Follow by Email

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Open Letter to Congressman Paul Tonko: You Responded but Did Not Answer

Dear Congressman Tonko,

Thank you for responding to my e-mail concerning your support of the Ellison/McDermott letter, which asks President Obama to ease the "unabated suffering" of Gazan civilians.

In your response, you state:

1. That "1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip face living conditions worse than ever before", and "since the conflict in early 2009, the situation has worsened with Israel restricting the movement of goods and people due to security concerns in the wake of indiscriminate Hamas attacks."

2. That "a refusal to join the international community in providing aid would serve only to further strengthen Hamas to the detriment of peaceful Israeli and Palestinian civilians".

3. That "the Gaza Strip is still run by Hamas, which was democratically elected in early 2006", and "it must be a top priority of any aid effort that funding and supplies do not make their way into the hands of terrorists".

Yet none of the above provides an answer to my question why you signed the Ellison/McDermott letter to President Obama:

1. That makes no mention of the hundreds of Israeli civilians who lost their lives to Hamas suicide bombers, when the Gaza crossings were open, which is again requested in the said letter.

2. That makes no mention of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who was abducted by Hamas into Gaza in June 2006 and has never since seen the light of day or been visited by Red Cross officials.

3. That makes no mention that the firing of missiles out of Gaza continues, i.e. attempts to kill Israeli civilians persist.

You acknowledge that the civilian populace of Gaza democratically elected Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel, yet ask that Israel make unilateral concessions such as "plentiful and varied food", "access to fuel and spare parts", "prompt passage for commercial goods", and "easy movement for people into and out of Gaza".

I ask you again, if Washington was under periodic rocket and mortar fire from Gaza and hundreds of Washingtonians had lost their lives to suicide bombers, would you still ask President Obama to provide Gazan civilians with all of the above?

Thank you for your prompt answer, which will be published in my blog.

Yours sincerely,

Jeffrey Grossman

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gail Collins on Terrorism: Clueless

New York Times op-ed writer, Gail Collins, displays her ignorance today in "Another Inconvenient Truth", in which she claims:

"The Bloomberg rebellion against holding a terror trial in Lower Manhattan fits right into the sour, us-first mood that’s settled over the country.

. . . .

Safety is always a concern, but Al Qaeda doesn’t operate like a season of '24.' Terrorists don’t generally strike when it’s most symbolic or best serves a story line."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/opinion/30collins.html

Collins obviously has never taken the time to study terrorism. As observed by Albert Bandura in "Mechanisms of Moral Disengagement in Terrorism", which appears in Walter Reich's "Origins of Terrorism: Psychologies, Ideologies, Theologies, States of Mind":

"Terrorists try to exercise influence over targeted officials or nations through intimidation of the public and arousal of sympathy for the social and political causes they espouse. Without widespread publicity, terrorist acts can achieve neither of these effects."

As further noted by Brian M. Jenkins in "International Terrorism: A New Kind of Warfare":

"Terrorist attacks are often carefully choreographed to attract the attention of the electronic media and the international press. Holding hostages increases the drama. If certain demands are not satisfied, the hostages may be killed. The hostages themselves often mean nothing to terrorists. Terrorism is aimed at the people watching, not at the actual victims. Terrorism is theater."

What Collins terms the "Bloomberg Rebellion" has nothing whatsoever to do with a "sour, us-first" mood. It has everything to do with moving the trial away from an exposed population center, protecting New Yorkers and exercising common sense.

Bloomberg for president?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hillary and Obama: Tragic Studies in Narcissism

Hillary is preparing her departure from the State Department: "I will be very happy to pass it on to someone else." Will she run against Obama in 2012? Actually, she has no choice, notwithstanding her "denial" in every sense of the word. Let me explain:

Hillary and Obama are both narcissistic personalities. What is the root of this personality disorder in both these instances? Hillary was abandoned by a philandering husband; however, she chose to remain with him inasmuch as voter approval became an addictive substitute for love, and the married image suited her pursuit of power.

Interestingly enough, Obama is also preparing himself to leave the White House: "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." In essence, he is already seeking to intellectualize his fall from public favor without compromising his protective self-esteem. The voters failed him; he did not fail the voters.

The source of Obama's narcissism? Obama was first abandoned by his father and later abandoned by his mother; his grandmother could not possibly compensate for this lack of parental nurturing.

Peculiar how fate has brought Hillary and Obama together. Or is it that politics attracts narcissists like moths to a candle?

Can Hillary and Obama undergo counseling and "change"? Unfortunately, narcissism is not subject to overnight treatment. Hillary and Obama, despite attempts to paint them in a different light, are tragic American figures motivated by emotional deprivation.

[For more information concerning narcissism, see Voicelessness: Narcissism]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Hillary, Leaving the State Department, Doesn't Plan to Do

Hillary, who wanted to be vice president, but was auspicously denied the job, has been fortunate enough to maintain her approval rating as Secretary of State without achieving anything. Unlike Obama's White House Communications Director, Anita Dunn, who says that Mao is one of her "favorite political philosphers", Hillary relies upon the teachings of Dr. Seuss:

“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you're really quite lucky!”

But let's be fair: Obama and the boys from Chicago, who are well versed in Sun-Tzu, i.e. keep your friends close and your enemies closer, would not have allowed this would-be Number Two to outshine The One, who has achieved Zero.

Steely-eyed Hillary sees the ship is sinking, knows it's time to make a graceful exit, and is placing everyone on notice that after barely a year, she wants out:

"TAVIS SMILEY: Finally, there’s already speculation about whether or not Secretary Clinton is going to do this for the full first time, and whether or not she has any interest if asked to stay on to do it for eight years? You see how tough the job is, can you imagine yourself doing all four years and, if asked, doing it for another four years?

HILLARY CLINTON: No, I really can’t. I mean, it is just…

TAVIS SMILEY: No to what? All four or eight?

HILLARY CLINTON: The whole, the whole eight, I mean, that that would be very challenging. But I, you know, I don't wanna make any predictions sitting here, I’m honored to serve, I serve at the pleasure of the President, but it’s a, it’s a 24/7 job, and I think at some point, I will be very happy to LAUGHS pass it on to someone else."

http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0110/Clinton_signals_not_a_twoterm_Secretary_of_State.html

A run for the presidency against Obama in 2012? She denies it, but this is a voracious political animal, and ultimately she will make her play for the ring. It is rumored among those in her inner circle that when she snoozes on intercontinental flights, you can hear otherworldly moaning:

"My precious . . ."

By the way, in the same interview with Tavis Smiley, note what Hillary did NOT say when asked her plans after leaving the State Department:

Grow gracefully old with Bill.

54 Members of Congress and J Street Seek to Mislead Obama

Last week, two members of Congress, Keith Ellison (who claims King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a visionary leader, notwithstanding the fact that his monarchy whips and imprisons women who are gang raped) and Jim McDermott, delivered a letter to President Obama, which asks for Israel to ease the "unabated suffering" of Gazan civilians. The letter was signed by a total of 54 members of Congress, including George Miller and Betty McCollum ("rockets are like a drug gang that uses drive by shootings as a tactic to terrify a neighborhood" and the solution is not "to lay waste to the neighborhood"), and was supported, inter alia, by J Street.

Although the letter seeks to strike a tone of balance by observing that Israeli civilians have also suffered from rocket attacks (Does this remind you of Goldstone?), the letter amounts to little more than a coarse attempt to pressure only Israel, and in order to achieve its goals, the Ellison/McDermott letter plays fast and loose with the facts.

Let's have a look at those facts:

The letter refers to a Hamas "coup" and tries to depict Gaza's civilians as the victims of the "coup".

Was there a "Hamas coup" in Gaza? No. If you ask Hamas, they will tell you that there was an attempted Fatah coup. Beyond question, there was a civil war, or Wakseh as it is known among Palestinians, beginning in late 2006 between Fatah and Hamas. Also beyond doubt, Hamas came to power in Gaza as a result of the January 2006 Palestinian elections, whereby Gaza's "civilians" supported an organization whose charter states:

"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

"The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up."

"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

"After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion', and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."

"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."

Bottom line, Gaza's "civilians", who elected Hamas, cannot be held blameless for Hamas' terrorist actions, preordained by its charter, as the authors and signatories of this letter would have President Obama believe.

