Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 5, 2009

Not the Right Time for Royalty?

The New Yorker joins in the Caroline Kennedy bashing with this:

She met with a couple of Times reporters recently and said “you know” a hundred and thirty-eight times. Speaking to the News, and on NY1, she broke two hundred. The effect, however, was not to suggest a shared world view but to recall what some commentators refer to as the “Roger Mudd moment”—a reference to the CBS correspondent who flummoxed Caroline’s uncle, Ted Kennedy, in 1979, with questions about his desire to run for President:

Ted: “Well, it’s—on what—on, you know, you have to come to grips with the different issues that we’re facing. I mean, we can—we’d have to deal with each of the various questions that we’re talking about.” Caroline, on Ted: “I mean, he loves the Senate. It’s been, you know, the most, you know, rewarding life for him, you know. I’m sure he would love it to feel like somebody that he cared about had that same kind of opportunity.”

Mudd, last week, reflected, “All Kennedys have always been hard interviews,” and added, “At least she didn’t use the word ‘like,’ did she?” (She did, but not nearly so noticeably.)

Well, it’s not like the Democrats have a merit problem, or concerns about whether the Senate is an exclusive club, right?

Let’s say the timing has been unfortunate for Caroline. Blago and the epidemic of Senate appointments have given birth to the “not very democratic for Democrats” storyline. And increased scrutiny of a number of cabinet appointments — Leon Panetta,  Bill Richardson and Eric Holder — has fueled the “we thought this was a meritocracy” carping. Sometimes the moment isn’t right, you know?

In any case, if a media creature like Caroline wants to run the least she can do is impress the media. And that she certainly hasn’t done.

The New Yorker joins in the Caroline Kennedy bashing with this:

She met with a couple of Times reporters recently and said “you know” a hundred and thirty-eight times. Speaking to the News, and on NY1, she broke two hundred. The effect, however, was not to suggest a shared world view but to recall what some commentators refer to as the “Roger Mudd moment”—a reference to the CBS correspondent who flummoxed Caroline’s uncle, Ted Kennedy, in 1979, with questions about his desire to run for President:

Ted: “Well, it’s—on what—on, you know, you have to come to grips with the different issues that we’re facing. I mean, we can—we’d have to deal with each of the various questions that we’re talking about.” Caroline, on Ted: “I mean, he loves the Senate. It’s been, you know, the most, you know, rewarding life for him, you know. I’m sure he would love it to feel like somebody that he cared about had that same kind of opportunity.”

Mudd, last week, reflected, “All Kennedys have always been hard interviews,” and added, “At least she didn’t use the word ‘like,’ did she?” (She did, but not nearly so noticeably.)

Well, it’s not like the Democrats have a merit problem, or concerns about whether the Senate is an exclusive club, right?

Let’s say the timing has been unfortunate for Caroline. Blago and the epidemic of Senate appointments have given birth to the “not very democratic for Democrats” storyline. And increased scrutiny of a number of cabinet appointments — Leon Panetta,  Bill Richardson and Eric Holder — has fueled the “we thought this was a meritocracy” carping. Sometimes the moment isn’t right, you know?

In any case, if a media creature like Caroline wants to run the least she can do is impress the media. And that she certainly hasn’t done.

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So Much for “the World”

Remember how Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Presidency was meant to stem the tide of anti-Americanism in the world? Well, he is not president yet, but Europe’s leftist commentariat is already losing patience with him. In today’s Guardian, Simon Tisdall has a silly article, warning Obama that he is already losing the battle of perceptions in the Muslim world by not taking a stance on the Gaza conflict:   “As the Gaza casualty headcount goes up and Obama keeps his head down, those sentiments are beginning to sound a little hollow. The danger is that when he finally peers over the parapet on January 21, the battle of perceptions may already be half-lost.”

Now there may be much to criticize in Barack Obama’s selectively applied “there is only one president at a time” silence.   But  what Simon Tisdall is saying goes beyond tactics and timing:

To maintain the hardline US posture of placing the blame for all current troubles squarely on Hamas, to the extent of repeatedly blocking limited UN security council ceasefire moves, would be to end all realistic hopes of winning back Arab opinion – and could have negative, knock-on consequences for US interests in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf. Yet if Obama were to take a tougher (some would say more balanced) line with Israel, for example by demanding a permanent end to its blockade of Gaza, or by opening a path to talks with Hamas, he risks provoking a rightwing backlash in Israel, giving encouragement to Israel’s enemies, and losing support at home for little political advantage.

Translated into common English, it means: if the U.S. continues to be manipulated by the evil Israel Lobby and Barack Obama does not operationalize the enlightened conclusions of the book named after said lobby, all decent Muslims in the world will turn their back on America, and that includes key regional allies. If he does, he’ll help Likud win Israel’s upcoming elections and lose support from the Jews in the U.S. (see above: THE LOBBY).

I am not sure how many American voters really bought into the campaign argument according to which Barack Obama’s election would improve America’s standing in the world. Those who did might wish to read Simon Tisdall’s piece as a warning: America can only win the world’s favor by ceasing to be America and embracing policies that do not serve its own national interests – an steep price tag, even for meeting the complex PR challenge of winning globalhearts and minds.

Remember how Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Presidency was meant to stem the tide of anti-Americanism in the world? Well, he is not president yet, but Europe’s leftist commentariat is already losing patience with him. In today’s Guardian, Simon Tisdall has a silly article, warning Obama that he is already losing the battle of perceptions in the Muslim world by not taking a stance on the Gaza conflict:   “As the Gaza casualty headcount goes up and Obama keeps his head down, those sentiments are beginning to sound a little hollow. The danger is that when he finally peers over the parapet on January 21, the battle of perceptions may already be half-lost.”

Now there may be much to criticize in Barack Obama’s selectively applied “there is only one president at a time” silence.   But  what Simon Tisdall is saying goes beyond tactics and timing:

To maintain the hardline US posture of placing the blame for all current troubles squarely on Hamas, to the extent of repeatedly blocking limited UN security council ceasefire moves, would be to end all realistic hopes of winning back Arab opinion – and could have negative, knock-on consequences for US interests in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf. Yet if Obama were to take a tougher (some would say more balanced) line with Israel, for example by demanding a permanent end to its blockade of Gaza, or by opening a path to talks with Hamas, he risks provoking a rightwing backlash in Israel, giving encouragement to Israel’s enemies, and losing support at home for little political advantage.

Translated into common English, it means: if the U.S. continues to be manipulated by the evil Israel Lobby and Barack Obama does not operationalize the enlightened conclusions of the book named after said lobby, all decent Muslims in the world will turn their back on America, and that includes key regional allies. If he does, he’ll help Likud win Israel’s upcoming elections and lose support from the Jews in the U.S. (see above: THE LOBBY).

I am not sure how many American voters really bought into the campaign argument according to which Barack Obama’s election would improve America’s standing in the world. Those who did might wish to read Simon Tisdall’s piece as a warning: America can only win the world’s favor by ceasing to be America and embracing policies that do not serve its own national interests – an steep price tag, even for meeting the complex PR challenge of winning globalhearts and minds.

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Hippies for Hamas

Title of a post at the Daily Kos:

Why Do I Find Israeli Troop Deaths Satisfying?

Read on to learn why. As Glenn Reynolds likes to say: they’re not anti-war, they’re just for the other side.

Title of a post at the Daily Kos:

Why Do I Find Israeli Troop Deaths Satisfying?

Read on to learn why. As Glenn Reynolds likes to say: they’re not anti-war, they’re just for the other side.

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Not Even the Clintons Would Have Tried This

President-elect Obama has made his first completely incomprehensible appointment: Leon Panetta for CIA Director. No, I’m serious. Clinton OMB Director and Chief of Staff to head a key intelligence agency. One can refer to him as an “experienced bureaucrat” (to be kind) or a “Clinton crony” (to be blunt). Granted, he is not an ideologue nor is he ethically challenged, as some of the other appointees. But he does not remotely approach the stature of the other national security team members, nor does he bring any particular expertise to this key role.

His Congressional career is devoid of any significant national security experience. And while he did serve on the Iraq Study Group ( so did Sandra Day O’Connor) that group’s recommendation — a slow-motion retreat from Iraq and rejection of a military option for victory — has been proven faulty.

The question looms:why him? A colleague directs me to a skeptical New York Times report which suggests the reasoning behind the pick:

President-elect Barack Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that Mr. Obama criticized during the campaign for using interrogation methods he decried as torture, Democratic officials said Monday. Mr. Panetta has a reputation in Washington as a competent manager with strong background in budget issues, but has little hands-on intelligence experience.

So if the criteria for the post are loyalty to the Democratic party and vocal criticism of the Bush administration, Panetta would become a more logical pick. But that hardly seems appropriate in these dangerous times. Now is not the the time for an entirely political appointment to a key national security position. On a day when Bill Richardson’s withdrawal is being chewed over you have to wonder what is going on with the Obama transition team. Really, Leon Panetta at CIA?

UPDATE: Two Democratic Senate Intelligence Committe veterans, Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, slam the Panetta pick. They apparently think we need an intelligence professional to run an intelligence agency. How whacky is that?

