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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

J Street Advisory Council Member Marcia Freedman: Israel Should Be Replaced by Country in Which Jews Live As a "Protected Minority"

You will recall that on Sunday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asked, "Is Jeb [Bush] aware that he tendentiously mischaracterized J Street as having 'anti-Israeli sentiments?'" Well, Dowd should listen to J Street Advisory Council Member Marcia Freedman propose in a panel discussion during last week's J Street conference that Israel should be replaced by a state in which Jews are a minority:

"If then [Israel] were a true democracy in all respects that guaranteed and fiercely protected the rights of minorities, including the governing rights of minorities, then I think we can begin to imagine a homeland for the Jewish people in which we are a minority, because we are a protected minority, and our mission of having a homeland and a refuge for the Jews in case of need is secured by the state, no matter who is in power."

Freedman's comments were greeted by rapturous applause.

Jews should live as a "protected minority" in a Middle East state in which Muslims are the majority? Good luck to any Jew who would agree to live in such a country.

J Street is pro-Israel? Yeah, right!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Roger Cohen, "Iran Matters Most": More Hokum From the Man Who Claims Iran Is Not Totalitarian

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Iran Matters Most," Roger (Iran is "not totalitarian") calls upon the US to conclude a nuclear accord with Iran. Cohen begins:

"Do the Iran deal. Defeat the barbaric marauders of Islamic State. In the fragmenting mayhem of the Middle East, these must be the American and Western priorities."

The "barbaric marauders" of Islamic State? And what about the Islamic Republic of Iran, which stones to death women accused of adultery, hangs homosexuals, and imprisons and tortures Kurds, Baha'is, Sunni Muslims, Christians and anyone brave enough to voice opposition to the regime?

The one is any better than the other? I don't think so.

Jackson Diehl, "Obama’s next earthquake": As Part of His Legacy, Is Obama Seeking to Break Israel?

I have always believed that Obama is a radical in moderate's clothing. A moderate doesn't "hang around" with the likes of Rashid Khalidi, the Reverend Wright, and former Weatherman Bill Ayers. How the American electorate chose to ignore this "baggage," which would sink any other candidate, is a testimony to David Axelrod's public relations wizardry. Now, as we edge toward the end of Obama's second term, he is beginning to cast away some of his "moderate" disguise, particularly as he undertakes measures to ensure the enfeeblement of Israel.

Regarding Iran, Obama doesn't care if Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei responds to chants of "Death to America" by declaring "Of course yes, death to America." Obama doesn't care if Khamenei continues to call for the annihilation of Israel. And Obama doesn't care if Iran has effectively achieved suzerainty over large swaths of Iraq, Syria and Yemen. After all, Obama has dedicated what is left of his presidency to establishing the Islamic Republic of Iran, which hangs homosexuals and stones to death women accused of adultery, as a "very successful regional power."

And even as Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, describes Obama's Middle East policy as one of "willful ignorance," Obama persists in capitulating to all of Khamenei's terms in order to reach a Swiss cheese-like arrangement in Lausanne, purportedly reining in Iran's nuclear development program.

As reported today by The New York Times in an article entitled "Iran Backs Away From Key Detail in Nuclear Deal" by David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordonmarch, Iran is now backing away from a requirement to ship their atomic fuel to Russia, two days away from the deadline for an interim agreement. Obviously, Khamenei knows that Obama is desperate to do this deal and that he will find some new means to appease him, so as to avoid new Congressional sanctions.

But making Iran into a regional power appears to be only one of the measures being pursued by Obama in order to bring Israel to its knees. In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s next earthquake," Jackson Diehl today tells us:

"Now Obama is contemplating going forward with a [UN] resolution that was drafted last year by Secretary of State John Kerry and his Mideast negotiations team at the State Department. The language was drawn up in response to efforts by the Palestinians and France to win support for Security Council resolutions following the collapse of Kerry’s attempt to get Israeli and Palestinian assent to a 'framework agreement.'

. . . .

Why go forward with a text that both sides would spurn? Obama’s hope would be that his initiative could win unanimous support from the Security Council and thus set the terms of reference for a future settlement, presumably under different Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He could eventually become the grandfather of Middle East peace; at a minimum, diplomats who now talk of the 'Clinton parameters' from 2000 would henceforth speak of the 'Obama framework.'

