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Friday, April 30, 2010

A United Nations' Abomination Against Women: Where Is Obama?


In an exclusive story entitled "U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women's Rights", Joseph Abrams of FOXNews.com informs us that the U.N. elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women without even a request for an open vote from the United States:

"Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged 'immodest.'

Just days after Iran abandoned a high-profile bid for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, it began a covert campaign to claim a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, which is 'dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women,' according to its website.

Buried 2,000 words deep in a U.N. press release distributed Wednesday on the filling of 'vacancies in subsidiary bodies,' was the stark announcement: Iran, along with representatives from 10 other nations, was 'elected by acclamation,' meaning that no open vote was requested or required by any member states — including the United States."

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/04/29/elects-iran-commission-womens-rights/

Under Iran’s Penal Code, adultery by a woman is punishable by stoning. Article 102 of the Penal Code states that women will be buried up to their breasts for the purpose of execution by stoning, and Article 104 provides that the stones thrown at the woman should “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones.”

You will recall that in response to an earlier blog entry (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/jg-caesarea-middle-east-iq-test_25.html), "anonymous" wrote that "the United States is in rapid decline because of people like you, Jeffrey Grossman." If you ask me, I think the Obama administration is doing a fine job of dragging the U.S. down without any help from me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Compugen, a Molecular Locksmith

Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I like movies, and one of my favorites is the 1984 science fiction comedy hit "Ghostbusters" about three eccentric New York City parapsychologists who trap ghosts for a living. Perhaps you recall the scene in which Dr. Peter Venkman knocks on the door of Dana Barrett, who is possessed by the "Gatekeeper". Dana asks Venkman, "Are you the Keymaster?" Venkman replies, "Not that I know of," whereupon Dana slams the door in his face.

What does any of the above have to do with Compugen?

Last Thursday, Compugen announced its twelfth discovery platform for the prediction of peptides to block disease associated protein-protein interactions. Okay, but what should this mean to a simpleton like myself?

Interactions between proteins are critical to many biological functions. For example, signals from the binding of proteins to receptors on the exterior of a cell are conveyed to the inside of that cell, triggering events within the cell, many of which are crucial for our ongoing life processes, but some capable of inducing diseases, e.g., various cancers.

What has Compugen accomplished with its newly announced PPI Blockers Discovery Platform? In a nutshell, Compugen is able to identify protein-protein binding sites responsible for inducing certain diseases, and is further capable of designing peptides that can block the portal where the relevant proteins bind.

How significant is this capability? Imagine if you, without a map or instructions, were asked, (1) to find a specific door in New York City, possessing an excruciatingly intricate lock, and (2) to insert a key with a size and configuration exactly tailored to that lock, so as to prevent the person with the real matching key from opening the door. Now imagine this on a molecular level. Difficult? Absolutely!

Now let's place the PPI Blockers Discovery Platform in perspective: In March 2010, Compugen announced its eleventh discovery platform, no less remarkable than its twelfth, for the discovery of cell penetrating peptides for drug delivery, which tackled the seemingly insuperable problem of getting therapeutics past the cell membrane. In March 2008, Compugen announced the development and validation of its Blockers of Disease Associated Conformation ("DAC Blockers") Discovery Platform for the identification of peptides that block proteins from adopting their disease associated conformations, which addressed yet another biological conundrum (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2009/08/compugen-evolution-of-new-platform-for.html). After ten years of R&D, Compugen is creating a unique suite of complementary discovery tools, mediating biological processes on the molecular level and providing answers for critical unmet drug discovery needs.

In a world beset with economic and political problems, I continue to take refuge in the joy provided by the scientific advances of this remarkable little company.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in mid-September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized or approved by Compugen.]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Honor Killings in the Muslim World: An Untreated Epidemic


It is estimated by the UN that there are 5,000 "honor killings" of Muslim women each year, which are perpetrated by family members - grandfathers, fathers, uncles, husbands, brothers - and that go largely unpunished. This number does not take into account the related "quaint" practice of mutilating women's faces and bodies, also common throughout the Muslim world. And let there be no mistake: "Honor killings" have been exported to the U.S., Canada and Western Europe by immigrant Muslim families. Above is a picture of Amina Said, 18, and her sister Sarah Said, 17, who were brutally murdered by their father in Irving, Texas in 2008. If you have the stomach for more, learn about the 2009 decapitation of Aasiya Z. Hassan, below, by her husband, the founder of Bridges TV in Buffalo, New York, which sought to portray Muslims in a more positive light. Now hold onto your thoughts for just a moment.

In response to my prior blog entry "JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test, Question No. 4: 'What Do Maureen Dowd and Ross Douthat Have in Common?'", I received a comment, sent by "anonymous", which:

- labeled me a "typical American right wing clown";

- said that I hate Muslims;

- stated that Saudi Arabia and Iran are the "FRINGE" of the Muslim world

- stated that of Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, "only Pakistan has serious issues with Islamists";

- stated that "Indonesia has its problems with Islamists, but most Muslims there are devout but non-violent";

- stated "the United States is in rapid decline because of people like you, Jeffrey Grossman."
Obviously this angry person didn't take the time to scroll down and discover my opposition to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. (Does this place me to the left of Obama?) Also, if this angry person had bothered to read further, he/she would have discovered that I am pro-choice, as reflected in a previous response to Ross Douthat. Right? Left? Meaningless to me. If I could choose, I would label myself a radical moderate, i.e. an oxymoron, who much prefers the company of dogs to most, but not all, politicians (there have been several persons in government who were extremely kind to me over the course of my lifetime).

I hate Muslims? I know and have worked with many Muslims, and I don't think you will find anyone who has ever detected any hatred coming from me.

Saudi Arabia and Iran comprise the "fringe" of the Muslim world? If so, where do you place the despotic regimes of Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Egypt?

Of Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, "only Pakistan has serious problems with Islamists"? Peculiar. Although willing to discount the Jakarta and Bali bombings in Indonesia ("The Bali bombers and their ilk are no different than Timothy McVeigh and co. in the U.S."), this angry person obviously chooses not to remember the Mumbai, India terror attack in late 2008 which resulted in the deaths of 179 people.

Indonesia has few problems with Islamists? On April 19 Indonesia’s Constitutional Court ruled that a 45-year-old law banning religious blasphemy was constitutional and that persons found guilty of "heresy" could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. No problems with Muslim extremists in Indonesia? Yeah, right.

The United States is in decline because of me? And here I always thought that America's current problems stem from Obama's inane decision to escalate U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, combined with financial abuses which have also gone unremedied by the Obama administration.

But in case you didn't notice, the angry person's comment ignored my reference to "honor killings". Is this because it has become politically correct to paper over such phenomena in the hope of ultimately bridging cultural differences, in much the same way that Obama is currently reaching out to the world's tyrannies?

As I noted above, some 5,000 Muslim women each year fall victim to "honor killings", yet 5,000 is just a number. It is easy for us to shrug off numbers, but there can be no ignoring the horror of individual incidents, so allow me to acquaint you with yet another such instance which occurred earlier this year in "moderate" Turkey:

"The father and grandfather of a teenage girl buried alive for talking to boys have been arrested and are being held for trial, authorities in Turkey say.

The two men were detained after an informant told police that the missing 16-year-old girl had been the victim of an honor killing, The Guardian newspaper in London reported Friday.

Medine Mimi's body was found in sitting position in a 6 1/2 foot deep hole under a chicken pen outside her family's home in Turkey's southeastern province of Adiyam in December.

The coroner said a post-mortem examination found a large amount of soil in her lungs and stomach, indicating that she had been buried alive and suffered a slow and agonizing death, The Times of London reports."

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/International/2010/02/05/Details-of-honor-killing-shocks-Turkey/UPI-13441265385117/

In short, I don't hate Muslims; however, I believe strongly in women's rights and abhor the practice of "honor killings", which the angry person who responded to my blog chose to ignore. Moreover, I believe that Obama must honor his promise to recognize Armenian Genocide. I also believe that Obama has an obligation, for example, to recognize Iran's horrifying persecution of its Baha'is. Nothing whatsoever comes from sweeping these problems under the rug - Turkish, Persian or otherwise. As stated many years ago by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test, Question No. 4: "What Do Maureen Dowd and Ross Douthat Have in Common?"

Are you more intelligent than Obama?

No, you still can't reply in the affirmative inasmuch as you tried answering Questions Nos. 2 and 3 of the patented JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/jg-caesarea-middle-east-iq-test.html) and failed miserably. Well, here's your chance once again to redeem yourself. As in the past, I already asked Obama this question (in this instance, earlier today), and he came up with the wrong response, so if you answer correctly, you can shout to the entire world, "I am smarter than the president of the United States!"

Ready? Excited? Let's begin:

"What do Maureen Dowd, a dyed in the wool liberal, and Ross Douthat, an inveterate conservative, have in common?"

