Monday, December 31, 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


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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.’


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UK-Based Arab HR Group Accuses PA of Abuse

by Jonny Paul

From 2007-2011, the PA detained 13,271 Palestinians, and tortured 96% of them resulting in six deaths, report says.

PA police grapple with Hamas supporters  
Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters

LONDON – An Arab human rights group based in London accused the Palestinian Authority of inhumane practices and human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in a scathing report published on Friday.

The Arab Organization for Human Rights has put the primary blame for the human rights abuses on PA President Mahmoud Abbas and called on the UN, Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take urgent action.
AOHR monitored the practices of the PA’s security agencies from January to July 2012 and used information from victims detained by the PA, their families, eye-witnesses and local NGOs in its report.

It accused the PA of arbitrary actions against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank – including torture, detentions, interrogations and firing people from their jobs.

From June 2007 until the end of 2011, PA security forces detained 13,271 Palestinian citizens and 96 percent were subjected to various methods of torture, the report said. This resulted in the death of six detainees and caused “chronic illness” in others.

Between January and July 2012, PA security agencies detained 572 people and sent summonses to 770 more.

“Among them women and old people, who were often forced to wait from early morning to the evening before being interviewed.

Some were summonsed daily for weeks on end, others were kept under virtual house arrest. The period also witnessed raids against universities, hospitals and houses in order to arrest people wanted for protesting against the Israeli occupation. PA officers confiscated equipment and personal cash, which often went missing after the searches,” the group said.

It also said the PA was guilty of torture and degrading treatment, with 18.7 percent of a sample of 300 former detainees stating that they experienced “severe torture” and 99.7% claiming that they were exposed to degrading treatment.

“With regards to the effect of detention on the lives of the detainees, 60% of those in the study explained that they now suffer from chronic diseases due to torture and the poor conditions in which they were held in detention.

On another level, 60% confirmed that repeated or extensive detention reduced them to a state of acute poverty,” the report stated.

AOHR said also that many experienced harassment and dismissal from their jobs.

“At least 73 people were made unemployed in the period under review, and it is estimated that around 3,200 have faced the same injustice since 2005. Harassment also includes students with security records being unable to find employment, acquire a driving license or open a business,” the group maintained.

The PA’s activities, the NGO said, are routinely carried out in full coordination with Israel. It added, however, that the detentions and summons by the PA surpassed those by Israeli security forces.

PA security agencies have “no concern for the age or gender” of those being detained or summonsed, the report said.

“A significant number of detainees are elderly people aged 60 and above, representing 11.3%; women made up 15.3%. Of the sample, 39.3% are students, 38% of whom confirmed that their studies were interrupted as a result of detention,” the report stated.

It calls on the PA to adhere to international law and conventions, and to declare that a future Palestinian state “must be set up on true bases built on the rights of the Palestinian citizen to life and freedom.”

It accused the PA of not learning vital lessons from the Arab Spring that has taken place in Arab states in the past two years.

“It is staggering that the PA should, in the shadow of the Arab Spring, cultivate its own system of impunity, in total defiance of its people’s demands for freedom and dignity.

They seem to be oblivious of the factors which led to the downfall of the tyrannical regimes across the region.

There is absolutely no justification for its acceptance of becoming a subcontracted security instrument of the Israeli occupation, crushing at every opportunity the legitimate aspirations of their people for freedom and self-determination.”

It also said that the PA has not learned from its experiences with Israel, and called to halt military cooperation with the Jewish state.

“The PA’s human rights violations against the Palestinian people have amplified their suffering under the Israelis and undermined their national [unity] and struggle for self determination.

It is clearly obvious that the PA hasn’t learnt from its experiences with the Israelis. On the contrary, it remains firmly committed to its campaign of detention and destroying national solidarity while serving foreign agendas which strike the Palestinian national freedom project at its core,” the report stated in its conclusion.

“AOHR places complete responsibility for these human rights violations on the Palestinian President Abbas... AOHR calls for the secretary-generals of the UN, Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to put pressure in Mahmoud Abbas to stop political detention as it harms the interests of all Palestinians.”

Based in North West London, the AOHR in the UK was founded in 1993. Its website, which is in Arabic, said it was set up “to defend human rights in general and the Arab human rights in particular, and to publish the whole truth no matter how painful.”

Jonny Paul


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Suha Arafat Admits Husband Premeditated Intifada

by Staff

In interview, Palestinian leader's widow says Arafat decided to launch Intifada after Camp David, according to research institute.

Deceased PLO chairman Yasser Arafat  

Yasser Arafat’s widow, Suha, admitted that the late Palestinian leader planned the second intifada, in an interview with Dubai TV earlier this month, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return.... Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so,’” the research institute translated Suha as saying.

