Thursday, May 28, 2015

Whither, Ehud?

Michael L.

In a piece by Jerusalem Post Staff we learn:
BarakFormer Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel should consider unilateral moves to disengage from the Palestinians in the event that efforts to relaunch negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas should fail.

Speaking in an interview with Army Radio on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Barak said that such an effort to speak with Abbas must be made.

"I know Abu Mazen (Abbas) and his successors, and I say that we need to try to solve this with them, and if not - to seriously consider the unilateral steps required to create an irrevocable situation of disengagement from the Palestinians."
I honestly do not know what to make of people like Ehud Barak.

In fact, I am not all certain that I even appreciate the picture above which the Jerusalem Post is using on their story... and which apparently I am, as well.  It makes him look pugnacious and not likable.  I make a point of never using unflattering photos of politicians who I disagree with.  Whenever I see that it makes me think less of the editor, writer, or publisher, not the politician.

{And, yet, here I am doing precisely that.  Hopefully the photo is not too bad.}

Nonetheless, Barak knows as well as anyone that the Palestinian-Arab leadership has no more intention of making peace with the Jews than are the Arab peoples, more generally.  It was Barak, after all, who was left at the altar when Arafat ran from negotiations in 2000 lest they actually get somewhere and the old miserable terrorist would have to make peace.

Arafat fled like Katharine Ross in The Graduate, he could not get away fast enough.

If Arafat had not escaped, however, he probably would have died a number of years earlier than he did because his own people would have definitely killed him.  He raised a generation of Palestinian-Arab children to absolutely despise Jews, thus there was no way he could possibly make peace because he taught his own people that peace could only come through victory, not compromise and not normalization.

I take it, however, as a good sign that former PM Barak is willing to consider unilateral disengagement because the fact of the matter is that the only chance that the Jews in the Middle East have to be free from never-ending Arab harassment and bigotry must come from unilateral action.

If the history of the Arab-Israel conflict has taught us anything, it has taught us that there will be no negotiated conclusion of hostilities because the Arab peoples have made it very clear that their hatred for Jews is ongoing, Koranically-based, and entirely implacable.
When asked why the withdrawal from Lebanon which he orchestrated is seen in a more positive light than the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Barak said that, in another ten years, he believes the Gaza disengagement will also be seen in a more positive light.
I certainly hope this turns out to be the case, but in the mean time Israel must not allow the southern part of the country to be hounded by Hamas rocketeers.  The Israeli government owes it to the Israeli people - Jewish, Christian, Muslim - to stop the continual violence against them from the heinous morons in the Gaza Strip.

Barak, nonetheless, remains hopeful... although just why he remains hopeful seems rather weak, rather tenuous.
Barak issued veiled criticism of the Netanyahu government's policies in regard to the Palestinians, saying that it was not enough to merely pay lip service to the peace process.

"There is a deep, common interest, to us and to the moderate Arab world to reach an agreement. The crux of this common interest is the fight against radical Muslim terror and Iran's nuclear hegemonic intentions. 
The "moderate Arab world."

Where is this world, I wonder?  Can anyone produce a map?  I mean, I have heard of such creatures, but I do not know that I have ever seen one acting in a moderate manner in his native habitat.

There are rumors and legends, much like the Sasquatch of the Great American Northwest or the Yeti of the Himalayas.

It seems to me that Ehud Barak is on the hunt for a mythical creature that he believes may actually exist.  If he would come to the United States, I could introduce him to plenty of actual Arab moderates.  But, they're Americans.  The United States - despite our periodic spams of imperial violence and alleged fascism abroad - is actually quite a moderate place.

My guess is that capitalism may have something to do with this fact.

The Arab countries are, however, for the most part, not moderate.  Turkey, with its adjacency to Europe, tended to be among the more moderate Middle Eastern states, but Turkey is not Arab and it is looking at least as much toward Tehran as it is toward Brussels.

Egypt, under its current leadership, is ideologically akin to its predecessor, the former Hosni Mubarak regime.  The Sisi regime is likely to be oppressive at home but more or less dependable as a nominal US ally.  Sisi should be commended for crossing a very tough line, however.  He actually spoke in favor of Muslim reform in a public manner before the world.

That took guts.

