Saturday, May 23, 2020

INTO THE FRAY: (a) The imperative to annex; (b) The irrelevance of innocence - Dr. Martin Sherman

by Dr. Martin Sherman

Are those against sovereignty entrapped in an Oslowian time-warp? And has the legal establishment destroyed its credibility again?

Dr. Martin Sherman
Dr. Martin Sherman                                                                                               Photo: MS
Preamble: The somewhat misleading headline

This week (May 17-23) provided a particularly rich array of fresh newsworthy topics on which to focus: The opening of PM Netanyahu’s unashamedly choreographed trial, the disruptive cyber-attack on the southern Iranian port, Shahid Rajaee, widely attributed to Israel; the formation of the outsized and grotesquely hybridized government that the Israeli electorate imposed upon itself, to name but a few.

However, as compelling as these and other matters might be, I had decided instead to set them aside and focus instead on two issues, with which I have dealt in some detail in the past. I did so because I believe they entail, perhaps, the farthest-reaching potential impact on the country in the long-run—the one in terms of its security, and the other, in terms of the resilience of its domestic fabric.

The former is the continuing burst of fragments of shrapnel still flying around the Israel-related political arena in the wake of the uproar that exploded with Daniel Pipe’s May 7th New York Times opinion piece opposing Israeli annexation of any territory in Judea-Samaria.

The latter was the profoundly perturbing conviction in the 2015 Duma arson case, which at least from a layman’s perspective, appears to fly in the face of all eye-witness accounts and the undeniable existence of reasonable doubt. Sadly however, once I began writing, I realized that I cannot do justice to both in a single Op-Ed—even a rather lengthy one. Accordingly, I will restrict this week’s discussion to the former and—subject to breaking news—leave for next week the analysis of the latter case, in which Israel’s legal establishment has once again shown that there is nothing so destructive to its own credibility than itself.

But as I did not want to totally disregard the Duma episode, Ileft the headline in its original “double-barreled” twofer form—hence the reference to “somewhat misleading”.

(a) The imperative to annex—immediately.
American Jews have an obligation to speak out against imposing a solution on the Palestinians as a matter not only of intellectual consistency, but also because to do so protects Israel’s long-term interests as well. A unilateral West Bank land grab would imperil Israel - Alan P. Solow, Former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in A unilateral West Bank land grab would imperil Israel, The Times of Israel, May 19, 2020. 

Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace - Democratic Party’s presumptive 2020 candidate for US President, former Vice President, Senator Joe Biden, Biden says he opposes Israel annexing territory, The Hill, May19, 2020. 

And what does annexation actually achieve? It is a symbolic move, a gesture…a self-indulgence that buoys the anti-Zionist cause and renders a resolution of the conflict more distant.”— Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum, and initiator of the Israel Victory Project, in “I believe in compromise… ”, The Times of Israel, May 12, 2020, (Telephonic interview). Also see here

I have no qualms in broaching this subject again, despite having just completed writing an extensive analysis of it barely a week ago. For, as the foregoing excerpts indicate, it has continued to simmer and bubble well after the publication of the original “offending” article, even making headlines late this week.

Entrapped in an Oslowian time-warp?

Thus, Alan Solow (see above) produced an article, written as if he was entrapped in an anachronistic Oslowian time-warp, where optimistic naivete still dominates the discourse and Palestinian-Arabs were still mistakenly viewed as prospective peace partners rather than implacable enemies.

As if oblivious to three decades of post-Oslowian Judeocidal rejectionism by the Palestinian-Arabs—despite gut-wrenching Israeli concessions—he pontificates: “No solution should be imposed on anyone or by anyone in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. [T]his sentiment has stood for decades as the one universally accepted principle undergirding the quest for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – that it must be reached through bilateral negotiations between the parties.”

Of course, while he may well be right that, overall, this was for decades, “the one universally accepted principle undergirding the quest for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”, it was also one that proved universally false—one, whose attempted application brought only trauma and tragedy; death and destruction, not just to thousands of Israeli Jews, but to countless more Palestinian-Arabs.

So, persisting with this fatally flawed and failed formula is Solow’s panacea-like prescription? Really??

With almost breathtaking impudence (or perhaps, ignorance) Solow cautions menacingly: “Standing by while Israel uses its military and political power to declare ownership over whatever it wants is a dangerous precedent”. Indeed, it would be intriguing to know what parallel universe Solow inhabits.

You can’t make this stuff up

After all, you really couldn’t make this stuff up! 

“Israel using its military and political power for taking over what it wants??

Yeah, right!

  • Like when it withdrew from all of Sinai, which it took over in a preemptive strike to foil a genocidal Egyptian onslaught?
  • Or, when it unilaterally evacuated Gaza, only to see it metamorphize into a bastion of Islamist terror, with martial prowess unimaginable prior to evacuation?
  • Or, when it “use[d]its military and political power” to ignominiously abandon South Lebanon to Hezbollah, allowing a terrorist nuisance to burgeon into a grave strategic threat to virtually every major Israeli population center?
  • Or, by allowing armed militias to deploy within mortar range of the nation’s parliament?
This from the former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who with almost child-like naivety asks: “…what if the Palestinians and their allies gain the upper hand and are in a position to undertake their own annexation of Israeli territory?” I kid you not! You have to read to believe!

Could it be that Solow has missed the news for the last decade or so—regarding the events in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Cairo’s Tahrir Square? If not, he would surely know that “if the Palestinians and their allies gain the upper hand”, annexation would probably not be the first thing on Israelis’ minds. For them, figuring out how to prevent their heads being severed from their shoulders might be a matter of more immediate concern.

