Monday, December 31, 2012

The New Middle East is Passé

by Dror Eydar

After years at the center of various political storms, President Shimon Peres has entered the public's good graces and won their admiration in his role as president. That's all fine and good, but admiration does not excuse his colossal mistakes. 

Peres entered the Prime Minister's Office directly after Rabin's murder. Week after week he transferred another city to the Palestinian Authority. Then our buses started exploding. Dozens were killed in each attack. He gave them cities and they blew things up. About a year earlier, Benny Begin provided trustworthy information about Arafat's true intentions. Peres dismissed him. 

At Camp David, Ehud Barak offered too much, and Arafat proceeded to rain blood and fire on Israel. He never intended to end the conflict. Begin was right. But this was not sufficient proof for the Oslo gang and their blind followers in the media. 

Peres joined forces with Sharon, who caused the Likud to collapse and deceived its voters. Together they destroyed 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in Samaria. They promised that Gaza would turn into a mini-Singapore. Instead, we got a cross between Saudi Arabia and Iran and thousands of missiles fell on our heads. 

Let's review the promises of Peres and his wise men, how they correctly predicted events beginning with Oslo until the disengagement and how they silenced the protesters at their gates. Nor have we mentioned the far-sighted opposition to bombing the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 ...

So Peres "knows Abu Mazen" and "is aware of reality." And Abu Mazen for his part realizes a compromise must be reached on the Right of Return and that he will "not return to Safed."
Here's a reality check: Two days after being interviewed on Channel 2, Abu Mazen was quick to declare, in the Palestinian Authority's newspaper "Al-Hayat al-Jadida" that his position on Safed was personal, and that he has no intention of giving up on the Right of Return. "No one can give up on the Right of Return," he said. Peres was also aware that Olmert had made reckless offers to Abbas and that Abbas' response was to run away. 

Tzipi Livni was quick to declare that Peres has "told the public the truth." The truth is that 20 years is long enough to realize that no Palestinian leader has a mandate to sign on a conclusive end to the conflict. You have to be familiar with Palestinian culture — even within Fatah — to understand that they have no intention of coming to terms with our existence. These matters are explained at length on Itamar Marcus' Palestinian Media Watch website. I highly recommend that Peres' advisers peruse the site. 

In the same newspaper, Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina said that "a television interview is not the same as negotiations, and the purpose of the interview for Israeli television was to influence Israeli public opinion." Just like Peres' words on Sunday, three weeks before elections. As if 20 years hadn't passed, he still believes in a New Middle East. It's only the rest of us who have forgotten.

Dror Eydar


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Can America Still Lead the World?

by Abraham Ben-Zvi

While rumors of the impending doom of the American era are premature, signs of the erosion of the country's superpower status will continue to be apparent in the coming year. The long-term Chinese threat to America's military, economic and scientific hegemony won't become an imminent one in 2013, but there is an obvious contrast in the strategic conduct of the two main axes of the international system and this will continue to shape the actions of both countries in the next year.

While China continues to demonstrate assertiveness and belligerence in its part of the world, the U.S. is reducing its overseas commitments. It seems that after nearly a decade of exhausting military action in Iraq, the American pendulum has swung toward a focus on domestic affairs. At the same time, American eyes are looking at the approaching deadline for the U.S. military to end its presence in Afghanistan, as well as at other areas of violent crisis. The U.S. is expected to maintain a "low-profile" policy, characterized by extreme caution and an avoidance, as much as possible, of initiating military operations. 

Beyond economic constraints and U.S. President Barack Obama's desire to break the legacy of George W. Bush regarding the use of force, the issue of the problematic management of America's power will be prominent in 2013. This issue may overshadow American ability to flex its muscles in a world rich with complex and intertwined relationships and give greater leeway to other powers, including China and Russia. Essentially, the weakness of American leadership can be attributed to Obama's surroundings and it reflects a political and social situation rife with division. How can we expect the White House to manage defense and foreign affairs issues in an authoritative and effective manner at a time when the president is being forced to conduct marathon discussions with a recalcitrant House of Representatives as the danger of a grave economic crisis prompted by the fiscal cliff looms? 

Just like during the debt ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011, Obama is once again displaying complacency and indifference, as well as sluggish response skills. With Obama's ongoing inability to enlist a majority of the House of Representatives to pass basic legislative measures that are necessary to maintain the recovery process from the recent economic crisis, it will be difficult for the U.S. government to play a leading role in dealing with the other strategic challenges that await it. 

Obama is about to start his second term bruised and scarred from an exhausting battle (whatever the result may be) with his domestic rivals. Obama will find it very difficult to lead the global ship to safe shores, as it is being buffeted by violent storms (i.e., Syria), strategic threats (i.e., Iran) and severe economic crises (i.e., Europe). 

Abraham Ben-Zvi


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Deaths and Cocktail Parties

by Farid Ghadry

Here are today’s several headlines from Syria.
.. and here are the usual headlines we have been familiar with about the joyous times in the White House
Why the comparison?

To show the real Obama. The one who cares little about anything other than himself (The attitude).

The real Obama is the one that donated 6.5% to charity in 2008 on an income of $2,656,902. Prior to that he averaged 1% giving while still a State Senator..

Our President is a narcissist who cares only about himself.  He could deliver humanitarian aid to Syria, gas masks, allow thousands of Syrians to immigrate to the US, but he won’t.

He simply avoids Syria and avoids aid to our women and children dying needlessly.

We won’t let history give this President a free pass.  We shall not.

Farid Ghadry


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The Death of Liberal Zionism

by Ronn Torossian


Liberal Zionism may indeed need a coffin. Proof of this is best seen through the microcosm of two young, passionate, eloquent, and outspoken Jews who were born in the early 1970s — in 2012, they have challenged conventional norms on Israel.

