Sunday, May 31, 2015

Please Welcome Vocal International

Michael L.


Vocal International is a recently created non-partisan news magazine out of Brussels, Belgium wherein the editors offered me a monthly column.
Vocal International a non-partisan, European monthly magazine, provides first-rate coverage and analysis of the pressing political issues in Europe and within its neigborhood. With contributors and columnists spanning the higher echelons of politics, business, governance, media, law and academia, Vocal International is an indispensable read for anyone to understand what matters for Europe. The magazine’s editorial is strengthened by its coverage of subjects and views rarely found in the European media.
My first piece is published today, June 1, and is entitled, An Aggressive Alliance; risk for the Region and the West? 

If that does not sound like one of my titles it is because it isn't.

The piece is currently on the front page and within the "special reports" section.

It is a brief meditation on the meaning of the alleged recent pact between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in opposition to Assad in Syria and the potential consequences.

I am looking forward to exploring this new venue because it looks sharp.

I very much hope that you guys drop in.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sunday Column for the Elder

Screen ShotThe old and wise Elder of Ziyon generally publishes my bits and pieces at 11 AM EST, Sunday mornings.

My thing tomorrow is entitled, A Few Thoughts for the pro-Israel Left... which, needless to say, they have been hankering to get out of me for years, now.

Here is a tid-bit:
My conclusion was not, as it is sometimes claimed, that the western-left is crawling with veiled anti-Semites who use the "Palestinians," and sometimes even the Holocaust, as a club with which to beat up on the Jews of the Middle East and their diaspora supporters.

On the contrary.  In my experience, a majority of left-leaning westerners are most certainly not anti-Semitic.  However, after decades of rolling around in the sour and ahistorical muck of the so-called "Palestinian Narrative" they have come to look upon the Palestinian-Arabs as the quintessential victims.  Having won the Grand Sweepstakes of Victimhood, the Palesinian-Arabs represent victimhood lifted skyward to an iconic status.  Look up the word "victim" in the proverbial dictionary and find the grinning visage of a keffiyeh-draped Yassir Arafat leering back at you.

News Flash! Australian Greens Are Out Of The Closet!


As if we already didn't know.

Officially racist, upfront, proud and letting it all hang out.

I guess it just got too embarrassing to keep on pretending  it was a secret when the whole office knew all along anyway.

Check this out.

From Greens Party Aligned Independent News Site New Matilda

If you're not reading New Matilda then you can't really call yourself a Green. You may as well give back the card.
New Greens Boss Richard Di Natale Forced to Clarify Israel Stance 
By Max Chalmers

In an apparent misunderstanding, the Greens' new leader aligned himself with Israel’s right wing Prime Minister. Members were not impressed. Max Chalmers reports.

New Greens leader Richard Di Natale has been forced to clarify his position on Israel and Palestine after apparently accidentally aligning his party with right wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a widely shared article in the Australian Jewish News, Di Natale was reported as saying that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Despite running under the title “Di Natale in his own words”, the Senator’s office today told New Matilda that the article’s opening line was not an accurate reflection of the Senator’s views.

“He had no intention for his comments to be interpreted as support for establishment of a “Jewish state”. It’s not a phrase that he used,” a spokesperson said.

According to his office, Di Natale simply agreed to a question put to him by journalist Gareth Narunsky, apparently missing the distinction being made.
Do read on at that link.

Here is the core of the "clarification".
Consistent with Greens policy, I have always supported a peaceful, two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict that upholds the legitimate rights and aspirations of both the Palestinian and Israeli people to live in peace and security in their own independent, sovereign states. My comments in the AJN piece were intended to reflect that view and that view alone. I have never believed that the establishment of a ‘Jewish state’ (as opposed to an ‘Israeli state’) is conducive to this outcome and I absolutely do not support that goal
It's about time they were told. More importantly, so do the people who vote for them.

There's nothing at stake except Australia and the planet.

 It must be understand exactly what this party is proposing to give away and why the ideology that drives this mad policy is a threat to human kind and the environment that exceeds global warming by an order of magnitude that would take a room full of scientists, lawyers, historians, moralists and geopolitical experts a semester to calculate and that's if you weeded out the mad lefties who are most of the problem.

Yet it is a core policy.

It is their only foreign policy except for something about the impact on whales of radar on US submarines and stuff about Japan on the same subject.

It was like dragging a rotten tooth out with a pair of pliers without an anesthetic but there is the filthy bloody thing in the bowl for all to see.

Never mind Gay marriage. Forget CSG. Sydney airport is so far off the radar you would need a Geiger counter and search light to find it. What the Greens are proposing should be done to Israel to fix the Middle East should be the number one election issue concerning this party.

It affects us all. More than you might care to think about. It affects us more than the Israelis who have shown time and again they know how to look after themselves even if some times it's a close and bloody call.

This was not the first reaction but close to it.:

The Greens like to keep their conferences secret. No media. No attention.

Last time, the Zionist Conspiracy managed to smuggle in a camera.

Here for the first time is film of the Greens in conference.

This time we are ready for you. Trust me with this.

To be cross posted at the usual places.

Friday, May 29, 2015

heller catch22

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.

"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.”

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.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Zionist Organization of America Has Some Words

Michael L.

