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Recent Publications by New English Review Authors
The Oil Cringe of the West: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly Vol. 2
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Impact of Islam
by Emmet Scott
Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies
by Ibn Warraq
Fighting the Retreat from Arabia and the Gulf: The Collected Essays and Reviews of J.B. Kelly. Vol. 1
edited by S.B. Kelly
The Literary Culture of France
by J. E. G. Dixon
Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays
by David P. Gontar
Farewell Fear
by Theodore Dalrymple
The Eagle and The Bible: Lessons in Liberty from Holy Writ
by Kenneth Hanson
The West Speaks
interviews by Jerry Gordon
Mohammed and Charlemagne Revisited: The History of a Controversy
Emmet Scott
Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate's Defense of Liberal Democracy
Ibn Warraq
Anything Goes
by Theodore Dalrymple
Karimi Hotel
De Nidra Poller
The Left is Seldom Right
by Norman Berdichevsky
Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion
by Rebecca Bynum
Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
by Ibn Warraq
An Introduction to Danish Culture
by Norman Berdichevsky
The New Vichy Syndrome:
by Theodore Dalrymple
Jihad and Genocide
by Richard L. Rubenstein
Spanish Vignettes: An Offbeat Look Into Spain's Culture, Society & History
by Norman Berdichevsky

These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 15, 2010.
Monday, 15 March 2010
Threats From The Islamic Forum Of Europe's Azad Ali

While Mary is having a hiatus, my PC is suffering a hernia.

Hence posting will be haphazard and untidy via the public library. 

Hat Tip Alan, from the Telegraph.

In the two weeks since the Islamic Forum of Europe were exposed by The Sunday Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches as hardline fundamentalists secretly infiltrating the political system, they have been furiously protesting their “proven track record of community cohesion”. Last week, however, the organisation showed its true face.

“We’ve tracked you down,” said the IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator, Azad Ali, in a webcast targeting the Channel 4 reporter “Atif”, who went undercover at the IFE’s headquarters, the East London Mosque, filming the group’s true views – and its boasts that it controlled the local Tower Hamlets council. “Yes, Atif, we’ve got a picture of you and a lot more than you thought we had. We’ve tracked you down to different places. And if people are gonna turn what I’ve just said into a threat, that’s their fault, innit?”

Mr Ali’s words sit strangely with his role as an official advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, and to the police, but perhaps his annoyance is understandable. The undercover reporters filmed him saying: “Democracy, if it means not implementing the sharia, no one’s going to agree with that.”

And yesterday it looked as if pressure was mounting on the second-most important officer at Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Ali – a man with a controversial employment history and close links to the IFE. Mr Ali, the assistant chief executive, has responsibility for council grants. Under him, increasing sums of council money have been channelled to IFE-controlled organisations.

Tower Hamlets’ chief executive, Kevan Collins, confirmed that a complaint had been received about Mr Ali from another government agency called the National College for Leadership of Schools.

Council sources said the allegation was that Mr Ali had been moonlighting, in council time, with the college. “Any allegations of that nature will be fully investigated,” Mr Collins said. “Every member of staff is under a contractual obligation to work full-time for the council unless explicitly stated otherwise.” A formal investigation into Mr Ali is likely to be launched tomorrow.

Approached yesterday, Mr Ali did not deny the allegation, saying only: “I cannot make a comment on that because I need to check out exactly what the college have said.”

Badrul Islam, chief executive of a local voluntary organisation, the Ethnic Minority Enterprise Project, and a leading Muslim campaigner against the Islamists.  . . who featured in The Sunday Telegraph reports and the Channel 4 film, said the story had created a “huge frenzy” in the community and he had been congratulated by dozens of people for taking part. “But,” he added, “they all said one other thing, 'Take care of yourself’, or 'Are you going to be all right?’ ”

So far, apart from a couple of anonymous telephone threats, nothing has happened. But the IFE’s opponents in Tower Hamlets know that the battle is far from over.

The IFE has taken considerable control over this Bangladeshi area, even though it is the descendant of a party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which opposed and fought against the very creation of Bangladesh. War crimes were allegedly committed by some JI members during the country’s 1971 war of independence. Some of those people fled to London – and played important roles in the foundation of the IFE.

But perhaps the organisation’s most serious challenge comes from Bangladesh. Jamaat-e-Islami has never been as powerful there as it is in east London, and Bangladesh’s government is organising to have several JI members indicted for their alleged war crimes during the 1971 liberation struggle. Among them is likely to be a man who plays a leading role in the East London Mosque.

The fundamentalists remain deeply embedded in east London. But in the “Islamic Republic” of Tower Hamlets, the backlash has started.

Posted on 03/15/2010 8:32 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 15 March 2010
A Gloaming Interlude, courtesy of The Cloisters

Posted on 03/15/2010 12:04 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 15 March 2010
What is the plural of 'virus', or Journey Into the Fourth Declension

Over the weekend, I temporarily lost access to both of my computers, apparently due to computer ... viruses.  Or is it "vira"?  Tom Christiansen gives the matter its due attention here:

[S]ome writers prefer to maintain the classical inflections on some English words, particularly in technical writing. For example, conflicting indexes/indices and minimums/minima are both easily found, depending on the intended audience and use. In that case, what's the classical plural of virus?

The simple answer is that there wasn't one. The longer answer follows.

Writers who, searching for a fancy plural to virus, incorrectly write *viri are doubtless blindly applying an overreaching -us => -i rule. This mis-inflects many words. For example, status and hiatus only change the length of the final vowel; genus goes to genera; corpus goes to corpora. Others are even worse if this rule is mis-applied, like syllabus, caucus, octopus, mandamus, and rebus.

Anyway, Latin already had a word viri, but it was the nominative plural not of virus (slime, poison, or venom), but of vir (man), which as it turns out is also a 2nd declension noun. I do not believe that writers of English who write viri are intentionally speaking of men [though that may be debatable - AGG].  And although there actually is a viri form for virus, it's the genitive singular, not the nominative plural. And we certainly don't grab for genitive singulars for the plurals when we've started out with a nominative. Such hanky panky would certainly get you talked about, and probably your hand slapped as well.

This apparently invariant use of virus as a genitive singular may also imply that it's 4th declension, as some scholars believe.