As noted earlier, the letter also states:

"We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks."

Excuse me, but aren't these congresswomen and congressmen, in their haste to appear unbiased, forgetting something?:

- No mention in this letter of the hundreds of Israeli civilians who lost their lives to Hamas suicide bombers, when the Gaza crossings were open, which is again being requested by Ellison & Co.

- No mention of Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier who was abducted by Hamas into Gaza in June 2006 and has never since seen the light of day or been visited by Red Cross officials.

- No mention that notwithstanding the fact that there have been fewer rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel since Operation Cast Lead, the firing of missiles out of Gaza continues, i.e. attempts to kill Israeli civilians persist.

Ellison & Co. claim:

"lifting these [Israeli] restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions."

Oh, really. I always thought that diplomacy involves negotiations, which require both sides to make concessions. Here, the pressure is only being placed on Israel. Moreover, are Ellison & Co. really so naive as to believe that by providing, for example, free entry into and out of Gaza, Gaza's civilians will value the effectiveness of diplomacy, or, agree with Hamas that there was no need for concessions? Ellison & Co. obviously have no clue as to the workings of the Middle East mentality.

But before I take this to too great a length, let's suppose that Washington was under periodic rocket and mortar fire from Gaza and hundreds of Washingtonians had lost their lives to suicide bombers. Would these same members of Congress ask to provide Gaza Civilians with "plentiful and varied food", "access to fuel and spare parts", "prompt passage for commercial goods", and "easy movement for people into and out of Gaza"?

You know the answer. Ellison & Co. do, too.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Canada: A Beacon of Sanity

While Congressman George Miller sings praises to Richard Goldstone (see yesterday's blog entry featuring Miller's response to my e-mail), far north of California the Canadian government is not so myopic:

"Since last fall, the [Canadian] federal Conservative government has been withdrawing taxpayer funding from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that use their grants to take sides against Israel in the Middle East conflict. Now comes word that last week, Ottawa told the United Nations it would no longer fund the world body's Palestinian refugee agency. From now on, Canadian aid to Palestinians will be directed to specific projects. We will no longer give lump-sum aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), since most of that money simply goes straight into the Palestinian Authority's (PA) general treasury, where it might be used for humanitarian projects or might be used to arm and train terrorists.

This is a bold move for Ottawa, which is the first Western government to cut off funding for UNRWA.

Although UNRWA has long been a biased player in the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is seldom criticized for its incitement of anti-Israeli hatred and violence by Palestinians. It has funded textbooks that deny the right of Israel to exist and paid teachers who call on Palestinian children to push the Jewish state into the sea. It harbours radical Islamists and anti-Semites on its payroll and was even caught in 2004 using its own ambulances to ferry terrorists away from Israeli sites they had just attacked."

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/story.html?id=2480896

The chances that the Obama administration will abandon its impotent foreign policy of pandering to tyrants and follow the Canadians' lead? Zero.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Communist China: Cohen Momentarily Removes the Rose Colored Glasses

As happened to Roger Cohen in Iran, he is now coming face to face with some of the "ungainly" aspects of Communist China. In his New York Times op-ed today, Cohen recounts his encounter with a family which was brutalized by the regime, when the authorities decided to demolish their house (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/opinion/26iht-edcohen.html?pagewanted=1&hp). My online response to Cohen, should The Times choose to post it:

How does "A Woman Burns" jibe with your prior op-ed, "Single-Party Democracy", which begins with the saccharine commentary: "I’m bullish on China after a couple of weeks here and perhaps that sentiment begins with the little emperors and empresses."

What is more important for you, Roger, freedom of speech or bullet trains?

Are you still so "bullish" on Communist China, or has the charm of this tyranny worn thin, as also happened to you in Iran after being forced to face another travesty perpetrated against "A Woman Shot", i.e. Neda?

J Street, Goldstone: Congressman George Miller Responds

Congressman George Miller of California responded to my e-mail message. Below is his answer, followed by my reply:

Thank you for writing me to share your concerns about H. Res. 867, the resolution condemning the "Goldstone Report." I was one of 36 members of the House of Representatives to vote against H. Res. 867. The organization J Street is just one of many organizations and prominent individuals who also opposed the resolution. My position on the resolution was based on my own views of the issue.

There are two goals that I strive to meet when Congress makes statements or sets policy concerning the Middle East. I support efforts to provide clarity, honesty and accuracy to the debate about issues that arise in any of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. More importantly, I look to aid the important effort of achieving a two-state solution to help end the ever-present violence and strife in the region, allowing both Israelis and Palestinians to have greater peace and security in their lives once and for all.

Unfortunately, H. Res. 867 did not achieve either of those goals. One problem is that H. Res. 867 implicitly criticizes the Goldstone Report because of the initial U.N. Human Rights Council resolution authorizing the report. This U.N. resolution wrongly singled out alleged Israeli abuses and ignored the harm caused by Hamas' rocket and mortar attacks on the Israeli people.

However, Justice Richard Goldstone, who oversaw the Goldstone Report, to his credit extended the original mandate for the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict to include an evaluation of Hamas' rocket attacks on civilians in southern Israel, among other issues. This was pointed out in H. Res. 867. Judge Goldstone is a distinguished jurist with a long record of support for human rights. Most notably, Justice Goldstone was a prominent critic of the abhorrent apartheid regime in South Africa.

Regardless of one's ultimate evaluation of the report, it is important to recognize the changes that Justice Goldstone was able to make to it and evaluate his report on its own merits. Regrettably, the resolution condemning the Goldstone Report was never considered by the appropriate committee in the House and Judge Goldstone was never asked to testify before Congress about it. In the end, with no hearing and public testimony, I believe members of Congress lacked a sufficient basis on which to condemn the report.

I believe that, when Congress turns its attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we should do so in a way that helps broker peace in the region. Unfortunately, this resolution did not do that, and in fact may have contributed to increasing tensions in the region.

For these reasons, I was unable to support H. Res. 867 when it was voted on in the House. I will continue, though, to work with my colleagues to try and secure a better way forward that leads to lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Sincerely,

GEORGE MILLER
Member Of Congress, 7th District

My reply:

Dear Congressman Miller,

Let us begin by acknowledging that you never read the Goldstone Report in its entirety. I did.

Let's also begin by noting that your "distinguished" Goldstone stated in The New York Times that "I accepted [the mandate] because my fellow commissioners are professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation." In fact, there was not one person on his committee sympathetic to Israel, and Christine Chinkin had pronounced Israel guilty before seeing any evidence.

Your "distinguished" Goldstone himself was on the board of Human Rights Watch, which had already condemned Israel before he began the Commission.

Your "distinguished" Goldstone has consistently refused to answer questions or provide clarification about the substance of his mission's findings or his methodology.

You claim in your e-mail to me that "Congress lacked a sufficient basis on which to condemn the report", yet the Goldstone Committee was in all respects a "kangaroo court".

Should you wish to read more, I suggest you read Prof. Richard Landes' comprehensive articles concerning Goldstone and his Report in "The Augean Stables": http://www.theaugeanstables.com/category/goldstone-report/

I doubt that you will.

Query: Is it your intention to accept funds from J Street?

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Grossman

The Dahiya Doctrine

In my Sunday blog entry, "Mounting Tension on Israel's Northern Border", I noted that Israeli Major General Gadi Eizenkot, GOC Northern Command, had stated that reports of tensions in the North have no basis, but that Hezbollah has rearmed itself notwithstanding UN Resolution 1701.

Eizenkot, however, also made it plain that should there be a war, Israel, facing 40,000 Hezbollah rockets, will have no choice but to destroy weapons caches and bunkers hidden in Lebanese residential areas, notwithstanding inevitable U.N. condemnation:

"Hizbullah is the one that is turning these areas into a battleground," Eizenkot said. "I hope this will restrain them - but if not, we need to explain to ourselves and to others that this is something Hizbullah has brought upon itself since it is building its combat zones inside these villages."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1263147969888

Israel's survival could soon be on the line, and this was an explicit warning from Eizenkot. The Israel Defense Forces learned a valuable lesson from the Second Lebanon War and is placing Tehran, Damsacus and Beirut on notice that they will make short shrift of any attempt on the part of Hezbollah to engage in asymmetric warfare.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Mind Altering Substance in The New York Times Water Cooler?

