Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 4, 2010

Hey Peter, There’s a Reason Why “Free Gaza” Doesn’t Help Shalit

Peter Beinart weighed in today with another column at the Daily Beast designed to bolster his standing as a “liberal Zionist” rather than as merely another member of the pack of jackals attacking Israel for trying to enforce the blockade against the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Of course, Beinart has not changed his mind about the attempts to isolate the Islamist terrorists who seized power in a bloody coup and who pose the biggest obstacle to the two-state solution to the conflict, which he says he wants. He still buys into the Palestinian myths about the situation in Gaza. And he is equally resolute in his determination to ignore everything that has happened in the Middle East since 1993, when Israel began a series of attempts to buy peace with the Palestinians by trading land for the hope of peace. Because it is only by pretending that 17 years of Israeli concessions never happened that can he hold on to the falsehood that the lack of peace is due to Israeli intransigence aided and abetted by American supporters.

But, at least to his partial credit, Beinart hasn’t forgotten the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for four years. Beinart thinks the “Free Gaza” movement of foreign cheerleaders for Hamas ought to embrace Shalit’s cause and draw a moral equivalence between his plight and that of Palestinians trapped inside Gaza. He urges “Free Gaza” activists and others who are trying to aid Hamas by breaking the blockade to think of Shalit “as a Gazan — a caged, brutalized, Gazan Jew.” In doing so, he theorizes that they could gain the sympathy of Israelis who support the blockade in part because of Hamas’s refusal to free Shalit or even to allow the Red Cross to visit the prisoner. Beinart endorses Israeli journalist Eitan Haber’s proposal that the next ship that heads for Gaza be allowed through by the Israelis on the condition that it bring food to Shalit. That would, Beinart agrees, put the pro-Palestinian crowd to a test that would prove whether they are genuine humanitarians or merely Israel-haters.

Yet unfortunately for Beinart — and Shalit — the “Free Gaza” crowd has already been put to such a test. As I wrote last week, before the flotilla that Israel intercepted was launched in Turkey, the family of Gilad Shalit begged the organizers to take a package of letters and food to the Israeli being held in Gaza. In return, they promised to lend their voices to a call for lifting the blockade. Accepting this offer would have cost “Free Gaza” nothing and would only have given them good publicity and probably would have caused the Israeli government to seriously consider letting them through the blockade. But, in a decision that Beinart and other critics of Israel seemed to ignore, they refused the Shalit family.

Why? It’s not that hard to figure out even if your grasp of the Middle East is as dim as that of Peter Beinart.

First, they don’t care about Gilad Shalit. Like his Hamas kidnappers, the “Free Gaza” group is composed of anti-Zionists — people who don’t think there ought to be a Jewish state and that Jewish soldiers who defend it are, by definition, criminals who deserve what they get from Hamas. Most think the same about Israeli civilians who live under the threat of rocket fire and terrorist attack from Hamas.

Second, they are not humanitarians. They are Israel-haters. The goal of their Mediterranean cruise was not to help Gazans but to embarrass Israel. After all, if foreign sympathizers of the Palestinians really wanted to help the people of Gaza, they might oppose the rule of a tyrannical Islamist terror group, advocate for peace, not the destruction of Israel, and support efforts to resettle and absorb the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees elsewhere rather than keep them in place in Gaza, where they can serve to continue to fuel the conflict.

Beinart needs to understand that the “Free Gaza” movement won’t lift a finger for Shalit for the same reason that the Palestinian leadership has refused to make peace for the last 17 years: they aren’t interested in compromise or peace; they want to destroy Israel. Like the “Free Gaza” organizers, the Palestinian leadership has already been put to the test and failed. But I guess ignoring inconvenient facts is one of the membership requirements if you want to join Peter Beinart’s elite club of “liberal Zionist” writers who bash Israel.

Peter Beinart weighed in today with another column at the Daily Beast designed to bolster his standing as a “liberal Zionist” rather than as merely another member of the pack of jackals attacking Israel for trying to enforce the blockade against the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Of course, Beinart has not changed his mind about the attempts to isolate the Islamist terrorists who seized power in a bloody coup and who pose the biggest obstacle to the two-state solution to the conflict, which he says he wants. He still buys into the Palestinian myths about the situation in Gaza. And he is equally resolute in his determination to ignore everything that has happened in the Middle East since 1993, when Israel began a series of attempts to buy peace with the Palestinians by trading land for the hope of peace. Because it is only by pretending that 17 years of Israeli concessions never happened that can he hold on to the falsehood that the lack of peace is due to Israeli intransigence aided and abetted by American supporters.

But, at least to his partial credit, Beinart hasn’t forgotten the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas for four years. Beinart thinks the “Free Gaza” movement of foreign cheerleaders for Hamas ought to embrace Shalit’s cause and draw a moral equivalence between his plight and that of Palestinians trapped inside Gaza. He urges “Free Gaza” activists and others who are trying to aid Hamas by breaking the blockade to think of Shalit “as a Gazan — a caged, brutalized, Gazan Jew.” In doing so, he theorizes that they could gain the sympathy of Israelis who support the blockade in part because of Hamas’s refusal to free Shalit or even to allow the Red Cross to visit the prisoner. Beinart endorses Israeli journalist Eitan Haber’s proposal that the next ship that heads for Gaza be allowed through by the Israelis on the condition that it bring food to Shalit. That would, Beinart agrees, put the pro-Palestinian crowd to a test that would prove whether they are genuine humanitarians or merely Israel-haters.

Yet unfortunately for Beinart — and Shalit — the “Free Gaza” crowd has already been put to such a test. As I wrote last week, before the flotilla that Israel intercepted was launched in Turkey, the family of Gilad Shalit begged the organizers to take a package of letters and food to the Israeli being held in Gaza. In return, they promised to lend their voices to a call for lifting the blockade. Accepting this offer would have cost “Free Gaza” nothing and would only have given them good publicity and probably would have caused the Israeli government to seriously consider letting them through the blockade. But, in a decision that Beinart and other critics of Israel seemed to ignore, they refused the Shalit family.

Why? It’s not that hard to figure out even if your grasp of the Middle East is as dim as that of Peter Beinart.

First, they don’t care about Gilad Shalit. Like his Hamas kidnappers, the “Free Gaza” group is composed of anti-Zionists — people who don’t think there ought to be a Jewish state and that Jewish soldiers who defend it are, by definition, criminals who deserve what they get from Hamas. Most think the same about Israeli civilians who live under the threat of rocket fire and terrorist attack from Hamas.

Second, they are not humanitarians. They are Israel-haters. The goal of their Mediterranean cruise was not to help Gazans but to embarrass Israel. After all, if foreign sympathizers of the Palestinians really wanted to help the people of Gaza, they might oppose the rule of a tyrannical Islamist terror group, advocate for peace, not the destruction of Israel, and support efforts to resettle and absorb the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees elsewhere rather than keep them in place in Gaza, where they can serve to continue to fuel the conflict.

Beinart needs to understand that the “Free Gaza” movement won’t lift a finger for Shalit for the same reason that the Palestinian leadership has refused to make peace for the last 17 years: they aren’t interested in compromise or peace; they want to destroy Israel. Like the “Free Gaza” organizers, the Palestinian leadership has already been put to the test and failed. But I guess ignoring inconvenient facts is one of the membership requirements if you want to join Peter Beinart’s elite club of “liberal Zionist” writers who bash Israel.

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RE: Turkey or Israel

Liz Cheney has no problem choosing sides. In a statement, she declares:

Yesterday, President Obama said the Israeli action to stop the flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip was “tragic.” What is truly tragic is that President Obama is perpetuating Israel’s enemies’ version of events. The Israeli government has imposed a blockade around Gaza because Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction, refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist and using territory under their control to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, in order to prevent the re-arming of Hamas, is in full compliance with international law. Had the Turkish flotilla truly been interested in providing humanitarian aid to Gaza, they would have accepted the Israeli offer to off-load their supplies peacefully at the Israeli port of Haifa for transport into Gaza. President Obama is contributing to the isolation of Israel, and sending a clear signal to the Turkish-Syrian-Iranian axis that their methods for ostracizing Israel will succeed, and will be met by no resistance from America. There is no middle ground here. Either the United States stands with the people of Israel in the war against radical Islamic terrorism or we are providing encouragement to Israel’s enemies — and our own. Keep America Safe calls on President Obama to reverse his present course and support the state of Israel immediately and unequivocally.

If Keep America Safe is calling on the White House to support Israel unequivocally, why aren’t American Jewish organizations doing the same? It is apparently oh-so-hard for them to choose, as well: unequivocal support for a liberal president or unequivocal support for Israel. Like Cheney said, there is no middle ground here.

Liz Cheney has no problem choosing sides. In a statement, she declares:

Yesterday, President Obama said the Israeli action to stop the flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip was “tragic.” What is truly tragic is that President Obama is perpetuating Israel’s enemies’ version of events. The Israeli government has imposed a blockade around Gaza because Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction, refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist and using territory under their control to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, in order to prevent the re-arming of Hamas, is in full compliance with international law. Had the Turkish flotilla truly been interested in providing humanitarian aid to Gaza, they would have accepted the Israeli offer to off-load their supplies peacefully at the Israeli port of Haifa for transport into Gaza. President Obama is contributing to the isolation of Israel, and sending a clear signal to the Turkish-Syrian-Iranian axis that their methods for ostracizing Israel will succeed, and will be met by no resistance from America. There is no middle ground here. Either the United States stands with the people of Israel in the war against radical Islamic terrorism or we are providing encouragement to Israel’s enemies — and our own. Keep America Safe calls on President Obama to reverse his present course and support the state of Israel immediately and unequivocally.