President-elect Obama has made his first completely incomprehensible appointment: Leon Panetta for CIA Director. No, I’m serious. Clinton OMB Director and Chief of Staff to head a key intelligence agency. One can refer to him as an “experienced bureaucrat” (to be kind) or a “Clinton crony” (to be blunt). Granted, he is not an ideologue nor is he ethically challenged, as some of the other appointees. But he does not remotely approach the stature of the other national security team members, nor does he bring any particular expertise to this key role.

His Congressional career is devoid of any significant national security experience. And while he did serve on the Iraq Study Group ( so did Sandra Day O’Connor) that group’s recommendation — a slow-motion retreat from Iraq and rejection of a military option for victory — has been proven faulty.

The question looms:why him? A colleague directs me to a skeptical New York Times report which suggests the reasoning behind the pick:

President-elect Barack Obama has selected Leon E. Panetta, the former congressman and White House chief of staff, to take over the Central Intelligence Agency, an organization that Mr. Obama criticized during the campaign for using interrogation methods he decried as torture, Democratic officials said Monday. Mr. Panetta has a reputation in Washington as a competent manager with strong background in budget issues, but has little hands-on intelligence experience.

So if the criteria for the post are loyalty to the Democratic party and vocal criticism of the Bush administration, Panetta would become a more logical pick. But that hardly seems appropriate in these dangerous times. Now is not the the time for an entirely political appointment to a key national security position. On a day when Bill Richardson’s withdrawal is being chewed over you have to wonder what is going on with the Obama transition team. Really, Leon Panetta at CIA?

UPDATE: Two Democratic Senate Intelligence Committe veterans, Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, slam the Panetta pick. They apparently think we need an intelligence professional to run an intelligence agency. How whacky is that?

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All The Rage

As Israel continues its systemic dismantling of Hamas’s implements of terror (missiles, rockets, and Hamas operatives), we are treated once again to the standard conventional wisdom: this will drive Hamas to new heights of fury, Israel is doing precisely what Hamas wants, and this will merely inflame the Arab street.

Let’s take a look at those charges.

1) This will drive Hamas to new heights of fury. Is this even possible? Hamas  is an avowed terrorist organization that has used suicide bombers, rockets, mortars, snipers, kidnapping, and torture. It has frequently turned those tactics against fellow Palestinians as well as against Israel. Can they get much more furious?

2) Israel is doing precisely what Hamas wants them to do. No, folks, that’s called “spin.”  Hamas is NOT going to come out and say “Israel is succesfully visiting upon us overwhelming punishment, achieving a good number of its aims and taking out our important leaders.” Just before the attacks, Hamas was crowing about Israel’s ineffectiveness and how they had paralyzed the Jewish state with their rocket attacks.

Quite frankly, Hamas’s stated opinion of Israel’s response is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how things play out in the aftermath. If Hamas is weakened to the point where further attacks are lessened or eliminated, and Hamas’s grip on power is eased or destroyed, then the operation will be a success for Israel. That is not how it will be spun, of course, but that’s the objective reality.

3)  This will merely inflame the Arab street. It very well might., but one has to ask, “so what?”

“Inflamed” is a good description of the Arab street as is. They were “inflamed” over the Mohammed cartoons, they were “inflamed” over the bogus “Koran in a toilet” story Newsweek peddled, they were “inflamed” over Theo Van Gogh’s film, they were “inflamed” over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, they were “inflamed” by a whole host of  things. One time I distinctly remember the Arab street being happy instead of “inflamed” was on 9/11, when we saw images of people rejoicing and literally dancing in the streets.  So it seems that “inflaming the Arab street” might be a good indicator that you’re doing something right.

So far Israel has seriously degraded Hamas’s weapons, leadership, and infrastructure and trisected the Gaza Strip in its drive to cripple the terrorist group. Hamas has lost hundreds of fighters and tremendous stockpiles of weapons. Its ability to wage war against Israel is seriously impaired. That is the only result Israel need note.

As Israel continues its systemic dismantling of Hamas’s implements of terror (missiles, rockets, and Hamas operatives), we are treated once again to the standard conventional wisdom: this will drive Hamas to new heights of fury, Israel is doing precisely what Hamas wants, and this will merely inflame the Arab street.

Let’s take a look at those charges.

1) This will drive Hamas to new heights of fury. Is this even possible? Hamas  is an avowed terrorist organization that has used suicide bombers, rockets, mortars, snipers, kidnapping, and torture. It has frequently turned those tactics against fellow Palestinians as well as against Israel. Can they get much more furious?

2) Israel is doing precisely what Hamas wants them to do. No, folks, that’s called “spin.”  Hamas is NOT going to come out and say “Israel is succesfully visiting upon us overwhelming punishment, achieving a good number of its aims and taking out our important leaders.” Just before the attacks, Hamas was crowing about Israel’s ineffectiveness and how they had paralyzed the Jewish state with their rocket attacks.

Quite frankly, Hamas’s stated opinion of Israel’s response is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is how things play out in the aftermath. If Hamas is weakened to the point where further attacks are lessened or eliminated, and Hamas’s grip on power is eased or destroyed, then the operation will be a success for Israel. That is not how it will be spun, of course, but that’s the objective reality.

3)  This will merely inflame the Arab street. It very well might., but one has to ask, “so what?”

“Inflamed” is a good description of the Arab street as is. They were “inflamed” over the Mohammed cartoons, they were “inflamed” over the bogus “Koran in a toilet” story Newsweek peddled, they were “inflamed” over Theo Van Gogh’s film, they were “inflamed” over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, they were “inflamed” by a whole host of  things. One time I distinctly remember the Arab street being happy instead of “inflamed” was on 9/11, when we saw images of people rejoicing and literally dancing in the streets.  So it seems that “inflaming the Arab street” might be a good indicator that you’re doing something right.

So far Israel has seriously degraded Hamas’s weapons, leadership, and infrastructure and trisected the Gaza Strip in its drive to cripple the terrorist group. Hamas has lost hundreds of fighters and tremendous stockpiles of weapons. Its ability to wage war against Israel is seriously impaired. That is the only result Israel need note.

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Commentary of the Day

Yisrael Medad, on Noah Pollak:

The element of “proportionality” is a false measurement for another reason. It is Hamas’ intention to eliminate Israel, no matter what Israel did to Hamas. Israel’s stated and practiced intention these past 3.5 years since disengagement was to let Hamas rule as long as no rockets were fired. Therefore, one must involve the mathematics of proportionality the intentions of the violence. For if Israel doesn’t respond harder and stronger and more powerful than Hamas, then Hamas will continue to be able to attempt the elimination of Israel and the death of as many of its Jewish citizens as they can. This is the real disproportionality most miss, and which, in the end, justifies Israel’s 100:1 actions.

Yisrael Medad, on Noah Pollak:

The element of “proportionality” is a false measurement for another reason. It is Hamas’ intention to eliminate Israel, no matter what Israel did to Hamas. Israel’s stated and practiced intention these past 3.5 years since disengagement was to let Hamas rule as long as no rockets were fired. Therefore, one must involve the mathematics of proportionality the intentions of the violence. For if Israel doesn’t respond harder and stronger and more powerful than Hamas, then Hamas will continue to be able to attempt the elimination of Israel and the death of as many of its Jewish citizens as they can. This is the real disproportionality most miss, and which, in the end, justifies Israel’s 100:1 actions.

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(Un)even-Handed on Israel

Predictably, once Israel decides to defend itself, the self-righteous call for an immediate ceasefire. From British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Pope. Of course, all statements strive to be even handed–Israel must stop, Hamas must stop.

The problem is that Israel started because Hamas would not stop and will not stop short of succumbing to force. That is the hard truth the West can never confront – that the way of Hamas, as is the case with all other Islamist organizations, is not one where dialogue and reasonableness can yield results.

Hamas has had over a year since it seized power in a blood stained coup in June 2007 to establish its authority and prove its credentials. That was enough time for the engagement theory to be tested – a theory which states that once in power, even hardcore ideologues like Hamas will bend their beliefs under the weight of reality and necessity. Clearly, Hamas’s choice to go to war with Israel when reason – and hardnosed realism – suggested to do the opposite should be enough to put the argument to rest and rally support for Israel’s actions. After all, Israel did all it could – and then some – to avoid this confrontation. It has tolerated months of intolerable rocket launches against its population in the South. It has supplied Gaza with food, medical supplies and electricity. It has appealed to the international community to help solve the crisis. It has relied on Egyptian mediation. It has offered hundreds of prisoners to Hamas in exchange for one captive, Gilad Shalit, to whom Hamas has denied the most elementary rights (which Israel grants Hamas prisoners under international law). What did it get in return? It got war.

The only logical course of action for Israel – as it would be for any other country under a similar threat – is to fight back. Calling for a ceasefire under the present conditions is nothing but a call for Israel to surrender to the blackmail of Hamas.

Predictably, once Israel decides to defend itself, the self-righteous call for an immediate ceasefire. From British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the Pope. Of course, all statements strive to be even handed–Israel must stop, Hamas must stop.