Biden butts in

The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President, Senator Joe Biden, has also recently offered his opposition to annexation, stating in a recent interview: “I do not support annexation”. He added: “The fact is, I will reverse Trump's undercutting of peace,” referring the Trump Peace to Prosperity plan, which earmarks certain tracts of territory in Judea-Samaria for annexation by Israel—irrespective of Palestinian-Arab consent.

Biden, whose continued viability as a political player is due perhaps only to the appalling lethargy and impotence of the Republicans, warned: “Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace.”

It is, of course, difficult to know whether to scoff or to scowl at a statement so wildly detached from reality as this.

After all, “threats” of annexation have only been politically pertinent in the last year. Prior to that, the absence of such threats was spectacularly ineffective in breathing life into “any hope of peace”.

In Gaza, the reverse is true. Not only did Israel not annex the Strip, but it evacuated it. Not only did it not persist in “settlement activity”, but it laid waste to every remnant of Jewish presence—without that providing any artificial respiration for “any hope of peace”.

So surely the key to understanding what is “choking the hope for peace” must be sought elsewhere.

Breaking the enemies’ will …by complying with it?

Lamentably, it is difficult not to discern strands of thought reminiscent of this perspective in Pipes’s NYT article, as well as in his replies to the criticism it ignited—strands that run curiously counter to the prima facie rationale of the Israel Victory Project.

Thus, in his May 10 rejoinder, he writes: “Israel must assert itself against the Palestinians; but any moves must align with the larger campaign to compel Palestinians to give up their goal of eliminating the Jewish state.” To do this, he urges Israel to: “consider…what steps will most advance the goal of breaking the Palestinian will to eliminate Israel” But then, he incongruously suggests: “Annexing the West Bank… has the opposite result,” warning that: “It buoys the anti-Zionist cause and hinders a resolution of the conflict.” 

Of course, common sense militates towards precisely the converse conclusion.

After all, annexation is something the Palestinian-Arabs oppose. So, if they and their allies can impose their will on Israel by compelling it to eschew annexation (a move widely supported in Israeli society), that hardly appears compatible with the spirit, which Pipes espouses. After all, it is not at all clear how one might break one’s antagonists’ will by complying with their will!!

Indeed, annexation (or “extension of sovereignty”, as semantic purists prefer) would, for all intents and purposes, make a tenable self-governing Palestinian-Arab entity (aka a Palestinian State) unattainable. It is difficult to conceive of any other measure that could do more than to bring home to the Palestinians that their hostile endeavor is futile.

Feigning defeat for fruits of victory

In his May 12 Times of Israel interview, Pipes proclaims: “I believe in compromise. But I also believe in convincing the Palestinians they’ve lost. I want to go for the jugular. I want to go for the kill.” This, of course, is a staggeringly self-contradictory expression of intent. After all, one can only puzzle over how one is to bring one’s adversaries to their knees by offering him a compromise acceptable them. But even assuming that such an arrangement is possible, there is another pitfall regarding the offer of compromise within the intellectual context that Pipes proposes.

After all, nothing is more liable to make feigning defeat to attain the fruits of victory as tantalizingly tempting than signaling the willingness for compromise.

After all, what is to prevent a duplicitous foe from faking surrender, accepting the rewards of the proffered compromise and then resuming hostilities, from greatly improved positions?

But, even assuming that Pipes believes that defeat will somehow bring about a yet-to-be specified compromise that the Palestinian-Arabs are willing to accept, and that Israel is willing to permit, how is this to be achieved? For despite his warning that annexation would “inflame the Palestinians”, he has in the past suggested the use of what are, arguably, far harsher, and no less internationally unacceptable measures, including a prescription to “ dismantle the PA's security infrastructure…reduce and then shut off the water and electricity that Israel supplies."

Clearly, if this is the stuff he is prepared to inflict on the Palestinians, it is difficult not to feel that his concern regarding international ire over annexation is strangely misplaced.

Inappropriate historical analogies

Indeed, in the past, Pipes wrote:“If [the] Germans and Japanese, no less fanatical and far more powerful, could be defeated in World War II and then turned into normal citizens, why not the Palestinians now?”

While this is factually true, these analogies are unlikely to be instructive for the Israel-Palestinian conflict, at least as far as post-victory policy design is concerned.

After all, it should be recalled that in these cases, the vanquished powers were not surrounded by, or adjacent to, countries with large populations of ethnic kin, or co-religionists, who could sustain resistance and incite unrest within their borders.

Thus, Germany was not surrounded by a swathe of Teutonic nations, nor Japan by a swathe of Nipponese nations, which could provide a constant stream of insurgents and armaments to undermine any arrangement or undercut any resolution the victorious powers wished to implement.

This, however, would definitely be the case in the Israeli/Palestinian situation, as was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, where neighboring Islamic states constituted a virtually unending source of instability and incitement after initial victory.

Clearly, this is an element that has dramatic implications for post-victory policy—especially with regard to the prospect of relinquishing Israeli control over any territory to Palestinian rule—even after a crushing defeat has been inflicted. This is particularly true given the critical strategic importance of the territory, ear-marked for Palestinian self-rule in virtually any future configuration.

Bitter crucible of defeat?

Just over two years ago, Pipes asserted: “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error…there is no shortcut.”

While I might agree with that, it is difficult to conceive of what Pipes has in his mind’s eye as comprising that “[b]itter crucible of defeat--with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair”. 

Indeed, reverting to his Japanese/German analogy, is he condoning future carpet bombing of Gaza or Ramallah as in Berlin and Dresden? Is he open to submitting Palestinian-Arab population centers to what the Allies subjected Japanese population centers? If not, what is the point of referring to them. If he is, does he feel that world opinion would be more open to this scope of causalities than to annexation?

Would this displease the US administration less, infuriate the Democrats and the Europeans less, alienate Arab leaders less, inflame the Palestinians less, radicalize the Israeli left less, than annexation?