As in the past, you have 10 seconds to respond. Not enough time? You think I care? . . . . Finished writing? Pencils down!

What? You answered that they're both New York Times columnists? That's exactly the same answer I received from Obama. Did you also call him this morning and ask him for the question? Were you trying to cheat? I like that, but it still doesn't earn you points.

The correct answer to Question No. 4?

You will recall that Maureen Dowd earlier this year visited Saudi Arabia and in a series of New York Times op-eds never once mentioned the barbaric practice of "honor killings" perpetrated against women in that country. While in Riyadh, she also didn't ask the Saudi royal family why women who are gang raped are sentenced to prison and lashed, why death sentences are handed out for "witchcraft", why persons go to jail and are whipped for "practicing magic", why limbs are severed for alleged theft, and why persons guilty of "apostasy" are beheaded.

Today, in a NYT op-ed entitled "Not Even in South Park?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/opinion/26douthat.html), Ross Douthat claims that Western culture "has few taboos that can’t be violated," but depicting the Prophet Muhammad in "South Park" was met with cowardice and censorship. I like "South Park" and can appreciate Douthat's sentiments. However, he also wrote:

"Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy."

Actually, Islam's radical fringe is in some instances a "friend". Recall Obama's bow to Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, whose kingdom, as noted above, possesses all the charms of Vlad the Impaler's 15th Century Wallachia.

Also remember Obama's outreach program to "not so friendly" Iran, where adulterers are stoned to death, homosexuals are hanged, women are subjected to "honor killings", and Baha'is and Kurds are brutalized and murdered. Iran will soon have nuclear weapons, thanks to the courage and forethought of Obama, and is developing ballistic missiles capable of hitting the U.S. in 2015. Iran is not an "existential enemy"?

Would Douthat have us believe that both Saudi Arabia and Iran represent the "fringe" of the Muslim world? Or to be more specific, "honor killings" are common throughout the Muslim world, and unfortunately there is nothing "fringe" or "radical fringe" about this abhorrent practice.

So by now, you probably know the correct answer to Question No. 4: Dowd and Douthat share a common desire not to share the fate of Theo van Gogh. Theo van Gogh, who was critical of Muslim treatment of women, was murdered in Amsterdam by Mohammed Bouyeri in 2004. Bouyeri shot van Gogh eight times, tried to decapitate him, and stabbed him several times in the chest.

So now you have failed to answer correctly the first four questions of the patented JG Middle East IQ Test. Sorry, did I hear you correctly? Is there something else you can give me to earn a passing score? Sorry, the patented JG Middle East IQ Test is incorruptible, unless maybe . . .

You're obviously growing wise to the ways of the Middle East, and it shows initiative on your part, but let's not go down that route for now. Keep your head about you (something that poor Theo van Gogh could barely do), answer correctly Question No. 5 in the not too distant future, and you will be able to declare once and for all that you are smarter than Obama!

Frank Rich's "Fight On, Goldman Sachs!": The S.E.C. to the Rescue?

In an op-ed entitled "Fight On, Goldman Sachs!" in today's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/opinion/25rich.html), columnist Frank Rich would have us believe that an S.E.C. civil action against Goldman Sachs will curtail the cult of greed and corruption that has come to characterize the U.S. financial scene. Rich writes:

"And it’s that S.E.C. legal action that has, in a single week, radically transformed the politics and prospects for financial reform in America."

Theater critic Rich does not bother to mention that the S.E.C. is currently beset with its own porn scandal, and apparently unbeknownst to him, the legal action of which he speaks will wind its way through the courts over the course of many years at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to U.S. taxpayers before it is ultimately settled at a future time when it has been long forgotten by the American public.

I wish I could share Rich's faith in the S.E.C. A trading day doesn't go by without manipulation of share prices, e.g., "painting the tape", as a result of the 2007 cancellation of the Uptick Rule, which had protected small investors for 70 years. Given the opportunity to reinstate this critical regulation responsible for safeguarding the financial markets, the S.E.C. recently settled upon some watered down, toothless constraint, which continues to allow fear merchants to short sell start-up, micro cap companies, i.e. the economic future of the U.S., with few limitations and to fleece stockholders.

Even more absurd was the New York Times editorial on Thursday entitled "Mr. Karzai Might Even Agree," which propounded:

"[Obama] should urge Mr. Karzai to ask the United Nations . . . to hand responsibility for overseeing Afghanistan’s economic development to others more proficient in handling money."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23fri1.html

Given the scandals brewing at home, Obama is hardly in a position to tell Karzai where he should be seeking economic and financial advice.

A Sunday doesn't go by without Frank Rich introducing partisan venom into issues of critical national concern. I realize that this is Rich's stock in trade, but isn't it time to recognize that the economic future of the U.S. transcends politics and requires an appeal for unity and cooperation among America's lawmakers?

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Why Does the USA Persist in Its Missionary Position?"

Yesterday's New York Times editorial, "Mr. Karzai Might Even Agree", received relatively few - a total of 46 - online reader comments; however, I think it is interesting to note the most highly reader-recommended comment, which poignantly observes in relevant part:

"Why does the USA persist in its missionary position - bringing its imperfect democracy and capitalist systems to the rest of the world by force of arms? That is a sure recipe for decline and fall and bankruptcy."

As you all know, I oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, but I never realized that the missionary position could lead to "decline and fall and bankruptcy", and I am rushing this information to Timothy Geithner for his response.

Elsewhere among recent New York Times online comments, I read in response to the April 19 NYT editorial, "Iran, Sanctions and the Memo", the following, which stated in sum total:

"Iran deserve [sic] the nuke to protect itself. Period."

Now what could possibly be memorable about this illiterate gem? I would have thought the answer to be "nothing", but not according to the Times. The Times, in its infinite wisdom (on the same level as the editorial itself, see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/iran-sanctions-and-memo-whose.html), "highlighted" 10 comments, and this was one of the comments chosen for this accolade. So as to avoid any confusion, the Times explains that "highlights" are:

"A selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views."

Good to know that the Times deemed this to be one of the "most interesting and thoughtful" responses. Let that be a comfort to any of you who have ever had their online comments rejected by the Times "moderators".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Send Goldman Sachs to Afghanistan?

In an editorial entitled "Mr. Karzai Might Even Agree" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/23/opinion/23fri1.html), The New York Times today observes that President Karzai is visiting Obama in May and calls upon the Obama administration, which "has revamped its military strategy" in Afghanistan, to open a second front in the war on corruption there.

The Obama administration has "revamped it military strategy" in Afghanistan? Yeah, right. Obama decided to waste billions of dollars more on this sinkhole and to expend the precious lives of countless American soldiers, only to withdraw in 2011 and watch the collapse of this corrupt regime.

My online comment, if the Times deigns to post it:

"[Obama] should urge Mr. Karzai to ask the United Nations (which Mr. Karzai now implausibly blames for last year’s presidential election fraud) to hand responsibility for overseeing Afghanistan’s economic development to others more proficient in handling money."

Great idea. Let's send Goldman Sachs to Kabul to manage their money and kill two birds with one stone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Obama Backs Down on Sudan": Kristof Awakens to Obama's Horrifying Human Rights Record

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Obama Backs Down on Sudan" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/22/opinion/22kristof.html), columnist Nicholas Kristof expresses disappointment with Obama for ignoring human rights abuses in Sudan. Krisof deserves credit for acknowledging, unlike his fellow servile NYT columnists, Obama's failed human rights record in this one country, albeit belatedly. My online comment, if the Times deigns to post it:

"Yet, as president, Mr. Obama and his aides have caved, leaving Sudan gloating at American weakness."

Why are you so surprised, Nicholas, that Obama has "caved"? Have a look around the rest of the world:

Talk with Iran's dissidents, who chanted "Obama, Obama, either you are with us or them!" when they took to the streets. Iran's oppressed Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, homosexuals, women, political opponents, journalists? Obama has never complained about their treatment or brought their case to the attention of the U.N. or any other international body.

When Obama traveled to China, he refused to breathe a word about Chinese human rights abuses. Moreover, in order to further appease the Chinese, when Obama finally agreed to see the Dalai Lama in February in the Map Room (not the Oval Office), there was no official welcome, the meeting was closed to the press, and only a single White House photo was released.

Obama traveled to Istanbul during his first overseas visit as president; however, in order to placate the Turks, he reneged on his campaign promise to recognize Armenian Genocide.

Obama bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, but refuses to address state sanctioned terror against women in that country, e.g., women who have been gang raped are sentenced to prison and whipped.

Ignoring horrifying human rights records, Obama has made overtures to despotic governments in Syria and Burma.

Nicholas, I think you deserve much respect for addressing Obama's failure to address human rights abuses in Sudan; however, it need be noted that Obama has systematically thrown human rights under the bus throughout the world.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein on Hezbollah Scuds: Clueless

According to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Hezbollah has likely received Scud missiles from Syria:

"'I believe there is a likelihood that there are Scuds that Hezbollah has in Lebanon. A high likelihood,' Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, told AFP.

