartheid South Africa, it must be dismantled in favor of something else.  In this case the "something else" is a 23rd Arab-Muslim Koranically-based dictatorship.

A direct threat, obviously, was the suggestion that, given Israel's refusal to sometimes do as told, the Obama administration may very well turn upon it at the United Nations.

As CNN reported after Netanyahu's recent victory at the polls:
Washington (CNN) The Obama administration's frustration with Benjamin Netanyahu is turning into outright hostility after the Israeli prime minister's commanding victory this week.

Administration officials greeted his win with harsh words Wednesday and suggestions that the U.S. might scale back its support for Israel at the United Nations, a significant reversal in policy after years of vetoing resolutions damaging to Jerusalem.

A senior administration official said that Netanyahu's sharp tacks to the right before Tuesday's vote -- in which he ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state, a pillar of U.S. policy in the Middle East -- "raise very significant substantive concerns" for the White House, and that "we have to reassess our options going forward."
There is no question, in my mind, at least, that the Obama administration is the most hostile American administration toward the Jewish State of Israel in the history of the United States.  The reason that the Obama administration is hostile to Israel is not out of some form of direct anti-Semitism, but through the influence of post-colonial theory in the academe, which represents the very basis of Obama's political thinking.

Post-colonial theory, as presented by anti-Israel / anti-Western / anti-American professors like Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and Rashid Khalidi, suggests that the world is divided between white, western imperialists and their non-European victims "of color" and that Israel is a white, European transplant onto the indigenous soil of another people.

Thus Israel - and ultimately thereby the Jews - must be opposed and undermined.

Yet, somehow, we are supposed to believe that this is actually in the best interest of the Jewish people.

It isn't.

Finally, John Kerry would honestly have us believe that if the U.S. Congress rejects the Iran deal, this is the fault of the Jews in Israel or will be considered as such?

This is profoundly disturbing and reminiscent of European thinking in the early-middle part of the twentieth-century.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jim Crow for Jews and the Artificial Construction of Palestinian National Identity

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at Jews Down Under and the Elder of Ziyon.}

flags 1The western-left today thinks that the Jews are oppressive to Muslims in the Middle East.  They believe that Jewish Israelis are brutalizing and ethnically-cleansing the innocent "indigenous" population.

In previous decades the so-called "Palestinian narrative" has taken hold of the western imagination.  Within that narrative, vicious and militaristic Jews marched out of Europe and violently displaced the native population in the early-middle of the twentieth-century.  Jews pushed "Palestinians" out of their native land where, as "Palestinians," they had been living for many thousand of years.  Mahmoud Abbas even laughably claimed that the "Palestinians" have a 9,000 year history on that land.  He said, "Oh, Netanyahu, you are incidental in history; we are the people of history. We are the owners of history."

If the "Palestinians" are the "owners of history" it must be a secret history that they keep entirely to themselves.  I have never heard of a people with a secret history before!  The "Palestinians" have lived on that land for 9,000 years and, yet, somehow, history seems to have passed them by.  It is a profound mystery.  There are no records of a "Palestinian" state on that land.  There are no records of the great "Palestinian" artists or leaders or scientists that thrived in the Land of Palestine for all those thousands of years.  Yet the foundation of Arab and western-left hostility toward the Jewish Israelis is the idea that they violently displaced the native population.  Jews, we are to understand, are illegally "Occupying" - with the Big O - Judea, a land that belongs to Palestinian-Arabs, not Jews.

There is always a charge against the Jews among westerners in every generation.

Every generation they tell us just why Jewish kids deserve a good beating.  In previous generations, of course, we were either guilty of killing Jesus or of giving the world Jesus and are, therefore, responsible for the failings of Christianity.  We were sometimes thought of as the heinous agents of greedy capitalism or the heinous agents of totalitarian socialism.  And, needless to say, in the early part of the twentieth-century, we were the wrong "race."  We were considered inherently, essentially, bad people.

In this generation, however, the charge is that we are mean to Arabs.

There are around six million Jews in Israel and something between three hundred and four hundred million Arab-Muslims surrounding them in the Middle East.  For reasons having to do with theocratic bigotry, Muslims in that part of the world traditionally despise the Jews and often teach their children to throw stones at us.  Throwing stones at Jews in Israel is not a manifestation, as is often claimed, of righteous push-back against the "Occupation," but is a time-honored tradition within Arab culture, grounded in the rankest form of bigotry and persecution of the despised "other."

It was Caliph Omar Abd al-Azziz, who reigned between 717 and 720 CE, who codified the rules of dhimmi status, sometimes referred to as the Pact of Omar or Covenant of Omar, but which I like to think of as Jim Crow for Jews.  The first and foremost rule was the paying of jizya tax and acceptance of the conditions of ahl al-dhimma.  In Martin Gilbert's In Ishmael's House, we read:
There could be no building of new synagogues or churches.  Dhimmis could not ride horses, but only donkeys; they could not use saddles, but only ride sidesaddle.  Further, they could not employ a Muslim.  Jews and Christians alike had to wear special hats, cloaks and shoes to mark them out from Muslims.  They were even obliged to carry signs on their clothing or to wear types and colors of clothing that would indicate they were not Muslims, while at the same time avoid clothing that had any association with Mohammed and Islam.  Most notably, green clothing was forbidden...

Other aspects of dhimmi existence were that Jews - and also Christians - were not to be given Muslim names, were not to prevent anyone from converting to Islam, and were not to be allowed tombs that were higher than those of Muslims.  Men could enter public bathhouses only when they wore a special sign around their neck distinguishing them from Muslims, while women could not bathe with Muslim women and had to use separate bathhouses instead.  Sexual relations with a Muslim woman were forbidden, as was cursing the Prophet in public - an offense punishable by death.

Under dhimmi rules as they evolved, neither Jews nor Christians could carry guns, build new places of worship or repair old ones without permission,or build any place of worship that was higher than a mosque.  A non-Muslim could not inherit anything from a Muslim.  A non-Muslim man could not marry a Muslim woman, although a Muslim man could marry a Christian or a Jewish woman. 
Martin Gilbert, In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands  (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2010) 32 - 33.
The unacknowledged foundation of the conflict is Arab-Muslim Koranically-based bigotry against Jews... we children of orangutans and swine.  Were it not for Islam, there would be no conflict.  Or, another way of putting it is that if Israel was not a Jewish state, but yet another Muslim state, there would be no conflict based on a supposed need for a "two-state solution."  In fact, not only would there be no conflict, there would not even be any "Palestinians."  The reason for this is because the designation "Palestinian" only came into being so that Arab-Muslims could make their hysterical claims upon historically Jewish land.  The great majority of local Arabs did not consider themselves "Palestinian" until the latter third of the twentieth-century.  And some even remain skeptical concerning it to this day.

