Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 6, 2010

Is Biden Cover?

A friend writes:

Friends of Israel are expressing their satisfaction with Vice President Biden’s comments on Charlie Rose about the flotilla incident, and Politico is describing him as the West Wing’s most fervent supporter of the Jewish state. I have a different take on this.  Jewish donors all over the country have been telling Members of Congress how upset they are with Obama and with the White House. Reportedly, Jewish fundraising is way down. At the same time, in a lot of the country, candidates don’t want Obama to campaign for them, affecting turnout at local mega events. How to fix these two problems? Have good old Uncle Joe be the good cop and let him both reinforce that he is a friend of the Jews (even though that is a relative concept and he did nothing when head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to move Iran sanctions forward) and be the draw for local mega events.Biden assuages Jewish concerns about Obama and strokes the donors enough to get them to write checks again while the administration changes tone but no policies. Obama doesn’t get the Arab League upset, Members of Congress get the Jewish money shoveled into their accounts and in November all policy options are available to Obama to return to the “No more Mr. Nice Guy” role he feels most comfortable playing vis-à-vis Israel.

A friend writes:

Friends of Israel are expressing their satisfaction with Vice President Biden’s comments on Charlie Rose about the flotilla incident, and Politico is describing him as the West Wing’s most fervent supporter of the Jewish state. I have a different take on this.  Jewish donors all over the country have been telling Members of Congress how upset they are with Obama and with the White House. Reportedly, Jewish fundraising is way down. At the same time, in a lot of the country, candidates don’t want Obama to campaign for them, affecting turnout at local mega events. How to fix these two problems? Have good old Uncle Joe be the good cop and let him both reinforce that he is a friend of the Jews (even though that is a relative concept and he did nothing when head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to move Iran sanctions forward) and be the draw for local mega events.Biden assuages Jewish concerns about Obama and strokes the donors enough to get them to write checks again while the administration changes tone but no policies. Obama doesn’t get the Arab League upset, Members of Congress get the Jewish money shoveled into their accounts and in November all policy options are available to Obama to return to the “No more Mr. Nice Guy” role he feels most comfortable playing vis-à-vis Israel.

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ADL Says Helen Thomas Apology Insufficient

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, issued the following statement:

Helen Thomas’s statement of regret does not go far enough. Her remarks were outrageous, offensive and inappropriate, especially since she uttered them on a day the White House had set aside to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of American Jews during Jewish America Heritage Month.

Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history. We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused.

We’ll see if the White House is willing to endure yet another controversy by continuing to host a bigot who uses her perch in the briefing room to spout her venom. It is pathetic that the press corps does not police itself. They’re very fond of calling on business and government to do that but atrocious at doing it themselves. Let’s hope neither Hearst nor the White House has the stomach for this and gives Thomas the boot.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, issued the following statement:

Helen Thomas’s statement of regret does not go far enough. Her remarks were outrageous, offensive and inappropriate, especially since she uttered them on a day the White House had set aside to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of American Jews during Jewish America Heritage Month.

Her suggestion that Israelis should go back to Poland and Germany is bigoted and shows a profound ignorance of history. We believe Thomas needs to make a more forceful and sincere apology for the pain her remarks have caused.

We’ll see if the White House is willing to endure yet another controversy by continuing to host a bigot who uses her perch in the briefing room to spout her venom. It is pathetic that the press corps does not police itself. They’re very fond of calling on business and government to do that but atrocious at doing it themselves. Let’s hope neither Hearst nor the White House has the stomach for this and gives Thomas the boot.

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New Reuters “Faux-tography”

One of the more famous episodes from the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war was the discovery that Reuters was doctoring photos to enhance the appearance of destruction in Lebanon.

Now we have what seems to be another example: Reuters has cropped a photo of a wounded IDF commando to eliminate the appearance of a knife in the hand of one of the flotilla “peace activists” standing over him. LGF has the details.

One of the more famous episodes from the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war was the discovery that Reuters was doctoring photos to enhance the appearance of destruction in Lebanon.

Now we have what seems to be another example: Reuters has cropped a photo of a wounded IDF commando to eliminate the appearance of a knife in the hand of one of the flotilla “peace activists” standing over him. LGF has the details.

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Rep. Peter King Leads on Flotilla

I spoke on the phone with Rep. Peter King today. I asked whether he was surprised that the Obama team went along with a UN resolution on the flotilla, even a watered-down one, rather than vetoing it, as past administrations have done in similar situations to hold back the tide of Israel bashing. He replied bluntly, “No.” He continued, “This is basically what we have seen from day one — [the administration] putting distance between itself and Israel.” He believes there is a conscious effort by Obama to deny Israel the “privileged status” it has enjoyed as a close, democratic ally of the United States. This is part and parcel, he explains, of the “apology tour, how Netanyahu was treated, and [asserting] the moral equivalency between housing construction in Jerusalem and Iran constructing a nuclear weapon.”

What does King intend to do when Congress returns tomorrow? He announces that he will send a “Dear Colleague” letter out on Monday, calling on all House members to join in a resolution that will be introduced in the next few days. The resolution will include “many paragraphs on Israel’s right to defend itself,” take issue with the critics of Israel, call for the U.S. to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, and demand that the administration oppose any UN investigation of Israel.

Rep. King is right and deserves immense credit for summoning Congress to get into the discussion. For a week the administration has straddled, hemmed and hawed, and left Israel to defend itself. It is shameful, and Congress should make it clear that this is not acceptable and does not represent the concerns of the American people, who aren’t confused about who the good guys and who the bad guys are in this incident and in the Middle East more generally. Each member of Congress as well as candidates on the ballot this year should be forced to take a stand: do they approve of the Obama approach to Israel? Thanks to Rep. King, we’ll find out soon.

