Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tonight I’m Gonna Party Like It’s 19[3]9

“The sky was all purpleThere were people runnin’ everywhere Oops out of time,Tryin’ to run from the destructionYou know I didn’t even care…So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 19[3]9.”–Prince, “1999” 
I have been working hard to explain to people that Iran’s nuclear weapons are not the major threat to Israel. It is obvious.

The problem is that after almost a century, Israel is not just the object of genocide by the Arabs but by many Iranian, Turkish, and newly European and North American Muslims. It is truly awesome how few politically active would-be peacemakers among Arabs and Middle Eastern Muslims there are.
Given Secretary of State Haman the Agagite, it is unfortunate that there is no King Ahasuerus.
Of course some of this, especially in the West, is due to the phony two-state or at least two-stage-to-extinction solution.
I should mention this was not just a knee-jerk conclusion on my part but one reached over the course of 45 years.
Of course, we can always hope for a Queen Esther who, in answer to the king’s “where is the man who has dared to do such a thing?” could reply, “The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman.”
Somehow, I don’t think Michelle would play such a role.
Note two ignored points on Iranian nuclear weapons, which show the focus is ridiculous:
  1. Why use nuclear weapons when you believe you will win by conventional means and while you make billions to shore up the Tehran regime so effectively in the short-run?
  2. Iran’s nuclear effort is ironically a defensive strategy to neutralize any possible Israeli nuclear option or an Israeli attack on Iran.
This is a massive misdirection — get it?
Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East 
Let’s see. Can you imagine this misdirected “detail”? Simply: the almost decades-old effort to destroy Israel.
1929: Hebron massacre of Jews. No Arabs massacred.
1937-1939: Arabs fight war against British mandate of Palestine including terrorist assassinations.
1939: Jordan and Egypt are inclined to prevent Israel by diplomatic means but the Palestinian Arabs, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq want violence.
1939: Saudi Arabia secretly negotiates weapons purchase for the Palestinian Arabs from Nazi Germany.
1939: Muslim Brotherhood subsidized by Nazi Germany. Seventy-five years later, the grandson of the head of the Brotherhood and the son of the Palestinian European leader were permitted by the New York Times, without contradiction, to write that the Brotherhood believed in parliamentary democracy and was pro-British during the war. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood and the Arab-Palestinian leadership from Berlin were advocating massacres of the Jews in Egypt, and the government was providing maps of British fortification to the German army.
1941: The Palestinians’ Arab leadership asks for a safe haven in Berlin. For the next four years, this leadership organizes thousands of German Nazi troops and SS imams, advises the German government, sends delegations to concentration camps with an eye on setting up death camps throughout the Middle East, etc.
1941: Massacre of Jews in Baghdad; revolt by radical Iraq’s Nazi ally put down.
1948: Refusal of UN partition giving a Palestinian Arab state.
1955: Soviet-Egyptian alliance.
1956: Suez War: Israel pressed to pull back by U.S. victory but gets nothing.
1967: Israel attains victory.
1967: 1970 War of Attrition.
1970: Arab summit–no recognition of Israel, no negotiations, no peace.
1970-1982: Decades of terrorism; the murder of any Israeli in reach; yet relatively little retaliation. And there was the assassination of almost every Arab leader willing to make peace with Israel.
1973: War.
2000: Refusal of UN partition to receive a Palestinian Arab state.
Okay, why go on?
Now consider today. Well, it’s the same thing. It is obvious that despite the thinnest veneer, it is pretty much the same thing as 1929, 1941, 1948, 1979, 2000-2004, etc. That is a terrible and sobering situation, but it is true. Maybe not inevitable, but it is based on leadership. Remember Iran (34 years) and Turkey (about 12 years) are relatively new additions to existential conflict with Israel.