Of course, one, hardly expects that Pipes would endorse such horrendous carnage, as his preferred policy prescription. But this obviously raises the inexorable question of how to inflict the “bitter crucible of defeat” and what form it might plausibly take.

Miraculous metamorphosis?

As a somber reminder—and a very rough yardstick—in the 1948 War of Independence, Israel suffered over 6,000 fatalities and 15,000 wounded— around 1% and 2.5% respectively of the then-total Jewish population— without bringing about any thoughts of unconditional surrender.

Assuming that Israelis, then, were not less sensitive to loss of human lives than are the Palestinian-Arabs today, could Israel cause a commensurate number of Palestinian-Arab casualties—between 30,000-40,000 fatalities and over 100,000 wounded, depending on which demographic estimate one accepts—without incurring international censure and sanctions? Could Israel inflict such death and devastation without precipitating massive popular clamor for international—even military—intervention, across the Arab world and in other Islamic countries such as Turkey, Pakistan and Iran?

And if not, what kind of mythical and miraculous metamorphosis does Pipes (or Solow or Biden) envisage that will somehow convert Palestinian-Arabs—many, if not most, of whom been subjected to decades of Judeophobic indoctrination and Judeocidal incitement—into docile, peace-loving versions of their former selves?

Interestingly Pipes—perhaps inadvertently—hints at an approach by which to address this thorny conundrum—via the demographic perspective.

Diagnosing demographic danger

In his Times of Israel interview, Pipes expresses justified concern over Israel having to grant citizenship to thousands of Palestinian-Arabs living in the areas slated for annexation. “This is essentially a population that does not want to be part of the Jewish state.”

In his reply to his critics, he writes (correctly, in my view): “Annexation would likely make more Palestinians eligible to become citizens of Israel. That would be a profound mistake, since its Arab citizens constitute what I believe is the ultimate enemy of Israel's status as a Jewish state.”

Some two decades ago, Pipes wrote, with incisive insight: "Israel is apparently faced with just two stark and awful alternatives-annexing the West Bank and Gaza or handing them over to the PLO. And each of these is worse than it first appears, for annexation leads either to a demographic crisis in Israel or forceful transfer of population; and empowering the PLO means enthroning a widely hostile state hard on Israel's borders. The first spells disaster for Israel's internal life; the second poses a wholly new external threat. Understandably, the majority of Israelis deem both these routes unacceptable” 

This was true then –and it is true today

  • One-State” type of solutions will inevitably result in the Lebanonization of Israeli society ‏and—eventually—the Islamization of the country.
  • Two-State” type of solutions will inevitably generate a mega-Gaza on the fringes Tel Aviv, overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport and abutting the Trans-Israel highway.
  • The various versions of “hybrid” solutions, involving partial annexation, will result unavoidably in a tortuously long and contorted frontier up to a 1000 km in length (possibly even more), which would be impossible to demarcate or secure, making any concept of sovereignty ‏meaningless.
Clear conclusion & call for cooperation

The conclusion then is clear.

History has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that the Palestinian-Arabs will not be swayed from their aggressive intent by any display of Israeli goodwill, generosity or concessions—however far-reaching.

If the calamitous casualties, necessary to convince the Palestinian-Arabs of final and durable defeat, are unacceptable and impracticable in the current international climate, the only “non-kinetic” policy paradigm that can effectively address Israel’s demographic and geographic imperatives, is a large-scale initiative for the incentivized emigration (evacuation-compensation) of the Palestinian-Arabs in Judea-Samaria (and eventually Gaza).

Here is not the place to discuss the political acceptability, the economic feasibility and the moral merits of the paradigm (which, however, can be shown to be distinctly more plausible than any competing alternative), but for Israel, it is essentially “Hobson’s Choice”—if it wishes to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The proposed annexation measures are an essential first step—and necessary pre-condition—in this direction.

I therefore, renew my call to Pipes for cooperation between his organization and mine, and to invest his considerable acumen and energy into helping to take the notion of “Incentivized Arab Emigration” from the realm of theoretical discussion to that of practical policy.

Before it is too late!

Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.


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Pelosi's Leninist Stimulus Bill - Jeffrey Folks

by Jeffrey Folks

Lenin cheered Russia's descent into starvation, believing that the crisis would increase his party's support among the peasantry. Those who were starving would have nowhere else to turn.

As soon as the Bolsheviks took over Russia in October 1917, Vladimir Lenin began churning out rubles. In fact, he spent half the state's revenue on just the printing of new currency. Within a year, the ruble was worth 100,000,000 times less than it had been before the communists took over. Existing rubles, and any investment denominated in rubles, were worthless.

Lenin's inflationary program was not a response to the need for an increased money supply. It was a deliberate strategy designed to eliminate money as a means of transactions and, with it, to crush capitalism. From that point on, the state would directly control the means of production and distribution, and the people would, in theory, be dependent on the state for all goods and services. In reality, Lenin's policy fostered a thriving black market, of which the communists were well aware and on which they relied to feed a segment of the population. So began 73 years of economic demoralization and corruption, driving the people of Russia to secrecy, callous indifference, and even cannibalism. 

As Martin Amis writes in his book on the Soviet Union, Koba the Dread (2002) — from which much of my analysis and data are drawn — Lenin's inflationary policy rested on an underlying contempt for ordinary people, and especially for Russia. From the beginning, Lenin's strategy was to decimate the value of private property by means of inflationary printing of vast sums of money. Lenin cheered Russia's descent into starvation, believing that the crisis would increase his party's support among the peasantry. Those who were starving would have nowhere else to turn. It was an early example of never letting a crisis go to waste.

The only problem, as Lenin saw it, was that the Russian people were not dying off fast enough, and Lenin did all he could to help things along. Lenin's collectivization policy alone accounted for 11 million deaths. Altogether, just how many died under the communist terror is a matter of intense debate, much of it influenced by ideology, but Amis's estimate, based on data from Robert Conquest, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and others, adds up to some 100 million souls (Amis, pp. 82–83).

