Friday, May 17, 2013

A Country Without Muslims

Editor's note: The veracity of the content of this article has been challenged. The article will be restored if and when its content can be verified.

It Depends on what the Meaning of 'Islam' is

by Andrew Bostom

Has there been a bizarre "harmonic convergence" on Islam between Daniel Pipes, the historian, and unabashed Zionist, and the late Israel-negating, Palestinian polemicist, Edward Said?

Daniel Pipes' 5/13/13 essay in The Washington Times derides "those who focus on Islam itself as the problem" -- identifying Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders by name.

Most of his essay re-affirms (but never establishes by dint of hard doctrinal and historical facts) the same glib, tired arguments Pipes has discussed before: Islam's prophet Muhammad was not an "Islamist," and was not responsible for "Islamism," which is a "modern extremist variant" of Islam; an "unbearable" discordance between "pre-modern accomplishment and modern failure" caused the (mass?) "psychic trauma" which engendered "Islamism" in the 1920s; and a mere 10-15% of Muslims support what Pipes terms "Islamism."

Pipes concludes his latest iteration of "Islam Versus Islamism" by attacking those (such as Ali, Sultan, and Wilders) who reject its premises for their ostensibly uninformed "succumbing" to what he terms "a simplistic and essentialist illusion" of the Muslim creed. Ironically, Pipes' latter claim of "essentialism" re-packages the post-modern incoherence of Edward Said, as demonstrated brilliantly by Philosophy Professor Irfan Khawaja. As Khawaja observed in 2007:

If Said thinks that Islam is different from other abstract nouns, he needs to tell us why... And yet, as we have seen, he often treats abstract nouns in an essentialist fashion. So it should follow that Islam can be treated the same way. And yet that is precisely what he takes to be the cardinal sin.

Adding insult to irony, Said (a Pipes nemesis, as Said's comments, extracted here, reveal) accused Pipes himself of "essentialism," largely, one assumes, for frank comments by the latter on Islam -- not "Islamism -- as an inherently, even "immutably" political ideology!  

Circa 1983, in his In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, Pipes noted, "[T]he press and scholarship too often...ignore Islam's role in politics." He warned, Approaching Islam in politics with the Christian experience in mind is misleading. Because the community of Christians shares almost no political traits, there is a mistaken predisposition to assume Muslims do not.

Elaborating on this yawning gap between Islam and Christianity, Pipes highlights, appropriately, the unique impact of  Islam's religio-political "law, " the Sharia:

Islam, unlike Christianity, contains a complete program for ordering society...Islam specifies exact goals for all Muslims to follow as well as the rules by which to enforce them...Along with faith in Allah comes a sacred law to guide Muslims, in all times and places. That law, called the Sharia, establishes the context of Islam as a political force...Adjusting realities to the Sharia is the key to Islam's role in human relations...Mainstream Muslims (that is, Muslims whose faith is acknowledged as valid by a majority of other Muslims) follow legal tenets so similar to each other that their differences can be ignored

Never invoking "Islamism," Pipes concludes, with this pellucid assessment of how Islam, since its advent, has been a creed imbued, singularly, with politics:

[I]n Islam, where, in Max Weber's view, "an essentially political character marked all the chief ordinances,"...[the] connection to politics has been immutably deep from the very inception of the religion

Great Western Orientalist scholarship, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, supports Pipes' 1983 understandings of Islam as indissolubly linking religion and politics. Moreover, these seminal analyses and contemporary polling data debunk his now oft repeated, glib formulations. As elaborated in detail elsewhere:

  • Muhammad really was a jihadist -- or in Pipes' current terminology, an "Islamist"
  • Great Western Orientalist scholars long ago established the inherently political nature of Islam, and also made plain that the modern era Islamic "revival" was evident at least four decades before "the 1920s" advent claimed by Pipes.
  • The religio-political totalitarianism of the Sharia is well-characterized
  • Contemporary polling data demonstrate the overwhelming appeal of Sharia supremacist states to ordinary Muslims debunking Pipes glib assertion that only "10-15%" of Muslims are "Islamists"

One must ask, "What Went Wrong" with Daniel Pipes who now sprays (Edward) Saidian charges of "essentialism" at brave Muslim freethinkers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, as well as the stalwart Dutch politician Geert Wilders, for simply rejecting his self-contradictory mantras on "Islamism".

Andrew Bostom


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Boston Reservoir Tests Safe after Seven Muslims Caught Trespassing there after Midnight

by Robert Spencer

Pakistanis and Saudis caught in a no-trespass zone after midnight at a water reservoir for a major city that has just been the site of an Islamic jihad attack. And Islamic jihadists have often spoken about poisoning water supplies -- most recently in the Canada/New York jihad plot. So even if the water tests safe, it is still exceedingly suspicious that they were there at all. 

An update on this story. "Boston reservoir tests safe after late-night trespassers nabbed," by Perry Chiaramonte for, May 15 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Massachusetts State Police beefed up patrols around the reservoir that supplies Boston's drinking water after seven foreign students were caught trespassing in the area late at night. With the city still jittery after the April 15 terror attack at the Boston Marathon, word that two women and five men, reportedly from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Singapore, had been found in the restricted area around the Quabbin Reservoir caused concerns. The reservoir serves Boston and some 40 other communities in the area.
“As an extra precaution, water quality samples were analyzed at MWRA’s lab yesterday and all came back normal," Ria Convery, of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, told the Boston Herald. “There is no evidence of any water quality issues at the Quabbin Reservoir following the trespassing incident.”
It was after midnight on Tuesday morning when a state trooper on patrol at the reservoir spotted two cars parked on the grass near one of Quabbin’s entrances. The cop investigated and found a group of seven people, five men and two women walking from the water back to their cars. When the police officer asked why they were trespassing, members of the group replied that they were chemical engineers and recent college graduates who had an educational interest in the reservoir, according to police.
The group was briefly held at the scene while background and warrant check were conducted but let go after their records turned up clean.
“There was no evidence that the seven were committing any crime beyond the trespassing,” Massachusetts State police spokesman David Procopio told, adding that officers on the scene checked the vehicles and the park area and did not locate any items out of place or of a criminal nature.
Procopio also said that a preliminary investigation determined the individuals were originally from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. The Springfield field office of the FBI was contacted by the State Police and is assisting in an investigation.
“Further investigation is being undertaken because of the late hour when they were observed, their explanation for why they wanted to see the reservoir, and the fact that they were in an area marked no trespassing,” Procopio said....

