Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 12, 2010

An Iranian Voice Worth Respecting

Today, one year after Iran’s fraudulent presidential election, an important statement comes from a uniquely moving source.  Caspian Makan was the fiance of Neda Agha-Soltan, the innocent woman shot and killed by Basij forces during the protests that followed the  election farce. He has since escaped Iran and moved to Canada. Where, of all places, is he spending the first anniversary of the June 12 elections? Israel.

Fox News’s Rina Ninan spoke with Makan in Jerusalem and asked why he was there. His answer provides a sensational rebuke to those who argue that Israel is an increasingly aggressive regional antagonist that must be curbed by the forces of moderation.

The Iranian government created a virtual enemy called Israel. Since the beginning of  the 1979 Revolution, every time the people of Iran think about a revolution, the current regime starts mentioning Israel as the enemy to divert their attention, and they tell the people, hey, we’re defending you against Israel.

With this, Makan exposes all the Western apologists who cite Iran’s”understandable concern” about Israel’s arsenal.  Ninan then asked what advice he had for Barack Obama in dealing with Tehran. His response:

President Obama has repeated his message that he is ready to negotiate directly with the Iranian leadership.  How can you negotiate with a dictatorship? That’s not possible. Maybe the Iran policy of George W. Bush was extreme, but Obama’s policy is very moderate and very blunt.

I’m going with the translator’s language here — a word like “blunt” seems a little off in the given context. And the rhetorical question of Bush’s Iran policy being “extreme” strikes one as needing some original-language nuance. But the substance of Makan’s analysis is unmistakable nonetheless: Negotiation with and moderation toward Iran are “not possible.” This message needs to be heard by everyone who’s taken to using Neda’s name as an appeal to those very things.  Let no nuanced statement from the White House or “thoughtful” State Department speech overshadow Makan’s definitive take on the theocratic dictatorship that the U.S. government continues to indulge.

Today, one year after Iran’s fraudulent presidential election, an important statement comes from a uniquely moving source.  Caspian Makan was the fiance of Neda Agha-Soltan, the innocent woman shot and killed by Basij forces during the protests that followed the  election farce. He has since escaped Iran and moved to Canada. Where, of all places, is he spending the first anniversary of the June 12 elections? Israel.

Fox News’s Rina Ninan spoke with Makan in Jerusalem and asked why he was there. His answer provides a sensational rebuke to those who argue that Israel is an increasingly aggressive regional antagonist that must be curbed by the forces of moderation.

The Iranian government created a virtual enemy called Israel. Since the beginning of  the 1979 Revolution, every time the people of Iran think about a revolution, the current regime starts mentioning Israel as the enemy to divert their attention, and they tell the people, hey, we’re defending you against Israel.

With this, Makan exposes all the Western apologists who cite Iran’s”understandable concern” about Israel’s arsenal.  Ninan then asked what advice he had for Barack Obama in dealing with Tehran. His response:

President Obama has repeated his message that he is ready to negotiate directly with the Iranian leadership.  How can you negotiate with a dictatorship? That’s not possible. Maybe the Iran policy of George W. Bush was extreme, but Obama’s policy is very moderate and very blunt.

I’m going with the translator’s language here — a word like “blunt” seems a little off in the given context. And the rhetorical question of Bush’s Iran policy being “extreme” strikes one as needing some original-language nuance. But the substance of Makan’s analysis is unmistakable nonetheless: Negotiation with and moderation toward Iran are “not possible.” This message needs to be heard by everyone who’s taken to using Neda’s name as an appeal to those very things.  Let no nuanced statement from the White House or “thoughtful” State Department speech overshadow Makan’s definitive take on the theocratic dictatorship that the U.S. government continues to indulge.

