Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 15, 2012

“Shirtless FBI Agent” Photo Was a Joke

The Seattle Times got its hands on that much-hyped “Shirtless FBI Agent” photo, and it’s not at all what we were led to believe. Apparently the photo was a joke the agent sent out to multiple friends, including Jill Kelley and a Seattle Times reporter, back in 2010. It shows the agent outside of MacDill Air Force Base, posing in between two SWAT target dummies that look a lot like him. The caption reads: “Which One’s Fred?”

The Seattle Times, which also interviewed the shirtless agent (real name: Frederick Humphries), reports:

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The Seattle Times got its hands on that much-hyped “Shirtless FBI Agent” photo, and it’s not at all what we were led to believe. Apparently the photo was a joke the agent sent out to multiple friends, including Jill Kelley and a Seattle Times reporter, back in 2010. It shows the agent outside of MacDill Air Force Base, posing in between two SWAT target dummies that look a lot like him. The caption reads: “Which One’s Fred?”

The Seattle Times, which also interviewed the shirtless agent (real name: Frederick Humphries), reports:

The picture, which was sent to a reporter at The Seattle Times in 2010, was taken following a “hard workout” with the SWAT team at MacDill Air Force Base. He’s posed between a pair of target dummies that have a remarkable likeness to the buff agent. The caption on the photo, which was sent from a personal email account, reads, “Which One’s Fred?” …

Humphries, 47, said he sent the photo to Kelley and others in the fall of 2010, shortly after he had transferred to the Tampa office from Guantánamo Bay, where Humphries had been an FBI liaison to the CIA at the detention facility there.

Indeed, among his friends and associates, Humphries was known to send dumb-joke emails in which the punch line was provided by opening an attached photo.

[Retired FBI agent Charlie] Mandigo confirmed he received a copy of the photo as well and described it as “joking.” The photo was sent from a joint personal email account shared by Humphries’ wife. Humphries said that, at one point, his supervisor posted the picture on an FBI bulletin board as a joke and that his wife, a teacher, has a framed copy.

Unless there’s more to this, the FBI has some explaining to do. Not only is Humphries being investigated for by the Office of Professional Responsibility for what now appears to be a non-issue, but anonymous FBI sources have also spent days dragging his name through the mud by implying the photo was inappropriate and a sign he was “obsessed” with Jill Kelley. Again, maybe there’s something we’re missing, but it’s starting to sound like his infraction was simply being a whistle-blower to Congress. Considering President Obama’s professed support for national security whistle-blower protection, it will be interesting to see what the White House has to say about this.

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The Threat to the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

Given the brazen nature of Hamas’s decision to provoke the latest round of fighting in and around Gaza, it’s difficult for Israel’s critics to claim that it was not justified in seeking to halt a barrage that sent more than 150 missiles into the south of the country. Nor could they claim with a straight face that Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas’s so-called military wing and a man responsible for numerous terrorists attacks and murders, is an innocent victim after the Israel Defense Forces took out his car in a deft targeted attack yesterday. But the naysayers are claiming that in opting to defend Israeli citizens and hopefully making it more difficult for Hamas to resume its terrorist offensive, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is effectively destroying his nation’s peace treaty with Egypt.

That’s the conceit of this New York Times article that depicts Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as being forced into a difficult position by Israel. He is, we are told, trying to maintain the peace treaty in order to appease Western aid donors like the United States, but is still obligated by Egyptian public opinion to denounce Israel. The implication of all this is that if the treaty, which is despised by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and extremely unpopular with the Egyptian public, is scrapped, it will be because Netanyahu has chosen to be provocative.

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Given the brazen nature of Hamas’s decision to provoke the latest round of fighting in and around Gaza, it’s difficult for Israel’s critics to claim that it was not justified in seeking to halt a barrage that sent more than 150 missiles into the south of the country. Nor could they claim with a straight face that Ahmed al-Jabari, the head of Hamas’s so-called military wing and a man responsible for numerous terrorists attacks and murders, is an innocent victim after the Israel Defense Forces took out his car in a deft targeted attack yesterday. But the naysayers are claiming that in opting to defend Israeli citizens and hopefully making it more difficult for Hamas to resume its terrorist offensive, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is effectively destroying his nation’s peace treaty with Egypt.

That’s the conceit of this New York Times article that depicts Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi as being forced into a difficult position by Israel. He is, we are told, trying to maintain the peace treaty in order to appease Western aid donors like the United States, but is still obligated by Egyptian public opinion to denounce Israel. The implication of all this is that if the treaty, which is despised by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and extremely unpopular with the Egyptian public, is scrapped, it will be because Netanyahu has chosen to be provocative.

While it is true that the treaty is in peril, placing the blame for this on Israel is so divorced from reality it’s hard to know where to start to debunk this idea. Morsi is no victim in this scenario. If Egypt’s people are clamoring for the spilling of Israeli blood, it is, in no small measure, because his Islamist party has done its best to promote hatred of Israel and Jews to an extent that few in the West appreciate.

As the Times rightly points out, hatred for Israel is the one factor that seems to unite all elements of Egyptian society. Yet to claim that this is because of the “occupation” or the ill treatment of Palestinians is to misread the problem. Egypt is a country where anti-Semitic incitement is a regular element of popular culture and mainstream political discourse. The visceral hate isn’t about where Israel’s borders should be drawn or specific grievances but the result of decades of incitement against Jews.

The absurdity of Egypt’s response to Hamas’s missile firings that provoked Israel’s counter-attack shouldn’t be ignored. After all, Cairo’s response wasn’t a pusillanimous call for both sides to exercise restraint but an implicit endorsement of Hamas’s right to rain down hundreds of deadly rockets deliberately aimed at Israel’s civilian population.

The idea that Israel should refrain from defending its citizens against indiscriminate missile attacks across an internationally recognized border in order to appease Egyptian public opinion is so morally corrupt that it is barely worth spending the time to refute it. But the main point to take away from this discussion is that Egyptian attitudes toward Israel stem from that country’s deep-seated prejudices, not a rational evaluation of Netanyahu’s policies.

The notion that the treaty’s survival depends on Israel’s quiet acceptance of a steady diet of terror attacks is pure fiction.

