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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The New York Times and Saudi Gazette Publish Identical Op-Ed Calling for Hamas Participation in Israeli-Palestinian Talks

Just how radical has The New York Times grown?

Remarkably, The New York Times and the Saudi Gazette have published an identical op-ed under different titles, written by Ali Abunimah, calling for Hamas participation in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks in Washington.

The New York Times op-ed, entitled "Hamas, the I.R.A. and Us", can be found at:

The Saudi Gazette op-ed, entitled "Why Mitchell’s past success is not repeating in Mideast", can be found at:

According to the op-ed:

"No serious analyst believes that peace can be made between Palestinians and Israelis without Hamas on board, any more than could have been the case in Northern Ireland without Sinn Fein and the I.R.A."

Iranian proxy Hamas, which was elected by a Palestinian population disgusted with Fatah corruption, has since terrorized Gazans, and its popularity has plunged. According to a June 2010 Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research poll:

"If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 71% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 45% say they would vote for Fateh and 26% say they would vote for Hamas, 12% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 18% are undecided. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip reaches 49% and in the West Bank 42%. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip reaches 32% and in the West Bank 22%."

Needless to say, the Hamas charter, inter alia, calls for the murder of all Jews (not just Israelis) and rejects in absolute terms a negotiated peace solution with Israel.

"No serious analyst believes that peace can be made between Palestinians and Israelis without Hamas"? I believe that peace cannot be achieved between Palestinians and Israeli if Hamas is a party to the talks.

I guess I'm just not a "serious analyst".

Monday, August 30, 2010

New York Times Editorial: "New Chance for Peace"

In an editorial entitled "New Chance for Peace" (, The New York Times today declares:

"Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, will open talks on a two-state solution on Thursday in Washington. These will be the first direct negotiations between the two sides in 20 months, and there will be an early test of the two leaders’ seriousness of purpose."

The New York Times is quick to compliment the Obama administration for bringing about these talks; however, their delay is also the fruit of Obama's misguided work. The Obama administration foolishly talked Abbas up a tree – it was impossible for Abbas to demand less than Obama -- and only now, near the end of Israel's moratorium of "settlement" construction, which includes building in East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, has Obama succeeded in bringing Abbas to the negotiating table.

Let us hope that the talks bring achievements, yet an advance indication of Abbas's "seriousness of purpose" is to be found in his prior delaration:

"'I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,' he said. 'Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.'"

Satisfied with 8% GDP growth, security collaboration with Israel against Hamas, and only 14 remaining Israeli checkpoints, Abbas will be loathe to take steps which could jeopardize Fatah's dominion over the West Bank.

Abbas previously rejected the 2008 peace offer of former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, which included a swap of Israeli territory for settlement blocs and a safe passage corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. The overriding question is whether Abbas is now strong enough to ignore the inevitable death threats, which will come from Hamas and other radical Palestinian elements. In addition, Syria's Assad, unwilling to brook a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, could also derail the process; observe the fate of Lebanon's Rafik Hariri.

I find it personally encouraging that The New York Times editorial board today has avoided the hateful, tendentious characterization that found its way into another recent editorial entitled "President Abbas and Peace Talks" (, in which Netanyahu was labeled a "master manipulator". Today, the editorial board belatedly acknowledges:

"To Mr. Netanyahu’s credit, settlement has slowed considerably since the 10-month moratorium was put in place, and that has improved the atmosphere for negotiations."

Better late than never?

[The New York Times refused to post this comment in response to their editorial. What a surprise . . .]

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"It's Witch-Hunt Season": Paul Krugman Begs for the Assistance of George Bush

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "It's Witch-Hunt Season" (, Paul Krugman concludes:

"If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe."

After railing against Limbaugh, Bush, the Koch brothers, Steve Schwarzman and everyone else under the sun, Krugman finally gets it right -- this presidency is a disaster of Obama's own making. The U.S. is not "still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s," but rather still mired in the worst economic crisis since the 1930's.

There is a saying that originates in the Middle East:

"Dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."

Ordinarily, it wouldn't matter what Limbaugh said, but in this instance the caravan is stuck, and Krugman has little to say or do other than to denounce the voices of the right.

Krugman writes:

"Mr. Bush is still around, as are many of his former officials. Where are the statements, from the former president or those in his inner circle, preaching tolerance and denouncing anti-Islam hysteria?"

Sorry, Paul, but in case you didn't notice, the United States has a new president, whose job it is to lead.

[Interesting to observe how Krugman, joining fellow New York Times columnists Dowd and Herbert, has now soured on Obama.]

Obama, Soros, Petrobras: Time for a Congressional Investigation

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party" (, Frank Rich establishes a new benchmark for naivete combined with bias. Asserting that the Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch have personal agendas that extend beyond the interests of the conservative elements whom they support, Rich would have us believe that this alleged phenomenon is unique to the Right and makes light of the financial support provided by George Soros to the Left:

"Soros is a publicity hound who is transparent about where he shovels his money. And like many liberals — selflessly or foolishly, depending on your point of view — he supports causes that are unrelated to his business interests and that, if anything, raise his taxes."

Ultra-rich Leftists support causes that are entirely unrelated to their business interests? Rich should have at least mentioned the controversy that has erupted involving the multi-billion dollar U.S. loan to Petrobras for Brazilian offshore oil drilling. Yes, I know: Glenn Beck raised the issue on Fox (, but regardless of what you think of Beck, in this instance there is something involving this loan that doesn't seem wholesome.

I don't have all the facts (this would require an investigation which I would be delighted to manage); however, it is known that the Export-Import Bank of the United States is lending up to $2 billion to finance exports to the Brazilian oil company Petróleo Brasileiro S.A., known as Petrobras, over the next several years, and George Soros is heavily invested in Petrobras.

It has been argued that the commitment of the Export-Import Bank of the United States to this loan was bipartisan and predated the arrival of Obama’s appointees to the Ex-Im board (; however, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, Brazilian officials met with White House National Security Adviser James Jones to discuss the matter (

Will this arrangement create American jobs? Maybe. I would need to see the agreement. However, a host of other questions arise:

• Couldn't $2 billion be better used to create U.S. jobs to improve U.S. infrastructure?

• Why is one of the largest, wealthiest companies in the world the beneficiary of American largesse at a time when the U.S. economy is in such a dire way?

• Why is the U.S. providing this assistance given Brazil's support of Iran's nuclear aspirations?

I am not suggesting that something illegal has occurred, but I certainly doubt its desirability.

Moreover, there is nothing angelic about either liberal or conservative benefactors, and as sadly demonstrated by the Obama administration, there is no altruism in politics.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

France to sell HOT missiles to Lebanon: Pas Question!

France's Middle East policy is beginning to resemble Swiss cheese.

This past Wednesday, at an annual address to French ambassadors, Nicholas Sarkozy used the occasion to demand that Iran reach agreement over its nuclear program:

"'If a credible agreement cannot be reached, Iran's isolation would only worsen,' Sarkozy said. 'And in the face of worsening threat, we would have to organize ourselves to protect and defend states that feel threatened.'

. . . .

'Everybody knows that there are serious consequences to a policy that would allow Iran to follow its nuclear path,' Sarkozy said. 'It would see a general proliferation in the region or even military conflict.'"

Thank you, Nicholas. Vive la France! If only Obama had the couilles to face down Ahmadinejad in this forthright fashion.

Yesterday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared to the French ambassadors that the EU should participate in US-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Washington ( My response: Pas de probleme.

On Friday, however, it was also revealed that French Defense Minister Herve Moran has offered to sell Lebanon 100 HOT anti-tank missiles ( Given the recent unprovoked assassination of an Israeli lieutenant colonel by the Lebanese army and warming relations between Lebanon and Syria, how does France dream of selling these advanced armaments to Lebanon at this time. Even Inspector Clouseau would know against whose tanks these missiles are intended and that they will pass swiftly into the hands of Iran's proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

Sorry, but my reply to this temporary manifestation of démence: Pas question!