It started with The New York Times January 20 editorial, "The Massachusetts Election" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/opinion/21thur1.html?em), which posited:

"To our minds, [Scott Brown’s upset victory] is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama’s presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform — even though it has upended the effort to pass a reform bill, which Mr. Obama made the centerpiece of his first year."

Today, NYT pundit Frank Rich in an op-ed entitled "After the Massachusetts Massacre" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24Rich.html?hp), likewise would have us believe:

"It was not a referendum on Barack Obama, who in every poll remains one of the most popular politicians in America. It was not a rejection of universal health care, which Massachusetts mandated (with Scott Brown’s State Senate vote) in 2006."

All of which leaves us with three possibilities:

1. New York Times staffers are seeking to delude themselves.
2. New York Times staffers are seeking to delude their readership.
3. Someone introduced a mind altering substance into The Times water cooler.

If Obama loses in 2012, The Times will surely continue to claim that "this is not a verdict on Obama's presidency."

One thing is for certain: The New York Times has not fooled the triumvirate of Obama, Axelrod and Rahm, who today announced that they are bringing back political strategist David Plouffe to bolster the Democrats' flagging fortunes. No need to find a world class economist to deal with the economy, no need to hire a health administration specialist to rejuvenate Obama's sagging health care program, and no need to find an international affairs specialist to assist a thoroughly incompetent Hillary. The answer lies in David Plouffe.

Not coincidentally, a source from within the White House, who asked to remain anonymous, reported to me that he had overheard Obama singing in the shower early this morning:

When all goes poof,
Bring back Plouffe!

They may not have a clue how to govern, but the boys from Chicago sure know how to run a campaign.

Mounting Tension on Israel's Northern Border

The tension mounts in Israel's north:

- Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled claimed on Saturday that a second war with Hezbollah is inevitable.

- On Saturday night, within hours of Peled's assertion, Prime Minister Netanyahu's Office stated that Israel "is not seeking a confrontation with anyone."

- Today OC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot said that reports of tensions in the North have no basis, but that Hezbollah has rearmed itself notwithstanding UN Resolution 1701.

- Earlier this morning, outgoing UNIFIL Commander General Claudio Graziano denied that arms had been smuggled to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, notwithstanding the recent explosion of a weapons cache six miles from the Israeli border in the Lebanese town of Hirbat Salim. Graziano criticized Israel for violating Lebanese airspace while photographing Hezbollah weapons caches and labeled such overflights "humiliating" for Lebanon.

The overflights are "humiliating" for Lebanon? I wonder how Graziano characterizes the 40,000 rockets, including Iranian-made Fajr 3 missiles that carry 100-pound warheads, being aimed by Hezbollah at Israeli population centers?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Open Letter to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

Dear Senator Feingold,

I live with my wife and children in Israel.

As you know, you are being endorsed by the J Street PAC, and, I understand, you will be offered contributions from this organization.

Perhaps you also know that J Street opposed House Resolution 867, calling on the President and the Secretary of State to reject unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast Lead.

I believe in a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, which includes the return of lands, including land swaps, to the Palestinian Authority. I believe that the Palestinians should be granted self-governance and should enjoy all the benefits of freedom and prosperity associated with independence.

However, having read the Goldstone Report in its entirety and having familiarized myself with the platform and activities of J Street, I am deeply offended by the conduct of J Street, which I believe is inimical to Israel and the prospects for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I kindly request that you refuse funding from J Street. I also ask for your written response to this request, which I will publish in my blog.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey Grossman

[I have sent similar messages to Congressman Charles Boustany of Louisiana, Congressman Russ Carnahan of Missouri, Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Congresswoman Susan Davis of California, Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Congressman Charles Gonzales of Texas, Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia, Congresswoman Betsy Markey of Colorado, Congressman George Miller of California, Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, and Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky, and I will inform readers of their responses.]

A Reader Threatens to Exterminate Israel

In response to my January 1 blog entry, "Will Iran Attack Israel in 2010", a reader sent the following belated comment on January 16, which almost escaped my attention:

mmrahim said...

Hit Iran and witness your destruction and disappearence of israel before your open eyes.

I attempt to maintain some minimum level of civility pertaining to comments herein and ordinarily would erase this abusive note. However, in this instance, I think it is equally important to observe the hostility and existential threat faced by Israel on a daily basis.

[A note of appreciation to RG, who suggested that I not descend to the base level of "mmrahim" in my reply.]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The New York Times: A Clumsy Attempt at Prestidigitation

The world has gone rotten.

I don't recall ever seeing a more dismal choice of candidates than those fielded by the Democrats and Republicans to vie for Teddy Kennedy's vacant Senate seat.

I also don't remember a more partisan, contradictory editorial than that published yesterday by The New York Times , "The Massachusetts Election" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/opinion/21thur1.html?em). Needless to say, editorials are opinion pieces; nevertheless, you expect editorials published by a national newspaper such as The Times to maintain some measure of objectivity. Yesterday, The Times sank to the nadir of newspaper hell when it sought to distance Obama from the Democrats' humbling loss in the Bay State.

The editorial begins:

"To our minds, [Scott Brown’s upset victory] is not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama’s presidency, nor does it amount to a national referendum on health care reform — even though it has upended the effort to pass a reform bill, which Mr. Obama made the centerpiece of his first year."

"Not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama's presidency"? Then why was this interim election covered by every major newspaper in the world? Surely not because Scott Brown once posed as a centerfold.

Not "a national referendum on health care reform"? Wrong again:

"Conservatives are right to trumpet the Brown-Coakley race as a referendum on health care reform -- but it turned out to be a referendum with no decisive victor on the defining issue, according to a postgame analysis by pollster Scott Rasmussen.

The most interesting stat in Rasmussen's 1000-voter election night poll was the revelation that 56 percent of Massachusetts special election voters said that heath care was their number one issue."

http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0110/Rasmussen_It_WAS_a_referendum_on_health_care.html

The Times editorial continues:

"Mr. Obama has done many important things on the environment, and in foreign affairs, and in preventing the nation’s banking system from collapsing in the face of a financial crisis he inherited."

"Many important things on the environment and in foreign affairs"? How peculiar. I am unaware of any "important things". Moreover, if we look to foreign affairs and examine this administration's accomplishments regarding Russia, China, Japan, Darfur, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel, I see something worse than an empty slate.

The financial crisis Obama inherited? Sorry, but it's time to stop blaming Bush. Although the banking system hasn't collapsed, there are few Americans happy with Goldman Sachs bloated profits or the failure of the system to return to its core business of lending money to worthy businesses and individuals in order to spur economic growth.

The Times editorial concludes:

"If White House reporters are still making jokes two years from now about checking the president’s pulse, the nation will be in big trouble."

How does this closing declaration jibe with the editorial's opening premise that the Massachusetts election was "not remotely a verdict on Mr. Obama’s presidency"? Moreover, why will the nation be "in big trouble"? Obama will simply not be reelected. The United States, having given Obama the chance to fulfill his 2008 promises, will decide that he has failed miserably and turn to someone else to do a better job.

This is, afterall, the essence of democracy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friedman and Cohen Marvel at China's Train Service While Sidetracking Human Rights

In recent New York Times op-eds, both Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen marvel at Communist China's bullet train service. In "Who’s Sleeping Now?", published on January 9, Friedman writes:

"Meanwhile, China last week tested the fastest bullet train in the world — 217 miles per hour — from Wuhan to Guangzhou. As [The Times’s local bureau chief] noted, China 'has nearly finished the construction of a high-speed rail route from Beijing to Shanghai at a cost of $23.5 billion. Trains will cover the 700-mile route in just five hours, compared with 12 hours today. By comparison, Amtrak trains require at least 18 hours to travel a similar distance from New York to Chicago.'"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/opinion/10friedman.html

In "Google vs. China", published on January 14, Cohen similarly observes:

"I took the new high-speed train from Chongqing to Chengdu across the rolling hills of Sichuan with their patchwork of vegetable plots. The distance is about the same as New York to Boston but this train service (one of hundreds projected) has cut travel time below two hours — dream on, East Coast commuters! Everywhere the countryside is being gouged open as workers heave some new project into being. Yes, China is leaping ahead!"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/opinion/15iht-edcohen.html

China is "leaping ahead"? Oh, really. Wouldn't it be nice if Friedman and Cohen could tell us how many political prisoners and people in "involuntary job placements" are busy "gouging open the countryside" to make these bullet trains a reality?

