Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to explain Iran's nuclear negotiations posture in terms Obama can understand

Sar Shalom

When Barack Obama started his effort to bring universal health coverage, he initially tried to get some Republican support for his efforts by offering to adjust his plans to their concerns. He tried to tailor his plans to win the support of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. In every case, whenever he made a requested change, the response was the he or she still could not accept it. Sometimes this was accompanied by some additional change that would be necessary, sometimes not. Eventually, Obama came to the realization that the Republican idea on negotiating health reform was to keep saying that an agreement was just over the horizon so that Obama would waste his time seeking an agreement thus limiting what else he could do. In the case of health reform, running out the clock would have meant continuing the negotiations until Ted Kennedy succumbed to brain cancer, thus eliminating any chance that Obama could achieve a partisan bill in the absence of any Republicans agreeing to universal coverage.

Such is the case with Iran's nuclear negotiating strategy. Whether or not you agree with my assessment of the Republicans' health care negotiation strategy, it is highly likely that those arguing that we should just give the negotiations with Iran more time to succeed would and a certainty among those in the administration. In the case of Iran, "running out the clock" would mean continuing the negotiations until Iran develops enough fuel to reach breakout capacity. At that point, Iran could build several nuclear weapons in response to any punitive action and have them ready before those measures achieve any impact. The one possible exception would be an Operation Iranian Freedom undertaken without debate, but in which the President declared the clerical regime was negotiating in bad faith and the next day troops would land in Khuzestan and in Sistan and Beluchistan with an advance to Tehran as quick as Operation Iraqi Freedom's advance to Baghdad.

It is time to do in the negotiations with Iran over their nuclear developments what Obama did in his negotiations with the Republicans over health reform.

UC Santa Cruz invites Angela Davis to Defame Israel

Michael L.

And what that means is that Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, of both the University of California, Santa Cruz, and UCSC's AMCHA Initiative, is none too pleased about it.

And she shouldn't be.  It's her home campus, after all.  And, I have to say, a very attractive campus, as well.

I like Tammi. She's got guts.

Below is a letter to UCSC by AMCHA and the other groups.


Dear Chancellor Blumenthal,

We represent 20 organizations with hundreds of thousands of members and supporters nationwide.  We are very troubled by UCSC’s selection of Angela Davis as speaker for the 31st Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Convocation, an event sponsored by your office.  Given the title of her talk -- “Racism, Militarism, Poverty: From Ferguson to Palestine” -- it is clear that Davis will use this event, intended to honor Dr. King’s memory, as an opportunity to promote her own political agenda, which includes the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state. Instead of choosing a speaker who could unite diverse communities, as did Martin Luther King himself, UCSC has chosen a speaker whose well-known hatred of Israel and support for efforts to harm it through antisemitic boycotts, are extraordinarily divisive and deeply offensive to many in the Jewish community.

Even more troubling, however, is the lack of sensitivity shown to those members of the Jewish community, including many UCSC Jewish alumni  who have expressed to you their sincere concerns about this major event.  Rather than publicly acknowledging these concerns and seeking to address the serious issues that underlie them, you issued a statement which completely ignores their concerns and simply asserts the University’s right to sponsor any event on the grounds of freedom of speech and academic freedom.  

Although you aver in your statement that the University’s commitment to providing a platform for “the widest range of viewpoints” does not imply "agreement or endorsement” of those views, the reality is that when the University itself sponsors any event — but particularly one as important to the University as the annual MLK Memorial Convocation, involving a rigorous review of possible speakers — there is indeed an implicit endorsement of the views expressed at the event.  For this reason, we do not believe the University would have selected a speaker with a known history of racist or homophobic statements or allowed him or her to speak on a topic which was so obviously offensive to African Americans or members of the LGBT community, freedom of speech and academic freedom notwithstanding.

