Saturday, March 10, 2012

100+ Rockets Strike Israel on Weekend; 15 Gaza Arabs Said Dead

by Gil Ronen

Terrorists shoot over 100 rockets since IAF killed Zuheir al-Keisi Friday, wound eight – one seriously. 15 Arabs reported dead.
Damage to Israeli home.
Damage to Israeli home.
IDF website

Gaza terrorists continued to pummel southern Israel with rocket fire on the Sabbath. They fired 11 rockets on Saturday, bringing the total number of launches to over 100 since the IAF killed Zuheir al-Qaisi, the head of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), on Friday. Al Qaisi was killed following intelligence that the PRC was about to launch a deadly attack on Highway 12, which straddles the border with Egypt.

The IDF's English-language website counted approximately 135 rockets by 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Israel time), 74 of which struck within Israel. It said the Iron Dome system intercepted the rockets in 28 out of 31 attempts to do so.

Eight Israelis have been wounded by the rockets. Most suffered light to moderate wounds. One, a foreign worker, was seriously injured.

The Bethlehem-based Ma'an news service reported that 15 Arabs have been killed in IAF airstrikes over the weekend.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz conducted a situation assessment meeting at the Gaza Division Headquarters Saturday morning. In the early afternoon, two PRC terrorists were killed in an IAF airstrike east of Khan Younes. Another terror squad was killed as it was about to launch a rocket.

The IDF said in a statement Saturday morning that its aircraft had attacked six targets overnight: two weapons storage sites and two launching holes in northern Gaza, a weapons production site in central Gaza and a terror activity center in southern Gaza. The strikes are in response to the rocket fire at Israel.

In addition, the IDF said, aircraft fired at a terrorist in central Gaza in the course of the night, and at six additional terror cells in northern and central Gaza. These terrorists were all making preparations for launching rockets at Israel. Accurate hits on target were identified.

All IAF aircraft returned safely to their bases.

The IDF is preparing for a continuation of the present escalation and estimates that it will last a few days. Highway 12 has been closed off to civilians because of the alert regarding a terrorist plan to carry out an attack there. The IDF is combing the route. The highway was reopened to civilian traffic less than three weeks ago, after it had been closed since August following a terror attack in which eight Israeli were murdered.

Schools will be closed in Be'er Sheva Sunday. Additional communities may also decide to keep schools closed.

Gil Ronen


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The 'Jewish' President

by Bret Stephens

Should Israelis and pro-Israel Americans take President Obama at his word when he says—as he did at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday—"I have Israel's back"?


Here is a president who fought tooth-and-nail against the very sanctions on Iran for which he now seeks to reap political credit. He inherited from the Bush administration the security assistance to Israel he now advertises as proof of his "unprecedented" commitment to the Jewish state. His defense secretary has repeatedly cast doubt on the efficacy of a U.S. military option against Iran even as the president insists it remains "on the table." His top national security advisers keep warning Israel not to attack Iran even as he claims not to "presume to tell [Israeli leaders] what is best for them."

Oh, and his secretary of state answers a question from a Tunisian student about U.S. politicians courting the "Zionist lobbies" by saying that "a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention." It seems it didn't occur to her to challenge the premise of the question.

Still, if you're looking for evidence of Mr. Obama's disingenuousness when it comes to Israel, it's worth referring to what his supporters say about him.

Consider Peter Beinart, the one-time Iraq War advocate who has reinvented himself as a liberal scourge of present-day Israel and mainstream Zionism. Mr. Beinart has a book coming out next month called "The Crisis of Zionism." Chapter five, on "The Jewish President," fully justifies the cover price.

Mr. Beinart's case is that Mr. Obama came to his views about Israel not so much from people like his friend Rashid Khalidi or his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Instead, says Mr. Beinart, Mr. Obama got his education about Israel from a coterie of far-left Chicago Jews who "bred in Obama a specific, and subversive, vision of American Jewish identity and of the Jewish state."

At the center of this coterie, Mr. Beinart explains, was a Chicago rabbi named Arnold Jacob Wolf. In 1969, Wolf staged a synagogue protest in favor of Black Panther Bobby Seale. In the early 1970s, he founded an organization that met with Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization—this being some 20 years before Arafat officially renounced terrorism. In the early 1990s, Wolf denounced the construction of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

And, in 1996, the rabbi "was one of [Mr. Obama's] earliest and most prominent supporters" when he ran for the Illinois state Senate. Wolf later described Mr. Obama's views on Israel as "on the line of Peace Now"—an organization with a long history of blaming Israel for the Arab-Israeli conflict.

AFP/Getty Images

President Obama with AIPAC President Lee Rosenberg at the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Mr. Obama had other Jewish mentors, too, according to Mr. Beinart. One was Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, developer Philip Klutznick, had joined Wolf in "his break with the Israeli government in the 1970s." Ms. Saltzman, writes Mr. Beinart, "still seethes with hostility toward the mainstream Jewish groups" and later became active in left-wing Jewish political groups like J Street. Among other things, it was she who "organized the rally against the Iraq War where Obama proclaimed his opposition to an American invasion."

Ms. Saltzman also introduced Mr. Obama to David Axelrod, himself a longtime donor to a group called the New Israel Fund. For a flavor of the NIF's world view, a WikiLeaks cable from 2010 noted that an NIF associate director told U.S. embassy officials in Tel Aviv that "the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic."

Other things that we learn about Mr. Obama's intellectual pedigree from Mr. Beinart: As a student at Columbia, he honed his interests in colonialism by studying with the late pro-Palestinian agit-Prof. Edward Said. In 2004, Mr. Obama "criticized the barrier built to separate Israel and its major settlements from the rest of the West Bank"—the "barrier" meaning the security fence that all-but eliminated the wave of suicide bombings that took 1,000 lives in Israel.

We also learn that, according to one of Mr. Beinart's sources, longtime diplomat Dennis Ross was brought aboard the Obama campaign as part of what Mr. Beinart calls "Obama's inoculation strategy" to mollify Jewish voters apprehensive about the sincerity of his commitments to Israel. Not surprisingly, Mr. Ross was a marginal figure in the administration before leaving last year.

In Mr. Beinart's telling, all this is evidence that Mr. Obama is in tune with the authentic views of the American Jewish community when it comes to Israel, but that he's out of step with Jewish organizational leadership. Maybe. Still, one wonders why organizations more in tune with those "real" views rarely seem to find much of a base.

But the important question here isn't about American-Jewish attitudes toward Israel. It's about the president's honesty. Is he being truthful when he represents himself as a mainstream friend of Israel—or is he just holding his tongue and biding his time? On the evidence of Mr. Beinart's sympathetic book, Mr. Obama's speech at Aipac was one long exercise in political cynicism.

Bret Stephens


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Chicago Police Head Raises Money for CAIR

by Ryan Mauro

The Islamist pressure campaign against major law enforcement agencies is bearing fruit. They have put the NYPD on the defensive, thanks to some help from deceitful articles in the New York Times. And now, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has even agreed to speak at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a group that the FBI has officially cut ties with over its links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism broke the story that McCarthy met with officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where he promised that the Chicago Police Department would not use the surveillance tactics that CAIR has lashed out at the NYPD for using. Outrageously, McCarthy even agreed to speak at a fundraiser for CAIR’s branch in Chicago. The event will honor Kifah Mustapha, an imam whose bid to become the Illinois State Police’s first Muslim chaplain was torpedoed when his links to Hamas came to light.

CAIR was labeled by the federal government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity found to be a Hamas front used for fundraising. In 2007, the said that, “From its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists” and “the conspirators agreed to use deception to conceal from the American public their connections to terrorists.”

In 2009, the FBI stopped working with CAIR on outreach to the Muslim community. CAIR lost its fight to have its designation as an “unindicted co-conspirator” lifted and on July 1, 2009, District Court Judge Jorge Solis ruled that there was “ample evidence” tying CAIR to Hamas to justify the label.