American journalist Peter Beinart and Israeli politician Naftali Bennett are modern examples of two people who could not be further apart on their politics, nor on their influence. Beinart is an extremist liberal with fringe viewpoints and a small following; Bennett is a conventional conservative with a large and growing constituency.

Beinart’s book “The Crisis of Zionism” has been celebrated by the liberal media, yet the book has sold terribly. His argument that Jews are turned off because of the tension between liberalism and Zionism has been rejected by the Jewish community en masse.  Beinart continues to push a message of BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) as he stands with anti-Semites in advocating a boycott of those parts of Israel he deems to be “non-democratic.” While his fringe viewpoints are given widespread attention via the “Open Zion” blog at Newsweek/The Daily Beast his influence is restricted mainly to the media, as American Jewry has not accepted his viewpoints.  In Israel, the polls show the left being trounced in upcoming elections.

A 2012 UJA community survey found that 74% of all New York City’s Jewish children are Orthodox, and it shows that liberal Jews are having fewer children, and do not provide meaningful Jewish education.  They intermarry, assimilate and largely disappear as Jews.  Yet rather than deal with American Jewish assimilation which continues at upwards of 60 percent, Beinart says “the great American Jewish challenge of our age” is “saving liberal Zionism.” It is doubtful that Beinart can view the thriving Orthodox community as a breeding ground for liberal Zionism.

Israel, the “Start-Up Nation” that it has handily become and has brought so much to the world, certainly does not need an American Jew to save the failed policies of liberal Zionism. While Beinart foolishly claimed that “Jewish fortunes have radically changed,” he overlooked Hamas, Toulouse and the rampant hatred toward Jews throughout Europe.  That growing anti-Semitism has helped foment the increasingly right-wing philosophy of Zionism today.

Beinart was right about his concept of the “generational discord” which older Jewish leaders are unable to capture from the younger generations.  The new, young leader who has emerged is the furthest thing from liberal Zionism; religious Zionist Naftali Bennett.  He is a smart, eloquent 40 year old who formerly served as executive director of the settlement council. Bennett is a self-made multi-millionaire who leads the Jewish Home political party which is projected to be the third largest political party in the upcoming Israeli elections.

The face of success of Israel’s economic powerhouse, Bennett understands public relations and digital media, is media savvy and concerned about the importance of world Jewry. A political conservative, he is the son of American immigrants to Israel and cognizant of the new leadership which Jews worldwide need. Even as Prime Minister Netanyahu is labeled as “conservative” by worldwide media, the Prime Minister’s biggest challenge is from Bennett, who served as his chief of staff and is to the right of Netanyahu politically.

In sharp contrast to Beinart, Bennett understands that Israel is a self-sufficient country, and not a banana republic of the United States or any other nation. Bennett advocates that Israel annex Judea and Samaria. As he says, the world already refuses to recognize Jerusalem or the Golan Heights as Israel, and yet life in Israel goes on. A strong and secure Israel is the Jewish priority, and not the ever-elusive “peace”  which Bennett deems impossible in this (and our children’s) generation.

Unlike foolish Beinart who believes if the world boycotts Israeli “settlements”  everything will be dandy, Bennett realistically understands that the obstacles to peace for the Arabs and radical Islamists who control the regions surrounding Israel, is not merely Judea and Samaria, but rather Jews and the presence of the entire State of Israel.  Zionism today doesn’t delineate that Jews need to be victims, and a proud, active people are increasingly representative of that fact.

The next generation of Jewish leaders worldwide is made up of young people like Naftali Bennett, Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon, and others who spread the important message of a strong Israel.  In America, liberal Judaism is withering away with its disappearing population, and authentic Judaism grows. While extremists like Beinart and his liberal ilk attract media attention, good old fashioned Zionism grows and thrives.

Ronn Torossian


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Is World War II Still Being Fought?

by Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack


In 2007, President George W. Bush spoke at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. and was introduced by the mosque’s director; the latter had a history that included time spent as a representative of an organization that has enabled Al-Qaeda. This was also the same mosque at which Bush spoke six days after 9/11/01 with Nihad Awad – Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – at his side.

Before delving into the history of the Islamic Center of Washington of Washington, D.C., consider the Ground Zero mosque for a moment. It was named ‘Cordoba House’ and the name was changed as opposition to the mosque grew and people began to learn more about the symbolic significance of the initial word choice, which was a city in Spain.
Via Raymond Ibrahim at MEF:
…the Christian city was conquered by Muslims around 711, its inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved. The original mosque of Cordoba—the namesake of the Ground Zero mosque—was built atop, and partly from the materials of, a Christian church. Modern day Muslims are well aware of all this. Such is the true—and ominous—legacy of Cordoba.
More pointedly, throughout Islam’s history, whenever a region was conquered, one of the first signs of consolidation was/is the erection of a mosque atop the sacred sites of the vanquished: the pagan Ka’ba temple in Arabia was converted into Islam’s holiest site, the mosque of Mecca; the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, was built atop Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem; the Umayyad mosque was built atop the Church of St. John the Baptist; and the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque upon the conquest of Constantinople.
With that as a premise, shouldn’t Americans take a second look at the motivation behind the Islamic Center of Washington, DC? If Islamic fundamentalists were to follow the formula of their forefathers and wanted to construct a symbol of future conquest, wouldn’t they seek to do so at the heart of the Capital of the country that won the war?

Check out this excerpt from the history page of the mosque’s website:
The Foundation’s membership quickly grew to include representatives from every Islamic nation in the world and American citizens. They all supported the Foundation’s appeal for funds. They managed to raise enough money that enabled them to purchase the land that the Center sits on now on Washington’s “Embassy Row”. They purchased the land on April 30, 1946, and laid the cornerstone on January 11, 1949.
Take note of those two dates in bold.

