Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 15, 2010

Obama’s Boring Speech

Frankly, Obama was a crashing bore. He’s been that way for a while, but at moments like this, when you know what he is going to say (“Bad BP!” “Pass cap-and-trade!”), he is especially so.

And he can never pass up the chance to pass the buck. He describes the difficulties with the Minerals Management Services as if someone else had been president for over a year and as if this is the fault of “deregulators” rather than a massive bureaucracy without accountability:

One place we have already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service.  Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.  At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight.  Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

But didn’t his administration miss the extent of the problems? Well, he lets on: “When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problems there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow.”

And naturally, the long-term solution is his climate-change proposal, which many in his own party won’t support. It is, of course, a massive new tax, which he tries to sneak by with this description: “Now, there are costs associated with this transition.” Costs — or taxes imposed on consumers and businesses while the economy is struggling to its feet? But Obama thinks we can certainly pay for this: “And some believe we can’t afford those costs right now.  I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy — because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.”

In other words, government in league with big business contributed to the nation’s worst environmental disaster, and now we want to let government run the entire energy industry. Got that?

Finally, a word on tone. Obama spoke about “shrimpers and fishermen” and “empty restaurants,” but neither his voice nor demeanor betrayed any sense of emotion. He remains cool and distant — cataloging suffering but reflecting none of it.

Will this help push through cap-and-trade? Not in the least. Will this reverse the downward skid in his presidency? Unlikely — no speech on health care ever convinced the public to embrace that.

Frankly, Obama was a crashing bore. He’s been that way for a while, but at moments like this, when you know what he is going to say (“Bad BP!” “Pass cap-and-trade!”), he is especially so.

And he can never pass up the chance to pass the buck. He describes the difficulties with the Minerals Management Services as if someone else had been president for over a year and as if this is the fault of “deregulators” rather than a massive bureaucracy without accountability:

One place we have already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service.  Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves.  At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight.  Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

But didn’t his administration miss the extent of the problems? Well, he lets on: “When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problems there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow.”

And naturally, the long-term solution is his climate-change proposal, which many in his own party won’t support. It is, of course, a massive new tax, which he tries to sneak by with this description: “Now, there are costs associated with this transition.” Costs — or taxes imposed on consumers and businesses while the economy is struggling to its feet? But Obama thinks we can certainly pay for this: “And some believe we can’t afford those costs right now.  I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy — because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.”

In other words, government in league with big business contributed to the nation’s worst environmental disaster, and now we want to let government run the entire energy industry. Got that?

Finally, a word on tone. Obama spoke about “shrimpers and fishermen” and “empty restaurants,” but neither his voice nor demeanor betrayed any sense of emotion. He remains cool and distant — cataloging suffering but reflecting none of it.

Will this help push through cap-and-trade? Not in the least. Will this reverse the downward skid in his presidency? Unlikely — no speech on health care ever convinced the public to embrace that.

Read Less

What the World Must Do for Middle East Peace?

Walter Russell Mead has written an interesting article about the Middle East conflict for the American Interest that attempts to rise above Arab-Israeli partisanship. But rather than, as is usual with such pieces, blaming both sides, Mead rightly seeks to distribute some of the responsibility for the continuance of the conflict to other sources.

While dismissing both the Israeli and Arab narratives as too narrow in perspective, he rightly blames Britain for setting the conflict in motion early in the 20th century and the failure of the international community to separate or protect Jews and Arabs from each other in the months and years prior to Israel’s War of Independence. He thinks it’s time for the world to make amends for that and to take the steps necessary to end the conflict now.

To that end, he proposes that well-meaning foreign observers who are not shy about giving opinions about Israel or the Palestinians pitch in with the wherewithal to actually help things rather than merely make them worse. What does he want them to do? To stop sending advice to the Palestinians and to replace it with “visas, jobs and money.” Since there is, according to him, no room in the West Bank and Gaza for the millions of descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees who oppose any two-state solution that will not give them the right to “return” to what is now Israel, what must happen is that “self-righteous Europeans will have to interrupt their Israel-bashing to make room for some new Palestinian immigrants who will have the full right to become citizens.”

These refugees and their descendants should be compensated for their losses and allowed to emigrate to the West from an Arab world that has kept them in squalid camps to be used as props in the ongoing war against Israel. To his credit, he adds that the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who came to Israel and the West in the 1940s and 1950s (and whose fate has never interested Israel’s critics) should be similarly compensated, both for the sake of justice and to ensure Israel’s support for the project.

This all makes a lot of sense. Which is why it will never happen.

Mead writes, “Palestinians will reject any peace agreement that ignores their rights and needs.” That’s true. But the problem here is that the Palestinians don’t have the same view of “their rights and needs” as Mead or any other objective observer. Palestinian nationalism didn’t come into being as a movement to better the lives of ordinary Palestinians or to secure reasonable redress for their wrongs. It came into existence to oppose Zionism. The dynamic of Palestinian political culture is such that any agreement — whether for two states or three, or for refugee compensation — that legitimizes the existence of a Jewish state within any borders, be they of 1967, 1949 or any other date, is a betrayal.

As Mead says, if peace were “just a question of the West Bank, we could probably fudge a solution.” But giving the refugees a degree of justice isn’t what the Palestinians want. They want there to be no Israel, and that is why, contrary to common sense and to the frustration of the rest of the world, they have “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to make peace. If it were just a matter of the West coming up with the cash and the visas to resettle the refugees, there would have been peace 60 years ago. The Arab refugees won’t be resettled (as the Jews have been without international assistance), because doing so means that Israel is here to stay. While Mead comes closer than most observers to understanding what is at the core of the conflict, he ignores the basic fact that his elegant solution, even if it were taken up by the Obama administration as he hopes, would never satisfy the Palestinians.

Walter Russell Mead has written an interesting article about the Middle East conflict for the American Interest that attempts to rise above Arab-Israeli partisanship. But rather than, as is usual with such pieces, blaming both sides, Mead rightly seeks to distribute some of the responsibility for the continuance of the conflict to other sources.

While dismissing both the Israeli and Arab narratives as too narrow in perspective, he rightly blames Britain for setting the conflict in motion early in the 20th century and the failure of the international community to separate or protect Jews and Arabs from each other in the months and years prior to Israel’s War of Independence. He thinks it’s time for the world to make amends for that and to take the steps necessary to end the conflict now.

To that end, he proposes that well-meaning foreign observers who are not shy about giving opinions about Israel or the Palestinians pitch in with the wherewithal to actually help things rather than merely make them worse. What does he want them to do? To stop sending advice to the Palestinians and to replace it with “visas, jobs and money.” Since there is, according to him, no room in the West Bank and Gaza for the millions of descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees who oppose any two-state solution that will not give them the right to “return” to what is now Israel, what must happen is that “self-righteous Europeans will have to interrupt their Israel-bashing to make room for some new Palestinian immigrants who will have the full right to become citizens.”

These refugees and their descendants should be compensated for their losses and allowed to emigrate to the West from an Arab world that has kept them in squalid camps to be used as props in the ongoing war against Israel. To his credit, he adds that the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who came to Israel and the West in the 1940s and 1950s (and whose fate has never interested Israel’s critics) should be similarly compensated, both for the sake of justice and to ensure Israel’s support for the project.

This all makes a lot of sense. Which is why it will never happen.

Mead writes, “Palestinians will reject any peace agreement that ignores their rights and needs.” That’s true. But the problem here is that the Palestinians don’t have the same view of “their rights and needs” as Mead or any other objective observer. Palestinian nationalism didn’t come into being as a movement to better the lives of ordinary Palestinians or to secure reasonable redress for their wrongs. It came into existence to oppose Zionism. The dynamic of Palestinian political culture is such that any agreement — whether for two states or three, or for refugee compensation — that legitimizes the existence of a Jewish state within any borders, be they of 1967, 1949 or any other date, is a betrayal.

As Mead says, if peace were “just a question of the West Bank, we could probably fudge a solution.” But giving the refugees a degree of justice isn’t what the Palestinians want. They want there to be no Israel, and that is why, contrary to common sense and to the frustration of the rest of the world, they have “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to make peace. If it were just a matter of the West coming up with the cash and the visas to resettle the refugees, there would have been peace 60 years ago. The Arab refugees won’t be resettled (as the Jews have been without international assistance), because doing so means that Israel is here to stay. While Mead comes closer than most observers to understanding what is at the core of the conflict, he ignores the basic fact that his elegant solution, even if it were taken up by the Obama administration as he hopes, would never satisfy the Palestinians.

Read Less

Re: Obama Should ‘Anoint’ the Iranian Green Movement

Max, I share your admiration for Reuel Gerecht’s New York Times piece on supporting Iran’s Green movement. As a way of getting some insight into Gerecht’s recommendation that the U.S. lend technological assistance to Iran’s democrats, I suggest everyone check out the new episode of Ideas in Action, hosted by COMMENTARY contributor Jim Glassman. It’s titled “Cyber Dissidents: How the Internet Is Changing Dissent,” and guests include Iranian exile Arash Kamangir.