When asked by a recent poll if Israeli-PA negotiations would ever lead to peace, 25 percent of Jewish Israelis said yes, while 73 percent of them said no. Remember, many of those Jews who were against still–or used to–vote for the left. It is angering that Israel and PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s “hard line” are being blamed for this, but it should be obvious that the conflict will not end.
In the meantime, Iran is getting nuclear weapons while Israel is getting nothing but insults from Kerry as the–wait for it–“bad” guy after 65 years. He is unintentionally encouraging murders (two of four Israeli soldiers killed in two weeks were not killed in the territories–one was killed while visiting what he thought was an Arab “friend” and another while sleeping on a bus bench).
Or as former U.S. Secretary of State Shultz explains what is really happening: Iranians will “cut your throat.” He is really encouraging this Iranian throat-cutting.
But no doubt Kerry knows better. On Palestinian television (which incidentally is under protest for censorship by Palestinian journalists who have at times been arrested), he stated,
Failure of the talks will increase Israel’s isolation in the world. The alternative to getting back to the talks is a potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada? I believe that if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel.
Two intifadas? Is he going to do something about this if there is a third intifada? Is Kerry going to protect Israel? Because there will be cross-border attacks, and they will only be covered in one-paragraph shorts, while any photos will be of Palestinian terrorists’ grieving families.
So what is Iran doing in the meanwhile? Here are some public statements by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
First, Israel is “the rabid dog” of the region. Iranian leaders have also said that Israel wants genocide against all Muslims. In fact, antisemitism is justified on the basis of the Koran by Iranian leaders. Iran says that everybody in the Middle East wants to destroy Israel.
But here is the tip-off: “Zionist officials cannot be called humans, they are like animals… The Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.”
Wait, there’s more. Here is Khamenei’s analysis of U.S. positions. He accused Western officials of “kneeling before the Israeli regime.” Moreover, he said, “The government of the United States of America is on the top of the arrogance in the world.” (The audience repeatedly chants: “Death to America.”)
And he continues, “We fight against the arrogance. Arrogance is a word in the Koran. It is used in the Koran for people like Pharaoh, malevolent groups which are hostile to truth and righteousness….” I think that pharaoh ended up being drowned in the sea. I don’t think that there is any good intention for the U.S. here, even though it is going to stop sanctions worth billions of dollars to Iran, and enable them to develop nuclear weapons.
Last, he stated that the,
Zionist regime is doomed to oblivion. The Zionist regime is an imposed regime which is formed by force. None of the formations or creatures which are formed by force is durable, and neither is this one….Unfortunately, some European countries cringe before this creature which is not worthy of the name of a human being, before these leaders of the Zionist regime, who look like beasts and who cannot be called human.
Sounds like he wants peace to me!
But who cannot be called human? Where have we heard that before? Say, Nazi propaganda? Didn’t end well then.
Any by the way, the Obama administration did not condemn these vicious anti-Israel statements nor did it alter any policy because of them.
Holocaust? Yawn!
Meanwhile, the U.S. policy has also hardened Palestinian Arabs’ lines, as shown in statements by leaders. In turn, the Palestinian Arabs have hardened their policy, insulting the United States. Recently, there was a situation in which a Georgetown University session ditched a Nazi speaker but still featured a Nazi professor who denied that bin Ladin had played a role in September 11.
And moreover, Professor Rima Najjar posted on her Facebook page: “What Brandeis University does not understand: Palestinian armed resistance to Zionist colonization is a path to liberation.” Brandeis University suspended its partnership with al-Quds University after the West Bank University had a rally that was meant to honor the martyrs of Islamic Jihad, in which the symbol of Israel, the Star of David, was symbolically stepped on by all demonstrators.
Well, what do you think has been happening for almost 90 years?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Profiles in Courage