The Egypt-Israel peace treaty was not a gift from Egypt to Israel. If anything, it was gift to Egypt from Israel and the United States in that it allowed Cairo to opt out of a costly conflict that it had tired of and rewarded it with an annual bribe in the form of billions of dollars of American taxpayer cash. For decades the Mubarak regime profited from the treaty, but compensated for its heresy against Arab nationalist ideology by allowing anti-Semitism to thrive in the country’s media and popular culture.

Morsi and the Egyptian army are uneasy bedfellows in the current government, but both know that an outright repudiation of the treaty would be a costly error. Since relations with Israel were already ice cold under Mubarak, it has been difficult for the Muslim Brotherhood government to find ways to make them even colder. Morsi is appeasing domestic opinion by recalling his ambassador to Israel and publicly backing Hamas. But he is also being careful not to allow the Gaza terrorist group — which is formally allied with Morsi’s political party — to compromise his freedom of action. Thus, he has not re-opened the terrorist smuggling tunnels from the Sinai into Gaza.

If the day comes when Morsi decides he doesn’t need American money anymore, you can bet he may cancel the treaty with Israel even if his country’s military is petrified at the thought of being forced to face off against the IDF. Which is why the preservation of a treaty whose main contemporary purpose is to serve as a rationale for U.S. aid to Egypt isn’t likely to be affected by anything Israel does in Gaza. The real threat to the treaty comes from a culture of Jew hatred, not Israeli self-defense.

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Dan Rather’s Fantasy-Based World

Via Newsbusters.org, disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather appeared on the Rachel Maddow show and said this:

The Republicans, their number one need is to get in touch with a fact-based world, that they are now in the position of being pictured like a man who wears spats to the office or something. So far out of touch that it is unrealistic. And they did run four years, straight out, Dr. No obstructionism.

For those who may have forgotten, Mr. Rather’s career imploded because of his role in a story meant to smear President George W. Bush and that was based on forged National Guard documents that were almost immediately revealed as such. Yet Rather insists to this day that the forged documents were accurate. 

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Via Newsbusters.org, disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather appeared on the Rachel Maddow show and said this:

The Republicans, their number one need is to get in touch with a fact-based world, that they are now in the position of being pictured like a man who wears spats to the office or something. So far out of touch that it is unrealistic. And they did run four years, straight out, Dr. No obstructionism.

For those who may have forgotten, Mr. Rather’s career imploded because of his role in a story meant to smear President George W. Bush and that was based on forged National Guard documents that were almost immediately revealed as such. Yet Rather insists to this day that the forged documents were accurate. 

This claim is delusional, as this 224-page Report of the Independent Review Panel makes clear. To add insult to injury, three years after the story, Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS and its parent company, Viacom, claiming he had been made a “scapegoat.” In 2009, a New York State Appeals Court said Rather’s $70 million complaint should be dismissed in its entirety, and that a lower court erred in denying CBS’s motion to throw out the lawsuit.  

There are, in other words, few people who live in a world as detached from reality as Mr. Rather. He appears to be engaged in a variation of what psychologists refer to as projection—in this instance projecting his own fantasy-world on to others. That Mr. Rather does so in a way that is so blind to his own epic failure, and his own subsequent emotional inability to deal with it, makes this whole thing all the more pathetic.

Dan Rather long ago made enough of a fool of himself. Those who genuinely care for the man might suggest, in the nicest way possible, that he go gently into the good night.

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No Good Alternative to Fatah in View

With today’s escalation of hostilities between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces, this report by the New York Times has been overshadowed, naturally, by events. But it is also, in a way, complemented by them. The report discusses memos and talking points sent around by the Israeli government to its diplomatic missions around the world on the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s plans to ask for upgraded status at the United Nations.

Much of it is unremarkable. It notes that the Israeli government acknowledges that PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s plans violate the Oslo accords and constitute a unilateral breach of mutual agreements between the representative governments of Israel and the Palestinians. It also acknowledges that Israel has its own unilateral actions it can take if Abbas truly wants to go down this road. (I’ve written about “coordinated unilateralism” before; this isn’t quite what that is, but it would take a very similar form.) The Times mentions a particularly harsh memo, apparently written by staffers in Israel’s Foreign Ministry:

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With today’s escalation of hostilities between Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces, this report by the New York Times has been overshadowed, naturally, by events. But it is also, in a way, complemented by them. The report discusses memos and talking points sent around by the Israeli government to its diplomatic missions around the world on the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s plans to ask for upgraded status at the United Nations.

Much of it is unremarkable. It notes that the Israeli government acknowledges that PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s plans violate the Oslo accords and constitute a unilateral breach of mutual agreements between the representative governments of Israel and the Palestinians. It also acknowledges that Israel has its own unilateral actions it can take if Abbas truly wants to go down this road. (I’ve written about “coordinated unilateralism” before; this isn’t quite what that is, but it would take a very similar form.) The Times mentions a particularly harsh memo, apparently written by staffers in Israel’s Foreign Ministry:

A second document, an internal paper labeled “draft” and written by staff members of Israel’s hard-line foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was more explicit. It described Mr. Abbas as an unpopular, weakened leader who had grown rich from leading a corrupt authority and was heading to the United Nations in a last-ditch effort to remain in power.

A recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations, it stated, would leave Israel no alternative but to topple “the government of Abu Mazen,” referring to Mr. Abbas by his nickname. Any softer reaction would be interpreted as “raising a white flag,” it said.

Well, the first part is correct, but it doesn’t necessitate the second. This was the Palestinian response:

Mr. Shtayyeh, the Palestinian envoy, said he considered Israeli warnings about the collapse of the Palestinian Authority as “empty threats.”

“Israel has a vested interest in maintaining the status of the Palestinian Authority as it is today,” he said, noting that the Palestinian security forces helped to protect Israel.

It’s debatable how much PA forces “protect” Israel, certainly, but Shtayyeh has it about right. To understand why Israel should not want the Abbas government, and thus Fatah, toppled, it’s instructive to look back at a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper from the spring of 2008, The Struggle For Palestinian Hearts And Minds: Violence And Public Opinion In The Second Intifada. The authors studied the radicalization effects on Palestinians of various political affiliations, with special regard to violent events.