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Obama Is for Weaker Iran Sanctions

Obama, no doubt believing that phony Iran sanctions will bring praise — after all, he got cheers from mainstream Jewish groups on the UN agreement — is continuing to press Congress for weaker sanctions in the wake of the UN vote. Yes, yes he promised that the really tough stuff was coming, but he didn’t really mean they’d be effective. Obama would rather cut Iran a break than annoy its new friends (who have done what, exactly, for us lately?), China and Russia, or our European allies, which have stepped up the Israel-bashing:

U.S. sanctions have strong support in Congress, and the administration backs them in principle as a way to strengthen the mild strictures adopted on Wednesday by the U.N. Security Council. But the administration fears that the legislation also could damage relations with Europe, Russia and China, all of whom cooperated with U.S. efforts on the U.N. sanctions.

To avoid that possibility, the administration wants authority to waive U.S. punishment against companies from countries that have cooperated on Iran.

Many lawmakers are wary. Some say the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has been lax in enforcing existing Iran sanctions out of concern for good relations with other world powers.

“The administration doesn’t carry out the laws that are on the books, and they want the new law to be as weak and loophole-ridden as possible,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who has been pushing for years for such legislation.

Republicans have been ratcheting up their demands for Congress to hang tough, arguing that the U.N. resolution fell short of what was needed.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the U.N. sanctions a “goose egg” and demanded that Congress impose “crippling sanctions against Iran.”

It seems that no matter how gingerly Obama is treated by Jewish groups — make the Reid-McConnnell letter less offensive, praise Obama for a UN Security Statement singling out Israel, cheer the ludicrous UN sanctions — he never comes through with a tougher line on Iran or a warmer one on Israel. As one Capitol Hill staffer put it, “Everyone wants to treat the administration with kid gloves as if suddenly a hawkish and pro-Israel Obama will emerge.”

Well, that’s as silly as “engaging” Iran or “resetting” relations with Russia by capitulating on everything Putin wants. It seems Obama has been taking all those Jewish leaders, who come to the White House for “reassurance,” for a ride. Tougher sanctions aren’t coming along if Obama can help it. After all, stopping a nuclear-armed Iran isn’t nearly as important as keeping things chummy with unco-operative allies and despotic regimes.

Obama, no doubt believing that phony Iran sanctions will bring praise — after all, he got cheers from mainstream Jewish groups on the UN agreement — is continuing to press Congress for weaker sanctions in the wake of the UN vote. Yes, yes he promised that the really tough stuff was coming, but he didn’t really mean they’d be effective. Obama would rather cut Iran a break than annoy its new friends (who have done what, exactly, for us lately?), China and Russia, or our European allies, which have stepped up the Israel-bashing:

U.S. sanctions have strong support in Congress, and the administration backs them in principle as a way to strengthen the mild strictures adopted on Wednesday by the U.N. Security Council. But the administration fears that the legislation also could damage relations with Europe, Russia and China, all of whom cooperated with U.S. efforts on the U.N. sanctions.

To avoid that possibility, the administration wants authority to waive U.S. punishment against companies from countries that have cooperated on Iran.

Many lawmakers are wary. Some say the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has been lax in enforcing existing Iran sanctions out of concern for good relations with other world powers.

“The administration doesn’t carry out the laws that are on the books, and they want the new law to be as weak and loophole-ridden as possible,” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who has been pushing for years for such legislation.

Republicans have been ratcheting up their demands for Congress to hang tough, arguing that the U.N. resolution fell short of what was needed.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the U.N. sanctions a “goose egg” and demanded that Congress impose “crippling sanctions against Iran.”

It seems that no matter how gingerly Obama is treated by Jewish groups — make the Reid-McConnnell letter less offensive, praise Obama for a UN Security Statement singling out Israel, cheer the ludicrous UN sanctions — he never comes through with a tougher line on Iran or a warmer one on Israel. As one Capitol Hill staffer put it, “Everyone wants to treat the administration with kid gloves as if suddenly a hawkish and pro-Israel Obama will emerge.”

Well, that’s as silly as “engaging” Iran or “resetting” relations with Russia by capitulating on everything Putin wants. It seems Obama has been taking all those Jewish leaders, who come to the White House for “reassurance,” for a ride. Tougher sanctions aren’t coming along if Obama can help it. After all, stopping a nuclear-armed Iran isn’t nearly as important as keeping things chummy with unco-operative allies and despotic regimes.

