Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 10, 2010

Tony Judt’s Specious Clichés About Israel

Once again today the New York Times devoted the largest share of its op-ed page to an attack on Israel, as author and academic Tony Judt attempted to set the paper’s readers straight on what he considers the tired clichés of the Middle East. But as was the case with previous occupiers of this space, such as Michael Chabon, Judt flies under false colors. He affects a pose of Olympian detachment while treating both anti-Israel and pro-Israel arguments with equal disdain. This “plague on both your houses” approach seems reasonable on its face but it is utterly disingenuous.

That’s because of Judt’s own views on Israel and Zionism, about which he is less than candid in this article. Judt has written at length in the New York Review of Books, his usual literary home, about his opposition to Zionism. He is entitled to this belief, however hateful it might be, but such a stance ought to disqualify him from writing pieces in a mainstream newspaper that purport to take an objective stance on the subject.

As for his six clichés, they are all specious points of discussion and contain numerous false arguments. Here are a few:

* The anti-Israel arguments that he dismisses as merely absurd and worthy of being ignored are, while specious, widely disseminated around the world by a rising tide of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic incitement. But Judt, as do other critics of Israel, asserts that friends of Israel treat all criticisms of the state as being intended to delegitimize it. True. But it is a fact that all too many of these critics actually do intend to do just that. To point this out is not “self-defeating” on Israel’s part. To ignore the widespread attacks on Zionism that are now commonplace in Europe and on American college campuses would be to abandon the field to Israel’s foes.

* He acknowledges that Israel is a working democracy but then claims “the expression of strong dissent from official policy is increasingly discouraged,” as if those who oppose the Netanyahu government must only do so in private. This is absurd as not only is there an open season on Netanyahu in the Israeli media but also Arabs openly disparage Zionism on the floor of the Knesset. Even worse, Judt goes on to claim that Hamas’s regime in Gaza is a democracy too. It is true that Hamas won an election in 2006 — but it seized total power there in a bloody coup. Not only is there no hope of another election in which Gazans might hold Hamas accountable for its misrule — a typical example of Third World Democracy, which means “one man, one vote, one time” — but the result of that coup has been the imposition of Islamist practices on secular Palestinians and a tyrannical suppression of all opposing views. If that is Judt’s idea of democracy, it is no wonder he doesn’t value the concept very highly.

* He disparages the idea that not Israel and the Palestinians are to blame. He simply dismisses “the failure of negotiations in 2000” as having reinforced the Israeli belief that “there is no one to talk to.” But Camp David in 2000 didn’t prove that Israelis couldn’t talk to Palestinians. They can, even to Hamas. But it did prove — as did Mahmoud Abbas’s similar refusal in 2008 of an offer of a state in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem — that the Palestinians aren’t interested in or capable of making peace under any circumstances. The Palestinians may be weak but they could be living in their own state with a signed peace treaty guaranteeing their independence if their political culture didn’t prohibit them from acknowledging the legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders.

* His inclusion of a cliché about an “Israel lobby,” which is “disproportionately influential,” is a tip-off of his bias. The “Israel lobby” has influence in this country not because the people at AIPAC are geniuses but because the vast majority of Americans support Israel.

* Last, and perhaps most important, he claims that the debate about the link between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism is a cliché. But his attempt to dismiss anti-Semitic attacks on Israel depends on the reader being ignorant of the nature of most such attacks in international forums these days. The fact that for anti-Zionists the only alleged injustices in the world worth protesting are those committed by the one Jewish state in the world — the only country the legitimacy of whose existence is a matter of debate — betrays the prejudice behind such sentiments. Judt’s claim that one can “acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and still be an anti-Zionist” is a contradiction in terms but I suppose that’s how he rationalizes his own beliefs. The idea that you can be a foe of a besieged country’s founding ideology and basis of legitimacy yet avoid being branded as someone who would like to see it destroyed is mere sophistry. But when you are an American Jewish academic who despises Israel but doesn’t wish to be associated with the vulgar Jew-haters who act on their beliefs, I suppose that’s the only stance you can take when you write in the New York Times.

Once again today the New York Times devoted the largest share of its op-ed page to an attack on Israel, as author and academic Tony Judt attempted to set the paper’s readers straight on what he considers the tired clichés of the Middle East. But as was the case with previous occupiers of this space, such as Michael Chabon, Judt flies under false colors. He affects a pose of Olympian detachment while treating both anti-Israel and pro-Israel arguments with equal disdain. This “plague on both your houses” approach seems reasonable on its face but it is utterly disingenuous.

That’s because of Judt’s own views on Israel and Zionism, about which he is less than candid in this article. Judt has written at length in the New York Review of Books, his usual literary home, about his opposition to Zionism. He is entitled to this belief, however hateful it might be, but such a stance ought to disqualify him from writing pieces in a mainstream newspaper that purport to take an objective stance on the subject.

As for his six clichés, they are all specious points of discussion and contain numerous false arguments. Here are a few:

* The anti-Israel arguments that he dismisses as merely absurd and worthy of being ignored are, while specious, widely disseminated around the world by a rising tide of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic incitement. But Judt, as do other critics of Israel, asserts that friends of Israel treat all criticisms of the state as being intended to delegitimize it. True. But it is a fact that all too many of these critics actually do intend to do just that. To point this out is not “self-defeating” on Israel’s part. To ignore the widespread attacks on Zionism that are now commonplace in Europe and on American college campuses would be to abandon the field to Israel’s foes.

* He acknowledges that Israel is a working democracy but then claims “the expression of strong dissent from official policy is increasingly discouraged,” as if those who oppose the Netanyahu government must only do so in private. This is absurd as not only is there an open season on Netanyahu in the Israeli media but also Arabs openly disparage Zionism on the floor of the Knesset. Even worse, Judt goes on to claim that Hamas’s regime in Gaza is a democracy too. It is true that Hamas won an election in 2006 — but it seized total power there in a bloody coup. Not only is there no hope of another election in which Gazans might hold Hamas accountable for its misrule — a typical example of Third World Democracy, which means “one man, one vote, one time” — but the result of that coup has been the imposition of Islamist practices on secular Palestinians and a tyrannical suppression of all opposing views. If that is Judt’s idea of democracy, it is no wonder he doesn’t value the concept very highly.

* He disparages the idea that not Israel and the Palestinians are to blame. He simply dismisses “the failure of negotiations in 2000” as having reinforced the Israeli belief that “there is no one to talk to.” But Camp David in 2000 didn’t prove that Israelis couldn’t talk to Palestinians. They can, even to Hamas. But it did prove — as did Mahmoud Abbas’s similar refusal in 2008 of an offer of a state in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem — that the Palestinians aren’t interested in or capable of making peace under any circumstances. The Palestinians may be weak but they could be living in their own state with a signed peace treaty guaranteeing their independence if their political culture didn’t prohibit them from acknowledging the legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders.

* His inclusion of a cliché about an “Israel lobby,” which is “disproportionately influential,” is a tip-off of his bias. The “Israel lobby” has influence in this country not because the people at AIPAC are geniuses but because the vast majority of Americans support Israel.

* Last, and perhaps most important, he claims that the debate about the link between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism is a cliché. But his attempt to dismiss anti-Semitic attacks on Israel depends on the reader being ignorant of the nature of most such attacks in international forums these days. The fact that for anti-Zionists the only alleged injustices in the world worth protesting are those committed by the one Jewish state in the world — the only country the legitimacy of whose existence is a matter of debate — betrays the prejudice behind such sentiments. Judt’s claim that one can “acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and still be an anti-Zionist” is a contradiction in terms but I suppose that’s how he rationalizes his own beliefs. The idea that you can be a foe of a besieged country’s founding ideology and basis of legitimacy yet avoid being branded as someone who would like to see it destroyed is mere sophistry. But when you are an American Jewish academic who despises Israel but doesn’t wish to be associated with the vulgar Jew-haters who act on their beliefs, I suppose that’s the only stance you can take when you write in the New York Times.

Read Less

Turkish Flags

Turkey’s sharp turn against Israel under Islamist Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has been much noted in the last couple of weeks. But a just-released report from Israeli analysts clarifies how close the flotilla confrontation of May 31 came to being a Turkish incitement to armed conflict.

The report was issued by Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, or Malam, a private contractor that works with government intelligence agencies and is sometimes used to make disclosures to the public. Based on the material gathered in the flotilla incident by the IDF and other government agencies, Malam concluded that the Turkish government knew in advance of the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) activists’ intention to fight the Israeli navy.

The IHH group of 40 boarded M/V Mavi Marmara in Istanbul without being subjected to the security checks all other participants went through. The group was equipped with communications gear, gas masks, and security vests decorated with Turkish flags. IHH operatives used the ship’s upper deck as a headquarters, prohibiting other passengers from visiting it. Once onboard, the IHH group began pillaging the ship for the makeshift weapons with which its members attacked the Israeli commandos during the May 31 boarding. According to the Malam report:

Bülent Yıldırım, the leader of the IHH … was on the Mavi Marmara and briefed group members about two hours before the Israeli Navy intercepted the ship. Their main objective was to hold back soldiers by any means, and to push them back into the sea.

The Haaretz summary continues:

Files found on laptops owned by the IHH members pointed at strong ties between the movement and Turkey’s prime minister. Some of the activists even said that Erdogan was personally involved in the flotilla’s preparations.

The more we know, the less sudden or unexpected appears Erdogan’s latest threat to bring a Turkish naval escort to Gaza. In retrospect, the situation looks more like one engineered by Erdogan to justify a confrontation with Israel than mere opportunism. Erdogan’s profile as a moderate statesman has been eroding for some time, of course, as exemplified in his performance during the March 2010 Arab League Summit and his growing ties to Iran. But in light of his most recent actions, a little-remarked passage in a Muslim Brotherhood conference in January becomes freshly informative.

The conference in question took place in Beirut and was the seventh of the al-Quds (Jerusalem) conferences sponsored by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to concluding with the usual screed against Israel, the conferees addressed “special thanks” to Tayyip Erdogan and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, whose Perdana Global Peace Organization went on to sponsor three of the nine vessels in the recent Gaza flotilla, including M/V Rachel Corrie. Qaradawi is the founder of the Union of Good, the umbrella Islamist funding organization of which IHH is a member, and which Israel banned in 2002 due to its ties to terrorism.