'The rockets and missiles in Lebanon are substantially increased and better technologically than they were and this is a real point of danger for Israel,' Feinstein added.

'There's only one thing that's going to solve it, and that's a two-state solution,' she said, referring to stalled international efforts to create an independent, viable Palestinian state living at peace with Israel."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100420/pl_afp/usmideastlebanonsyriahezbollaharmspolitics

"The rockets and missiles in Lebanon are substantially increased and better than they were"? Excuse me, but what is the Intelligence Committee chair attempting to tell us by way of this garbled sentence?

"A real point of danger for Israel"? You don't say, senator.

Yes, Ms. Feinstein, Hezbollah indeed received Scuds from Syria, but you need to be daft to believe that a two-state solution involving the Israelis and Palestinians will eliminate this threat.

Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas have all called for the annihilation of Israel. At no time have they said that the conclusion of an agreement between Israel and Fatah in the West Bank will affect their resolve to destroy Israel.

Moreover, Feinstein is blind to historic Persian-Arab and Shiite-Sunni animosity, which has resulted in more wars and exponentially more deaths than all of the Arab-Israel conflicts. Iran has its own agenda, i.e. Middle East hegemony, and the shipment of arms to Hamas and Hezbollah is part of a larger game in which Israel serves as a diversion. As recently observed by Ray Takeyh:

"Although pressuring Israel to restrain its settlements may be a sensible means of gaining constructive Arab participation in the peace talks, it is unlikely to affect the region's passive approach to Iran. Indeed, should Tehran perceive fissures and divisions in U.S.-Israeli alliance, it is likely to further harden its nuclear stance.

The notion that the incumbent Arab regimes are reluctant to collaborate with the United States on Iran because of the prevailing impasse in the peace process is a misreading of regional realities."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/09/AR2010040905075_pf.html

Needless to say, Feinstein also appears ignorant of historic hostility between Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites, dating back to the period when Arafat held sway over South Lebanon.

Sorry to say, Dianne, you are in need of better intelligence.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Iran, Sanctions and the Memo": Whose Credibility Is Lower, That of Obama or The New York Times?

In an editorial published today, The New York Times commends Obama for his efforts to contain Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. According to the editorial:

"Mr. Obama has done a lot to prepare the ground. He has bolstered American credibility with his — since rebuffed — offer to engage with Iran. He signed a new arms reduction treaty with Russia, improved relations with China and is personally lobbying other United Nations Security Council members to support stronger sanctions."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/20/opinion/20tue1.html?hp

Is the Times correct that Obama has "bolstered American credibility"? Lets have a look at the facts and begin by considering the following timeline:

“I would never take a military option off the table.” Barack Obama on Iran, throughout 2008 presidential campaign.

"We are not taking any option off the table at all.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, responding to question concerning the Iran military option.

"Obviously, we don't want Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, but we are not planning anything other than going for sanctions."
Hillary Clinton, Al-Arabiya television, Wednesday, February 17, 2010.


"Mr. Obama said he wanted a new United Nations sanctions resolution against Iran 'that has bite,' but he would not embrace the phrase 'crippling sanctions' once used by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton." President Obama, New York Times interview (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/06arms.html?hp), Monday, April 5, 2010.

The above inspires credibility? Obama has backed away from every threat of punishment he has ever issued against Iran. Observe that Defense Secretary Gates felt compelled to write his now famous "wake up call" memo to Obama after Iran had ignored a 2009 deadline set by Obama to respond to offers of diplomatic engagement.

According to the Times editorial board, "None of this should let the Security Council off the hook." Really? When did Obama ever seek to make use of the Security Council? During the demonstrations that erupted throughout Iran following the sham elections in June, Obama never once dared bring the resultant imprisonment, torture and murder of Ahmadinjad's opponents to the attention of this august body. Moreover, Obama certainly has no credibility with Iran's dissidents, who chanted "Obama, Obama, either you are with us or them!" when they took to the streets. Iran's oppressed Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, homosexuals, women, political opponents, journalists? Obama never brought their case to the attention of the U.N. or any other international body.

According to the Times editorial board, Obama boosted American credibility by signing "a new arms reduction treaty with Russia". If that is the case, why can't Obama, as acknowledged by the editorial board ("We are skeptical that even that will be enough to get Moscow . . . to sign on to anything with real bite"), depend on Putin for sanctions? Moreover, consider Obama's credibility today with the Czech Republic and Poland: It is now some eight months since Obama humiliated Warsaw and Prague by pulling out of the agreement over Third Site missile defense installations in order to appease Russia. And if that was not enough to inspire credibility, instead of signing the condolence book at the Polish Embassy after the death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the Polish First Lady, Obama chose to play yet another round of golf.

According to the Times, Obama has also improved American credibility via "improved relations with China". Why then is China unwilling to support sanctions against Iran? And how was this so-called "credibility" achieved? Obama traveled to China and refused to breathe a word about Chinese human rights abuses. Moreover, in order to further appease the Chinese, when Obama finally agreed to see the Dalai Lama in February in the Map Room (not the Oval Office), there was no official welcome, the meeting was closed to the press, and only a single White House photo was released. What, if anything, has resulted from this appeasement of China?

The Times editorial mentions that Turkey is also resisting sanctions, notwithstanding Obama's trip to Istanbul during his first overseas visit as president. In order to soothe the Turks, Obama has reneged on his campaign promise to recognize Armenian Genocide, but Ankara still refuses to cooperate with the U.S. Obama obviously lacks credibility with the Turks and has also proven to Armenians that he is not to be trusted.

Obama's foreign policy has been characterized by a willingness to appease tyrannies while undermining friends. Obama's international credibility has never been lower, and there is a reason Iran titters at his idle efforts to forestall the Islamic Republic from obtaining atomic weapons, which will surely cause Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey (all of whom could live with an Israeli nuclear capability) to seek the same.

The Times editorial asks:

"How will the world contain Iran if it actually produces a weapon? What will Washington and its allies do if Iran acquires all of the parts but decides to stop just short of that?"

I think it is fairly obvious by now what Obama will do: Nothing.

The Phone Call: Alive or Dead?

Memorial Day, Israel, 2010. Like so many other Israelis, I am haunted by images from the past, and I can sense that our oldest son, M, is following in his father's footsteps.

It's a little over a year since Operation Cast Lead, which was the first crisis in more than 25 years for which I had not been called up for reserve duty by the army. Also, it was the first time that our oldest, M, a paratrooper, would be going into battle. He called us before entering Gaza - he couldn't say why he was calling, but we knew the reason - and we heard nothing further for two anxious weeks.

Suddenly, at 6 a.m. the telephone rang. As my heart raced, M's company clerk informed me that M was alive and well, but his officer had died, and three other soldiers from his squad had been wounded.

M left Gaza days later and was soon home on leave, but his life had changed. The traumatic death of his officer, who died several feet away from M, will remain forever in M's memory.

Today, although we are not religious, M went to the local synagogue to pray for his officer. We both reflected on the young man's family - his parents, young wife and infant daughter - who would be visiting the grave located in the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem.

I question whether I would be strong enough to endure a tragedy of this kind, which has traumatized thousands of Israeli families, who have lost their loved ones in war or as a consequence of terror attacks. I only know that when called to serve, M will again join his friends and not hesitate to put his life on the line, this being the price of freedom.

When the sun sets, Memorial Day will be over, and Independence Day will begin, but I have always had trouble with this radical transition from mourning to joy, followed by a return to routine, such as it is in this maelstrom country.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Iran: Defense Secretary Gates Squirms

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, embarrassed by the leak of his three-page January memorandum declaring that the U.S. lacks a policy to contain Iran's drive for nuclear weapons, issued a statement on Sunday which claims:

“There should be no confusion by our allies and adversaries that the United States is properly and energetically focused on this question and prepared to act across a broad range of contingencies in support of our interests.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/world/middleeast/19iran.html?hp

Regrettably, Gates' assertion conflicts with Obama administration policy publicly announced in 2010. As observed by Hillary Clinton on Al-Arabiya television on February 17:

"Obviously, we don't want Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, but we are not planning anything other than going for sanctions."

After Hillary Clinton took the military option off the table, Obama further defanged any threat to Iran by stating earlier this month that sanctions being sought by the U.S. would not be "crippling," as previously suggested by Hillary Clinton, but might have "bite."

Gates would have us believe that the military option is once again extant?

Together with National Security Advisor General James Jones ("we have . . . successfully [built] a coalition of nations to isolate Iran and pressure it to live up to its obligations"), Gates is quickly learning to play the obfuscation game on a behalf of a president who has signed away America's deterrent power.

Obama Without a Policy to Curb Iran

Who sprang the leaks?

