Commentary Magazine


Topic: policeman

Staging a Human Rights Atrocity

It has become a familiar pattern: violent provocateurs create a confrontation with lightly armed anti-riot squads. The state officials defend themselves. The instigators claim there has been an atrocity. The flotilla incident? Why, yes. But also a recent confrontation between Morocco and the violent Polisario Front, which refuses to accept a Moroccan autonomy plan for the Western Sahara and keeps refugees warehoused in dismal camps in Algeria.

As the Israeli government did in the flotilla incident, the government of Morocco has put out a video of a recent incident in Laayoune. This video, which is exceptionally graphic but should be reviewed in full to appreciate the extent of the Polisario Front’s propaganda campaign, shows peaceful demonstrators in a tent city (who came to protest overcrowding, totally unrelated to the dispute in the Western Sahara) dispersed without incident by Moroccan police, loaded onto government-provided buses, and exiting the area. Then onto the scene come the Polisario Front, with knives, rock-throwers, incendiary devices, and much brutality. What unfolds — vicious attacks on the police, the ambush of an ambulance, buildings burning in the city center, a near beheading of a policeman, etc. — is evidence that the Polisario Front is the aggressor in this incident.

And yet the Polisario Front, with a willing media, played the incident up as a human rights violation — by the government of Morocco. This report duly regurgitates the Polisario Front’s claim that the Moroccan government was guilty “of carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Laayoune and warned the international community that if it did not intervene to find a peaceful solution, ‘the Sahrawi people will resort to all measures, including war.’” This AP report tells us: “Moroccan forces raided a protest camp in the disputed territory of Western Sahara on Monday and unrest spread to a nearby city, with buildings ablaze and rioters roaming the streets. Five Moroccan security officials and one demonstrator were killed, reports said.” One would think that the government’s forces instigated the violence with the peaceful protesters there, and it would be hard to glean — as the video shows — that the protest camp had been dismantled before the Polisario Front forces attacked the police.

So what is going on here? Well, it seems that the incident came just as there was to begin the “re-opening of informal U.N.-sponsored talks Monday in Manhasset, New York, between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which long waged a guerrilla war on Morocco in a bid to gain independence for the desert region and its native Saharawi people.” Hmm. Sort of like the killing of Jews that inevitably breaks out when “peace” talks begin between Israel and the PA.

Whether the group is the PA or the Polisario Front, the modus operandi is the same — stage violence, claim victimhood, label the incident as a human rights atrocity, and thereby delay or disrupt peace negotiations that might resolve the conflict and leave the terrorists without a cause. You would think the media would be on to it. Unless, of course, they really don’t care about getting the story straight.

It has become a familiar pattern: violent provocateurs create a confrontation with lightly armed anti-riot squads. The state officials defend themselves. The instigators claim there has been an atrocity. The flotilla incident? Why, yes. But also a recent confrontation between Morocco and the violent Polisario Front, which refuses to accept a Moroccan autonomy plan for the Western Sahara and keeps refugees warehoused in dismal camps in Algeria.

As the Israeli government did in the flotilla incident, the government of Morocco has put out a video of a recent incident in Laayoune. This video, which is exceptionally graphic but should be reviewed in full to appreciate the extent of the Polisario Front’s propaganda campaign, shows peaceful demonstrators in a tent city (who came to protest overcrowding, totally unrelated to the dispute in the Western Sahara) dispersed without incident by Moroccan police, loaded onto government-provided buses, and exiting the area. Then onto the scene come the Polisario Front, with knives, rock-throwers, incendiary devices, and much brutality. What unfolds — vicious attacks on the police, the ambush of an ambulance, buildings burning in the city center, a near beheading of a policeman, etc. — is evidence that the Polisario Front is the aggressor in this incident.