"Palestinian" does not represent an ethnicity any more than "Saharan" represents an ethnicity or "Californian" represents an ethnicity.  If we must use outdated terms, then anyone who lives in Israel - a part of the former British Mandate of Palestine - must be considered a "Palestinian."  There are Muslim Palestinians and Jewish Palestinians and Christian Palestinians and Rosicrucian Palestinians and Rastafarian Palestinians and Atheist Palestinians.  To claim that only Muslims and Christians can be "Palestinian" would be something akin to claiming that only Rastafarians and Rosicrucians can be "Californians."   As someone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, it sometimes seems as if California is, in fact, run by Rastafarians and Rosicrucians, but no one would ever suggest that only some people can be Californian.

Furthermore, it must be understood that "Palestinian," as an ethnic designation, was artificially constructed or contrived.  It did not emerge, as other ethnicities have, organically, but was primarily a creation of Yassir Arafat and the Soviets.  Even Rashid Khalidi in Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness only finds the first quiet notions of the idea emerging around the turn into the twentieth-century, but everyone who understands the history of the conflict knows that most "Palestinians" only came to see themselves as "Palestinian" in the 1960s with the creation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

Many would suggest that, contrived or not, "Palestinian" as an ethnic or national designation now exists and that as a matter of general human decency, if not liberal ideology, it must be acknowledged.  And, of course, the world has acknowledged the "Palestinians" as a distinct people with a history and with rights.  What I fail to understand, however, is just why it is that Jewish people are under any moral or ethical obligation to acknowledge a people who only recently came into existence as a people for the purpose of undermining, and eventually destroying, Jewish national autonomy?

Jews may acknowledge the "Palestinians" or we may not.  Jews may negotiate with "Palestinians" or we may not.  It may even be in Israel's best interest to both acknowledge and negotiate with "Palestinians" or, maybe not.  But just why in this world are we under any sort of ethical obligation to acknowledge a people who only emerged as a people for the sole purpose of destroying Jewish freedom on our own land?

I suppose that I am trying to slam the barn door only after the horses have escaped, but I am one of those who has come to the conclusion that the very biggest mistake that Israel ever made was in acknowledging a distinct "Palestinian" people and, therefore, agreeing to negotiate with their alleged representatives, the PLO terrorist organization.  Were it up to me Israel would only agree to negotiations with legitimate state actors.  Israel may legitimately negotiate with Iran, but it certainly should not negotiate with the Islamic State (IS), which Barack Obama deceptively refers to as ISIL in order to veil the Islamic nature of the group.  And just as Israel should not negotiate with the Islamic State, so it should not negotiate with either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

Neither represent legitimate state actors and both are entirely riddled with genocidal anti-Semitism.

As we are seeing with the Iranian bomb situation, Israel can no longer afford to allow itself to be pushed around.  People respect those who respect themselves and letting the murderers of Israelis out of Israeli prisons, as a concession to Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama, does not suggest self-respect, but its opposite.  The only way for Jews to have self-respect, however, is to see through the "Palestinian narrative" for the tissue of lies that it represents.  Otherwise both Israeli Jews and diaspora Jews must, by necessity, see themselves as complicit in a terrible crime against the innocent indigenous population.

I recommend against it and history backs us up.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The truth about Susiya

Sar Shalom

With the New York Times publishing a plea by Nasser Nawaja to Israel not to evict him from his home in Susiya in its op-ed page today, it is time reiterate the truth about Susiya. The Palestinian narrative claims that they lived there since being expelled from Israel during the 1948 war and faced a separate expulsion threat in 1986. However, this aerial photograph from 1999 shows that as of then, there was no permanent settlement in Susiya.

Subsequent to then, Salam Fayyad decided to expand Palestinian territory by creating facts on the ground in Area C. This involved Palestinians from the nearby village of Yatta setting up tents in Susiya, the PA providing mobile water tanks, and more permanent structures popping up with EU support from under the tents. The results of these fact-making activities can be seen in this aerial photo from 2013 with the area circled in red changing between the two photos.

Update: Links have been added to the picture to allow a larger/clearer view.

For more information, watch this video from Regavim, the organization that provided the above photos.

Latest Piece for Vocal International

Michael L.

Vocal International is a news magazine out Brussels, Belgium, that I have joined as an analyst, writer, and a member of the Academic Board of Trustees.

My latest piece is entitled, Donald Trump: Israel, Iran and the Jihad Bomb?

Here is a tid-bit:
At the beginning of this political season, however, we are seeing Hillary Clinton challenged from her Left by socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, while former Republican Florida governor, Jeb Bush, is challenged somewhere from his Right by famous, billionaire real estate developer and entertainer, Donald Trump.

While the American mainstream media gives Sanders some credence as a sitting Senator, almost the entire media landscape – left, right, and center – denigrates Trump.  This is not true for everyone writing on American politics, however, because Trump is now driving the clown-car of sixteen potential Republican nominees.  According to a recent FOX News poll Trump is actually leading among likely Republican primary voters.
Check out the rest from the link above.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Acknowledging Jerusalem

Michael L.

JerusalemPeople often say that the "Israel lobby" has far too much control over American foreign policy.

What I often wonder is that if Israel has so much control over the United States government, how is it possible that the U.S. refuses to acknowledge the city of Jerusalem as the capital of that country?

If Israeli interests are as powerful as we are often told then surely Washington D.C. would have recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel decades ago, but it has not.

Furthermore, is their any other UN recognized country on the planet that the U.S. refuses to acknowledge the capital thereof?  Not that I am aware of, so perhaps someone can enlighten me.

Today in the Jerusalem Post we read:
House of Representatives submitted a bill Monday that would enable Congress to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on American documents.

The bill calls for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. It also challenges the recent Supreme Court decision that prevents Jerusalem, Israel from being written on the passport of a child born in the city.
I will be very pleasantly surprised if this bill becomes law, but it represents yet another bet that I would not take.  Certainly there will be no support for this measure from the current President of the United States who will quietly work behind the scenes to kill it.

From the comments:

This is just a publicity stunt to the American people. This will NEVER happen this is being done just so Obama can smack it down and people say hey he doesn't like israel. Israel need to go to their OWN government and work something out. Get the F out of my congress leeches
Well, you have to love this guy.

The comment is entirely incoherent, yet repeats a classic anti-Semitic theme that Jews, as "leeches," suck the blood of host nations.

This is old, old, old stuff.  This is quite literally Medieval thinking.
lightharry • a day ago

This just shows the average American how much influence the Israeli AIPAC has through it's bribing of the Congressmen. We have a congress that no lölonger represents the American tax payer but jumps every time Israel calls
jboom seems to have a like-minded friend in lightharry.