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Obama Failing on the Things the Public Cares Most About

We’ve seen oodles of polls of late, all reflecting a precipitous decline in Obama’s approval ratings. But none is more interesting than the poll by the Economist. It is all the more fascinating — and devastating for Obama — because it is a  poll of all adults, not registered or likely voters, which normally would tilt more to the Left. In other words, among likely voters Obama would probably be doing even worse.

The results show a president struggling. On the oil spill, 28% approve and 42% disapprove of his performance. On taxes, government spending, immigration, gun control, national defense, and terrorism the respondents say they are closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. On gun control and national defense there is a double-digit gap. Democrats do better on regulating business (but within the margin of error), the environment, abortion (also within the margin of error), gay marriage, health care (by four points) and energy policy. In an enormous turnaround since Obama took office, the parties tie on the economy.

38 percent support the goals of the Tea Party movement; 27 percent do not. In a slew of areas (the Middle East, Afghanistan, energy policy, the environment, the economy, job security, health-care coverage, education, entitlement programs, the financial system, and Wall Street) the public thinks we are worse off than two years ago. There is no area in which the public thinks things have improved. They disapprove of Obama’s performance on Iraq, the economy (39 percent strongly so), immigration (41 percent strongly so), the environment, terrorism, gay rights, social security, the deficit (57 percent strongly or somewhat), Afghanistan, and taxes. On education they approve, but within the margin of error. Overall 44 percent approve of his performance and 49 percent do not.

With the exception of education and health care, the areas respondents are most concerned about (the economy, terrorism, social security, the budget deficit, and taxes) are ones on which Obama is doing very poorly and which most respondents believe have gotten worse in the last two years.

Finally, with regard to personal qualities, some of the results are stunning. Only 14 percent describe Obama as experienced, 47 percent don’t. (After 18 months in office, that is.) 31 percent  do not describe him as effective, only 25 percent do. 35 percent would not describe him as unifying, only 18 percent would. Although within the margin of error, more would not describe him as patriotic or in touch.

I go through these in some detail because the results present a picture of a president failing in nearly every area the public cares most about and who has lost the advantage on personal qualities, which were the foundation of his appeal as a candidate. In 18 months he has gone from “a sort of God” to “a sort of goat.” Maybe he can turn things around, but he has a long way to go.

We’ve seen oodles of polls of late, all reflecting a precipitous decline in Obama’s approval ratings. But none is more interesting than the poll by the Economist. It is all the more fascinating — and devastating for Obama — because it is a  poll of all adults, not registered or likely voters, which normally would tilt more to the Left. In other words, among likely voters Obama would probably be doing even worse.

The results show a president struggling. On the oil spill, 28% approve and 42% disapprove of his performance. On taxes, government spending, immigration, gun control, national defense, and terrorism the respondents say they are closer to the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. On gun control and national defense there is a double-digit gap. Democrats do better on regulating business (but within the margin of error), the environment, abortion (also within the margin of error), gay marriage, health care (by four points) and energy policy. In an enormous turnaround since Obama took office, the parties tie on the economy.

38 percent support the goals of the Tea Party movement; 27 percent do not. In a slew of areas (the Middle East, Afghanistan, energy policy, the environment, the economy, job security, health-care coverage, education, entitlement programs, the financial system, and Wall Street) the public thinks we are worse off than two years ago. There is no area in which the public thinks things have improved. They disapprove of Obama’s performance on Iraq, the economy (39 percent strongly so), immigration (41 percent strongly so), the environment, terrorism, gay rights, social security, the deficit (57 percent strongly or somewhat), Afghanistan, and taxes. On education they approve, but within the margin of error. Overall 44 percent approve of his performance and 49 percent do not.

With the exception of education and health care, the areas respondents are most concerned about (the economy, terrorism, social security, the budget deficit, and taxes) are ones on which Obama is doing very poorly and which most respondents believe have gotten worse in the last two years.