An article in today's New York Times entitled "Gates Says U.S. Lacks Policy to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Drive," written by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, describes a secret three-page memorandum sent by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to top White House officials warning that the U.S. has failed to develop a long-range policy to contain Iran's nuclear progress:

"One senior official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the memo, described the document as 'a wake-up call.'

. . . .

Mr. Gates’s memo appears to reflect concerns in the Pentagon and the military that the White House did not have a well prepared series of alternatives in place in case all the diplomatic steps finally failed.

. . . .

Administration officials testifying before a Senate committee last week made it clear that those preparations were under way. So did General Jones. 'The president has made it clear from the beginning of this administration that we need to be prepared for every possible contingency,' he said in the interview. 'That is what we have done from day one, while successfully building a coalition of nations to isolate Iran and pressure it to live up to its obligations.'”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/world/middleeast/18iran.html?hp

If Jones is willing to claim that an international coalition, including China, Russia, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey and France which sent representatives to Iran's nuclear summit last week, has coalesced around Obama, how are we to believe anything else that he says?

But more interesting is the timing of this leak. It comes days after we learned, as the result of another leak from within the U.S., that the Obama administration had denied Israel permission to destroy a convoy carrying Syrian Scud-B missiles to Hezbollah and had assured the Israelis that Senator John Kerry would intervene with Assad to prevent the shipment. Kerry failed, and now both Tehran and Damascus are laughing at the Obama administration, which persists in its claim that "Sending an ambassador to Syria who can press the Syrian government in a firm and coordinated fashion...is part of our strategy to achieve comprehensive peace in the region."

Is there a quiet rebellion within the U.S. military against Obama's efforts to appease tyrannical regimes around the world while undermining confidence in the U.S. deterrent capability?

There are apparently those who remember Hezbollah's 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, which killed more than 60 embassy personnel and U.S. Marines. There are also those who remember how Hezbollah murdered, in the most horrifying manner imaginable, William Francis Buckley, a U.S. army officer and CIA employee, in 1985.

Friday, April 16, 2010

JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test, Questions Nos. 2 and 3: Are You Smarter Than Obama?

Did you already answer Question No. 1 of the patented JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/03/take-middle-east-iq-test-are-you.html)? Did you answer incorrectly? Never mind! You've now had the opportunity to study and can redeem yourself by answering correctly Questions Nos. 2 and 3. Ready? Okay, here's Question No. 2, which is a multiple choice question, designed to bolster your confidence before responding to Question No. 3:

Obama announced that the U.S. will again send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time since Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated upon direct orders from Syrian President Bashar Assad in February 2005 by means of a massive explosion which ripped Hariri's car apart in front of the St. George Hotel in Beirut. Syrian President Assad responded to Obama's gesture by transferring Scud-B missiles to Hezbollah, which bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut in 1983, killing more than 60 embassy personnel and U.S. Marines. Spotting this shipment, Israel asked permission to destroy the Scuds on the ground while still en route to Hezbollah. How did the Obama administration respond to the Israeli request?

1. Deny Israel permission to take out the Scuds, whose range encompasses most of Israel and whose payload consists of 986 kilograms of explosives, inasmuch as any such attack would have dampened the mood at Obama's nuclear summit and interfered with a memorable photo op for the U.S. president.
2. Deny Israel permission, but promise to delay the appointment of an ambassador to Syria, an action which the Obama administration sincerely believed would deter Assad.
3. Reassess its policy of reaching out to and appeasing Middle East tyrannies.
4. Answers 1 and 2 above.

You circled answer no. 4? Wrong, got you again! A Scud-B has a payload of 985 - not 986 - kilograms of explosives, and the correct answer is no. 2. Never mind, you're probably now hungering for Question No. 3, and here it is, but this time you will need to write an essay (yes, I know, multiple choice questions are easier, but I never promised you a rose garden, White House or otherwise):

What do Obama's health care package and Obama's Middle East policy have in common?

You have 10 seconds to respond. Not enough time? Sorry, no one in the Middle East plays fair. . . . Finished writing? Pencils down!

If you answered that both are destined to lead the U.S. to bankruptcy, nice try, but incorrect. Yes, sure, the cost of ObamaCare and Obama's war in Afghanistan are apt to create an unsustainable budget deficit that will destroy the value of the U.S. dollar and lead to a fiscal meltdown, but this still falls within the realm of speculation. Sorry, the JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test demands hard facts. Nice try, but not good enough.

The correct answer:

Both with respect to Obama's health care package and Obama's Middle East policy, Obama is attempting to impose policies upon unreceptive populations. As known to all, Obamacare was rammed through the U.S. Congress notwithstanding the opposition of a majority of Americans, because Obama knows better. Now Obama is also attempting to impose a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict upon Israel.

How do Israelis perceive any such imposed settlement?

"A huge majority of Israelis would oppose an attempt by US President Barack Obama to impose a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, a poll sponsored by the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) organization found this week.

. . . .

Asked whether they would support Obama imposing a plan dividing Jerusalem and removing the Jordan Valley from Israeli control, 91 percent of Israelis who expressed an opinion said no and 9% said yes, according to the poll of 503 Israelis, which was taken by Ma’agar Mohot on Sunday and Monday and had a 4.5% margin of error.

Eighty-one percent said it was improper for Obama to try to force such a plan on the two sides, while 19% of those who expressed an opinion said it was proper.

The poll asked whether it would create enduring peace or enduring conflict should Jerusalem be divided, with Jewish neighborhoods remaining part of Israel and Arab neighborhoods becoming part of a Palestinian state. Eighty-four percent said conflict and 16% said peace."

http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=173093

So we see that Obama also thinks he is smarter than 90% of Israelis and is justified, given his extensive foreign policy experience, in dictating peace terms to Israel. Afterall, he now holds Israel to blame for his Afghanistan misadventure:

"Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up 'costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure' — drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/15/world/middleeast/15mideast.html?src=mv

Truly sorry you answered Questions Nos. 2 and 3 incorrectly, but not to worry: Visit again soon, and you will have another opportunity to face off with Question 4 of the JG Caesarea Middle East IQ Test and conclusively demonstrate that you are smarter than Obama, notwithstanding the fact that Obama thinks he's smarter than us all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Obama Opens the Floodgates of Anti-Semitism: U.K. Forbids Pictures of the Wailing Wall in Tourism Ads

I do not consider Obama an anti-Semite; however, I do consider his "closet" New Left policies an existential threat to Israel, which legitimize the expression of anti-Semitism by others.

It was not long in coming: After the Obama administration claimed to be "insulted" over plans to build 1,600 housing units for Jews on an empty hill in East Jerusalem overlooking the narrow corridor leading into West Jerusalem, the U.K.'s Advertising Standard Agency ruled on Wednesday that an Israeli tourism ad picturing the Wailing Wall with the Dome of the Rock in the background can no longer be shown:

“We noted the ad stated, ‘You can travel the entire length of Israel in 6 hours. Imagine what you can experience in 4 days,' and, 'Visit... now for more itineraries in Israel,' and considered that readers were likely to understand that the places featured in the itinerary were all within the State of Israel,” the Advertising Standard Agency said in its ruling.

* * * *

The Israel Government Tourist Office advertisement was held to have breached the Advertising Standard Agency’s guidelines on truthfulness.

http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=173169

In an earlier post, I observed, "It will be interesting to see whether Obama & Co. will now also seek to halt new construction in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jersualem, which was totally reduced to rubble - both homes and synagogues - in 1948 by the Jordanian Arab Legion" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2009/07/obama-foreign-affairs-hypocrisy-or.html ). Although the Obama Administration has yet to take this next "logical" step, it didn't take long for the U.K.'s Advertising Standard Agency to pick up upon the Obama administration's enmity and declare that the Wailing Wall, Judaism's holiest site which was off limits to Jews from 1948 to 1967, is not part of Israel.

Meanwhile, as Israel continues to be ostracized and is the object of intense pressures to make further concessions to restart peace talks, Palestinians continue to express their repugnance to a two-state solution involving land swaps of the kind already proposed by former Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert. In a poll of Palestinians conducted on April 8-10 by the Center of Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah University in Nablus, Palestinians were asked "Do you accept the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with some land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?" and "Do you support or reject making Jerusalem a capital for two states: Palestine and Israel?" The results re the two-state solution with land swaps were 66.7% against, 28.3% in favor, and 5% who did did not express an opinion or did not know. Concerning Jerusalem as a capital for both states, 77.4 said they rejected such a plan, 20.8% were in favor, and 1.8% had no opinion or did not know. (http://www.najah.edu/index.php?news_id=6411)

Always anxious to appease enemies and undermine friends, the Obama administration never considered that they were applying pressure to the wrong party.

