Commentary Magazine


Posts For: August 7, 2009

One of His Worst Mistakes to Date

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, an indefatigable friend of Israel, sends this comment via e-mail on Mary Robinson:

Mary Robinson is perceived by supporters of Israel as having engaged in anti-Semitic actions by her denigrating of Israel over the years, particularly at Durbin, South Africa. Anti-Semitism is exhibited when hostility is directed at Israel for reasons that would not be the basis of hostility to any other country engaging in the same actions. Mary Robinson now says that she has always been a friend of Israel. Some friend! Not until she by some actions and deeds, not simply words, convinces supporters of Israel of her good will towards Israel will she be seen as other than anti-Semitic. President Barack Obama, like every other person, makes mistakes. Awarding Mary Robinson the Medal of Freedom is one of his worst mistakes to date.

The question remains for Obama: How to correct the error? Pretending that Robinson is something other than she is—an anti-Israel activist—is fooling no one. It merely convinces those who care about Israel that Obama does not.

Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, an indefatigable friend of Israel, sends this comment via e-mail on Mary Robinson:

Mary Robinson is perceived by supporters of Israel as having engaged in anti-Semitic actions by her denigrating of Israel over the years, particularly at Durbin, South Africa. Anti-Semitism is exhibited when hostility is directed at Israel for reasons that would not be the basis of hostility to any other country engaging in the same actions. Mary Robinson now says that she has always been a friend of Israel. Some friend! Not until she by some actions and deeds, not simply words, convinces supporters of Israel of her good will towards Israel will she be seen as other than anti-Semitic. President Barack Obama, like every other person, makes mistakes. Awarding Mary Robinson the Medal of Freedom is one of his worst mistakes to date.

The question remains for Obama: How to correct the error? Pretending that Robinson is something other than she is—an anti-Israel activist—is fooling no one. It merely convinces those who care about Israel that Obama does not.

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Mi’kmaq and Qu’ran

Political correctness has been slowly poisoning the English language for some time now. But it has until recently confined itself to one whole word or another. Negro was out, while black was in, only to be out in turn when African American came in. Political activists tried to substitute “native American” for “Indian.”

They haven’t gotten very far, I’m happy to say, outside of far-Left, race-obsessed circles, because 1) all people born on U.S. soil are, by definition, native to this country, as well as constitutionally American citizens, and, therefore, also native Americans; and 2) the overwhelming majority of American Indians prefer to be called . . . American Indians. That’s undoubtedly why the splendid new museum in Washington is called the Museum of the American Indian.

But now, it seems, words adopted from foreign languages cannot be used by the politically fastidious if they have been Anglicized to conform to English rules of spelling and pronunciation. The “correct” word is now the transliterated term from the original language, even if the transliteration makes no sense to English speakers whatever. This wondrous language of ours, for instance, has had a perfectly good word for the holy book of Islam, “Koran,” since 1725.

But Newsweek now insists on spelling it “Qu’ran” instead. What purpose the apostrophe serves I have no idea. The normally sensible (at least orthographically) New York Times this morning has a sad story on the death of Donald Marshall Jr., a Canadian who was long incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The first sentence describes him as a “mi’kmaq Indian.”

A what? English has used the word Micmac to denote the major Algonquian Indian tribe of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia since 1830. So why does it suddenly have to be spelled in a funny, un-English way, with one of those mysterious apostrophes in the middle? Not speaking the Micmac language, I can only guess that it’s a transliteration.

Notice that this nonsense is something so characteristic of political correctness: a one-way street. We are supposed to use a transliteration of the foreign word, but speakers of Arabic or Micmac are under no obligation to use our terms for the Torah or Bible or the descendants of Europeans living in North America.

To see how silly this is, imagine a thought experiment. The English have had their own word for the country on the south side of the English Channel since the two countries started beating each other up a thousand years ago. Should we now start calling it Frã:s, as those who speak French do? Perhaps we should call the southern side of the English Channel “La Manche” from now on as well. I’m pretty confident the French will not give up the word Angleterre or stop pronouncing the name of that large city at the southern end of Lake Michigan as (approximately) Shee-cah-GOH.

Political correctness has been slowly poisoning the English language for some time now. But it has until recently confined itself to one whole word or another. Negro was out, while black was in, only to be out in turn when African American came in. Political activists tried to substitute “native American” for “Indian.”

They haven’t gotten very far, I’m happy to say, outside of far-Left, race-obsessed circles, because 1) all people born on U.S. soil are, by definition, native to this country, as well as constitutionally American citizens, and, therefore, also native Americans; and 2) the overwhelming majority of American Indians prefer to be called . . . American Indians. That’s undoubtedly why the splendid new museum in Washington is called the Museum of the American Indian.

But now, it seems, words adopted from foreign languages cannot be used by the politically fastidious if they have been Anglicized to conform to English rules of spelling and pronunciation. The “correct” word is now the transliterated term from the original language, even if the transliteration makes no sense to English speakers whatever. This wondrous language of ours, for instance, has had a perfectly good word for the holy book of Islam, “Koran,” since 1725.

But Newsweek now insists on spelling it “Qu’ran” instead. What purpose the apostrophe serves I have no idea. The normally sensible (at least orthographically) New York Times this morning has a sad story on the death of Donald Marshall Jr., a Canadian who was long incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. The first sentence describes him as a “mi’kmaq Indian.”

A what? English has used the word Micmac to denote the major Algonquian Indian tribe of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia since 1830. So why does it suddenly have to be spelled in a funny, un-English way, with one of those mysterious apostrophes in the middle? Not speaking the Micmac language, I can only guess that it’s a transliteration.

Notice that this nonsense is something so characteristic of political correctness: a one-way street. We are supposed to use a transliteration of the foreign word, but speakers of Arabic or Micmac are under no obligation to use our terms for the Torah or Bible or the descendants of Europeans living in North America.

To see how silly this is, imagine a thought experiment. The English have had their own word for the country on the south side of the English Channel since the two countries started beating each other up a thousand years ago. Should we now start calling it Frã:s, as those who speak French do? Perhaps we should call the southern side of the English Channel “La Manche” from now on as well. I’m pretty confident the French will not give up the word Angleterre or stop pronouncing the name of that large city at the southern end of Lake Michigan as (approximately) Shee-cah-GOH.

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247,000 More Jobs Lost

The much anticipated jobs report was released today, showing 247,000 more jobs have been lost. The rate dropped from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent because 422,000 left the job market. On one hand, there is cause for optimism: the rate of job loss is slowing. However, the economy is still in the doldrums, with 6.7 million jobs lost since December 2007. The statistics are sobering: 14.5 million are currently unemployed, with every sector of the economy affected.