Ryan Mauro


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Sharia Law, Secular Law and Rabbinical Courts

by Michael Curtis

Some Muslim sharia courts in Britain have pressed for their decisions to carry legal force in the national law. In contrast, no similar pressure has been exerted by the rabbinical courts. A fundamental principal in democracies is that equality before the law must refer to all citizens, [and] take care to maintain the wall of separation between church and state. By contrast, sharia law has been used to justify breaches or defiance of national, secular law.

The Archbishop of Canterbury in a speech in February 2008 inaugurated a controversial discussion on the existence and place of religious law and courts in Britain. His challenging premises were that adopting parts of Islamic sharia law into the British system would help maintain social cohesion, and that Britain should find a "constructive accommodation " with some aspects of Muslim law, as it had already done with some aspects of other religious laws.

In a passing reference to other religious laws, he mentions Jewish rabbinical law. However, the Archbishop was imprecise in his casual analysis, seeming to equate sharia courts and law, which are drawn from the Koran, the Sunna, Ijima, and Kiyas, with the Orthodox Jewish rabbinical courts and Jewish regulations (halakhah), stemming from the Bible, oral law, and rabbinical explications in the Talmud and the Mishnah. He did not draw any distinction between the nature of the two sets of courts and law, or their claims for their jurisdiction.

The Archbishop raises important questions in the United States relevant to the concept of separation between church and state, enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in a letter of January 1, 1802, and the first amendment, the Establishment Clause, of the Constitution. One is the role of, and the rule of, law in ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse contemporary plural societies, in which individuals have overlapping identities. Another is whether adherents of religious faiths can or should opt out of national legal provisions where their religion differs from those provisions.These general issues are important in democratic societies.

Some Muslim sharia courts in Britain and Canada have pressed for their decisions to carry legal force in the national law. In contrast, while a complicated and developing relationship exists in the United States between decisions of rabbinical courts and the secular court system, no similar pressure has been exerted by the rabbinical courts. Unlike the claims of sharia courts, decisions in Jewish rabbinical courts are limited to the very small number of Jews who resort to them, not to the whole Jewish population.

Both parties going to the rabbinical courts attend voluntarily and both must accept its judgments in order for them to be binding. The rabbinical courts have no coercive power over the Jewish community as a whole whereas sharia law is imposed on the entire Muslim population. Furthermore, sharia law appears inflexible when compared with rabbinical law which is constantly changing. The different branches of Judaism, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, have their own rabbinical authorities and therefore issue pluralistic, different interpretations of halakhah. Moreover, the procedures, rules, schedules, and requirements, used in rabbinical courts fluctuate at different times and in various places.

Jewish communal judgment and adjudication of disputes in accordance with halakhah goes back to Biblical times, and operates today in many European countries and in the United States. The rabbinical court which performs this function is called a Beth Din (plural, batei din). These Jewish courts, used voluntarily by Jews to settle disputes, have been in use for over two centuries in Britain as arbitration panels.

A Beth Din is generally composed of three observant Jews, usually rabbis, who decide cases on the basis of Jewish law. Its functions have for long focused on divorce and business affairs, but the Beth Din also deals with issues of the Jewish community such as certifying caterers and restaurant businesses as kosher; deciding on medical ethics for Jewish patients; issuing verdicts on breach of contract in disputes between traders as well as in tenancy cases; ruling on who is a Jew; and deciding on the legitimacy of religious conversions. Some of these are decrees on personal issues of faith; these are non-binding.

At least in Britain, if a dispute relates to a contract under British law, the Beth Din can incorporate some rules of that civil law into Jewish law. Most arbitration decisions by the Beth Din are legally binding and can be enforced by the secular courts if both parties agree that the Beth Din can settle the issue. The parties use this arbitration procedure not only for religious and other reasons but also because it is quicker and cheaper than litigation. Decisions by Beth Din do not pose a challenge to the national law. Their decisions are subordinate to domestic (municipal, national) law.

Can Islamic sharia courts and tribunals be legitimately equated with Jewish rabbinical courts (Beth Din, or House of Judgment)? The two are similar in that both depend on religious faith and apply religious law, the sharia based on Islam, and the Beth Din on Jewish law supplemented by the Torah and the Talmud. But the differences are vastly more important than this similarity and a number of them are apparent. Jewish law, though the law of the Jewish people, does not dictate the political life of Jews, nor does it seek to be incorporated into the national secular law. Indeed, interpretation of halakhah, decided by argument and vote, differs in Beth Dins.

Generalization about the work of the Beth Din is perilous. As already described, no one Jewish individual or institutional body determines conclusive interpretation of halakhah, and its regulations on issues of relationships between people and between people and power change constantly as the law is applied to real problems encountered in life, as well as in issues of religious practice.

The Beth Din is concerned only with civil cases. Above all, there is for the most part, if not complete, gender equality in its proceedings, contrary to the patriarchal nature of sharia courts and sharia law which discriminates against women and places them in an inferior position.

A fundamental principle in democracies is that equality before the law must refer to all citizens. The rabbinical courts do not seek to be in disharmony with national law. By contrast sharia law has been used, on the basis of religious principle to justify breaches or defiance of national, secular law, the question of polygamy being a notorious example.

Feminist writers such as Susan Okin have pointed out, without specifically alluding to Islam, that the values of some cultures or religions clash with the norms of gender equality endorsed in liberal democracies, even if democratic countries sometimes violate them in practice. Sharia law, but not halakhah, illustrates a major problem of multiculturalism in democracies in which there is a certain tension between commitment to equal rights and dignity for women, and the commitment to allow groups, such as Muslims, to claim the right to govern themselves according to their own culture.

The functioning of rabbinical courts also differs in different countries. In Israel they are part of the Israeli judiciary. In Britain they operate as alternatives to secular court action within the context of the Arbitration Act (1996). As an arbitration tribunal, the Beth Din is limited in Britain by law to civil proceedings nor is it recognized as a substitute legal court. Its process of arbitration functions within, not outside, the secular law.

In other countries as well as Britain, the Beth Din does not deal with criminal law, but primarily with personal law; marriage, divorce, custody of children, and family property. In complex issues the Beth Din panel consists of dayanin (arbitration judges) who are authorities in Jewish law. Unlike the sharia courts, women have sometimes been included in these panels.

The most familiar major function of the Beth Din is jurisdiction in divorce proceedings. Some Jews feel they must acquire a Jewish religious divorce, a Get, as well as a civil divorce to end marriage. It is true that the Get, when awarded, and written by a scribe is presented by a husband to a wife, and some husbands may hold their wives hostage to obtain this from them, but usually, both parties must agree if the divorce is to go ahead. The decision in effect is made by the participating couple, not by the Beth Din. And the parties must still obtain a civil divorce to change their secular legal status. Aspects of the Get are somewhat complicated and controversial. Women have been denied a Get by the Beth Din if husbands refuse to divorce whereas the reverse is not true. Reform Judaism, at least in Britain, has tried to alleviate this problem by granting religious divorces to women without the husband's consent on the grounds that an unethical law cannot be a Jewish law.

The nature of the interaction between the Beth Din and the secular court has changed from time to time. The secular courts may be asked to approve or disapprove decisions based on halakah, thus giving the secular courts a limited appellate function over the rabbinical courts But, contrary to sharia courts, the Beth Din has never suggested that its decisions be incorporated into secular law. The Beth Din remains a significant institution for those Jews who choose to use its role to arbitrate on the basis of religious law. One can conclude that the legal decisions emanating from the rabbinical courts interact with those of the secular courts in various ways while the Beth Din takes care to maintain the wall of separation between church and state.

Michael Curtis


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Spain Facing Creeping Islamization

by Soeren Kern

Laaroussi was questioned by police but refused to answer questions because he does not recognize the legitimacy of the Spanish state. According to one estimate, 75% of all babies born in Spain on January 1, 2012, were born to immigrant parents, primarily from Morocco.