Anti-Semitism: No Response from Charles Blow

Following my e-mails concerning the vile anti-Semitic readers' comments that were posted by The New York Times in response to Charles Blow's blog post, "Obama and the Jews, Part 2" (see:, Blow, Andrew Rosenthal and the Office of the Public Editor of The Times did not respond, and the anti-Semitic readers' comments were not removed. Apparently, anti-Semitism is deemed "not abusive" by the once venerable Gray Lady.

Meanwhile, Charles Blow has published an op-ed entitled "I Had a Nightmare" (, in which he declares his love for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and denounces Glenn Beck's “Restoring Honor” rally on the 47th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is also one of my heroes, a fearless giant among men, whose legacy will live forever among those who believe in freedom and equality. His death, never properly investigated, still leaves me in anguish.

Dr. King also championed the fight for better understanding among African Americans and Jews and refused to tolerate anti-Semitism.

If Mr. Blow truly cares about Dr. King's legacy, I think it is a pity that he has chosen to ignore the hateful comments that were published in response to his blog post "Obama and the Jews, Part 2".

Mr. Blow concludes his op-ed of today's date, "I Had a Nightmare", by declaring:

"We should use Glenn’s nightmare to reconnect with Martin’s dream."

Fine, but before condemning Glenn Beck's "divisiveness", Mr. Blow has a little mess to clean up at home.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Charles Blow's "Obama and the Jews, Part 2" Evokes Anti-Semitism

In his column in today's New York Times entitled "Obama and the Jews, Part 2" (, Charles Blow notes a significant decline in the support of American Jews for President Obama, compared with, for example, Blacks, White Democrats and Hispanics aged 18-29. In response to Blow's column, there has already been a rash of hateful readers' comments posted by The New York Times, notwithstanding the purported policy of this newspaper that "Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are . . . not abusive."

Comment no. 1:

"Charles, it is hardly news that there are many Americans who are more loyal to the Israeli government (no matter how vilely racist, opposed to peace and bloody the government of the moment might be) than to our own. So no surprise that these folks would turn on Obama because he is not quite as subservient to the Israeli government as previous presidents. And let's not forget how viciously many Jewish New Yorkers turned against Mayor David Dinkins, the first and only black Mayor of NYC."

Comment no. 3:

"Obama has am impossible task. He inherited 8 years of Bush miss management,two unjust un winnable wars, shattered economy a militant christian right,( American Al Qaeda) and a very powerful Israeli lobby. Jews I mean the Apartheid jews expect America's unquestioned support and aid. this can not be done. Obama bent backwards to please the Jews but not enough, the jews control the house senate,and the federal reserve. As Richard Pearl said if any one goes against Israel or give unquestioned support they will not be reelected. Mr Obama you are a one time president, do what is right and forget about the jewish support."

Comment no. 10:

"I think I recall you mentioning at some time or other that you were not a native New Yorker. If you were, if you grew up here, you would know instinctively that most Jews support blacks, without condition, only when it's convenient to their own goals. Further, the closer they are to being Zionists the more likely they are to manifest a very ephemeral support of blacks and black causes. Interestingly, Jewish politicians who are orthodox or deeply observant, who want black support, won't even visit black churches, choosing instead to solicit black votes by robo calls via a surrogate. Which I find, as a clergy person, very insulting. No one appreciates being taken for granted. Of course, close friendships are the exception to this trend. All that being said, thanks for the column. Interesting data."

Comment no. 14:

"Obama has been crystal clear that he supports policies that benefit 98% of the population at the expense of a privileged 2%."

According to the European Union, anti-Semitism is defined as including:

• Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

• Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

Several of the above comments clearly fall within the EU definition of anti-Semitism.

Although not anti-Semitic, comment no. 13 states:

"I agree with the President 1000 PERCENT! Glad, glad, glad, this registered Voter/Vet USAF, voted for him! He is doing all he can to help Israel. Nutanyahu is a fool who the world stage has seen on it before, he has used the President the U.S. and has used excessive force in international waters against a friend and alley "TURKEY" who is as mad as I am over Israel killing 9 innocent peace activists who where bringing aid, food, medicine, shoes, to help 1.5 Million Palestinains being held in bondage by Israel, is wrong, and the "ISraeli "Blockade of "GAza IS wROnG!

In conclusion folks, I don't blame the President one bit and the "Majority of American's agree with me and the President and that too sir is the facts when it comes to Israel being out of control, under Nutanyahu they are, he's a fool, and so is anyone who agree's with him..."

Although one need not agree with the policies of Israel's current prime minister, when in the past has The Times permitted disparagement of a world leader by purposefully misspelling his or her name?

Comment 22 to Blow's column protests these hateful readers' remarks:

"The hateful and bigoted comments here and whenever Israel and/or Jews are mentioned in this paper are extremely frightening and worrying. Extremely."

I agree; however, there will always be anti-Semitism. What is more "frightening and worrying" is that The New York Times appears to have determined that anti-Semitism is "not abusive". Such bigotry would not be tolerated by The Times if it were directed at any other minority.

[I have protested the posting by The New York Times of these abusive comments in e-mails to Andrew Rosenthal, Charles Blow and a staff member of the Office of the Public Editor and await their responses.]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Egypt Announces Location of First Nuclear Power Plant: The Middle East Atomic Proliferation Race Has Begun

On Saturday Russia began fueling Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, and it came as no surprise that President Mubarak yesterday announced plans to build Egypt's first nuclear power plant at el-Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast (

You can be certain that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan, panicked by developments in Shiite Iran, will also soon be announcing their own programs for similar facilities.

Thanks, Obama for your inaction. The worst has yet to come.

Tony Blair on the Delegitimization of Israel

On Tuesday at a symposium held at the IDC Herzliya Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy concerning “The De-legitimization of Israel, Threats, Challenges and Responses,” the keynote address was delivered by Rt. Hon. Tony Blair. Mr. Blair, who now serves as Special Envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, made an impassioned speech, whose content deserves wide circulation. Below are highlights from his address:

There are two forms of de-legitimisation. One is traditional, obvious and from the quarters it emanates, expected. It is easier to deal with. This is attack from those who openly question Israel’s right to exist. It is easier to deal with, because it is so clear. When the President of Iran says he wants Israel wiped off the face of the map, we all know where we are. This is not to minimise the threat of course. It remains and is profound. It is just to say that were this the only form of de-legitimisation, it wouldn’t warrant a conference of analysis; simply a course of action.

The other form is more insidious, harder to spot, harder to anticipate and harder to deal with, because many of those engaging in it, will fiercely deny they are doing so. It is this form that is in danger of growing, and whose impact is potentially highly threatening, in part because it isn’t obvious.

I would define in it this way: it is a conscious or often unconscious resistance, sometimes bordering on refusal, to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view. Note that I say refusal to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view. I’m not saying refusal to agree with it. People are perfectly entitled to agree or not; but rather an unwillingness to listen to the other side, to acknowledge that Israel has a point, to embrace the notion that this is a complex matter that requires understanding of the other way of looking at it.

The challenge is that this often does not come from ill-intentioned people; but well-intentioned. They would dispute vigorously such a characterisation of their mindset. They would point to the injustice of Palestinian suffering, acts of the Israeli Government or army which are unjustifiable and they would say, rightly, that you cannot say that to criticise Israel is to de-legitimise it. Such minds are often to be found in the west. They will say they advocate a two state solution and they will point to that as proof positive that they accept Israel’s existence fully.

. . .

So, for example, on Gaza they won’t accept that Israel might have a right to search vessels bringing cargo into Gaza, given that even this year over 100 rockets have been fired from that territory into Israel. Leave aside the multiple investigations relating to the flotilla, upon which there will naturally be heated debate. I mean a refusal to accept that, however handled, no Israeli government could be indifferent to the possibility of weapons and missiles being brought into Gaza.