If Keep America Safe is calling on the White House to support Israel unequivocally, why aren’t American Jewish organizations doing the same? It is apparently oh-so-hard for them to choose, as well: unequivocal support for a liberal president or unequivocal support for Israel. Like Cheney said, there is no middle ground here.

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Nuke-Free Yet?

Taking a break from the flotilla, let’s check in on how Obama’s nuke-free-world fetish is coming along. This report suggests that it is not going so well:

Burma has begun secretly acquiring key components for a nuclear weapons program, including specialized equipment used to make uranium metal for nuclear bombs, according to a report that cites documents and photos from a Burmese army officer who recently fled the country. The smuggled evidence shows Burma’s military rulers taking concrete steps toward obtaining atomic weapons, according to an analysis co-written by an independent nuclear expert.

But they are years away from getting the technology right, we are told. Unless Iran gets there first and gives it to them. Or North Korea.

But we had a cheery NPT summit and signed a START agreement. Obama said he wouldn’t nuke non-NPT signatories that hit us with chemical or biological weapons. And that didn’t impress the thugs of Burma? Hmm. But we’ve been engaging the regime, promising to welcome them into the family of nations. And that didn’t impress them either?

Obama’s policies are not simply ineffective; they are dangerous. They encourage thugocracies to pursue their own nuclear weapons and to brutalize their own people, secure in the knowledge that the U.S. will do virtually nothing to stop them. Once Iran gets the bomb, expect more like Burma to follow suit.

Taking a break from the flotilla, let’s check in on how Obama’s nuke-free-world fetish is coming along. This report suggests that it is not going so well:

Burma has begun secretly acquiring key components for a nuclear weapons program, including specialized equipment used to make uranium metal for nuclear bombs, according to a report that cites documents and photos from a Burmese army officer who recently fled the country. The smuggled evidence shows Burma’s military rulers taking concrete steps toward obtaining atomic weapons, according to an analysis co-written by an independent nuclear expert.

But they are years away from getting the technology right, we are told. Unless Iran gets there first and gives it to them. Or North Korea.

But we had a cheery NPT summit and signed a START agreement. Obama said he wouldn’t nuke non-NPT signatories that hit us with chemical or biological weapons. And that didn’t impress the thugs of Burma? Hmm. But we’ve been engaging the regime, promising to welcome them into the family of nations. And that didn’t impress them either?

Obama’s policies are not simply ineffective; they are dangerous. They encourage thugocracies to pursue their own nuclear weapons and to brutalize their own people, secure in the knowledge that the U.S. will do virtually nothing to stop them. Once Iran gets the bomb, expect more like Burma to follow suit.

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Turkey or Israel?

Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner isn’t torn in choosing sides between Turkey and Israel. He writes an op-ed that explains:

It comes as no surprise to anyone that the default position for nearly all of Europe and the entire Arab world is to be critical of Israel (and the United States, for that matter). But a fair review of the facts here shows that Turkey deserves much of the blame for this flareup. Just as important, in the diplomatic dance of U.S. policymakers trying to figure out which of our two “friends” to support, the case is pretty clear that we only have one these days — Israel. … The Turkish activists – and their supporters — pursued a policy of provocation.For weeks leading up to this incident, Turkey has repeatedly condemned Israel’s blockade; Hamas has hailed the arrival of these boats since the middle of May.A powerful and wealthy Turkish group called Insani Yardim Vakfi provided resources to the flotilla and now — shockingly — celebrates a terrible folly that had unfortunate consequences for everyone involved.

The administration has the same facts that Weiner does and probably more. But, alas, Obama is torn between two allies, Turkey and Israel, we are told. Gosh, it’s almost like he ignores all inconvenient facts that might place blame on an increasingly Islamist Turkey and instead wants to use the incident to further his policy of pushing around the Jewish state.

UPDATE: Josh Rogin reports that the Turkish ambassador let slip what his country is really looking for:

“For a final solution, you cannot ignore Hamas. That’s what we are saying,” said Ambassador Namik Tan. “This is not the first time that we are trying to bring this into the discussion. We have told this to the Israelis, to our American friends, to our international interlocutors, everyone. How could you imagine a final solution without Hamas?” Tan’s choice of words aside, his comments highlighted the yawning gap between the positions of the Turkish government and that of the American and Israeli administrations, as tensions linger following this week’s Gaza flotilla incident. Only yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization. I said the same thing to the United States. I am still of the same opinion. They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.”

And Obama can’t choose which “ally” to back.

Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner isn’t torn in choosing sides between Turkey and Israel. He writes an op-ed that explains:

It comes as no surprise to anyone that the default position for nearly all of Europe and the entire Arab world is to be critical of Israel (and the United States, for that matter). But a fair review of the facts here shows that Turkey deserves much of the blame for this flareup. Just as important, in the diplomatic dance of U.S. policymakers trying to figure out which of our two “friends” to support, the case is pretty clear that we only have one these days — Israel. … The Turkish activists – and their supporters — pursued a policy of provocation.For weeks leading up to this incident, Turkey has repeatedly condemned Israel’s blockade; Hamas has hailed the arrival of these boats since the middle of May.A powerful and wealthy Turkish group called Insani Yardim Vakfi provided resources to the flotilla and now — shockingly — celebrates a terrible folly that had unfortunate consequences for everyone involved.

The administration has the same facts that Weiner does and probably more. But, alas, Obama is torn between two allies, Turkey and Israel, we are told. Gosh, it’s almost like he ignores all inconvenient facts that might place blame on an increasingly Islamist Turkey and instead wants to use the incident to further his policy of pushing around the Jewish state.

UPDATE: Josh Rogin reports that the Turkish ambassador let slip what his country is really looking for:

“For a final solution, you cannot ignore Hamas. That’s what we are saying,” said Ambassador Namik Tan. “This is not the first time that we are trying to bring this into the discussion. We have told this to the Israelis, to our American friends, to our international interlocutors, everyone. How could you imagine a final solution without Hamas?” Tan’s choice of words aside, his comments highlighted the yawning gap between the positions of the Turkish government and that of the American and Israeli administrations, as tensions linger following this week’s Gaza flotilla incident. Only yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization. I said the same thing to the United States. I am still of the same opinion. They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.”

And Obama can’t choose which “ally” to back.

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Want to Stop Iran? Hold Firm on Gaza Blockade

For many concerned about Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, the controversy over the Gaza flotilla has served as a disturbing and decidedly unhelpful distraction from the need to maintain pressure on the Obama administration to act to avert that awful possibility. The same theme was sounded in the past few months as the administration said that Israel must stop building housing in Jerusalem to free up Obama and the rest of the West to better resist Iran.

The swelling chorus of editorial pages, Western political leaders, and unnamed administration officials who want Israel to back down on Gaza claim that doing so will not only help the suffering inhabitants of the region but also remove an irritant that hampers Western diplomatic goals. The need for a “new approach” to Gaza was sounded by one such anonymous Obama aide in the New York Times yesterday, who said that this is “a broadly held view in the upper reaches of the administration.”

Despite the fact that the claims of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza are unfounded, the administration is following the lead of our Western European allies on this issue. “Gaza has become the symbol in the Arab world of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and we have to change that,” the senior American official said. Indeed, such a switch would reflect the same sensibility that guided Obama’s speech to the Muslim world a year ago in Cairo, in which the president showed that he cared about appeasing the violent prejudices of the Arab “street” more than he cared about articulating American values like support for democracy or the West’s strategic goals in fighting Islamist terror.

The blockade of Gaza restricts the importation of arms and construction materials that could allow the Hamas regime there to rebuild its defense. It does not restrict food and medicine. It was implemented in the wake of Hamas’s seizure of power in the strip, a bloody coup that took the lives of many Palestinians. Indeed, even the diplomatic Quartet of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations vowed not to deal with Hamas until it recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced violence. But having refused to do either, or to free an Israeli soldier who has been held captive since 2006, Hamas is hoping that Western sympathy ginned up by the flotilla incident will result in an end to the blockade and ultimately recognition for the Islamist regime they have established in Gaza and which they hope to eventually extend to the West Bank. Granting Hamas such a victory would do more than any Israeli settlement could ever do to undermine the rival Palestinian Authority led by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas or the administration’s unlikely hopes for peace.

But just as important is the fact that Hamas — like Hezbollah, its terrorist counterpart in Lebanon — is a key ally of Iran. The West backed the blockade in the first place partially to prevent Gaza from becoming an armed Iranian enclave on the Mediterranean. Despite the claim that the blockade can be lifted without Iran or Hamas benefiting, it is hard to see how any alternative to the current restrictions will do anything but allow Hamas to freely import both arms and ammunition from its patron in Tehran and permanently establish its hold on power. Aside from the devastating impact this would have on hopes for more Palestinian moderation, it would give Iran even more leverage to resist international pressure on the nuclear issue.