The problem is that Israel started because Hamas would not stop and will not stop short of succumbing to force. That is the hard truth the West can never confront – that the way of Hamas, as is the case with all other Islamist organizations, is not one where dialogue and reasonableness can yield results.

Hamas has had over a year since it seized power in a blood stained coup in June 2007 to establish its authority and prove its credentials. That was enough time for the engagement theory to be tested – a theory which states that once in power, even hardcore ideologues like Hamas will bend their beliefs under the weight of reality and necessity. Clearly, Hamas’s choice to go to war with Israel when reason – and hardnosed realism – suggested to do the opposite should be enough to put the argument to rest and rally support for Israel’s actions. After all, Israel did all it could – and then some – to avoid this confrontation. It has tolerated months of intolerable rocket launches against its population in the South. It has supplied Gaza with food, medical supplies and electricity. It has appealed to the international community to help solve the crisis. It has relied on Egyptian mediation. It has offered hundreds of prisoners to Hamas in exchange for one captive, Gilad Shalit, to whom Hamas has denied the most elementary rights (which Israel grants Hamas prisoners under international law). What did it get in return? It got war.

The only logical course of action for Israel – as it would be for any other country under a similar threat – is to fight back. Calling for a ceasefire under the present conditions is nothing but a call for Israel to surrender to the blackmail of Hamas.

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Recommendations from an Ex-Peace Processor

Writing in this week’s Newsweek, ex-peace processor Aaron David Miller says the Obama administration will have to be “much tougher than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were, if it’s serious about Arab-Israeli peacemaking.”

The article sets forth the standard peace-processor recommendations (push Israel to improve life in Gaza, stop settlement expansion on the West Bank), as well as the generic admonition that we should be “prepared to be tough with the Arabs as well.”  On that latter point, however, Miller has no specific suggestions to make.

The “peace process,” as it has existed over the last 15 years, has in fact depended on not being “tough” (much less tougher) on the Palestinian “peace partners.”  They always need to be “strengthened” with new concessions.  Their shaky “confidence” must continually be rebuilt, with new “confidence-building” measures.  They cannot be asked to affirm recognition of a Jewish state as a goal of the process – it would weaken them.  They cannot be asked to educate their public on the concessions (starting with the “right of return”) necessary for the process to succeed – ditto.  They cannot be held to the three-phase “performance-based” process to which they agreed:  if they don’t perform Phase I and II, they go to Phase III anyway.  If they cannot reach agreement, even on borders, even after a year-long process, even with the most pliant prime minister in Israeli history, they can rely on a peace processor to suggest the solution is to be tougher on Israel.

As the IDF continues its efforts to implement Phase I of the peace process in Gaza, by dismantling the terrorist organization that currently controls it, the most significant contribution the new administration can make to the process is to firmly support Israel in those efforts, to reiterate the commitments made by both the Clinton and Bush administrations to “defensible borders” for Israel, and to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in compliance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

Israel — having withdrawn every IDF soldier from Gaza, dismantled every settlement, and removed all 8,000 “obstacles to peace,” and having then seen the Palestinians immediately destroy the greenhouse economy, burn the buildings that could have been used for housing and schools, turn the settlement areas into rocket launching sites, elect their premier terrorist group to control their government, and force a new war on Israel — could stand to have its own confidence rebuilt too.

Writing in this week’s Newsweek, ex-peace processor Aaron David Miller says the Obama administration will have to be “much tougher than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were, if it’s serious about Arab-Israeli peacemaking.”

The article sets forth the standard peace-processor recommendations (push Israel to improve life in Gaza, stop settlement expansion on the West Bank), as well as the generic admonition that we should be “prepared to be tough with the Arabs as well.”  On that latter point, however, Miller has no specific suggestions to make.

The “peace process,” as it has existed over the last 15 years, has in fact depended on not being “tough” (much less tougher) on the Palestinian “peace partners.”  They always need to be “strengthened” with new concessions.  Their shaky “confidence” must continually be rebuilt, with new “confidence-building” measures.  They cannot be asked to affirm recognition of a Jewish state as a goal of the process – it would weaken them.  They cannot be asked to educate their public on the concessions (starting with the “right of return”) necessary for the process to succeed – ditto.  They cannot be held to the three-phase “performance-based” process to which they agreed:  if they don’t perform Phase I and II, they go to Phase III anyway.  If they cannot reach agreement, even on borders, even after a year-long process, even with the most pliant prime minister in Israeli history, they can rely on a peace processor to suggest the solution is to be tougher on Israel.

As the IDF continues its efforts to implement Phase I of the peace process in Gaza, by dismantling the terrorist organization that currently controls it, the most significant contribution the new administration can make to the process is to firmly support Israel in those efforts, to reiterate the commitments made by both the Clinton and Bush administrations to “defensible borders” for Israel, and to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in compliance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act.

Israel — having withdrawn every IDF soldier from Gaza, dismantled every settlement, and removed all 8,000 “obstacles to peace,” and having then seen the Palestinians immediately destroy the greenhouse economy, burn the buildings that could have been used for housing and schools, turn the settlement areas into rocket launching sites, elect their premier terrorist group to control their government, and force a new war on Israel — could stand to have its own confidence rebuilt too.

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The Peace Fallout

As the fighting continues in Gaza, the usual cast of foreign leaders and talking heads are evaluating the peace fallout–that is, the question of how Israel’s incursion into Gaza will affect Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects.  Indeed, there seems to be an unwritten law on Israeli-Palestinian discourse: every diplomatic statement and cable news segment on the conflict must reference the constant illusion of elusive peace at least once, however awkwardly.

In this vein, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has undertaken a “freelance” peace mission, which apparently means gunning for the number-of-Middle-East-leaders-met-in-their-respective-capitals-in-a-three-day-period world record.  (Don’t be too optimistic regarding Sarkozy’s chances: longtime CONTENTIONS readers will recall that Sarkozy previously failed in his attempt to tie the all-time Middle East Money Shot record.)  Meanwhile, British-lord-child-turned-Israeli-official-turned-American-leftist-bloviator Daniel Levy insists that the incoming Obama administration inject “bold ideas”–such as the not-so-bold 2002 Saudi peace proposal–once a truce is secured in Gaza.  And Cold-War-hawk-turned-War-on-Terror-dove Zbigniew Brzezinski contends that Israel’s attack on Gaza has undermined governments that are “helpful to the peace process”–such as Jordan and Egypt (?!)–thus requiring Obama’s foreign policy team to “engage seriously” in promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Somehow lost in this chatter, however, is the possibility that the current fighting in Gaza has no consequence for Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects whatsoever.  Indeed, no matter how many times the word “peace” is bandied about, an Israeli-Hamas truce will not lend itself to reinvigorated Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations; nor will it provide a new opening for rehashing old paradigms for long-term peace promotion (including “serious engagement,” whatever that means).

Rather, so long as Israel pursues its limited goal of stemming rocket firings, the end of conflict in Gaza will yield a continuation of the Israeli-Hamas stalemate that has existed since June 2007.  Of course, if Israel is successful, life will be more bearable for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Israelis won’t live in fear of regular Qassam attacks, and Palestinians will have no reason to anticipate future Israeli incursions.  But so long as Hamas retains political power, there can be no reasonable expectations for peace: Hamas’s opposition to negotiating with Israel remains as unshakable as ever, and even its former offer of a ten-year truce appears totally empty. (Chalk up another diplomatic failure for Jimmy Carter.)

In short, no matter the outcome of the current fighting in Gaza, Israeli-Palestinian peace remains a hopeless enterprise.  A glimmer of hope will only emerge if Hamas loses unambiguously, leading Palestinian voters to turn on it in the 2010 parliamentary elections.  In turn, if talking heads and diplomats insist on peace process optimism, they should be rooting for a swift and decisive Israeli victory: any other outcome would ensure the perceptual success of Palestinian rejectionism, thus making future rounds of deadly Israeli-Palestinian fighting inevitable.

As the fighting continues in Gaza, the usual cast of foreign leaders and talking heads are evaluating the peace fallout–that is, the question of how Israel’s incursion into Gaza will affect Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects.  Indeed, there seems to be an unwritten law on Israeli-Palestinian discourse: every diplomatic statement and cable news segment on the conflict must reference the constant illusion of elusive peace at least once, however awkwardly.

In this vein, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has undertaken a “freelance” peace mission, which apparently means gunning for the number-of-Middle-East-leaders-met-in-their-respective-capitals-in-a-three-day-period world record.  (Don’t be too optimistic regarding Sarkozy’s chances: longtime CONTENTIONS readers will recall that Sarkozy previously failed in his attempt to tie the all-time Middle East Money Shot record.)  Meanwhile, British-lord-child-turned-Israeli-official-turned-American-leftist-bloviator Daniel Levy insists that the incoming Obama administration inject “bold ideas”–such as the not-so-bold 2002 Saudi peace proposal–once a truce is secured in Gaza.  And Cold-War-hawk-turned-War-on-Terror-dove Zbigniew Brzezinski contends that Israel’s attack on Gaza has undermined governments that are “helpful to the peace process”–such as Jordan and Egypt (?!)–thus requiring Obama’s foreign policy team to “engage seriously” in promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Somehow lost in this chatter, however, is the possibility that the current fighting in Gaza has no consequence for Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects whatsoever.  Indeed, no matter how many times the word “peace” is bandied about, an Israeli-Hamas truce will not lend itself to reinvigorated Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations; nor will it provide a new opening for rehashing old paradigms for long-term peace promotion (including “serious engagement,” whatever that means).