There is something very strange about the political situation. You can call it a failure of "Profiles In Courage."  Profiles In Courage was a book that people think was written by President John F. Kennedy, but in fact was written by Professor Jules Davids. Professor Davids, who was my dissertation advisor, was a wonderful man. I'm always irritated that he is not given the credit for what Kennedy pretended to write. Profiles In Courage is a book about the heroism shown by senators who took an unpopular position and even went against what was popular or partisan politically because they knew it was right–for example, the people who voted against the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson after the Civil War, because they knew it was the right thing to do (1868).

What is shocking is that there are so few profiles-in-courage moments at present. In other words, in other words, the judgemetn of a statement is not whether its true but whether it serves indoctrination. Just think of how many Democrats are willing to publicly contradict Obama; how many people have rethought their assumptions; how many journalists are willing to report the truth, even if it is in contradiction of ideology. Just think how few people are even willing to prepare a balanced course for teaching or non-slanted teaching. How many New York Times stories are non-biased?

It seems, I believe, that only 1% of the “Progressive” elite are doing this professional job. Also consider how few people are willing to contradict the cowardly leadership of the Republican Party, even though they must understand that it is only opportunism and careerism that make them follow the current leadership. This cowardice and dereliction of duty–by those who know that there's something wrong here–is calling public decency and democracy into question. That institutions are pretty broken, that money is being wasted, that lies are being told, that Obamacare is very dangerous, is often simply ignored. I am ashamed and shocked by this failure of the journalistic and academic system.

Blumenthal: Slanderer of Israel, Son of Hillary Clinton’s Former Aide

Max Blumenthal, whose father, Sidney Blumenthal, served as an aide to Bill Clinton and was part of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, has authored a book that can only be called anti-Semitic. It has been promoted by the Nation and other radicals in a campaign of false domination that is a fantasy. If it hadn’t been written by a “Jew,” it would be judged “neo-Nazi.”

By the way, I think it is significant that the last time I had a meeting with Blumenthal’s father, he was then a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton. Also, the last time I had lunch with him was with… Wolf Blitzer. Don’t forget these connections.

I wonder whether his “anti-Semitic” training affected him in the heart of the Hillary Clinton camp.

How U.S Policy Is Betraying Not Only Israel, but also Sunni Arabs

In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long-run. But it wasn’t. In 1967, there was hope that the magnitude of Israeli victory meant that the Arabs would eventually come to terms (Egypt and Jordan did in a way, although the final word has not been written). In 1982, people believed that the conflict could still be solved, but it wasn’t. And finally, during the negotiations from 1993-2000, there were renewed hopes that the conflict would be resolved. It wasn’t.

Today, the conflict is even further from being resolved, especially with the entry of Iran, Islamism, and the radical government in Turkey. Maybe it is time to conclude the Arab-Israeli conflict will never be resolved.
There have since been at least three more examples following the same pattern. The first is obviously Iran, its nuclear intentions, its trickery, and its desire to dominate the region.

But that's not all; consider what the U.S. has done to Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. It is probable that Iran is going to give Syria a victory in the civil war. The fact is that Iran, Hizballah, and the Syrian government are on one side, and Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have been on the other side. But now, in essence, the U.S. has objectively sided with Iran, and that is one of the reasons that the Saudis are angry. Here is what the Saudi ambassador to England, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, said:

"Appeasement hasn't worked in the past, and I don't think it will work in the 21st century," he was quoted as saying. "That is why the frustration really is toward the main players within the United Nations Security Council, that's their responsibility. And they will share also the blame, whatever deal comes out, they are responsible for it."

The statement from the Saudi ambassador to London also expressed in his Times of London interview an unusually abrasive criticism of the West for what he said was a too-soft approach toward Iran, calling Washington's "rush" to engage with Tehran "incomprehensible."

A senior Saudi diplomat issued a rare direct threat to Iran, warning that "all options are available" should the international community fail to rein in Iran's alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons.

This statement could easily come out of the mouth of an Israeli politician. It is amusing that with this parallelism to Israel's viewpoint, the senior diplomat had to deny that he saw something in common with Israel. In other words, Saudi Arabia feels that it has been betrayed by the United States, and will respond to that betrayal.

Then there is Egypt. Let's review American behavior. Two years ago, the United States basically helped and celebrated a Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory. Every anti-Islamist knows this. When the Egyptian military coup happened a year later, the U.S. opposed it. In other words, if the Muslim Brotherhood had won and crushed freedom by staying in office, it would be have been backed by the United States, but since there was a coup, the election was stolen.[1]

Doesn't everyone in Egypt know that if the coup had not taken place, the U.S. would have the supported the Muslim Brotherhood government? Don't the Egyptians know that the United States would be willing to sell Egypt into Islamic fundamentalist slavery? Would anyone believe the United States would protect any of its other allies?