A radical Islamic preacher in Spain has been arrested for calling on Muslims to use physical and psychological violence to "discipline" errant wives who refuse to submit to Islamic Sharia law or obey their husbands.

Spanish public prosecutors say Abdeslam Laaroussi, a charismatic imam from Morocco who preaches at a large mosque in Terrassa, an industrial city situated 30 kilometers north of Barcelona, is guilty of "incitement to violence against women" for "providing concrete examples of the manner in which wives should be beaten, how to isolate them inside the family home and how to deny them sexual relations."

Police say witnesses provided them with recordings of sermons Laaroussi preached at the Badr Mosque in downtown Terrassa (where more than 1,500 people attend prayers services each Friday) in which he instructed his listeners to "hit women with the use of a stick, the fist or the hand so that no bones are broken and no blood is drawn."

Laaroussi was questioned by police on March 6 but refused to provide evidence because he does not recognize the legitimacy of the Spanish state. If he is found guilty, Laaroussi could face up to three years in prison.

The incident is just one of a long and growing list of Islam-related controversies in Spain, where the number of Muslims has jumped to an estimated 1.5 million in 2011 from just 100,000 in 1990. As their numbers grow, Muslims in Spain are becoming more assertive than ever before.

In January 2012, for example, two radical Islamic television stations began 24-hour broadcasting to Spanish-speaking audiences in Spain and Latin America from new studios in Madrid. The first channel, sponsored by the government of Iran, will focus on spreading Shiite Islam, the dominant religion in Iran. The second channel, sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia, will focus on spreading Sunni, Wahhabi Islam, the dominant religion in Saudi Arabia.

In December 2011, some 3,000 Muslim immigrants took to the streets of downtown Terrassa to protest recent cuts in social welfare handouts. The size and spontaneity of the protest, which was organized and attended by Moroccan immigrants, caught local officials by surprise.

Also in December, Islamic Sharia law arrived in the Basque city of Bilbao when a Chechen immigrant tried to murder his 24-year-old son-in-law, a Christian, for marrying his 19-year-old daughter, a Muslim.

In September, Muslim immigrants were accused of poisoning dozens of dogs in the city of Lérida, where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the city's total population. Local residents say Muslims killed the dogs because according to Islamic teaching dogs are "unclean" animals.

Also in September, the regional government in Catalonia revealed that during the first six months of 2011, it prevented 14 forced marriages and the genital mutilation of 24 Muslim girls.

In August, the municipality of Salt, a town near Barcelona where Muslim immigrants now make up 40% of the population, approved a one-year ban on the construction of new mosques. It is the first ban of its kind in Spain. The moratorium follows public outrage over plans to build a mega-mosque financed by Saudi Arabia.

In December 2010, a high school teacher in the southern Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción was sued by the parents of a Muslim student who said the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in class.

Also in December, Lérida became the first municipality in Spain to ban the burqa head covering in all public spaces. Women found violating the ban will be fined up to €600 ($750).

In November 2010, the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, two enclaves in northern Africa, officially recognized the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), as a public holiday. By doing so, Ceuta and Melilla, where Muslims make up more than 50% of the total populations, became the first Spanish municipalities officially to mark an Islamic holiday since Spain was liberated from Muslim captivity in 1492.

In October 2010, the Islamic Association of Málaga, in southern Spain, demanded that Television Española (TVE), the state-owned national public television broadcaster, stop showing a Spanish-language television series because it was "anti-Muslim" for criticizing certain aspects of Islam, such as forced marriages and the lack of women's rights in Muslim countries.

That same month, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao found their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking for money to build a 650 square meter (7,000 square feet) mosque costing €550,000 ($735,000). Their website states: "We were expelled [from Spain] in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]."

In September 2010, the Watani Association for Freedom and Justice, a local Moroccan activist group, submitted a letter to the Lérida city council in which they asked the mayor to provide them with free land so that they can build a mosque in the city center. The mosque would be financed by Morocco and would compete in Lérida with another mosque project, financed by Saudi Arabia.

Also in September, a discotheque in southern Spanish resort town of Águilas (Murcia) was forced to change its name and architectural design after Islamists threatened to initiate "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if it did not.

In January 2010, Mohamed Benbrahim, an imam in the city of Tarragona near Barcelona, was arrested for forcing Fatima Ghailan, a 31-year-old Moroccan woman, to wear a hijab Islamic head covering. The imam had threatened to burn down the woman's house because, according to him, she is "infidel," works outside of the home, drives an automobile and has non-Muslim friends.

In December 2009, nine Islamists in the city of Reus, also near Barcelona, kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman just barely managed to escape being executed by fleeing to a local police station.

In another case, a court in Barcelona found Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, a Muslim cleric at a mosque in the southern Spanish city of Fuengirola, guilty of inciting violence against women after he published a book entitled "Women in Islam," in which he advised men on how to beat their wives without leaving incriminating marks. An unrepentant Mustafa characterized his 22 days in jail as a "spiritual retreat."

These conflicts -- and hundreds more like them -- are a harbinger of things to come, especially as the Muslim population in Spain is poised to skyrocket.

Muslim fertility rates are more than double those of an aging native Spanish population. Spain currently has a birth rate of around 1.4, which is far below the 2.1 required for a population to replace itself. At the current rates, demographers say the number of native Spaniards will be reduced to half in about two generations, while during that same period, the Muslim population in Spain will quadruple.

The first child born in Spain in 2012 was Fatima, whose parents are Muslim. According to one estimate, 75% of all babies born in Spain on January 1, 2012 were born to immigrant parents, primarily from Morocco.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.


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Dagan’s Tactical Disagreement

by Jonathan S. Tobin

One of the standard themes of those who claim there is no need to take action to halt Iran’s progress toward nuclear capability is that intelligence experts dispute the notion that this program poses a threat to Israel or the West. The star of this campaign is former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who will be featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” this Sunday. The interview is being hailed by some as debunking what they consider to be the alarmism expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, therefore giving cover to those who wish to table the entire subject rather than to ramp up the pressure on Tehran.

But as with many previous statements by Dagan, the excerpts of the interview that have been released are bound to disappoint Iran’s apologists. Though Dagan is fiercely antagonistic to both Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposed to an air strike on Iran now, he clearly views Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to Israel and believes it must be stopped. His differences with Israel’s government center on how much time we have before it is too late and what measures would be most effective in doing the job.

Those who are promoting Dagan as a counterpoint to Netanyahu should remember a few key facts about his unprecedented public advocacy on the Iran issue that are not well known in the United States. Far from being an entirely dispassionate intelligence professional, Dagan’s anger at Netanyahu and Barak stems in no small part from the fact that the pair are the ones responsible for his being fired from his job. This happened after a series of intelligence failures–the most public of which was the disastrous hit on a Hamas official in Dubai.

Second, though interviewer Leslie Stahl focuses her attention on Dagan’s opposition to a strike on Iran now, the subtext to his position is that he spent much of his time at the head of the Mossad working on efforts to spike the ayatollah’s nuclear ambition. Under his leadership, Israeli intelligence concentrated much of its resources on covert activities whose purpose was to slow or stop progress toward an Iranian bomb. Although he says he considers the Iranian regime “rational” (though he added “not exactly our [idea of] rational”), that doesn’t mean he thinks containing a nuclear Iran (something President Obama has now specifically rejected) is a good idea.

Instead, as one might expect from a veteran spook, Dagan wants more emphasis on covert activities and other efforts that are aimed at an even more ambitious project than a mere surgical taking out of Iran’s nuclear facilities: regime change. In the sense that a democratic Iran, or at least one not ruled by Islamist fanatics, would be much safer for Israel and the rest of the world, he is, of course, right. But to say his opinions on this subject are somehow more realistic than the less grandiose intentions of Netanyahu and Barak, who only wish to make sure Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei doesn’t get his hands on a nuke, is obviously a stretch.

