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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Hillary Clinton, "Sick," "Shocked" and "Appalled" by Allegations Against Weinstein: "Is It Safe?"

Are you crazy about movies? One of my favorite flicks is the 1976 thriller "Marathon Man," in which Babe (Dustin Hoffman) is repeatedly asked under dental torture by Nazi war criminal Dr. Christian Szell (Lawrence Olivier), "Is it safe?" What does this have to do with anything, you ask? Answer: Everything.

In a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria to be shown on Sunday, Hillary Clinton informs the alleged serial plagiarist that she is "sick," "shocked" and "appalled" by the allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Harvey Weinstein.

Will I watch this interview on Sunday? Not a chance. I can think of many other ways to make myself ill. But perhaps someone capable of watching Hillary and Fareed will be kind enough to inform us whether Zakaria asked Hillary if she is "sick," "shocked" and "appalled" by the allegations of sexual abuse leveled against her husband.

My guess is that Zakaria did not ask Hillary this question. After all, it wouldn't be "safe," not if he ever wanted to interview Hillary or Bill again.

Which is why the allegations against Weinstein didn't arise earlier: It wasn't "safe," particularly when President Trump's "Grab ’em by the pussy" declaration barely elicited a yawn from his army of supporters. As Donald observed in that same discussion with Billy Bush:

"And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."

And consider: A majority of Americans voted for Hillary for president, notwithstanding her long-standing marriage to a man alleged to have raped, groped and sexually harassed other women. Hillary herself has been accused of attempting to intimidate the women who complained about Bill's alleged conduct.

How many of us don't dare raise allegations of wrongdoing in the workplace, owing to fears that a given person or organization, with a war chest of tens of millions of dollars, will hire a Goliath law firm and attempt to squash you like a bug?

Which is why all of us must constantly ask ourselves, "Is it safe?"

In fact, it rarely is.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Kurdistan’s Dangerous Vote on Independence": Dangerous for Whom?

In an editorial entitled “Kurdistan’s Dangerous Vote on Independence,” The New York Times expresses its empathy for Kurdish yearnings for independence in Iraq, but fails to note the horrifying oppression of Kurdish minorities living in Turkey, Syria and Iran over the course of many decades. The editorial also forgets to mention that the Middle East's 30 million Kurds comprise the world's largest stateless people, whose identity and rights were not accounted for when Britain and France carved out new Middle East nations with artificial borders after World War I.

The Times editorial tells us:

"Only Israel, with a history of close ties to Kurds and hopes for an ally against Iran, has declared support for a Kurdish state."

However, while Israel would certainly welcome an ally in the region, Israeli sympathy for Kurdish statehood has a historical basis. In the years immediately prior to Israeli independence, the US State Department and Department of Defense opposed granting the Jews their own country for the very same reason: Giving the Jews a homeland could endanger American strategic interests in the region.

Whereas the US has welcomed Kurdish friendship and support while battling ISIS and Saddam Hussein, it is now time for the US to reciprocate by recognizing the right of the Kurds to live in dignity and freedom. Dangerous? Sure, an independent Kurdish state carved out of Iraq is upsetting for the Turks (Kurds amount to some 20 percent of Turkey's population), but all change comes with uncertainty, and the Kurds deserve to live without fear of persecution and oppression.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

William Burns and Jake Sullivan, "The Smart Way to Get Tough With Iran": "Naivete" Gets New Meaning

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Smart Way to Get Tough With Iran," William Burns and Jake Sullivan write (my emphasis in red):

"As the two negotiators who initiated the secret talks that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, we are intimately familiar with the deal’s strengths, its inevitable imperfections and the wider challenge posed by Iran.

. . . .

[T]he nuclear deal achieved the best of the available alternatives. It cuts off Iran’s pathways to a bomb, sharply constrains its nuclear program for a long time, and provides for unprecedentedly strict monitoring and verification. Diplomacy avoided another war in the Middle East and averted the kind of crisis we now face with North Korea.

But today, after two years of repeated affirmations of Iran’s compliance by our intelligence community and the International Atomic Energy Agency, American policy is at a fork in the road.

The smart way to proceed would be to keep the world’s powers united and the burden of proof on Iran. That means working with partners on relentless enforcement; enhancing sanctions that punish Iran’s non-nuclear misbehavior, including its missile program and sponsorship of terrorism; working closely with Arab partners to deter Iran’s meddling in their internal affairs; and making plain our concerns with Iran’s domestic human rights abuses."

But now consider the following from a Haaretz article entitled "Sources: UN Watchdog Hiding Evidence on Iran Nuclear Program" by Barak Ravid, which was published on Tuesday (my emphasis in red):

"The world's nuclear weapons watchdog is hiding data on Iran's drive to obtain nuclear arms, senior Western diplomats and Israeli officials told Haaretz.

The officials and diplomats said that the International Atomic Energy Agency under Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was refraining from publishing evidence obtained by its inspectors over the past few months that indicate Iran was pursuing information about weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program.

ElBaradei, who will soon vacate his post, has said that the agency does not have any evidence that suggests Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.

But the sources told Haaretz that the new evidence was submitted to the IAEA in a classified annex written by its inspectors in the Islamic Republic. The report was said to have been signed by the head of the IAEA team in Iran.

The classified report, according to the sources, was not incorporated into the agency's published reports. The details, they said, were censored by senior officials of the IAEA in the organization's Vienna headquarters."

So, do you believe the reassurances being provided by Burns and Sullivan? I don't.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Maureen Dowd, "Cruella de Trump": A Self-Inflicted Wound

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Cruella de Trump," Maureen Dowd writes of Donald Trump's recent tweet aimed at demeaning Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough:

"The 71-year-old president’s pathological inability to let go of slights; his strongman reflex to be the aggressor and bite back like a cornered animal, without regard for societal norms; his lack of self-awareness about the power he commands and the proportionality of his responses; his grotesque hunger for flattery and taste for Tony Soprano tactics; his Pravda partnership with David Pecker, the head honcho at The National Enquirer, which has been giving Trump the Il Duce treatment while sliming his political opponents, the 'Morning Joe' anchors and Megyn Kelly — these are all matters that should alarm men and women equally."

"[T]hese are all matters that should alarm men and women equally"? Excuse me, Maureen, Trump's narcissistic personality was on view for all to see for months prior to the US presidential election. The Republicans nominated him anyway. And the Democrats then gave Americans the choice between voting for a man frighteningly unqualified to sit in the Oval Office or for a woman and her nominal husband whose sense of entitlement and talent at equivocation were unpalatable to a broad cross-section of the electorate.

The alarm bell should have rung more than a year ago.

It's a little late to be railing against Trump, who is a self-inflicted wound, representing the depths to which the US has descended. As Pogo would have it, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Paul Krugman, "Zombies, Vampires and Republicans": Incendiary Language at Precisely the Wrong Time

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Zombies, Vampires and Republicans," Paul Krugman begins:

"Zombies have long ruled the Republican Party. The good news is that they may finally be losing their grip — although they may still return and resume eating conservative brains. The bad news is that even if zombies are in retreat, vampires are taking their place."