Jordan remains relatively stable and maintains generally respectable relations with Israel.

But that is basically that.  The rest of the Arab governments and peoples are exceedingly hostile toward Jews, and toward Israel, and therefore there will be no resolution of tensions anytime soon.

Circumstances, it should be noted, are not quite so grim as they may sound.  For its size, Israel is an economic, scientific, and creative powerhouse with more connections to foreign businesses and governments than ever before in its history.  The pernicious talk suggesting that Israel is becoming isolated among the nations has very little validity.

It is, in fact, wishful thinking among the enemies of the Jewish people.

I almost hate to say it, but at the end of the day, Ehud Barak is a dinosaur of the Oslo past.

Israel needs fresh politicians who are neither befuddled by the false hope of Oslo, nor craven to outside powers.

We shall see what will be.

The Lance Armstrong of International Geopolitics

Sar Shalom

With sports being discussed among Israel-supporters, a reflection on the Lance Armstrong saga might be worthwhile. As anyone who has even casually followed the sport of cycling knows, Armstrong recovered from a bout of testicular cancer to return to elite bicycle racing, winning 7 consecutive Tours de France. People wanted so much to believe in the story of someone recovering from disease in such a grand fashion that they overlooked the signs that Armstrong was using performance enhancing drugs, engaging in blood doping, and his machinations to obscure his cheating. Furthermore, the authorities overseeing international cycling failed to penetrate the omertà within the elite cycling community, an omertà which that community allowed only Armstrong to break when it helped him eliminate his competition, allowing the cheating to continue with impunity.

It was not until years after Armstrong's retirement from racing that investigators were able to piece together that proof that Armstrong had indeed cheated in all of his Tour de France wins. Since that proof came so many years after the events, when Travis Tygart of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) discussed the case on 60 Minutes, one of the questions was why it was so important to pursue the case so long afterwards. Tygart's response was that if it was dropped, that the message to future cheaters would be that all they need to do to get away with their schemes is to craft a compelling enough and sympathetic enough personal story.

In international geopolitics, there is a political movement that tells a story that pulls on heartstrings around the world as forcefully as did Armstrong's recovery from cancer. It is a story of fighting for a people who lack a state to represent them in the homeland where their ancestors supposedly lived for centuries. The international do-gooders want so much to help this cause that they ignore every indication that this movement's real aim is that a different group should become stateless. Whenever associates of this movements have rallies supporting fascism, it's omertà in newsrooms across the world. Whenever this movement uses its civilians as human shields for its military operations, it's omertà in newsrooms across the world. Whenever compromises are offered to this movement and the movement rejects those compromises, it's omertà in newsrooms across the world.

The movement that gets this treatment is Palestinian nationalism. Just as with Armstrong, if malfeasance on this scale is swept under the rug because the story is so compelling, the lesson to movements across the world will be that a compelling story confers impunity on all actions.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ZOA: Condemns Morocco For Shameful Treatment of Israeli Athletes

Michael L.

Moroccans to Israeli Athletes: "We're Going To Kill You" 
NEW YORK, May 27, 2015 -- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) condemns the shameful treatment and threats that Moroccan authorities and spectators meted out this past weekend to the Israeli judo team at the World Masters Judo Tournament in Rabat, Morocco, a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro. 

When the seven-member Israeli judo team reached the airport in Morocco, Moroccan authorities confiscated the team's passports, kept the team in a room with no chairs, food or water for almost nine hours, and falsely blamed the delay on lack of visas and then changed the story to falsely claiming that a gun was found in the luggage of one of the Israeli athletes.   Moroccan authorities only finally released the Israeli team from captivity after the president of the International Judo Federation's executive committee threatened to cancel the competition if the Israeli team was not released. 

At the judo event, the Israeli flag was missing and the Israeli athletes were not listed on the tournament website.  Worse still, spectators waved Palestinian flags and threatened the Israeli athletes whenever they appeared, screaming at the Israeli judokas: "We're going to kill you."

ZOA President Morton Klein stated:  "In light of Morocco's shameful treatment of Israel's athletes, the International Judo Federation and International Olympic Committee should consider barring Morocco from hosting future international sports events."

