Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 7, 2010

High Taxes Drive Away Industries … and Boxers

The lesson that high taxes hurt business and, by definition, the communities in which those businesses reside is one that is proved every day by high-tax states like New York. That this applies not just to the financial industry and other victims of confiscatory fiscal policy but to all sorts of citizens as well is an issue rarely explored in the mainstream press. So it was fascinating to note that in the follow-up coverage to the first boxing match held at Yankee Stadium in 34 years this past weekend, the reason why promoters said a follow-up was unlikely was rooted not in technical difficulties or whether the sport (which was once, along with baseball, one of the only two truly national sports in the country) no longer had the sort of following that could routinely fill large outdoor stadiums.

Instead, according to Yankees executive Lonn Trost, the real problem is taxes. As the New York Post reported today, “the tax on a fighter’s purse is significantly higher for non-residents of New York than it is in other states, which would make it difficult to bring a match like the proposed superfight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao to Yankee Stadium.”

Trost went on to state that “Cotto-Foreman [the fight that took place this past weekend] could come here because the boxers felt they wouldn’t be overtaxed because they’re residents. We’d love to do [Mayweather-Pacquiao], but I believe both of them are non-residents and the tax could be as much as 13 percent on the purse, where the tax out in Vegas is zero. That’s a big difference.”

Personally, I’m not much of a boxing fan (and my pride in being Jewish was not enhanced by the prospect of Israeli rabbinical student Yuri Foreman punching out Puerto Rico’s Henry Cotto, who won the fight). But while liberal advocates for higher taxes routinely claim they are doing so to help ordinary New Yorkers, they ought to consider that in making it unattractive for fighters to perform here, they are actually robbing the people from the South Bronx and elsewhere in the city who work in the many jobs created every night Yankee Stadium is open. The failure to bring more such exhibitions to the city illustrates the simple truth that, once again, liberal economics has scored a technical knockout on the economic well-being of working-class New Yorkers.

The lesson that high taxes hurt business and, by definition, the communities in which those businesses reside is one that is proved every day by high-tax states like New York. That this applies not just to the financial industry and other victims of confiscatory fiscal policy but to all sorts of citizens as well is an issue rarely explored in the mainstream press. So it was fascinating to note that in the follow-up coverage to the first boxing match held at Yankee Stadium in 34 years this past weekend, the reason why promoters said a follow-up was unlikely was rooted not in technical difficulties or whether the sport (which was once, along with baseball, one of the only two truly national sports in the country) no longer had the sort of following that could routinely fill large outdoor stadiums.

Instead, according to Yankees executive Lonn Trost, the real problem is taxes. As the New York Post reported today, “the tax on a fighter’s purse is significantly higher for non-residents of New York than it is in other states, which would make it difficult to bring a match like the proposed superfight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Manny Pacquiao to Yankee Stadium.”

Trost went on to state that “Cotto-Foreman [the fight that took place this past weekend] could come here because the boxers felt they wouldn’t be overtaxed because they’re residents. We’d love to do [Mayweather-Pacquiao], but I believe both of them are non-residents and the tax could be as much as 13 percent on the purse, where the tax out in Vegas is zero. That’s a big difference.”

Personally, I’m not much of a boxing fan (and my pride in being Jewish was not enhanced by the prospect of Israeli rabbinical student Yuri Foreman punching out Puerto Rico’s Henry Cotto, who won the fight). But while liberal advocates for higher taxes routinely claim they are doing so to help ordinary New Yorkers, they ought to consider that in making it unattractive for fighters to perform here, they are actually robbing the people from the South Bronx and elsewhere in the city who work in the many jobs created every night Yankee Stadium is open. The failure to bring more such exhibitions to the city illustrates the simple truth that, once again, liberal economics has scored a technical knockout on the economic well-being of working-class New Yorkers.

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Chabon Swings at Israel — and Hits Peter Beinart!

Novelist Michael Chabon is generally coy about his position on the Jewish state. Unlike his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman, Chabon tends to refrain from open anti-Zionism, although as the author of a bestselling novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, whose premise was the destruction of the state of Israel soon after its birth and the fanaticism of those who wished to bring it back into existence, it’s not as if his views are much of a mystery.

Therefore, one read his 1,700-word essay in the Sunday New York Times Week in Review section with interest to see how he would react to the Gaza flotilla. But Chabon is too nuanced a writer to pen a standard condemnation of Israel’s blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. Instead, his target was the whole notion that Jews are special or smart. Chabon approvingly quoted Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg as saying Israel’s actions demonstrated a lack of seichel, the Yiddish word for wisdom. Chabon goes on at considerable length to make a very small argument that few serious people would really disagree with: that Jews are as capable of making blunders as any other people.

Though some writers, like the estimable Charles Murray, have written in COMMENTARY about the special genius of the Jewish people, the majority of us who have spent our lives covering Jewish institutions and communities and following Israeli politics would probably have to side with Chabon rather than Murray on this one. At times, Israeli politics and, indeed, the politics of most Jewish communities do resemble the legendary village of Chelm — the place where Jewish folklore tells us an errant angel dropped a boatload of foolish souls — more than they do Plato’s Republic. The sectarian madness of Israel’s proportional system of representation in the Knesset and the lockstep liberalism of American Jews certainly is more than ample testimony of the Jewish capacity for foolishness.

But Chabon has bigger fish to fry than just saying that Jews can be dumb. His genuine target is not a poorly planned military expedition but rather “the foundational ambiguity of Judaism and Jewish identity; the idea of chosenness” — a concept that some of the most vicious critics of Judaism and Jews through the ages, such as Voltaire, have always found particularly distasteful.

Chabon sneers at what he considers the hypocrisy of a Jewish people that accepts the idea of being chosen (a religious concept that involves obligation to observe the Torah, not privilege) but then complains when “the world — cynically or sincerely — holds Israel to a different, higher standard as beneficiaries of that dispensation.” He goes on to cite Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which declares that the Jewish people have a right “to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” For him, this foundational document of Zionism also means that Jews “are every bit as capable of barbarism or stupidity.”

Leave aside the fact that blockading an area controlled by an Islamist terrorist group bent on Israel’s destruction is, by any reasonable standard, neither barbaric nor stupid, but actually a normal and quite restrained manner of self-defense against a lethal threat. Rather, let us focus on Chabon’s point that it is the Zionists who demand special treatment from the world or say that Israel’s legitimacy is based on any special Jewish attributes or genius.

If anything, what Chabon has done in this long, confused essay is to unwittingly skewer the Peter Beinarts of the world, the “liberal Zionists” for whom Israel is only worthy of existence if it conforms to their vision of what a Jewish state should be. For Beinart, an “illiberal” Israel — which is to say a democracy that chooses leaders and policies of self-defense that he disapproves of and that freely rejects those he likes — must expect American Jewish disdain. Contrary to the so-called “liberal Zionists” who are swarming to attack after the flotilla incident, Israel and its people have many virtues, but the state’s right to exist is predicated on the simple right of the Jews to rule over their own historic homeland. It is not the supporters of Israel who ask for that nation to be judged on the intelligence or the special righteousness of its people. They just ask that Israel not be judged more harshly or by different and more stringent standards of morality or justice than other nations (as it almost always is).

The “exceptionalism” of Jewish civilization rests in a religious and moral tradition that transcends politics or even the novels of a Michael Chabon. But Israel’s right to defend itself against terror is rooted in the simple demands of justice that apply to all peoples and for which Jews — be they smart or stupid — need not apologize. For all of their reputation for brilliance, that’s a lesson liberal Jews like Beinart and Chabon have yet to learn.

Novelist Michael Chabon is generally coy about his position on the Jewish state. Unlike his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman, Chabon tends to refrain from open anti-Zionism, although as the author of a bestselling novel, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, whose premise was the destruction of the state of Israel soon after its birth and the fanaticism of those who wished to bring it back into existence, it’s not as if his views are much of a mystery.

Therefore, one read his 1,700-word essay in the Sunday New York Times Week in Review section with interest to see how he would react to the Gaza flotilla. But Chabon is too nuanced a writer to pen a standard condemnation of Israel’s blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. Instead, his target was the whole notion that Jews are special or smart. Chabon approvingly quoted Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg as saying Israel’s actions demonstrated a lack of seichel, the Yiddish word for wisdom. Chabon goes on at considerable length to make a very small argument that few serious people would really disagree with: that Jews are as capable of making blunders as any other people.

Though some writers, like the estimable Charles Murray, have written in COMMENTARY about the special genius of the Jewish people, the majority of us who have spent our lives covering Jewish institutions and communities and following Israeli politics would probably have to side with Chabon rather than Murray on this one. At times, Israeli politics and, indeed, the politics of most Jewish communities do resemble the legendary village of Chelm — the place where Jewish folklore tells us an errant angel dropped a boatload of foolish souls — more than they do Plato’s Republic. The sectarian madness of Israel’s proportional system of representation in the Knesset and the lockstep liberalism of American Jews certainly is more than ample testimony of the Jewish capacity for foolishness.