And yet the Polisario Front, with a willing media, played the incident up as a human rights violation — by the government of Morocco. This report duly regurgitates the Polisario Front’s claim that the Moroccan government was guilty “of carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Laayoune and warned the international community that if it did not intervene to find a peaceful solution, ‘the Sahrawi people will resort to all measures, including war.’” This AP report tells us: “Moroccan forces raided a protest camp in the disputed territory of Western Sahara on Monday and unrest spread to a nearby city, with buildings ablaze and rioters roaming the streets. Five Moroccan security officials and one demonstrator were killed, reports said.” One would think that the government’s forces instigated the violence with the peaceful protesters there, and it would be hard to glean — as the video shows — that the protest camp had been dismantled before the Polisario Front forces attacked the police.

So what is going on here? Well, it seems that the incident came just as there was to begin the “re-opening of informal U.N.-sponsored talks Monday in Manhasset, New York, between Morocco and the Polisario Front, which long waged a guerrilla war on Morocco in a bid to gain independence for the desert region and its native Saharawi people.” Hmm. Sort of like the killing of Jews that inevitably breaks out when “peace” talks begin between Israel and the PA.

Whether the group is the PA or the Polisario Front, the modus operandi is the same — stage violence, claim victimhood, label the incident as a human rights atrocity, and thereby delay or disrupt peace negotiations that might resolve the conflict and leave the terrorists without a cause. You would think the media would be on to it. Unless, of course, they really don’t care about getting the story straight.

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RE: Where Is the International Community When You Need It?

Yesterday, the Polisario Front’s jackboots nabbed their former police chief, who had broken with the group and embraced an autonomy plan for Western Sahara put forth by Morocco. In true Orwellian fashion the Polisario Front justified the suppression of free speech and the arrest of a former official who threatened to rally the Polisario camps in favor of the autonomy plan:

Polisario Front on Wednesday justified the arrest of former Inspector General of Police Salma Mustafa Ould Sidi Mouloud, which supports the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco to solve the Western Sahara conflict, saying he is suspected of “espionage” for the “enemy.” “The policeman Mustafa Salma denied their legal obligations and responsibilities imposed by its membership of the Sahrawi police, including the defense of the integrity, sovereignty and unity of the country,” said a statement picked up by Saharawi Press Service (SPS).

The Polisario Front dubs Sidi Mouloud a “deserter” and accuses him of supporting the “enemy.” The Polisario Front claims he “revealed secrets related to the institutions of the Saharawi Republic and served spying for a country at war with the SADR with the aim of harming its security and sovereignty.” He’s now been deemed to have committed “treason and espionage.” To even casual students of totalitarian regimes, this is sickeningly familiar. The “trial” — if they bother – will be brief and unsuspenseful.

You wonder what it will take for liberal western elites, who have fawned over the Polisario Front and hosted them in salons, to sour on these thugs. I look at it this way: if stoning women, abusing little girls, hanging gays, and propounding virulent anti-Semitism in the “Muslim World” aren’t enough to persuade the left that Israel’s Muslim neighbors are not on the side of the angels, I suppose the kidnapping, jailing, and potential execution of a defector from the Polisario vanguard won’t have much of an impact on them either.

This is an issue that the Obama team actually got “right” — Hillary Clinton was extremely supportive of the Moroccan autonomy plan, which would spell the demise of the Polisario Front. Now the administration needs to act in support of Sidi Mouloud and push for a resolution to the Western Sahara issue — hopefully before more “deserters” are captured and/or slain.

Yesterday, the Polisario Front’s jackboots nabbed their former police chief, who had broken with the group and embraced an autonomy plan for Western Sahara put forth by Morocco. In true Orwellian fashion the Polisario Front justified the suppression of free speech and the arrest of a former official who threatened to rally the Polisario camps in favor of the autonomy plan:

Polisario Front on Wednesday justified the arrest of former Inspector General of Police Salma Mustafa Ould Sidi Mouloud, which supports the autonomy plan proposed by Morocco to solve the Western Sahara conflict, saying he is suspected of “espionage” for the “enemy.” “The policeman Mustafa Salma denied their legal obligations and responsibilities imposed by its membership of the Sahrawi police, including the defense of the integrity, sovereignty and unity of the country,” said a statement picked up by Saharawi Press Service (SPS).