There would be other effects, of course, among them an unprecedented breach in U.S.-Israeli relations and a vast acceleration of the global movement to boycott and sanction the Jewish state in the likely event it resisted the U.N. terms. But judging from Obama’s demeanor in assailing Netanyahu last week, the president might welcome that legacy, too."

With the entire Middle East embroiled in chaos, America's Narcissist-in-Chief, convinced of his own omniscience, wishes to add the "Obama framework" to this seething cauldron? Isn't there someone in his inner circle capable of telling him that he has already done enough damage in the region, bringing American credibility and deterrent power to a unfathomable nadir?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Method to Obama’s Middle East Mess," Ross Douthat claims that Obama is shifting from a "Pax Americana Model" in the Middle East to an "offshore balancing system":

"In an offshore balancing system, our clients are fewer, and our commitments are reduced. Regional powers bear the primary responsibility for dealing with crises on the ground, our military strategy is oriented toward policing the sea lanes and the skies, and direct intervention is contemplated only when the balance of power is dramatically upset."

However, if sea lanes remain important pursuant to this offshore balancing system, the Strait of Hormuz, adjoining Iran and controlling shipment of much of the world's oil, is now under Khamenei's control. Moreover, with Shiite Houthi rebels under the patronage of Iran gaining control of Yemen, the Strait of Bab al-Mandab, controlling access to the Suez Canal from the Arabian Sea, could also fall under Iran's thumb.

Yes, Obama has made a muddle of the world, and it remains to be seen if future American presidents will be able to repair the damage. Israel? It is already counting the days until Obama leaves office.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Maureen Dowd, "Ready For 45?": Care to Correct Your Cockamamie Opinion Piece, Mo?

J Street is pro-Israel?

Although The New York Times is studiously attempting not to make waves over Hillary's erased server, the reality is that we are looking at Watergate redux (the Times was also behind the curve regarding Nixon's erased tapes). Hillary is road kill, and if the Democrats nominate Elizabeth Warren in her stead, we will also be looking at a remake of the 1972 election in which only Massachusetts went for McGovern. Of course, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate still needs to be chosen, and it remains to be seen how much damage they can do to themselves in the interim.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Ready For 45?," Maureen Dowd considers a Jeb Bush 2016 candidacy. More specifically, she relates to Jeb's confusion as to how to deal with James ("fuck the Jews") Baker's recent J Street speech:

"At first Jeb Bush tried to distance himself from Baker distantly. He had his spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell, send an email to reporters the day after Baker — one of his foreign policy advisers and his dad’s best friend, campaign manager and secretary of state — gave President Obama some bipartisan backup on Israel. Speaking to the liberal Israel advocacy group, J Street, Baker faulted the 'diplomatic missteps and political gamesmanship' surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu. Baker’s criticism of the abrasive Israeli leader he once banned from the State Department sparked a furor among Republicans who want a loyalty oath on support for the Jewish state.

. . . .

Is Jeb aware that he tendentiously mischaracterized J Street as having 'anti-Israeli sentiments?' Opposing Netanyahu’s policies toward the Palestinians does not disqualify it as a pro-Israeli organization. On the contrary, many polls show that its views reflect the majority of American Jewish opinion."

Many polls show that the views of J Street "reflect the majority of American Jewish opinion"? Oh really? Dowd fails to provide any evidence of the veracity of this claim. Apparently, she is referring to a November 2014 poll carried out for J Street in which 800 American Jews were asked:

"Now, imagine that the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Iran reach a final agreement, which restricts Iran's enrichment of uranium to levels that are suitable for civilian energy purposes only, and places full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Under this agreement, the United States and our allies will reduce sanctions on Iran as Iran meets the compliance benchmarks of the agreement. Would you support or oppose this agreement?"

The problem here is that the question was not grounded in reality, as noted by multiple commentators. Obama's pending deal with Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei won't place "full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons." Heck, if an army of full-time IAEA inspectors were to be given free access to all Iranian nuclear and military facilities, making certain that no atomic bomb was in the works, now and in perpetuity, I would also favor such an agreement. However, in fact, Iran continues to refuse to allow IAEA inspectors anywhere near its top-secret Parchin military base outside of Tehran. Moreover, the proposed deal provides that the mullahs will be free within a decade to build nuclear weapons pursuant a "sunset clause."