Poverty in China? (Or maybe we shouldn't be asking if there are bullet trains?) Not too long ago it was observed in Friedman and Cohen's newspaper:

"China has moved more people out of poverty than any other country in recent decades, but the persistence of destitution in places like southern Henan Province fits with the findings of a recent World Bank study that suggests that there are still 300 million poor in China - three times as many as the bank previously estimated.

Poverty is most severe in China's geographic and social margins, whether the mountainous areas or deserts that ring the country, or areas dominated by ethnic minorities, who for cultural and historic reasons have benefited far less than others from the country's long economic rise.

But it also persists in places like Henan, where population densities are among the greatest in China, and the new wealth of the booming coast beckons, almost mockingly, a mere province away."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/world/asia/13iht-poverty.1.9172195.html

But I suppose I should also note my own prejudices, and trains have never figured into my calculations involving morality. Excuse me, Messrs. Friedman and Cohen, but wasn't it Mussolini who was famous for making the trains run on time?

I also recall the economic "miracle" of Hitler's Third Reich, which was built upon stolen property and slave labor, and the "marvel" of Nazi Germany's death trains, which ran like clockwork throughout World War II.

A shorter train ride from New York to Chicago or Boston? Sure sounds nice, but not at the expense of freedom of speech. Never!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Friedman Also Ignores Liu Xiaobo

In his New York Times op-ed of today's date, "Is China an Enron? (Part 2)", Thomas Friedman concludes:

"So there you have it: Command China, which wants to censor Google, is working against Network China, which thrives on Google. For now, it looks as if Command China will have its way. If that turns out to be the case, then I’d like to short the Communist Party."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/opinion/20friedman.html?hp

However, the abomination of Communist China extends far beyond the censorship of Google. My online response to Friedman, if The Times agrees to post it:

"Short" the Chinese Communist Party? We are not talking about shares. Rather, we are talking about human lives that are being trampled, and in any given year, Communist China executes more persons than all of the rest of the world combined.

The repression of freedom of expression in China? This is a basic human right to which all people are entitled and has nothing to do with economics. See the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the UN, of which Communist China is a member:

"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people".

Your op-ed - like that of Roger Cohen yesterday - does not mention Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic, writer, visiting scholar at New York's Columbia University, and political activist based in Beijing, who was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion of state power."

In "short", drop the stock market analogy. This is a matter of basic human rights.

In keeping with his policy of appeasing Communist China and the world's other leading tyrannies, Obama has ignored the matter of Liu Xiaobo and turned a cold shoulder to the Dalai Lama. But why no mention by Friedman of Liu in his op-ed of today's date or by Cohen in his op-ed yesterday? Do Friedman and Cohen sincerely believe that the imprisonment of Liu, also a journalist, had no place in their respective op-eds?

It is worth highlighting the interaction I had yesterday with a reader who responded to my prior blog entry, "The New York Times' Roger Cohen: A Chinese Laundry Whitewash". The reader's comment:

Jeff, your op-ed does not mention the fact Liu Xiaobo has received hundreds of thousands of US government funding via the NED in the past five years. Please see the NED's China grants for Independent Chinese Pen Center and Minzhu Zhongguo magazine, which Liu heads.

If Liu is American he'd be in violation of Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Pray tell, why would we lament Chinese money corrupting our political process, while sending many folds more to China, to corrupt their political process?

This is by no means a straight foward case of free speech. Liu took foreign money the Chinese government has every right to prohibit (as we do under FARA.)

My reading of the verdict is that the Chinese court decided Liu's political speech exceeded the limit of free speech, at least in part due to the prosecution evidence showing Liu received foreign remittance.

My response (forgive the redundancy):

Thanks for your comment.

Sure, I read the Chinese government claim that Liu would be in violation of FARA:

http://www.chinais.com/2010/01/some-facts-about-ned-and-liu-xiaobo.html

However, this isn't the case. FARA provides an exemption for "Any person engaging or agreeing to engage only . . . (2) in other activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest". Does anyone really wish to make the argument that the promotion of free speech is an activity serving primarily a "foreign, i.e. U.S., interest"? See the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the UN, of which China is a member:

"Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people".

Another example: In Israel, many organizations whose declared purpose is to protect Palestinian rights are primarily funded by European governments. This does not result in prison sentences being handed down against the employees of these organizations.

Jeffrey

Obama's Refusal to Confront Iran Breeds Turkish Islamic Radicalism

Note the following chain of events:

In a confidential January 6 meeting with International Atomic Energy Head Amano, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian emissary to the agency, insisted that Iran would exchange enriched uranium only if simultaneously provided research reactor uranium and only in Iran.

On January 16, representatives from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China failed to reach any determination concerning measures to halt Iranian development of nuclear weapons. The only decision made by the six nations was to meet again in the future, but no date was set.

Yesterday, January 19, the Jerusalem Post reported:

"Iran has not been deterred from its march to the nuclear bomb, and one-time ally Turkey is drawing closer to the side of Islamic radicals and further from Israel and the West, OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin warned on Tuesday."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1263147930949

A direct connection between Iranian nuclear ambitions and Turkish ambivalence to Israel and the West? You better believe it. The Turks are carefully scrutinizing Obama's reluctance to confront Iran and adapting their foreign policy in accordance therewith:

- Distancing themselves from one-time ally Israel.
- Reaching out to Iran.
- Settling their differences with Syria.

Turkey's embrace of Iranian radicalism is an additional unforeseen consequence of Obama's appeasement policy, which is bringing the Middle East to the brink of a multi-front war.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The New York Times' Roger Cohen: A Chinese Laundry Whitewash

Roger Cohen appears to delight in visiting with the world's repressive regimes and regaling us with flowery accounts of his experiences. Having spent several weeks in the Islamic Republic of Iran and indoctrinating New York Times readers with the view that "Iran is not totalitarian", Cohen now provides us with florid descriptions of his China outing.

In his op-ed of today's date, entitled "Chinese Openings", Cohen approvingly informs us that Chongqing:

"has sanctioned the preservation here of a site commemorating the numberless victims of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/opinion/19iht-edcohen.html?hp

My response to Cohen's op-ed, if The Times deigns to post it:

Roger, how splendid to learn of your peregrinations around Chongqing and your discovery of a site commemorating victims of the Cultural Revolution. Thanks for twice troubling to advise us that "history denied can devour you" and that history "needs to be aired or it will turn on you."

Unfortunately, as goes unmentioned in your vignette, Chinese repression is anything but history. In fact, Communist China executes more persons each year than all of the rest of the world combined.

Also, no mention in your op-ed of the dispute involving Google’s decision to stand up to Chinese cyberoppression, the subject of Nicholas Kristof's recent op-ed, "Google Takes a Stand".

In addition, your op-ed does not mention Liu Xiaobo, a literary critic, writer, visiting scholar at New York's Columbia University, and political activist based in Beijing, who was recently sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years' deprivation of political rights for "inciting subversion of state power."

Given the controversy surrounding Chinese suppression of free speech, I am curious about your conversations in China. While in Iran, you used the services of a Farsi translator working for a government agency. You also don't speak the Southwest Mandarin dialect common in Chongqing, and perhaps you should inform us whether your conversations with local inhabitants in Chongqing, as reported in your op-ed, were again conducted via a government appointed translator, who could well have influenced their course and content.

It is worth noting that many of my comments in response to Cohen's op-eds are rejected, i.e. censored, by The Times. Are The Times' "moderators" capable this time of tolerating criticism or will they again seek to "protect the quarterback"?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

No Decision on Iran; U.S. Undersecretary of State Burns: "It Was a Very Useful Session"

Meeting on Saturday, representatives from the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China failed to reach any determination concerning measures to halt Iranian development of nuclear weapons. The only decision made by the six nations was to meet again in the future, but no date was set. The U.S. representative, Undersecretary of State William Burns, said of the meeting:

“It was a very useful session.”