Now Erdogan’s threat to bring a naval escort to Gaza coincides with the Union of Good’s announcement that it will send a convoy to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, recently opened by Egypt. Erdogan’s posture has gone well beyond rhetorical radicalism. Defense Secretary Gates’s comment yesterday — “Turkey … was pushed … by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the … organic link to the west that Turkey sought” — seems particularly ill-formulated in light of Erdogan’s purposeful and unmistakable posture. Even if Gates’s analysis were more accurate, it’s not relevant. The time for recrimination is past. Reacting to current reality is all that matters.

Turkey’s major opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has voiced strong criticism of Erdogan’s actions; the prime minister’s policies that undermine secularism and suppress political dissent are coming under increasing fire at home. The next national election is not until mid-2011, however. There’s a lot of time left for Erdogan to sponsor flotillas. According to an IHH “journalist” quoted by Haaretz, the recent flotilla is just the first of many.

Turkey’s sharp turn against Israel under Islamist Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has been much noted in the last couple of weeks. But a just-released report from Israeli analysts clarifies how close the flotilla confrontation of May 31 came to being a Turkish incitement to armed conflict.

The report was issued by Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, or Malam, a private contractor that works with government intelligence agencies and is sometimes used to make disclosures to the public. Based on the material gathered in the flotilla incident by the IDF and other government agencies, Malam concluded that the Turkish government knew in advance of the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) activists’ intention to fight the Israeli navy.

The IHH group of 40 boarded M/V Mavi Marmara in Istanbul without being subjected to the security checks all other participants went through. The group was equipped with communications gear, gas masks, and security vests decorated with Turkish flags. IHH operatives used the ship’s upper deck as a headquarters, prohibiting other passengers from visiting it. Once onboard, the IHH group began pillaging the ship for the makeshift weapons with which its members attacked the Israeli commandos during the May 31 boarding. According to the Malam report:

Bülent Yıldırım, the leader of the IHH … was on the Mavi Marmara and briefed group members about two hours before the Israeli Navy intercepted the ship. Their main objective was to hold back soldiers by any means, and to push them back into the sea.

The Haaretz summary continues:

Files found on laptops owned by the IHH members pointed at strong ties between the movement and Turkey’s prime minister. Some of the activists even said that Erdogan was personally involved in the flotilla’s preparations.

The more we know, the less sudden or unexpected appears Erdogan’s latest threat to bring a Turkish naval escort to Gaza. In retrospect, the situation looks more like one engineered by Erdogan to justify a confrontation with Israel than mere opportunism. Erdogan’s profile as a moderate statesman has been eroding for some time, of course, as exemplified in his performance during the March 2010 Arab League Summit and his growing ties to Iran. But in light of his most recent actions, a little-remarked passage in a Muslim Brotherhood conference in January becomes freshly informative.

The conference in question took place in Beirut and was the seventh of the al-Quds (Jerusalem) conferences sponsored by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to concluding with the usual screed against Israel, the conferees addressed “special thanks” to Tayyip Erdogan and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia, whose Perdana Global Peace Organization went on to sponsor three of the nine vessels in the recent Gaza flotilla, including M/V Rachel Corrie. Qaradawi is the founder of the Union of Good, the umbrella Islamist funding organization of which IHH is a member, and which Israel banned in 2002 due to its ties to terrorism.

Now Erdogan’s threat to bring a naval escort to Gaza coincides with the Union of Good’s announcement that it will send a convoy to Gaza through the Rafah crossing, recently opened by Egypt. Erdogan’s posture has gone well beyond rhetorical radicalism. Defense Secretary Gates’s comment yesterday — “Turkey … was pushed … by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the … organic link to the west that Turkey sought” — seems particularly ill-formulated in light of Erdogan’s purposeful and unmistakable posture. Even if Gates’s analysis were more accurate, it’s not relevant. The time for recrimination is past. Reacting to current reality is all that matters.

Turkey’s major opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has voiced strong criticism of Erdogan’s actions; the prime minister’s policies that undermine secularism and suppress political dissent are coming under increasing fire at home. The next national election is not until mid-2011, however. There’s a lot of time left for Erdogan to sponsor flotillas. According to an IHH “journalist” quoted by Haaretz, the recent flotilla is just the first of many.

Read Less

The Jews Won’t Go Back Because They’re in Their Own Country

Despite Helen Thomas’s apology and resignation, the controversy over her call for Israel’s Jews to be thrown out of their country and “go back” to Germany and Poland isn’t quite over. Not to be outdone by the anti-Semitic octogenarian scribe, radio talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell defended or at the very least rationalized Thomas’s slur on her radio show, the audio of which can be heard on YouTube. The comedian and her “friends” on the show think Thomas’s remarks are merely “politically incorrect.” O’Donnell claims that in 2010, no one could possibly believe that Thomas thinks Jews should go back to Auschwitz (as one of the Gaza flotilla “humanitarians” allegedly told the Israeli navy) and that her main point was justified because “What she was saying was, the homeland was originally Palestinian and it’s now occupied by Israel.”

O’Donnell’s rants are not particularly significant, but her assertion about whose land the Israelis currently occupy is important because it represents a common misconception about the Middle East conflict that often goes without contradiction.

Indeed, even those pundits that reacted appropriately to Thomas’s remarks, such as the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, who wrote an admirable column about what happened when some Jews did, in fact, attempt to go back to Poland after the Holocaust, failed to point out that Jewish rights to historic Palestine predate the tragic events of the 1940s. Cohen described the Kielce massacre, in which Poles slaughtered returning Jews, as well as the hostility of even some Americans, such as General George Patton, toward displaced survivors. He rightly noted that the plight of these homeless Jews helped galvanize support for Zionism at that crucial moment in history in the years leading up to Israel’s independence.

But as with President Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, which posed a false moral equivalence between the sufferings of Jews in the Holocaust and the displacement of Palestinian Arab refugees, the idea that Jewish rights to the land are merely a matter of compensation for events in Europe is a pernicious myth that must be refuted at every opportunity. Jews need not be required to leave Israel for Europe not only because to do so would be insensitive but also because the place Arabs call Palestine is the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Despite the dispersion of the Jews, the Jewish presence in the land was never eradicated. For example, Jerusalem had a Jewish majority in the 1840s. Palestinian nationalism grew not as an attempt to reconstitute an ancient people or to solidify an existing political culture but strictly as a negative reaction to the return of the Jews and does not exist outside the context of trying to deny the country to the Zionists. That is why even moderate Palestinians find it impossible to sign a peace agreement legitimizing a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.

The idea of Jews as colonists in the Middle East is a staple of anti-Zionist hatred, but it surfaces even in respectable forums and in the work of writers who are nominally sympathetic to Israel. Earlier this week, Ross Douthat wrote a column in the New York Times comparing the State of Israel to the Christian Crusader kingdoms that sprouted in what is now Israel during the Middle Ages before being swept away by a Muslim tide. Douthat doesn’t seem to wish the same fate for the Jews and acknowledged that the analogy between the Crusaders and Israel is one invoked by Arabs who wish to wipe out the Jewish state. But his analogy between Israel’s demographic and strategic problems and that of the Crusaders is itself specious. Unlike the Christian noblemen who ruled the country and its mainly non-Christian inhabitants from castles that are now historic ruins, the Jews settled on the land en masse and developed it in an unprecedented manner. Contrary to his evaluation of Israel’s current position, its economy has flourished despite war; and though it has many problems (as do all countries), it is no danger of being swept away except by the sort of cataclysmic threat that a nuclear Iran poses. Moreover, and contrary to the land grab of European knights who massacred Jews in Europe on their way to further atrocities in the Holy Land, the Jews came back to their country as a matter of historic justice, as a people reclaiming what was rightly theirs.

Friends of Israel and those representing the Jewish state generally ignore the need to point out the myths about Zionism that have resulted in all too many people accepting the idea that the Jews are “occupiers” of an exclusively Arab land. They fear boring their listeners or seeming too strident. But the costs of this neglect are to be measured in the growing numbers of people in the West who accept the lies spread by Palestinian propagandists or who don’t know enough to challenge them.

Despite Helen Thomas’s apology and resignation, the controversy over her call for Israel’s Jews to be thrown out of their country and “go back” to Germany and Poland isn’t quite over. Not to be outdone by the anti-Semitic octogenarian scribe, radio talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell defended or at the very least rationalized Thomas’s slur on her radio show, the audio of which can be heard on YouTube. The comedian and her “friends” on the show think Thomas’s remarks are merely “politically incorrect.” O’Donnell claims that in 2010, no one could possibly believe that Thomas thinks Jews should go back to Auschwitz (as one of the Gaza flotilla “humanitarians” allegedly told the Israeli navy) and that her main point was justified because “What she was saying was, the homeland was originally Palestinian and it’s now occupied by Israel.”

O’Donnell’s rants are not particularly significant, but her assertion about whose land the Israelis currently occupy is important because it represents a common misconception about the Middle East conflict that often goes without contradiction.

Indeed, even those pundits that reacted appropriately to Thomas’s remarks, such as the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, who wrote an admirable column about what happened when some Jews did, in fact, attempt to go back to Poland after the Holocaust, failed to point out that Jewish rights to historic Palestine predate the tragic events of the 1940s. Cohen described the Kielce massacre, in which Poles slaughtered returning Jews, as well as the hostility of even some Americans, such as General George Patton, toward displaced survivors. He rightly noted that the plight of these homeless Jews helped galvanize support for Zionism at that crucial moment in history in the years leading up to Israel’s independence.

But as with President Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, which posed a false moral equivalence between the sufferings of Jews in the Holocaust and the displacement of Palestinian Arab refugees, the idea that Jewish rights to the land are merely a matter of compensation for events in Europe is a pernicious myth that must be refuted at every opportunity. Jews need not be required to leave Israel for Europe not only because to do so would be insensitive but also because the place Arabs call Palestine is the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Despite the dispersion of the Jews, the Jewish presence in the land was never eradicated. For example, Jerusalem had a Jewish majority in the 1840s. Palestinian nationalism grew not as an attempt to reconstitute an ancient people or to solidify an existing political culture but strictly as a negative reaction to the return of the Jews and does not exist outside the context of trying to deny the country to the Zionists. That is why even moderate Palestinians find it impossible to sign a peace agreement legitimizing a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.

