Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 19, 2013

Sean Collier, RIP

Like much of the rest of America, I’ve been monitoring closely the events in Boston today, and came across this moving story about Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was gunned down by the savages who perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Mr. Collier sounded like a wonderful young man. Here’s an excerpt from the Boston.com story on Collier: “Through tears, his roommate — who trained with Collier at the police academy and did not provide his name — said Collier was ‘awesome,’ his only fault being that was he was too brave.” And this:

Somerville police Lt. William Rymill, who had known Collier for five years, said that in just two months, he would likely have fulfilled a longheld dream. Collier had scored high on a civil service exam, and was likely to be called to join the Somerville police department in June. “Anybody could relate to him. Sean could talk to anybody,” Rymill said. “The girls here in dispatch haven’t stopped crying.”

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Like much of the rest of America, I’ve been monitoring closely the events in Boston today, and came across this moving story about Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was gunned down by the savages who perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombing. 

Mr. Collier sounded like a wonderful young man. Here’s an excerpt from the Boston.com story on Collier: “Through tears, his roommate — who trained with Collier at the police academy and did not provide his name — said Collier was ‘awesome,’ his only fault being that was he was too brave.” And this:

Somerville police Lt. William Rymill, who had known Collier for five years, said that in just two months, he would likely have fulfilled a longheld dream. Collier had scored high on a civil service exam, and was likely to be called to join the Somerville police department in June. “Anybody could relate to him. Sean could talk to anybody,” Rymill said. “The girls here in dispatch haven’t stopped crying.”

Holly Dixon, whose 28-year-old son, Travis, was Collier’s roommate in Somerville, said Collier loved camping and the outdoors and was incredibly generous. “He is one of the nicest guys you can imagine, funny, everybody liked him,” said Holly Dixon. “He was a nice, nice kid, who would do anything for you.”

Now he is dead, leaving a grieving family behind. Sometimes the good, the very good, do die young. 

Requiescat in pace.

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Terrorism and Immigration Reform

As more information filters in about the background of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is beginning the process of trying to process the horror we have witnessed this week and put in some context that might impact our views on policy questions. What we know at the moment about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev isn’t much, but it is enough to already throw out some of the pet theories about “white Americans” that were floated this week by irresponsible writers. Others may now substitute that foolishness for new equally specious theories that will seek to connect these two legal immigrants who reportedly attained citizenship with the topic of immigration in order to spike any chance of passing legislation to reform the current system.

The main focus today and in the coming days should be about homegrown terrorism and the question of what factors served to radicalize these two young men. But as much as we should resist any attempt to impute guilt by association with all Chechen immigrants or even all Muslims, as opposed to Islamist radicals, there is a connection between this crime and the question of border security. As we examine how this plot eluded the attention of security officials and what, if any, connection the Tsarnaevs may have had with foreign terror groups, it’s worth pondering just how antiquated and useless many of our efforts to defend the border currently are.

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As more information filters in about the background of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, the country is beginning the process of trying to process the horror we have witnessed this week and put in some context that might impact our views on policy questions. What we know at the moment about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev isn’t much, but it is enough to already throw out some of the pet theories about “white Americans” that were floated this week by irresponsible writers. Others may now substitute that foolishness for new equally specious theories that will seek to connect these two legal immigrants who reportedly attained citizenship with the topic of immigration in order to spike any chance of passing legislation to reform the current system.

The main focus today and in the coming days should be about homegrown terrorism and the question of what factors served to radicalize these two young men. But as much as we should resist any attempt to impute guilt by association with all Chechen immigrants or even all Muslims, as opposed to Islamist radicals, there is a connection between this crime and the question of border security. As we examine how this plot eluded the attention of security officials and what, if any, connection the Tsarnaevs may have had with foreign terror groups, it’s worth pondering just how antiquated and useless many of our efforts to defend the border currently are.