The Moroccan treatment of Israel's judo team violates the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s most basic non-discrimination principles and the spirit of friendship that should permeate sporting events. The IOC's Fundamental Principles of Olympism in the Olympic Charter declares:

"4.  The practice of sport is a human right.  Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. . . . ."

  "6.  The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

The sports arena must be a place where Jewish and Israeli athletes are not subjected to threats, ill-treatment and discrimination.   

This article was published by ZOA and may be found here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tikkun Olam and the First Jewish President

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at the Elder of Ziyon.}

kippa In September of 2011 New York Magazine published a cover showing the back of what we are to assume is the kippa-wearing head of Barack Obama with the headline:  "The First Jewish President": The Truth?  Barack Obama is the best friend Israel has right now, written by John Heilemann.

I do not know about you, but when I first saw this cover I just rolled my eyes and shook my head.

In March of 2012 White House loyalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, published a piece in The Atlantic entitled, Barack Obama Is Such a Traditional Jew Sometimes in which we read this mind-boggling bit of nonsense:

"I'll grapple with the meaning of Obama's Jewishness later, but the dispute between the Jewish right and the Jewish left over Obama is actually not about whether he is anti-Jewish or pro-Jewish, but over what sort of Jew he actually is."

What kind of a Jew Obama actually is?

What insipid hogwash.  Why is it that when right-wingers call Obama a Muslim they are branded as racist, but when left-wingers call him a Jew we're supposed to get that warm cozy feeling in our cockles, like hot chocolate on a cold winter night with just a little bit of peppermint schnapps before a roaring fire.

Today in a piece for the Times of Israel by Ilan Ben Zion and Rebecca Shimon Stoil, we read:
President Barack Obama on Friday called for the establishment of a free Palestinian state alongside Israel, saying it was necessary for the preservation of Israeli democracy and security, and integral to Jewish values.

Wearing a white kippah, Obama spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 at Washington DC’s Adas Israel Congregation, one of the largest in the capital, marking Jewish American Heritage Month.

He touted his pro-Israel policies and close ties with Jewish advisors, wishing the audience a “slightly early Shabbat Shalom” and peppering his speech with Hebrew terms such as “tikkun olam” — repairing the world. 
I find this to be the worst sort of disingenuous pandering and he does it while lecturing Israel about "Jewish values."  Who the heck is Barack Obama to hold forth on Jewish values to anyone, much less the Jewish people of the State of Israel?

Barack Obama has shown himself to be the least friendly President of the United States to the State of Israel since its inception.  Even Jimmy Carter, who is widely regarded as a president unfriendly to Israel, never had the temerity to tell American Jewish leadership that they should inform their Israeli-Jewish counterparts to search their souls to see if they really wanted peace.

Of course, no American president ever openly embraced a genocidally anti-Semitic organization at a time when they were calling for the conquest of Jerusalem during campaign rallies, either.

But mainly what I want to address is this notion of tikkun olam, "repairing the world."  It is no coincidence that Obama would breathe that bit of Hebrew to an American Jewish audience.  In recent decades the idea of tikkun olam has moved from the fringe of Jewish national consciousness, at least in the diaspora, toward the center and is associated with ideals of universal human rights.  For many people to be a good Jew one must practice tikkun olam, which means promoting ideals of social justice, which means supporting the Democratic Party.

We can, of course, take it one step further and suggest that in order to be a good Jew one must support tikkun olam, which means promoting ideals of social justice, which means supporting the Democratic Party, which means promoting Obama's policies on the Arab-Israel conflict, which means Israel must make "painful concessions" in order to induce the Palestinian-Arabs to finally accept a state for themselves on historically Jewish land.

Depending upon one's point of view, the ideal of tikkun olam can be interpreted as wholly noble and selfless.  It can be seen as representing what is best in the religious traditions of the world.  It can also be seen, of course, as a diamond from deep within the Jewish tradition, dredged up, washed-off, shinied up, and stripped of all deeper meanings in the service of left-leaning domestic American politics.

Whatever one's view of tikkun olam, however, we must not allow the generosity of spirit which animates the concept from preventing us from standing up for what is in the best interest of the Jewish people.  For example, we should be generous in allowing people of all faiths access to Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount, but we should be not so generous that we allow one religious group privileged access while denying every other the right to even pray there.