The question of how much time Israel has before it is too late to do anything about an Iranian nuclear weapon is not unimportant. Dagan is clearly of the opinion the situation is not yet critical. But, as he was careful to point out to Stahl, “I never said a lot of time. [There is] more time.”

All of which paints a picture of a difference of opinion within the top levels of Israeli intelligence which is more about tactics and timing than, as Netanyahu’s critics as well as Israel-haters seem to imply, about the critical nature of the threat itself. Meir Dagan’s opinions deserve to be heard and considered, but they should be understood as coming from within a consensus that views Iranian nukes as a deadly threat, not outside of it.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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DNC Chief's Family Doubts Obama's Support for Israel

by Adam Kredo

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), the chairman of the DNC and one of the president’s most prominent Jewish backers, is apparently having trouble convincing her own friends and family that President Obama is a friend of Israel.

While defending Obama’s record in an op-ed published today in the Florida Jewish Journal, Wasserman Schultz admits that her friends and family members routinely forward her emails raising doubts about the president’s support for the Jewish state.

“I hear the rumors, too,” Wasserman Schultz wrote in the piece titled “No Smearing a True Friend.” “I receive the dubious email forwards from friends and family.”

Wasserman Schultz’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the precise nature of these allegedly false email messages.

Wasserman Schultz also made the case that Obama has been exceedingly tough on the Iranian regime, although that country appears resolved to continue its drive for a nuclear weapons capability.

Wasserman Schultz wrote that the ultimate goal of economic sanctions and Obama’s tough rhetoric “is to stop any sinister elements of the Iranian nuclear program and compel Tehran to comply with their obligations under international law.”

When asked which elements of Iran’s nuclear program are “sinister” and which are not, Wasserman Schultz’s office again did not respond.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, has no doubt about Iran’s disputed nuclear program, stating in a speech recently that “Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the bet that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the worlds most dangerous weapons.”

Adam Kredo


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American Islamist Groups Mum on Iranian Repression

by IPT News

In what has become a recurring pattern, American Islamist groups again have turned a blind eye to the misdeeds of the brutal Iranian regime, further calling into question their inconsistent positions on civil rights violators and their tacit support of the radical Iranian government.

Amnesty International released a new report Feb. 28 documenting the growing campaign of repression orchestrated by the regime in Tehran against dissenters in advance of new parliamentary elections.

"The net of repression is widening in Iran," Amnesty's description said. "The authorities are arresting filmmakers, bloggers, human rights defenders, women's rights activists, lawyers, students, journalists, political activists, religious and ethnic minorities – simply for speaking out against the government or expressing views with which the authorities do not agree."

That was followed by a 36-page report on human rights in Iran issued Wednesday by a United Nations special envoy. It finds and "alarming increase" in executions, which reached 650 people last year, compared to less than 100 people in 2003, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In addition, the report cited arrests of journalists and banned students critical of the government.

Despite the reports' damning evidence about unjustified arrests, unfair trials, torture, and even executions – some involving minors – the self-proclaimed bastions of civil rights and Muslim freedom in the United States have been silent about Iranian cruelty. When they do speak of Iran, it is to lament the way the Islamic Republic is being treated.

"The problem in the case of Iran is that it is singled out as the threat. We [the U.S.] don't deal with North Korea the same way we deal with Iran," Salam al-Marayati, President of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), told a panel on Russia Today's Cross Talk on Feb. 29. "With other countries, we utilize the IAEA, we use multilateral instruments to deal with the nuclear problem. In this case with Iran, there is no dialogue, there is [sic] no negotiations, it is all confrontational policies that is part of a war mongering mentality here in the U.S. and they're just waiting for the tripwire and then the machinery of war will begin."

Ironically, Marayati said in the same appearance that "any change that happens in Iran must come from the people."

These are the same people being targeted by the government for seeking to enact change. In fact, Human Rights Watch blasted last week's parliamentary vote as fundamentally unfair, since "opposition leaders are either barred from participating, serving unjust prison sentences, or refusing to participate in what they consider sham elections."

In the end, candidates loyal to Ayatollah Ali Khameini swept to wins in 75 percent of the parliamentary seats.

In a policy paper on the Iranian nuclear threat released Jan. 30, MPAC urged the United States to tone down talk of military action and also to scale back sanctions against Iran, which, it argues, are hurting civilians. This position ignores the effect these sanctions have had in weakening the Iranian government, making it more vulnerable to internal and external pressure to reform or step down.

Another prominent Islamist group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has also been shy in commenting on the widespread repression in Iran, only speaking out sporadically in a handful of civil rights cases, mostly involving foreigners (for examples see here or here).

Like MPAC, however, CAIR has instead focused its attention on undermining U.S. policy towards Iran's nuclear program and casting doubt on the credibility of the U.S. position on this issue.

On Jan. 31, Dawud Walid, Executive Director of CAIR's Michigan chapter responded to an article in which America's top intelligence officials identified Iran as a top threat to U.S. cyber security by tweeting, "Funny thing is these are the same reporters who reported w/o questioning if Iraq had WMD. They are doing same w/ Iran."

CAIR National also posted two articles in the last week that call into question the wisdom of a military strike to neutralize Iran's nuclear program.

Additionally, CAIR representatives continue to appear on Press TV, the Iranian government's English-language broadcast outlet. These appearances, including two in late February, are invariably critical of some U.S. policy or of the supposed mistreatment of Muslims in America and feed into Press TV's anti-U.S. narrative.

On Feb. 22, Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's National Communications Director, was interviewed on Press TV about the recent burning of Qurans in Afghanistan by American troops. Speaking of U.S. authorities, Hooper said, "They are saying they are launching an investigation but unfortunately these investigations often lead nowhere."

A day earlier, the civil rights manager for CAIR's New York chapter, Cyrus McGoldrick, told Press TV that surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department represents "the end of democracy." Americans need to "recognize that this is a human rights issue, this is not a Muslim issue, this is a human rights issue and that we really need to reclaim ideals, you know, if they ever existed, have now been fully overturned," he added.

Forgetting the irony of a Muslim civil rights manager appearing on an Iranian media outlet accusing U.S. law enforcement of human rights violations, it is also interesting that groups like CAIR and MPAC are sensitive to civil rights issues in some instances, but not when it comes to Iran.

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring, MPAC has thrown its support behind the persecuted Syrian people and called for an end to Bashar al-Assad's regime, which has demonstrated a blatant disregard for human rights in dealing with the protests that have swept its nation.

"In solidarity with Syrian communities around the world, including the United States, the Muslim Public Affairs Council has one overarching goal for the Syrian Spring for Freedom: it seeks to support the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," wrote MPAC in its introduction to its special report on the Syrian revolution released in early February.

Similarly, CAIR voiced its support for the Syrian people and echoed MPAC's call for the Assad regime to step down.

"We call on the Obama administration and Congress to support all those who seek to exercise their universal human right to freedom of political expression," said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor in a statement Feb. 23.

In the same statement, Saylor expressed concern for the treatment of anti-government protestors in Bahrain and urged the U.S. government to withhold arms shipments to its Gulf ally until it respected the will of its people.

"We should also stop deliveries of military hardware and services to the Bahraini government as long as it is engaged in persecuting peaceful protestors," Saylor stated. "American items and services should serve the needs of freedom, not assist in repression."

Two other Islamist groups, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) have also condemned government atrocities in Syria, while neglecting to comment on similar crimes being committed against civilians in Iran. ISNA wrote a letter to President Obama on Feb. 1 urging him to provide humanitarian relief to the Syrian people and ICNA questioned why the world intervened on behalf of the Libyan people but won't do the same for the Syrians.