Those confused souls who write *virii are tacitly positing the existence of the non-word *virius, and declining it as though it were like filius. It's true that l/r are both linguals that sometimes get interchanged, and that f/v are just a change in voicing, but that's just reaching. *Virii is still completely silly, so don't do that; otherwise, everyone will know you're just a blathering script kiddie.

The crucial problem here is that, classically speaking, there appears to be no recorded use of virus in the plural. It was a 2nd declension noun ending in -us, which is rather common, but it was also a neuter, which is rather rare. I could only come up with three such 2nd declension neuters: virus (some poison), pelagus (the sea, usually poetically), and vulgus (the crowd). None appear to admit plurals. Perhaps this is because they are mass nouns, not count nouns.

Ton E. van den Bogaard of the University Maastricht in the Netherlands follows up with a letter that firmly places him in the camp of the fourth declensionites:

With interest I read the contribution `On the Absence of a Plural of the Latin Noun ``Virus' in the June 1999 ASM News, p. 388, by Robert J. Smutny. However, according to my Latin grammar, one of the very few books of my gymnasium (high school) days that is still up to date, the plural of the noun virus in Latin is, like the plural nowadays used for virus in Romance languages (e.g., Italian and French), also virus. The Latin noun virus does not belong to the second declension group but, like the noun fructus, meaning fruit or piece of fruit, belongs to a group of Latin words that is declined according to the fourth declension. Hence, two pieces of fruit is in Latin duo fructus and two viruses would be duo virus. According to the fourth declension the plural genitive of virus in Latin is viruum and therefore an Index of Viruses is in Latin an Index Viruum. Virorum is the plural genitive of the Latin noun vir (second declension) meaning man or husband. Consequently an Index Virorum would indicate a list of husbands or men.

Moreover, because the noun virus belongs to the fourth declension group the study of viruses should have been called virulogy and people practicing that science virulogists. My former professor in virology at veterinary school consequently called himself a virulogist and he lectured virulogy. I am afraid that these words have become extinct since he died.

It is important to realize that Latin and Greek derived expressions in biomedical English have been coined by scientists for convenience and not by scholars based on classical grammar. The old Romans might have said to these scientists modulating their language: ``Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas,' which means freely translated: ``Despite your lack of knowledge, still appreciated.'

Yes, but how would the old Romans have translated "blathering script kiddie"?

Posted on 03/15/2010 1:04 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 15 March 2010
Time's up

By Stephen Ohlemacher for AP:

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – The retirement nest egg of an entire generation is stashed away in this small town along the Ohio River: $2.5 trillion in IOUs from the federal government, payable to the Social Security Administration.

It's time to start cashing them in.

For more than two decades, Social Security collected more money in payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits — billions more each year.

Not anymore. This year, for the first time since the 1980s, when Congress last overhauled Social Security, the retirement program is projected to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes — nearly $29 billion more.

Sounds like a good time to start tapping the nest egg. Too bad the federal government already spent that money over the years on other programs, preferring to borrow from Social Security rather than foreign creditors. In return, the Treasury Department issued a stack of IOUs — in the form of Treasury bonds — which are kept in a nondescript office building just down the street from Parkersburg's municipal offices.

Now the government will have to borrow even more money, much of it abroad, to start paying back the IOUs, and the timing couldn't be worse. The government is projected to post a record $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year, followed by trillion dollar deficits for years to come.

Social Security's shortfall will not affect current benefits. As long as the IOUs last, benefits will keep flowing. But experts say it is a warning sign that the program's finances are deteriorating. Social Security is projected to drain its trust funds by 2037 unless Congress acts, and there's concern that the looming crisis will lead to reduced benefits.

"This is not just a wake-up call, this is it. We're here," said Mary Johnson, a policy analyst with The Senior Citizens League, an advocacy group. "We are not going to be able to put it off any more."

Posted on 03/15/2010 9:00 AM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 15 March 2010
Karl Popper On The Folly Of Tolerating The Intolerant

'The paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal. ”

Karl Popper "The Open Society and its Enemies"

Posted on 03/15/2010 9:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Daniel Greenfield On The Obama Administration's Tormenting Of Israel

Barack Hussein Obama vs Israel

The manifold organs of the ObamaMedia are abuzz with outrage over what they are calling Israel's "insult" to the United States. But what was the nature of this awful and outrageous insult? Did Israeli officials pull off V.P. Biden's rug to show off his bald head underneath. Did they ask him why the suit of his pants is so shiny. Did they make him sit at the kiddie table?

More to the point did Israeli TV air calls for a Jihad against America, as Palestinian Arab TV did? Did Israel name a square after the murderer of an American photographer, as the Palestinian Authority did? Did an Israeli Anchorman do a skit in blackface during Obama's visit, as a Turkish anchorman did during Obama's visit to Turkey? Are Israeli religious institutions issuing Fatwahs against America, as Al Azhar University, which Obama visited and spoke at, has done? Are Israeli leaders funding terrorism against America, as the Saudi King, before whom Obama bowed, does?

No, none of those incidents were described as insults. Nothing that Muslim countries did to mock, humiliate and murder Americans were even noticed at all. None of them produced furious condemnations from the White House or two hours of Hillary Clinton screeching on the phone at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So what did Israel do that was so awful, so horrible and terrible? It built houses. Yes, civilian houses. Not army bases or nuclear missiles or walls. Houses.

Israel approved a construction project to build housing for its own people, in its own capitol city, Jerusalem. Some of the housing will be built in the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, situated around the grave of Shimon the Righteous, a Jewish religious figure famed for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. A neighborhood where Jews have lived for over a century. As well as Ramat Shlomo, a thriving neighborhood with thousands of Jewish families living in it.

The Obama Administration's objections to Jews living in Jerusalem are purely racial and religious. If Israel were approving a construction project to build housing for Arab Muslim citizens of Israel, Biden, Hillary and their media troupe wouldn't be screeching about it to the high heavens. It is only because Jews are to live there, that they have a problem with it. Their objections therefore are purely based on race and religion-- and completely racist.

But this is hardly the first time that Muslims and their Western appeasers have tried to drive the Jews out of Jerusalem, or the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood in particular.