Now Nancy Pelosi has passed a fifth stimulus bill intended to keep the printing presses going in Washington. Having already approved trillions in COVID-19 aid, Pelosi now wants another $3 trillion. Pelosi said she was "thrilled" with the record-breaking HEROES Act, as she called it, with much of the spending directed at traditionally Democratic constituencies such as public-sector workers, teachers, students, and the poor. The bill contains student loan forgiveness, extension of unemployment benefits, and another $1,200 in stimulus money for individuals and up to $6,000 for households, including checks for illegal aliens. The bill also restores the State and Local Income Tax (SALT) deduction popular in blue states and promotes early voting and mail-in voting that might favor Democrat candidates. 

One of the most insidious aspects of Pelosi's bill is that it would continue the distribution of funds to every American making less than $100,000. Most of those persons have already received a stimulus check of $1,200, in many cases on top of unemployment benefits and other support. Indefinite support is especially dangerous: workers can become accustomed to "free" income in a very short time. Once the cash spigot has been turned on, it will be difficult to turn it off.

That is just what the Democrats want. A guaranteed income would be popular among the poor, especially among those who have no intention of ever working, but printing another $3 trillion or more each month would soon undermine the value of that distribution, and it would come at the cost of anyone who holds cash or bonds. That includes trillions invested in retirement annuities, life insurance, and ordinary savings. The Democrats' program would create an inflationary crisis that would reduce the value of money, just as Lenin did in post-revolutionary Russia, in effect weakening the capitalist system and replacing it with dependence on government distributions.

I don't know whether Nancy Pelosi has read enough history to know what she is doing, but those who influence her certainly have, and they have taken their cue from Lenin. Even a politician as daft as Pelosi should realize that the printing of $6 trillion or more in fiscal stimulus will undermine the value of existing currency and investments. The federal reserve has expanded its balance sheet at the fastest rate in history, with expectations of it reaching $10 trillion by early 2021. We are already seeing the effects of this inflationary policy as prices of basic goods begin to spike and as shortages multiply. Grocery prices rose in April at the highest rate in 50 years, and there is no reason why this increase will not continue.

That seems to be what Democrats are praying for, just as Lenin prayed (no, he didn't pray) for mass starvation. The perennial strategy of the left, outlined in Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, is to foment a crisis and force government action as the "solution." Pelosi, who stockpiles $13-a-pint ice cream in her $24,000 fridge, appears to share Lenin's contempt for ordinary people. Hunger and shortages are mounting, and Democrats are eager to take advantage of the crisis. Even as the masses were starving, Lenin and his cronies were eating well.

The result of unrestrained spending is permanent damage to our economy. Once the inflationary genie is out of the bottle, it's hard to put it back, and there are lasting consequences of lingering recession and government budget instability. We're not starving the way Russians were under Lenin, but we are seeing widespread shortages and substantial price increases. Liberals cheer these developments, however painful they may be to ordinary Americans. As more persons are impoverished, they are forced to turn to government, and liberals are eager to pass expensive measures of support that exacerbate the crisis.

All of this was child's play to Lenin, one of the most ruthless and evil politicians in history. As the latest stimulus bill shows, inflationary spending is becoming child's play to Pelosi as well. She sits in her Pacific Heights house with its freezer full of sweets, or at her Napa Valley vineyard or D.C. condo, thinking up ways to increase the dependence of ordinary Americans on government, and with it increased power and wealth to the political elite of which she is the head.

Pelosi seems intent on bringing state control of the economy to America. Another word for "state control of the economy" is communism. Only GOP control of Congress and the presidency can stop her.

Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).


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China proposes controversial Hong Kong 'security' law - Caitlin McFall

by Caitlin McFall

The bill would allow the Chinese government to suppress anti-government movements, like the most recent years-long protests.

The Chinese government will review new "national security" legislation in Hong Kong after two years of pro-democracy protests in an effort to employ control over the semi-autonomous city, a spokesperson for China’s parliament said Thursday.
Zhang Yesui said that the National People’s Congress (NPC) is considering a bill on “establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.”
The bill would allow the Chinese government to suppress anti-government movements, like the most recent yearslong protests.


“Any effort to impose national security legislation that does not reflect the will of the people of Hong Kong would be highly destabilizing, and would be met with strong condemnation from the United States and the international community,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.

Hong Kong was a former British colony handed over to the Chinese government in 1997. Under the Sino-British Declaration, Hong Kong maintained a certain amount of autonomy from mainland China.

Article 23 of the Basic Law says that Hong Kong will “enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition [or] subversion against the Central People's Government.”

But this law has never been passed. The last attempt by the Chinese government to exert a law that would enforce this rule was in 2003, which resulted in the city’s largest-ever protests, and the legislation was dropped.


The State Department has said the most recent attempts to pass legislation under Article 23 “undermine the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China's] commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

According to the South China Morning Post, a draft of the bill will be reviewed by the NPC Friday and voted on at the end of the session on May 28.

President Trump told reporters at the White House that "nobody knows yet” what the legislation will look like but added: “If it happens, we’ll address that issue very strongly.”

“In light of the new circumstances and need, the National People’s Congress [NPC] is exercising its constitutional power,” Zhang said, according to Reuters.

“We urge Beijing to honor its commitments and obligations in the Sino-British Joint Declaration -- including that Hong Kong will 'enjoy a high degree of autonomy' and that people of Hong Kong will enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Ortagus said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Caitlin McFall


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Biden’s offensive statement about blacks wasn’t the worst thing he said - Andrea Widburg

by Andrea Widburg

Listening to the whole interview shows that, as well as demeaning blacks, Biden's pressed speech and dubious facts were intended to hide his actual record with African-Americans.