They found that violent episodes are far less likely to radicalize supporters of Fatah than supporters of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad; that Israeli fatalities are much more likely to embolden Hamas supporters than supporters of Fatah; that Fatah remains the natural home for less extremist Palestinians; and that as support drains from Fatah, support drains from bilateral negotiations as the preferred method of dealing with Israel, as opposed to violence or unilateral steps.

Is Mahmoud Abbas a serious partner for peace? No, he is not. Has he done anything to change Palestinian attitudes toward recognizing Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state? No, he has not. But toppling Fatah would likely result in a more violent Palestinian leadership on the West Bank, with missiles aimed at the heart of Jerusalem and the country’s only large international airport.

Judging by today’s events, Israel probably does not want Hamas on two borders instead of one. When it comes to Palestinian leadership, we can modify what Churchill once said about democracy: Fatah is the worst choice to govern the Palestinians, except for all the others.

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Critics Struggle to Undermine IDF’s Social Media Blitz

This video of the Israeli strike on Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari was temporarily removed from the IDF’s YouTube page this morning for supposedly violating its “terms of service.” A short time later, it was put back up. My multiple emails to YouTube’s press office have been ignored, but All Things Digital managed to get this email response from a spokesperson:

“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.”

This shows just how worried anti-Israel activists are about the online response to Operation Pillar of Defense, by far Israel’s most muscular and carefully-honed social media effort yet. Enough Israel detractors “flagged” the YouTube video as “inappropriate” yesterday that YouTube put up a note warning viewers that the clip might be considered offensive.

That attempt to censor the video — as well as the IDF’s Twitter account and websites — is a sign of panic. Israel has finally found a way to circumvent the pernicious media bias that has always favored anti-Israel groups, and it has these groups terrified and scrambling.

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This video of the Israeli strike on Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari was temporarily removed from the IDF’s YouTube page this morning for supposedly violating its “terms of service.” A short time later, it was put back up. My multiple emails to YouTube’s press office have been ignored, but All Things Digital managed to get this email response from a spokesperson:

“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.”

This shows just how worried anti-Israel activists are about the online response to Operation Pillar of Defense, by far Israel’s most muscular and carefully-honed social media effort yet. Enough Israel detractors “flagged” the YouTube video as “inappropriate” yesterday that YouTube put up a note warning viewers that the clip might be considered offensive.

That attempt to censor the video — as well as the IDF’s Twitter account and websites — is a sign of panic. Israel has finally found a way to circumvent the pernicious media bias that has always favored anti-Israel groups, and it has these groups terrified and scrambling.

So far, the Israeli military’s public relations department hasn’t been fazed. They’ve rolled out a new Tumblr page, where they’ve been posting videos of IDF dropping thousands warning leaflets from the air above Palestinian neighborhoods and succinctly explaining the Hamas rocket attacks that sparked Operation Pillar of Defense. They’ve also launched a Pinterest, a Flikr page, an Instagram, and a GooglePlus account that they’ve been updating by the minute.

The Israelis have also been smart about the content. The video clips, images, and tweets are actually newsworthy, as opposed to the usual stale and timid statements on government social media accounts.

It’s by far the most cutting-edge combination of PR warfare and military warfare, perfectly packaged to go viral in the current media environment. BuzzFeed’s Matt Buchanan writes:

Much of the criticism of the American media during the height of the Iraq War focused on its role repeating White House talking points and propaganda. But using the tools of social media, as Israel is doing, reveals there’s no longer a need to rely a media middleman, or to filter the raw feed of war through an “embedded” — and, military officials hope, captured — journalist’s mouth or keyboard. A nation is officially tweeting its wartime activities. The military can broadcast exactly what it wants to, directly to its citizens, allies, and enemies. The IDF even appropriates the language of news, prefacing several tweets with “BREAKING” — and native social media, at one point saying “in case you missed it” before pointing to a YouTube video of it killing Ahmed Jabari in a missile strike. And unlike any propaganda machine before it, it’s inherently viral. It’s designed to spread. So the IDF spokesperson provides posters and YouTube videos and a constantly updated Flickr account; they’re more shareable than plain text. Its tweets are a mixture of documentation, saber rattling, sober reminders of the reality of war, and upbeat updates on the advanced state of its technology. All delivered direct to you. Please RT.

Israel has long struggled to get its message through the anti-Israel filter of the international media. It’s finally landed on the perfect solution: go over the media’s heads.

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Romney Reminds Us Why He Lost

Conservatives have spent the last week dissecting their failure in the presidential election. But one element of that defeat has been largely absent from the discussion: the candidate. That’s because in the last month of the presidential campaign something remarkable happened. Though he had previously been distrusted by much of the Republican base and widely regarded as a poor campaigner, Mitt Romney seemed to erase all of the doubts of his supporters. His strong performance in the first presidential debate gave the Republicans faith in their leader as well as momentum.

In retrospect, that last surge of optimism on the right about the 2012 election seems foolish. As we have already discussed in detail, the polls that showed Romney leading or at least even with Obama during this period were almost certainly wrong. Democratic turnout would, to my surprise, resemble that of the “hope and change” moment of 2008, while fewer people voted for Romney than John McCain. A number of factors were responsible for this: a failure to respond to the changing demography of the nation including the Hispanic vote, the GOP’s comically inept get-out-the-vote effort, media bias, Hurricane Sandy, and Romney’s inability to exploit the Benghazi fiasco. But yesterday we were reminded that although those explanations were valid, there was one other reason why Obama won: Mitt Romney.

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Conservatives have spent the last week dissecting their failure in the presidential election. But one element of that defeat has been largely absent from the discussion: the candidate. That’s because in the last month of the presidential campaign something remarkable happened. Though he had previously been distrusted by much of the Republican base and widely regarded as a poor campaigner, Mitt Romney seemed to erase all of the doubts of his supporters. His strong performance in the first presidential debate gave the Republicans faith in their leader as well as momentum.

