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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kristof's "Chronicle of a Genocide Foretold": Obama Talks Quietly and Carries No Stick

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Chronicle of a Genocide Foretold" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/opinion/30kristof.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss) in which we are told that Obama needs to get tougher to avoid genocide in Sudan's south, inveterate leftist Nicholas Kristof says there are plenty of carrots being offered by Obama to Sudan's President Bashir, but no sticks:

"I see no evidence of serious sticks. Put yourself in President Bashir’s shoes. It may still be in his interest to plan a genocidal strategy in the coming months if that will enable him to keep the oil. Even privately, we haven’t laid out strong enough disincentives."

What a surprise! Obama has made a name for himself throughout the world as a president who talks quietly, using teleprompters, and carries no stick at all -- in discussions with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Myanmar. Only when the talk focuses on U.S. ally Israel are there calls from the left to "break bones" (see Roger Cohen's recent "A Test of Israel's Character" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/09/cohens-test-of-israels-character-bon.html)).

Remarkable how Kristof acknowledges how the Bush administration knew how to talk with bullying murderer Bashir.

However, nothing can be achieved in Sudan without also acknowledging the true racial overtones of this conflict, which Kristof does not disclose to his readers. This is a country where hundreds of thousands of black animists, i.e. non-Muslims, in the south have already been slaughtered by Arabs from the north with the support of oil-hungry China and the tyrannical Islamic Republic of Iran.

A flaccid, irresolute Obama administration is suddenly going to rein in China and Iran? I wouldn't bet on it. After all, it's much easier and more politically correct today to beat up on tiny democratic Israel.

Thanks, Nicholas, for this mendacious display of would-be candor.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Robert Wright's "A One-to-Two-State Solution": Again Wright Has It All Wrong

In a New York Times column entitled "A One-to-Two-State Solution" (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/a-one-to-two-state-solution/?hp), Robert Wright argues that if West Bank and Gazan Palestinians were to demand Israeli voting rights, moderate Israelis would be roused from their torpor regarding peace talks. As might be expected, the premise of Robert Wright's column is entirely mistaken. According to Wright:

"A recent Time magazine cover story — “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” — explained why many Israelis just don’t think a peace deal is all that important: they’ve already got peace. Ever since Israel built its security wall, they’ve been safe from suicide bombers, and homemade rockets from Gaza can’t reach them. They’re prosperous to boot. What’s not to like?"

Unbeknownst to Wright, the Hamas arsenal in Gaza now also consists of Iranian missiles with a range of 60 kilometers (almost 40 miles), which were test fired by Hamas into the Mediterranean and which are capable of reaching Tel Aviv. In addition, Hezbollah in Lebanon has been given by Iran an arsenal of 50,000 rockets and missiles, many of which are capable of striking anywhere in Israel.

In short, Israel is again facing an existential threat, and Wright's claims of Israeli apathy to peace are entirely without basis.

It is also peculiar that Wright relies upon a Time magazine cover story, which has been roundly condemned as anti-Semitic (http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/adl-time-magazine-israel-cover-story-rehashes-anti-semitic-lies-1.313096) and which has prompted protests from readers and advertisers alike.

Notwithstanding the Time Magazine article, moderate Israelis have never given up their dream for peace, consisting of a two-state solution. Personally, like a majority of Israelis who backed the Barak and Olmert peace plans, I would be delighted to see an autonomous, prosperous, peaceful Palestinian state arise beside Israel. But like most Israelis, I am all too familiar with Palestinian suicide bombings directed against civilians. I am painfully cognizant of the Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews (not just Israelis) and rejects any negotiated peace with Israel. And I am also aware that Israel is only 9 miles wide at its waist and that Ben Gurion Airport is only 5 miles away from the border with the Palestinian Authority, i.e. civilian aircraft will be well within range of shoulder held missiles. Yes, I favor a return to the 1967 borders with land swaps to make everyone whole, but there must also be ironclad guarantees of Israel's security from Abbas, who is still unwilling to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Let Abbas in a forthright manner acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and then let's see what compromises can be achieved in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

Meanwhile, Robert, the next time you need the facts on the ground before wedging your foot in your mouth, you are welcome to contact me.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Irene: More Prevarication from CNN

In a story entitled "Israelis intercept aid boat to Gaza" (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/09/28/gaza.aid.ship/index.html?hpt=T1) which briefly received top online billing, CNN describes how the IDF brought into Ashdod's port a 30-foot catamaran carrying 10 persons:

"The Israeli navy took over an aid vessel that attempted to sail to Gaza on Tuesday despite a blockade to the occupied territory, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said.

No one was injured when the navy took over and boarded the boat, named the Irene, and the navy was taking the boat to a port in Ashdod, the IDF spokesman said.

. . . .

The boat, named the Irene, set sail Sunday from Cyprus with 10 passengers and crew, including Jews from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Israel.

. . . .

The boat's cargo includes children's toys, musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets, and prosthetic limbs, the organizers said. They plan to deliver the goods to the Gaza Mental Health Program.

. . . .

In May, Israeli forces intercepted an aid flotilla headed to Gaza from Turkey. Violence broke out, resulting in the deaths of nine people.

. . . .

Israel has maintained its troops used force on the activists in May after they were attacked by those on board one boat, but passengers on board that boat insist Israeli troops fired on them without provocation."

An "aid vessel"? Exactly whom is CNN trying to fool? Examine the size of the vessel, consider the space needed for the passengers and crew, and decide for yourself exactly what meaningful "aid" the ship was bringing to Gaza's 1.5 million people. Next decide whether this constitutes headline material or propaganda intended to highlight a publicity stunt.

CNN quotes Mavi Marmara passengers who say that "Israeli troops fired on them without provocation." How does CNN today take these claims seriously, given the video clips showing the Mavi Marmara's passengers attacking the boarding Israeli soldiers with clubs?

Not to be outdone by CNN, The New York Times also provided the story with top online billing (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/29/world/middleeast/29gaza.html?_r=2&hp), and Robert Mackey quickly seized on the opportunity to write up this non-event in "The Lede" (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/jewish-boat-to-gaza-intercepted-by-israel/?hp), providing videos and a map.

By the way, I never received any response from The New York Times concerning Mackey's misreporting of a rape in Israel (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-charges-of-rape-in-israel-result-in.html).

Journalistic ethics at both The New York Times and CNN long ago went the way of the dodo bird.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Iran: Did Siemens Grow a Conscience?

In an interesting column in PajamasMedia entitled "Cyber War on Iran: the Siemens Connection", Roger L. Simon suggests that Siemens might have assisted Israel in infecting Iranian industrial facilities with Stuxnet. Mr. Simon writes:

"In all likelihood Israel did not act entirely alone — there were too many moving parts to this attack — and I am going now to suggest another ally — the German electronics giant Siemens AG."

http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2010/09/25/cyber-war-on-iran-the-siemens-connection/?singlepage=true

Again, it is of no interest to me who is ultimately responsible for the "deed". However, regarding Siemens, I would observe the following information from a Reuters January 2010 article:

"Siemens, which is Europe's biggest engineering conglomerate, was aware of the sensitivities attached to doing business in Iran, Chief Executive Peter Loescher said.

'Some time ago, we reduced our business activities with customers in Iran,' Loescher said, responding to questions at a shareholders meeting.

The Siemens board decided at the start of October not to agree to any further orders with customers in Iran, he added, noting, however, that existing orders would be fulfilled.