Max, I share your admiration for Reuel Gerecht’s New York Times piece on supporting Iran’s Green movement. As a way of getting some insight into Gerecht’s recommendation that the U.S. lend technological assistance to Iran’s democrats, I suggest everyone check out the new episode of Ideas in Action, hosted by COMMENTARY contributor Jim Glassman. It’s titled “Cyber Dissidents: How the Internet Is Changing Dissent,” and guests include Iranian exile Arash Kamangir.

Read Less

West Bank Murder Puts Peace Advocacy in Perspective

In recent weeks, all the focus in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been on Gaza. So far Israel’s government, supported by the vast majority of its people, has resisted international pressure to lift the blockade of Gaza, a measure that would grant both a psychological victory to the Islamist terrorists of Hamas as well as facilitate the rearming and refortification of the region.

But while Israelis and their friends are rightly focused on preventing Hamas from resuming its rocket attacks on southern Israel, attacks on Jewish targets in the West Bank have been largely ignored. Part of the reason is that the security fence that separates the area from pre-1967 Israel has effectively halted the flow of suicide bombers. But there have been literally hundreds of incidents of shootings as well as many attacks with lethal rocks on Israeli motorists in the West Bank. Fortunately, most have not resulted in casualties. Yesterday, however, a Palestinian shooter in the Hebron area ambushed a police vehicle. The attack left one officer dead and another wounded. Interestingly, the New York Times article that reported the shooting also included some interesting information about the supposedly draconian Israeli security regime in the West Bank. Since Israel has been trying to hand over security responsibilities in the region to the Palestinian Authority’s forces, according to the left-wing group B’Tselem, which opposes Israel’s presence in the West Bank, 20 staffed security checkpoints have been closed in the past two years.

The point is, the much-lauded administration of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his boss, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, tells Americans and other Westerners that they want peace with Israel. But the PA-sponsored incitement against Jews and the presence of Jews in their midst continues. Fayyad’s boycott of Israeli goods may be intended to boost his popularity, but it also feeds into the demonization of Israelis, which is the primary obstacle to lasting peace and implicitly legitimizes the Palestinian sport of taking potshots at Israeli vehicles.

Of course, there are those critics of Israel who believe that the mere presence of a Jew on the West Bank, even one just driving in a car, is sufficient provocation to justify a murderous Palestinian attack, or at least enough to rationalize such a crime. But those who feel this way should ponder the Gaza precedent.

In 2005 Israel withdrew every settlement and every soldier from Gaza, which is what Israel’s critics want it to do in the West Bank. But the result wasn’t peace but an escalation of violence across the border into Israel proper, with the evacuated territory turned into a terrorist base from which thousands of missiles were launched at Israeli towns and villages. The idea of repeating this exercise in the West Bank, which borders Israel’s main population centers, is unthinkable, but that is exactly what those who decry the “occupation” are demanding. Though the vast majority of Israelis would like nothing better to completely separate themselves from the Palestinians and would gladly accept a two-state solution, they are not prepared to allow the West Bank to turn into another Hamasistan.

Advocates for peace who reduce the situation to simplistic pieties should understand that yesterday’s shooting is a reminder of the grim reality of Palestinian hatred and violence and the unpleasant choices that face the Israeli people.

In recent weeks, all the focus in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been on Gaza. So far Israel’s government, supported by the vast majority of its people, has resisted international pressure to lift the blockade of Gaza, a measure that would grant both a psychological victory to the Islamist terrorists of Hamas as well as facilitate the rearming and refortification of the region.

But while Israelis and their friends are rightly focused on preventing Hamas from resuming its rocket attacks on southern Israel, attacks on Jewish targets in the West Bank have been largely ignored. Part of the reason is that the security fence that separates the area from pre-1967 Israel has effectively halted the flow of suicide bombers. But there have been literally hundreds of incidents of shootings as well as many attacks with lethal rocks on Israeli motorists in the West Bank. Fortunately, most have not resulted in casualties. Yesterday, however, a Palestinian shooter in the Hebron area ambushed a police vehicle. The attack left one officer dead and another wounded. Interestingly, the New York Times article that reported the shooting also included some interesting information about the supposedly draconian Israeli security regime in the West Bank. Since Israel has been trying to hand over security responsibilities in the region to the Palestinian Authority’s forces, according to the left-wing group B’Tselem, which opposes Israel’s presence in the West Bank, 20 staffed security checkpoints have been closed in the past two years.

The point is, the much-lauded administration of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his boss, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, tells Americans and other Westerners that they want peace with Israel. But the PA-sponsored incitement against Jews and the presence of Jews in their midst continues. Fayyad’s boycott of Israeli goods may be intended to boost his popularity, but it also feeds into the demonization of Israelis, which is the primary obstacle to lasting peace and implicitly legitimizes the Palestinian sport of taking potshots at Israeli vehicles.

Of course, there are those critics of Israel who believe that the mere presence of a Jew on the West Bank, even one just driving in a car, is sufficient provocation to justify a murderous Palestinian attack, or at least enough to rationalize such a crime. But those who feel this way should ponder the Gaza precedent.

In 2005 Israel withdrew every settlement and every soldier from Gaza, which is what Israel’s critics want it to do in the West Bank. But the result wasn’t peace but an escalation of violence across the border into Israel proper, with the evacuated territory turned into a terrorist base from which thousands of missiles were launched at Israeli towns and villages. The idea of repeating this exercise in the West Bank, which borders Israel’s main population centers, is unthinkable, but that is exactly what those who decry the “occupation” are demanding. Though the vast majority of Israelis would like nothing better to completely separate themselves from the Palestinians and would gladly accept a two-state solution, they are not prepared to allow the West Bank to turn into another Hamasistan.

Advocates for peace who reduce the situation to simplistic pieties should understand that yesterday’s shooting is a reminder of the grim reality of Palestinian hatred and violence and the unpleasant choices that face the Israeli people.

Read Less

RE: What Would Reagan Have Thought?

Jennifer Rubin draws attention to the elephant in the room — that is, the GOP’s unfortunate posturing toward immigration, of which John McCain has lately become the embodiment.

It should be of some consolation that before he could find someone to cast in the nativist role he sought, McCain had to do quite a bit of fruitless searching and, in the end, resort to “synthesizing” his ad from the scenery of a border town and the commentary of a sheriff from a different county. Indeed, the sheriff who enthusiastically confirms McCain’s bona fides as “one of us” — whatever that means — hails from Pinal county, not even on the border, while the ad is shot in Nogales, a border town in the county of Santa Cruz, whose sheriff, Antonio Estrada, has blasted the Arizona immigration bill in no uncertain terms:

“Local law enforcement has a great relationship with the Hispanic community, and something like this is really going to scare these people,” said [Sheriff] Estrada. “They’re going to look at us as immigration officers every time they see us.”

Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima — another county in Southern Arizona, which shares with Mexico the longest border in the state — has called the bill “disgusting,” “racist,” and “unnecessary.”

The ad merely reveals McCain to be a politician, evidently less principled than his supporters took him for in 2008. His presidential ambitions now thwarted, in order to at least not lose his Senate seat, he has gone to great lengths — as far as to endorse the anti-immigration bill of Arizona after having supported the pro-immigration bill of President Bush. But no matter that a politician should flip-flop. Most troubling is the fact that McCain judged this ad expedient because it can find a sympathetic audience among the GOP base.

Incendiary as some of them might be, it is hard to dismiss the complaints against the Arizona immigration bill, for it

makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying registration documents required by federal law, and obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official,” to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien. Police may arrest a person if there is probable cause that the person is an alien not in possession of required registration documents.

Therefore, the law relies for its execution on the discretion of law-enforcement agents, known to misfire even before the bill invested in them so much authority. Take, for example, the detention of a U.S. citizen of Hispanic descent in Phoenix a few months back:

Abdon was told he did not have enough paperwork on him when he pulled into a weigh station to have his commercial truck checked. He provided his commercial driver’s license and a social security number but ended up handcuffed.

An agent called his wife and she had to leave work to drive home and grab other documents like his birth certificate. …

Both were born in the United States and say they are now both infuriated that keeping important documents safely at home is no longer an option.

Jackie says, “It doesn’t feel like it’s a good way of life, to live with fear, even though we are okay, we are legal … still have to carry documents around.”

Disgraceful incidents such as this cannot but multiply now in Arizona. And it would be sad to see the fetish for birth certificates spread from the small lunatic band of “birthers,” who refuse to believe that President Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen, into the broader base of the GOP, which seems to support the Arizona bill.

As a legal alien, I would shudder if such a bill as this came to pass in New York, where I live — though, on second thought, I’d have little to fear, since I am and look European. Indeed, does anyone think that racial profiling will not guide the application of this law? On what other grounds can one be reasonably suspected of being an illegal alien? It is easy for those Arizonans who can boast a porcelain complexion and a flawless accent to support the bill, for by virtue of such qualifications alone they will never be subjected to any inconvenience from it. Of course, it would be another thing entirely if the bill required that at a lawful stop, detention, or arrest anyone must be extensively probed for documentation. In that case, I’d love to hear the opinion of those who now support the bill and scoff indignantly at the charges of discrimination leveled against it.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Independently, even, of this disastrous bill, the GOP’s position on immigration needs serious rethinking. At its heart lies the nativist meme Jen mentioned, that of foreigners stealing American jobs — perhaps the only talking point many on the right share with the unionists on the left. Not only is it distasteful and wrongheaded, not only does it repulse immigrants, legal ones too, but it also undermines the right’s reputation for economic literacy. True, an immigrant gainfully employed takes a job. But he or she also patronizes other businesses while living in the country, thus creating other jobs — for Americans. A bigger population means greater economic activity and more jobs. Indeed, blaming immigrants for putting Americans out of work is as sound as blaming the young, in a population reproducing above replacement rate, of stealing their elders’ jobs. Ironically, the nativists who complain thus about immigrants are often the very same ones (think John Derbyshire, think Peter Brimelow) who, in so many words, lament the impending collapse of Western Civilization due to the white man’s failure to breed as diligently as they think he should.