Krugman concludes:

"So this isn’t a Trump story; it’s about the cynicism and corruption of the whole congressional G.O.P. Remember, it would take just a few conservatives with conscience — specifically, three Republican senators — to stop this outrage in its tracks. But right now, it looks as if those principled Republicans don’t exist."

Of course, it's perfectly legitimate to argue against Republican taxation and healthcare proposals, and even argue vehemently against them. Heck, I'm no fan of Donald Trump. But label all Republicans zombies, vampires, corrupt and unprincipled? You need to curb your language, Paul. Didn't you learn anything from the shooting of U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise last week?

Monday, June 12, 2017

David Sanger and Eric Schmitt,"U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS": The New York Times Exposes Israel's Cyber Hack

In a New York Times article entitled "U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS," David Sanger and Eric Schmitt write:

"Even one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America’s partner in the attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers.

The intelligence was so exquisite that it enabled the United States to understand how the weapons could be detonated, according to two American officials familiar with the operation. The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Britain."

This was the intel that was leaked by Donald Trump to Russia's foreign minister and ambassador to the US during an Oval Office meeting last month. Israel tried to mitigate the damage by claiming that the intel was HUMINT and that the agent's life had been endangered, but ISIS now knows for certain that the intel was SIGINT, i.e. a cyber hack.

Has an important window into ISIS terror operations been hermetically shut? Have innocent lives been compromised as a consequence? I don't know the answer. I suggest you ask Donald Trump, the Times, or better still, the "officials" who leaked this info to Sanger and Schmitt.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

David Brooks, "The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner": Things Get Unglued at the White House

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner," David Brooks relates to the controversy surrounding Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who, according to Brooks, has "been thrust into roles he’s not ready for," and whose background "has ill prepared him for national government." Brooks writes:

"... Kushner has made some boneheaded blunders in the White House. He reportedly pushed for the firing of F.B.I. Director James Comey even though anybody with a blip of experience could have told you this move would backfire horribly. He’s allowed his feud with Steve Bannon to turn into a public soap opera.

We don’t know everything about his meetings with the Russians, but we know that they, like so much other clan-like behavior, went against the formal system. We also know that they betray rookie naïveté on several levels — apparently trusting the Russians not to betray him, apparently not understanding that these conversations would be surveyed by the American intelligence services, possibly not understanding how alarming they would look to outsiders."

Hey, David, it's a heck of a lot simpler than all this. Jared is only 36 years old. Think of yourself when you were 36: Were you sufficiently mature to advise the president of the United States? I sure as hell wasn't (not that anyone ever asked). On the other hand, today, when you turn 50 and finally have your wits about you, you're headed for the glue factory. Does it make sense? No way! As W.C. Fields once said:

"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

Sic transit gloria mundi...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Charles Blow, "Donald Trump: The Gateway Degenerate": Closer to Home, What About Linda Sarsour?

Don't get me wrong - I believe that Donald Trump is not qualified to be president. I don't hate the man. I "merely" believe that he suffers from a severe narcissistic personality disorder that interferes with his decision making. His fingers should be nowhere near the launch buttons of America's nuclear arsenal.

Now back to business: In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Donald Trump: The Gateway Degenerate," Charles Blow writes:

"This is all an outgrowth of Trump’s degradation of common decency. Trump was the gateway candidate. When Republicans allowed themselves to accept and support him in spite of his glaring flaws and his life lived in opposition to the values they once professed and insisted upon, they moved themselves into another moral realm in which literally nothing was beyond the pale.

It is a sort of by-any-means-necessary, no-sin-is-too-grave, all-facts-are-fungible space in the moral universe where the rules of basic human decency warp.

The moment that they allowed themselves to vote for a man who bragged on tape about assaulting women, appeared in at least two pornos, and once joked about dating his own daughter, they surrendered the mantle of morality."

Got it! The Republicans have a monopoly on immorality ... or is there more to the story?

On Friday, Linda Sarsour is to be the commencement speaker at the City University of New York School of Public Health. Despite heated protests, CUNY chancellor, James B. Milliken, is defending her appearance as a matter of free speech:

"The decision to invite Ms. Sarsour was made by the School of Public Health. The commencement speakers are selected at the college level. The School of Public Health made a decision to focus on women leaders for its commencement this year and invited Ms. Sarsour because of her involvement in public health issues in New York City and her position as a leader on women’s issues, including her role as co-chair of the recent Women’s March in Washington. Ms. Sarsour has been recognized by President Obama at the White House as a 'Champion of Change' and was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 leaders and Fortune magazine’s 50 global leaders.

CUNY’s administration, its Board of Trustees and political leaders are being asked to overrule the college and cancel Ms. Sarsour’s speech because critics object to things she has reportedly said or written. While one might disagree with the School of Public Health’s decision to invite Ms. Sarsour to speak at commencement, that difference of opinion provides no basis for action now. Taking action because critics object to the content of speech would conflict with the First Amendment and the principles of academic freedom."

Fascinating! But perhaps you recall that Sarsour tweeted in 2011:

"Brigitte Gabriel= Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Shes asking 4 an a$$ whippin. I wish I could take their vaginas away - they dont deserve to be women."

Yup, Sarsour, according to Obama, is a "Champion of Change" who would take away the vaginas of women who disagree with her (indeed, removing vaginas certainly results in "Change"). And a woman who would remove vaginas is now the commencement speaker at a school of public health. That makes perfect sense in today's world.

Sorry, it's not just the Republicans who have monopolized immorality. Rather, we live in an age of intolerance. Moreover, as regards the title of Blow's op-ed, I have a serious issue as to whether he should be labeling the jackass man who holds the highest office in the United States a "degenerate." A little respect for the office, Charles!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Maureen Dowd, "Trump’s Hand-to-Hand Combat": Welcome to Donaldland!

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Trump’s Hand-to-Hand Combat," Maureen Dowd concludes:

"Donald Trump is not a tough guy. He’s a faux tough guy. That is not even in the American tradition. All of our famously tough icons, on screen and in life, were able to exude strength without using brute force. And they did it while standing up for people, not smacking them down."

Not a tough guy? A faux tough guy? Heck, Maureen, you must never have seen the video of Trump bodyslamming Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania XXIII. Presidents don't come any realer or tougher than Donald.

Concerning brute force, do you remember how Trump was going to build a wall to keep foreigners out of the US? Instead, we have armed Turkish presidential guards kicking the sh*t out of American citizens legally exercising their First Amendment rights, then flying away scot-free, owing to diplomatic immunity.

What has become of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Answer: Welcome to Donaldland!

Diana Buttu, "Why the Palestinian Authority Should Be Shuttered": A Call to Rehabilitate Hamas

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."