I often have a conversation about the West Bank which goes like this. Someone says: Israel must lift the occupation. I reply: I agree but it has to be sure that when it does so, there will be security and a Palestinian force capable of preventing terrorism. They say: so you’re supporting occupation. I say: I’m not. I’m simply pointing out that if Hamas, with an unchanged position on Israel, were running the West Bank, Israel would have a perfectly legitimate right to be concerned about it’s security.

A constant conversation I have with some, by no means all, of my European colleagues is to argue to them: don’t apply rules to the Government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country. In any of our nations, if there were people firing rockets, committing acts of terrorism and living next door to us, our public opinion would go crazy.

. . . .

Let me tell you why I am a passionate believer in Israel. This is a democracy. It’s Parliament is vibrant. Its politics is, well, not notably restrained, let’s say. Its press is free. Its people have rights and they are enforced. I had an argument with a friend about Israel. I said to them: ‘ok let’s assume you are charged with a crime you didn’t commit and the penalty is 20 years in prison. And you’re a critic of the Government. Tell me: under which country’s legal system, in this region, would you prefer to be tried?’ He struggled for a bit and then said: ‘that’s not the point.’ ‘But it is’ I replied.

Look around the world about what we admire about the Jewish people: their contribution to art, culture, literature, music, business and philanthropy. It’s a spirit that is identifiable, open and rather wonderful. Whatever bigotry is, it is the opposite of it. It is a free spirit. On holiday I read the new biography of Einstein. Having in early life taken not much interest in the issue, he became an ardent supporter of Israel. But look at the character of the Israel he supported: like Einstein himself – a free thinker, a rebellious thinker even, but one supremely attuned to the future.

That is the Israel people like me support. So guard it; keep it. I am a religious person myself. But the society I want to live in, is one that treats me no better as a result; makes my view one amongst many; and pursues science, technology and progress with vigour and without prejudice. The best answer to the de-legitimisation of Israel lies in the character of Israel itself and in the openness, fair-mindedness and creativity of ordinary Israelis. That character and those people built the State of Israel. They remain it’s guardians. They are why to de-legitimise Israel is not only an affront to Israelis but to all who share the values of a free human spirit.

The entirety of Mr. Blair's address can be seen at:

A pity that the "liberal" (there is nothing liberal about them) columnists at The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, not to mention those writing for news organizations in Blair's home country, will never consider these remarks. Participants in a blind, frenzied orgy of hatred, they are too deep in self-denial.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anti-Semitic Scandal Involving Amnesty International Arises in Finland

Amnesty International has been hit with a new scandal:

"The head of Amnesty International’s Finnish branch, Frank Johansson, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he stands by his statement that Israel is a 'scum state.'

. . . .

An English translation of Johansson’s blog first appeared Tuesday on the Web site Tundra Tabloids, a pro-Israel blog that monitors anti-Israeli sentiments in the Finnish media and blogosphere.

. . . .

Asked why he termed Israel a 'scum state,' Johansson told the Post in a telephone interview that it was because Israel has 'repeatedly flouted international law,' and due to his 'personal experiences inside and outside of Israel with meeting Israelis.' Johansson said that his remarks were not anti-Semitic. . . . Asked whether there are other countries aside from Israel that, according to him, meet the definition of a 'scum state,' Johansson did not specify any, but noted that there are 'Russian officials' who meet the criteria."

Johansson claims Israel is a "scum state" and can't think of any other countries that fall into this category? Obviously, Johnansson doesn't give a damn about state-sanctioned honor killings, hangings, stonings, decapitations and whipping of women, gays and minorities throughout the Muslim Middle East. Nor could he care less, for example, about capital punishment and oppression in China. Yet, Johansson would have us believe, and perhaps even deludes himself into thinking, that he is not anti-Semitic.

This latest scandal involving Amnesty International comes on the heels of the Marc Garlasco outrage at Human Rights Watch. As observed several months ago by The Sunday Times following the revelation that HRW's military expert was a collector of Nazi meorabilia:

"[HRW] accused those who raised the issue of Garlasco’s hobby of being part of 'a campaign to deflect attention from Human Rights Watch’s rigorous and detailed reporting on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli government'. It even used the word 'conspiracy': its programmes director, Iain Levine, later went so far as to directly accuse the Israeli government of being behind it. But he provided no evidence for the charge.

The vehemence of Human Rights Watch in defending Garlasco surprised many. But it made sense for two reasons. Though HRW relishes complaints from infuriated dictatorships, it is not used to its personnel and methods being questioned at home.

. . . .

Some conflict zones get much more coverage than others. For instance, HRW has published five heavily publicised reports on Israel and the Palestinian territories since the January 2009 war.

In 20 years they have published only four reports on the conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir, for example, even though the conflict has taken at least 80,000 lives in these two decades, and torture and extrajudicial murder have taken place on a vast scale. Perhaps even more tellingly, HRW has not published any report on the postelection violence and repression in Iran more than six months after the event.

. . . .

I interviewed a human-rights expert at a competing organisation in Washington who did not wish to be named because 'we operate in a very small world and it’s not done to criticise other human-rights organisations'. He told me he was 'not surprised' that HRW has still not produced a report on the violence in Iran: 'They are thinking about how it’s going to be used politically in Washington. And it’s not a priority for them because Iran is just not a bad guy that they are interested in highlighting. Their hearts are not in it. Let’s face it, the thing that really excites them is Israel.'"

"The thing that really excites them is Israel"? What a surprise. Israel is also what has many so-called "liberal" journalists at The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN salivating at the thought of any news item, however small, that can be used to denigrate the Jewish state.

And their willingness to ignore the must vile human rights violations occurring elsewhere in the world? Observe how much coverage the imminent stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran, which resulted in demonstrations throughout the world, received, for example, at The New York Times.

Yet all of these pundits and soothsayers of the Left will go to their deathbeds denying that their activities were tainted by anti-Semitism.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque: Confessions of an Islamophobe

Time to be politically incorrect.

Yesterday in a New York Times op-ed entitled "How Fox Betrayed Petraeus" (, drama critic Frank Rich excoriated those who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque:

"The 'ground zero mosque,' as you may well know by now, is not at ground zero. It’s not a mosque but an Islamic cultural center containing a prayer room.

. . . .

So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?"

The Ground Zero Mosque is not a mosque? Peculiar. Rich would have us believe that within the $100 million, 13-story complex only one tiny room is intended for prayer, when in fact the "prayer space" is intended for up to 2,000 Muslims. Does Harvard educated Rich take us all for idiots? Perhaps.

Rich appears to divide those opposing the Ground Zero Mosque into two categories: the Islamophobic neocon Right and the "useful idiots", which has me asking, into which of these two categories do I personally fall?

I have consistently opposed U.S. ground involvement in Afghanistan and am pro-choice, so the totality of the first of these two possibilities appears inapplicable to me. So then, am I a "useful idiot"? Of course, I might be deemed a fool by Frank, but on the other hand, I have two university degrees, speak several languages, worked in the past for a leading M&A law firm, and my IQ exceeds that of Forrest Gump.

According to Rich, the only remaining possibility seems to be that although not a neocon, I am still an Islamophobe, but if this is indeed the case, I can't help wondering if my fear is irrational.

Charles Krauthammer, hardly a Neanderthal, but who would probably be placed by Rich in the neocon category, observed in a August 20 Washington Post op-ed entitled "Moral myopia at Ground Zero" (

"Radical Islam is not, by any means, a majority of Islam. But with its financiers, clerics, propagandists, trainers, leaders, operatives and sympathizers -- according to a conservative estimate, it commands the allegiance of 7 percent of Muslims, i.e., more than 80 million souls -- it is a very powerful strain within Islam. It has changed the course of nations and affected the lives of millions. It is the reason every airport in the West is an armed camp and every land is on constant alert."

Forgive me for asking whether that radical 7 percent of Muslims also includes those who condone "honor killings"? Throughout the entire Muslim Middle East, women are being murdered by male relatives for so-called affronts such as using a cell phone to call a man outside the family. Each year some 5,000 Muslim women fall victim to "honor killings", which are now also occurring in the U.S., Canada and Western Europe (

Do honor killings also just belong to Islam's radical fringe?