How these individuals fail to see the obvious contradiction between the actual news story and their world-view is pretty remarkable.

This is essentially a story on how friends of Israel, including friends in Congress, are requesting that the U.S. government recognize Israel's capital, Jerusalem, which it refuses to do.  Yet, somehow, against all reason, for the geniuses above it means that the Jews have too much power.
guest123 • a day ago

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the recognition of that fact does not alter the fact.
I could not agree more.
David Schugar • a day ago

This is a cause worth fighting for. It would be better received if Israel accompanied this effort with a program for building new & modern Palestinian cities in the West Bank. Cities that they could require background checks for residency to illustrate that those who want to lead normal productive lives (normalization) and foreswear "struggle and resistance" are welcome to participate in the land of milk and honey. Prosperous Palestinian Principalities - each with their own soccer team too. 
This is the kind of sentiment that I was raised within, so to speak.

David has the modern, contemporary, liberal, Enlightenment world-view, but it has a fatal flaw.  It requires the like-minded cooperation of other people.  If there is one thing that we have learned in recent decades it is that the Palestinian-Arabs, as a group, tend not to yearn for "new & modern Palestinian cities in the West Bank."

If they wanted modernity, autonomy, and peace, they could have had that in 1948.

Instead they chose Jihadism, dependency, and war... as they perpetually whine to the international community that the Jews are being mean to them.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What we should look for in the next president (in general)

Sar Shalom

In previous posts about what to look for in the next president, I have examined issues of particular interest to us as supporters of Israel. In this post I'd like to suggest two traits to look for in the next president that are not particular to any political leanings. The first one is that the next president should be modest enough to recognize that he or she can never know more about a particular policy area than a specialist in that topic. The second trait is how he or she would evaluate whose advice is sound and whose is not.

To illustrate these two points, or the absence of them, I refer to a recent post by Abu Yehuda about Mideast policy by the two most recent administrations. What I would suggest is that the problems in the Middle East are not due to decisions of recent administrations to intervene or not, rather the problem is either one of immodesty or an inability to evaluate competing advice soundly.

Starting where one of the character flaws is at work, Obama acts as a know-it-all when it comes to the Middle East. This should not be surprising given that he previously stated, "I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors." With regards to Iran, the source for Obama's policy can be described as Obama knowing, just knowing, that underneath the facade of Iran's revolutionary regime there is a responsible regional actor that will come out if only the right coddling incentives were provided. The result is that when his Director of Central Intelligence, Defense Secretary, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all called for arming and training the Syrian rebels in Jordan, Obama felt confident in his possession of "The Truth" about Iran and how such an action would undermine the coaxing of the hidden responsible actor out from the revolutionary facade.

While there were know-it-alls involved in Bush's Iraq War policy, Bush was not one of them. (Disclosure: I supported the Iraq War from the beginning, albeit with reservations about Bush's commitment to the establishment of a democratic order in Iraq after Saddam fell. From the time the statue of Saddam fell until the announcement of the "surge," there was little if anything that I supported in the way of decisions made in Washington and then I completely supported the nationalization of the Anbar Awakening embodied in the "surge.") Instead, Bush's problem was that he trusted two know-it-alls, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and mistook their confidence and calls for decisive action for sage advice. Notwithstanding that I think Bush should have followed the script that a team from the Army War College drafted for the Phase IV reconstruction in Iraq, and the fact that events have supported my view, Bush's decision to follow Cheney and Rumsfeld could have been defended at the start. However, as events transpired in Iraq, a principle enunciated by a restaurant chain manager to Atul Gawande about what he would do if running a neurology unit should affected Bush's approach going forward:
This is pretty obvious. I’m sure you already do it. But I’d study what the best people are doing, figure out how to standardize it, and then bring it to everyone to execute.
In Iraq, this would have meant looking at the record of MAJ James Gavrilis in Ar-Rutbah, MG David Petraeus in Ninewah Province, MG Peter Chiarelli in Sadr City, and COL H. R. McMaster in Tal Afar. In each of those cases, the Bush administration was happy to pocket the results of those operations, even citing McMaster's success in Tal Afar as reason to believe that the Iraq War was not hopeless. However, for Cheney and Rumsfeld, those officers committed the unpardonable sin of straying from The Truth about how wars are to fought and Bush trusted Cheney's and Rumsfeld's assurances about The Truth about how to fight wars rather than the experiences of the aforementioned officers.

Bush eventually did turn around on his approach to Iraq, after receiving a "thumping" at the polls in 2006, in part due to the situation in Iraq. At that time, there were two proposals for how to proceed. One was the Baker-Hamilton report, also known as the Iraq Study Group. The competing proposal was from Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and retired Army Vice Chief of Staff Jack Keane, what later became known as the surge. While the Kagan-Keane report did incorporate the lessons from what did and did not work in Iraq to that point, I cannot rule out the possibility that Bush selected because it was the only one of the two options in front of him that was not an effective surrender in Iraq. Whatever his motives, Bush's selection of the Kagan-Keane report, the leadership of GEN David Petraeus in Baghdad, and Bush's support for GEN Petraeus built on the progress being made at that time in Ramadi by COL Sean MacFarland and brought those successes to the rest of Iraq.

Unfortunately, by the time Bush came to realize that the approach of Cheney and Rumsfeld was not working, Iran had embedded itself in Iraq's political structure. While the Kagan-Keane plan did address the security threats plaguing Iraq at the end of 2006, it did not address the political structure in Iraq. It is Iran's continued control over Iraqi politics that plagues us today, control which evolved over four years of Bush refusing to address the security situation in Iraq in any manner that challenged Cheney's and Rumsfeld's "Truth."

Returning to the issue of evaluating the candidates, Abu Yehuda wrote, "Bush did not understand the complexity of the situation or the intentions of the various players." In actuality, we should not expect the president to understand the complexity of the situation. However, there is something we should expect from the president that would prevent situations both like what arose from Bush's waging of war in Iraq and Obama's withdrawal from that war. The first expectation should be for president to have the humility to recognize the limits of his or her understanding. The second expectation should be for the president to have some means of weighing competing offers of advice other than simply favoring what jives with his or her pre-existing views. While it would be ideal to be able to do so a priori, at a minimum this should mean being able to follow the consequences of natural experiments with an eye towards evaluating competing theories on how they performed rather than by their conformance to preconceived notions.

The 1980s, the American Left, and Rubik's Bomb

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at the Elder of ZiyonJews Down Under, and The Jewish Press.}

rubik's cubeWhen I was a college student in the 1980s the American Left opposed nuclear proliferation.

Mainstream, regular Democrats often furrowed their brows at the American nuclear program during the Cold War and many called for a scaling back of the arsenal.

A popular book at the time, among idealistic, politically-inclined peace-loving Jewish left-dwelling Americans, and others, was something called The Hundredth Monkey, by Ken Keyes, Jr.