Irena Sendler, a Catholic Woman of Extraordinary Valor


Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day, and this is also a time when the good name of the Catholic Church is under a withering attack owing to criminal acts perpetrated by a small number of abusive priests upon helpless children. Although there are those in the Vatican who would blame the "New York Jewish lobby" for creating this scandal (they seem not to care that columnist Maureen Dowd was raised as a Catholic, and Arthur Sulzberger, chairman of The New York Times Company, was raised as an Episcopalian), and there are those in the Jewish community who have reacted rightfully with furor over this slander, this is exactly the time to remember Irena Sendler, a Catholic woman of extraordinary valor, who saved the lives of 2,500 Jewish children in the Warsaw Ghetto from certain death.

Irena, born in 1910, joined the Żegota resistance in Poland, and owing to her work with the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, she was able to enter the ghetto to check for signs of typhus. Irena smuggled Jewish children out of the ghetto in crates, boxes and suitcases and hid them with Polish families and Catholic convents and rectories. She made lists of the children's former and assumed names and promised that after the war they would be returned to their families.

Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, she was tortured and left for dead in the woods with broken limbs. Irena was forced to go into hiding until the end of the war, but immediately thereafter sought to reunite the Jewish children whom she saved with those of their parents who remained alive (90% of Polish Jewry was exterminated by the Nazis).

According to the Jewish Talmud, "To save one life is as if you have saved the world." If such is the case, Irena saved an entire "universe", and in 1965 she was named by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, as a Righteous among the Nations.

In 2007, at the age of 97, she was nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; however, as we all know today, following its recent award to President Obama, who has systematically ignored violations of human rights in the Congo, Iran, China, Tibet, Syria and Darfur, this prize has lost its luster.

I stand in awe of Irena, who passed away in May 2008, and pray that one day she will be declared a saint by her church. Meanwhile, she stands as a symbol of transcendent humanity, enduring faith, immeasurable courage and irrepressible love in these troubled times.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Anti-Semitism: It's Back

An annual study conducted by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University states that there has been a steep rise in anti-Semitism in 2009. According to the report:

“The year in the wake of Operation Cast Lead was the worst since monitoring of anti-Semitic manifestations began, in terms of both major anti-Semitic violence and the hostile atmosphere generated worldwide by the mass demonstrations and verbal and visual expressions against Israel and the Jews.”

http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=172884

The study particularly alludes to heightened levels of anti-Semitism in England, France and Canada.

Elsewhere, we have recently witnessed attempts by certain Catholic clergy members to blame the "New York Jewish lobby" for the worldwide pedophilia scandal rocking the Vatican, while in Hungary, Monday's general election saw Jobbik, an anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy party, garner 16.7 percent of the vote, which represents the strongest showing of a far right party since democracy returned to this country.

Why this sudden rise in anti-Semitism? Most likely there is a convergence of factors at work, including the Goldstone Report and the severe economic recession gripping the globe with its attendant unemployment.

However, there is also no mistaking the "Obama Effect". Although Obama is perhaps closet New Left, I do not view him as anti-Semitic, particularly given the presence of court Jews, Axelrod and Rahm. On the other hand, his refusal to visit Israel as president notwithstanding journeys to nearby Egypt and Turkey, his recent shabby treatment of Netanyahu during the Israeli prime minister's most recent trip to Washington, and Netanyahu's absence from the U.S. nuclear summit (according to the Israeli economic newspaper Globes, Netanyahu was encouraged by Washington not to attend), all give rise to a global perception that Israel - and the Jews - are once again fair game.

If he had any say in the matter, Netanyahu should have insisted upon attending the Washington summit. Sure, Meridor arrived instead of Netanyahu, but there is still a sense of ostracism among nations, which Israel and world Jewry cannot tolerate or afford.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Holocaust Memorial Day: "Roman's Journey"


In Israel it is the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, and I find myself overwhelmed with emotion. Apparently the world has learned nothing from the events that occurred some 70 years ago, and once again global leaders remain silent as Iran threatens Israel with nuclear extinction.

Some 30 years ago I left a Wall Street law firm and found myself in the Israeli army. I am not a politician or privileged to shape international opinion, and my finances would surely have been more healthy had I continued to practice securities law in the U.S., but I do not regret for a minute having chosen this route.

I will probably be awake several more hours reading "Roman's Journey", the memoirs of Roman Halter, born in 1927 in western Poland, who miraculously survived the Holocaust. I have met Mr. Halter several times, but until today was unaware of the horrors he experienced as a young man struggling to return home to his family, whom he hoped had also survived the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jewry. I read this book and remember, notwithstanding the daily tumult which characterizes Israel, why I am here. It could not have been otherwise.

Although some might view the words as banal, I find myself repeating them:

Never again!

[There is no mention of Holocaust Memorial Day in today's online homepage of The New York Times; however, there is a link to an editorial, entitled "The Nuclear Security Summit", which states, "The meeting needs to produce concrete deadlines, working groups and future meetings to measure progress." My response, if the Times deigns to post it:

The Times editorial board would have us believe that the prevention of nuclear terrorism "will take strong and consistent leadership by Mr. Obama and like-minded leaders, beginning with strong commitments at this week’s summit meeting."

"Strong and consistent leadership" from Obama? Consider the following Obama administration timeline:

“I would never take a military option off the table.” Barack Obama on Iran, throughout the 2008 presidential campaign.

"We are not taking any option off the table at all.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, responding to a question concerning the Iran military option.

"What we are going to be working on over the next several weeks is developing a significant regime of sanctions that will indicate to [Iran] how isolated they are from the international community as a whole." Barack Obama, Press Conference, February 9, 2010

"Obviously, we don't want Iran to become a nuclear weapons power, but we are not planning anything other than going for sanctions." Hillary Clinton, Al-Arabiya television, Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

"We are moving expeditiously and thoroughly in the Security Council, I can't give you an exact date, but I would assume some time in the next several months." Hillary Clinton on her plane to Buenos Aires, responding to the question when the U.S. might seek sanctions against Iran, March 2, 2010.

Obama declares that he wants a new U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran "that has bite", but is no longer willing to adhere to the strategy of seeking "crippling sanctions" previously sought by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. President Obama, April 5, 2010.

How is that for "strength and consistency"?

Incidentally, there was an article in Israel's leading economic newspaper "Globes" on April 9 with the headline (my translation): "U.S. Encouraged Netanyahu to Cancel His Participation in the Nuclear Security Summit", but no mention of this in the Times editorial.
]

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Obama Bows to Karzai

In an article in today's NYT entitled "U.S. Now Trying Softer Approach Toward Karzai", written by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, we are informed:

"After more than a year of watching America’s ability to influence President Hamid Karzai ebb, Obama administration officials now admit privately that the tough-love approach Mr. Obama adopted when he came to power may have been a big mistake.

. . . .

The turnabout reflects a growing recognition that the more the administration has taken Mr. Karzai to task publicly, the more resistant he has been to American demands. It also shows that no matter how much administration officials try to work around him, they have no choice but to deal with him.

. . . .

The clearest signal of the new approach came during Friday’s Air Force One flight. 'We believe that we are on an encouraging glide path in Afghanistan,' General Jones said, adding that during Mr. Obama’s visit to Afghanistan, the American delegation was 'generally impressed with the quality of the ministers and the seriousness with which they’re approaching their job.'

Mr. Obama, General Jones said, was 'fortified by the conversations he had, reassured by the conversations' with Mr. Karzai.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/10/world/asia/10prexy.html?pagewanted=1&hp

How inspiring! After Karzai publicly labels U.S. and NATO troops "invaders", hosts Ahmadinejad and threatens to join the Taliban, Obama dines in Kabul with the tin-pot dictator, sends him a thank-you letter and has Jones tell reporters of his satisfaction with their relationship.

Jones? I am sickened that the U.S. national security adviser is being used to foist lies. Having recently described U.S.-Israeli relations as "ongoing and fine and continuous” as he discusses with Brzezinski the possibility of imposing an Obama-mentored peace solution upon Netanyahu (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/obama-declares-war-on-israel.html), Jones would now have us believe that the U.S. relationship with Karzai is hunky-dory.

Sorry, General Jones, but when I served in the military and government, veracity was demanded at all times. Could it be that you are considering a career in politics?

Gail Collins' "The Curse of the Wow Factor": Hillary Is a Paragon of Honesty

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "The Curse of the Wow Factor", Gail Collins would have us believe that women in politics have always had a reputation for being honest and cites Hillary Clinton as an example. My online response, if the Times deigns to post it:

Collins writes that in mid-2008 Hillary Clinton transformed herself into a really terrific campaigner, that "some of us hoped that it might be the beginning of a new era," and that "Women in politics had always had a reputation for being honest".

Collins has apparently "forgotten" that Hillary is famous for fibbing to the U.S. electorate about a would-be corkscrew landing at a would-be sniper-infested airport in Bosnia.