The idea of Jews as colonists in the Middle East is a staple of anti-Zionist hatred, but it surfaces even in respectable forums and in the work of writers who are nominally sympathetic to Israel. Earlier this week, Ross Douthat wrote a column in the New York Times comparing the State of Israel to the Christian Crusader kingdoms that sprouted in what is now Israel during the Middle Ages before being swept away by a Muslim tide. Douthat doesn’t seem to wish the same fate for the Jews and acknowledged that the analogy between the Crusaders and Israel is one invoked by Arabs who wish to wipe out the Jewish state. But his analogy between Israel’s demographic and strategic problems and that of the Crusaders is itself specious. Unlike the Christian noblemen who ruled the country and its mainly non-Christian inhabitants from castles that are now historic ruins, the Jews settled on the land en masse and developed it in an unprecedented manner. Contrary to his evaluation of Israel’s current position, its economy has flourished despite war; and though it has many problems (as do all countries), it is no danger of being swept away except by the sort of cataclysmic threat that a nuclear Iran poses. Moreover, and contrary to the land grab of European knights who massacred Jews in Europe on their way to further atrocities in the Holy Land, the Jews came back to their country as a matter of historic justice, as a people reclaiming what was rightly theirs.

Friends of Israel and those representing the Jewish state generally ignore the need to point out the myths about Zionism that have resulted in all too many people accepting the idea that the Jews are “occupiers” of an exclusively Arab land. They fear boring their listeners or seeming too strident. But the costs of this neglect are to be measured in the growing numbers of people in the West who accept the lies spread by Palestinian propagandists or who don’t know enough to challenge them.

Read Less

What Say You, Democrats?

If we take them at their word, then there is no apparent reason why many Democrats shouldn’t sign on to Peter King’s resolution.

For example, Rep. John Adler’s statement on the flotilla  includes this:

The bond between the United States and Israel remains unshakable. For sixty-two years, our two nations have shared a deep commitment to democracy and lasting peace in the Mid-East. In a part of the world recognized for its conflict, Israel should retain its right to protect itself. The threats of a nuclear Iran and terrorism should remain a main focus of U.S. diplomatic efforts.

Shelley Berkley’s statement is even stronger, and indeed sounds a bit like the King resolution in this section:

I join Israel in rejecting calls for an international investigation of the recent events related to Gaza. Israel, a strong democracy and America’s close ally, is perfectly capable of conducting a fair, credible investigation that meets international standards. The last time the UN investigated the conflict between Israel and Hamas, it produced the biased, anti-Israel Goldstone Report. This one-sided document accused Israel of war crimes, when its actions were in defense of innocent families facing a constant barrage of deadly Hamas missile attacks.  Given this history, we have no reason to believe the UN would produce anything more balanced this time around. …

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal under international law. This policy is in place to ensure that weaponry and rockets do not reach Hamas, a risk to Israeli families that our democratic ally cannot — and will not — allow.

Rep. Brad Ellsworth echoes several paragraphs of the resolution:

We must allow Israel, not the United Nations, who produced the biased Goldstone report, to conduct a formal investigation into the flotilla incident that is prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent. During these times of crisis, the relationship between the United States and Israel must remain strong. Let there be no doubt, Israelis have the right to defend themselves and their homeland against the threat of violence.

Rep. Eliot Engel, who is as strong a defender of Israel as the Democrats have, includes this, which also mirrors much of King’s resolution:

The U.S.-Israel relationship is a special relationship, and it’s a relationship that needs to be strengthened. The United States is Israel’s only true friend. In fact, when you look at the United Nations or the so-called Human Rights Council in the United Nations, it’s really a kangaroo court stacked up against Israel. No wonder Israel doesn’t accept what the so-called “international body” says about them, because they can never do anything right. They’re always condemned no matter what they try, no matter what they do.

My colleagues have pointed out that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has the right to defend itself, that Israel has at least twice seized large caches of arms aboard Iranian ships bound for Hamas and Hezbollah, and a blockade is an appropriate security measure when employed in the face of hostility such as that directed by Hamas against Israel.

Well, you get the point. There is nothing in the King resolution — including the demand to leave the UN Human Rights Council — that many House Democrats have not voiced themselves. So it’s curious that, so far, they have balked at signing the resolution — every one of them. You don’t suppose the House leadership and/or White House is ordering them not to sign until they can come up with a weak-tea alternative, do you?

UPDATE: Rep. Mark Kirk, who has signed on to the King resolution, issues a statement. You can also read the full resolution here.

If we take them at their word, then there is no apparent reason why many Democrats shouldn’t sign on to Peter King’s resolution.

For example, Rep. John Adler’s statement on the flotilla  includes this:

The bond between the United States and Israel remains unshakable. For sixty-two years, our two nations have shared a deep commitment to democracy and lasting peace in the Mid-East. In a part of the world recognized for its conflict, Israel should retain its right to protect itself. The threats of a nuclear Iran and terrorism should remain a main focus of U.S. diplomatic efforts.

Shelley Berkley’s statement is even stronger, and indeed sounds a bit like the King resolution in this section:

I join Israel in rejecting calls for an international investigation of the recent events related to Gaza. Israel, a strong democracy and America’s close ally, is perfectly capable of conducting a fair, credible investigation that meets international standards. The last time the UN investigated the conflict between Israel and Hamas, it produced the biased, anti-Israel Goldstone Report. This one-sided document accused Israel of war crimes, when its actions were in defense of innocent families facing a constant barrage of deadly Hamas missile attacks.  Given this history, we have no reason to believe the UN would produce anything more balanced this time around. …

Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal under international law. This policy is in place to ensure that weaponry and rockets do not reach Hamas, a risk to Israeli families that our democratic ally cannot — and will not — allow.

Rep. Brad Ellsworth echoes several paragraphs of the resolution:

We must allow Israel, not the United Nations, who produced the biased Goldstone report, to conduct a formal investigation into the flotilla incident that is prompt, impartial, credible, and transparent. During these times of crisis, the relationship between the United States and Israel must remain strong. Let there be no doubt, Israelis have the right to defend themselves and their homeland against the threat of violence.

Rep. Eliot Engel, who is as strong a defender of Israel as the Democrats have, includes this, which also mirrors much of King’s resolution:

The U.S.-Israel relationship is a special relationship, and it’s a relationship that needs to be strengthened. The United States is Israel’s only true friend. In fact, when you look at the United Nations or the so-called Human Rights Council in the United Nations, it’s really a kangaroo court stacked up against Israel. No wonder Israel doesn’t accept what the so-called “international body” says about them, because they can never do anything right. They’re always condemned no matter what they try, no matter what they do.

My colleagues have pointed out that Israel, like every other sovereign nation, has the right to defend itself, that Israel has at least twice seized large caches of arms aboard Iranian ships bound for Hamas and Hezbollah, and a blockade is an appropriate security measure when employed in the face of hostility such as that directed by Hamas against Israel.

Well, you get the point. There is nothing in the King resolution — including the demand to leave the UN Human Rights Council — that many House Democrats have not voiced themselves. So it’s curious that, so far, they have balked at signing the resolution — every one of them. You don’t suppose the House leadership and/or White House is ordering them not to sign until they can come up with a weak-tea alternative, do you?

UPDATE: Rep. Mark Kirk, who has signed on to the King resolution, issues a statement. You can also read the full resolution here.

Read Less

Obama Sinks to a New Low … in the Polls

President Obama’s Gallup approval/disapproval rating is now 44 percent/48 percent, a new low.

As a reference point, Obama’s three-day average was 52 percent when Chris Christie beat Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell destroyed Creigh Deeds in Virginia. And Obama’s approval/disapproval rating on January 20, 2010 — when Republican Scott Brown shocked the political world by winning the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy — Obama’s three-day average (January 19-21) was 49 percent/45 percent (it was 47/47 on January 20).

This matters because presidential approval ratings are an important, if not always a decisive, factor in political races — and right now Obama’s public standing is considerably below where it was last November and below where it was in January, when Democrats were getting pounded by GOP candidates.

The bad news for Democrats keeps rolling in, day by day. And as the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf continues unabated, the job picture remains bleak, trust in government reaches all-time lows, and disdain for Congress approaches all-time highs, there’s little reason for Democrats to view the midterm elections with anything less than anxiety bordering on panic.

That may change – but if it does, more likely than not it will change for the worse.

President Obama’s Gallup approval/disapproval rating is now 44 percent/48 percent, a new low.

As a reference point, Obama’s three-day average was 52 percent when Chris Christie beat Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell destroyed Creigh Deeds in Virginia. And Obama’s approval/disapproval rating on January 20, 2010 — when Republican Scott Brown shocked the political world by winning the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy — Obama’s three-day average (January 19-21) was 49 percent/45 percent (it was 47/47 on January 20).

This matters because presidential approval ratings are an important, if not always a decisive, factor in political races — and right now Obama’s public standing is considerably below where it was last November and below where it was in January, when Democrats were getting pounded by GOP candidates.

The bad news for Democrats keeps rolling in, day by day. And as the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf continues unabated, the job picture remains bleak, trust in government reaches all-time lows, and disdain for Congress approaches all-time highs, there’s little reason for Democrats to view the midterm elections with anything less than anxiety bordering on panic.

That may change – but if it does, more likely than not it will change for the worse.

Read Less

Why Don’t They Talk About Ramallah?

A friend writes:

You might not have time to read the Travel section of the Sunday Times, but the story on page 13 of Sunday’s edition highlights a problem for the Palestinian Authority. The article makes clear that Ramallah, the PA’s effective capital, is a hip town with all kinds of exciting nightlife and restaurant choices. Hmm. Hardly squares with the beleaguered, impoverished, starving, besieged Palestinian-refugee narrative the Western media have been feeding us.

Salaam Fayyad, the PA prime minister, wants to encourage private-equity investments, but to do that you have to let investors know that there will be a return on capital. Suicide bombers and private equity don’t mix, whereas a dynamic social, cultural, economic climate do. So, who wins? The foreign-aid class represented by the UN or the economic-development group represented by Fayyad?  Fayyad wants to show the reality of a booming economy, while President Abbas (Fayyad’s boss, in principle) and Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator (whatever that means, given that there are no negotiations), want to show the Palestinians as beaten down by circumstances and beaten up by brutal Israeli troops.