In addition, let's look at Libya, where Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi, convicted in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above Lockerbie, is roaming free after being released from a Scottish prison on August 20 last year on compassionate grounds. Although we were told that Al-Megrahi, suffering from prostate cancer, had less than three months to live, he is still very much alive, and the U.K. recently warned Libya not to engage again in celebrations over his release (

Not frightening enough for you? Consider Qaddafi's plans for Europe, enunciated in a speech broadcast by Al Jazeera on April 10, 2006 (

"Some people believe that Muhammad is the prophet of the Arabs or the Muslims alone. This is a mistake. Muhammad is the Prophet of all people. He superseded all previous religions. If Jesus were alive when Muhammad was sent, he would have followed him. All people must be Muslims. . . . We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe - without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades. . . Allah mobilizes the Muslim nation of Turkey and adds it to the European Union. That's another 50 million Muslims. There will be 100 million Muslims in Europe. Albania, which is a Muslim country, has already entered the EU. Fifty percent of its citizens are Muslims."

No reason for concern? Qaddafi is again just Islam's fringe?

No one will forget the pictures of President Obama bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. No, this act of obeisance doesn't have me worried, but I am extremely troubled when women who are gang raped are sentenced to lashings and prison ( Moreover, this week's report that a Saudi judge, pursuant to Islamic law, is seeking a hospital willing to paralyze a person convicted of paralyzing another person, does not leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling (

Yeah, I know: only Islam's fringe.

Should the calls of Iran's Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the face of the map and his threats against the U.S. ( just be ignored? Are Iran's stoning of female "adulterers", its savage persecution of its Baha'is, and, together with Syria and Turkey, its abuse of the region's 35 million Kurds of little consequence? Again, I know, I'm being paranoid: it's just the fringe, having nothing to do with mainstream Islam.

Then, also, there are the interminable wars involving almost all of the Muslim Middle East countries, the vast majority not involving Israel ( In this regard, I would feel much better if occasionally I heard calls for brotherhood from the two mosques situated within earshot of my home, but it's just not the case.

Of course, I'm not saying that Christianity and Judaism didn't have their extremely violent pasts, and maybe in another century Islam will find the route to tolerance and coexistence, but that time has yet to come.

So before the Ground Zero Mosque is built, notwithstanding testimonials to Rauf's sterling character, forgive me if I ask from where the funds for the construction of this "Islamic cultural center with a prayer room" are coming.

Maybe a little honesty will do much to allay my irrational Islamophobic concerns.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Game of Death: Syria Orders Ship Carrying Women to Break Gaza Blockade

A Middle East game of death is again being played out after Syrian President Assad issued orders to send a shipload of women to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Why is this happening now? No mystery here. The UN team investigating the 2005 explosion that killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has discovered who gave the orders to eliminate the pro-Western Lebanese leader, and those responsible are growing worried that they are soon to be publicly implicated. As reported by Spiegel in May:

"In late 2005, an investigation team approved by the United Nations and headed by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis found, after seven months of research, that Syrian security forces and high-ranking Lebanese officials were in fact responsible for the Hariri murder. Four suspects were arrested. But the smoking gun, the final piece of evidence, was not found.

. . . .

But now there are signs that the investigation has yielded new and explosive results. SPIEGEL has learned from sources close to the tribunal and verified by examining internal documents, that the Hariri case is about to take a sensational turn. Intensive investigations in Lebanon are all pointing to a new conclusion: that it was not the Syrians, but instead special forces of the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah ("Party of God") that planned and executed the diabolical attack.

. . . .

In months of painstaking work, a secretly operating special unit of the Lebanese security forces, headed by intelligence expert Captain Wissam Eid, filtered out the numbers of mobile phones that could be pinpointed to the area surrounding Hariri on the days leading up to the attack and on the date of the murder itself. The investigators referred to these mobile phones as the 'first circle of hell.'

Captain Eid's team eventually identified eight mobile phones, all of which had been purchased on the same day in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. They were activated six weeks before the assassination, and they were used exclusively for communication among their users and -- with the exception of one case -- were no longer used after the attack. They were apparently tools of the hit team that carried out the terrorist attack.

But there was also a 'second circle of hell,' a network of about 20 mobile phones that were identified as being in proximity to the first eight phones noticeably often. According to the Lebanese security forces, all of the numbers involved apparently belong to the 'operational arm' of Hezbollah, which maintains a militia in Lebanon that is more powerful than the regular Lebanese army.

. . . .

The whereabouts of the two Beirut groups of mobile phone users coincided again and again, and they were sometimes located near the site of the attack. The romantic attachment of one of the terrorists led the cyber-detectives directly to one of the main suspects. He committed the unbelievable indiscretion of calling his girlfriend from one of the 'hot' phones. It only happened once, but it was enough to identify the man. He is believed to be Abd al-Majid Ghamlush, from the town of Rumin, a Hezbollah member who had completed a training course in Iran. Ghamlush was also identified as the buyer of the mobile phones. He has since disappeared, and perhaps is no longer alive.

Ghamlush's recklessness led investigators to the man they now suspect was the mastermind of the terrorist attack: Hajj Salim, 45. A southern Lebanese from Nabatiyah, Salim is considered to be the commander of the 'military' wing of Hezbollah and lives in South Beirut, a Shiite stronghold. Salim's secret 'Special Operational Unit' reports directly to Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, 48.",1518,626412,00.html

The Spiegel report, however, is mistaken with regard to one detail: Hezbollah did indeed plan and carry out the assassination, but Hezbollah leader Nasrallah never acts without first receiving instructions from his Syrian and Iranian overlords. Syria's motivation and involvement? As reported by former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, during Hariri's last meeting with Assad in Damascus, Assad, infuriated by Hariri's efforts to expel the Syrian army from Lebanon, threatened to "crush anyone who tries to oppose our decisions" (

Nasrallah and Assad expect details from the UN investigation to be released shortly and are both concerned by the impact of these revelations on the Lebanese and Arab street. Nasrallah earlier this month sought to create a smokescreen by blaming Israel for Hariri's death (

Assad, however, is attempting a different tactic by sending tomorrow a boat, renamed the Mariam (the "Virgin Mary") for Western consumption, carrying several dozen women and a "symbolic quantity" of aid to break the Gaza blockade. Assad is hoping that an encounter between the Israeli Navy and the Mariam will result in violence, which will inflame the Muslim world and render the UN investigation team's findings inconsequential. You see, Muslims throughout the Middle East can kill their own women with impunity, i.e. honor killings, but heaven help us if Israel should even graze a hair of one of the Mariam's passengers.

Israel's preparations? Netanyahu was the first Israeli prime minister to travel to Greece earlier this week in order to cement opposition to this new attempt to break the Gaza blockade and has obtained much needed support from Greek Cyprus. As reported by Haaretz:

"The ship cannot travel directly to Gaza from Lebanon because Beirut is still technically at war with Israel, forcing the vessel to pass through a third country - in this case, Cyprus - before heading for the blockaded Palestinian territory.

But on Thursday, the Cypriot ambassador to Lebanon told The Associated Press that the boat, the Mariam, will be turned back when it reaches Cyprus."

The Mariam might instead seek to dock in Turkish Cyprus and proceed from there to Gaza.

Is the Israeli military prepared this time with contingency plans? Unfortunately, the IDF has been preoccupied this past week with a much publicized affair involving a forged document pertaining to an imaginary PR campaign for the appointment of the next chief of general staff. We can only hope that this has not distracted the IDF from focusing on more pressing business, including the loading of uranium fuel into the reactor of Iran's Bushehr power plant this weekend.

[Following the refusal of Cyprus to allow the Mariam entry into a Cypriot port, its voyage has been postponed as the organizers seek permission from Greece to make the necessary interim stopover. Now let's see what Netanyahu achieved during his recent visit to Athens.]