The Polisario Front dubs Sidi Mouloud a “deserter” and accuses him of supporting the “enemy.” The Polisario Front claims he “revealed secrets related to the institutions of the Saharawi Republic and served spying for a country at war with the SADR with the aim of harming its security and sovereignty.” He’s now been deemed to have committed “treason and espionage.” To even casual students of totalitarian regimes, this is sickeningly familiar. The “trial” — if they bother – will be brief and unsuspenseful.

You wonder what it will take for liberal western elites, who have fawned over the Polisario Front and hosted them in salons, to sour on these thugs. I look at it this way: if stoning women, abusing little girls, hanging gays, and propounding virulent anti-Semitism in the “Muslim World” aren’t enough to persuade the left that Israel’s Muslim neighbors are not on the side of the angels, I suppose the kidnapping, jailing, and potential execution of a defector from the Polisario vanguard won’t have much of an impact on them either.

This is an issue that the Obama team actually got “right” — Hillary Clinton was extremely supportive of the Moroccan autonomy plan, which would spell the demise of the Polisario Front. Now the administration needs to act in support of Sidi Mouloud and push for a resolution to the Western Sahara issue — hopefully before more “deserters” are captured and/or slain.

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Israel Can’t Afford Unforced Errors

Shmuel Rosner at the Jerusalem Post aptly identifies two things on which the “vast majority of Israelis” would probably agree: first, “letting the flotilla into Gaza was not an option,” because ending the naval blockade would allow Hamas to import huge quantities of arms that, as recent history proves, would be used against Israeli civilians. And second, “letting peace activists stab Israeli soldiers with knives and hammer them and axe them was also not an option”: in a life-threatening situation, soldiers are supposed to defend themselves, not let themselves be killed. These two points are the heart of the matter, and CONTENTIONS contributors rightly focused on them yesterday.

Nevertheless, I can’t agree with Jonathan that given the circumstances, “the question of whether Israel’s forces might have been better prepared” is “insignificant.” Israel knows that much of the world will seize on any pretext to condemn it, justified or not; it also knows there will be many times when it cannot avoid providing such pretexts: for instance, it couldn’t let its citizens suffer daily rocket fire from Gaza forever, even knowing that last year’s successful military action against Hamas would spark widespread denunciations. Therefore, it must take extra care to avoid providing unnecessary pretexts for condemnation. And in this case, it failed to take even minimal precautions.

For instance, the radical nature of IHH, the Turkish group that organized the flotilla, was well known. J.E. Dyer detailed it for CONTENTIONS readers yesterday; similar information is available from Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The center was founded by retired members of Israel’s intelligence community and cooperates closely with this community; anything it knows would also have been known to the Israel Defense Forces — or at least should have been.

But given that the flotilla was organized by a group with links to al-Qaeda and other “jihadist terrorist networks in Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya” — a group that actively provided “logistical support and funding” to such networks and kept weapons, explosives, and instructions for making improvised explosive devices in its Istanbul offices — how could the IDF possibly have “planned on dealing with peace activists, not a battle,” as one senior naval officer said afterward? Al-Qaeda affiliates are not generally known for peaceful demonstrations.

For that matter, neither are some of the left-wing activists Israel attracts — as nobody knows better than the IDF: it confronts them weekly at demonstrations against the security fence in Bili’in. Though Palestinian shills term these protests “nonviolent,” they are anything but: masked men routinely use slingshots to hurl stones at Israeli troops and have wounded many; one Israeli policeman was permanently blinded when a hurled stone took out his eye. The IDF would never send a lone soldier into the mob at Bili’in. So why send soldiers to rappel one by one into the mob aboard the Marmara, making them easy pickings?

This is the kind of unforced error Israel cannot afford to make. It may be unfair that Israel can’t afford mistakes that other countries make with impunity, but it’s reality. And Israel must start learning to deal with it.

Shmuel Rosner at the Jerusalem Post aptly identifies two things on which the “vast majority of Israelis” would probably agree: first, “letting the flotilla into Gaza was not an option,” because ending the naval blockade would allow Hamas to import huge quantities of arms that, as recent history proves, would be used against Israeli civilians. And second, “letting peace activists stab Israeli soldiers with knives and hammer them and axe them was also not an option”: in a life-threatening situation, soldiers are supposed to defend themselves, not let themselves be killed. These two points are the heart of the matter, and CONTENTIONS contributors rightly focused on them yesterday.