I spoke on the phone with Rep. Peter King today. I asked whether he was surprised that the Obama team went along with a UN resolution on the flotilla, even a watered-down one, rather than vetoing it, as past administrations have done in similar situations to hold back the tide of Israel bashing. He replied bluntly, “No.” He continued, “This is basically what we have seen from day one — [the administration] putting distance between itself and Israel.” He believes there is a conscious effort by Obama to deny Israel the “privileged status” it has enjoyed as a close, democratic ally of the United States. This is part and parcel, he explains, of the “apology tour, how Netanyahu was treated, and [asserting] the moral equivalency between housing construction in Jerusalem and Iran constructing a nuclear weapon.”

What does King intend to do when Congress returns tomorrow? He announces that he will send a “Dear Colleague” letter out on Monday, calling on all House members to join in a resolution that will be introduced in the next few days. The resolution will include “many paragraphs on Israel’s right to defend itself,” take issue with the critics of Israel, call for the U.S. to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council, and demand that the administration oppose any UN investigation of Israel.

Rep. King is right and deserves immense credit for summoning Congress to get into the discussion. For a week the administration has straddled, hemmed and hawed, and left Israel to defend itself. It is shameful, and Congress should make it clear that this is not acceptable and does not represent the concerns of the American people, who aren’t confused about who the good guys and who the bad guys are in this incident and in the Middle East more generally. Each member of Congress as well as candidates on the ballot this year should be forced to take a stand: do they approve of the Obama approach to Israel? Thanks to Rep. King, we’ll find out soon.

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Helen Thomas Should Go, Says Lanny Davis

Lanny Davis, Clinton adviser and stalwart Democrat, joins Ari Fleischer in calling for Helen Thomas to be booted. He has released a statement, which reads:

Helen Thomas, who I used to consider a close friend and who I used to respect, has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot. This not about her disagreement about her criticisms of Israel. She has a right to criticize Israel and that is not the same as being an anti-Semite.

However, her statement that  Jews in Israel should leave Israel and go back to Poland or Germany is an ancient and well-known anti-Semitic  stereotype of the Alien Jew not belonging in the “land of Israel” — one that began  2,600 years with the first tragic and violent diaspora of the Jews at the hands of the Romans.

If she had asked all Blacks to go back to Africa, what would White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials — much less a privileged honorary seat?

Does anyone doubt that my friends Ann Compton, head of the WHCA,  and Joe Lockhart, who believe in the First Amendment right of free expression as much as I do, would be as tolerant and protective of Helen’s privileges and honors in the White House press room as they appear to be if she had been asking Blacks to return to Africa? Or Native Americans to Asia and South America, from which they came 8,000 or more years ago? I doubt it.

Of course Helen has the right as a private citizen under the First Amendment to speak her mind, even as an anti-Jewish bigot — but not as a member, much less privileged member with a reserved seat, in the WH press corps.

See, that wasn’t so hard. Where is the rest of the media, the White House Correspondents Association, and the White House? As to the latter, no response to my inquiry has been forthcoming. Perhaps, the White House is hoping — you know, like with the BP spill — that it can dodge responsibility for this one. But it is their credentials Helen Thomas uses and their briefing room in which she sits. What say you, Mr. President?

UPDATE: Helen Thomas gets dumped by her agent.

Lanny Davis, Clinton adviser and stalwart Democrat, joins Ari Fleischer in calling for Helen Thomas to be booted. He has released a statement, which reads:

Helen Thomas, who I used to consider a close friend and who I used to respect, has showed herself to be an anti-Semitic bigot. This not about her disagreement about her criticisms of Israel. She has a right to criticize Israel and that is not the same as being an anti-Semite.

However, her statement that  Jews in Israel should leave Israel and go back to Poland or Germany is an ancient and well-known anti-Semitic  stereotype of the Alien Jew not belonging in the “land of Israel” — one that began  2,600 years with the first tragic and violent diaspora of the Jews at the hands of the Romans.

If she had asked all Blacks to go back to Africa, what would White House Correspondents Association position be as to whether she deserved White House press room credentials — much less a privileged honorary seat?

Does anyone doubt that my friends Ann Compton, head of the WHCA,  and Joe Lockhart, who believe in the First Amendment right of free expression as much as I do, would be as tolerant and protective of Helen’s privileges and honors in the White House press room as they appear to be if she had been asking Blacks to return to Africa? Or Native Americans to Asia and South America, from which they came 8,000 or more years ago? I doubt it.

Of course Helen has the right as a private citizen under the First Amendment to speak her mind, even as an anti-Jewish bigot — but not as a member, much less privileged member with a reserved seat, in the WH press corps.

See, that wasn’t so hard. Where is the rest of the media, the White House Correspondents Association, and the White House? As to the latter, no response to my inquiry has been forthcoming. Perhaps, the White House is hoping — you know, like with the BP spill — that it can dodge responsibility for this one. But it is their credentials Helen Thomas uses and their briefing room in which she sits. What say you, Mr. President?

UPDATE: Helen Thomas gets dumped by her agent.

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RE: How to Stand Up to Israel-Bashers

Israel’s supporters should welcome a debate about the blockade because it is an opportunity for moral clarity.

The group that is enforcing the blockade and is responsible for the collective punishment of the Palestinian people is Hamas. No blockade existed until Hamas began its rocket war on Israeli civilians — a war that is nothing if not a form of collective punishment, despite the silence of human-rights organizations on the matter. There used to be virtually open borders between Israel and Gaza, and from the late 60s through the 80s, thousands of Gazans worked in Israel and commuted back and forth on a daily basis, leading to a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of Palestinians. Hamas created the blockade and can end it tomorrow if it stops trying to assault, terrorize, and destroy Israel. Yet it will not do so, and enjoys the world’s insistence that Israel is obligated to do what no other state would do, or has done: maintain open economic relations with a regime that is actively pursuing its violent destruction. Furthermore, another country, Egypt, is enforcing an even more stringent blockade but, unlike Israel, has never been attacked by Hamas — yet completely escapes the condemnation of the world. Why is that?

This is as if a guy who is trying to break into your house and murder your family complained that you locked the front door and aren’t giving him free chocolate bars.