According to the Financial Times :

"The meeting came after Iran ignored an end of 2009 deadline set by US President Barack Obama for it to respond to an offer from the six powers of economic and political incentives in exchange for halting its nuclear enrichment program."

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/27d3a52e-02df-11df-86b3-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

How strange! Only days earlier, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley asserted:

". . . what we have always said throughout the year was that at the end of the year we would assess where we are. But that’s not a deadline."

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2009/dec/133951.htm

Hey, Hillary, that's quite a comedy team you've got there in Burns and Crowley. ("Say goodnight, Philip.")

In other related news, Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram stated in an op-ed on Saturday that the director of Israel's Mossad, Meir Dagan, is "Israel's superman" for successfully thwarting the Iranian nuclear program:

". . . without Dagan, the Iranian nuclear program would have been complete years ago. Nevertheless, the director of the Israeli Mossad, whose name is mostly unknown, works away from the limelight and the eyes of the media."

http://www.almanar.com.lb/newsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=120117&language=en

Al-Ahram does not write anything without the approval of the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, and herein lies further proof that Egypt fears Iran far more than Israel.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Response to George Mitchell: Over My Dead Body!

Speaking on the Charlie Rose Show last week, George Mitchell specified the concessions demanded of Israel by the Obama administration:

"We believe that neither can attain its objective by denying to the other side its objective. The Palestinians are not going to get a state until the people of Israel have a reasonable sense of sustainable security. The Israelis, on the other hand, are not going to get that reasonable sense of sustainable security until there is a Palestinian state.

. . . .

And we think the way to move forward is an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, Israel and Syria, Israel and Lebanon, and full implementation of the Arab peace initiative. That’s the comprehensive peace in the region that is the objective set forth by the president and the secretary of state."

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/10796#frame_top

What is "full implementation of the Arab peace initiative"? Answer: An Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to the June 4, 1967, borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state and "a just and agreed-upon" solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. The Arab peace initiative does not provide Israel with defensible borders.

Ignored by Mitchell is the fact that both Barak and Olmert, while prime ministers of Israel, already offered Arafat and Abbas, respectively, withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem in exchange for peace. In both instances, the Palestinians were unwilling to acknowledge Israel's right to exist within the 1967 borders or any other boundaries.

I favor a two-state solution and Israeli evacuation of settlements in the West Bank, with land swaps as necessary, but I have no intentions of placing my security in the hands of a Palestinian state. Nor am I naive enough to endanger the lives of my family in exchange for kind words from the likes of Abdullah, Assad and Nasrallah.

Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza in 2005, and the south of Israel was subsequently hit with a hailstorm of mortar fire and rockets. If Israel evacuates the West Bank with no ironclad security arrangements in place, you can be certain that Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, and the Hadera Power Station will all be under sustained rocket fire.

Bring the U.N. into the West Bank to ensure that the Palestinians do not arm themselves with missiles? Look what has happened in south Lebanon since the 2006 war: U.N. observers have ignored Hezbollah's rearmament.

"A just and agreed-upon" solution to the Palestinian refugee problem? What about the rights of the 600,000 Jews who were physically evicted from their homes and deprived of all their belongings by the Arab countries when Israel was created?

Apparently Mitchell still does not understand that the Middle East, where prevarication is a time-honored craft, is not Northern Ireland. Moreover, the creation of a second Palestinian state, in addition to Jordan, is not going to provide me, in and of itself, with a "reasonable sense of sustainable security".

By all means, the Palestinians should have independence and prosperity in the West Bank, but it's going to be free of Qassam rockets and Grads, or it's not going to be at all. Meanwhile, I prefer to sustain the wrath of the Right and the libels of the Left, while maintaining the means to defend myself.

George, how about as a starting point for negotiations that Fatah's Abbas acknowledge Israel's right to exist? Or, given that Obama has already personally told Abbas that he will be placing extreme pressures on Israel, of a kind never known by Israel in the past, Abbas feels no need to make this concession?

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, told The Washington Post last week that Mitchell's timetable is "unrealistic and might prove counterproductive." I agree with Mike; however, I am not practiced in the art of diplomacy, and my undiplomatic response to George Mitchell remains:

Over my dead body!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Who Needs Obama When We Have Google?

In his New York Times op-ed of today's date entitled "Google vs. China", Roger Cohen seems to approve of Google's challenge of Chinese censorship, although Cohen is careful not to condemn China too harshly:

"Openness for China is a means to an end — prosperity and development — but not a value. This is the Chinese paradox Google now appears bent on challenging. Google is right to do so."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/opinion/15iht-edcohen.html?hp

A pity that Cohen is unwilling to tackle China's oppression of its Tibetan and Uyghur minorities. Also no mention by Cohen of the fact that China executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined. But why should Cohen's silence surprise us, given his unwillingness to dirty his hands with Iran's horrific abuse of its Baha'i minority?

But did you happen to notice something else peculiar about Cohen's op-ed? There is not a single mention of President Obama's visit to China earlier this year, when Obama didn't dare whisper the words "human rights". Have we indeed reached a time when we must rely upon "profit-hungry" corporations, and not our elected officials, to protect freedom of speech and expression?

Instead of donating money for Obama's reelection, maybe the U.S. electorate should consider buying Google shares?

Iraq Eradicates Evidence of Its Jewish Past

In 2001 the Taliban dynamited the two 6th century Buddhas of Bamyan in central Afghanistan, after Mullah Mohammed Omar deemed the statues "idols" forbidden under Sharia law. The destruction was accompanied by an international outroar.

Today, in 2010, Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority is supervising the removal of Hebrew inscriptions and the Torah Ark from the tomb of the Jewish Prophet Ezekiel in the town of Al-Kifl, south of Baghdad, and is planning to build a mosque over the grave. Has there been any international outrage over this planned "renovation"? None whatsoever.

Why the absence of international protests? The answer is simple: The world prefers to forget that some 60% of Israel's Jews are from families evicted from their homes in neighboring Arab countries and deprived of their livelihoods and belongings. Moreover, this eradication of a Jewish past in Iraq suits the interests of both the far Right and the far Left in Europe and the U.S., in keeping with their desire to propagate the myth that Israelis are European intruders, having no connection with the Middle East.

In 1948 there was a vibrant Jewish community of some 150,000 persons living in Iraq. Today that number is less than ten.

Don't expect international condemnation of the Al-Kifl desecration. It is exceedingly comfortable for the world to forget that Israel's origins extend beyond the ovens of Auschwitz to the savage anti-Semitism perpetrated in Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere throughout the Middle East. Some 600,000 Jews from these Arab nations made their way to Israel, leaving behind $30 billion in property and assets; however, as far as the U.N. is concerned, there are only Palestinian refugees, and the sooner Jewish ties to their past homes is erased, the better.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Israel Sends Assistance to Haiti; Also Expects Major Earthquake

Israel, which has two fault lines crossing its tiny boundaries, is itself expecting a major earthquake that could occur anytime in the next 50 years. As such, Israel's Home Front Command has developed new rescue techniques for earthquake stricken zones and was quick to send aid, including 40 doctors and five search-and-rescue teams, to beleaguered Haiti:

"El Al airlines announced Thursday morning that it was sending two planes, one cargo and another for passengers, to the stricken nation. The operation was being conducted under the authority of the Home Front Command.

An advance five-member IDF-Foreign Ministry team left for Haiti Wednesday afternoon, taking with it experts in engineering, medicine, logistics and rescue operations from the IDF's Home Front Command and Dani Saban, the head of the Caribbean and Central America Desk at the Foreign Ministry."

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1263147885750&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Israel regularly sends such assistance to countries that have suffered earthquakes and building collapses, among them Turkey. Turkey, however, now governed by Erdoğan's Islamic-inspired Justice and Development Party, has made a point of cooling relations with Israel in favor of improved ties with Syria and Iran. Israel's 1999 rescue mission to Turkey, which succeeded in saving nine Turkish quake victims and providing needed field hospital care, has long been forgotten.