In retrospect, that last surge of optimism on the right about the 2012 election seems foolish. As we have already discussed in detail, the polls that showed Romney leading or at least even with Obama during this period were almost certainly wrong. Democratic turnout would, to my surprise, resemble that of the “hope and change” moment of 2008, while fewer people voted for Romney than John McCain. A number of factors were responsible for this: a failure to respond to the changing demography of the nation including the Hispanic vote, the GOP’s comically inept get-out-the-vote effort, media bias, Hurricane Sandy, and Romney’s inability to exploit the Benghazi fiasco. But yesterday we were reminded that although those explanations were valid, there was one other reason why Obama won: Mitt Romney.

As Seth noted earlier today, in a conference call with donors and the press Romney inserted his foot firmly in his mouth once again when he claimed the president’s offer of “gifts” to voters was the reason he lost. Though there is a rationale critique to be made of the big government mentality that Obama advocated, this was wrongheaded on a lot of levels. As Jason Riley said today on Opinion Journal Live, this is just a Republican version of liberal attempts to blame voters for their defeats, of which Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas was the most prominent.

Even worse than that, the comments were nothing more than a repeat of Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe, the revelation of which was widely, and rightly, regarded as the low point of his campaign. It also brought us all back to the doubts that were expressed about Romney’s ability to defeat the president back during the GOP primaries.

Let’s specify that over the course of the last year, we learned a lot about who Mitt Romney is as a man and most of that was very much to his credit. The campaign brought into focus his intelligence, his seriousness of purpose and above all his innate decency. He is a good man and his skills would have enabled him to deal with the nation’s problems and be a good president.

But he was never going to be a good presidential candidate. The hole at the center of the campaign was always his inability to connect with ordinary voters. That was exacerbated by the disingenuous and largely false assault on his character that was the centerpiece of the Democratic campaign. But part of the reason that Obama was able to paint a high-minded and charitable man like Romney as a heartless plutocrat was the Republican’s awkwardness and inability to talk about himself or his ideas in a manner that would have made these slanders irrelevant. Romney’s propensity for gaffes, his tin ear for speaking to the people, and a background that made it easy for the Democrats to smear him were on display throughout 2012. Those who argued that he was the most electable of the Republicans who ran for president were not wrong, but that was always more of a criticism of his rivals than a compliment to him.

Conservatives despise the president so much that they were largely blind to his appeal to so much of the electorate. But in the last month of the 2012 campaign, they also tended to forget about the reasons why Romney was a fairly easy target for the president and his minions.

Ideology is important, but personalities always drive presidential politics. As much as Republicans are right to do some soul-searching about constituencies they have foolishly written off, as well as tactical political errors that were made this past year, any attempt to dissect the 2012 election must also include a realization that they didn’t have a very good candidate. If they pick a more impressive politician from their deep bench to lead them in 2016 (a year when the Democrats will no longer be able to rely on the historic appeal of Barack Obama) they are likely to do a lot better on Election Day.

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Israel-Hamas War Opens a Second Front: The Web

Is this the future of warfare? While rockets continue falling across Israel, with air raid sirens being sounded in Tel Aviv for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, Israel is fighting back in more ways than one. Operation Pillar of Defense is ongoing, and now that citizens of Tel Aviv have found themselves in stairwells and basements, it is likely that the possibility of a ground invasion just increased exponentially. The second front in the offensive against Hamas’s aggression has formed on the web. This is the first time a war has been live-tweeted.

It began with an IDF tweet yesterday, soon after the targeted assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, the military commander of Hamas. The IDF’s official account tweeted:

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Is this the future of warfare? While rockets continue falling across Israel, with air raid sirens being sounded in Tel Aviv for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, Israel is fighting back in more ways than one. Operation Pillar of Defense is ongoing, and now that citizens of Tel Aviv have found themselves in stairwells and basements, it is likely that the possibility of a ground invasion just increased exponentially. The second front in the offensive against Hamas’s aggression has formed on the web. This is the first time a war has been live-tweeted.

It began with an IDF tweet yesterday, soon after the targeted assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari, the military commander of Hamas. The IDF’s official account tweeted:

Soon after, the official account for Hamas responded:

That began a series of tweets from both accounts directed at each other. For the first time, each side could tell observers, without using the mainstream media as a channel, what they were fighting for and why. Unfortunately for Hamas, the increased scrutiny has made it much more difficult to get away with public relations antics it has utilized in previous conflicts. 

Yesterday the official Hamas feed tweeted a photo of dead child, held in the arms of a sobbing man without any reference about who or where the victims were. Unfortunately for Hamas, many Twitter users immediately recognized the photo. It wasn’t from Gaza and it wasn’t even that recent; it was from Syria. While the Hamas feed has continually claimed that its civilians are under attack by the Israeli military, the proof they provide has been much more easily fact-checked by millions of Twitter users. 

Israel is using social media to explain the morality of the war it is fighting in the Gaza strip, filled with civilians. From their official YouTube account, video has been posted of leaflets being dropped on residents, explaining how they can best protect themselves in the fighting between the terrorist organization and the Jewish state. On the IDF’s website, an entire blog post explained the lengths Israel goes to in order to minimize civilian casualties. In the war of information, Israel’s detailed accounts of its activities are much more persuasive than misleading pictures from Syria posted on Twitter by Hamas without context. 

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How WaPo Covered Operation Pillar of Defense

The Washington Post’s front page this morning:

In the photo, a Palestinian stringer for BBC cradles his son, who was reportedly killed during Operation Pillar of Defense. The corresponding story briefly mentions the Hamas rocket attacks, but focuses mainly on Israel’s “intense air offensive” that could “paralyze the Gaza Strip” and result in “all-out conflict.”

Innocent casualties of war are a tragedy, and this is especially true when they are children.

But what the Washington Post doesn’t emphasize in its corresponding story is that the Israeli military launched this operation specifically because its citizens in the south, including children, live under constant threat from Hamas rocket fire — hundreds can rain down in a single day. These attacks regularly result in injuries and deaths, and recently forced more than a million Israelis into bomb shelters. While these stories may get a blurb on page three or four, they are rarely given front page coverage.