The status quo on immigration and border security has brought us a situation where an estimated 11 million illegals currently live inside the United States. We know little about them and any talk about deporting them is pure fantasy. If this were changed to allow those illegals to come into the system and a modern computerized system of background checks were installed, perhaps not only would security be enhanced. It is also possible that the federal government would also not be expending so much of our scarce resources on attempting to round up chambermaids, busboys and migrant agricultural workers here trying to make a meager living doing jobs Americans don’t want. Those who try and confuse anti-terror efforts with that pointless endeavor are doing the country no favor.

The tale of the Tsarnaev brothers appears to be one in which immigrants who were shown compassion by the United States and given a chance for a new and better life turned on their new home. Their behavior, especially if it turns out to be motivated by radical anti-American Islamism, is a disgrace and an insult to the countless immigrants from abroad, including many Muslims, who have become loyal citizens, just as those who came from abroad in previous generations did.

But our feelings of disgust and anger at the Tsarnaevs must not be used to rationalize a continuation of our current failed immigration and border policy.

The more open and transparent our system becomes, the safer our nation will be.

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What Conservative Principles Are Rubio’s Critics Defending?

It was probably inevitable. Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s decision to join a bipartisan coalition trying to forge a compromise immigration reform proposal was bound to bring down on him the wrath of some conservatives. In some precincts of the right, opposition to any effort to deal with the reality of illegal immigration other than by fantasies of mass deportation has always tended to be put down as an “amnesty” plan. So it is hardly surprising that Rubio’s rollout of the bipartisan reform proposal that was crafted by the “gang” of four Democrats and four Republicans is generating considerable flack this week.

One example came from National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose Politico column takes the point of view that Rubio has been rolled by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. According to the thoughtful Lowry, Rubio was no match for the wily Schumer, who got the Florida Republican to buy into a lopsided deal that provided no real guarantees about border enforcement in exchange for a path to citizenship for the illegals. I think this underestimates Rubio as well as being a misreading of the bill. But the question running through my head as I read this and other ripostes to the push for the reform proposal isn’t so much about whether Rubio is as foolish as his detractors believe him to be or the argument about the details of the bill. My question is more basic: What conservative principle are Rubio’s critics defending here?

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It was probably inevitable. Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s decision to join a bipartisan coalition trying to forge a compromise immigration reform proposal was bound to bring down on him the wrath of some conservatives. In some precincts of the right, opposition to any effort to deal with the reality of illegal immigration other than by fantasies of mass deportation has always tended to be put down as an “amnesty” plan. So it is hardly surprising that Rubio’s rollout of the bipartisan reform proposal that was crafted by the “gang” of four Democrats and four Republicans is generating considerable flack this week.

One example came from National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose Politico column takes the point of view that Rubio has been rolled by New York Democrat Chuck Schumer. According to the thoughtful Lowry, Rubio was no match for the wily Schumer, who got the Florida Republican to buy into a lopsided deal that provided no real guarantees about border enforcement in exchange for a path to citizenship for the illegals. I think this underestimates Rubio as well as being a misreading of the bill. But the question running through my head as I read this and other ripostes to the push for the reform proposal isn’t so much about whether Rubio is as foolish as his detractors believe him to be or the argument about the details of the bill. My question is more basic: What conservative principle are Rubio’s critics defending here?

The answer from more reasonable opponents of immigration reform would probably be that they are defending the rule of law. They are profoundly offended by the idea that people who entered the country illegally would derive any benefit from crossing the border without permission. I have some sympathy for this point of view, as any country has a right and a duty to control its borders.

But while talking about defense of the rule of law is always a strong rhetorical platform, its application in the immigration debate is of limited usefulness. Saying that 11 million people shouldn’t have been able to enter the country illegally is fine, but it doesn’t give us much insight as to what to do with them now that they are here. Unless your position is that they must all be deported forthwith—a preposterous proposition that would require the employment of an enormous federal force whose existence would surely be contrary to the limited government views of these same conservatives—or a comical faith in “self deportation” (thank you, Mitt Romney), then what do these conservatives advocate other than building a wall that would run the length of the border between the United States and Mexico?