Israel’s supporters should welcome a debate about the blockade because it is an opportunity for moral clarity.

The group that is enforcing the blockade and is responsible for the collective punishment of the Palestinian people is Hamas. No blockade existed until Hamas began its rocket war on Israeli civilians — a war that is nothing if not a form of collective punishment, despite the silence of human-rights organizations on the matter. There used to be virtually open borders between Israel and Gaza, and from the late 60s through the 80s, thousands of Gazans worked in Israel and commuted back and forth on a daily basis, leading to a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of Palestinians. Hamas created the blockade and can end it tomorrow if it stops trying to assault, terrorize, and destroy Israel. Yet it will not do so, and enjoys the world’s insistence that Israel is obligated to do what no other state would do, or has done: maintain open economic relations with a regime that is actively pursuing its violent destruction. Furthermore, another country, Egypt, is enforcing an even more stringent blockade but, unlike Israel, has never been attacked by Hamas — yet completely escapes the condemnation of the world. Why is that?

This is as if a guy who is trying to break into your house and murder your family complained that you locked the front door and aren’t giving him free chocolate bars.

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How to Stand Up to Israel-Bashers

On Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN this morning Elliott Abrams faced off Peter Beinart and Zakaria (who, frankly, was the more virulent of the two Israel-bashers). He demonstrated how to engage and decimate those whose mission is now to propound in “polite” company the notion that Israel is a pariah state.

First, don’t let them define the terms of the debate:

ZAKARIA: Elliott, let me ask you — Peter, in a recent article — I think it was in “The Daily Beast” — points out that the Gaza blockade which Israel has imposed is not simply a blockade against munitions and arms. It blockades, among other things — these are the things Israel will not permit to enter into Gaza: cilantro, jam, sage, chocolate, dried fruits, notebooks. What is the purpose of a blockade of such goods?

ELLIOTT ABRAMS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The purpose of the blockade of Gaza, of course, is to prevent Gaza, which is already “Hamastan,” from firing another 10,000 rockets and missiles into Israel.

ZAKARIA: And how will the jam and cilantro help them make those rockets?

ABRAMS: You know, I’m sure that you can find equal examples in the U.S. and U.N. blockade of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. You can always find in any government action some marginal activity, some list that you don’t like. That’s not the point.

The point is that Israel has stopped two Iranian ships from carrying arms to Gaza. Israel interfered, thank God, this week with a group of armed Turks who came prepared for a fight with iron bars, night vision devices, ceramic vests, despite what, frankly, are the lies that the Turkish foreign minister told on this show today.

Why is it that only Turks out of the 32 nationalities got hurt? It is because only Turks were involved in the violence.

If there is to be an international investigation, it needs to start where the ships started, in Turkey. We need to know what the Turkish government did in helping this armed group of men hijack what was supposed to be a humanitarian effort.

Second, debunk ridiculous arguments. Zakaria asks why Bibi isn’t agreeing to an international investigation. Abrams responds:

I mean, who is kidding whom, Peter? Peter knows, you know, Fareed, and [Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu knows himself there isn’t going to be a fair international investigation. There wasn’t a fair investigation of the Gaza war. There isn’t going to be a fair international investigation of the Turkish role in this. Let us not kid ourselves about this. Israel, if it followed the whims of the international community, would have disbanded long ago after the international community voted at the U.N. that Zionism is a form of racism. It is not going to get fair treatment. I think everybody knows that. And the attitude of the Turkish foreign minister on this show today, simply denying the fact that there was a group of 40 or 50 armed Turkish jihadis on the largest ship, proves that there is really no room here for an international investigation that is going to be at all fair.

Third, counteract vile accusations with facts:

ZAKARIA: But that suggests you accept, Elliott, that the blockade is not nearly to prevent weapons from coming in, but to deliberately starve the people in Gaza to make them feel worse off.

ABRAMS: No, I would suggest that the purpose of the blockade is actually twofold.

First, security. And second, to get the kidnapped corporal, Gilad Shalit, out.

You know, those people on those ships last week were asked by Israel, by Israelis, to carry messages or food or solidarity to that boy who has been four years in solitary confinement, and they said no. That’s a real measure of what kind of humanitarians they are.

Can this blockade be improved, can it be better run? Sure. And it will be.

I have no doubt that there will be changes made. But let us not turn our selves into useful idiots here and make believe that those 50 or 40 or 30 armed Turkish jihadis were there because they believe in the cause of peace any more than the people on those ships who refused solidarity to Gilad Shalit were there because they believe in international solidarity. This was an anti-Israeli activity, and the Israelis had every right to prevent it.

And finally, go on the offense. Zakaria coos over Beinart’s column which asserted that liberals can’t back Israel because of Israel’s conduct. Abrams is having none of it, and turns the tables on Beinart (and, by extension, against the growing cohorts of weaselly critics who now vent Israel-hatred while asserting their Jewish bona fides):

ABRAMS: What Peter is forgetting, that Jewish liberals have never supported Israel. They didn’t support the founding of the state of Israel. The reform movement was anti-Zionist for decades and decades.

Jewish liberals have a problem with particularism, nationalism, Zionism, and they always have. And it isn’t due to anything that is going on in Israel, it’s due to things that are going on inside their heads. They need to grow up and realize that Israel has a right to defend itself.

BEINART: In fact, that’s really not true.

ABRAMS: Well, it is really true.

BEINART: The Democrat Party, for generations, was a bedrock of support for Israel. And it’s these kids parents and grandparents. There is a significant generational shift going on.

ABRAMS: The significant generational shift is that more and more young American Jews are now Orthodox. The percentage under the age of 10 or 20 that is Orthodox is increasingly going, and they are fervently Zionists. If the Jewish liberals want to walk away from Israel, they’re free to do so, but not to blame Israel for it.

And as for Beinart’s assertion about the Democratic Party, he might want to take a look at current polling. It is the Republican Party – and the common sense and decency of average Americans — on whom Israel must rely for vocal support.