- Winston Churchill

The New York Times today published an op-ed entitled "Why the Palestinian Authority Should Be Shuttered" by Diana Buttu, who asserted in a 2012 Harvard lecture that Qassam rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians "don't have explosive heads" (yeah, right). She also claimed at that same lecture that "between the period of 1997 until the year 2000, there wasn't a single Israeli who died of a suicide bombing inside Israel," yet, when confronted with the 1997 Café Apropo bombing, Butto resorted to another lie: "All of the people you are talking about were settlers." In fact, one of the women was from Tel Aviv, one from Herzliya, and one from Neve Monosson. (To learn more about Butto's prevarication at the Harvard lecture, have a gander at CAMERA's article "Diana Buttu is at it Again, Harvard Edition.") But back now to Butto's op-ed, which is no less "imaginative" than her Harvard talk. Butto begins by questioning "whether the Palestinian Authority plays any positive role or is simply a tool of control for Israel and the international community," and declares that "it’s time for the authority to go." Buttu continues:

"[Palestinian Authority] security forces do not provide a normal police service to Palestinians, but instead aid the Israeli Army in maintaining the occupation and Israel’s ever-expanding settlements.

. . . .

The raison d’être of the Palestinian Authority today is not to liberate Palestine; it is to keep Palestinians silent and quash dissent while Israel steals land, demolishes Palestinian homes, and builds and expands settlements."

Ah yes, the "ever-expanding" settlements. However, as observed in a December 29, 2016 Washington Post editorial entitled "On Israel, we’re right back where Obama started" (my emphasis in red):

"In fact, the two-state solution remains entirely viable, as even the settlement statistics cited by Mr. Kerry demonstrate. The administration asserts that the Jewish population in the West Bank has increased by 100,000 since 2009 — but by Mr. Kerry’s account, 80 percent of that growth was in areas Israel would likely annex in any settlement. In eight years, 20,000 people have been added to communities in territory likely to become part of Palestine — an area where 2.75 million Arabs now live. That growth of about 3 percent per annum, the product of a restraint for which Mr. Netanyahu received no White House credit, means that the Jewish population outside Israel’s West Bank fence may have decreased as a percentage of the overall population even as Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have made it the focal point of U.S. policy."

Similarly, Rick Richman wrote in a December 28, 2016 Commentary article entitled "It’s Not the Settlements, Stupid":

"The figure of 100,000 sounds significant until you realize that 80 percent of it has been in the settlement blocs 'everyone knows' Israel will retain in any conceivable peace agreement. The 20,000 person increase east of the separation barrier, established to stop the wave of Palestinian mass murders against Israelis, translates into less than one percent of the population in the disputed territories, over a period of eight years."

Buttu also fails to take into account what was acknowledged by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank. Additionally, she does not make mention of past Israeli evacuations of Sinai and Gaza, other than to assert that Israel maintains "overall control" of the Gaza Strip. Needless to say, Buttu avoids mention of Israel's evacuation of Gaza in 2005 and fails to observe that Gaza shares a border with Egypt.

And then there is the "small matter" of Hamas. Buttu writes:

"To remove this noose that has been choking Palestinians, the authority must be replaced with the sort of community-based decision making that predated the body’s establishment. And we must reform our main political body, the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Mr. Abbas also heads, to make it more representative of the Palestinian people and their political parties, including Hamas. Hamas has long indicated that it wants to be part of the P.L.O., and its revised charter, recently released in Doha, Qatar, affirms this aspiration."

Ah yes, the "new" Hamas, whose 2017 charter reads in relevant part:

14. The Zionist project is a racist, aggressive, colonial and expansionist project based on seizing the properties of others; it is hostile to the Palestinian people and to their aspiration for freedom, liberation, return and self-determination. The Israeli entity is the plaything of the Zionist project and its base of aggression.

15. The Zionist project does not target the Palestinian people alone; it is the enemy of the Arab and Islamic Ummah posing a grave threat to its security and interests. It is also hostile to the Ummah’s aspirations for unity, renaissance and liberation and has been the major source of its troubles. The Zionist project also poses a danger to international security and peace and to mankind and its interests and stability.

. . . .

19. There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. Whatever has befallen the land of Palestine in terms of occupation, settlement building, judaisation or changes to its features or falsification of facts is illegitimate. Rights never lapse.

20. Hamas believes that no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.

Rehabilitate Hamas, which earlier this week executed three men accused of killing one of its senior commanders - the executions were partially streamed live via Facebook? I don't think so.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Mohammad Javad Zarif,"‘Beautiful Military Equipment’ Can’t Buy Middle East Peace": Quintessential Horse Manure

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "‘Beautiful Military Equipment’ Can’t Buy Middle East Peace," Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif begins:

"As President Trump was being feted in the palaces of the Saudi royal family after concluding a historic arms deal, Iranians were celebrating the outcome of a hard-fought election. The vote manifested the determination of Iran’s electorate to continue on the path of moderation and constructive engagement based on mutual respect that brought the world the nuclear deal in 2015."

Ah yes, "moderation and constructive engagement based on mutual respect" from a nation that savagely persecutes Baha'is, Kurds, Sunni Muslims and Christians, regularly threatens Israel with annihilation, hangs gay men, stones to death women accused of adultery, and executes more persons per capita each year than any other country in the world. And if that isn't enough to cause your hair to stand on end, consider President Rouhani's statement earlier this week to an Iranian cabinet meeting:

"The remarks by the enemies of the Iranian nation against Iran's missile power are out of ignorance. We need missiles and the enemy should know that we make everything we need and we don’t pay an iota of attention to your words."

More? As reported by Reuters yesterday in an article entitled "Iran says it has built third underground ballistic missile factory" by Parisa Hafezi:

"'Iran's third underground factory has been built by the Guards in recent years ... We will continue to further develop our missile capabilities forcefully,' Fars quoted Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guard’s airspace division, as saying."

Still more? In a Foreign Policy article entitled "Are the U.S. and Iran on a Collision Course in Syria?" published on Wednesday, Dan De Luce and Paul McLeary informed us:

"Iran has grown alarmed over the growing presence of U.S. special operations forces in southern Syria, and the progress of Syrian Kurdish and Arab troops on the battlefield. Iran is keen to secure a corridor linking Tehran and Baghdad to Syria and Lebanon, and Tehran state-run media have claimed the U.S. forces are in the border area to block any supply routes for Iran.

In response, Tehran has deployed thousands of Afghan and Iraqi Shiite fighters, and in recent weeks has sent 3,000 Lebanese Hezbollah troops to the southeastern region between al-Tanf and Deir Ezzor, according to reports from Fars news agency, affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Hezbollah troops were sent to the al-Tanf area 'to prepare the Syrian army and its allies for thwarting the US plots in the region and establish security at the Palmyra-Baghdad road,' Fars wrote, just hours before the U.S. air raid [against a Hezbollah convoy approaching the al-Tanf base used by the US to train militias fighting ISIS]. They could also serve as a blocking force to keep U.S.-backed fighters from moving north out of al-Tanf."

Bottom line: Only Obama and Kerry could ever place their faith in Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tanya Weiz, "A Terrorist’s Teenage Target": A Few Words About the Hamas Suicide Bomber

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Terrorist’s Teenage Target" published after the heinous terrorist bombing in Manchester, Tanya Weiz writes of the 2001 Dolphinarium discoteque attack in Tel Aviv:

"Tanya [a friend with the same name] and I got into the line on the left-hand side of the door; Oksana and Liana went to the right so we could all get in faster. Then, at 11:44 p.m., a Hamas suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the club.