Loescher said there were still bids submitted by Siemens before October 2009. If they were not accepted, it would mean new business in Iran would end by mid-2010."

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE60P1LJ20100126?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a49:g43:r1:c1.000000:b30083910:z0

Or stated more simply, Siemens claims it is terminating its business with Iran, however, it also says that it will continue to fulfill existing orders, and, if its tenders submitted to Iran before October 2009 are accepted, these apparently will also be honored.

Thanks, Siemens, for your kind and very thoughtfully worded assurances.

Siemens, Iran, Stuxnet and a Second Holocaust: Dinner Invitation to Peter Löscher

The news organizations are abuzz with reports that a sophisticated computer worm, Stuxnet, has infected industrial plants across Iran. As reported today by David E. Sanger of The New York Times:

"Stuxnet, which was first publicly identified several months ago, is aimed solely at industrial equipment made by Siemens that controls oil pipelines, electric utilities, nuclear facilities and other large industrial sites. While it is not clear that Iran was the main target — the infection has also been reported in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and elsewhere — a disproportionate number of computers inside Iran appear to have been struck, according to reports by computer security monitors.

Given the sophistication of the worm and its aim at specific industrial systems, many experts believe it is most probably the work of a state, rather than independent hackers. The worm is able to attack computers that are disconnected from the Internet, usually to protect them; in those cases an infected USB drive is plugged into a computer. The worm can then spread itself within a computer network, and possibly to other networks.

. . . .

The fact that the worm is aimed at Siemens equipment is telling: the company’s control systems are used around the world, but have been spotted in many Iranian facilities, say officials and experts who have toured them. Those include the new Bushehr nuclear power plant, built with Russian help."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/world/middleeast/26iran.html?_r=1&hp

Everyone is guessing who introduced the worm into the Iranian facilities. Personally, I am more troubled by the involvement of Siemens in the erection of these facilities.

Siemens is no ordinary company:

• Siemens funded the rise of the Nazi party.
• Siemens manufacturing facilities, built in close proximity to concentration camps, used slave labor during World War II.
• Siemens helped build V-2 rockets fired at England.

Sixty-five years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust, Siemen's equipment is being used by the nuclear development facilties of a country which is calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map.

Peter Löscher, President and CEO of Siemens, I would like to invite you for dinner with my family, and perhaps you would care to stare into my children's eyes and explain exactly why Siemens has sold equipment to Iran that is being used to realize that country's frightening nuclear ambitions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cohen's "A Test of Israel's Character": Bon Appétit, Roger

In his latest op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "A Test of Israel's Character" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/opinion/global/24iht-edcohen.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen tells us: "At a dinner hosted by American Jewish leaders for the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, I was seated with a senior U.S. diplomat to my left, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization to my right, and Abbas opposite." In an earlier New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama in His Labyrinth" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/24/opinion/24iht-edcohen.html), name dropper Cohen wrote: "I found myself seated next to Henry Kissinger at a New York dinner and asked him how he thought President Barack Obama was doing." Cohen obviously gets to sit with many famous people at many fancy dinners, which is why he is also able to write about diets and girth-related happiness in monkeys ["The General Motors Diet" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/opinion/30iht-edcohen.html) and "The Meaning of Life" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/opinion/16iht-edcohen.html)].

I don't get invited to black tie New York dinners. In the words of The Who, "Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals," and the reality on the ground in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is literally an ocean apart from Cohen's Manhattan soiree.

Readiness to extend the building moratorium is a "Test of Israel's Character"? Rubbish. Cohen fails to observe that when Egypt's Sadat was ready for peace with Israel, Israel's "hawkish" Prime Minister Begin evacuated all of Sinai. Cohen also ignores the unilateral evacuation of Gaza by Israel's "hawkish" Prime Minister Sharon, which elicited more than 10,000 rockets, missiles and mortar shells fired from Gaza into southern Israel. When this bombardment was at its peak in 2008, I wrote to Roger and asked to take him to the southern Israeli town of Sderot in order to witness the travesty at first hand, but although he kindly acknowledged my offer ("will do"), he never came.

The real question is not Israel's "character", but whether Abbas, like Sadat, is now ready for peace. Having sat opposite Abbas at dinner, an omniscient Cohen informs us, "Abbas is serious about peace." Abbas, however, not long ago declared, "I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements. Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

Satisfied with 9% GDP growth, security collaboration with Israel against his mortal enemy Hamas, and only 14 remaining Israeli checkpoints, Abbas is loathe to take steps which could jeopardize Fatah's dominion over the West Bank. Indeed, Abbas, who recently declared that he is not willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, is obviously no Sadat, and is not prepared to martyr himself for the cause of peace.

When Cohen demands that Israel continue the moratorium on construction in the "settlements", I am curious whether this means that Israel cannot build in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem where the Kotel ("Wailing Wall") is situated.

The Jewish Quarter was destroyed by the Arab Legion in 1948 and cleansed of its Jewish inhabitants; until 1967 Jews were prevented from praying at the Kotel. Recently, reconstruction of the ancient Hurva Synagogue, destroyed in 1948, was completed, and Palestinian leaders responded by saying that the rededication amounted to a "declaration of war" and called for a "day of rage".

As part of any peace process, isn’t it also important for Palestinians to recognize that Jews can pray in close proximity to Muslim holy places without the need for violence?

Cohen tells us that if the Israeli-Palestinian talks fail, Obama would look "amateurish" and that his "international credibility is on the line". I have news for Cohen: Obama long ago established himself as a foreign affairs bungler in his dealings with Poland, the Czech Republic, the UK, Japan, North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, Darfur, the Congo, i.e. both friends and enemies alike, and if he is banking on redeeming himself via this venture, he is destined for disappointment and ridicule.

Personally, like a majority of Israelis who backed the Barak and Olmert peace plans, I would be delighted to see an autonomous, prosperous, peaceful Palestinian state arise beside Israel. But like most Israelis, I am all too familiar with Palestinian suicide bombings directed against civilians. I am also aware that Israel is only 9 miles wide at its waist and that Ben Gurion Airport is only 5 miles away from the border with the Palestinian Authority, i.e. civilian aircraft will be well within range of shoulder held missiles. Yes, I favor a return to the 1967 borders with land swaps to make everyone whole, but there must also be ironclad guarantees of Israel's security from Abbas, who is still unwilling to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Cohen says that "Obama must now break some bones to get his way." No, Roger, Israel is an ally (e.g., votes with the US at the UN more than any other country) whose bones needn't be broken by Obama. Talk of violence begets violence. Rather, let Abbas in a forthright manner acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and then let's see what compromises can then be achieved in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

Sorry to disturb your New York dinner, Roger.

Jimmy Carter's Narcissism Gone Wild; Bill Clinton Not Far Behind

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams for purposes of promoting his twenty-fifth book, "White House Diary", former President Jimmy Carter, whose arrogance is only exceeded by his fatuity, sought to place himself on a higher pedestal than other former presidents:

"I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents. Primarily because of the activism and the injection of working at the Carter Center and in international affairs, and to some degree, domestic affairs, on energy conservation, on environment, and things of that kind. We're right in the midst of the constant daily debate.