Joe Biden took a lot of flak on Friday for saying on The Breakfast Club, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” However, bad as that line was, Biden said a lot of other things that were just as bad as his condescending, tone-deaf attempt at a “no true Scotsman” joke.

The Breakfast Club is a popular progressive morning show that is carried on 45 affiliate stations, while the YouTube channel boasts 4.41 million subscribers. To date, just the YouTube version of Biden’s May 22 interview with "Charlamagne tha God" has had over 700,000 views. This is a show with reach, and it allowed Biden to talk directly to a young black audience.

What Biden was pitching to the audience is that he’s been a black advocate since practically the day he stepped out of law school in the late 1960s. To that end, he used the Wuhan Virus to play the race card against Trump and then settled into his shtick about how he’s always acted in the best interests of American blacks. Little that he said supports this claim.

Biden began by boasting, “I’m ahead in all the national polls,” only to have Charlamagne point out the 2016 polling failures. Biden’s non sequitur response was that 2016 was “totally different” because “you had somebody who didn’t, they didn’t know” Trump, meaning that Trump “had no serious opposition that turned out to materialize.” I mention this short Biden argument as a reminder that even though Biden talks a lot, he often doesn’t say anything.

Next, Biden claimed he was ahead of the curve on initiatives that would have stemmed deaths from the Wuhan Virus. Biden ignores that, from January 22 through February 27, he opposed effective Trump’s actions, going so far as to accuse Trump of “hysteria and xenophobia” for blocking flights from China. Biden also ignores that federalism meant that it was the states, not Trump, that had to act.

Biden asserts that, on January 27, he published an article with policies that would have saved American lives. That’s incorrect. The article compared the Wuhan Virus, a disease breaking out of one of the world’s largest nations, to Ebola, a geographically-confined West African outbreak, and demanded that Trump cooperate with the international community (i.e., send money). And, of course, “science!”

None of the article’s arguments and vague recommendations would have changed things. It wasn’t until mid-March that Biden finally released his “plan.” This plan, when it didn’t advocate things Trump had already done, mostly said, “I have a plan to have a plan.”

In a move worthy of all demagogues, Biden implies that Trump’s policies are killing blacks who are indeed more vulnerable to the Wuhan Virus. Biden ignores that those blacks who are dying mostly live in Democrat-governed regions and, worse, in densely packed urban areas. Whether on the subway or in old age homes, those governors are killing blacks. Biden also ignores that blacks have more risk factors (e.g., obesity, Type II diabetes), and less Vitamin D.

Jumping to the economy, Biden promises that, unlike Trump, he will give blacks the economy of their dreams, one free from “institutional racism.” He implies that there will be a Green jobs program. Charlamagne fails to ask Biden why blacks didn’t get that economy during Obama’s and Biden’s eight-year run.

What Charlamagne does ask about is black incarceration, with a focus on Biden’s 1994 crime bill. That elicits a cascade of words from Biden saying he had nothing to do with increased drug sentences or three strikes. What he pushed, he says, was mandatory sentencing guidelines that were supposed to erase racial differences in sentences. Who knew the guidelines would send small drug dealers to prison for long terms? 

There isn’t space here to detail the many problems with the crime bill and its effect on blacks. The Huffington Post does an excellent job.

Both Charlamagne and Biden politely ignore Biden’s strong friendships with segregationists, including Strom Thurmond, or his statement in 1981 that “sometimes even George Wallace is right.” (Biden’s argument in 1981 wasn’t awful, although it was incoherent -- but citing Wallace? Bad look.)

It’s at the end of this cascade of words, a mixture of fact, fiction, and puffery, that Biden throws in the much-quoted remark that “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.” It’s evident from the context and his clownish grin that Biden’s trying to make a joke. However, just as only blacks can refer to each other with racist words, no white person should ever attempt a joke like that. (Nor should a white person ever say, “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains,” as Biden did.)

From Biden’s mouth, the words are racist, condescending, patronizing, and generally awful. That’s why they make a great sound byte. Maybe, though, we should worry more that Biden spun a web of lies to millions of young blacks who don’t know Biden’s history or that his policies, whether social, economic, or criminal, harmed blacks rather than helped them.

Andrea Widburg


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Israel’s Flight from South Lebanon 20 Years On - Prof. Efraim Karsh and Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

by Prof. Efraim Karsh and Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

The withdrawal transformed south Lebanon into an ineradicable terror entity that can harass northern Israel at will and expedited Hezbollah’s evolvement into a formidable military power