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The Washington Post’s front page this morning:

In the photo, a Palestinian stringer for BBC cradles his son, who was reportedly killed during Operation Pillar of Defense. The corresponding story briefly mentions the Hamas rocket attacks, but focuses mainly on Israel’s “intense air offensive” that could “paralyze the Gaza Strip” and result in “all-out conflict.”

Innocent casualties of war are a tragedy, and this is especially true when they are children.

But what the Washington Post doesn’t emphasize in its corresponding story is that the Israeli military launched this operation specifically because its citizens in the south, including children, live under constant threat from Hamas rocket fire — hundreds can rain down in a single day. These attacks regularly result in injuries and deaths, and recently forced more than a million Israelis into bomb shelters. While these stories may get a blurb on page three or four, they are rarely given front page coverage.

There are terrible casualties on both sides; three Israeli civilians were killed this morning by Hamas missile attacks. The difference is that Hamas aims for civilians, and Israel does not. And the Washington Post’s front page seems almost intended to give readers the impression that the Israeli military randomly decided to go into Gaza this week because it felt like killing children.

At the Spectator, David Blackburn writes:

The Post’s front page reinforces the fact that Israel has a public relations problem when it retaliates in Gaza; a fact that friends of Israel ought to accept.

My colleague Douglas Murray is right to assert that the western media often applies a double standard when reporting Israeli and Palestinian casualties: the suffering of Israeli citizens is not given the coverage it deserves. This bias skews the tragic human story of Israel and Palestine to benefit Hamas, an organisation whose bloodcurdling charter makes clear that it has no interest in a peaceful solution to the problem. Other terrorist groups based in the Gaza Strip also benefit, which provides further complication.

There is a deep-seated media double-standard here. And while it can sometimes be subtle, it certainly shapes the coverage of the conflict.

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The Myth of Peace With Hamas

In my earlier post on Israel’s efforts to halt Hamas’s terrorist missile offensive against southern Israel, I alluded to the claim put forward by peace activist Gershon Baskin that Ahmed al-Jabari, the group’s military commander, was willing to accept a cease-fire before he was killed yesterday. In doing so, I referred to the tale as “farcical.” I should clarify that. I was not stating a belief that Baskin made up the story. Baskin, an Israeli who has been in continuous contact with Hamas over the last several years, is probably merely repeating what he was told by his interlocutors in Gaza. So in that sense he was telling the truth as far as he knew it. What was farcical about the story, which is probably on its way to becoming one of the top talking points for critics of Israel, is that the entire premise of Baskin’s ongoing efforts to try and broker agreements with Hamas serves the interests of the terrorist group, not that of Israel or of peace.

Baskin is claiming that killing al-Jabari spiked chances for a return to the relative calm that prevailed along the border with Gaza until last week as well as angering Egypt mediators. Even worse, he asserts that in doing so, Israel made a deliberate decision to reject a peace feeler. But even if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak really were aware of the messages that he was relaying to al-Jabari’s people, their decision to make Hamas pay a price for its terrorism was correct. Though few in Israel want to send troops back into Gaza, the status quo Baskin was helping Hamas preserve was an invitation to more terrorism, not a pathway to peace.

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In my earlier post on Israel’s efforts to halt Hamas’s terrorist missile offensive against southern Israel, I alluded to the claim put forward by peace activist Gershon Baskin that Ahmed al-Jabari, the group’s military commander, was willing to accept a cease-fire before he was killed yesterday. In doing so, I referred to the tale as “farcical.” I should clarify that. I was not stating a belief that Baskin made up the story. Baskin, an Israeli who has been in continuous contact with Hamas over the last several years, is probably merely repeating what he was told by his interlocutors in Gaza. So in that sense he was telling the truth as far as he knew it. What was farcical about the story, which is probably on its way to becoming one of the top talking points for critics of Israel, is that the entire premise of Baskin’s ongoing efforts to try and broker agreements with Hamas serves the interests of the terrorist group, not that of Israel or of peace.

Baskin is claiming that killing al-Jabari spiked chances for a return to the relative calm that prevailed along the border with Gaza until last week as well as angering Egypt mediators. Even worse, he asserts that in doing so, Israel made a deliberate decision to reject a peace feeler. But even if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak really were aware of the messages that he was relaying to al-Jabari’s people, their decision to make Hamas pay a price for its terrorism was correct. Though few in Israel want to send troops back into Gaza, the status quo Baskin was helping Hamas preserve was an invitation to more terrorism, not a pathway to peace.

Though Baskin’s motives here may be pure, there is a reason why Hamas wanted Israel to stand down before inflicting anything more than a slap on the wrist to the terrorist group. In the six years since Hamas seized control of Gaza in a bloody coup, the group has sought to burnish its credentials among Palestinians as the leading murderers of Jews while simultaneously seeking to persuade Israel that it was better off tolerating their terrorist activities than to do something about it. In order to pull off that neat trick, it needs well-intentioned Israelis like Baskin to act as messengers for their threats and offers, as well as to facilitate the ransom negotiations that led to the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for a thousand terrorist prisoners. Netanyahu may have had no choice but to make the deal to free Shalit, but he was rightly wary of indirect talks that merely serve to grant Hamas impunity for its cross-border raids and missile attacks.

During his last four years in office, Netanyahu, like Ehud Olmert before him, has chosen to play along and allow Hamas to continue with business as usual. But just as Olmert was eventually forced to act, so, too, Netanyahu has learned that tolerating terror merely allows the terrorists to grow stronger as well as bolder. Pursuing Baskin’s scheme for a long-term cease-fire with Hamas might have temporarily halted the missile fire but it would have certainly made it even more certain that when Hamas chose to start shooting again it would be on terms and at a time when it would have been even harder for Israel to respond.

Treating his effort as a genuine peace feeler also gave al-Jabari, the mastermind behind the Shalit kidnapping (in which two other Israelis died), a free pass for that crime and the many other murders he helped commit.

Far from rejecting a path to peace, the strong response to Hamas makes it clear that the group will gain no ground or credit for the violence it fomented this past week. While it is likely that Israel will accept an informal end to hostilities with Hamas at some point, it was necessary that Hamas’s military capabilities and leadership were materially damaged first so as to make it less likely that they will try the same trick again in the near future.