In 1876 the land was purchased by the Jewish community in order to build homes for poor Jews. In 1936, after the death of Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (one of the inspirations for Hamas) and the Mufti of Jerusalem (who would go on to collaborate on the Holocaust with Adolf Hitler), Arab rioters drove the Jews out of the neighborhood with cries of Ibtach Al Yahood (kill the Jews). Over 500 Jews were murdered during this time. Many more fled their homes ahead of the enraged Islamic mobs.

The following was a sample of some of the Arab Muslim brutality toward the Jews at the time.

Alex Morrison, a British truck driver sympathetic to the Arab cause wrote, "They left behind them one of the worst sights I ever saw in my life... The naked bodies of the women exposed the evidence that the knives had been used in the most ghastly fashion." The bodies of children, apparently set alight with gasoline in a nursery, were still smoldering."

The Arab Muslim atrocities were successful not at intimidating the Jews, who slowly began to return, but at intimidating the British who enacted the White Paper, and closed the doors to Jewish immigration resulting in countless numbers of Jews dead during the Holocaust. A Holocaust which involved the participation of the same Mufti of Jerusalem who organized the riots. Which in turn had been partially funded by Nazi Germany.

In 1947 the Arab Muslim forces again came for the Jews. The Jewish residents of the Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood, accompanied by militia, fought them back with the few weapons they had. And then came the British colonial authorities and disarmed the Jews. And when the Arab forces came again, they had no weapons to fight with. And they fled.

The fall of the area cut off Hadassah Hospital from the rest of Jerusalem. A convoy of 79 doctors, nurses and patients to the hospital were massacred by Arab forces. They included a world renowned ophthalmologist, Chaim Yassky and his wife Fanny. Esther Fassman, the American director of social services at the hospital's Cancer Institute, carrying candy and magazines for her patients. And a man who had been riding along to reach his wife who had just given a birth. He never reached her.
The Jordanian Legion seized all of East Jerusalem, and drove out the remaining Jews living there. Synagogues were destroyed, others were turned into latrines. The tombstones from Jewish cemeteries were used as paving stones for the Arab Muslim occupation forces. The Shimon HaTzadik neighborhood though held the tragic distinction of being the first part of Jerusalem to have its Jewish population driven out.

The houses that the Jews had been driven out of were occupied by Arab Settlers in an East Jerusalem rendered empty of Jews. The great dream of the Mufti of Jerusalem, and every Islamic cleric and terrorist, who had urged the murder of Jews in order to build a pure Islamic Arab Palestine was fulfilled. The Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood was seemingly no more. Only the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood remained. Half of the historic Jewish capital was Judenrein.

In 1967, Jerusalem was liberated and reunited once again. But the victorious Jewish army did not drive out the Arab squatters. Instead in 1972 it restored the land in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood to the communal organizations which had owned it allowed them to remain on the condition that they paid rent. Those who refused, were evicted. Slowly Jews began to return to their old neighborhood again. A school opened and a normal semblance of life with it. However the US State Department and European government have continued fighting the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, demanding that it be restored to its former Judenrein status.

Over and over again, the diplomats have taken the side of the Arab squatters who stole the homes of the Jewish families living there, until Arab mobs and armies drove them out. Even when Jewish residents bought the land from those squatters, insuring the absolute legality of their ownership from any and every angle, their rights to live there have been denied. And those demanding an Apartheid Jerusalem, reserved for Arabs alone, have continued spewing lies and distorting the truth by claiming that Jews never lived in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood. That the only reason Jews live there now is out of spite (this in a city where spiraling real estate prices and crowded conditions have made apartments incredibly difficult to find.) And finally that the only reason that a housing project that has been in the works for over a decade was approved-- was in order to insult Joseph Robinette Biden... and through him America.

And then there was the Ramat Shlomo construction project. Supposedly the straw that broke the "camel's" back. Ramat Shlomo is and has been a Jewish neighborhood for some time now. There are thousands of families living in it. The 1600 additional units are not being built on inhabited land. Nor was the land ever supposed to be turned over to the Palestinian Authority in any conceivable settlement. In fact during the previous round of negotiations, even the PA had conceded Ramat Shlomo.

Let me be very clear then. The building of houses for Jewish families in a neighborhood where Jews have lived for 134 years is not an insult. A housing project that has been in the works for over a decade was not a secret conspiracy to humiliate the idiot Vice President on his visit there. It is of course an insult, but not to America. Only to Islam.

American diplomats have not usually described Israeli policies they dislike as an "insult"-- that is a term much more commonly used by Muslims, who are obsessed with perceived slights to their honor. Complaints over an "insult" is a common feature of Honor-Shame societies. America is not an honor-shame society. However the White House is currently occupied by a man bred in an honor-shame society. It is Obama that feels "insulted" by Israel, both out of the sensitivity of his Muslim heritage and his own egotism, which regularly motivates him to humiliate Republicans, while triumphantly celebrating his own greatness.

It is natural enough for Barack Hussein Obama to rely on such cheap honor-shame gambits. They are what he grew up with. And it is natural enough for him to keenly feel the loss of face of Muslims. After all his father's family was Muslim. And Muslims are keenly "insulted" when they conquer territory and then cannot hold it. Whether that territory is in Jerusalem, Israel or Spain or India. They cannot stand to suffer the loss of face. And neither can Obama.

Had there been a Jewish or part-Jewish President in the White House, the media would be raising the question of whether he is showing favoritism toward Israel. A question that has been repeatedly raised regarding Joseph Lieberman. A question that was raised regarding Goldwater, who was a practicing Christian. But the media refuses to allow the question to be raised of whether Obama is favoring Muslims because of his own Muslim background and family ties. Instead the media brands any such questions as racist, and instead spearheads the administration's campaign against Israel.

So directed out of the White House, a media firestorm howls enraged at Israel for presuming to allow Jews to live in a neighborhood where they had lived for a 134 years. The outrage. The offense. Heads must roll for this. Panicked, Netanyahu has already rushed to appease Der Fuhrer, suspending all home development anywhere in Jerusalem. Netanyahu has already apologized for building homes for his own citizens in his own country, but that of course is not enough. It's never enough.

David Axelrod huffed, "This was an affront, it was an insult." Hillary Clinton, Suha Arafat's former kissyface partner, called Netanyahu to berate him. And then did it again in the round of interviews, proclaiming, "It was insulting. And-- it was insulting not just to the vice president, who-- certainly didn't deserve that-- But it was an insult to the United States." Biden added his own voice. So did a bevy of underlines. Israel's ambassador was summoned to be yelled at by the Deputy Secretary of State.