Nevertheless, I can’t agree with Jonathan that given the circumstances, “the question of whether Israel’s forces might have been better prepared” is “insignificant.” Israel knows that much of the world will seize on any pretext to condemn it, justified or not; it also knows there will be many times when it cannot avoid providing such pretexts: for instance, it couldn’t let its citizens suffer daily rocket fire from Gaza forever, even knowing that last year’s successful military action against Hamas would spark widespread denunciations. Therefore, it must take extra care to avoid providing unnecessary pretexts for condemnation. And in this case, it failed to take even minimal precautions.

For instance, the radical nature of IHH, the Turkish group that organized the flotilla, was well known. J.E. Dyer detailed it for CONTENTIONS readers yesterday; similar information is available from Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The center was founded by retired members of Israel’s intelligence community and cooperates closely with this community; anything it knows would also have been known to the Israel Defense Forces — or at least should have been.

But given that the flotilla was organized by a group with links to al-Qaeda and other “jihadist terrorist networks in Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya” — a group that actively provided “logistical support and funding” to such networks and kept weapons, explosives, and instructions for making improvised explosive devices in its Istanbul offices — how could the IDF possibly have “planned on dealing with peace activists, not a battle,” as one senior naval officer said afterward? Al-Qaeda affiliates are not generally known for peaceful demonstrations.

For that matter, neither are some of the left-wing activists Israel attracts — as nobody knows better than the IDF: it confronts them weekly at demonstrations against the security fence in Bili’in. Though Palestinian shills term these protests “nonviolent,” they are anything but: masked men routinely use slingshots to hurl stones at Israeli troops and have wounded many; one Israeli policeman was permanently blinded when a hurled stone took out his eye. The IDF would never send a lone soldier into the mob at Bili’in. So why send soldiers to rappel one by one into the mob aboard the Marmara, making them easy pickings?

This is the kind of unforced error Israel cannot afford to make. It may be unfair that Israel can’t afford mistakes that other countries make with impunity, but it’s reality. And Israel must start learning to deal with it.

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How’s Syrian Engagement Going?

No matter how many trips John Kerry makes to Syria (could it be because he makes so many trips?), we haven’t been able to extract a smidgen of cooperation from the Syrian despot or weaken the bond between Iran and Syria. Here’s the latest:

Syria defied Western pressure on Sunday over its support for the militant group Hezbollah and said it would not act as a policeman for Israel to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese Shi’ite movement.

“Did Israel ever stop arming itself, did it stop instigating violence or making military maneuvers,” Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said after meeting his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. “Why are arms forbidden to Arabs and allowed to Israel?”

The answer is because Israel is a democracy that does not foment terrorism, saddle up to aggressive regimes, or brutalize its own people. But that’s not the sort of  answer any U.S. official is going to give these days. And it is further evidence that engagement has given the Syrians not pause but encouragement to defy the U.S. We are perceived as weak, desperate, unreliable, and in retreat in the region.

It seems that no amount of evidence — not defiance by Syria in this latest incident, not Scud sales, not chummy press conferences with Assad and Ahmadinejad in perfect harmony, not the continued trampling of human rights — will convince the Obama brain trust that our current policy is horribly misguided. They have their own game plan, and they aren’t about to let reality get in the way.

No matter how many trips John Kerry makes to Syria (could it be because he makes so many trips?), we haven’t been able to extract a smidgen of cooperation from the Syrian despot or weaken the bond between Iran and Syria. Here’s the latest:

Syria defied Western pressure on Sunday over its support for the militant group Hezbollah and said it would not act as a policeman for Israel to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese Shi’ite movement.

“Did Israel ever stop arming itself, did it stop instigating violence or making military maneuvers,” Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said after meeting his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. “Why are arms forbidden to Arabs and allowed to Israel?”