Finally, with regard to personal qualities, some of the results are stunning. Only 14 percent describe Obama as experienced, 47 percent don’t. (After 18 months in office, that is.) 31 percent  do not describe him as effective, only 25 percent do. 35 percent would not describe him as unifying, only 18 percent would. Although within the margin of error, more would not describe him as patriotic or in touch.

I go through these in some detail because the results present a picture of a president failing in nearly every area the public cares most about and who has lost the advantage on personal qualities, which were the foundation of his appeal as a candidate. In 18 months he has gone from “a sort of God” to “a sort of goat.” Maybe he can turn things around, but he has a long way to go.

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Saudis Show “Linkage” Is a Farce

From the UK, the Times reports on Saudi Arabia:

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert. …

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

Frankly, this is a more effective deterrent on the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions than anything Obama has done in eighteen months. And it proves how utterly false is Obama’s premise that progress on the “peace process” is required to gain the Arab states’ co-operation on Iran. Imagine if we had spent the last 18 months rounding up support from the Arab states on a shared defense pact, demonstrating America’s full support of Israel and making clear that the military option is perfectly viable. Instead, we have a tenser Middle East, a withering U.S.-Israel alliance, and an emboldened Iran. It is the greatest foreign-policy miscalculation in memory.

From the UK, the Times reports on Saudi Arabia:

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert. …

Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.

Frankly, this is a more effective deterrent on the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions than anything Obama has done in eighteen months. And it proves how utterly false is Obama’s premise that progress on the “peace process” is required to gain the Arab states’ co-operation on Iran. Imagine if we had spent the last 18 months rounding up support from the Arab states on a shared defense pact, demonstrating America’s full support of Israel and making clear that the military option is perfectly viable. Instead, we have a tenser Middle East, a withering U.S.-Israel alliance, and an emboldened Iran. It is the greatest foreign-policy miscalculation in memory.

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Reid-McConnell Letter on Israel

Late on Friday the following letter signed by Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell was circulated to all senators for signature. It reads:

President Barack Obama

The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations. The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and a vibrant democracy. Israel is also a partner to the United States on military and intelligence issues in this critical region. That is why it is our national interest to support Israel at a moment when Israel faces multiple threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the current regime in Iran. Israel’s opponents have developed clever diplomatic and tactical ploys to challenge its international standing, whether the effort to isolate Israel at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference or the recent effort to breach the naval blockade around Gaza.

We fully support Israel’s right to self-defense. In response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israel took steps to prevent items which could be used to support these attacks from reaching Gaza. Israel’s naval blockade, which is legal under international law, allows Israel to keep dangerous goods from entering Gaza by sea. The intent of the measures is to protect Israel, while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Late last month when Israel learned that groups operating in Turkey wanted to challenge its blockade of Gaza, Israel made every effort to ensure that all humanitarian aid reached Gaza without needlessly precipitating a confrontation. Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockage. However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted.

We are deeply concerned about the IHH’s role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas. The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department.

We commend the action you took to prevent the adoption of an unfair United Nations Security Council resolution, which would have represented a rush to judgment by the international community. We also deplore the actions of the United Nations Human Rights Council which, once again, singled out Israel. Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough  investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted. In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.

Finally, we believe that this incident should not derail the current proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We hope that these talks will move quickly to direct negotiations and ultimately, to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The letter certainly sets forth stark differences with the administration (which has ignored the IHH, edged toward an international investigation, and failed to offer full support for Israel). It is a robust statement of support for Israel, its right of self-defense, and its right to maintain the blockade. It rebuffs the administration’s efforts to internationalize the investigation. And unlike the Obama team, the senators put the spotlight on Turkey and on the terrorists.

However, the letter is weaker than Rep. Peter King’s proposed resolution as well as the statements of Sen. John Cornyn. It does not call for withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council. It does not specifically identify Iran as a sponsor of Hamas or mention the growing alliance between Turkey and Iran. Most troubling, it commends the administration for downgrading (but not vetoing) the original UN resolution. This was an unprecedented action by Obama, an accommodation to the Israel-haters in the UN. It was yet another dangerous sign that the administration, rather than giving unqualified support to Israel in international bodies, is seeking to straddle between Israel and its antagonists. It is not helpful to encourage such conduct.