Everything went mute. To this day, I don’t know if I lost consciousness. All I know is that I had flown some distance in the air, and everywhere I looked there were dead bodies. It seemed that every single person in that line had been murdered except for me. Liana died on the spot. A total of 21 people were killed, 16 of them were teenagers."

I believe a few words about the Hamas suicide bomber, Saeed Hotari, are in order. Jamal Halaby wrote in a June 4, 2001 Guardian article entitled "Bomber went to West Bank for a better life":

"The suicide bomber was an observant Muslim who moved to the West Bank two years ago in search for a better job, his father said yesterday.

Saeed Hotari, 22, one of nine children from a poor Palestinian family living in Jordan, is believed to be the man who killed himself and 19 Israeli teenagers in a Tel Aviv disco on Friday. This has not yet been confirmed officially.

'I am very happy and proud of what my son did and I hope all the men of Palestine and Jordan would do the same,' Hassan Hotari said yesterday, with tears in his eyes.

At the entrance of a narrow street leading to hi[s] home in Zarqa, a predominantly Palestinian city 17 miles north-east of the capital, Amman, signs directed people to the home of 'martyr Saeed Hotari'."

Saeed Hotari a "martyr"? His father proud of this killer of teenagers? Why am I not surprised?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

David Brooks, "The Alienated Mind": Can We Swat Donald Away à la Melania?

"All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy

Yeah, we're f**ked.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Alienated Mind," David Brooks concludes:

"Impeached or not, it’s hard to see how Trump recovers as an effective governing force. Now is the moment for a new establishment to organize, to address the spirit of alienation that gave rise to Trump, but which transcends him."

David is right: Trump cannot recover as an effective governing force, any more than he can recover from his narcissistic personality disorder. But that being the case, how do you convince him to quietly abandon the Oval Office for the good of the country?

Can you swat him away, as did Melania on the Ben Gurion tarmac? I don't think so.

A "new establishment" that transcends the Donald? Brooks fails to grasp that it was the spirit of alienation that also gave rise to Obama, who embittered White Americans throughout the Rust Belt, thereby bringing Trump to power.

Get used to it, we've entered an age of darkness, rudeness, intolerance and alienation, which is not going anywhere anytime soon.

New York Times Editorial, "President Trump’s Mideast Contradictions": Rouhani a "Moderate"?

In an editorial entitled "President Trump’s Mideast Contradictions," The New York Times observes with respect to Trump's initial stopover in Saudi Arabia on his first overseas trip:

"The Saudi human rights record is no better than Iran’s."

The Times is correct in this regard: Iran stones to death women accused of adultery and hangs gay men, while Saudi Arabia lashes and imprisons women who have been gang-raped and beheads persons accused of witchcraft. However, having established that Saudi Arabia is no better than Iran concerning human rights, the Times editorial goes on to lavish praise upon Iran's recently re-elected president:

"Even as Mr. Trump reaffirmed America’s partnership with the conservative Saudi royals, Iranians were re-electing a moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as president and reaffirming their interest in engagement with the West."

Ah yes, Rouhani the "moderate." Who cares if Iran, under Rouhani's leadership, executes more persons per capita than any other country in the world? Moreover, as reported by Iran's Fars News Agency in December 2015:

"Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday ordered Defense Minister General Hossein Dehqan to enhance and accelerate development of the country's missile capability in response to the United States' new sanctions against Tehran's defense program.

President Rouhani noted the United States' "hostile policies and illegal and illegitimate meddling against Iran's right to develop its defensive power", and ordered the defense minister to accelerate production of various types of missiles needed by the Iranian Armed Forces more powerfully.

'As the United States seems to plan to include the names of new individuals and firms in its previous list of cruel sanctions in line with its hostile policies and illegitimate and illegal meddling in the Islamic Republic of Iran's right to reinvigorate its defense power, the program for the production of the Armed Forces' needed missiles is required to continue more speedily and seriously,' President Rouhani's written order to the Defense Minister read.

President Rouhani's decree came in reaction to the US Treasury Department's announcement that it is preparing sanctions on two Iran-linked networks helping develop the missile program.

The presidential decree also required the defense ministry to think of new missile production programs at a much wider scale in case Washington continues its sanctions policy against Iran's defense industries."

Have you any doubt as to whom those missiles will be directed against? Rouhani declared in 2013, "The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed."

 And as reported by Iran's Fars News Agency in August 2015:

"'We will purchase weapons from wherever we deem necessary and we are not waiting for anyone's permission; if we deem necessary we will sell our weapons and we will do this without paying attention to any resolution,' President Rouhani said, addressing a ceremony held to commemorate the National Defense Industry Day in Iran on Saturday." 

Or stated otherwise, Iran will continue to import whatever arms systems they desire and freely transfer them to Hezbollah and Hamas for use against Israel.

Seeking a more nuanced approach to Iran, the Times editorial concludes:

"Mr. Trump’s determination to forge an anti-Iran alliance with the Sunni Arab states and isolate Iran could drift into military confrontation. The nuclear agreement negotiated between Iran and the United States could unravel, causing a split with America’s European allies. These are consequences that Mr. Trump, in his enthusiasm for Saudi Arabia, seems to have thought little about."

Apparently unbeknownst to the author of this editorial, such a confrontation already occurred last week in southern Syria, when US warplanes attacked an Iranian-commanded Hezbollah convoy which was approaching US, British and Jordanian special forces. Also apparently unbeknownst to the author of this editorial with respect to Obama's sacrosanct unsigned nuclear deal, a "moderate" Rouhani informed Iran's Supreme Cultural Revolution Council in 2004:

"While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan. . . . in fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan. Today, we can convert yellowcake into UF4 and UF6, and this is a very important matter."

Bottom line, with "moderates" like Rouhani, who needs "radicals"?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Michael Doran, "A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?": A Must Read

You will recall that on Wednesday, I wrote:

"Currently, unbeknownst to most Americans, US, British and Jordanian special forces are on a collision course with Iranian-commanded Hezbollah troops in southern Syria, who are seeking to extend Khamenei's suzerainty over Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel, all with Russian approval."

Well, we have now seen the first confrontation between the two opposing sides, although limited in nature. US warplanes attacked an approaching Hezbollah convoy, and destroyed several vehicles and one tank. Now we must wait and see if the warning is heeded. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov labeled the air strikes "completely unacceptable."

Separately, I can't remember the last time I enjoyed reading a New York Times op-ed; however, Mr. Michael Doran's "A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?" is an exception to the rule. It is a must read for anyone interested in the Middle East.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Margaret Sullivan, "Trump’s wish to jail reporters is more than possible. Ask his international friends.":

In a Washington Post article entitled "Trump’s wish to jail reporters is more than possible. Ask his international friends.," Margaret Sullivan writes that "President Trump warmly welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House." She continues:

"New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told me he found appalling Trump’s suggestion [to jail journalists] (which surfaced in a leaked memo from former FBI director James B. Comey), but not entirely surprising.

'He doesn’t understand our role. He wants ‘Fox & Friends’ coverage instead,' Baquet said.

Trump’s embrace of Erdogan — who may be the leading jailer of journalists in the world — should come as no surprise."