Robert Spencer


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UN Pressures Germany to Bow to ‘Hate Speech’ Hysteria

by Andrew Harrod & Sam Nunberg

United Nations sign 

A recent decision by the United Nation’s (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) foreshadows an ominous future for free societies should Muslim entities like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) achieve their goal of having “Islamophobia” defined internationally as a form of prejudice.

Former German central bank board member Thilo Sarrazin has got himself in trouble with the UN, as the Turkish Union in Berlin-Brandenburg (Türkischer Bund in Berlin-Brandenburg or TBB) stated with satisfaction in an April 18, 2013, German-language press release.  The spokesman of this German-Turkish interest group, Hilmi Kaya Turan, praised a February 26, 2013, “historic decision” by the CERD condemning Germany for not having prosecuted Sarrazin’s criticism of Arab and Turkish immigrants.

Sarrazin, a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands or SPD), produced a storm of controversy with his August 2010 book Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab: Wie Wir Unser Land aufs Spiel Setzen (“Germany Abolishes Itself:  How We Are Risking Our Country”).  In the context of this controversy, CERD’s detailed 19-page decision extensively excerpted in English translation a fall 2009 interview with Sarrazin.  In the interview, the Berlin magazine Lettre International discussed some of the upcoming book’s themes.

CERD complained that “[i]n this interview, Mr. Sarrazin expressed himself in a derogatory and discriminatory way about social ‘lower classes’, which are not productive’ and would have to ‘disappear over time’ in order to create a city of the ‘elite’.”  Sarrazin specified that about 20% of Berlin’s population depended on welfare payments, which he wanted to cut, “above all to the lower class.”

Berlin’s indigent included within the immigrant population a “large number of Arabs and Turks in this city, whose numbers have grown through erroneous policies, have no productive function, except for the fruit and vegetable trade.” Compounding the problem for Sarrazin was a birthrate among Arabs and Turks about three times their percentage of the population.  Sarrazin thereby saw “Turks…conquering Germany just like the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: through a higher birth rate.”  Sarrazin “wouldn’t mind if” these immigrants “were East European Jews with about a 15% higher IQ than the one of Germans.”  Central to Sarrazin’s thesis was the assumption that “human ability is to some extent socially contingent and to some extent hereditary.” Sarrazin’s “solution to this problem” was “to generally prohibit influx, except for highly qualified individuals and not provide social welfare for immigrants anymore.”

As noted by CERD, Sarrazin’s interview comments prompted on October 23, 2009, a criminal complaint by the TBB under the German Criminal Code’s Article 130 against “Incitement to Hatred” (Volksverhetzung).  Yet upon review, German prosecutors suspended their investigations on November 23, 2009, deciding that Sarrazin’s views fell under the protection of free speech contained within Article 5 of Germany’s Basic Law (Grundgesetz).  Prosecutors quoted by CERD had judged Sarrazin’s statements as a “contribution to the intellectual debate in a question…very significant for the public.”

Following this domestic defeat, the TBB turned in 2010 to Article 14 of CERD’s governing convention (Article 14), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Article 14 provides that the CERD may “consider communications from individuals or groups of individuals within” a consenting State Party’s “jurisdiction claiming to be victims of a violation by that State Party of any of the rights set forth in this Convention.”  In response, CERD agreed with TBB that Sarrazin had made discriminatory comments and that the German “State party failed to provide protection against such discrimination.”  CERD thus wanted the “State party” to “review its policy and procedures…to give wide publicity to the Committee’s Opinion,” and to deliver “within 90 days, information from the State party about the measures taken.”

CERD’s decision did not involve Islam directly, for Sarrazin had referenced the ethnicity of Arabs and Turks, not their majority-Muslim faith.  Yet CERD’s decision noted various party submissions according to which in Germany the “labels ‘Turks’ or ‘Arabs’ are applied as synonyms for Muslims.”  Citing various evidence examples, CERD agreed with one submission that “Mr. Sarrazin’s statements led to public vilification and debasement of Turks and Muslims in general.”

Any such foreign judgment of a country raises sensitive questions of national sovereignty, particularly when involving limitations of free speech.  Sarrazin’s case was no exception, especially in light of CERD members mocked by the German conservative website Politically Incorrect as “torches of democracy and human rights.” Analyzing this roster, Germans might well wonder what they could learn in equality under the law from members hailing from Algeria, Burkina Faso, China, Niger, Pakistan, Russia, Togo, and Turkey, among other countries.

The Sarrazin case exemplifies how international law and its institutional developments can impact domestic matters.  Observers of the OIC, an international organization of 57 majority-Muslim nation-states (including “Palestine”), would be well advised to keep Sarrazin in mind when considering the OIC’s longstanding campaign against “Islamophobia.” This campaign would only too willingly extrapolate from Sarrazin’s comments about Arab and Turk immigrants, however controversial, to a condemnation of criticizing Islamic ideas as well.

Defenders of free speech should beware.  The transnationalist, multiculturalists and OIC have a new mechanism to override domestic legal hate speech decisions.  Precedent is slowly but surely being set.