Rather, so long as Israel pursues its limited goal of stemming rocket firings, the end of conflict in Gaza will yield a continuation of the Israeli-Hamas stalemate that has existed since June 2007.  Of course, if Israel is successful, life will be more bearable for Israelis and Palestinians alike: Israelis won’t live in fear of regular Qassam attacks, and Palestinians will have no reason to anticipate future Israeli incursions.  But so long as Hamas retains political power, there can be no reasonable expectations for peace: Hamas’s opposition to negotiating with Israel remains as unshakable as ever, and even its former offer of a ten-year truce appears totally empty. (Chalk up another diplomatic failure for Jimmy Carter.)

In short, no matter the outcome of the current fighting in Gaza, Israeli-Palestinian peace remains a hopeless enterprise.  A glimmer of hope will only emerge if Hamas loses unambiguously, leading Palestinian voters to turn on it in the 2010 parliamentary elections.  In turn, if talking heads and diplomats insist on peace process optimism, they should be rooting for a swift and decisive Israeli victory: any other outcome would ensure the perceptual success of Palestinian rejectionism, thus making future rounds of deadly Israeli-Palestinian fighting inevitable.

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A Nuclear Deterrence Farce

Tunku Varadarajan has an interesting piece in Forbes online explaining why India doesn’t do in Pakistan what Israel is now doing in the Gaza Strip. He comes up with many interesting differences between the two, but one in particular leaped out at me: “Pakistan has nukes… Any assault on Pakistani territory carries with it an apocalyptic risk for India. This is, in fact, Pakistan’s trump card. (This explains, also, why Israel is determined to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran.)”

Exactly right. That is an important answer to those who ask: What difference does it make if Iran goes nuclear? Won’t Israel be able to deter the Iranians from using their nukes? Maybe so, but having a nuclear shield would also allow Iran even greater free rein to sponsor terrorist groups and engage in other noxious activities knowing that neither Israel nor America would dare go to war with a nuclear-armed state. That is probably a primary reason why Iran wants nukes, and one of the major reasons why it is so important to prevent their acquisition of nuclear capabilities.

Tunku Varadarajan has an interesting piece in Forbes online explaining why India doesn’t do in Pakistan what Israel is now doing in the Gaza Strip. He comes up with many interesting differences between the two, but one in particular leaped out at me: “Pakistan has nukes… Any assault on Pakistani territory carries with it an apocalyptic risk for India. This is, in fact, Pakistan’s trump card. (This explains, also, why Israel is determined to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran.)”

Exactly right. That is an important answer to those who ask: What difference does it make if Iran goes nuclear? Won’t Israel be able to deter the Iranians from using their nukes? Maybe so, but having a nuclear shield would also allow Iran even greater free rein to sponsor terrorist groups and engage in other noxious activities knowing that neither Israel nor America would dare go to war with a nuclear-armed state. That is probably a primary reason why Iran wants nukes, and one of the major reasons why it is so important to prevent their acquisition of nuclear capabilities.

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Not Very Changey

This report doesn’t sound like Roland Burris is going away quietly:

I am now the junior senator from the state of Illinois,” he said from the pulpit of a South Side church on what he said was the eve of his trip to Washington.

Burris and his backers described his future in religious terms, saying his move to the U.S. Senate is preordained.

“Friends, we’re going to have to have some powerful prayer. . . . They can’t deny what the Lord has ordained,” said Burris at New Covenant Baptist Church, 740 E. 77th, surrounded by ministers, politicians and activists.

He said he was humbled by the support but said Illinois couldn’t send a better person to D.C., citing his history as a four-time-elected statewide officeholder.

Blagojevich’s appointment of Burris created an uproar. He made it as he faces allegations he tried to sell Obama’s seat — and foes who want him out of office.

Critics say a defiant Blagojevich used the race card in choosing Burris, the first African American to win statewide office.

Burris said he plans to report quietly for work. “I’m going to be as diplomatic and professional as I can be. I’m going to have to work with the other 99 senators. … I will not create any theater.”

He said he’ll tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid he was properly appointed.

And the Illinois Democrats keep digging, now sending a subpoena for Burris to appear at the impeachment proceedings on Wednesday when Burris is due to be in D.C. The Illinois Democrats in cahoots with Reid seem to be intent on playing the role of bully, trying to strong arm Burris out of his seat. It would seem the Great Conciliator, the Agent of Change, should give them some advice. If they all hope to escape this without further embarrassment it might be a good idea to start treating the Junior Senator from Illinois with some respect. If not, he’s going to make all their lives miserable — for as long as the litigation lasts.

This report doesn’t sound like Roland Burris is going away quietly:

I am now the junior senator from the state of Illinois,” he said from the pulpit of a South Side church on what he said was the eve of his trip to Washington.

Burris and his backers described his future in religious terms, saying his move to the U.S. Senate is preordained.

“Friends, we’re going to have to have some powerful prayer. . . . They can’t deny what the Lord has ordained,” said Burris at New Covenant Baptist Church, 740 E. 77th, surrounded by ministers, politicians and activists.

He said he was humbled by the support but said Illinois couldn’t send a better person to D.C., citing his history as a four-time-elected statewide officeholder.

Blagojevich’s appointment of Burris created an uproar. He made it as he faces allegations he tried to sell Obama’s seat — and foes who want him out of office.

Critics say a defiant Blagojevich used the race card in choosing Burris, the first African American to win statewide office.

Burris said he plans to report quietly for work. “I’m going to be as diplomatic and professional as I can be. I’m going to have to work with the other 99 senators. … I will not create any theater.”

He said he’ll tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid he was properly appointed.

And the Illinois Democrats keep digging, now sending a subpoena for Burris to appear at the impeachment proceedings on Wednesday when Burris is due to be in D.C. The Illinois Democrats in cahoots with Reid seem to be intent on playing the role of bully, trying to strong arm Burris out of his seat. It would seem the Great Conciliator, the Agent of Change, should give them some advice. If they all hope to escape this without further embarrassment it might be a good idea to start treating the Junior Senator from Illinois with some respect. If not, he’s going to make all their lives miserable — for as long as the litigation lasts.

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Proportionality and Terror

Andrew Sullivan responds at length to my invitation to flesh out his Just War critique of the Gaza crisis.

The gravamen of Andrew’s complaint is that Israel’s war on Hamas is worse — more violent and deadly — than Hamas’ war on Israel, and is therefore in violation of the doctrine of proportionality. He writes:

Is the evil inflicted by the war greater than the evil prevented?

It seems clear to me at this stage that the answer is yes. The loss of life this past week has been huge – far greater than any other stage of the conflict, and out of all proportion to the damage Hamas has inflicted on Israel. In terms of casualties, we are talking about ratios of roughly a hundred to one. That makes this far from a close call morally. There is a reason, in other words, for many Europeans’ horror. This is an extremely one-sided war, with one side essentially being attacked at will in a way that cannot avoid large numbers of civilian deaths. It is all very well understanding and sympathizing with Israel’s dilemma in tackling Jihadist terror, as we should and must; it is another thing to watch women and children being terrorized and killed as they currently are in Gaza, with very little tangible gained as a result in terms of Israeli security.

Andrew has fallen for one of the great deceptions of the current age. In Andrew’s telling, and in the current faddish European one, proportionality requires that a military’s response to aggression must not exceed in violence the original provocation. This idea is not just a foolish and morally benighted concept of warfighting — it represents the complete repudiation of the actual doctrine of proportionality. It is also a case that is always easy to make, because western militaries, owing to their superiority of arms and organization, will always be able to deliver more devastation to terrorists than the other way around (short of a terrorist WMD attack).

A few days ago right here on CONTENTIONS, Michael Totten — who used to regularly guest-blog for Andrew — wrote a brilliant, heavily-researched review of the doctrine of proportionality. The original idea, first articulated in 1907, conceived of conflict only between uniformed state armies, and is thus inapplicable to a fight between a terrorist group and an army, especially a fight in which one side wishes to commit genocide against the other. Regardless, wrote Totten, “no war has ever been fought tit for tat, and the Hague Conventions doesn’t say any war should be”:

The American response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor went well beyond sinking an equal number of ships in a Japanese harbor, for instance. And European Jews certainly were not entitled to execute six million German civilians after the Holocaust.

Then we come to the Law of Armed Conflict, which also contains a proportionality clause — one that is relevant to all conflicts, even those between terrorists and armies. It is very simple: proportionality “prohibits the use of any kind or degree of force that exceeds that needed to accomplish the military objective.” This is where Andrew’s critique conspicuously runs aground, and for a very simple reason: Hamas is still firing rockets; ipso facto, Israel is not using excessive force. If proportionality required similar levels of destruction to be visited on both sides of a conflict, the moral distinction between aggression and self-defense would be rendered meaningless, and deterrence itself — a vital means of establishing long-term peace — would become illegal.