"We are sickened and outraged by the actions of the Assad regime," ICNA wrote in a Feb. 20 press release. "The brutality of Assad and his people is no less than that of Qaddafi, and yet the whole world is silently watching as blood is shed on a daily basis in the streets of Syria."

Again, no mention of Iran's repressive crackdown on dissidents.

Even in light of the fact that accurate accounts of Syrian repression are difficult to find, American Islamist groups have proven to be extremely outspoken in favor of Syrian aspirations for democracy and civil rights. Yet, faced with detailed reports about similar crackdowns by the Iranian government, these groups say next to nothing and even defend the guilty regime.

These groups indeed seem like unlikely allies of the mullahs, but Iran is lucky to have them.

IPT News


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New Afghanistan 'Code of Conduct' a Big Step Backward for Women

by Khorshied Samad

International Women’s Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon the achievements made on behalf of women’s rights and their participation in times of conflict and peace around the world, as well as assess ongoing challenges that exist to impede the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout society. One of the most startling and disappointing examples of progress under threat exists today in Afghanistan.

Afghan women have valid reasons to be worried that the gains made on their behalf over the past 10 years may be eroded and reversed if a just and lasting peace is not achieved and, worse yet, if an un-reformed Taliban return to any semblance of power in their country. Peace negotiations "at any cost" with the Taliban may sound like a credible political solution to some, but not to most Afghan women, whose memories of their repressive regime is only too fresh and frightening to ever face again.

An even greater threat to the existing Afghan constitution has now appeared in President Karzai’s tacit endorsement this week of the Ulema Council (religious scholars) recommendations that Afghan society incorporate a stricter “code of conduct,” which includes segregation of men and women at work and school, travel restrictions for women and support for wife beatings based on a husband providing “Shariah-compliant reason.” If applied as such, these recommendations would surely result in a constitutional crisis and be seen by many as political inducement to the Taliban under the aegis of reconciliation.

Under the Taliban, women were whipped in the street for showing so much as an ankle and were prohibited from attending school, going to work or traveling without a male relative. They were imprisoned, tortured, executed and viewed as non-citizens without any legal rights or access to justice within their society. They lived as prisoners in their homes. Though many of us in the West take our basic rights for granted, Afghan women have courageously fought for, achieved and witnessed great improvements in their lives since the Taliban were driven from power in late 2001 by Afghan and U.S. coalition forces.

Since 2002, Afghan women and girls have returned by the millions to gain an education, with nearly three million girls attending school today. Millions of women have returned to the work force, and more and more young women are entering the professional life. Due to a quota system established by the 2004 Afghan Constitution, women make up nearly 26 percent of the Afghan parliament and provincial councils and are challenging outdated laws and outlooks to promote a more gender balanced society, sometimes at great peril to their own lives. Afghan women are now seen, heard and read about in the media and play a dynamic role in promoting women’s voices in all walks of life. And yet the situation is hardly perfect, and equality and equity is far from being achieved across Afghan society. At least some progress is tangible for many who were voiceless ghosts just 10 years ago.

However, with President Karzai’s apparent endorsement of the council of clerics stricter guidelines for women, which goes so far as to say, “men are fundamental and women are secondary,” questioning the legitimacy of the 2004 Afghan Constitution’s legal protection of women’s rights, there should be no doubt that the current government means to sacrifice Afghan women’s rights and reverse the gains made on their behalf as a bargaining chip with the Taliban.

Now more than ever, it is time to stand by the Afghan people and keep pressure on their government, otherwise the treasure spent and blood spilled on Afghan soil will be in vain. Only patience and inclusion of all relevant stakeholders - which include Afghan women in both peace and reconstruction processes – will help lead Afghanistan onto the path of durable peace and stability, which should be the goal of all key players involved.

The United States should remain engaged on the side of those whose rights need to be defended or those who want to become self-sufficient, to nurture the historic bonds of friendship and humanitarian outreach. We must continue to honor those who have fallen on both the American and Afghan sides by not allowing what has been achieved to be unraveled for political expediency.

Actively working to improve the rights of Afghan women is not idealistic, it is also pragmatic. Lasting peace cannot come without the participation and representation of Afghan women in its developing society. Let us hope that the gains achieved on their behalf will not be reversed by unjust political concessions at the peace negotiations table.

Khorshied Samad is a former Fox News television correspondent and Kabul bureau chief, and worked previously for ABC News. Khorshied continues to work on behalf of Afghan women and children through the Artists for Afghanistan Foundation,


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Obama Vs. Israel: Priority No. 1? Stop Israel

by Charles Krauthammer

It's Lucy and the football, Iran-style. After ostensibly tough talk about preventing Iran from going nuclear, the Obama administration acquiesced to yet another round of talks with the mullahs.

This, 14 months after the last group-of-six negotiations collapsed in Istanbul because of blatant Iranian stalling and unseriousness. Nonetheless, the new negotiations will be both without precondition and preceded by yet more talks to decide such trivialities as venue.

These negotiations don't just gain time for a nuclear program about whose military intent the IAEA is issuing alarming warnings. They make it extremely difficult for Israel to do anything about it (while it still can), lest Israel be universally condemned for having aborted a diplomatic solution.

If the administration were serious about achievement rather than appearance, it would have warned that this was the last chance for Iran to come clean and would have demanded a short timeline. After all, President Obama insisted on deadlines for the Iraq withdrawal, the Afghan surge and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Why leave these crucial talks open-ended when the nuclear clock is ticking?

This re-engagement comes immediately after Obama's campaign-year posturing about Iran's nukes. Sunday in front of AIPAC, he warned that "Iran's leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States." This just two days after he'd said (to the Atlantic) of possible U.S. military action, "I don't bluff."

Yet on Tuesday he returns to the very engagement policy that he admits had previously failed.

Real Target

Won't sanctions make a difference this time, however? Sanctions are indeed hurting Iran economically.

But when Obama's own director of national intelligence was asked by the Senate intelligence committee whether sanctions had any effect on the course of Iran's nuclear program, the answer was simple: No. None whatsoever.

Obama garnered much AIPAC applause by saying that his is not a containment policy but a prevention policy. But what has he prevented? Keeping a coalition of six together is not success. Holding talks is not success. Imposing sanctions is not success.

Success is halting and reversing the program. Yet Iran is tripling its uranium output, moving enrichment facilities deep under a mountain near Qom and impeding IAEA inspections of weaponization facilities.

So what is Obama's real objective?

"We're trying to make the decision to attack as hard as possible for Israel," an administration official told the Washington Post in the most revealing White House admission since "leading from behind."

Charles Krauthammer


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Thursday, March 8, 2012

When the Press Incites Palestinians into War, We All Lose

by B. Davidson

In Silwan, an older balaclava-clad child with a slingshot fires off a stone at the police, as cameras in front of him captured his “heroic” pose.

Photo: B. Davidson.

A dramatic Agence France-Presse photo of a gang of Palestinian youths near Hebron smashing big rocks on the windshield of a passing Israeli motorist’s car on Feb. 21, and the driver’s reflexive head-down cringe as she gunned her SUV though the melee, has shocked readers on many news websites and blogs.

The photograph caught a flak-jacketed press videographer standing directly behind one of the stone throwers, filming as the rock exploded on her windshield. The cameraman “was seeking a better picture angle to snap away at what was about to happen.”

“On my left were at least two other photographers, waiting for the action,” driver Zahava Weiss of Carmei Tzur later told local media. Several Israelis have been killed and many hurt in the near-daily stone salvos. In the Feb. 21 incident, the immediate question for many was whether the scene a media setup, and to what degree—if any—did the cameraman actively or passively collude with the stone throwing “shabab” (“gang” in Arabic) in order to get the “money shot?”

This situation is indicative of what has become an open secret: a professionally, ethically, and morally questionable symbiotic relationship between press photographers and Palestinians. Photographers need the dramatic stills and footage for their agencies and clients, and the shabab want their deeds recorded for international posterity. But the public abroad never sees how the images were achieved, and assumes it’s all spontaneous, and that the camera just happened to be there at the right moment.