A final note on the Abrams interview. He dismembered his opponents without anger or ad hominem jibes. (Goodness knows how.) The secret actually to dismantling the left’s position with regard to Israel is to expose their anti-Israel talking points and gratuitous swipes as factually unsupportable and to reveal that they stem from their biases, not Israel’s conduct. And it helps to be as calm and prepared as Abrams.

On Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN this morning Elliott Abrams faced off Peter Beinart and Zakaria (who, frankly, was the more virulent of the two Israel-bashers). He demonstrated how to engage and decimate those whose mission is now to propound in “polite” company the notion that Israel is a pariah state.

First, don’t let them define the terms of the debate:

ZAKARIA: Elliott, let me ask you — Peter, in a recent article — I think it was in “The Daily Beast” — points out that the Gaza blockade which Israel has imposed is not simply a blockade against munitions and arms. It blockades, among other things — these are the things Israel will not permit to enter into Gaza: cilantro, jam, sage, chocolate, dried fruits, notebooks. What is the purpose of a blockade of such goods?

ELLIOTT ABRAMS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The purpose of the blockade of Gaza, of course, is to prevent Gaza, which is already “Hamastan,” from firing another 10,000 rockets and missiles into Israel.

ZAKARIA: And how will the jam and cilantro help them make those rockets?

ABRAMS: You know, I’m sure that you can find equal examples in the U.S. and U.N. blockade of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. You can always find in any government action some marginal activity, some list that you don’t like. That’s not the point.

The point is that Israel has stopped two Iranian ships from carrying arms to Gaza. Israel interfered, thank God, this week with a group of armed Turks who came prepared for a fight with iron bars, night vision devices, ceramic vests, despite what, frankly, are the lies that the Turkish foreign minister told on this show today.

Why is it that only Turks out of the 32 nationalities got hurt? It is because only Turks were involved in the violence.

If there is to be an international investigation, it needs to start where the ships started, in Turkey. We need to know what the Turkish government did in helping this armed group of men hijack what was supposed to be a humanitarian effort.

Second, debunk ridiculous arguments. Zakaria asks why Bibi isn’t agreeing to an international investigation. Abrams responds:

I mean, who is kidding whom, Peter? Peter knows, you know, Fareed, and [Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu knows himself there isn’t going to be a fair international investigation. There wasn’t a fair investigation of the Gaza war. There isn’t going to be a fair international investigation of the Turkish role in this. Let us not kid ourselves about this. Israel, if it followed the whims of the international community, would have disbanded long ago after the international community voted at the U.N. that Zionism is a form of racism. It is not going to get fair treatment. I think everybody knows that. And the attitude of the Turkish foreign minister on this show today, simply denying the fact that there was a group of 40 or 50 armed Turkish jihadis on the largest ship, proves that there is really no room here for an international investigation that is going to be at all fair.

Third, counteract vile accusations with facts:

ZAKARIA: But that suggests you accept, Elliott, that the blockade is not nearly to prevent weapons from coming in, but to deliberately starve the people in Gaza to make them feel worse off.

ABRAMS: No, I would suggest that the purpose of the blockade is actually twofold.

First, security. And second, to get the kidnapped corporal, Gilad Shalit, out.

You know, those people on those ships last week were asked by Israel, by Israelis, to carry messages or food or solidarity to that boy who has been four years in solitary confinement, and they said no. That’s a real measure of what kind of humanitarians they are.

Can this blockade be improved, can it be better run? Sure. And it will be.

I have no doubt that there will be changes made. But let us not turn our selves into useful idiots here and make believe that those 50 or 40 or 30 armed Turkish jihadis were there because they believe in the cause of peace any more than the people on those ships who refused solidarity to Gilad Shalit were there because they believe in international solidarity. This was an anti-Israeli activity, and the Israelis had every right to prevent it.

And finally, go on the offense. Zakaria coos over Beinart’s column which asserted that liberals can’t back Israel because of Israel’s conduct. Abrams is having none of it, and turns the tables on Beinart (and, by extension, against the growing cohorts of weaselly critics who now vent Israel-hatred while asserting their Jewish bona fides):

ABRAMS: What Peter is forgetting, that Jewish liberals have never supported Israel. They didn’t support the founding of the state of Israel. The reform movement was anti-Zionist for decades and decades.

Jewish liberals have a problem with particularism, nationalism, Zionism, and they always have. And it isn’t due to anything that is going on in Israel, it’s due to things that are going on inside their heads. They need to grow up and realize that Israel has a right to defend itself.

BEINART: In fact, that’s really not true.

ABRAMS: Well, it is really true.

BEINART: The Democrat Party, for generations, was a bedrock of support for Israel. And it’s these kids parents and grandparents. There is a significant generational shift going on.

ABRAMS: The significant generational shift is that more and more young American Jews are now Orthodox. The percentage under the age of 10 or 20 that is Orthodox is increasingly going, and they are fervently Zionists. If the Jewish liberals want to walk away from Israel, they’re free to do so, but not to blame Israel for it.

And as for Beinart’s assertion about the Democratic Party, he might want to take a look at current polling. It is the Republican Party – and the common sense and decency of average Americans — on whom Israel must rely for vocal support.

A final note on the Abrams interview. He dismembered his opponents without anger or ad hominem jibes. (Goodness knows how.) The secret actually to dismantling the left’s position with regard to Israel is to expose their anti-Israel talking points and gratuitous swipes as factually unsupportable and to reveal that they stem from their biases, not Israel’s conduct. And it helps to be as calm and prepared as Abrams.

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Steve Rosen Takes Peter Beinart to the Woodshed

Take 10 minutes today and listen to this debate on NPR between Rosen, who argues facts and reality, and Beinart, who whines about his feelings. It is an epic schooling.

Take 10 minutes today and listen to this debate on NPR between Rosen, who argues facts and reality, and Beinart, who whines about his feelings. It is an epic schooling.