In his visit Biden had repeatedly insulted his Israeli hosts. First he brought along Chris Matthews who accused Israelis of disliking Obama because they're racists. He arrived an hour and a half late to a ceremonial dinner. In other words he acted like every bit of the predictable buffoon that he is. Which is also not surprising given his history of hostility to Israel going back decades.

But none of that really matters. The bottom line is that the Obama Administration has been wanting to pick a fight with Israel for some time now... while pretending to be the victims. Much like the way Germany faked a Polish attack as a pretext for invading Poland, Barack Hussein Obama needed a pretext for waging his own political Jihad against Israel. All the while whining about how badly the Israelis have insulted him.

If it hadn't been Shimon HaTzaddik or Ramat Shlomo, some other pretext would have been found. Sooner or later, some visiting dignitary would have been offended by Israelis going on with their lives. Resulting in just this kind of cynical tantrum designed to win over Muslims and further degrade Israel's abilities to defend itself. The entire incident staged in keeping with the Honor-Shame background of the man in the White House.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Jews were celebrating the rebuilding of the Hurva Synagogue. Built in the 1700's, the synagogue had been demolished twice by Arab Muslims. The second time in 1948 by the Jordanian Legion, in order to insure that Jews would never return to East Jerusalem. They were wrong then, as Obama is wrong now. The plans of Muslims to banish Jews from their historic capitol are both immoral and racist.

Meanwhile the PA's Jerusalem minister, Khatem Abd el-Kader, condemned the renovation of the Hurva Synagogue, warning Israel that it was "playing with fire" and urged Muslim Arabs to "protect" the Al Aqsa Mosque. Naturally of course the riots are of course already on the way. An echo of the riots that drove Jews out of Jerusalem in the 1930's. Then the rioters had shouted, "Itbach-al Yahud" and "Addowlah ma'anah". Kill the Jews, and The Government is With Us. Except the government they mean now is not the British colonial authorities, but the administration of Barack Hussein Obama.
Posted on 03/15/2010 9:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Muslims Have "A Proven Track Record"

The Islamic Forum of Europe claims it has a "proven track record of community cohesion."

"Proven track record"? 

That was the first item on a list of hideous resume-speak phrases ("Have a proven track record of managing budgets in excess of $3 million" etc.) I was starting idly to compile in my head.

My, my.

Time not only to brush up our Shakespeare, but to welcome the mislineations of memory in order to describe our  Muslim would-be conquerors from within: 

"You taught me language, and my profit on't --I can smile, and smile, and be a villain."

Yes, on that, Muslims have a "proven track record" by now, all over the  imperilled West.


Posted on 03/15/2010 10:00 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Call PETA, No One Else is Doing Anything!
Gadi Adelman writes at Family Security Matters:
...In Islamic law a woman is worth only half of a man. They are made to wear burkas and stay inside their homes, causing illness and nutritional deficiencies due to lack of sunlight. They are not even second class citizens. They are oppressed. I treat my dogs better than women in Islam are treated. How many women in this country, or any other, must suffer or die before we hear the outcry from all of the women’s advocacy groups, and why have we not heard anything up to this point? Why are none of these groups educating the public on the oppression of women in Islam?
A quick search on the internet and you will find the following list of organizations. All of these groups, to their eternal shame, are silent on this horrifying and urgent crisis.
American Association of University Women; Chicago Women's Liberation Union; Concerned Women for America; Feminist Majority Foundation; Feminists for Life; Independent Women's Forum; International Women's Democracy Center; National Council of Jewish Women; National Council of Women's Organizations; National Organization for Women; National Women's Health Network; New York Radical Women; Radical Women; Society for Women's Health Research; Women Against Pornography; Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media; Women's Edge; Women's Peace Party; Women's Peace Union; Younger Women's Task Force. This was from one search on one page of one site and I chose only those that support or promote women’s rights.
Does their silence allow Western women who are ignorant of Islam’s misogynistic cruelty to convert to Islam because they are unaware of the truth behind Islam and Sharia? It begs the question: how many other women – Jihad Janes – will choose this route and end up like Colleen LaRose or worse, like Noor Almaleki because they had not even heard, let alone been told the truth, about Islamic or Sharia law?
You can bet one thing for sure. Had any of the above cases of women “scourged” by Islam been family pets and not people, PETA would be screaming to the heavens and every one would be aware of this.
Women of the world unite!
Posted on 03/15/2010 12:55 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 15 March 2010
A Cinematic Interlude: Richard III (Ian McKellen)

Watch, and listen, here, and then here. and then finally, here.