Totten goes into detail on proportionality and more in his post, which I highly recommend reading. I might also suggest that Andrew review a few other parsings of international law as applied to Israel-Hamas: Here, here, here, here, and here.

I have no quarrel with anyone who criticizes the tactics or strategy of Israel’s campaign against Hamas. But there is a fundamental difference between questioning Israel’s means of self-defense and assailing Israel’s right to self-defense itself. I believe the latter is the intent of those who have cynically co-opted and perverted the tenets of international law and just war theory in order to declare Israel outside the bounds of legitimate conduct. Andrew may continue exploring such arguments — I hope, in the end, he doesn’t buy into them — but just war theory and international law, properly construed, lend them no credence.

Andrew Sullivan responds at length to my invitation to flesh out his Just War critique of the Gaza crisis.

The gravamen of Andrew’s complaint is that Israel’s war on Hamas is worse — more violent and deadly — than Hamas’ war on Israel, and is therefore in violation of the doctrine of proportionality. He writes:

Is the evil inflicted by the war greater than the evil prevented?

It seems clear to me at this stage that the answer is yes. The loss of life this past week has been huge – far greater than any other stage of the conflict, and out of all proportion to the damage Hamas has inflicted on Israel. In terms of casualties, we are talking about ratios of roughly a hundred to one. That makes this far from a close call morally. There is a reason, in other words, for many Europeans’ horror. This is an extremely one-sided war, with one side essentially being attacked at will in a way that cannot avoid large numbers of civilian deaths. It is all very well understanding and sympathizing with Israel’s dilemma in tackling Jihadist terror, as we should and must; it is another thing to watch women and children being terrorized and killed as they currently are in Gaza, with very little tangible gained as a result in terms of Israeli security.

Andrew has fallen for one of the great deceptions of the current age. In Andrew’s telling, and in the current faddish European one, proportionality requires that a military’s response to aggression must not exceed in violence the original provocation. This idea is not just a foolish and morally benighted concept of warfighting — it represents the complete repudiation of the actual doctrine of proportionality. It is also a case that is always easy to make, because western militaries, owing to their superiority of arms and organization, will always be able to deliver more devastation to terrorists than the other way around (short of a terrorist WMD attack).

A few days ago right here on CONTENTIONS, Michael Totten — who used to regularly guest-blog for Andrew — wrote a brilliant, heavily-researched review of the doctrine of proportionality. The original idea, first articulated in 1907, conceived of conflict only between uniformed state armies, and is thus inapplicable to a fight between a terrorist group and an army, especially a fight in which one side wishes to commit genocide against the other. Regardless, wrote Totten, “no war has ever been fought tit for tat, and the Hague Conventions doesn’t say any war should be”:

The American response to Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor went well beyond sinking an equal number of ships in a Japanese harbor, for instance. And European Jews certainly were not entitled to execute six million German civilians after the Holocaust.

Then we come to the Law of Armed Conflict, which also contains a proportionality clause — one that is relevant to all conflicts, even those between terrorists and armies. It is very simple: proportionality “prohibits the use of any kind or degree of force that exceeds that needed to accomplish the military objective.” This is where Andrew’s critique conspicuously runs aground, and for a very simple reason: Hamas is still firing rockets; ipso facto, Israel is not using excessive force. If proportionality required similar levels of destruction to be visited on both sides of a conflict, the moral distinction between aggression and self-defense would be rendered meaningless, and deterrence itself — a vital means of establishing long-term peace — would become illegal.

Totten goes into detail on proportionality and more in his post, which I highly recommend reading. I might also suggest that Andrew review a few other parsings of international law as applied to Israel-Hamas: Here, here, here, here, and here.

I have no quarrel with anyone who criticizes the tactics or strategy of Israel’s campaign against Hamas. But there is a fundamental difference between questioning Israel’s means of self-defense and assailing Israel’s right to self-defense itself. I believe the latter is the intent of those who have cynically co-opted and perverted the tenets of international law and just war theory in order to declare Israel outside the bounds of legitimate conduct. Andrew may continue exploring such arguments — I hope, in the end, he doesn’t buy into them — but just war theory and international law, properly construed, lend them no credence.

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The Greatest Depression

“Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression,” writes the New York Times‘s Paul Krugman this morning.  “So will we ‘act swiftly and boldly’ enough to stop that from happening?”

Krugman is right.  We are already in another downturn rivaling the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Yet he is undoubtedly wrong when he assumes the Federal government has the ability on its own to prevent it.  Krugman correctly shows that Ben Bernanke’s supply of enormous amounts of liquidity has not stopped the fall of the economy but then argues fiscal spending is the answer.  The Times columnist, in short, takes it for granted that there is an answer that is solely within the power of our government.

The massive Federal spending Krugman proposes will ease the pain for a while, but, as the Washington Post‘s Robert Samuelson shows this morning, this solution may ultimately make things worse.  Spending will increase the Federal deficit, which will have to be funded by debt.  Interest rates could rise as the Treasury tries to sell the debt, and higher interest rates will slow–if not choke–the economy.  Excessive Federal spending could also cause a “panicky flight” from the dollar, which would be a catastrophe for just about everyone.

Is there anything that can be done to prevent another global depression?  Yes, there is.  As noted by many analysts, Americans spend too much and the Chinese save too much.  The obvious solution is for Americans to export to the Chinese, which would put an end to the world’s two most important economic imbalances: the American current account deficit and the Chinese current account surplus.

Unfortunately, Beijing, beginning late last July, decided to try to export its way out of the crisis that it saw coming.  The measures the Chinese then adopted, such as driving down the value of their currency, also had the effect of closing off their domestic market to imports.  Unless President Obama takes drastic steps to open up the Chinese market–the Bush administration’s patient approach was mostly ineffective–the global economy will continue to trend downward.

So Krugman, despite his Nobel Prize in economics, is wrong.  We don’t have to spend a dime to solve the global crisis.  Mr. Obama merely needs to pick up the phone and talk to Hu Jintao in terms the Chinese president understands.  It is as simple–or as difficult–as that.  If we do not change China’s mercantilist outlook in a hurry, we should prepare ourselves for the greatest depression the world has ever known.

“Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression,” writes the New York Times‘s Paul Krugman this morning.  “So will we ‘act swiftly and boldly’ enough to stop that from happening?”

Krugman is right.  We are already in another downturn rivaling the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Yet he is undoubtedly wrong when he assumes the Federal government has the ability on its own to prevent it.  Krugman correctly shows that Ben Bernanke’s supply of enormous amounts of liquidity has not stopped the fall of the economy but then argues fiscal spending is the answer.  The Times columnist, in short, takes it for granted that there is an answer that is solely within the power of our government.

The massive Federal spending Krugman proposes will ease the pain for a while, but, as the Washington Post‘s Robert Samuelson shows this morning, this solution may ultimately make things worse.  Spending will increase the Federal deficit, which will have to be funded by debt.  Interest rates could rise as the Treasury tries to sell the debt, and higher interest rates will slow–if not choke–the economy.  Excessive Federal spending could also cause a “panicky flight” from the dollar, which would be a catastrophe for just about everyone.

Is there anything that can be done to prevent another global depression?  Yes, there is.  As noted by many analysts, Americans spend too much and the Chinese save too much.  The obvious solution is for Americans to export to the Chinese, which would put an end to the world’s two most important economic imbalances: the American current account deficit and the Chinese current account surplus.

Unfortunately, Beijing, beginning late last July, decided to try to export its way out of the crisis that it saw coming.  The measures the Chinese then adopted, such as driving down the value of their currency, also had the effect of closing off their domestic market to imports.  Unless President Obama takes drastic steps to open up the Chinese market–the Bush administration’s patient approach was mostly ineffective–the global economy will continue to trend downward.

So Krugman, despite his Nobel Prize in economics, is wrong.  We don’t have to spend a dime to solve the global crisis.  Mr. Obama merely needs to pick up the phone and talk to Hu Jintao in terms the Chinese president understands.  It is as simple–or as difficult–as that.  If we do not change China’s mercantilist outlook in a hurry, we should prepare ourselves for the greatest depression the world has ever known.

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An Occupation or a Preoccupation

Writing for the Huffington Post a while back, Palestinian MP and frequent spokesman, Mustafa Barghouti, argued that, despite Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in August 2005, Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza. But more recently, Barghouti reiterated a view he first expressed on CNN, as Israeli tanks made their way into Gaza last Saturday night: “There is no doubt that today’s Israeli ground operation is aiming to re-occupy Gaza completely.” Only Barghouti can have it both ways! Israel is occupying Gaza – hence it is responsible for the humanitarian crisis! – and Israel is RE-occupying Gaza – hence it is the aggressor!

Logic may not be Barghouti’s strong suit – he could claim that Israel is re-occupying Gaza only if he first conceded that Israel was NOT the occupying power anymore. Or he could say that Israel is still occupying Gaza – and therefore one cannot re-occupy what one is already occupying. Not that one expects too much honesty from the Palestinian PR machine, but there used to be a certain degree of sophistication to their lying. Not anymore. Clearly, Palestinian propaganda is just not what it used to be.