Collins has also "forgotten" that although Hillary recently claimed to have been "insulted" by an Israeli proposal to construct 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, Hillary wrote that "Israel's right to exist in safety as a Jewish state, with defensible borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned." Moreover, in 1999 Hillary wrote, "I personally consider Jerusalem the eternal and indivisible capital of Israel."

I am no fan of Palin, but I'm sorry to inform you, Gail, that women in politics, particularly Hillary, are no more honest than men. Perhaps a more apt question which you can personally answer is whether women newspaper columnists are more honest than men. You might want to begin your inquiry by examining the Maureen Dowd 2009 plagiarism controversy.

[This comment was censored by the Times' "moderators".]

Friday, April 9, 2010

Who Still Reads The New York Times?

Who still reads The New York Times? I do, but whereas some 40 years ago I viewed the Gray Lady as the acme of journalistic truth and ethics, today I watch as this newspaper's management takes it the way of the long defunct Berkeley Barb. Many of my friends have cancelled their subscriptions, but so long as the Times offers their editorials and op-eds online and free of charge, I will continue to examine their fare, much as I glance at the headlines of the National Enquirer while waiting on supermarket checkout lines.

Surely, however, there are those still devoted to the Times, as it steers its way into an iceberg, but how might we gauge their character?

Recently, I submitted an online comment (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/tom-friedmans-whos-up-for-building.html)
to Thomas Friedman's April 6 op-ed, "Who's Up for Building Bridges?", which was submitted early enough to find its way onto the first page of Readers' Comments. Neither Left nor Right leaning (at least in my humble opinion), my comment, no. 18, received 15 Readers' Recommendations. Now, let's compare that total with the most popular comment, no. 4, which received 381 recommendations and stated:

"Republicans have defined themselves as the Party of Inertia, Catatonia & Ossification. In short, there is no place for Republicans in the 21st century."

No place for Republicans in the 21st century? Although I am not a Republican (long ago I was a registered Democrat), I am curious what the author of this comment would like to do with those belonging to Abraham Lincoln's party.

The second most popular comment, no. 3, which received 366 recommendations, declared:

"And let's face it, taxing the rich is the right thing to do! We all know that, even if the richest among us resent it!"

Sure, taxing the rich will cure the U.S. of its accumulated deficit and fully fund Obama Care. I don't know why, but I am vaguely reminded of how Stalin in the 1930s stripped the Kulaks, the Soviet Union's wealthier peasants, of their farms and belongings and systematically brought on the deaths of millions of Russians (60 million according to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) by way of execution, forced labor and famine.

The third most popular comment, no. 1, with 319 recommendations, avers:

"And the reality of America today is a runaway rapist corporate culture (& political parties accesories), to which community, real humans, land, and all education are victims, not partners."

America is a "runaway rapist corporate culture"? Good to know. Now tell me where in this world it is better.

In my opinion, however, the most revealing comment, no. 14, with 249 recommendations, asserts:

"Unfortunately there is no literacy or intelligence or rational-thought test for voters, and there is a rabid wing of the GOP which is doing all it can to feed the flames of irrational hatred."

This learned reader would make use of literacy and intelligence tests to weed out Republican voters, much as these tests were once used in the Deep South to prevent African Americans from voting.

If reader comments are any indication of the core readership of The New York Times, they are in more trouble than they could possibly imagine.

Anyone who has ever submitted an online comment to the Times has read the caveat: "Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive." It would appear that The New York Times of today is of the opinion that labeling the U.S. "a runway rapist corporate culture" and calling for restrictions on voting rights are not "abusive". Apparently, my values are no longer attuned to the Times.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Obama Declares War on Israel: The Realization of a Vision from Hell

Hollywood could not fabricate a better screenplay:

A U.S. president elected in 2008, whose foreign policy experience consists of voting "present" 129 times in the Illinois Senate, has sucked America into a widening war in Afghanistan in support of a tin-pot dictator who labels the American forces "invaders". At the president's side is a jilted, power hungry secretary of state, whose foreign policy experience, by the president's own admission, consists of sipping tea with ambassadors, and who is famous for fibbing to the U.S. electorate about a would-be corkscrew landing at a would-be sniper-infested airport in Bosnia.

The president, who in the past maintained personal ties over the course of decades with leftist hate mongers such as his pastor, was elected on the basis of a slick media campaign, which presented him as a moderate. One of his key communications advisers, who acknowledges that Mao, the murderer of 70 million people, is one of her favorite political philosophers, states that during the campaign they controlled press reports by not talking with reporters (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2009/10/what-if-anita-dunn-had-said-two-of-my.html). Although the president's association with known Israel-haters evoked concern, persons suspected of harboring hostility toward Israel temporarily disappeared from the president's entourage during his campaign, and the president amassed 77% of the Jewish vote.

March 24, 2010: Obama meets with six former national security advisers and General James Jones, who currently holds the job. Among the six former national security advisers is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has called on Obama to shoot down Israeli planes if they attack Iran. General Jones is known for his past antagonism toward Israel and has long favored sending NATO troops to the West Bank to maintain security. They discuss imposing a "peace plan" upon Israel, premised upon NATO or U.S. troops stationed on the West Bank.

April 7, 2010: A report of the March 24 meeting has been leaked to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, and Ignatius reports that "the real strategist in chief [of the imposed "peace plan'] is Obama himself." Ignatius further reports:

"A political battle royal is likely to begin soon, with Israeli officials and their supporters in the United States protesting what they fear would be an American attempt to impose a settlement and arguing to focus instead on Iran. The White House rejoinder is expressed this way by one of the senior officials: 'It's not either Iran or the Middle East peace process. You have to do both.'"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/06/AR2010040602663.html

That same day, Helene Cooper of The New York Times, to whom the story has also been leaked, reports:

"The fact that Mr. Obama was willing to have such an impromptu discussion with former advisers illustrates his increasing frustration with the foot-dragging over Middle East peace talks, and a growing sense that he may have to present a specific plan, rather than wait for the two sides to come to any sort of agreement.

. . . .

[A] consensus appears to be growing, both within the administration and among outside advisers to the White House, that Mr. Obama will have to consider suggesting a solution to get the two sides moving.

. . . .

What that [solution] would be remains up in the air, but most Middle East experts draw the same outline for a peace deal. First, Palestinian officials would have to accept that there would be no right of return for refugees of the 1948 war that established the Israeli state, and for their millions of descendants. Rather, the Palestinians would have to accept some kind of compensation. Second, the two sides would have to share Jerusalem — Palestinians locating their capital in the east and Israelis in the west, and both signing on to some sort of international agreement on how to share the holy sites in the Old City.

Third, Israel would return to its 1967 borders — before it captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the Six-Day War — give or take a few negotiated settlements and territorial swaps. Fourth, the United States or NATO would have to give Israel security guarantees, probably including stationing troops along the Jordan River, to ease Israeli fears that hostile countries could use the Palestinian state as a springboard for attacks. And finally, Arab neighbors like Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/world/middleeast/08prexy.html?hp

A return to the 1967 borders with territorial swaps, compensation but no right of return for Arab refugees of the 1948 war, and the sharing of Jerusalem is little different from the solution proposed by Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert and rejected by Palestinian leaders Arafat and Abbas. Radically different is the expectation that Israel will depend upon NATO troops to control Palestinian terror and will no longer be responsible for its own security.

But why should this be any different from Lebanon, where U.N. troops, who do not speak Arabic, have befriended Hezbollah and turned a blind eye to Hezbollah's weapons smuggling and attacks on Israel's northern border. With NATO troops responsible for the West Bank, how long will it be before an El Al 747 landing at nearby Ben Gurion Airport is brought down by a shoulder-launched missile? How long will it be until Qassam rockets fall on Tel Aviv? How long until West Jerusalem is paralyzed by sniper fire?

What Obama fails to realize is that Israel is the homeland to millions of Jewish refugees, who learned bitter lessons in Europe, North Africa and throughout the Middle East that they cannot expect anyone but themselves to protect their families.

Israel should place its faith in Obama, who is unable to stand up to Iran, who bows to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who has been stared down by China and Russia, who smiles warmly at Libyan and Venezuelan despots, who has sought to appease Syria and Myanamar, who has undermined U.S. allies in Europe, Latin America and Asia, whose support of human rights throughout the world amounts to nil?

Please forgive me, President Obama, if I prefer to continue to shoulder the burden of safeguarding my family's existence without your "assistance" or that of NATO troops. Or a simpler response to your imposed solution:

No way in hell!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tom Friedman's "Who’s Up for Building Bridges?": Another Bridge to Nowhere

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Season of Renewal", Thomas Friedman tells us it takes more than Republican negativism to thrive in the 21st century. My online response:

Friedman writes: "Obama-ism posits that we are now in a hypercompetitive global economy, where the country that thrives will be the one that brings together the most educated, creative and diverse work force with the best infrastructure — bandwidth, ports, airports, high-speed rail and good governance."