There may be nothing that can be done about the fact that Hamas runs an independent Palestinian state in all but name and uses it to perpetuate a legacy of violence. But the game in which terrorists use peace activists to blackmail a democracy is, by definition, an illegitimate endeavor rather than a genuine peace initiative. Peace will come as a result of a sea change in Palestinian opinion that will reject violence. Back channel talks that empower Hamas won’t help that happen. To the contrary, they embody a process by which the entire nation of Israel is held hostage by terrorists.

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What Romney Calls “Gifts,” Voters Call Solutions

The Obama reelection campaign’s impressive turnout and get-out-the-vote strategy took the president’s Republican opponents by surprise. But it appears to also be teaching Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan an incomplete, if not totally wrong, lesson about their loss to President Obama. Earlier this week, Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “urban” turnout was key for the president, and dismissed the notion that the GOP ticket’s vision for the country was rejected by voters.

And then yesterday, on a conference call with donors and supporters, Romney expanded on that argument. He said the president offered “gifts” to minority voters, and named Obamacare and immigration as important parts of that. The New York Times reports:

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The Obama reelection campaign’s impressive turnout and get-out-the-vote strategy took the president’s Republican opponents by surprise. But it appears to also be teaching Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan an incomplete, if not totally wrong, lesson about their loss to President Obama. Earlier this week, Ryan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “urban” turnout was key for the president, and dismissed the notion that the GOP ticket’s vision for the country was rejected by voters.

And then yesterday, on a conference call with donors and supporters, Romney expanded on that argument. He said the president offered “gifts” to minority voters, and named Obamacare and immigration as important parts of that. The New York Times reports:

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”…

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Romney is not wrong in suggesting that demographic groups preferred what they heard from Obama to what they heard from Romney, but he is wrong in his characterization of it. First of all, there are many reasons Obama won reelection, not least of which is that he apparently had a 52 percent approval rating on Election Day.

Second, the obvious objection to Romney’s comments is that his own version of the health care reform plan served as a model for Obama’s. Did Romney think he was giving away free “gifts” to minorities and young voters when he designed the plan? Or did he think he was serving the people who elected him by solving a quality-of-life issue for the entire state of Massachusetts? In politics, it’s easy to impugn the motives of your opponent, but it’s fair to say that Obama targeted what he and many Americans saw as an economic hardship and a great injustice, especially to the poor. Romney may or may not agree with that, but I doubt he would take well to someone characterizing his signature achievement in office as crude politicking or vote buying.

And that gets to the larger problem with these comments. A very large portion of this country sees our immigration laws and those in favor of even stricter measures as a moral failure on the part of a country of immigrants. Hispanics don’t see “amnesty”–a path to citizenship–as a “gift” in exchange for their vote. It isn’t candy; it’s the difference between opportunities for their children and their families being torn apart.

Republicans don’t have to agree with liberal solutions to the problems facing the country. But they certainly should not ridicule the need for reform at many levels of government–indeed, they should embrace it, for much in our federal government needs reform. And making broad statements about jobs isn’t enough. To wit, the Romney message to Hispanics was that he will create jobs here but he wants them to “self-deport,” thus making those jobs unavailable to them anyway. In such a case, why on earth should they care what his jobs plan is?

Obama offered specifics, and Romney offered principles. But conservative principles should lead to conservative solutions–specifics, in other words. Romney doesn’t seem to have understood this. But he should take a look around his party. Republican governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Snyder, Rick Perry, and others offered voters the combination of conservative principles and conservative policy proposals. It is a winning combination, even in blue New Jersey. And it can be a winning combination nationally as well. That’s the lesson Romney should have learned on Election Day.

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The President’s Benghazi Problem

During his press conference yesterday, President Obama was asked about the statements by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who said if Susan Rice is nominated to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination, and they simply don’t trust Ambassador Rice after her misleading accounts about the lethal attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11.

In response, the president, after lavishly praising Ms. Rice, said this:

As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her.  If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.  And I’m happy to have that discussion with them.  But for them to go after the U.N. Ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous… When they go after the U.N. Ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me. 

I’ll get to the president’s answer in a moment. For now, it’s important to recall that five days after the Benghazi massacre, Ambassador Rice went on five Sunday talk shows insisting that (a) we had “substantial security presence” at the consulate before the attack; (b) the attacks were spontaneous, not a pre-planned terrorist attack, and the result of “a small handful of heavily armed mobsters;” and (c) “a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated.” On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Rice said, “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”

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During his press conference yesterday, President Obama was asked about the statements by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who said if Susan Rice is nominated to be secretary of state, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination, and they simply don’t trust Ambassador Rice after her misleading accounts about the lethal attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11.

In response, the president, after lavishly praising Ms. Rice, said this:

As I’ve said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her.  If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.  And I’m happy to have that discussion with them.  But for them to go after the U.N. Ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous… When they go after the U.N. Ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me. 

I’ll get to the president’s answer in a moment. For now, it’s important to recall that five days after the Benghazi massacre, Ambassador Rice went on five Sunday talk shows insisting that (a) we had “substantial security presence” at the consulate before the attack; (b) the attacks were spontaneous, not a pre-planned terrorist attack, and the result of “a small handful of heavily armed mobsters;” and (c) “a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated.” On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Rice said, “We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.”

Ambassador Rice was wrong on every particular. The security for the American consulate was nearly non-existent; the attacks were premeditated; they were carried out by Islamic terrorists; there was no mob protest; the video had nothing to do with the attacks; and we did have information that the attacks were pre-planned.

Ambassador Rice’s claims came despite the fact that, according to congressional testimony, the State Department had surveillance feeds and they were able to monitor the attacks in “almost real-time” and that according to media reports, an unarmed Predator drone was performing surveillance missions over Libya when the attack on the consulate in Benghazi began; within 24 hours of the deadly attack, the CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington that there were eyewitness reports that the attack was carried out by militants; and e-mails show that officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi that an Islamic militant group (Ansar al-Sharia) had claimed credit for the attack.

In addition, Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says that within 24 hours of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi he had information from intelligence agencies that what happened were terrorist attacks, not spontaneous attacks inspired by the anti-Islamic video. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that accounts of the attack and the firepower employed “indicate something more than a spontaneous protest.”