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,577, May 22, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel’s May 2000 rushed evacuation of its security zone in south Lebanon and the desertion of its longstanding local allies there tarnished the Jewish State’s deterrent posture and helped spark a string of large-scale armed confrontations with Hezbollah (2006), the PLO (the so-called “al-Aqsa Intifada”), and Hamas (2008/9, 2012, 2014). The withdrawal transformed south Lebanon into an ineradicable terror entity that can harass northern Israel at will and expedited Hezbollah’s evolvement into a formidable military power armed with 150,000 rockets and missiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel. It also dented the IDF’s fighting ethos and operational competence, as illustrated by its lukewarm performance during the Second Lebanon War (2006) and Operation Protective Edge (2014). 
In the dead of night on May 24, 2000, 18 years after invading Lebanon with the expressed goal of removing the longstanding terrorist threat to its northern towns and villages, Israel hurriedly vacated its self-proclaimed security zone in south Lebanon and redeployed on the other side of the border. With PM Ehud Barak authorizing the operation a day earlier to avoid its disruption by the Hezbollah terror organization, which had long harassed the Israeli forces in Lebanon, the evacuation was executed without a single casualty.
Yet the humiliation attending the IDF’s flight under Hezbollah fire, leaving behind heavy weapons and military equipment (some of which were promptly bombed by the Israeli air force to deny them to Hezbollah), as well as its abandonment of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), which had aided its counterterrorist operations for years and which collapsed upon the withdrawal with many of its fighters and their families seeking asylum in Israel, was not lost on outside observers. A prominent leftwing Israeli journalist, by no means hostile to the withdrawal, even compared “the scent of humiliation [that] permeated the air” to that attending the “last helicopter on the [US] embassy roof in Vietnam.”
Shattered deterrence
Keenly aware of these disturbing images, Barak quickly extolled the flight as a glowing success that in one fell swoop ended Israel’s “18-year Lebanese tragedy” and neutralized Hezbollah’s terrorist threat to the Galilee. “To fight against terrorism is like fighting mosquitoes,” he told Time Magazine:
You can chase them one by one, but it’s not very cost-effective. The more profound approach is to drain the swamp. So we are draining the swamp [by leaving Lebanon] … Once we are within Israel, defending ourselves from within our borders, the Lebanese government and the Syrian government are responsible to make sure that no one will dare hit Israeli civilians or armed forces within Israel. Any violation of this might become an act of war, and it will be treated accordingly. I don’t recommend to anyone to try us once we are inside Israel.
This buoyant prognosis couldn’t be further from the truth. Far from draining Hezbollah’s “terrorist marsh,” the withdrawal served to expand it to gargantuan proportions. Hezbollah exploited the demise of Israel’s security zone to transform south Lebanon into an ineradicable military stronghold crisscrossed with fortified defenses, both above ground and in a complex underground tunnel system, designed to serve as a springboard for terror attacks on Israeli territory, to shelter Hezbollah’s burgeoning rocket and missile arsenal (which quickly doubled after the withdrawal from 7,000 to 14,000), and to exact a high cost from attacking forces in the event of a general conflagration. Hence the IDF’s inconclusive ground operations in the Second Lebanon War (July 12-August 14, 2006), which hardly ventured more than a few miles from the border during the 34 days of fighting—in stark contrast to the 1982 invasion, which swiftly swept across this area and reached Beirut within five days. And hence the war’s relatively high human toll: 164 fatalities, or 70% of those killed in the security zone during the 15 years preceding the 2000 withdrawal.
Nor did Barak’s warning against any attempt “to try us once we are inside Israel” (or, for that matter, FM David Levy’s threat that “Lebanon will burn” in the event of terror attacks from its territory) make an impression on Hezbollah. With Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah famously deriding Israel as “weaker than a spider web,” the organization launched repeated attacks on targets in northern Israel at a rate of half-a-dozen per year. These began as early as October 7, 2000—a mere four months after the withdrawal—with the abduction of three IDF soldiers on a border patrol (who, it later transpired, were killed in the attack), culminating in the July 12, 2006 abduction of two more soldiers (who, too, were killed in the process) and the killing of another three in a cross-border raid that triggered the Second Lebanon War. During that war, Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets and missiles on Israeli towns and villages—the largest attack on the Jewish State’s population centers since the 1948 War of Independence—killing 45 civilians, inflicting massive destruction and economic damage, and driving thousands of Israelis to flee their homes to the southern parts of the country.
While the Israeli architects of the war, which was censured by an official commission of enquiry as “a great and grave blunder,” sought to portray it as a shining success that led to a prolonged period of calm, the conflagration did not deter Hezbollah from sporadic attacks on Israeli targets in subsequent years or from substantially expanding its military buildup in flagrant violation of Security Council Resolution 1701, which had ended the war. This included the expansion of its already substantial rocket/missile holdings to a monstrous 150,000-strong arsenal and the deployment of thousands of well-armed and battle-hardened fighters in south Lebanon on a constant state of alert to invade Israel en masse, either directly or via offensive underground tunnels penetrating Israeli territory (some of which were destroyed by the IDF in 2019).
Even the postwar relative lull has had less to do with the Lebanon War’s deterrent effect (though Nasrallah later admitted he would have foregone the soldiers’ abduction had he known it would lead to full-scale war) than with Hezbollah’s decade-long immersion in the Syrian civil war and the reluctance of its Iranian patron to unleash its protégé’s full might absent a direct Israeli attack on its nuclear weapons installations. Had PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak’s purported intention to launch such an attack in 2010-11 not been nipped in the bud by their security establishment and the Obama administration, an all-out Hezbollah-Israel war would likely have ensued. As it is, such a conflagration remains a distinct possibility, with Hezbollah’s security threat via both its rocket/missile arsenal, which can hit any part of the Jewish State, and ability to invade Israel and occupy Israeli localities infinitely greater than it was in May 2000.
Sparking the Palestinian war of terror
Defending his Lebanon decision 20 years later, Barak argued that the withdrawal improved Israel’s military position vis-à-vis the Palestinians since the IDF’s continued presence in Lebanon would have seriously constrained its ability to launch Operation Defensive Shield (April 2002), which curbed the Palestinian war of terror (euphemized as “the al-Aqsa Intifada”) that had begun a year-and-a-half earlier.
As with his claim that the Lebanon flight neutralized Hezbollah’s terrorist threat, this assertion is not only false but the inverse of the truth: had the humiliating Lebanon flight not occurred, the “al-Aqsa Intifada” might not have ensued in the first place, at least not on its unprecedented massive scale.