But suddenly, the U.S. turned around and Kerry actually said that the Muslim Brotherhood had "stolen" the revolution.[2] And that is why the Egyptians are turning toward Russia today and do not trust the U.S. Frankly you would think that the Obama administration wants to sabotage U.S. Middle-East policy.
By the way, the Egyptians were so angered by their perception of Turkey cuddling up to Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, that they threw out the Turkish ambassador.

[1] Catherine Chomiak, "Kerry: Egyptian Revolution 'Stolen' by Muslim Brotherhood," NBC News, November 20, 2013,

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Point of No Return: Clearly the Obama Administration Won’t Ever Do Anything Serious Against Iran’s Nuclear Program

*David Gerstman has kindly sent this three-year-old article to me, which is still relevant today.

We must now face an extremely unpleasant truth: even giving the Obama Administration every possible break regarding its Iran policy, it is now clear that the U.S. government isn't going to take strong action on the nuclear weapons issue. 

Note that I didn't even say "effective" action, that is, measures which would force Iran to back down. I’m neither advocating nor do I think there was ever any possibility that the United States, even under Obama’s predecessor, might take military action.

I'm saying that they aren't even going to make a good show of trying seriously to do anything at all.
Some say that the administration has secretly or implicitly accepted the idea that Iran will get nuclear weapons and is now seeking some longer-term containment policy. I doubt that has happened. They are just not even this close to reality.

From their behavior they still seem to expect, incredibly, that some kind of deal is possible with Tehran despite everything that has happened. Then, too, they may hope that the opposition—unaided by America–will overthrow the Iranian government and thus solve the problem for them. And they are too fixated on short-term games about seeking consensus among other powers two of which–China and Russia–are clearly not going to agree to do anything serious. This fact was clear many months ago, but the administration still doesn’t recognize it.

Not only is the Obama administration failing the test, but it is doing so in a way that seems to maximize the loss of U.S. credibility in the region and the world. A lot of this comes from the administration's philosophy, almost unprecedented concepts of guilt, apology, defeatism, and refusal to take leadership never seen before among past liberal Democratic governments from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton.

Yet the British, French, and Germans are ready to get tough on Iran, yearning for leadership, and not getting it.

All of this is watered down in media coverage, focused on day-to-day developments; swallowing many of the administration's excuses plus its endlessly repeated rhetoric that action is on the way. When the history of this absurdly failed effort is written the story will be a shocking one, the absurdity of policy obvious.

It was totally predictable that the Iranian government would not make a deal. It was totally predictable that Russia and China weren’t going to go along with higher sanctions. It was totally predictable that a failure by the United States to take leadership and instead depend on consensus would lead to paralysis. And it is totally predictable that a bungled diplomatic effort will produce an even more aggressive Iranian policy along with crisis and violence.

First, the administration set a September 2009 deadline for instituting higher sanctions and then, instead of following a two-track strategy of engagement plus pressure, postponed doing anything while engaged in talks with Iran.

Second, it refused to take advantage of the regime's international unpopularity and growing opposition demonstrations due to the stolen election. On the contrary, it assured the Iranian regime it would not do so.

Third, the administration set a December 2009 deadline if engagement failed, then refused to recognize it had failed and did nothing. It is the failure even to try to meet this time limit by implementing some credible action that has crossed the line, triggered the point of no return.

Fourth, the U.S. government kept pretending that it was somehow convincing the Chinese and Russians to participate while there was never any chance of this happening. Indeed, this was clear from statements repeatedly made by leaders of both countries. Now, this duo has sabotaged the process without any cost inflicted by the United States while making clear they will continue doing so.

Here is something tremendously ironic: The British, French, and Germans want to act. Obama has the consensus among allies that he says is required. But he’s letting himself be held back by China and Russia. 

The three European allies now have the opposite problem they felt with Bush. They wanted to pull back the previous American president. Now with Obama, they can’t drag this guy forward!

Fifth, high-ranking U.S. officials continually speak of their unending eagerness to engage Iran, begging it to fool them with more delays. But Tehran doesn’t have to do so since the same officials speak of at least six months more discussion before anything is done about sanctions.