Thursday, August 19, 2010

An Ode to Fifty-Frustrated-Six

Notwithstanding the crack, snapple and pop from my joints when attempting to benchpress weights that were easily manageable in my youth, I really shouldn't complain. My business consultancy firm, serving a handful of select clients, is doing reasonably well during this near catastrophic recession, which has been particularly cruel to those like myself who are beginning to approach retirement age. In addition, I am flying less, the children seem reasonably settled, and Pancake the dog is aging well as he accompanies me on my perambulations in search of insight and inspiration. And yet . . .

I can't recall when I last went to a movie, and there isn't a single new film out there that I want to see. Wait, I do remember when I last went to a theater -- I took my youngest son to "Avatar" and promptly fell asleep in a plush velvet armchair after I grew bored with the 3-D effects.

I watch in astonishment as those around me "message" with their thumbs. Quite honestly, even if I were to acquire the necessary skill set to engage in such communication and I could manage it without reading glasses, I can't imagine maintaining this constant thread of chatter. Almost surely, I would quickly run out of things to say to my small circle of friends.

Today's music? Sure, I remember when my father turned his nose up at rock and roll, which I still enjoy, and which, combined with frequent proximity to artillery fire, has left me slightly deaf. But today's trance and hip hop music? I can't listen to it. David Hume once wrote an essay on aesthetics explaining that the quality of an artwork is reflected by the unique ability of connoisseurs to discern its excellence and by sustained appreciation of the work over the years by the general population (Hume failed to explain the disparity between these two criteria). I don't know if there are any connoisseurs extolling the virtues of trance and hip hop music. On the other hand, my customers routinely ask me to predict the future, and my guess is that trance and hip hop will be six feet under in another few years, never to be resurrected.

Politics and current events? In search of a panacea and ready to be suckered by a slick advertising campaign, Americans elected a spineless president, uniquely unprepared for the job, who is presiding over global economic slippage, the destruction of U.S. exceptionalism, and the rise of nuclear-armed tyrannies threatening the annihilation of the world.

And if all of the above is not enough, anti-Semitism has never been worse in my lifetime. Every day disturbing reports arrive from different corners of the globe concerning new outrages. Yesterday, Holland ( and Chile ( "featured" in the news.

Occasionally overwhelmed by this grim cloud of despair, I seek sanctuary in family, friends, books and garden. Also, I am blessed to be able to work as an outside consultant for two life sciences companies, Compugen (therapeutics and diagnostics) and Rainbow Medical (medical devices), whose brilliant staff and cutting edge science will, in my opinion, revolutionize the world of medicine. Yes, there is still a place somewhere in this faltering world for creativity, productivity and excellence aimed at universally bettering people's lives.

And then there is always Pancake . . .

[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 or Rainbow Medical.]

Pakistan: Obama, Again, Slow to React

Catastrophic flooding has struck Pakistan, and given that the monsoon season is not over, we have yet to witness the full magnitude of this disaster. Meanwhile, however, Ken Ballen, president of Terror Free Tomorrow, in an online column for CNN entitled "In Pakistan floods, U.S. must step into breach" (, describes this tragedy and the lack of U.S. involvement:

"One in nine Pakistanis -- some 20 million people -- are already homeless, lacking food or medicine. Health officials warn that a cholera epidemic is likely, with 3½ million children now at risk.

Despite the cataclysmic scale of this disaster, the Obama administration is not responding with the same direct, comprehensive and large-scale effort that the Bush administration undertook in response to the 2005 Pakistani earthquake and the 2004 Asian tsunami."

Mr. Ballen warns that if the U.S. fails to provide timely aid to nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is now home to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, these radical Islamic organizations could well use the opportunity to make inroads among Pakistanis:

"American aid to the flood victims is a clear humanitarian imperative. Some have argued that it is also in the national security interest of the United States to win friends and stabilize the country. This is of particular concern since, according to my contacts in Pakistan and reports in South Asia media, radical Islamist groups allied to al Qaeda are on the front lines in providing direct aid to the flood victims.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa, linked to the terrorists who carried out the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, has already reportedly established 13 relief camps, with some 2,000 members providing help."

Ballen's report is partially corroborated by Mark Lander in an article entitled "U.S. Strategy in Pakistan Is Upended by Floods" in today's online New York Times (

"The floods in Pakistan have upended the Obama administration’s carefully honed strategy there, confronting the United States with a vast humanitarian crisis and militant groups determined to exploit the misery, in a country that was already one of its thorniest problems.

While the administration has kept its public emphasis on the relief effort, senior officials are busy assessing the longer-term strategic impact. One official said the disaster would affect virtually every aspect of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and could have ripple effects on the war in Afghanistan and the broader American battle against Al Qaeda.

. . . .

'If the flood proves to tilt the balance of power in Pakistan, it’s more likely to tilt toward the militants than toward the government,' said Bruce Riedel, a former intelligence official who helped the administration formulate its initial policy for Pakistan and Afghanistan."

However, unlike the Ballen column in CNN, the Lander's New York Times article conveys the impression that U.S. relief efforts are appreciated by Pakistanis:

"In recent days, the United States has sent 15 helicopters, rescuing nearly 6,000 people. On Wednesday, military cargo planes delivered 60,000 pounds of food and other relief supplies, bringing total deliveries to 717,000 pounds. The speed and scale of the effort, officials in both countries said, have helped bolster the checkered American image in Pakistan."

So which of these contradictory accounts is correct? My suggestion: Divide 717,000 pounds of relief supplies among 20 million people and reach your own conclusion.

I would further note that the U.S. has thus far donated $76 million in assistance to Pakistan, which is still less than the cost of the proposed Ground Zero Mosque. In response to yesterday's blog entry, a commenter labeled me a "hatemongerer" (; nevertheless, I ask again, shouldn't the $100 million from an "anonymous" donor for the Ground Zero Mosque be used instead to assist Pakistani flood victims?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Not Give the $100 Million for the Ground Zero Mosque to Pakistani Flood Victims?

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Our Mosque Madness"(, Maureen Dowd predictably favors the construction of the mosque and Muslim community center beside Ground Zero and scolds Obama for waffling. My online response, if not censored by the "moderators" of The Times, who are willing to tolerate Holocaust denial (, but who are often unwilling to brook reasoned criticism of their columnists(

According to Ms. Dowd, "By now you have to be willfully blind not to know that the imam in charge of the project, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the moderate Muslim we have allegedly been yearning for."

Oh really? It comes as no surprise that Maureen ignores Feisal Abdul Rauf's famous quote: "I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened. But the United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."

Instead of building a $100 million (where is the money coming from?), 13-story mosque and Muslim community center at this location, why isn't Feisal Abdul Rauf seeking to construct a multicultural, interfaith center for global peace and healing? If this was the case, I am confident there would be no opposition, but this possibility has not been advanced. Again, time to be informed who is funding this venture.

Ms. Dowd also states, "Have any of the screaming critics noticed that there already are two mosques in the same neighborhood — one four blocks away and one 12 blocks away." Exactly. No one is asking for these mosques to be torn down, but why is there a need for another? Moreover, few are saying that a new mosque cannot be legally built, but rather that the location of this new mosque represents a thumb in the eye for families of 9/11 victims.

Ignored by Ms. Dowd is the historic use of mosques as trophies following conquests, resulting in the conversion of churches, synagogues and Hindu temples into mosques. For example, the Turks converted almost all of the churches of Constantinople (today Istanbul) into mosques, including the Hagia Sophia cathedral, after capturing the city from the Byzantines in 1453.

Feisal Abdul Rauf plans to name his 13-story mosque and community center "Cordoba House". The Great Mosque of Cordoba was first a church that became a mosque after the Muslim conquest of Spain, but which again became a church (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción) when Ferdinand and Isabella reconquered Spain.

One must wonder: With 20 million flood victims in Pakistan, why is $100 million from some anonymous source being channeled into a mosque in the shadows of the World Trade Center instead of being used to assist these poor persons in desperate need of help? Sure, legally there is nothing standing in the way of the mosque, but the motivation for its construction need be questioned.