Instead, Turkish television viewers are being bombarded with episodes from fictional series, which depict Israelis as child murderers and baby abductors and which have resulted in a diplomatic incident. Meanwhile, Israeli tourists are canceling planned vacations in Turkey.

Turkey's Prime Minister Erdoğan remains extremely critical of Israel, and on Monday at a joint press conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Ankara, he lambasted Israel for violating Lebanon's airspace and using disproportionate force against Palestinians in Gaza.

Perhaps Erdoğan would care to comment on Kurdish aspirations for independence and discuss reparation payments to Armenia? Not a chance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

David Brooks' Op-Ed Spawns Online New York Times Anti-Semitism

Today, David Brooks published in The New York Times an op-ed, entitled "The Tel Aviv Cluster", alluding to Jewish achievement and Israeli technological success. Although the op-ed proved thought provoking, I thought the online comments to this op-ed reflecting the "New" anti-Semitism of the Left, were also of interest.

Examples:

From comment No. 16: "The Goldstone report (1100 civilians killed) and recent desperate peace missions to Gaza (Israel's open air prison where Palestinians are freezing and starving) might paint a different picture of the current state of affairs in that proud nation."

Response: According to IDF figures, of the 1,166 Palestinian deaths during Operation Cast Lead, only 295 were civilians. Palestinians are freezing and starving in Gaza? It has been a moderate winter on the sunny shores of the Mediterranean, and I am not aware of anyone freezing. Likewise, although there is indeed much poverty in Gaza, I have not heard of a single person starving. According to the CIA World Factbook, Gazans have a life expectancy of 73.42 years at birth.

From comment No. 7: "You also do not mention that Israel is by far the largest recipient of foreign aid from the US of any nation, and has been for a long time. No wonder they don't have to worry about bailouts! And that the big, wealthy Jewish lobbying group, AIPAC, has the power to make or break any politician in this country! And has! . . . High tech creativity is terrific, but it should not be celebrated when it is on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised!"

Response: Pakistan and Egypt are both receiving billions of dollars of aid from the U.S., but there is no nascent hi-tech. U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum and U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison are no friends of Israel, but that nasty cabal named AIPAC has not broken them. Hi-tech "on the backs of the poor and disenfranchised"? I am an external advisor to an Israeli hi-tech firm seeking to be the world leader in the discovery of product candidates for the drug and diagnostic industry, and here, all this while, I thought this company's remarkable therapeutic candidates were intended to benefit all of mankind. Silly me! The "disenfranchised"? Some 60% of Israel's population consists of Jews who were deprived of all their belongings and physically evicted from their homes in the surrounding Arab countries.

From comment No. 20: "'Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, but 21 percent of the Ivy League student bodies.' I'm not sure if this is an indication of academic excellence or academic favoritism. In any event this statistic is the most troubling of all that were offered."

Response: How strange! I can still remember a time when certain Ivy League schools restricted the number of Jews they were willing to accept. Now these same schools are controlled by manipulative Jews? Let's immediately commission an investigation!

From comment No. 21: "And it is the tail that wags the American dog."

Response: Why does this smack of "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", a text purporting to describe a plan to achieve global domination by the Jewish people? And here I always thought that the U.S. and Israel were bound by common democratic values and mutual admiration. How foolish could I possibly be!

From comment No. 15: ". . . as our great nation the USA has recently shown, cheered on by one bright jew david brooks, a small bunch of stupid men claiming to be closer to god but really just being stupid, selfish and unfair, can run enormous fortunes into the ground and make enemies out of old friends."

Response: Once again, the revolting Jews, who claim to be God's chosen people, were responsible for the most recent economic downturn. When did we last hear this in Europe in the not too distant past?

From comment No. 8: "Curiously, Israel’s great success has been, as David Brooks suggests, an entirely different story. In the world of commerce and trade, especially at the consumer level, Israel’s influence has been negligible. There are hardly any Israeli consumer goods to be found in the world’s shopping centers and malls. Where are Israeli writers, poets, entertainers, artists, philosophers, foundational thinkers in the humanities and sciences?"

Response: I don't know if this amounts to anti-Semitism or mere stupidity. Obviously the author of this comment is unaware of the Israeli invented chips powering many computers. He is unaware of Israeli medical devices and medicines. He is unaware of Israeli authors Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua. He is unaware of Israeli violinists Pinkas Zuckerman and Itzhak Perlman, pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, and the Israeli Philharmonic. He is unaware of the Batsheva Dance Company. And the list continues ad nauseam in response to this nauseating comment.


Bottom line: How did The New York Times, which claims to "moderate" online comments and purports to reject those which are abusive, see fit to publish all of the above? More to the point, would The Times agree to publish such abuse were it directed at any other people?

Monday, January 11, 2010

U.S. State Department on Iran: Testing the Limits of Hogwash

A comedy routine at the U.S. State Department? Yup, and it ranks right up there with Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?". Those of you who can take the five minutes to read the transcript in its entirety, I promise mirth and hilarity (now spelled "Hillary-ty"). For those who fear dismissal for wasting precious office time, I present you with the following highlights from the December 22 press briefing of Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley, available via "U.S. Department of State, Diplomacy in Action" (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2009/dec/133951.htm):

MR. CROWLEY: . . . And finally, a few of you have asked about the schedule of the Secretary of State over the next few days. I can tell you this morning the Secretary departed Washington and she stopped at the North Pole for an important bilateral meeting with a well known international figure. . . . [I'm not making this up.]

. . . .

QUESTION: Can I ask about the conference call [teleconference with P-5+1 counterparts re Iran]?

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

QUESTION: What, if anything, was accomplished on this call?

MR. CROWLEY: . . . We’re in this period where we’re taking stock of Iran’s inability, unwillingness to respond to the – our offer of dialogue and the specific offer regarding the research reactor that was put on the table in Geneva and now sits on the table at the IAEA.

. . . .

QUESTION: Well, I guess I’m just confused as why you even had this call. . . .

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we have – I mean, this is an issue that is not about the United States alone. It’s about the international community. We are not the only ones who have concerns about the current trajectory. And so this is part --

. . . .

QUESTION: How did this improve anything? What’s different after the call than before?

MR. CROWLEY: . . . And we are at that point where we are consulting broadly within the P-5+1, but beyond that, so that come 2010, should Iran continue in its current posture, that there will be implications and consequences for their failure to take advantage of this opportunity.

QUESTION: How far into 2010 --

. . . .

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, we have a range of – I mean, we’ve – there are sanctions that are available that are on Iran right now. We will continue to look at ways both bilaterally and multilaterally that we can add to that mix and increase the cost to Iran of its inability or unwillingness to resolve the concerns the international community has about its nuclear program.

QUESTION: But, I mean, how far into 2010? . . . .

MR. CROWLEY: . . . The offer of engagement remains available to Iran, but at the same time, we have said that we are prepared to take additional steps. . . .

QUESTION: No, I understand that, that you’ll always have this kind of dual track available. But come the beginning of the year . . . are you going to move towards imposing new sanctions against Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: I wouldn’t put a particular date or deadline on this. . . . And obviously, going forward, will something dramatically happen on January 4th? No. But there is a point at which we will intensify our discussions around the country, and I would think at some point, we would be in a position to take some action with our partners through the various fora that are available to us.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, could you just – can you just kind of specify or put a finer point on “at some point?” . . . .

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, this is where it’s always been, which is we have a two-track strategy. One track is engagement, one track is pressure. And these have never been mutually exclusive. Even today, we continue to look for ways to strengthen and fully implement the sanctions that are already on Iran. At the same time, we’re looking at additional steps that we could take nationally and internationally should the President make that determination.

QUESTION: Given that this deadline seems to be a little bit soft, do you think in the future you’ll --

MR. CROWLEY: Let me just – Andy, sorry to interrupt you, but what we have always said throughout the year was that at the end of the year we would assess where we are. But that’s not a deadline . . . .


***************

My queries after reading the foregoing:

"Diplomacy in Action"? Is this some new State Department oxymoron?

"Crippling sanctions" or "crippled U.S. foreign policy"?

"Deadlines" or "dead in the water"?

And finally, at what point does hogwash transcend bull twaddle and penetrate the ethereal limits of Jabberwocky?