Meanwhile, the president’s agenda remains disconnected from the central issue of our time: the ailing economy. He’s immersed in a battle over health care where the question is just how many people and businesses will be taxed and what sort of mandates will be placed on employers. This is jaw-dropping, really. What burdens can we place on employers and investors before we reach an economic recovery? That’s what’s embroiling the administration. The gap between their goals—achieving a liberal dream of nationalized health care—and the greatest domestic problem of our time is startling.

The much anticipated jobs report was released today, showing 247,000 more jobs have been lost. The rate dropped from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent because 422,000 left the job market. On one hand, there is cause for optimism: the rate of job loss is slowing. However, the economy is still in the doldrums, with 6.7 million jobs lost since December 2007. The statistics are sobering: 14.5 million are currently unemployed, with every sector of the economy affected.

Meanwhile, the president’s agenda remains disconnected from the central issue of our time: the ailing economy. He’s immersed in a battle over health care where the question is just how many people and businesses will be taxed and what sort of mandates will be placed on employers. This is jaw-dropping, really. What burdens can we place on employers and investors before we reach an economic recovery? That’s what’s embroiling the administration. The gap between their goals—achieving a liberal dream of nationalized health care—and the greatest domestic problem of our time is startling.

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The Voters Aren’t Buying ObamaCare

Scott Rasmussen combs through the health-care polling data and finds:

The most important fundamental is that 68% of American voters have health-insurance coverage they rate good or excellent. . . . Adding to President Barack Obama’s challenge as he sells health-care reform to the public is the fact that most voters are skeptical about the government’s ability to do anything well. While the president says his plan will reduce costs, 53% believe it will have the opposite effect. There’s also the reality that 74% of voters rate the quality of care they now receive as good or excellent. And 50% fear that if Congress passes health-care reform, it will lead to a decline in the quality of that care.

Now a majority also want to achieve the goal of giving “every single American quality affordable health care.” And voters remain divided on ObamaCare: “47% at least somewhat favored the plan while 49% are somewhat opposed.” But that’s not the scary part for Obama and lawmakers. Rasmussen explains:

Though voters are torn about reform, there is intensity among the opposition. Just 25% strongly favor the reform effort, while 41% are strongly opposed. And that gets back to the very first point: 68% currently have good or excellent coverage. It’s going to be hard to generate passionate support for change among this group of voters.

Those opposed to Mr. Obama’s reform appear to have momentum on their side. Polling last weekend showed that 48% of voters rate the U.S. health-care system as good or excellent. That’s up from 35% in May and up from 29% a year ago. Only 19% now rate the system as poor, down from 37% a year ago. It appears that the prospect of changing health care has made the existing system look better to a lot of people.

Beyond the intensity of the opposition and its momentum, there is also a huge partisan gap that puts congressional Democrats in a very difficult position. Currently, 76% of Democratic voters favor the health-care reform plan proposed by Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats, and they are counting on their representatives to deliver.

But delivering for the Democratic base has the potential to hurt the party’s standing among independents. Among the unaffiliated, 35% are in favor of the Democrats’ health-care reform initiative, and 60% are opposed. Notably, just 16% of unaffiliated voters strongly favor the legislative effort; 47% strongly oppose it.

No matter how much the White House wants to believe that the level of opposition they are encountering is fake or unrepresentative, the polling data shows that they have a serious problem. Despite every available resource, a compliant media, and one-party rule, they have not made the sale. Instead, they have angered or scared many more than they have convinced. Perhaps it’s a new plan, not a negative campaign against voters and/or Republicans, that is needed.

Scott Rasmussen combs through the health-care polling data and finds:

The most important fundamental is that 68% of American voters have health-insurance coverage they rate good or excellent. . . . Adding to President Barack Obama’s challenge as he sells health-care reform to the public is the fact that most voters are skeptical about the government’s ability to do anything well. While the president says his plan will reduce costs, 53% believe it will have the opposite effect. There’s also the reality that 74% of voters rate the quality of care they now receive as good or excellent. And 50% fear that if Congress passes health-care reform, it will lead to a decline in the quality of that care.

Now a majority also want to achieve the goal of giving “every single American quality affordable health care.” And voters remain divided on ObamaCare: “47% at least somewhat favored the plan while 49% are somewhat opposed.” But that’s not the scary part for Obama and lawmakers. Rasmussen explains:

Though voters are torn about reform, there is intensity among the opposition. Just 25% strongly favor the reform effort, while 41% are strongly opposed. And that gets back to the very first point: 68% currently have good or excellent coverage. It’s going to be hard to generate passionate support for change among this group of voters.

Those opposed to Mr. Obama’s reform appear to have momentum on their side. Polling last weekend showed that 48% of voters rate the U.S. health-care system as good or excellent. That’s up from 35% in May and up from 29% a year ago. Only 19% now rate the system as poor, down from 37% a year ago. It appears that the prospect of changing health care has made the existing system look better to a lot of people.

Beyond the intensity of the opposition and its momentum, there is also a huge partisan gap that puts congressional Democrats in a very difficult position. Currently, 76% of Democratic voters favor the health-care reform plan proposed by Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats, and they are counting on their representatives to deliver.

But delivering for the Democratic base has the potential to hurt the party’s standing among independents. Among the unaffiliated, 35% are in favor of the Democrats’ health-care reform initiative, and 60% are opposed. Notably, just 16% of unaffiliated voters strongly favor the legislative effort; 47% strongly oppose it.

No matter how much the White House wants to believe that the level of opposition they are encountering is fake or unrepresentative, the polling data shows that they have a serious problem. Despite every available resource, a compliant media, and one-party rule, they have not made the sale. Instead, they have angered or scared many more than they have convinced. Perhaps it’s a new plan, not a negative campaign against voters and/or Republicans, that is needed.

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Poll Me Once, Poll Me Twice

Since its founding, J Street has employed polling as a central tactic in its effort to convince people that American Jewish opinion on Israel is ideologically aligned with its own far-Left views. The three-step is simple but shrewd: if Jewish opinion does not support your agenda, 1) create some polls to show that it does; 2) declare yourself the new mainstream; 3) accuse the traditional organizations of being the real extremists.

Much skepticism of J Street’s polls has accompanied their release, and many have pointed out their clever, results-oriented phrasing. But this hasn’t diminished their ability, when people accuse them of advocating an agenda that has little support among American Jews, to point to their own polling and declare themselves the true representatives of Jewish opinion.

J Street’s polls have always been conducted by Jim Gerstein, who runs a far-Left progressive political consultancy in Washington. As J Street says on its polling pages, “Survey analysis from Jim Gerstein, Principal at Gerstein | Agne, the firm that commissioned the poll.”