But hey, didn't President Obama declare Erdogan to be one of his five best overseas friends?

And as reported in a May 20, 2013 WaPo article entitled "Justice Department’s scrutiny of Fox News reporter James Rosen in leak case draws fire" by Ann E. Marimow, wasn't it Obama's Justice Department that "investigated the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter as a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks"?

Don't get me wrong: Trump, a poster boy narcissist, is entirely unqualified to serve as president of the United States; however, Obama's conduct paved the way for this buffoon.

David Brooks, "When the World Is Led by a Child": Giving Trump Too Much Credit

With every passing day, the Middle East becomes more of a powder keg. Currently, unbeknownst to most Americans, US, British and Jordanian special forces are on a collision course with Iranian-commanded Hezbollah troops in southern Syria, who are seeking to extend Khamenei's suzerainty over Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel, all with Russian approval. Who blinks first? Let's wait and see.

Meanwhile, Assad is operating a crematorium, built north of Damascus beside Sednaya prison, in order to dispose of thousands of bodies of executed detainees. As reported by Karen DeYoung in a Washington Post article entitled "U.S. says Syria built crematorium to handle mass prisoner killings":

"Accusations of mass murder and incinerated bodies, evoking the Holocaust, contrasted with last week’s Washington visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. They were pictured shaking hands and broadly smiling with President Trump before an Oval Office meeting in which discussions centered on Syria."

A Trump meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak at this juncture? Hard to fathom. As declared by acting US assistant secretary of state Stuart Jones, "We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Sednaya prison." Jones went on to say, "These atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran."

Worse still, we are now learning that Trump divulged to Lavrov and Kislyak highly classified information, provided by Israeli intelligence, concerning an ISIS plot to blow up a US-bound passenger plane, by means of a laptop laden with explosives. This, in turn, has jeopardized the life of the Israeli spy embedded in ISIS, who provided the data.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "When the World Is Led by a Child," David Brooks responds to Trump's leak of intelligence secrets by observing:

"We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar."

Six? That's about five too many.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "A Syrian Plan Worth a Look": Who Cares If Iranian Forces Are Placed on the Border With Israel

In an editorial entitled "A Syrian Plan Worth a Look," The New York Times declares that "the Trump administration would be derelict if it did not give serious consideration to a plan for a cease-fire and safe zones [in Syria] brokered by Russia, with the backing of Turkey and Iran." The editorial goes on to say:

"The plan would allow displaced or embattled Syrians to relocate to the designated safe areas, still held by rebels unaffiliated with the Islamic State, and enable aid deliveries to some 4.5 million people at risk. It also calls for all parties to fight jihadists like the Islamic State and the Qaeda-linked group once known as the Nusra Front."

Nowhere in this editorial is there any mention of Israel, but why should there be? After all, the plan provides for Iranian troops on the Syrian border with Israel in the Golan Heights.

Excuse me, but isn't it Iran that regularly calls for the annihilation of Israel?

And how wonderful that the plan "also calls for all parties to fight jihadists," but is the Assad regime, which continues to drop sarin gas on its own people, any better than these other monsters?

Who writes this drivel for the Times?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies": More Obsessive Israel Bashing

In an April 28, 2017 editorial entitled "Israel Sees Critics as Enemies," The New York Times begins by observing:

"The refusal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to receive the German foreign minister because of a meeting the German held with a veterans’ peace group is not in itself a major incident in Israeli-German relations. Germany’s history alone ensures it will remain Israel’s staunch supporter. What is troubling, rather, is Mr. Netanyahu’s increasingly illiberal pattern of treating critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands — domestic and foreign — as enemies.

The flash point in this case was a meeting Germany’s foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, held with some nongovernmental groups while on a visit to Israel. One of these groups, called Breaking the Silence, is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis because it gathers anonymous testimonies from Israeli soldiers about their service in occupied territories, often highlighting hardships imposed on the Palestinians. So Mr. Netanyahu canceled his meeting with Mr. Gabriel, proclaiming that he would not welcome diplomats who met with organizations that, he said, 'slander' Israeli soldiers."

Got it: Breaking the Silence is an Israeli "veterans' peace group." After all, according to the Times editorial, "Breaking the Silence has support from former high-ranking Israeli military officers." Unfortunately, it's not so simple...

As reported by Israel Hayom in a January 17, 2017 newsletter entitled "Breaking the Silence: Shooting soldiers is not terrorism":

"According to a Channel 20 report, [Breaking the Silence's] public relations coordinator, Nadav Weiman, told activists, 'If you shoot at soldiers, you are trying to kill soldiers. You are not a terrorist.'

Weiman made the statements to two activists for right-wing organization Ad Kan who were posing as radical leftists to penetrate Breaking the Silence.

'If there is another country that is conquering your country, the area where you live, you are allowed to use violent means to fight the conquering entity, only ... against soldiers and police officers, but if you stab a soldier at a checkpoint, that is not a terrorist attack,' Weiman said."

As reported by The Algemeiner in a June 15, 2016 article entitled "Newly Released Footage Reveals Controversial Whistle-Blower Breaking the Silence Telling Tourists That Israeli Settlers Poisoned Palestinian Wells":

"A newly released video reveals a co-founder of the NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS) telling tourists that Israeli settlers poisoned Palestinian wells, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the clip was filmed by an undercover member of the right-wing 'Ad Kan' group, which seeks to expose activities of left-wing Israeli organizations which receive foreign funding.

In the video, which was filmed less than two years ago, Yehuda Shaul can be heard addressing a group of foreign visitors to the southern Hebron Hills in Judea (the West Bank). Speaking in English, he tells the visitors that residents of the Palestinian village of Susiya had only recently returned to their homes after being forced to leave several years earlier, when settlers poisoned their drinking water supply system."

Poisoned wells? Yeah, right.

And also as reported by The Algemeiner in a January 1, 2016 article entitled "How Breaking the Silence Lost Israel’s Trust":

"Breaking the Silence (BtS), which has been controversial for more than 10 years, gained real notoriety following the 2009 Gaza War. BtS — knowingly or unknowingly — questioned Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, and supported efforts to prosecute Israeli officials and soldiers (because allegations published by BtS resonated internationally and were used as ammunition by those siding against Israel). It also emerged at the time that several BtS funders conditioned their donations on obtaining minimum numbers of incriminating “testimonies” against the Israeli army from former soldiers. For instance, a document obtained by NGO Monitor from the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits shows similar demands from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, the Dutch church-based aid organization ICCO (primarily funded by the Dutch government), and Oxfam Great Britain (funded by the British government).

Israelis quickly recognized that these so-called testimonies were serving a political objective, one that increasingly was seen as helping defame and demonize Israeli soldiers. In the left-wing daily Haaretz, Amos Harel wrote: “Breaking the Silence…has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classified as a ‘human rights organization.’”"

Claiming that Breaking the Silence is "is particularly reviled among right-wing Israelis," the Times editorial concludes:

"Israel’s vibrant democracy has always been one of its great strengths, and it is in open and democratic debate — and not in a threatening “with us or against us” posture — that issues as critical to Israel’s future as the occupation must be discussed."