Far from being a distraction from the faltering efforts of the Obama administration to assemble an international coalition to stop Iran’s nuclear program, handing such a triumph to Hamas will make it even more difficult to restrain the ambitions of the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime in Tehran. If the West hasn’t the stomach to hold firm on the sanctions that have been imposed on Hamas-run Gaza, how will it do so in Iran? The Iranian regime is surely drawing dangerous conclusions about Western resolve from the way the administration is succumbing to the propaganda campaign orchestrated by its Hamas ally. Far from being obstacles to action on Iran, Israel’s attempts to preserve the blockade of Hamas is a fundamental element of any coherent strategy that aims at restraining Tehran’s influence.

For many concerned about Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, the controversy over the Gaza flotilla has served as a disturbing and decidedly unhelpful distraction from the need to maintain pressure on the Obama administration to act to avert that awful possibility. The same theme was sounded in the past few months as the administration said that Israel must stop building housing in Jerusalem to free up Obama and the rest of the West to better resist Iran.

The swelling chorus of editorial pages, Western political leaders, and unnamed administration officials who want Israel to back down on Gaza claim that doing so will not only help the suffering inhabitants of the region but also remove an irritant that hampers Western diplomatic goals. The need for a “new approach” to Gaza was sounded by one such anonymous Obama aide in the New York Times yesterday, who said that this is “a broadly held view in the upper reaches of the administration.”

Despite the fact that the claims of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza are unfounded, the administration is following the lead of our Western European allies on this issue. “Gaza has become the symbol in the Arab world of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and we have to change that,” the senior American official said. Indeed, such a switch would reflect the same sensibility that guided Obama’s speech to the Muslim world a year ago in Cairo, in which the president showed that he cared about appeasing the violent prejudices of the Arab “street” more than he cared about articulating American values like support for democracy or the West’s strategic goals in fighting Islamist terror.

The blockade of Gaza restricts the importation of arms and construction materials that could allow the Hamas regime there to rebuild its defense. It does not restrict food and medicine. It was implemented in the wake of Hamas’s seizure of power in the strip, a bloody coup that took the lives of many Palestinians. Indeed, even the diplomatic Quartet of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations vowed not to deal with Hamas until it recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced violence. But having refused to do either, or to free an Israeli soldier who has been held captive since 2006, Hamas is hoping that Western sympathy ginned up by the flotilla incident will result in an end to the blockade and ultimately recognition for the Islamist regime they have established in Gaza and which they hope to eventually extend to the West Bank. Granting Hamas such a victory would do more than any Israeli settlement could ever do to undermine the rival Palestinian Authority led by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas or the administration’s unlikely hopes for peace.

But just as important is the fact that Hamas — like Hezbollah, its terrorist counterpart in Lebanon — is a key ally of Iran. The West backed the blockade in the first place partially to prevent Gaza from becoming an armed Iranian enclave on the Mediterranean. Despite the claim that the blockade can be lifted without Iran or Hamas benefiting, it is hard to see how any alternative to the current restrictions will do anything but allow Hamas to freely import both arms and ammunition from its patron in Tehran and permanently establish its hold on power. Aside from the devastating impact this would have on hopes for more Palestinian moderation, it would give Iran even more leverage to resist international pressure on the nuclear issue.

Far from being a distraction from the faltering efforts of the Obama administration to assemble an international coalition to stop Iran’s nuclear program, handing such a triumph to Hamas will make it even more difficult to restrain the ambitions of the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad regime in Tehran. If the West hasn’t the stomach to hold firm on the sanctions that have been imposed on Hamas-run Gaza, how will it do so in Iran? The Iranian regime is surely drawing dangerous conclusions about Western resolve from the way the administration is succumbing to the propaganda campaign orchestrated by its Hamas ally. Far from being obstacles to action on Iran, Israel’s attempts to preserve the blockade of Hamas is a fundamental element of any coherent strategy that aims at restraining Tehran’s influence.

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Hypocrisy Run Amok

The Washington Post reports:

Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.

Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

It’s always reassuring to learn that the White House is hypocritical and not entirely naive in its approach to terrorism. Like its defense of “no rules apply at Bagram,” it is some evidence that the un-Bush approach is selectively applied. No caterpillars to annoy terrorists who show up here, but no habeas corpus rights at Bagram. Mirandize a bomber who makes it here, but kill him — and his unfortunate family members — in his home country with a drone. I’m not quite seeing how this justifies the moral preening, but it’s good to know the administration doesn’t believe all of its own spin. Now, if it would just recognize who the enemy is and that U.S. soil is a battlefield too, we’d be making some progress.

There is also this snippet well down in the body of the story:

The United Nations, in a report this week, questioned the administration’s authority under international law to conduct such raids, particularly when they kill innocent civilians. One possible legal justification — the permission of the country in question — is complicated in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, where the governments privately agree but do not publicly acknowledge approving the attacks.

Former Bush officials, still smarting from accusations that their administration overextended the president’s authority to conduct lethal activities around the world at will, have asked similar questions. “While they seem to be expanding their operations both in terms of extraterritoriality and aggressiveness, they are contracting the legal authority upon which those expanding actions are based,” said John B. Bellinger III, a senior legal adviser in both of Bush’s administrations.

And speaking of hypocrisy, the administration that is expanding the use of techniques that kill entirely innocent civilians won’t extend latitude to the Israelis to act in self-defense when phony peace activists attack their troops? And then Obama complains that Israel isn’t considering our interests. Perhaps George W. Bush’s “failing” was candor and sincerity. Obama isn’t about to make that error.

The Washington Post reports:

Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.

Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.

It’s always reassuring to learn that the White House is hypocritical and not entirely naive in its approach to terrorism. Like its defense of “no rules apply at Bagram,” it is some evidence that the un-Bush approach is selectively applied. No caterpillars to annoy terrorists who show up here, but no habeas corpus rights at Bagram. Mirandize a bomber who makes it here, but kill him — and his unfortunate family members — in his home country with a drone. I’m not quite seeing how this justifies the moral preening, but it’s good to know the administration doesn’t believe all of its own spin. Now, if it would just recognize who the enemy is and that U.S. soil is a battlefield too, we’d be making some progress.

There is also this snippet well down in the body of the story:

The United Nations, in a report this week, questioned the administration’s authority under international law to conduct such raids, particularly when they kill innocent civilians. One possible legal justification — the permission of the country in question — is complicated in places such as Pakistan and Yemen, where the governments privately agree but do not publicly acknowledge approving the attacks.

Former Bush officials, still smarting from accusations that their administration overextended the president’s authority to conduct lethal activities around the world at will, have asked similar questions. “While they seem to be expanding their operations both in terms of extraterritoriality and aggressiveness, they are contracting the legal authority upon which those expanding actions are based,” said John B. Bellinger III, a senior legal adviser in both of Bush’s administrations.

And speaking of hypocrisy, the administration that is expanding the use of techniques that kill entirely innocent civilians won’t extend latitude to the Israelis to act in self-defense when phony peace activists attack their troops? And then Obama complains that Israel isn’t considering our interests. Perhaps George W. Bush’s “failing” was candor and sincerity. Obama isn’t about to make that error.

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Banking for the Mob and Telling Tall Tales

Daniel Halper has the scoop on the latest problem for Alexi Giannoulias — banker for the mob, whose financial acumen led to a takeover of the bank by the feds. Halper explains:

Giannoulias is currently the state treasurer of Illinois. And, according to his official website, “He founded and chairs the AG Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that donates money to treat child-related illnesses, curb poverty and assist disaster relief organizations.” … The problem is, the charity no longer exists. According to the AG Foundation’s tax return, “The organization was in existence only for the two-year period from 2005 to 2006.”

In an election season driven by voter disgust with politicians, their misstatements and ethical problems are especially toxic. This just adds to the problem Giannoulias faces in convincing the voters that he’s not another sleezy pol. And by the way, with the Blago trial getting underway in Illinois, that may be even harder to do in the weeks ahead.

Daniel Halper has the scoop on the latest problem for Alexi Giannoulias — banker for the mob, whose financial acumen led to a takeover of the bank by the feds. Halper explains:

Giannoulias is currently the state treasurer of Illinois. And, according to his official website, “He founded and chairs the AG Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that donates money to treat child-related illnesses, curb poverty and assist disaster relief organizations.” … The problem is, the charity no longer exists. According to the AG Foundation’s tax return, “The organization was in existence only for the two-year period from 2005 to 2006.”

In an election season driven by voter disgust with politicians, their misstatements and ethical problems are especially toxic. This just adds to the problem Giannoulias faces in convincing the voters that he’s not another sleezy pol. And by the way, with the Blago trial getting underway in Illinois, that may be even harder to do in the weeks ahead.

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Naoto Kan’s Foreign Policy

U.S.-Japan relations have been on the rocks since the Democratic Party of Japan overtook the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party last August. On Wednesday, the bedraggled prime minister resigned, leaving the U.S.-Japan relationship mired in even more uncertainty.