Like most of their Arab brethren, the Palestinians viewed the Lebanon flight as a defeat of the formidable Israeli army by a small but determined guerrilla force. Hamas and Islamic Jihad applauded Hezbollah’s achievement as proving the indispensability of the “armed struggle” while thousands of Palestinians celebrated the withdrawal with placards saying “Lebanon Today, Palestine Tomorrow.” Even Israeli Arabs were increasingly drawn into Hezbollah’s widening terror and spying web inside Israel in the years following the withdrawal.
More importantly, the flight’s humiliating nature helped convince PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, who viewed the Oslo “peace process” (launched in September 1993) as a strategic means not to a two-state solution but to the substitution of a Palestinian state for the state of Israel, that the pros of reverting to wholesale violence far exceeded its potential cons since Israel no longer had the stomach for a protracted conflict. If Israelis couldn’t bear 20-25 fatalities per year (less than a tenth of the death toll on their roads) in the fight against Hezbollah, surely they wouldn’t be able to stomach the much heavier death toll attending a protracted all-out Palestinian “resistance campaign.” At the July 2000 Camp David summit that sought to reach a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, Arafat explicitly warned his Israeli counterparts that “we can see to it that the Hezbollah precedent is replicated in the territories,” and that threat was quickly amplified by his top henchmen after the summit. A Palestinian public opinion poll found two-thirds of respondents eager to see their leadership follow in Hezbollah’s violent footsteps.
This is indeed what happened with the outbreak of the “al-Aqsa Intifada” in September 2000—the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war—which exacted over 1,000 Israeli lives. And while West Bank terrorism was largely curbed in the early 2000s through sustained counterinsurgency operations and the construction of a security barrier, the Gaza Strip has become a formidable terror entity that represents a clear and present danger to the vast majority of Israel’s population. While it can be contained through repeated military campaigns (e.g., in 2008-9, 2012, and 2014), it cannot be eradicated altogether.
Weakening the IDF
A major plank of Barak’s justification of the withdrawal was its supposed benefits for the IDF. “If we act to change reality in the right direction, it strengthens us. It doesn’t weaken us,” he told Time Magazine after the withdrawal. “I didn’t see a single armed force that became stronger or a nation that became more self-confident by fighting guerrillas in another country.”
There is of course a world of difference between a great power fighting guerrillas thousands of miles from its homeland and a small state defending its citizens and population centers from terrorist attacks launched from across the border, even if this means taking the fight to the aggressing state’s territory. By abdicating this crucial component of self-defense, the Lebanon flight not only brought a terror organization committed to Israel’s destruction within a stone’s throw of its border neighborhoods and made its dislodgement from this area exceedingly difficult: it also dented the IDF’s fighting ethos and operational competence. The daring, enterprising, and proactive spirit that had characterized this force from its inception gave way to a reactive, dogmatic, and passive disposition that responded to events rather than anticipating them and that contented itself with containing rather than defeating the enemy.
In fairness to Barak, this transformation reflected a conceptual malaise that had been pervading the IDF’s top echelon for some time. This malaise deepened with the launch of the Oslo “peace process,” whereby striving for victory was replaced by a conviction that the changing nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict—from interstate wars to low-intensity warfare between Israel and terrorist/guerrilla organizations—made military decisions virtually impossible because these (far weaker) groups represented “authentic resistance movements,” to use Barak’s own words, that needed to be politically appeased.
This approach, which effectively handed off responsibility for defeating terrorism to the political leadership, was first manifested in the IDF’s failure to suppress the Palestinian intifada (1987-93), which only ended upon the signing of the Oslo Accords. Here too, Barak played a key role in his capacity as deputy chief of staff (1987-91) and chief of staff (1991-95). It received a major impetus with the May 2000 Lebanon flight and the delusion of removing Hezbollah’s terrorist threat via political retreat, and was repeated during the “al-Aqsa Intifada’s” first months—when the IDF (under the direct leadership of defense minister Barak) sought to contain rather than suppress the conflagration.
Even after Barak’s February 2001 crushing electoral defeat to Ariel Sharon, probably Israel’s most illustrious and offensive-oriented general, it took over a year of unprecedented terrorism that murdered hundreds of Israelis and spread mayhem in Israel’s population centers before the IDF moved onto the offensive and broke the backbone of Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank (but not Gaza). So much so that PM Sharon, who was elected on the crest of the hope that he would swiftly suppress the Palestinian terror war, was forced to justify this extraordinary delay with such meaningless platitudes as “restraint is power” and “what can be seen from here [the PM’s office] can’t be seen from elsewhere.”
Further deviations from the IDF’s hallowed precepts of initiative, maneuver, and shifting the fight to enemy territory were on display during the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge (2014), where the military leadership hoped to end the conflict via air strikes and only grudgingly committed ground forces at a later stage and in a highly circumspect fashion. By way of concealing its declining appetite for ground operations, the IDF leadership persistently denied terrorism’s strategic threat to Israel’s national security, stressing the (supposed) absence of a military solution to the problem and the attendant need for its resolution by political means. Hence Chief-of-Staff Moshe Yaalon’s assertion that Hezbollah’s political weakening would culminate in its rockets/missiles “rusting on their launchers”; and hence the stubborn ignoring of Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s cross-border underground terror tunnels and their hazards. As late as July-August 2014, while Israel was engaged in a full-scale war with Hamas, defense minister Yaalon and the IDF leadership, alongside the heads of Shin Bet and the National Security Council, continued to underplay the strategic significance of those tunnels, let alone provide the war cabinet with a concrete plan for their destruction—even though Hamas had used such a tunnel as long before as 2006 to infiltrate Israel, abduct an Israeli soldier, and kill two others.
IDF Chief-of-Staff Moshe Dayan (1953-58) famously quipped that he would rather have to restrain galloping horses than spur lazy mules. The humiliating May 2000 Lebanon flight accelerated the transformation of the IDF’s leadership in the opposite direction while greatly enhancing the dangers to Israel’s national security on the Lebanese and Palestinian fronts to hitherto unprecedented levels. One can only hope that its twentieth anniversary will be used for genuine reflection, stocktaking, and a return to the IDF’s daring and winning ways.
Prof. Efraim Karsh is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London, and editor of the Middle East Quarterly.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges, is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.