However, as observed by Yair Lapid, chairman of the centrist Israeli political party Yesh Atid in December 2015:

"Criticism is constructive for our society, but there is a significant difference between criticism and defaming IDF officers and soldiers abroad. That is not criticism; that is undermining the foundations of the state. Organizations like Breaking the Silence have crossed the red line between criticism and subversion."

Bottom line: This is just one more obsessive attack upon Israel, lacking any objectivity, coming from The New York Times.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dawn Eden Goldstein, "Was the Pope Wrong to Compare Refugee Centers to Concentration Camps?": Holocaust Trivialization Given a Platform by The New York Times

On Tuesday, in a speech commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump declared, "Today, we mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again."

Meanwhile, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Was the Pope Wrong to Compare Refugee Centers to Concentration Camps?" published on Tuesday, Dawn Eden Goldstein sought to rebuff criticism by The American Jewish Committee of Pope Francis's comparisons of migrant and refugee holding centers in Europe with Nazi concentration camps. Goldstein, who tells us that she is "a Jewish convert to Catholicism," declares:

"[A]re parallels between Europe’s treatment of migrants and the Nazis’ treatment of Jews and other persecuted populations during World War II really such a stretch? In late 2015, The Times reported that, while the migrant crisis “is no genocide,” not since the “Jews were rounded up by Nazi Germany have there been as many images coming out of Europe of people locked into trains, babies handed over barbed wire, men in military gear herding large crowds of bedraggled men, women and children.”

The situation today is no less distressing. In January, Moria saw a spate of deaths as tents collapsed under heavy snowfall at the overcrowded camp."

As regards "a spate of deaths," Goldstein provides a link to a January 30, 2017 Reuters article entitled "Third migrant dies in a week in harsh Greek camp conditions" by Karolina Tagaris, which states:

"The third migrant to perish in a week was found dead in his tent on Monday on Greece's Lesbos island, raising alarm about the grim winter conditions in overcrowded camps that critics have denounced as deplorable.

. . . .

The death at the island's Moria camp follows those of a 22-year-old Egyptian and a 46-year-old Syrian who shared a tent and died days apart. Greek media reported they had inhaled fumes from a heater, but authorities would not confirm or deny that."

As regards "tents collapsed," Goldstein provides a link to a January 11, 2017 New York Times article entitled "Wintry Blast in Greece Imperils Refugees in Crowded Camps" by Liz Alderman, where, in a caption above the article it is stated: "Freezing conditions in Europe threaten thousands of refugees and migrants. Four deaths have been attributed to the weather in the last week, according to the United Nations migration agency."

Indeed, the seven deaths in these camps are deplorable and to be regretted, but how can they be compared with the 6,000 Jews who were gassed each day at Auschwitz (not taking into account those murdered each day at the Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka killing centers)? How can they be compared with the some 3,000,000 Jews who died during the Holocaust in Nazi concentration camps from gassing, starvation, disease, shooting and hanging?

Abraham Foxman wrote in a 2014 article entitled "Inappropriate Comparisons Trivialize the Holocaust":

"Now that 69 years have passed since the liberation of Auschwitz, the danger is that an overuse of words — and inapt comparisons — will contribute to a lessening of the true impact and meaning of the Holocaust.

It must be our commitment to remember and to constantly speak out against those who would trivialize, distort or deny the Holocaust and to inoculate the public against trivialization through education."

By giving a platform to Goldstein, The New York Times chose to ignore Foxman's warning.

Monday, April 24, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Asking for Trouble on Iran": How Do You "Demonize" a Country That Stones to Death Women and Hangs Gay Men?

In an editorial entitled "Asking for Trouble on Iran," The New York Times would have us know (my emphasis in red):

"As with other foreign policy issues, the Trump administration’s approach to Iran has been full of mixed messages. Yet amid the confusion, there has been an ominous tendency to demonize Iran and misrepresent the threat it presents. This could lead to an unnecessary and risky confrontation."

Query: How is it possible to "demonize" a country that stones to death women for alleged adultery and hangs gay men? A country that savagely discriminates against Baha'is, Kurds, Sunni Muslims and Christians? A country that executes poets for "moharabeh," i.e. enmity to God? A country that leads the world in per capita executions?

The editorial continues (again, my emphasis in red):

"The administration’s various and conflicting responses to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are a case in point. The deal, one of the Obama administration’s major triumphs, requires Iran to curb its nuclear activities in return for a lifting of economic sanctions. During the campaign, President Trump called it 'one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen' and promised to tear it up or renegotiate it if he won the election. Last week, however, a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to the House speaker, Paul Ryan, signaled Mr. Trump’s intention to stick to the deal.

The letter certified that Iran was complying with the agreement, negotiated by five world powers in addition to the United States and Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the agreement with on-site inspectors and advanced technology, reached the same conclusion in its most recent report."

"[O]ne of the Obama administration's major triumphs"? Extending, by way of an unsigned agreement, Iran's nuclear breakout time from three months to one year, while conceding to Iran the right to advance its ballistic missile capabilities, is a major triumph?

More to the point, notwithstanding the assurances of John Kerry and friends that Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles had been 100 percent eliminated, we now know that this was not the case. How naive must you be to believe that Iran, Assad's abettor in crime, is scrupulously honoring the unsigned nuclear deal?

With triumphs like these, who needs failures?

By the way, this is the conclusion reached by a June 28, 2014 New York Times editorial entitled "They Said It Couldn’t Be Done," subtitled "The Fate of Syria’s Chemical Weapons":

"President Obama’s critics excoriated the deal, but they have been proved wrong. The chemical weapons are now out of the hands of a brutal dictator — and all without firing a shot."

Yeah, right.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Editorial Page Editor's Reply

In response to my prior blog item, "Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Again Omits the Truth," James Bennet, editorial page editor of the Times, sent me the following email:

"Dear Mr. Grossman -- As you say, we should have taken note of the specific crimes of which Marwan Barghouti was convicted. We've published an editor's note providing that information (while acknowledging our original omission). It can be found with the piece, here. Thank you for your note. Sincerely, James"

The "here" to which Mr. Bennet refers:

"Editors’ Note: April 17, 2017
This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

Marwan Barghouti, "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons": The New York Times Again Omits the Truth

Recently, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’," Larry Derfner observed:

"Hezbollah and Syria are well and truly deterred, and if Israel were to simply let them be, they would have to be crazy to strike first."

As I noted in a previous blog entry, at the bottom of the op-ed, the Times described Larry Derfner as "a journalist" and "the author of the forthcoming memoir 'No Country for Jewish Liberals.'" There was no mention by the Times that Derfner was fired by The Jerusalem Post after writing in his blog in August 2011, following a terrorist attack outside of Eilat, "...I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us..."

Well, it should come as no surprise that The New York Times is back to its old tricks today. In a guest Times op-ed entitled "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons," Marwan Barghouti writes:

"Having spent the last 15 years in an Israeli prison, I have been both a witness to and a victim of Israel’s illegal system of mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. After exhausting all other options, I decided there was no choice but to resist these abuses by going on a hunger strike.

. . . .