But Naoto Kan, the man chosen today to replace Hatoyama as Japanese prime minister, has made statements in the past that suggest cause for further concern. If Kan meant what he has said in the past, the United States can expect him to pursue a foreign policy of diminished U.S. military presence in Japan, low Japanese support for U.S. war efforts in Iraq, and further Japanese outreach to allies other than the United States.

Kan has ridden to power on a rapid change in Japanese public opinion. In August, the DPJ won after over half a century of LDP ascendency. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had played to populism, running his campaign partially on promises to reduce American presence in Japan. That backfired. Hatoyama initially tried to backtrack on an agreement with the United States about a military base in Okinawa, undermining American confidence. He eventually bowed to U.S. pressure, meeting public uproar. That concession, along with economic mismanagement and funds scandals, finally ended in Hatoyama’s resignation from office.

But Kan holds what Americans would perceive as a mixed record about the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Like Hatoyama, Kan seems to support the reduction or withdrawal of U.S. troops from Japan. In 2001, he said that “a pullout of the Marines ‘should not have a major impact on the US strategy for the Far East. We should perhaps formerly propose through diplomatic channels that (the Marines) return to US territory.” Likewise, in 2003, Kan said that “security in the Far East can be maintained without U.S. bases in Okinawa and the marines stationed there. We are eyeing having them moved out of Japan.”

Furthermore, Kan has a history of outspoken statements against the U.S. war in Iraq. He made his strongest statement in 2001. Kyodo News Service reported:

Japan’s opposition parties strongly criticized the US-led war on Iraq as well as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for backing the attack, saying the government’s position is antagonizing the voice of people in the international community.

“I cannot allow mass murder simply because Iraq did not fully comply with UN resolutions in the past,” said Naoto Kan, president of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

However, in September 2002, Kan insisted that the United States retain the ability to use its bases in Japan for the war in Iraq:

“If Japan refuses to allow the United States to use its bases here, we would have to risk breaking the very basis of the Japan-US security treaty,” DPJ Secretary-General Naoto Kan said. “We have never questioned the US use of bases in this country before,” he said, referring to the US forces’ use of facilities in Japan during the Vietnam War and other wars.  “We should keep this precedent intact,” he said…

That does not appear to mean that Kan supported the war effort. In 2003, Kyodo News Service reported that regarding Iraq, Kan “urged Washington to return to the framework of the United Nations to resolve international issues through dialogue.” Other news reports said that Kan considered the use of American force in Iraq a violation of the UN charter. Later in 2003, Kan criticized then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi for “a foreign policy of merely following in the footsteps of the United States like in the case of the Iraq bill.” Kan has consistently argued that sending Japanese troops into Iraq combat zones would violate the Japanese constitution. In 2004, Kan said, “Hasn’t this Iraq war contributed to an expansion of terrorism, rather than leading to its prevention?”

Finally, Kan has consistently advocated for stronger relations with alternative allies besides the United States. That constitutes a significant shift in Japanese foreign policy, which has considered the United States its primary ally since the aftermath of WWII. In 2003, he said, “Our ties with the United States are vital, but our relations with Asian countries are equally important.” In 2006, he criticized Japanese foreign policy for “lean[ing] too much toward the U.S,” as the Japan Times reported. Kan said: “Our relations with the United States are definitely important. But at the same time, we also have to build relations with Asian countries and resume top-level dialogue with them.” It is encouraging that today he said: “I believe the Japan-U.S. relationship is the foundation of Japan’s diplomacy. … The course we need to take is to maintain a trusting relationship with the United States and at the same time to consider China as equally important. I think that’s the right course for Japan’s future as well.”

Japan has every right to pursue the policies that best fit its interests. And Naoto Kan the prime minister might be much more measured in his statements and actions than Naoto Kan the opposition leader. But many of the statements Kan has made in the past suggest more contention between the United States and Japan regarding security and defense issues.

Hatoyama left many defense and security issues unresolved, although his concession to the United States was one of his last acts as prime minister. Among broader Asian security concerns, Kan will have to work with the United States immediately to determine many details about U.S. military placement in Okinawa; yet to be determined is the configuration of the base, the exact location of its placement, and how to mitigate its possible environmental impacts, to name a few.

Kan would do well to learn from Hatoyama’s failure, acknowledging the controversial nature of these discussions but establishing a consistent and moderate foreign policy before addressing them. He will have to clarify his position on the issues he has in the past made statements about. Otherwise, he risks disapproval both in Washington and among his people.

U.S.-Japan relations have been on the rocks since the Democratic Party of Japan overtook the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party last August. On Wednesday, the bedraggled prime minister resigned, leaving the U.S.-Japan relationship mired in even more uncertainty.

But Naoto Kan, the man chosen today to replace Hatoyama as Japanese prime minister, has made statements in the past that suggest cause for further concern. If Kan meant what he has said in the past, the United States can expect him to pursue a foreign policy of diminished U.S. military presence in Japan, low Japanese support for U.S. war efforts in Iraq, and further Japanese outreach to allies other than the United States.

Kan has ridden to power on a rapid change in Japanese public opinion. In August, the DPJ won after over half a century of LDP ascendency. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had played to populism, running his campaign partially on promises to reduce American presence in Japan. That backfired. Hatoyama initially tried to backtrack on an agreement with the United States about a military base in Okinawa, undermining American confidence. He eventually bowed to U.S. pressure, meeting public uproar. That concession, along with economic mismanagement and funds scandals, finally ended in Hatoyama’s resignation from office.

But Kan holds what Americans would perceive as a mixed record about the U.S.-Japan relationship.

Like Hatoyama, Kan seems to support the reduction or withdrawal of U.S. troops from Japan. In 2001, he said that “a pullout of the Marines ‘should not have a major impact on the US strategy for the Far East. We should perhaps formerly propose through diplomatic channels that (the Marines) return to US territory.” Likewise, in 2003, Kan said that “security in the Far East can be maintained without U.S. bases in Okinawa and the marines stationed there. We are eyeing having them moved out of Japan.”

Furthermore, Kan has a history of outspoken statements against the U.S. war in Iraq. He made his strongest statement in 2001. Kyodo News Service reported:

Japan’s opposition parties strongly criticized the US-led war on Iraq as well as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for backing the attack, saying the government’s position is antagonizing the voice of people in the international community.

“I cannot allow mass murder simply because Iraq did not fully comply with UN resolutions in the past,” said Naoto Kan, president of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

However, in September 2002, Kan insisted that the United States retain the ability to use its bases in Japan for the war in Iraq:

“If Japan refuses to allow the United States to use its bases here, we would have to risk breaking the very basis of the Japan-US security treaty,” DPJ Secretary-General Naoto Kan said. “We have never questioned the US use of bases in this country before,” he said, referring to the US forces’ use of facilities in Japan during the Vietnam War and other wars.  “We should keep this precedent intact,” he said…

That does not appear to mean that Kan supported the war effort. In 2003, Kyodo News Service reported that regarding Iraq, Kan “urged Washington to return to the framework of the United Nations to resolve international issues through dialogue.” Other news reports said that Kan considered the use of American force in Iraq a violation of the UN charter. Later in 2003, Kan criticized then-prime minister Junichiro Koizumi for “a foreign policy of merely following in the footsteps of the United States like in the case of the Iraq bill.” Kan has consistently argued that sending Japanese troops into Iraq combat zones would violate the Japanese constitution. In 2004, Kan said, “Hasn’t this Iraq war contributed to an expansion of terrorism, rather than leading to its prevention?”

Finally, Kan has consistently advocated for stronger relations with alternative allies besides the United States. That constitutes a significant shift in Japanese foreign policy, which has considered the United States its primary ally since the aftermath of WWII. In 2003, he said, “Our ties with the United States are vital, but our relations with Asian countries are equally important.” In 2006, he criticized Japanese foreign policy for “lean[ing] too much toward the U.S,” as the Japan Times reported. Kan said: “Our relations with the United States are definitely important. But at the same time, we also have to build relations with Asian countries and resume top-level dialogue with them.” It is encouraging that today he said: “I believe the Japan-U.S. relationship is the foundation of Japan’s diplomacy. … The course we need to take is to maintain a trusting relationship with the United States and at the same time to consider China as equally important. I think that’s the right course for Japan’s future as well.”

Japan has every right to pursue the policies that best fit its interests. And Naoto Kan the prime minister might be much more measured in his statements and actions than Naoto Kan the opposition leader. But many of the statements Kan has made in the past suggest more contention between the United States and Japan regarding security and defense issues.

Hatoyama left many defense and security issues unresolved, although his concession to the United States was one of his last acts as prime minister. Among broader Asian security concerns, Kan will have to work with the United States immediately to determine many details about U.S. military placement in Okinawa; yet to be determined is the configuration of the base, the exact location of its placement, and how to mitigate its possible environmental impacts, to name a few.

Kan would do well to learn from Hatoyama’s failure, acknowledging the controversial nature of these discussions but establishing a consistent and moderate foreign policy before addressing them. He will have to clarify his position on the issues he has in the past made statements about. Otherwise, he risks disapproval both in Washington and among his people.

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The Symbol Fetish

At the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier writes that Israel has lost “the all-important war for symbols and meanings, to Hamas.” Somehow, among all the wars and skirmishes and ambushes that define Israeli existence and threaten to erase the Jewish state, I find it hard to swallow Wieseltier’s post-modern competition “for symbols and meanings” as “the all important war.”