What Rubio and the other Republicans who have come to the sensible conclusion that these immigrants must be offered a path to legality have done is to face reality. Since these people—the overwhelming majority of whom came seeking work—are already here and aren’t going anywhere, it is obviously in the interests of the nation, as well as the federal exchequer, to get them into the system, paying more taxes and integrated into our national life, rather than operating in the shadows. Claiming that doing this violates the rule of law begs the question of whether maintaining the status quo or pretending that they can be deported is actually a defense of that principle. Dealing with the problem seems not only more reasonable but to be based in more respect for the law than the current situation.

Lowry and other conservatives who worry about whether this will be a repeat of the 1986 immigration bill, which promised better enforcement that was not delivered, have a point. But the idea that the measures about border security in the bill are nothing but airy promises is unfair. One can always argue that the government will treat the provisions in the bill as meaningless and that Congress will be too weak to insist on enforcement. But the stakes in this coalition are so high that a repeat of past failures in this manner seems less likely. Even the Democrats understand that the price of Republican support means real border security and this bill provides a template for that.

Opposition to immigration reform based on skepticism about Democratic trustworthiness may be understandable, but it does not strike me as a strong enough reason to stick with our current dysfunctional system. As Rubio has rightly said, the real amnesty plan is what we have now, for all intents and purposes. If conservatives are genuinely interested in addressing this problem then his idea is the best option they are ever likely to get.

Take away the rule-of-law argument and all you are left with is the sort of vague talk about the “end of America” you hear from some denizens of the fever swamps of the right as well as mutterings about Hispanics using amnesty to be on welfare or that the citizenship track is a plot to create more voters for the Democrats. Suffice it to say that this is an echo of 19th century Know Nothing-style immigrant bashing that has nothing to do with the cause of individual liberty or limited government that are the principles conservatives should be defending.

And that is exactly why Rubio and other leading Republicans need to step up and put an end to the idea that the conservative movement should be identified with such talk. Far from betraying conservatism, what Rubio and his colleagues are doing is an effort to solve a problem and strengthen our system of laws as well as free market principles. The debate on immigration should require the bill’s advocates to ensure that the border will be defended. But the idea that Rubio has been rolled or betrayed his party is pure bunk.

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Liberal Activists’ Case Against the NYPD Is Falling Apart

In August, after the New York Times published a story accusing the New York Police Department of overtly racist policing, the NYPD responded by noting that: “During the first 10 years of the Bloomberg Administration there were 5,430 murders compared to 11,058 in the 10 years prior, a reduction of 51% or 5,628 lives saved. If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color.”

That continued a trend that began during the previous decade, when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. The drop in crime resulted in, for example, a 90-percent reduction in murders in one of Manhattan’s largely Hispanic neighborhoods. Minority communities in New York have been the beneficiaries of a policing revolution that put the city back on its feet in dramatic fashion. But to liberal activists and their judicial allies, the dignity of life is undercut by the supposed indignities inflicted upon the neighborhoods where police use the effective “stop and frisk” tactic.

They have sued to stop the practice, arguing police make their stops based on race. Judge Shira Scheindlin gave the case a boost when she ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to not just sue the city but to challenge the use of the police tactic at all. Though the decision to allow the case to proceed to trial was a blow against efforts to protect minorities, the trial itself has at least had the benefit of weakening the case against the NYPD–as well as Scheindlin’s own decision to approve the plaintiffs’ standing.

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In August, after the New York Times published a story accusing the New York Police Department of overtly racist policing, the NYPD responded by noting that: “During the first 10 years of the Bloomberg Administration there were 5,430 murders compared to 11,058 in the 10 years prior, a reduction of 51% or 5,628 lives saved. If history is a guide, the vast majority of those lives saved were young men of color.”

That continued a trend that began during the previous decade, when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. The drop in crime resulted in, for example, a 90-percent reduction in murders in one of Manhattan’s largely Hispanic neighborhoods. Minority communities in New York have been the beneficiaries of a policing revolution that put the city back on its feet in dramatic fashion. But to liberal activists and their judicial allies, the dignity of life is undercut by the supposed indignities inflicted upon the neighborhoods where police use the effective “stop and frisk” tactic.