But Chabon has bigger fish to fry than just saying that Jews can be dumb. His genuine target is not a poorly planned military expedition but rather “the foundational ambiguity of Judaism and Jewish identity; the idea of chosenness” — a concept that some of the most vicious critics of Judaism and Jews through the ages, such as Voltaire, have always found particularly distasteful.

Chabon sneers at what he considers the hypocrisy of a Jewish people that accepts the idea of being chosen (a religious concept that involves obligation to observe the Torah, not privilege) but then complains when “the world — cynically or sincerely — holds Israel to a different, higher standard as beneficiaries of that dispensation.” He goes on to cite Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which declares that the Jewish people have a right “to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.” For him, this foundational document of Zionism also means that Jews “are every bit as capable of barbarism or stupidity.”

Leave aside the fact that blockading an area controlled by an Islamist terrorist group bent on Israel’s destruction is, by any reasonable standard, neither barbaric nor stupid, but actually a normal and quite restrained manner of self-defense against a lethal threat. Rather, let us focus on Chabon’s point that it is the Zionists who demand special treatment from the world or say that Israel’s legitimacy is based on any special Jewish attributes or genius.

If anything, what Chabon has done in this long, confused essay is to unwittingly skewer the Peter Beinarts of the world, the “liberal Zionists” for whom Israel is only worthy of existence if it conforms to their vision of what a Jewish state should be. For Beinart, an “illiberal” Israel — which is to say a democracy that chooses leaders and policies of self-defense that he disapproves of and that freely rejects those he likes — must expect American Jewish disdain. Contrary to the so-called “liberal Zionists” who are swarming to attack after the flotilla incident, Israel and its people have many virtues, but the state’s right to exist is predicated on the simple right of the Jews to rule over their own historic homeland. It is not the supporters of Israel who ask for that nation to be judged on the intelligence or the special righteousness of its people. They just ask that Israel not be judged more harshly or by different and more stringent standards of morality or justice than other nations (as it almost always is).

The “exceptionalism” of Jewish civilization rests in a religious and moral tradition that transcends politics or even the novels of a Michael Chabon. But Israel’s right to defend itself against terror is rooted in the simple demands of justice that apply to all peoples and for which Jews — be they smart or stupid — need not apologize. For all of their reputation for brilliance, that’s a lesson liberal Jews like Beinart and Chabon have yet to learn.

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Turkey Needs More Democracy

There have been a number of articles, such as this one in the Wall Street Journal by Rob Pollock, trenchantly dissecting the decline of Turkey. This once stalwart ally of America and Israel now supports the sort of rabid anti-Israel, pro-Hamas sentiment displayed by the Gaza flotilla. This is indeed an alarming trend, not only for what it says about the future of Israeli-Turkish relations (which, sadly, seem to be beyond salvation at the moment), but also for what it says about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East.

Israel aside, Turkey has been the most durable democracy in the region, although its freedom has always been tempered by occasional military interventions (sometimes called “soft coups”) to safeguard the secularist legacy of Ataturk. In recent years, the military has pulled back from politics and allowed the ascension of the Islamist AK Party led by Prime Minister Erdogan. There were mutterings about military intervention in 2007, when Erdogan chose a fellow AK party member, Abdullah Gul, to fill the largely ceremonial post of president, but nothing happened. Turkey is today arguably the freest it has been with a popular prime minister ruling based on a solid majority. Freedom House notes: “The July 2007 elections were widely judged to have been free and fair, with reports of more open debate on traditionally sensitive issues.”

And yet those free and fair elections have produced a government that is increasingly anti-Israel and anti-American — a government that often sounds indistinguishable from dictatorships such as Iran and Syria. This would seem to offer one more piece of evidence to those — ranging from many Israelis to American Realpolitikers and Middle East despots — who believe that the Middle East is simply not ready for democracy and that if you allow elections, the result will be to entrench Hamas, Hezbollah, and their fellow travelers.

For my part, I am not ready to give up on promoting democracy, especially in countries such as Iran and Syria, where it is hard to imagine that any alternative government could possibly be worse than the status quo. In the case of Iran, there is actually a good deal of reason to believe that a democratically elected government would be considerably more moderate and liberal than the incumbent regime, although it may decide to keep Iran’s nuclear weapons program going.

What about countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which are reasonably friendly toward the U.S. under their current rulers — and in the case of Egypt and Jordan, have even made peace with Israel? Does the Turkish precedent (and the troubled results of elections in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories) suggest a go-slow attitude toward electoral reform? It certainly suggests that elections are by no means a panacea and that unelected rulers may in fact be more friendly to the West than those who could win a popular mandate. But that doesn’t mean that an unpopular status quo can be sustained forever. Sooner or later, for example, an ailing and elderly Hosni Mubarak will pass from the scene, and it is by no means clear that his son will be able to follow him.

The trick from the American standpoint is to promote gradual liberalization without risking a takeover by extremist groups such as Hamas, which would be interested in “one vote, one man, one time.” Democracy, as we know, involves more than voting; it must have checks and balances provided by an independent press corps, judiciary, and political opposition. Turkey has been deficient in all these regards, which helps to explain why, despite its regular elections, it is rated as only “partly free” by Freedom House.

Many of the limitations on popular democracy were imposed by the secularist military, but the AK Party has made use of state power to its own benefit. For instance, it has pursued massive legal cases based on dubious evidence against dozens of secularists who are accused of plotting to undermine the government. Then there are continuing restrictions on press freedom. Freedom House notes:

A 2006 antiterrorism law reintroduced jail sentences for journalists, and Article 301 of the 2004 revised penal code allows journalists and others to be prosecuted for discussing subjects such as the division of Cyprus and the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Turks, which many consider to have been genocide. People have been charged under the same article for crimes such as insulting the armed services and denigrating “Turkishness”; very few have been convicted, but the trials are time-consuming and expensive. An April 2008 amendment changed Article 301’s language to prohibit insulting “the Turkish nation,” with a maximum sentence of two instead of three years, but cases continue to be brought under that and other clauses. For example, in 2009 a journalist who wrote an article denouncing what he said was the unlawful imprisonment of his father, also a journalist, was himself sentenced to 14 months in prison….

Nearly all media organizations are owned by giant holding companies with interests in other sectors, contributing to self-censorship. In 2009, the Dogan holding company, which owns many media outlets, was ordered to pay crippling fines for tax evasion in what was widely described as a politicized case stemming from Dogan’s criticism of AK and its members. The internet is subject to the same censorship policies that apply to other media, and a 2007 law allows the state to block access to websites deemed to insult Ataturk or whose content includes criminal activities. This law has been used to block access to the video-sharing website YouTube since 2008, as well as several other websites in 2009.

Turkey has suffered not only from such restrictions but also from the fact that the secularist opposition has been in disarray. The Republican People’s Party, founded by Ataturk, has just chosen a new leader to replace its longtime head, who had to step down after the appearance of an Internet sex video in which he apparently played a starring role.

The opposition has its work cut out for it. As one prominent Turkish columnist has noted, while AK did well initially, “since 2007 its reign has been tainted by repressive tactics against the secular media, an effort to control the judiciary, excessive use of wiretapping by law enforcement, and a legal jihad against members of the armed forces in ‘coup’ investigations where the lines between fact and fiction often seem blurry.” And now tainted as well by anti-Israeli and anti-American animus.

While Turkey’s experience should not lead to a dismissal of democratization in the Middle East, it should remind us that democracy, especially when partial and limited, is no cure-all for a country’s ills. We should also keep in mind, however, in the case of Turkey as well as other countries, that the best cure for democracy’s ills may well be more democracy.

There have been a number of articles, such as this one in the Wall Street Journal by Rob Pollock, trenchantly dissecting the decline of Turkey. This once stalwart ally of America and Israel now supports the sort of rabid anti-Israel, pro-Hamas sentiment displayed by the Gaza flotilla. This is indeed an alarming trend, not only for what it says about the future of Israeli-Turkish relations (which, sadly, seem to be beyond salvation at the moment), but also for what it says about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East.

Israel aside, Turkey has been the most durable democracy in the region, although its freedom has always been tempered by occasional military interventions (sometimes called “soft coups”) to safeguard the secularist legacy of Ataturk. In recent years, the military has pulled back from politics and allowed the ascension of the Islamist AK Party led by Prime Minister Erdogan. There were mutterings about military intervention in 2007, when Erdogan chose a fellow AK party member, Abdullah Gul, to fill the largely ceremonial post of president, but nothing happened. Turkey is today arguably the freest it has been with a popular prime minister ruling based on a solid majority. Freedom House notes: “The July 2007 elections were widely judged to have been free and fair, with reports of more open debate on traditionally sensitive issues.”

And yet those free and fair elections have produced a government that is increasingly anti-Israel and anti-American — a government that often sounds indistinguishable from dictatorships such as Iran and Syria. This would seem to offer one more piece of evidence to those — ranging from many Israelis to American Realpolitikers and Middle East despots — who believe that the Middle East is simply not ready for democracy and that if you allow elections, the result will be to entrench Hamas, Hezbollah, and their fellow travelers.

For my part, I am not ready to give up on promoting democracy, especially in countries such as Iran and Syria, where it is hard to imagine that any alternative government could possibly be worse than the status quo. In the case of Iran, there is actually a good deal of reason to believe that a democratically elected government would be considerably more moderate and liberal than the incumbent regime, although it may decide to keep Iran’s nuclear weapons program going.