Ethan Bronner writes, in the New York Times, “the world powers have grown increasingly disillusioned with the blockade, saying that it has created far too much suffering in Gaza and serves as a symbol not only of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians but of how the West is seen in relation to the Palestinians.”

You know what else the blockade serves as? A blockade. It separates Israel’s sworn enemies from those who would help them arm and kill Israelis. Oh, and by the way, as a blockade – and not a symbol – the blockade works. So, too, do the fences, check points, and walls that separate Israel from would-be terrorists in the Palestinian territories.

Oops, did I say walls? This comes from a Reuters story that ran last year: “Pope Benedict stood by the wall Israel is building round the West Bank on Wednesday and called it a symbol of “stalemate” between Israel and the Palestinians, urging both sides to break a ‘spiral of violence.’”

What kind of Freudian limbo do Israelis now supposedly inhabit where everything they do and create is just another telling symbol of chauvinism, paranoia, and frustration. Friends of Israel often decry the absurd standards to which “world powers” try to hold the Jewish state. But this isn’t even about selective standards; it’s a category distinction. Here are the rules: Russia, which has been illegally occupying Georgia for almost two years, and facilitating Iran’s nuclear and anti-aircraft programs for even longer, is a state. North Korea, which recently sank a South Korean navy boat full of 46 sailors (not in oh-so-precious international waters, but in South Korean waters), starves its own population, and threatens to destroy Seoul, is a state. Pakistan — the creation of which led to a million deaths and millions more displaced, in order to give a single religious group its own area– is a terrorist Disneyland; it is also a state, achieving independence in 1947. Israel, on the other hand, is the world’s Hitchcock dream sequence. And it better not forget it.

That’s what all this criticism of the flotilla operation amounts to. How dare Israel act in service of its existence as a country when it’s so valuable as a symbol. In this way, those who wag their fingers at Israel for insufficiently weighing optics and PR and world opinion have put an insidious twist on the denial of Israel’s right to exist. For if it is forbidden to act on its own behalf as a state then there is an implicit denial of its right to be one. After all, when a state prevents a fleet of armed enemies from breaking its blockade with no casualties on their side it’s called a smashing success. When it’s done by Israel it’s just another sinister emblem of increasingly violent suicidal tendencies.

At the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier writes that Israel has lost “the all-important war for symbols and meanings, to Hamas.” Somehow, among all the wars and skirmishes and ambushes that define Israeli existence and threaten to erase the Jewish state, I find it hard to swallow Wieseltier’s post-modern competition “for symbols and meanings” as “the all important war.”

Ethan Bronner writes, in the New York Times, “the world powers have grown increasingly disillusioned with the blockade, saying that it has created far too much suffering in Gaza and serves as a symbol not only of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians but of how the West is seen in relation to the Palestinians.”

You know what else the blockade serves as? A blockade. It separates Israel’s sworn enemies from those who would help them arm and kill Israelis. Oh, and by the way, as a blockade – and not a symbol – the blockade works. So, too, do the fences, check points, and walls that separate Israel from would-be terrorists in the Palestinian territories.

Oops, did I say walls? This comes from a Reuters story that ran last year: “Pope Benedict stood by the wall Israel is building round the West Bank on Wednesday and called it a symbol of “stalemate” between Israel and the Palestinians, urging both sides to break a ‘spiral of violence.’”

What kind of Freudian limbo do Israelis now supposedly inhabit where everything they do and create is just another telling symbol of chauvinism, paranoia, and frustration. Friends of Israel often decry the absurd standards to which “world powers” try to hold the Jewish state. But this isn’t even about selective standards; it’s a category distinction. Here are the rules: Russia, which has been illegally occupying Georgia for almost two years, and facilitating Iran’s nuclear and anti-aircraft programs for even longer, is a state. North Korea, which recently sank a South Korean navy boat full of 46 sailors (not in oh-so-precious international waters, but in South Korean waters), starves its own population, and threatens to destroy Seoul, is a state. Pakistan — the creation of which led to a million deaths and millions more displaced, in order to give a single religious group its own area– is a terrorist Disneyland; it is also a state, achieving independence in 1947. Israel, on the other hand, is the world’s Hitchcock dream sequence. And it better not forget it.

That’s what all this criticism of the flotilla operation amounts to. How dare Israel act in service of its existence as a country when it’s so valuable as a symbol. In this way, those who wag their fingers at Israel for insufficiently weighing optics and PR and world opinion have put an insidious twist on the denial of Israel’s right to exist. For if it is forbidden to act on its own behalf as a state then there is an implicit denial of its right to be one. After all, when a state prevents a fleet of armed enemies from breaking its blockade with no casualties on their side it’s called a smashing success. When it’s done by Israel it’s just another sinister emblem of increasingly violent suicidal tendencies.

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The Jobs Report

Politico reports:

The nation’s economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of May, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent, the government reported Friday. That’s less job growth than many expected and will not provide a boost to the Obama administration, which has been struggling to demonstrate that its economic policies are helping to ease the nation’s epic unemployment problem.The government said that 411,000 of the jobs created in May were temporary positions with the once-a-decade U.S. census and not the kind of employment that can drive a sustained economic recovery. That meant that the overall private sector employment growth for the month was anemic — up by just 41,000.

First, 411,000 people hired for the census in one month? Good grief. I suppose it takes a lot of people to run the annoying ads, notify you by letter that the census is coming, and then send the census.

This is the Obama economic policy: hire many government workers, do little to help and much to hinder the private sector, and rely on the PR spin machine to convince everyone that Obama ended the recession.

Politico reports:

The nation’s economy added 431,000 jobs in the month of May, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent, the government reported Friday. That’s less job growth than many expected and will not provide a boost to the Obama administration, which has been struggling to demonstrate that its economic policies are helping to ease the nation’s epic unemployment problem.The government said that 411,000 of the jobs created in May were temporary positions with the once-a-decade U.S. census and not the kind of employment that can drive a sustained economic recovery. That meant that the overall private sector employment growth for the month was anemic — up by just 41,000.

First, 411,000 people hired for the census in one month? Good grief. I suppose it takes a lot of people to run the annoying ads, notify you by letter that the census is coming, and then send the census.

This is the Obama economic policy: hire many government workers, do little to help and much to hinder the private sector, and rely on the PR spin machine to convince everyone that Obama ended the recession.

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The Newspaper Column of the Day Award…

…goes to A. Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Read it. Here are some excerpts:

What’s the real problem with Israel’s assault on the Gaza flotilla? It’s not the loss of life. Almost nobody cares about that. It’s not the suffering of Palestinians. When Palestinians suffer, the world shrugs.

Remember the worldwide condemnations, the protests across Europe and Asia, the stern rebukes from the world’s high councils in January of last year — when Hamas militants executed 54 members of the Fatah party and tortured 175 more for (allegedly) collaborating with Israel? You don’t? That’s because the killing and torture went on with almost no notice or comment.

How about the world’s outrage in November 2007, when Hamas gunmen killed seven civilians and wounded 80 more during a rally memorializing Yasser Arafat in Gaza? If you don’t remember the outrage, the marches in the street, the scathing U.N. resolutions, that’s because there weren’t any.

Nor did the world weep when the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) suspended operations in Gaza after two staff members were caught in a Hamas-Fatah crossfire and killed. When Palestinian factional violence impedes humanitarian aid, well, tsk-tsk.

Last February, Amnesty International reported that numerous prisoners injured by an Israeli bombing of a prison were “shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment.” But they weren’t shot by Israelis, so nobody objected.

According to a report by Reuters, “An estimated 616 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since Hamas defeated Fatah” in January 2006.

World reaction? Shrug.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and none of the above is meant to excuse Israel’s clumsy, ill-orchestrated boarding of the Mavi Marmara. Nor is it meant to offer an unequivocal defense of the blockade, a legitimate point of contention….

The point is simply that those professing to be so broken up about the blockade and Israel’s enforcement of it have been remarkably subdued whenever suffering is inflicted by someone other than Jews….

…goes to A. Barton Hinkle of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Read it. Here are some excerpts:

What’s the real problem with Israel’s assault on the Gaza flotilla? It’s not the loss of life. Almost nobody cares about that. It’s not the suffering of Palestinians. When Palestinians suffer, the world shrugs.

Remember the worldwide condemnations, the protests across Europe and Asia, the stern rebukes from the world’s high councils in January of last year — when Hamas militants executed 54 members of the Fatah party and tortured 175 more for (allegedly) collaborating with Israel? You don’t? That’s because the killing and torture went on with almost no notice or comment.

How about the world’s outrage in November 2007, when Hamas gunmen killed seven civilians and wounded 80 more during a rally memorializing Yasser Arafat in Gaza? If you don’t remember the outrage, the marches in the street, the scathing U.N. resolutions, that’s because there weren’t any.

Nor did the world weep when the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) suspended operations in Gaza after two staff members were caught in a Hamas-Fatah crossfire and killed. When Palestinian factional violence impedes humanitarian aid, well, tsk-tsk.

Last February, Amnesty International reported that numerous prisoners injured by an Israeli bombing of a prison were “shot dead in the hospitals where they were receiving treatment.” But they weren’t shot by Israelis, so nobody objected.