This phenomenon, since dubbed as “fauxtography,” became apparent to me in December 2010, in a story about Arab and Jewish squatters in Jerusalem’s eastern Silwan/Shiloach neighborhood. In an alleyway, I saw what seemed to encapsulate the paradigm: photographers and stone throwers—apparently—stage-managing an afternoon-long rock throwing battle with police, one of who knows how many such events that might never have happened were there no cameras present to record the events.

As I often do in such stories, I brought along my own camera in order to accurately describe details for an article afterward. At one point, my back flat against the alleyway wall with several Arab photographers, a youth ran in front of us and cocked his arm to hurl a stone at the police, some 50 yards away.

However, I was shocked to then hear one of them stage-whisper “Yal-la! Yal-la! Harb, harb! (Go! Go! War, war!),” in order to galvanize the kid into more daring action. 
Hold that image: an adult press-carded photographer was egging on children to hurl rocks and bottles at heavily armed riot police, in hopes of getting better action shots, indifferent to consequences to the child, the police, the neighbors, or local and international repercussions.

An older man behind the youths would scream “Allah Akbar!” in order to whip up the shabab. It was hard not to get the impression that the “handler,” as I’ll call him, was the backstage manager for the “spontaneous” event.

The kids would take turns running forward to throw rocks, and then rush back to take cover from the oncoming five or six police by hiding behind the press at their end of the alley. The handler would then talk to them in a huddle, while the photographers got easy action shots of onrushing police.

Standing between the photographers and the cops, he then lifted the child, who—as though on cue—waved a tiny, defiant fist, as the cameras clattered away. So the angle the viewer got was “An armed, black-uniformed Israel Police SWAT team member faces down a Palestinian toddler.”

I was professionally and personally appalled by what appeared to be active and passive cooperation between the Arabs and the press: an effective PR machine custom made for foreign media consumption.

Both disbelieving and disgusted when I realized what seemed to be taking place, more and more I started photographing the stone throwers “off-stage” as they gathered stones and conferred with the handler. Some would try to cover their unmasked faces, gesturing and shouting at me in Arabic not to photograph them.

At one point, the handler, who had been urgently waving at me not to photograph him, led a group of five or six youths who threateningly surrounded me. When I didn’t respond when one of them shoved me, the handler” then angrily got close up in my face and demanded that I stop photographing.

To calm the tension, I casually shrugged and told them in English that I was “just doing my job,” and they left me alone as I continued photographing the events. 

At one surreal moment in the fray, the photographers all took a coffee break, taking cups from a tray graciously proffered them by a man who exited the home of one of the Arab squatters in the story.

The police stood nearby, in full riot gear and breathless after charging at the stone throwers. They were not offered coffee.

B. Davidson


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From Latma, A Purim Post: Peace Now's Megillah

by Latma TV

[SZ: More than a little irreverent, but that's ok on Purim. Enjoy.]

Latma TV is a satirical web site associated with Caroline Glick.


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NY Times Stokes Palestinian Victimhood, Ignores Self-inflicted Wounds

by Leo Rennert

In its March 8 edition, the New York Times runs a front-page article about the plight of the Palestinians. Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner writes that since the onset of the Arab Spring and the world's focus on Iran's nuclear program, "the Palestinian leadership has found itself orphaned." Palestinians are politically divided between Fatah and Hamas, peace talks with Israel have collapsed and foreign support is waning. ("Mideast Din Drowns Out Palestinians" page one )

Bronner goes on to quote Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, that Arabs elsewhere are preoccupied with their own problems, the U.S. is in an election year and has economic problems, Europe has its worries - "We're in a corner."

In sum, the Palestinian question is no longer front and center on the world's agenda.

All true. But who bears responsibility for this sad state of affairs? Bronner points to external forces and trends. But in doing so, he only helps perpetuate a familiar Palestinian sense of victimhood. It's always someone else who's to blame - whether it's Israel, the U.S., or oil-rich Arab states that don't come through with their financial pledges. In the meantime, a two-state solution recedes even farther on anyone's calendar.

In echoing these familiar complaints, Bronner does no favor to the Palestinians. If they're in a funk because the world is turning its back, it's because of self-inflicted wounds - a lack of vision and statesmanship by leaders who won't take responsibility for steering Palestinians toward any sort of realistic peace deal.

Despite all the problems that beset the Palestinians, Mahmoud Abbas still could kickstart meaningful peace talks. How? By taking Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at his word and inviting him to Ramallah and restart negotiations toward a two-state deal. Abbas would have to drop his insistence on a construction freeze in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank as pre-conditions for a new round of talks. But if he really wants to advance the peace process, why not plunge directly into negotiations on all outstanding issues?

The answer is that Abbas continues to run away from any realistic Palestinian overtures that could bear fruit. For that to happen, he would have to prepare his people for painful compromises on Jerusalem and the "right of return," jettison maximalist demands that would eliminate the Jewish state, and stop glorifying terrorist killers.

By now, it's clear Abbas is not apt to head in that direction. Having groomed generations of Palestinians to let the world do their bidding and pursue ways to supplant Israel rather than accepting a compromise painful to both sides, Abbas has dug himself a deep hole from which he can no longer extricate himself.

Bronner, however, avoids any critique of Abbas that would hold him responsible for the Palestinians' self-inflicted wounds. Like Abbas, he bemoans the world's growing inattentiveness to Palestinian plights, but avoids urging Palestinians to take charge of their own fate.

To be of real help to the Palestinians, Bronner could begin by putting Abbas under the same critical lens that he uses to write about Netanyahu. Coddling Abbas and the Palestinians does them no favor.

A postscript: Atop Bronner's front-page piece, the Times runs a four-column color picture of Israeli soldiers firing at stone-throwers in the West Bank town of Al Ram. Except that the picture doesn't show any stone-throwing, only the fire of Israeli weapons. With the jump on page 3, the Times runs a four-column black-and-white picture of a Palestinian protester at Al Ram throwing stones at Israeli forces/ Which, of course, is another instance of the Times' upside-down coverage of the conflict. Israeli soldiers wouldn't be firing their weapons if Palestinians didn't pelt them with stones. Since the stone-throwing initiates such incidents, it should be featured on the front page, and the return IDF fire on the inside. The Times, however, does just the opposite - again suggesting with its vivid color photo on the front page -- that Israel is the guilty party.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.


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Israel, the United States and Iran -- Locked in the Dance of Destiny

by KT McFarland

Set your clocks and start your engines.

We’re counting down for a conflict in the Middle East. It’s not clear how it will start, or what will happen once it does. But it’s likely to begin in that narrow window of time between three countdown clocks sitting on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s desk.

The first clock counts the "zone of diplomacy" -- how much more time
Israel feels it must give President Obama to halt Iran’s nuclear programs with sanctions and diplomacy. Netanyahu has concluded that three years of sanctions and diplomatic outreach to Iran have failed; that the only thing Iran has done since Obama extended the hand of friendship is accelerate its nuclear weapons program.

Obama wants to give a new round of sanctions and diplomacy more time. The sooner Netanyahu launches his jets, the better things look for his country militarily, but the worse they look diplomatically.

And here's the truth: whatever happens once the dust settles, Israel needs America.

The second clock counts Iran’s "zone of immunity" -- that is how much time is left before Iran moves its nuclear program deep underground where it is no longer vulnerable to an Israeli attack.

The more capable US weapons systems could attack Iran’s nuclear sites even after Iran moves underground, but Israel can’t bet its very existence on Obama’s willingness to use them.

The third clock counts down to the American election -- let's call it the "campaign zone." No presidential candidate can abandon Israel and expect to win in November. On the other hand, no president wants to seek re-election with another war in the Middle East and high gasoline prices at the pump as his calling card.

Israel knows that in the second term of an Obama presidency these factors are reversed. His pledge to have Israel's back may not hold past November.