What about countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which are reasonably friendly toward the U.S. under their current rulers — and in the case of Egypt and Jordan, have even made peace with Israel? Does the Turkish precedent (and the troubled results of elections in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories) suggest a go-slow attitude toward electoral reform? It certainly suggests that elections are by no means a panacea and that unelected rulers may in fact be more friendly to the West than those who could win a popular mandate. But that doesn’t mean that an unpopular status quo can be sustained forever. Sooner or later, for example, an ailing and elderly Hosni Mubarak will pass from the scene, and it is by no means clear that his son will be able to follow him.

The trick from the American standpoint is to promote gradual liberalization without risking a takeover by extremist groups such as Hamas, which would be interested in “one vote, one man, one time.” Democracy, as we know, involves more than voting; it must have checks and balances provided by an independent press corps, judiciary, and political opposition. Turkey has been deficient in all these regards, which helps to explain why, despite its regular elections, it is rated as only “partly free” by Freedom House.

Many of the limitations on popular democracy were imposed by the secularist military, but the AK Party has made use of state power to its own benefit. For instance, it has pursued massive legal cases based on dubious evidence against dozens of secularists who are accused of plotting to undermine the government. Then there are continuing restrictions on press freedom. Freedom House notes:

A 2006 antiterrorism law reintroduced jail sentences for journalists, and Article 301 of the 2004 revised penal code allows journalists and others to be prosecuted for discussing subjects such as the division of Cyprus and the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Turks, which many consider to have been genocide. People have been charged under the same article for crimes such as insulting the armed services and denigrating “Turkishness”; very few have been convicted, but the trials are time-consuming and expensive. An April 2008 amendment changed Article 301’s language to prohibit insulting “the Turkish nation,” with a maximum sentence of two instead of three years, but cases continue to be brought under that and other clauses. For example, in 2009 a journalist who wrote an article denouncing what he said was the unlawful imprisonment of his father, also a journalist, was himself sentenced to 14 months in prison….

Nearly all media organizations are owned by giant holding companies with interests in other sectors, contributing to self-censorship. In 2009, the Dogan holding company, which owns many media outlets, was ordered to pay crippling fines for tax evasion in what was widely described as a politicized case stemming from Dogan’s criticism of AK and its members. The internet is subject to the same censorship policies that apply to other media, and a 2007 law allows the state to block access to websites deemed to insult Ataturk or whose content includes criminal activities. This law has been used to block access to the video-sharing website YouTube since 2008, as well as several other websites in 2009.

Turkey has suffered not only from such restrictions but also from the fact that the secularist opposition has been in disarray. The Republican People’s Party, founded by Ataturk, has just chosen a new leader to replace its longtime head, who had to step down after the appearance of an Internet sex video in which he apparently played a starring role.

The opposition has its work cut out for it. As one prominent Turkish columnist has noted, while AK did well initially, “since 2007 its reign has been tainted by repressive tactics against the secular media, an effort to control the judiciary, excessive use of wiretapping by law enforcement, and a legal jihad against members of the armed forces in ‘coup’ investigations where the lines between fact and fiction often seem blurry.” And now tainted as well by anti-Israeli and anti-American animus.

While Turkey’s experience should not lead to a dismissal of democratization in the Middle East, it should remind us that democracy, especially when partial and limited, is no cure-all for a country’s ills. We should also keep in mind, however, in the case of Turkey as well as other countries, that the best cure for democracy’s ills may well be more democracy.

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RE: RE: We’ll Learn His Feelings In Time

Rick zeroed in on the most noteworthy item in Rabbi Urecki’s recap of his dealings with the White House. There is one other telling incident from a mid-May meeting:

We asked about news we were hearing that the Administration is pushing for a U.N. nuclear free Middle-East summit, something that will single out and put pressure on Israel to give up its often denied but always assumed nuclear program.  They responded by saying that since 1995, this has been something that has been pushed by this country and accepted by Israel.  They promised us that such a program (scheduled for 2012) will not be a summit that singles out Israel or hurts her deterrence capability in any way.  To quote one of the members there: “We understand Israel’s full layer of deterrence”.

But just a couple of weeks later, the administration signed on to a final statement at the NPT conference singling out Israel. (It was bizarrely mute on Iran, however.) You will recall that 189 nations including the U.S. ended the conference with this:

Diplomats approved a document that laid out action plans on the three pillars of the treaty — disarmament, non-proliferation and promoting peaceful atomic energy. The NPT called on Israel to join the treaty, which would oblige the Jewish state to do away with the nuclear weapons it is widely believed to have but does not acknowledge. It mentioned ¨the importance of Israel’s accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.¨

At the time, Bibi’s office called the declaration “fundamentally wrong and duplicitous.” Come to think of it, the same could be said of the White House’s representation to the rabbis two weeks earlier.

Rick zeroed in on the most noteworthy item in Rabbi Urecki’s recap of his dealings with the White House. There is one other telling incident from a mid-May meeting:

We asked about news we were hearing that the Administration is pushing for a U.N. nuclear free Middle-East summit, something that will single out and put pressure on Israel to give up its often denied but always assumed nuclear program.  They responded by saying that since 1995, this has been something that has been pushed by this country and accepted by Israel.  They promised us that such a program (scheduled for 2012) will not be a summit that singles out Israel or hurts her deterrence capability in any way.  To quote one of the members there: “We understand Israel’s full layer of deterrence”.

But just a couple of weeks later, the administration signed on to a final statement at the NPT conference singling out Israel. (It was bizarrely mute on Iran, however.) You will recall that 189 nations including the U.S. ended the conference with this:

Diplomats approved a document that laid out action plans on the three pillars of the treaty — disarmament, non-proliferation and promoting peaceful atomic energy. The NPT called on Israel to join the treaty, which would oblige the Jewish state to do away with the nuclear weapons it is widely believed to have but does not acknowledge. It mentioned ¨the importance of Israel’s accession to the treaty and the placement of all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.¨

At the time, Bibi’s office called the declaration “fundamentally wrong and duplicitous.” Come to think of it, the same could be said of the White House’s representation to the rabbis two weeks earlier.

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RE: Obama Not Spinning Anyone

Jen, just to add to your post, which shows the BP oil spill response is rated worse than the response to Hurricane Katrina: I wonder if President Obama regrets, when he was serving in the Senate, referring to the Bush administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in the context of Katrina and, during the 2008 campaign, declaring, “We can talk about a trust that was broken, the promise that our government will be prepared, will protect us, and will respond in a catastrophe.”

Knowing Obama, that kind of regret is almost unimaginable, as it would require a degree of self-reflection and self-criticism that is, I suspect, simply beyond him.

In any event, it did look so much easier back in the day when Barack Obama was simply running for the presidency rather than today, when he is serving as president. The kind of balanced judgment that he could have offered then is not likely to be granted to him now. Indeed, based on the standard Obama set for himself and the federal government, he now looks both hapless and helpless, insisting he is “in control” and yet proposing a strategy that has been utterly ineffective and is more or less reduced to his plaintive plea to aides, “Just plug the damn hole.”

But the damn hole remains unplugged. The spill remains uncontained. And the oil continues to wash ashore, with the sickening images of an environmental disaster penetrating the public consciousness every day and without an end in sight. The oil spill is doing extraordinary and irreversible damage to the Obama mythology and, perhaps, to the Obama presidency. We shall see. But once again, and not for the last time, we can say that the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.

Jen, just to add to your post, which shows the BP oil spill response is rated worse than the response to Hurricane Katrina: I wonder if President Obama regrets, when he was serving in the Senate, referring to the Bush administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in the context of Katrina and, during the 2008 campaign, declaring, “We can talk about a trust that was broken, the promise that our government will be prepared, will protect us, and will respond in a catastrophe.”

Knowing Obama, that kind of regret is almost unimaginable, as it would require a degree of self-reflection and self-criticism that is, I suspect, simply beyond him.

In any event, it did look so much easier back in the day when Barack Obama was simply running for the presidency rather than today, when he is serving as president. The kind of balanced judgment that he could have offered then is not likely to be granted to him now. Indeed, based on the standard Obama set for himself and the federal government, he now looks both hapless and helpless, insisting he is “in control” and yet proposing a strategy that has been utterly ineffective and is more or less reduced to his plaintive plea to aides, “Just plug the damn hole.”

But the damn hole remains unplugged. The spill remains uncontained. And the oil continues to wash ashore, with the sickening images of an environmental disaster penetrating the public consciousness every day and without an end in sight. The oil spill is doing extraordinary and irreversible damage to the Obama mythology and, perhaps, to the Obama presidency. We shall see. But once again, and not for the last time, we can say that the whirligig of time brings in his revenges.

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RE: Helen Thomas Quits

I’m just thinking about her next gig. Her options surely include a guest blogger spot at Mondoweiss, a column in the Guardian, or as a political analyst for al-Manar. Or maybe as the spokesperson for the Turkish embassy in Washington.