Not mentioned in the Travel section Ramallah story or in Thomas Friedman’s column in the same Sunday paper on West Bank economic development is the name Benjamin Netanyahu. Not that the New York Times is about to give Bibi credit for anything, but the fact is Bibi campaigned for office in January 2009 on two main planks: addressing the Iranian threat and rebuilding the West Bank economy. It was Bibi who ordered more than 200 roadblocks/checkpoints to be removed, and it is Bibi who meets weekly with Palestinian and Israeli economic-development experts to see what red tape he can cut through to help the Palestinian Authority aid the rapid economic growth of the West Bank.

Give all of the credit to Fayyad, but his silent partner in all of this growth and relaxation of security is Bibi. Even Fayyad has said this to visiting American groups.

Both Fayyad and Bibi believe that the growth of a vibrant economy will lead to the development of better security for both sides, the creation of civil society, and the institutions needed to survive Fayyad. And both believe that ultimately the people of Gaza will be asked to choose: Do you want Hamas, Islam, and poverty with the hope of a world without Israel some day, or do you want a quality of life, free movement, and a political entity that has Israel as a partner?

A friend writes:

You might not have time to read the Travel section of the Sunday Times, but the story on page 13 of Sunday’s edition highlights a problem for the Palestinian Authority. The article makes clear that Ramallah, the PA’s effective capital, is a hip town with all kinds of exciting nightlife and restaurant choices. Hmm. Hardly squares with the beleaguered, impoverished, starving, besieged Palestinian-refugee narrative the Western media have been feeding us.

Salaam Fayyad, the PA prime minister, wants to encourage private-equity investments, but to do that you have to let investors know that there will be a return on capital. Suicide bombers and private equity don’t mix, whereas a dynamic social, cultural, economic climate do. So, who wins? The foreign-aid class represented by the UN or the economic-development group represented by Fayyad?  Fayyad wants to show the reality of a booming economy, while President Abbas (Fayyad’s boss, in principle) and Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator (whatever that means, given that there are no negotiations), want to show the Palestinians as beaten down by circumstances and beaten up by brutal Israeli troops.

Not mentioned in the Travel section Ramallah story or in Thomas Friedman’s column in the same Sunday paper on West Bank economic development is the name Benjamin Netanyahu. Not that the New York Times is about to give Bibi credit for anything, but the fact is Bibi campaigned for office in January 2009 on two main planks: addressing the Iranian threat and rebuilding the West Bank economy. It was Bibi who ordered more than 200 roadblocks/checkpoints to be removed, and it is Bibi who meets weekly with Palestinian and Israeli economic-development experts to see what red tape he can cut through to help the Palestinian Authority aid the rapid economic growth of the West Bank.

Give all of the credit to Fayyad, but his silent partner in all of this growth and relaxation of security is Bibi. Even Fayyad has said this to visiting American groups.

Both Fayyad and Bibi believe that the growth of a vibrant economy will lead to the development of better security for both sides, the creation of civil society, and the institutions needed to survive Fayyad. And both believe that ultimately the people of Gaza will be asked to choose: Do you want Hamas, Islam, and poverty with the hope of a world without Israel some day, or do you want a quality of life, free movement, and a political entity that has Israel as a partner?

Read Less

King’s Resolution — Where Are the Democrats?

Rep. Peter King has introduced his resolution on Israel, the “America Stands With Israel” Act. It is a model of clarity. The resolution begins by stating that there is an “armed conflict” between Hamas and Israel, that Hamas has launched 10,000 rockets into Israel and that it is smuggling in more weapons. It states that Hamas is a terrorist organization funded and directed by Iran “as a proxy to fight Israel.” It affirms that Israel has a right to self-defense and to impose a military blockade. It goes on to recite some information about the flotilla, including the fact that its main organizer was the IHH, which is tied to Hamas and al-Qaeda. It reminds us that Israel has allowed 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza each day.

The resolution then turns to the UN Human Rights Council, which includes such despotic regimes such as China, Egypt, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. It states that the Council passed a deeply flawed resolution condemning Israel for the flotilla and that it has passed 27 resolutions attacking Israel.

It calls on the administration to withdraw from the Council, to refuse to pay for any UN investigation of Israel, and to oppose any UN investigation of Israel.

Seems pretty straightforward. And yet all 37 co-sponsors at the time of this posting are Republicans. Do Democrats oppose these things? One imagines the Democrats are scrambling for cover. Indeed, a source on Capitol Hill today says that Rep. Howard Berman is working on a watered-down version, which would be far less objectionable to the administration (“softer on the administration, softer on the UN”). One wonders whether Berman is getting some J Street help in that regard. Isn’t that where you turn if you want cover for the administration when it’s doing something antithetical to the interests of Israel?

Rep. Peter King has introduced his resolution on Israel, the “America Stands With Israel” Act. It is a model of clarity. The resolution begins by stating that there is an “armed conflict” between Hamas and Israel, that Hamas has launched 10,000 rockets into Israel and that it is smuggling in more weapons. It states that Hamas is a terrorist organization funded and directed by Iran “as a proxy to fight Israel.” It affirms that Israel has a right to self-defense and to impose a military blockade. It goes on to recite some information about the flotilla, including the fact that its main organizer was the IHH, which is tied to Hamas and al-Qaeda. It reminds us that Israel has allowed 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza each day.

The resolution then turns to the UN Human Rights Council, which includes such despotic regimes such as China, Egypt, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. It states that the Council passed a deeply flawed resolution condemning Israel for the flotilla and that it has passed 27 resolutions attacking Israel.

It calls on the administration to withdraw from the Council, to refuse to pay for any UN investigation of Israel, and to oppose any UN investigation of Israel.

Seems pretty straightforward. And yet all 37 co-sponsors at the time of this posting are Republicans. Do Democrats oppose these things? One imagines the Democrats are scrambling for cover. Indeed, a source on Capitol Hill today says that Rep. Howard Berman is working on a watered-down version, which would be far less objectionable to the administration (“softer on the administration, softer on the UN”). One wonders whether Berman is getting some J Street help in that regard. Isn’t that where you turn if you want cover for the administration when it’s doing something antithetical to the interests of Israel?

Read Less

No One Cares About Gaza

You might think that with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Gaza lately, the Palestinian suffering would move people like no other cause in the world, but if so, you would be wrong. Few activists, journalists, or diplomats genuinely seem to care what those people are going through.

Consider this: Hamas, not Israel, refuses to allow donated food and medicine in. If it’s “collective punishment” when Israel restricts certain items, what should we call it when Hamas refuses all of the items? Few seem to have given it any thought. So far I haven’t found a single person indignant about the Israeli blockade who has said or written a word about Hamas refusing to allow donated goods into the territory. Even those who actually donated and delivered the items are quiet about it.

And consider what Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote at the Hudson New York website on Tuesday. He describes how the Hamas raid on several non-governmental and human-rights organization offices recently was largely ignored by the media, how Hamas banned municipal elections, how hundreds have been arrested for protesting its draconian rule, and how dozens of opposition leaders have been jailed or killed since the terrorist army seized power. “Under Hamas,” he writes, “the Gaza Strip is being transformed into a fundamentalist Islamic entity resembling the regimes of the Ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

And yet, for the most part, the only people who vigorously protest Hamas are Palestinians, Israelis, and Israel’s supporters in Western countries. Most “pro-Palestinian” activists in the Middle East and the West hardly say anything about the Taliban of the Eastern Mediterranean except when cheering them on at creepy rallies.

An extraordinary amount of time and energy has been spent in the last ten days denouncing Israel for its supposedly inhumane treatment of Gaza, but Hamas — under which Palestinians fare orders of magnitude worse — gets a pass from most of the people yelling at Israel. It’s not hard to figure out who and what all the fuss is really about. If Gaza weren’t at war with a half-Western Jewish country, Palestinians who suffer as a result would get no more attention than victims of the civil conflict in Yemen.

You might think that with all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Gaza lately, the Palestinian suffering would move people like no other cause in the world, but if so, you would be wrong. Few activists, journalists, or diplomats genuinely seem to care what those people are going through.

Consider this: Hamas, not Israel, refuses to allow donated food and medicine in. If it’s “collective punishment” when Israel restricts certain items, what should we call it when Hamas refuses all of the items? Few seem to have given it any thought. So far I haven’t found a single person indignant about the Israeli blockade who has said or written a word about Hamas refusing to allow donated goods into the territory. Even those who actually donated and delivered the items are quiet about it.

And consider what Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote at the Hudson New York website on Tuesday. He describes how the Hamas raid on several non-governmental and human-rights organization offices recently was largely ignored by the media, how Hamas banned municipal elections, how hundreds have been arrested for protesting its draconian rule, and how dozens of opposition leaders have been jailed or killed since the terrorist army seized power. “Under Hamas,” he writes, “the Gaza Strip is being transformed into a fundamentalist Islamic entity resembling the regimes of the Ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

And yet, for the most part, the only people who vigorously protest Hamas are Palestinians, Israelis, and Israel’s supporters in Western countries. Most “pro-Palestinian” activists in the Middle East and the West hardly say anything about the Taliban of the Eastern Mediterranean except when cheering them on at creepy rallies.

An extraordinary amount of time and energy has been spent in the last ten days denouncing Israel for its supposedly inhumane treatment of Gaza, but Hamas — under which Palestinians fare orders of magnitude worse — gets a pass from most of the people yelling at Israel. It’s not hard to figure out who and what all the fuss is really about. If Gaza weren’t at war with a half-Western Jewish country, Palestinians who suffer as a result would get no more attention than victims of the civil conflict in Yemen.

Read Less

Russia’s Not Going to Renege on a Deal

A reader sends this report:

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Moscow is not obliged to freeze a deal to deliver the S-300 missile defense system to Iran under the newly imposed UN sanctions. Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Thursday that the deal is not referenced in the fourth round of UN sanctions imposed against Tehran which mainly target financial and military sectors. He stopped short of dismissing an earlier report by the Interfax news agency, which cited a Russian arms industry source as saying that Moscow is planning to renege on aits unfulfilled contract to sell the S-300 system to Iran.