Those three clocks should all near the final count down by this summer, leaving Netanyahu to ponder whether he should put the fate of Israel’s future in Obama’s hands.

He has already made it clear that when it comes to decision time, he won’t wait for Obama to save him. His statement this week that, “My supreme responsibility as prime minister of Israel is to ensure that Israel remains the master of its fate,” made clear that if it comes down to the crunch, Netanyahu won’t hesitate to go it alone.

But Netanyahu also made it clear that while Israel might feel compelled to go it alone, Iran would retaliate against the United States as well as Israel. He told Obama at the White House Monday, “You are the big Satan and we are the little Satan....We are you and you are us.”

Israel is not the only country setting the agenda in the Middle East, however. The United States and Iran may not initiate events, but they will respond to them.

And all three countries have different objectives. Israel’s position is straightforward. A nuclear Iran is an existential threat to the State of Israel. In other words, if Iran gets nukes, Israel’s days are numbered. It wants to stop a nuclear Iran at all costs.

The Iranian regime’s objectives are two-fold and mutually reinforcing: to become a nuclear weapons state AND even more importantly, to control the world’s energy flow.

Iran envisions an empire stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, giving them control of the vital choke point of nearly a third of the world’s oil. Nuclear weapons might allow Iran to hold Israel and the Middle East hostage, but control over a vital piece of the world’s oil supply gives them leverage over the entire planet. Iran doesn’t want a war, especially one that draws in the overwhelming military power of the United States.

America’s objectives are more complicated. A nuclear Iran isn’t an existential threat for the United States the way it is for Israel, at least not for several years until Iran has Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles capable of reaching us.

We’re more concerned about proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region as other Middle East nations race to get their own. That means the next war in the Middle East – and for three thousand years there has always been another war in the Middle East – could well go nuclear.

As a country the immediate concern for the United States is to keep the oil flowing and domestic gasoline prices low. A conflict or even a prolonged crisis in the region could send prices through the roof.

For President Obama personally, the countdown is a test of his worldview and outreach to the Muslim world; hence his continued insistence on sanctions and diplomacy even in the face of three years of failure. But he’s a practical politician facing a tough reelection campaign. He is unlikely to initiate military action against Iran, despite what he says, but wouldn’t risk abandoning Israel once war breaks out and alienating key voters in the swing states, especially Florida.

He also knows that Americans are war weary, and that any conflict in the Middle East will rattle the world’s oil markets. High gasoline prices and long lines at the pump are the last thing he wants come November, especially since he has opposed ramped up development of the US oil and natural gas industries.

A second term Obama is an unconstrained Obama. His commitment to Israel could waver, especially if the price is economic reversals and a prolonged military commitment.

Israel, the United States and Iran are locked in a dance of destiny, and time is the dancing master. When the clocks finish counting down and the music finally stops is anyone’s guess.

Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland is a Fox News National Security Analyst and host of's DefCon 3. She is a Distinguished Adviser to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and served in national security posts in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations.


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Another Piece of Obama’s Radical Puzzle

by Arnold Ahlert

Much remains unknown about Barack Obama’s radical past – which the president has gone to great lengths to conceal from the American people. Obama hasn’t succeeded in covering every trail, of course, as works such as David Horowitz’s “Barack Obama’s Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Modeland Stanley Kurtz’s “Radical-in-Chiefhave shown. Indeed, both those texts have powerfully exposed the deceptive nature of our current president and the socialist/Marxist associations he has managed to keep from the public. Yesterday, another window revealing the president’s radical past was opened. A video released by captured Obama leading a 1991 protest on behalf of Harvard Law’s Derrick Bell, described by some as the “Rev. Jeremiah Wright of the academic world.”

“Open up your hearts and your minds to the words of professor Derrick Bell,” Obama urged during the protest — which was organized because of Bell’s anger that Harvard denied tenure to a black female professor, Regina Austin, at a time when only three of the law school’s professors were black and only five were women. Bell told Harvard that “until a woman of color is offered and accepted a tenured position on this faculty,” he would take a leave of absence. He launched a hunger strike to dramatize his point. Considering Bell’s radical worldview, Obama’s enthusiastic support of this campaign and his exhortation to the crowd to embrace Bell’s philosophy is quite revealing.

Derrick Bell, who died last year at the age of 80, is credited with pioneering a concept called “critical race theory.” The theory maintains that the legal system of the United States is inherently biased against blacks and other minorities because it was built on an ingrained white point of view. Thus, it is necessary, as he argued in many books and lectures, that the life experiences of black people and other minorities be considered in hiring decisions and the application of law. For Bell, racism was both a pervasive and permanent aspect of American life. This belief led him to throw his support behind a journal entitled Race Traitor, whose editors stated that “the key to solving the social problems of our age is to abolish the white race, which means no more and no less than abolishing the privileges of white skin.”

Furthermore, Bell believed this “institutional racism” conferred upon oppressed minorities both the right and the duty to decide for themselves what laws are valid and worth observing. As for law itself, critical race theory also promotes the use of storytelling in law review articles. In many of his writings, and in defiance of accepted legal scholarship, Bell placed legal and social commentary into the mouths of invented characters to better reflect the “oral traditions” of black experience.

Yet Bell’s story-telling sometimes bordered on the repugnant. In 1992, Bell wrote a short story called “The Space Traders” about a dystopian society of depleted resources and polluted air, where most blacks are walled off from the rest of society and kept under armed guard. Aliens from outer space descend from the heavens and offer to solve all of America’s problems if the country sells all of its blacks to them. A vote is held and 70 percent of the nation agrees to hand over black Americans “in chains, half-naked, while white men with guns look on, allowing no chance of escape” to the space beings.

In the story Bell also demonstrates his disdain for American Jews, who oppose the trade and organize an Anne Frank Committee to stop it — not because Jews empathize with victimized blacks, but because, Bell writes, “in the absence of blacks, Jews could become the scapegoats.” Such a depiction, critics have noted, was a scarcely veiled disparagement of the motives of American Jews, who were highly active in the civil rights movement. Furthermore, in their book “Beyond All Reason,” liberal law professors Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry note that making Anne Frank — “as close to a saint as Jews have” — the symbol of Jewish hypocrisy is exceedingly insensitive and observed that aJewish professor who invoked the name of Rosa Parks so derisively would be bitterly condemned–and rightly so.”

In his review of that book, Ninth Circuit Court Judge Alex Kozinski reveals where the “radical multiculturalism” espoused by Bell and others leads. “When I was a law student a quarter of a century ago, we were taught that cases usually turned not on what the law is, not on what the Constitution says, but on the predilections of the judge making the decision. That view was on the fringe then but is now widely held.” He notes the consequences of that radicalism. “Traditional liberals in law schools all over the country are shaking their heads, wondering what hit them. Whereas 10 years ago one might have had a fruitful discussion with faculty members and students about justice, equality, freedom, responsibility and merit, such Enlightenment concepts are now considered a bit quaint and a bit dated–like stale granola.”

Farber and Sherry echo that contention, noting that radical multiculturalist law school students “have taken an ax to the foundations of traditional academic dialogue–things like objectivity, truth, merit, fairness and polite discourse. For the radical legal thinkers, all these are tools that straight white males use to oppress those who are not.”

Bell spent his entire academic career advancing this agenda, even going so far as to condemn black professors who took a more moderate stance on affirmative action as traitors to the black race who “look black but think white.”

All this raises the question: what does the president believe? Another piece of the puzzle reveals that Derrick Bell had a relationship with Mr. Obama’s former religious mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In 2008, despite being aware of Wright’s rants blasting America as a racist nation, Bell referred to him as “one of the foremost preachers in the country who has done great work in the Chicago area where he has built a most impressive church for a very large congregation.” Why would Bell say that? Chances are it’s because the “black liberation theology” espoused by Wright marries itself seamlessly to critical race theory in that it too centers around the black struggle for liberation from the omnipresence of white racism and oppression.