“‘I do not want Zahwa’s [Arafat’s daughter’s] friends in the future to say that Yasser Arafat abandoned the Palestinian cause and principles. I might be martyred, but I shall bequeath our historical heritage to Zahwa and to the children of Palestine,’” Suha, 49, quoted her late husband as saying.

Her comments run contrary to claims that former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s infamous visit to the Temple Mount triggered the intifada, which was launched in September 2000.

Yasser Arafat died in a Paris military hospital in 2004, and earlier this year, Suha requested an autopsy to search for traces of a poisonous substance.

She told Al Jazeera in July that a Swiss laboratory had detected high levels of the radioactive isotope polonium in Arafat’s clothes, which have been in storage since his death in 2004. Palestinians have accused Israel of causing Arafat’s death, though no conclusive evidence has been presented publicly. Israel denies killing him.

Arafat, who founded the Palestine Liberation Organization, died in a French hospital at the age of 75. Doctors at the Percy military hospital in Clamart, France, said he suffered from a brain hemorrhage and fell into a coma before he died. He is buried beneath a glass tomb adjacent to the offices of his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah.

Last month, forensic experts took samples of Arafat’s remains in an effort to determine if he was murdered using the hard-to-trace radioactive poison. They said the process would take several months.

Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report. Staff


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A Paradox of U.S. Middle East Policy: The Friend Who Acts like an Enemy is an Enemy

by Barry Rubin

The expression, “With friends like you who needs enemies?” is an apt summary of a major problem for U.S. foreign policy during Obama's second term.

Here’s the issue: a number of supposed allies of the United States don’t act as friends. In fact, they are major headaches, often subverting U.S. goals and interests.  But to avoid conflict and, for Obama, to look successful to the domestic audience, Washington pretends that everything is fine.

Consider, for example, Pakistan. The United States has given billions of dollars to that country in exchange for supposedly helping keeping the lid on Afghanistan—and especially to ensure the Taliban does not return to power—and to fight terrorism, especially al-Qaida.

In reality, Pakistan supports the Taliban, wages a terrorist war on India, and hasn’t been all that helpful in fighting al-Qaida. It would be interesting to see the U.S. intelligence document evaluating how high up in Pakistan’s government was their knowledge that Usama bin Ladin was “hiding out” a few blocks from a Pakistani military complex. The fact that Pakistan threw into prison a local doctor whose work helped find bin Ladin indicates which side that regime is on.

Moreover, Pakistan’s regime is ferociously oppressing the Christian minority, becoming more Islamist, and giving women the usual treatment existing in such societies. Obama claims to be protecting women and religious minorities yet lifts not a finger in Pakistan. And rather than be a force against terrorism, the Pakistani government has been sponsoring a terrorist war against India.

After the horrible massacre of civilians in Mumbai, it became clear that the attack was sponsored and planned by Pakistan using terrorists trained and enjoying safe haven in Pakistan. India was left helpless as Pakistan simply refused to cooperate with the investigation or to turn over terrorists from the group responsible. In short, the United States is massively subsidizing a major sponsor of international terrorism.

Yet for the U.S. government to admit that the Pakistani government is more enemy than friend would make it even more uncooperative and might lead to attacks on the U.S. embassy and diplomats. Pretending that a regime like Pakistan's is helpful--and continuing to fork over U.S. taxpayer money to it--is a huge temptation. Only if the regime in question does something obviously horrible, and even the bin Ladin case wasn’t sufficient to sour the White House on Pakistan, will the situation change.

Of course, some measures have been taken but basically Pakistan isn’t paying for its behavior. Consequently, it will continue acting in a hostile way, subsidized by the United States to do so.

The scope of this problem becomes clearly visible if you add to this list such places as Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Venezuela, Bolivia, and several other countries being in a similar situation.

Take Egypt for example. The country is now governed by a radical, anti-American, antisemitic government dedicated to spreading jihad, imposing Sharia law, and driving U.S. influence from the region. It could be argued that a mix of carrots and sticks from the United States would moderate the regime’s behavior. But what if that doesn’t work? The temptation is to continue with the carrots and forget about the sticks.

Obama says that the “red lines” are that the Cairo regime must adhere to the peace treaty with Israel; treat women and religious minorities (that is, Christians) well; and help fight terrorism.  But what if it doesn’t? Suppose the Salafist burn down churches and massacre Christians and the government does not protect the minority? Suppose a Sharia regime reduces women’s rights to a minimum? Suppose Egypt declares itself no longer bound by the peace treaty with Israel or pretty openly arms Hamas in the Gaza Strip for an attack on Israel?

Will Obama be prepared for a conflict, even a confrontation, with the Arabic-speaking world’s largest country? Would even a President Mitt Romney do so?