I very much wish that Barack Obama would stop donning the kippa and lecturing Jews about how "Jewish values" dictate that the Jewish people must fork over the heart of the tiny Jewish homeland to people who want to use it as a launching pad for war.

I make no claims about Obama's intentions, however, which I am sure he believes are of the highest moral caliber.

In the Times of Israel we read this:
Obama drew lines between his pursuit of equality of opportunity in America and his support for Israel and for combatting anti-Semitism, adding that “the rights of the Jewish people compel me to think about the rights of a Palestinian child in Ramallah who feels trapped without opportunity.”

“That’s what Jewish values teach me,” he said. 
Before a prominent Washington, DC synagogue Barack Obama cited "Jewish values" as a reason to compel Jews to support his Arab-Israel policies.

I just find it odd.  Other peoples have values, too.  Does Obama ever suggest that Russians should align themselves with his foreign policy priorities as a matter of staying true to Russian values?

Does Obama ever suggest that the Japanese - with an exceedingly long and honorable ethical tradition grounded in Mahayana Buddhism - should align themselves with his foreign policy priorities as a matter of staying true to Buddhist values?

As someone with a profound love and appreciation for Islam, does he ever lecture any of the Islamic peoples that Islamic values suggest that they should do what he wants?

I don't think so.

This honor is reserved for the Jewish people.

You tell me why.

In any case, this is what Mort Klein has to say and he does not seem happy.
ZOA: Obama Again Tries To Pull The Wool Over Pro-Israel, Anti-Nuclear-Iran Eyes in Synagogue Speech

May 22, 2015 -- Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein released the following statement: 
In a speech today at Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, D.C., President Obama voiced his usual empty flowery platitudes about having Israel's back and never allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and even asserted that he was "an honorary member of the tribe" - while promoting policies that place a knife squarely in Israel's back, and lying about his record and the Iran nuclear deal.  
The President's platitudes were clearly meaningless:  In the next breath during his speech, Obama complained about Jewish "settlements" - which are in reality Jewish communities in historic Jewish land comprising less than 2% of Judea and Samaria, and promoted a Palestinian state - while ignoring the facts that the Palestinian Authority (PA) continues to promote anti-Jewish hatred in their schools, media and speeches, and that the PA is part and parcel of a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas, and that both the Hamas and PA President Abbas' Fatah party's charters call for Israel's destruction.   President Obama also ignored the fact that the PA is attempting to use the UN to establish a unilateral state that does not recognize Israel, refuses to negotiate with Israel, and is determined to wipe Israel off the face of the map.  President Obama also said nothing about the PA paying pensions to terrorists who have killed Jews. 
The President also referred to Judea and Samaria as Arab land in his speech - when the Jewish people have the greatest historical, political, religious and legal right to these areas.  After all, we are called Jews because we are from Judea. 
The President also made the nonsensical statement:  "The rights of the Jewish people then compel me to think about a Palestinian child in Ramallah that feels trapped without opportunity."  This is absurd in light of the fact that Israel has given away all of Gaza and almost half of Judea and Samaria, where the Palestinian Arabs run their own lives other than sharing security:  the Arabs have their own Parliament, schools, textbooks, newspapers, radio and TV stations, businesses and police force.  
President Obama's pretense that he has Israel's back has been proven to be false time and again.  The Obama administration promoted Hamas's one-sided demands for a cease fire during the Hamas war last summer which would have left Hamas's terror tunnels intact; stopped rearming Israel during the war; stopped flights to Israel; declassified and revealed Israel's nuclear secrets; leaked Israeli plans to destroy Iran's nuclear weapons; and has repeatedly sought to decrease funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense program, to name a few. 
President Obama's assertions about Iran in his speech were also belied by the facts.  For instance, Obama claimed that the deal with Iran has "already halted or rolled back parts of Iran's nuclear program."  In fact, Iran has dismantled no part of its nuclear program.  Instead, Iran has continued to enrich uranium, continued to develop advanced centrifuges and inter-continental ballistic missiles which can reach the United States, has maintained its Fordow and Arak nuclear plants, and has received tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief.  
In addition, the President has never once criticized Iran for repeatedly calling for Death to America and Death to Israel - in this speech or in any other.  
The President also claimed to be interested in "a deal that imposes unprecedented inspections on all elements of Iran's nuclear program, so that they can't cheat."  The President failed to mention that Iran's leaders have insisted and reiterated again this week that Iran will forbid inspections of its military facilities (the most likely location for nuclear weapons), forbid its nuclear scientists from speaking with nuclear inspectors, and require 24 days from the time a suspected violation is reported before an inspection can occur - which gives Iran the time to move nuclear material and weapons to a new undisclosed location. 
President Obama also promoted the myth of "snap back sanctions" when country after country and expert after expert says that this will not occur, and is indeed impossible, given the fact that it takes years to put sanctions into place.  Just last week, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin flatly rejected the Obama administration's claims that sanctions on Iran would be restored immediately if Iran violates the terms of the agreement. 
The President also falsely claimed during his speech he wants a full discussion about how to stop Iran.  Yet, he lobbied Congress incessantly to "disinvite" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking to Congress about the very same subject - how to stop Iran.  Obama also twisted Democrats' arms to not attend PM Netanyahu's speech, and fought against Congress having any say on the Iran deal.  The Obama administration also adamantly refused to treat the Iran deal as a treaty - which would require approval of two thirds of the Senate - despite the fact that virtually every past nuclear deal has been deemed a treaty. 
The President's refusal to require an Iranian commitment to end terrorism against Israel and America as a pre-requisite for sanctions relief, or as any part of the Iran deal, further confirms the reality that President Obama does not have Israel's back - or America's back - no matter what bromides he might utter at a Washington synagogue.  The President has even mocked those who sought to link an Iran deal to an end of Iranian terror.