Writing for the Huffington Post a while back, Palestinian MP and frequent spokesman, Mustafa Barghouti, argued that, despite Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in August 2005, Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza. But more recently, Barghouti reiterated a view he first expressed on CNN, as Israeli tanks made their way into Gaza last Saturday night: “There is no doubt that today’s Israeli ground operation is aiming to re-occupy Gaza completely.” Only Barghouti can have it both ways! Israel is occupying Gaza – hence it is responsible for the humanitarian crisis! – and Israel is RE-occupying Gaza – hence it is the aggressor!

Logic may not be Barghouti’s strong suit – he could claim that Israel is re-occupying Gaza only if he first conceded that Israel was NOT the occupying power anymore. Or he could say that Israel is still occupying Gaza – and therefore one cannot re-occupy what one is already occupying. Not that one expects too much honesty from the Palestinian PR machine, but there used to be a certain degree of sophistication to their lying. Not anymore. Clearly, Palestinian propaganda is just not what it used to be.

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Musical Chairs — and Seats?

The Democrats are collecting sticky situations: Bill Richardson, Blago, and Charlie Rangel, to name a few. Thanks to Blago and a tenacious Roland Burris we are going to have some more headlines devoted to the precarious basis for excluding a non-corrupt and otherwise qualified senate designee. And the Richardson misstep is going to get some ink of its own.

Questions remain about why the Obama team stumbled over a nominee whose legal problems were already the subject of media reports:

Now some Democrats are questioning Obama’s vetting process —- and asking whether Obama’s team went far enough in pushing the New Mexico governor for information in face of the federal grand jury probe that has been public since August.

It’s the first high-profile stumble for an Obama transition that generally has run smoothly so far—and it deprives Obama of the highest-ranking Hispanic member of his Cabinet, already prompting cries from Latino groups for a prominent replacement.

The poster children for bad behavior certainly are piling up:

Some said Obama just couldn’t weather having his administration touched by a second so-called “pay-to-play” scandal, like the allegations against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that already have caused Obama himself and two top aides to be questioned by federal authorities, who have said the president-elect did nothing wrong.

“The incoming administration didn’t need the additional distraction of Gov. Richardson at Commerce, with the anticipated fight with [Eric] Holder at Justice and the complications from Blagojevich knocking them a little off track,” said a GOP Senate aide. “Investigations like these drag on and on and likely would not have been complete by mid-February when they would want the full Cabinet in place.

And there’s one more pothole coming down the road for the Democrats. You guessed it: the increasingly embarrassing potential Senate designee, Caroline Kennedy. Is excluding Burris and welcoming Caroline to the U.S. Senate really what the New Politics is all about? One begins to wonder if crooks and famous children have replaced Big Labor as the favorite Democratic constituencies. Steven Calabresi argues:

With Barack Obama’s election there are no African Americans currently serving in the Senate which is a disgrace.  None of the 58 other Democratic Senators are African Americans.  Let Burris (who has himself done nothing wrong) take his seat and let the Democratic Governors of New York and Delaware appoint African Americans to those two Senate vacancies as well instead of handing them over to Senator Kennedy’s niece and Senator Biden’s son (with a seat warmer for two years) as is currently being planned.  What do Senate Democrats stand for:  Racial fairness or nepotism?

(Okay, it’s not a hard question.)

Perhaps the way to move on is a game of musical chairs. Caroline to the Commerce Department and Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (a Catholic woman pol with some actual experience) to the Senate? Or Burris to Commerce and Caroline for the Illinois Senate seat? Or Burris for Rahm Emanuel’s open House seat and some other unemployed Kennedy (Joe II may be looking for work now that Hugo Chavez’s oil business is on the skids) for the New York Senate seat? You get the idea. There has to be an arrangement, which the unlucky Obama staffer tasked with this headache can devise, to staunch the bad news. (The name of the game: put the most undeserving in the least visible role.)

That vaunted social network which Obama has put together might take time out from offering up ideas for a healthcare plan to come up with a good solution to minimize the cringe-factor for the Democrats. In any event, the Democrats better get smart quickly – or the voters are going to start wondering why it was that they gave the “party of the common man” control of the government.

The Democrats are collecting sticky situations: Bill Richardson, Blago, and Charlie Rangel, to name a few. Thanks to Blago and a tenacious Roland Burris we are going to have some more headlines devoted to the precarious basis for excluding a non-corrupt and otherwise qualified senate designee. And the Richardson misstep is going to get some ink of its own.

Questions remain about why the Obama team stumbled over a nominee whose legal problems were already the subject of media reports:

Now some Democrats are questioning Obama’s vetting process —- and asking whether Obama’s team went far enough in pushing the New Mexico governor for information in face of the federal grand jury probe that has been public since August.

It’s the first high-profile stumble for an Obama transition that generally has run smoothly so far—and it deprives Obama of the highest-ranking Hispanic member of his Cabinet, already prompting cries from Latino groups for a prominent replacement.

The poster children for bad behavior certainly are piling up:

Some said Obama just couldn’t weather having his administration touched by a second so-called “pay-to-play” scandal, like the allegations against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that already have caused Obama himself and two top aides to be questioned by federal authorities, who have said the president-elect did nothing wrong.

“The incoming administration didn’t need the additional distraction of Gov. Richardson at Commerce, with the anticipated fight with [Eric] Holder at Justice and the complications from Blagojevich knocking them a little off track,” said a GOP Senate aide. “Investigations like these drag on and on and likely would not have been complete by mid-February when they would want the full Cabinet in place.

And there’s one more pothole coming down the road for the Democrats. You guessed it: the increasingly embarrassing potential Senate designee, Caroline Kennedy. Is excluding Burris and welcoming Caroline to the U.S. Senate really what the New Politics is all about? One begins to wonder if crooks and famous children have replaced Big Labor as the favorite Democratic constituencies. Steven Calabresi argues:

With Barack Obama’s election there are no African Americans currently serving in the Senate which is a disgrace.  None of the 58 other Democratic Senators are African Americans.  Let Burris (who has himself done nothing wrong) take his seat and let the Democratic Governors of New York and Delaware appoint African Americans to those two Senate vacancies as well instead of handing them over to Senator Kennedy’s niece and Senator Biden’s son (with a seat warmer for two years) as is currently being planned.  What do Senate Democrats stand for:  Racial fairness or nepotism?

(Okay, it’s not a hard question.)

Perhaps the way to move on is a game of musical chairs. Caroline to the Commerce Department and Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (a Catholic woman pol with some actual experience) to the Senate? Or Burris to Commerce and Caroline for the Illinois Senate seat? Or Burris for Rahm Emanuel’s open House seat and some other unemployed Kennedy (Joe II may be looking for work now that Hugo Chavez’s oil business is on the skids) for the New York Senate seat? You get the idea. There has to be an arrangement, which the unlucky Obama staffer tasked with this headache can devise, to staunch the bad news. (The name of the game: put the most undeserving in the least visible role.)

That vaunted social network which Obama has put together might take time out from offering up ideas for a healthcare plan to come up with a good solution to minimize the cringe-factor for the Democrats. In any event, the Democrats better get smart quickly – or the voters are going to start wondering why it was that they gave the “party of the common man” control of the government.

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And If There’s No Solution . . .

The Wall Street Journal today runs my article on the prospects for the Israeli invasion of Gaza. To sum up, I basically think that Israel has no choice but to strike back against Hamas, but it also has scant chances of eliminating Hamas or winning lasting peace. Hence the headline: “Israel’s Tragic Gaza Dilemma.” A year ago, in another Journal article I compared the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Anglo-Scottish conflict which ran for almost 450 years (1296-1745).

I hope I am not being too gloomy here. I realize my perspective runs counter to the typical American attitude that there is no problem in the world without a “solution.” Yet all attempts to “solve” the Israeli-Arab dispute have made, at best, limited progress–for instance with the cold peace that prevails between Israel and Egypt and Jordan. Notwithstanding those peace accords, which are deeply unpopular with the people of Egypt and Jordan, there is little reason to think that the Arabs as a whole, and the Palestinians in particular, have accommodated themselves to Israel’s right to exist. The more common view seems to be that, yes, perhaps Israel will exist for a few more decades, maybe a century or two, but eventually it will be wiped out just as were the Crusader kingdoms established by Europeans in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages.

Given this reality, Israelis have no choice but to get on with their lives as best they can while recognizing they will have to fight a constant, low-intensity struggle against groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The real risk for Israel is not fighting these types of wars; it is the risk of complete annihilation which is raised by Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

I am by no means suggesting that all diplomatic efforts to ameliorate the conflict should be abandoned, but even as the West continues the “peace process” it should be aware of how little chance it has of bringing real peace anytime soon.

Yet the prospect of somehow negotiating an end to the conflict is so irresistible and alluring that of course the Obama administration will try and try and try–just like the Bush administration, whose secretary of state once claimed that it would be possible to resolve all outstanding issues by the end of 2008! Conservatives are rightly skeptical of such talk, yet even they feel compelled to put forward “solutions.”