This article was sponsored by the Legal Project, an activity of the Middle East Forum.

Andrew Harrod & Sam Nunberg


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Former Jordanian PM Explains Arab Politicians' Doubletalk Regarding the U.S.


Following are excerpts from an interview with former Jordanian prime minister Abdelraouf Al-Rawabdeh, which aired on the Al-Jazeera network on April 1, 2013:

Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV

Abdelraouf Al-Rawabdeh: "The preacher speaking from the pulpit, the philosopher, the politician, the university professor, the school teacher – they are all attuned to the conscience of the nation. Listen carefully to what I am saying. They are attuned to the conscience of the nation, and they are true to what they believe in, but they are not responsible for its implementation.

"A preacher steps up to the pulpit and declares: 'We must confront America, the spearhead of heresy.' Fine. What does he want us to do about it? He doesn’t say? Along comes the politician, whose job it is to understand the local, regional, and international balance of power, and he talks only about what he can accomplish.


"Once, when I was running for office, someone tried to give me a hard time. He approached me and asked: 'What do you think about America?' I asked him: 'Are you asking me as a politician or as a candidate' He said he was asking me as a candidate, so I said: 'America is an enemy state, which provides weapons to Israel, kills our Palestinian people, controls our Arab countries, expropriates our oil, and destroys our economy.' So he was pleased, but then he said: 'And as a politician?' I said: 'America is our friend. It stands by us and provides us with aid.'

"He said: 'Don’t you see that as a moral contradiction?' 'No,' I said. 'I say that America is an enemy in order to appease you, and I say it is a friend in order to get you food. You tell me which you prefer.'" […]



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The Women of Benghazigate

by Frank Gaffney, Jr.


 Suddenly, it seems we have broken through the most effective executive branch cover-up and complicit media blackout in memory.  Among the many recent revelations is one that has gone unnoted:  The prominent role played by women in the Obama administration’s: policy-making that led up to the jihadist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012; its handling of the crisis; and its subsequent, scandalous damage-control operation.

Since, as they say, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, here’s a short guide to the Women of Benghazigate, whose contributions to one aspect or another of this affair have become public knowledge – thanks, in particular, to testimony from three whistleblowers before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week:
  • First, there is Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time. We now know she was personally responsible for at least some of the decisions that left personnel in the “special mission compound” in Benghazi highly vulnerable to attack.  Her whereabouts and activities are unaccounted for – like those of President Obama – during most of the seven-plus hours in which jihadists systematically assaulted first that facility and then a nearby CIA “annex.”  And then, the next day, she knowingly deceived the public about what precipitated the attack, blaming an internet video.
  • The poster child for the Benghazigate cover-up is UN Ambassador Susan Rice.  She was chosen to make the rounds of all five network Sunday morning news programs on September 16, 2012.  She reinforced the false narrative that Mrs. Clinton first pushed out publicly four days before in a joint Rose Garden appearance with President Obama.
  • State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was evidently among those involved in massaging twelve different versions of “talking points” upon which intelligence officials drew to misleadingly brief the Congress.  Amb. Rice also used such guidance to justify the fraud that YouTube, not jihad, was responsible for the violence in Benghazi.
  • Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was formerly in charge of managing so-called “bimbo eruptions” during Bill Clinton’s 1992 run for the White House and administration.  According to one of last week’s witnesses, Gregory Hicks – who became the Chief of Mission in Libya after his boss, Ambassador Chris Stevens, was murdered on that fateful night, Ms. Mills has lately been suppressing equally unwanted eruptions concerning Benghazigate.  She upbraided the diplomat for challenging the party line about what happened then and thereafter.  She also reportedly sought to interfere with a congressional investigation into the matter.
  •  Mr. Hicks testified that the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, Beth Jones, delivered her own, “blistering critique” of his management style after he asked “why the ambassador said there was a demonstration when the embassy reported there was an attack?”  Mr. Hicks believes he was demoted in retaliation for posing such unwelcome questions.
Curiously, the truth that has finally begun to emerge has yet to shed light on the involvement of two other women who almost certainly were players before, during and after the Benghazi attacks.

The first is Valerie Jarrett.  She is President Obama’s longtime consigliere.  Such is her relationship with him and the First Lady that she is permitted to involve herself in virtually all portfolios, including the most sensitive foreign affairs and national security ones.
That would surely be the case in this instance in light of Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan’s insightful observation:

“The Obama White House sees every event as a political event….Because of that, it could not tolerate the idea that the armed assault on the Benghazi consulate was a premeditated act of Islamist terrorism. That would carry a whole world of unhappy political implications, and demand certain actions. And the American presidential election was only eight weeks away. They wanted this problem to go away, or at least to bleed the meaning from it.”

To paraphrase Senator Howard Baker’s famous questions from an earlier congressional investigation of a presidential cover-up called Watergate: What did Ms. Jarrett do, and when did she do it?

Then, there’s Mrs. Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Huma Abedin.  It strains credulity that Ms. Abedin would not be involved in this crisis, given the important role she has played in Mrs. Clinton’s world for over twelve years. As the Washington Post observed in 2007 – long before Hillary became America’s top diplomat: “Abedin…is one of Clinton’s most-trusted advisers on the Middle East….When Clinton hosts meetings on the region, Abedin’s advice is always sought.”

What was Huma Abedin’s advice when her boss responded to the proverbial “3 o’clock call” on the evening of September 11, 2012?  For that matter, in light of Huma’s longstanding and well-documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, we need to know what advice Ms. Abedin had been giving the Secretary of State about helping the Brotherhood and its fellow Islamists topple relatively friendly regimes throughout the Mideast and North Africa, including Muammar Qaddafi’s in Libya.