Generally, when people think of the defeated axis of enemies in World War II, Japan, Italy, and Nazi Germany come to mind but the Nazis had an ally that was never defeated. In fact, that ally never stopped fighting; that ally was the Muslim Brotherhood.

Again, if one accepts the notion that symbolism in Islam is very important, consider the date the land was purchased. Adolf Hitler’s death occurred one year earlier, on April 30, 1945.
Via History Learning Site:
None of the bunker’s survivors heard the shot that killed Hitler. At 15.15 on April 30th, Bormann, Goebbels, Heinz Linge, Hitler’s valet, Otto Gunshce and Artur Axmann, Head of the Hitler Youth, entered Hitler’s sitting room. Gunsche and Linge wrapped the body of Hitler in a blanket and carried it to the Reich Chancellery garden.
Coincidence? Possibly.

How about January 11, 1949 – the date the cornerstone was laid. That date could be significant.

Tuesday 11 Raby` al-awal 1368 A.H. Laying the cornerstone on Jan 11, 1949 in the Islamic calendar is a day prior to the 12th day of Rabi-al-Awwal, which marks the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, but keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is 10 hours ahead of the United States. While it was the 11th in the United States, it was very possibly the 12th in Saudi Arabia.

On June 28, 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower was on-hand to dedicate the mosque. Click here for the video of a news report at the time.

During his speech, Eisenhower said the following:
The countries which have sponsored and built this Islamic Center have for centuries contributed to the building of civilization. With their traditions of learning and rich culture, the countries of Islam have added much to the advancement of mankind. Inspired by a sense of brotherhood, common to our innermost beliefs, we can here together reaffirm our determination to secure the foundations of a just and lasting peace.
“Brotherhood” is indeed an interesting word choice. Eisenhower ended his speech thusly:
Our country has long enjoyed a strong bond of friendship with the Islamic nations. .  .  . Under the American Constitution, .  .  . this Center, this place of worship, is as welcome as could be any similar edifice of any religion. Indeed, America would fight with her whole strength for your right to have your own church and worship according to your own conscience. Without this, we would be something else than what we are.
Doesn’t the “conscience” of the Muslim “Brotherhood” involve destroying America from within?
Yes, it does.

President George W. Bush returned to the Washington, DC mosque for the RE-dedication ceremony in 2007, fifty years after Eisenhower did it originally. The man who introduced Bush in the clip below is the mosque’s director, Abdullah M. Khouj, who began his tenure there in 1984. According to the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Schwartz, Saudi officials took over the mosque in 1983 and Khouj was subsequently appointed. Khouj has been a representative for the Muslim World League (MWL):
Khouj represented the Muslim World League (MWL), founded in Saudi Arabia in 1962 as an international agency for the propagation of Wahhabism. In 2006, relief branches of the MWL in Southeast Asia would be designated by the U.S. Treasury as financing fronts for al Qaeda. In addition, Khouj was admitted to the United States as a diplomat, allegedly serving as an attaché at the Saudi Embassy, but actually dedicated to advancing the most radical interpretation of Islam in history.
The MWL is significant for many reasons but one such reason is its involvement as the umbrella organization for the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (IMMA). This is the same IMMA where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin, worked as an assistant editor for at least twelve years until leaving in 2009, to work for Clinton at the State Department. The man responsible for launching the IMMA was none other than Abdullah Omar Naseef, who was the Secretary General of the MWL when Khouj became the Director of the Washington mosque.

The Saudi Manifesto, reveals the MWL / IMMA connection:
“It [Muslim Minority Affairs] will work under the umbrella of the Muslim World League (MWL) and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) and World Association of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and others.”
Remember, Naseef also founded the Rabita Trust, an entity that was headed by Al-Qaeda founder Wael Hamza Julaidan and identified by the U.S. Treasury Department in October of 2001 as a terrorist organization. If Naseef was commissioned by the Saudi Royal family to found the IMMA, it would seem to indicate a willingness on the part of the Brotherhood and the Saudis to work together in some respects, the furthering of Islam in foreign lands, for example.

That’s what the IMMA is all about.

It’s important to remember that Khouj – the man who introduced Bush at the Washington, D.C. mosque re-dedication ceremony – was a representative of the MWL at the time of his being named director, according to Schwartz. The Rabita Trust was founded in 1988 by Naseef, four years after Khouj became the Director of the mosque.

Before watching the video of Bush’s 2007 speech inside the mosque, consider that less than six years earlier, the Rabita Trust had been shut down by the Bush administration as a “Global Terrorist Entity”. As a representative of the MWL, Khouj ultimately worked for an organization whose Secretary General from 1983-1993 was none other than Al-Qaeda financier, Abdullah Omar Naseef.

Note at the 1:15 mark in the video below that Bush references Eisenhower’s speech from 1957 and quotes the former president. Said Bush:
“He (Eisenhower) asked that together we commit ourselves ‘to peaceful progress of all men under one God.’”
This had not been the first time that Bush had conflated Islam and Christianity. William Murray, of the Religious Freedom Coalition chronicled his experiences in the days after 9/11 and wrote the following about what he witnessed on 9/14/01 at the National Cathedral, where then head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) – Muzammil Siddiqi – was in attendance:
Our Christian President had bowed his head to prayers offered to other gods, prayers that may have been for those who would destroy our nation and enslave our children to an alien religion. At that moment the hand of protection of the true God was removed from our nation.
Here is Bush at the 2007 re-dedication ceremony inside the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.

According to Schwartz, the mosque was built at the urging of various Muslim groups, to include the Turks. In 1998, before becoming Prime Minister of Turkey – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – quoted from the following poem during a speech:
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”
Go figure. Today, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist government of Turkey seem to be working together.

And World War II may have a new front.