Unfortunately, the University has a history of selectively ignoring Jewish concerns and giving its official imprimatur to events which have had a deleterious effect on members of the Jewish community, particularly students. This is well-documented in the University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Report commissioned by former UC President Mark Yudof.  Here are some excerpts from that report, which included substantial testimony from Jewish members of the UCSC campus and general communities:  

"Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of activities on campus which focus specifically on Israel, its right to exist and its treatment of Palestinians…[and] which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students' sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities. The issue of anti-Zionism activities was a focal point of our discussions with all of the students, Jewish organizations, faculty and administration."

"One of the most significant issues expressed by Jewish students, faculty and community members is their difficulty with sponsorship of university departments, campus organizations and others of events which are very clearly designed to promote themes which are biased and unbalanced in their portrayal of Zionism and Israel. The students indicated that University administrative offices, such as the multicultural or cross cultural centers, sponsor student organization events that are dominated by groups adopting anti-Zionist platforms. Others indicated that they were doubtful that academic departments exhibited balance in their sponsorship or hosting of events -- symposiums, speaker series, etc. -- as they related to Israel and Zionism.” 
"What came through in our discussions...was a sense from Jewish students and others of a double standard when it comes to the themes and language used by those protesting Israel and its policies. Specifically, Jewish students described the use of language and imagery which they believe would not be tolerated by faculty and administration, or would at least be denounced with more force, if similar themes and language were directed at other groups on campus.”   

“[P]ro-Zionist Jewish students and faculty perceive a difference in how the movement against Israel and Zionism is viewed and addressed by those in faculty and administration responsible for dealing with campus climate."

We are aware that in response to the controversy surrounding the upcoming event you have agreed to offer a joint on-campus program with the Anti-Defamation League. While this may be a step in the right direction, it is in no way sufficient to addressing the long-standing and pervasive problems that Jewish members of the campus community have been facing at UCSC, including the harmful effects of University sponsorship of unambiguously anti-Israel events.

We therefore urge you to issue a public statement in which you commit yourself to the following two recommendations from the UC Jewish Student Campus Climate Report:

1) Review UCSC’s policies on University sponsorship and neutrality and develop model institutional protocols for such activities.

2) Adopt a definition of antisemitism consistent with the working definition developed by the European Union and used by the U.S. State Department in its 2008 report on contemporary global anti-Semitism, and provide a model protocol for campus administrators to identify contemporary incidents of antisemitism, which may be sanctioned by University non-discrimination or anti-harassment policies.

We believe that taking these important steps will help to ensure that UCSC affords all members of its diverse community a safe, equitable and inclusive campus climate.


Accuracy in Academia
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
AMCHA Initiative
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
American Freedom Alliance
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Hasbara Fellowships
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel 
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations   
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East   
Simon Wiesenthal Center 
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
The Lawfare Project
Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)
Zionist Organization of America

Cc: UC President Janet Napolitano
      UC Regents
      UCSC Associate Chancellor Ashish Sahni
      UCSC Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Herbert Lee
      UCSC Assistant Campus Diversity Officer Sheree Marlowe
      Jewish Community Leaders

Obama Blows Off Holocaust Memorial

Michael L.

Writing for the New York Times, Rick Lyman tells us:
OSWIECIM, Poland — For what is likely to be the last time, a large number of the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz will gather next week under an expansive tent, surrounded by royalty and heads of state, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of those held there at the end of World War II.

“This will be the last decade anniversary with a very visible presence of survivors,” said Andrzej Kacorzyk, deputy director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which encompasses the sites of the original concentration camp, near the center of Oswiecim, and the larger Auschwitz II-Birkenau on the city’s outskirts.
The Obama administration is apparently unimpressed and therefore the US presence will be represented by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

My guess is that Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, is probably too busy, so they're sending Lew, instead.  Or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Jacob Lew's first name is - ya know - Jacob.
A preliminary list of those attending includes President François Hollande of France, President Joachim Gauck of Germany and President Heinz Fischer of Austria, as well as King Philippe of Belgium, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. The United States delegation will be led by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
There I go picking on poor old president Obama again.