In other words, the argument would be made that it is better to keep giving money, selling weapons, and shutting up about criticism than to make a break. Moreover, the president who did so could be accused of getting the United States into an unnecessary battle and making more enemies. To some extent, that’s what happened with President George W. Bush.

The possible difference between the two current candidates could end up looking like this:

Obama version: Although you act as enemies we will believe you are friends.

Romney version: We know you aren’t really friends but we don’t have a choice.

In practice, the difference would be that Romney would have a lower threshold for acting against betrayal than would Obama.

Of course, a large part of the problem with Obama’s policy is that he not only treated enemies as friends and did not pressure supposed friends that acted like enemies, he joined them. Thus, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are arming anti-American Islamist forces in Syria with U.S. intelligence officers supervising the weapons’ supplying. The only restriction is that the guns don’t go to groups affiliated with al-Qaida. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how extremist they are. In Libya, one of the groups—treated as “good guys”-- supplied with guns by the United States during the civil war there went on to kill the U.S. ambassador.

Yet given the current situation, especially in the Middle East, a realistic policy would make the enemies’ list seem too long and discouraging. In political and diplomatic terms that means the truth will be covered up. The important question is: How far does a country have to go, how futile and even counterproductive do the pay-offs have to be, before it is no longer treated as a friend.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.


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FISA Reflects Bipartisan Consensus on Antiterror Tactics

by Max Boot

At a time when partisan gridlock in Washington threatens to send us plunging over the fiscal cliff, it is comforting to know that at least in some areas lawmakers can still reach bipartisan consensus. Not many admittedly, but there are some–such as the Senate’s vote, 73 to 23, to extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as amended in 2008, when lawmakers gave their imprimatur to what had been an executive initiative undertaken by President George W. Bush to monitor potential terrorists’ communications after 9/11.

Bush had torn down the wall which had prohibited monitoring foreign terrorists’ communications with people in the U.S. absent a court order. This had become controversial when it was publicly revealed, but Congress stepped in to provide the authority needed. Now Congress has extended that authority, and in so doing, senators turned back numerous attempts by lawmakers on both the far-left and far-right to stop or water down this legislation, which is badly needed by our intelligence agencies.

This shows how, after the initial controversies over the war on terror, a remarkable degree of bipartisan consensus has been reached in favor of measures such as wiretapping, drone strikes and detentions at Guantanamo that were once highly controversial. Other measures, such as “enhanced interrogation” techniques, which could not survive popular scrutiny, have been shelved. But the fact is that President Obama has continued most of the anti-terrorism measures begun under the previous administration and he has done so with the support of the Democratic-controlled Senate. That is good for the fight against terrorism and good for the country in general.

Max Boot


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Obama Falling for Iran Deception Again?

by Jonathan S. Tobin

During the last decade both the Obama administration and its predecessor went down the garden path with Iran several times. Yet every time Washington believed the Islamist regime was finally embracing diplomacy and that a solution to the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions was imminent, the ayatollahs pulled the rug out from under its gullible Western adversaries. This has happened so many times that one would think it would be impossible for the Iranians to pull off this trick again, but it appears that the United States is about to play Charlie Brown to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Lucy Van Pelt and her football again.

Using its usual anonymous sources within the Obama administration, the New York Times is claiming that Iran has sent a clear signal to the West that it is ready negotiate about its nuclear program. The paper reports that according to unnamed government officials Iran has slowed down its enrichment of uranium in recent months. The use of what is described as a “significant amount” of material for a small medical reactor may affect Iran’s nuclear timetable. This has led the U.S. to believe that the Iranians are sending a signal to the West that they are ready to negotiate rather than to continue to stonewall the world on the issue:
One American official said the move amounted to trying to “put more time on the clock to solve this,” characterizing it as a step “you have to assume was highly calculated, because everything the Iranians do in a negotiation is highly calculated.”
No doubt it was calculated, but there is plenty of reason to doubt that calculation has anything to do with a desire to negotiate an end to their program—the goal that President Obama said was the only sort of compromise he would accept during his foreign policy debate with Mitt Romney.

The diversion to the medical reactor was reportedly the reason why Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak thought that the deadline for stopping Iran had been moved back to late spring/early summer 2013. But since even according to these estimates Iran will have enough fuel for a weapon in only a few months, that doesn’t really alter President Obama’s dilemma.

The international sanctions imposed on Iran have created a great deal of pain for ordinary Iranians but haven’t altered the regime’s determination to press ahead toward a nuclear weapon one jot. The increased pace of enrichment and the move of most of their material to a hardened underground mountain facility at Fordow have been a flagrant demonstration of the regime’s contempt for the West’s calls for them to stop. In this context, the diversion to the medical reactor seems more like a tactical move designed to generate more U.S. confidence in diplomacy—boosted by articles in the Times—then a strategic decision to back away from their nuclear goal. If so, it has achieved exactly what they wanted at the cost of only a slight delay in their schedule.