And the Carter Center has decided, under my leadership, to fill the vacuums in the world. When the United States won't deal with troubled areas, we go there and we meet with leaders who can bring an end to a conflict, or an end to human rights abuse, and so forth. So I feel that we have an advantage over many other former presidents in being involved in daily affairs that have shaped the policies of our nation and the world."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG-XXHS2BH0

Carter, however, was correct in one regard: The Obama administration has indeed created a foreign affairs vacuum, which has allowed Jimmy to freely exchange niceties with rogue states, e.g., North Korea and Syria, and terrorist organizations, e.g., Hamas. When will someone in the Obama administration screw up the courage to inform this "narcissist gone wild" that his perambulations, discourse with tyrants and self-serving flatulence are an embarrassment to the United States?

Given this foreign affairs vacuum and not to be outdone, Bill Clinton also managed to stick his foot in his mouth in a roundtable discussion with reporters on Tuesday:

"'An increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest-core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem,' Clinton said. 'It's a different Israel. 16 percent of Israelis speak Russian.'

According to Clinton, the Russian immigrant population in Israel is the group least interested in striking a peace deal with the Palestinians. 'They've just got there, it's their country, they've made a commitment to the future there,' Clinton said. 'They can't imagine any historical or other claims that would justify dividing it.'

. . . .

Before pontificating on the peace process, Clinton seemed to realize he was stepping into some sensitive territory, but decided to proceed nonetheless.

'I wouldn't say too much about this if Hillary weren't Secretary of State and in charge of these negotiations, so I'm darned sure not going to say too much now,' he said, before going in depth on the issue for over 10 minutes."

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/21/bill_clinton_russian_immigrants_and_settlers_obstacles_to_mideast_peace

Thanks, Bill, for your insipid commentary. No mention by Clinton of Israel's miraculous absorption of some one million penniless, oppressed persons from the former Soviet Union, who are today fully integrated into Israeli society. Their contribution to Israeli science, industry and culture is profound. They are represented in all leading Israeli political parties, they have served proudly in the IDF, and many have fallen in Israel's wars. Who is Bill Clinton to say that their perspectives and insights are mistaken or less valid than those of other Israelis, native born or otherwise?

May Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton find other, less damaging outlets for their narcissism and allow the world to make do without their arrogance.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Former Russian FM: Russian P-800 Yakhont Cruise Missiles Can't Be Transferred from Syria to Hezbollah or Iran

According to an article entitled "Russian missile sale to Syria can't destabilize region" by Hillary Leila Krieger in the Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=188892), Russia is claiming that its sale of advanced weaponry to Syria, including P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles used against naval vessels, cannot destabilize the Middle East. As reported in this article:

“'These weapons cannot be used to destabilize the region,' maintained former Russian Federation foreign minister Igor Ivanov at a press conference of the Luxembourg Forum, a group of leading US and Russian experts dedicated to preventing a nuclear catastrophe, in Washington for a major conference.

He pointed to 'provisions in the contract with Syria' that specifically bar Damascus from transferring these weapons to a third party, noting that the manufacturers were also only allowed to work on the weapon installation with the Syrians."

Syria won't be able to transfer these missiles to Hezbollah? Yeah, right.

Israel discovered in 2006 that advanced Russian anti-tank missiles had been transferred from Syria to Hezbollah and used against Israeli armored vehicles with deadly effect. Initially, Russia denied that their missiles had been used, until the evidence was brought to Moscow.

Even if the new agreement now bars Syria, a tyrannical rogue state if ever there was one, from transferring Yakhont cruise missiles to Hezbollah, what happens if the missiles nevertheless find their way into the hands of Hezbollah? The Russians then declare: "Bad, bad Bashar"?

Alternatively, what happens if the Yakhonts are shipped from Syria to Iran and fired at U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf? It won't be pretty . . .

Again being tested, Obama is not up to the job.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gaza's "Crazy Water Park" Is Burned to the Ground

"Crazy Water Park" had been one of the most popular recreation spots for residents of the Gaza Strip, until it was closed last week by Hamas, which opposes men and women bathing together, and set ablaze on Sunday. As reported by the Jerusalem Post:

"Unidentified gunmen on Sunday set fire to Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza Strip's most popular entertainment sites.

Eyewitnesses said that at least 25 assailants participated in the pre-dawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting the complex on fire, they said.

Manager Ala al-A'raj said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the resort completely."

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=188560

The incident follows the recent closures of a restaurant and a hotel where women were seen smoking nargila. Last week the Aseel Horse Club was also closed by Hamas.

In other news involving Hamas, Egyptian forces are scouring the Sinai Peninsula after receiving a warning that Palestinian militants again plan to fire Grad rockets from Egypt into Israel and Jordan. At the same time, Egypt has arrested Mohamed Debabeche, the head of Hamas's General Security Service, at Cairo International Airport.

Unperturbed by Hamas persecution of women or rocket terror, Viva Palestina is proceeding with half-cocked plans to "break the Israeli blockade" with a land convoy of vehicles bringing "aid" to Gaza by by way of London, Syria and Egypt (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/09/new-aid-convoy-departs-for-gaza-more-bs.html).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"New aid convoy departs for Gaza": More BS from CNN

An item entitled "New aid convoy departs for Gaza" (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/09/18/uk.gaza.convoy/?hpt=T2), published yesterday by CNN, states:

"A survivor of the fatal Gaza flotilla incident in May headed out Saturday on a new convoy to bring medical supplies to the Palestinian territory.

Kevin Ovenden departed London on Saturday morning with about a dozen vans and more than 30 international volunteers as part of the Viva Palestina Lifeline 5 convoy.

Two other convoys were being organized at the same time from Casablanca, Morocco, and Doha, Qatar, his group said.

. . . .

Unlike the flotilla in May, the convoy aims to enter Gaza by land, through the Rafa border crossing with Egypt, Ovenden said. When the three convoys meet in Syria, they plan to be shipped past the point at which the Mavi Marmara was attacked and down to the Egyptian port of Al Arish before going to Rafah, he said.

Organizers said it is the largest convoy set to break the Gaza embargo."

The CNN item also includes claims by "survivor" Ovenden that he witnessed the unprovoked shooting of persons on the Mavi Marmara, but fails to mention how the Israeli commandos were violently set upon by the "activists" when they boarded the ship.

In its sole attempt at balance, the article mentions that "Gaza is run by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that has said it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel." Nowhere, does the article mention the most recent flurry of rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza into southern Israel in response to the Israeli-Palestinian peacetalks sponsored by Obama.

Most absurd, however, is the willingness of CNN to uncritically accept the claim that this land convoy is intended "to break the Gaza embargo." As known to all, the organizers of this alleged aid shipment (previous shipments of medicines to Gaza consisted in large part of expired drugs that went straight to the rubbish bin) can freely send their wares to Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod. Israel also does not oppose sending aid to Gaza via Egypt, but following the violence that accompanied an earlier Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza led by George Galloway, which resulted in the death of an Egyptian soldier (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6977949.ece), Cairo's response to this latest PR ploy remains in doubt.

Nicholas Kristof's "Message to Muslims: I’m Sorry"

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Message to Muslims: I’m Sorry" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/opinion/19kristof.html), Nicholas Kristof concludes:

"I’m sickened when I hear such gentle [Muslim] souls lumped in with Qaeda terrorists, and when I hear the faith they hold sacred excoriated and mocked. To them and to others smeared, I apologize."