{Not to be confused with countercultural icon and author Ken Kesey of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest fame.}

The book's thesis was that in order to avoid a nuclear catastrophe the West needed to move beyond a zero-sum paradigm of political confrontation to a paradigm of cooperation, if not friendship, with international rivals.

It was as much a broad psychological analysis of the West, politically, as it was a specific criticism of U.S. nuclear policies.  In the 1980s, during the Reagan years, the American Left was down, but it was not out and it was motivated.  The kinds of students who embraced The Hundredth Monkey were also, just beneath the surface of Reagan's America, embracing feminism and the counterculture.  There was a sense of possibility in the air and nascent conservatives, such as Tucker Carlson - well before he put on his bow tie and got decked by Jon Stewart on Crossfire in 2004 - were still following the Grateful Dead around the country.

Although college students increasingly looked rightward at the time, feminism seemed to be on the rise and young women throughout the country were Taking Back the Night.  Feminists were also starting, in a significant way, to oppose Islamic oppression of women; a trend that reached a height in opposition to the Taliban in the 1990s but that crashed with the Two Towers in 2001.  There was also an interesting debate within American feminism between feminist countercultural libertarians, like Camille Paglia - who would now be considered a right-leaning figure - versus more traditional second-wave feminists, like Gloria Steinem.

There was something of a renaissance of counterculture literature at the time, as well.  Even as conservatism and the Evangelical movement and the Moral Majority were gaining within the mainstream American political landscape, many college students rediscovered Kerouac and the Beats, Richard Brautigan and the hippies.  Writers, and crazy people, like William S. Burroughs, Alan Ginsberg, Alan Watts, John Lilly, Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, and many other alternative figures, largely from the 1960s, came to the attention of many young people in my generation... including, yes, Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters.

In the 1980s there was a saying within certain dope-smoking, poker-playing quarters that "the 90s are going to make the 80s look like the 50s."  The idea, of course, was that we were going back to something that more closely resembled the 1960s.  The hope - at least among young, Left, radically-inclined white kids - was that after the business-oriented, closed-down, shut-up, Reagan 80s we would see a 1960s-style re-awakening of freedom and fun in the 90s.

{It did not happen.}

When William Jefferson Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in the general election of 1992 many of us breathed a sigh of relief.  From a cultural standpoint the Clinton presidency seemed to promise considerably more elbow-room than did the previous twelve years of conservative Reagan-Bush.  And although, of course, the 1990s were nothing like the 1960s, there was at least a sense among many on the Left that the country was taking steps in a direction that suggested cultural openness and international cooperation under Bill Clinton.

80s conservatism was over.  The economy was booming.  The computer revolution was taking hold and new technologies, such as cell phone technology, were introduced to the general population.  Computers were everywhere and people were yammering at one another on email, prior to text messaging and twitter.  Pat Buchanan called for a "Culture War," Clinton had illicit sex in the Oval Office, and Jerry Falwell thought that the world was coming to an end because of Gay people.

However, if in the 1980s and 1990s the American Left opposed nuclear proliferation and zero-sum political stances, today it has embraced both.

The American Left, and the Obama administration, support an Iranian Jihadi bomb and a zero-sum effort against the Jews of the Middle East.

They may have opposed nuclear proliferation in the United States during the middle-end of the twentieth-century, but they definitely favor Iranian nuclear proliferation under the Ayatollahs in the beginning of the twenty-first-century.  They opposed a zero-sum resolution in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, but often favor a zero-sum resolution in the Long Arab War Against the Jews.

Phases of the Long Arab War Against the Jews in the Middle East: 

Phase 1, 1920 - 1947: Riots and Massacres

Phase 2, November 1947 - April 1948: The Civil War in Palestine

Phase 3, 1948 - 1973: Conventional Warfare

Phase 4, 1964 - Present: The Terror War

Phase 5, 1975 - Present: The Delegitimization Effort

The Arab war in the Middle East against the Jewish minority is a zero-sum conflict.

The hostile Arab majority outnumber the beseiged Jews by a factor of 60 to 70 to 1.  The extent to which the western-left accepts anti-Semitic anti-Zionism as part of its larger coalition is the extent to which it accepts zero-sum resolutions to problems.  There is no amicable compromise between the anti-Zionist Left and the Jewish people.  Anti-Zionism represents the Arab-Muslim effort to undermine and eliminate Israel and BDS is its western-left outpost.

So long as "liberals" and Democrats provide venues for anti-Semitic anti-Zionists of the type that promote BDS, then they are engaging in a zero-sum aggression against the Jewish people as a whole.  So long as "liberals" and Democrats enable an Iranian nuclear weapons program, then they are twisting a Rubik's Bomb that quite possibly will go off in their faces... and ours, as well.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson

I love popular culture and I absolutely love Calvin and Hobbes.

Bill Watterson is one of the great artists in his field and if his lawyers come upon this and order me to cease-and-desist, I will do so with alacrity and sadness.

But I have been wondering what I want to do with my weekly acknowledgment of the Sabbath.

For the moment, at least, I want to thank Bill Watterson for creating something beautiful.

A Re-Alignment of American Jewish Organizations Is Needed


A re-alignment of organizations whose stated objectives include, strengthening support for Israel and combating anti-Semitism, is needed.

They have failed to achieve these objectives.

This article concentrates, but is not limited to, AIPAC, ADL, AJC (American Jewish Committee), the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (CPMJO) and the ZOA..

I attempt, in a most respectful manner, to point out, in some specific instances, where these organizations have failed. The second portion of this article contains suggestions, but also the difficulties, of achieving these objectives.

I must confess, short of a revolution in the thinking of American Jews, I don't believe there is a high probability of these organizations changing in the near future.

Our dealings with Iran have shown the weakness of AIPAC, ADL, AJC, ZOA and CPMJO. They failed to stop the bad nuclear negotiating stance with Iran.

When both Israel and Saudi Arabia publicly condemn the negotiations, any American administration and European government should have heeded their recommendation. These organizations failed to expose (or may not even have known) the previous year long, illegal “back door” negotiations between N. Burns (State Dept.) and the terrorist sponsoring Iranians. The same organizations could not minimize the damage caused by General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , when he said “we would not want to be complicit in any Israeli attack against Iran.”

It remains to be seen how effective the organizations will be in getting the Senate to override the expected Obama veto.

These organizations failed to convince the administration to combine the “nuclear” talks with Iran’s support for Syria’s Assad, Hizballah, (second only to Al Qaeda in number of Americans killed) and Hamas. Their continued denial of the Holocaust, continuous chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” (just last weekend on Al Quds Day) and development of long range missiles capable of reaching the U.S., seems to show their mal-intent towards the United States.