As I wrote yesterday, when you desire for the broadest possible coalition and shrink from pointedly challenging the administration, you wind up praising fraudulent UN sanctions and giving the president a pat on the back for crossing a line that no administration has. AIPAC released the following statement:

Along with on the 103 statements from Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate that we have seen in the just the last week, AIPAC strongly supports this letter from Senate Majority Leader Reid and GOP Leaders Mitch McConnell calling on the President to act in America’s national interest by standing with our ally Israel in international bodies and to firmly and publicly reiterate America’s unyielding support for Israel’s right to self-defense.  The letter also calls on the Treasury and State Departments to closely examine terrorist-linked (HAMAS, 2000 al-Qaeda attack on LAX, etc.) Turkish “charity” IHH, at the center of the Flotilla incident, and consider adding the HAMAS affiliated group to the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations.

Supporters of Israel should be concerned that sails were trimmed. There is much good in the letter, but it cut Obama a break at Israel’s expense. It is most troubling that it was apparently necessary needlessly to praise Obama’s UN equivocation.

We can only hope that even with a less-than-ideal letter and, more importantly, with the reaction set off by the revelation (and later the confirmation) that the administration is still pursuing an international element to the investigation, that the administration will stand down and fully embrace an Israel-only investigation. Then we can work on getting the U.S. off the Human Rights Council.

Late on Friday the following letter signed by Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell was circulated to all senators for signature. It reads:

President Barack Obama

The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We write to affirm our support for our strategic partnership with Israel, and encourage you to continue to do so before international organizations such as the United Nations. The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so.

Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East and a vibrant democracy. Israel is also a partner to the United States on military and intelligence issues in this critical region. That is why it is our national interest to support Israel at a moment when Israel faces multiple threats from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the current regime in Iran. Israel’s opponents have developed clever diplomatic and tactical ploys to challenge its international standing, whether the effort to isolate Israel at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference or the recent effort to breach the naval blockade around Gaza.

We fully support Israel’s right to self-defense. In response to thousands of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas terrorists in Gaza, Israel took steps to prevent items which could be used to support these attacks from reaching Gaza. Israel’s naval blockade, which is legal under international law, allows Israel to keep dangerous goods from entering Gaza by sea. The intent of the measures is to protect Israel, while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Late last month when Israel learned that groups operating in Turkey wanted to challenge its blockade of Gaza, Israel made every effort to ensure that all humanitarian aid reached Gaza without needlessly precipitating a confrontation. Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockage. However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted.

We are deeply concerned about the IHH’s role in this incident and have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas. The IHH is a member of a group of Muslim charities, the Union of Good, which was designated by the US Treasury Department as a terrorist organization. The Union of Good was created by and strongly supports Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. We recommend that your administration consider whether the IHH should be put on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, after an examination by the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department.

We commend the action you took to prevent the adoption of an unfair United Nations Security Council resolution, which would have represented a rush to judgment by the international community. We also deplore the actions of the United Nations Human Rights Council which, once again, singled out Israel. Israel has announced its intention to promptly carry out a thorough  investigation of this incident and has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted. In the meantime, we ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any similar biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.

Finally, we believe that this incident should not derail the current proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. We hope that these talks will move quickly to direct negotiations and ultimately, to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The letter certainly sets forth stark differences with the administration (which has ignored the IHH, edged toward an international investigation, and failed to offer full support for Israel). It is a robust statement of support for Israel, its right of self-defense, and its right to maintain the blockade. It rebuffs the administration’s efforts to internationalize the investigation. And unlike the Obama team, the senators put the spotlight on Turkey and on the terrorists.

However, the letter is weaker than Rep. Peter King’s proposed resolution as well as the statements of Sen. John Cornyn. It does not call for withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council. It does not specifically identify Iran as a sponsor of Hamas or mention the growing alliance between Turkey and Iran. Most troubling, it commends the administration for downgrading (but not vetoing) the original UN resolution. This was an unprecedented action by Obama, an accommodation to the Israel-haters in the UN. It was yet another dangerous sign that the administration, rather than giving unqualified support to Israel in international bodies, is seeking to straddle between Israel and its antagonists. It is not helpful to encourage such conduct.