But more to the point, does J Street have "anti-Israeli sentiments"? Dowd fails to observe that in April 2014, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations voted not to admit J Street. She also takes no note of a March 2014 Haaretz opinion piece entitled "J Street’s hypocrisy must be exposed" by Alan Dershowitz, who endorsed Obama in 2012. Describing J Street as an "American organization that calls itself pro-Israel and pro peace but that always seems to be taking positions that are anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian," the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard went on to say:

"J Street only wants people to hear views to the anti-Israel hard left of its position. It categorically refuses to allow its members to hear views that are more centrist and more pro-Israel, such as my own.

. . . .

J Street survives, and even expands, largely as the result of speaking out of two sides of its mouth. It seeks to attract centrist members by advocating the two-state solution, an aggressive stance towards peace negotiations and criticisms of Israel’s settlement policies. These are positions I fully support, and if they were J Street’s only positions, I would have joined that organization many years ago. But in an effort to expand leftward, particularly hard leftward, it has taken positions that undercut Israel’s security and that virtually no Israeli center-leftists support. It placed its imprimatur behind the despicable and mendacious Goldstone Report by bringing Richard Goldstone to Capitol Hill and introducing him to members of Congress.

. . . .

J Street’s position on Iran has been extremely troubling. It opposes the United States threatening military action, even as a last resort.

. . . .

J Street has also spoken out of both sides of its mouth on the issue of whether the Palestinian leadership should recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

. . . .

Moreover, J Street has accepted funding from sources—such as George Soros—who are openly anti-Israel, and have kept this fact secret so as not to alienate its centrist supporters."

Before claiming that Jeb mischaracterized J Street as having "anti-Israeli sentiments," Dowd should have spoken with Professor Dershowitz, who is "a bit" more knowledgeable on this topic than she is.

All of which is not to say that Dowd is completely lost at sea in this op-ed. Dowd also writes:

"U.S. Middle East policy is so muddled that, after occupying and blowing up Iraq, we are working with Shiite Iran to push back Sunni insurgents in Iraq and working with Sunnis and their Saudi Arabian allies in Yemen against a Shiite militia that has Iranian support."

As I noted in a recent blog entry entry entitled "Obama's Schizophrenic Middle East Policy in Yemen and Iraq," this is indeed the case.

Washington Post Editorial, "A reward for Iran’s noncompliance": "Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do"

"Natanz/Netanya," Oil on canvas 130 x 190 cm © Ardyn Halter

Do you remember what I stated about Parchin, the secret Iranian military base outside of Tehran? On February 26, I wrote (my emphasis in red):

"Yesterday, in an editorial entitled "An Emerging Nuclear Deal With Iran," The New York Times claimed that "Iran’s major nuclear installations are already monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency and watched by the United States." Iran, however, is refusing access to the Parchin military base outside Tehran. I informed Andrew Rosenthal of The Times of this "error" by email, but he didn't bother responding.

Today, Robert Einhorn, serves up more nonsense in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Deterring an Iranian Nuclear Breakout," also intended to persuade us to accept Obama's pending deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei. Einhorn, who, according the op-ed, is "a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution" and "served on the U.S. delegation to the Iran nuclear negotiations from 2009 to 2013," writes:

"Fortunately, even if an agreement cannot eliminate Iran’s capability to enrich uranium to weapons grade, it can prevent Iran from exercising that capability. It can do so by deterring Iran’s leaders from making the decision to break out of the agreement and produce nuclear weapons. To deter such a decision, a deal should meet three requirements.

First, it should have rigorous monitoring measures to convince Iran that any attempt to violate and break out of the agreement at either declared or covert sites would be detected very quickly. This would require intrusive verification provisions that go beyond the measures contained in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s additional protocol, including frequent access to centrifuge production facilities, detailed reporting of nuclear-related procurement and robust inspection procedures."

Ah, yes, "the rigorous monitoring measures." However, as reported by the IAEA last Thursday, the agency "remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile." And meanwhile, Iran continues to bar the IAEA from inspecting the Parchin military base outside of Iran."

Well, it seems that somebody has woken up to the problem involving Parchin. In an editorial entitled "A reward for Iran’s noncompliance," The Washington Post writes:

"Twice, in 2007 and in 2013, Iran agreed with the IAEA on a “work plan” to clear up the military research issues. In both instances, it then stonewalled inspectors, refusing to answer questions or permit access to sites. After the agency sought access in 2011 to a military complex called Parchin, where warhead detonation tests may have been carried out, satellite surveillance revealed that Iran had demolished buildings and excavated ground in an apparent cover-up operation.