Maybe Kristof would also care to apologize for the vulgar anti-Semitic readers' comments that are being published by The New York Times, notwithstanding its purported policy that "Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are . . . not abusive." He should take the time to read through: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/search/label/anti-Semitism

Maybe Kristof would also care to apologize for the anti-Semitic comments of the New York Times editorial board. See: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/08/anonymous-anti-semitism-from-editorial.html

In addition, maybe Kristof would care to apologize for his most recent op-ed series written from Gaza and the West Bank, in which he never once mentioned:

• honor killings of female Palestinians;
• the grisly murder of Hamas opponents;
• Palestinian discrimination against homosexuals;
• Palestinian discrimination against Christians;
• the Hamas charter which calls for the murder of all Jews;
• more than ten thousand rockets, missiles and mortar rounds fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

See: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/07/nicholas-kristofs-burrowing-through.html

Today, anti-Semitism, often disguised as hatred for Israel, has become commonplace and acceptable within "liberal" circles.

I have submitted the above in response to Kristof's op-ed in the comment space to his blog (http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/). Let's see if The New York Times moderators have the moral courage to post this comment.

Let's see if Nicholas is willing to peruse the above material and determine whether his apology should be broadened.

How Charges of Rape in Israel Result in International Claims of Racism

Just prior to the onset of Yom Kippur, the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz published in English a lengthy article, written by Lital Grossman, entitled "From rape to racism: How and why did charges change against Arab man" (http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/from-rape-to-racism-how-and-why-did-charges-change-against-arab-man-1.314319). As reported by Haaretz in an earlier article written in July by Tomer Zarchin (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/jurists-say-arab-s-rape-conviction-sets-dangerous-precedent-1.303109), a Palestinian named Kashur had been arrested and sentenced to prison for posing as a Jew and thereby gaining a Jewish woman's consent to sex. However, as acknowledged by Lital Grossman's new article, the circumstances surrounding the incident are no longer so simple, and "the real victim" was the complainant, who was left naked in a stairwell, bleeding from her vagina.

The woman's identity and testimony have been under a gag order, but as now reported in Lital Grossman's article, "B." was sexually abused by her father since the age of 6 and as a teenager used drugs and engaged in prostitution. After again being sexually assaulted by her father, B. was living in a shelter, and from there Grossman's article reports:

"On the morning of September 3, 2008, B. went, together with the shelter's director, a social worker and a friend who also was staying at the shelter, to a meeting at Galgal, a drop-in center for homeless youth. After the meeting, B.'s three companions headed somewhere else, without her. B. relates in her testimony, 'I walked toward Zion Square, and then I sat down . . . on some rocks next to a tree, and listened to my MP4.'

Then, a man she didn't know [Kashur] pulled up next to her on a moped, she relates.

. . . .

Kashur invited B. to see what he claimed was his workplace, at 13 Ben Hillel Street, she says. The two stood outside the building for a few minutes. 'He said that he wanted to invite me inside for a cup of coffee, and show me his place of work,' B. relates.

. . . .

As soon as they entered the building, B. claims, Kashur started to force himself upon her.

. . . .

B. says Kashur showed no restraint. 'He lifted up my shirt and bra and he kissed my body,' she says. At this point, an unknown blonde woman entered the stairwell, and Kashur stopped, B. says. He decided to move from the stairwell to the elevator.

. . . .

When they got off the elevator at the building's top floor, B. claims, Kashur led her to the stairwell to the roof. There, she states, he raped her. 'He took my pants and underpants off,' B. says. 'All this happened by force' . . . he said that if I kept quiet and stopped trying to resist him, it would be over more quickly, and he wouldn't, like, use force. But I resisted, and it happened by force.'

. . . .

According to B.'s testimony, Kashur remained on top of her for some time, and then got up and walked away, leaving her naked ('He just disappeared and took my MP4,' B. testifies, 'and I want him to return it because it's with him in his house'). Alone in the stairwell, B. started to cry.

. . . .

Later, a Magen David Adom team showed up. B. states that she was later checked at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, which documented scratches on her body. The prosecution's files contains photographs of her wounds.

. . . .

The main factor motivating the prosecution's decision to strike a plea bargain was the desire to spare B. the trauma of taking the witness stand a second time, which would have been necessary had the case continued in court."

The original story of a Palestinian imprisoned for obtaining sex with an Israeli woman by lying about his religion, quickly gained international notoriety, and was flaunted as an example of Israeli racism. Among those who picked up the story was Robert Mackey, who wrote an item dated July 21 concerning the matter for his New York Times news blog "The Lede", entitled "Israeli Court Calls Lying for Sex Rape" (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/israeli-court-calls-lying-for-sex-rape/), which made no mention of the fact that B. had been left naked and bleeding in a stairwell or that the verdict was the result of a plea bargain. As reported by Mackey:

"A married Arab man who lied to a Jewish woman to get her to sleep with him — telling her that he was a single Jew interested in a long-term relationship — was convicted of rape in a Jerusalem court on Tuesday for the consensual sex the couple engaged in two years ago.

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, the man, Sabbar Kashur, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Jerusalem District Court for 'rape by deception.' The newspaper explained:

According to the indictment, Kashur met the complainant in September 2008 in downtown Jerusalem, presenting himself as a Jewish bachelor looking for a serious romantic relationship. The couple then went to a nearby building and had sex, after which Kashur left the building without waiting for the woman to get dressed.

When the woman found Kashur was not a Jew but an Arab, she filed a complaint that resulted in charges of rape and indecent assault.

. . . .

After the verdict Mr. Kashur, who is 30, said, 'If I were Jewish they wouldn’t have even questioned me. That’s not called rape. I didn’t rape her in the forest and throw her away naked. She agreed to everything that happened.'”

Needless to say, Mackey's item resulted in a torrent of readers' comments alleging Israeli racism.

I have never met Mackey, but I presume that he does not speak Hebrew or Arabic and that the primary basis for his "news blog" was the initial Haaretz article by Tomer Zarchin.

It is for The New York Times to decide whether to feature opinions which rely upon the writing of other journalists. However, without a doubt, an apology and retraction are due from Robert Mackey for his "Israeli Court Calls Lying for Sex Rape" column.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"North Korea Wants to Make a Deal": Jimmy Carter, North Korea and the Magnificent Carnac

In today's New York Times, Jimmy Carter has written a guest op-ed entitled "North Korea Wants to Make a Deal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/opinion/16carter.html?hp), in which he refers to his August meetings with North Korean government officials and concludes:

"A settlement on the Korean Peninsula is crucial to peace and stability in Asia, and it is long overdue. These positive messages from North Korea should be pursued aggressively and without delay, with each step in the process carefully and thoroughly confirmed."

Carter can't help but observe:

"In July, North Korean officials invited me to come to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, and other officials to secure the release of Mr. Gomes. Those who invited me said that no one else’s request for the prisoner’s release would be honored."

Gomes was released, and now Carter is seeking a negotiated rapprochement with this horrifyingly aggressive dictatorship, yet fails to mention the sinking of a South Korean Pohang-class corvette in March 2010 with the loss of 46 sailors. Thanks, Jimmy.

This call for a renewal of relations with North Korea brings to mind the three New York Times op-eds written by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett calling for a renewal of relations with Iran (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/01/open-letter-to-andrew-rosenthal-yet.html), and the recent release by Iran of hiker Sarah Shourd. Apparently The New York Times places a premium on upgrading the status of rogue regimes which threaten its neighbors with nuclear annihilation and kidnap Americans.

At the bottom of the op-ed, it is written:

"Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize."