They have sued to stop the practice, arguing police make their stops based on race. Judge Shira Scheindlin gave the case a boost when she ruled that the plaintiffs have standing to not just sue the city but to challenge the use of the police tactic at all. Though the decision to allow the case to proceed to trial was a blow against efforts to protect minorities, the trial itself has at least had the benefit of weakening the case against the NYPD–as well as Scheindlin’s own decision to approve the plaintiffs’ standing.

In recent weeks, the courtroom has played host to some extraordinary scenes. In Scheindlin’s decision approving the plaintiffs’ standing, she refers to the NYPD’s own paperwork, which contains the records and recollections of the stops. The records supposedly show the police to have made unnecessary stops in minority neighborhoods. But Scheindlin began to sense, correctly, that it’s quite difficult to fully understand a police stop by its record form. As the New York Daily News notes in an editorial slamming the shoddy judicial activism of the court in letting the case go through, Scheindlin asked former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito the following question: “You really don’t know much about the stop just by looking at the form, do you?”

The Daily News editorial continued:

“Correct,” he answered, as it became crystal clear that Scheindlin had given the go-ahead to a case built on evidence that, by her own statement, is wholly unreliable. Case dismissed, Your Honor.

Perhaps even more remarkable than this exchange was a story buried in the local section of yesterday’s New York Times, the paper that has led the spurious and scandalously dangerous campaign against the NYPD. The headline is “Some Testimony on Police Tactic Undercuts Bias Claim,” and the piece delivers the goods. It opens with this:

One man was stopped and frisked because of his expensive red leather jacket — similar to one that a murder suspect was wearing in a wanted poster. Another man was stopped after a woman complained to the police that he was following her. Still another was stopped by officers who had watched him jostle the door of a home, trying to get in.

Recruited by civil rights lawyers, these men and others have testified about their encounters with the police in a federal trial weighing whether the soaring number of stop-and-frisk encounters has resulted in widespread constitutional violations for hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men. They were chosen to give voice to the toll that the police’s use of the tactic has inflicted on an entire demographic, their lawyers say.

But over the trial’s first month, some of these men’s accounts seemed to veer away from the straightforward narrative of racial profiling — and may have actually undermined the plaintiffs’ efforts to demonstrate that the police routinely disregard the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable police detentions.

In other words, the police are doing their jobs. Intervening in a possible break-in; responding to a woman’s call that she was in danger; stopping a man wearing the same distinctive clothing as a man pictured in a wanted poster–is this not a clear description of responsible policing? Indeed it is. And yet the attorneys who put these witnesses on the stand thought they were going to describe racial profiling, because the case against the NYPD is based not on facts but on delusional ideological prejudice against the police.

The Times article’s tone is one of surprise. Do the facts of the case comport with the paper’s editorial outlook? Not at all. Will the editors adjust their opinion of the NYPD now that they have been exposed to the truth? That’s anybody’s guess, but it’s an improvement, at the very least, that they are reporting it.

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Remembering Warsaw By Trashing Zionism

Today is the 70th anniversary of the start of one of the greatest acts of heroism in the history of the world. On April 19, 1943, SS forces entered the Warsaw Ghetto to begin the final “liquidation” of the enclave in which hundreds of thousands of Jews had been herded. But instead of rounding up the tens of thousands of starving Jews, they were attacked by Jewish resistance forces that stalled their advance and set off a battle that would last for weeks. Two separate groups organized the resistance. One was the ZOB—The Jewish Combat Organization—a coalition that was largely led by left-wing Zionists. The other was the ZZW—the Jewish Military Union—led by right-wing Zionists. Both fought bravely in a struggle that could not alter the fate of the Jews of Warsaw but which nevertheless reminded the world that the honor of the Jewish people had been redeemed in even the most hopeless of circumstances.