Israel has established a dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid, that provides virtual impunity for Israelis who commit crimes against Palestinians, while criminalizing Palestinian presence and resistance. "

At the bottom of this op-ed, we are told: "Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian." Needless to say, we are not told what is reported by The Jewish Virtual Library:

"On May 20, 2004, the Tel Aviv District Court convicted Barghouti of three terror attacks in which five Israelis were murdered, and also of attempted murder, membership in a terror organization and conspiring to commit a crime. He was acquitted of 33 other murders with which he was charged, because of a lack of evidence. On June 6, 2004, Barghouti was sentenced to five consecutive life terms and 40 years.

The court said in its verdict that 'Barghouti was responsible for providing the field units with money and arms….' The judges said that the attacks were sometimes 'based on instructions' from Yasser Arafat.

The court found Barghouti responsible for a June 2001 attack in Maale Adumim, in which a Greek monk was murdered, a January 2002 terror attack on a gas station in Givat Zeev, a March 2002 attack at Tel Aviv's Seafood Market restaurant, in which three people were murdered, and a car bomb attack in Jerusalem."

Barghouti is the innocent victim of Israel's apartheid justice system? Yeah, right.

On the masthead of The New York Times, we are told "Truth. It has no alternative." Perhaps this is true, except as it relates to the unrelenting campaign of the Times to smear Israel. I can only wonder if the Times would provide op-ed space to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, together with his brother, perpetrated the infamous Boston Marathon Bombing...


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Nicholas Kristof, "President Carter, Am I a Christian?": Coffee in Hell With Gandhi

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "President Carter, Am I a Christian?," Nicholas Kristof tells us of a recent "email conversation" with Jimmy Carter. (Which of these two Israel bashers do I despise more?) Kristof asked the former president:

"One of my problems with evangelicalism is that it normally argues that one can be saved only through a personal relationship with Jesus, which seems to consign Gandhi to hell. Do you believe that?"

And Carter answered:

"I do not feel qualified to make a judgment. I am inclined to give him (or others) the benefit of any doubt."

Translation, I'm f*cked.

Which brings me to one of my favorite jokes: A man, who recently died, descends to hell and is met there by Satan. Satan says to the man, "We don't pretend that this is summer camp, but we like to provide choices to those who have come to spend eternity with us. As such, you can pick option number one..." Satan points at millions of hapless souls walking over searing hot coals. "Option number two..." Satan points at millions of sinners whose limbs are being torn apart on the rack. "Or option number three..." Satan points to a multitude of wrongdoers standing waste-deep in excrement and drinking coffee.

The new arrival thinks for a moment and declares, "The smell of that cesspit is overwhelming, but I do like to drink coffee."

"So be it," responds Satan. "A cup of coffee, please, for our friend."

An imp comes running over and pours a cup of coffee for the newcomer, who wades into the sea of sewage, whereupon an announcement is made over the intercom system: "Coffee break over, back on your heads."

Coffee? Yes, at least five cups each day. Mahatma, I'm on my way.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Thomas Friedman, "Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?": A Question for Tom

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Why Is Trump Fighting ISIS in Syria?," Thomas Friedman writes:

"This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia."

Friedman concludes:

"[W]here is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?"

"Barack Obama never played this card"? In fact, Obama folded even before the cards were dealt.

Iran is dirty, devious and without mercy? You don't say! But here's a quick question for you, Tom. Syria did not eliminate its stockpiles of chemical weapons as we were told by John Kerry, Susan Rice and Obama's other toadies. Do you really think Iran is playing by the rules and abiding by the terms of that other Obama legacy achievement, the unsigned nuclear deal?

Go ahead, Tom, card player that you are, give us the odds!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Larry Derfner, "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’": Hezbollah and Syria Are Not Crazy?

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel’s Next War Is Always ‘Inevitable’," Larry Derfner observes:

"Hezbollah and Syria are well and truly deterred, and if Israel were to simply let them be, they would have to be crazy to strike first."

Got it: Hezbollah and Syria (that is to say, what is left of Syria) are not crazy. It obviously doesn't matter to Derfner that Syria's Assad is a mass murderer and a war criminal willing to gas his own people, as per those hotbeds of right wing thinking, New Republic and The New Yorker.

It also doesn't matter if Hezbollah's head, Nasrallah, has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel in his rabidly anti-Semitic diatribes. After all, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me. (Now if only you could tell that to the Jews in Europe who refused to believe what Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf.) Moreover, a rational Nasrallah would of course never launch his 100,000+ missiles at Israel's ammonia plant in Haifa and its nuclear facility in Dimona, notwithstanding his threats to the contrary. And even if instructed to do so by his masters in Tehran, who are also sane, notwithstanding their savage persecution of Kurds, Sunni Muslims, Baha'is, Christians and homosexuals and calls to annihilate Israel, Nasrallah would refuse, notwithstanding the fact that he sent his fighters to be slaughtered in Syria's civil war at Iran's behest.

Yeah, right.

Larry Derfner? At the bottom of the Times op-ed we learn that "Larry Derfner, a journalist, is the author of the forthcoming memoir 'No Country for Jewish Liberals.'" No mention by the Times that Derfner was fired by The Jerusalem Post after writing in his blog in August 2011, following a terrorist attack outside of Eilat (my emphasis in red):

"But if, on the other hand, we were to say very forthrightly what many of us believe and the rest of us suspect – that the Palestinians, like every nation living under hostile rule, have the right to fight back, that their terrorism, especially in the face of a rejectionist Israeli government, is justified – what effect would that have? A powerful one, I think, because the truth is powerful. If those who oppose the occupation acknowledged publicly that it justifies Palestinian terrorism, then those who support the occupation would have to explain why it doesn’t. And that’s not easy for a nation that sanctifies the right to self-defense; a nation that elected Irgun leader Menachem Begin and Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir as prime minister.

But while I think the Palestinians have the right to use terrorism against us, I don’t want them to use it, I don’t want to see Israelis killed, and as an Israeli, I would do whatever was necessary to stop a Palestinian, oppressed or not, from killing one of my countrymen. (I also think Palestinian terrorism backfires, it turns people away from them and generates sympathy for Israel and the occupation, so I’m against terrorism on a practical level, too, but that’s besides the point.) The possibility that Israel’s enemies could use my or anybody else’s justification of terror for their campaign is a daunting one; I wouldn’t like to see this column quoted on a pro-Hamas website, and I realize it could happen."

Derfner subsequently removed the post and apologized, saying in part:

"My intention was to shock people into recognition, but I ended up shocking many of them into revulsion, and twisting what I wanted to say into something I didn’t and don’t mean at all."

All of which raises the question what it takes to get a guest opinion piece published by The New York Times. If you are Jewish, or better still Israeli, and write something horrible about Israel, does this increase your chances exponentially? As pointed out by Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and by others, it sure seems this way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Fed Opts for Suicide

Have a look at the US Debt Clock, which informs us that US national debt is just a hair under $20 trillion and growing by the second. US total debt now stands at more than $825,000 per family. Yup, that's unsustainable.