Now J Street is an advocacy organization, not a newspaper or a judge, so it need not police its conflicts of interest with fastidious rigor. But Jim Gerstein is not simply a principal at the firm that conducts polls for J Street. He was J Street’s vice president.

You’d never know this from J Street’s staff page or the voluptuous promotion that accompanies the release of a J Street poll. You wouldn’t know it from all the mentions of Gerstein on J Street’s website, in which he is always portrayed as an independent actor. In order to know that he was J Street’s founding vice president, you’d have to look at J Street’s 990 IRS form.

So J Street not only commissions polls—it writes the questions, conducts them, analyzes the results, and then carries out promotional campaigns with the findings. If you were wondering how it was possible that J Street could repeatedly produce “polling data” that almost perfectly complements the group’s political agenda, now we have one important clue.

Since its founding, J Street has employed polling as a central tactic in its effort to convince people that American Jewish opinion on Israel is ideologically aligned with its own far-Left views. The three-step is simple but shrewd: if Jewish opinion does not support your agenda, 1) create some polls to show that it does; 2) declare yourself the new mainstream; 3) accuse the traditional organizations of being the real extremists.

Much skepticism of J Street’s polls has accompanied their release, and many have pointed out their clever, results-oriented phrasing. But this hasn’t diminished their ability, when people accuse them of advocating an agenda that has little support among American Jews, to point to their own polling and declare themselves the true representatives of Jewish opinion.

J Street’s polls have always been conducted by Jim Gerstein, who runs a far-Left progressive political consultancy in Washington. As J Street says on its polling pages, “Survey analysis from Jim Gerstein, Principal at Gerstein | Agne, the firm that commissioned the poll.”

Now J Street is an advocacy organization, not a newspaper or a judge, so it need not police its conflicts of interest with fastidious rigor. But Jim Gerstein is not simply a principal at the firm that conducts polls for J Street. He was J Street’s vice president.

You’d never know this from J Street’s staff page or the voluptuous promotion that accompanies the release of a J Street poll. You wouldn’t know it from all the mentions of Gerstein on J Street’s website, in which he is always portrayed as an independent actor. In order to know that he was J Street’s founding vice president, you’d have to look at J Street’s 990 IRS form.

So J Street not only commissions polls—it writes the questions, conducts them, analyzes the results, and then carries out promotional campaigns with the findings. If you were wondering how it was possible that J Street could repeatedly produce “polling data” that almost perfectly complements the group’s political agenda, now we have one important clue.

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How to Judge the Progress in Afghanistan

The New York Times reports on the difficulties the Obama administration is encountering in gauging progress in Afghanistan. According to the report:

Senior administration officials said that the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, approved a classified policy document on July 17 setting out nine broad objectives for metrics to guide the administration’s policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Another month or two is still needed to flesh out the details, according to officials engaged in the work. …

For instance, some of the measures now being devised by the Obama administration track the size, strength and self-reliance of the Afghan National Army, which the United States has been struggling to train for seven years. They include the number of operations in which Afghan soldiers are in the lead, or the number of Afghan soldiers who have received basic instruction.

The article goes on to note the difficulties the Bush administration had in devising metrics for Iraq. One such metric touted by the White House in 2005-06 was the “rat rate”—the number of good tips from Iraqis about insurgent activities. Only one problem: as the rat rate went up, so did violence. The article doesn’t mention, but could have, the 12 benchmarks Congress mandated in 2007—most of which proved utterly irrelevant to the success of the surge, which depended on better counterinsurgency tactics and the willingness of former insurgents to change sides.

Then there were numerous attempts earlier in the war by the Bush administration to measure progress based on inflated figures of Iraqi security personnel who were supposedly ready to fight insurgents—a particular obsession of Don Rumsfeld. This really shouldn’t be so hard. The problem with most of the faux metrics employed in Iraq—and now migrating to Afghanistan—is that they measure inputs, not outputs: the size of the local security forces, the number of operations they undertake, the willingness of civilians to phone in tips, the ability of local lawmakers to reach agreement on legislation—all of these are inputs. The ultimate output has to be a reduction of violence, and those inputs are only insignificant insofar as they contribute (or not) to that goal.

The only way the war will be judged a success is if the number of civilians killed goes down. By a stroke of good fortune, that figure happens to be relatively easy to measure objectively, whereas most of the other metrics are subject to interpretation and debate. (Just imagine how hard it would be to figure out if corruption in Afghanistan is up, down, or unchanged. Hard? More like impossible.) In Iraq the murder rate was rapidly increasing before the surge and fell just as rapidly thereafter. That’s how the world knew we were winning. Today in Afghanistan, the number of civilians killed is on the upswing. Only by reducing that figure will we reverse the downward slide of the war effort. Everything else is just noise.

The New York Times reports on the difficulties the Obama administration is encountering in gauging progress in Afghanistan. According to the report:

Senior administration officials said that the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones, approved a classified policy document on July 17 setting out nine broad objectives for metrics to guide the administration’s policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Another month or two is still needed to flesh out the details, according to officials engaged in the work. …

For instance, some of the measures now being devised by the Obama administration track the size, strength and self-reliance of the Afghan National Army, which the United States has been struggling to train for seven years. They include the number of operations in which Afghan soldiers are in the lead, or the number of Afghan soldiers who have received basic instruction.

The article goes on to note the difficulties the Bush administration had in devising metrics for Iraq. One such metric touted by the White House in 2005-06 was the “rat rate”—the number of good tips from Iraqis about insurgent activities. Only one problem: as the rat rate went up, so did violence. The article doesn’t mention, but could have, the 12 benchmarks Congress mandated in 2007—most of which proved utterly irrelevant to the success of the surge, which depended on better counterinsurgency tactics and the willingness of former insurgents to change sides.

Then there were numerous attempts earlier in the war by the Bush administration to measure progress based on inflated figures of Iraqi security personnel who were supposedly ready to fight insurgents—a particular obsession of Don Rumsfeld. This really shouldn’t be so hard. The problem with most of the faux metrics employed in Iraq—and now migrating to Afghanistan—is that they measure inputs, not outputs: the size of the local security forces, the number of operations they undertake, the willingness of civilians to phone in tips, the ability of local lawmakers to reach agreement on legislation—all of these are inputs. The ultimate output has to be a reduction of violence, and those inputs are only insignificant insofar as they contribute (or not) to that goal.