Posted on 03/15/2010 2:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Key Democrat Breaks with Obama on South Asia
Gary Ackerman is a 14-term Democratic Congressman, representing New York’s fifth district, which includes parts of Queens and Long Island. And as such, Ackerman holds the panoply of positions one would expect from a New York Democrat. He strongly supports current legislation that would result in a government takeover of the nation’s health care system. He has been given a 100 by NARAL Pro Choice America, and even voted twice against bans on partial birth abortion. The NRA gives him an “F” for his votes on gun control. Immigration reform groups rate him as having an “open borders” stance.   Plus, Ackerman opposes the death penalty, school prayer, the Patriot Act, and, well, can pretty much fill in the rest. Yes, there is no doubt that Congressman Gary Ackerman is an ideological liberal and an almost certain vote for the Democrats in Congress.
Ackerman, however, is also Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia House Foreign Affairs Committee. While conservatives might have solid, even passionate, disagreements with Ackerman on many issues, there is no question that he is one of Congress’s most knowledgeable members when it comes to that part of the world. His sentiments with that regard are rather clear, too, as his web site notes that his subcommittee “has jurisdiction over United States policy towards all countries in the Middle East and South Asia, including important U.S. allies Israel and India”[emphasis mine]. That should not be passed over lightly. Ever since the 1950s when Indian Prime Minister Nehru allied his county with the Soviet Union, the US-India relationship has been a rocky one. More recently, President Obama dismissed Indian anti-terror efforts in Kashmir and increased aid to India’s enemy, Pakistan; even though former Pakistani Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf and others have admitted that much of that aid goes to building attacks against India. Nor is there any doubt that the Obama administration is at best ambiguous about how important an ally Israel is. In 2008, Ackerman co-sponsored a resolution with GOP Congressman Mike Pence declaring Iran to be a threat to “the vital national security interests of the United States and demanding a full-scale naval, air and land blockade. Ackerman is also a fierce critic of the anti-Israel Goldstone Report.
My own path crossed with Ackerman’s briefly in 2007 when he was Democratic floor leader during debate on a resolution that called on Bangladesh to drop its false charges against Muslim Zionist and anti-Islamist journalist, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. The legislation was authored by Congressman Mark Kirk, Republican from suburban Chicago and currently a candidate for the Senate seat once held by Barack Obama. Kirk and I together have championed Choudhury’s cause and were able to free him from 17 months of imprisonment and torture.   Ackerman spoke passionately in support of Choudhury.
Ackerman, however, might have saved his strongest and most stunning remarks for a March 11 Subcommittee hearing entitled: “Bad Company: Lashkar e-Tayyiba and the Growing Ambition of Islamist Militancy in Pakistan”; a title that is at variance with Obama’s Af-Pak policy, which focuses almost exclusively on al Qaeda and the Taliban. Beyond that, in his March 2009 speech announcing that policy, Obama targeted al Qaeda and the Taliban as our enemies but also made it clear that he considers the rest of Pakistan our friends and allies. In his opening statement at that hearing, Ackerman identified a far more general problem, “Islamist Militancy in Pakistan,” that goes well beyond Obama’s narrow definition:
While U.S. attention has focused primarily on al-Qaida, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, the Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT) and other violent, Islamist extremist groups in Pakistan have been growing in both capability and ambition. As was demonstrated in the horrific Mumbai attack of November 2008, the al-Qaida model of perpetrating highly visible, mass-casualty attacks appears to have migrated, with enormous potential consequences for the United States.
But the New York Democrat was only getting started.
We need to take this threat very, very seriously. The LeT is a deadly serious group of fanatics.They are well financed, ambitious, and most disturbingly, both tolerated by, and connected to, the Pakistani military [emphasis mine].
While Pakistan’s longstanding support for Islamists is an open secret, this public statement was a stinging rebuke and rejection of the Obama administrations entire South Asia policy. In fact, he said, this terrorist group “was set up with help from the Pakistani military as a proxy weapon” to use against India. He also accused the Pakistani military of paying compensation to families of the terrorists who killed almost 200 people in the November 26, 2008, attack on Mumbai. “These are our allies in the war on terror,” he adds contemptuously.

Beyond excoriating Pakistan and the fantasy of considering it an ally, Ackerman makes it clear that he recognizes Islamist goals as going far beyond parochial issues tied to any particular piece of real estate: “The LeT's true goal is not Kashmir, it is India [and] to establish an Islamic state in all of South Asia. Neither does it hide or try to play down its declaration of war against all Hindus and Jews.” Indians and Israelis have been trying without success to get the Obama administration to understand that the conflicts are not about Kashmir, Jerusalem, or any other phony issues.
In that March speech, Obama called for “a regional solution” but otherwise dismissed India as a key ally. In fact, he could have mentioned that for the ten days proceeding that speech, Indians were engaged in heated battles with Lashkar and defeating them quite handily. But he did not, and US representatives including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, South Asia Czar Richard Holbrooke, and Senator John Kerry have assiduously avoided even a perception of supporting India’s anti-terrorist chops or its right to self-defense from relentless terrorists based in a neighboring country; which sounds disturbingly like its actions toward Israel.

So, what does Ackerman suggest we do? Plenty!
This group of savages needs to be crushed. Not in a month. Not in a year. Not when the situation stabilizes in Afghanistan. Not when things are under control in Pakistan. Now. Today and everyday going forward. We’re not doing it, and we’re not effectively leading a global effort to do it.
Had a conservative Republican made that statement, the media would be publishing screeds that yelled, “War monger.” But the fact is that Ackerman is not a conservative Republican. He is a liberal Democrat and not even a consistent foreign policy hawk. For instance, in 2007 he voted to start deploying troops out of Iraq in 90 days; he opposed measures to restrict funds for the UN; he supports Congressional oversight of CIA interrogations; and way back when voted against SDI. That is one of the things that make last week’s strongly-worded statement so significant.
While chastising Israel, last week Vice President Joe Biden said, “Sometimes only a friend can deliver the hardest truth.” Perhaps the Obama administration needs not take its own advice and listen to what Congressman Ackerman is telling them. If not, he warned, “we’re going to regret this mistake. We’re going to regret it bitterly.”
Posted on 03/15/2010 5:18 PM by Richard L. Benkin
Monday, 15 March 2010
A Musical Interlude: My Troubles Are Over (Chester Gaylord)

Listen here.

Posted on 03/15/2010 6:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Sabeel Jews
Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek is an Anglican Canon who heads the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. Sabeel propounds the doctrine that Jews, especially Israelis, are “Christ killers.”  When Ateek came to the venerable Old South Church in the fall of 2007, Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst at CAMERA – the Boston-based Middle East media watchdog group,  wrote about Ateek and Sabeel in a Boston Globe, op-ed, “Hate at the Altar”:
For the past three decades, Sabeel has billed itself as the voice of the beleaguered community of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel. Over the years, Sabeel has been successful in convincing well-meaning, but largely ignorant Christians in the United States and Europe that the Palestinian people are innocent sufferers and the Israeli government their brutal oppressors.
Ateek has figuratively blamed Israel for the attempted murder of the infant Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus the prophet, and for blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior.
In the context of Christian-Jewish relations, language like this - which has preceded and justified the killing of Jews for nearly two millennia - is the equivalent of a noose hanging from a tree in the Old South. Its use during a time of violence can only serve to justify continued violence against Israeli civilians.
What is troubling is there are Jews standing up for Ateek and Sabeel’s dogma at events across North America.
One of the prominent Sabeel Jews is Dr. Marc H. Ellis head of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. Steven Plaut wrote about Ellis in a FrontPage Magazine, article in 2005, “Baylor University’s Anti-Jewish Liberation “Theologian”:
Ellis himself sums up in his own words the "lesson" he draws from the Holocaust:
"To have the Holocaust part of Jewish success, to have the victims of the Holocaust become part of Jewish empowerment, is unsettling. To speak of the Holocaust without confessing our sins towards the Palestinian people and seeking a real justice with them is a hypocrisy that debases us as Jews”.
For Ellis, Israel is the embodiment of all that is evil and all that is wrong with Judaism today.  His concept of Israel is of a bunch of "bullies" riding about in helicopters and firing senselessly at poor innocent Palestinian civilians for absolutely no reason at all (an image repeated ad nauseum in many of Ellis’ screeds).
Ellis is not alone as an acolyte for Sabeel.  Note this excerpt from a recent article  illustrative of the misshapen views of another Sabeel Jew, Mark Braverman:

Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg associate rabbi and education director of Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, Washington appeared at the University of Washington Hillel recently with Mark Braverman, executive director of the Holy Land Peace Project and the author of the book Fatal Embrace, about the relationship between Christians and Jews in Israel in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The discussion was called “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jewish Spirituality, Tradition and Psychology,” and was hosted by the Kadima Reconstructionist Community.

Braverman said, he has come to think of the creation of the Jewish State as a mistake, claiming it can never be a truly democratic country if the basic tenets prize the rights of one group of people over another.

Braverman suggested that injustice in Israel is the result of . . . centuries of isolation and ghettoization that has led to Israel’s inability to find a place in its society for Palestinians.

“We see ourselves as a people apart. That’s the problem. And the evidence of that problem is the dark side of Israel,” he said.

During a question and answer session, Rob Jacobs, executive director of Israel advocacy group StandWithUs Northwest, asked Braverman to elaborate on the notion of Jews as “a people apart.” Jacobs referenced a statement he said Braverman had made the day before at a conference at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, hosted by Friends of Sabeel, intimating that the Jewish people’s alienation started almost 2,000 years ago when they refused to accept Jesus as the messiah.

“I haven’t converted to Christianity,” Braverman assured the audience. “But Jesus is a very powerful figure to me…. And I wonder what if Judaism had been able to make that shift? It would have put an end to our isolation and it might not have ended with us thinking we needed to go and create a Jewish homeland.”

Amid whispers from audience members in the back rows, Kinberg defended the decision of the world’s Jews not to become Christians.
“Hell yeah, it would have been a lot easier for us if we had all become followers of Jesus,” she said. “There might have been a lot less persecution. But we might also have ceased to exist.”

Van Zile had this comment about Braverman:
I also think it is dirty pool when Christians use Braverman to attack Israel. He is ultimately ambivalent about the continued existence of the Jewish people as ... Jews. But for some reason Christians love to invoke him as a credible Jewish voice concerning Israel.
Jews like Ellis and Braverman give aid and comfort to the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people.
Posted on 03/15/2010 7:32 PM by Jerry Gordon
Monday, 15 March 2010
Robert Samuelson On Obama's Failure To Educate

A Cost-Control Mirage

Obama is telling people what they want to hear about health care, not what they need to know.

Mar 15, 2010 

"What we need from the next president is somebody who will not just tell you what they think you want to hear but will tell you what you need to hear."
—Barack Obama, Feb. 27, 2008

One job of presidents is to educate Americans about crucial national problems. On health care, Barack Obama has failed. Almost everything you think you know about health care is probably wrong or, at least, half wrong. Great simplicities and distortions have been peddled in the name of achieving "universal health coverage." The miseducation has worsened as the debate approaches its climax.

There's a parallel here: housing. Most Americans favor homeownership, but uncritical pro-homeownership policies (lax lending standards, puny down payments, hefty housing subsidies) helped cause the financial crisis. The same thing is happening with health care. The appeal of universal insurance—who, by the way, wants to be uninsured?—justifies half-truths and dubious policies. That the process is repeating itself suggests that our political leaders don't learn even from proximate calamities.


How often, for example, have you heard the emergency-room argument? The uninsured, it's said, use emergency rooms for primary care. That's expensive and ineffective. Once they're insured, they'll have regular doctors. Care will improve; costs will decline. Everyone wins. Great argument. Unfortunately, it's untrue.

A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the insured accounted for 83 percent of emergency-room visits, reflecting their share of the population. After Massachusetts adopted universal insurance, emergency-room use remained higher than the national average, an Urban Institute study found. More than two-fifths of visits represented non-emergencies. Of those, a majority of adult respondents to a survey said it was "more convenient" to go to the emergency room or they couldn't "get [a doctor's] appointment as soon as needed." If universal coverage makes appointments harder to get, emergency-room use may increase.

You probably think that insuring the uninsured will dramatically improve the nation's health. The uninsured don't get care or don't get it soon enough. With insurance, they won't be shortchanged; they'll be healthier. Simple.

Think again. I've written before that expanding health insurance would result, at best, in modest health gains. Studies of insurance's effects on health are hard to perform. Some find benefits; others don't. Medicare's introduction in 1966 produced no reduction in mortality; some studies of extensions of Medicaid for children didn't find gains. In the Atlantic recently, economics writer Megan McArdle examined the literature and emerged skeptical. Claims that the uninsured suffer tens of thousands of premature deaths are "open to question." Conceivably, the "lack of health insurance has no more impact on your health than lack of flood insurance," she writes.

How could this be? No one knows, but possible explanations include: (a) many uninsured are fairly healthy—about two-fifths are age 18 to 34; (b) some are too sick to be helped or have problems rooted in personal behaviors—smoking, diet, drinking or drug abuse; and (c) the uninsured already receive 50 to 70 percent of the care of the insured from hospitals, clinics and doctors, estimates the Congressional Budget Office.

Though it seems compelling, covering the uninsured is not the health-care system's major problem. The big problem is uncontrolled spending, which prices people out of the market and burdens government budgets. Obama claims his proposal checks spending. Just the opposite. When people get insurance, they use more health services. Spending rises. By the government's latest forecast, health spending goes from 17 percent of the economy in 2009 to 19 percent in 2019. Health "reform" would probably increase that.

Unless we change the fee-for-service system, costs will remain hard to control because providers are paid more for doing more. Obama might have attempted that by proposing health-care vouchers (limited amounts to be spent on insurance), which would force a restructuring of delivery systems to compete on quality and cost. Doctors, hospitals and drug companies would have to reorganize care. Obama refrained from that fight and instead cast insurance companies as the villains.