Actually, when I think of Jimmy Carter, I think of Johnny Carson. During "The Tonight Show", Carson would occasionally impersonate the swami Carnac the Magnificent: holding to his forehead a sealed envelope containing a question, he would then divine the appropriate answer before opening the envelope and reading the question. In the episode that I remember so well, Johnny held up the envelope, and, after a moment of solemn reflection, declared: "Breaking and entering". Tearing open the envelope, he then revealed the question: "What is the only way Jimmy Carter will ever again enter the White House?"

My nightmare almost 30 years later: One-term president Carter will ultimately fade from the scene, notwithstanding his monumental ego, and one-term president Obama, freed of constraints, will pick up Carter's radical mantle.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Robert Wright's "The Meaning of the Koran": Words Speak Louder Than Actions

In commentary in today's New York Times entitled "The Meaning of the Koran" (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/the-meaning-of-the-koran/?hp), Robert Wright sets up a straw man argument by claiming that those worried by radical Islam perceive the Koran as more violent than the New and Old Testaments, and to overcome this prejudice contends:

"A good first step would be to bring more Americans into contact with some of the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are in fact not threatening."

In fact, I think that Americans are not concerned by what is written in the Koran, but rather are troubled, for example by the savage murder of Daniel Pearl, the massacre in Mumbai, the hanging of homosexuals, "honor" killings against women throughout the Muslim Middle East, mutilation of female genitals, brutal persecution of minorities such as Iran's Baha'is, horrific intolerance against Muslim minorities such as the Ahmadis in Pakistan and Indonesia, refusal to grant independence to 35 million Kurds, threats to annihilate Israel, genocide against Sudan's Black animists in Darfur, persecution of Christian Copts in Egypt, the imprisonment and lashing of women who have been gang raped in Saudi Arabia, Qaddafi's threats to dominate Europe, and incessant wars among Muslim states which have killed an exponentially larger number of people than all of the combined Arab-Israeli wars.

Is politically correct Wright claiming that all of the above should not worry Americans? Is he saying that these examples are not in keeping with mainstream Islam? Should we content ourselves with knowing that the Old and New Testaments, like the Koran, are replete with stories of cruelty and savagery?

I am left to wonder whether Wright agrees with Feisal Abdul Rauf that "United States policies were an accessory to the crime [of 9/11]". But be that as it may, I would be delighted if Wright would care to bring me "into contact with some of the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are in fact not threatening."

Let's start with a meeting with King Abdullah in Mecca and see if I literally come away with my skin.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CNN's "Trying to Define Islam As a Religion of Tolerance" Highlights Intolerance

Note the inconsistency inherent in an online CNN article entitled "Trying to define Islam as a religion of peace" (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/13/trying-to-define-islam-as-a-religion-of-peace/?hpt=C2). The article, which provides a brief description of an Ahmadi Muslim community in Atlanta, concludes:

"'We are the foremost community who is championing the cause of Muslims for peace,' Pudhiapura said. 'And that is to make the American citizens understand the true message of Islam is peace. To put a face on the people who are loyal citizens who are true American Muslims.'"

However, as acknowledged by the article, the Ahmadis are considered heretics by other Muslims and have been subject to persecution and threats by other Muslims both in the United States and overseas:

"Ahmadi Muslims are in a unique position to speak against Islamist extremism. Their sect has been persecuted for years, particularly in Pakistan, where the movement was founded in the late 19th century. In May, militants with ties to the Taliban targeted their mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, killing more than 80 Ahmadi Muslims.

In addition, Pakistan's government does not recognize the sect as legitimate. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has cited Pakistan as imposing 'the most severe legal restrictions and officially sanctioned discrimination' on the Ahmadi Muslims.

Pudhiapura said those restrictions include forcing Ahmadis to either lie about their religion or declare that they worship a 'false prophet' when applying for a Pakistani passport.

The sect also faces persecution in Indonesia, where they can be criminally charged for their religious beliefs.

Ahmadi Muslims believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who lived between 1835 and 1908, was sent by God as the Messiah that other Muslims are still waiting for. Most mainstream Muslims - Sunni and Shia – say Ahmadis are not Muslim because they do not regard the Prophet Mohammed as the last prophet sent by God.

. . . .

The Ahmadis' worship center outside Atlanta has also received threats, he said."

Does this remind you of Iran's brutal discrimination against its Baha'is, who also venerate a prophet who lived long after Mohammed?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In Search of Moderate Islam: Americans Are Not As Dumb As Obama Thinks

On Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, President Obama addressed the American people from the Pentagon. In a carefully prepared speech, Obama stated:

"They may seek to spark conflict between different faiths, but as Americans we are not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam. It was not a religion that attacked us that September day -- it was al Qaeda, a sorry band of men which perverts religion. And just as we condemn intolerance and extremism abroad, so will we stay true to our traditions here at home as a diverse and tolerant nation. We champion the rights of every American, including the right to worship as one chooses -- as service members and civilians from many faiths do just steps from here, at the very spot where the terrorists struck this building."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/11/remarks-president-pentagon-memorial

Only "a sorry band of men" from al Qaeda attacked the United States on that day? There is no war between the U.S. and tens of millions of radical Muslims?

Obama's remarks were contradicted by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the poster boy of would-be moderate Islam, who, on Wednesday, explained to CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Larry King Live" his unwillingness to move the Ground Zero Mosque to another location:

"If we move from that location, the story will be that the radicals have taken over the discourse. The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack. And I am less concerned by the radicals in America than I am concerned by the radicals in the Muslim world. . . . The danger from the radicals in the Muslim world to our national security, to the national security of our troops . . . the concern for American citizens who live and work and travel overseas will increasingly be compromised if the radicals are strengthened, and if we do move, it will strengthen the argument of the radicals to recruit, their ability to recruit, and their increasing aggression and violence."

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/US/09/09/new.york.islamic.center.imam/index.html?eref=rss_topstories#fbid=xrT37uJIFC-&wom=false

Without a doubt, this was a threat. Rauf was warning America to allow him to go ahead with his planned mosque and community center, or U.S. troops and civilians will be in dire danger from a large body of easily inflamed people; their number far exceeds that "sorry band of men", which, according to Obama, was solely responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Americans, who elected Obama, are not the fools and racists that Obama and the liberal news organizations now make them out to be. An overwhelming majority of Americans see through Rauf's glib justifications for his "in your face" construction project and rightfully sense that their basic system of values is under attack.

The majority of Americans understand that the murder of Daniel Pearl, the massacre in Mumbai, the hanging of homosexuals, "honor" killings, mutilation of female genitals, Muslim persecution of minorities such as Iran's Baha'is, threats to annihilate Israel, genocide against Sudan's Black animists, Qaddafi's threats to dominate Europe, and incessant warfare are not incidental or ungermane to mainstream Islam.

And Americans are not blind to news items, such as that which also appeared on Saturday, accentuating this clash of cultures:

"A Saudi diplomat in Los Angeles reportedly has asked for political asylum in the United States, claiming his life is in danger if he is returned to Saudi Arabia.

The report Saturday by NBC News quoted the diplomat, Ali Ahmad Asseri, as saying that Saudi officials have ordered him back to his country because he is gay and had become a close friend to a Jewish woman. Asseri in a letter also reportedly criticized the role of militant imams in Saudi society."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/11/AR2010091105434.html

Would the U.S. be no better than those Muslims nations that discriminate against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Baha'is, animists and even their coreligionists, e.g., Ahmadis, if the Ground Zero Mosque was moved? Such is not the case. In testimony to their tolerance, most opponents of the mosque and community center acknowledge Rauf's legal right to build at Ground Zero, but condemn his extreme insensitivity in selecting this location.