Furthermore, black liberation theology’s chief architect and Rev. Wright’s mentor, James Cone, argues that Jesus Christ himself must have been black because “either God is for black people in their fight for liberation and against the white oppressors, or he is not.” Mr. Obama spent 20 years attending Cone-protégé Wright’s church. Is it possible that one can attend a church for 20 years and not be aware of the theology that animates it? One is left to wonder if the president is aware of James Cone’s incendiary statement in which he asserts that

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community.

Despite this odious ideology, Derrick Bell was critical of the president’s abandonment of Wright:

Sen. Obama, his campaign threatened by Rev. Wright’s sermons–or sermon snippets–played over and over again, has spoken out about racial difference and anger and the need to get beyond it in order to address effectively the serious problems that face us all. But like the politicians we discussed who avoid the tough issues, Obama has chosen to condemn rather than acknowledge the truth in Rev. Wright’s sermons. He does so while appropriately refusing to end his relationship with Wright who brought him to Christianity.

In other words, the most radical leftist president in the history of the republic was insufficiently radical for Bell — the man Barack Obama then referred to as the “Rosa Parks of legal education.”

Early on Wednesday, Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith announced on Twitter that video researcher Andrew Kaczynski had released “the mysterious Harvard/Obama/race video that the Breitbart folks have been talking about.” Kaczynski claims the video was “licensed from a Boston television station.” noted that the video had been “selectively edited either by the Boston television station or by Buzzfeed itself” and that it would continue releasing “additional footage that has been hidden by Obama’s allies in the mainstream media and academia.” The additional footage was featured on Fox News’ “Sean Hannity Show.”

Edited out of the original tape was Barack Obama embracing professor Bell. Furthermore, Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree admitted that he had a copy of the tape, but kept it under wraps during the 2008 presidential election. “Of course, we hid this throughout the 2008 campaign,” said Olgetree laughing. “I don’t care if they find it now.”

It is the contempt of people like Charles Ogletree and others for the peoples’ right to know that has been instrumental in helping this president maintain a lockdown on critical periods of his life. His above associations, as well as his ties to domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, his long relationship with ACORN, his adoration of the Alinsky method and the rest of his radical past — so amply exposed by Kurtz, Horowitz and others have all been derisively dismissed as irrelevant, right-wing hysteria, or racist. The selective editing of this tape is yet another example of the leftist media’s determination to shape the news rather than report it. Their other egregious tactic, aka calculated errors of omission, is epitomized by the Los Angeles Times’ refusal to release another video of Obama. It is a tape of the president attending a party and praising its guest of honor–Rashid Khalidi, rabid Israel-hater and former spokesman for terrorist godfather Yasser Arafat. The Times, an ostensible news organization, has been sitting on that video for nine years.

The efforts of Breitbart and the crew now carrying on his legacy, stand in stark contrast to those who would aid and abet this journalistic malfeasance. They deserve great credit for doing what media organizations are supposed to do: make news available, regardless of whose interests are undermined or enhanced in the process.

As for the president, whether or not his support of yet another America-despising radical accrues to his detriment remains to be seen. Obama acolytes will no doubt dismiss this tape as inconsequential, or possibly the politics of youthful exuberance long since abandoned. Yet at some point, the preponderance of evidence of this president’s true views and intentions for the country may reach critical mass.

Thoughtful Americans should hope it occurs before election day.

Arnold Ahlert


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

Obama’s Secret Weapon on Iran: A Charm Offensive

by Joseph Klein

President Obama is leading from behind once again. He has decided to participate in a new round of unconditional negotiations with Iran. He still remains under the illusion that, under the pressure of the very late in the day sanctions, Iran just needs a little more time to come to its senses at the bargaining table.

The European Union’s foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a statement on behalf of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. accepting Iran’s invitation to resume talks on what Iran vaguely referred to as “various nuclear issues.”

Of course, there is only one nuclear issue that matters – Iran’s abandonment of its nuclear enrichment program aimed at achieving a nuclear arms capability. Iran’s history of lies, deception, interference with the work of United Nations inspectors and stalling tactics would indicate to anyone with his eyes open that negotiations with Iran at this juncture are not only useless, they will play right into Iran’s hands by helping them to run out the clock until they reach their goal.

Recall candidate Obama’s presidential campaign promise. He vowed to engage in “unconditional” negotiations with Iran. Nearly four years later, President Obama is still wearing rose-colored glasses.

During his March 7th press conference, Obama emphasized the negotiation route:

At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically…And, as a consequence, we are going to continue to apply the pressure even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through where they could rejoin the community of nations by giving assurances to the international community that they’re meeting their obligations and they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.

There is not a single shred of evidence to support Obama’s willingness to give the Iranian regime the benefit of the doubt on anything. Indeed, the results of Obama’s failed “engagement” policy towards Iran have proven precisely the opposite. Obama bent over backwards from the very beginning of his administration to enter into the “unconditional” talks with the Iranian leaders that he had promised during his campaign. Most notably, he turned his back on Iranian dissidents in June 2009 so as not to offend the thugs running the Iranian regime.

What was the answer of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei? In 2010, Khamenei said:

The late Imam Khomeini never gave any concession and we, on behalf of the Iranian nation, will never give any concession.

Where is Iran today in its nuclear program compared with 2008? By December 2008, Iran had accumulated enough of the uranium isotope U-235, which fissions in first-generation nuclear weapons, to fuel one bomb according to a study cited by Iran Watch. Each year thereafter during Obama’s presidency, Iran added to its stockpile enough U-235 to build at least one additional bomb a year if it decided to “raise the level of U-235 in its low-enriched uranium stockpile (3.5 percent U-235) to weapon-grade (90 percent or more U-235).” By the end of November 2011, Iran is estimated to have had enough U-235 to fuel a fifth bomb if it wishes to proceed in that direction.

Obama seems to be counting on the hope that Iran will not make the leap from its increased nuclear enrichment capability to actually building bombs. He thinks that a combination of his charm offensive at the negotiating table and escalating sanctions will give Iran’s leaders pause. But the record indicates otherwise.

Iran is busy building facilities deep underground to hide what it is doing and to better protect them. It has refused unrestricted inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose recent reports have raised alarming concerns about Iran’s nuclear weaponization ambitions.

“The Agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” the IAEA said in its latest quarterly report about Iran’s atomic activities.

At Natanz, the IAEA report said 52 cascades – each containing around 170 centrifuges – were now operating, up from 37 in November. At Fordow, Iran’s underground facility, almost 700 centrifuges are now refining uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent and preparations are under way to install many more, the IAEA report concluded. Iran had now produced nearly 110 kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent since early 2010, according to the IAEA report.

Back in September 2011, the IAEA reported that it was “increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations.” These included “activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”

In May 2011, the IAEA said it had evidence that Tehran has conducted work on a highly sophisticated nuclear triggering technology that experts say could be used for only one purpose, namely to set off a nuclear weapon.

President Obama is obviously aware of these facts. Yet he appears to ignore them. He has not insisted on even one confidence builder from Iran first, such as allowing the UN inspectors to examine all of its enrichment sites without restriction, before agreeing to more time-consuming, fruitless negotiations.

Even the logistics of setting up the talks will eat more time, all to Iran’s advantage. First, there will have to be preliminary discussions between European and Iranian diplomats to decide on details such as the location of the talks. That could take at least two weeks to complete. Then there will not be any formal negotiations begun before the New Year holiday in Iran this month, which pushes the starting date for the formal negotiations until the beginning of April at the earliest. And it goes on from there. During all this time, Obama will be trumpeting the opening of his “window of opportunity” for diplomacy to work.

While the window remains open we can virtually hear precious time ticking away and the whirring sound of Iran’s centrifuges.

Joseph Klein


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