It's not as if a pattern of disinterest in, if not hostility towards, Jewish concerns has clearly emerged over the years... it's just that the man is busy.

Besides, Team Obama is not interested in Jewish concerns, anyway.  Why should they be when the American Jewish community has very clearly shown that no matter what Obama says, or does, in regards Israel or the Jewish people, they have his back?

If the Obama Administration wants to smack around Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the world stage for the terrible crime of accepting an invitation to speak before Congress, who are we to say "no"?  And for those of you who argue that Netanyahu's alleged breaking of protocol was a terrible insult, this is nothing but a negative interpretation after the fact.  First, we do not even know if Netanyahu did break protocol.  However, if he did break protocol, I will try to sleep tonight, anyway.

I am convinced that if Barack Obama went on national television and urinated on the Israeli flag while stark naked and, yes, singing Hatikvah, he would still receive at least a 67 percent approval rating among American Jews.

So, why wouldn't the Obama administration blow off the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz?

Let's just toss this on the ever growing pile of little things that we are supposed to ignore about this administration.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Fizziks" Called Me a Liar

Michael L.

In the comments at the Elder's joint, under my recent response to Jon Haber, "fizziks" called me a liar.

He writes:
Isn't there enough to take issue with in regard to Obama's treatment of Israel without having to resort to falsehoods about him "supporting" the Muslim Brotherhood?
In what universe does providing rhetorical, financial, and military assistance to an organization somehow not constitute support?

Do I actually need to dig up links from the New York Times to verify?

Or does the word "support" have some transitional meaning that I am simply unaware of?

It is as if "fizziks" lives in some alternative mathematical universe within which "A" does not necessarily equal "A."

Thus when the Obama administration advances cash and F-16 fighter jets and Abrams tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt - to be used against whom? - in the world of "fizziks" this does not constitute support.

This seems to be an example of the hyper-sophisticated Obama supporter who understands the extreme flexibility and relativity of truth.

Fizziks writes, viz-a-viz the "Arab Spring":
Obama supported the attempted transition to democracy in Egypt.
Ho.  Ho.  Ho.

This is an excellent example of an intelligent person absolutely refusing to face reality.

There was no attempt to a transition to democracy in Egypt during the so-called "Arab Spring."

It's laughable.

There were western journalists and intellectuals who blithely announced it to be true - and who never admitted their mistake when it turned out to be false - and "fizziks" seems to be among them.

The "Arab Spring" was nothing more than Arab riots (and rapes) and well-meaning western delusions and apologetics.  It was pretty obvious right from the beginning for anyone with a non-ideologically encumbered cognitive pulse.

Nonetheless, months and years go by and, somehow, the truth cannot seep into particular skulls.  The reason for this is not due to lack of intelligence.  The reason, I suspect, is a combination of ideology and pride, among other possible seasonings.   Some Jewish Obama supporters were able to recognize a mistake and some insisted on sticking with Obama no matter what.

Fizziks seems to be in the latter category.

How does one have a political conversation with a physicist who absolutely refuses to acknowledge basic facts?

Face it.

The Obama administration supported the Brotherhood and the Brotherhood called for the conquest of Jerusalem.

So, Where is the Argument?

Michael L.

{Originally posted at the Elder of Ziyon.}

Those of you who follow my writings or Jon Haber's blog, Divestthis!, know that we have been conversing about Israel, the western-left, and the Obama administration for a number of months.

I don't want to call it a debate so much as a conversation between people with somewhat differing views, but with mutual concerns.  A list of each of our contributions can be found toward the top of the right side bar at Israel Thrives.

My fundamental argument is that the Obama administration validated political Islam through supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the parent organization of both Qaeda and Hamas and if not a parent organization of the Islamic State, certainly an ideological partner in praying for the extinction of Jewish sovereignty and self-defense.