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Green Electricity Delusions - Norman Rogers

by Norman Rogers

Green electricity is ineffective for preventing climate change.

With global warming the alleged science is so complicated that nobody, including the global warming scientists, can really understand what is going on. Green electricity, mostly solar and wind, is different. It’s relatively clear cut. No supercomputers spewing out terabytes of confusing data are needed.

Green electricity is quite useless. The latest trend in green electricity is wind or solar with battery backup. This green electricity costs about nine times more than the fossil fuel electricity it displaces. The true cost is hidden from the public by hidden subsidies and fake accounting. (My book, Dumb Energy, goes into great analytical detail.)

Green electricity is ineffective for preventing climate change. The climate change alarmists James Hansen and Michael Shellenberger make the case forcefully in this video. Hansen is the most important and most famous scientist warning against climate change. His followers consider him to be the greatest authority on the dangers of climate change. He calls wind and solar energy a “grotesque idea” and a “fantasy.”

It’s true that we won’t run out of wind or sunshine. That doesn’t mean that wind and sunshine are effective tools for making electricity. They aren’t. The exhaustion of fossil fuels has been predicted many times. The current situation is that fossil fuels are in great over supply and the prices have crashed to low levels. Natural gas, currently the most economical fossil fuel for generating electricity, is painfully cheap and is being extensively exported from the United States to other countries. Natural gas from wells, not served by pipelines to take it to market, is burned or flared to get rid of it. Only the more valuable oil is kept. Thanks to fracking, we have plenty of natural gas for the next 100-years.

Promoters of quack medicine sell various pills guaranteed to improve your memory or your sex life. Green energy is quackery too. It is promoted by green organizations like the Sierra Club. At one time the Sierra Club was a harmless club of backpackers and bird watchers. But it was taken over by ideologues driven by the delusion that modern society is a destructive fraud that must be rescued by the adoption of green principles. These armchair green commandos are math handicapped. They regularly propose policies that make no sense. The green commandos pontificate confidently without real understanding.

Coal is an excellent fuel for generating electricity. Unlike natural gas or oil, coal has limited uses other than generating electricity. The Sierra Club hates coal because it competes successfully against their beloved green wind and solar. No lie is too outrageous as long as it is useful for discrediting coal. The Sierra Club uses trick photography to make it look like coal plants emit clouds of black smoke. The trick is to photograph clean white clouds of “steam” with the sun behind the plant. That makes the harmless white clouds look black. The exhaust products are composed of water vapor and carbon dioxide with very little pollution. As the exhaust mixes with the cool air, it condenses into a white cloud of clean water droplets commonly called steam.

In modern coal plants, almost all pollution is scrubbed away before the exhaust goes into the smokestack.

Residential rooftop solar energy is an uneconomic method for generating electricity but it sounds convincing to the naïve. Rooftop solar panels lack economy of scale. These small installations generate electricity for about three times more per kilowatt hour than the large-scale utility installations. The homeowner reduces his consumption of grid electricity, reducing his electric bill. Excess solar electricity is sold back to the utility, often at a price far higher than the cost of wholesale electricity. The beauty of this scheme is that if the rules are sufficiently rigged in favor of the homeowner, it is possible for the homeowner to save money. No one could complain if the homeowner disconnected from the electric utility. But no one is disconnecting unless they live off grid. The utility is expected to maintain a power line to the home and maintain excess generating capacity to take over supplying electricity if it is cloudy or it is nighttime. The true cost of maintaining this backup service, exclusive of any electricity sales, is around $100 per month, but utilities commonly charge only around $10 or $15 a month for a connection before the first kilowatt hour is sold. Every kilowatt hour of utility electricity displaced by solar costs the utility gross profit. If the utility is forced to buy the homeowner’s electricity at retail rates the utility may end up paying much more than the reasonable wholesale cost of the electricity. In some places the homeowner is even allowed to bank excess solar electricity and draw it at a later time. The utility doesn’t have a bank where it can store electricity. In short, rooftop solar is a scheme of making everyone else subsidize the homeowner. The homeowner is under the delusion that he has discovered cheaper electricity. It is cheaper only because everyone else bears the cost.

The crippling weakness of wind or solar electricity is their intermittent and erratic nature. A fossil-fuel generating plant can be fired up as needed and throttled up and down as the consumption of electricity changes. Wind or solar generates electricity according to the vagaries of the weather. The grid operators, except in extreme circumstances, are required to accept all the green electricity presented. In order to do this, fossil-fuel plants have to seesaw their output to compensate for the erratic wind or solar. Wind and solar plants can’t replace fossil-fuel plants for the simple reason that at times the wind and solar plants are not generating electricity. You must have enough fossil fuel along with hydro and nuclear to carry the full load. The consequence is that the system has to continue to maintain and pay for its traditional plants regardless of how much wind and solar is added to the grid. The only economic contribution of wind or solar is to reduce fuel consumption in the fossil-fuel plants during times when wind or solar electricity is being generated. The proper cost comparison is to compare the cost of green electricity versus the marginal cost (fuel) of operating the fossil-fuel plants. Natural-gas plants have a fuel cost of about $15 per megawatt hour. Wind or solar with battery backup costs about $130 per megawatt hour. For grid stability reasons new wind and solar plants are being equipped with battery storage, greatly increasing the cost. Without the battery backup wind or solar electricity costs around $75 per megawatt hour. To be clear, the electricity supplied by wind or solar at $75 to $130 per megawatt hour (not counting subsidies) could be generated in existing fossil fuel plants for $15 per megawatt hour.

Why the various states and the federal government continue to pursue, mandate, and subsidize green electricity is a mystery best explained by psychiatrists and students of propaganda.

Norman Rogers writes often about energy. He has a website.


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