So long as the administration and its European allies are convinced their diplomatic efforts have hope—no matter how faint or unrealistic that hope might be—the Iranians can rest assured that there is little danger of the president making good on his promise to do whatever it is necessary in order to forestall this threat.

After so many examples in recent years of Iran gulling the West on this issue, it is difficult to understand why the administration would even think about falling for the same trick again. The only possible reason to grasp onto such a hope would be the fact that neither the president nor any of his current foreign policy team or their second-term replacements are really interested in a confrontation with Tehran even over an issue as serious as this.

That’s why, as was the case in the past with similar diplomatic dead-ends pursued by first the George W. Bush administration and then its successor, a willingness to believe in the possibility of a diplomatic opening with Iran has more to do with a desire to punt on the issue rather than any sincere belief that a deal is even possible. It remains to be seen whether President Obama really means what he says about keeping all options on the table if diplomacy with Iran conclusively fails. But so long as his administration is determined to fall for every  Iranian  deception, there is little likelihood that promise will ever be put to the test until it is already too late to do anything about the threat.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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In Dramatic Shift, Egypt to Embrace Hezb'allah

by Rick Moran

The Muslim Brotherhood and Hezb'allah making nice? Say it ain't so, President Morsi:

In a dramatic policy shift, Egypt will seek to forge "tight" relations with Hezbollah, Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy revealed in a candid interview published on Saturday in the Beirut-based Daily Star.
"You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah," Hamdy was quoting as saying, before describing the terrorist group as a "real force on the ground" with "big political and military influence."
Hamdy announced that Muslim-Brotherhood- dominated Egypt would begin "stretching [its] hand out in the proper, balanced way to all regional powers," including Hezbollah, to forge "tight" contacts with Lebanon's rulers.
Egypt-Hezbollah relations, generally strained under president Hosni Mubarak, in large part due to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel, reached rock bottom in 2008 during Israel's Cast Lead military operation.
At that time, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah called on Egypt, to no avail, to intervene militarily on behalf of Gaza-based Palestinians.
For its part, Egypt in the past has accused Hezbollah of operating terrorist cells in the country.
In his interview, Hamdy denied reports that Hezbollah had sent a delegation to Egypt to meet with officials from President Mohamed Morsi's administration, but confirmed that he personally had met with members of Hezbollah's political bureau in efforts "to understand each other better.
"In discussions we said we want Hezbollah to remain as a political force in Lebanon," Hamdy said.
"Resistance in the sense of defending Lebanese territory... [is] their primary role. We... think that as a resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese territory, and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and legitimate," he continued.
The encirclement of Israel continues. An Egypt-Hezb'allah alliance would dramtically change Israel's security situation, and might embolden the terrorists even further. 

When Mubarak ruled, the Shiite terrorists were held at arms length by Sunni Egypt. But Morsi seems to be embracing the old Arab adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Rick Moran


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MidEast Christians: an Endangered Species

by Noah Beck

During this Christmas season, it is worth remembering the historical roots of Christians in the Middle East, and recognizing just how much the plight of Middle East Christians has deteriorated. Over 2,000 years ago, Christianity was born as a religion and spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the Levant, including territories in modern Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. The Christian faith flourished as one of the major religions in the Middle East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century.

Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 2-5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would "likely drop to" half of their numbers "by the year 2020" because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of "exclusion and persecution" leading to emigration.

The "Arab Spring" has only worsened conditions for the indigenous Christians of the Middle East. Like the Kurds, Middle East Christians are a stateless minority, struggling to survive in the world's toughest neighborhood. But the Kurds at least have enjoyed partial autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and most of them are Sunni Muslim, making it easier for them to survive in the Muslim-dominated Middle East. Christians, on the other hand, are a religious minority that controls no territory and is entirely subject to the whims of their hosts. These host countries -- with the exception of Israel -- each offer a grim future to Middle East Christians.

In Egypt, the fate of Christians lies with Mohammed Morsi, who used to be a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and who has lost no time in trying to introduce Sharia law to Egypt. Home to one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, Egypt also has the largest Christian population in the Middle East, totaling 8-12 million people. But because Christian Copts make up only about 10-15% of Egypt's estimated 80 million people, they have for decades lived in fear as second-class citizens, subjected to attacks on churches, villages, homes, and shops; mob killings; and the abduction and forced Islamic conversion of Christian women compelled to marry Muslim men. If such abuse took place under the staunchly secular regime of Hosni Mubarak (which had banned the Muslim Brotherhood), what can the Christians expect under the rule of an Islamist like Mohammed Morsi?