Even if Congress overrides President Obama's veto, the organizations are still at fault for letting this Iran deal advance this far provoking enmity between America and it's Middle East allies..

AIPAC, AJC and CPMJO acceded to President Obama’s request to “hold off” on further sanctions. (Senator Menendez proposal.)

They had years to convince Senator and now Secretary Kerry, of the legitimate needs of Israel. Yet, his “apartheid” comments reveal an anti-Israel bias, at a minimum, and possibly anti-Semitism, at it’s most dangerous. I believe only the ZOA has publicly called for his resignation.

These same organizations failed to convince President Obama that the re-establishment of the modern state of Israel is not just a reaction to the Holocaust. He hinted that in his statements in Turkey and Egypt.
President Obama’s public call to remove President Mubarak and his insistence on seating the Muslim Brotherhood in the front row, at his Cairo speech, were instrumental in endangering the already fragile Egyptian/Israeli peace treaty.

These organizations were apparently ignorant of the views of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. From his term as mayor of Istanbul, he was known as an anti-American, anti-Semitic , Islamist. In fact, the previous Turkish government had banned him, for five years, from public life for his Islamist views. Yet, it has been reported, that President Obama, in his first two years, spoke to Erdogan more than any other world leader.

These same organization have failed to convince CIA Director Brennan to stop calling Jerusalem, “Al Quds”, to stop flattering Hizballah to Lebanese audiences, and to stop lauding “religious freedom” in Saudi Arabia.

AIPAC failed to support Senator Rand Paul’s bill which would cut off U.S. aid to the PA and it’s security forces. The bill states that they must fulfill essentially, what they were responsible to do in the Oslo Accords, and in the negotiation with Israel the last eight years,. For example, recognize Israel as a Jewish State, renounce terrorism and terminate anti American and anti-Israel incitement.

The ADL and the AJC have adopted a universalist rather than a particularist (pro Israel, pro-Jewish) world view. That attitude explains why only half of the ADL blogs for 2011 and 2012 are advocating for Israel or Jewish causes. The AJC invests time, effort and money developing an “amicus” brief opposing the Swiss law that restricts the height of Mosques.
Meanwhile, global ant-Semitism has risen!

The AJC proudly announces that, for a fourth time, Secretary Clinton has participated at their general meeting. This is the same Secretary Clinton who berated Prime Minister Netanyahu, and who stated that the settlements were “illegitimate. I don’t believe she expressed that sentiment when she was running for Senator from New York State.

The AJC brags about the numerous Seders they conducted with foreign diplomats in attendance. I ask: Did the countries represented by these diplomats vote for, against or abstain from the PA joining UN treaties and organizations?

Even the Republican Jewish Coalition, at their general meeting, failed to convince Governor Christie that the term “occupied territory” expresses an anti-Israel perspective. After meeting with Mr. Adelson, one of the prime sponsors, all Governor Christie could say is, “I misspoke.” His true views can be ascertained from the brusque and dismissive manner he treated Morton Klein of the ZOA, when they met after the speech.
By the way, the accounting problems that the ZOA have experienced the last few years, have destroyed the sentiment (expressed by numerous comedians) that a Jewish accountant can protect your money.

Both the Wiesenthal Center and J Street merit a mention in this article.Dean Rabbi Hier of the Wiesenthal Center was reported, in The Forward, to be the most highly paid executive of any Jewish organization. His organization is most effective in attracting money from members of the entertainment industry. But they (the Center and members of the entertainment industry) also have failed to increase support for Israel or minimize the level of global antiSemitism.

The relatively new J Street group has views that are inconsistent with a 2011 AJC poll of American Jews. For example, J Street advocates that the U.S. should include HAMAS in negotiations with the PA and that Jerusalem should be divided. They also oppose any military action against Iran.

On a personal note: Five years ago when I was still active as a university professor, I noticed the dire straits that pro-Israel and Jewish students were having on campus. I asked the AJC, ZOA , ADL and The Flame, if they could, perhaps, combine their efforts so this problem could be nipped in the bud. Only Mr. Joffee from The Flame acknowledged my letter!

Unfortunately, many of the Jewish organizations have accepted, even relish, their role as “court” Jews.

Therefore, I don’t believe a re-alignment is possible.

The energy of these organizations comes from money that is contributed. Not from the $50 or $100 that individuals contribute, but from the “fat cats” in the “accolade” list. (the individuals listed on the left of the organizations stationery.) Since these individuals may be among the 70% of American Jews who voted for the Obama administration (sorry, partisan), it will be difficult to change their minds.

The hundreds of Jewish organizations (synagogues, community centers, federations, etc.) are another misguided group. Their interpretation of Tikkun Olam means “Charity Does Not Begin At Home”. It is rare to find a “Save Sderot” sign next to their old, tattered, yellowed “Save Darfur” sign.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, former President of the Union for Reform Judaism, recently stated that former Israeli Ambassador Oren “doesn't much like American Jews. In fact, he appears to view them with conisiderable disdain.” This comment results from Oren faulting Jewish reporters and some intellectuals for not supporting Israel strongly enough.

I don't expect significant public actions from those political “luminaries” who are always looking for their next position. Senator Schumer, who calls himself the “shomer” (guardian) of Israel, recently stated to a group, “The worst situation is a military strike against Iran. It will trigger a war with Hizballah in Lebanon.” Was he ahead of the findings of the Luntz poll of Democrat “opinion elites”? The poll found that almost half of them consider Israel to be a racist country? Or, fewer than half believe that Israel wants peace with it's neighbors. Or, of particular relevance to the Iran agreement debate, that three quarters of these Democrats believe that Israel has too much influence on U.S. Foreign policy. Will he attempt to overide a most probable veto from President Obama to remove sanctions? His potential position as the leading Democrat in the Senate (Senator Reid is retiring.) is in play.

Even former Mayor Bloomberg, who courageously visited Israel during the Gaza conflict, appeared to bristle at the remark by CNN Wolf Blitzer that, the closing of flights from the U.S. to Israel was prompted by the administration.

I hope the readers who comment on this article can state some optimistic strategies to relieve the dire situation I have described.

Threats Quash Irish Dance Festival in Israel

Michael L.

Ha'aretz reports:
An Irish dance competition that was set to take place in Israel has been canceled, following threats by pro-Palestinian activists.

The Carey Academy said it canceled the "1st Israeli Feis," which was set to take place in Tel Aviv in August, after threatening messages were posted on the event's Facebook page by members of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a protest was held outside the academy's dance studio.
Most Israelis consider the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction their country (BDS) to be grounded in anti-Jewish prejudice.  Israelis look around and see that they are surrounded by countries with far worse human rights records that are not subject to western calls for sanction or boycott.  They, therefore, see the movement against them as hostile, bigoted, and hypocritical.  Hundreds of thousands of people are dead in Syria within the last few years, but no one speaks of a BDS for Syria.  Millions of people are dead in Congo over the last decade and the West does not care.  As Israelis often see it, the sanctimonious West has simply swapped out the allegedly nefarious Jew of the early twentieth century for the allegedly nefarious Jewish state of the early twenty-first century.