My Sunday Column for the Elder

Michael L.

My piece tomorrow for the Elder is entitled, Tikkun Olam and the First Jewish President.

Here is a tid-bit:
kippaWhatever 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.

{FYI, the Elder publishes my pieces at 8 AM Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, but he says, due to the forthcoming holiday of Shavuot, that he will not be blogging until some time on Monday.  It is possible, therefore, that my piece may get postponed to a slightly later date.}

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Letter From Israel

Oh dear...

This has been a moderately horrible year for me; one of accidents and incidents (thanks, Paul) and not much fun. Not quite as bad as the annus horribilis suffered by Queen Elizabeth and Buckingham Palace—not to mention Princess Diana—but close. 

Last August, almost on my way home from Australia, I fell.  I never was far from being a total klutzit but this time it was serious:  Two ruptured discs, a dislocated shoulder and a partridge in a pear tree.  Couldn’t write, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t even imagine a pain-free existence.  And arriving home just before the High Holydays was a hoot.  Every medical request was answered with the same phrase:  After the holidays.  It was almost a month before someone would say Let’s see…can you come in on November 28th?

Socialised medicine is great.  Costs a farthing; without the profit motive people are happy to help but holy cow it took a long time to find the guy who does the best acupuncture (it worked); receive an appointment with the physiotherapist (she helped) and try to get back to normal.  And here I am.

Politically, we’re on the edge of a precipice and everyone knows it.  Bibi made his Likudniks sign a paper saying they wouldn’t vote against him.  Is this democracy?  I don’t think so. 

Avigdor Lieberman is turning out to be the wild man of the bunch, waiting until the end to be assigned his role in the new government and then saying No thanks.  I just love that—he could have continued as Foreign Minister, become the Finance Minister or just about anything he fancied but he has other plans.  Don’t know what they are but I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering about the man who pulled off the biggest kick-in-the-butt that Bibi has ever experienced—and the sound of sniggering was heard throughout the land.   

A recent article in Haaretz proclaimed that Arieh Deri is the only dove in the new government.  That’s nice.  But will he keep his hands out of the till?  There are countries which prohibit people who have 'done time' from taking government posts.  I wonder why Israel doesn’t have that law…

I also wonder why people pick on the New Israel Fund.  I worked with them years ago and found them upright, forthright and so on.  Perhaps it was just early days in Israel when I couldn’t identify right from left if I tried; maybe they’ve changed their operating philosophy ere since.  Happens.  Actually, it wouldn’t have mattered if they were flaming Communists (peace, Americans)—my job was to write grant proposals and obtain funding for a brand-new school for gifted students.  It worked.

Updates to follow. 

How to advocate for Israel

Sar Shalom

A recurring feature at IsraellyCool is a guide to hasbara featuring a different mistake pro-Israel advocates make each Tuesday. In that vein, I would like to suggest my own principle for how to advocate on behalf of Israel.

Restrict your arguments for Israel, to those which demonstrate support for Israel as flowing from broad principles that your interlocutors claim to uphold. Do not present any arguments suggesting that an exception to those principles should be made for Israel.

First is the category of argument claiming that Israel deserves support because an exception should be made to broader principles. The most significant argument in this category is the covenant between God and Abraham. Consider what it would mean to make a general principle for this argument. It would mean that any people who claims that their deity made a promise to their ancestor(s) would have carte blanche to do as they please to its neighbors. Is this a principle you would support? I didn't think so. Therefore, the only way this argument could have any effect is if it convinces the listener that whatever his principles, the Jewish God's promise thousands of years ago should take precedence.

Now for a few arguments that marshal broader principles into support for Israel.

Indigenity. One of the principles often cited against Israel is "indigenous rights" with the claim that the Palestinians while the Jews are not and thus Palestinian rights must be respected. The counterargument would be that indigenous rights are meaningless without a definition of indigenity such as the Martinez-Cobo criteria. People are free to have their own definition of indigenity that applies to all claims of indigenity, however, anyone insisting on an alternative to Martinez-Cobo can be challenged on the grounds of where else that alternative is accepted. From this argument, unless one believes that conquerors can become indigenous, one would have to accept the Jews of Israel as indigenous and that indigenous rights apply to the Jews.