Resistance to the Nazis was expressed in many ways, and we now understand that those who stayed with the elderly and children as well as those who died with dignity in other ways deserve to be remembered just as do those few who were able to take up arms against their murderers. But we rightly remember the Warsaw Ghetto fighters and all those who were able to resist the Nazis because their efforts were a symbol of heroism that has inspired subsequent generations of Jews to stand up against those who seek to carry on the hate of Hitler and his legions. The most famous moment of the revolt was the raising by the ZZW of the flag of Poland and the blue and white banner of Zionism over Muranowski Square. This was an event that even the Germans considered of immense importance since it showed their opponents were part of a nation they could not kill–a nation that would be reborn five years later as the State of Israel.

But in a curious act of revisionism, the New York Times commemorated the Ghetto Uprising today with an article that seeks to push back against this narrative and to replace it with one that downgrades the importance of Zionism in both the story of the Warsaw revolt and its place in Jewish history.

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Today is the 70th anniversary of the start of one of the greatest acts of heroism in the history of the world. On April 19, 1943, SS forces entered the Warsaw Ghetto to begin the final “liquidation” of the enclave in which hundreds of thousands of Jews had been herded. But instead of rounding up the tens of thousands of starving Jews, they were attacked by Jewish resistance forces that stalled their advance and set off a battle that would last for weeks. Two separate groups organized the resistance. One was the ZOB—The Jewish Combat Organization—a coalition that was largely led by left-wing Zionists. The other was the ZZW—the Jewish Military Union—led by right-wing Zionists. Both fought bravely in a struggle that could not alter the fate of the Jews of Warsaw but which nevertheless reminded the world that the honor of the Jewish people had been redeemed in even the most hopeless of circumstances.

Resistance to the Nazis was expressed in many ways, and we now understand that those who stayed with the elderly and children as well as those who died with dignity in other ways deserve to be remembered just as do those few who were able to take up arms against their murderers. But we rightly remember the Warsaw Ghetto fighters and all those who were able to resist the Nazis because their efforts were a symbol of heroism that has inspired subsequent generations of Jews to stand up against those who seek to carry on the hate of Hitler and his legions. The most famous moment of the revolt was the raising by the ZZW of the flag of Poland and the blue and white banner of Zionism over Muranowski Square. This was an event that even the Germans considered of immense importance since it showed their opponents were part of a nation they could not kill–a nation that would be reborn five years later as the State of Israel.

But in a curious act of revisionism, the New York Times commemorated the Ghetto Uprising today with an article that seeks to push back against this narrative and to replace it with one that downgrades the importance of Zionism in both the story of the Warsaw revolt and its place in Jewish history.

Yale University scholar Marci Shore’s “The Jewish Hero History Forgot” focused on Marek Edelman, one leader of the ZOB who was not a supporter of Zionism. While Edelman deserves to be honored as a hero, her attempt to debunk the traditional view of the uprising tells us more about the left’s animus toward Israel than it does about the events of 1943 or the Jews of Poland. Though all those who resisted and even those who did not should be memorialized, the idea that Edelman’s distaste for the Jewish state should be the last word about the Holocaust is as offensive as it is a distortion of Jewish history.

Edelman was a member of the Bund, the Jewish Labor Party, a socialist group dedicated to preserving Jewish life and culture in Poland and which rejected Zionism. The argument between the two movements is an interesting chapter of the Jewish past, but surely not one that needs to be re-fought in light of what happened. Yet Shore argues that the Bundist position was actually reasonable:

Today, the teleological deceptions of retrospect make it seem a foregone conclusion that the Zionists would win that debate. Yet in the 1920s and 1930s, the Bund’s program seemed much more grounded, sensible and realistic: a Jewish workers’ party allied with a larger labor movement, a secular Jewish culture in Yiddish, the language already spoken by most Jews, a future in the place where Jews already lived, alongside people they already knew. The Zionist idea that millions of European Jews would adopt a new language, uproot themselves en masse, and resettle in a Middle Eastern desert amid people about whom they knew nothing was far less realistic.