Of course, there are plenty of men implicated in the run-up to, events of and efforts to conceal the Benghazi scandal, starting with the President himself.  Their contributions to this debacle require thorough investigation.  But so do those of the Women of Benghazigate, including those peculiarly unimplicated to date: Valerie Jarrett and Huma Abedin.

Frank Gaffney, Jr. is the Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. Under Mr. Gaffney's leadership, the Center has been nationally and internationally recognized as a resource for timely, informed and penetrating analyses of foreign and defense policy matters.


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Desperate Holder Throws Underlings Under the Bus

by Arnold Ahlert

[To order the Freedom Center's pamphlet "Ten Reasons to Impeach Eric Holder," written by Department of Justice whistleblower J. Christian Adams, click here.]

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reinforced the notion that he is unfit to remain in office. Although he was grilled about many of the scandals afflicting the Obama administration, the seizure of phone records from the Associated Press (AP) remained the major concern for both Republicans and Democrats. Holder made it clear they were wasting their time trying to get answers about the investigation from him. “I was not the person involved in that decision,” he insisted. “I was recused in that matter as I described in a press conference held yesterday. The decision to issue this subpoena was made by the people presently involved in the case.”

Holder said he recused himself from the probe because ”I am a possessor of information eventually leaked.” He expressed faith in the ability of those looking into the leaking of top-secret information to the AP. the leak revealed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that undermined an al Qaeda plot to get an underwear bomber on a jetliner. “I have faith in the people who actually were responsible for this case, that they were aware of the rules and that they followed them,” Holder said. “But I don’t have a factual basis to answer the questions that you have asked, because I was recused.”

That was an understatement. Holder wasn’t even able to answer the most basic questions about the investigation. He couldn’t say why the DOJ didn’t follow the standard practice of negotiating with the AP before issuing the subpoenas. “That I don’t know,” he responded to the question posed by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). ”There are exceptions if the integrity of the investigation would be impacted. I don’t know why that didn’t happen.” Sensenbrenner asked him who authorized the subpoena, “because the code of federal regulations is pretty specific that this is supposed to go as close to the top as possible.” Holder was noncommittal, claiming he was “probably 95 percent, 99 percent certain the deputy attorney general acting in my stead was the one who authorizes the subpoena.” After being handed a note, he confirmed that ”the (Deputy Attorney General James Cole) was the one who authorized the subpoena.” Sensenbrenner expressed frustration regarding Holder’s evasiveness, suggesting administration officials travel to the Harry Truman Presidential Library and take a photo of the famous sign, “the buck stops here.”

The Congressman then explained why. ”There doesn’t appear to be any acceptance of responsibility for things that have gone wrong,” he said.

Holder couldn’t even say for certain when he recused himself. “I’m not sure, I think it was towards the beginning of the matter. I don’t know exactly when, but it was towards the beginning of the matter,” he told Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL).  Despite this complete lack of knowledge, Holder remains supportive of the seizure of two months of phone records via a secretly issued subpoena, because the aforementioned story involved “a very serious leak, a very grave leak.”

What Holder leaves out is the reality that this leak, as well as the ones regarding the president’s “kill list” of terror suspects, the Stuxnet virus used to foil Iranian nuclear ambitions, and the leaking of classified information about SEAL Team 6 to Hollywood producers by Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers were remarkably consistent in one respect: they all accrued to Barack Obama’s efforts to appear “tough on terror” leading up to the 2012 election. Thus, it would stand to reason someone in the Obama administration was the source of the leaks for which AP phone records were secretly subpoenaed. It would be useful to know who has been subpoenaed on the other side of this equation–or who hasn’t, making the seizure of AP phone records necessary.

Democrats were willing to offer Holder cover on the issue. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) was delighted that Republicans were now interested in media protection, considering a shield law died in the Senate in 2009. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) criticized the “hue and cry” raised by the same Republicans who, last year, “wanted reporters subpoenaed, put in front of grand juries” in an effort to stop leaks. Apparently Conyers forgot that Democrats have controlled the Senate since 2006, and Nadler is unable to fathom the difference between overt and covert subpoenas, as well as the difference between grand jury testimony and a secret DOJ investigation.

Holder was grilled on the additional scandals surrounding the administration, including the potential lapses in intelligence sharing prior to the Boston Marathon bombings, and the IRS’s targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny.

With regard to the Boston bombings, Holder asserted that the DOJ’s investigation had been “thorough.” Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, disagreed, contending there was “troubling information” leading to the conclusion that the federal agencies involved in the investigation “failed to connect the dots.” “It does not appear that all of the information was received by all the pertinent parties, particularly the FBI,” the congressman said. When Goodlatte asked what the DOJ is doing about procedure regarding hits in terror databases, Holder  sidestepped the question, saying only that there is an ongoing inspector general investigation.

Holder was further challenged by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who wondered what the FBI did, or didn’t, pursue after receiving Russian intelligence indicating Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become radicalized. “A lot of people are concerned about profiling, but there are a lot more people concerned about getting blown up by a terrorist,” Gomert contended.

Holder responded angrily to Gomert’s assertion. “Unless somebody has done something inappropriate, you don’t have access to the FBI files, you don’t know what the FBI did,” Holder said. “You simply do not know.”

Neither does anyone else at this point, and given the DOJ’s track record regarding other administration investigations, such as the one over Fast and Furious, it is more than likely any revelations about who knew what and when will be stonewalled.

Holder was equally vague regarding the IRS scandal. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) inquired if the investigation would be far reaching, “including Washington, D.C.,” if necessary. Holder promised to go “wherever the facts take us.” On the other hand, he said it would take time to determine if there was “criminal” wrongdoing.