We should be generous enough in spirit to avoid war when we can, but not so generous in spirit that we allow our enemies to gain in strength at the encouragement of alleged friends.

And, of course, the very last thing that we should do is to allow ourselves to get suckered by false friends who take on the trappings of Judaism and lecture us about Jewish values in order to extract counterproductive concessions.

Let Barack Obama worry about his own values.

The Jews will take care of themselves.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

ISIS slaughters 400 mostly women and children in Palmyra

Michael L.

Kate Pickles, writing in the Daily Mail, tells us:
PalmyraIslamic State militants have executed at least 400 mostly women and children in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra.

Eye-witnesses have reported the streets are strewn with bodies – the latest victims of the Islamic State's unrelenting savagery - on the same day photographs of captured Syrian soldiers have emerged.

It follows the killing of nearly 300 pro-government troops two days after they captured the city, now symbolised by a black ISIS flag flying above an ancient citadel.
There must come a point when enough is enough, as my dear old ma used to say.

One would have to go back to the killing fields of Cambodia under Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge to find a political movement even remotely this heinous.

Sadism, head-chopping, child rape, the genocide of the Christians, slavery, and general brutality aside, what mainly bothers me about these... people... is this desire to wipe out the treasures of antiquity.  These ruins are history.  They are invaluable to mankind not only because of what we can learn of human history, but their very presence is a continual reminder of the scope and depth of that history.  The fields of archaeology, anthropology, and history are all dependent, in some measure, upon such antiquities and are, therefore, the birthright of all humanity.

This is what the Islamic State is seeking to destroy.  They want not only their enemies dead, but evidence of any previous cultures outside of Islam to be eliminated from human memory.


If the ancient city of Palmyra is not recaptured from the Islamic State soon, how long do you suppose those pillars will stand?  How long before much smaller, but exceedingly valuable treasures of humanity, are sold off to purchase weaponry or women or slaves?

The West has dragged its feet too long on this matter and, after Iraq and Afghanistan, has no taste for putting troops back on the ground in Iraq, nor into Syria.

And so ISIS runs amuck as Barack Obama plays his fiddle and makes sweet cooing sounds to the American public.

I think that enough is enough.

{A Big Tip 'O the Kippa to our friend, Kate.}

From the Comments:
Ricardoh, Walnut Creek CA USA

Four hundred people here, four hundred people there and pretty soon you're talking a lot of people. Hey we don't care they are not ours. They are just someone else's woman and children. How do the leaders of the west sleep at night.
Indeed.  How do the leaders of the west sleep at night?

Bishop C, Southampton, United Kingdom

In a few years time these ISIS soldiers will be back home driving taxis around London and Birmingham.
That's an interesting notion and one that probably has considerable merit.  How many of these Jihadis from European countries will be gone and back without the government even knowing it?  How much blood will be on their hands as they taxi around London and Birmingham?

jiggy, TX, United States

Thank you Dubya for your idiotic nation building fiasco.
TheloniusBeck, Pittsburgh, United States (in reply to jiggy)

Bush had Congressional approval. Thank you Obama for pulling all the troops from Iraq and making it possible for ISIS to flourish.
Jiggy from Texas and TheloniusBeck from Pittsburgh make good points.  No Dubya, no Iraq war.  No Iraq war, no Obama withdrawal.  No Obama withdrawal, no Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  In truth, while I consider Obama to be a weak and ideologically-blinkered president who is not nearly up to the challenges of the moment, it was Bush's adventurism that holds preceding responsibility.

HorseCrazy, Tucson, United States

Don't forget what the idiot Marie Harf of the Obama Administration said, '....We're not at war with ISIS,.... people join ISIS because they need more jobs.' This is the flimsy excuse by a very weak administration/president, and his staff.
Actually, what the idiot Marie Harf of the Obama Administration said to Chris Matthews on Hardball was, “we cannot win this war by killing them, we cannot kill our way out of this war.”

She did suggest some sort-of jobs program as a way of easing ISIS recruitment, which I consider to be one of the more ridiculous political proposals since LBJ suggested a Tennessee Valley Authority, New Deal-type program of damming and electrification as a way of coming to peace with North Vietnam.