But the problem with this attempt to rehabilitate a failed ideology is that even in the 1930s, the idea that there was a viable Jewish future in a virulently anti-Semitic Poland set in a Europe where Nazism was on the rise was the fantasy, not the burgeoning and successful effort to rebuild Jewish life in what was then called Palestine.

As Shore notes, after the war when almost all of the survivors of the revolt found their way to Israel, Edelman stayed in Poland and served as a doctor. But his subsequent life in a Poland where those few Jews who stayed behind were subjected to a new wave of anti-Semitism from the Communist government merely demonstrated anew how wrong the Bundists had been all along. While she writes of him as someone celebrated today as a Polish hero, anti-Semitism is alive and well in contemporary Poland.

She chides Israel for not treating Edelman with the honor he deserved, but that is also a distortion of the record. It was he who disdained Israel more than it slighted him, as she indicates with her concluding quote  in which he says “a single-nation state is never a good thing.”

But it is difficult to understand how one can think about what happened in Warsaw 70 years ago as well as the rest of the Holocaust without concluding that creating a national home for the Jewish people where they could defend themselves was a good thing.

Jews of every conceivable religious and political belief lived, fought and died in Warsaw. But their plight illustrated that the Zionist idea that Jews must take their fate into their own hands was correct. What the Zionists understood in the pre-Holocaust era was that the belief that Europe could remain home to millions of Jews was an illusion. Zionist leader Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky told the Jews of Warsaw on Tisha B’Av—the date on which Jews commemorate the destruction of their ancient Temple—in 1938 that “the catastrophe is coming closer” and they and the rest of European Jewry must be evacuated. Rather than working with him to save European Jewry, the Bundists mocked Jabotinsky.

From the perspective of 2013, the Zionist critique of pre-war Jewish complacence is still compelling. Today, even the U.S. State Department has concluded that a troubling wave of anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. In France, the largest Jewish community on the continent is under siege with many leaving for Israel. The concept that the Jews must have a state of their own where they can stand against the still-vibrant forces of hate remains irrefutable.

Contemporary leftist critics of Israel may also view the Jewish state with distaste and wish to somehow separate it from the sacred memory of Jewish resistance against the Nazis. But the attempt to replace the Zionist narrative with one in which the revolt is detached from subsequent Jewish history is utterly fraudulent. The Ghetto fighters were the forerunners of those who have fought to preserve Jewish life and sovereignty during the 65 years of Israel’s existence. For the New York Times to choose to devote its only coverage to this subject by publishing Shore’s thinly veiled critique of Zionist historiography is a disgrace.

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Overall, a Good Week for Iran Deterrence

This week’s publication of a report effectively urging U.S. appeasement of Iran, signed by many leading lights of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, clearly undermines administration efforts to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. But despite the Iran Project report’s negative impact, which Jonathan aptly explained yesterday, this has been a good week overall on the Iran deterrence front, thanks mainly to the U.S. Senate.

On Tuesday, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution pledging the following: “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.” The resolution hasn’t yet passed the full Senate, but with a whopping 79 out of 100 senators co-sponsoring it, that august body’s views aren’t in much doubt.

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This week’s publication of a report effectively urging U.S. appeasement of Iran, signed by many leading lights of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, clearly undermines administration efforts to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. But despite the Iran Project report’s negative impact, which Jonathan aptly explained yesterday, this has been a good week overall on the Iran deterrence front, thanks mainly to the U.S. Senate.

On Tuesday, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution pledging the following: “If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.” The resolution hasn’t yet passed the full Senate, but with a whopping 79 out of 100 senators co-sponsoring it, that august body’s views aren’t in much doubt.

This matters because, contrary to the Iran Project, most experts think Iran won’t negotiate an end to its nuclear program unless it’s convinced that refusing to deal will result in devastating military strikes. And though President Obama has consistently said all options are on the table, in practice, senior administration officials have repeatedly warned that an attack on Iran would be disastrous, with the result that Iran’s leaders don’t take the U.S. threat seriously. Consequently, the only credible military threat against Iran currently comes from Israel–a fact confirmed by no less a source than Iran’s own Intelligence Ministry, which in November issued a report that dismissed the possibility of a U.S. strike but urged negotiations to avert a “Zionist” attack.