According to a report by Reuters, “An estimated 616 Palestinians have been killed in factional fighting since Hamas defeated Fatah” in January 2006.

World reaction? Shrug.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and none of the above is meant to excuse Israel’s clumsy, ill-orchestrated boarding of the Mavi Marmara. Nor is it meant to offer an unequivocal defense of the blockade, a legitimate point of contention….

The point is simply that those professing to be so broken up about the blockade and Israel’s enforcement of it have been remarkably subdued whenever suffering is inflicted by someone other than Jews….

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RE: Obama Is Annoyed

Contrast Obama’s testiness with Israel over the Jewish state’s temerity to defend itself with the sentiments of Marco Rubio, who writes, “Of course, we should stand with Israel.” It is worth reading Rubio’s comments in full, but this is particularly noteworthy:

As many in the international community use this flotilla incident to predictably rally against Israel, it is important to stand firmly behind our ally. In no way can the U.S. allow a path to be cleared that would enable the United Nations or any international body to discredit and diminish our democratic friend and partner. If Israel’s right to self-defense is undermined by misguided efforts to lift its legal and necessary blockade of Gaza, which serves to stop Hamas from arming itself with deadly weapons, there will be lasting consequences not only for Israel, but also for the U.S. and the entire world.

Make no mistake: while we await all the facts to emerge about this incident, it is clear the sponsors and participants of the Free Gaza Movement’s Flotilla have been thoroughly documented in their support of violent extremism. A far cry from being “humanitarian relief workers,” the activists on board the Mavi Marmara had a cache of bulletproof vests, night vision goggles and gas masks. This was no humanitarian mission.

No equivocation, no hand-wringing, no second-guessing. The un-Obama approach to our ally Israel.

The Obama administration has set the bar so low that we are delighted when it at least withholds judgment. But that is the wrong standard. The measurement of an administration by those who cherish the Jewish state and the U.S.-Israel relationship should be whether it acts with moral clarity, rebuts the lies in international bodies, refuses to pretend that terrorists are humanitarians, and demonstrates that we are a good ally — not a thorn in Israel’s side. On the latter point, Rubio reminds us:

If the U.S. shows itself to be an unreliable ally to Israel, moderate Arab states will take note that they cannot trust the U.S. to be a reliable friend for them either. This is unacceptable for the future of U.S. security, Israel’s existence and the prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

In sum, if Obama feels no real affection for the Jewish state, perhaps he can put aside his animus momentarily for the practical reason that Rubio explains. But apparently with the Obama crowd, any “realism” is overridden by blinding ideology and personal pique. Oh, to have a secretary of state who would announce that “ideology is so yesterday!” Oh, yes, well, one who actually means it.

Contrast Obama’s testiness with Israel over the Jewish state’s temerity to defend itself with the sentiments of Marco Rubio, who writes, “Of course, we should stand with Israel.” It is worth reading Rubio’s comments in full, but this is particularly noteworthy:

As many in the international community use this flotilla incident to predictably rally against Israel, it is important to stand firmly behind our ally. In no way can the U.S. allow a path to be cleared that would enable the United Nations or any international body to discredit and diminish our democratic friend and partner. If Israel’s right to self-defense is undermined by misguided efforts to lift its legal and necessary blockade of Gaza, which serves to stop Hamas from arming itself with deadly weapons, there will be lasting consequences not only for Israel, but also for the U.S. and the entire world.

Make no mistake: while we await all the facts to emerge about this incident, it is clear the sponsors and participants of the Free Gaza Movement’s Flotilla have been thoroughly documented in their support of violent extremism. A far cry from being “humanitarian relief workers,” the activists on board the Mavi Marmara had a cache of bulletproof vests, night vision goggles and gas masks. This was no humanitarian mission.

No equivocation, no hand-wringing, no second-guessing. The un-Obama approach to our ally Israel.

The Obama administration has set the bar so low that we are delighted when it at least withholds judgment. But that is the wrong standard. The measurement of an administration by those who cherish the Jewish state and the U.S.-Israel relationship should be whether it acts with moral clarity, rebuts the lies in international bodies, refuses to pretend that terrorists are humanitarians, and demonstrates that we are a good ally — not a thorn in Israel’s side. On the latter point, Rubio reminds us:

If the U.S. shows itself to be an unreliable ally to Israel, moderate Arab states will take note that they cannot trust the U.S. to be a reliable friend for them either. This is unacceptable for the future of U.S. security, Israel’s existence and the prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

In sum, if Obama feels no real affection for the Jewish state, perhaps he can put aside his animus momentarily for the practical reason that Rubio explains. But apparently with the Obama crowd, any “realism” is overridden by blinding ideology and personal pique. Oh, to have a secretary of state who would announce that “ideology is so yesterday!” Oh, yes, well, one who actually means it.

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Sestak May Need a Job After All

Here is the latest on the Pennsylvania Senate race:

Congressman Joe Sestak’s post-primary bounce appears to over, and he now trails Republican rival Pat Toomey by seven points in the U.S. Senate contest in Pennsylvania. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania shows Toomey with 45% support, while Sestak earns 38%.

The bounce may be over, but the job-offer story may not be, and may, in fact, be pushing Sestak’s numbers down. Moreover, Toomey has come out of the blocks with effective ads that compare the candidates’ records and that offer a well-modulated call for Sestak and the White House to come clean on the job scandal. There is still a long way to go until November, but Toomey is off to a strong start, and he has yet to exploit fully Sestak’s ultraliberal record on domestic and foreign policy.

Here is the latest on the Pennsylvania Senate race:

Congressman Joe Sestak’s post-primary bounce appears to over, and he now trails Republican rival Pat Toomey by seven points in the U.S. Senate contest in Pennsylvania. A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania shows Toomey with 45% support, while Sestak earns 38%.

The bounce may be over, but the job-offer story may not be, and may, in fact, be pushing Sestak’s numbers down. Moreover, Toomey has come out of the blocks with effective ads that compare the candidates’ records and that offer a well-modulated call for Sestak and the White House to come clean on the job scandal. There is still a long way to go until November, but Toomey is off to a strong start, and he has yet to exploit fully Sestak’s ultraliberal record on domestic and foreign policy.

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Obama Is Annoyed that Israel Defends Itself

Unmitigated chutzpah is the only way to characterize this, which comes via David Ignatius:

The Obama team recognizes that Israel will act in its interests, but it wants Jerusalem to consider U.S. interests, as well. The administration has communicated at a senior level its fear that the Israelis sometimes “care about their equities, but not about ours.”

Has Israel “condemned” the U.S.? Has Israel sought to reorient itself away from the U.S.? Demanded unilateral concessions by the U.S.? Snuggled up to foes of the U.S.? Or snubbed its president repeatedly?

The arrogance is stunning, even for the Obama crowd. Another doozy: hmmm, side with the Jewish state or the Israel-bashing, Islamic-leaning, Iran-cooing Turks?

The Obama administration, caught between two allies during this week of crisis, has signaled Israel and Turkey that the blockade of Gaza should be loosened to allow more humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinian population there. From the first news early Monday of the Israeli commando attack on a flotilla of Turkish relief ships, the White House has been trying to balance the interests of two prickly friends. The immediate aim, said a senior official, has been to “defuse the electricity of the moment” by freeing the ships’ passengers and passing a U.N. resolution calling (in fuzzy language) for an investigation of the raid.

That Turkey appears to have facilitated the terrorist flotilla goes unremarked upon by the Obama brain trust, which struggles to reconcile its new approach to the Middle East with reality. You see, you can’t side with Israel and those seeking its harm or destruction.You can’t demonstrate loyalty to allies by being disloyal to your closest one. You can’t bring about peace by bullying the party that’s had its peace offers rejected for 60 years. No wonder the Obama team’s feelings are bruised: those “troublesome Jews” just won’t accept “every invitation to national suicide.”

Unmitigated chutzpah is the only way to characterize this, which comes via David Ignatius:

The Obama team recognizes that Israel will act in its interests, but it wants Jerusalem to consider U.S. interests, as well. The administration has communicated at a senior level its fear that the Israelis sometimes “care about their equities, but not about ours.”

Has Israel “condemned” the U.S.? Has Israel sought to reorient itself away from the U.S.? Demanded unilateral concessions by the U.S.? Snuggled up to foes of the U.S.? Or snubbed its president repeatedly?

The arrogance is stunning, even for the Obama crowd. Another doozy: hmmm, side with the Jewish state or the Israel-bashing, Islamic-leaning, Iran-cooing Turks?

The Obama administration, caught between two allies during this week of crisis, has signaled Israel and Turkey that the blockade of Gaza should be loosened to allow more humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinian population there. From the first news early Monday of the Israeli commando attack on a flotilla of Turkish relief ships, the White House has been trying to balance the interests of two prickly friends. The immediate aim, said a senior official, has been to “defuse the electricity of the moment” by freeing the ships’ passengers and passing a U.N. resolution calling (in fuzzy language) for an investigation of the raid.