Walid Shoebat and Ben Barrack


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President Obama is Responsible for Our Fiscal Mess

by Neil Snyder

President Obama is responsible for our fiscal mess.  I'm not exaggerating, and I'm not saying that simply because I think that Barack Obama is a terrible president, although I do think that he's an awful president.  I'm saying that because the president has had ample opportunity over the past four years to arrive at a compromise solution to our immediate fiscal problem and then to make headway toward dealing with our longer-term fiscal issues, but he has failed miserably. 

If the president had taken some of the advice of his own National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, we wouldn't be counting the minutes before we fall off the fiscal cliff, but he didn't heed their warning two years ago.  Even worse, he has given us no indication that he ever intends to take our nation's spending problem seriously. 

The word "compromise" must not appear in Obama's dictionary.  That fact has been obvious since Day One of his presidency.  His first major initiative, Obamacare, was figuratively shoved down the throats of members of Congress, even members of his own party.  It has been Obama's way or the highway since the beginning, and it's still his way.  This time there will be a high price to pay.

Yesterday on "Meet the Press", the president told David Gregory that he cut spending by more than a trillion dollars in 2011.  That's pure nonsense, but he got away with it because Gregory was too busy licking the president's shoes to do his job. 

Anyone who believes that President Obama cut spending in 2011 needs to have his head examined, and spending continues to be the most serious fiscal problem that we face.  That's what the Fiscal Responsibility Commission told the president.  There is no way to solve our nation's fiscal problem without cutting spending, period.  Stated another way, we can't tax our way out of this mess.

Pretending that increasing tax rates for millionaires and billionaires will do anything significant to solve our long-term fiscal problem is ridiculous.  If millionaires and billionaires in the U.S. gave everything they own to the government and paid a 100% tax on their earnings, our spending problem would still be an imminent threat to our nation's fiscal solvency.  In essence, that's what Chris Cox and Bill Archer said in an article for The Wall Street Journal in November:
As a result, fiscal policy discussions generally focus on current-year budget deficits, the accumulated national debt, and the relationships between these two items and gross domestic product. We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities.
The actual liabilities of the federal government-including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits-already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure.
If President Obama were serious about solving our fiscal problem, he would give lots of ground on spending, but as I said, he's not serious.  Instead of dealing with the problem, he's playing politics as though he was running for re-election.  And it's the worst kind of politics because he's playing the class warfare card and stoking a fire that has the potential to explode across the nation and produce results that I don't want to imagine. 

According to a recent Gallup poll, the president's disapproval rating has climbed 5 points since Christmas.  Maybe people are beginning to catch on, but doubt it.  I fear that most of our fellow citizens believe that we can continue spending money we don't have on things we don't need and that everything will work out in the end.  If I'm right, then responsible people should read Jon Hall's article in today's American Thinker carefully and begin to acquire precious metals. 

Gold and other precious metals are hedges against inflation, but they are more than that.  In times of emergency, they may be among the few currencies that have real purchasing power.  I think that buying precious metals at this juncture is like buying insurance, because I'm fearful that we are moving headlong toward cataclysmic economic conditions brought on by pandering politicians like Barack Obama.

As the president likes to say, "Let me be perfectly clear," I hope we get a deal on the fiscal cliff mess by the end of the day, but even if we do, we still spend too much.  Overspending and more specifically deficit spending threaten to bankrupt this nation.  The result of loading more debt on top of an already debt-laden economy can be devastating.  As far as I know, there is not a single example in history of a country abusing debt and not having to pay the price.  Will we escape the inevitable this time and rewrite history?  Don't bet on it. 

Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog,, is posted daily.


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Subverting the Constitution

by Thomas Lifson

Another line is being crossed in the campaign to fundamentally change America. The Left has long regarded the American Constitution as an obstacle to the sort of fundamental change it desires, and now the seeds of delegitimizing the Constitution itself are being planted by powerful members of the progressive establishment.

Louis Michael Seidman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University, is no fringe figure. He is a pillar of the left wing legal establishment, graduate of Harvard Law, former clerk for Thurgood Marshall, and notable figure in the Leftist "critical legal theory" movement. His law school's most prominent recent graduate is Sandra Fluke, and its former dean, Peter Edelman, is most famous for resigning a senior position in the Clinton Administration to protest the wildly successful welfare reform measures enacted when the GOP controlled Congress and signed by President Clinton.
Seidman has taken to the pages of the daily bible of the progressive establishment,  the New York Times, to lend respectability to a movement to subvert the Constitution, and turn to an undefined system which inevitably means the loss of our safeguards against tyranny.  All expressed in superficially reassuring prose. In a stunningly-titled piece, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution," he writes, for example:
The deep-seated fear that such disobedience would unravel our social fabric is mere superstition. As we have seen, the country has successfully survived numerous examples of constitutional infidelity. And as we see now, the failure of the Congress and the White House to agree has already destabilized the country. Countries like Britain and New Zealand have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and engaged citizens. We, too, could draw on these resources.
What has preserved our political stability is not a poetic piece of parchment, but entrenched institutions and habits of thought and, most important, the sense that we are one nation and must work out our differences. No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation, and I harbor no illusions that any of this will happen soon. But even if we can't kick our constitutional-law addiction, we can soften the habit.
My colleague Rick Moran has already treated the shallowness of the arguments. However, the real intent of the piece is not to persuade by logic, but rather to put on the table the very foundation of our lives as Americans, and devour it by increments, as it becomes increasingly respectable to mouth the opinion that it really doesn't matter what the Constitution says, if an important issue is challenged.

A republic, if we can keep it.