Yet anyone following the debate in Israel knows that Israel’s biggest concern about attacking Iran–even bigger than the fear of Iranian counterstrikes–is fear that U.S. support won’t be forthcoming the day after. Israel would need such support on numerous fronts: diplomatic support against the inevitable world outcry, perhaps emergency military resupply to repulse a counterattack, and above all, leadership in mobilizing the international community to maintain the sanctions regime and prevent Iran from rebuilding its nuclear program. As several Israeli experts have noted, the worst-case scenario would be to bomb Iran and then have it obtain nukes anyway because the collapse of the sanctions regime enabled it to rebuild swiftly.

With this resolution, however, the Senate has effectively told Iran that isn’t going to happen: Should Israel reach the point where it believes it has no choice but to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, America will give it full “diplomatic, military, and economic support” afterward.

Then, as icing on the cake, came Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s blunt statement that same day: “The IDF has the capability of attacking the nuclear installations [in Iran] by itself,” Gantz declared.

A year ago, American experts were already claiming that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was at the outer limits of Israel’s capability, and since then, the job has only gotten harder, since the underground Fordow facility is now in operation. This has fed speculation that Iran’s nuclear program is already too big and too hardened for Israel to take out on its own. Now, Gantz has refuted this speculation–and the fact that he is considered a dove on the Iranian issue gives his refutation redoubled force.

In short, Israel has reaffirmed its ability to attack, and the U.S. has pledged to support it if it does. This has to make Iran’s rulers uneasy. And that should make the rest of us sleep better at night.

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Still Waiting for Answers in Boston

Americans awoke on Friday to the news that one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing was dead and that the other was still on the run as a massive manhunt shut down the greater Boston area. Reports also indicate that the pair, brothers, turn out to be of Chechen origin. This information does shoot down the preferred scenario of Salon and other liberals that have openly expressed the hope that the Boston terrorists would turn out to be “white Americans” who perhaps could be linked to conservative causes.

There is a long history of Chechnya being a source of Islamist terrorism, both against Russia and elsewhere. But until we learn more, this is not the time to jump to any conclusions about the motives of these killers or whether they fit the model of the Ft. Hood killer, an American who was inspired by Islamist ideology to carry out a deadly attack. An American media that has been bursting with impatience all week hoping to be able to put this tragedy in some perspective or to use it promote some sort of political agenda will just have to keep waiting.

As we watch coverage of the attempts by law enforcement agencies to find the remaining suspect who is still on the loose, our prayers remain with the families of the victims, which now include a police officer who was killed during the night in a shootout with the terrorists. Above all, let’s hope there will be no more casualties before this story is completed.

Americans awoke on Friday to the news that one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing was dead and that the other was still on the run as a massive manhunt shut down the greater Boston area. Reports also indicate that the pair, brothers, turn out to be of Chechen origin. This information does shoot down the preferred scenario of Salon and other liberals that have openly expressed the hope that the Boston terrorists would turn out to be “white Americans” who perhaps could be linked to conservative causes.

There is a long history of Chechnya being a source of Islamist terrorism, both against Russia and elsewhere. But until we learn more, this is not the time to jump to any conclusions about the motives of these killers or whether they fit the model of the Ft. Hood killer, an American who was inspired by Islamist ideology to carry out a deadly attack. An American media that has been bursting with impatience all week hoping to be able to put this tragedy in some perspective or to use it promote some sort of political agenda will just have to keep waiting.

As we watch coverage of the attempts by law enforcement agencies to find the remaining suspect who is still on the loose, our prayers remain with the families of the victims, which now include a police officer who was killed during the night in a shootout with the terrorists. Above all, let’s hope there will be no more casualties before this story is completed.

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