It seems critical to Putin that Russia maintains its credibility. (“Tehran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi cautioned Russia over the S-300 deal, stressing that the country would lose ‘all its credibility as a reliable arms supplier’ if it failed to deliver the defense system.”) After all, if you show yourself to be unreliable, turn your back on allies, say one thing in public and another in private, what have you got?

A reader sends this report:

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Moscow is not obliged to freeze a deal to deliver the S-300 missile defense system to Iran under the newly imposed UN sanctions. Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Thursday that the deal is not referenced in the fourth round of UN sanctions imposed against Tehran which mainly target financial and military sectors. He stopped short of dismissing an earlier report by the Interfax news agency, which cited a Russian arms industry source as saying that Moscow is planning to renege on aits unfulfilled contract to sell the S-300 system to Iran.

It seems critical to Putin that Russia maintains its credibility. (“Tehran’s Ambassador to Moscow Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi cautioned Russia over the S-300 deal, stressing that the country would lose ‘all its credibility as a reliable arms supplier’ if it failed to deliver the defense system.”) After all, if you show yourself to be unreliable, turn your back on allies, say one thing in public and another in private, what have you got?

Read Less

RE: Giving Hamas a Helping Hand

Michael Rubin does the math:

1. There have been eight terrorist attacks against Israel since Obama’s inauguration, so Obama is paying President Abbas a modest sum of $50 million per attack.

2. The were 2,048 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel in 2008, but let’s not hold that against President Obama since, obviously, to channel our commander-in-chief, that was President Bush’s fault. And during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli incursion into Gaza from January 1–18, 406 rockets were fired into Israel. Again, let’s not count these against Obama; he hadn’t taken his oath of office yet. Since Hamas’s third ceasefire, however, there have been 370 missiles fired from Gaza into Israel. So, if we want to discount terrorist attacks and just count missile attacks, then President Obama is rewarding Hamas to the tune of $1,080,000 for every rocket or mortar launched.

Well, we’ve come to expect this from Obama. Carrots are for foes; sticks are for friends. I await the explanation from Dennis Ross as to why this all makes perfect sense.

Michael Rubin does the math:

1. There have been eight terrorist attacks against Israel since Obama’s inauguration, so Obama is paying President Abbas a modest sum of $50 million per attack.

2. The were 2,048 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel in 2008, but let’s not hold that against President Obama since, obviously, to channel our commander-in-chief, that was President Bush’s fault. And during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli incursion into Gaza from January 1–18, 406 rockets were fired into Israel. Again, let’s not count these against Obama; he hadn’t taken his oath of office yet. Since Hamas’s third ceasefire, however, there have been 370 missiles fired from Gaza into Israel. So, if we want to discount terrorist attacks and just count missile attacks, then President Obama is rewarding Hamas to the tune of $1,080,000 for every rocket or mortar launched.

Well, we’ve come to expect this from Obama. Carrots are for foes; sticks are for friends. I await the explanation from Dennis Ross as to why this all makes perfect sense.

Read Less

Is Obama Trying to Force BP Into Bankruptcy?

Yesterday, I wondered whether Obama and the Democrats — by bullying BP into cancelling its dividend — were trying to sink BP’s stock. Well, if so, they have upped the ante and are succeeding This report  tells us:

The Obama Administration ratcheted up its demands on Wednesday that BP PLC cover all costs stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including millions of dollars in salaries of oil-industry workers laid off because of the federal moratorium on deep-water drilling. The sudden increase in BP’s potential liabilities — along with growing evidence that even more oil than expected is gushing from BP’s crippled well — helped send BP’s shares plummeting almost 16% in New York, to $29.20. The stock has lost close to half its value, more than $82 billion, in the seven weeks since the spill started.

Whoa, the Obama team wants BP to pay for the administration’s dopey idea to halt deep-water drilling? Yup. Is this legal? No:

Several legal experts said they couldn’t think of any law or precedent that would allow the U.S. to try to recover damages from BP on behalf of rig workers thrown out of work by a government moratorium on deep offshore drilling. “I’m not aware of anything out there that would allow (President Obama) to latch onto a legal remedy on behalf of the out-of-work workers,” said Benjamin A. Escobar Jr., a Houston-based labor and employment attorney for Beirne Maynard & Parsons. “I think he’s in for a real court fight on these issues.”

Keep in mind that it is the government’s heavy hand that is primarily responsible for sinking BP’s stock — and potentially the livelihood of employees and shareholders:

“There is no objective justification for this share price movement. BP faces this situation as a strong company,” said BP chief executive Tony Hayward in an interview at the company’s Houston crisis center. “We have significant capacity and flexibility in dealing with the cost of responding to the incident, the environmental remediation and the payment of legitimate claims.”

Aside from the complete absence of legal authority, it’s rather nervy — even for this president — to ask BP to pay for his mistakes. What’s next — fining employers for laying off workers despite his non-stimulus plan? While he lectures students about not passing the buck, he has no peer when it comes to buck passing. He should take some of the advice he doled out to high-school graduates:

Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility not just for your successes, but for your failures as well. … It’s the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame.

As for the bullying of business, this is simply the natural extension of the administration’s abject lawlessness — stomping on the rights of car-company bond holders, snatching bonuses away from AIG executives, pushing for mortgage cram-downs — which views contracts and statutes as mere annoyances. This is what comes from electing people with no private-sector experience and no understanding that the rule of law is central to our economic prosperity.

Yesterday, I wondered whether Obama and the Democrats — by bullying BP into cancelling its dividend — were trying to sink BP’s stock. Well, if so, they have upped the ante and are succeeding This report  tells us:

The Obama Administration ratcheted up its demands on Wednesday that BP PLC cover all costs stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including millions of dollars in salaries of oil-industry workers laid off because of the federal moratorium on deep-water drilling. The sudden increase in BP’s potential liabilities — along with growing evidence that even more oil than expected is gushing from BP’s crippled well — helped send BP’s shares plummeting almost 16% in New York, to $29.20. The stock has lost close to half its value, more than $82 billion, in the seven weeks since the spill started.

Whoa, the Obama team wants BP to pay for the administration’s dopey idea to halt deep-water drilling? Yup. Is this legal? No:

Several legal experts said they couldn’t think of any law or precedent that would allow the U.S. to try to recover damages from BP on behalf of rig workers thrown out of work by a government moratorium on deep offshore drilling. “I’m not aware of anything out there that would allow (President Obama) to latch onto a legal remedy on behalf of the out-of-work workers,” said Benjamin A. Escobar Jr., a Houston-based labor and employment attorney for Beirne Maynard & Parsons. “I think he’s in for a real court fight on these issues.”

Keep in mind that it is the government’s heavy hand that is primarily responsible for sinking BP’s stock — and potentially the livelihood of employees and shareholders:

“There is no objective justification for this share price movement. BP faces this situation as a strong company,” said BP chief executive Tony Hayward in an interview at the company’s Houston crisis center. “We have significant capacity and flexibility in dealing with the cost of responding to the incident, the environmental remediation and the payment of legitimate claims.”

Aside from the complete absence of legal authority, it’s rather nervy — even for this president — to ask BP to pay for his mistakes. What’s next — fining employers for laying off workers despite his non-stimulus plan? While he lectures students about not passing the buck, he has no peer when it comes to buck passing. He should take some of the advice he doled out to high-school graduates:

Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility not just for your successes, but for your failures as well. … It’s the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame.

As for the bullying of business, this is simply the natural extension of the administration’s abject lawlessness — stomping on the rights of car-company bond holders, snatching bonuses away from AIG executives, pushing for mortgage cram-downs — which views contracts and statutes as mere annoyances. This is what comes from electing people with no private-sector experience and no understanding that the rule of law is central to our economic prosperity.

Read Less

The Best J Street Can Do?

You will recall this magnificent performance by Alan Dershowitz in chewing out Hadar Susskind of J Street. Susskind has now penned a perfectly absurd letter to the editor in response to Charles Krauthammer’s column of last week (my vote for  the best single column of the year, if not the decade). Susskind writes that, yes, Israel has a right to enforce the blockade (wow! but I guess not with force), but the blockade doesn’t make Israel more secure. Susskind’s evidence for the idea that preventing weapons from reaching Hamas doesn’t make Israel any safer? Judge for yourself:

[J]ust look at the results of the blockade. Hamas remains in power, and its stature in Gaza and its weapons capabilities have increased over the past three years. Meanwhile, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants in 2006, remains in captivity; Gazan civilians continue to suffer; and Israel’s international standing is rapidly deteriorating. Simply put, Israel is not served by the blockade — Hamas is.

Huh? Is he actually arguing that Hamas would fall from power if the blockade were lifted? Is he saying that the lifting of the blockade would not be a triumph for Hamas? And to test this proposition, Susskind is more than willing to risk Israeli lives. He then concludes with the left’s favorite non sequitur:

The Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla highlights not just why the United States needs a new approach to Gaza, but also why President Obama must act urgently to turn this crisis into an opportunity — boldly leading the way to a two-state solution that protects Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland and prevents further bloodshed.

Giving into Hamas is supposed to promote peace in our time, after 60 years of Palestinian rejectionism, and when the more “reasonable” Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is struggling to maintain his legitimacy. How? Funny, the withdrawal from Gaza didn’t promote peace; instead it led to war.

It is this sort of evidence-free rhetoric (which, gosh, exactly mirrors the Hamas line) that reminds us that regardless of Israel’s actions, the solution is the same: roll back Israel’s defenses and badger the Jewish state to accept a “peace” agreement that is a recipe for its dismemberment. Remember that the Gaza 54 letter (a pet J Street project signed by, among others, Joe Sestak) called for a rollback of the Gaza blockade long before the Turks and the terrorists came up with the flotilla gambit.

Whether the argument comes from the UN or J Street or Peter Beinart (who really needs to get past the whining and hurt feelings every time he is bested in a debate), the patter is the same. Israel’s right to self-defense exists in theory but never in practice: any risk to Israel is acceptable while any bruising of Palestinian feelings is unacceptable. And Israel has no right to manage its own national security. Susskind is not unique, only one of the more inept propagandists for this tripe.