Thomas Lifson


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What Do Abbas's Latest Threats Really Mean?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Why doesn't Abbas consider the possibility of handing the "keys" to another Palestinian? Abbas apparently believes that if he cannot lead the Palestinian Authority no one else should — that if he comes down, then the entire Palestinian Authority should also collapse. A changing of the guard is something that the US and the EU, the major funders of Abbas and his associates, could play a major role in bringing about.
Mahmoud Abbas has once again threatened to dismantle the Palestinian Authority which he heads in the West Bank.

This time he chose to make his new old threat in an interview with the daily Haaretz.

"If there is no progress [in the peace process] even after the election I will take the phone and call [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu," Abbas said. "I'll tell him…Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority."

Abbas's threat was made shortly after he met in his Ramallah office with Meretz Party chairwoman Zehava Gal-On ahead of the January 22 election in Israel.

The threat to disband the Palestinian Authority should be seen as yet another attempt attempt on the part of Abbas to influence Israeli voters.

Abbas is trying to scare Israeli voters by warning them that the re-election of Netanyahu would be a disaster for the "peace process" and would result in anarchy and chaos in the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority is dismantled.

In private, Abbas and his top aides have been talking about the need to strengthen the left-wing in Israel. They were hoping that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would run in the election at the head of a left-wing block that would remove Netanyahu from power.

But since Olmert has decided not to run in the upcoming election, Palestinian leaders in the West Bank have resorted to a new tactic to convince voters not to vote for Netanyahu and other right-wing parties.

This tactic is based on sowing fear and panic among Israelis of what could happen if they voted for Netanyahu once again.

By threatening to disband the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is hinting at the possibility that Israel may again find itself responsible for the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinians in the West Bank.

He is telling Israelis that a vote for Netanyahu would mean a return to the pre-Oslo era, when the Israel Defense Forces were fully responsible for the Palestinian education and health systems.

At the same time, Abbas is trying to persuade the Israeli public that he remains committed to the "peace process" and that he is the only Palestinian leader who is willing to make concessions for the sake of peace.

But this is the same Abbas who for the past four years had set pre-conditions for resuming the peace talks with Israel and violated the Oslo Accords by unilaterally asking the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians' status, which it did, to a non-member observer state.

In yet another (unsuccessful) attempt to impact Israeli voters, Abbas recently gave an interview to Israel's Channel 2 TV station, where he signaled his readiness to relinquish the "right of return" of Palestinians to their former homes inside Israel.

Within hours, however, Palestinian media outlets quoted Abbas and several of his advisors as denying that he had offered to relinquish the "sacred right of return."

What Abbas is not telling the Israeli public is that he simply does not have a mandate from his people to make any form of concessions to Israel.

Abbas himself seems to have forgotten that his term in office expired in January 2009. He is also ignoring recent public opinion polls showing a rise in Hamas's power and popularity among Palestinians.

This is not the first time that the Palestinian Authority leadership tries to influence Israeli voters.

In the past, Abbas's predecessor, Yasser Arafat, used to appear in Israeli media outlets on the eve of Israeli elections to talk about his deep commitment to peace and how he was doing his utmost to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from carrying out attacks against Israel. Some left-wing Israeli journalists who were close to Arafat spared no effort to help him in his effort to market himself to the Israeli public as a true peace partner.

Back to Abbas's threats, which so far do not appear to have impressed either Israelis or Palestinians. The Israeli public has long lost faith in Abbas and the "peace process," and is no longer taking any of his threats seriously.

As for the Palestinians, many wondered this week why Abbas was talking about handing the "keys" of the Palestinian Authority to the Israeli prime minister.

Wouldn't it be better, these Palestinians asked, if Abbas gave the "keys" back to his people and stepped down? Isn't there one Palestinian who could replace Abbas?

Why doesn't Abbas consider the possibility of handing the "keys" to another Palestinian? The answer is clear: Abbas apparently believes that if he cannot lead the Palestinians, no one else should -- that if he comes down, then the entire Palestinian Authority should also collapse.

Disbanding the Palestinian Authority will harm Palestinians in the West Bank more than it will affect Israel. The first to pay the price of such a move will be the 150,000 employees of the Palestinian Authority and their families.

This would also prove to be a dangerous step since it would facilitate a Hamas takeover of the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority needs to stay, but its veteran leaders need to pave the way for new faces.

A changing of the guard in the Palestinian Authority is something that the US and EU, the major funders of Abbas and his associates, could play a major role in bringing about.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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The "IgNobel" Policy of the European Union on the Middle East

by Michael Curtis

The Czechs apparently realized that the UN Resolution enabling the Palestinians to be regarded as an observer non-member state was not only a unilateral action by the Palestinians in violation of the Oslo Accords, but also a direct violation of previous commitments — some even to the EU itself — to enter only into bilateral negotiations to determine final status arrangements. Ironically, instead of promoting peace, the Resolution encourages the Palestinian Authority not to negotiate with the Israelis or compromise on a reasonable solution -- in the belief that it can get more from bypassing Israel and going straight to the EU and the UN.
Although the Nobel Prize for Peace, which was awarded to the European Union, the economic and political amalgamation of 27 European states, on December 10, 2012, can be proud of some of its successes -- peace has certainly been kept after centuries of warfare among the European nations; France and Germany have been reconciled after long enmity, and the former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe have been harmoniously integrated into the European structure -- the EU has failed to achieve a genuine economic and monetary union; has been unable to complete its currency union, and it is even more dubious that the EU has contributed to peace in the Middle East in any way that warrants a prestigious award, or that it has been helpful in efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The latest example of the last failures occurred in the vote on November 29, 2012, in the UN General Assembly, on the Resolution to accord the Palestinian Authority the status of a "non-member observer state." All the EU members voted for the Resolution, which was approved 138-9 with 41 abstentions, except for the Czech Republic which voted against, and other countries, especially Germany which abstained. Ironically, the Resolution is counterproductive: instead of promoting peace, it encourages the Palestinian Authority not to negotiate with the Israelis or compromise on a reasonable solution -- in the belief that it can get more from bypassing Israel and going straight to the EU and the UN.