Late yesterday afternoon, it appeared that timeline would get even longer. Around 6 p.m. EDT, the president announced that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had accepted the resignation of acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller. Obama characterized the “misconduct” detailed in the just-released Inspector General report about the IRS’s handling of conservative tax exempt applications as “inexcusable.” It remains to be a seen if Miller will be part of Holder’s investigation into IRS malfeasance, or simply be allowed to fade into oblivion.

The progressive media have already begun circling the wagons around the Attorney General. Media Matters insisted the secret seizure of AP phone records was a necessity. “If the press compromised active counter-terror operations for a story that only tipped off the terrorists, that sounds like it should be investigated,” they contended.

So should Media Matters’ relationship with the DOJ. Internal DOJ emails obtained in 2012 by the Daily Caller revealed the leftist advocacy group regularly collaborated with the DOJ to attack reporters who covered DOJ scandals. Tracy Schmaler, Office of Public Affairs Director for the Justice Department, worked with Media Matters staffers to attack a number of prominent journalists, including Townhall Magazine’s Katie Pavlich, writers Joel Pollak and Ken Klukowski, Fox News’s  William LaJeunesse, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, and National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy. Former DOJ Civil Rights Division attorneys J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky were also attacked.

The Daily Caller obtained the emails after filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that was fulfilled long after the 20-business-day limit required by law.

Moreover, the Office of Public Affairs has no business conducting a political operation. Its function is to keep the public informed about what the DOJ is doing to enforce the laws. That it was more than willing to violate its mandate is a good indication of how deep the rot at the DOJ goes.

Yesterday, Eric Holder did what he does best whenever he appears before a Congressional Committee: provide as little information as possible, become indignant when anyone suggests he has acted improperly, and fob responsibility for every possible impropriety conducted by his department onto someone else–when he’s not busy stonewalling scandals. Even a contempt of Congress citation for his refusal to provide critical information in the Fast and Furious gunrunning debacle that resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, along with hundreds of Mexican nationals, including children, has failed to chasten his contempt for the rule of law, or his determination to maintain the most ideologically-compromised Department of Justice in modern history.

Holder can only serve as long as he maintains the support of President Barack Obama. That he still does, speaks volumes–about both men.

Arnold Ahlert


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Painting for Understanding Modern Jewish History; The Israeli Debate over Syria

by Barry Rubin

The painting below is Moritz Oppenheim’s “The Return of the Volunteer from the Wars of Liberation to His Family Still Living in Accordance with Old Customs.” It was the painting I wanted to have on the cover of my book, Assimilation and its Discontents, but was overruled by the publisher in favor of a post-modernist monstrosity.

[Assimilation and its Discontents, a history of Jewish assimilation and identity debates, can be found here.  For downloading instructions see the end of this article.]

The painting shows a Jewish soldier who had fought for Prussia against Napoleon. Now the war was won, the land liberated, and he returned home to his family, presumably in 1814.

He is the center of attention for, presumably, his loving parents, two older sisters, and younger brother. The second brother is examining something else. I’m also surprised to see, in this Orthodox Jewish family, a cat emerging from under the table.

So even if they still follow the “old customs,” that is a pious Judaism, they have modernized already to some extent. Notice the clothing which is quite contemporary and the furnishings. This is a German middle class family very much attuned to the surrounding society which is also an Orthodox Jewish family.

Thus it is not quite true that Oppenheim, one of the greatest German painters, sees them as fully traditional. Of course, by saying the “old customs,” he is implying that they are outdated customs. The theme of the painting is the contrast between the two role models, the two paths that Jews could take: complete modernization, secularization, and German patriotism versus a traditional Jewish life, built around religion and keeping some distance from the surrounding society.

Yet Oppenheim thought it possible to combine the two. He was highly honored by both the existing German elite, during a time when antisemitism was at a relative low, and the intellectual leaders of Jewry.

Oppenheim was born in Hanau in 1800 and died in Frankfurt in 1882. In his own life, he balanced out the Jewish and German worlds. At the time, the Wissenschaft des Judentums movement which sought to study Judaism with scholarly methods to both preserve and modernize it. While those involved didn’t know it, by rethinking Jews as being a people with secular aspects, too, they were forerunners of Zionism.

The New York Jewish Museum’s description of the painting points out two significant factors.

First, he has been wounded in the defense of his country, thus having shed his blood for his country.  And he is wearing the Iron Cross, a German medal but also as a cross a symbol of the conflict between his Jewishness and the Christianity of the state he has served.

Second, he has just arrived home by travelling on the Sabbath, thus breaking a major tenet of Jewish law. His family, delighted to have him back alive, doesn’t seem to care about that point.

The painting was made in 1834, at a time when anti-Jewish forces were beginning to rise again and seeking to restrict Jewish rights as citizens. It was intended as a pointed reminder of Jewish services and loyalty to Germany, of attempts to assimilate without necessarily losing their distinctive characteristics. It was not making a case for Multiculturalism but rather for pluralism.

At any rate, the project of German Jewish assimilation failed, in part because it was too successful, and German Jewish sacrifices in World War One did not avail them two decades later. Indeed, Adolf Hitler’s lieutenant during the war was a Jew, who the Nazi dictator later did spare.

There are, however, two additional ironies related to the painting’s story. Napoleon was, in fact, the liberator of the Jews and Prussia was the oppressor. The soldier proved his patriotism while fighting against his real interests.  As soon as the Prussians had won, they began restoring discrimination against the Jews.

The second is a story that fascinates me and I think should be emblematic for these issues. It concerns a young man who was the real-life contemporary of the soldier in the painting, Moritz Itzig.

One day in 1811, Itzig’s aunt, Sarah Levy, a highly cultured woman with many connections among Christians, held a concert in her home. One of the guests was the wife of Ludwig Achim von Arnim, a 30-year-old Prussian writer. Von Arnim came to pick up his wife and insulted several Jewish guests with antisemitic slurs.