Legality of the "settlements." There are two issues involved in this one. One is how far does Israel's right to possess land beyond the 1949 Armistice Line extend, the other is what right Israel has to settle land that is not recognized as permanently Israel. As to what rights to the land go to whom, the notion that Israel's land rights should be limited stems from the principle stated in UNSC 242 about the inadmissibility of acquiring land through war. The problem with that notion is that the application of it to say that the full plot of land past the Armistice Line thus "belongs" to the Palestinians effectively confers its blessing on Jordan's acquisition of territory through war back in 1949. This does not mean that there are no grounds for the Palestinians to achieve autonomy or even sovereignty on some part of that land, however, if you believe that acquiring territory through war is inadmissible, you have to admit that a foreign army's conquest of the land 66 years ago does not confer an automatic right. Regarding settling the land before it is internationally recognized as part of Israel, the principle should be that civilian settlements are either legal for all occupying powers or illegal for all occupying powers. There has not been a single ruling from any international entity that civilian settlements occupied territories are illegal when done by any power other than Israel.

Civilian casualties and terror. The principle of just war is that there are certain provocations that constitute a legitimate casus belli. Without getting into what cases belli are legitimate in the conflict, when there is a legitimate casus belli, action is permitted to impede the ability of the offender to commit the provocation. Any action taken solely to impose a human cost for the provocation, such as one directed at individuals who are innocent of the provocation or so untargeted as to have a greater likelihood of hitting an innocent target than on responsible for the offense, is an act of terror. However, action directed at those perpetrating the provocation is not an act of terror. When such an action ensnares innocent victims, it is possible for that action to be lawful or unlawful depending on the circumstances, but in either case it is not terror. You can summarise this as, it doesn't matter whether the innocents killed are Muslim, Christian or Jewish and it doesn't matter whether those killing them are Muslim, Christian or Jewish, if the innocents are the ones targeted or there is no targeting, it is terror, if they are not targeted, it is not terror.

There are a slew of other issues where such reasons could be applied. The important thing is whatever reason is invoked to defend Israel must be one you would allow to be used for any other group in relevant circumstances and preferably one which would demonstrate that whatever reason is invoked on behalf of the Palestinians would not be invoked on behalf of anyone else.

Profound Differences

Michael L.

flagMost American political analysts concerned with the Middle East would probably say that I am a right-winger.

How I suddenly became a right-winger is a mystery to me, particularly given the fact that most American political analysts concerned with domestic politics would consider me a man of the left.

It has something to do with the fact that I objected - strongly and in public - to left-leaning support for anti-Semitic anti-Zionism within venues allied with the Democratic Party.

Volleyboy1 is someone that I have known for years.

He is an intelligent guy and I respect him, although we have significant criticisms of one another.

It is not everyone who would have the courage to come onto what he must consider hostile territory and speak the truth as he understands it.

This is VB's initial criticism:
How can one call themselves a Liberal and yet actively support (through voting and advocacy) "Conservative" political forces that enforce entirely non liberal solutions to issues when they make policy. Not only that, but that those forces that are not Liberal are not ever criticized or mentioned when often times they engage in similar behaviors. 
This is his follow-up:
One of my biggest criticisms for instance of the Useful Idiot, is that he calls himself "Pro-Israel" yet all he does is criticize Israel and engage with anti-Semites. YET how can one be "Pro-Israel" when one does not contextualize and balance criticism or point out what the other side is doing. In David Harris Gershon's case, all he does is provide fodder for anti--Semites and anti-Zionists.
I like this criticism because it is honest and straight-forward.

It is a fair question.

How can one consider oneself liberal, in the contemporary American sense of that word, while abandoning liberal political venues and actually voting for a Republican?  That is an entirely fair question and I did, in fact, vote for Mitt Romney in the last American presidential election.

Romney is the one and only Republican that I have voted for in the past, but he may not very well be the last.  I am considering voting for other Republicans, but they have not yet made the sale.

In order to answer VB's question we need to separate American domestic policy from its foreign policy.  The world is getting smaller and smaller and I therefore, now, take foreign policy to be at least as important as domestic policy.

In truth, I am far more concerned about Obama allowing a Iranian bomb than I am about the possibility that Evangelicals will take over the American government and overturn Roe v. Wade.  That is, I am far more concerned about American foreign policy, at this moment in time, than I am about American domestic policy.

The Islamic State recently captured Ramadi, Iraq, about 75 miles outside of Baghdad.

The Jewish people in the Middle East remain a tough-minded and self-defended minority in that part of the world, but they remain a people under siege from Arabs within their own borders, Arabs and Muslims from without, and European alleged "liberals" who turn a blind eye to ISIS while continually castigating Israel.

Given the pressure that our Israeli friends and relatives are under, I think that it is imperative that we stand with our friends.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Iraq War Recriminations

Sar Shalom

Of late, there has been much hand-wringing over statements by various Republican presidential candidates as to whether or not George W. Bush's war in Iraq was a mistake. Without addressing whether or not the war was inherently a mistake, the focus on that issue by those excoriating the various candidates defending the war sidesteps the issue of how the war was fought.

Discussing the merits of alternate ways of fighting the Iraq War is about more than being able to say that the war might not have turned out so bad if only it had been fought more smartly, though I am of the opinion that that is the case. It is also a matter of drawing the correct lessons from the war, lessons with consequences for how we approach the conflicts presented to us today that cannot be avoided.

Saying that the Iraq War was irredeemably a mistake and that no alternative approach to it would have changed that is saying that how the war was fought is irrelevant. If how the war was fought was irrelevant, then all that matters in war in general is whether or not to fight, and if so, how much force to bear. If that is the case, then all that matters in the conflict with Isis is bringing enough force to bear. If all that matters in fighting Isis is applying enough force, then there is no reason not to outsource the application of that force to Iran.