As reported by The New York Times in a lead article entitled "Trump Wants Faster Growth. The Fed Isn’t So Sure." by Binyamin Appelbaum:

"Mr. Trump and Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s chairwoman, appear to be headed toward a collision, albeit in slow motion. Mr. Trump has said repeatedly that he is determined to stimulate faster growth while the central bank, for its part, is indicating that it will seek to restrain any acceleration in economic activity.

On Wednesday, the Fed plans to make a first move in the direction of restraint. The central bank has all but announced that it will raise its benchmark interest rate at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of its policy-making committee."

Raise interest rates and slow the economy? Not a bad idea if national debt was significantly less than $20 trillion; however, given what it is, higher interest rates mean a slowing of US government income from taxation and higher amounts of interest to be paid on American debt, thereby compounding the problem.

Plain and simple, the Fed has opted for suicide.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Israel Says Dissenters Are Unwelcome": More Israel Bashing

I sent the following email to Liz Spayd, the public editor of The New York Times, today. Let's see if she responds.

Dear Ms. Spayd,

Editorial Headline: "Israel Says Dissenters Are Unwelcome"
Date Published: March 9, 2017

My Concern: This editorial already needed to be corrected on March 10 ("An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated the United States’ position on settlement building in the occupied territories. It has been highly critical of the activity, but has not consistent [sic] held it to be illegal."), which in and of itself is indicative of the Times's bias and further evidences the Times's preoccupation with and hostility to Israel.

More to the point, the editorial states:

"No doubt there are haters of Israel among B.D.S. supporters. But there are also many strong supporters of the Israeli state, including many American Jews, who ardently oppose the occupation of the West Bank and who boycott products of the Israeli settlements in occupied territories."

"Many strong supporters of the Israeli state" among B.D.S. supporters? Excuse me, but where are the facts to back up this claim?

And if there are haters of Israel among B.D.S. supporters, shouldn't the Times provide data explaining whether these "haters" compromise the majority or even an overwhelming majority of B.D.S. supporters/leaders?

And shouldn't the Times examine whether the B.D.S. movement has been known to publish falsehoods and disseminate grotesque anti-Semitic remarks?

And shouldn't the Times have noted that there has not been a new Israeli settlement in almost 20 years, and that whereas existing settlements have grown, territorial swaps involving existing settlements have been a principle underlying all negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel?

As reported by The Jerusalem Post on December 7, 2016:

"[Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union] likened BDS to the National Socialists who boycotted Jews in the 1930s. BDS dresses up antisemitism in the 'new clothes of the 21st century' as anti-Zionism, the party said.

'The German CDU declares with this motion its disapproval and rejection of every form of BDS activity and condemns these activities as antisemitic. The CDU will decisively oppose every hostile action that Israel faces. The CDU professes its deep friendship toward Israel and continues to work toward a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians,' the resolution read."

I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter, but first, as a favor, I would be extremely grateful if you might be willing to read the following article that I recently published, "New York Times Editorial, "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know": Look Who's Talking!"


Friday, February 17, 2017

New York Times Editorial, "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know": Look Who's Talking!

In an editorial entitled "Donald Trump’s Answer to Anti-Semitism? You Don’t Want to Know," The New York Times derides President Trump's response at a news conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a question concerning "the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States." The Times would have us know:

"For a normal American politician, the moment offered a perfect opportunity for a home run. Condemn the behavior and make a sincere pledge to do everything possible to stop it. There is no question that hate crimes and malicious speech have accelerated since the presidential campaign, with Jews among the prime targets. The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic talk in the United States has reached levels unseen since the 1930s. And there have been bomb threats against Jewish centers across the country."

Got it: The Trump presidential campaign is to blame for the heightened level of anti-Semitic talk in the US, and the Times is innocent of any involvement in the reawakening this horrifying phenomenon. Rubbish!

As Dr. Phyllis Chesler wrote in a July 2014 article entitled "Incitement to Genocide: How NY Times' Coverage and UN Complicity Breed Anti-Semitism":

"The twenty-first century coverage of Israel and Zionism in the paper of record far exceeds its twentieth century pattern of mere dismissal. In the last fourteen years—in the last year-- in article after article, photograph after photograph, and especially when Israel has been under attack, this paper has systematically put forth an Islamist and pro-Hamas agenda with malice aforethought. If not 'malice,' then the level of willful journalistic ignorance and blindness is hard to believe."

New York Times double standards involving Israel? As observed by CAMERA in 2014:

"We found that 6 out of 7 NYT editorials addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. Opinion columns by NYT staff followed the same pattern of condemning Israel: 5 out of 6 were negative toward Israel, while none were positive. As for invited Op-Eds on the topic, 15 out of 20 were negative toward Israel, while only one was positive."

You might also want to have another look at Ron Dermer's December 2011 letter to The New York Times, denouncing perpetual criticism of Israel by the Times:

"I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. After dividing the op-eds into two categories, 'positive' and 'negative,' with 'negative' meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were 'negative.'"

More evidence of anti-Semitism at the Times? Perhaps you recall New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's declaration:

"I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

Then there was Roger Cohen's New York Times op-ed "Obama in Netanyahu's Web," whose title was painfully in keeping with the anti-Semitic tradition of depicting Jews as voracious spiders. As Andrew Rosenthal, who was then editorial page editor of the Times, later acknowledged to me, this "was not a good headline."

In addition, let's not forget the retweet of a message by Nicholas Kristof, referring to AIPAC as one of "the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies" (see: "Nicholas Kristof Retweets "OBAMA Told the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies, AIPAC & NRA, to Drop Dead in Same Month": Is Kristof an Anti-Semite?"). We never received an explanation concerning this abomination from Nick, who soon thereafter took book-writing leave from the Times. Nicholas Kristof and anti-Semitism? You might want to have at look at my article entitled "Nicholas Kristof, Israel, and Double Standards" in The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism.

In this regard, the US Department of State writes (my emphasis in red):

EXAMPLES of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests itself with regard to the state of Israel, taking into account the overall context could include:

  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis

  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis

  • Blaming Israel for all inter-religious or political tensions

And as noted today, in an Algemeiner article entitled "New York Times Uses Antisemitic Imagery to Describe Israeli Academy" by Ira Stoll:

"The New York Times has an article about Beit El, a West Bank settlement that has been supported by David Friedman, who is President Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

'The yeshiva complex is a multitentacled enterprise,' the Times reports.

Tentacles? When the National Rifle Association’s magazine depicted Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York on its cover as an octopus, the Times described it in a headline as 'an Anti-Semitic Symbol,' noting, accurately, that “the image has been used in anti-Semitic propaganda, from the Nazis to the modern Arab world.” Now it is the Times portraying religious Jews in Israel using the same negative imagery."

Finally, let's also not forget the persistent willingness of New York Times "moderators" to permit the publication of vulgar expressions of anti-Semitism (see: "Why Is Antisemitism Permitted in Online Comments "Moderated" by The Times? Open Letter No. 2 to Clark Hoyt, Public Editor of The New York Times").

Bottom line: Left-wing anti-Semitism is no better than right-wing anti-Semitism, and the Times indeed helped lay the groundwork for the current groundswell of anti-Semitism in America.