Itzig, then 24 years old, wrote a letter challenging von Arnim to a duel. The aristocrat rejected the challenge, responding with a bunch of signed statements from his peers that since a Jew had no honor he could not be engaged in a duel and adding additional insults.

One afternoon, Itzig came up to von Arnim and beat the larger man with his cane. Von Arnim, who whined for help rather than defending himself, turned over the matter to a court, which ruled that since Itzig had been provoked he was not guilty of any crime. Itzig’s family even persuaded some of those who had provided von Arnim with letters to retract them.

When war with Napoleon restarted, Itzig volunteered to fight for Prussia and was killed in 1813. Von Arnim stayed on his estate and did not fight at all. He lived until 1831.

The irony of the patriotic Jew and the cowardly poser who hypocritically impugned the former’s noble nature and love of country has been repeated many times. In fact, I can think of some good contemporary examples in another country across the seas from Germany.

Barry Rubin


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The Year Obama would Rather Forget

by Boaz Bismuth

America in 2008 believed in a new politics. Barack Obama sold them that dream. The 44th U.S. president entered the White House as the president of all Americans, except that this nonpartisan president conducted himself like disgraced former President Richard Nixon. The scandal concerning Internal Revenue Service targeting of Republicans, exposed this week, showed Americans what they already knew: Obama is good for Democrats. 

This is not the only scandal that the administration is dealing with: The journalist phone-tapping scandal and the new revelations concerning the attack in Benghazi, where the U.S. ambassador was killed, are very embarrassing to Obama. This is without raising the issue of his very hesitant conduct toward the Syrian crisis. The new politics promised by Obama may have twice entered the White House but it has yet to enter the history books.

The year 2013, one gets the impression, is going to be very difficult for the president. So far, it has not brought him good luck. Most likely Obama denies any connection to any of these embarrassing events. But what to do, they are now his problems. 

At the president's direction, Attorney-General Eric Holder instructed the FBI to investigate the IRS scandal that is rocking the United States. Apparently, IRS officials targeted conservative groups as well as 75 groups affiliated with the tea party movement. Obama has called for personal measures against those responsible. 

Even if the president is not responsible for IRS harassment against right-wing groups, he is responsible for the current climate in America. The supposedly nonpartisan president is a president of divisions. The Republicans too, one must admit, contributed to the atmosphere of hatred between America's two political camps. But the president is also responsible for the atmosphere. How is it possible that in 2013 America, the IRS singled out organizations that had the word "patriot" in their name?

Could "patriot," from the point of view of an official body, have turned into a vulgar word?
The midterm elections in 2010 forced Obama to act with a little modesty toward the Republicans. This cost him his health (but not his health plan) and he had trouble giving credit to red state voters. 

Changing American demographics as well as the conveniently weak candidate who ran against Obama (Republican nominee Mitt Romney) allowed him to win the elections in spite of everything. It is not new politics that won in 2012 but rather lack of any alternative.

The Watergate trauma
Obama's inability to pass an amendment to the Gun Control Act or to instate immigration reform shows just how limited his power is and how much the Republicans can teach him a thing or two. Following Monday's press conference, Obama left for New York for a fundraiser for the Democratic Party. 

He also promised to work with the opposition to make sure his next 3.5 years in office are productive, but the Republicans are unlikely to be generous. At least not until they get some clarifications.

The fact that the U.S. tax authorities aggressively targeted tea party groups poses a significant problem for Obama, who had to admit that the Internal Revenue Service "inappropriately targeted conservative groups." Such an admission does not coincide with the new politics the administration claims to foster. 

That same press conference saw Holder pledge a nationwide IRS probe and vow to investigate allegations that the Justice Department had seized the phone records of 20 Associated Press reporters investigating Central Intelligence Agency operations against al-Qaida, which also uncovered a CIA operation to thwart a planned terror attack against an American commercial flight in 2012.

The CIA wanted to find out who AP's sources were, but the U.S. has been traumatized by such cases before; the Watergate scandal lives in infamy. 

Nixon and French former President François Mitterrand were each embroiled in their own wiretapping debacles. The Obama administration is expected to be in tune with the public's sentiments -- not their phones.

And then there is the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. 

Obama's America, or, to be exact, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, could not imagine how anyone in Libya would want to harm Americans who were only there to help. The failure was so great that mere naiveté could not excuse it and even the MSNBC news network, which is a staunch supporter of Obama, hedged that the affair might result in the impeachment of an incumbent president.

In critical and dramatic moments, the Obama administration finds it difficult to forge the words "terror" and "al-Qaida" together in the same sentence. It may -- as ABC News exposed -- even remove them from its memos.

These are not simple times for Obama, but he can always visit Israel to lighten the mood. For the commentators here he will always be the "Great Obama" of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Boaz Bismuth


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IRS Seizes 60 Million Medical Records without a Warrant

by Clarice Feldman

As we are being swamped with evidence of Administration wrongdoing, we should not forget to prioritize the vast amount of information we are getting. It is beyond peradventure of doubt at this time that the IRS, ordered to scrutinize the tea party closely  by Democratic  leaders, including Senators Schumer and Durbin,and prodded by  the President's demonizing the tea party, conservatives and the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, engaged in massive abuse of power. It denied and delayed legal tax breaks to those who opposed the Administration, aided those who supported it, released confidential information about opponents to groups who supported the President and repeatedly audited supporters of the opposition. 