He's telling people what they want to hear, not what they need to know. Whatever their sins, insurers are mainly intermediaries; they pass along the costs of the delivery system. In 2009, the largest 14 insurers had profits of roughly $9 billion; that approached 0.4 percent of total health spending of $2.472 trillion. This hardly explains high health costs. What people need to know is that Obama's plan evades health care's major problems and would worsen the budget outlook. It's a big new spending program when government hasn't paid for the spending programs it already has.

"If not now, when? If not us, who?" Obama asks. The answer is: It's not now, and it's not "us." Pass or not, Obama's proposal is the illusion of "reform," not the real thing.

Robert Samuelson is also the author of The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath: The Past and Future of American Affluence and Untruth: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is (Almost Always) Wrong.

Posted on 03/15/2010 10:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Spengler On Obama, Netanyahu, And Iran

Obama in more trouble than Netanyahu over Iran
By Spengler

The chess-masters of Tehran have played a single combination for the past five years: threaten America's flanks in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to gain control of the center of the board, that is, by pushing on with a nuclear program that many suspect is designed to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran has sufficient assets in the territory of its troubled neighbors to make a shambles of America's Potemkin village. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may be able to govern Iraq with a third of the seats contested in the March 7 parliamentary elections, provided that Iran's allies such as Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr permit him to do so. And the appearance of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Kabul on March 10 to declare his solidarity with Afghanistan's beleaguered President Hamid Karzai planted Iran's flag in the midst of Afghan politics.


Iran will succeed, unless another player kicks over the chessboard. Israeli officials report that American officials are visiting Jerusalem - including

Vice President

Joseph Biden last week - to warn Israel against launching an attack on Iran. "They're not talking about the Palestinians, they're only talking about Iran," commented the head of one Israeli political party.

That explains the exceptionally harsh, even adversarial tone that Washington has taken towards Israel, supposedly in response to last week's go-ahead for 1,600 apartments in East Jerusalem, but evidently in anticipation of an Israeli attack on Iran.

Reuters quoted an unnamed American official warning that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's position was "perilous" because of alleged divisions in his government over negotiating with the Palestinians. United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's March 12 statement seemed disproportionate that the East Jerusalem construction was "a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the vice president's trip". And the Israeli news site, which frequently carries intelligence community leaks, reports that Washington is threatening to withhold weapons from the Israelis.

Considering that Obama faces congressional elections in five months and well may lose control of both houses, the lady may protest too much. Obama may be in a lot more trouble than Netanyahu.

The Obama administration's shrill tone towards Israel reflects its domestic political weakness as much as its strategic problems. According to a March 7 poll by The Israel Project, Americans take the Israeli side against the Palestinians by a margin of 57% to 7%, with the rest neutral. A Gallup Poll released February 28 gives the margin at 63% to 15%, with 23% neutral. Only 30% of respondents told Gallup that they expect a peace agreement between Israel and the Arab states.

More to the point, 60% of respondents in a March 2 Fox News poll said they believed force would be required to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, while only 25% believe that diplomacy and sanctions will work. Fifty-one percent of Democrats and 75% of Republicans polled favored the use of force. Obama's job approval for handling Iran was at only 41%, with 42% disapproving.

An Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities would polarize American opinion. And if the Obama administration attempted to punish Israel for doing what most Americans seemingly want to do in any event, the balance of American sentiment - if available polling data are any guide - would shift away from Obama and to Israel. Obama's party would pay at the polls in November.

No one cares about the Palestinians; to the extent that the charade of Israeli negotiations with the weak and divided Palestine Authority comes into consideration, it is because Washington still hopes that a show of progress might be helpful in addressing more urgent concerns in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. Obama's investment in rapprochement with Iran is not a sentimental gesture: it is the pillar on which American regional policy rests.

Despite the enormous difference in outlook between the last administration and the present one, there is an underlying continuity in Washington's stance towards Iran, due to the facts on the ground put in place by Iran itself. I wrote on this site in October 2005, shortly after Ahmadinejad came to power:

I do not believe any formal understanding is in place, but the probable outcome is that Washington will refrain from military action to forestall any Iranian nuclear arms developments, while Tehran will refrain from disrupting Washington's constitutional Potemkin Village in Iraq. Tehran thinks strategically, as befits a country with a government newly elected by an overwhelming majority, while Washington thinks politically. President George W Bush is struggling to persuade the American public of the wisdom of his nation-building scheme in Iraq, and badly wants the Iranians to keep their hands in their pockets. Iran is prepared to do so as long as America keeps its opposition to its nuclear program within the confines of the diplomatic cul-de-sac defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency. (See A Syriajevo in the making?, Asia Times Online, October 25, 2005)

Nation-building in Iraq is the tar baby that has entrapped American foreign policy. The notion that the United States should take responsibility for the political evolution of a country cooked up by British cartographers with the explicit purpose of keeping Sunni Arabs, Shi'ite Arabs and Kurds at each others' throats, ranks as one of the great political delusions of the past century. Since the American invasion in 2003, it always has been in Iran's power to make the country ungovernable. More important to Iran, though, is the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons. Should it become a nuclear power, Iran could set its cats' paws in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan to whatever task it chose with far less fear of American retribution.

The Obama administration's abortive opening to Iran always aimed at obtaining Iranian help in stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things by soliciting Tehran's good offices with the Shi'ite Hazara minority in Afghanistan. Iran has ties both to the Hazara as well as to their mortal enemies, the Sunni Taliban, and keeps its options open. Its prospective influence in Afghanistan is potent enough to panic the US - Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived in Kabul unannounced on March 8, the same day that Ahmadinejad was expected in the Afghan capital, prompting the Iranian president to postpone his trip by two days. Gates' unexpected trip was interpreted as a pre-emptive action against Iranian influence. Karzai embraced his Iranian counterpart as a friend and ally.As Asia Times Online's M K Bhadrakumar wrote on March 13: "Karzai can hope to tap into Iran's influence with various Afghan groups, which traditionally focused on the Persian-speaking Tajiks and Hazara Shi'ites but today also extends to segments of the Pashtun population. Significantly, Ahmedinejad was received on Wednesday at Kabul airport by the Northern Alliance leader Mohammed Fahim, who has become the first vice president in Karzai's new government despite strong opposition from the US and Britain." (Se A titanic power struggle in Kabul, Asia Times Online, March 13)

The United States responded to Ahmadinejad's Afghan visit by paying obeisance to Iran's influence.