"No 'Graceful Exit'": Bob Herbert Impugns David Petraeus

In his New York Times column of today's date, Bob Herbert, cites a conversation between President Obama and General David Petraeus, which is described in Jonathan Alter's book, "The Promise", and then proceeds to impugn Petraeus:

“'David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in eighteen months?'

Mr. Petraeus replied: 'Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the A.N.A. [Afghan National Army] in that time frame.'

The president went on: 'If you can’t do the things you say you can in eighteen months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?'

'Yes, sir, in agreement,' said General Petraeus.

. . . .

That was then. The brass was just blowing smoke, telling the commander in chief whatever it was that he wanted to hear."

Anyone familiar with this blog knows that I have long opposed American ground involvement in Afghanistan, and I agree with Mr. Herbert that this war, as it is currently being fought, is indeed "a giant roadblock in the way of efforts to deal effectively with deteriorating economic and social conditions here in the United States."

On the other hand, any attempt to blame General Petraeus for this fiasco and to portray Obama as some babe in the woods is misplaced. Obama took months before deciding to escalate this war, and his determination, which was influenced by a host of different persons and governmental bodies, did not hinge on any one discussion.

Obama is the Commander in Chief and bears full responsibility for this blunder. If General Petraeus is indeed now attempting "to rally public opinion against the very orders that President Obama insisted . . . could not be countermanded," he should be dismissed for insubordination.

David Petraeus guilty of insubordination? Sorry, I don't buy it. More likely that Obama is sending up a trial balloon by way of Petraeus. (Remember how Obama used Hillary Clinton to attack Netanyahu regarding the Ramat Shlomo housing project.)

C'est tout.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Obama Issued Arms Deal Ultimatum to Turkey? Not Exactly . . .

According to a Financial Times article entitled "US issues arms deal ultimatum to Turkey", Obama personally issued a warning to Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan that Ankara's position on Israel and Iran could could reduce the likelihood of obtaining U.S. weapons:

"President Barack Obama has personally warned Turkey’s prime minister that unless Ankara shifts its position on Israel and Iran it stands little chance of obtaining the US weapons it wants to buy.

Mr Obama’s warning to Recep Tayyip Erdogan is particularly significant as Ankara wants to buy American drone aircraft – such as the missile-bearing Reaper – to attack the Kurdish separatist PKK after the US military pulls out of Iraq at the end of 2011

. . . .

One senior administration official said: 'The president has said to Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress] . . . about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally. That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry that it would like to fight the PKK, will be harder for us to move through Congress.'”

Note the contradiction in the Financial Times article: The article begins by telling us that Obama "personally" warned Erdoğan of an impending arms embargo. Afterwards, we are told what was truly said, i.e. that Obama warned that the U.S. Congress might act to block arms sales to Turkey. There's a big difference.

Note how the Obama administration earlier this month refused to terminate $100 million in military aid to Lebanon after the Lebanese Army attacked Israeli forces without provocation, and it fell upon the U.S. Congress (Representatives Lowey and Berman) to suspend this assistance (

None of this should come as a surprise. Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his inability to react swiftly and decisively to events, be it oil spills or street demonstrations in Tehran, and the warning given to Erdoğan amounted to little more than an attempt to pin the blame on Congress for any future strain upon American relations with Turkey.

Beyond Turkey's relationships with Israel and Iran, however, U.S. (and Israeli) arms sales to Turkey should also be conditioned upon Turkey's interaction with its Kurdish minority. I am horrified how the world reacted with a yawn to recent news reports that the Turkish military is using chemical weapons against the Kurds (see:

If only Obama had the courage to even mention in passing the plight of some 35 million Kurds, who were also attacked in the past with chemical weapons by Saddam, and who continue to be brutally oppressed by Turkey, Syria and Iran.

[Given the deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel, Netanyahu's current visit to Athens is no accident and marks the first official visit to Greece of an Israeli prime minister.]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maureen Dowd's "No Love From the Lefties": Shoot the Messenger!

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "No Love From the Lefties" (, addressing the White House press secretary's temper tantrum directed at the "professional left" which no longer bows before the president, Maureen Dowd begins by observing,

"Robert Gibbs should be yanked as White House press secretary,"

and concludes by stating,

"Let someone who shows less disdain for the press work with the press, and be the more engaging face of the White House."

Dowd contends that Gibbs has created a "moat" between the press and the presidency, but fails to comprehend that Gibbs is no more than the messenger, chosen to stymie discourse with news correspondents.

Listen to Anita Dunn, Obama's former Communications Director ("yanked" when she declared that mass murderer Mao Tse-Tung is one of her favorite political philosophers) explain how during the presidential campaign "very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control." (

The Obama West Wing has yet to grasp that whereas "absolute control" may have worked during the campaign when voters were flush with idealism, faith and hope, it no longer works two years later in an atmosphere of disillusionment, doubt and despair.

It has yet to occur to Axelrod & Co. that Obama needs to hold more frequent news conferences and agree to unscripted Q&A without teleprompters. The concern, of course, is that many more might discover "the king has no clothes."

[Those "professional lefties" at The New York Times refused to post an abbreviated version of this blog item that I submitted as an online comment in response to Dowd's op-ed. It would appear that they also don't enjoy having the opinions of their distinguished columnists being questioned by the hoi poloi.]

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Official: Obama Worst President in U.S. History

Until yesterday, Obama was merely "in the running" for worst president in the history of the United States, competing with such erstwhile favorites as James Buchanan, Warren Harding and Millard Fillmore. Only a year and a half into his first term, Obama could field such notable accomplishments as:

• Failure to revive the U.S. economy;
• Escalation of the war in Afghanistan;
• Enactment of a health care plan opposed by a majority of Americans;
• Indifference to a major ecological disaster;
• Alienation of U.S. allies around the globe;
• Creation of a Middle East power vacuum threatening world peace;
• Repudiation of campaign promises, e.g., recognition of Armenian Genocide by the Turks;
• Estrangement of supporters, i.e. gays and Hispanics;
• Avoidance of news conferences and unscripted Q&A.

Had you asked me yesterday morning concerning Obama's chances to top the list of all-time worst American presidents, I would have told you that notwithstanding this impressive list of credentials, he is not even midway through his first, and presumably last, term of office, and a final determination must wait.

Yesterday evening, however, Obama placed himself at the top of the chart, when, at a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan, he used the occasion to declare his support for the construction of a 13-story, $100 million mosque and Muslim community center at Ground Zero.

Obviously, if this issue were to go the Supreme Court, there is nothing to prevent the erection of the complex, notwithstanding the fact that it amounts to a thumb in the eye for families of 9/11 victims. Moreover, New York Mayor Bloomberg has also already voiced support for the mosque, so why should Obama's advocacy for the project propel him to the top of the worst presidents list?

Answer: Still shackled with his inane decision to expand involvement in Afghanistan and desperately struggling to win the hearts and minds of its hostile civilian population, Obama could not have concluded otherwise. In addition, Obama continues to seek rapprochement with the Muslim world, and his declaration is entirely in keeping with his foreign affairs policy. But instead of making this pronouncement at a White House iftar dinner before a friendly group of Muslim invitees, Obama should have first sought to explain himself to the families of those who lost loved ones at the World Trade Center.

Cowardice on Obama's part? Stupidity? Certainly an absence of leadership, which has become the hallmark of his administration.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anonymous Anti-Semitism from the Editorial Board of The New York Times: Netanyahu a "Master Manipulator"

Yesterday, The New York Times stooped to a new low, when an editorial, entitled "President Abbas and Peace Talks" (, labeled Netanyahu a "master manipulator". No proof or justification was provided for this demeaning characterization.

Was this mere criticism of Israel's prime minister? After all, criticism of Israel can of course be legitimate, and no one is more critical of Israeli politicians than Israelis themselves.

On the other hand, how many other leaders of U.S. allies has The New York Times labeled "master manipulators" in recent memory? For that matter when was the last time The New York Times called any leader of a foreign country a "master manipulator"? I don't recall a single instance.