This has to give pause to voters who know that this same corrupt from top to bottom outfit will be the outfit to whom we must give our medical insurance information under Obamacare. That fear is completely justified by its conduct now the subject of a class action suit:

The Internal Revenue Service is now facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it improperly accessed and stole the health records of some 10 million Americans, including medical records of all California state judges.
According to a report by, an unnamed HIPAA-covered entity in California is suing the IRS, alleging that some 60 million medical records from 10 million patients were stolen by 15 IRS agents. The personal health information seized on March 11, 2011, included psychological counseling, gynecological counseling, sexual/drug treatment and other medical treatment data.   "This is an action involving the corruption and abuse of power by several Internal Revenue Service agents," the complaint reads. "No search warrant authorized the seizure of these records; no subpoena authorized the seizure of these records; none of the 10,000,000 Americans were under any kind of known criminal or civil investigation and their medical records had no relevance whatsoever to the IRS search. IT personnel at the scene, a HIPPA facility warning on the building and the IT portion of the searched premises, and the company executives each warned the IRS agents of these privileged records," it continued.

Clarice Feldman


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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Deja vu: Peace in our Time?

by Isi Leibler

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proclaimed there would be "peace in our time" in defense of his disastrous Munich Agreement with Hitler. History testifies that his policy of appeasement and failure to confront the aggressive Nazi barbarians virtually made World War II inevitable.

In August 1993, just 20 years ago, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, strongly pressured by then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, embarked on what he described as a "gamble for peace" and consummated the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization, an act which bitterly divided the nation.

Passionate debates ensued, but in our desperate yearning for peace, until recently many of us deluded ourselves that we were engaged in an "irreversible" peace process. Some of us even mesmerized ourselves into believing that Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, were genuine peace partners, despite clear evidence from their own statements that in referring to peace, they did so with forked tongues and their real objective was to end Jewish sovereignty.

In recent years the vast majority of us reluctantly concluded that the "gamble for peace" was a failure and that, in the absence of a Palestinian leadership genuinely committed to coexistence, any prospect for a genuine peace was a mirage. This has become especially obvious as Palestinian leaders even refuse to engage in negotiations without preconditions.

Yet, the vast majority of Israelis would still now endorse major concessions to the Palestinians if they were convinced that this would lead to a genuine peace. 

Sadly, many -- including some of our friends -- fail to appreciate this and continue urging Israel to be more forthcoming about the peace process.

U.S. President Barack Obama reversed his former confrontationist stance toward Israel and now even publicly endorses Israel's right to take pre-emptive military action to defend itself. Nevertheless, an "Alice in Wonderland" atmosphere still dominates U.S. Middle East policy.

Thus, Secretary of State John Kerry waxes eloquent over an allegedly revised and improved version of the so-called Arab League Peace Initiative.

The imperative of placating the U.S. obligates our government not to reject outrightly this initiative which "agrees" to accept minor territorial swaps from the 1949 armistice lines yet still incorporates the right of return of Arab refugees, which would result in an end to the Jewish state.

Moreover, the genocidal Hamas, with which the PA seeks to merge, has condemned the scheme and adamantly reiterated that it would never countenance any compromise. 

No Israeli government could conceivably contemplate acquiescing to a formula in which the opening benchmark in negotiations requires acceptance of the 1949 armistice lines. This would entail east Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, as well as the major settlement blocs, effectively becoming Palestinian territory until an agreement to engage in swaps is consummated. Precedents indicate that it is highly unlikely that agreement on swaps could be achieved with the current intransigent Palestinian leaders.

In this context, we must not ignore the reality that both Arafat and Abbas refused, and even failed to respond with a counteroffer, when Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert offered them 97 percent of the territories over the Green Line.

Nor can we dismiss the criminal character of Palestinian society and the fact that the PA, no less than Hamas, inculcates children from primary school to kill Jews and become "martyrs," and publicly sanctifies mass murderers and allocates state pensions to families of suicide bombers and terrorists in Israeli jails.

Indeed, even "respectable" Palestinian websites such as spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi's Miftach recently published an article reviving medieval blood libels, explicitly accusing Jews of drinking gentile blood on Passover. 

The Palestinian state-sponsored anti-Semitic brainwashing in the media, mosques and schools is in fact as lethal as the Nazi propaganda that transformed Germans into willing accomplices of mass murder. 

It is thus not surprising that recent polls show that Palestinians are globally the most supportive Muslim nation favoring suicide bombings, with over 40% justifying them.

Those promoting Abbas as a "peace partner" or "moderate" would be hard-pressed to quote a single positive statement by him about Israel to his own people. He may tactically have reached the conclusion that diplomacy is more effective for promoting Palestinian goals than terror. But while he consistently stresses that this is a pragmatic strategic approach, his Fatah subsidiary continues engaging in acts of terror and the PA continuously threatens to revert to the "armed struggle" if it fails to achieve its objectives by diplomatic means. 

According to Palestinian Media Watch, only this month Sultan Abu Al-Einem, a senior PLO official, "saluted the heroic fighter" who had stabbed an Israeli civilian to death. At the same time, Jibril Rajoub, cosigner to the Oslo Accords and deputy secretary to the Fatah Central Committee, stated that "popular resistance, with all it entails, remains on our agenda," and that "if we had a nuke we'd have used it [against Israel] this morning."

Despite the fact that Abbas has breached the Oslo accords by unilaterally obtaining U.N. diplomatic recognition and is now constantly threatening to charge Israel with war crimes at the International Court of Justice, the world continues today to pressure us to maintain the manifestly false charade of engaging with a nonexistent peace partner.

Moreover, the "peaceniks" and their Western supporters, including some misguided Jews and Israelis, still demand that the Israeli government be more forthcoming with concessions. 

We are called upon to engage in further "confidence-building" measures and release terrorists, many of whom are likely to resume their activities; make further territorial concessions despite our disastrous experience after the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip; and freeze building in the settlements, despite the fact that when we did this in 2009-2010, the Palestinians refused to negotiate for almost the entire 10-month freeze period, and then came to the negotiating table only to demand that the freeze continue indefinitely.