The answer is because Israel is a democracy that does not foment terrorism, saddle up to aggressive regimes, or brutalize its own people. But that’s not the sort of  answer any U.S. official is going to give these days. And it is further evidence that engagement has given the Syrians not pause but encouragement to defy the U.S. We are perceived as weak, desperate, unreliable, and in retreat in the region.

It seems that no amount of evidence — not defiance by Syria in this latest incident, not Scud sales, not chummy press conferences with Assad and Ahmadinejad in perfect harmony, not the continued trampling of human rights — will convince the Obama brain trust that our current policy is horribly misguided. They have their own game plan, and they aren’t about to let reality get in the way.

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Dershowitz on the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh Killing

As Alan Dershowitz is wont to do, he takes a lawyerly look at whether the killing of Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room was legally and morally justified. He assumes, for the sake of argument, of course, that Mossad “did make the hit.” On the legal side, he notes that there are certainly extrajudicial killings that are not unlawful. “Every soldier who kills an enemy combatant engages in an extrajudicial killing, as does every policeman who shoots a fleeing felon.” After some analysis, he concludes: “This was not an ordinary murder. It was carried out as a matter of state policy as part of an ongoing war. … Obviously it would have been better if he could have been captured and subjected to judicial justice. But it was impossible to capture him, especially when he was in Dubai.” Well, the “obviously” is debatable, but his conclusion is sound.

Once Dershowitz considers the moral equation, the fun starts. He’s Dershowitz, after all, so he goes at it:

The Goldstone Report ordered by the UN Human Rights Council suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate retail measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists.

Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate and focused attack on a combatant who was deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel, than the killing of Mabhouh. Not only was he the commander in charge of Hamas’ unlawful military actions, he was also personally responsible for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers several years earlier.

It’s hard not to see the unalloyed benefit in the surgical assassination of Mabhouh, unless, of course, the applicable moral rule in these situations is that Israel is never entitled to defend itself. While the professional Israel hamstringers fret, others are mystified by all the hand-wringing, content in the knowledge that some women, children, and Israel soldiers might be spared. (“Was he sleeping the happy sleep of the just terrorist after completing yet another deal with the butchers of Iran to import Iranian-made weapons into Gaza when he was dispatched to the arms of his 72 virgins?”) Meanwhile, moral clarity reigns in Israel, even on the Left:

While Europe is up in arms over the slaying of top Hamas guerrilla Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh — and everyone blames the Mossad — the near-unanimous verdict in Israel: mission accomplished.

Even self-described Tel Aviv “Communist” Haish Harel gave a thumbs-up to the Jan. 20 assassination in Dubai, which has brought Israel a blizzard of unwanted international attention.

“He wasn’t a civilian. He was a fighter, and he was still active,” said Harel, 29, carrying his young son on his shoulders.

And thanks to Mossad — well, if it was Mossad – Harel and that young son may sleep a little sounder, and those who would seek to slaughter them both (and thousands more, if they could) may be warier of hotel rooms and many other spots on the planet where at any moment they too can be victims of a justified extrajudicial killing.

As Alan Dershowitz is wont to do, he takes a lawyerly look at whether the killing of Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room was legally and morally justified. He assumes, for the sake of argument, of course, that Mossad “did make the hit.” On the legal side, he notes that there are certainly extrajudicial killings that are not unlawful. “Every soldier who kills an enemy combatant engages in an extrajudicial killing, as does every policeman who shoots a fleeing felon.” After some analysis, he concludes: “This was not an ordinary murder. It was carried out as a matter of state policy as part of an ongoing war. … Obviously it would have been better if he could have been captured and subjected to judicial justice. But it was impossible to capture him, especially when he was in Dubai.” Well, the “obviously” is debatable, but his conclusion is sound.

Once Dershowitz considers the moral equation, the fun starts. He’s Dershowitz, after all, so he goes at it:

The Goldstone Report ordered by the UN Human Rights Council suggests that Israel cannot lawfully fight Hamas rockets by wholesale air attacks. Richard Goldstone, in interviews, has suggested that Israel should protect itself from these unlawful attacks by more proportionate retail measures, such as commando raids and targeted killing of terrorists.