I’m just thinking about her next gig. Her options surely include a guest blogger spot at Mondoweiss, a column in the Guardian, or as a political analyst for al-Manar. Or maybe as the spokesperson for the Turkish embassy in Washington.

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Tutu Chimes In

Recall that Obama awarded Medals of Freedom to both Mary Robinson and Bishop Desmond Tutu. What do they have in common? Well, this report (forwarded by a longtime reader) on a recent gala at Ford’s theater, gives you the answer:

Tutu said he “object[s] most strongly to the vicious attacks that have been leveled at Judge Richard Goldstone,” a South African whose report on the 2008-09 Gaza war concluded that both Israel and Palestinians had committed serious violations of international law.

“We cannot accept, unless we want to destroy ourselves . . . the blockade of Gaza,” Tutu said in an invocation calling for peace and recognition of human rights across the world “but especially that critical part of the world, the Middle East.” Tutu said that relief supplies brought in by ship should be allowed to land in Gaza and insisted that “true security is not something that comes at the barrel of a gun.”

There you have it — a perfect distillation of the left’s hatred of Israel. The hanging judge of Tutu’s South Africa is now a hero for misrepresenting facts and indicting Israel for defending itself. The blockade has to go because Israel really doesn’t have the right to defend itself. And it apparently should disarm because weapons aren’t going to allow Israel to defend itself. You see the pattern?

It’s the same line that J Street spouts, as do many liberal Jews who enjoy the protection of American armed forces (which from time to time wind up killing civilians) but who would circumscribe Israelis’ right to the same security. It is the Mary Robinson-Desmond Tutu-J Street mentality that finds great favor with this president, who showers attention on and  doles out accolades to those who share his view of Israel as oppressor, victimizer, and obstructionist.

Recall that Obama awarded Medals of Freedom to both Mary Robinson and Bishop Desmond Tutu. What do they have in common? Well, this report (forwarded by a longtime reader) on a recent gala at Ford’s theater, gives you the answer:

Tutu said he “object[s] most strongly to the vicious attacks that have been leveled at Judge Richard Goldstone,” a South African whose report on the 2008-09 Gaza war concluded that both Israel and Palestinians had committed serious violations of international law.

“We cannot accept, unless we want to destroy ourselves . . . the blockade of Gaza,” Tutu said in an invocation calling for peace and recognition of human rights across the world “but especially that critical part of the world, the Middle East.” Tutu said that relief supplies brought in by ship should be allowed to land in Gaza and insisted that “true security is not something that comes at the barrel of a gun.”

There you have it — a perfect distillation of the left’s hatred of Israel. The hanging judge of Tutu’s South Africa is now a hero for misrepresenting facts and indicting Israel for defending itself. The blockade has to go because Israel really doesn’t have the right to defend itself. And it apparently should disarm because weapons aren’t going to allow Israel to defend itself. You see the pattern?

It’s the same line that J Street spouts, as do many liberal Jews who enjoy the protection of American armed forces (which from time to time wind up killing civilians) but who would circumscribe Israelis’ right to the same security. It is the Mary Robinson-Desmond Tutu-J Street mentality that finds great favor with this president, who showers attention on and  doles out accolades to those who share his view of Israel as oppressor, victimizer, and obstructionist.

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Obama Not Spinning Anyone

ABC News reports:

By more than a 2-to-1 margin, Americans support the pursuit of criminal charges in the nation’s worst oil spill , with increasing numbers calling it a major environmental disaster. Eight in 10 criticize the way BP’s handled it – and more people give the federal government’s response a negative rating than did the response to Hurricane Katrina. By more than a 2-to-1 margin, Americans support the pursuit of criminal charges in the nation’s worst oil spill , with increasing numbers calling it a major environmental disaster. Eight in 10 criticize the way BP’s handled it – and more people give the federal government’s response a negative rating than did the response to Hurricane Katrina.

This is not purely a Republican reaction. (“Even among Democrats, 56 percent rate the federal response negatively. That rises to 74 percent of independents and 81 percent of Republicans.”) But it is confirmation that when you are president, you can’t skirt responsibility by blaming others. The public can detest the performances of BP and Obama.

It also suggests that Obama is no longer able to get his own party to rally around the flag. Democrats, like other Americans, are holding Obama responsible for his actions. That’s very bad news for a president who has proven to be a classic underachiever.

ABC News reports:

By more than a 2-to-1 margin, Americans support the pursuit of criminal charges in the nation’s worst oil spill , with increasing numbers calling it a major environmental disaster. Eight in 10 criticize the way BP’s handled it – and more people give the federal government’s response a negative rating than did the response to Hurricane Katrina. By more than a 2-to-1 margin, Americans support the pursuit of criminal charges in the nation’s worst oil spill , with increasing numbers calling it a major environmental disaster. Eight in 10 criticize the way BP’s handled it – and more people give the federal government’s response a negative rating than did the response to Hurricane Katrina.

This is not purely a Republican reaction. (“Even among Democrats, 56 percent rate the federal response negatively. That rises to 74 percent of independents and 81 percent of Republicans.”) But it is confirmation that when you are president, you can’t skirt responsibility by blaming others. The public can detest the performances of BP and Obama.

It also suggests that Obama is no longer able to get his own party to rally around the flag. Democrats, like other Americans, are holding Obama responsible for his actions. That’s very bad news for a president who has proven to be a classic underachiever.

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RE: We’ll Learn His Feelings in Time

Rick, this gives us additional insight into the behavior of Rabbi Jack Moline, who in his ample writings never revealed that Obama brushed off the Israel invitation. Moline organized the event, screened out open critics of Obama, and then covered up Obama’s terse response.

Why conceal Obama’s response? Of course Moline knew quite well that Jews would be insulted and dismayed by the curt retort. And after all, it was Moline’s job to improve Obama’s standing with American Jews. Thankfully, there was a more honest rabbi in attendance.

As for Moline. he might want to think about the whole bearing-false-witness thing. It’s No. 9.

Rick, this gives us additional insight into the behavior of Rabbi Jack Moline, who in his ample writings never revealed that Obama brushed off the Israel invitation. Moline organized the event, screened out open critics of Obama, and then covered up Obama’s terse response.

Why conceal Obama’s response? Of course Moline knew quite well that Jews would be insulted and dismayed by the curt retort. And after all, it was Moline’s job to improve Obama’s standing with American Jews. Thankfully, there was a more honest rabbi in attendance.

As for Moline. he might want to think about the whole bearing-false-witness thing. It’s No. 9.

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Helen Thomas Quits

Who pushed her overboard is not clear, but Helen Thomas announced her immediate “retirement,” thereby sparing the cowardly Washington Correspondents Association and the morally atrophied administration the need to boot her out. But the episode was revealing — the left and the White House were mute. Regrettably we are, to borrow from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, slowly defining anti-Semitism downward. Many considered the entire affair unworthy of mention or requiring her immediate termination. To those, we can say only that their sentiments are as plain as Thomas’s.

Who pushed her overboard is not clear, but Helen Thomas announced her immediate “retirement,” thereby sparing the cowardly Washington Correspondents Association and the morally atrophied administration the need to boot her out. But the episode was revealing — the left and the White House were mute. Regrettably we are, to borrow from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, slowly defining anti-Semitism downward. Many considered the entire affair unworthy of mention or requiring her immediate termination. To those, we can say only that their sentiments are as plain as Thomas’s.

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RE: How Obama’s Policy Ensures More Flotillas

Hard on the heels of Evelyn Gordon’s stingingly accurate analysis, the news comes that Iran is offering a naval escort for the next flotilla. The UK Guardian quotes a top Revolutionary Guard official speaking this past weekend:

“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard naval forces are prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys that carry humanitarian assistance for the defenceless and oppressed people of Gaza with all their strength,” pledged Hojjatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s personal representative to the guards corps.

This is not an empty threat. Iran’s navy has deployed units to the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea for antipiracy operations since December 2008. The Iranians have taken great pride in expanding their maritime operating range across the region; extending their navy’s reach into the Eastern Mediterranean is now an incremental step, something no longer obviously beyond their force’s capabilities.

This is the kind of move President Obama could have deterred by affirming U.S. support for Israel’s right to secure borders and self-defense. Iran has been emboldened to take this step — one that must provoke a regional showdown — by the perception that Israel stands condemned and alone.

With his response implying U.S. disengagement, however, Obama has ensured that we will ultimately have to do more to protect our own interests. If Iran makes good on this offer, Egypt will quickly face the game-changing decision about whether to allow Iranian navy ships through the Suez Canal for such a mission. And if the U.S. is not acting overtly to give Egypt what the military calls “top cover” — political support and material backing for a negative decision — there is no guarantee that Arab regional fears of Iranian militarism will govern the Egyptian thought process.

Indeed, the long-term effects would be worse than the immediate consequences of an Iranian tactical triumph. A self-imposed posture of impotence on America’s part would drive nations like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to turn elsewhere for patronage. In addition to giving them a reason for accommodation with Turkey and Iran, passivity and incoherence on our part would open regional doors further for Russia and perhaps for China, as well.

Events are moving quickly now. It was clear a year ago that Israel’s national security could not be put in question without a feeding frenzy erupting in the Middle East. The past week has demonstrated that Western nations need not actively repudiate Israel to galvanize Israel’s terrorist enemies. Simply withholding affirmation of Israel’s rights as a nation works equally well.