Moreover, whether or not you favor the policies espoused by a world leader, his or her ability to achieve goals within the international community ordinarily would define that leader as a "persuasive statesperson" or "talented negotiator". How did The New York Times happen upon the appellation "manipulator", which rings of underhandedness?

Go to any anti-Semitic website, and you will find repeated references to Jewish "manipulators" in government and industry. The connotation of this warped denunciation also brings to mind the title of a New York Times op-ed, "Obama in Netanyahu's Web", written by Roger Cohen (, which, whether consciously or not, echoed the anti-Semitic "tradition" of depicting Jews as voracious spiders.

The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia's working definition of anti-Semitism includes:

"Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective."

No question about it: this stereotypical dehumanizing imprecation from The New York Times editorial staff was anti-Semitic, and given that we were not provided the name of its author, it was also cowardly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New York Times Editorial "President Abbas and Peace Talks" Reveals Astonishing Naiveté

In an editorial in today's New York Times entitled "President Abbas and Peace Talks", it is claimed:

"But if Mr. Abbas is not at the table, there is no serious way of testing Mr. Netanyahu’s intentions and whether there is any real chance of peacefully achieving a Palestinian state."

It never occurred to the author of this editorial, who is swift to label Netanyahu a "master manipulator", that Abbas is not interested in testing Netanyahu's intentions. As Abbas stated in May 2009 to Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post:

"'I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,' he said. 'Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.'"

Unacknowledged by the author of this editorial is the current murderous enmity between Fatah, rulers of the West Bank, and Hamas, rulers of Gaza, which prevents Abbas from reaching any agreement involving Gaza. Satisfied with 8% GDP growth, security collaboration with Israel against Hamas, and only 14 remaining Israeli checkpoints, Abbas is currently loathe to take steps which could jeopardize Fatah's dominion over the West Bank.

Remarkably, the author of this editorial also ignores Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's 2008 offer, which was predictably rejected by Abbas, to swap Israeli territory for settlement blocs and to provide a safe passage corridor between the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas is not standing on principle. Deathly afraid of Hamas, he has good reason to avoid talks with Israel, which could undermine his regime.

Assassination of Israeli Lt.-Colonel by Lebanese Army: Is Philip Crowley Blind?

In response to the August 3 Lebanese Army sniper attack that killed an Israel Defense Forces lieutenant colonel supervising the removal of a tree on the Israeli side of the Israeli-Lebanese border, U.S. Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley stated on August 9, during the daily U.S. State Department press briefing:

"Well, we are not aware that there was any U.S. equipment used during the incident. We do have training programs with Lebanon. It’s hard to say whether those who were directly involved in this incident were a part of any training program under IMET. But we have an extensive military cooperation program with Lebanon, because it’s in our interest to have that program. It offers – it allows the Government of Lebanon to expand its sovereignty. We think that is in the interest of both of our countries and regional stability as a whole. I don’t believe that we are planning to reevaluate our current military cooperation with Lebanon in light of this incident."

No U.S. equipment involved? Really? Have a look at the AP picture of the Lebanese soldier pointing his automatic rifle across the border at the Israelis removing the tree ( I'll give you one guess where that rifle was manufactured.

Is Philip Crowley blind? Yes, as is the entire Obama administration, and this lack of vision extends far beyond last week's border incident. Owing to a Middle East power vacuum created by the Obama administration, Lebanon is being sucked back into the Iranian-Syrian fold, as amply illustrated by recent declarations of obeisance from Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt (see:

Thank goodness U.S. Representatives Nita Lowey and Howard Berman had the common sense to block, on Monday, $100 million in military aid that had been approved for the Lebanese Army.

Observe the common thread between the Lebanese Army sniper attack last Tuesday and the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel by a North Korean submarine in March: In both instances the Obama administration pretended that nothing of significance occurred, so as to avoid any semblance of discord or confrontation.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fareed Zakaria Returns ADL Award: Abe, Keep the Plaque, Give Me the Money

Last week, Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria protested the Anti-Defamation League's opposition to the building of a mosque in the shadows of the World Trade Center by returning the ADL's Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, consisting of a $10,000 honorarium and a "handsome" commemorative plaque.

Do I understand correctly? With anti-Semitism at horrific levels throughout Europe, and with once reputable North American news organizations such as The New York Times allowing anti-Semites to disseminate their messages online, the ADL provided Fareed Zakaria with a cash award?

This is of course the same Fareed Zakaria who recently wrote:

"Everything you know about Iran is wrong, or at least more complicated than you think. Take the bomb. The regime wants to be a nuclear power but could well be happy with a peaceful civilian program."

Remarkably, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman aspires to return the prize to Zakaria:

"I am holding on to your award and check in hope that you will come to see that ADL acted appropriately and you will want to reclaim them."

Quite honestly, Abe, if I had contributed funds to the ADL to combat racism, and you had used my money for an honorarium to Zakaria, I would be offended.

Fareed's plaque? You can keep it, Abe. Fareed's honorarium, however, you can give to me (no festive black tie dinner required). You'll get several hours a day from a former Wall Street attorney, who is struggling as best he can, without your help, to combat an outbreak of anti-Semitism that is reaching epidemic proportions. And although I'm not famous, and there will be no photo-op or headlines (such as those resulting from your acceptance of Oliver Stone's second apology), your contributors will get their money's worth. This much I promise.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Posting by New York Times of Anti-Semitism: "Amtrak Will Take Your Thoughts Under Advisement As We Consider Our Advertising Options"

In response to my most recent e-mail to Amtrak (see prior blog entry:, I received the following message from their Office of Customer Relations:

Thank you for your email response.

I have been informed that Amtrak will take your thoughts under advisement as we consider our advertising options.

I believe it is sufficiently plain that Amtrak plans to reconsider advertising with The New York Times given the willingness of this news organization to post anti-Semitic readers' comments.

This is an important development. Amtrak is the first organization to acknowledge the gravity of The New York Times's conduct.

Time to inform other New York Times advertisers of Amtrak's decision.

Amtrak "Makes No Claims to Endorse or Support" Anti-Semitic Readers’ Comments Posted by The New York Times

See below the response of online New York Times advertiser Amtrak to my complaint concerning their advertisements placed beside anti-Semitic readers' comments posted by New York Times employees:

We regret that you are unhappy with Amtrak advertising with However, as an advertiser, Amtrak makes no claims to endorse or support the opinions of readers’ comments in response to news items and op-eds in the publications and websites on which it advertises.

My reply:

Given that Amtrak is a U.S. government-owned corporation, your response raises grave legal and ethical questions concerning Amtrak's online advertising where anti-Semitic readers' comments, which purportedly have undergone "moderation", are posted by employees of The New York Times.

Is it enough to distance yourself from such anti-Semitic comments by claiming that "Amtrak makes no claims to endorse or support" such opinions? Let's examine your contention by means of what is termed in economics a "stress test":

Would Amtrak advertise on a white supremacist website, where readers' comments regularly demean African Americans, inasmuch as "Amtrak makes no claims to endorse or support" these opinions? This would never happen, because such advertising would be deemed to legitimize these readers' comments and subsidize their publication. If so, why is Amtrak willing to place advertisements where vulgar anti-Semitic readers' comments are posted by New York Times employees?

If you wish to claim that the examples and references that I cited do not provide irrefutable evidence of flagrant racism targeting Jews in readers' comments posted by New York Times employees, just say the word. Meanwhile, please note that The New York Times very recently posted the following reader's comment advocating Holocaust denial, which states in relevant part:

"In other words survivors of the alleged Holocaust can say whatever they want, accuse whomever they choose, make the most outrageous and irrational statements i.e. fabricate reality and lie and not have to produce an iota of evidence to sustain their contentions nor suffer the rigors of cross examinations."

You write, "We regret that you are unhappy with Amtrak advertising with" Frankly, I am astounded that the management of Amtrak, a government-owned corporation, is not equally upset with the appearance of its advertising beside vulgar expressions of anti-Semitism.

I await your immediate response.