The Irish, naturally enough, tend to view the Arab-Israel conflict through the lens of Irish-English history.  For many Irish this translates into visceral support for the Palestinian-Arabs, and a generalized hostility toward the Israelis, who they view, like the English, as violators of the sovereignty of an indigenous people.  It is, thus, not the least bit surprising that among the European countries Ireland tends to be more pro-Palestinian than most.

European views on Israel, and on the movement to boycott Israel, are not uniform.  If the Irish have tended to be less supportive of Israel, the Czechs have tended to be more pro-Israel and for similar reasons.  If the Irish generally view the Arab-Israel conflict through the lens of Irish-English history, the Czechs tend to view it through the lens of their experience during World War II wherein the country of Czechoslovakia was sacrificed by the major European powers in the fruitless hope of avoiding a larger conflict.  It is for this reason that that the Czechs, unlike the Irish or virtually anyone else, provided arms for Jewish defense during the 1948 war for Israeli liberation.

But was it "Israeli liberation"?

Palestinian-Arabs do not look upon the 1948 war as the liberation of the Jewish people from foreign control and the re-establishment, after 2,000 years, of Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land.  What they see is al-Nakba, the catastrophe.

During the war to establish the State of Israel approximately 700,000 Arabs were displaced, sometimes through Jewish military force and sometimes through a voluntary desire to remove themselves from the path of warfare, an option that the Jews did not have.  Middle Eastern Jews, Mizrahis, living outside of Israel at the time, went through a similar process of displacement and with similar numbers of people.  The difference, of course, is that on the heels of the Holocaust, Israel was intent on absorbing Jewish refugees, while the Arab states thought to use their displaced brothers and sisters as clubs against the "Zionist regime."

Those who follow the BDS campaign in the international Jewish media and "blogosphere" usually read stories of BDS failure.  This is particularly true in the United States where the movement has yet to gain much traction.  In Europe, of course, the situation is different.  Anti-Zionism and BDS have more of a following in part because of the greater percentage of Arab-Muslims who live in Europe compared to the United States.

However, it also should be kept in mind that from the perspective of a Palestinian-Arab father who must put food on the table for his family, the BDS movement sometimes represents a threat to livelihood.  When Sodastream closed its factory in Mishor Adumim, in what is commonly referred to as the "West Bank," some five hundred Palestinian-Arab families lost their breadwinner.

These five hundred families who - due to the efforts of those who allegedly wish them well - may face considerable hunger in forthcoming weeks and months.

And just how depriving Israelis of Irish dancers helps Arabs is beyond comprehension.  It simply makes no sense.  If the Irish wish to help Muslims and Jews live together peacefully in the Middle East, they should encourage cooperation rather than a boycott of the Jews, who are among the most persecuted people in the history of humanity.

If, on the other hand, those in the Irish community who support the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) want constant bloodshed between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East then they are going about things the best way possible.  If they want Jews to strike back against Arabs in that part of the world a very good way of doing it is to stoke Jewish fears concerning persecution.

The success of the BDS movement in quashing the Irish Dance Festival in Israel is a relatively small matter.

It is ugly and counterproductive, nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mort Klein is not a Happy Man

Michael L.

Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is not a very happy man, today.

Concerning Obama's recent capitulation to the Islamist regime in Iran ZOA staff writes:
Achaemenid Soldier Iman MalekiThe Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is deeply horrified, but not surprised, by the truly terrible nuclear agreement that has been signed by the P5 +1 nations (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, including the United States, plus Germany) and the radical Islamic Iranian regime. This agreement will provide nuclear weapons and hundreds of billions of dollars to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Hitler of the Mideast, and to Iran, the Nazi Germany of the Middle East. Only last Friday, Khamenei and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, appeared at the latest of a series of regular rallies calling for destruction of the U.S. and Israel.

The ZOA National President Morton A. Klein has issued the following statement:

“The nuclear agreement concluded in Vienna is quite simply a catastrophe and a nightmare. It leaves the world standing at an abyss."
I like Mort Klein and the ZOA is the most stalwart of the major pro-Israel organizations.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus, writing in my newly found home at The Jewish Press, has cataloged the basic reactions of the major pro-Israel (or allegedly pro-Israel) organizations in the United States.

The ZOA, of course, loathes the deal and Klein seems to be in no mood to take Sar Shalom's considered advice.  Instead, they are "horrified" and the deal is "terrible" and the Iranians are Nazis.

J-Street, on the other hand, is happy as the proverbial clam.

Marcus writes:
J Street founder and president Jeremy Ben-Ami once described his nascent organization as “President Obama’s blocking back.” It apparently still sees itself that way. While hedging its bets a tiny bit by calling the deal “complex and multi-faceted,” J Street takes President Obama at his word and concludes that the deal “appears to meet the critical criteria around which a consensus of non-proliferation experts has formed for a deal that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.” Tellingly, the statement does not mention what those criteria are.
At the end of the day, US president Barack Obama got precisely what he wanted, a piece of paper with a Persian signature.  What it means beyond that is difficult to see.  At the beginning of the negotiating process Obama told the American people that it was US policy to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weaponry.

The purpose of "the deal" was not to get a piece of paper with some signatures on it.  The purpose of the deal was to fulfill the US foreign policy goal of preventing an Iranian bomb.  The deal does not do that, thus it is yet another Obama foreign policy failure.

On the very outside, we will likely see an Iranian bomb within ten years, maybe fifteen, but my guess is considerably closer to five.  What this means is that the Obama administration has sold us all down the river.

Jews.  Arabs.  Australians.  Americans.  Europeans.  All of Asia.

We are about to embark upon a brave new world wherein a highly bigoted Persian Shia government, that despises Jews and westerners, and maintains resentment from 1953, will now control the world's most dangerous weaponry.  This is going to change the face of the Middle East and, perhaps, the world, more generally.

Once Iran gains the bomb the western powers will have no ability to curb its behavior.  Iran will place a nuclear shield around its partnerships and interests, as any country would do.  Unfortunately, for the rest of us, Iran's partnerships and interests include Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen.  Iran opposes the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but that is primarily because ISIS is a significant inconvenience on Iran's intentions toward Iraq.

Although virtually no one seems to be discussing it, what we are seeing in Iraq is an Iranian take-over with American complicity justified by the need to defeat ISIS.  It can truly be said at this point that Iran has absolutely defeated Iraq, with the help of the United States, and will now go forth to control, if not conquer, a significant portion of that former country as it consolidates its power throughout the region.