The enemies of Israel are also the enemies of Western civilization — and they are emboldened today to press for what they want. They do not want the global stasis on which our way of life depends, with its liberality of trade, travel, and culture. Obama still has a little time to avert the battle they are preparing for — a battle that will unfold excruciatingly over weeks and months of probing Israel and the West by unconventional methods — but now is the time to act. If he fails to do so, he will rapidly lose control over what the fight is about and what America’s role in it is to be.

Hard on the heels of Evelyn Gordon’s stingingly accurate analysis, the news comes that Iran is offering a naval escort for the next flotilla. The UK Guardian quotes a top Revolutionary Guard official speaking this past weekend:

“Iran’s Revolutionary Guard naval forces are prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys that carry humanitarian assistance for the defenceless and oppressed people of Gaza with all their strength,” pledged Hojjatoleslam Ali Shirazi, Khamenei’s personal representative to the guards corps.

This is not an empty threat. Iran’s navy has deployed units to the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea for antipiracy operations since December 2008. The Iranians have taken great pride in expanding their maritime operating range across the region; extending their navy’s reach into the Eastern Mediterranean is now an incremental step, something no longer obviously beyond their force’s capabilities.

This is the kind of move President Obama could have deterred by affirming U.S. support for Israel’s right to secure borders and self-defense. Iran has been emboldened to take this step — one that must provoke a regional showdown — by the perception that Israel stands condemned and alone.

With his response implying U.S. disengagement, however, Obama has ensured that we will ultimately have to do more to protect our own interests. If Iran makes good on this offer, Egypt will quickly face the game-changing decision about whether to allow Iranian navy ships through the Suez Canal for such a mission. And if the U.S. is not acting overtly to give Egypt what the military calls “top cover” — political support and material backing for a negative decision — there is no guarantee that Arab regional fears of Iranian militarism will govern the Egyptian thought process.

Indeed, the long-term effects would be worse than the immediate consequences of an Iranian tactical triumph. A self-imposed posture of impotence on America’s part would drive nations like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia to turn elsewhere for patronage. In addition to giving them a reason for accommodation with Turkey and Iran, passivity and incoherence on our part would open regional doors further for Russia and perhaps for China, as well.

Events are moving quickly now. It was clear a year ago that Israel’s national security could not be put in question without a feeding frenzy erupting in the Middle East. The past week has demonstrated that Western nations need not actively repudiate Israel to galvanize Israel’s terrorist enemies. Simply withholding affirmation of Israel’s rights as a nation works equally well.

The enemies of Israel are also the enemies of Western civilization — and they are emboldened today to press for what they want. They do not want the global stasis on which our way of life depends, with its liberality of trade, travel, and culture. Obama still has a little time to avert the battle they are preparing for — a battle that will unfold excruciatingly over weeks and months of probing Israel and the West by unconventional methods — but now is the time to act. If he fails to do so, he will rapidly lose control over what the fight is about and what America’s role in it is to be.

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Kerplunk Rock

If the U.S. isn’t going to bomb Iran – or even lend a hand to the Green movement – maybe some Persian singers can serenade Ahmadinejad into stepping aside. In the New York Times, Nazila Fathi reports that since the regime has squelched Iran’s democrats, “a flood of protest music has rushed in to comfort and inspire the opposition. If anything, as the street protests have been silenced, the music has grown louder and angrier.”

Think about it: Iranians came out in the thousands chanting, “Death to the dictator” and challenging the Revolutionary Guard. Less than a year later, what could have been – with a little effort from Washington – the beginning of the end of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad instead became the golden age of Persian hip-hop.

Actually, it’s more depressing than that. This isn’t even indigenous Iranian music. All but one artist highlighted by the Times has left Iran. Shahram Nazeri, who’s still there, has already been silenced by the regime’s goons. So basically, what was once the Iranian democratic movement has been downgraded into a wave of Iranian-exile protest songs.

“Music has become a tool for resisting the regime,” said Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian studies at Stanford University. “Music has never been as extensive and diverse as it is today.”

Good to know. No doubt, this kind of pop-sociology story is intended as an inspiring take on the power of music to mobilize youth and change minds. But the truth is, it’s a sad testament to just how fast the world stopped “bearing witness” to the life-and death struggle of Iran’s democrats.

If the U.S. isn’t going to bomb Iran – or even lend a hand to the Green movement – maybe some Persian singers can serenade Ahmadinejad into stepping aside. In the New York Times, Nazila Fathi reports that since the regime has squelched Iran’s democrats, “a flood of protest music has rushed in to comfort and inspire the opposition. If anything, as the street protests have been silenced, the music has grown louder and angrier.”

Think about it: Iranians came out in the thousands chanting, “Death to the dictator” and challenging the Revolutionary Guard. Less than a year later, what could have been – with a little effort from Washington – the beginning of the end of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad instead became the golden age of Persian hip-hop.

Actually, it’s more depressing than that. This isn’t even indigenous Iranian music. All but one artist highlighted by the Times has left Iran. Shahram Nazeri, who’s still there, has already been silenced by the regime’s goons. So basically, what was once the Iranian democratic movement has been downgraded into a wave of Iranian-exile protest songs.

“Music has become a tool for resisting the regime,” said Abbas Milani, the director of Iranian studies at Stanford University. “Music has never been as extensive and diverse as it is today.”

Good to know. No doubt, this kind of pop-sociology story is intended as an inspiring take on the power of music to mobilize youth and change minds. But the truth is, it’s a sad testament to just how fast the world stopped “bearing witness” to the life-and death struggle of Iran’s democrats.

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We’ll Learn His Feelings in Time

Rabbi Victor Urecki — one of the 15 rabbis who met with Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross at the White House last month — gave a lengthy talk on June 3 to his congregation about the meetings. The transcript is posted on his Facebook page, which describes him as a “liberal Democrat.” His talk answers a question that Rabbi Jack Moline’s description of the meetings (previously discussed by Jen and me) left hanging: after the rabbis suggested that Obama travel to Israel and speak directly to Israelis, what was the response?

Urecki described the issue the rabbis presented as follows (I have omitted his extended baseball metaphor about needing the key player to bat):

I, and others, raised the issue that the President himself needs to be more fully engaged and show both Israelis and members of the pro-Israel community that he gets it, that we need to see a President that shows, like previous Presidents, that Israel is a friend. This outreach to us is good, but things won’t change until the President does the outreach and we are not seeing that vis-à-vis Israel. He needs to talk directly to the Israelis. … [He] needs to visit Jerusalem and do what he did in Cairo in ’09, namely reach out to Israelis who have serious concerns about him and show he understands their fears.

Here in unabridged form is Urecki’s description of the response the rabbis received:

The answer I and others got was the President will find his opportunities to make his feelings known in time. And that was it.

You don’t need to be a pitcher to read the signs from Barack Obama.

Rabbi Victor Urecki — one of the 15 rabbis who met with Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross at the White House last month — gave a lengthy talk on June 3 to his congregation about the meetings. The transcript is posted on his Facebook page, which describes him as a “liberal Democrat.” His talk answers a question that Rabbi Jack Moline’s description of the meetings (previously discussed by Jen and me) left hanging: after the rabbis suggested that Obama travel to Israel and speak directly to Israelis, what was the response?

Urecki described the issue the rabbis presented as follows (I have omitted his extended baseball metaphor about needing the key player to bat):

I, and others, raised the issue that the President himself needs to be more fully engaged and show both Israelis and members of the pro-Israel community that he gets it, that we need to see a President that shows, like previous Presidents, that Israel is a friend. This outreach to us is good, but things won’t change until the President does the outreach and we are not seeing that vis-à-vis Israel. He needs to talk directly to the Israelis. … [He] needs to visit Jerusalem and do what he did in Cairo in ’09, namely reach out to Israelis who have serious concerns about him and show he understands their fears.

Here in unabridged form is Urecki’s description of the response the rabbis received:

The answer I and others got was the President will find his opportunities to make his feelings known in time. And that was it.

You don’t need to be a pitcher to read the signs from Barack Obama.

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Eric Cantor on the Flotilla

On Fox this morning, Minority Whip Eric Cantor gave an impressive performance on the flotilla. On Obama’s approach, Cantor says:

What I believe the President should be doing is standing by our ally Israel.  Everyone understands now the international community has gone in an uproar over this and the point that’s been missed is the fact that Israel’s enemies really are aiming to destroy Israel.  Those voices start in Iran, Syria and what’s seems to be now Turkey is throwing in with those voices.  We have consistently relied upon Israel in this country as part of our national security strategy and the President in trying to figure this out, ought to allow Israel to do what it must to defend itself.

What about a UN investigation?

Obviously we are a big funder of the UN, part of the UN Human Rights Council and have some influence there.  What I would encourage this President to do is to make sure that we don’t see an international investigation ensue which biased against Israel, our ally that is fighting off the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, which is shooting rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians.

I think that’s a firm “no” on a UN investigation.