There’s more.

The Washington Post was reporting on the day after the attack that “the early indications were that the assault had been planned” by “heavily-armed militias.” Journalist Eli Lake reported, “Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda–affiliated operatives were behind the attack, and had even pinpointed the location of one of those attackers.” And in a story in early October, the Associated Press reported, “The State Department now says it never believed the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a film protest gone awry.”

I have recounted this record in detail simply to highlight how ludicrous is President Obama’s claim that Senators McCain and Graham want to “besmirch [Rice’s] reputation” and that they are going after her “because they think she’s an easy target.”

Ambassador Rice’s credibility has been massively damaged because she misled the public (probably unknowingly) long after there was evidence that her claims were at least questionable and probably wrong. To the degree that she’s an “easy target,” it’s because the case against her and the administration is overwhelming. And the gallant Obama need not worry. The concerns about the negligence and misconduct of his administration don’t stop with Ms. Rice. Those concerns go right to the top.

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Lindsey Graham: Obama “Failed as Commander in Chief”

Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain didn’t waste any time responding to President Obama’s claim that they are “going after” Susan Rice because “they think she’s an easy target.”

In a statement, Graham blasted both Obama and Rice, saying she’s “up to [her] eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle”:

“Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi.  I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.

“We owe it to the American people and the victims of this attack to have full, fair hearings and accountability be assigned where appropriate. Given what I know now, I have no intention of promoting anyone who is up to their eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle.”

On Greta Van Susteren last night, McCain pushed back on the president’s comments, calling them  “juvenile”:

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Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain didn’t waste any time responding to President Obama’s claim that they are “going after” Susan Rice because “they think she’s an easy target.”

In a statement, Graham blasted both Obama and Rice, saying she’s “up to [her] eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle”:

“Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi.  I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.

“We owe it to the American people and the victims of this attack to have full, fair hearings and accountability be assigned where appropriate. Given what I know now, I have no intention of promoting anyone who is up to their eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle.”

On Greta Van Susteren last night, McCain pushed back on the president’s comments, calling them  “juvenile”:

MCCAIN: You know, it’s interesting for the president to say something that juvenile. I’m not picking on anyone. Again, as we just said, four Americans died! Is that picking on anybody when you want to place responsibility and find out what happened so that we can make sure it doesn’t happen again?

And you know, it’s not a bad life being ambassador to the U.N. You have a nice suite in the Waldorf-Astoria and look pretty good. An so this — why they used her as their spokesperson on all the major networks that Sunday is still beyond me, but they did. And she…

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the president said today that…

MCCAIN: And she used talking points from the White House. So we’re not picking on her. But we are holding her to some degree responsible. But have no doubt, we are holding the President of the United States responsible. And he is responsible and he has not — he has given contrasting versions of events to the American people.

Could I just remind you real quick — September 21, in the Rose Garden, he said it was, quote, “acts of terror.” That same night, he said to Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes,” it’s too early to know exactly how this came about. On September 20th, we’re still doing an investigation. September 24th, on “The View,” we’re still doing an investigation. And then before the United Nations on September 25th, “a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.”

Now, he said that on September 25th. In the second debate, with Mitt Romney, he said, I called it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He didn’t. He condemned acts of terror in the Rose Garden. And if he did, how come he told the United Nations a couple of weeks later that it was a senseless video that sparked a demonstration, when he knew full well there was no spontaneous demonstration?

So my response to the President of the United States is we’re not picking on anybody. We want answers, and the buck does stop at your desk, Mr. President. 

Assuming Rice is the nominee, this will all play out during the confirmation fight. Obama may be hoping he can keep Senate Democrats in line by framing GOP criticism of Rice as an unfair partisan attack. And it’s possible he can pick off some moderate Republicans with this strategy, too, who might be worried about clashing with a newly-reelected president over a “politicized” issue. 

But it’s still notable that Obama would be so intent on appointing Rice, given all of her Benghazi baggage. It’s true she’s one of his longest-serving advisors, and he seems to have a much warmer relationship with her than he has with Hillary Clinton (or John Kerry, for that matter). But you’d think it would save him a lot of grief to just choose another option.

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No Alternative to Israeli Self-Defense

To its credit, yesterday the State Department rightly declared that Hamas was responsible for the latest round of violence along the Gaza border and that Israel had the right to defend itself. Even the New York Times editorial page affirmed that Israel had that right this morning. But the Times, speaking as it does for liberal conventional wisdom, claimed that Israel’s government was wrong to exercise that right. Rather than taking out the head of the terrorist group’s military wing, it “could have responded as it usually has in recent years, avoiding high-profile assassinations while attacking rocket-launching squads, empty training sites and weapons manufacturing plants.” The Times also suggested Israel could have implored the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt to intervene on its behalf with its Hamas ally. It concluded by saying that an even better idea would have been to conduct peace negotiations with Hamas’s Fatah rivals.

This risible list of suggestions provides the background to the debate that will, no doubt, soon ensue as inevitably the discussion about what has happened begins to revolve around how zealously Israel should defend itself. Farcical stories, such as those claiming Hamas was willing to make peace or at least agree to a permanent cease-fire, and that this was only prevented by a cynical decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a counter-attack, will be told and believed by those who always buy into the lies of the terrorists. It will be argued that Israel needn’t have treated the latest massive barrage of rockets on its southern region as a big deal. But all this will be merely a cover for what is really at stake: the right of the Jewish state to live in peace, irrespective of where its borders are drawn.

The problem with all of the helpful suggestions that Israel is getting this week is that these suggestions treat the basic premise of Hamas’s strategic plan as either normal or reasonable. What’s wrong with the calls for restraint or the barbed comments about better alternatives to retaliation is that they are based on the idea that Israel ought to be willing to tolerate a “normal” amount of terrorism emanating from Gaza.