While Jon agrees that I am not a political partisan, and we both understand that partisanship is not automatically a reprehensible thing, he also acknowledges that the Obama administration has been far too friendly to the enemies of the Jewish people.

In his recent piece entitled Partisanship, Haber writes:
But there is no disagreement that the current President’s choices: from cutting endless slack to Islamist foes of both Israel and the US to picking needless fights with the Israeli government, make it a perfectly reasonable choice for Jews who support Israel (which describes the majority of us) to refuse to vote for him.
According to Haber, Obama gave "endless slack to Islamist foes."

At this point it becomes difficult to know where we actually disagree.

At the end of the day, that is my fundamental point.  It is my thesis in a nutshell, although we would need to determine just where slack ended and support began?

Jon, however, takes issue with the fact that I have sometimes characterized progressive-left Jews as people with their heads buried in the sand.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI must admit that Jon is correct and that I have resorted to my favorite ostrich image more than once.

I did so particularly in my Failures of the Progressive-Left Zionism series.

In those writings, I criticized the Jewish Left for refusing to seriously denounce political Islam.

I criticized the Jewish Left for demonizing their fellow Jews who live where neither Mahmoud Abbas, nor Barack Obama, want them to live.

I criticized the Jewish Left for constantly playing political defense, which is always an invitation for aggressors and a general sign of insecurity within one's own beliefs.

I criticized the Jewish Left for tending to support their enemies over their friends out of a misguided and self-righteous political altruism.

These are not in-depth pieces, but merely pointers to problems.  That is all.

And, in truth, there are other reasonable criticisms that I am not even bothering with for the moment on the assumption that liberal Jews, such as myself, are rethinking - just as we are all continually rethinking - as political sands shift.

My only real discomfort with Jon's analysis is that he chalks up Jewish American support for Barack Obama, despite Obama's alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, to the fact that American Jews preferred Obama over his opponent on a broad range of issues beyond the Arab-Israel conflict.

While this is clearly true, why be content to leave it at that?

Haber writes:
Jews (like all Americans) were not casting a vote on each and every issue of importance to them, but were rather making a narrow choice between two individuals.  And had the Republican candidate been more appealing in ways having nothing to do with Israel and the Middle East (as was Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984), who knows how the Jewish vote might have gone?

Even if I don’t expect to ever see a total party realignment of the Jewish public, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of Jews voted for Obama for the same reasons the majority of Americans did: they liked him better than the other guy. 
We know that the Obama administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood in a variety of ways, including material and financial support.  We also know that the Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of both Hamas and al-Qaeda, if not the Islamic State, itself.  The Brotherhood backed the Nazis during World War II and assisted many Nazis and friends of Nazis, such as Haj Mohammed Amin el-Husseini, in escaping the consequences of their behavior upon the conclusion of that war.  In recent years Brotherhood leader, and ex-President of Egypt, Muhammad Morsi, supported calls for the conquest of Jerusalem among throngs of his supporters, both before and after his "election" and still maintained Obama administration support.

I do not know about you, but as someone who voted for Obama the first time around, I was absolutely horrified.

There is no question that Jon is correct when he notes that the majority of American Jews simply liked Obama more than the other guy.  I, too, like Obama - as a guy to have a beer with - more than that other guy.  Furthermore, on many domestic issues I very much prefer the Democratic agenda over that of the Republican agenda.

But however much I support a woman's right to choose an abortion, or however much I like Obama's idea for federal support to community college students, none of that can possibly outweigh my concern for the fact that there are 6 million Jews in the Middle East surrounded by 400 million Arabs who generally do not want them there and are often prepared to use extreme violence to make their case.

This is what I cannot get past.

The chance of any Republican administration in the United States rolling back abortion rights are virtually nil, yet such concerns are supposed to trump our concern for our own families in Israel?

I do not think so.

It seems to me that diaspora Jewry, as a group, tends to be very good about looking out for the well-being of others.  For example, no other group in American history, aside from the Black American community, stood up more for Civil Rights during the 1950s and the 1960s than did Jewish Americans... although, I am not certain that you would learn this from the recent film Selma, which I am very much looking forward to renting.