One of the more creative contributions comes from former UN Ambassador John Bolton in today’s Washington Post. He raises an old idea: returning the Gaza Strip to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. This has been discussed in Israel for many years, but the prospects of it actually happening are nonexistent. The Palestinians would not put up with “foreign” rule because they have developed a national identity since 1967, and Egypt and Jordan have no desire to try to take responsibility for the Palestinians and all their problems. Bolton acknowledges all these difficulties, writing that his idea would be “unpopular and difficult to implement,” but he puts it forward nonetheless.

I don’t blame him. It would be nice if there were some negotiated solution that could end the Israeli-Arab conflict and allow Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully side by side. It troubles me to think that such a solution may not exist; I wish it did. But at some point we should acknowledge the reality, no matter how unpleasant.

The Wall Street Journal today runs my article on the prospects for the Israeli invasion of Gaza. To sum up, I basically think that Israel has no choice but to strike back against Hamas, but it also has scant chances of eliminating Hamas or winning lasting peace. Hence the headline: “Israel’s Tragic Gaza Dilemma.” A year ago, in another Journal article I compared the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Anglo-Scottish conflict which ran for almost 450 years (1296-1745).

I hope I am not being too gloomy here. I realize my perspective runs counter to the typical American attitude that there is no problem in the world without a “solution.” Yet all attempts to “solve” the Israeli-Arab dispute have made, at best, limited progress–for instance with the cold peace that prevails between Israel and Egypt and Jordan. Notwithstanding those peace accords, which are deeply unpopular with the people of Egypt and Jordan, there is little reason to think that the Arabs as a whole, and the Palestinians in particular, have accommodated themselves to Israel’s right to exist. The more common view seems to be that, yes, perhaps Israel will exist for a few more decades, maybe a century or two, but eventually it will be wiped out just as were the Crusader kingdoms established by Europeans in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages.

Given this reality, Israelis have no choice but to get on with their lives as best they can while recognizing they will have to fight a constant, low-intensity struggle against groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The real risk for Israel is not fighting these types of wars; it is the risk of complete annihilation which is raised by Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

I am by no means suggesting that all diplomatic efforts to ameliorate the conflict should be abandoned, but even as the West continues the “peace process” it should be aware of how little chance it has of bringing real peace anytime soon.

Yet the prospect of somehow negotiating an end to the conflict is so irresistible and alluring that of course the Obama administration will try and try and try–just like the Bush administration, whose secretary of state once claimed that it would be possible to resolve all outstanding issues by the end of 2008! Conservatives are rightly skeptical of such talk, yet even they feel compelled to put forward “solutions.”

One of the more creative contributions comes from former UN Ambassador John Bolton in today’s Washington Post. He raises an old idea: returning the Gaza Strip to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. This has been discussed in Israel for many years, but the prospects of it actually happening are nonexistent. The Palestinians would not put up with “foreign” rule because they have developed a national identity since 1967, and Egypt and Jordan have no desire to try to take responsibility for the Palestinians and all their problems. Bolton acknowledges all these difficulties, writing that his idea would be “unpopular and difficult to implement,” but he puts it forward nonetheless.

I don’t blame him. It would be nice if there were some negotiated solution that could end the Israeli-Arab conflict and allow Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully side by side. It troubles me to think that such a solution may not exist; I wish it did. But at some point we should acknowledge the reality, no matter how unpleasant.

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Bush on the Ground Operation

George W. Bush’s first comments since IDF ground troops went into Gaza two days ago come as no surprise. But his words are heartening nonetheless:

President George W. Bush, in his first public reaction to Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, said Monday that the Jewish state was justified in protecting itself against Hamas militants. “I understand Israel’s desire to protect itself,” Bush said in the Oval Office. “The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas.”

[…]

“Instead of caring about the people of Gaza, Hamas decided to use Gaza to launch rockets to kill innocent Israelis,” Bush said. “Israel’s obviously decided to protect herself and her people.” 

[…]

Bush said violence must be stopped, “but not at the expense of an agreement that does not prevent the crisis from happening again.”

He has always been at his best when speaking simple, but vital, truths.

George W. Bush’s first comments since IDF ground troops went into Gaza two days ago come as no surprise. But his words are heartening nonetheless:

President George W. Bush, in his first public reaction to Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, said Monday that the Jewish state was justified in protecting itself against Hamas militants. “I understand Israel’s desire to protect itself,” Bush said in the Oval Office. “The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas.”

[…]

“Instead of caring about the people of Gaza, Hamas decided to use Gaza to launch rockets to kill innocent Israelis,” Bush said. “Israel’s obviously decided to protect herself and her people.” 

[…]

Bush said violence must be stopped, “but not at the expense of an agreement that does not prevent the crisis from happening again.”

He has always been at his best when speaking simple, but vital, truths.

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Do Jewish Liberals Oppose the War?

A couple of days ago, James Kirchick wrote here (and I wrote here) about the dissenting position taken by the dovish Jewish lobby on the Gaza operation:

[A]t a time when the vast majority of Israelis and American Jews support what Israel is doing, J Street steps out of the shadows as the voice of communal dissent, joined by the likes of the United Nations and the Guardian editorial board (even the Arab League tacitly supports what Israel is doing, seeing that Hamas is an Iranian front). J Street has the right to its extreme leftist, capitulationist opinions, but it does not have the right to claim, as Ben-Ami once did, that it represents the “broad, sensible mainstream of pro-Israel American Jews.”

An article in the Jewish Forward, written by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism – a liberal Jewish organization, no doubt – proves that Kirchick was right: J Street can’t claim that it represents the view of the American Jewish majority. More so: It can’t even claim to represent the view of a liberal Jewish majority. Yoffie, a liberal, writes this:

It is not easy for me to write these words. I welcomed the founding of J Street and know many of those involved in its leadership. Furthermore, I am a dove myself. I support a two-state solution, believe that military action by Israel should be a last resort and welcome an active American role in promoting peace between Israel and her neighbors. But I know a mistake when I see one, and this time J Street got it very wrong.

J Street’s first statement expressed “understanding” for Israel’s motivations, and called – as I do – for a political rather than a military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nonetheless, its conclusion was that Israel made a mistake in attacking Hamas and that the United States and others must press for an immediate cease-fire.

A second J Street statement was worse by far. It could find no moral difference between the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militants, who have launched more than 5,000 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians in the past three years, and the long-delayed response of Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its battered citizens in the south. “Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong,” it said, and it suggested that there was no reason and no way to judge between them: “While there is nothing ‘right’ in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing ‘right’ in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them.”

The folks at J Street didn’t like Yoffie’s article, to put it mildly:

It is hard for us to understand how the leading reform rabbi in North America could call our effort to articulate a nuanced view on these difficult issues “morally deficient.” If our views are “naïve” and “morally deficient”, then so are the views of scores of Israeli journalists, security analysts, distinguished authors, and retired IDF officers who have posed the same questions about the Gaza attack as we have.

They provide very little evidence that such “analysts” and “authors” exist. In fact, when the operation started, most dovish Israelis, among them left-wing authors Amos Oz and A.B Yehushua supported the operation. A growing camp within the Israeli left now supports a cease-fire – but very few opposed the operation in its initial stages. As I’ve shown here, even the left-wing Meretz Party supported the operation when it started:

“The time has to act without compromise and without narrow political considerations, to protect the citizens of the Gaza periphery and Sderot,” the statement said. “There is no choice but to hit Hamas in a precise way and to act for a renewed ceasefire,” the party said.

And even assuming that Meretz’s position is now more in sync with the one espoused by J Street, it is still not the position of Israel’s “left” – not even by a stretch. Meretz – according to most polls – represents barely 5% of Israel’s population. If J Street argue that a similar percentage – or even double that percentage – or even five times that percentage of American Jews agree with them – it is still far from the “broad mainstream” they claim to represent.

A couple of days ago, James Kirchick wrote here (and I wrote here) about the dissenting position taken by the dovish Jewish lobby on the Gaza operation:

[A]t a time when the vast majority of Israelis and American Jews support what Israel is doing, J Street steps out of the shadows as the voice of communal dissent, joined by the likes of the United Nations and the Guardian editorial board (even the Arab League tacitly supports what Israel is doing, seeing that Hamas is an Iranian front). J Street has the right to its extreme leftist, capitulationist opinions, but it does not have the right to claim, as Ben-Ami once did, that it represents the “broad, sensible mainstream of pro-Israel American Jews.”

An article in the Jewish Forward, written by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism – a liberal Jewish organization, no doubt – proves that Kirchick was right: J Street can’t claim that it represents the view of the American Jewish majority. More so: It can’t even claim to represent the view of a liberal Jewish majority. Yoffie, a liberal, writes this:

It is not easy for me to write these words. I welcomed the founding of J Street and know many of those involved in its leadership. Furthermore, I am a dove myself. I support a two-state solution, believe that military action by Israel should be a last resort and welcome an active American role in promoting peace between Israel and her neighbors. But I know a mistake when I see one, and this time J Street got it very wrong.