Let Rauf, the moderate who refuses to condemn Hamas, tell us the source of his funds. Let Rauf, who asserts that "United States policies were an accessory to the crime [of 9/11]", tell us why, instead of a mosque, an interfaith center for peace, understanding and healing is not being built at Ground Zero.

A majority of Americans are not stupid, as Obama and his minions believe, and are in fact exhibiting an inordinate level of common sense, which is the underlying basis for democracy. They recognize a threat when they see one, and Obama's decision to ignore this threat amounts to little less than a blind betrayal of the free world's trust.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Time for This Big Dog to Bite Back": Is Frank Rich Delusional?

In an op-ed entitled "Time for This Big Dog to Bite Back" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/12/opinion/12rich.html?pagewanted=all) in today's New York Times, Frank Rich writes:

"Obama’s approval rating, for months a consistent (not imploding) 45-ish percent, still makes him arguably America’s most popular national politician.

. . . .

Obama must also call out the powerful interests who are pulling the G.O.P.’s strings (and filling its coffers), whether on Wall Street or in Big Oil or any other sector where special interests are aligned against reform in the public interest."

Peculiar. When I examine Obama's approval ratings in recent months, I don't see a stable horizontal line (http://www.gallup.com/poll/113980/gallup-daily-obama-job-approval.aspx). Rather I see the makings of a brain dead flatline, trending south.

No one is more popular than Obama? Hillary's popularity exceeds that of Obama by double digits (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/14/AR2010061404756.html).

"Obama must also call out the powerful interests who are pulling the G.O.P.’s strings (and filling its coffers)"? Really? And what about BP's contributions to Obama? And those of Soros?

According to Rich, Obama is a "big dog", which leaves me to wonder what exactly Frank is smoking. He is mistaking Obama, a feathered animal combining the attributes of a turkey (flightless), goose (feckless) and chicken (fainthearted), with a canine.

This time it's Pancake's turn to be offended.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Israel: An Ugly Start to the New Year

Determined to dash what little hope exists for Obama's peace talks, Hamas ushered in the Jewish New Year with Qassam rockets and mortar attacks aimed at Israeli civilian targets. In one instance, a disaster was narrowly averted:

"Thursday's rocket attacks comes after a mortar shell landed near several children's school buildings on Wednesday in a Sha'ar Hanegev regional council kibbutz, some 30 minutes prior to the students' scheduled arrival."

http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=187641

The world's response? Silence. Meanwhile, new flotillas are being planned to break the arms embargo on Gaza (http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/main/showNews/id/9514).

In tandem and emboldened by Obama, the closet racists of the left continue to test the receptiveness of the U.S. electorate to anti-Semitism with new excesses. Recently The New York Times again unashamedly published anti-Semitic readers' comments (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/08/charles-blows-obama-and-jews-part-2.html), while its editorial board smeared Netanyahu as a "master manipulator" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/08/anonymous-anti-semitism-from-editorial.html). As such, it came as no surprise when The New York Times editorial board declared, "We have long been skeptical that Mr. Netanyahu really wants a [peace] deal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/opinion/04sat2.html?hp).

Now Time Magazine is joining the miscreant chorus.

In its September 13 edition, Time Magazine's cover consisted of a large Jewish star consisting of daisies, and in its center the title of the lead story, "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace." An online, abbreviated version of this story by Karl Vick, Time Magazine's new Jerusalem Bureau Chief(http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2015602,00.html) shows Israelis smoking a hookah at the beach, and emphasizes how la dolce vita Israelis are preoccupied with making money instead of seeking peace with their neighbors.

Vick seeks to prove his thesis with the following observation:

"Asked in a March poll to name the 'most urgent problem' facing Israel, just 8% of Israeli Jews cited the conflict with Palestinians, putting it fifth behind education, crime, national security and poverty. Israeli Arabs placed peace first, but among Jews here, the issue that President Obama calls 'critical for the world' just doesn't seem — critical."

Strange. I always thought that "national security" and the "conflict with the Palestinians" were largely tantamount, and the two categories combined would probably top the list, but obviously Vick had a particular storyline in mind and could not be bothered with such trivialities.

Needless to say, Vick never spoke with me. Like most who have served in combat units in the IDF and have seen the horrors of war, I dream every night of peace, but wake each morning to the barbarism of Ahmadinejad, Assad, Qaddafi, Nasrallah, Mashal and their cohorts.

Like Obama, Vick lacks the maturity to comprehend that not every problem is susceptible to an instantaneous solution. Europe suffered hundreds of years of wars that killed tens of millions of people, and we can only hope that Europeans have now come to their senses. Similarly, the Middle East may not be ready for an overall peace solution, particularly given Iranian aspirations for hegemony over the region, and as such, we can only make the best of a bad situation, keep the spirit of peace alive, and try to survive.

On his CNN television program "Reliable Sources", host Howard Kurtz asked Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel about this inflammatory cover picture featuring the Star of David and the accompanying story:

KURTZ: Let's talk about your magazine, "TIME," of course, published by CNN's parent company, Time Warner.

You have moved from more classic news magazine, Henry Luce-style approach to the news, to what you call reported analysis. A cover story in the new issue? Here it is, "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace."

Is that example of reported analysis?

STENGEL: Yes. I mean, look, in so many way, Howie, as you know, the news, the information itself, has become a commodity. What we offer is insight, analysis, putting the news -- putting what you already know in perspective.

So, to take the example of this week's cover story about Israel, you know, what we did is we sent our correspondent there, and he basically went around and he said, you know, people in Israel don't care about peace. They're happy. The society is prosperous. GDP is growing. They don't regard the Palestinians as a threat.

To me, this is giving people a kind of look around the bend. It's a kind of conceptual scoop which I think we can provide that a lot of news outlets can't provide. So that's the idea.

KURTZ: But the headline is a bit of a marketing gimmick, because it suggests that Israel doesn't want to participate in the peace process, despite the meetings that started this week in Washington. And when you read the story it's as you described. So, obviously, you're trying to draw people in with a provocative headline?

STENGEL: Yes, it's provocative headline, it's provocative thesis. I mean, there are plenty of people who argue, as you know, Howie, that, in fact, Netanyahu is just giving the appearance that he actually wants peace, and to negotiate, because really he wants the U.S. to help him with Iran. And that may in fact be true.

http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1009/05/rs.01.html

"It may be true"? Are we to understand that Time Magazine is no longer in the business of reporting news, but rather engaged in titillating its readership with obscene theories to which "plenty of people", i.e. radical leftists, adhere? Today, apparently there is no longer a need for journalistic ethics given Time Magazine's pursuit of "conceptual scoops".