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Amnesty Int’l: Under No Circumstances Can Israel Not Occupy Gaza

I know you don’t need to be reminded that the “human-rights community” is full of fanatics and crackpots, but this example could be considered dark comedy. Abbott and Costello, anyone?

Q. Is an exit by the Navy from Gaza’s waters an end to the occupation?

A. No.

Q. Is opening the border crossings with Israel ending the occupation?

A. That’s a step towards ending the occupation….

Q. So what actions must Israel take? You say that the occupation ends if Israel opens the crossings, so if the occupation ends, Israel needs to close the borders since Gaza is defined as an enemy state. There’s a logical contradiction here.

A. I don’t understand where the contradiction is.

Q. The border between Israel and Lebanon is closed since Lebanon is an enemy state. You’re claiming that Israel needs to open the borders to Gaza and then the occupation will end. And then Israel will have to close the crossings.

A. I’ll ask you another question. Can Lebanon control the transfer of goods and people to Lebanon not opposite Israel but opposite other countries?

Q. So the problem is with the control by sea and air. If the seas are open there is no occupation?

A. Of course, had it been possible to enter Gaza freely through the air, by sea and land, that would certainly be one component of the occupation ending.

Q. What are all the components to end the occupation? Amnesty does not present a plan in which Israel stops the occupation. It says that Israel needs to stop the occupation and deepen the occupation by opening the borders. I don’t comprehend that.

A. Amnesty International does not deal with solving conflicts.

It goes on. Read it all.

I know you don’t need to be reminded that the “human-rights community” is full of fanatics and crackpots, but this example could be considered dark comedy. Abbott and Costello, anyone?

Q. Is an exit by the Navy from Gaza’s waters an end to the occupation?

A. No.

Q. Is opening the border crossings with Israel ending the occupation?

A. That’s a step towards ending the occupation….

Q. So what actions must Israel take? You say that the occupation ends if Israel opens the crossings, so if the occupation ends, Israel needs to close the borders since Gaza is defined as an enemy state. There’s a logical contradiction here.

A. I don’t understand where the contradiction is.

Q. The border between Israel and Lebanon is closed since Lebanon is an enemy state. You’re claiming that Israel needs to open the borders to Gaza and then the occupation will end. And then Israel will have to close the crossings.

A. I’ll ask you another question. Can Lebanon control the transfer of goods and people to Lebanon not opposite Israel but opposite other countries?

Q. So the problem is with the control by sea and air. If the seas are open there is no occupation?

A. Of course, had it been possible to enter Gaza freely through the air, by sea and land, that would certainly be one component of the occupation ending.

Q. What are all the components to end the occupation? Amnesty does not present a plan in which Israel stops the occupation. It says that Israel needs to stop the occupation and deepen the occupation by opening the borders. I don’t comprehend that.

A. Amnesty International does not deal with solving conflicts.

It goes on. Read it all.

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Why Shouldn’t Helen Thomas Be Expelled from the White House Press Corps?

Politico reports that several individual members of the press say they don’t much like Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic rant (they don’t use that term, of course), but, hey, she apologized — so let bygones be bygones:

“She doesn’t speak for the WHCA,” said White House Correspondents’ Association  President Ed Chen. “Her views are hers alone. And now she’s apologized. Policing the views of opinion columnists can start us all all down a path that history suggests is best avoided.”

“Helen Thomas does not speak for me, and she does not represent the White House press corps,” said McClatchy’s Steve Thomma. “It was an offensive comment. She was right to apologize for it.”

“Helen has been a columnist for about a decade now and her strong beliefs on the Middle East are well known,” said ABC News’ Ann Compton. “I think I saw that she regretted these remarks and realized they were hurtful and inappropriate. Ari Fleischer is a private citizen and certainly free to express his opinion that this was a firing offense even for an opinion columnist. I would agree with you that Helen enjoys a rather special status as the White House. But I think her employer will have to decide whether the comments went over the line.”

Only Ari Fleischer has gone on record calling for her to be fired. One unidentified report agrees: “This is disgusting stuff. … If anyone else said it, they would probably be fired. Ari has every right to be mad.” Ori Nir, of the leftist, usually Israel-bashing (and deceptively named) Americans for Peace Now, pipes up: “Ms. Thomas’ comments were repugnant. She did the right thing by apologizing for making them. Whether she should end her relationship with Hearst over these comments is up to her and Hearst.” Well, far be it for him to call for someone spouting such repugnant comments to lose the privilege of sitting in the White House briefing room.

An official with a Jewish organization in Washington e-mails me:

It’s hard to believe that a company like Hearst would want to have it’s [sic] most visible public association be with a vile bigot, let alone a “reporter” so ignorant of history and the fact of unbroken Jewish inhabitance in Israel going back to before the birth of Jesus. I wonder if she’ll continue to get called on at the White House, given her style of questioning and obvious mindset. How far does one have to go these days before it’s simply odious and beyond the bounds of civil discourse?

Apparently, there is no limit to how far one can go — provided Jews are the object of the venom.

Politico reports that several individual members of the press say they don’t much like Helen Thomas’s anti-Semitic rant (they don’t use that term, of course), but, hey, she apologized — so let bygones be bygones:

“She doesn’t speak for the WHCA,” said White House Correspondents’ Association  President Ed Chen. “Her views are hers alone. And now she’s apologized. Policing the views of opinion columnists can start us all all down a path that history suggests is best avoided.”

“Helen Thomas does not speak for me, and she does not represent the White House press corps,” said McClatchy’s Steve Thomma. “It was an offensive comment. She was right to apologize for it.”

“Helen has been a columnist for about a decade now and her strong beliefs on the Middle East are well known,” said ABC News’ Ann Compton. “I think I saw that she regretted these remarks and realized they were hurtful and inappropriate. Ari Fleischer is a private citizen and certainly free to express his opinion that this was a firing offense even for an opinion columnist. I would agree with you that Helen enjoys a rather special status as the White House. But I think her employer will have to decide whether the comments went over the line.”