As I wrote yesterday, when you desire for the broadest possible coalition and shrink from pointedly challenging the administration, you wind up praising fraudulent UN sanctions and giving the president a pat on the back for crossing a line that no administration has. AIPAC released the following statement:

Along with on the 103 statements from Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate that we have seen in the just the last week, AIPAC strongly supports this letter from Senate Majority Leader Reid and GOP Leaders Mitch McConnell calling on the President to act in America’s national interest by standing with our ally Israel in international bodies and to firmly and publicly reiterate America’s unyielding support for Israel’s right to self-defense.  The letter also calls on the Treasury and State Departments to closely examine terrorist-linked (HAMAS, 2000 al-Qaeda attack on LAX, etc.) Turkish “charity” IHH, at the center of the Flotilla incident, and consider adding the HAMAS affiliated group to the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations.

Supporters of Israel should be concerned that sails were trimmed. There is much good in the letter, but it cut Obama a break at Israel’s expense. It is most troubling that it was apparently necessary needlessly to praise Obama’s UN equivocation.

We can only hope that even with a less-than-ideal letter and, more importantly, with the reaction set off by the revelation (and later the confirmation) that the administration is still pursuing an international element to the investigation, that the administration will stand down and fully embrace an Israel-only investigation. Then we can work on getting the U.S. off the Human Rights Council.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Thanks to the NAACP, Hallmark was forced to remove from the shelves space-themed cards that used the phrase “black hole.” The group’s professional grievants apparently misheard the second word. No kidding.

Thanks to Barack Obama, the Middle East is more dangerous than ever: “The Gaza flotilla incident might have been a great setback to the radical camp had the United States reacted sharply, defending Israel, condemning the jihadists on board and their sponsors in Turkey, blocking UN Security Council action, and refusing to sponsor another international inquiry that will condemn Israel. And Israel’s interests were not the only ones at stake: The blockade of Gaza is a joint Israeli-Egyptian action to weaken Hamas. But the American position reflects the Obama line: carefully balancing the interests of friend and foe, seeking to avoid offense to our enemies, or, as Churchill famously described British policy in the 1930s, ‘resolved to be irresolute.’ Middle Eastern states, including Arab regimes traditionally allied with the United States, view this pose as likely to get them all killed when enemies come knocking at the door.”

Thanks to Obama, Bobby Jindal has regained a lot of stature. He appears to be what Obama is not — competent, engaged, and proactive.

Thanks to Jon Stewart, Tim Pawlenty gets to show that he has a sense of humor.

Thanks to Leslie Gelb, we are reminded that things can always be worse: Robert Gates departs, Hillary Clinton goes to the Defense Department, and Chuck Hagel goes to the State Department. Oy.

Thanks to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, “a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 19% of voters think it would be better for the country if most incumbents in Congress were reelected this November. Sixty-five percent (65%) disagree and say it would be better if most were defeated. Sixteen percent (16%) aren’t sure.”

Thanks to Obama, “people close to the president [Harmid Karzai] say he began to lose confidence in the Americans last summer, after national elections in which independent monitors determined that nearly one million ballots had been stolen on Mr. Karzai’s behalf. The rift worsened in December, when President Obama announced that he intended to begin reducing the number of American troops by the summer of 2011.” It’s no surprise, then, that “Mr. Karzai has been pressing to strike his own deal with the Taliban and the country’s archrival Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime supporter. According to a former senior Afghan official, Mr. Karzai’s maneuverings involve secret negotiations with the Taliban outside the purview of American and NATO officials.”

Thanks to Ben Bernanke, Rep. Gerry Connolly makes a fool of himself and his Republican challenger has a boffo campaign ad.

Thanks to Obama and the Democratic Congress, you’re probably not going to get to keep your health-care plan: “Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it. But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft.”