Poppycock. This is Tom Friedman putting words in Obama's mouth.

Obama-ism is escalating a disastrous war in Afghanistan, where a tin-pot dictator spits on U.S. efforts to free his country from the Taliban. Obama-ism is allowing hedge funds to continue to bleed the U.S. white. Obama-ism is telling the tyannical Islamic Republic of Iran, that whereas before I stated "Nothing is off the table", now you can go ahead and build your atomic bomb, which will set off a Middle East arms race with your Sunni Arab neighbors, as I pursue, sometime in the distant future, watered down sanctions. Obama-ism is creating a budget deficit that will destroy the value of the dollar, saddle future generations of Americans with hyperinflation and debt, and prevent any possibility of infrastructure renewal.

Who's Up for Building Bridges? Sarah Palin also favored a bridge to nowhere. Before building bridges, how about first a little common sense? Friedman tells us, "Obama is at least trying". Gratifying, but "at least trying" is hardly the basis for "building America’s bridge to the 21st century".

Obama Agrees to Nuclear Iran, Paving the Way to Middle East Arms Race

Notwithstanding tough talk throughout his presidential campaign ("Nothing is off the table"), Obama now appears resigned to a nuclear Iran. According to an article entitled "Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms", written by David E. Sanger and Peter Baker and published in yesterday's New York Times:

"Mr. Obama said he wanted a new United Nations sanctions resolution against Iran 'that has bite,' but he would not embrace the phrase 'crippling sanctions' once used by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. And he acknowledged the limitations of United Nations action. 'We’re not naïve that any single set of sanctions automatically is going to change Iranian behavior,' he said, adding 'there’s no light switch in this process.'"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/06arms.html?hp

Given this latest Obama bombshell, we can be certain that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey will also soon be seeking nuclear weapons.

[In an April 7 editorial entitled "Mr. Obama's Nuclear Policy", The New York Times takes the position: "But in a very dangerous time, (Obama) is taking important steps to make the world safer and bolster this country’s credibility as it tries to constrain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, North Korea and others." How subservient, how absurd, how obscene.]

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Season of Renewal": Roger Cohen Lectures on Truth

In an op-ed in today's online New York Times entitled "Season of Renewal", Roger Cohen lectures us on the meaning of "truth". My online response, if The Times deigns to post it:

In "Season of Renewal", which concludes with the observation that "truth is impregnable", Roger writes: "God as revealed truth eludes me — frightens me even, for the fanatical lurks in revelation. But if God is the quest for truth, the touchstone of the soul, then I am not entirely an agnostic."

How inspiring! A journalist whose mission is to seek out the truth! But before accepting this at face value, shouldn't we first put this sacrosanct declaration to the test?

I for one have never forgotten Roger's 2009 memorable op-ed entitled "What Iran's Jews Say", which informed us that Iran's Jews, thought to be held captive by the Islamic Republic, in fact do not suffer anything approximating the oppression of the ancient Hebrews, whose exodus out of Egypt is described in Roger's “humanist modern version Haggadah.”

Query: Should this op-ed indeed have been entitled "What Iran's Jews Say", i.e. did it express the "truth"?

As acknowledged by Cohen and known to all, most of the Iranian Jewish community has fled Iran, and Cohen's op-ed did not account for Iran's angry expatriate Jews, e.g., those who are congregants of LA's Sinai Temple, some of whom, as Cohen learned in a meeting with them, are no longer afraid to express their contrary opinions. So, at a minimum, Cohen's op-ed should have been entitled:

"What Iran's Remaining Jews, i.e. the Ones Who Haven't Fled, Say"

But let's take this a step further. Cohen never spoke with all of Iran's remaining Jews; in fact, he spoke with only several of them, and it cannot possibly be the case that they all think alike. For transparency's sake, surely the title should have read:

"What a Few of Iran's Remaining Jews, i.e. the Ones Who Haven't Fled, Said to Me"

But wait, there's more. While visiting LA's Sinai Temple in 2009 Cohen acknowledged that he doesn't speak Farsi and that his conversations were conducted via an interpreter. As such, maybe the correct name for this op-ed should have been:

"What a Few of Iran's Remaining Jews, i.e. the Ones Who Haven't Fled, Said to Me Via an Interpreter"

Is that all? Sorry, but I'm afraid there's something else. Cohen acknowledged that the interpreter was assigned to him by an agency of the Iranian government and was reporting back to the Iranian government concerning Cohen's conversations. Given the need for transparency, the more appropriate appellation for this op-ed might have been:

"What a Few of Iran's Remaining Jews, i.e. the Ones Who Haven't Fled, Said to Me Via an Interpreter, Who Was Assigned to Me and Reporting Back to the Iranian Government"

But we're not finished yet. Yes, I know the title is already long, but for the sake of "truth", how can we possibly avoid observing, as acknowledged by Cohen himself, that those Persian Jews with whom he met were exercising self-censorship for fear of retribution. Hence, how about:

"What a Few of Iran's Remaining Jews, i.e. the Ones Who Haven't Fled, Said to Me, While Exercising Self-Censorship for Fear of Retribution, Via an Interpreter, Who Was Assigned to Me and Reporting Back to the Iranian Government"

Now forgive me for being petty and tiresome, but I fear there is one last, crucial detail that also needs to be included: I understand that Cohen's interviews with the Iranian Jews, whose names were cited in the op-ed, were arranged in advance by the Iranian government. Accordingly, wouldn't it make sense to call this op-ed:

"What a Few of Iran's Remaining Jews, i.e. the Ones Who Haven't Fled and Who Were Vetted in Advance by the Iranian Government, Said to Me, While Exercising Self-Censorship for Fear of Retribution, Via an Interpreter, Who Was Assigned to Me and Reporting Back to the Iranian Government"

An absurd title for an op-ed? I don't think so. Section 15 of The Times' "Ethical Journalism, A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments" specifically provides: "In print and online, we tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it."

My belief is that in this "Season of Renewal", even after a year has passed since Cohen's op-ed, it remains for Roger and The Times to apologize for the cynical use of Iran's fragile, frightened Jewish community in an effort to persuade us that "Iran is not totalitarian". They deserve their freedom, as do Iran's Shiites, Sunnis, Baha'is, Kurds, women, homosexuals and journalists.

Over a year ago I asked The New York Times whether Roger Cohen's op-ed "What Iran's Jews Say" adhered to their ethical guidelines. I received the following response, dated March 20, 2009, from the office of their Public Editor:

"I am looking into this further, and doing some homework on the case right now. I also have Mr. Hoyt looking into it, and I will report our findings to you as soon as they are ready."

I have yet to receive the findings of The Times. Apparently the moment of truth will never come.

Michael Oren on CNN: The Need for PR

In an earlier blog entry (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/open-letter-to-prime-minister-benjamin.html), I observed Israel's pressing need for a foreign minister able to meet with the press and present Israel's message clearly, concisely and forthrightly. In the comments to this blog entry, I noted Ambassador Michael Oren's ability to provide the necessary goods. Now read for yourselves Oren's interview with Candy Crowley, where Oren responds to the Obama administration canard that Israel is jeopardizing U.S. troops:

"Moreover, if there was no Israel, would American forces be more safe or less safe? Through the cooperation of Israel, Americans are incredibly more safe, because through the cooperation with Israel, American soldiers are receiving training, receiving intelligence, receiving equipment that Israel has developed jointly with the United States. And Israel is saving incalculable number of American lives through our cooperation."

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1004/04/sotu.01.html

Michael Oren has mastered the art of the five-minute interview, no small fete. It's time the Israeli foreign ministry learned from him. It is no accident that an Egyptian newspaper labeled Oren "the most dangerous man in Washington."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dowd's "Devil of a Scandal": Guess Who Is Again Being Accused of a Diabolic Plot?

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Devil of a Scandal", Maureen Dowd scolds the Vatican for its refusal to address its burgeoning pedophilia scandal and its attempt to hold itself out as the victim of a "New York Jewish Lobby". My online response, if The Times deigns to post it:

As noted by Ms. Dowd, the denunciation of Catholic priests suspected of pedophilia is being compared with anti-Semitism, and "La Repubblica reported that 'certain Catholic circles' suspected that 'a New York Jewish lobby' was responsible for the outcry against the pope."

But there's more. On Good Friday, “Let us Pray for the Conversion of the Jews” was recited, purportedly by mistake, by traditionalist Catholic congregations in Italy and the Society of Saint Pius X, whose bishops' excommunication was remitted by Pope Benedict in January 2009.

Elsewhere, Afghanistan's President Karzai has stated that the Americans, whom Karzai labels "invaders", are in Afghanistan because they want to dominate his country and prevent him from reaching a peace agreement with the Taliban. As observed in a recent article in The New York Times, Karzai's brother, who is allegedly involved in the narcotics trade, money laundering, election fraud and deals with the Taliban, is also allegedly in bed with the CIA. The response of certain persons in the Obama administration: Israel's failure to achieve peace with the Palestinians is endangering U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Heaven knows what the Jews or Israel have to do with the Catholic church's pedophilia scandal or U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, but they are always there to blame.