Only Ari Fleischer has gone on record calling for her to be fired. One unidentified report agrees: “This is disgusting stuff. … If anyone else said it, they would probably be fired. Ari has every right to be mad.” Ori Nir, of the leftist, usually Israel-bashing (and deceptively named) Americans for Peace Now, pipes up: “Ms. Thomas’ comments were repugnant. She did the right thing by apologizing for making them. Whether she should end her relationship with Hearst over these comments is up to her and Hearst.” Well, far be it for him to call for someone spouting such repugnant comments to lose the privilege of sitting in the White House briefing room.

An official with a Jewish organization in Washington e-mails me:

It’s hard to believe that a company like Hearst would want to have it’s [sic] most visible public association be with a vile bigot, let alone a “reporter” so ignorant of history and the fact of unbroken Jewish inhabitance in Israel going back to before the birth of Jesus. I wonder if she’ll continue to get called on at the White House, given her style of questioning and obvious mindset. How far does one have to go these days before it’s simply odious and beyond the bounds of civil discourse?

Apparently, there is no limit to how far one can go — provided Jews are the object of the venom.

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Is There a Higher-Education Bubble?

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, who has a book review in this month’s COMMENTARY, says yes. With my third child on the way, I devoutly hope something is going to give before I have simultaneous college tuitions that, given the rate of inflation, could top $100,000 per year each by the time my children get there. Also, note this frightening analysis from Steve Eisman, one of the Wall Streeters who predicted the housing bubble.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, who has a book review in this month’s COMMENTARY, says yes. With my third child on the way, I devoutly hope something is going to give before I have simultaneous college tuitions that, given the rate of inflation, could top $100,000 per year each by the time my children get there. Also, note this frightening analysis from Steve Eisman, one of the Wall Streeters who predicted the housing bubble.

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Barack Obama “Really Excited” by Helen Thomas

In respect of the comment of the Washington columnist for Hearst Newspapers, Helen Thomas, that the Jews of Israel should “go home” to Germany and Poland, there are two points to be made.

The first is that these comments should come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who has followed Ms. Thomas’s career. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has a page full of the relevant details; back in 2008 even the Washington Post, not known for being a knee-jerk defender of Israel, was writing of Thomas’s “stridency in criticizing Israel and defending its enemies.” President George W. Bush’s press secretary Tony Snow once described her as offering “the Hezbollah view,” and back in 1991, George H.W. Bush, also not known for being a knee-jerk defender of Israel, had to explain publicly to Ms. Thomas why Iraq was not justified in lobbing scud missiles into Israel.

The second is that, even given Ms. Thomas’s well known status as a virulent critic of Israel and as more of a speechifier than questioner at White House press conferences, President Obama has chosen to call on her at two of his six full-scale press conferences. The only ones who have gotten called on more by Mr. Obama work for either the big five television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News Channel, and CNN) or the Associated Press or Bloomberg wire services.

At his first presidential press conference, Mr. Obama called on her as follows: “All right, Helen. This is my inaugural moment here. I’m really excited.”

Her question: “Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?”

At Mr. Obama’s most recent press conference, the president called on her again and she said, “Mr. President, when are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse? And don’t give us this Bushism, ‘if we don’t go there, they’ll all come here.’”

At a third press conference, Ms. Thomas had gotten in a question even without being formally called on. Mr. Obama responded, “Hold on a second, Helen.”

You can maybe excuse calling on her at the first press conference on the grounds that Mr. Obama or his press aides wanted to defer to her seniority, to sound a note of continuity with past presidencies, and to elevate the new president’s stature somehow by showing the public that the same woman who once hounded Reagan is now hounding him. But three questions in six press conferences for Helen Thomas? And the president pronouncing himself “really excited”?

It’s enough to make a person wonder whether either the president or some of his close advisers are sympathetic to Ms. Thomas’s views or, at least, think they deserve a more prominent place in the public eye.

In respect of the comment of the Washington columnist for Hearst Newspapers, Helen Thomas, that the Jews of Israel should “go home” to Germany and Poland, there are two points to be made.

The first is that these comments should come as no surprise whatsoever to anyone who has followed Ms. Thomas’s career. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has a page full of the relevant details; back in 2008 even the Washington Post, not known for being a knee-jerk defender of Israel, was writing of Thomas’s “stridency in criticizing Israel and defending its enemies.” President George W. Bush’s press secretary Tony Snow once described her as offering “the Hezbollah view,” and back in 1991, George H.W. Bush, also not known for being a knee-jerk defender of Israel, had to explain publicly to Ms. Thomas why Iraq was not justified in lobbing scud missiles into Israel.

The second is that, even given Ms. Thomas’s well known status as a virulent critic of Israel and as more of a speechifier than questioner at White House press conferences, President Obama has chosen to call on her at two of his six full-scale press conferences. The only ones who have gotten called on more by Mr. Obama work for either the big five television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News Channel, and CNN) or the Associated Press or Bloomberg wire services.

At his first presidential press conference, Mr. Obama called on her as follows: “All right, Helen. This is my inaugural moment here. I’m really excited.”

Her question: “Mr. President, do you think that Pakistan are maintaining the safe havens in Afghanistan for these so-called terrorists? And also, do you know of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?”

At Mr. Obama’s most recent press conference, the president called on her again and she said, “Mr. President, when are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse? And don’t give us this Bushism, ‘if we don’t go there, they’ll all come here.’”

At a third press conference, Ms. Thomas had gotten in a question even without being formally called on. Mr. Obama responded, “Hold on a second, Helen.”

You can maybe excuse calling on her at the first press conference on the grounds that Mr. Obama or his press aides wanted to defer to her seniority, to sound a note of continuity with past presidencies, and to elevate the new president’s stature somehow by showing the public that the same woman who once hounded Reagan is now hounding him. But three questions in six press conferences for Helen Thomas? And the president pronouncing himself “really excited”?

It’s enough to make a person wonder whether either the president or some of his close advisers are sympathetic to Ms. Thomas’s views or, at least, think they deserve a more prominent place in the public eye.