Thanks to Israel, there is a place in the Middle East where gays are not persecuted: “Tel Aviv embraced Israel’s GLBT community Friday as it hosted the 13th annual gay parade.Dozens of policemen and civilian police watched on as thousands marched, dancing and waving rainbow flags.”

Thanks to the economic-policy wizardry of the Obama administration: “U.S. consumers unexpectedly ratcheted back spending on everything from cars to clothing in May, adding to concerns that a volatile stock market and high unemployment are increasingly weighing down the economic recovery. The Commerce Department reported Friday that sales at retail establishments — including department stores, gas stations and restaurants — fell 1.2% in May from the previous month. The decline, driven by sharp drops in autos and building materials, was the first and largest since September 2009, when sales fell 2.2%.”

Thanks to the NAACP, Hallmark was forced to remove from the shelves space-themed cards that used the phrase “black hole.” The group’s professional grievants apparently misheard the second word. No kidding.

Thanks to Barack Obama, the Middle East is more dangerous than ever: “The Gaza flotilla incident might have been a great setback to the radical camp had the United States reacted sharply, defending Israel, condemning the jihadists on board and their sponsors in Turkey, blocking UN Security Council action, and refusing to sponsor another international inquiry that will condemn Israel. And Israel’s interests were not the only ones at stake: The blockade of Gaza is a joint Israeli-Egyptian action to weaken Hamas. But the American position reflects the Obama line: carefully balancing the interests of friend and foe, seeking to avoid offense to our enemies, or, as Churchill famously described British policy in the 1930s, ‘resolved to be irresolute.’ Middle Eastern states, including Arab regimes traditionally allied with the United States, view this pose as likely to get them all killed when enemies come knocking at the door.”

Thanks to Obama, Bobby Jindal has regained a lot of stature. He appears to be what Obama is not — competent, engaged, and proactive.

Thanks to Jon Stewart, Tim Pawlenty gets to show that he has a sense of humor.

Thanks to Leslie Gelb, we are reminded that things can always be worse: Robert Gates departs, Hillary Clinton goes to the Defense Department, and Chuck Hagel goes to the State Department. Oy.

Thanks to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, “a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 19% of voters think it would be better for the country if most incumbents in Congress were reelected this November. Sixty-five percent (65%) disagree and say it would be better if most were defeated. Sixteen percent (16%) aren’t sure.”

Thanks to Obama, “people close to the president [Harmid Karzai] say he began to lose confidence in the Americans last summer, after national elections in which independent monitors determined that nearly one million ballots had been stolen on Mr. Karzai’s behalf. The rift worsened in December, when President Obama announced that he intended to begin reducing the number of American troops by the summer of 2011.” It’s no surprise, then, that “Mr. Karzai has been pressing to strike his own deal with the Taliban and the country’s archrival Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime supporter. According to a former senior Afghan official, Mr. Karzai’s maneuverings involve secret negotiations with the Taliban outside the purview of American and NATO officials.”

Thanks to Ben Bernanke, Rep. Gerry Connolly makes a fool of himself and his Republican challenger has a boffo campaign ad.

Thanks to Obama and the Democratic Congress, you’re probably not going to get to keep your health-care plan: “Over and over in the health care debate, President Barack Obama said people who like their current coverage would be able to keep it. But an early draft of an administration regulation estimates that many employers will be forced to make changes to their health plans under the new law. In just three years, a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements, according to the draft.”

Thanks to Israel, there is a place in the Middle East where gays are not persecuted: “Tel Aviv embraced Israel’s GLBT community Friday as it hosted the 13th annual gay parade.Dozens of policemen and civilian police watched on as thousands marched, dancing and waving rainbow flags.”

Thanks to the economic-policy wizardry of the Obama administration: “U.S. consumers unexpectedly ratcheted back spending on everything from cars to clothing in May, adding to concerns that a volatile stock market and high unemployment are increasingly weighing down the economic recovery. The Commerce Department reported Friday that sales at retail establishments — including department stores, gas stations and restaurants — fell 1.2% in May from the previous month. The decline, driven by sharp drops in autos and building materials, was the first and largest since September 2009, when sales fell 2.2%.”

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