Well, there could be no better example of a proportionate and focused attack on a combatant who was deeply involved in the rocket attacks on Israel, than the killing of Mabhouh. Not only was he the commander in charge of Hamas’ unlawful military actions, he was also personally responsible for the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers several years earlier.

It’s hard not to see the unalloyed benefit in the surgical assassination of Mabhouh, unless, of course, the applicable moral rule in these situations is that Israel is never entitled to defend itself. While the professional Israel hamstringers fret, others are mystified by all the hand-wringing, content in the knowledge that some women, children, and Israel soldiers might be spared. (“Was he sleeping the happy sleep of the just terrorist after completing yet another deal with the butchers of Iran to import Iranian-made weapons into Gaza when he was dispatched to the arms of his 72 virgins?”) Meanwhile, moral clarity reigns in Israel, even on the Left:

While Europe is up in arms over the slaying of top Hamas guerrilla Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh — and everyone blames the Mossad — the near-unanimous verdict in Israel: mission accomplished.

Even self-described Tel Aviv “Communist” Haish Harel gave a thumbs-up to the Jan. 20 assassination in Dubai, which has brought Israel a blizzard of unwanted international attention.

“He wasn’t a civilian. He was a fighter, and he was still active,” said Harel, 29, carrying his young son on his shoulders.

And thanks to Mossad — well, if it was Mossad – Harel and that young son may sleep a little sounder, and those who would seek to slaughter them both (and thousands more, if they could) may be warier of hotel rooms and many other spots on the planet where at any moment they too can be victims of a justified extrajudicial killing.

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The Meaning of Palestinian Politics

Over at the New Republic, Steven A. Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations speaks a few truths about Palestinian politics that aren’t often mentioned. His “The Third Intifada” discusses the likelihood of the current diplomatic standoff between Israel and the Palestinians resulting in a new round of violence. But rather than going the route of conventional wisdom and blaming it all on the hard-hearted Israelis, who won’t make enough concessions to appease their antagonists, Cook goes straight to the heart of Palestinian political culture when he notes that, as in the not-so-distant past, their leaders will resort to bloodshed as a way out of the corner into which they have painted themselves and as a means to bolster their credibility with constituencies that seem only to respect violence.

Another intifada makes no sense for the Palestinians. Another campaign of attacks on Israeli targets has little chance of success and it would, without doubt, cost far more Palestinian than Israeli lives. It would also ruin, as the first and second intifadas did, the economic progress Palestinians have made in recent years and inflict a new round of misery on them. But, as Cook points out, none of that will matter because “if history is any guide, the Palestinian leadership of the West Bank — whether it includes Mahmoud Abbas or not — may again look to a violence to improve its sagging domestic popularity. Throughout contemporary Palestinian history, spilling Israeli blood has often been the best way for competing political factions to burnish their nationalist credentials.”

In an important point often overlooked by apologists for Abbas, Cook also believes that “faith” in the ability or willingness of the new Palestinian Authority security forces to stop anti-Israel terror in the future “seems misguided.” Those forces have been the subject of much positive comment from both Jerusalem and Washington, but Cook understands that in order to maintain their credibility among Palestinians these units will have to turn their guns on their erstwhile Israeli partners if push comes to shove. Since this is exactly what happened in 2000 when the second intifada broke out — when Palestinian policeman who had also received U.S. training joined mobs attacking Israeli positions rather than try to restrain them — why should anyone doubt that another intifada will produce the same result?

But lest anyone conclude that the only alternative to another intifada is a more forthcoming Israeli negotiating position, it is important to remember a few points that go unmentioned in Cook’s article. Far from a lack of diplomatic progress providing a spur to Palestinian violence, it is the Palestinian leadership’s unwillingness to make peace that is the root cause of the problem. Having rejected a state in the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for recognizing Israel’s legitimacy both in 2000 and 2008, it is more than obvious that their real fear doesn’t stem from the unlikelihood of peace but rather from the certainty of a deal if they should actually seriously pursue one. Though Barack Obama gave them a new excuse for dragging their feet this year by trying to make a settlement freeze a precondition for talks, Abbas must follow Arafat’s precedent and choose war over peace because anything less would result in his destruction.