We are urged to specify our desired borders, as if this can be done in isolation from security and other factors. Besides, every time the possibility of another concession is even hinted, the Palestinians insist that it represents a new opening benchmark for future negotiations.

We have made major concessions, but there has been no reciprocity because clearly the PA will not and cannot concede anything. We face a calculated strategy to destroy Israel in stages in which our adversaries seek to obtain and absorb concessions without reciprocity and will continue to demand more and more until they exhaust us.

We should firmly restate to our friends our readiness and desire to separate from the Palestinians. But we must not again jeopardize our security and lives by engaging in yet another "gamble for peace" with the odds stacked against us.

Were we to have a genuine peace partner, we could achieve a peace treaty and grounds for long-term coexistence in a matter of days. But until then, our friends should not seek to impose upon us a Chamberlain-style "peace in our time" formula.

Isi Leibler's website can be viewed at He may be contacted at


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The End of the Obama Illusion

by Thomas Lifson

President Obama is shattering the illusions of his supporters, and eyes are opening, even among his former media allies.  As if waking from a slumber, a newly aggressive White House press corps yesterday raked Jay Carney over the coals over various lies and evasions, prompting Megyn Kelley of Fox News to quip, "What's happened?  Who are these reporters who showed up here?"

They are disillusioned and angry liberals who are starting to grasp that they have been lied to, who realize that a skeptical stance is necessary when examining a narrative offered by team Obama on Benghazi or the IRS scandal.

Even worse, the media have discovered that they are themselves targets of government abuse, just like those Tea Partiers the IRS was picking on.  The Associated Press, whose newsroom and reporters' personal phone line records were secretly subpoenaed, is collectively owned by members of the mainstream media.  As the largest newsgathering organization in the country, it stands for media freedom itself in their minds.  An attack on it is an attack on them.

Right now, there's a lot of cognitive dissonance going on in the punditocracy: how could a constitutional law professor turn on the free press?  Obama's just not behaving like the good guy they thought him to be.  Awkward questions of character are being raised in their minds.

The love they offered Obama all those years has not been reciprocated.  John Yoo observed, "[T]his is how you get treated when you are in a politician's pocket."  As with many scorned lovers, they are ripe to reframe their understanding of their ex-amour in a more negative light.  The illusion of Obama the godlike light-bringer, the man who could bring us together, has dissolved into an uncomfortable, soon to be angry, memory.

And therein lies serious peril for President Obama.  Once it becomes accepted that his narratives are false, a Pandora's Box opens.  To a remarkable degree, the biographical narrative he offered to the media when he suddenly appeared on the national scene, and which they accepted and aggressively defended, was built on illusion.  Serious questions about Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, his authorship of Dreams from my Father, and his academic transcripts once were rudely brushed aside as racism and paranoia.

Two polar opposite ways of seeing Barack Obama emerged in his first presidential campaign.  The mainstream view saw an inspiring, brilliant high achiever who could bring us together, while among conservatives, as exemplified over the years at American Thinker, a decidedly more negative interpretation of the biographical facts emerged.  Just a few of many possible examples include:

Mainstream media Conservative dissident

Brilliant academic career Transcripts remain sealed, affirmative action could have helped him

Community organizer -- man of the people, leader of others, cares about the poor Saul Alinsky follower, ginned up astroturf demonstrations, ruthless

Constitutional law professor at famous university Lecturer, leftist course, no academic distinction

Just a guy in the neighborhood. You're a McCarthyite Started his political career in Bill Ayers's living room

Dreams proves he's brilliant Dreams was written by Bill Ayers

Inspiring community leader Annenberg Chicago Challenge he headed accomplished nothing

Greatest. Orator. Ever. Off the teleprompter, not so much.

The problem is that not only is Obama a liar; he is a phony.  And bit by bit, the evidence is becoming clearer to more and more of the people who were taken in.

This drawing, the so-called Young Lady/Old Lady illusion, illustrates the way reframing can change the way a person perceives something.  It is possible to see either a young lady or an old lady in the picture below:

Generations of introductory psychology students have seen it, but if you have not and want to see both, this video explains both:

So it is with Obama.  Depending what is put in the foreground and what in the background, Barack Obama appears beautiful and stylish, or mean and scary.

The big worry now for Obama has to be what Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit calls a "preference cascade."  He explains:
In his book, Private Truths, Public Lies, economist Timur Kuran looked at the way "preference falsification" can distort societies, and then collapse suddenly.
The classic example is in a totalitarian society, where everyone has to pretend to love the Great Leader on pain of death. If the authorities manage it right, 99% of the populace can be ready to revolt -- but won't, because each individual thinks he or she is the only one who feels that way. This works until some event suddenly shocks the system, and people realize that they're not alone. When that happens, things can go south in a hurry. That's a "preference cascade."
The United States isn't a totalitarian society, but media bias has the same sort of effect: By privileging some views and suppressing others, the media give Americans, and itself, a distorted idea of reality. Then, when things crack, it's a big surprise.
Some on the right are already talking impeachment, which is a big mistake.  Others counsel speed.  Instead, Obama's opponents would be wise to focus on discovery of facts, taking all the time necessary to staff up a highly capable select committee or two, issuing subpoenas and using congressional hearings to ferret out the truth of Benghazi and the suppression of conservative groups taking advantage of the Citizens United decision and setting up nonprofit counterparts to Media Matters and other progressive groups.

The preference cascade is our friend.  Let the Committee Democrats decide which side they want to be on.  Already, the signs are that House Democrats are not about to defend the IRS or obstruct the inquiry in any way.  Having thrown the CIA under the bus on the Benghazi talking points, the Obama administration has delivered a message to potential witnesses and fall guys: you're expendable.

Once upon a time, Barack Obama rode as high as a politician can get, at least as the big media portrayed him.  It's a long way down. 

Thomas Lifson


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