The only way the war will be judged a success is if the number of civilians killed goes down. By a stroke of good fortune, that figure happens to be relatively easy to measure objectively, whereas most of the other metrics are subject to interpretation and debate. (Just imagine how hard it would be to figure out if corruption in Afghanistan is up, down, or unchanged. Hard? More like impossible.) In Iraq the murder rate was rapidly increasing before the surge and fell just as rapidly thereafter. That’s how the world knew we were winning. Today in Afghanistan, the number of civilians killed is on the upswing. Only by reducing that figure will we reverse the downward slide of the war effort. Everything else is just noise.

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More On Mary Robinson

The Los Angeles Times has also picked up on the story. The contrast between Robinson and her critics is stark:

Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a member of the Jewish caucus to the conference, said Thursday that Robinson “allowed the event to be hijacked by extremists who had no interest in peace.”

The episode, Cooper said, “degraded” the global human rights effort, setting the stage for the second racism conference, held this spring, in which a keynote speaker was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fierce enemy of Israel who has questioned whether the Holocaust occurred.

Robinson “simply did not have the guts . . . to step into the fray and say it can’t be this way,” Cooper said. “She’s a nice woman and a good person, but the fact that you mean well isn’t a prerequisite to get our nation’s highest honor.”

Robinson, Ireland’s president from 1990 to 1997, told Irish reporters this week that the accusations had no merit and blamed the controversy on “a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community.”

Just bullies for bringing up that Durban material. Old hat. Get on with it. Why are they making such a fuss? Her contempt oozes. But perhaps, as I suggested, Obama’s ability to deflect and minimize American Jewish opposition to his policy toward Israel is fading. A new poll suggests most American Jews have had it with Obama’s settlement policy. Dick Morris and Eileen McGann explain that while Jews overwhelmingly approve of Obama’s job performance, it is a different story on Israel according to a telephone survey by the Traditional Values Coalition and conducted by Global Marketing Research Services on July 22-24 of 500 American Jews who self-identified as Democrats:

Asked to choose between the Obama view that “if Israel could settle its dispute with the Palestinian refugees and give them a nation of their own, that the Arabs would live in peace with Israel” and the Israeli government view that “the Arabs will never live in peace with Israel and that giving them a nation of their own will just make them stronger,” Jewish Democrats sided with the Israeli view by 52 percent to 20 percent.On the contentious issue of construction in existing West Bank settlements, Democratic Jews also sided with Israel more than with Obama. The survey asked for agreement with Obama when he “says that it is very important that Israel not expand its settlements on the West Bank so as not to alienate the Palestinians,” or with Israel that “it should be allowed to build new homes in existing settlements but not to start new ones” — and got 52-37 backing for the Israeli view.

[. . .]

By 58-16, Jewish Democrats agree that “Obama is doing a good job of promoting peace in the Middle East.” But they share Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s skepticism about trading land for peace, the cornerstone of the “road map” to a settlement laid out in the 1990s. . . Nearly half of Jewish Democrats still reject the idea that Obama is biased against Israel: In all, 49 percent said he wasn’t and 16 percent said he was — but a significantly large number, 35 percent, said they were undecided.

Only 27 percent feel that “President Obama is right that Israel should agree to let the Palestinians form their own country and return the West Bank to them. This would defuse the hatred in the Middle East, reduce terrorism and help America, the Palestinians, and Israel live in peace.”

This survey was taken weeks before the Robinson award and before more rounds of haranguing Michael Oren on settlements. I suspect the number of Jews who are “undecided” about Obama’s anti-Israel bias may be going up. There is just so much the American Jewish community can be expected to countenance; the Robinson mess is just the latest affront — and may be, if the president simply hunkers down, a defining moment.

The Los Angeles Times has also picked up on the story. The contrast between Robinson and her critics is stark:

Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a member of the Jewish caucus to the conference, said Thursday that Robinson “allowed the event to be hijacked by extremists who had no interest in peace.”

The episode, Cooper said, “degraded” the global human rights effort, setting the stage for the second racism conference, held this spring, in which a keynote speaker was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fierce enemy of Israel who has questioned whether the Holocaust occurred.

Robinson “simply did not have the guts . . . to step into the fray and say it can’t be this way,” Cooper said. “She’s a nice woman and a good person, but the fact that you mean well isn’t a prerequisite to get our nation’s highest honor.”

Robinson, Ireland’s president from 1990 to 1997, told Irish reporters this week that the accusations had no merit and blamed the controversy on “a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community.”

Just bullies for bringing up that Durban material. Old hat. Get on with it. Why are they making such a fuss? Her contempt oozes. But perhaps, as I suggested, Obama’s ability to deflect and minimize American Jewish opposition to his policy toward Israel is fading. A new poll suggests most American Jews have had it with Obama’s settlement policy. Dick Morris and Eileen McGann explain that while Jews overwhelmingly approve of Obama’s job performance, it is a different story on Israel according to a telephone survey by the Traditional Values Coalition and conducted by Global Marketing Research Services on July 22-24 of 500 American Jews who self-identified as Democrats:

Asked to choose between the Obama view that “if Israel could settle its dispute with the Palestinian refugees and give them a nation of their own, that the Arabs would live in peace with Israel” and the Israeli government view that “the Arabs will never live in peace with Israel and that giving them a nation of their own will just make them stronger,” Jewish Democrats sided with the Israeli view by 52 percent to 20 percent.On the contentious issue of construction in existing West Bank settlements, Democratic Jews also sided with Israel more than with Obama. The survey asked for agreement with Obama when he “says that it is very important that Israel not expand its settlements on the West Bank so as not to alienate the Palestinians,” or with Israel that “it should be allowed to build new homes in existing settlements but not to start new ones” — and got 52-37 backing for the Israeli view.

[. . .]

By 58-16, Jewish Democrats agree that “Obama is doing a good job of promoting peace in the Middle East.” But they share Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s skepticism about trading land for peace, the cornerstone of the “road map” to a settlement laid out in the 1990s. . . Nearly half of Jewish Democrats still reject the idea that Obama is biased against Israel: In all, 49 percent said he wasn’t and 16 percent said he was — but a significantly large number, 35 percent, said they were undecided.

Only 27 percent feel that “President Obama is right that Israel should agree to let the Palestinians form their own country and return the West Bank to them. This would defuse the hatred in the Middle East, reduce terrorism and help America, the Palestinians, and Israel live in peace.”

This survey was taken weeks before the Robinson award and before more rounds of haranguing Michael Oren on settlements. I suspect the number of Jews who are “undecided” about Obama’s anti-Israel bias may be going up. There is just so much the American Jewish community can be expected to countenance; the Robinson mess is just the latest affront — and may be, if the president simply hunkers down, a defining moment.