Whether or not Israelis build new homes in their own capital, a point that Cook wrongly acknowledges as a seeming justification for Palestinian unhappiness, rejection of Israel’s existence and belief in the inherent legitimacy of anti-Israel violence is still the core of Palestinian political identity. Unless and until that changes, all we can expect is an endless stream of intifadas undertaken not out of frustration but as a way to avoid making peace.

Over at the New Republic, Steven A. Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations speaks a few truths about Palestinian politics that aren’t often mentioned. His “The Third Intifada” discusses the likelihood of the current diplomatic standoff between Israel and the Palestinians resulting in a new round of violence. But rather than going the route of conventional wisdom and blaming it all on the hard-hearted Israelis, who won’t make enough concessions to appease their antagonists, Cook goes straight to the heart of Palestinian political culture when he notes that, as in the not-so-distant past, their leaders will resort to bloodshed as a way out of the corner into which they have painted themselves and as a means to bolster their credibility with constituencies that seem only to respect violence.

Another intifada makes no sense for the Palestinians. Another campaign of attacks on Israeli targets has little chance of success and it would, without doubt, cost far more Palestinian than Israeli lives. It would also ruin, as the first and second intifadas did, the economic progress Palestinians have made in recent years and inflict a new round of misery on them. But, as Cook points out, none of that will matter because “if history is any guide, the Palestinian leadership of the West Bank — whether it includes Mahmoud Abbas or not — may again look to a violence to improve its sagging domestic popularity. Throughout contemporary Palestinian history, spilling Israeli blood has often been the best way for competing political factions to burnish their nationalist credentials.”

In an important point often overlooked by apologists for Abbas, Cook also believes that “faith” in the ability or willingness of the new Palestinian Authority security forces to stop anti-Israel terror in the future “seems misguided.” Those forces have been the subject of much positive comment from both Jerusalem and Washington, but Cook understands that in order to maintain their credibility among Palestinians these units will have to turn their guns on their erstwhile Israeli partners if push comes to shove. Since this is exactly what happened in 2000 when the second intifada broke out — when Palestinian policeman who had also received U.S. training joined mobs attacking Israeli positions rather than try to restrain them — why should anyone doubt that another intifada will produce the same result?

But lest anyone conclude that the only alternative to another intifada is a more forthcoming Israeli negotiating position, it is important to remember a few points that go unmentioned in Cook’s article. Far from a lack of diplomatic progress providing a spur to Palestinian violence, it is the Palestinian leadership’s unwillingness to make peace that is the root cause of the problem. Having rejected a state in the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for recognizing Israel’s legitimacy both in 2000 and 2008, it is more than obvious that their real fear doesn’t stem from the unlikelihood of peace but rather from the certainty of a deal if they should actually seriously pursue one. Though Barack Obama gave them a new excuse for dragging their feet this year by trying to make a settlement freeze a precondition for talks, Abbas must follow Arafat’s precedent and choose war over peace because anything less would result in his destruction.

Whether or not Israelis build new homes in their own capital, a point that Cook wrongly acknowledges as a seeming justification for Palestinian unhappiness, rejection of Israel’s existence and belief in the inherent legitimacy of anti-Israel violence is still the core of Palestinian political identity. Unless and until that changes, all we can expect is an endless stream of intifadas undertaken not out of frustration but as a way to avoid making peace.

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Deporting Chinese Students

Last Wednesday, the South Korean government announced that it will deport Chinese citizens found guilty of attacks during the running of the Olympic torch in Seoul last month. “The justice ministry, while fully respecting the friendly ties between South Korea and China, will sternly punish Chinese nationals who committed illegal acts,” a ministry spokesman said. The authorities were specifically looking for four Chinese, including a student suspected of injuring a policeman in a fight in a hotel lobby at the end of the torch relay.

Small South Korea has historically had trouble dealing with large China, yet Seoul’s officials have now found the courage to stand up to Beijing, which had earlier rushed to the defense of the students. So what is the most powerful country in the history of the world doing about its Chinese student problem?