However, if your lessons from the Iraq War have to do with how it was fought, rather than the simple fact that it was fought, then one clear lesson is to avoid aligning yourself with those who pit one part of the population against another. In this regard, Iranian-aligned government of Iraq clearly pits Shia Iraqis against Sunni Iraqis, giving the latter no reason to support the overall state. A result of this is that the Sunni sections Iraq have become fertile ground for Isis takeover because while the locals might detest Isis, they detest the Iranian-aligned national government even more. The result is that while the Iranians might be able to remove Isis from a stronghold here and there tactically, they cannot remove the root cause of those strongholds' receptiveness to Isis because they are the root cause of those strongholds' receptiveness.

This brings up the entire justification for Obama's engagement with Iran. Obama claims that we need to go easy with Iran on nuclear negotiations and their sponsorship of instability across the world because we need their help against Isis. However, if Iran is part of the problem in terms of making the region hospitable to Isis, then there is no reason to include Iran in the coalition against Isis, let alone yield so ground in negotiations in order to procure that inclusion.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Tomorrow's Column for the Elder

Michael L.

Tomorrow's piece is entitled, A Surprise Encounter of a Palestinian Kind, and is the most personal piece that I have published at the Elder's place.

Here is a tid-bit:

tennesseeSo, there we were in the middle-of-nowhere Tennessee, right on the border of Alabama, just about a week ago.  It was nothing but trees and lakes and dilapidated barns and bar-b-que joints.  I was there because my wife has a Deep South wing of the family that we were visiting on vacation.  My only thought was to get some of that good southern cooking and hopefully a few bass.  This was the very last place on the planet that I would expect to run into a Palestinian-Arab, but I did.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Happy Nakba Day!

Michael L.

jump for joy I love Nakba Day.

I understand that that many Arabs are not happy about the fact that the Jewish people escaped from the Islamic system that we call dhimmitude after thirteen centuries of second and third-class non-citizenship under Arab-Muslim imperial rule... but I could hardly be more pleased.

The Muslim Brotherhood is unhappy with Jewish liberation from Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

Hamas is unhappy with Jewish liberation from Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

The Islamic State is unhappy with Jewish liberation from Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

Islamic Jihad is unhappy with Jewish liberation from Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

Boko Haram is unhappy with Jewish liberation from Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

Speaking for myself, I could not be happier or more satisfied in the rightness and justice of the failure of Islamic rule over the Jews.

Nakba Day is one of my favorite holidays, but my favorite holidays are generally concerned with issues of liberation.  I love Thanksgiving, for example, because it represents the roots of the United States and, thus, the liberation of millions of people from European authoritarianism and monarchy.  I love Passover for much the same reason.  It represents the freedom of the Jewish people from persecution by non-Jews, which is why we drink our wine in a lounging position.

Slaves do not get to lounge.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in the United States serves much the same purpose for African-Americans.  It represents their ongoing efforts over centuries to free themselves first from slavery and then from Jim Crow and finally from de facto racism.

It is all about liberalism and freedom.

But Nakba Day is really something special.

It is the day that the Palestinian-Arab losers in their war against the Jews get to whine at one another - and everyone else - just how unfair it is that the Jews succeeded in freeing ourselves from their bigotry and persecution and domination over thirteen centuries since that Muhammad fellow started chopping off Jewish heads.

I think that we make a mistake when we merely leave it to the Palestinian-Arabs to celebrate the defeat of their aggression against us.

I think that we should embrace Nakba Day as a Jewish day of celebration, as well.

Our Arab brothers and sisters should not celebrate alone.  We should join them.

The question is, what form should Nakba Day take for the Jewish people?  I am thinking of a celebration along the lines of New Years Eve.  Lots of partying and fireworks and singing of joyous songs among friends.

What do you think?

Unfortunately, I will be on a plane heading home tomorrow and will miss out on most of the festivities.

I very much hope that you guys enjoy yourself and if you have any suggestions for how Nakba Day should be celebrated by Jews, please share.

Maybe by this time next year we can agree on the rituals of the holiday.

Perhaps falafel can be part of the traditional food-stuffs of Nakba Day for the Jewish people.

Peace to you, please, my friends.

Good friends and great friends

Sar Shalom

In the controversy over Pamela Geller, much has been made about Geller's pro-Israel bona fides and her willingness to call a spade a spade when it comes to Islamic radicalism. It is true that Geller is a good friend of Israel. However, I doubt that she is a great friend of Israel. To understand why, one would need to know the difference between a good friend of Israel and a great friend.

A good friend of Israel is someone who supports Israel in any conceivable circumstance. This characterizes Pamela Geller, George W. Bush, and most of the Republican candidates from president.

A great friend of Israel is someone who induces others to support Israel. A prime example of inducing others to support Israel is Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel which led Kasim Hafeez to turn 180 degrees from instigating on behalf the Palestinians and Jew-hatred to full-fledged support for Israel.