Yours sincerely,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Lebanon: A War Waiting to Happen (and Yes, Obama Is to Blame)

I barely slept last night, troubled by the assassination of Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Dov Harari, a reserve officer with four children, by a Lebanese Army sniper. Even the UN acknowledged that the IDF was engaged in uprooting trees on the Israeli side of the border, that Israel had coordinated the removal of these trees with UNIFIL, and that the exchange of fire had been initiated by the Lebanese Army.

War didn't break out, because Iran denied Hezbollah permission to fire its 40,000 rockets and missiles at Israel. Iran is reserving this card for a time when confrontation draws near with the West, and Ahmadinejad seeks to distract the Muslim street with an attack targeting the Little Satan.

Netanyahu also displayed political maturity by exercising restraint. The Iron Dome anti-rocket system will not be operational for another four months, and it would make no sense to jeopardize the Israeli civilian population in the interim.

But war is coming, and it's not a matter of "if", but "when".

Of course, it could have been different. Demonstrations in Beirut after the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri by Hezbollah and Syria, resulted in the withdrawal of 14,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon, and for two short years there was hope . . . until Obama came along.

Intent on a new style of diplomacy which would set himself apart from his White House predecessor, Obama sought rapprochement with longstanding tyrannical opponents of the U.S. John Kerry was flown by Obama to Damascus to curry favor with Syrian President Bashar Assad, but in this part of the world "nice" means "weak", and Assad was not interested in anything Kerry had to offer. Observant of Obama's naïveté and navigating the resultant Middle East power vacuum, Assad continues to rearm Hezbollah to the teeth following its 2006 war with Israel, notwithstanding the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

The Cedar Revolution is over. When you see Rafik Hariri's son, Saad, traveling to Damascus to pay obeisance to Assad, and hear Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt apologizing to Assad for calling him a "monkey, snake and butcher" at a rally commemorating the death of Rafik Hariri, you know that democracy in Lebanon is doomed.

The war in the offing will be devastating for Lebanon, because Israel cannot again permit its civilian population to suffer sustained rocket fire as in 2006, particularly given the longer range and larger payloads of Hezbollah's current arsenal. Such being the case, why does the U.S. continue to provide Lebanon with $100 million of military aid each year, and why does France provide the Lebanese Army, which has been infiltrated by Hezbollah, with advanced anti-tank missiles? Ultimately, all of this will add to the bloodbath, when the Lebanese Army, feeling its oats, goes up in smoke.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New York Times "Moderators" Now Tolerate Holocaust Denial

After writing to Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times, concerning a vulgar anti-Semitic reader's comment posted by The Times's "moderators" in response to Paul Krugman's "Bad for the Jews" (see:, a new reader's comment, no. 226, was posted in response to the same column, which states in relevant part:

In other words survivors of the alleged Holocaust can say whatever they want, accuse whomever they choose, make the most outrageous and irrational statements i.e. fabricate reality and lie and not have to produce an iota of evidence to sustain their contentions nor suffer the rigors of cross examinations.

Excuse me, "alleged Holocaust"? Are we to understand that Holocaust denial according to The Times is "not abusive" and a legitimate contention that will be posted in response to op-eds?

Today I received an e-mail from CAMERA detailing New York Times anti-Israel bias and asking that I suggest to Times advertisers that they "reconsider linking their reputation to the agenda-driven publication." Peculiar. This is exactly what I proposed to them regarding advertisers placing ads on The Times's readers' comment pages, but received a cold shoulder (see:

Meanwhile, I sent additional complaints to the investor relations departments of Levi Strauss and Gap concerning their online advertisements with The New York Times.

Andrew Rosenthal? Silence.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Wager: Can I Make Paul Krugman Lose His Liberalism in Less Than an Hour?

Here's the wager: Can I make Paul "The Conscience of a Liberal" Krugman lose his liberalism in less than an hour? Of course, there are conditions attached: I will need to transport the professor away from the ivied halls of Princeton to the wilds of Iran in order to witness the forthcoming execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose picture appears to the left. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, convicted of adultery by the Islamic Republic of Iran, has been sentenced to death by stoning, unless Iran's benevolent judiciary decides merely to hang her or otherwise reduce her sentence as the result of world outrage. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani confessed to this "crime" after 99 lashes, but subsequently declared her innocence.

Paul, just so you know, stonings are performed with relatively small rocks, so the victim, buried almost up to her neck, will feel prolonged pain and will not lose consciousness after being hit in the head by a single stone. Yes, there's blood, an eyeball may be detached from its socket, and often the children, who are forced to watch the execution of their mother, swoon, but if all goes as expected, it should be over within the space of an hour, after which I can drive you back to Imam Khomeini International Airport and then put you on a plane to JFK.

As I mentioned, the possibility exists that the Islamic Republic of Iran will bow to international pressure and commute the sentence, in which case allow me alternatively to suggest that we stop in Saudi Arabia, where we might be lucky enough to witness the decapitation of a person convicted of robbery and the subsequent crucifixion of his body.

Of course, there is no knowing for sure when the next armed robbery will take place in Saudi Arabia, so as a stopgap measure, we can also visit Turkey, Jordan and Gaza, where we are certain to be able to witness the aftermath of several honor killings perpetrated by family members against their mothers, sisters or daughters, who might have been foolish enough to have used a cell phone to call someone outside of the family, or have committed some other horrifying action that has forever sullied the reputation of their men folk.

And after you have partaken in one or more of these "events", I will ask you again whether you still want that mosque built in what were once the shadows of the World Trade Center ( without first asking who is financing the extravaganza and what form of Islam is to be preached there. You may know a lot about economics, Paul, but have you studied Wahhabism or some of the more radical forms of Shiite Islam? They aren't exactly Ethical Culture.

But forgive my rudeness if I ask how it is that liberals like Maureen "Loosey Goosey Saudi" Dowd (, Roger "Iran is not totalitarian" Cohen (, Nicholas "End the Siege of Gaza" Kristof ( and you haven't seen fit to write a column about poor Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in The New York Times? Is this too unpleasant, or simply not in keeping with current liberal thought?

If it were up to me, I would say it was indeed a matter of conscience, liberal or otherwise.

Vicious Anti-Semitic Reader's Comment in Response to Paul Krugman's "Bad for the Jews"

Below is an open letter that I sent to Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times, concerning yet another vicious anti-Semitic reader's comment posted by The Times's "moderators":

Dear Andy,

Let's cut right to the heart of the matter -- reader's comment no. 170 to Paul Krugman's July 30 column, "Bad for the Jews" (

170.CDOTampa, FLJuly 31st, 201011:43 am
jews insist on telling other peoples how to go about their lives - they insist of being jews, while the others should be multicultural. and then they take over the power structures of their hosts (fed, supreme court, treasuries, corporations, most of the advisers to the president, almost the entire media, universities...).

see, Israel can practice apartheid, but they have to berate everyone else for even contemplating immigration tightening. In fact they have to let jews run their countries (into the ground) for them.

This amounts to anti-Semitism at its most vulgar, yet the "moderators" of The New York Times posted it, notwithstanding your newspaper's claim that "Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive." This is "only" a reader's comment? Sorry, but when The Times's "moderators" take the position by posting such a comment that anti-Semitism is "not abusive", this reflects on the entirety of your news organization.

Yes, I know: The Public Editor's Office said to me in a recent e-mail:

"Mr. Rosenthal has nothing to do with comment moderation. That is handled by a completely different set of editors and moderators. . . . In the future, however, you should not send these to Mr. Rosenthal. Continue to send them to me and I will give you my view and pass that and your message onto the moderation team."

Sorry, but I don't take comfort in this proposed solution. We've both witnessed the efforts of The Times's "moderation team" over the past year. They have proven themselves anything but moderate when it comes to vicious attacks on Jews, the only minority with respect to whom such calumnies have been permitted.

Of course, if indeed you have no authority in this regard, just say the word, and I will not trouble you again, but please let me know who at The Times is ultimately responsible for this matter.

It is high time that this finally be dealt with forthrightly and openly.

Yours sincerely,