You will recall this magnificent performance by Alan Dershowitz in chewing out Hadar Susskind of J Street. Susskind has now penned a perfectly absurd letter to the editor in response to Charles Krauthammer’s column of last week (my vote for  the best single column of the year, if not the decade). Susskind writes that, yes, Israel has a right to enforce the blockade (wow! but I guess not with force), but the blockade doesn’t make Israel more secure. Susskind’s evidence for the idea that preventing weapons from reaching Hamas doesn’t make Israel any safer? Judge for yourself:

[J]ust look at the results of the blockade. Hamas remains in power, and its stature in Gaza and its weapons capabilities have increased over the past three years. Meanwhile, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by Palestinian militants in 2006, remains in captivity; Gazan civilians continue to suffer; and Israel’s international standing is rapidly deteriorating. Simply put, Israel is not served by the blockade — Hamas is.

Huh? Is he actually arguing that Hamas would fall from power if the blockade were lifted? Is he saying that the lifting of the blockade would not be a triumph for Hamas? And to test this proposition, Susskind is more than willing to risk Israeli lives. He then concludes with the left’s favorite non sequitur:

The Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla highlights not just why the United States needs a new approach to Gaza, but also why President Obama must act urgently to turn this crisis into an opportunity — boldly leading the way to a two-state solution that protects Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland and prevents further bloodshed.

Giving into Hamas is supposed to promote peace in our time, after 60 years of Palestinian rejectionism, and when the more “reasonable” Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is struggling to maintain his legitimacy. How? Funny, the withdrawal from Gaza didn’t promote peace; instead it led to war.

It is this sort of evidence-free rhetoric (which, gosh, exactly mirrors the Hamas line) that reminds us that regardless of Israel’s actions, the solution is the same: roll back Israel’s defenses and badger the Jewish state to accept a “peace” agreement that is a recipe for its dismemberment. Remember that the Gaza 54 letter (a pet J Street project signed by, among others, Joe Sestak) called for a rollback of the Gaza blockade long before the Turks and the terrorists came up with the flotilla gambit.

Whether the argument comes from the UN or J Street or Peter Beinart (who really needs to get past the whining and hurt feelings every time he is bested in a debate), the patter is the same. Israel’s right to self-defense exists in theory but never in practice: any risk to Israel is acceptable while any bruising of Palestinian feelings is unacceptable. And Israel has no right to manage its own national security. Susskind is not unique, only one of the more inept propagandists for this tripe.

Read Less

Giving Hamas a Helping Hand

The inanity of Obama’s Middle East diplomacy was on full display yesterday. Obama has a knack for getting both the macro and the micro wrong.

On the macro, we now are pressuring Israel to relax the Gaza blockade, thereby giving up a grand-slam home run to the team from Hamas — the ones responsible for the Gaza war and the oppression of the Palestinians under its thumb. This, of course, also redounds to the benefit of their state sponsors, the mullahs, who will take a break from whooping it up over the pathetic UN sanctions in order to gloat about this triumph.

Moreover, this also undercuts Obama’s Fatah clients, whom he has worked so strenuously to bolster and shield from blame for their own rejectionism and incitement. As Jonathan pointed out, Obama now has roped Mahmoud Abbas into cheerleading for a Gaza/Hamas diplomatic coup (i.e., relaxation of the blockade) despite the obvious ill effects it will have on Abbas’s standing. As a former U.S. official explains, “Today the whole Arab world, the U.S. and the EU are talking about poor Gazans and the mean blockade, so what choice does he have? Whatever his private view he has to join the chorus.” After all you can’t be more reasonable than Obama and the UN and still retain your standing with the Palestinians. But not to worry:

There is concern in the US, as well as among Israelis and in the PA government, that any steps taken to ease conditions in Gaza in the wake of the deadly Israeli raid to stop a flotilla from breaking the blockade there would benefit Hamas.

Well, yeah. But on the Obama team trudges, wreaking havoc wherever the “smart” diplomats venture.

Then there is the micro problem. It’s actually not that micro — it’s $400M, which is the amount of the U.S. taxpayers’ money Obama is shoveling over to Gaza. A keen observer asks, “Will a Congress spooked by an increasingly disgusted mob of anti-incumbent voters approve it? Probably, because Mr. Obama and Nancy Pelosi still own enough Members—and after all, it’s ‘humanitarian.'” Aside from the sheer amount, there is reason to wretch over the particulars:

$75 million “to support the Palestinian Authority’s work to improve infrastructure throughout the West Bank and Gaza.” Yeah, see above: Palestinian Authority not administering an outhouse in Gaza, let alone “infrastructure.” “$10 million in USAID-funded activities aimed at enhancing the Palestinian private sector’s competitiveness.” Which speaks for itself and says nothing. $14.5 million will go for “USAID projects for school rehabilitation, small-scale agriculture, the repair of a hospital facility and other community infrastructure in Gaza.” Remember those thriving greenhouses the Israelis left behind in Gaza after disengagement that the Arabs chose to destroy?

You get the idea — but read the rest to appreciate the full absurdity of the entire package “for the wholly undeserving.”

Obama’s efforts in ways big and bigger are destructive to our own credibility, to the security of our allies, to our efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and to the American people, who have had far too much of their hard-earned money confiscated for idiotic purposes under this administration. But few match this one.

The inanity of Obama’s Middle East diplomacy was on full display yesterday. Obama has a knack for getting both the macro and the micro wrong.

On the macro, we now are pressuring Israel to relax the Gaza blockade, thereby giving up a grand-slam home run to the team from Hamas — the ones responsible for the Gaza war and the oppression of the Palestinians under its thumb. This, of course, also redounds to the benefit of their state sponsors, the mullahs, who will take a break from whooping it up over the pathetic UN sanctions in order to gloat about this triumph.

Moreover, this also undercuts Obama’s Fatah clients, whom he has worked so strenuously to bolster and shield from blame for their own rejectionism and incitement. As Jonathan pointed out, Obama now has roped Mahmoud Abbas into cheerleading for a Gaza/Hamas diplomatic coup (i.e., relaxation of the blockade) despite the obvious ill effects it will have on Abbas’s standing. As a former U.S. official explains, “Today the whole Arab world, the U.S. and the EU are talking about poor Gazans and the mean blockade, so what choice does he have? Whatever his private view he has to join the chorus.” After all you can’t be more reasonable than Obama and the UN and still retain your standing with the Palestinians. But not to worry:

There is concern in the US, as well as among Israelis and in the PA government, that any steps taken to ease conditions in Gaza in the wake of the deadly Israeli raid to stop a flotilla from breaking the blockade there would benefit Hamas.

Well, yeah. But on the Obama team trudges, wreaking havoc wherever the “smart” diplomats venture.

Then there is the micro problem. It’s actually not that micro — it’s $400M, which is the amount of the U.S. taxpayers’ money Obama is shoveling over to Gaza. A keen observer asks, “Will a Congress spooked by an increasingly disgusted mob of anti-incumbent voters approve it? Probably, because Mr. Obama and Nancy Pelosi still own enough Members—and after all, it’s ‘humanitarian.'” Aside from the sheer amount, there is reason to wretch over the particulars:

$75 million “to support the Palestinian Authority’s work to improve infrastructure throughout the West Bank and Gaza.” Yeah, see above: Palestinian Authority not administering an outhouse in Gaza, let alone “infrastructure.” “$10 million in USAID-funded activities aimed at enhancing the Palestinian private sector’s competitiveness.” Which speaks for itself and says nothing. $14.5 million will go for “USAID projects for school rehabilitation, small-scale agriculture, the repair of a hospital facility and other community infrastructure in Gaza.” Remember those thriving greenhouses the Israelis left behind in Gaza after disengagement that the Arabs chose to destroy?

You get the idea — but read the rest to appreciate the full absurdity of the entire package “for the wholly undeserving.”

Obama’s efforts in ways big and bigger are destructive to our own credibility, to the security of our allies, to our efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, and to the American people, who have had far too much of their hard-earned money confiscated for idiotic purposes under this administration. But few match this one.

Read Less

Middle East Realists vs. Middle East Fabulists

There is a clear division not only between politicians but also Middle East hands on the UN sanctions. The Washington Post sets the table. On one side is the reality-based community (not to be confused with “realists,” who aren’t at all):

“It is ironic that Bush had a far better record at the U.N. than Obama, as there was a unanimous UNSC vote under Bush, and Obama has lost it,” said Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under Bush. He said the reason is not that the Iranians’ behavior has improved, because “the clock keeps ticking, and Iran gets closer and closer to a bomb.” The reason, Abrams said, “is simply that American weakness has created a vacuum, and other states are trying to step into it.”

[John] Bolton argues that the administration’s willingness to operate within the U.N. system left it at a negotiating disadvantage. “Everyone believes the Obama administration is joined at the hip to the council, which is a position of negotiating weakness,” he said. “Weakness produces today’s result.”

(In the category of “elections have consequences,” imagine if a Republican were in the White House taking advice from these two.)

And then there is the fabulist Martin Indyk:

But Martin Indyk, vice president for foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, said that the no votes were “a product of the shifting templates in international affairs that is in part a result of Bush’s policies that squandered American influence when it was at its height, allowing for regional powers to emerge with greater ambitions and independence.”

Indyk said that the fact that Russia and China — two of the five permanent Security Council members with veto power — have yet again joined in new sanctions “should serve to underscore the Obama administration’s considerable achievement in maintaining P5 consensus in a new era in which the United States can no longer dictate outcomes.”

I don’t know what the heck he is talking about. Obama is in office two years and has produced an incoherent and ineffective Iran policy, but the no votes from two nations (whose drift into Iran’s orbit has been accelerated by this administration) are George W. Bush’s fault. Even for Indyk this is lame. But you have to hand it to him: he simultaneously touts the loophole-ridden sanctions as a great achievement and then concedes that America is in retreat (“the United States can no longer dictate outcomes”). For those who root for Hillary Clinton’s departure, or George Mitchell’s, it is useful to remember that those who would fill the spots are going to sound like Indyk and not Abrams or Bolton.

Made obvious by Indyk’s gobbledygook, there really is no credible defense for Obama’s diplomatic malpractice. Kori Schake, writing in Foreign Policy, sums up:

he Obama administration is doing its best to put a good face on a major disappointment: After sixteen months’ effort, they have succeeded in delivering less international support than did the Bush administration for a problem everyone agrees is growing rapidly worse. … Sanctions aren’t a strategy, they’re a tool for achieving the strategic objective of preventing Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state. We’re over-reliant on sanctions to deliver that weighty objective and need to be thinking much more creatively about how to impose costs on the Iranian government — internationally and domestically — for their choices.