This is an exceedingly interesting moment in history and an exceedingly dangerous one.

The Obama administration is desperately hoping that the Islamic Republic of Iran will represent a stabilizing force in the region.  Obama seems to want Iran to take over the US role in that part of the world and impose an Iranian Peace on the neighborhood.  This is not entirely unfeasible except for the fact that Iran has yet to make nice with Israel.  Until that happens empowering Iran with nuclear weaponry, an enormous influx of cash, and additional prestige - which it will use to beat upon Israel via its proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip - will not lead to peace.

After Chamberlain returned from signing the Munich pact with Hitler, in September of 1938, Churchill famously remarked, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

I do not know that this deal is anything close to the same level of importance as the Munich pact, but it might be.  None of us know what the future holds and none of us, I suspect, really have much understanding of the Ayatollahs of Iran and their military capacity... which is about to take an enormous leap.

What I see, as I put it earlier, is a roll of the dice.

It could be that Obama's gamble is going to work out.  Maybe Iran will be brought in from the cold and perhaps Obama is right to pat it on the head.

What I still do not understand, however, is the quid pro quo?

Who gains in this deal other than the Ayatollahs?

How to talk about the Iran deal

Sar Shalom

I'll leave the task of describing why the Iran deal should be rejected to others. Instead, I'd like to bring up the reality that unless 12 Democrats in the Senate and 43 in the House join the effort to stop the deal, even assuming that all Republicans do so, the deal will take effect. This means that Congress' time to review the deal is not rally-the-base time, it is persuade time. That is, it is time to work on persuading the necessary Democrats in the House and Senate that it would be better to continue as is with the sanctions than to allow the deal to take effect.

Unfortunately, the bluster from the Republicans will not have any persuasive power. Anything that can be dismissed as knee-jerk opposition to a deal with our enemies will not have any persuasive power. Rallying a pro-Israel Democratic constituency could have the needed persuasive power, if there is a large enough group of them willing to make the required noise. However, it is unlikely to be enough. We need to understand the 12 most conservative Senate Democrats' terms for evaluating the Iran deal and then explain it within that framework in a way that would induce them to override a veto of Congress' rejection of it. It also would not hurt if the Republicans in Congress would offer some inducements, such as removing some element from the assault on Obama's domestic agenda, in order to get the needed handful of Democrats to support the override.

Update: The Jerusalem Post has an editorial making the same point with a few details added. Some particularly sage advice:
Second, the Israeli campaign against the deal must avoid personal attacks on the US president. Lobbying efforts must focus on the issues. Democrats will rally around their president if they perceive him to be the subject of baseless ad hominem accusations.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Obama Rolls the Dice

Michael L.

rolling diceAccording to Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) these are the key provisions of The Deal:
Iran will reduce its uranium enrichment capacity by two-thirds. This will involve stopping the use of its underground facility at Fordow for enriching uranium.

Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium will be reduced by 95%, to 300 kg. This will be done either by diluting the enriched uranium or shipping it out of the country.

The core of the heavy water reactor in Arak will be removed, and it will be redesigned so that it will not produce significant amounts of plutonium.

Iran will allow UN inspectors to enter sites, including military sites, when the inspectors have grounds to believe undeclared nuclear activity is being carried out there. It can object but a multinational commission can override any objections by majority vote. After that, Iran will have three days to comply. Inspectors will only come from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran – therefore, they will not include Americans.

Once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has taken steps to scale back its program, UN, US and EU sanctions on Iran will be lifted.

Restrictions on trade in conventional weapons will last another five years.

Restrictions on trade in ballistic missile technology will last another eight years.

If there are allegations that Iran has not met its obligations, a joint commission will seek to resolve the dispute. If that effort is not successful within 30 days, the matter would be referred to the UN Security Council, which would vote on continuing sanctions relief. A veto by a permanent member would mean that sanctions are reimposed. The whole process would take 65 days.
Israelis, and most particularly the Netanyahu government, do not seem happy with the deal.

Marissa Newsman, writing in the Times of Israel, tell us:
“The prime minister emphasized that the deal raises two main dangers: It will allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons — if it keeps to the deal, at the end of the 10-15 years, if it breaks it, before then,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

“It addition, it will pump hundreds of billions of dollars into the Iranian terror and war machine which threatens Israel and the entire world,” the statement quoted Netanyahu as telling Obama.
What we are looking at here, in my humble opinion, is a roll of the dice.  In the mean time Iran will reap considerable financial benefits which, as Netanyahu reminded Barack Obama, will be used for the noble purpose of committing violence against the Jewish minority in the Middle East.

The US administration seems rather smug about finally getting the deal and Iran is enjoying rubbing it in Israel's face, however it is not as if the Sunni Arab states are happy with this, either.  What we will now see in the Middle East, due to Barack Obama's apparent need to partner with Islamist forces such as Iran - not to mention the Muslim Brotherhood - is a nuclear arms race with Saudi Arabia and Egypt taking the lead in order to counter Obama's Iranian nuclear weapons.

What we will also see is the ongoing deterioration of American influence throughout the region because no one, aside from the Iranians, now see the United States as a trustworthy tactical partner.
Earlier, Netanyahu slammed the world powers’ nuclear deal with Iran as a “stunning historic mistake,” while maintaining that Israel was under no obligation to adhere to it.

“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran because Iran continues to seek our destruction. We will always defend ourselves,” Netanyahu told foreign media reporters in Jerusalem.
I do not see how any Israeli government has any choice but to oppose this deal because it means that Iran is going, in relatively short order, to gain nuclear weapons.

The real question, to my mind, is what, if anything, Israel intends to do about it?  Israel took out the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, but this is not 1981 and Iran is not Iraq.  I doubt if Israel, by itself, has the capacity to take out Iranian nuclear facilities.  US military "bunker busters" may be necessary, but there is no way that the hostile president of the United States is going to provide Israel with the means to do the job.

The Obama administration will yammer to Americans and to the international community that this is a great day for the world and a great day for the United States.

Critics of the administration will claim that it is highly naive and, thereby, a danger to people throughout the world.

Richard Nephew, a former top sanctions advisor in the negotiations, said:
“This was the first time that a country that was breaking all the rules was made to change."
“It will show you can bring a country in from the cold.”
Barack Obama must be the most blasé American president that I have ever seen.

His primary legacy will be an Islamist bomb and the destruction of the Oslo "peace process."

{Perhaps we can be thankful for the latter.}

Essentially the Obama administration is gambling on the good-will of the Ayatollahs, the very people that continually screech for "Death to America!"