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To its credit, yesterday the State Department rightly declared that Hamas was responsible for the latest round of violence along the Gaza border and that Israel had the right to defend itself. Even the New York Times editorial page affirmed that Israel had that right this morning. But the Times, speaking as it does for liberal conventional wisdom, claimed that Israel’s government was wrong to exercise that right. Rather than taking out the head of the terrorist group’s military wing, it “could have responded as it usually has in recent years, avoiding high-profile assassinations while attacking rocket-launching squads, empty training sites and weapons manufacturing plants.” The Times also suggested Israel could have implored the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt to intervene on its behalf with its Hamas ally. It concluded by saying that an even better idea would have been to conduct peace negotiations with Hamas’s Fatah rivals.

This risible list of suggestions provides the background to the debate that will, no doubt, soon ensue as inevitably the discussion about what has happened begins to revolve around how zealously Israel should defend itself. Farcical stories, such as those claiming Hamas was willing to make peace or at least agree to a permanent cease-fire, and that this was only prevented by a cynical decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a counter-attack, will be told and believed by those who always buy into the lies of the terrorists. It will be argued that Israel needn’t have treated the latest massive barrage of rockets on its southern region as a big deal. But all this will be merely a cover for what is really at stake: the right of the Jewish state to live in peace, irrespective of where its borders are drawn.

The problem with all of the helpful suggestions that Israel is getting this week is that these suggestions treat the basic premise of Hamas’s strategic plan as either normal or reasonable. What’s wrong with the calls for restraint or the barbed comments about better alternatives to retaliation is that they are based on the idea that Israel ought to be willing to tolerate a “normal” amount of terrorism emanating from Gaza.

Throughout 2012 several hundred rockets have been fired from the Hamas-run enclave at southern Israel. Up until today, when three Israelis were killed in Kiryat Malakhi, there were no fatalities. But life under the threat of rocket fire in a region where more than one million Israelis live was never normal. Even the new and improved anti-missile systems the country can deploy are not good enough to prevent terrorist squads from taking pot shots at the country’s southern cities, towns and villages.

Many in the foreign policy establishment have spoken of Hamas as having embraced non-violence in the last year. But the group continued to not only fire rockets and to tolerate attacks from smaller organizations, it also continued to dig tunnels, such as the one found last week, designed to facilitate terrorist operations inside Israel and to build up its arsenal of rockets.

Some allege that Netanyahu’s decision to retaliate for the recent surge in rocket attacks is linked to his own political prospects in Israel’s January elections. But that reverses the truth about the fighting. It is Hamas that is playing politics with rockets as it seeks to upstage the Palestinian Authority and to solidify its popularity by demonstrating that it is attacking Israel.

Netanyahu is hoping that he can avoid a costly ground operation. Few in Israel want any part of an infantry battle inside Gaza or to return to governing the area that it abandoned in 2005. But the idea that Israel has reasonable alternatives to air operations intended to hamper Hamas’s ability to attack Israel is a myth. The peace process is dead in the water precisely because support for terror against Israel and opposition to its right to exist makes it impossible for any Palestinian moderates — and it is a stretch to claim that term applies to the PA and its Fatah leadership — to negotiate with Israel. If there is to be any hope for peace, Hamas terrorism must be stopped. The group provoked this battle because it believed that the fighting would enhance its standing with Palestinians while doing nothing to harm its warm relations with Egypt and Turkey. But its leadership must be made to understand that the cost of this fighting will be higher than it can afford to pay.

There may be no definitive answer to the threat from Hamas, but continuing to ignore it is no solution. Netanyahu’s problem stems in large measure from a willingness on the part of the international community to treat the existence of a terrorist state on Israel’s borders as something that it must be forced to live with. Those that ask Israel to go on living with “normal” terrorism and to take no serious measures to halt the constant barrage of missiles onto its territory are acting as if the lives of those who live under this threat are worth nothing. That is a premise no government can ever accept.

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Report: Petraeus Clashed With Agency Heads in Final Days

This morning’s Wall Street Journal sheds light on why the FBI’s discovery of David Petraeus’s affair may have been enough to lead to his downfall

In David Petraeus’s final days at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency, his relations with chiefs of other U.S. agencies, including his boss, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, took a contentious turn. …

Mr. Petraeus wanted his aides to push back hard and release their own timeline of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and a nearby CIA safe house, seeking to set the record straight and paint the CIA’s role in a more favorable light. Mr. Clapper and agencies including the Pentagon objected, but Mr. Petraeus told his aides to proceed, said the senior officials.

By all accounts, the driving force behind Mr. Petraeus’s departure last Friday was the revelation about his extramarital affair with his biographer. But new details about Mr. Petraeus’s last days at the CIA show the extent to which the Benghazi attacks created a climate of interagency finger-pointing. That undercut the retired four-star general’s backing within the Obama administration as he struggled with the decision to resign. 

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This morning’s Wall Street Journal sheds light on why the FBI’s discovery of David Petraeus’s affair may have been enough to lead to his downfall

In David Petraeus’s final days at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency, his relations with chiefs of other U.S. agencies, including his boss, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, took a contentious turn. …

Mr. Petraeus wanted his aides to push back hard and release their own timeline of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and a nearby CIA safe house, seeking to set the record straight and paint the CIA’s role in a more favorable light. Mr. Clapper and agencies including the Pentagon objected, but Mr. Petraeus told his aides to proceed, said the senior officials.

By all accounts, the driving force behind Mr. Petraeus’s departure last Friday was the revelation about his extramarital affair with his biographer. But new details about Mr. Petraeus’s last days at the CIA show the extent to which the Benghazi attacks created a climate of interagency finger-pointing. That undercut the retired four-star general’s backing within the Obama administration as he struggled with the decision to resign. 

This makes a lot more sense. The internal discovery of Petraeus’s affair by the FBI could have been handled two ways: quietly or not quietly. The administration may have decided to go the second route–asking Petraeus to submit his resignation–because of the extent to which he was clashing with officials like Clapper and Panetta in his final month.

It also explains why this very favorable profile of Petraeus, which his office clearly cooperated with, turned up in the New York Times just a week before his resignation. The article quoted friends of Petraeus defending him from criticism over his Benghazi response, praising his management style, and playing up his supposedly warm relationship with President Obama. Petraeus, being the smart media operator that he is, may have been trying to rehabilitate his name through the press. But it wasn’t enough to save his job one week later.

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