In Lebanon, Christians represent a bigger portion of the population, so their fate is for now less precarious than that of their Egyptian coreligionists, but their long-term prospects are worrisome. The Christian population is estimated to have dropped from over 50% (according to a 1932 census) to about 40%. Over the last few years, the de facto governing power in Lebanon has become Hezbollah, the radical and heavily-armed Shiite movement sponsored by Iran. With all of the spillover violence and instability produced by the Syrian civil war and/or the next war that Hezbollah decides to start with Israel, the emigration of Christians out of Lebanon will probably only increase in the coming years, leaving those who stay increasingly vulnerable.

In Syria, 2.5 million Christians comprise about 10% of the population and enjoyed some protection under the secular and often brutal regimes of the Assad dynasty. But when the Syrian civil war eventually brings down the Assad regime and Alawite rule, the past protection of Christians may be the cause of their future persecution by the next regime and/or by the Syrian Sunnis who suffered under the Alawites. Christians have already been targeted and killed by rebels, and the sectarian chaos and violence that will likely prevail in Assad's wake will only increase the number of Christians fleeing Syria.

In Iraq, the bloody aftermath of the 2003 invasion demonstrated how dangerous life can become for a Christian minority when a multicultural society in the Middle East explodes into sectarian violence. By 2008, half of the 800,000 Iraqi Christians were estimated to have left, rendering those remaining even more insecure. In 2010, Salafist extremists attacked a Baghdad church during Sunday Mass, killing or wounding nearly the whole congregation. Such incidents turn any communal gathering into a potential massacre, forcing Christians across the Middle East to ask the ultimate question of faith: "Am I prepared to die for Christian worship?"

The Arab Spring threatens to exacerbate matters in much of the Middle East as Islamists now either control the government or influence it enough to persecute Christians with impunity. As new Islamist regimes in the Middle East condone religious intolerance and introduce Sharia and blasphemy laws, the long-term trend for Christians in their ancestral lands will only grow bleaker.

The one bright spot is the state of Israel -- "the only place in the Middle East [where] Christians are really safe," according to the Vicar of St George's Church in Baghdad, Canon Andrew White. Home to Christianity's holiest sites and to a colorful array of Christian denominations, Israel has the only growing Christian community in the Middle East.

Because Israel is the only non-Muslim state in all of the Middle East and North Africa, it represents a small victory for religious minorities in the region, and serves as the last protector of freedom and security for Jews, Christians, Bahai, Druze, and others. Without Israel, how much more vulnerable would Christians in the Middle East become?

Noah Beck's novel, The Last Israelis, published last July, highlights the vulnerabilities of religious minorities in the Middle East through the voice of a Christian Israeli Arab who serves on the Dolphin submarine alongside Israeli Jews.

Noah Beck


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

Hurricane Sandy Hamas Relief

by Joe Kaufman

The clean-up effort is still underway in the northeast, where Hurricane Sandy unleashed its imprint of death and destruction. A number of highly-rated charitable organizations have sent out relief workers to the area to help with things like food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment. Yet another group, ICNA Relief, is in town claiming to assist in the effort and asking for donations. Their donations have reached terror-related groups in the past, so their motives concerning Sandy need to be questioned. 

ICNA Relief is a function of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). The organization has two separate headquarters, one based in the United States and one based in Canada, respectively ICNA Relief USA and ICNA Relief Canada.

From June 2006 through June 2007, the al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), a Pakistani charity run by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), listed both the US and Canadian ICNA Relief groups as its top two donors. JI is the South Asian division of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

During that time period, in August 2006, AKF hand delivered six million rupees, the equivalent of 99 thousand U.S. dollars, to the Damascus, Syria residence of the global head of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal. Today, Mashaal is located in Qatar. Mashaal thanked the members of the delegation and assured them that Hamas would continue to “wage jihad” against Israelis.

The money ICNA Relief gave to AKF was not a random act. ICNA was founded in the early 1970’s as an American arm of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and still retains close relations with its parent organization. Indeed, the ICNA Relief name and logo is currently found at the bottom of the homepage of AKF’s official website (“Our Global Partners”).

Now, ICNA Relief is asking for donations on its website in the name of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, stating, “Help Hurricane Sandy Survivors. Donate Now.”

To do this, they’ve enlisted the help of Siraj Wahhaj. Wahhaj is infamously known for having been named an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial dealing with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the bombing, “the Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised.

This harkens back to a time when the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked people, via its website, to donate money to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a charity that was shut down by the United States government in December 2001 for raising millions of dollars for Hamas.