Perhaps Obama's roll of the dice will get lucky, but I would not bet on that, either.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Peace-Loving Jewish Left-Dwelling Americans

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at the Elder of ZiyonJews Down Under, and The Jewish Press.}

delicate Jewish Left-Dwelling Americans are probably among the most well-meaning people on the entire planet.  I have never seen such unrequited niceness in my entire life, actually.

I suppose that I am just a tad biased, but I am willing to bet good shekels that American Jews are over-represented in the various charities, civic groups, non-profit organizations, and soup kitchens of America.

We come out of a religious-ethical tradition grounded in social justice and reinforced by the long shadow of the Holocaust.  We want peace for all Israelis, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Rosicrucians, Lutherans, Calvinists, Russian Orthodox Catholics, Mennonites, Atheists, and God-Knows-What-All.

We want peace for everybody, everywhere, and never tire of insisting to anyone who will listen - whether they like it or not or even care - that we do so.

We even, many of us, want to Repair the World which, I have to tell you, I find a tad ambitious.  Tikkun Olam seems a little above my pay grade, but if peace-loving Jewish left-dwelling Americans honestly think that they have the wisdom to pull-off the job, then good for them.

{As a poker player, however, I would not place that bet.}

In terms of the Arab-Israel conflict, we want two states for two peoples.  That is, we really want twenty-three Arab states for one people and a single small democratic, Jewish state for our people wherein maybe - if the Arabs will let us - Jews can live in peace.

And, yet, somehow, against all reason, we cannot seem to understand why this would not be acceptable to the Arab majority throughout the Middle East, who want nothing whatsoever to do with Jews, period.

We want Arabs and Muslims, and everyone else in Israel, to live free and democratic lives next to a "Palestinian" state without being under the gun.  This is because we western liberal Jews see ourselves as rational and peaceful and, for the most part, we are rational and peaceful.  Most of us who come out of the American Jewish Left were raised in middle-class homes that emphasized education and an ethos of justice.

We grew up within a late twentieth-century American political milieu, heavily influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, that stressed that people "of color" in the United States have been historically persecuted and held-back economically due to centuries of racism, genocide, slavery, and Jim Crow laws.

Thus the American Jewish Left was raised to empathize - cognizant of Jewish history - with the poor and the persecuted and to generally assume that the problems of poor Black people, Latinos, and the Native Indigenous in the United States are due, at least in some significant measure, to institutionalized economic and cultural discrimination.

It is for this reason that so many peace-loving Jewish left-dwelling Americans empathize with the poor embattled "Palestinian" people.

Getting Smacked Around In Our Own Political Homes

However, American Jews would also very much like to stop having to constantly defend Israel from BDS and malicious, anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist attacks within their own political homes.

Wherever left-leaning American Jews congregate on the political landscape they are called upon to justify the allegedly cruel and inhumane behavior of their brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

spotlight2That is to say, within left-leaning American political discourse, in almost any venue, Jews have a moral spotlight placed upon them.

We have seen this recently with undergraduates Rachel Beyda, at UCLA, and Molly Horwitz, at Stanford University.  Both young ladies applied for positions within their respective student governments only to be questioned about their capacity, as Jews, for fair-mindedness in decision-making.  They both, I understand, made it onto their respective student governments, but not before having to go through a humiliating process wherein their integrity was challenged for no other reason than that they happen to be Jewish.

This type of objectively anti-Jewish racism, it should be noted, is a direct result of anti-Zionism and the BDS movement on American college campuses throughout the country.  Were it not for anti-Zionism and BDS those two young women would not have been singled out for humiliation.

Americans in the Democratic Party, and the American Left, more generally, are subject to the constant drip, drip, drip of anti-Semitic / anti-Zionist defamation of the Jewish people in the Middle East who they are coming to believe, more and more, are racist, imperialist, colonialist monsters who have used the Holocaust as a cudgel to beat down the "indigenous" Arab population.

This represents the general mood of the so-called "Palestinian narrative."

Its influence, whatever its intent, undermines the general well-being of all Jewish people, not just those of us who happen to live in the Jewish home.  The point is to make all Jews feel immoral, and to make others believe that we are immoral, for restoring or supporting our national sovereignty after two thousand years of displacement and abuse.

What they are telling the world is that despite the Holocaust - and despite thirteen centuries of second and third-class non-citizenship as dhimmis under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism - that Jewish sovereignty on the very land that Jewish people come from is an abomination that must be weakened, undermined, and destroyed.

The reason for this is because the "Palestinian narrative," while spreading the blood-libel that Jews enjoy killing non-Jewish children, also insists that we are a nation of land thieves who have no organic connection to Jerusalem or Judea... nor, apparently, anywhere else.

The Palestinian Narrative and the Jewish-Left Confirmation

The "Palestinian narrative," however, is either true or it is false.

That is to say, it is either true that the Jewish people are from that land or it is true that the Jews are not from that land.

If it is true - as history tells us - that the Jewish people have been living and working and building and writing on the land of Israel for millennia then Israel can hardly be unlawfully or illegitimately occupying its own land.

If the "Palestinian narrative" is, indeed, false and therefore if Jews actually come from Judea and Samaria, then perhaps the diaspora Jewish Left might cease confirming, and thereby promoting, the idea that the small bit of Jewish land on the edge of the Mediterranean actually belongs to the conquering Arabs.

Whenever peace-loving Jewish left-dwelling Americans claim that they oppose the "Occupation" (with the Big O) they are essentially claiming that the Jewish people have no indigenous rights to the Land of Israel.

They, therefore, oppose "settlers" and "settlements" in the "West Bank."

"Settlers" and "settlements," of course, are vaguely negative and loaded terms to mean Jews who live in Jewish townships where neither Barack Obama, nor Mahmoud Abbas, seem to think that Jews have any right to live.  Our friend Yosef, of Love of the Land, and his wife, Melody, are thought by some to represent a problem because they live on the very land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Not wishing to offend any but Jewish sensibilities, we also refer to the Land of Israel beyond the so-called "Green Line," Judea and Samaria, the traditional heart-land of the Jewish people, as "West Bank."

Judea and Samaria have been referred to as "Judea" and "Samaria" (or "Yehuda" and "Shomron" for you hard-core boys) for thousands of years.  The words "Judea" and "Yehuda" refer to the ancient Jewish presence on that very land.  It was only after the British took a mighty bite out of Israel and forked it over to the Hashemites - whoever they are, exactly - that the newly founded state of Jordan (Trans-Jordan) labeled the area "West Bank" in order to erase any Jewish connection to Jewish land.

When we refer to Judea and Samaria as "West Bank" we tell the world that the Jews have no historical connection to the very land that Jews have lived on for thousands of years.

And this is how peace-loving Jewish left-dwelling Americans inadvertently set the Jewish people up to be smacked down and how we confirm the false narrative of our enemies.

I recommend against it... and I bet that Vic Rosenthal would, too.