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A Phased Approach

Grim signals are emerging on the anniversary of last year’s five-day war between Russia and Georgia. Russia has accused Georgia several times in the past few months of shelling South Ossetia, most recently over an August 1 incident, which Georgia denies, and which EU monitors in South Ossetia — the only multinational mission still permitted by Russia — cannot confirm even happened, because their movements in the province are restricted. Moscow followed the latest accusation with a stern warning to Tbilisi that it would use force if necessary to safeguard the breakaway provinces.

On August 4, South Ossetia’s authorities closed the border with Georgia, coincident with complaints from Tbilisi that Russian troops were “redrawing” the border by setting up a tactical position on its Georgian side. Russian troops were put on their highest state of alert on August 5; and on August 6, Moscow urged Tbilisi, in contumacious language, to sign nonaggression treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia — which only Russia and Nicaragua recognize as independent nations.

As Russia’s government intensifies its public argument that Georgia is acting provocatively and one of its senior officials makes the case that Russia’s predicted isolation in the wake of last year’s conflict “never happened,” the focus of U.S. State and Defense Department testimony to the Senate this week is on balanced engagement with Georgia and on promoting democratic improvements. A 2009 assessment by U.S. military advisers, for example, concluded that Georgia needs better organization, training, and doctrine for her armed forces before there should be any talk about actually selling Georgia weapons. The Defense official assured Senator Jim DeMint (R-TN) that “nothing is off the table” in this regard, “but we believe a phased approach is the way to go.” The focus of military cooperation will be on readying Georgian troops to deploy to Afghanistan.

Georgia proposed this summer that the EU-monitoring mission admit U.S. members, a move strongly endorsed by Poland, Lithuania, and Finland, among others. The EU turned the suggestion down in late July. No U.S. “engagement” with this proposal has been evident, other than reported statements that Georgia has not made a formal request. More recent engagement may include the unheralded visit to Georgia on August 6 by Daniel Fried, a State Department official who played a key role in responding to last year’s conflict. Fried’s new portfolio, however, is “Guantanamo Closure Czar,” and his dedicated travels for that project since May suggest another possibility.

We can expect even fewer tactical warnings of Russian intentions this year. Moscow has 15,000 troops in the breakaway provinces now and need not build forces up as overtly as in 2008. Russia is unlikely to “move” on the anniversary of the 2008 invasion but is clearly selling a theme of Georgian provocation in relation to it. Georgian allegations this spring that Russia is funding the nation’s internal opposition suggest a comprehensive pressure approach by Moscow: the Russians would probably prefer inducing Saakashvili’s government’s fall over invading and conquering. But the “information” campaign in Russian media is designed to justify military action.

America appears to be replaying the prelude to last year’s invasion of Georgia. Our “phased,” business-as-usual approach to Georgia’s defense is put in useful perspective by this excellent analysis of a diplomat who drew the following conclusion about the events of 2008:

So how did the U.S. government “fail so spectacularly” in predicting Russian aggression into Georgia? The answer, according to Smith, is “cognitive dissonance.” “We so much wanted to believe that what was happening wasn’t happening” that we overlooked all the obvious signals — both military and diplomatic, he said.

His presentation makes it clear that we are engaged today in ignoring the same signals that befuddled us in 2008. Last time, Russia came out of the invasion with both of the breakaway provinces. Next time, Moscow is likely to come out of it with a leadership of its choosing holding power in Tbilisi.

Grim signals are emerging on the anniversary of last year’s five-day war between Russia and Georgia. Russia has accused Georgia several times in the past few months of shelling South Ossetia, most recently over an August 1 incident, which Georgia denies, and which EU monitors in South Ossetia — the only multinational mission still permitted by Russia — cannot confirm even happened, because their movements in the province are restricted. Moscow followed the latest accusation with a stern warning to Tbilisi that it would use force if necessary to safeguard the breakaway provinces.

On August 4, South Ossetia’s authorities closed the border with Georgia, coincident with complaints from Tbilisi that Russian troops were “redrawing” the border by setting up a tactical position on its Georgian side. Russian troops were put on their highest state of alert on August 5; and on August 6, Moscow urged Tbilisi, in contumacious language, to sign nonaggression treaties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia — which only Russia and Nicaragua recognize as independent nations.

As Russia’s government intensifies its public argument that Georgia is acting provocatively and one of its senior officials makes the case that Russia’s predicted isolation in the wake of last year’s conflict “never happened,” the focus of U.S. State and Defense Department testimony to the Senate this week is on balanced engagement with Georgia and on promoting democratic improvements. A 2009 assessment by U.S. military advisers, for example, concluded that Georgia needs better organization, training, and doctrine for her armed forces before there should be any talk about actually selling Georgia weapons. The Defense official assured Senator Jim DeMint (R-TN) that “nothing is off the table” in this regard, “but we believe a phased approach is the way to go.” The focus of military cooperation will be on readying Georgian troops to deploy to Afghanistan.

Georgia proposed this summer that the EU-monitoring mission admit U.S. members, a move strongly endorsed by Poland, Lithuania, and Finland, among others. The EU turned the suggestion down in late July. No U.S. “engagement” with this proposal has been evident, other than reported statements that Georgia has not made a formal request. More recent engagement may include the unheralded visit to Georgia on August 6 by Daniel Fried, a State Department official who played a key role in responding to last year’s conflict. Fried’s new portfolio, however, is “Guantanamo Closure Czar,” and his dedicated travels for that project since May suggest another possibility.

We can expect even fewer tactical warnings of Russian intentions this year. Moscow has 15,000 troops in the breakaway provinces now and need not build forces up as overtly as in 2008. Russia is unlikely to “move” on the anniversary of the 2008 invasion but is clearly selling a theme of Georgian provocation in relation to it. Georgian allegations this spring that Russia is funding the nation’s internal opposition suggest a comprehensive pressure approach by Moscow: the Russians would probably prefer inducing Saakashvili’s government’s fall over invading and conquering. But the “information” campaign in Russian media is designed to justify military action.

America appears to be replaying the prelude to last year’s invasion of Georgia. Our “phased,” business-as-usual approach to Georgia’s defense is put in useful perspective by this excellent analysis of a diplomat who drew the following conclusion about the events of 2008:

So how did the U.S. government “fail so spectacularly” in predicting Russian aggression into Georgia? The answer, according to Smith, is “cognitive dissonance.” “We so much wanted to believe that what was happening wasn’t happening” that we overlooked all the obvious signals — both military and diplomatic, he said.

His presentation makes it clear that we are engaged today in ignoring the same signals that befuddled us in 2008. Last time, Russia came out of the invasion with both of the breakaway provinces. Next time, Moscow is likely to come out of it with a leadership of its choosing holding power in Tbilisi.