. . . .

An appropriate response to this blatant violation of agreements would be to insist that Iran complete the IAEA work plan before any long-term accord is signed or any further sanctions lifted. Inspectors need their questions answered so that they will be able to determine later whether Iran has violated the controls on its nuclear research expected to be part of a deal. Furthermore, it is vital to establish that Tehran will deliver on its commitments and that it will be held accountable if it does not."

Obama, however, has dedicated his second term as president to making Iran a "successful regional power." It doesn't bother him that Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are now overrunning Yemen, despite his declaration in September 2014, "This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."

For those of you who are brave enough to risk losing your breakfast, have a look at a Vox article entitled "These Obama administration quotes about Yemen are almost too cringe-worthy to read" by Zack Beauchamp. An example of the quotes listed by Beauchamp:

"The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we're one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what everyone agrees is the biggest threat to the region."

— A senior State Department official to Politico's Michael Crowley, March 26.

Yes, it's time for Congress to intervene. Obama and his obsequious cronies have all been infected with a lethal strain of narcissistic dementia.

Friday, March 27, 2015

David Brooks, "The Field Is Flat": Can Hillary Bring in the Black Vote?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Field Is Flat," David Brooks would have us know of a "series of trends that may cancel out the Democratic gains with immigrants, singles and the like" in America's 2016 presidential election. Brooks explains:

  • "People tend to get more Republican as they get older, and they vote at higher rates."
  • "Democrats continue to lose support among the white working class."
  • "Democrats are now doing worse among college-educated voters."
  • "And, most significant, there are signs that Hispanic voters, at least in Sun Belt states, are getting more Republican as they move up the educational ladder."

Actually, the mechanics of the 2016 presidential election are a heck of a lot simpler than David thinks. As reported in an August 28, 2013 Washington Post article entitled "The wide racial gap in Obama’s presidential elections, in 2 charts" by Peyton M. Craighill and Sean Sullivan:

"Ninety-three percent of black voters supported President Obama in 2012, exit poll data show. By comparison, just 39 percent of white voters supported a second term for the president. The 54-point racial gap (nearly identical to the 52-point gap in Obama's first election in 2008) was the widest since 1984, when blacks were 55 points more likely than whites to back Democratic nominee Walter Mondale.

. . . .

Obama's 2012 victory was due in no small part to both strong support and strong turnout from minority voters. No other Democratic president in history had won with as large a deficit among white voters.

Blacks made history in 2012, voting at a higher rate than whites for the first time ever, Census Bureau data show. Sixty-six percent of eligible black voters cast ballots, compared to 64 percent of eligible white voters."

Or in other words, it all boils down to whether Hillary will be able to attract an overwhelming majority of African American voters in 2016, and whether they will turn out in the same numbers for her as they did for Obama. If she fails to gain this kind of support, she loses the election to her Republican opponent.

It's that simple.

[Those who read this blog know that I requested a correction of would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman's last Times opinion piece, and lo and behold:

"Correction: March 27, 2015

Thomas L. Friedman’s column on Wednesday incorrectly described the Taliban as an Arab movement. Most of its members are Pashtuns, not Arabs."

Will wonders never cease!]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fareed Zakaria, "Where George W. Bush was right": No Mention of Iran!

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Where George W. Bush was right," Fareed Zakaria provides explanations for "Yemen’s descent into chaos." Zakaria concludes:

"As we ally ever more closely with Yemen’s and Egypt’s dictators and engage in joint military actions with the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, we should be wondering what is going on in the shadows, mosques and jails of these countries."

Hold your horses, Fareed! With Shiite Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, overrunning Yemen, how can you possibly write an op-ed without mention of Tehran's involvment in this "chaos"? (Unless of course, you don't wish to say anything that might embarrass your friend, Barack Obama, as he attempts to ink a deal with Iran, ultimately providing this tyrannical state with a nuclear weapons arsenal.)

As we "engage in joint military actions with the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia"? Why no mention, Fareed, of the fact that the US is currently engaged in a joint military exercise with the absolute theocrat of of the Islamic Republic of Iran, i.e. the bombing of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, which is held by ISIS, in support of an Iranian-led assault?

The reality is that Obama's Middle East strategy is proving at best incomprehensible, and at worst schizophrenic.