That Turkey appears to have facilitated the terrorist flotilla goes unremarked upon by the Obama brain trust, which struggles to reconcile its new approach to the Middle East with reality. You see, you can’t side with Israel and those seeking its harm or destruction.You can’t demonstrate loyalty to allies by being disloyal to your closest one. You can’t bring about peace by bullying the party that’s had its peace offers rejected for 60 years. No wonder the Obama team’s feelings are bruised: those “troublesome Jews” just won’t accept “every invitation to national suicide.”

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When Israel Won’t Give in, the World’s Enraged

In the shrieks from the international community — revealing once again what a bad idea it is to pursue popularity as a foreign policy – Charles Krauthammer decodes the real message:

The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons — thus de-legitimizing Israel’s very last line of defense: deterrence. The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

On one side are, as Krauthammer describes, “the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who’ve had quite enough of the Jewish problem.” On the other is Israel and an iffy U.S. ally with a more energetic Jewish community than we’ve seen in recent years. There is very little cause for optimism.

This is the natural result of the administration’s choices and grievous errors. Obama telegraphed that America would stand apart from Israel, and Israel’s enemies have exploited that. Obama telegraphed that he was not out to confront or upend the Iranian regime, and now the regime runs rampant, bolstered by new allies and with old ones more eager to line up with the Iranian axis than with the U.S. The “international community” has waged a relentless war to delegitimize the Jewish state, hoping that this incident will be the nail in Israel’s coffin. Obama linked the non–peace process to progress on Iran, handing Iran the perfect gambit: disrupt the non–peace process, inflame the world, and the West will lose focus on Iran’s nuclear policy. And finally, we have abdicated our role as human rights defender and democracy promoter, allowing thugocracies and their pawns (e.g., Hamas-run Gaza) to claim equal footing with the democratic and free Israel.

So should it surprise us that Turkey now sounds like Iran? Or that Syria tests our resolve with Scud missiles? Or that the UN prepares for “The Goldstone Report: The Sequel”? The reality is setting in that this will all be infinitely worse after Iran gets the bomb. But at the root of this is the uncomfortable truth: without a stalwart American ally and vigorous American Jewish support, Israel is in peril. As Bibi often says, after one Holocaust, Israel reserves the right to defend itself against threats from the small to the existential. Now it may be the Jewish state’s only option.

In the shrieks from the international community — revealing once again what a bad idea it is to pursue popularity as a foreign policy – Charles Krauthammer decodes the real message:

The whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. Why, just last week, the Obama administration joined the jackals and reversed four decades of U.S. practice, by signing onto a consensus document that singles out Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons — thus de-legitimizing Israel’s very last line of defense: deterrence. The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

On one side are, as Krauthammer describes, “the blockade-busting flotilla of useful idiots and terror sympathizers, by the Turkish front organization that funded it, by the automatic anti-Israel Third World chorus at the United Nations, and by the supine Europeans who’ve had quite enough of the Jewish problem.” On the other is Israel and an iffy U.S. ally with a more energetic Jewish community than we’ve seen in recent years. There is very little cause for optimism.

This is the natural result of the administration’s choices and grievous errors. Obama telegraphed that America would stand apart from Israel, and Israel’s enemies have exploited that. Obama telegraphed that he was not out to confront or upend the Iranian regime, and now the regime runs rampant, bolstered by new allies and with old ones more eager to line up with the Iranian axis than with the U.S. The “international community” has waged a relentless war to delegitimize the Jewish state, hoping that this incident will be the nail in Israel’s coffin. Obama linked the non–peace process to progress on Iran, handing Iran the perfect gambit: disrupt the non–peace process, inflame the world, and the West will lose focus on Iran’s nuclear policy. And finally, we have abdicated our role as human rights defender and democracy promoter, allowing thugocracies and their pawns (e.g., Hamas-run Gaza) to claim equal footing with the democratic and free Israel.

So should it surprise us that Turkey now sounds like Iran? Or that Syria tests our resolve with Scud missiles? Or that the UN prepares for “The Goldstone Report: The Sequel”? The reality is setting in that this will all be infinitely worse after Iran gets the bomb. But at the root of this is the uncomfortable truth: without a stalwart American ally and vigorous American Jewish support, Israel is in peril. As Bibi often says, after one Holocaust, Israel reserves the right to defend itself against threats from the small to the existential. Now it may be the Jewish state’s only option.

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Congress Speaks About Israel and the Flotilla

Even though Congress is in recess this week, the statements on the terrorist flotilla (should we call it an armada instead?) are pouring in. The overwhelming number are extremely supportive of Israel. There is a challenge to lawmakers and their staffs after a bunch of these have been issued — how to distinguish yours from the crowd? I’ll pull out two — one Democratic and one Republican in the spirit of bipartisanship (it’s actually “nonpartisanship”) — for special mention.

From Democrat Rep. Steve Israel, a pithy summation: “There is nothing humanitarian about lead pipes and knives. Israel unconditionally left Gaza and was rewarded with rocket fire. Israel established a blockade according to the rules of international law to protect itself from further rocket fire. A group of people chose to violate international law and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

And from Republican Rep. Connie Mack:

Since September 11 here in the United States, we have understood the necessity for increased surveillance of materials coming into our airports, seaports and borders. We recognize that screening for materials that can be used by terrorists to endanger our security must be a top priority. The terrorist regime Hamas rules over Gaza through force and remains a constant military threat to the safety and security of Israel and her people. Just as it is wise for us in the United States to ensure that cargo coming into our country is safe, so is it prudent for Israel to do the same and ensure that only non-military supplies are going into Gaza. However, yesterday’s flotilla was designed to avoid scrutiny. They could have had their materials sent through approved channels like the United Nations or the Red Cross, but instead, they chose to avoid the blockade and ship their materials directly to the terrorist-run regime in Gaza. Like the United States, Israel has every right to ensure its own safety and security. If those who sent the flotilla wanted these materials to go to Gaza for humanitarian aid, as they claimed, then they would have sent them through approved channels. It’s clear that this was a publicity stunt geared to break legitimate port security laws. Israel acted courageously on its own behalf. The Obama Administration should stand with Israel and support their right to keep their nation safe and secure.

He gets credit for making the comparison between Israel and the U.S. crystal clear and for reminding us that we are talking about a “terrorist-run regime in Gaza.”

Alas, at the other end of the spectrum is the loathsome Marcy Winograd, who is second to none in her hatred for Israel and her Cynthia Kinney–like fantastical theories. She posts a picture of the a man dressed in a “Free Gaza” T-shirt. And she cheerfully reports that one of her T-shirts was worn on the flotilla. The candidate from Hamas, I suppose. Then she puts out this drivel:

“I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza.”

Adds Winograd, “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community. Working for peace and human rights for all is the only way forward. As a Jewish woman of conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric violence, demanding an end to the blockade, and seeking an international investigation into these murders. I recommit myself to working towards a true, just, and lasting peace.”

One note: so far there has been no statement from Joe Sestak, who signed on to the Gaza 54 letter urging the lifting of the blockade. I imagine he and his staff are trying to figure out which is better: rank hypocrisy (reverse course and stand with Israel) or becoming the Marcy Winograd of the Pennsylvania Senate race.

Even though Congress is in recess this week, the statements on the terrorist flotilla (should we call it an armada instead?) are pouring in. The overwhelming number are extremely supportive of Israel. There is a challenge to lawmakers and their staffs after a bunch of these have been issued — how to distinguish yours from the crowd? I’ll pull out two — one Democratic and one Republican in the spirit of bipartisanship (it’s actually “nonpartisanship”) — for special mention.

From Democrat Rep. Steve Israel, a pithy summation: “There is nothing humanitarian about lead pipes and knives. Israel unconditionally left Gaza and was rewarded with rocket fire. Israel established a blockade according to the rules of international law to protect itself from further rocket fire. A group of people chose to violate international law and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

And from Republican Rep. Connie Mack:

Since September 11 here in the United States, we have understood the necessity for increased surveillance of materials coming into our airports, seaports and borders. We recognize that screening for materials that can be used by terrorists to endanger our security must be a top priority. The terrorist regime Hamas rules over Gaza through force and remains a constant military threat to the safety and security of Israel and her people. Just as it is wise for us in the United States to ensure that cargo coming into our country is safe, so is it prudent for Israel to do the same and ensure that only non-military supplies are going into Gaza. However, yesterday’s flotilla was designed to avoid scrutiny. They could have had their materials sent through approved channels like the United Nations or the Red Cross, but instead, they chose to avoid the blockade and ship their materials directly to the terrorist-run regime in Gaza. Like the United States, Israel has every right to ensure its own safety and security. If those who sent the flotilla wanted these materials to go to Gaza for humanitarian aid, as they claimed, then they would have sent them through approved channels. It’s clear that this was a publicity stunt geared to break legitimate port security laws. Israel acted courageously on its own behalf. The Obama Administration should stand with Israel and support their right to keep their nation safe and secure.

He gets credit for making the comparison between Israel and the U.S. crystal clear and for reminding us that we are talking about a “terrorist-run regime in Gaza.”

Alas, at the other end of the spectrum is the loathsome Marcy Winograd, who is second to none in her hatred for Israel and her Cynthia Kinney–like fantastical theories. She posts a picture of the a man dressed in a “Free Gaza” T-shirt. And she cheerfully reports that one of her T-shirts was worn on the flotilla. The candidate from Hamas, I suppose. Then she puts out this drivel:

“I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza.”