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Robinson — A Bridge Too Far

Erick Stakelbeck of CBN has a compelling report on the Mary Robinson fiasco. Meanwhile, the World Jewish Congress puts out a statement:

We are deeply troubled that the White House has chosen to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. During her tenure, she presided over the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, which deteriorated from a conference intended to combat racism into a platform for demonstrations of hostility to Israel and the Jewish people unprecedented in an event convened by the international body. At that time, Ms. Robinson could have done much to prevent the debacle but instead chose to legitimize it. The United States boycotted Durban in 2001 over the events that transpired there and the final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism. Indeed, the Durban final outcome document was re-affirmed at the Durban Review Conference held in Geneva in April 2009, which was not attended by the United States precisely because of the affirmation of this document.

Ms. Robinson’s tenure at the UNCHR featured much anti-Israel activity, including distorted condemnatory reports and statements, an endorsement of Palestinian violence as legitimate political activity, and the outrageous equating of the Holocaust to the suffering of the Palestinians. We believe that her performance in the UNCHR renders her unqualified to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.

A week after the controversy arose, the New York Times reports on the firestorm: “President Obama’s decision to bestow one of the nation’s highest honors on Mary Robinson, the first woman to serve as Ireland’s president, has touched off protests by Jewish groups and lawmakers, who claim she has shown a persistent anti-Israel bias in her work as a human rights advocate.” As for Robinson, she avoids any specifics and sticks to her talking point: “This is old, recycled, untrue stuff.” What is untrue — the condemnation by Tom Lantos and Elie Wiesel? Her celebration of Durban for years after the hate-fest?

She adds: “I have been very critical of the Palestinian side. My conduct continues to be on the side of tackling anti-Semitism and discrimination.” One wonders why none of that manifested itself at Durban 1. (One wonders even further: Is this the extent of the grilling from the New York Times?)

However this award debacle unfolds — be it retraction or apology or stubborn insistence on barreling through with a controversy-ridden ceremony — it seems that a line has been crossed. Until now, Jewish organizations have been disinclined, even after substantial provocation, to take on the president. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He really gets it, honest. Well, let’s see if we can work quietly with the administration. All such sentiments — and the pure desire to maintain access and cordiality — prevented mainstream Jewish organizations and elected Jewish leaders from airing sharp criticism. But this is different.

An affront too great and glaring to be wished away has surfaced. The inhibition on speaking out against an administration hostile toward Israel has been lifted. Once broken, perhaps it will become a habit — one of candid and honest criticism, of refusal to accept the unacceptable, and of willingness to explain to an administration (which is apparently far denser than even its harshest critics imagined) exactly how it errs. If so, the Mary Robinson award may prove far more politically damaging than the Obama team ever imagined.

Erick Stakelbeck of CBN has a compelling report on the Mary Robinson fiasco. Meanwhile, the World Jewish Congress puts out a statement:

We are deeply troubled that the White House has chosen to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. During her tenure, she presided over the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, which deteriorated from a conference intended to combat racism into a platform for demonstrations of hostility to Israel and the Jewish people unprecedented in an event convened by the international body. At that time, Ms. Robinson could have done much to prevent the debacle but instead chose to legitimize it. The United States boycotted Durban in 2001 over the events that transpired there and the final outcome document that equated Zionism with racism. Indeed, the Durban final outcome document was re-affirmed at the Durban Review Conference held in Geneva in April 2009, which was not attended by the United States precisely because of the affirmation of this document.

Ms. Robinson’s tenure at the UNCHR featured much anti-Israel activity, including distorted condemnatory reports and statements, an endorsement of Palestinian violence as legitimate political activity, and the outrageous equating of the Holocaust to the suffering of the Palestinians. We believe that her performance in the UNCHR renders her unqualified to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.

A week after the controversy arose, the New York Times reports on the firestorm: “President Obama’s decision to bestow one of the nation’s highest honors on Mary Robinson, the first woman to serve as Ireland’s president, has touched off protests by Jewish groups and lawmakers, who claim she has shown a persistent anti-Israel bias in her work as a human rights advocate.” As for Robinson, she avoids any specifics and sticks to her talking point: “This is old, recycled, untrue stuff.” What is untrue — the condemnation by Tom Lantos and Elie Wiesel? Her celebration of Durban for years after the hate-fest?

She adds: “I have been very critical of the Palestinian side. My conduct continues to be on the side of tackling anti-Semitism and discrimination.” One wonders why none of that manifested itself at Durban 1. (One wonders even further: Is this the extent of the grilling from the New York Times?)

However this award debacle unfolds — be it retraction or apology or stubborn insistence on barreling through with a controversy-ridden ceremony — it seems that a line has been crossed. Until now, Jewish organizations have been disinclined, even after substantial provocation, to take on the president. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He really gets it, honest. Well, let’s see if we can work quietly with the administration. All such sentiments — and the pure desire to maintain access and cordiality — prevented mainstream Jewish organizations and elected Jewish leaders from airing sharp criticism. But this is different.

An affront too great and glaring to be wished away has surfaced. The inhibition on speaking out against an administration hostile toward Israel has been lifted. Once broken, perhaps it will become a habit — one of candid and honest criticism, of refusal to accept the unacceptable, and of willingness to explain to an administration (which is apparently far denser than even its harshest critics imagined) exactly how it errs. If so, the Mary Robinson award may prove far more politically damaging than the Obama team ever imagined.

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Imposing a Peace Agreement on Israel

In a “Dispatch” at the Atlantic entitled “Losing Patience with Israel,” Robert D. Kaplan writes that many in the administration and “the wider Washington establishment” have “lost patience with what they see as Israeli intransigence over settlements” — and want to impose a peace agreement:

It may actually be in Israel’s best interests for America, Saudi Arabia, and other moderate Arab states to impose a peace agreement by leaning hard on the Palestinians, as America twists Israel’s arm. The result would be the return of almost all of the West Bank to a fundamentally demilitarized Palestinian state, even as many Israeli settlements are dismantled. What other resolution can there be?

Let me take a crack at that: how about a demilitarized Palestinian state, with borders enabling Israel to defend itself, with Israeli settlements within the Palestinian state left in place?

The U.S. has formally promised Israel support for “defensible borders” because such borders are both an American and an Israeli interest: otherwise, the U.S. would have to guarantee indefensible borders with troops on the ground, in a militarily untenable position. Israeli retention of the large settlement blocs is part of “defensible borders” (since the blocs are in militarily strategic locations), and the U.S. explicitly backed them in the 2004 Bush letter. The U.S. cannot honorably renege on that commitment, nor would American interests be served by doing so.