In the absence of anyone in the administration willing to press this point with Obama, we are headed for a nightmarish choice. We will either have a war or see a nuclear-armed Iran. Either way it will be the greatest foreign-policy disaster since, well, maybe ever. The tragedy is that we had the chance to follow a different strategy and avoid the Hobson’s choice.

There is a clear division not only between politicians but also Middle East hands on the UN sanctions. The Washington Post sets the table. On one side is the reality-based community (not to be confused with “realists,” who aren’t at all):

“It is ironic that Bush had a far better record at the U.N. than Obama, as there was a unanimous UNSC vote under Bush, and Obama has lost it,” said Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under Bush. He said the reason is not that the Iranians’ behavior has improved, because “the clock keeps ticking, and Iran gets closer and closer to a bomb.” The reason, Abrams said, “is simply that American weakness has created a vacuum, and other states are trying to step into it.”

[John] Bolton argues that the administration’s willingness to operate within the U.N. system left it at a negotiating disadvantage. “Everyone believes the Obama administration is joined at the hip to the council, which is a position of negotiating weakness,” he said. “Weakness produces today’s result.”

(In the category of “elections have consequences,” imagine if a Republican were in the White House taking advice from these two.)

And then there is the fabulist Martin Indyk:

But Martin Indyk, vice president for foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, said that the no votes were “a product of the shifting templates in international affairs that is in part a result of Bush’s policies that squandered American influence when it was at its height, allowing for regional powers to emerge with greater ambitions and independence.”

Indyk said that the fact that Russia and China — two of the five permanent Security Council members with veto power — have yet again joined in new sanctions “should serve to underscore the Obama administration’s considerable achievement in maintaining P5 consensus in a new era in which the United States can no longer dictate outcomes.”

I don’t know what the heck he is talking about. Obama is in office two years and has produced an incoherent and ineffective Iran policy, but the no votes from two nations (whose drift into Iran’s orbit has been accelerated by this administration) are George W. Bush’s fault. Even for Indyk this is lame. But you have to hand it to him: he simultaneously touts the loophole-ridden sanctions as a great achievement and then concedes that America is in retreat (“the United States can no longer dictate outcomes”). For those who root for Hillary Clinton’s departure, or George Mitchell’s, it is useful to remember that those who would fill the spots are going to sound like Indyk and not Abrams or Bolton.

Made obvious by Indyk’s gobbledygook, there really is no credible defense for Obama’s diplomatic malpractice. Kori Schake, writing in Foreign Policy, sums up:

he Obama administration is doing its best to put a good face on a major disappointment: After sixteen months’ effort, they have succeeded in delivering less international support than did the Bush administration for a problem everyone agrees is growing rapidly worse. … Sanctions aren’t a strategy, they’re a tool for achieving the strategic objective of preventing Iran becoming a nuclear weapons state. We’re over-reliant on sanctions to deliver that weighty objective and need to be thinking much more creatively about how to impose costs on the Iranian government — internationally and domestically — for their choices.

In the absence of anyone in the administration willing to press this point with Obama, we are headed for a nightmarish choice. We will either have a war or see a nuclear-armed Iran. Either way it will be the greatest foreign-policy disaster since, well, maybe ever. The tragedy is that we had the chance to follow a different strategy and avoid the Hobson’s choice.

Read Less

Lindsey Graham Discovers Cap-and-Trade Is a Bad Idea

Lindsey Graham has had an encounter with reality — whether it is political or scientific is uncertain. But for whatever reason, he is starting to make sense:

How close is the Senate to a bipartisan climate deal? Here’s the Democrats’ best hope for compromise — Lindsey Graham, at a press conference today: “The science about global warming has changed. … I think the science is in question. … I think they’ve oversold the stuff.”

Instead of the cap-and-trade monstrosity he had been hawking, he has signed on to a bill by Sen. Richard Lugar:

Lugar’s bill focuses on cutting foreign oil dependence mostly through vehicle fuel efficiency programs that extend current federal standards but with various waiver options. Long-term, predictable increases in fuel efficiency standards, Lugar says, will encourage innovative technologies and lead to American job growth. The bill calls for expanding nuclear power by increasing federal loan guarantees, retiring aging coal plants that don’t comply with environmental regulations, and requiring federal buildings to exceed national standards when possible, thereby increasing taxpayer savings. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

If parts of that don’t sound all that great, don’t worry. It’s not going anywhere. But the better news is that no bill is going to pass. As for the original bill, Graham now sounds almost reasonable: “I do buy into the idea that carbon emissions are not good for the planet as a whole but they’re not going to get 60 votes to save the polar bears.” And by the way, the polar bears are doing just swell.

Lindsey Graham has had an encounter with reality — whether it is political or scientific is uncertain. But for whatever reason, he is starting to make sense:

How close is the Senate to a bipartisan climate deal? Here’s the Democrats’ best hope for compromise — Lindsey Graham, at a press conference today: “The science about global warming has changed. … I think the science is in question. … I think they’ve oversold the stuff.”

Instead of the cap-and-trade monstrosity he had been hawking, he has signed on to a bill by Sen. Richard Lugar:

Lugar’s bill focuses on cutting foreign oil dependence mostly through vehicle fuel efficiency programs that extend current federal standards but with various waiver options. Long-term, predictable increases in fuel efficiency standards, Lugar says, will encourage innovative technologies and lead to American job growth. The bill calls for expanding nuclear power by increasing federal loan guarantees, retiring aging coal plants that don’t comply with environmental regulations, and requiring federal buildings to exceed national standards when possible, thereby increasing taxpayer savings. It calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

If parts of that don’t sound all that great, don’t worry. It’s not going anywhere. But the better news is that no bill is going to pass. As for the original bill, Graham now sounds almost reasonable: “I do buy into the idea that carbon emissions are not good for the planet as a whole but they’re not going to get 60 votes to save the polar bears.” And by the way, the polar bears are doing just swell.

Read Less

Cornyn Stands Up for Israel

As Rep. Peter King is doing in the House today, Sen. John Cornyn is not meekly accepting Obama’s stance on the terrorist flotilla. He announces a resolution:

In recognition of the State of Israel as a strong and steadfast ally to the United States, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) today introduced a resolution to express the sense of the Senate that Israel has an undeniable right to self-defense and to condemn the recent destabilizing actions by terrorist operatives and extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara. …

Senator Cornyn’s resolution places these events in their historical and strategic context.  Since 2001, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations have fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, which killed at least 18 Israelis and wounded dozens more. Currently, approximately 860,000 Israeli civilians—more than 12 percent of Israel’s total population resides within range of the rockets fired from Gaza. In 2007, Israel put in place a legitimate and justified blockade of Gaza out of concern for the safety of its citizens, which has been effective in reducing the firing of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.

Senator Cornyn’s resolution expresses the sense of the Senate that Israel has an undeniable right to defend itself against any threat to its security. Senator Cornyn’s resolution also makes clear that recent criticism of Israel at the United Nations undermines Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, compromises its sovereignty, and helps legitimize Hamas.

As with UN sanctions, it’s time for elected officials and candidates to make a clear choice: follow Obama’s determination to let an international body skewer Israel, use the flotilla incident as a tool to bludgeon Israel into more concessions, avert our eyes from Turkey’s complicity — or protect Israel from the international jackals. You can’t do both.

As Rep. Peter King is doing in the House today, Sen. John Cornyn is not meekly accepting Obama’s stance on the terrorist flotilla. He announces a resolution:

In recognition of the State of Israel as a strong and steadfast ally to the United States, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) today introduced a resolution to express the sense of the Senate that Israel has an undeniable right to self-defense and to condemn the recent destabilizing actions by terrorist operatives and extremists aboard the Mavi Marmara. …

Senator Cornyn’s resolution places these events in their historical and strategic context.  Since 2001, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations have fired more than 10,000 rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel, which killed at least 18 Israelis and wounded dozens more. Currently, approximately 860,000 Israeli civilians—more than 12 percent of Israel’s total population resides within range of the rockets fired from Gaza. In 2007, Israel put in place a legitimate and justified blockade of Gaza out of concern for the safety of its citizens, which has been effective in reducing the firing of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.

Senator Cornyn’s resolution expresses the sense of the Senate that Israel has an undeniable right to defend itself against any threat to its security. Senator Cornyn’s resolution also makes clear that recent criticism of Israel at the United Nations undermines Israel’s inherent right to self-defense, compromises its sovereignty, and helps legitimize Hamas.

As with UN sanctions, it’s time for elected officials and candidates to make a clear choice: follow Obama’s determination to let an international body skewer Israel, use the flotilla incident as a tool to bludgeon Israel into more concessions, avert our eyes from Turkey’s complicity — or protect Israel from the international jackals. You can’t do both.

Read Less

RE: Reaction to UN Sanctions

There is a predictable split in reaction. Nancy Pelosi coos that the Congress stands with Obama and the UN. But does it? Minority Leader John Boehner issues a statement:

Today’s action by the United Nations Security Council is long overdue but unfortunately doesn’t go far enough. What’s most disappointing is that the President’s 16-month ‘engagement strategy’ on this issue has simply given the Iranians 16 more months to work on acquiring a nuclear capability, and this sanctions resolution does nothing to stop that. At the request of the Administration, Congress has repeatedly delayed mandatory bilateral sanctions legislation.  Any justification for delay is now at an end, and the Congress must act immediately.

Carly Fiorina declares that the sanctions are “no victory for peace” and rightly fingers Obama for allowing Russia to continue supporting the mullahs:

In order to get Russia and China on board, President Obama gutted the sanctions that were once promised to be “crippling” and later downgraded to “biting.” Today’s sanctions are so watered down that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, at a conference this week with the leader of Iran, vowed they would “not put Iran’s leadership or the Iranian people into difficulty.”

If Iran’s leadership is not put “into difficulty” by these sanctions, American interests and those of our allies will be. This is the fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Iran, yet Iran continues to work toward a nuclear weapon. Iran will also be allowed to continue arming itself — these sanctions include a loophole that will let Russia move forward with plans to sell Iran one of the world’s most sophisticated air defense systems, the S-300. Russia will also be allowed to continue building and delivering fuel to an Iranian nuclear reactor, even as the Obama administration moves toward a deal with Russia on nuclear cooperation that is now pending in Congress. And these sanctions do not target Iran’s imports of refined petroleum products or its access to international banking systems and capital markets, and it does not include a ban on dealings with Iran’s national air and shipping lines — the real pressure points on the Iranian regime.