Republicans had better not concede their position on immigration to the few Buchananite elements in their midst.

Jennifer Rubin draws attention to the elephant in the room — that is, the GOP’s unfortunate posturing toward immigration, of which John McCain has lately become the embodiment.

It should be of some consolation that before he could find someone to cast in the nativist role he sought, McCain had to do quite a bit of fruitless searching and, in the end, resort to “synthesizing” his ad from the scenery of a border town and the commentary of a sheriff from a different county. Indeed, the sheriff who enthusiastically confirms McCain’s bona fides as “one of us” — whatever that means — hails from Pinal county, not even on the border, while the ad is shot in Nogales, a border town in the county of Santa Cruz, whose sheriff, Antonio Estrada, has blasted the Arizona immigration bill in no uncertain terms:

“Local law enforcement has a great relationship with the Hispanic community, and something like this is really going to scare these people,” said [Sheriff] Estrada. “They’re going to look at us as immigration officers every time they see us.”

Clarence Dupnik, the sheriff of Pima — another county in Southern Arizona, which shares with Mexico the longest border in the state — has called the bill “disgusting,” “racist,” and “unnecessary.”

The ad merely reveals McCain to be a politician, evidently less principled than his supporters took him for in 2008. His presidential ambitions now thwarted, in order to at least not lose his Senate seat, he has gone to great lengths — as far as to endorse the anti-immigration bill of Arizona after having supported the pro-immigration bill of President Bush. But no matter that a politician should flip-flop. Most troubling is the fact that McCain judged this ad expedient because it can find a sympathetic audience among the GOP base.

Incendiary as some of them might be, it is hard to dismiss the complaints against the Arizona immigration bill, for it

makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying registration documents required by federal law, and obligates police to make an attempt, when practicable during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official,” to determine a person’s immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is an illegal alien. Police may arrest a person if there is probable cause that the person is an alien not in possession of required registration documents.

Therefore, the law relies for its execution on the discretion of law-enforcement agents, known to misfire even before the bill invested in them so much authority. Take, for example, the detention of a U.S. citizen of Hispanic descent in Phoenix a few months back:

Abdon was told he did not have enough paperwork on him when he pulled into a weigh station to have his commercial truck checked. He provided his commercial driver’s license and a social security number but ended up handcuffed.

An agent called his wife and she had to leave work to drive home and grab other documents like his birth certificate. …

Both were born in the United States and say they are now both infuriated that keeping important documents safely at home is no longer an option.

Jackie says, “It doesn’t feel like it’s a good way of life, to live with fear, even though we are okay, we are legal … still have to carry documents around.”

Disgraceful incidents such as this cannot but multiply now in Arizona. And it would be sad to see the fetish for birth certificates spread from the small lunatic band of “birthers,” who refuse to believe that President Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen, into the broader base of the GOP, which seems to support the Arizona bill.

As a legal alien, I would shudder if such a bill as this came to pass in New York, where I live — though, on second thought, I’d have little to fear, since I am and look European. Indeed, does anyone think that racial profiling will not guide the application of this law? On what other grounds can one be reasonably suspected of being an illegal alien? It is easy for those Arizonans who can boast a porcelain complexion and a flawless accent to support the bill, for by virtue of such qualifications alone they will never be subjected to any inconvenience from it. Of course, it would be another thing entirely if the bill required that at a lawful stop, detention, or arrest anyone must be extensively probed for documentation. In that case, I’d love to hear the opinion of those who now support the bill and scoff indignantly at the charges of discrimination leveled against it.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Independently, even, of this disastrous bill, the GOP’s position on immigration needs serious rethinking. At its heart lies the nativist meme Jen mentioned, that of foreigners stealing American jobs — perhaps the only talking point many on the right share with the unionists on the left. Not only is it distasteful and wrongheaded, not only does it repulse immigrants, legal ones too, but it also undermines the right’s reputation for economic literacy. True, an immigrant gainfully employed takes a job. But he or she also patronizes other businesses while living in the country, thus creating other jobs — for Americans. A bigger population means greater economic activity and more jobs. Indeed, blaming immigrants for putting Americans out of work is as sound as blaming the young, in a population reproducing above replacement rate, of stealing their elders’ jobs. Ironically, the nativists who complain thus about immigrants are often the very same ones (think John Derbyshire, think Peter Brimelow) who, in so many words, lament the impending collapse of Western Civilization due to the white man’s failure to breed as diligently as they think he should.

Republicans had better not concede their position on immigration to the few Buchananite elements in their midst.

Read Less

Stand Up for Israel

Keep Israel Safe has produced this remarkably effective ad.

It is a reminder of what is missing from the mainstream public debate: a clear and forceful repudiation of Obama’s approach to Israel. Let’s hope this inspires other supporters of Israel to come out of their crouch.

Keep Israel Safe has produced this remarkably effective ad.

It is a reminder of what is missing from the mainstream public debate: a clear and forceful repudiation of Obama’s approach to Israel. Let’s hope this inspires other supporters of Israel to come out of their crouch.

Read Less

There Will Be Blood

The latest poll by National Public Radio is filled with very bleak news for Democrats.

NPR polled people who live in the 70 most competitive races in the House this year, 10 of which are Republican seats and 60 of which are Democratic seats. Overall, Republicans lead the generic ballot by eight points (49 v. 41) in these 70 districts. In the Democratic districts, Republicans lead by five points (47 v. 42). And in GOP districts Republicans lead by 16 points (53 v. 37). Those are awful numbers for Democrats — but they get worse.

While Republicans lead on the generic ballot 47 percent v. 42 percent in the 60 Democratic districts, among voters who rate their interest in the election as 8 or higher on a 10-point scale, the data shows a 14-point advantage for Republicans (53 percent v. 39 percent). Among independent voters in Democratic districts, the GOP has a lead of 21 points (50 v. 29). And nearly half of those in Democratic tiers self-identify as conservatives (see the full data set here).

It is hard to imagine the data being much worse for the Democrats at this stage. It is now to the point where even some of Obama’s courtiers in the press recognize that, “Yup, November Will Be a Bloodbath.”

Yup, it will.

The latest poll by National Public Radio is filled with very bleak news for Democrats.

NPR polled people who live in the 70 most competitive races in the House this year, 10 of which are Republican seats and 60 of which are Democratic seats. Overall, Republicans lead the generic ballot by eight points (49 v. 41) in these 70 districts. In the Democratic districts, Republicans lead by five points (47 v. 42). And in GOP districts Republicans lead by 16 points (53 v. 37). Those are awful numbers for Democrats — but they get worse.

While Republicans lead on the generic ballot 47 percent v. 42 percent in the 60 Democratic districts, among voters who rate their interest in the election as 8 or higher on a 10-point scale, the data shows a 14-point advantage for Republicans (53 percent v. 39 percent). Among independent voters in Democratic districts, the GOP has a lead of 21 points (50 v. 29). And nearly half of those in Democratic tiers self-identify as conservatives (see the full data set here).

It is hard to imagine the data being much worse for the Democrats at this stage. It is now to the point where even some of Obama’s courtiers in the press recognize that, “Yup, November Will Be a Bloodbath.”

Yup, it will.

Read Less

Devastating

Saad Ibrahim delivers a withering attack on the Obama administration in today’s Washington Post:

When a billboard appeared outside a small Minnesota town early this year showing a picture of George W. Bush and the words “Miss me yet?” the irony was not lost on many in the Arab world. Most Americans may not miss Bush, but a growing number of people in the Middle East do. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remain unpopular in the region, but his ardent support for democracy was heartening to Arabs living under stalled autocracies. Reform activists in Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait and elsewhere felt empowered to press for greater freedoms during the Bush years. Unfortunately, Bush’s strong support for democracy contrasts sharply with President Obama’s retreat on this critical issue.

Or perhaps the Egyptian political dissident — jailed and tortured by the Mubarak regime multiple times — is really just another scary, racist Tea Party loon.

Saad Ibrahim delivers a withering attack on the Obama administration in today’s Washington Post:

When a billboard appeared outside a small Minnesota town early this year showing a picture of George W. Bush and the words “Miss me yet?” the irony was not lost on many in the Arab world. Most Americans may not miss Bush, but a growing number of people in the Middle East do. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan remain unpopular in the region, but his ardent support for democracy was heartening to Arabs living under stalled autocracies. Reform activists in Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait and elsewhere felt empowered to press for greater freedoms during the Bush years. Unfortunately, Bush’s strong support for democracy contrasts sharply with President Obama’s retreat on this critical issue.