Sixth, the administration now defines sanctions as overwhelmingly focused on the Revolutionary Guards, which it cannot hurt economically, thus signaling to the Iranian regime that it will do nothing effective to damage the country's economy. This means that even if sanctions are increased, they will be toothless. The White House ignored the face-saving way out given it by Congress, where the vast majority of Democrats supported an embargo on refined fuel supplies and other doable measures.

All of these steps tell Iran's regime: full speed ahead on building nuclear weapons; repress your opponents brutally, and the United States will do nothing. It isn’t a good thing when the world’s most dangerous dictator is laughing at you, and your friends in the region are trembling because they have been let down.

After these six failures, the United States is now–in effect–resting. And that is the seventh failure. There are no signs that anything is changing in Washington. To believe that the administration has learned anything from experience, we would have to see the following:

An angry U.S. government that feels Iran's regime made it seem a sucker. A calculating administration that believes the American people want it to get tough, and thus it would gain politically from being seen as decisive. A great power strategy that it would make an example of Iran to show what happens to repressive dictators who defy the United States and spit on its friends and interests. And a diplomatically astute leadership that understands how threats and pressure must be used even by those who want to force an opponent into a compromise deal.

There is not the slightest indication that the Obama administration holds any of these views. On the contrary, without any apparent realization of the absurdity of the situation, high-ranking officials keep repeating in January 2010 as in January 2009 that some day the United States might do something to put pressure on Iran. Perhaps those in the administration who do understand what's wrong don't have the influence to affect the policy being set in the White House.

At a minimum, the administration should implement the tough sanctions envisioned by Congress and supported by its European allies, an attempt to cut off the maximum amount of fuel supplies, loans, and trade from Iran. If this hurts average Iranians, it also sends the signal that the current regime is unacceptable and aids the opposition. In diplomatic history, this is how sanctions have always been viewed.

Instead, while the United States does nothing, Russia is completing Iran’s Bushire nuclear reactor and China is finishing up a massive oil refinery in Iran. While Obama fiddles, the regime is getting stronger, not more isolated.

This sad debacle is going to be a case study of how failing to deal with a problem sooner, even if that requires some diplomatic confrontations, will lead to a much bigger and costlier conflict later involving military confrontations.

When I read what I wrote back in September 2009–four months before the article you are reading now was written–I find that every point made has proven true.

Obama vs. Lincoln at Gettysburg

Unless a civilization or country has continuity, it cannot exist. And that goes for America, too.

For example, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and honest elections must define America. Immigrants and new generations must be trained in this system:

This is the basis of America and democratic government. If the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were defining moments of America, the second defining moment was the Civil War.

Think of that! The first war to end slavery and one where tens of thousands of people–few of them slaves themselves–fought, were wounded, or died to battle it, at the risk of national survival. Now that's inspiring! (Of course the war wasn’t only for that cause, but it wouldn't have happened without it.)

This month, President Barack Obama did not go live to Gettysburg. Perhaps, he had a golf game or some banquet to attend, or some accusation of racism to level. But, in fact, the trip would have been incredibly convenient. He even could have dropped by the Camp David presidential resort. All he had to do was travel a short distance to Frederick, Maryland, and drive north to Gettysburg.

I cannot tell you how upset and angry this has made me. Obama could have claimed this was a natural act to sell his agenda. For example, he could talk about racism that is at the heart of America, he claims. But there is a curiosity here, because in fact, if Obama had given this address, he would have actually proven the contrary: that America's history proved the opposite, that this was a central act to oppose racism, that it was risky but it would be worthwhile to wager the whole nation on this outcome.

In other words, he would have shown that America was an anti-racist country and the first country that had a civil war to end slavery.

If he had gone to Gettysburg, he would have needed to show the theme that America was against racism implicitly. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they were endowed by their Creator by certain inalienable right, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." But he wanted to hint that America's essence was pro-slavery.

Second, he wanted to reject the interpretation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and to substitute this with the regulation, dependence, and the definition of others' idea of happiness.

My ancestors did not arrive in the United States until after the Civil War. Still, I understand this centrality, just as I understand the Revolution, Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. It seems Obama does not understand these things.