And finally on responsibility for the incident, Cantor isn’t confused or torn between allies:

We have seen over the last several years, Turkey begin to turn in a different direction away from the United States.  This is a good example; this flotilla was launched by a group out of Turkey. It seems as if that group would not be able to do what it did without the acquiescence of the Turkish government.  This group has ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

It sounds like the Republicans in the House are emerging with an unequivocal position that will challenge Obama’s straddling and stalling. Where are the Democrats going to come out? We’ll see whether they scurry to support Obama or whether they have figured out that clinging to the White House is both bad policy and bad for their political health.

On Fox this morning, Minority Whip Eric Cantor gave an impressive performance on the flotilla. On Obama’s approach, Cantor says:

What I believe the President should be doing is standing by our ally Israel.  Everyone understands now the international community has gone in an uproar over this and the point that’s been missed is the fact that Israel’s enemies really are aiming to destroy Israel.  Those voices start in Iran, Syria and what’s seems to be now Turkey is throwing in with those voices.  We have consistently relied upon Israel in this country as part of our national security strategy and the President in trying to figure this out, ought to allow Israel to do what it must to defend itself.

What about a UN investigation?

Obviously we are a big funder of the UN, part of the UN Human Rights Council and have some influence there.  What I would encourage this President to do is to make sure that we don’t see an international investigation ensue which biased against Israel, our ally that is fighting off the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, which is shooting rockets into Israel, killing innocent civilians.

I think that’s a firm “no” on a UN investigation.

And finally on responsibility for the incident, Cantor isn’t confused or torn between allies:

We have seen over the last several years, Turkey begin to turn in a different direction away from the United States.  This is a good example; this flotilla was launched by a group out of Turkey. It seems as if that group would not be able to do what it did without the acquiescence of the Turkish government.  This group has ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations.

It sounds like the Republicans in the House are emerging with an unequivocal position that will challenge Obama’s straddling and stalling. Where are the Democrats going to come out? We’ll see whether they scurry to support Obama or whether they have figured out that clinging to the White House is both bad policy and bad for their political health.

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Who Would Bid on a Flop?

Howard Kurtz looks at the bidders for Newsweek:

One is Newsmax, a conservative Web site and monthly favored by Sarah Palin and founded by Christopher Ruddy, who once investigated conspiracy theories that Clinton administration officials Vince Foster and Ron Brown were murdered. Another is Thane Ritchie, an Illinois hedge-fund manager and Ross Perot fan who is angling to start a new political party. The third is OpenGate Capital, a private equity firm that two years ago bought TV Guide for $1. It’s hard to imagine any of them supporting Newsweek as a vibrant weekly that could compete with Time.

Ummm, it’s really not vibrant, and it apparently isn’t competitive with Time now, so what could these or any new owner do? But Newsweek says it has lots of other bidders. Tons, I am sure. Nevertheless, it seems there is anger among the staffers, who are aggrieved that “Editor Jon Meacham erred badly by transforming the newsweekly into an upscale, left-leaning opinion magazine.” But Meacham kept telling us it was news! Oh my, quite startling to learn this was all a flim-flam, and a grossly unsuccessful one at that.

Kurtz then opines:

On one level, the situation is a paradox. Here you have a magazine loaded with talent — from the Pulitzer-winning Meacham (who is pursuing his own bid to buy the magazine) to such media stars as Jonathan Alter, Howard Fineman, Mike Isikoff, Evan Thomas, Fareed Zakaria and Robert Samuelson — and few seem willing to bet on its financial future. That amounts to a no-confidence vote not just on the category of newsweeklies, which have long been squeezed between daily papers and in-depth monthlies, but on print journalism itself. The lucrative properties these days are digital, and Newsweek’s Web site has long been a flop, both creatively and commercially.

Oh, puleez. With the exception of Samuelson, these are predictable liberals parroting the anti-Israel, pro-Obama, anti-conservative line. It isn’t a vote of no confidence in the concept of a weekly — it’s a vote of no confidence in this product and those people. Whoever buys it, if anyone does, would do well to scrap the dreary liberal perspective, fire most of the current crew, and figure out something a lot of people actually want to read. I can tell you it’s not “a sort of a God” Thomas or Zakaria’s noxious views on Israel.

Howard Kurtz looks at the bidders for Newsweek:

One is Newsmax, a conservative Web site and monthly favored by Sarah Palin and founded by Christopher Ruddy, who once investigated conspiracy theories that Clinton administration officials Vince Foster and Ron Brown were murdered. Another is Thane Ritchie, an Illinois hedge-fund manager and Ross Perot fan who is angling to start a new political party. The third is OpenGate Capital, a private equity firm that two years ago bought TV Guide for $1. It’s hard to imagine any of them supporting Newsweek as a vibrant weekly that could compete with Time.

Ummm, it’s really not vibrant, and it apparently isn’t competitive with Time now, so what could these or any new owner do? But Newsweek says it has lots of other bidders. Tons, I am sure. Nevertheless, it seems there is anger among the staffers, who are aggrieved that “Editor Jon Meacham erred badly by transforming the newsweekly into an upscale, left-leaning opinion magazine.” But Meacham kept telling us it was news! Oh my, quite startling to learn this was all a flim-flam, and a grossly unsuccessful one at that.

Kurtz then opines:

On one level, the situation is a paradox. Here you have a magazine loaded with talent — from the Pulitzer-winning Meacham (who is pursuing his own bid to buy the magazine) to such media stars as Jonathan Alter, Howard Fineman, Mike Isikoff, Evan Thomas, Fareed Zakaria and Robert Samuelson — and few seem willing to bet on its financial future. That amounts to a no-confidence vote not just on the category of newsweeklies, which have long been squeezed between daily papers and in-depth monthlies, but on print journalism itself. The lucrative properties these days are digital, and Newsweek’s Web site has long been a flop, both creatively and commercially.

Oh, puleez. With the exception of Samuelson, these are predictable liberals parroting the anti-Israel, pro-Obama, anti-conservative line. It isn’t a vote of no confidence in the concept of a weekly — it’s a vote of no confidence in this product and those people. Whoever buys it, if anyone does, would do well to scrap the dreary liberal perspective, fire most of the current crew, and figure out something a lot of people actually want to read. I can tell you it’s not “a sort of a God” Thomas or Zakaria’s noxious views on Israel.

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White House Hopes Someone Else Will Clean Up This Mess, Too

Three more Jewish organizations have come out with statements condemning Helen Thomas’s remarks. B’nai B’rith’s statement contains this:

“Thomas’ comments are contemptible,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Her distortion of historical reality is astonishing. Her call for Jews to return to Poland and Germany—site of the Nazi genocide, the worst genocide in modern history—is beyond offensive. . .These vile comments, unfortunately, are the culmination of Thomas’ ongoing anti-Israel sentiments that she kept thinly veiled over the years,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “There should be no place for her in a news organization. Her comments go beyond commentary and land well in the camp that will stop at nothing to delegitimize Israel.”

B’nai B’rith calls on Hearst to dismiss Thomas immediately.

The American Israeli Action Coalition put out a news release that reads in part:

“As Americans living in Israel, we are outraged at Ms. Thomas’s remarks which we feel are directed at us,” said AIAC Chairman Harvey Schwartz. “The remarks are a direct attack on American Israelis. Not only are they based on ignorance of history, but are the height of vicious anti-Semitism. They are beneath contempt. Furthermore, Ms. Thomas’s lame excuse of an “apology” contains not one word of remorse for the substance of her odious remarks.”

“AIAC joins with Bnai Brith International, the Anti Defamation League and other prominent Americans in calling on the Hearst Corporation to dismiss Thomas immediately,” continued Chairman Schwartz. “In addition, the White House Correspondents’ Association should immediately cancel her White House press credentials. The failure of either of such organizations to do will be proof positive that it agrees with Ms. Thomas’s vile comments.”

The Zionist Organization of America’s statement includes this:

Helen Thomas’ despicable anti-Semitic statements must not be tolerated. She should be fired by Hearst News and barred from the White House press corps. There is no way such vicious denial of Jewish nationhood and connection to the Jewish homeland would be tolerated if such statements were uttered in respect of any other people.

Helen Thomas’ long record of hostile questioning and grandstanding speeches in the guise of questions regarding Israel at White House press conferences over many years indicates only too clearly that Thomas has long harbored deep hostility towards Israel which she has now revealed to go even further – denying Jewish nationhood and the Jewish right to a sovereign state. She is clearly an anti-Semitic bigot. This is not a matter of mere criticism of Israel, which people are free to exercise, but of fostering hatred against Jews. Helen Thomas should be fired, not only for her unvarnished bigotry, but because she has made it unequivocally clear that she is deeply biased and unable to report with any semblance of objectivity. Helen Thomas would certainly condemn and reject anyone who would have tried to tell her parents, who were Lebanese, that they should go back to Lebanon. She would not tolerate it if someone told her that, since she is of Lebanese ethnicity, she should go back to Lebanon.

The White House remains mum. The administration no doubt hopes that Hearst will take care of this mess. But the White House has its own responsibility and is making its own views apparent by its silence: the Obama administration simply doesn’t care.