Maybe those at the Vatican who would have us believe that a "New York Jewish Lobby" is responsible for the current outcry against the pope are referring to AIPAC, which is also being pilloried by the new left for its alleged fiendish manipulation and control of the U.S. government. Peculiar, or not so peculiar, how the extreme left and right are always able to find common ground demonizing the Jews and Israel.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Afghanistan: The Arrogance of The New York Times Editorial Board

In an editorial today entitled "President Karzai Lashes Out", The New York Times lashes out at Afghanistan's President Karzai for "delusional criticism of the United Nations and governments whose troops are risking their lives by fighting the Taliban." The editorial concludes:

The pressure on Mr. Karzai has, at times, been applied inartfully, but Mr. Obama is right to hold him to account in ways President George W. Bush did not. He should make clear that Washington will work around him if needed, funneling aid through competent cabinet ministries and helping beef up local governments.

Mr. Karzai is encouraging those who want the United States out of Afghanistan. He risks boiling down a more complicated policy debate to the notion that American lives are being sacrificed simply to keep him in power. It’s hard to think of a better way to doom Afghanistan’s future, as well as his own.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/opinion/03sat1.html?hp

This is the lofty conviction of The New York Times brain trust? Let's give it some thought.

The Times would have us believe that Obama "held Karzai to account" by running over to Kabul and dining with this petty tyrant in the presidential palace following Karzai's threat to diss Obama (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/03/dissed-by-karzai-obama-seeks-to-kiss.html), days after pointedly refusing to have dinner with Netanyahu at the White House. Yeah, sure, Obama's a real tough guy, and Bush was a stooge. Sorry, but Obama decided upon escalation after months spent studying the matter, this is now Obama's war, and there can be no shifting the blame - not upon Israel (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/04/obama-adminstration-blaming-israel-for.html) and not upon Bush.

The Times editorial board says that Obama "should make clear that Washington will work around [Karzai] if needed, funneling aid through competent cabinet ministries and helping beef up local governments." Is the editorial board suggesting that the U.S. take responsibility for local government in Afghanistan or orchestrate a coup d'état? How else do you bypass the Afghan president and funnel aid directly to "competent" ministries, i.e. ministries willing to play ball with Obama?

The editorial board writes, "It’s hard to think of a better way to doom Afghanistan’s future, as well as his own." From their offices in Manhattan, The Times editorial board cannot possibly know the Afghan landscape better than Karzai. Karzai is a fox, and his carefully reasoned double-dealing is intended to promote, as always, his own best interests. Afghanistan's future? Hi-tech? Democracy and religious tolerance? Boys and girls studying biology and chemistry together in gilded classrooms? Sorry, but it is not destined to occur in our lifetimes.

Surely The Times is pulling our collective leg. Or perhaps, what they really want to say of Karzai's treachery:

"It’s hard to think of a better way to doom the Obama administration’s future, as well as the credibility of The Times , which has paid servile lip service to Obama's Afghan folly."

Open Letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: A Postscript

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

On March 17 I posted an open letter to you (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/03/jerusalem-open-letter-to-prime-minister.html) in which I noted that we're neighbors, and although I didn't vote for you in the previous election, other members of my family sided with you.

Do you remember the 2006 war with Hezbollah? I do. I remember "commuting" from Caesarea, where we both live, to my reserve unit on the Lebanese border: a one and a half hour drive in either direction. And I will never forget how during those critical days Israel lacked the proper prime minister, defense minister and chief of staff to direct the fighting.

Here we are in 2010 facing a far graver danger: a potential four-front war with Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria and Iran, which threatens our very existence. Adding to the crisis is an American president, whose sympathies plainly do not lie with us. In this time of crisis, have you surrounded yourself with the persons best capable of serving Israel's interests? You cannot do the job alone.

No need to bow to Obama's pressure. There is, however, a necessity to put Israel's best foot forward in the current public relations war that might well precede an actual confrontation. Although the Yisrael Beytenu party is important to your coalition, Israel cannot afford a foreign minister who is incapable of best presenting our perspective to a hostile world. You might want to shift him to the housing or interior ministry and give us a fighting chance with a person better suited to arguing our case in the U.S., Canada and Europe. If ever there was a time for unity, it's now.

By the way, you're invited for coffee if you have the time.

Your neighbor,
Jeffrey

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Obama Adminstration: Blaming Israel for the U.S. Fiasco in Afghanistan

How many times have we been told by both the extreme left and the extreme right that the United States waged both Gulf Wars against Iraq on Israel's behalf? Those who disseminate this perverse view would have us forget Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and Iraqi threats against Saudi Arabia, which, had they gone unchallenged, would have brought American industry to a standstill.

In 2010 this canard has been "enhanced": Israel's refusal to make peace with the Palestinians is jeopardizing American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Let's leave that thought for a moment and examine another eye-opening, up close account from Afghanistan, written by Dexter Filkins and published on March 30 by The New York Times, entitled "Despite Doubt, Karzai Brother Retains Power":

"Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan, may maintain links with drug dealers and insurgents, as some American officials and Afghans believe. And he might have played a central role in last summer’s fraudulent presidential election, as Western diplomats charged.

But Mr. Karzai is also the brother of the Afghan president, Hamid. And after debating Ahmed Wali’s future for months — and with a huge military operation in the area looming — Afghan and American officials have decided that the president’s brother will be allowed to stay in place.

. . . .

Any decision about Ahmed Wali Karzai is complicated by his relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency, which maintains a large presence in Kandahar. Current and former American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say the agency has paid Ahmed Wali Karzai regularly for many years for performing a variety of services.

. . . .

But Western and Afghan officials say the president’s brother is engaged in many activities that buoy the insurgency and undermine the Afghan state. These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial, strongly suggests that he enriches himself by helping the illegal trade in poppy and opium.

. . . .

The official said that Ahmed Wali Karzai also laundered ill-gotten money for a host of figures in southern Afghanistan. “For a lot of people, including drug runners,” the Western official said.

Perhaps the most vivid example of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s reach came last August, when his brother sought re-election. According to Western diplomats in Kabul, he cut deals with insurgent groups to refrain from attacking polling stations, and then helped orchestrate a large-scale campaign of forging ballots on his brother’s behalf."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/world/asia/31karzai.html?hp

In a nutshell, Karzai's brother, who is allegedly involved in the narcotics trade, money laundering, election fraud and deals with the Taliban, is also allegedly in bed with the CIA. Excuse me, but why is the United States involved with this man? What is America possibly attempting to achieve on the ground in Afghanistan? Moreover, what does any of this primitive tribal confrontation have to do with distant Israel?

Fighting in Iraq subsequent to the Second Gulf War? We have seen a host of warring sects (Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds) and "third parties" (al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria) attempt to exert their influence and direct the outcome of this chaos, but again, what does Israel have to do with it?

The past and current wars involving the various Arab countries and Iran have exacted an exponentially larger number of casualties than all of the combined Arab-Israeli conflicts. The enmity between Sunnis and Shiites (deemed heretics by the Sunnis) is a far greater threat to regional stability than the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Why then are we now being told that Israel is the primary source of Middle East instability? Answer: Because this is indeed what the Obama administration believes.

Although the U.S. vice president's staff denies he made the comment, it has been reported that Biden alleged that Israel is jeopardizing U.S. troops:

“People who heard what Biden said [to Israeli officials behind closed doors] were stunned,” the centrist Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported. “‘This is starting to get dangerous for us,’ Biden castigated his interlocutors. ‘What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.’”

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/34300_Page2.html

Several days after the Biden imbroglio, the magazine Foreign Policy ran a story on its website saying that General Petraeus had sent a briefing team to the Pentagon at the beginning of the year “with a stark warning: America’s relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America’s soldiers.”

Next, ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper asked David Axelrod twice whether “Israel’s intransigence on the housing issue put the lives of US troops at risk.” Axelrod said he wouldn’t put it in those terms, but given the opportunity, he refused to deny it.

General Petraeus, however, put the canard to rest. Speaking at St. Anselm College, he stated that the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations makes the situation for moderate Arab states "more challenging", but denied ever saying that the U.S.-Israel relationship places American soldiers at risk (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/03/can-israel-survive-obamas-reelection.html).

In short, although Obama and Hillary claim the U.S.-Israel relationship is "rock solid", it's not the case. Axelrod's evasive answer to Jake Tapper would lead anyone to believe that Israel is undermining the American effort in Afghanistan and jeopardizing the lives of U.S. soldiers.

But then what do you expect? Someone will ultimately need to be blamed for Obama's Afghan fiasco. Why not Israel?