And incidentally, if center-stage commemoration of the Civil War does not exist today, will, for example, World War II–the victory over Nazism–be commemorated in future decades? I think that this is highly symbolic.

It is time to call this the first officially atheistic regime in history. Note that in his Gettysburg Address speech (and in other speeches), Obama omitted the phrase “under God” from the quotes.

If a president can censor the Gettysburg Address or the Declaration of Independence, what else can he censor? Perhaps he can censor that “everybody will be able to keep their insurance policies.”
May I point out that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, and Obama may have an interest in that.

But then I assume that he wants to imply that the slaves were never freed and that racism in fact forever persists.

"But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." –Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Monday, November 11, 2013

Israel: The Impudence Accompanying Betrayal

I've always been amazed that anyone thought the United States would ever act against the Iranian nuclear threat. There was never any chance that such a thing would happen. The United States would never go to war with tens of millions of people.

Moreover, there was never any chance the United States would let Israel "attack" Iran.

In a Huffington Post article by Steven Strauss, the author quotes Netanyahu:

"'I believe that we can now say that Israel has reached childhood’s end, that it has matured enough to begin approaching a state of self-reliance… We are going to achieve economic independence [from the United States].' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a Joint Session of the United States Congress – Washington D.C., July 10, 1996 (Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs)."

Unfortunately, today, almost 20 years later, this is not a fair statement to quote. Strauss continues: "In 1997, Israel received $3.1 billion in aid from the U.S. In 2012, Israel was still receiving $3.1 billion annually in U.S. aid."

This, however, is not an appropriate comparison today. Let us look at the current situation: Egypt will receive $2 billion in U.S. aid; Saudi Arabia will receive military aid as well as the anti-Asad Syrian rebels; Turkey will receive billions of dollars and probably military equipment. Moreover, the United States and Europe will also reach out to Iran, and Hizballah and Syria will receive aid from Iran. In addition, the Palestinians have not made the least bit of commitment on a two-state solution. In other words, only Israel would lose. And this is the childhood's end?

Strauss further notes, "Israel has become an affluent and developed country that can afford to pay for its own defense." But the point is that other hostile countries will be receiving more while Israel will get the same amount.

He continues, "… Israel has a well developed economy in other ways." But again, Israel will be placed at much more of a disadvantage.

The article's claim, "Other countries/programs could better use this aid money," does not state the reality.

"Even domestically, the aid that goes to Israel could be useful. Detroit is bankrupt, and our Congress is cutting back on food stamps, and making other painful budget cuts." Again, the United States does not face an immediate threat from its neighbors, while Israel does. Moreover, this is shockingly implying that Israel is stealing money from poor people in the United States.

In other words, this is not equivalent.

"Israel and the United States have increasingly different visions about the future of the Middle East." But again, so what? This is absolutely irrelevant.

"A major (bipartisan) goal of the United States has been the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Once again, this is a policy that is impossible, but the United States is going to try to force it on Israel anyway.

Note that the less security the United States and the West provide to Israel, the more difficult it makes it to secure or promote a desirable two-state solution. Strauss adds, "However, the current Israeli government is clearly not committed to the U.S. vision, and has done everything possible to sabotage American efforts."

The problem with this last point is that the Palestinians have always tried to sabotage this. If this concept hasn't gotten across in a quarter century, I can't imagine when it will get across.

The current Israeli government has tried for many years to achieve a two-state solution and has made many concessions. And if Kerry can't take Israel's side on this issue, then I can't imagine how decades of U.S. policy has been carried out. To say that the Israeli government is not committed is a fully hostile statement. 

This claims Israeli settlement and not Palestinian intransigence has blocked the peace process.

Note that the author of this article has "distinguished" credentials: "Steven Strauss is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government."

Yet if this is what the U.S. government understands, it will end badly. Moreover, the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons is not the important point; rather, it is the transformation of the U.S. Middle East position that is significant. I do not believe there is any chance Iran will use nuclear weapons. The problem is that this is reversal of the U.S. policy. In other words, it is like going back to 1948 and opposing partition.