Or perhaps the Egyptian political dissident — jailed and tortured by the Mubarak regime multiple times — is really just another scary, racist Tea Party loon.

Read Less

Reporting on Flotilla Confirmed

Josh Rogin confirms much of the reporting and analysis on the flotilla investigation that has been percolating in the right-wing blogosphere for several days. As Bill Kristol reported on Friday, Rogin notes that the administration and, in particular, James Jones (who always seems to be front and center with the bully-boy scenarios — it was his leaking and meeting on an imposed peace plan that sent shivers up the spines of Israel supporters) were hard at work trying to internationalize the investigation:

The message Obama officials delivered was twofold. First, they wanted to make sure Israel appointed international members to the commission who were credible. William David Trimble from Northern Ireland and Ken Watkin, a former judge advocate general of the Canadian Armed Forces, will be on it. The other Obama message to the Israelis? Speed it up. They wanted Israel to get the commission members settled on and announced as much as a week before the Israelis were ready. The Israeli official said that the detailed and extensive consultations with the Obama people are why it took so long.

This, of course, merely reinforces the Obama line that Israel is incapable of investigating itself. The argument then boils down to which international overseers to impose on the Jewish state. (Turkey, of course, gets a free pass.)

Rogin also confirms the information I have received that Jewish groups were heavily involved and complicit in a result about which they were privately dismayed – specifically, the refusal to rule out a UN investigation:

That type of hedging is exactly what many Israel supporters, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are concerned about. “AIPAC calls on the Obama administration to act decisively at the United Nations and other international forums to block any action — including alternative investigations supported by the Secretary General — which would isolate Israel,” the group said in a statement. They also point to the White House’s statement Sunday on the commission, which they see as tepid because it included a terse warning to Israel along with word of support.

“While Israel should be afforded the time to complete its process, we expect Israel’s commission and military investigation will be carried out promptly. We also expect that, upon completion, its findings will be presented publicly and will be presented to the international community,” the statement said.

Yet AIPAC’s statement, to those not reading between the lines and with the benefit of brackets, sounded like no urgent note of alarm.

To sum it up, we have a White House unwilling to stand four-square with Israel, refusing to rebuff the efforts to delegitimize Israel’s right to manage and review its own defensive measures, and uninterested in exploring the terrorist elements and their ties to Turkey, which were responsible for the violence. And there is no effective strategy in Congress or among Jewish groups to challenge these inclinations. Can you imagine what there is in store when Israel feels compelled to use military force against Iran?

Josh Rogin confirms much of the reporting and analysis on the flotilla investigation that has been percolating in the right-wing blogosphere for several days. As Bill Kristol reported on Friday, Rogin notes that the administration and, in particular, James Jones (who always seems to be front and center with the bully-boy scenarios — it was his leaking and meeting on an imposed peace plan that sent shivers up the spines of Israel supporters) were hard at work trying to internationalize the investigation:

The message Obama officials delivered was twofold. First, they wanted to make sure Israel appointed international members to the commission who were credible. William David Trimble from Northern Ireland and Ken Watkin, a former judge advocate general of the Canadian Armed Forces, will be on it. The other Obama message to the Israelis? Speed it up. They wanted Israel to get the commission members settled on and announced as much as a week before the Israelis were ready. The Israeli official said that the detailed and extensive consultations with the Obama people are why it took so long.

This, of course, merely reinforces the Obama line that Israel is incapable of investigating itself. The argument then boils down to which international overseers to impose on the Jewish state. (Turkey, of course, gets a free pass.)

Rogin also confirms the information I have received that Jewish groups were heavily involved and complicit in a result about which they were privately dismayed – specifically, the refusal to rule out a UN investigation:

That type of hedging is exactly what many Israel supporters, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are concerned about. “AIPAC calls on the Obama administration to act decisively at the United Nations and other international forums to block any action — including alternative investigations supported by the Secretary General — which would isolate Israel,” the group said in a statement. They also point to the White House’s statement Sunday on the commission, which they see as tepid because it included a terse warning to Israel along with word of support.

“While Israel should be afforded the time to complete its process, we expect Israel’s commission and military investigation will be carried out promptly. We also expect that, upon completion, its findings will be presented publicly and will be presented to the international community,” the statement said.

Yet AIPAC’s statement, to those not reading between the lines and with the benefit of brackets, sounded like no urgent note of alarm.

To sum it up, we have a White House unwilling to stand four-square with Israel, refusing to rebuff the efforts to delegitimize Israel’s right to manage and review its own defensive measures, and uninterested in exploring the terrorist elements and their ties to Turkey, which were responsible for the violence. And there is no effective strategy in Congress or among Jewish groups to challenge these inclinations. Can you imagine what there is in store when Israel feels compelled to use military force against Iran?

Read Less

What Would Reagan Have Thought?

Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter and Hoover fellow, has a must-read column on the Gipper and immigration. It is a scholarly brief for the case that Reagan, while committed to law and order and defense of our borders, was unapologetically pro-immigration for both ideological and partisan reasons. As to the latter, Peter explains:

All his political life, Ronald Reagan wooed voters outside his base. Who were Reagan Democrats who gave him landslide victories in 1980 and 1984? Voters of German, Irish, Italian, Polish and other ethnic backgrounds — in a word, the children and grandchildren of immigrants who entered the country at points such as Ellis Island.

Today Reagan would have wooed not only Reagan Democrats but the children and grandchildren of immigrants who entered the country from Mexico. He would have done so as a matter of principle — as we have seen, he gloried in the country’s basic openness to immigrants — but he would also have recognized that Republicans face a math problem.

Whereas the proportion of the population composed of Americans of northern European descent—the traditional Republican base—is steadily shrinking, the proportion composed of Hispanics is rapidly expanding. The GOP will capture the support of some large fraction of Hispanics or it will become as irrelevant as the Federalists and the Whigs.

There are those loud pundits — some themselves emigrants from Anglo countries – who reject all that. Our culture will be swamped! Americans will lose jobs! They will find a scrap of evidence here — ooh, look at the long line for applications at the poultry factory! — and horror stories there. And as they trumpet their opposition to immigration, they point to evidence that Hispanics remain wary of the Republican Party (well, yeah) and choose to ignore the fact that, with the exception of Jews, immigrant groups have historically become more conservative as they climbed the economic ladder.

The critics seem to want America to remain just as it is (with them safely inside the wall). But “America” is not and cannot be a static phenomenon. Quoting Reagan, Peter reminds us:

Describing America as “a shining city” in his 1989 farewell address, for example, he said, “[a]nd if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

None of this is to excuse the unconscionable refusal to enforce our borders or the cries of “Racism!” that greet every effort to secure those borders. But “‘Senator,’ the sheriff says to Sen. McCain at the end of his advertisement, ‘you’re one of us.’ One white man to another white man — speaking the very words most likely to alienate every Hispanic voter who hears them.” And when John McCain stoops to such an ad, which — wink-wink, nod-nod — takes up the nativist line, it’s time to take stock of where we are heading and what message we are conveying to those who want a piece of the American dream.

Peter Robinson, former Reagan speechwriter and Hoover fellow, has a must-read column on the Gipper and immigration. It is a scholarly brief for the case that Reagan, while committed to law and order and defense of our borders, was unapologetically pro-immigration for both ideological and partisan reasons. As to the latter, Peter explains:

All his political life, Ronald Reagan wooed voters outside his base. Who were Reagan Democrats who gave him landslide victories in 1980 and 1984? Voters of German, Irish, Italian, Polish and other ethnic backgrounds — in a word, the children and grandchildren of immigrants who entered the country at points such as Ellis Island.

Today Reagan would have wooed not only Reagan Democrats but the children and grandchildren of immigrants who entered the country from Mexico. He would have done so as a matter of principle — as we have seen, he gloried in the country’s basic openness to immigrants — but he would also have recognized that Republicans face a math problem.

Whereas the proportion of the population composed of Americans of northern European descent—the traditional Republican base—is steadily shrinking, the proportion composed of Hispanics is rapidly expanding. The GOP will capture the support of some large fraction of Hispanics or it will become as irrelevant as the Federalists and the Whigs.

There are those loud pundits — some themselves emigrants from Anglo countries – who reject all that. Our culture will be swamped! Americans will lose jobs! They will find a scrap of evidence here — ooh, look at the long line for applications at the poultry factory! — and horror stories there. And as they trumpet their opposition to immigration, they point to evidence that Hispanics remain wary of the Republican Party (well, yeah) and choose to ignore the fact that, with the exception of Jews, immigrant groups have historically become more conservative as they climbed the economic ladder.

The critics seem to want America to remain just as it is (with them safely inside the wall). But “America” is not and cannot be a static phenomenon. Quoting Reagan, Peter reminds us:

Describing America as “a shining city” in his 1989 farewell address, for example, he said, “[a]nd if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

None of this is to excuse the unconscionable refusal to enforce our borders or the cries of “Racism!” that greet every effort to secure those borders. But “‘Senator,’ the sheriff says to Sen. McCain at the end of his advertisement, ‘you’re one of us.’ One white man to another white man — speaking the very words most likely to alienate every Hispanic voter who hears them.” And when John McCain stoops to such an ad, which — wink-wink, nod-nod — takes up the nativist line, it’s time to take stock of where we are heading and what message we are conveying to those who want a piece of the American dream.