Adds Winograd, “Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community. Working for peace and human rights for all is the only way forward. As a Jewish woman of conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric violence, demanding an end to the blockade, and seeking an international investigation into these murders. I recommit myself to working towards a true, just, and lasting peace.”

One note: so far there has been no statement from Joe Sestak, who signed on to the Gaza 54 letter urging the lifting of the blockade. I imagine he and his staff are trying to figure out which is better: rank hypocrisy (reverse course and stand with Israel) or becoming the Marcy Winograd of the Pennsylvania Senate race.

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Elvis at the White House

Elvis Costello last week announced he was joining a boycott of Israel. This week he came to the White House to perform for Paul McCartney. Hmm. No doubt the invitation for McCartney was extended before Costello’s boycott, but why should the White House entertain and be entertained by musicians who have joined in the boycott along with other Israel-bashers? Shouldn’t there be a rule — no invite if you boycott the Jewish state? Given Hollywood stars’ craving for a White House invite, I bet that’d put an end to their anti-Israel boycotts real fast. And hey — it’s their choice. They can be in the pool with despotic Arab states that seek Israel’s annihilation or in the pool with those who could rub elbows with the president.

Beyond that, AIPAC’s executive director, Howard Kohr, earlier this year had a fine suggestion: make it a condition for desirable benefits — entry into the WTO, free-trade agreements — that a country cannot participate in the Arab boycott of Israel. Come to think of it, why do we allow any UN body to let in Israel boycotters?

This would, of course, be the opposite of what Obama is doing — which is to put distance between the U.S. and Israel and let the Israel-haters run amok in international institutions. You see, by embracing Israel and making clear that there is no daylight between Israel and the U.S., we might actually change the incentives for other nations and encourage them to treat Israel as a legitimate, sovereign nation on the world stage.

Elvis Costello last week announced he was joining a boycott of Israel. This week he came to the White House to perform for Paul McCartney. Hmm. No doubt the invitation for McCartney was extended before Costello’s boycott, but why should the White House entertain and be entertained by musicians who have joined in the boycott along with other Israel-bashers? Shouldn’t there be a rule — no invite if you boycott the Jewish state? Given Hollywood stars’ craving for a White House invite, I bet that’d put an end to their anti-Israel boycotts real fast. And hey — it’s their choice. They can be in the pool with despotic Arab states that seek Israel’s annihilation or in the pool with those who could rub elbows with the president.

Beyond that, AIPAC’s executive director, Howard Kohr, earlier this year had a fine suggestion: make it a condition for desirable benefits — entry into the WTO, free-trade agreements — that a country cannot participate in the Arab boycott of Israel. Come to think of it, why do we allow any UN body to let in Israel boycotters?

This would, of course, be the opposite of what Obama is doing — which is to put distance between the U.S. and Israel and let the Israel-haters run amok in international institutions. You see, by embracing Israel and making clear that there is no daylight between Israel and the U.S., we might actually change the incentives for other nations and encourage them to treat Israel as a legitimate, sovereign nation on the world stage.

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“We Con the World”

The Flotilla Choir explains it all in a brilliant comic video – the work of Latma TV, the satirical website on Israeli media run by the uncompromising Jerusalem Post columnist and COMMENTARY contributor Caroline Glick.

The Flotilla Choir explains it all in a brilliant comic video – the work of Latma TV, the satirical website on Israeli media run by the uncompromising Jerusalem Post columnist and COMMENTARY contributor Caroline Glick.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Jamie Fly asks, “No Daylight?” about the U.S. stance on the terrorist flotilla: “So, over the course of two days, ‘no daylight’ has essentially become ‘we told you so,’ ‘perhaps you shouldn’t have done that,’ and ‘we plan to use this to our advantage to further our agenda.’ It’s no wonder that ally after ally feels slighted by the Obama administration, because even when this White House says they are standing with you, they are simultaneously undermining you.”

No Big Labor guarantees for the Democrats in 2010: “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday that he sees unions as ‘unpredictable partners’ to Democratic candidates in the coming 2010 midterm elections.”

No Democrat in a competitive seat wants to get too closely tied to Obama these days: “Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, has called on President Barack Obama to do more to contain the fallout from the Gulf oil spill. Nelson on Thursday called for the White House to send more military assets to the Gulf before the giant oil slick hits Florida’s beaches. ‘This is the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history,’ Nelson said in a statement. ‘If this doesn’t call for more organization, control and assets — like sub-sea mapping by the Navy, for instance — then nothing does.'”

No idea what he’s talking about — Turkey has been hostile to Israel for some time: “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticized Israel for its reaction to the Mavi Marmara raid Thursday saying that ‘Israel stands to lose its closest ally in the Middle East if it does not change its mentality.'”

No doubt about the Carly Fiorina surge: “Former eBay executive Meg Whitman holds a commanding lead over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the June 8 Republican gubernatorial primary. In the GOP Senate primary, former HP President Carly Fiorina has pulled away from rival Tom Campbell, according to the latest Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research tracking poll. … The Senate side reflects a dramatic shift toward Fiorina over the past six weeks. An April 24 Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research Poll showed Campbell with 31-17 point lead over Fiorina, and DeVore at 14 percent.”

No humanitarian goods into Gaza? Outrageous — where is the UN? Oh, wait — it’s Hamas: “Hamas will not allow goods from an aid flotilla raided by Israel to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Islamist organization said Thursday.”

No way! Really? John Judis assures us that the Tea party movement isn’t racist: “What I am suggesting is that it’s very possible to believe that the Tea Party is not the latest manifestation of the Ku Klux Klan or White Citizens’ Councils—while still believing that it is a terrible menace, nonetheless.” Whew — takes a load off the left, doesn’t it? All the fictional racial incidents were getting to be a chore.

No clear winner in the Peter Beinart–Leon Wieseltier competition for the most vile comments directed against Israel. From the latter: “Israel does not need enemies: it has itself. Or more precisely: it has its government. The Netanyahu-Barak government has somehow found a way to lose the moral high ground, the all-important war for symbols and meanings, to Hamas. That is quite an accomplishment. Operation Make the World Hate Us, it might have been called.” To be precise, Israel has enough weaselly critics who flaunt their Judaism to establish their bona fides in order to gain legitimacy for their savage and a-factual attacks on the Jewish state.

Jamie Fly asks, “No Daylight?” about the U.S. stance on the terrorist flotilla: “So, over the course of two days, ‘no daylight’ has essentially become ‘we told you so,’ ‘perhaps you shouldn’t have done that,’ and ‘we plan to use this to our advantage to further our agenda.’ It’s no wonder that ally after ally feels slighted by the Obama administration, because even when this White House says they are standing with you, they are simultaneously undermining you.”

No Big Labor guarantees for the Democrats in 2010: “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Thursday that he sees unions as ‘unpredictable partners’ to Democratic candidates in the coming 2010 midterm elections.”

No Democrat in a competitive seat wants to get too closely tied to Obama these days: “Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, has called on President Barack Obama to do more to contain the fallout from the Gulf oil spill. Nelson on Thursday called for the White House to send more military assets to the Gulf before the giant oil slick hits Florida’s beaches. ‘This is the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history,’ Nelson said in a statement. ‘If this doesn’t call for more organization, control and assets — like sub-sea mapping by the Navy, for instance — then nothing does.'”

No idea what he’s talking about — Turkey has been hostile to Israel for some time: “Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply criticized Israel for its reaction to the Mavi Marmara raid Thursday saying that ‘Israel stands to lose its closest ally in the Middle East if it does not change its mentality.'”

No doubt about the Carly Fiorina surge: “Former eBay executive Meg Whitman holds a commanding lead over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in the June 8 Republican gubernatorial primary. In the GOP Senate primary, former HP President Carly Fiorina has pulled away from rival Tom Campbell, according to the latest Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research tracking poll. … The Senate side reflects a dramatic shift toward Fiorina over the past six weeks. An April 24 Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research Poll showed Campbell with 31-17 point lead over Fiorina, and DeVore at 14 percent.”

No humanitarian goods into Gaza? Outrageous — where is the UN? Oh, wait — it’s Hamas: “Hamas will not allow goods from an aid flotilla raided by Israel to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Islamist organization said Thursday.”

No way! Really? John Judis assures us that the Tea party movement isn’t racist: “What I am suggesting is that it’s very possible to believe that the Tea Party is not the latest manifestation of the Ku Klux Klan or White Citizens’ Councils—while still believing that it is a terrible menace, nonetheless.” Whew — takes a load off the left, doesn’t it? All the fictional racial incidents were getting to be a chore.

No clear winner in the Peter Beinart–Leon Wieseltier competition for the most vile comments directed against Israel. From the latter: “Israel does not need enemies: it has itself. Or more precisely: it has its government. The Netanyahu-Barak government has somehow found a way to lose the moral high ground, the all-important war for symbols and meanings, to Hamas. That is quite an accomplishment. Operation Make the World Hate Us, it might have been called.” To be precise, Israel has enough weaselly critics who flaunt their Judaism to establish their bona fides in order to gain legitimacy for their savage and a-factual attacks on the Jewish state.

Read Less




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