This is a difficult measure to apply. In assessing someone's support for Israel, one only needs to read what they write for varying situations. However, to directly assess how someone affects others' support for Israel, one needs to survey people's changes in opinions about Israel and identify what information influenced their opinions. In this sense, the example of Kasim Hafeez provides a clear case of one individual's writings inducing support for Israel because Hafeez repeatedly says that it was reading Dershowitz that convinced him that everything he had been taught about Israel and Jews was a pack of lies.

However, there are some principles to apply in order to make an indirect assessment of one's inducement of support for Israel. The first principle is to realize that what makes Israel-supporters feel good about their support for Israel would not necessarily make Israel-opponents feel uncomfortable about their opposition to Israel or even be convincing to fence-sitters. An example of words providing the former but not the latter is when Bush declared, "[Ariel] Sharon is a man of peace." For a supporter of Israel, that is a heartening sentiment, however, for any non-supporter of Israel whose source of news about the Middle East was a constant drumbeat about how Sharon was a war-monger, the only information gleaned from that statement was the Bush was out of touch.

What's needed instead is to provide incontrovertible facts. In this department, anything about Hamas would not qualify because its relevance would depend on Hamas' platform being applicable to Palestinian society more broadly, which however accurate it may be is not an incontrovertible fact. What is incontrovertible is the fact that the Palestinian Authority is engaged in an anti-normalization crusade directed at ordinary Palestinians who meet with Israeli Jews for any purpose other than "resistance." Combine this with the principle that does not require any partiality in the conflict that peace requires good will between the peoples, and you have something that may convince people. Such a line of argument may not succeed, but continuing the current line of argument, in the hopes that repeating it often enough from enough sources would convince the as-yet unconvinced, would be like Westmoreland saying that air raids had killed many Viet Cong (along with many innocent South Vietnamese), but have not the Viet Cong so what's needed is more air raids and more sweeps in order to kill a larger number of Viet Cong which would do the trick in subduing the Viet Cong.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pope Francis Recognizes anti-Semitic Genocidal Organizations

Michael L.


The Pope has recognized the PLO and the Palestinian Authority and Fatah and their various sub-organizations as equal to Israel in legitimacy.

This is a significant turning point and will require strength in response.

My expectation is that Israel will equivocate and knuckle-under because our numbers are too small and our supporters are too weak.

Western-left Jews will do or say almost nothing, because, for the most part, they're too "chicken-shit" to challenge Arab and European defamation of the Jewish State or of the Jewish people.

The reason for this is because they tend to believe that Arabs and Israel-Haters have a good point.

This is because they came to accept the Arab victim-hood narrative and because they still want to kiss the feet of their progressive-left friends and because they absolutely loathe right-leaning Jews who are strongly supportive of Israel.

The truth, however, is that the Jewish people are in the process of being run over by much larger forces because our primary source of integrity, Israel, is being hounded by much larger forces, including Europe, the United States (under this president), and, needless to say, the entire Muslim world.

To European Jews:  If you can go, you should go.  Europe is hostile territory and things seem to be getting worse.  There are only a few places on this planet where Jews, as a people, can live without significant hostility.  These places, for the moment, include North America and Australia.   They do not include Great Britain.

In the Middle East, of course, Obama and the West has given the signal to Arabs that it's Jew Killing Season.

They honestly think that 300 to 400 million Arabs have every right to go after 6 million Jews because they tell themselves that those Jews were mean to the "Palestinians."

To American Jews:  Your faith in Barack Obama was misguided from the start, as was mine.  One thing that differentiates you from your more thoughtful co-religionists is that some of us were not so ideologically blinkered as to fail to acknowledge that which is before our nose.  Now that the Pope has turned on Israel we can expect American Catholic support for the Jewish people to erode, with the full passive-aggressive support of the American President until, hopefully, the next election.

To Israeli Jews:  Declare the final borders of the State of Israel and defend yourself without apology.

Eliminate Hamas and point to their charter, which calls specifically for the genocide of the Jewish people on religious grounds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I am back next week

Michael L.


Terrible picture of me, but a terrific picture of a 30 pound striped bass.

This was a trophy fish in need of taxidermy fame... but I let it go.

This fish still swims in Tims Ford Lake in Tennessee outside of Lynchburg.

{Maybe you can catch it!}

By the way, the Jack Daniel tour is more interesting than you might think.

Our tour guide, Ron, was hysterical and pretty brilliant, actually.

And, if you know the American South, you can easily see how the man represents.

That guy is Lynchburg and the South in the best way... educated, laid-back, and hairy-scary.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bosch Fawstin: the winner of the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas

Michael Lumish


{With thanks to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer.}

These idiots gave their lives to prevent anyone from seeing this depiction of Muhammad.

Yet, there it is.

I wonder what percentage of their friends and relatives think that their sacrifice as shaheeds or šuhadā or martyrs was worth it.

Friday, May 8, 2015



This was a terrific film.

It is what I suppose one might call a morality play with an ambiguous ending.

Essentially it is the story of a young and talented drummer at an elite music conservatory and his relationship with a driven, but abusive instructor.

J. K. Simmons of Farmers Insurance fame plays the sadistic teacher and did, to my mind, an absolutely terrific job.

But, y'know, look at that face.


It takes a special kind of person to have a face like that, I think.

It's a face Walter Matthau would love.