Show Trial of Iran's Baha'is To Begin Tomorrow

Tuesday marks the beginning of the show trial of the seven Iranian Baha'i community leaders, incarcerated in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison since 2008, for allegedly spying for Israel, spreading propaganda against the Islamic republic and committing religious offenses. Notwithstanding my open letters (see below) and personal e-mails to Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times, concerning the failure of The Times to provide op-ed space concerning Iran's brutal discrimination against its largest non-Muslim religious minority, Mr. Rosenthal chose not to respond.

Why the brutal discrimination against Iran's Baha'is? Simple. Iran's mullahs are incapable of tolerating devotion to any prophet born after Mohammed, who for the mullahs represents the final and ultimate revelation of divine truth. Anyone believing in a prophet who arrived after Mohammed is a "moharebeh", i.e. enemy of God.

Why has The Times provided Roger Cohen and Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett so much op-ed space to advocate, respectively, that "Iran is not totalitarian" and that the U.S. should seek "rapprochement" with Iran as it is presently constituted, without permitting rebuttal? Not so simple. In fact, this remains a mystery to me.

True, the Obama administration's foreign policy was initially characterized by an attempt to tame the world's most savage dictators with conciliatory gestures intended to inform foes that America sought a break from its hardline past. It took Obama nearly a year to comprehend that except in Disney movies, monsters do not respond to kindness, and after almost exactly a year, Mullen and Petraeus are making different noises, at least with respect to Iran.

The New York Times editorial position has been in lockstep with Obama throughout the year. Regarding Iran, is The Times simply slow to acknowledge this shift by the Obama administration away from what had been desired détente with the Islamic Republic of Iran, as advocated by Cohen, the Leveretts, Ray Takeyh, and others?

Whatever the reason for The New York Times providing so much space for calls for rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, I think it is horrifying that this newspaper, which some 70 years ago failed to provide adequate coverage of the Holocaust, now ignores the Baha'is on its op-ed page.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Will Iron Dome Render Hamas Impotent?

Israel has announced the successful testing of its Iron Dome missile defense system, and units will be deployed along the Gaza border in mid-2010. After the IDF completes deployment of the system along the Gaza border, the system will also be installed along the border with Lebanon.

Meanwhile, it is no accident that there has been renewed rocket fire into Israel from Gaza in recent days. (Where is Goldstone?) Hamas took great pains to smuggle a fresh supply of rockets into Gaza after Operation Cast Lead, and Iron Dome's success obviously has Hamas worried: Its new arsenal of rockets could soon be rendered harmless.

In addition, Egypt is erecting an underground steel wall to prevent smuggling into the Strip, and after an Egyptian border guard was killed by a Hamas sniper this past week, it will become increasingly difficult for Hamas to receive advanced weaponry from their Iranian benefactors.

Will Hamas now seek to provoke another round of fighting with Israel before Iron Dome becomes operative? Was it a mistake for Israel to announce the success of the system prior to implementation? Time will tell.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Open Letter III to Andrew Rosenthal: A More Productive Relationship with Iran As It Is Presently Constituted?

Dear Andrew,

You didn't respond to either of my open letters, which I posted on my blog and also e-mailed to you. This is my third and final open letter to you on the subject of Iran. I will trouble you no longer regarding this issue, but you might want to give the following some thought.

At the end of the Leveretts' most recent New York Times op-ed, "Another Iranian Revolution? Not Likely", it is stated:

Flynt Leverett directs the New America Foundation’s Iran Initiative and is a professor of international affairs at Pennsylvania State University. Hillary Mann Leverett heads a political risk consultancy. They publish the Web site The Race for Iran.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/opinion/06leverett.html

Absent from this "background material" is the fact that Flynt Leverett is listed as a Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran ("CNAPI") "expert". (http://www.newiranpolicy.org/452/9801.html)

The "campaign mission statement" of CNAPI, inter alia, provides:

"Supporters of CNAPI call upon the governments of both the U.S. and Iran to honor international human rights obligations and abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

http://www.newiranpolicy.org/452/473.html

Do you believe, Andrew, that it is appropriate to draw parallels between the U.S. and Iran regarding the practice of human rights, as seemingly implied by the above "campaign mission statement"?

By the way, do you know what exactly "CNAPI" is? I asked a distinguished former U.S. ambassador, also listed as one of its "experts", this question and received the following response:

"Jeffrey: Thank you for this information. I am not sure what CNAPI is. I will find out. In the meantime I have no recollection of having given them permission to use my name."

Better yet, Andrew, maybe you can tell me who created CNAPI? DiscoverTheNetworks.org states:

"According to [Carah] Ong, CNAPI originally grew out of a November 2007 meeting of liberals and conservatives at the Washington, DC headquarters of Americans for Tax Reform. CNAPI bills itself as 'transpartisan' to reflect the fact that some of its constituent groups and advisors include political conservatives such as the American Conservative Defense Alliance, the Libertarian Party, and the American Cause, which is headed by Patrick Buchanan."

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupprofile.asp?grpid=7436

Why isn't Buchanan listed as one of CNAPI's experts?

But enough about Flynt Leverett. Let's have a look at what his wife has to say. In a recent conversation with the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, Hillary Mann Leverett, who is all of 41-years-old, stated that up until seven or eight years ago, relations with Iran were:

"in the category of 'nice to have' for U.S. foreign policy. Today, rapprochement with Iran is in the 'must-have' category: The United States cannot achieve any of its high-profile objectives in the Middle East without a more productive relationship with the Islamic Republic, as it is constituted rather than as some wish it to be."

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1127839.html

According to Hillary Mann Leverett's logic, the U.S. should simply ignore the fact that Iran hangs homosexuals; oppresses its Baha'i, Kurdish, Sunni, Christian and Jewish minorities; stones to death adulterers; imprisons and murders journalists; stifles political dissent; discriminates against women; provides lifeblood for Hamas and Hezbollah; engages in terror against civilian targets in places as far away as Argentina; and has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

By the same logic, perhaps some 65 years ago the U.S. should have sought rapprochement with Nazi Germany.

Hillary Mann Leverett asks for a "more productive relationship with the Islamic Republic as it is constituted"? Do you buy that, Andrew? You have, afterall, provided the Leveretts with space for three op-eds in the past eight months.

I don't buy it. Not for one second. And I think it is shameful that The New York Times does not provide space for a rebuttal. I believe the need for a rebuttal extends beyond journalistic ethics. I think it involves a basic issue of human rights.

Best,
Jeffrey

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Open Letter II to Andrew Rosenthal: Iran's Baha'is Have Names and Faces


Dear Andrew,

You didn't respond to my open letter, which I posted yesterday in this blog and also e-mailed to you.

I realize of course that as editorial page editor of The New York Times, there are many competing and compelling interests demanding attention on The Times' op-ed page. However, this paucity of space makes the determination to provide the Leveretts with three op-eds in the space of eight months, all calling for "rapprochement" with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the decision to allow Roger Cohen to write a steady stream of op-eds, claiming that "Iran is not totalitarian", all the more peculiar.

I believe there are subjects which The Times cannot afford to ignore, given its checkered past. As acknowledged by Max Frankel, former executive editor of The Times, who wrote about The Times' coverage of the Holocaust:

"AND then there was failure: none greater than the staggering, staining failure of The New York Times to depict Hitler's methodical extermination of the Jews of Europe as a horror beyond all other horrors in World War II -- a Nazi war within the war crying out for illumination.

. . . .

No article about the Jews' plight ever qualified as The Times's leading story of the day, or as a major event of a week or year. The ordinary reader of its pages could hardly be blamed for failing to comprehend the enormity of the Nazis' crime.

. . . .

And to this day the failure of America's media to fasten upon Hitler's mad atrocities stirs the conscience of succeeding generations of reporters and editors. It has made them acutely alert to ethnic barbarities in far-off places like Uganda, Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo. It leaves them obviously resolved that in the face of genocide, journalism shall not have failed in vain."

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/14/news/150th-anniversary-1851-2001-turning-away-from-the-holocaust.html?pagewanted=1

Query: Why has the conscience of The Times not been stirred by Iran's barbaric oppression of its Baha'i minority? How is it possible that the Leveretts can write three op-eds for The Times calling for "rapprochement" with the Islamic Republic of Iran without ever mentioning the Baha'is? How can Roger Cohen write a yearlong series of op-eds for The Times , much of it devoted to the contention that "Iran is not totalitarian", and only mention the Baha'is once in a single passing sentence? And how can The New York Times not provide space for contrary opinion, illuminating the plight of the Baha'is, on its op-ed page?