Finally, what this is all about is money and greed. Many European countries are drooling about the money to be made. For example, Vittorio Da Rold writes (Il Sole 24 ore), "Italian SMEs are hoping for a rapid agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue in order to return as soon as possible to trade without limits with Tehran and the rich Iranian market in hopes of finding new markets in a time when the European market flirts with deflation."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

During the 1930s and 1940s, a unique and lasting political alliance was forged among Third Reich leaders, Arab nationalists, and Muslim religious authorities. From this relationship sprang a series of dramatic events that, despite their profound impact on the course of World War II, remained  secret until now. In this groundbreaking book, esteemed Middle East scholars Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwanitz uncover for the first time the complete story of this dangerous alliance and explore its continuing impact on Arab politics in the twenty-first century.   Rubin and Schwanitz reveal, for example, the full scope of Palestinian leader Amin al-Husaini's support of Hitler's genocidal plans against European and Middle Eastern Jews. In addition, they expose the extent of Germany's long-term promotion of Islamism and jihad. Drawing on unprecedented research in European, American, and Middle East archives, many recently opened and never before written about, the authors offer new insight on the intertwined development of Nazism and Islamism and its impact on the modern Middle East.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Interdisciplinary Center, Israel. He is the author of many books and publishes frequently on Middle East topics. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Middle East historian Wolfgang G. Schwanitz is visiting professor at the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Interdisciplinary Center, Israel, and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum of Pennsylvania. He lives in New Jersey.

Published by Yale University Press. Available February 25, 2014. Pre-order here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Letter from the Students for Justice in Palestine (among others)

A Letter from the Students for Justice in Palestine (among others)

Several students from Students for Justice in Palestine have just written a letter to the university newspaper. They asked why Jewish students on campus weren't open to a more moderate pro-two-state solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I will tell you the secret of why that is.

First of all, Israel has a great deal of experience, in fact, repeat experience for 50 years. Israel had many experiences that prove that the Palestinian leadership and the great majority of Palestinians are not interested in a long-term two-state solution. This is both in terms of Hamas and in terms of the Palestinian Authority. There have been tens of thousands of cases that show that both organizations want to destroy Israel.

True, Israel often wanted to give them a chance–indeed, from 1983 to 1993, it certainly tried. I remember clearly on the day the Oslo agreement was signed, I reached out to shake the hand of a Fatah official, who (even then) reluctantly accepted. Three years later, I stood on the street corner watching ambulances race to the scene of a bus terrorist attack, which was not condemned by the PA. In fact, out of many thousands of articles, I can only remember one when a PA official, a military commander, explained why terrorism was really bad for the PA.

Once at a private dinner with a PA official (who later became a PA foreign minister), he said Arafat was stupid for not agreeing to a compromise two-state solution.

Again, even many liberal and left-of -center Israelis know that peace and a two-state solution are not going to happen, at least not without a major ongoing strategic threat to Israel and also terrorism.

Certainly there are those individuals and groups open to peace with Israel, but these are mostly Turks, Kurds, Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians, Iranians, North African Arabs, Berbers, some Christian Arabs, and Druze.

In addition, Israel has not been given real security by the UN and Europe and most recently the United States. It has no reason to feel secure even in the furthest extent of concessions that Israel can afford to make.

Even if one is sincere, it appears there is no comprehension of what conditions Israel is facing nor of the hostility to ever accept Israel. This shows a lack of understanding of the structural situation. There is no concept or understanding of the situation, nor is any informed advice offered, yet such people want to risk the lives of Israelis.

This is ludicrous. Maybe one will come to understand in the future how ridiculous this is or perhaps this is known already.

If you would like to see into the future, here is what I predict:

  1. Hamas will continue the violent conflict and stage as many episodes of violence as possible, even if a future state of Palestine doesn’t want to. Hamas will commit terrorist acts, and the government of Palestine will not do much to stop this or punish them.
  2. Whenever a future Palestinian state indulges in violence, it will do so with state support. If Fatah or other government coalition groups engage in terrorism, it the state will usually do nothing to stop it and will deny it.
  3. The West and Europe will usually ignore violence because they want to pretend and suggest the peace process really worked.