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Charlie Crist’s Latest Problem

If Democrats were thinking that Charlie Crist looked like a better alternative than Kendrick Meek to knock off the GOP’s rising star Marco Rubio, they might want to reconsider. The Miami Herald reports:

Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising role with the state party – according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he “didn’t know anything” about the deal now part of a criminal investigation.

State investigators say Greer and the party’s former executive director, Delmar W. Johnson III, secretly set up a shell company called Victory Strategies to divert party money and enrich themselves. Greer was charged Wednesday with fraud and money laundering.

Greer’s attorney says it’s all perfectly legal and that Crist’s Senate appointee and former campaign manager came up with the idea for the scam. Crist’s defense it that he was out of the loop on the specifics. (“Jim thought a change would be a good idea and I said, ‘Whatever you think needs to be done, and if you need to bring in Delmar, that’s fine.”) It is further confirmation that Crist may be precisely the wrong candidate at the wrong time. In an election year in which inside deals are under scrutiny (with the Sestak and Romanoff scandals swirling) and establishment candidates face a hostile electorate, Crist may find there is little patience for this sort of thing. And it’s a good reminder that the GOP inside the beltway political gurus (who backed Crist) often get it very, very wrong.

If Democrats were thinking that Charlie Crist looked like a better alternative than Kendrick Meek to knock off the GOP’s rising star Marco Rubio, they might want to reconsider. The Miami Herald reports:

Gov. Charlie Crist personally signed off on his former Republican party chairman’s confidential fundraising role with the state party – according to Jim Greer’s attorney, whose allegation contradicts the governor’s statement that he “didn’t know anything” about the deal now part of a criminal investigation.

State investigators say Greer and the party’s former executive director, Delmar W. Johnson III, secretly set up a shell company called Victory Strategies to divert party money and enrich themselves. Greer was charged Wednesday with fraud and money laundering.

Greer’s attorney says it’s all perfectly legal and that Crist’s Senate appointee and former campaign manager came up with the idea for the scam. Crist’s defense it that he was out of the loop on the specifics. (“Jim thought a change would be a good idea and I said, ‘Whatever you think needs to be done, and if you need to bring in Delmar, that’s fine.”) It is further confirmation that Crist may be precisely the wrong candidate at the wrong time. In an election year in which inside deals are under scrutiny (with the Sestak and Romanoff scandals swirling) and establishment candidates face a hostile electorate, Crist may find there is little patience for this sort of thing. And it’s a good reminder that the GOP inside the beltway political gurus (who backed Crist) often get it very, very wrong.

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Why Is the Left Silent on Helen Thomas?

It’s a troubling reflection of the times when Helen Thomas can tell Israeli Jews to go back to the countries ravaged by the Holocaust (Germany and Poland), and only conservative media outlets seem to care. Greg Sargent reports that her employer, Hearst Newspapers, isn’t saying whether she’ll be fired. And he acknowledges that liberals don’t seem to care:

Conservative Web sites have been banging away at Thomas ever since video surfaced of her urging Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland. Beyond these comments, Thomas has aggressively questioned the Obama administration’s support for Israel in the wake of the flotilla raid, angering the right, and some Republicans are now seizing on her latest comments to call for her firing.

So why don’t liberals care — has defense or at least toleration of anti-Semitism become a tenet of the Left? Really, had Thomas told blacks to go back to Africa or Palestinians to go back to Jordan, she’d already be gone. (A reader e-mails, “Imagine if this had been a Fox reporter!”) The bar is evidently so low these days that no one much cares. Oh, she’s a cranky has-been, you might say? Not important. Once the standard is set, the unacceptable gains respectability, and the sentiments are no longer out of bounds.

We’ll see which, if any, Jewish organizations speak up. And by the way, she’s credentialed through the White House press office. What does the Obama administration think of this, and why should they continue to permit her to masquerade as a legitimate media figure when she is no more than a propagandist for a Judenfrei Israel? The White House press operatives tried to throw Fox out of the press pool, so why don’t they throw Thomas out of the briefing room?

It’s a troubling reflection of the times when Helen Thomas can tell Israeli Jews to go back to the countries ravaged by the Holocaust (Germany and Poland), and only conservative media outlets seem to care. Greg Sargent reports that her employer, Hearst Newspapers, isn’t saying whether she’ll be fired. And he acknowledges that liberals don’t seem to care:

Conservative Web sites have been banging away at Thomas ever since video surfaced of her urging Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland. Beyond these comments, Thomas has aggressively questioned the Obama administration’s support for Israel in the wake of the flotilla raid, angering the right, and some Republicans are now seizing on her latest comments to call for her firing.

So why don’t liberals care — has defense or at least toleration of anti-Semitism become a tenet of the Left? Really, had Thomas told blacks to go back to Africa or Palestinians to go back to Jordan, she’d already be gone. (A reader e-mails, “Imagine if this had been a Fox reporter!”) The bar is evidently so low these days that no one much cares. Oh, she’s a cranky has-been, you might say? Not important. Once the standard is set, the unacceptable gains respectability, and the sentiments are no longer out of bounds.

We’ll see which, if any, Jewish organizations speak up. And by the way, she’s credentialed through the White House press office. What does the Obama administration think of this, and why should they continue to permit her to masquerade as a legitimate media figure when she is no more than a propagandist for a Judenfrei Israel? The White House press operatives tried to throw Fox out of the press pool, so why don’t they throw Thomas out of the briefing room?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

It took too long, but the myth of Obama’s competence is crumbling: “The WH political shop leaves much to be desired. Take your pick as to which is worse: The fact that Pres. Obama’s team opened itself up to GOP ridicule over feelers it put out to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and ex-CO House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D); the fact that those feelers didn’t actually work, displaying an ineptness absent during George W. Bush’s tenure; or the fact that the WH has gone more than a week without being able to move past the story.”