Even though the EU lacks a coherent foreign policy, and the member states have taken different positions on various issues, such as the Lebanese war in1982; the1996 proposals on a peace plan, and the Iraq war in 2003, the various declarations of the EU have led to a certain kind of coherence in the attitude towards Israel in particular, and the Arab-Israeli conflict in general. The EU has favored peaceful negotiations and a two state solution, but it has continually criticized the building of Israeli settlements, and considered them illegal under international law.

The Israeli settlements, which exist on state or public land, are under dispute as the question of sovereignty over them remains to be decided by direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. They are not an obstacle to peace; rather, they have been, and are being, newly used by the United Sates, and consequently the Palestinians, to excuse the Palestinians for refusing to enter into peace negotiations. This land was often offered in exchange for negotiations, peace and recognition, all three of which have been continually rejected by the Arabs since the Khartoum Conference of September 1967, three months after the Six Day War. In a defensive action, Israel took possession of east Jerusalem and the West Bank [of the Jordan River} , following its capture by Jordan in the 1948-49 five-nation Arab invasion of Israel on the day after its birth.

After multiple rejections to exchange "land for peace," the Israelis may well be wondering if they are actually expected to hold this land in perpetuity in case one day the Arabs might feel like returning to a negotiating table. It should be noted by the EU that Israel has evacuated its citizens from other formerly settled land in the Gaza Strip; that it might help to avoid aggression if the aggressors had to pay some penalty for their actions; that to the Palestinians - as they repeat, the land is theirs "from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea" -- to Arab and Muslim countries and even at times to the UN [see, Features, UN Map with no Israel], all of Israel is considered a settlement, and that construction of settlements around the area of Jerusalem did not prevent the 300 negotiation sessions that took place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority between the November 2007 Annapolis Conference talks and 2008.

The EU has also refused to recognize Israel's annexation of east Jerusalem as legitimate, and has repeated on many occasions the right of the Palestinian people to exercise fully its right to self-determination. Although unwilling to disagree too strongly with the United States, the EU has attempted from time to time to offer alternative proposals to deal with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The first statement by the European group on the conflict was issued at the meeting on November 6, 1973 of the foreign ministers of the nine governments which then made up the members of the European Community. The statement declared that acquisition of territories by force was inadmissible, that Israel should end the territorial occupation of Arab land it had maintained since the conflict of 1967, and that in any settlement of the conflict, account had to be taken of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians. In subsequent declarations, the EC spoke of a just and lasting solution necessitating a "homeland for the Palestinian people."

The European Commission went farther in its Venice Declaration of June 13, 1980, which stated that, "the Palestinian people be allowed to exercise fully its rights to self-determination," and that the Palestine Liberation Organization would have to be associated with the peace negotiations. It has consistently held that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law. The Venice Declaration was followed by a number of other statements, from countries which later became members if the European Union -- all of them critical in some fashion of Israel, and all endorsing the rights of Palestinians.

European countries have been critical of what they claimed was the "disproportionate" response to the missile attacks from Hamas in Gaza by Israel in its Operation Cast Lead in 2008 -- without voicing equal criticism of the terrorists launching those missiles. Similarly, the Europeans disapproved of Israel's sea blockade of Gaza to prevent the delivery of weapons to people sworn to the destruction of Israel -- without comment on the large number of missiles and rockets being smuggled into Gaza, presumably to be used by the ruling terrorist group there, Hamas, to fulfill its outspoken pledge to destroy Israel.

The EU played no part in the 1991 Madrid peace conference, but it did -- together with the United States, the United Nations, and Russia -- become a member of the Quartet on the Middle East, which was established in Madrid in 2002 to mediate the peace process.

The EU and Israel have disagreed on a number of issues. They have criticized, among other matters, Israeli building in the area of Jerusalem, the settlements in the West Bank, the construction of the Israeli security fence, and the opening of the Hasmonean tunnel in September 1996, in addition to the Israeli right to east Jerusalem, which under Jordanian rule had not only been closed to Israelis, but massively desecrated. (Gravestones from the Mount of Olives, for example, were taken to be used as the floors of Jordanian latrines.) Further disputes involved the closing of Orient House, the PLO's headquarters in Jerusalem, which was being used to receive foreign representatives, thus converting it into a virtual Palestinian foreign ministry. The EU did on December 10, 2012 denounce "as unacceptable" the statement by Hamas leaders that denied Israel's right to exist, but at the same time also condemned Israeli plans for further construction of settlements.

Not surprisingly, Israel has considered the European attitude and policy as lacking impartiality, if not displaying outright hostility.

Economic relations between the two sides have been uneven, as well, with trade arrangements alternating with calls for boycotting Israeli products. Economic ties go back to 1964 between Israel and the then European Economic Community, and to the 1995 Association Agreement, ratified in 2000, and formally linked by the Association Council, in which each party granted the other preferential treatment in economic, commercial, and technological matters. The EU is Israel's largest market for exports and its second largest source of imports, after the US. Israeli exports to the EU became exempt from customs duties but this did not apply to goods produced in settlements.