Read Less

Obama’s Problem Isn’t Leadership — It’s Liberal Policy

In the endless wake of the BP oil spill, the new word is leadership. Everyone from Mitt Romney to James Carville to Maureen Dowd says that Barack Obama is in desperate need of some. In the New York Times, Dowd questioned how Obama came to “lose control of his own narrative.” On Good Morning America, Carville told George Stephanopoulos that Obama “looks like he’s not in control.” Romney penned a USA Today column about the absence of presidential command. “When a crisis is upon us,” he wrote, “America wants a leader, not a politician.” Go to any source and you’ll learn that Obama plays too much golf, shows too little anger, and is far too aloof to be a successful leader.

The criticisms have merit but are, in the end, secondary. If Obama’s policies — in the Gulf and beyond — were demonstrably effective, the same leadership style would be overlooked or reflexively praised. Reclaiming your own narrative — whatever that means — won’t get results; nor will looking like you’re in control or projecting bottomless empathy. Successful policy implementation gets results.

The popular exemplar here is Rudolph Giuliani. Yet national memory has skipped over important mundane details because New York City did, in fact, pull through after it was attacked. “We saw leadership on Sept. 11, 2001,” Romney wrote. “Rudy camped out at Ground Zero — he didn’t hole up in his office or retreat to his residence.” But if that’s all Giuliani did, his 9/11 performance would have gone down as hollow grandstanding. As Michael Powell reported in the New York Times, “There was garbage pickup on Sept. 12. City payroll checks went out on Sept. 13. On the sixth day, the stock exchange opened. Security was omnipresent.”

Speeches aside, had trash piled up on street corners and security been wanting, no one would have called Giuliani “America’s mayor.” Leadership isn’t an impressionistic art form in which symbols are aligned and tones calibrated in a decision-free vacuum. Leadership, rather, is public perception alongside the fact of concrete accomplishment.

And is it really accurate to say that Obama lacks the ability to head up a crusade, anyway? Even if we discount his force-of-nature presidential campaign, it wasn’t long ago that pundits were calling him unstoppable for ramming through transformative health-care legislation with barely a handful of true supporters.

Blaming Americans’ sense of uncertainty on the absence of a vaporous trait called presidential leadership isn’t only wrong; it’s detrimental to recovery because it lets bad policy off the hook. Obama believes in the power of government to fix the glitches and hazards of the free market. But every day, as the country watches the furious leak on the BP spill-cam juxtaposed with the manufactured fury of the White House, it’s more convinced of the limitations of big government. And as Americans learn of Washington’s pressure to push offshore drilling farther out into more risky depths, faith in regulation becomes its opposite. All this leaves Obama selling unrealistic policy. No amount of press conferences or beachfront photo-ops will change that. Giuliani simply held fast to what he knew the government could reasonably deliver: police protection and basic municipal services.

Most critical, the policy failings highlighted by the reaction to the spill reinforce Americans’ misgivings about the administration’s larger policy direction. People want jobs and, despite Obama’s claim of “saving” them, the most recent job-growth numbers prove that federal spending is insufficient to the task of raising employment levels. (Nevertheless, the president has just asked Congress for an additional $50 billion in recovery funds.) If Obama was successfully creating jobs, no one would dream of saddling him with the responsibility for a piece of commercial machinery that went bad 5,000 feet under the ocean. On top of unemployment worries, new independent reports on ObamaCare have cast credible doubts on its claims to consumer choice, expanded senior coverage, and general affordability. Not least damaging to Obama’s vision of a more activist federal government is the historic economic collapse of the European entitlement state.

On June 13, the New York Times’s Caucus blog noted, “Polls show that American voters give Mr. Obama the same mixed evaluation as before the spill. They like him personally but have reservations about his policies.” So, for all the convictions of the pundit class, this isn’t about the president’s personal qualities, leadership included. If Obama’s policies were enjoying success, Americans would be happy to call him a new kind of leader, a stealth leader, a reluctant leader, something. But with his agenda in such disrepair, it’s hard even to imagine what exactly Obama is expected to lead. The candidate who had promised to lower the sea levels is now stuck on the ocean floor.

In the endless wake of the BP oil spill, the new word is leadership. Everyone from Mitt Romney to James Carville to Maureen Dowd says that Barack Obama is in desperate need of some. In the New York Times, Dowd questioned how Obama came to “lose control of his own narrative.” On Good Morning America, Carville told George Stephanopoulos that Obama “looks like he’s not in control.” Romney penned a USA Today column about the absence of presidential command. “When a crisis is upon us,” he wrote, “America wants a leader, not a politician.” Go to any source and you’ll learn that Obama plays too much golf, shows too little anger, and is far too aloof to be a successful leader.

The criticisms have merit but are, in the end, secondary. If Obama’s policies — in the Gulf and beyond — were demonstrably effective, the same leadership style would be overlooked or reflexively praised. Reclaiming your own narrative — whatever that means — won’t get results; nor will looking like you’re in control or projecting bottomless empathy. Successful policy implementation gets results.

The popular exemplar here is Rudolph Giuliani. Yet national memory has skipped over important mundane details because New York City did, in fact, pull through after it was attacked. “We saw leadership on Sept. 11, 2001,” Romney wrote. “Rudy camped out at Ground Zero — he didn’t hole up in his office or retreat to his residence.” But if that’s all Giuliani did, his 9/11 performance would have gone down as hollow grandstanding. As Michael Powell reported in the New York Times, “There was garbage pickup on Sept. 12. City payroll checks went out on Sept. 13. On the sixth day, the stock exchange opened. Security was omnipresent.”

Speeches aside, had trash piled up on street corners and security been wanting, no one would have called Giuliani “America’s mayor.” Leadership isn’t an impressionistic art form in which symbols are aligned and tones calibrated in a decision-free vacuum. Leadership, rather, is public perception alongside the fact of concrete accomplishment.

And is it really accurate to say that Obama lacks the ability to head up a crusade, anyway? Even if we discount his force-of-nature presidential campaign, it wasn’t long ago that pundits were calling him unstoppable for ramming through transformative health-care legislation with barely a handful of true supporters.

Blaming Americans’ sense of uncertainty on the absence of a vaporous trait called presidential leadership isn’t only wrong; it’s detrimental to recovery because it lets bad policy off the hook. Obama believes in the power of government to fix the glitches and hazards of the free market. But every day, as the country watches the furious leak on the BP spill-cam juxtaposed with the manufactured fury of the White House, it’s more convinced of the limitations of big government. And as Americans learn of Washington’s pressure to push offshore drilling farther out into more risky depths, faith in regulation becomes its opposite. All this leaves Obama selling unrealistic policy. No amount of press conferences or beachfront photo-ops will change that. Giuliani simply held fast to what he knew the government could reasonably deliver: police protection and basic municipal services.

Most critical, the policy failings highlighted by the reaction to the spill reinforce Americans’ misgivings about the administration’s larger policy direction. People want jobs and, despite Obama’s claim of “saving” them, the most recent job-growth numbers prove that federal spending is insufficient to the task of raising employment levels. (Nevertheless, the president has just asked Congress for an additional $50 billion in recovery funds.) If Obama was successfully creating jobs, no one would dream of saddling him with the responsibility for a piece of commercial machinery that went bad 5,000 feet under the ocean. On top of unemployment worries, new independent reports on ObamaCare have cast credible doubts on its claims to consumer choice, expanded senior coverage, and general affordability. Not least damaging to Obama’s vision of a more activist federal government is the historic economic collapse of the European entitlement state.

On June 13, the New York Times’s Caucus blog noted, “Polls show that American voters give Mr. Obama the same mixed evaluation as before the spill. They like him personally but have reservations about his policies.” So, for all the convictions of the pundit class, this isn’t about the president’s personal qualities, leadership included. If Obama’s policies were enjoying success, Americans would be happy to call him a new kind of leader, a stealth leader, a reluctant leader, something. But with his agenda in such disrepair, it’s hard even to imagine what exactly Obama is expected to lead. The candidate who had promised to lower the sea levels is now stuck on the ocean floor.

Read Less

Obama Administration Cheers Iran — Really

Aside from Rep. Peter King’s resolution, Congress has been mute on Obama’s decision to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council. Jewish groups have similarly refused to confront Obama. We now see that meekness has not paid off. Far from confronting the thugocracies, the Obama team has sat idly by, if not encouraged, the despots. When the Human Rights Council condemned Israel for the flotilla, the U.S. did nothing. Now we learn:

On June 10, with the active involvement and approval of the Obama administration, the Council adopted a decision on human rights in Iran that was a sentence long and contained no condemnation whatsoever.

The context was a review by the Council of Iran’s human rights record, as part of the Council’s consideration of all 192 UN states. The review featured a vigorous defense by Iranian representatives of Iran’s stellar human rights achievements, followed by Iran’s rejection of a host of “recommendations” made to improve its actual behavior. The “outcome” was a sentence identical for dictatorships and democracies alike, in which the Council merely refers to a bundle of documents containing praise, criticisms and responses without drawing any conclusion attributable to the Council itself.