Three more Jewish organizations have come out with statements condemning Helen Thomas’s remarks. B’nai B’rith’s statement contains this:

“Thomas’ comments are contemptible,” B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick said. “Her distortion of historical reality is astonishing. Her call for Jews to return to Poland and Germany—site of the Nazi genocide, the worst genocide in modern history—is beyond offensive. . .These vile comments, unfortunately, are the culmination of Thomas’ ongoing anti-Israel sentiments that she kept thinly veiled over the years,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “There should be no place for her in a news organization. Her comments go beyond commentary and land well in the camp that will stop at nothing to delegitimize Israel.”

B’nai B’rith calls on Hearst to dismiss Thomas immediately.

The American Israeli Action Coalition put out a news release that reads in part:

“As Americans living in Israel, we are outraged at Ms. Thomas’s remarks which we feel are directed at us,” said AIAC Chairman Harvey Schwartz. “The remarks are a direct attack on American Israelis. Not only are they based on ignorance of history, but are the height of vicious anti-Semitism. They are beneath contempt. Furthermore, Ms. Thomas’s lame excuse of an “apology” contains not one word of remorse for the substance of her odious remarks.”

“AIAC joins with Bnai Brith International, the Anti Defamation League and other prominent Americans in calling on the Hearst Corporation to dismiss Thomas immediately,” continued Chairman Schwartz. “In addition, the White House Correspondents’ Association should immediately cancel her White House press credentials. The failure of either of such organizations to do will be proof positive that it agrees with Ms. Thomas’s vile comments.”

The Zionist Organization of America’s statement includes this:

Helen Thomas’ despicable anti-Semitic statements must not be tolerated. She should be fired by Hearst News and barred from the White House press corps. There is no way such vicious denial of Jewish nationhood and connection to the Jewish homeland would be tolerated if such statements were uttered in respect of any other people.

Helen Thomas’ long record of hostile questioning and grandstanding speeches in the guise of questions regarding Israel at White House press conferences over many years indicates only too clearly that Thomas has long harbored deep hostility towards Israel which she has now revealed to go even further – denying Jewish nationhood and the Jewish right to a sovereign state. She is clearly an anti-Semitic bigot. This is not a matter of mere criticism of Israel, which people are free to exercise, but of fostering hatred against Jews. Helen Thomas should be fired, not only for her unvarnished bigotry, but because she has made it unequivocally clear that she is deeply biased and unable to report with any semblance of objectivity. Helen Thomas would certainly condemn and reject anyone who would have tried to tell her parents, who were Lebanese, that they should go back to Lebanon. She would not tolerate it if someone told her that, since she is of Lebanese ethnicity, she should go back to Lebanon.

The White House remains mum. The administration no doubt hopes that Hearst will take care of this mess. But the White House has its own responsibility and is making its own views apparent by its silence: the Obama administration simply doesn’t care.

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Re: Naoto Kan’s Foreign Policy

Given many of the statements once made by the new Japanese prime minister, his comments yesterday about the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance are welcome. Naoto Kan must have learned from his predecessor’s mistakes, at least on the Okinawa base; he has promised to uphold the bilateral agreement that Yukio Hatoyama established before resigning last week.

However, the real test of Kan’s foreign policy will be how effectively he works with the United States on critical shared interests, not the statements he makes. Domestically, that means quickly pinning down the remaining details of the U.S. military base, as unpopular as such an endeavor may be among the Japanese. Internationally, that means continued U.S.-Japan security and defense collaboration, especially as North Korean bellicosity is on the rise. It will be interesting to see how much Kan’s outlook on foreign policy changes now that he is prime minister and not an opposition leader.

Given many of the statements once made by the new Japanese prime minister, his comments yesterday about the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance are welcome. Naoto Kan must have learned from his predecessor’s mistakes, at least on the Okinawa base; he has promised to uphold the bilateral agreement that Yukio Hatoyama established before resigning last week.

However, the real test of Kan’s foreign policy will be how effectively he works with the United States on critical shared interests, not the statements he makes. Domestically, that means quickly pinning down the remaining details of the U.S. military base, as unpopular as such an endeavor may be among the Japanese. Internationally, that means continued U.S.-Japan security and defense collaboration, especially as North Korean bellicosity is on the rise. It will be interesting to see how much Kan’s outlook on foreign policy changes now that he is prime minister and not an opposition leader.

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RE: Rep. Peter King Leads on the Flotilla

As he told us yesterday, Rep. Peter King is wasting no time introducing a resolution to urge Obama to change his stance on the flotilla and, more generally, on our approach to the UN and Israel. Today’s news release reads in part:

King’s resolution will authorize the U.S. to provide Israel with necessary weapons and supplies to enforce the Gaza blockade, and will call for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which last week issued a near-immediate condemnation of Israel.  In addition, the resolution will demand that the Obama Administration oppose any international effort to investigate Israel for last week’s enforcement of the blockade.

King said:  “By enforcing its blockade, Israel is defending itself.  Israel does not deserve condemnation for the events of last week, nor does it need to apologize.  Israel’s protective blockade of Gaza is a reasonable approach to prevent weapons from reaching the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza and is intent on destroying the State of Israel.  Israel must have the right to defend itself by enforcing this blockade.  Israel has been managing the blockade so that humanitarian goods and medical supplies are provided to the people of Gaza.  Israeli authorities — through its Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — have transferred over a million tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza since 2009.  It is well within Israel’s rights to scan and inspect all cargo going into Gaza, where Hamas continues to smuggle Iranian and Syrian rockets, mortars, and other weapons for use on Israeli civilians. Instead of continuing to apologize to the world for U.S. support of Israel, President Obama must stand firmly behind Israel.”

Later today, King will circulate a “Dear Colleague” letter to other House Members seeking support for his resolution.

We’ll see what sort of reception he gets. I suspect he will find near-unanimous support from his Republican colleagues. As for the House Democrats, they keep saying they are pro-Israel, and now we can see if they really are. Which is it — partisan fidelity to the president’s unseemly stance toward Israel or full support for the security interests of Israel and, in turn, ourselves?

As he told us yesterday, Rep. Peter King is wasting no time introducing a resolution to urge Obama to change his stance on the flotilla and, more generally, on our approach to the UN and Israel. Today’s news release reads in part:

King’s resolution will authorize the U.S. to provide Israel with necessary weapons and supplies to enforce the Gaza blockade, and will call for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which last week issued a near-immediate condemnation of Israel.  In addition, the resolution will demand that the Obama Administration oppose any international effort to investigate Israel for last week’s enforcement of the blockade.

King said:  “By enforcing its blockade, Israel is defending itself.  Israel does not deserve condemnation for the events of last week, nor does it need to apologize.  Israel’s protective blockade of Gaza is a reasonable approach to prevent weapons from reaching the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas, which controls Gaza and is intent on destroying the State of Israel.  Israel must have the right to defend itself by enforcing this blockade.  Israel has been managing the blockade so that humanitarian goods and medical supplies are provided to the people of Gaza.  Israeli authorities — through its Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories — have transferred over a million tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza since 2009.  It is well within Israel’s rights to scan and inspect all cargo going into Gaza, where Hamas continues to smuggle Iranian and Syrian rockets, mortars, and other weapons for use on Israeli civilians. Instead of continuing to apologize to the world for U.S. support of Israel, President Obama must stand firmly behind Israel.”

Later today, King will circulate a “Dear Colleague” letter to other House Members seeking support for his resolution.

We’ll see what sort of reception he gets. I suspect he will find near-unanimous support from his Republican colleagues. As for the House Democrats, they keep saying they are pro-Israel, and now we can see if they really are. Which is it — partisan fidelity to the president’s unseemly stance toward Israel or full support for the security interests of Israel and, in turn, ourselves?

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How Obama’s Policy Ensures More Flotillas

The Obama administration plans to use Israel’s botched raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla to force Jerusalem to end or at least drastically ease its blockade on Gaza, because “we need to remove the impulse for the flotillas,” a senior administration official told the New York Times. That single statement encapsulates everything that is wrong with Obama’s Mideast policy — and indeed, that of the entire West: willful blindness to facts that inevitably produces counterproductive policies.

First, the statement assumes the flotilla was indeed motivated solely by the blockade. Yet the organizers themselves — the Free Gaza movement and the Turkish group IHH — have both made it clear that their agenda is far broader.

After interviewing Free Gaza co-founder and spokeswoman Greta Berlin last week, the New York Times reported that Berlin “likes to joke” about her two ex-husbands — one Palestinian, one Jewish. “But when she is not joking she says that her detractors in Israel are right, that she does not accept Israel as a Jewish state.”

In short, Berlin isn’t motivated by Gaza’s “humanitarian distress” but rather by a desire to see Israel disappear. Thus her motivation to stage anti-Israel provocations won’t vanish just because the blockade does.

IHH founder Bulent Yildirim, addressing a Hamas rally in Gaza last year, certainly talked a lot about the blockade. But according to MEMRI’s translation, he also declared that “everything is progressing toward Islam”; offered Hamas “the blessings of Saladin,” destroyer of the Crusader Kingdom, to which Islamists often compare Israel; said that if only Hamas hadn’t declared a cease-fire, “all of Turkey would be in Gaza” to help it fight Israel; and warned “the Jews” that “we are here, in Turkey, in Egypt, Syria, and everywhere, and our daughters and our boys can also defeat you.” In short, his agenda, too, is not merely ending the blockade, but ending Israel — unless you assume, as Westerners repeatedly and mistakenly do, that people like Berlin and Yildirim don’t actually mean what they say.