On the homepage of CAIR’s official site, the group provided a link to the donate page of HLF and disguised it by making it seem as though people who clicked on the link would be donating money to those affected by the September 11, 2001 attacks. The link stated, “Donate to NY/DC Emergency Relief Fund.”

And just as ICNA Relief has a tangible association with Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, CAIR has a tangible association with Hamas in Gaza. The group was founded by Hamas operatives as a part of the umbrella organization established by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. Today, Marzook is second in command of Hamas, behind Khaled Mashaal.

Several Americans have been brutally murdered by Hamas, including five U.S. citizens who perished during the Hebrew University cafeteria bombing of July 2002. Furthermore, the compound that Osama bin Laden was living in (and killed in) was owned by Hizbul-Mujahideen, the militant wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.

It is sinister that groups associated with terrorist activity would be asking for donations in the name of victims of tragedies, such as the 9/11 attacks or Hurricane Sandy, both of which have left tremendous scars that will forever be felt by Americans, especially those living in the New York Metropolitan area.

On the Hurricane Sandy donate page of ICNA Relief’s website, one finds the word “Preference” prior to a dropdown containing the words “Disaster Relief Sandy.” Question: What if that preference is not met? What if the funds don’t go to help the victims of Sandy?

Those who donate their money to ICNA Relief should think about the possibility that their donation could wind up elsewhere, including towards something they abhor.

Joe Kaufman


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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Israeli State of Mind

by Yoram Ettinger

On the eve of the January 22, 2013 Israeli election, the Israeli public demonstrates more realism than its politicians. Israelis highlight security imperatives when responding to reality-driven polls, which pose questions based on the stormy Arab Winter and not on the mirage of the Arab Spring. 

Increasingly, Israelis recognize that — in the Middle East — bolstered security constitutes a solid base for survival and for the pursuit of peace. They realize that the pursuit of peace, by lowering the threshold of security, could jeopardize survival, as well as the slim chance for peace. 

Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly dovish Israeli media and academia, most Israelis — Right, Center and Left — have concluded that security-driven peace supersedes peace-driven security. 

In December 2012, a most thorough and detailed poll was conducted by one of the deans of Israeli pollsters, Mina Tzemach, on behalf of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The poll demonstrates that Israelis respond to real local and regional developments — more than to wishful thinking — when shaping positions on the peace process, security requirements, land for peace, the two-state-solution and Iran. 

Such positions are directly impacted by the 20-year track record of the 1993 Oslo Accords: an unprecedented Israeli gesture met by unprecedented Palestinian hate education, terrorism and noncompliance. Israeli opinions are also influenced by the current turbulence, unpredictability, unreliability, treachery and instability on the Arab street. The Israeli state of mind is also shaped by the violent Palestinian response (thousands of missiles launched at Israel) to the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip — a tormenting, painful concession of uprooting 25 thriving Jewish communities. 

According to the December Mina Tzemach (Dahaf Polling Institute) poll, most Israelis assume that Palestinians are concerned about the existence — and not the size — of Israel, and therefore are very skeptical about the land-for-peace formula. Most Israelis do not trust Palestinian compliance with agreements, and therefore are dubious about the two-state solution, which they increasingly consider a two-state delusion.

For instance, 76% (83% among Israeli Jews) believe that an Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 sliver along the Mediterranean would not satisfy the Palestinians or other Arabs. Only 22% (15% among Israeli Jews) assume that such a concession would produce an end to the conflict. About 74% of Israelis are convinced that strategic depth — a code word for Judea and Samaria — is pertinent to Israel’s national security. Only 21% discount the importance of strategic depth. Fully 66% disapprove (and 29% approve) a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in return for a peace accord with the Palestinians and all Arab countries. About 63% are against a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines with minor modifications.

A ratio of 65:33 opposes the repartitioning of Jerusalem in the context of a peace accord; 65:31 reject a withdrawal from the Jordan Valley; 68:28 refuse evacuation of Ariel and western Samaria; 72:22 insist on retaining control over the blocs of Jewish settlements; 73:18 disapprove relinquishing control over the Judea and Samaria mountains that dominate Ben-Gurion International Airport; 67:22 insist that Israel retains control of Highway 443, which connects Jerusalem to the coastal plain via the West Bank. 

Only 20% of the Israeli public assumes that the recent developments on the Arab street are irrelevant to the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Only 21% maintains that these events warrant an acceleration of the peace process. 

About 52% — compared with 49% in 2005 — consider secure boundaries superior to peace, compared with 36% who view peace as the prerequisite to security. 

Most Israelis trust only the Israel Defense Forces to protect the country. For example, only 39% assume that Israel can rely on the U.S. military during an emergency. About 68% oppose the stationing of foreign troops — including U.S. troops — in the Jordan Valley. Only 26% would support such a deployment. 