In my view, anti-Semitism for once-respected publications has become a form of pornography intended to tickle the fancy of their readerships. However, is the motivation of the publishers of The New York Times and Time Magazine strictly pecuniary? Do they believe that by fueling hatred, they will maintain their circulation and avoid bankruptcy? Or does the pathological anti-Semitism that is penetrating their pages also flow deeply in their veins, and do their editors now feel freer than ever to infect others with the disease?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thomas Friedman's "Saudi Time": A Sure-Fire Peace Proposal! . . . Not

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Saudi Time" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/opinion/08friedman.html?hp), Thomas Friedman calls upon King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to take the lead role in bringing about Middle East peace. Friedman writes:

"Some eight years ago, in February 2002, I interviewed then-Crown Prince-now-King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at his horse farm outside Riyadh. I shared with him a column I had written — suggesting that the Arab League put forth a peace plan offering Israel full peace for full withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem for a Palestinian state — when he feigned surprise and said: 'Have you broken into my desk?' The Saudi leader said he was preparing the exact same plan and offered it up — 'full withdrawal from all the occupied territories, in accord with U.N. resolutions, including in Jerusalem, for full normalization of relations.'”

Friedman concludes:

"King Abdullah should invite Mr. Netanyahu to Riyadh and present [his peace plan] to him personally."

Personally, I would take the Abdullah-Friedman Plan a few steps further . . .

After Netanyahu arrives in Riyadh, signs off on Abdullah's peace plan, and is given a tour of Mecca, we should expect Hamas, Iran's proxy in Gaza, whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews (not just Israelis), to stop firing mortar shells, rockets and missiles (some 11,000 since 2001) into Israel.

And when a "rogue" Hamas operative fires a shoulder-held missile at a 747 landing at Ben Gurion Airport (some five miles from Israel's border with the Palestinian Authority -- Israel is only 9 miles wide at its waist) and sends the jet crashing to the ground, Israel will simply accept the provocation as one of the risks it took for peace.

And Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, will turn its arsenal of 50,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel, over to the Lebanese government.

And Saudi Arabia's own war with Shiite rebels, backed by Iran, in Yemen's northwest Saada province, which has left 175,000 people homeless, will end overnight.

And Saudi Arabia will stop lashing and handing out prison sentences to women who have been gang raped.

And Libya will no longer celebrate the release from prison of Lockerbie bombers.

And the killing of Black Africans (some 400,000 murdered) by Sudan's Arabs will suddenly end.

And 35 million Kurds, living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, will be granted statehood, thus putting an end to years of pillage and atrocities directed against them.

And Iran will stop imprisoning and executing its peaceful Baha'i minority, grant homosexuals the basic human rights to which they are entitled, and stop stoning to death women for alleged adultery.

And throughout the Muslim Middle East, there will be an end to "honor killings" against women, and those guilty of murdering their wives, daughters and sisters will be punished.

Quickly, Bibi! I'll drop by your house later today, and let's make those flight reservations to Riyadh!

CGEN-15001, Predictive Discovery and the Choice Facing Big Pharma

In recent months, Israeli drug discovery company Compugen has issued two press releases concerning a new therapeutic drug candidate, CGEN-15001, targeting multiple sclerosis ("MS") and other autoimmune diseases. As stated by Compugen in its July press release:

"[A]dministration of CGEN-15001 in an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been shown to completely abolish spontaneous relapses. In addition, administration of this novel molecule prior to disease onset demonstrated a pronounced delay of disease onset and a significant decrease in disease symptoms. These results, together with complementary results from earlier studies, strongly support a significant potential therapeutic utility for CGEN-15001 in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes."

http://www.cgen.com/Content.aspx?Page=press_releases&NewsId=498

Although there can be no assurances whether these very early stage, preclinical results will ultimately translate into a new drug destined to alleviate the symptoms and suffering associated with MS and other autoimmune diseases, Compugen, in my opinion, has nevertheless achieved something quite remarkable:

• Compugen predicted and verified the existence of CGEN-15001T, a heretofore unknown member of the B7/CD28 protein family, which has been intensively picked over in the search for immune regulation candidates.
• CGEN-15001T in and of itself constitutes a promising antibody therapeutics target for cancer.
• The discovery of CGEN-15001T promptly led to the identification by Compugen of CGEN-15001, a soluble recombinant fusion protein comprised of the extracellular region of CGEN-15001T, which, as reported in the above Compugen press release, underwent testing in an animal model of MS.

As commonly known, autoimmune diseases entail the body attacking its own cells, and treatment usually consists of drugs intended to weaken the body's immune response with all the attendant dangers. Compugen, however, has stated that CGEN-15001 is expected to be devoid of general immunosuppressive effects and therefore have a decreased risk of opportunistic infections. How is this possible?

CGEN-15001 is thought to act as a "negative costimulator", and like other negative costimulators, it is thought to target tolerance breakdown, i.e. eliminate activated autoreactive cells and directly block the deleterious effects of self-reactive immune cell function in autoimmune diseases. This anticipated specificity, which does not target the B7/CD28 pathway, is expected to eliminate general immunosuppressive effects.

Equally remarkable, as reported in Compugen's July press release, Professor Stephen Miller of Northwestern University has stated with respect to CGEN-15001:

"These studies have also demonstrated that CGEN-15001 has the unique ability to inhibit proliferation, differentiation, and cytokine production of pro-inflammatory Th1 and Th17 responses while at the same time sparing or actually promoting regulatory Th2-derived cytokines. As far as I am aware, this potentially very beneficial pattern of inhibiting Th1/Th17 while promoting Th2 responses is unique among the reagents targeting the B7 family of co-stimulatory molecules that have been published to date.”

Shifting from a Th1 to a Th2 immune response would clearly prove beneficial in MS and other autoimmune diseases, since Th2 cells limit the proliferation of Th1/Th17 autoreactive pro-inflammatory cells and thereby protect the central nervous system.

But what about the bigger picture? Quite apart from their modes of action, the discoveries of CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15001 amount to powerful validation of the coming of age of predictive discovery. How is Big Pharma to react?

Obviously, there will be those R&D departments that feel threatened by this new science, capable of rendering their methodology, built over the course of decades at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, anachronistic. These departments will rejoice at any perceived failure or shortcoming involving the new science.

Other R&D departments, however, will embrace predictive discovery and seek out new modes of collaboration, particularly involving their cutting-edge testing capabilities.

In my opinion it's ultimately going to come down to a matter of accepting the inevitable, and those organizations willing to adapt to the rigors of predictive discovery are most likely destined to succeed.

[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.]

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Obama Middle East Peace Initiative: Destined to Fail

There were some glorious photo ops in Washington last week with Obama, Netanyahu, Abbas, Mubarak and King Abdullah II striding down long carpeted corridors wearing serious faces. Hillary, seated between Netanyahu and Abbas, smiled like the Cheshire cat. Tony Blair, flown into town as the representative of the Quartet, added his imprimatur to the festivities. But the necessary groundwork had not been laid by the bungling Obama administration, and all, unfortunately, is destined to come to naught.

The Palestinian Authority, i.e. Fatah, does not want an agreement, at least not now, and until they are ready, it simply isn't going to happen, no matter what goodies Washington offers them. Why? Because if you want peace in the Middle East, you need to be willing to die for peace. Anwar Sadat died for peace. King Hussein of Jordan proclaimed his readiness to die as a martyr for peace. Abbas, on the other hand, is planning to die peacefully in his bed, many years hence.

Examine the contradictory confused responses coming from Fatah in the aftermath of the Washington hafla (Arabic for party or celebration). Already being branded a traitor, Abbas is searching under the carpet for an excuse to abandon the talks. On Monday, Palestinian newspaper Al Quds reported that Abbas has now stated that if pressured on borders and refugees, he "will take his bags and leave," and Netanyahu was forced to call Abbas to coax him back to the negotiating table (http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?ID=187294&R=R1).