Anyway, Laurie and I are off to the southland tomorrow, so I will be in and out.

And don't worry, VB, I have not forgotten you.

{Patience is a virtue.}

Besides, there are perfectly innocent Largemouth Bass in Tennessee starting to get nervous.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Traditional hierarchies and perceptions of the Middle East

Sar Shalom

In a blog post, Paul Krugman wrote about a unifying theory of what leads to broad spectrum of ideologies on both the right and the left. The theory he adopts is that the position one takes on any issue is generally determined by one's position on relating to traditional social hierarchies. If one believes in challenging traditional social hierarchies, that would lead to one set of policy positions, and a set of opposite positions would result from a belief in supporting traditional social hierarchies.

The examples Krugman offers are social insurance and social policy (gay marriage and the like). However, in principle, this could also apply to the Middle East. However, applying this principle to the Middle East would require first identifying what is meant by "traditional social hierarchy."

For much of the Left, there is only one "traditional social hierarchy" that matters in international relations, and that is of Europe dominating everyone else. Thus, if one views international relations through the lens of whether or not to support European world domination, a supporter would side with Israel while a challenger would side with the Palestinians. Hence, we see that much of the Right, which tends to support traditional hierarchies, sides with Israel while much of the Left, which challenges traditional hierarchies, sides with the Palestinians.

However, there are other traditional social hierarchies in play in international affairs. Within the Middle East, there is the region's internal traditional social hierarchy which placed believers at the top, Jews on the bottom, and Christians occupying a station any place in between. Viewing international relations through this lens, supporters of the Middle East's traditional hierarchy would side with the Palestinians while challengers of that hierarchy would side with Israel. Thus we see that right-wing racists like David Duke support the Palestinians while left-wingers with a perspective on Middle Eastern history like Paul Berman support Israel.

A further observation is that it is very difficult to oppose both traditional social hierarchies. Nearly any action taken to challenge Eurocentric hierarchy would have the effect of buttressing, in actuality if not by intent, the Middle East-centric hierarchy. This provides an explanations for an observation Elder of Ziyon made some time ago that leftist Israel-haters take great pains to emphasize that they have nothing against Jews while rightist Israel-haters are open about their Jew hatred. Support of the Middle East-centric hierarchy is inherently judeophobic. From the Left, hatred of Israel is not motivated supporting that hierarchy, even if their actions inevitably lend it a boost. In fact, anti-racism gets to the heart of their identity. Thus, they circle the wagons to defend their anti-racist self-image by asserting that their motives have nothing to do with the support to the Middle East-centric hierarchy that they invariably provide. In contrast, the right-wing supporters of the Middle East-centric hierarchy have no problem with the judeophobia that that hierarchy entails and thus have no need for the mental gymnastics to deny it.

Another example of which traditional hierarchy to select as one's lens comes from Peter Beinart. When he was promoting Crisis of Zionism, he said at interviews that the Zionist establishment was lecturing the younger generation that they should sacrifice liberalism on the altar of Zionism and discovered that their children had instead sacrificed Zionism on the altar of liberalism. This statement only makes sense through the lens of the Eurocentric hierarchy. The typical response to Beinart has been to emphasize everything that has happened in European Jewish history or the contributions that Israel has made to the world. For the likes of Beinart, this can all be summarized as saying that there should be an exception where the Eurocentric hierarchy should be tolerated.

However, we do not need to imprison ourselves in this lens. Viewed through the lens of the Middle East-centric hierarchy, there is nothing incompatible between Zionism and liberalism. However, view world affairs through this lens requires a greater scope of history than is required for the Eurocentric hierarchy. Thus, we need to teach history sufficiently to identify the pillars of the Middle East-centric hierarchy.

The Middle East is not the only region where the Eurocentric hierarchy is opposite the local-centric hierarchy. Indeed, in any non-western locale with an illiberal social hierarchy, challenging that hierarchy would be imposing Western values and thus establishing the Eurocentric hierarchy. Hence Ayaan Hirsi Ali who was a clear victim of the social hierarchy of her native Somalia is vilified by the Left because her escape from that culture exemplifies the triumph of European values of those of her native Somalia. Similarly, today's young Britons today question the authority of their country to outlaw sati in India on the grounds that they should not impose their values on other cultures.

This is Brilliance

Michael L.

This is beauty.

And I am so tired of looking into the face of hatred.

Am I wrong or was not Little Walter a genius?

I think that he was.

I will chime-in on these other weighty matters soon.

I guess... but I am still going fishing.

Consider this an open thread... or whatever you will.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Say Hello to the Devil

Michael L.

This piece is a retread from a Times of Israel thing that I did just about two years ago originally entitled, Pamela Geller: The Bête Noire of Progressive-Left Jewry.

Geller is a gadfly and a troublemaker, but she also happens to be correct and is unjustly slandered as a "racist" and a hateful human being.

The truth is that this woman stands against political Islam and thereby stands up for Jewish people, Christian people, Gay people, women, and liberalism.

She makes Maryscott O'Connor look like a right-wing fascist.