It gets worse:

The reaction from the Obama administration was to declare victory and to manufacture something positive to say about Iran. On June 10, U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe rushed to the UN microphones in Geneva to announce repeatedly: “I have to emphasize that we are very pleased that Iran was willing to participate at all. … In the case of Iran, we applaud the willingness to participate at all. … We’re pleased that at least they were willing to show up.”

Praising Iran despite its total disregard of the fundamentals of human decency is the antithesis of the supposed liberal human rights mantra. Instead of buoying the Human Rights Council’s performance, the Obama administration is sinking with it.

This is shameful. It’s time Congress and pro-Israel groups demanded that the Obama administration withdraw from the Council.

Aside from Rep. Peter King’s resolution, Congress has been mute on Obama’s decision to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council. Jewish groups have similarly refused to confront Obama. We now see that meekness has not paid off. Far from confronting the thugocracies, the Obama team has sat idly by, if not encouraged, the despots. When the Human Rights Council condemned Israel for the flotilla, the U.S. did nothing. Now we learn:

On June 10, with the active involvement and approval of the Obama administration, the Council adopted a decision on human rights in Iran that was a sentence long and contained no condemnation whatsoever.

The context was a review by the Council of Iran’s human rights record, as part of the Council’s consideration of all 192 UN states. The review featured a vigorous defense by Iranian representatives of Iran’s stellar human rights achievements, followed by Iran’s rejection of a host of “recommendations” made to improve its actual behavior. The “outcome” was a sentence identical for dictatorships and democracies alike, in which the Council merely refers to a bundle of documents containing praise, criticisms and responses without drawing any conclusion attributable to the Council itself.

It gets worse:

The reaction from the Obama administration was to declare victory and to manufacture something positive to say about Iran. On June 10, U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe rushed to the UN microphones in Geneva to announce repeatedly: “I have to emphasize that we are very pleased that Iran was willing to participate at all. … In the case of Iran, we applaud the willingness to participate at all. … We’re pleased that at least they were willing to show up.”

Praising Iran despite its total disregard of the fundamentals of human decency is the antithesis of the supposed liberal human rights mantra. Instead of buoying the Human Rights Council’s performance, the Obama administration is sinking with it.

This is shameful. It’s time Congress and pro-Israel groups demanded that the Obama administration withdraw from the Council.

Read Less

Obama Should ‘Anoint’ the Iranian Green Movement

Reuel Gerecht, one of the sharpest commentators around on the Middle East, makes a compelling case in the New York Times for more American support to allow the Green movement in Iran to access the Internet and other communications technologies. Against his points one will hear the familiar argument, made by some Green leaders themselves, that the U.S. government is incapable of running a truly covert program and that the taint of American support will undermine the opposition’s credibility.

Perhaps. But aren’t the mullahs already painting the opposition leaders as American stooges? They don’t need actual evidence to make their charges; concocted evidence and bizarre conspiracy theories will do. After years of such charges, I am guessing that most Iranians are inured to regime propaganda and probably wouldn’t credit it even if it were true.

In any case, aren’t we always hearing about President Obama’s stellar popularity around the world? Surely anointment by The One would not hurt the chances of success in Iran — which, opinion polls suggest, is actually one of the more pro-American countries in the region.

Reuel Gerecht, one of the sharpest commentators around on the Middle East, makes a compelling case in the New York Times for more American support to allow the Green movement in Iran to access the Internet and other communications technologies. Against his points one will hear the familiar argument, made by some Green leaders themselves, that the U.S. government is incapable of running a truly covert program and that the taint of American support will undermine the opposition’s credibility.

Perhaps. But aren’t the mullahs already painting the opposition leaders as American stooges? They don’t need actual evidence to make their charges; concocted evidence and bizarre conspiracy theories will do. After years of such charges, I am guessing that most Iranians are inured to regime propaganda and probably wouldn’t credit it even if it were true.

In any case, aren’t we always hearing about President Obama’s stellar popularity around the world? Surely anointment by The One would not hurt the chances of success in Iran — which, opinion polls suggest, is actually one of the more pro-American countries in the region.

Read Less

Engagement of Syria Knows No Limits

Although Obama’s efforts to engage the Syrian thugocracy have only succeeded in pushing Bashar al-Assad closer to Iran and placing Scuds in Hezbollah’s hands, the president is not deterred. Not even the Republicans’ effort to block the confirmation and redeployment of our ambassador to Damascus is going to halt Obama’s suck-uppery. Indeed, he insists on rewarding Syria for its aggression:

The State Department has dispatched a high-level diplomatic and trade mission to Syria, according to senior U.S. officials, marking the latest bid by the Obama administration to woo President Bashar al-Assad away from his strategic alliance with Iran. The U.S. delegation comprises senior executives from some of America’s top technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp., according to the U.S. officials. All these companies’ businesses in Syria are constrained by U.S. sanctions. The mission is controversial, given recent U.S. allegations that Syria transferred missiles to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria, Hezbollah and Lebanon deny the allegations. U.S. officials said the business delegation will meet with Mr. Assad and his cabinet and seek to facilitate the flow of information technology into the Arab state, which is ranked by watchdog group Freedom House as among the most repressive in the world.

This is shocking even for this crew. Obama is committed to a foreign policy in which Israel is cut no breaks — indeed, is slapped around — for innocuous activity (building in Jerusalem) or for asserting its right of self-defense. Israel’s enemies are coddled, encouraged, and extended olive branch after olive branch. The president, in fact, is encouraging bad behavior and signaling that there is no price for aggression.

Not surprisingly, this is being greeted with criticism from Congress and the human rights community, the latter of which has come to view Obama as working against its efforts to promote democracy and counteract repression:

Some lawmakers and Syrian human-rights activists criticized news of the State Department’s mission Monday. … Some Syrian activists also voiced concern that Damascus’s repression of political opponents could grow if the government develops more sophisticated technologies. “I think the administration is fooling itself it believes that this type of engagement will bring about a more democratic Syria,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident based in Washington. “Assad has shown absolutely no signs of loosening his grip on society, and in many ways he’s gotten worse.”

Recall that last month Obama renewed sanctions that had been imposed by the Bush administration, declaring at the time that the regime was “continuing support for terrorist organizations and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, continu[ing] to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” But now we send executives bearing gifts. Meanwhile, Iran looks on, no doubt convinced more than ever that Obama is not inclined to oppose regimes that brutalize their people and threaten Israel’s destruction.

Obama insists on enabling dictators. Jewish groups are wedded to a strategy of enabling Obama. That leaves Israel to fend for itself. And so it will.

Although Obama’s efforts to engage the Syrian thugocracy have only succeeded in pushing Bashar al-Assad closer to Iran and placing Scuds in Hezbollah’s hands, the president is not deterred. Not even the Republicans’ effort to block the confirmation and redeployment of our ambassador to Damascus is going to halt Obama’s suck-uppery. Indeed, he insists on rewarding Syria for its aggression:

The State Department has dispatched a high-level diplomatic and trade mission to Syria, according to senior U.S. officials, marking the latest bid by the Obama administration to woo President Bashar al-Assad away from his strategic alliance with Iran. The U.S. delegation comprises senior executives from some of America’s top technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp., according to the U.S. officials. All these companies’ businesses in Syria are constrained by U.S. sanctions. The mission is controversial, given recent U.S. allegations that Syria transferred missiles to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria, Hezbollah and Lebanon deny the allegations. U.S. officials said the business delegation will meet with Mr. Assad and his cabinet and seek to facilitate the flow of information technology into the Arab state, which is ranked by watchdog group Freedom House as among the most repressive in the world.

This is shocking even for this crew. Obama is committed to a foreign policy in which Israel is cut no breaks — indeed, is slapped around — for innocuous activity (building in Jerusalem) or for asserting its right of self-defense. Israel’s enemies are coddled, encouraged, and extended olive branch after olive branch. The president, in fact, is encouraging bad behavior and signaling that there is no price for aggression.

Not surprisingly, this is being greeted with criticism from Congress and the human rights community, the latter of which has come to view Obama as working against its efforts to promote democracy and counteract repression:

Some lawmakers and Syrian human-rights activists criticized news of the State Department’s mission Monday. … Some Syrian activists also voiced concern that Damascus’s repression of political opponents could grow if the government develops more sophisticated technologies. “I think the administration is fooling itself it believes that this type of engagement will bring about a more democratic Syria,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident based in Washington. “Assad has shown absolutely no signs of loosening his grip on society, and in many ways he’s gotten worse.”

Recall that last month Obama renewed sanctions that had been imposed by the Bush administration, declaring at the time that the regime was “continuing support for terrorist organizations and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, continu[ing] to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.” But now we send executives bearing gifts. Meanwhile, Iran looks on, no doubt convinced more than ever that Obama is not inclined to oppose regimes that brutalize their people and threaten Israel’s destruction.

Obama insists on enabling dictators. Jewish groups are wedded to a strategy of enabling Obama. That leaves Israel to fend for itself. And so it will.

Read Less

A Mineral-Rich Afghanistan: Blessing or Curse?