"The future of Afghanistan has a regional dimension and we hope that Iran will play a more constructive role in Afghanistan in the future," said US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. He added in the past, the US and Iran have "cooperated constructively" and hoped that they would do so again, given that Iran has "a legitimate interest in the future of Afghanistan".

The answer to the question: "What is Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan?" - is a Great Gamelet in which Iran and Pakistan work out a power-sharing arrangement in Afghanistan and establish a miniature balance of power between Sunnis and Shi'ites. All that is missing is Johnny Depp in Mad Hatter makeup replacing Richard Holbrooke as AfPak czar, distributing 3-D glasses to the diplomatic corps.

Just as delusional is the idea that an Iraqi government formed by either of the two front-runners in the March 7 elections, Maliki or Iyad Allawi, would free Iraq of Iranian influence. That is the conventional wisdom in Washington, however.

The Washington Post editorialized March 13:

A government headed by either Mr Maliki or Mr Allawi would offer the Obama administration an opportunity to forge a vital strategic relationship with Iraq even as US troops depart in the next two years. Mr Maliki signed a strategic framework with the Bush administration and has already demonstrated his capacity to resist Iranian influence. Mr Allawi is even more interested in an alliance with Washington and has good relations with Arab Sunni governments that have shunned Mr Maliki's administration.

The precise opposite is the case: Iraq's elections took place without crippling violence because Tehran understands well the chess maxim: "The threat is mightier than the execution." Iran is content to allow America to keep its Potemkin village in place for a while longer, and push on with its nuclear program which carries with it possibility of a nuclear weapon.

What the Bush administration might have done under present circumstances is a hypothetical question. But the fact is that Bush built the Potemkin village in Iraq, and Obama inherited it. The difference lies in the Bush administration's desire to project American power, and the Obama administration's desire to diminish it.

One might speculate that a Republican administration - at least one headed by Senator John McCain - would have encouraged Israel to extricate the US from its present Zugzwang

(imperative to move when any move is damaging) by attacking Iran's nuclear program. That, after all, is what allies are for. There is no Obama administration as such; there is only Obama, who appears to run the entire show out of his Blackberry. As David Rothkopf wrote in his Foreign Policy blog March 12, Obama's is "an administration in which seeking the favor of the president has taken on an importance that is in fact, much more reminiscent of the historical czars than is the role being played by anyone with this now devalued moniker".


As I wrote on this space February 18: "Israel has a strategic problem broader than the immediate issue of Iran's possible acquisition of nuclear weapons: it is an American ally at a moment when America has effectively withdrawn from strategic leadership. That leaves Israel at a crossroads. It can act like an American client state, or a regional superpower. Either decision would have substantial costs."(See The case for an Israeli strike against Iran , Asia Times Online, February 18)

The best thing that Israel can do for the United States in its time of befuddlement is pursue its own interests, for American and Israeli security concerns have one overriding commonality: the need to prevent rogue states in the region from acquiring nuclear weapons. In the the present test of wills between Washington and Jerusalem, the smart money is on David rather than Goliath.

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman, senior editor at First Things (


Posted on 03/15/2010 10:46 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 15 March 2010
Moshe Arens In Ha'aretz: Israel Has No Need To Beg Forgiveness

So sorry! Very sorry! Very, very sorry! We apologize! This will never happen again! The prime minister, cabinet members and senior bureaucrats repeated this over and over again last week in an attempt to set right what seemed to them to have been a major blunder, one they thought had spoiled what should have been a dramatic goodwill visit by the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have been humming "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood," while he sat waiting for the arrival of Biden, who vented his anger over what he considered an insult by being deliberately late for dinner.

The government's critics in the media had a field day. According to them the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee to approve plans for putting up additional houses in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, just as Biden was arriving in the country, was ruining relations between the United States and Israel and causing irreparable damage to strategic cooperation between the two countries. Listening to them, one might have thought that if some years from now historians try to determine why the U.S. administration did not take any effective action to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, they will find that the responsibility lay on the shoulders of a minor Israeli civil servant who set the agenda of a local planning committee for that fateful day.

Since it was well known in Washington that the Netanyahu government had not frozen building activity in Jerusalem, and that therefore not only construction there was continuing but also the routine planning activities that precede construction, the blame was now being put on the "timing." Presumably, if the planning committee had held its session a few days before Biden's arrival there would not have been a problem. Or, had it met a few days after Biden's departure and he left here under the impression that planning activities had been suspended in Jerusalem, only to find out differently on his arrival in Washington, there would have been nothing to get excited about.

"Timing" is important when investing in the stock market, but it is of little relevance here. There is no substitute for the truth when dealing with friends and allies. And the truth in this case is that while the Israeli government has frozen construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months, there has been no such freeze in any part of Jerusalem, and certainly no holdup of planning procedures. There was no need for all this groveling by Israeli spokesmen. On the subject of Jerusalem, the government of Israel and the administration in Washington simply disagree.

Throughout the U.S.-Israeli relationship there have been disagreements on certain issues. They are inevitable, even among the best of friends. But generally, the disagreements have not been taken public, but have been discussed in confidential exchanges between representatives of the two governments. U.S. President Barack Obama, however, has taken a new approach, which he signaled at his speech last June in Cairo, where he publicly called on Israel to stop settlement activity.

The rationale of this approach was presumably to accelerate the negotiations between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But what the Americans must be finding out to their chagrin is that this approach is actually making it more difficult, if not impossible, for Abbas to come to the negotiating table. Whereas in the past he negotiated with Israel while settlement activity continued, without setting prior conditions, Obama's Cairo speech left Abbas no choice but to demand the cessation of settlement activity in Judea and Samaria as a condition for entering negotiations. After all, he cannot be less Palestinian than Obama.

Now, after the statements made by Biden in Israel, followed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's public rebuke of Netanyahu, he will demand the cessation of construction in Jerusalem, and possibly even the freezing of all planning activity regarding future construction as a condition for beginning negotiations with Israel. As the saying goes, "why make it difficult, when with a little effort you can make it impossible?" This is hardly the way to advance the peace process

Posted on 03/15/2010 10:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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