She should be honored, but she is maligned.


nakbaatlas2Anyone who follows the American Jewish press knows that gadfly Pamela Geller was recently disinvited to give a talk on the subject of Sharia at Great Neck Synagogue on Long Island.  The reason for this is because progressives constantly tell one another that Geller is a racist.  And if the progressive-left despises Geller as a racist, no one on the planet despises Geller more than progressive-left Jews.  Your average progressive Zionist, i.e., your average left-wing Jewish pro-Israel activist, despises Geller far more than he or she despises even the most genocidal of Israel’s enemies.  They quite literally loathe Geller more than they do Muhammed Morsi, who has compared Jews to apes and pigs, and they hate her more than Hamas which calls quite clearly for the genocide of the Jewish people.

How is this possible?  It’s possible, although still wrong-headed, for progressive-Zionists to despise Geller more than even Hamas because they believe, and constantly tell one another, that Geller is an “Islamophobe” that spreads hate speech toward Muslims.

David Wood has some words on the matter that I would recommend people give a listen to.

For myself, I have tended to be a rather reluctant supporter of Geller.

The reason that I find myself a reluctant supporter of Geller is because I am not so familiar with the body of her work that I know that her critics are entirely wrong.   What I do know for certain is that there is nothing the least bit racist or bigoted in the subway advertisements that her group, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, put up last year.


There is nothing racist or bigoted or “Islamophobic” about the sentiments in the above ad.  By “savage” she is not referring to Muslims, in general, but to those within the Muslim population who believe that they have a theological obligation to kill Jews and to spread an Islamic caliphate across the planet.  She is referring to the people who committed 9/11.  She is referring to the people who slaughtered the Fogel family and chopped the head off of their three month old baby daughter.  She is referring to those imams in the mosques throughout the Middle East who continually and perpetually call for the murder of the Jewish people wherever we may be found.

Excuse me, but are those people not savages?

Furthermore, when Geller says “Defeat Jihad” she is obviously not referring to the tradition within Islam that Jihad refers to the personal struggle for greater spirituality and relations with the deity.  She is not referring to the notion currently being spread in the United States, within a series of advertisments, that Jihad can refer to jogging or efforts at weight-loss.  Rather, she is referring to the the tradition within Islam that Jihad refers to Holy War – the kind with actual blood.  When the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad decided to name itself Islamic Jihad they were not thinking of prayer, nor the building of bridges through friendship, but of the blood of the infidels.

Ironically, and mister Wood points this out in the video linked to above, it is not Pam Geller who is the bigot, but her detractors who tend to be because they suggest, or imply, that violent Jihadis represent all Muslims.  If Geller calls out the violent Jihad, and her detractors claim that this is an insult to all of Islam, and therefore an insult to all Muslims, this can only mean that her detractors conflate Islam with the violent Jihad.

Now that truly is racist because it implies that Muslims, in general, are no better than the worst terrorists in Hamas, which is to suggest that Muslims are savages.

If Pamela Geller is a racist I have yet to see the evidence.  What I see is a much maligned woman standing up to the enemies of the Jewish people and to the enemies of the infidel west.  What I also see are a whole bunch of moral cowards who defame this woman even as they turn a blind eye to the rise of political Islam throughout the Muslim Middle East.

The rise of political Islam during the Obama administration may be the single most significant geo-political event in world history since the demise of the Soviet Union.  The Muslim Middle East is moving from a period of secular-authoritarian nationalism, as exemplified by people such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, to a period of rising theocratic-authoritarianism in the name of Islam.  This, it should be emphasized, is not an improvement.  On the contrary.  While Hosni Mubarack may have been a dictator he, at least, did not believe in some Allah-given right to slaughter Jews and he did not set himself up as an enemy of the United States and the west.

This is what the Muslim Brotherhood has done and it is precisely what Geller opposes.

Of course, it should be something that anyone who believes in secular democracy should oppose, but they don’t.  Mainstream media throughout the United States and Europe largely pussy-foot around political Islam despite the fact that it represents everything that the secular west allegedly opposes.  Devotees of political Islam (or “radical Islam” or “Islamism”) oppress women, hang Gay people from cranes, and promises the slaughter of the Jewish people and they do so in the name of Allah.

What’s not to like?

Ask Pamela Geller, she’ll have some words.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Texas Cop Kills Two Violent Islamists

Michael L.

They were upset over drawings.

This is one of those drawings.

Actually, the artist is lying to you.

That is Muhammad.

Magritte Pipe

Well, OK, not literally Muhammad.  If so, that would be a rather neat trick for a painter to perform.

From the article:
Authorities were investigating whether the shooting was a terrorist attack.
In the Age of Obama I am just happy that it even occurred to them.

The Obama administration does not actually believe in terrorism, merely random acts of something-or-other by no one in particular.
Two prominent Muslim imams in the Dallas area on Monday denounced the violence in Garland and called on community members "not to be baited" into anger by events like the "Muhammad Art Exhibit."

“As a Muslim community we need to acknowledge hate groups and not get baited,” said Imam Zia ul-Haque Sheikh, the leader of one of North Texas’ largest mosques. “They are trying to provoke the Muslims into doing something wrong.”
They simply do not get it.

No one is trying to provoke anyone.  There is a very long tradition among westerners for standing up for freedom of speech.  The reason that they draw Muhammad and not, say, Moses or Jesus, is because neither Jews nor Christians chop off heads when they feel insulted.