Reactions have been all over the place to news that a Pentagon study has found almost $1 trillion in mineral wealth in Afghanistan. Afghan officials are understandably excited. Meanwhile, Ralph Peters warns: “Assigning the battlefield a trillion-dollar value is not a prescription for reconciliation. Expect ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ scripted by Satan.”

Which side is right? For the foreseeable future, neither. Just because Afghanistan has the potential to cough up vast mineral wealth doesn’t mean that is going to happen anytime soon. There is such persuasive insecurity in many of the areas where mineral deposits have been found, and the infrastructure is so spotty, that it will take many, many years to reap any real dividend. By way of comparison, recall Iraq, which has a far longer history of exploiting its mineral wealth. Nevertheless, the exaggerated estimates of vastly increased oil output back in 2003 are still a long way from becoming reality. Only now are contracts actually being let and work is starting. Afghanistan is years away from reaching that point.

When — or more accurately if — it does get there, no one can predict what the impact of mineral riches will be. Will they spark greater violence and corruption and make government even less accountable to the people? It’s certainly possible that Afghanistan will feel the “resource curse” that has afflicted oil-rich states. But the possibility of a lucrative and legal economic base also opens up hopeful new vistas for Afghanistan. For years Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld refused requests to increase the size of the Afghan security forces because he worried they could not be self-sustaining. Now the security forces are finally being expanded, and the mineral riches give Afghanistan the potential of paying for those forces itself. Moreover, mineral money would give Afghanistan the potential of creating employment that would provide an alternative to the lure of the Taliban’s paychecks.

In the end, it is better to be self-sustaining as a nation and not a perpetual ward of the international community. Afghanistan now has the opportunity to do just that. I don’t want to dismiss the “resource curse,” which is real, but think for yourself: where has counterinsurgency been easier? In Somalia, a land without resources, or in Iraq, a land with vast oil wealth? The question answers itself.

Reactions have been all over the place to news that a Pentagon study has found almost $1 trillion in mineral wealth in Afghanistan. Afghan officials are understandably excited. Meanwhile, Ralph Peters warns: “Assigning the battlefield a trillion-dollar value is not a prescription for reconciliation. Expect ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ scripted by Satan.”

Which side is right? For the foreseeable future, neither. Just because Afghanistan has the potential to cough up vast mineral wealth doesn’t mean that is going to happen anytime soon. There is such persuasive insecurity in many of the areas where mineral deposits have been found, and the infrastructure is so spotty, that it will take many, many years to reap any real dividend. By way of comparison, recall Iraq, which has a far longer history of exploiting its mineral wealth. Nevertheless, the exaggerated estimates of vastly increased oil output back in 2003 are still a long way from becoming reality. Only now are contracts actually being let and work is starting. Afghanistan is years away from reaching that point.

When — or more accurately if — it does get there, no one can predict what the impact of mineral riches will be. Will they spark greater violence and corruption and make government even less accountable to the people? It’s certainly possible that Afghanistan will feel the “resource curse” that has afflicted oil-rich states. But the possibility of a lucrative and legal economic base also opens up hopeful new vistas for Afghanistan. For years Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld refused requests to increase the size of the Afghan security forces because he worried they could not be self-sustaining. Now the security forces are finally being expanded, and the mineral riches give Afghanistan the potential of paying for those forces itself. Moreover, mineral money would give Afghanistan the potential of creating employment that would provide an alternative to the lure of the Taliban’s paychecks.

In the end, it is better to be self-sustaining as a nation and not a perpetual ward of the international community. Afghanistan now has the opportunity to do just that. I don’t want to dismiss the “resource curse,” which is real, but think for yourself: where has counterinsurgency been easier? In Somalia, a land without resources, or in Iraq, a land with vast oil wealth? The question answers itself.

Read Less

Naming Names in the War on Terror

Sen. Joe Lieberman takes issue with Obama’s insistence that we not name our foe — “violent Islamist extremism.” As Lieberman points out, unless we are crystal clear about the identity and motivations of our enemy, we’re going to be less than successful in defeating those who wage war on us. He makes a key point: “Al Qaeda” is an insufficient descriptor of our enemy:

Defining the enemy by reference to al Qaeda implies that this war is primarily about destroying an organization, rather than defeating a broader political ideology. This war will not end when al Qaeda has been vanquished—though that, of course, is a critical goal—but only when the ideology of violent Islamist extremism that inspires and predates it is decisively rejected. That ideology motivates many other groups and individuals.

For example, the ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin, recently warned about the growing danger to the U.S. posed by the Pakistan-based Islamist extremist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was responsible for the devastating 2008 attack in Mumbai, India.

Finally, characterizing this war as being against a specific organization risks distracting our government from important policy questions about how to combat the ideological dimensions of the war that is taking place within Islam. It also may send a message to moderate Muslims that they can and should remain on the sidelines of this fight, while governments use conventional means to defeat al Qaeda.

If the Obama brain trust thinks it is avoiding antagonizing “the Muslim World,” it is dangerously mistaken. “We must encourage and empower the non-violent Muslim majority to raise their voices to condemn the Islamist extremist ideology as a desecration of Islam, responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Muslims and people of other faiths,” Lieberman writes. “How can we expect those Muslims to have the courage to stand and do that if we are unwilling to define and describe the enemy as dramatically different from them?”

For a president who bragged that he understood the “Muslim World,” it’s quite apparent that his understanding is as faulty as his grasp of market economics and executive leadership.

Sen. Joe Lieberman takes issue with Obama’s insistence that we not name our foe — “violent Islamist extremism.” As Lieberman points out, unless we are crystal clear about the identity and motivations of our enemy, we’re going to be less than successful in defeating those who wage war on us. He makes a key point: “Al Qaeda” is an insufficient descriptor of our enemy:

Defining the enemy by reference to al Qaeda implies that this war is primarily about destroying an organization, rather than defeating a broader political ideology. This war will not end when al Qaeda has been vanquished—though that, of course, is a critical goal—but only when the ideology of violent Islamist extremism that inspires and predates it is decisively rejected. That ideology motivates many other groups and individuals.

For example, the ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, Daniel Benjamin, recently warned about the growing danger to the U.S. posed by the Pakistan-based Islamist extremist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was responsible for the devastating 2008 attack in Mumbai, India.

Finally, characterizing this war as being against a specific organization risks distracting our government from important policy questions about how to combat the ideological dimensions of the war that is taking place within Islam. It also may send a message to moderate Muslims that they can and should remain on the sidelines of this fight, while governments use conventional means to defeat al Qaeda.

If the Obama brain trust thinks it is avoiding antagonizing “the Muslim World,” it is dangerously mistaken. “We must encourage and empower the non-violent Muslim majority to raise their voices to condemn the Islamist extremist ideology as a desecration of Islam, responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of innocent Muslims and people of other faiths,” Lieberman writes. “How can we expect those Muslims to have the courage to stand and do that if we are unwilling to define and describe the enemy as dramatically different from them?”

For a president who bragged that he understood the “Muslim World,” it’s quite apparent that his understanding is as faulty as his grasp of market economics and executive leadership.

Read Less

House Letter on Flotilla — a Vast Improvement

Republican Rep. Ted Poe and Democrat Rep. Gary Peters have released a letter on the flotilla , the counterpart to the Reid-McConnell letter, we are told. Except it’s not the Pelosi-Cantor letter (for reasons I will try to divine below) and it’s not the same as the Senate version — it’s much better.

Unlike the Senate letter, Poe-Peters avoids praising the noxious UN statement that Obama agreed to, which left open the option of an international inquiry. (Reid-McConnell: “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.”) Instead, the congressmen challenge Obama “to make every effort to thwart international condemnation and focus the international community on the crimes of the Iran-backed [note: Reid-McConnell doesn't explicitly make the Iran connection] Hamas leadership against Israel and the Palestinian people.”

And rather than the softer formulation of the Reid-McConnell letter (“The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so”), the congressmen implore Obama to “unequivocally reiterate that the United States stands behind its longtime friend and ally.” Unfortunately, the congressmen don’t call for withdrawal of the U.S. from the UN Human Rights Council, but it’s certainly an improvement over the last effort.

Why the improvement? First, rather than negotiating with the House’s Democratic speaker, who’s going to play defense for Obama at all costs, a Democrat unconcerned with running interference for Obama was rounded up. Good move. Lesson for the future: if you insist on bipartisanship, find more candidly pro-Israel Democrats. And second, I can only imagine that pro-Israel groups were rightly embarrassed by the senators’ endorsement of the UN statement and implored the congressmen not to repeat the error.

So it seems possible to set the bar a bit higher for pro-Israel letters and resolutions, obtain a more effective statement, and avoid enabling the Obami’s mischief. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend.

Republican Rep. Ted Poe and Democrat Rep. Gary Peters have released a letter on the flotilla , the counterpart to the Reid-McConnell letter, we are told. Except it’s not the Pelosi-Cantor letter (for reasons I will try to divine below) and it’s not the same as the Senate version — it’s much better.

Unlike the Senate letter, Poe-Peters avoids praising the noxious UN statement that Obama agreed to, which left open the option of an international inquiry. (Reid-McConnell: “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.”) Instead, the congressmen challenge Obama “to make every effort to thwart international condemnation and focus the international community on the crimes of the Iran-backed [note: Reid-McConnell doesn't explicitly make the Iran connection] Hamas leadership against Israel and the Palestinian people.”