About 68% do not believe that sanctions constitute an effective option against Iran; 53% presume that the U.S. will not resort to the military option to prevent Iran’s nuclearization; 53% support an Israeli military pre-emption against Iran if the U.S. fails to pre-empt. 

This most comprehensive Mina Tzemach poll highlights the Israeli public as top heavy on realism and low on wishful-thinking. Most Israelis do not indulge in the New Middle East Delusion, March of Democracy or the Facebook and Youth Revolution; they brace themselves for the Real Middle East and its clear and present threats. It is a rare state of mind among Western democracies, enhancing Israel’s power-projection and Israel’s role as the beachhead of the Free World in the economically and militarily critical Middle East. It is a source of optimism.

Yoram Ettinger


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

Israel Redefines Victory in the New Middle East

by Yaakov Lappin

Senior Israeli officials have indicated this month that any round of future fighting with Hezbollah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison. Offense, not defense, is still preferred.
Israel is redefining its concept of military victory in a Middle East dominated by terrorist organizations turned quasi-state actors.

Once, decisive, unmistakable victories, accompanied by conquests of territory that had been used to stage attacks against Israel, provided all parties concerned with a "knockout" image. Victory was seen by the Israel Defense Forces as a clear-cut event, which ended when the enemy raised a white flag. Today, however, the IDF considers this thinking out of date in the 21st century battle arenas of the region, where a terror organization such as Hamas will continue firing rockets into Israel right up until the last day of a conflict, and claim victory despite absorbing the majority of damages and casualties.

Today, the goal of seizing control of the enemy's turf is seen as a short-term initiative, and assuming long-term control and responsibility for hostile populations is a highly unpopular development among strategic planners, who now argue that this should be avoided wherever possible.

For decades, the IDF has been facing irregular asymmetric terrorist organizations which can change form, melt away and reform according to their needs.

The last time Israel fought direct battles with organized, hierarchical military foes was during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Today, as the main goal of most conflicts, victory has been replaced by deterrence. Deterrence, rather than clear-cut conquest or triumph over the enemy, has formed the goal of Israel's last three conflicts: the Second Lebanon War of 2006; Operation Cast Lead against against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 2009 and Operation Pillar of Defense against the same entities in Gaza in November.

Although the Second Lebanon War was claimed by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah as a "divine victory," six and a half years later, at the end of 2012, Hezbollah has still not repaired all of the damage it suffered in that conflict, and the Lebanese-Israeli border has never been quieter. Despite several glaring tactical and operational shortcomings, as a deterrent the Second Lebanon War was an Israeli victory.

Nevertheless, deterrence-based military achievements are temporary by nature. At some point, deterrence erodes away, and must be reestablished all over again. This is what happened in Gaza last month. And the IDF has been preparing for a fresh confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which today is armed with at least 50,000 rockets and missiles, many of them with a range of 200 kilometers, that can strike deep inside Israel.

Quietly, the Israel Air Force has been upgrading its weapons systems to allow it to face down Hezbollah with enhanced firepower. The new systems currently installed in IAF jets mean that a very large number of targets can be struck in Lebanon from the air within a very short period of time. The 1500 targets struck in Gaza, for example, during November's operation over the course of eight days, could have been struck in 24 hours had the IAF elected to do so.

Israeli intelligence has been mapping out the weapons storehouses in southern Lebanese villages and towns, and building up a long list of targets, for the day that Israel's deterrence runs out.

The IDF's evolving new doctrine involves short spells of fighting, in which the IDF hits the other side hard – hard enough to ensure that the Israeli home front will enjoy prolonged calm after the fighting ends. As opposed to the mission of utterly destroying Hamas or Hezbollah, such limited goals can be obtained quickly. Hezbollah is fully aware, meanwhile, that should it begin another conflict, it will reap major destruction on Lebanon.

The Israeli doctrine is flexible. It allows the IDF to choose the severity of the blows it lands on the enemy, depending on the circumstances of each fight, and the adversary involved.

Senior Israeli defense sources have indicated this month that any future round of fighting with Hezbollah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison. Even if the goal will not be to destroy Hezbollah, the organization is still susceptible to enormous damage; it is well aware of its exposure to overwhelming Israeli firepower.

The day after a future conflict ends, one defense source said this month, Hezbollah will have to "get up in the morning and explain to their people" why they invited yet more destruction to Lebanon.

The fact that Islamist terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah have formed political entities, and are responsible for managing the affairs of their people, means that they are more vulnerable than ever.

Unfortunately, the rocket and missile capabilities possessed by both means that Israeli civilians are also in the firing line; and the IDF is not counting on rocket defense systems such as Iron Dome to prevent wide-scale damage and secure future victories.