It is unfortunately that this is true since the overwhelming majority of Israelis would prefer to have peace.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why Most of the Mass Media Can’t Report Honestly on Israel—or Other Middle East Issues

Why Most of the Mass Media Can't Report Honestly on Israel—or Other Middle East Issues

I was actually astonished at how this column was even more valid than it was when it was first written. See if you agree:

Underlying any other factor regarding attitudes toward Israel in the Media-University-Government (MUG) complex  is the programmatic and ideological problem faced in honestly understanding and explaining Israel's behavior.

To report truthfully would require comprehending and communicating the following two paragraphs:

 –Most Israelis believe, on the basis of their experience during the 1990s' Oslo era and with the "peace process" generally, that Palestinian leaders cannot and will not make peace, and that most Arabs and Muslims still want to destroy Israel. As a result, they explain, past Israeli concessions have made Israel's situation worse, risks to show that Israel wants peace have not persuaded onlookers, withdrawals from territory have only led to that territory being used to launch attacks on Israel. 

–In justifying their stance, Israelis cite the extremism of Iran; the advances of Hamas and Hizballah; the growing radicalism and Islamist influence in the Egyptian revolution, and other such factors. In addition, they worry that the Obama Administration policy is undermining Israel and enabling a growing extremism in the region. This is a prevailing viewpoint across the political spectrum.

I could have chosen to make additional points but this shows the main factors. Since the Israeli argument is so cogent and backed by facts and observable realities, it would be dangerously persuasive to those who  actually get to hear it. 

Instead, the muggers of MUG must insist:

–Peace would be easily and quickly obtained if not for Israel's policies.

–Settlements and not Arab/Muslim positions are the factor preventing peace, even though it could be pointed out that if the Palestinians made peace all the settlements on their territory would be removed.

–If Israel only had a different government the peace process would rapidly advance.

–Obama and his supporters want to save Israel in spite of itself and they, not Israel' own leadership, knows what's best for the country.

–Israelis "know" that Obama is right which is why public opinion polls, statements, and evidence to the contrary is suppressed or spun away. American Jews can support anti-Israel policies in the firm belief that they are really "pro-Israel" policies.

–They have only replaced demonizing the "other" with romanticizing the "other." Never underestimate the importance of ignorance or of its common form—believing that other people think and act just like themselves. The "great experts" really know very little about the issues. (I could give you a long and amusing list on that point.)

–It is far more pleasant to believe that conflict can be made to disappear, hatreds quenched. If they are all our fault than we can easily fix them.

(No sooner did I write this that up pops a great example of the genre! It's all Israel's fault, Netanyahu never showed he wanted peace, blah, blah, blah.)

Or, in short, "Why do they hate us?" because we've behaved so badly but we can fix it by behaving properly.

Consequently, the systematic misrepresentation isn't because these people are mean or that they hate Israel as such (well, actually, a lot of academics but relatively few journalists or government officials do) but because their worldview and political line–including 100 percent support for Obama–requires it.

Equally, their systematic view that revolutionary Islamism isn't a real threat but just a marginal movement of those who misunderstand Islam and want to hijack it, requires it. Equally, their systematic view that to portray certain peoples as hardline, intransigent, "irrational," etc., is a form of racism and Islamophobia.    
I constantly receive letters from Iranians, Turks, Lebanese, Egyptians, and Syrians about their despair at losing their country, being oppressed, or seeing so much bloodshed in their struggle for democracy and to avoid being crushed by Islamist or radical nationalist dictatorships.

Genuinely moderate Muslims in the West have similar complaints and experiences. One case that typifies many is of a courageous man who is shunned by the politicians, virtually barred from the two mosques in his small city, and sees those who threaten him being praised in the media and feted by local politicians.
These people often have similar symptoms. They are depressed, often close to tears, deeply frustrated, and bewildered. What makes their lot even more bitter is the lack of sympathy for the Western MUG that praises their enemies (and all of ours) at the same time. They, too, are victims of the same syndrome that Israel suffers from.  

One of the worst things in life is for someone to wake up and discover he's been supporting evil. Indeed, not only an evil in the abstract but forces and ideas that threaten his own freedom and happiness. A lot of people in the West have already woken up but many more need to do so.