Can Iranian discrimination against its Baha'i minority be compared with Nazi Germany's discrimination against the Jews? As observed in a February 22, 2009 Voice of America editorial "reflecting the views of the United States Government":

"More than 9 months have passed since 7 leaders of the Baha'i community in Iran were arrested and sent to prison with no access to legal counsel. Now the Iranian government has announced the 7 have been charged with espionage. The move is the latest in decades of repressive measures against the Baha'is, the largest non-Islamic religious minority in Iran. Those measures include barring Baha'is from attending public universities or working in public agencies, destroying or closing Baha'i places of worship, bulldozing Baha'i cemeteries, legally confiscating Baha'i property, and killing Baha'is with impunity."

www.voanews.com/uspolicy/2009-02-23-voa5.cfm

Remind you of Nazi Germany and the Jews? It should.

And what about those seven Baha'i community leaders, whose picture appears above? Their names: Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi, Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mrs. Mahvash Sabet, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm.

Do you know what is happening to the seven? Held in Iran's notorious Evin prison since the spring of 2008, they are scheduled to go on trial on Tuesday and are being charged with espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic republic.

We will soon witness a show trial with a predetermined outcome. The only issue to be resolved: Who will be sentenced to death and who will be sentenced to prison and lashings?

An anti-Baha'i campaign in the Iranian news media campaign has recently intensified, and the Baha'is are being accused of provoking the tumultuous street demonstrations which occurred on the Ashura holiday on December 27. The semiofficial Fars News Agency reported that "Bahaism under the leadership of Zionism is behind the latest crisis and unrest."

And so, Andrew, I repeat my request for the opportunity to respond to the Leveretts with my own op-ed piece. Again, if you prefer someone else, I am certain there are many others, more learned than myself, waiting in line to offer rebuttal.

The New York Times owes this much to its readership and to humanity.

Best,
Jeffrey

Open Letter to Andrew Rosenthal: Yet Another Leveretts Op-Ed in The New York Times

Dear Andrew,

Today, for the third time in less than eight months, The New York Times has again provided Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett with a pulpit in order to call for U.S. rapprochement with the tyrannical Islamic Republic of Iran. In a nutshell, their op-ed of today's date contends:

1. The Green Movement is leaderless.

2. The Islamic Republic is not about to implode.

3. Rapprochement with the existing Iranian regime is necessary.

Their op-ed concludes:

"As a model, the president would do well to look to China. Since President Richard Nixon’s opening there (which took place amid the Cultural Revolution), successive American administrations have been wise enough not to let political conflict — whether among the ruling elite or between the state and the public, as in the Tiananmen Square protests and ethnic separatism in Xinjiang — divert Washington from sustained, strategic engagement with Beijing. President Obama needs to begin displaying similar statesmanship in his approach to Iran."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/opinion/06leverett.html?pagewanted=2

Perhaps the Leveretts would have also sought rapprochement 70 years ago with Hitler's Germany; this was another savage regime that was not about "to implode." No similarity between Ahmadinejad's Iran and Hitler's Germany? Perhaps if you overlook Iran's treatment of its Baha'i minority - no mention of the Baha'is in any of the Leverett's three op-eds - you can ignore the parallels.

Personally, I am horrified that The New York Times, with its abysmal history of reporting the Holocaust, would allow Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen and the Leveretts with so much op-ed space for their respective calls for "inertia" and "rapprochement", yet not allow anyone else to describe the suffering of Iran's Baha'is.

If you want to publish the opinion of the Leveretts three times in less than eight months, don't you think that for reasons of journalistic ethics The New York Times has an obligation to publish contrary opinion?

Or perhaps, by publishing their calls for rapprochement three times in less than eight months without permitting rebuttal, The New York Times wishes to signal that it has adopted the Leveretts' position. Nevertheless, it would behoove The Times to permit rebuttal.

Of late, The New York Times censored my response to its editorial entitled "Iran’s War on Its People". My response, which was "on-topic" and certainly not abusive, observed:

"It is gratifying at long last to see an editorial from The New York Times, which acknowledges the brutality of the ruling regime in Tehran.

It is disappointing, however, to observe that this editorial is incapable of observing the refusal of President Obama to offer, at a minimum, moral support to the dissidents and to bring this matter before the UN Security Council.

It is disappointing that The New York Times has been reluctant to permit contrary opinion to that of Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen, who most recently issued a call for "inertia" with respect to U.S. policy pertaining to Iran.

It is disappointing that The New York Times has been reluctant to permit contrary opinion to that of the Leveretts, who in 2009 wrote two op-eds in The New York Times calling for "rapprochement" with Iran.

Finally, it is disappointing that The New York Times has not provided space on its op-ed page for a discussion of Iran's horrifying oppression of its Baha'i minority (Cohen over the course of many months of Iran-related op-eds only mentioned the Baha'is once.)"

See: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2009/12/iranian-dissidents-courage-obamas.html

Your "moderators" also would not permit a subsequent comment that I submitted in response to Roger Cohen's op-ed, "Change Iran at the Top". I remain baffled by this suppression of contrary opinion by The Times.

Once again, I kindly request an opportunity to respond to the Leveretts with my own op-ed piece. However, if you prefer someone else, I am certain there are many others, more learned than myself, waiting in line.

Best,
Jeffrey

Friday, January 1, 2010

Will Iran Attack Israel in 2010?

Will Iran attack Israel in 2010? Regrettably, the chances of this happening are high. Rationale:

1. Were Iran to initiate a war with Israel, either directly or via its proxies (Hamas, Hezbollah and/or Syria), Ahmadinejad might sense that he could relieve the pressure building on the streets of Tehran against his regime.

2. Obama continues to draw lines in the sand, and now, instead of the "crippling" sanctions against Iran that had long been threatened at yearend, his administration is considering a "more calibrated approach" involving "targeted" sanctions. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has come to regard Obama as a paper tiger.

3. Egypt continues to build a steel wall under its border with Gaza, which could choke off, to some degree, additional military supplies. In the interim, Hamas has fully replenished its rocket supply, and after a cowardly military display during Operation Cast Lead - its forces stripped off their uniforms and avoided pitched battles with the Israel Defense Forces - Hamas may be looking to regain some of its honor. Note the recent Cast Lead anniversary commemoration which was almost entirely ignored by Gazans.

4. Hezbollah's backing and popularity among Lebanon's Shiites is premised in no small part upon its ability to distribute Iranian funding to its social welfare network of schools, clinics, etc. Eliminate their funding, deprive them of their steady flow of Iranian weaponry and training, and the house of cards collapses. As such, Hezbollah head, Nasrallah, will likely abide by any determination of his Persian mentors, notwithstanding the likelihood of sledgehammer Israeli retaliation.

War or no war? It's a coin toss. The more upbeat, flip side of the coin? Here's one possible scenario:

1. The dissidents again take to the streets in Tehran and dislodge Ahmadinejad, who is replaced by Mousavi. Mousavi is anything but a "reformist"; while prime minister of Iran in the past, he refused to tolerate dissent and was responsible for the execution of thousands of opponents of the regime. Also, while prime minister, he refused to seek the release of the U.S. embassy hostages, and he was instrumental in creating Hezbollah.

2. Mousavi, who now claims he is "ready for martyrdom", is nevertheless a pragmatist and a survivor, and as prime minister, he may decide that Iran can no longer afford to pay for its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, given Iran's weakened economy. He might also seek some sort of lukewarm relationship with Obama.

3. Don't get your hopes up too high: Mousavi will still try to pursue Iran's program for the development of nuclear weapons. The name of the game remains Middle East hegemony.

4. Israel is granted a temporary reprieve from what stands to be a brutal war in which Israel's civilian population would be targeted. At least Mousavi, unlike Ahmadinejad, acknowledges that the Holocaust did in fact occur.

When asked by friends what I want most in life, my steadfast reply is "boredom". Let's hope for a "boring" 2010, free of military threats and war.