The New York Times, in a story on Team Obama gearing up for the 2012 election, reports that the theme of “hopeful, transcendent politics” has been jettisoned in favor of a combination of excuses and attacks. “If 2008 was about lifting Mr. Obama up,” the story reports, “2012 will have at least some strong element of dragging down his Republican opponent (who the campaign believes will most likely be Mitt Romney). If 2008 was about ‘Yes We Can’ and limitless possibility, 2012 will be to some degree about why we couldn’t (‘Republican intransigence’), and why we shouldn’t, at least when it comes to anything the Republican nominee proposes (‘His party got us here in the first place’). As Mr. Obama recently told a group of supporters in the deflated liberal bastion of San Francisco, ‘The Hope poster is kind of faded and a little dog-eared.’”
It turns out the president has a gift for understatement.
The left-wing lobby group J Street has a problem. On the one hand, their leadership has been trying hard to portray itself as just another liberal pro-Israel Jewish group that deserves a place at the communal table. On the other, the radical instincts of much of its leadership and many of its supporters are so alienated from mainstream Jewish opinion about Israel and the Middle East conflict, the organization often finds itself lurching about trying to square two points of view that are incompatible. J Street first condemned Israel’s counter-offensive against Hamas terror in December 2008 and then eventually backed away from that stand when they realized even Israeli leftists disagreed with them. Their positions on Iran sanctions have similarly wavered. And let’s not even get into their bizarre on-again-off-again lying about getting most of their funding from George Soros.
The latest example concerns a trip to Gaza by one of their founders and board members, New York lawyer Kathleen Peratis. Peratis is also co-chair of the Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee of the viciously anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch. Peratis penned an article for the Forwardpublished earlier this month in which she discussed her meetings with the Hamas terrorist group and tours of the tunnels by which Palestinians have smuggled arms and material into Gaza. In the piece, she not only failed to criticize Hamas or the tyrannical nature of the Islamist group’s reign over Gaza but also made clear her opposition to Israel’s policies and the blockade of the terrorist enclave. As for J Street, they didn’t send her to Gaza but, as the Washington Jewish Weekreported, initially distributed copies of her piece to members of the group and the press via their daily news roundup. But a week later, after some criticism of the association with the group and Hamas began to percolate, J Street predictably folded, issuing a statement today distancing itself from Peratis’ conduct.
Click here if you want to punish your eardrums; otherwise, just read on for the general story. Now that celebrities like Disney’s Hannah Montana are getting on board with OWS, how long will it be before the movement gets too “mainstream” for its college hipster base?
Count Miley Cyrus amongst the celebrities supporting Occupy Wall Street.
With her newly released music video, the teenage star joins the ranks of Russell Simmons, Mark Ruffalo, Lupe Fiasco and many others in Hollywood lending their voice to the People’s Microphone. “Liberty Walks,” Cyrus’s latest single, sets the music to images and video from the various protests and activity around the various OWS encampments throughout the nation.
“This is dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in,” the dedication at the beginning of the video reads.
The editors of Foreign Policy magazine would do well to read Evelyn’s post (and the Haaretz article linked therein), because this year’s installment of the magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers list is a bit of a farce. The list is always intended to be provocative, but this year’s reads like a parody of itself.
Clocking in together at No. 28 are the renowned intellectual giants we call Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, but who are known around the Middle East as Arafat’s understudy and an unpopular failed reformer. Israel, which is not only an inspiration to actual Arab thinkers and reformers, as Evelyn noted, but which also produces, as it did again this year, Nobel laureates aplenty, also appears on the list. But it’s all the way at No. 63, and the spot belongs to former Mossad director Meir Dagan. He earned his placement for, as the article announces, “being the last man in Israel to stand up to Benjamin Netanyahu.” Where to begin?
Those Middle East observers who prefer to focus on Israel’s actions or inactions as the only source of tension in the region generally ignore the greatest obstacle to peace or even coexistence: the deep and abiding hatred for Jews that has become entrenched in Arab political culture. No better example of the utter irrationality of that culture and its obsessive nature exists than how the news of the renovation of a ramp leading to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has become the subject of intense controversy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that plans to demolish a temporary structure that allowed access to the Temple Mount would be indefinitely postponed due to the threats of violence not only from Palestinians but also from Egypt and Jordan. As with the case of previous efforts to either modernize or create better access for this historic and sacred area, any actions by Israel have been regarded by denizens of the so-called “Arab street” as a conspiratorial plot to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount or otherwise offend Muslim sensibilities. The fact that even an anti-Israel institution like UNESCO — which has routinely denounced archeological digs in the city by Israelis — regards the ramp demolition as in no way compromising Muslim rights or shrines is meaningless to Israel’s Arab foes. While frustrating for Israel, these threats ought to clearly illustrate to the world the irrational aspect of Arab and Islamic critique of Israel. The resentment the Temple Mount project has generated is rooted in a belief that Jews have no right to be in Jerusalem. It has nothing to do with anything Netanyahu or his government might do.
Barney Frank just gave an assortment of reasons for his decision to end his 30-year congressional career: his concerns about redistricting, a feeling that he could be more effective outside of politics, a sudden desire to finish his long- abandoned Harvard Ph.D thesis. It’s true that Frank’s reelection campaign would be a challenge, since redistricting would strip him of some of his most liberal constituents. As he mentioned, it will also be difficult for him to campaign in new areas. Frank only won his last race by 11 percent – which suggested the 2012 one could be a toss-up:
Frank’s 2010 campaign manager, Kevin Sowyrda, said a key factor in the congressman’s decision was that the newly drawn up congressional districts strip away New Bedford from Frank. The South Coast, heavily Democratic, pro-union fishing city has long been a prime power base for Frank, but his new district now includes several more moderate suburban towns, such as Walpole, rather than New Bedford.