Although the Action Plan of December 9, 2004 suggests areas of interaction -- among them, greater political cooperation; promotion of human rights; aiding multiculturalism; and opposition to antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia -- these suggestions have rarely been put into practice. Despite a few perfunctory European criticisms of Palestinian actions, bias toward the Arab and Palestinian point of view, in both policy decisions and in rhetoric, seems inherent in the European attitude,

The Europeans are now acutely aware of the growing Arab and Muslim presence in their own countries, and the consequent political and social dilemmas this has created -- as well as the growing Arab economic investment there. The Europeans have, both directly and through UNRWA, supplied aid to Palestinian refugees, and given money and loans to the Palestinian authorities. The Europeans have economic interests in the Arab countries, which supply reasonably priced and stable oil imports, investment capital, and whose residents are consumers of European products. The Europeans are bound by institutional relations and policies, which include the global Mediterranean policy, a European Neighborhood policy of 2004, the Euro-Arab Dialogue, and the Barcelona process (Euro-Mediterranean partnership) launched in 1995, which aims at economic development, as well as supposedly at democratic reform. In all of these links, the EU has indicated its opposition to Israeli settlements, or modification of the status of Jerusalem.

If the ties between the EU and Arab countries are medium-warm and binding, the ties between the EU and Israel are less so. The EU often refers to Israeli actions as "disproportionate," blames Israel for lack of progress in peace talks, and rarely supports Israel's right of self-defense. The EU always appears "deeply dismayed" and seems to oppose strongly most of Israeli plans.

The excessive criticism is evident in the statements on Middle Eastern affairs made by Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She has been persistent in her criticism of Israel. Among her more recent utterances was a speech on October 25, 2012, at the Arab League's headquarters in Cairo, where she said that, "[Israeli] settlements are illegal, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible." Will no one tell her that the settlements are not the obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and that the Palestinians, who are so eager to make unilateral decisions, are not yet willing to engage in negotiations for a two state solution or anything else?

The EU has yet to appreciate the reality that the conflict continues because of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the right of the State of Israel to exist. The Czechs, on the contrary, apparently realized that the UN Resolution enabling the Palestinians to be regarded as an non-member observer state was not only a unilateral action by the Palestinians in violation of the Oslo Accords, but also a direct violation of previous commitments -- some even to the EU itself -- to enter only into bilateral negotiations to determine final status arrangements. For its role in Middle East affairs alone, the EU does not deserve the Nobel Peace Price. The Nobel Committee might more appropriately have sent a donation to the Czech Republic for its truly noble act. 

Michael Curtis is author of Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under attack by the International Community.


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Sunday, December 30, 2012

How Obama’s Policies Led to Benghazigate

by Daniel Greenfield


It took some 22 hours for American help to arrive in Benghazi after all the t’s had been crossed and the i’s had been dotted, and the body of America’s ambassador to Libya had been dragged through the streets by “rescuers” stopping along the way to pose for cell phone pictures with his corpse.

By way of comparison it takes about 16 hours for a boatload of Libyan illegal immigrants to row to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Support for the Americans under fire in Libya would have arrived sooner if a few former members of the Harvard Rowing Team had gotten in one of the many rowboats beached on the shores of Lampedusa and pushed the oars all the way to Benghazi.

It says something about the current state of asymmetrical warfare that not only can Al Qaeda throw together a coordinated string of attacks on American embassies around the region without anyone being the wiser for it, but boatloads of migrants from Libya can reach Europe faster on muscle power than American forces can reach a mission under attack while equipped with jet power.

Obama Inc. blamed the second set of September 11 attacks on a movie, which was giving Al Qaeda credit for not only orchestrating worldwide attacks on American embassies and consulates, but doing it in a matter of days based on nothing more than a YouTube trailer. That would make Al Qaeda one of the more impressive organizations around, but the administration found it easier to give Al Qaeda credit that the terrorist group didn’t deserve rather than accept the blame that it did deserve.

When madmen in America shoot up schools or movie theaters, Obama blames the weapons they used and calls for gun control. When madmen in the Middle East shoot up American consulates and embassies, he blames movies and calls for film control.

Obama assured the nation that the “folks” responsible would be brought to justice. After three weeks of trying to get through Libyan immigration and dealing with concerns about conducting a criminal investigation in a war zone, the FBI finally made it to Benghazi, strolled around the compound for a few hours, took some pictures and then went home without interviewing any persons of interest.

An independent commission chaired by an Iranian lobbyist whose members were handpicked by Hillary Clinton conducted a review of what went wrong and found that the State Department probably should not have relied on an Islamist militia affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood for security, especially considering that its members had been going on strike for pay raises.

Four State Department officials resigned voluntarily, which in government lingo means that three of them took administrative leave and the fourth resigned one of his portfolios while keeping the rest. And the media declared that Benghazigate was over at last. Time for everyone to move on and close the book on another one of those Obama successes that up close look a lot like failures.

Three days after unilaterally deciding to go to war in Libya, while insisting on calling it something other than a war, Obama justified his intervention to the American people based on protecting what would shortly become Libya’s most famously infamous city. “We saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city… we knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi… could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

But there was no massacre. Nor was there ever going to be one. The only people who were massacred in Benghazi were Americans.

Obama had not kicked off a war because he was genuinely worried about the “700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear,” but because the fall of Benghazi would have meant the end of the rebellion and the end of the Arab Spring.

The Libyan War was not fought so that the 700,000 men, women and children of Benghazi could go from living under the rule of a totalitarian government to living under the rule of totalitarian militias. That was just an unintended consequence. And it wasn’t the only such unintended consequence as Gaddafi’s Touraeg allies paired up with Al Qaeda to seize half of Mali and Libyan weapons were passed around to terrorist groups like Hamas.

Those unintended consequences came together on September 11 when those militias decided to commemorate the day with a round of attacks against American targets. Ground Zero for their campaign was Benghazi, the city where they were strongest because the heavily armed militias there had been growing fat on protection money. The same militia that attacked the Benghazi mission also provided security for the hospital where Ambassador Stevens was taken after the attack, providing gainful employment to Salafi terrorists from as far away as Iraq and Pakistan.