Even in the service of the limited goal of deterrence, offense, not defense, is still preferred.
Finally, the new doctrine is not fixed in stone; should Israel ever find that it cannot deter the enemies on its borders, it may choose to revert to its older method of defending its citizens: fully vanquishing hostile forces, despite the price it may have to pay.

Yaakov Lappin


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Tom Friedman: Confused and Clearly Hostile to Israel

by Ed Koch

In his December 26 New York Times editorial, Tom Friedman wrote in support of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel and the possibility that he will be chosen by President Barack Obama as Secretary of Defense. He stated: “So, yes, Hagel is out of the mainstream. That is exactly why his voice would be valuable right now. Obama will still make all the final calls, but let him do so after having heard all the alternatives.” By “mainstream,” Friedman apparently means overwhelmingly supportive of Israel. Hagel’s position is, as Friedman states, “out of the mainstream” with respect to Israel.

Imagine what would happen across our government if President Obama put that course of action into effect.

Friedman is in effect saying to President Obama that he should choose, as an example, a Secretary of the Treasury who believes in cutting expenses in the budget with no increase in taxes for the wealthy, noting that as President he makes the policy and can overrule his appointees; choose a Secretary of the Interior who has the same philosophy as many Alaskans which is to open every square inch of Alaska for oil production. After all, as Friedman says, the President makes the final decision. In the Defense Department, put someone in charge who disagrees with the current stated policy of the President and the Congress toward Israel. We’ve heard the President say, “I’ve got Israel’s back.” Hagel couldn’t care less; he’d rather talk to Hamas. Hagel’s point of view, according to Aaron Miller in his 2008 book, “The Much Too Promised Land,” is clearly hostile to Israel. Miller wrote: “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee comes knocking with a pro-Israel letter, Hagel continued, and ‘then you’ll get eighty or ninety senators on it. I don’t think I’ve ever signed one of the letters’ – because, he added, they were ‘stupid.” Hagel also said, ‘The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,’ but ‘I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator.’” For the record, more Christians support Israel in the U.S. than do Jews, who are a much smaller part of the U.S. population.

In addition, in government, you generally rely on the people you select for high office to let them run their departments. You don’t micromanage them, and no top-notch appointee would allow micromanagement by the President.

People give Tom Friedman lots of space and respect when he writes on Israel, undoubtedly assuming that as a Jew, he must be a supporter of Israel. I do not believe that assumption to be correct, because I recall his Times column of April 3 in which he urged the Palestinians to engage in another intifada using rocks to attack Israeli Jews.

When I was in Israel in 1991, I was struck on the head during the then intifada and needed nine stitches to close the wound. I was lucky that the jagged stone struck my head and not my eyes. Otherwise, I might have been blinded.

Chuck Hagel is not an evil man. He simply does not support the position that Israel is our ally, and I believe he would prefer closer relationships with the Muslim states in the region by reducing the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, which is what the Muslim, and certainly the Islamist, states desire. That is his right, but that philosophy should deny him the position of Secretary of Defense. Nor in my opinion does he believe that the Islamist Arab countries are hostile to the U.S. and Western civilization.

The leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, has called for the total destruction of Israel. The Hamas government is responsible for hurling 8,000 rockets into Israel since 2005. Human Rights Watch, normally critical of Israel, this week accused Hamas of war crimes against Israel, because their rockets deliberately targeted Israeli civilians. Does it make any sense for Friedman to suggest that Hagel’s attitude of seeking to engage Hamas “to see if it can be moved from its extremism” might be effective? There were people in the 1930s who suggested the same about Hitler and the Nazis. Hamas is now even stronger than before because its big brother and ally the Muslim Brotherhood governs Egypt and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, one of the Brotherhood’s leaders, has made clear his support of Hamas.

When will we learn that Islamist governments mean what they say when they threaten Israel with extermination and condemn the U.S., Europe and Israel and their Western culture and values?

I also view Tom Friedman’s supportive attitude to the so-called Arab Spring — which has produced Islamist governments toppling authoritarian Arab governments which were at least friendly to the U.S. — as dangerously wrong. Hitler came to power in Germany legally as have many of these Islamist governments. That doesn’t make them our friends nor should the President select a Secretary of Defense who, if confirmed, will be cheered by the enemies of the U.S. and Israel in the Muslim world.

In his December 13 column, Tom Friedman made one of his worst statements, showing his strong bias against Israel: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile, but because they are confused.”

Friedman has not apologized for these outrageous remarks, stating only that he regretted the words and should have chosen other terms. I suggest that it is Tom Friedman who is confused. I don’t believe even if he did apologize that the apology means anything and, in most cases, such apologies are simply an effort to end the discussion.

Ed Koch


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