The only thing surprising about the latest blow-up between the U.S. and Pakistan is that anyone is surprised about it. It seems that Pakistani soldiers fired on U.S. and Afghan forces operating on the Afghan side of the border. The U.S. forces called in air strikes which reportedly killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan has responded furiously by closing—temporarily one assumes—the supply line from Karachi that carries roughly 40 percent of the non-lethal supplies used by NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has also curtailed cooperation in the wider war against al-Qaeda, announcing it will kick the CIA out of an airfield that has been used to support drone strikes. In short, instead of cracking down on their own soldiers who are firing on ostensible “allies,” the Pakistani generals are attacking those very “allies” for doing what any other military force in the world would do when fired upon—i.e. return fire.
The use of quotes for the word “allies” should signal how skeptical I am that the Pakistani generals really are our allies. As I have been arguing for a while, the Pakistani military (which effectively controls the state’s security policy) is more our enemy than our friend. The military’s apparent objective—reinstituting Taliban (or possibly Haqqani) rule in Afghanistan—cannot be squared with our objective, which is the institutionalization of representative democracy and the creation of a durable pro-Western state. There are, to be sure, some areas of overlap—neither the Pakistani army nor the U.S. government would like to see the TTP (the Pakistani Taliban) take power in Islamabad. But then even enemies such as the U.S. and Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China could occasionally cooperate against mutual foes. The same is true with Pakistan—as long as we do not harbor any illusions about the transactional nature of the relationship and do not expect more from our “ally” than it will give.
A new batch of stolen emails from the East Anglia climate research center was released last week. Anthony Watts and JunkScience are doing some of the best up-to-the-minute blog coverage, and if you feel like digging through the 5,000+ emails, EcoWho has compiled them into a handy search engine.
The most striking take-away from the emails is how obsessed the climatologists seemed to be with media coverage – almost as if they were public relations associates as opposed to scientists. The extent of cooperation between the climate researchers and some friendly news outlets is also fascinating. (David Rose has an excellent article exploring the connections between East Anglia and the BBC.)
As we wrote yesterday, the Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich for president was good news for the former’s speaker’s campaign but said even more about the animus that hard line conservatives (such as the paper’s publisher Joseph W. McQuaid), have for Mitt Romney. It also changed the conversation about Gingrich from the debate about his controversial endorsement of a complicated scheme of amnesty for illegal immigrants to speculation about whether or not his growing support means Romney’s frontrunner status is in jeopardy.
McQuaid’s vow to hammer Romney on a regular basis in the pages of his paper until the New Hampshire primary is no empty threat. But aside from the signal the front-page editorial sent about antipathy for the former Massachusetts governor, it’s worth asking just how important any endorsement or editorial from a print newspaper is these days. Though the Union Leader’s positions on the candidates are an important element of the history of that first-in-the-nation primary, we need to remember the journalistic landscape has changed enormously even in the four years since McQuaid backed John McCain. Though Gingrich is right to be pleased, the Union Leader’s impact on the race will probably turn out to be minimal.
One of the most popular motifs among the anti-Israel crowd these days is that “the only democracy in the Middle East” isn’t actually a democracy at all: It’s an “apartheid state,” a “democracy for Jews only,” or at the very least, a state that’s constantly passing “anti-democratic” laws. So it’s worth considering what people who actually live in undemocratic states think of this claim. Anshel Pfeffer of Haaretz opened one of his reports from Cairo last Friday as follows:
“We want a democracy like in Israel.” I heard this sentence twice in January, once in a shopping center in Tunis and a second time on a street near Tahrir Square in Cairo. When I tell people that neither of the men who said this to me were aware of my being a reporter for an Israeli newspaper, I am usually greeted with disbelief.
The video ad was created by the DNC, but it could just as easily have been put together by Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Freedomworks, or any of Mitt Romney’s other opponents on the right. It’s not really a general election attack, but one designed to wound Romney in the primaries, and potentially help buoy a less electable Republican candidate to the nomination:
If there was ever a moment that captured the moral rot at the core of the human rights community, surely it is this new development: the Danish PL Foundation has awarded its annual human rights prize jointly to the Israeli group B’Tselem and to the Palestinian group Al Haq.
The award will be presented in Copenhagen a few days from now, but only Jessica Montell, the head of B’Tselem, will be on hand to receive it. The head of Al Haq, Shawan Jabarin, cannot fly to Europe, or in fact anywhere — because he is banned from travel by both Israel and Jordan owing to his extensive involvement with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an infamous Palestinian terrorist group.
Last week was full of bad financial news coming out of Europe.
* Belgium’s debt was downgraded from AA+ to AA with a negative outlook.
* Italy had to pay 6.5 percent to sell six-month bills and 7.8 percent on two-year notes.
* Germany–with the best credit in Europe–was able to sell only 3.6 billion euros in ten-year bonds out of 6 billion euro’s worth offered. German interest rates shot up afterwards from 1.98 percent to 2.09.
* Britain’s Foreign Office is preparing contingency plans for aiding British subjects abroad if the euro collapses and riots erupt.