The remaining settlements are by definition minor, with a population less than 2 percent of the putative Palestinian state. If there can be 1 million Arabs in Israel, why can there not be 50,000 Jews in a Palestinian state? To say a Palestinian state could not protect them is an admission that such a state would be unstable and/or anti-Semitic, unlikely in either case to live “side by side, in peace and security” with a Jewish state.

The inability of important writers such as Robert Kaplan to conceive of an alternative to a Judenrein Palestinian state on almost all the West Bank is an unfortunate example of how appeasement of Palestinian demands has become the indicator of progress toward peace. Even assuming that Arab states would “lean hard” on Palestinians to accept what they have repeatedly rejected, why would an apartheid state with borders endangering Israel be in America’s interest?

Salam Fayyad, currently the favorite Palestinian of both the administration and the wider Washington establishment, has stated (at least in English) that he has no problem with Jews remaining in a Palestinian state. If so, why are the settlements an obstacle to peace? And why should impatient peace processors seek to impose a “peace agreement” by bullying Israel about them?

In a “Dispatch” at the Atlantic entitled “Losing Patience with Israel,” Robert D. Kaplan writes that many in the administration and “the wider Washington establishment” have “lost patience with what they see as Israeli intransigence over settlements” — and want to impose a peace agreement:

It may actually be in Israel’s best interests for America, Saudi Arabia, and other moderate Arab states to impose a peace agreement by leaning hard on the Palestinians, as America twists Israel’s arm. The result would be the return of almost all of the West Bank to a fundamentally demilitarized Palestinian state, even as many Israeli settlements are dismantled. What other resolution can there be?

Let me take a crack at that: how about a demilitarized Palestinian state, with borders enabling Israel to defend itself, with Israeli settlements within the Palestinian state left in place?

The U.S. has formally promised Israel support for “defensible borders” because such borders are both an American and an Israeli interest: otherwise, the U.S. would have to guarantee indefensible borders with troops on the ground, in a militarily untenable position. Israeli retention of the large settlement blocs is part of “defensible borders” (since the blocs are in militarily strategic locations), and the U.S. explicitly backed them in the 2004 Bush letter. The U.S. cannot honorably renege on that commitment, nor would American interests be served by doing so.

The remaining settlements are by definition minor, with a population less than 2 percent of the putative Palestinian state. If there can be 1 million Arabs in Israel, why can there not be 50,000 Jews in a Palestinian state? To say a Palestinian state could not protect them is an admission that such a state would be unstable and/or anti-Semitic, unlikely in either case to live “side by side, in peace and security” with a Jewish state.

The inability of important writers such as Robert Kaplan to conceive of an alternative to a Judenrein Palestinian state on almost all the West Bank is an unfortunate example of how appeasement of Palestinian demands has become the indicator of progress toward peace. Even assuming that Arab states would “lean hard” on Palestinians to accept what they have repeatedly rejected, why would an apartheid state with borders endangering Israel be in America’s interest?

Salam Fayyad, currently the favorite Palestinian of both the administration and the wider Washington establishment, has stated (at least in English) that he has no problem with Jews remaining in a Palestinian state. If so, why are the settlements an obstacle to peace? And why should impatient peace processors seek to impose a “peace agreement” by bullying Israel about them?

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Repercussions of Bay Area Outrage

On Sunday I wrote about the San Francisco Jewish Federation–sponsored Jewish Film Festival, which featured the Palestinian propaganda film Rachel and descended into a display of anti-Israel venom. If the letters to the editor in this week’s JWeekly.com are any indication, there are plenty of very upset Jews in the Bay Area. One writes:

Many people think that the recent showing of “Rachel” at the SFJFF was meant to stir controversy in the Jewish community over Israeli policy. It has accomplished more than that. Some people wanted to see the film for what it was and did not anticipate the repercussions; i.e. the intolerable rudeness toward Dr. Mike Harris and the stomping out of his opposing point of view. They thought that Cindy Corrie’s presence would add credibility to the film, not knowing that she is a pro-Palestinian propagandist who was photographed smiling next to Arafat.

Some other accomplishments were:

1. That changes will be made on the SFJFF board;

2. That people are annoyed with what seems to be spinelessness in Jewish leadership;

3. That a major contradiction is “free speech” and discussion are for some, but not for others — an issue to be examined;

4. That there are “peaceniks” who have disdain for any peace, but instead, behave like violent thugs.

It’s an accomplishment that the broader Jewish “community” has woken up here and elsewhere in the States and world.

Another writes:

In donating to the federation I trusted and empowered a group to manage my contribution in a responsible way. They agreed to use proper judgment with any investment. The federation has no right to use diversity as an excuse to justify their support of predictable behavior similar to Hamas or KKK as demonstrated by some anti-Israel organizations.

Holding an anti-Israel, hate-fest film festival with our federation donations is not what I would consider Jewish behavior. Nevertheless, the film festival has the right to screen any film or invite Cindy Corrie to be a speaker — all of which I strongly oppose.

Following several failed attempts to influence the federation to reconsider their position and instead apply good judgment and leadership, I finally understood that they have deliberated, considered all sides carefully and made a final decision. One which, with my minimal wisdom, I cannot support.

I had no choice but to stop all my donations to the federation. I will be redirecting my funds, as well as additional money, to pro-Israel groups who demonstrate better judgment and have no difficulties leading.

And Natan Nestel writes of the federation:

Federation CEO Daniel Sokatch camouflages the Federation’s failure to oppose the incessant ideological assault on Israel by invoking buzzwords like “diversity” and “depth of feelings and convictions.” He ducks the real issue — how best to counter extremists, their propaganda and their political machinations.

The anti-Zionist crowd cheered Ahmadinejad, anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions and screamed “Sig Heil” — all with Federation (your) funds and its tacit approval.

This “debate” is about life-and-death issues regarding our brethren in Israel, not a local dispute with friendly disagreements. Sokatch’s failure to see that distinction is indeed disturbing; Federation leaders don’t seem to get it.

Federation’s misguided effort to grant legitimacy to anti-Israel organizations must stop. Simply put, the Federation shouldn’t support organizations or events that promote anti-Israel venom and that collaborate with anti-Israel groups and individuals.

Perhaps the Jewish Film Festival and its federation sponsors misread their greater audience beyond the netroot film crowd. If so, some good may come of this horrendous lapse of judgment.