J Street’s first statement expressed “understanding” for Israel’s motivations, and called – as I do – for a political rather than a military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nonetheless, its conclusion was that Israel made a mistake in attacking Hamas and that the United States and others must press for an immediate cease-fire.

A second J Street statement was worse by far. It could find no moral difference between the actions of Hamas and other Palestinian militants, who have launched more than 5,000 rockets and mortar shells at Israeli civilians in the past three years, and the long-delayed response of Israel, which finally lost patience and responded to the pleas of its battered citizens in the south. “Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong,” it said, and it suggested that there was no reason and no way to judge between them: “While there is nothing ‘right’ in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing ‘right’ in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them.”

The folks at J Street didn’t like Yoffie’s article, to put it mildly:

It is hard for us to understand how the leading reform rabbi in North America could call our effort to articulate a nuanced view on these difficult issues “morally deficient.” If our views are “naïve” and “morally deficient”, then so are the views of scores of Israeli journalists, security analysts, distinguished authors, and retired IDF officers who have posed the same questions about the Gaza attack as we have.

They provide very little evidence that such “analysts” and “authors” exist. In fact, when the operation started, most dovish Israelis, among them left-wing authors Amos Oz and A.B Yehushua supported the operation. A growing camp within the Israeli left now supports a cease-fire – but very few opposed the operation in its initial stages. As I’ve shown here, even the left-wing Meretz Party supported the operation when it started:

“The time has to act without compromise and without narrow political considerations, to protect the citizens of the Gaza periphery and Sderot,” the statement said. “There is no choice but to hit Hamas in a precise way and to act for a renewed ceasefire,” the party said.

And even assuming that Meretz’s position is now more in sync with the one espoused by J Street, it is still not the position of Israel’s “left” – not even by a stretch. Meretz – according to most polls – represents barely 5% of Israel’s population. If J Street argue that a similar percentage – or even double that percentage – or even five times that percentage of American Jews agree with them – it is still far from the “broad mainstream” they claim to represent.

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A Teachable Moment

If Bill Ayers won’t go away,  how can we forget about him?

Now that the election is safely over, the unrepentant terrorist has decided to use his rekindled fame to sign up with the Huffington Post and opine on education.

I understand that since Ayers gave up on terrorism, he’s made educating our youth his top priority. In 1997, Ayers wrote a book on the Illinois juvenile justice system, entitled “A Kind And Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court.” This book was so influential and powerful that a state senator who barely knew Ayers from Adam wrote a blurb for it in the Chicago Tribune, calling it a “searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”

Ayers also  managed to get himself chosen to help head up the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which oversaw the spending of about $150 million dollars in public moneys, donations, and grants towards improving Chicago’s deeply troubled public schools. Ayers did yeoman’s work at this project, giving money to a host of programs with the stated goal of helping out Chicago’s kids, including $175,000 to Mike Klonsky’s “Small Schools Workshop.” Klonsky, a protege of Ayers, is a former hard-line Maoist from the 1960’s, and one-time education advisor to Obama’s campaign.

After seven years, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge had spent in excess of $150 million “improving” Chicago’s schools. But there was absolutely no measurable improvement in student performance in the CAC-focused schools.

It is certainly disputable that Ayers is an expert on improving the educational system. Fortunately, he’s not setting policy; he’s just writing for the Huffington Post — and there expertise in your chosen subject is more of a liability than an asset.

If Bill Ayers won’t go away,  how can we forget about him?

Now that the election is safely over, the unrepentant terrorist has decided to use his rekindled fame to sign up with the Huffington Post and opine on education.

I understand that since Ayers gave up on terrorism, he’s made educating our youth his top priority. In 1997, Ayers wrote a book on the Illinois juvenile justice system, entitled “A Kind And Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court.” This book was so influential and powerful that a state senator who barely knew Ayers from Adam wrote a blurb for it in the Chicago Tribune, calling it a “searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”

Ayers also  managed to get himself chosen to help head up the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which oversaw the spending of about $150 million dollars in public moneys, donations, and grants towards improving Chicago’s deeply troubled public schools. Ayers did yeoman’s work at this project, giving money to a host of programs with the stated goal of helping out Chicago’s kids, including $175,000 to Mike Klonsky’s “Small Schools Workshop.” Klonsky, a protege of Ayers, is a former hard-line Maoist from the 1960’s, and one-time education advisor to Obama’s campaign.

After seven years, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge had spent in excess of $150 million “improving” Chicago’s schools. But there was absolutely no measurable improvement in student performance in the CAC-focused schools.

It is certainly disputable that Ayers is an expert on improving the educational system. Fortunately, he’s not setting policy; he’s just writing for the Huffington Post — and there expertise in your chosen subject is more of a liability than an asset.

Read Less

Harmless Hamas

So it turns out that Hamas is a much misunderstood movement and if you really knew more about them, you’d almost want to be governed by them: this at least according to William Sieghart, the director of Forward Thinking, a London outfit devoted to engaging organizations considered beyond the pale. Sieghart’s revelation of Hamas as a decent bunch of well behaved administrators (community organizers, anyone?) appeared in the Times of London a few days ago, and joins the chorus of Western apologists  looking to give cover to the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Clearly, Sieghart did not get the memo about the recent legislation Hamas introduced in Gaza, barely a week before launching its rocket war against Israel, that imposes Koranic punishments on offenders – hand amputation to thieves, flogging to those who are caught drinking alcohol or selling it, and the like. He is also, clearly, a liar:

Palestinians did not vote for Hamas because it was dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel or because it had been responsible for waves of suicide bombings that had killed Israeli citizens. They voted for Hamas because they thought that Fatah, the party of the rejected Government, had failed them. Despite renouncing violence and recognising the state of Israel Fatah had not achieved a Palestinian state. It is crucial to know this to understand the supposed rejectionist position of Hamas. It won’t recognise Israel or renounce the right to resist until it is sure of the world’s commitment to a just solution to the Palestinian issue.

Obviously, he has never heard of the Oslo Process, the Clinton Parameters, the Road Map, and the countless speeches, statements, declarations and press conferences given by European leaders and American presidents in favour of a two state solution. He has also ignored all those Israeli leaders’ statements clarifying Israeli support for a two- state solution as a matter of national interest. What more commitment does one want?

But the most puzzling bit of his silly article is the claim that Hamas – an Islamist movement and an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood – was not elected for its ideology and the ways it practices Islam, but because it would deliver good governance. So what? Fascists were always fond of saying that under Mussolini trains ran on time. Do people need a dictatorship to see that? What the Hamas victory meant was that Palestinians did not mind an oppressive, intolerant, and fundamentalist regime in control of their lives. They are now living the outcome of their choice and, as democracies go, they, and not Israelis, are responsible for their leadership’s recklessness. Besides, if this is what Hamas was really elected for – clean streets and good governance – launching a suicidal war against Israel and doing nothing in the last 18 months to improve the lot of their people shows that they failed the mandate supposedly given them by the Palestinian electorate.

So it turns out that Hamas is a much misunderstood movement and if you really knew more about them, you’d almost want to be governed by them: this at least according to William Sieghart, the director of Forward Thinking, a London outfit devoted to engaging organizations considered beyond the pale. Sieghart’s revelation of Hamas as a decent bunch of well behaved administrators (community organizers, anyone?) appeared in the Times of London a few days ago, and joins the chorus of Western apologists  looking to give cover to the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Clearly, Sieghart did not get the memo about the recent legislation Hamas introduced in Gaza, barely a week before launching its rocket war against Israel, that imposes Koranic punishments on offenders – hand amputation to thieves, flogging to those who are caught drinking alcohol or selling it, and the like. He is also, clearly, a liar:

Palestinians did not vote for Hamas because it was dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel or because it had been responsible for waves of suicide bombings that had killed Israeli citizens. They voted for Hamas because they thought that Fatah, the party of the rejected Government, had failed them. Despite renouncing violence and recognising the state of Israel Fatah had not achieved a Palestinian state. It is crucial to know this to understand the supposed rejectionist position of Hamas. It won’t recognise Israel or renounce the right to resist until it is sure of the world’s commitment to a just solution to the Palestinian issue.

Obviously, he has never heard of the Oslo Process, the Clinton Parameters, the Road Map, and the countless speeches, statements, declarations and press conferences given by European leaders and American presidents in favour of a two state solution. He has also ignored all those Israeli leaders’ statements clarifying Israeli support for a two- state solution as a matter of national interest. What more commitment does one want?

But the most puzzling bit of his silly article is the claim that Hamas – an Islamist movement and an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood – was not elected for its ideology and the ways it practices Islam, but because it would deliver good governance. So what? Fascists were always fond of saying that under Mussolini trains ran on time. Do people need a dictatorship to see that? What the Hamas victory meant was that Palestinians did not mind an oppressive, intolerant, and fundamentalist regime in control of their lives. They are now living the outcome of their choice and, as democracies go, they, and not Israelis, are responsible for their leadership’s recklessness. Besides, if this is what Hamas was really elected for – clean streets and good governance – launching a suicidal war against Israel and doing nothing in the last 18 months to improve the lot of their people shows that they failed the mandate supposedly given them by the Palestinian electorate.

Read Less




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