Obama had gained attention as a critic of the Iraq War, squawking about necessary wars to small crowds of wealthy elderly Marxists from Chicago, but no sooner had he gotten out of Iraq than he was jumping up and down on the diving board and splashing down into Libya to show how much smarter and better he was at fighting unnecessary wars than that ignorant Texan who shot first and nuanced later.

George W. had told the American people that there was a vital American interest in stopping Saddam, from getting his hands on WMDs. Barack H. told the American people that “it was not in our national interest” to let Gaddafi capture Benghazi. What national interest was at stake in keeping Benghazi run by homicidal Islamist militias tied to Al Qaeda will be a lot harder to find than Iraqi WMDs.

Benghazi though, as Obama put it while yukking it up with the media’s favorite liberal clown, was just one of those bumps in the road. The road began when Obama bombed Libya to keep Gaddafi from taking Benghazi. Along the way there were some bumps when American diplomats were forced to flee Benghazi, but the road goes ever on as it meanders through exotic locales such as Timbuktu, now under Al Qaeda control, and Aleppo, only under partial Al Qaeda control.

Obama pulled out of Iraq and Al Qaeda in Iraq showed up in Benghazi. Now it’s moved on to Syria. A year from now it may be in Jordan. The entire Middle East is a war zone now with terrorists and militias moving back and forth to feast on the instability and carve out their own private Benghazis where a man with a beard and a gun can provide protection in exchange for cash, and then take the weekend off to torch an American embassy or two.

This is Obama’s Brave New Middle East, born out of Benghazi, but coming everywhere. Four Americans dead in a single attack is not the scandal of it, but the symptom of it; those deaths are what happens when you tear down every allied government and replace them with mobs of gunmen whose constitution is the Koran and who despise the United States no matter how many bombs and press releases it drops in their defense.

“O brave new world,” Miranda exclaimed in The Tempest, “That has such people in’t!” Americans in Benghazi were confronted with the Brave New Middle East that Obama had made and the people who now live in it.

Daniel Greenfield


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

When Liberalism Trumps Treason

by Ruthie Blum

Two Israeli politicians — former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and MK Hanin Zoabi — have been under the political and judicial microscope lately. A review of their cases provides a good microcosm of the workings of a liberal democracy as well as a parody of liberal hypocrisy.

Lieberman, whose meteoric political career has been clouded by suspicions of corruption, is finally about to be indicted. The timing is not coincidental; it followed the merger of his Yisrael Beytenu party with Likud ahead of the coming Knesset elections.

For the past 16 years, investigations into Lieberman’s alleged money-laundering and other wrongdoings have not produced enough evidence to accuse him of any crime. Suddenly, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has something “concrete.” 

In 2008, Israeli ambassador to Belarus Ze’ev Ben Aryeh gave Lieberman (at the time a Knesset member) a note informing him that the Israeli Justice Ministry was seeking help from the Belarusian authorities to obtain evidence against him.

Lieberman flushed the note down the toilet, but failed to tell Ben Aryeh’s bosses at the Foreign Ministry that he had done this unethical thing. It was for this that he was about to be indicted, until a few days ago, when the attorney-general came up with a stiffer accusation: that after becoming Foreign Minister, Lieberman repaid Ben Aryeh with appointments.

Lieberman’s response to the abrupt brouhaha was to resign from his posts as foreign minister and deputy prime minister. He is pushing for an expedited trial, hoping to be acquitted in time for the Jan. 22 election. It is unclear whether he will be able to do this. Furthermore, if it is determined that his actions involved “moral turpitude,” Lieberman will not be able to hold political office for seven years.

Zoabi is an Israeli Arab from the anti-Zionist Balad party. Not only does she oppose Israel as a Jewish state; she openly asserts that Israel — where she enjoys every freedom and benefit that being both an Israeli citizen and a Knesset member afford her — is not a democracy.

In May 2010, Zoabi was among the anti-Israel activists who instigated and participated in the infamous “freedom flotilla” from Turkey to Gaza, during which Israeli soldiers who had entered the ships peacefully to prevent them from reaching their destination, were beaten and thrown overboard. The incident, which left nine activists dead, put a final nail in the coffin of already deteriorating Israel-Turkey relations.

As is the case with the timing of Lieberman’s indictment, it is the coming election that spurred a campaign to prevent Zoabi from being allowed to run. Last week, after much deliberation, the Central Elections Commission finally decided to disqualify her for identifying with terrorist organizations. Its decision was based on a new law according to which anyone who denies Israel’s existence as a Jewish state or who supports violence against it may not be a candidate for the 19th Knesset. Nineteen members of the commission voted in favor of disqualifying Zoabi, nine opposed it, and one abstained. It is as funny as it is sad that a law needed to be forged — and that the Central Elections Commission had to “deliberate” — about treason. 

And it should not come as a shocker to anyone familiar with the political map in Israel that Weinstein — who has been going after Lieberman with a vengeance — opposed Zoabi’s disqualification. 

Go figure.

Those who worry that Zoabi may not be getting a fair shake from the justice system she considers so unjust should not fret. On Thursday, she appealed to the High Court of Justice to have her disqualification overturned. On Sunday, the judges ruled unanimously that Zoabi can run, which means will undoubtedly be re-elected to the Knesset. You see, it was not her anti-Zionist party that was disqualified; it was only Zoabi herself.

So here we have it: The Jewish-Zionist politician who is under suspicion resigns to clear his name. If he fails to do so, he might go to jail, or at least have to do community service. 

Meanwhile, the worst punishment that the anti-Zionist Arab politician who takes pride in her treasonous activities will endure is not being able to continue receiving our tax shekels in salary, no longer having access to inside information about Israel’s affairs.

The good news is that the public is more clear-headed than the courts. This is why Lieberman’s party merger — now called Likud-Beytenu — is polling at 38 seats, while Zoabi’s Balad party will be lucky to retain three.

Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.