Meanwhile, Abbas's cronies also can't decide on which side of the fence they should be standing:

"Following last week’s ceremony in Washington, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, gave a series of interviews to various media outlets.

In one interview, he was quoted as saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not serious about reaching peace with the Palestinians and that his only goal was to waste time. Erekat later issued a denial, saying his words had been taken out of context.

* * * *

Making statements and denying them, often within hours, has become almost a daily event in the politics of the PA. The latest example was that of Fatah’s Muhammad Dahlan, who, in an interview with an Arab newspaper on Sunday, denounced Netanyahu as a 'swindler.'

After his remarks were published in Israel, the former security commander rushed to issue a denial, claiming that his words had been taken out of context."
http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=187357

Iran and Syria, via their proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, will be fighting tooth and nail against any potential peace arrangement, and it is no accident that a Qassam rocket fell on the southern Israeli town of Sderot this morning.

Syria has historically opposed any Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, which comes, in their belief, at the expense of a Syrian-Israeli arrangement, which, again in their belief, takes precedence.

But the bigger picture involves Iranian, i.e. Shiite, nuclear aspirations and the opposition of the Sunni Arab bloc to any attempt by Tehran to achieve hegemony in the region. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are all callous to Palestinian interests, and Abbas for them is no more than an expendable pawn.

Obama specializes in photo ops, and wonderful photographs were taken of the American president pretending to play diplomat extraordinaire. However, expectations on the Palestinian street have now been created, and when the talks ultimately fail, we will be hearing in the suks of Ramallah, Hebron and Nablus, "I told you so."

Will we then see a resurgence of Hamas? A new intifada? I hope not.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"Another Start for Peace Talks": The New York Times Again Reveals Its Bias and Folly

The New York Times appears desperate to create an Obama diplomatic success.

Having earlier labeled Netanyahu a "master manipulator", today, in an op-ed entitled "Another Start for Peace Talks" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/opinion/04sat2.html?hp) The New York Times editorial board informs us, "We have long been skeptical that Mr. Netanyahu really wants a deal." Again, The New York Times misses the bigger picture and reveals its bias and folly.

The New York Times editorial board ignores Abbas's recent declaration:

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

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052803614.html

The New York Times is only skeptical whether Netanyahu "really wants a deal"?

Apparently unaware of the current, de facto cooperation that exists between Israel and Fatah, which has resulted in security collaboration, the elimination of check points, and rapidly expanding West Bank economic growth (anticipated 8% growth in GDP in 2010), the New York Times editorial marvels that Netanyahu and Abbas so easily shook hands. However, it is easy to strike the "right tone" at festive dinners in Washington, which do not demand discussion of core issues.

Almost every Israeli, including Netanyahu, wants a negotiated peace with the Palestinians, but there are a host of issues demanding resolution, e.g., Jerusalem, refugees, borders, Israeli settlements, demilitarization of the West Bank, the binding effect of any potential agreement upon Gaza, and basic recognition of Israel's right to exist.

Ultimately, any agreement depends upon Netanyahu's ability to demonstrate to the Israeli electorate that Israel's security is safeguarded by the deal, and Abbas's belief that such agreement will not be deemed a "sell-out" by the Palestinian and Arab streets and result in his assassination.

Also ignored by The New York Times are the 50,000 rockets and missiles supplied by Iran and Syria to Hezbollah, now located under schools, mosques, hospitals and homes throughout Lebanon. The likelihood of a war initiated against Israel pursuant to Iran's instructions, involving Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, is high, and any such conflict will delay negotiations between Israel and Fatah, pending its resolution.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque: Let's Perform a Stress Test

In an editorial in today's New York Times entitled "Mistrust and the Mosque", dissatisfaction is expressed with the findings of a poll which has determined that "New York City sadly harbors a robust disapproval of the proposal to build a mosque near ground zero" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/opinion/03fri1.html?hp). My response to my friends at The Times:

Economists often examine the risk of various situations by performing what is called a "stress test": they introduce extreme variables and determine how the system will react.

Suppose we perform a "stress test" in this situation and postulate that Osama bin Laden is funding the mosque and community center. Would The New York Times editorial board still support this construction project? Answer: No.

Ridiculous? Sure, Osama bin Laden is almost certainly not funding the construction. Fine, so tell me who are the mysterious donors providing $100 million - funds which could be better used for Pakistani flood victims - for this 15-story building?

Without the names of the donors, I believe the opposition of an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers is entirely rational.

The editorial board of The New York Times refuses to recognize that there might be an inkling of reason underlying majority opposition to the construction at this location, and it is no wonder that the Grey Lady, bled white by readers who have canceled their subscriptions, already has one foot in the grave.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Obama Lays Ambush for Netanyahu in Washington

In an August 31, 2010 New York Times op-ed entitled "A Peace Plan Within Our Grasp", Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt, called for the positioning of an international force in the West Bank to provide Israel with its requisite security needs:

"I recognize that Israel has legitimate security needs, needs that can be reconciled with the Palestinians’ just demand for a complete withdrawal from occupied territory. Egypt believes that the presence of an international force in the West Bank, to be stationed for a period to be agreed upon by the parties, could give both sides the confidence and security they seek."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/opinion/01mubarak.html

These seemingly moderate words, carefully drafted for Mubarak, are minatory and fraught with danger for Israel, as amply evidenced by the recent incident on the Israeli-Lebanese border, when the removal of a tree on the Israeli side of the border, coordinated in advance with UNIFIL, resulted in the assassination of an Israeli lieutenant colonel by the Lebanese army.

The proposal is also naive, as demonstrated by the brutal murder of four Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman, on Tuesday evening, and the subsequent shooting attack on Wednesday, resulting in the wounding of two Israeli civilians, one critically; Hamas has taken "credit" for both of these incidents. Would a force such as UNIFIL be able to frustrate such attacks or ultimately apprehend the perpetrators? As a matter of well-reasoned principle, Israel cannot allow anyone else to assume responsibility for its security.

From where did Mubarak's fatuous solution, published by The New York Times, arise? What is being orchestrated here? You would have to be daft to believe that Obama brought together all of these notables for an amorphous discussion lacking an endgame result.

Consider how The New York Times has become the semi-official organ of the Obama administration, ready to publish the president's op-eds, and prepared to buttress the president when his foreign policy has come under fire, for example, by the Washington Post (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2009/08/obamas-new-york-times-op-ed-lingering.html).

Consider also how U.S. National Security Adviser General James Jones, known for his hostility to Israel, has long advocated an international presence in the West Bank:

"General James Jones, whom U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is widely expected to tap as his national security adviser, supports the deployment of an international force in the West Bank instead of the Israel Defense Forces. He also opposes Israel's demand to retain extensive security control over the territories even after a Palestinian state is established."

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/candidate-for-u-s-security-adviser-wants-nato-force-in-west-bank-1.257968

An ambush was indeed awaiting Netanyahu in Washington, whose blow would have been softened by the award of military hardware and promises involving future regional contingencies. But all has now come to naught, given that Netanyahu, following the West Bank murders, cannot possibly bring home any such proposal to the Israeli electorate.

"The best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry . . ."

Better hope Obama is ready with a less ambitious plan "B", because when plan "A" unravels, the resultant disappointment on the Palestinian street will discredit Abbas's Fatah and strengthen Hamas, which, with Iranian approval (http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/iran-to-stage-anti-israel-rallies-amid-peace-talks-in-washington-1.311718), has done its utmost to undermine these talks in word and horrifying deed.