It took too long, but the Obama spin on the economic “recovery” is no longer carrying the day: “Private employers did little hiring last month, undermining hopes that the economic recovery was gathering pace and helping send U.S. stocks down more than 3% on the day. The Labor Department said Friday that 431,000 jobs were added in May. But the vast majority were temporary workers hired by the government to conduct the 2010 Census. Private-sector employment rose by only 41,000, the smallest monthly increase since January. Without faster private-sector job growth, the U.S. faces a bumpy recovery restrained by households with little income to spend.”

It took too long, but even the New York Times has stopped shilling for Obama with respect to the economy: “President Obama tried to put a gloss on the jobs report, telling workers at a trucking company in Hyattsville, Md., that the numbers showed an economy that was ‘getting stronger by the day.’ Mr. Obama mentioned that Census Bureau hiring accounted for most of the new jobs, but he added that the nation had added jobs for each of the last five months. ‘These numbers do mean that we are moving in the right direction,’ he said. ‘There are going to be ups and downs.’ In fact, the May figures suggested a job market wheezing after months of more vigorous growth.”

It took too long, but the Washington Post is calling for transparency on the Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff job offers:”Is President Obama comfortable with the actions of White House officials in dangling federal jobs as political inducements? An episode involving former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is more troubling than the previously disclosed incident involving Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.). . .  White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama did not know about the Romanoff overtures in advance, and Mr. Gibbs blew off questions about his reaction by saying he hadn’t discussed the matter with the president. That’s not sufficient. The American people deserve to hear directly from the president about whether he is happy with this behavior.”

It took too long, but an advocate for Israel emerges in the administration: “Biden’s instinctive embrace of Israel at a moment it was under fire from the international community was the most vivid example yet of Biden’s emergence as the West Wing’s most prominent public supporter of the Jewish state. ” Too bad Obama isn’t and he ignores most of what Biden says.

It took too long, but foreign-policy gurus across the political spectrum are complaining that “when it comes to the question of democracy in the Muslim world, many see a U.S. administration more keen to reinforce status quo support for authoritarian regimes than to push for meaningful political reform.”

It took too long, but cranky Republicans are admitting that, “after this Obama nightmare, the Bush brand is looking pretty good.” (The occasion was a New York GOP convention at which Jeb Bush stole the show.)

It took too long, but there is a is a brilliant novel of teenage angst other than (and smarter than) Catcher in the Rye. (The most insightful review is, of course, in this month’s COMMENTARY.)

And with plenty of time to spare, Mitch Daniels emerges as a potential 2012 contender: “He is at once so visible and so self-effacing that he seems to have sunk into a black hole of personal magnetism and come out the other side, where the very lack of charisma becomes charismatic. He is the un-Obama. Republicans — notably some wealthy and powerful ones who have decided he should be president​ — seem to like that.”

It took too long, but the myth of Obama’s competence is crumbling: “The WH political shop leaves much to be desired. Take your pick as to which is worse: The fact that Pres. Obama’s team opened itself up to GOP ridicule over feelers it put out to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) and ex-CO House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D); the fact that those feelers didn’t actually work, displaying an ineptness absent during George W. Bush’s tenure; or the fact that the WH has gone more than a week without being able to move past the story.”

It took too long, but the Obama spin on the economic “recovery” is no longer carrying the day: “Private employers did little hiring last month, undermining hopes that the economic recovery was gathering pace and helping send U.S. stocks down more than 3% on the day. The Labor Department said Friday that 431,000 jobs were added in May. But the vast majority were temporary workers hired by the government to conduct the 2010 Census. Private-sector employment rose by only 41,000, the smallest monthly increase since January. Without faster private-sector job growth, the U.S. faces a bumpy recovery restrained by households with little income to spend.”

It took too long, but even the New York Times has stopped shilling for Obama with respect to the economy: “President Obama tried to put a gloss on the jobs report, telling workers at a trucking company in Hyattsville, Md., that the numbers showed an economy that was ‘getting stronger by the day.’ Mr. Obama mentioned that Census Bureau hiring accounted for most of the new jobs, but he added that the nation had added jobs for each of the last five months. ‘These numbers do mean that we are moving in the right direction,’ he said. ‘There are going to be ups and downs.’ In fact, the May figures suggested a job market wheezing after months of more vigorous growth.”

It took too long, but the Washington Post is calling for transparency on the Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff job offers:”Is President Obama comfortable with the actions of White House officials in dangling federal jobs as political inducements? An episode involving former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is more troubling than the previously disclosed incident involving Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.). . .  White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama did not know about the Romanoff overtures in advance, and Mr. Gibbs blew off questions about his reaction by saying he hadn’t discussed the matter with the president. That’s not sufficient. The American people deserve to hear directly from the president about whether he is happy with this behavior.”

It took too long, but an advocate for Israel emerges in the administration: “Biden’s instinctive embrace of Israel at a moment it was under fire from the international community was the most vivid example yet of Biden’s emergence as the West Wing’s most prominent public supporter of the Jewish state. ” Too bad Obama isn’t and he ignores most of what Biden says.

It took too long, but foreign-policy gurus across the political spectrum are complaining that “when it comes to the question of democracy in the Muslim world, many see a U.S. administration more keen to reinforce status quo support for authoritarian regimes than to push for meaningful political reform.”

It took too long, but cranky Republicans are admitting that, “after this Obama nightmare, the Bush brand is looking pretty good.” (The occasion was a New York GOP convention at which Jeb Bush stole the show.)

It took too long, but there is a is a brilliant novel of teenage angst other than (and smarter than) Catcher in the Rye. (The most insightful review is, of course, in this month’s COMMENTARY.)

And with plenty of time to spare, Mitch Daniels emerges as a potential 2012 contender: “He is at once so visible and so self-effacing that he seems to have sunk into a black hole of personal magnetism and come out the other side, where the very lack of charisma becomes charismatic. He is the un-Obama. Republicans — notably some wealthy and powerful ones who have decided he should be president​ — seem to like that.”

Read Less




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