On Sunday I wrote about the San Francisco Jewish Federation–sponsored Jewish Film Festival, which featured the Palestinian propaganda film Rachel and descended into a display of anti-Israel venom. If the letters to the editor in this week’s JWeekly.com are any indication, there are plenty of very upset Jews in the Bay Area. One writes:

Many people think that the recent showing of “Rachel” at the SFJFF was meant to stir controversy in the Jewish community over Israeli policy. It has accomplished more than that. Some people wanted to see the film for what it was and did not anticipate the repercussions; i.e. the intolerable rudeness toward Dr. Mike Harris and the stomping out of his opposing point of view. They thought that Cindy Corrie’s presence would add credibility to the film, not knowing that she is a pro-Palestinian propagandist who was photographed smiling next to Arafat.

Some other accomplishments were:

1. That changes will be made on the SFJFF board;

2. That people are annoyed with what seems to be spinelessness in Jewish leadership;

3. That a major contradiction is “free speech” and discussion are for some, but not for others — an issue to be examined;

4. That there are “peaceniks” who have disdain for any peace, but instead, behave like violent thugs.

It’s an accomplishment that the broader Jewish “community” has woken up here and elsewhere in the States and world.

Another writes:

In donating to the federation I trusted and empowered a group to manage my contribution in a responsible way. They agreed to use proper judgment with any investment. The federation has no right to use diversity as an excuse to justify their support of predictable behavior similar to Hamas or KKK as demonstrated by some anti-Israel organizations.

Holding an anti-Israel, hate-fest film festival with our federation donations is not what I would consider Jewish behavior. Nevertheless, the film festival has the right to screen any film or invite Cindy Corrie to be a speaker — all of which I strongly oppose.

Following several failed attempts to influence the federation to reconsider their position and instead apply good judgment and leadership, I finally understood that they have deliberated, considered all sides carefully and made a final decision. One which, with my minimal wisdom, I cannot support.

I had no choice but to stop all my donations to the federation. I will be redirecting my funds, as well as additional money, to pro-Israel groups who demonstrate better judgment and have no difficulties leading.

And Natan Nestel writes of the federation:

Federation CEO Daniel Sokatch camouflages the Federation’s failure to oppose the incessant ideological assault on Israel by invoking buzzwords like “diversity” and “depth of feelings and convictions.” He ducks the real issue — how best to counter extremists, their propaganda and their political machinations.

The anti-Zionist crowd cheered Ahmadinejad, anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions and screamed “Sig Heil” — all with Federation (your) funds and its tacit approval.

This “debate” is about life-and-death issues regarding our brethren in Israel, not a local dispute with friendly disagreements. Sokatch’s failure to see that distinction is indeed disturbing; Federation leaders don’t seem to get it.

Federation’s misguided effort to grant legitimacy to anti-Israel organizations must stop. Simply put, the Federation shouldn’t support organizations or events that promote anti-Israel venom and that collaborate with anti-Israel groups and individuals.

Perhaps the Jewish Film Festival and its federation sponsors misread their greater audience beyond the netroot film crowd. If so, some good may come of this horrendous lapse of judgment.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama’s approval rating is down to 50 percent in the Quinnipiac poll.

We’re getting better, except we are not: “White House economic adviser Christina Romer said on Thursday that the $787-billion U.S. stimulus program was stabilizing the economy despite unacceptably high job losses.”

You saw this one coming This Week beats Meets the Press.

Blanche Lincoln changes her mind — OK, maybe the health-care town-hall protesters aren’t “un-American” after all.

Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to let voters get in the way of health-care reform. No, really.

But she will keep busy during summer recess: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moves in a rarefied world of high society and high-level politics — and nothing underscores that fact quite like her plans for the August recess. Pelosi will spend next weekend quietly tending to top party donors and political allies at a series of private events in Northern California.”

Obama’s support among independent voters plummets.

From a CNN poll: “‘Do you consider the first six months of the Obama administration to be a success or a failure?’ Thirty-seven percent (37%) said they believe the Obama administration is a ‘failure,’ while 51% consider it a ‘success’ and 11% say it’s still ‘too soon to tell.’ An identical question was asked of the Bush administration in an August 2001 CNN/Gallup/USA Today survey.  At the time, 56% said the Bush administration was a ‘success’ while only 32% considered it a ‘failure.'”

Chris Christie’s double-digit lead is holding firm, and even Daily Kos has him up by eight points. Yes, but it’s only August.

From Mickey Kaus: “From out here on the West Coast, it sure looks as if OMB Director Peter Orszag is the Donald Rumsfeld of the looming health care quagmire, in the sense that a) it’s his strategy that’s failing — at least failing to win over public opinion; and b) it’s hard to see how the strategy changes with him in the position he’s in, and c) he’s a logical fall guy in any case.”

Sen. Ben Cardin decides to drop the conspiracy hooey and admit that voters at his town halls aren’t stooges. They have “legitimate questions.” Do you think respecting the voters will work? Hmm. Probably a long shot.

Obama’s approval rating is down to 50 percent in the Quinnipiac poll.

We’re getting better, except we are not: “White House economic adviser Christina Romer said on Thursday that the $787-billion U.S. stimulus program was stabilizing the economy despite unacceptably high job losses.”

You saw this one coming This Week beats Meets the Press.

Blanche Lincoln changes her mind — OK, maybe the health-care town-hall protesters aren’t “un-American” after all.

Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to let voters get in the way of health-care reform. No, really.

But she will keep busy during summer recess: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moves in a rarefied world of high society and high-level politics — and nothing underscores that fact quite like her plans for the August recess. Pelosi will spend next weekend quietly tending to top party donors and political allies at a series of private events in Northern California.”

Obama’s support among independent voters plummets.

From a CNN poll: “‘Do you consider the first six months of the Obama administration to be a success or a failure?’ Thirty-seven percent (37%) said they believe the Obama administration is a ‘failure,’ while 51% consider it a ‘success’ and 11% say it’s still ‘too soon to tell.’ An identical question was asked of the Bush administration in an August 2001 CNN/Gallup/USA Today survey.  At the time, 56% said the Bush administration was a ‘success’ while only 32% considered it a ‘failure.'”

Chris Christie’s double-digit lead is holding firm, and even Daily Kos has him up by eight points. Yes, but it’s only August.

From Mickey Kaus: “From out here on the West Coast, it sure looks as if OMB Director Peter Orszag is the Donald Rumsfeld of the looming health care quagmire, in the sense that a) it’s his strategy that’s failing — at least failing to win over public opinion; and b) it’s hard to see how the strategy changes with him in the position he’s in, and c) he’s a logical fall guy in any case.”

Sen. Ben Cardin decides to drop the conspiracy hooey and admit that voters at his town halls aren’t stooges. They have “legitimate questions.” Do you think respecting the voters will work? Hmm. Probably a long shot.

Read Less




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