And rather than the softer formulation of the Reid-McConnell letter (“The United States has traditionally stood with Israel because it is in our national security interest and must continue to do so”), the congressmen implore Obama to “unequivocally reiterate that the United States stands behind its longtime friend and ally.” Unfortunately, the congressmen don’t call for withdrawal of the U.S. from the UN Human Rights Council, but it’s certainly an improvement over the last effort.

Why the improvement? First, rather than negotiating with the House’s Democratic speaker, who’s going to play defense for Obama at all costs, a Democrat unconcerned with running interference for Obama was rounded up. Good move. Lesson for the future: if you insist on bipartisanship, find more candidly pro-Israel Democrats. And second, I can only imagine that pro-Israel groups were rightly embarrassed by the senators’ endorsement of the UN statement and implored the congressmen not to repeat the error.

So it seems possible to set the bar a bit higher for pro-Israel letters and resolutions, obtain a more effective statement, and avoid enabling the Obami’s mischief. Let’s hope it’s the start of a trend.

Read Less

Hamas Won’t Let Supplies into Gaza; Media Blames Israel

The delegitimization war against Israel is at bottom a war on the truth itself. Two examples illustrate the dementia that has overcome many Western elites. The first is a short Pajamas Media video by Richard Landes showing the large quantities of food and medicine that are sitting on Gaza’s borders, waiting to be delivered — if only Hamas would let them in. Israel is awash in foreign correspondents whose job is to place the conflict under a microscope; why are none of them interested in these kinds of facts?

The second is the continued emergence of irrefutable evidence that a violent confrontation was exactly what the flotilla planners intended. The latest is a video taken on the Mavi Marmara before the hostilities broke out that records, in the background, two “peace activists” talking openly about the impending violence:

Voice A: “They get held hostage or they get chucked off”
Voice B: “Chucked off?”
Voice A: “They get chucked off — they get thrown off.”

A few minutes later, Voice A explains things further for Voice B:

Voice A: “These guys … these Turks … they’re not like us … [we] come from an easy life … [they are not] just on a boat to Gaza … they’re always ready for these things.”

After a pause, Voice B expresses his concern, which is dismissed by Voice A:

Voice B: “So they’re ready to fight?”
Voice A: “Whatever happens.”

You’d think this kind of thing would be headline news for all those who gave this story blockbuster treatment in its opening hours, when it was gleefully assumed in enlightened quarters everywhere that Israeli commandos had savagely massacred dozens of extremely peaceful humanitarian activists.

Yes, the Israelis are terrible at handling these crises, are incapable of staying ahead of fast-moving events, and lack competence in basic PR. But “optics” and proactive media relations only get you so far when the international media and the “international community” are so dedicated to manufacturing a false reality. As David Brog noted recently, Israel is guilty until proven guilty. So why even try?

The delegitimization war against Israel is at bottom a war on the truth itself. Two examples illustrate the dementia that has overcome many Western elites. The first is a short Pajamas Media video by Richard Landes showing the large quantities of food and medicine that are sitting on Gaza’s borders, waiting to be delivered — if only Hamas would let them in. Israel is awash in foreign correspondents whose job is to place the conflict under a microscope; why are none of them interested in these kinds of facts?

The second is the continued emergence of irrefutable evidence that a violent confrontation was exactly what the flotilla planners intended. The latest is a video taken on the Mavi Marmara before the hostilities broke out that records, in the background, two “peace activists” talking openly about the impending violence:

Voice A: “They get held hostage or they get chucked off”
Voice B: “Chucked off?”
Voice A: “They get chucked off — they get thrown off.”

A few minutes later, Voice A explains things further for Voice B:

Voice A: “These guys … these Turks … they’re not like us … [we] come from an easy life … [they are not] just on a boat to Gaza … they’re always ready for these things.”

After a pause, Voice B expresses his concern, which is dismissed by Voice A:

Voice B: “So they’re ready to fight?”
Voice A: “Whatever happens.”

You’d think this kind of thing would be headline news for all those who gave this story blockbuster treatment in its opening hours, when it was gleefully assumed in enlightened quarters everywhere that Israeli commandos had savagely massacred dozens of extremely peaceful humanitarian activists.

Yes, the Israelis are terrible at handling these crises, are incapable of staying ahead of fast-moving events, and lack competence in basic PR. But “optics” and proactive media relations only get you so far when the international media and the “international community” are so dedicated to manufacturing a false reality. As David Brog noted recently, Israel is guilty until proven guilty. So why even try?

Read Less

Obama, the Oil Spill, and 9/11

What was the president thinking when he likened the oil spill to the attacks of September 11? My analysis here.

What was the president thinking when he likened the oil spill to the attacks of September 11? My analysis here.

Read Less

Still Trying Not to Offend Obama and His Offensive Israel Policy

AIPAC released a statement on the flotilla. It is a remarkable effort to weave around the Obama administration, which plainly doesn’t see things AIPAC’s way. But far be it from AIPAC to make that clear. The statement, with my translation in brackets, reads as follows:

AIPAC commends Israel’s decision to undertake a thorough, introspective look at all aspects of the flotilla incident. The Jewish state’s long tradition of transparent self-examination is dramatic and courageous, and it highlights what distinguishes Israel from its neighbors and many of its harshest — and most hypocritical — critics.  Unlike any other country in the Middle East, and many throughout the world, Israel is a fellow democracy with a celebrated legal tradition and judiciary, and a Supreme Court with a history of independence and credibility. [Unfortunately, we have to say this because the administration doesn't comprehend this and continues to insult the only democracy in the region.]

We welcome [because we have to say "welcome" or the administration will be mad at us, but we really mean we're gritting our teeth about] the Obama administration’s support [grudging and condescending] for the Israeli commission investigating the flotilla incident, which clearly meets the call of the Security Council for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation. [But Obama won't say this and continues to leave the door open for an international kangaroo court.]

The White House recognized Israel’s decision to investigate itself as an “important step forward” and expressed its respect for the Israeli judicial system [but obnoxiously ordered it to present the findings for the thugocracies that populate the UN]. AIPAC calls on the Obama administration to act decisively at the United Nations and other international forums to block any action — including alternative investigations supported by the Secretary General — which would isolate Israel. [Which it hasn't done, and we compounded the offense by praising the UN Security statement.]

At a time when the so many countries are seeking to unfairly stigmatize and isolate Israel, challenge its right to self-defense and judge it by a double standard, once again we expect the United States to stand with our ally Israel. [But it hasn't, so how can we, as the premier pro-Israel group, remain silent?]

In fact, in private and off the record, there isn’t a Jewish “leader” among the many that populate mainstream Jewish groups who wouldn’t agree with the “translation.” It is only by convincing themselves that “working quietly through back channels” is an effective strategy that they have decided not to say these things in public, on the record. I wouldn’t begrudge them that approach if there were the slightest indication it is working. But it’s not. And that, too, they will privately concede.

AIPAC released a statement on the flotilla. It is a remarkable effort to weave around the Obama administration, which plainly doesn’t see things AIPAC’s way. But far be it from AIPAC to make that clear. The statement, with my translation in brackets, reads as follows:

AIPAC commends Israel’s decision to undertake a thorough, introspective look at all aspects of the flotilla incident. The Jewish state’s long tradition of transparent self-examination is dramatic and courageous, and it highlights what distinguishes Israel from its neighbors and many of its harshest — and most hypocritical — critics.  Unlike any other country in the Middle East, and many throughout the world, Israel is a fellow democracy with a celebrated legal tradition and judiciary, and a Supreme Court with a history of independence and credibility. [Unfortunately, we have to say this because the administration doesn't comprehend this and continues to insult the only democracy in the region.]

We welcome [because we have to say "welcome" or the administration will be mad at us, but we really mean we're gritting our teeth about] the Obama administration’s support [grudging and condescending] for the Israeli commission investigating the flotilla incident, which clearly meets the call of the Security Council for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation. [But Obama won't say this and continues to leave the door open for an international kangaroo court.]

The White House recognized Israel’s decision to investigate itself as an “important step forward” and expressed its respect for the Israeli judicial system [but obnoxiously ordered it to present the findings for the thugocracies that populate the UN]. AIPAC calls on the Obama administration to act decisively at the United Nations and other international forums to block any action — including alternative investigations supported by the Secretary General — which would isolate Israel. [Which it hasn't done, and we compounded the offense by praising the UN Security statement.]

At a time when the so many countries are seeking to unfairly stigmatize and isolate Israel, challenge its right to self-defense and judge it by a double standard, once again we expect the United States to stand with our ally Israel. [But it hasn't, so how can we, as the premier pro-Israel group, remain silent?]

In fact, in private and off the record, there isn’t a Jewish “leader” among the many that populate mainstream Jewish groups who wouldn’t agree with the “translation.” It is only by convincing themselves that “working quietly through back channels” is an effective strategy that they have decided not to say these things in public, on the record. I wouldn’t begrudge them that approach if there were the slightest indication it is working. But it’s not. And that, too, they will privately concede.

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.