That leads to the second half of the equation: counterproductive policies. Ending the blockade would indeed “remove the impulse” of genuine humanitarian activists, but they were never the problem. Misguided, yes: by letting Hamas rearm freely, ending the blockade would almost certainly lead to war, which would hurt ordinary Gazans far more than the blockade does. But as the Rachel Corrie’s peaceful docking in Ashdod this weekend and previous peaceful dockings by other aid ships show, genuine humanitarians can deliver aid without causing international incidents that inflame the entire world.

People whose goal is Israel’s eradication, however, want to inflame the world against Israel — and also to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself: both developments further their goal. Last week’s flotilla has already accomplished the first, and ending the Gaza blockade would advance the second.

Thus the administration’s response, far from “removing the impulse” for such provocations, will actually spark more of them, by proving that they are wildly successful. True, they wouldn’t be blockade-busting flotillas anymore. But experienced provocateurs like Berlin and Yildirim will have no trouble devising new forms.

The Obama administration plans to use Israel’s botched raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla to force Jerusalem to end or at least drastically ease its blockade on Gaza, because “we need to remove the impulse for the flotillas,” a senior administration official told the New York Times. That single statement encapsulates everything that is wrong with Obama’s Mideast policy — and indeed, that of the entire West: willful blindness to facts that inevitably produces counterproductive policies.

First, the statement assumes the flotilla was indeed motivated solely by the blockade. Yet the organizers themselves — the Free Gaza movement and the Turkish group IHH — have both made it clear that their agenda is far broader.

After interviewing Free Gaza co-founder and spokeswoman Greta Berlin last week, the New York Times reported that Berlin “likes to joke” about her two ex-husbands — one Palestinian, one Jewish. “But when she is not joking she says that her detractors in Israel are right, that she does not accept Israel as a Jewish state.”

In short, Berlin isn’t motivated by Gaza’s “humanitarian distress” but rather by a desire to see Israel disappear. Thus her motivation to stage anti-Israel provocations won’t vanish just because the blockade does.

IHH founder Bulent Yildirim, addressing a Hamas rally in Gaza last year, certainly talked a lot about the blockade. But according to MEMRI’s translation, he also declared that “everything is progressing toward Islam”; offered Hamas “the blessings of Saladin,” destroyer of the Crusader Kingdom, to which Islamists often compare Israel; said that if only Hamas hadn’t declared a cease-fire, “all of Turkey would be in Gaza” to help it fight Israel; and warned “the Jews” that “we are here, in Turkey, in Egypt, Syria, and everywhere, and our daughters and our boys can also defeat you.” In short, his agenda, too, is not merely ending the blockade, but ending Israel — unless you assume, as Westerners repeatedly and mistakenly do, that people like Berlin and Yildirim don’t actually mean what they say.

That leads to the second half of the equation: counterproductive policies. Ending the blockade would indeed “remove the impulse” of genuine humanitarian activists, but they were never the problem. Misguided, yes: by letting Hamas rearm freely, ending the blockade would almost certainly lead to war, which would hurt ordinary Gazans far more than the blockade does. But as the Rachel Corrie’s peaceful docking in Ashdod this weekend and previous peaceful dockings by other aid ships show, genuine humanitarians can deliver aid without causing international incidents that inflame the entire world.

People whose goal is Israel’s eradication, however, want to inflame the world against Israel — and also to undermine Israel’s ability to defend itself: both developments further their goal. Last week’s flotilla has already accomplished the first, and ending the Gaza blockade would advance the second.

Thus the administration’s response, far from “removing the impulse” for such provocations, will actually spark more of them, by proving that they are wildly successful. True, they wouldn’t be blockade-busting flotillas anymore. But experienced provocateurs like Berlin and Yildirim will have no trouble devising new forms.

Read Less

Iran Threatens War in the Mediterranean

Yesterday, Ali Shirazi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps said its naval forces “are fully prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys to Gaza with all their powers and capabilities.” Never mind the cynical use of the words “freedom” and “peace” from a repressive regime that steals votes and cracks heads. Breaking a blockade by force is a declaration of war and could, in this case, easily and instantly spark a region-wide conflagration.

More likely than not, Iran is just posturing. Ever since Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government has been waging a relentless campaign to win over Arab public opinion with apocalyptic anti-Zionism and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. And last week it was upstaged by Turkey and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when howling denunciations of Israel almost everywhere in the world followed the now-infamous battle aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara vessel. Even the president of the United States says Israel’s blockade of Gaza is no longer sustainable, though at least he says it calmly. Not Iran, Syria, Hamas, or Hezbollah, but Turkey has been the toast of the Middle East’s radicals for a week now.

The Turks have been slowly turning away from their alliance with the West since 2003. Erdogan, more recently, has not only been reorienting his country toward the Sunni Muslim world of which it’s a part; he’s also adopting the causes of the Resistance Bloc, led by Iran’s Shia theocracy and the atheist non-Muslim Alawite clan, which rules Syria. He’s been trying for years now to join Tehran and Jerusalem in setting the regional agenda, and he finally and unambiguously succeeded last Monday.

Iran is supposed to lead the “resistance,” however, and I suspect its leaders are trying to seize the region’s attention again. They feel insecure behind all that bombast. As Persians and, especially, Shias, they’re looked upon with suspicion and loathing, despite their hardest of hard lines against Israel. The Turks aren’t Arabs either, and some resentment remains from the imperial Ottoman days; but they’re Sunnis, at least, like most in the Middle East.

So while Erdogan’s Turkey may look in some ways like a de facto Iranian ally from the American and Israeli perspectives, from the point of view of Tehran it’s a convenient, useful, triangulating competitor. Syria’s Bashar Assad is content to be Iran’s junior partner, but Istanbul was once the capital of a powerful Sunni empire that, not long ago, held sway over much of the Mediterranean. As a member of NATO (for now, anyway), it can’t be entirely trusted and won’t likely ever take orders from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Ali Khamenei.

Iran needs its mojo back — now — and huffing and puffing and bluffing about the blockade is one way to get it. Still, it would only surprise me a little if Tehran thinks it has a green light from most of the world to proceed. Israel is more isolated than it has been in decades, and this wouldn’t be the first time one of its enemies miscalculated and did something stupid. Now would be a good time for the Obama administration to say, firmly and in no uncertain terms, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Yesterday, Ali Shirazi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps said its naval forces “are fully prepared to escort the peace and freedom convoys to Gaza with all their powers and capabilities.” Never mind the cynical use of the words “freedom” and “peace” from a repressive regime that steals votes and cracks heads. Breaking a blockade by force is a declaration of war and could, in this case, easily and instantly spark a region-wide conflagration.

More likely than not, Iran is just posturing. Ever since Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in the 1979 revolution, the Iranian government has been waging a relentless campaign to win over Arab public opinion with apocalyptic anti-Zionism and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. And last week it was upstaged by Turkey and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when howling denunciations of Israel almost everywhere in the world followed the now-infamous battle aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara vessel. Even the president of the United States says Israel’s blockade of Gaza is no longer sustainable, though at least he says it calmly. Not Iran, Syria, Hamas, or Hezbollah, but Turkey has been the toast of the Middle East’s radicals for a week now.

The Turks have been slowly turning away from their alliance with the West since 2003. Erdogan, more recently, has not only been reorienting his country toward the Sunni Muslim world of which it’s a part; he’s also adopting the causes of the Resistance Bloc, led by Iran’s Shia theocracy and the atheist non-Muslim Alawite clan, which rules Syria. He’s been trying for years now to join Tehran and Jerusalem in setting the regional agenda, and he finally and unambiguously succeeded last Monday.

Iran is supposed to lead the “resistance,” however, and I suspect its leaders are trying to seize the region’s attention again. They feel insecure behind all that bombast. As Persians and, especially, Shias, they’re looked upon with suspicion and loathing, despite their hardest of hard lines against Israel. The Turks aren’t Arabs either, and some resentment remains from the imperial Ottoman days; but they’re Sunnis, at least, like most in the Middle East.

So while Erdogan’s Turkey may look in some ways like a de facto Iranian ally from the American and Israeli perspectives, from the point of view of Tehran it’s a convenient, useful, triangulating competitor. Syria’s Bashar Assad is content to be Iran’s junior partner, but Istanbul was once the capital of a powerful Sunni empire that, not long ago, held sway over much of the Mediterranean. As a member of NATO (for now, anyway), it can’t be entirely trusted and won’t likely ever take orders from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Ali Khamenei.

Iran needs its mojo back — now — and huffing and puffing and bluffing about the blockade is one way to get it. Still, it would only surprise me a little if Tehran thinks it has a green light from most of the world to proceed. Israel is more isolated than it has been in decades, and this wouldn’t be the first time one of its enemies miscalculated and did something stupid. Now would be a good time for the Obama administration to say, firmly and in no uncertain terms, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

Read Less




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