In the United States, the Jewish people were almost universally behind abolitionism and nineteenth-century American progressivism, with its workers' solidarity and early union activity.  By inordinate percentages Jews favored women's rights to suffrage, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, Women's Rights, GBLT, environmentalism, and the rights of all ethnic minorities to equal treatment under the law.

We are among the most persecuted people within record human history and this is precisely why we tend to support movements for social justice.


There must come a point wherein a violent and ongoing threat to the Jewish community becomes a primary concern.

My question is this:
In what ways do Obama administration support for political Islam, via support for the Muslim Brotherhood, advance the interests of either the American people or the Jewish people?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Weak Diaspora Jewish Survival Instinct

Michael L.

franceI sometimes wonder if diaspora Jews actually have an instinct for survival?

Given the fact that the great majority of American Jews supported a president of the United States that favored the Muslim Brotherhood, a genocidally anti-Semitic organization, it is difficult to imagine that they do have a survival instinct.

Let me give you one small example.

Over at the Times of Israel, Richard H. Weisberg, a professor of Constitutional Law for Yeshiva University and a published expert on French anti-Semitism, has a piece entitled Betting on France.  In this article the professor argues that right-wing anti-Semitism is worrisome, but that reports of anti-Semitism in France, according to a cross-section of his French acquaintances, are greatly exaggerated.

Boy, am I relieved!

Weisberg writes:
Indeed, a cross-section of my Parisian friends agreed that American talk of France having become anti-Semitic was grossly exaggerated. So in polite conversations back in the States, my wife (a French teacher in Manhattan) and I had already noted what we felt were overstatements, given our own experiences and observations during frequent visits in various parts of France. We chalked up some of the feverish American talk to the persistent Francophobia that too often marks political commentary about France in the United States. The French, after all, have long been targeted for American criticism.
Although he does make a passing reference to "sporadic" attacks by French Muslims, he gives considerably more weight to Le Pen and France's right-leaning National Front party as a source of veiled anti-Semitism and zero credit to the anti-Zionist French Left for spreading an environment of hatred toward Jews.  In fact, Weisberg is even so bold as to say:
Attitudes toward Jews are changing for the better in France. There will be tragic eruptions to the contrary. But France is not an anti-Semitic country. It remains, as it finally comes to grips with its Vichy past, a bastion of equality and hope for its Jewish population.
A bastion of equality and hope, eh?

Meanwhile, we read in the Jerusalem Post:
A report on anti-Semitism presented on Sunday to the government found that France was the most dangerous country for Jews in the world in 2014. During the past year, levels of anti-Semitism and violence against Jews in France reached new records, according to the report prepared by the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs in cooperation with the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitsm (CFCA)...

Anti-Semitic incidents in France rose by 100 percent in the last year, with half of the racially related incidents in the country being directed at Jews, despite the fact that Jews make up less than one percent of the French population, the report found. 
It is hard to imagine that someone of professor Weisberg's status could be quite as myopic as his words suggest.  This is a man who wrote a book entitled, "Vichy Law and the Holocaust in France," after all.

We are thereby supposed to believe that France is simultaneously the most dangerous country for Jews in the world while remaining a "bastion of equality and hope for its Jewish population."

And I am to believe that this gentleman does not have his head buried firmly in the sand?

I cannot help but wonder if so many centuries of cringing diaspora Jews getting kicked in the head has not trained many of us to accept the Jewish role of agreeable punching bag?

Weisberg's conclusions concerning the great love of the French for the Jewish people is not grounded in anything resembling analysis or even, given events of the day, basic common sense.  The guy's wife teaches the French language in Manhattan and he is familiar with the country and likes the people and that is that.  His French friends tell him that reports of French anti-Semitsm are greatly exaggerated as they kiss him on both cheeks and pat him on the head.

I have much more faith in the Israelis.