The United States Congress can impose its own sanctions on Iran, real sanctions that would cause Iran’s leadership great difficulty. But Barbara Boxer and this Congress have so far refused to stand up to this administration and get serious about the threat from Iran.

This is a time for choosing, and to see Jewish “leaders” among the Obama enablers is a sorry spectacle. It is proof positive that Israel must rely on a new sort of alliance of American supporters — many leaders and members who are not Jewish — to defend the Jewish state. It certainly isn’t going to come from mainstream Jewish groups or the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself).

There is a predictable split in reaction. Nancy Pelosi coos that the Congress stands with Obama and the UN. But does it? Minority Leader John Boehner issues a statement:

Today’s action by the United Nations Security Council is long overdue but unfortunately doesn’t go far enough. What’s most disappointing is that the President’s 16-month ‘engagement strategy’ on this issue has simply given the Iranians 16 more months to work on acquiring a nuclear capability, and this sanctions resolution does nothing to stop that. At the request of the Administration, Congress has repeatedly delayed mandatory bilateral sanctions legislation.  Any justification for delay is now at an end, and the Congress must act immediately.

Carly Fiorina declares that the sanctions are “no victory for peace” and rightly fingers Obama for allowing Russia to continue supporting the mullahs:

In order to get Russia and China on board, President Obama gutted the sanctions that were once promised to be “crippling” and later downgraded to “biting.” Today’s sanctions are so watered down that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, at a conference this week with the leader of Iran, vowed they would “not put Iran’s leadership or the Iranian people into difficulty.”

If Iran’s leadership is not put “into difficulty” by these sanctions, American interests and those of our allies will be. This is the fourth round of U.N. sanctions on Iran, yet Iran continues to work toward a nuclear weapon. Iran will also be allowed to continue arming itself — these sanctions include a loophole that will let Russia move forward with plans to sell Iran one of the world’s most sophisticated air defense systems, the S-300. Russia will also be allowed to continue building and delivering fuel to an Iranian nuclear reactor, even as the Obama administration moves toward a deal with Russia on nuclear cooperation that is now pending in Congress. And these sanctions do not target Iran’s imports of refined petroleum products or its access to international banking systems and capital markets, and it does not include a ban on dealings with Iran’s national air and shipping lines — the real pressure points on the Iranian regime.

The United States Congress can impose its own sanctions on Iran, real sanctions that would cause Iran’s leadership great difficulty. But Barbara Boxer and this Congress have so far refused to stand up to this administration and get serious about the threat from Iran.

This is a time for choosing, and to see Jewish “leaders” among the Obama enablers is a sorry spectacle. It is proof positive that Israel must rely on a new sort of alliance of American supporters — many leaders and members who are not Jewish — to defend the Jewish state. It certainly isn’t going to come from mainstream Jewish groups or the Democratic Party (but I repeat myself).

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Not any doubt where Obama’s priorities lie. And thankfully, not everyone is confused as to who’s responsible for the flotilla incident. “Turkey sends a thugs bunch of Jew-baiting Al-Qaeda friendly street-fighters on a floating lynch party and the one party chided by name is … Israel. Well, those pesky facts aren’t too hard to pin down Mr. President–the folks you’ve pinned your peace hopes on are laughing in your face and rolling you like a duck pin.”

Not a good sign when Iran’s assessment is saner than Obama’s: “Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said resolutions such as the one passed by the U.N. Security Council today ‘have no value … it is like a used handkerchief that should be thrown in the waste bin.'”

Not holding my breath: “The main issues inside the conference still include whether and how to meet the Obama administration’s demand for an exemption from new sanctions for countries that are deemed to be ‘cooperating’ with U.S. efforts. Republican lawmakers worry that the White House will use that to broadly exempt some of Iran closest business partners, such as Russia and China. ‘It is clear the president’s policy has failed. It is now time for the Congress to approve the Iran sanctions bill currently in conference committee, without watering it down or plugging it full of loopholes, and then the president should actually use it,’ said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-AZ.”

Not even her Washington Post colleagues can stomach Katrina vanden Heuvel’s “Bush is a Nazi” rant: “Mengele and his cohorts performed grotesque operations that left his victims with permanent physical, emotional and psychological scars — if they were lucky enough to survive. Most did not. Sometimes death was the objective; he would at times kill his ‘patients’ so that he could get right to the business of dissecting the body. This is monstrous. This is evil incarnate. This is not what the Bush administration did.” Why would the Post editors allow someone who can’t grasp this to write for them? (Really, a single Nation is one too many. Her role in the persecution of a Soviet dissident was covered by COMMENTARY in June 1988.)

Not a day on which this headline is inapt: “Beinart Gets It Wrong Again.” Hard to believe he knows even less about U.S. politics than he does Israeli politics, isn’t it?

Not every Democrat has lost his moral compass: “A member of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s staff, himself a former major and judge advocate in the U.S. Marines, is calling Blumenthal a liar and disgrace to the Marine Corps for representing himself repeatedly as having served in Vietnam.”

Not a friend in sight: “As Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) pivots from her surprise primary victory on Tuesday night to her general election run against Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark), she finds herself deserted both by traditional allies and outside groups that helped her win the nomination.” ( h/t Ben Smith)

Not going to waste time or money on her: “It’s nice for Blanche Lincoln that she won the runoff in Arkansas last night but I hope that no groups that care about getting Democratic Senators elected spend another dollar in the state this year. That doesn’t have anything to do with her ideology — judging her worthwhileness there is not part of my job as a pollster — but there are just a boatload of races where Democrats have a better chance to win this fall and could use their resources more wisely.”

Not winning support: “Though the vast majority of voters remain confident that Elena Kagan will be confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Supreme Court, the number who oppose her confirmation has risen to its highest level to date. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows 33% think Kagan should be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. But 41% do not think she should be confirmed.”

Not a class act: “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday there have been no second thoughts over President Obama’s coarse language directed at oil giant BP earlier in the week. ‘No, I have not heard any regrets about the language,’ Gibbs told reporters in his daily White House briefing.”

Not only Andrew Sullivan is obsessed with Sarah Palin’s breasts.

Not rallying around this character: “Today, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler asked Alvin Greene to withdraw from the race for US Senate. Greene, a resident of Manning S.C., was the apparent winner of the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate in yesterday’s primary. Since the election, the Associated Press has revealed that Greene was recently charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity after showing obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student.”

Not any doubt where Obama’s priorities lie. And thankfully, not everyone is confused as to who’s responsible for the flotilla incident. “Turkey sends a thugs bunch of Jew-baiting Al-Qaeda friendly street-fighters on a floating lynch party and the one party chided by name is … Israel. Well, those pesky facts aren’t too hard to pin down Mr. President–the folks you’ve pinned your peace hopes on are laughing in your face and rolling you like a duck pin.”

Not a good sign when Iran’s assessment is saner than Obama’s: “Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said resolutions such as the one passed by the U.N. Security Council today ‘have no value … it is like a used handkerchief that should be thrown in the waste bin.'”

Not holding my breath: “The main issues inside the conference still include whether and how to meet the Obama administration’s demand for an exemption from new sanctions for countries that are deemed to be ‘cooperating’ with U.S. efforts. Republican lawmakers worry that the White House will use that to broadly exempt some of Iran closest business partners, such as Russia and China. ‘It is clear the president’s policy has failed. It is now time for the Congress to approve the Iran sanctions bill currently in conference committee, without watering it down or plugging it full of loopholes, and then the president should actually use it,’ said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-AZ.”

Not even her Washington Post colleagues can stomach Katrina vanden Heuvel’s “Bush is a Nazi” rant: “Mengele and his cohorts performed grotesque operations that left his victims with permanent physical, emotional and psychological scars — if they were lucky enough to survive. Most did not. Sometimes death was the objective; he would at times kill his ‘patients’ so that he could get right to the business of dissecting the body. This is monstrous. This is evil incarnate. This is not what the Bush administration did.” Why would the Post editors allow someone who can’t grasp this to write for them? (Really, a single Nation is one too many. Her role in the persecution of a Soviet dissident was covered by COMMENTARY in June 1988.)

Not a day on which this headline is inapt: “Beinart Gets It Wrong Again.” Hard to believe he knows even less about U.S. politics than he does Israeli politics, isn’t it?

Not every Democrat has lost his moral compass: “A member of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s staff, himself a former major and judge advocate in the U.S. Marines, is calling Blumenthal a liar and disgrace to the Marine Corps for representing himself repeatedly as having served in Vietnam.”

Not a friend in sight: “As Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) pivots from her surprise primary victory on Tuesday night to her general election run against Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark), she finds herself deserted both by traditional allies and outside groups that helped her win the nomination.” ( h/t Ben Smith)

Not going to waste time or money on her: “It’s nice for Blanche Lincoln that she won the runoff in Arkansas last night but I hope that no groups that care about getting Democratic Senators elected spend another dollar in the state this year. That doesn’t have anything to do with her ideology — judging her worthwhileness there is not part of my job as a pollster — but there are just a boatload of races where Democrats have a better chance to win this fall and could use their resources more wisely.”

Not winning support: “Though the vast majority of voters remain confident that Elena Kagan will be confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Supreme Court, the number who oppose her confirmation has risen to its highest level to date. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows 33% think Kagan should be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. But 41% do not think she should be confirmed.”

Not a class act: “White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday there have been no second thoughts over President Obama’s coarse language directed at oil giant BP earlier in the week. ‘No, I have not heard any regrets about the language,’ Gibbs told reporters in his daily White House briefing.”

Not only Andrew Sullivan is obsessed with Sarah Palin’s breasts.

Not rallying around this character: “Today, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler asked Alvin Greene to withdraw from the race for US Senate. Greene, a resident of Manning S.C., was the apparent winner of the Democratic Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate in yesterday’s primary. Since the election, the Associated Press has revealed that Greene was recently charged with disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity after showing obscene photos to a University of South Carolina student.”

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.