Chinese students in the United States made a series of death threats last month. The most prominent incident involved Grace Wang, a Duke freshman who tried to mediate between twelve pro-Tibet protestors and a crowd of about 500 angry people, mostly Chinese citizens. As a result, her home in China was vandalized, her family there was forced into hiding, and she became the target of death threats in the United States.

Those who made threats against Wang should be found, jailed, and, if foreign nationals, deported. And that goes for all the others who made death threats on American colleges during the last couple months. Universities are vital institutions, and attempts to undermine freedom of expression on campus strike at the heart of our society. There should be zero tolerance for such intolerance. And Washington needs to send a clear message to Beijing, which appears to have orchestrated the “pro-China” demonstrations of students.

It’s bad enough that the Chinese Communist Party represses China’s people. It’s worse when it seeks to repress ours.

Last Wednesday, the South Korean government announced that it will deport Chinese citizens found guilty of attacks during the running of the Olympic torch in Seoul last month. “The justice ministry, while fully respecting the friendly ties between South Korea and China, will sternly punish Chinese nationals who committed illegal acts,” a ministry spokesman said. The authorities were specifically looking for four Chinese, including a student suspected of injuring a policeman in a fight in a hotel lobby at the end of the torch relay.

Small South Korea has historically had trouble dealing with large China, yet Seoul’s officials have now found the courage to stand up to Beijing, which had earlier rushed to the defense of the students. So what is the most powerful country in the history of the world doing about its Chinese student problem?

Chinese students in the United States made a series of death threats last month. The most prominent incident involved Grace Wang, a Duke freshman who tried to mediate between twelve pro-Tibet protestors and a crowd of about 500 angry people, mostly Chinese citizens. As a result, her home in China was vandalized, her family there was forced into hiding, and she became the target of death threats in the United States.

Those who made threats against Wang should be found, jailed, and, if foreign nationals, deported. And that goes for all the others who made death threats on American colleges during the last couple months. Universities are vital institutions, and attempts to undermine freedom of expression on campus strike at the heart of our society. There should be zero tolerance for such intolerance. And Washington needs to send a clear message to Beijing, which appears to have orchestrated the “pro-China” demonstrations of students.

It’s bad enough that the Chinese Communist Party represses China’s people. It’s worse when it seeks to repress ours.

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A British Horror Movie

At a certain point it dawned on officials in West Yorkshire, England that something was amiss. That point: when children’s services authorities lost track of 205 (!) kids, of which they have since found 172. The missing 33 are girls who are feared to have been forced into Muslim marriages or made victims of “honor violence”—the often deadly assault on females practiced by Muslim fanatics who claim justification in Islamic scripture.

Ministers had local authorities launch a formal investigation. Which proved difficult. As the Times of London reports:

Campaigners say that a fear of being seen as racist, and misplaced cultural sensitivity, are preventing teachers from following up cases when youngsters are removed from classes.

Misplaced cultural sensitivity indeed.

When the Times reported this story on March 8th, they spoke to former policeman and “vulnerable persons officer responsible for Asian women in the Bradford district” (V.P.O.R.A.W.B., presumably) Philip Balmforth. The V.P.O.R.A.W.B. had this to say in reference to the cowardly proceedings:

If these girls are missing, who has been told? Who is doing anything about it? I want to know from every education authority, “How many children did you lose last year? And where are they?” At the moment, we just don’t know. It’s like knocking a nail into a piece of stone.

Words sensible enough to get him suspended, it turns out. Balmforth faces permanent dismissal for “damaging the reputation” of West Yorkshire Police by speaking to a newspaper without consent. A man who has reportedly helped thousands of young girls will be sacked for saying 33 young girls need help. Melanie Phillips, in the Spectator, reports that Balmforth may not have stood a chance, as his suspension was likely due to pressure from the “‘biraderie’ — the Punjabi word for the extended family — which now ran Bradford city council.”

While West Yorkshire girls fall victim to Body Snatchers, local officials imitate Stepford Wives. And the one man determined to deliver his city from this horror movie mash-up is now out of work. Just another overcast day in England.

At a certain point it dawned on officials in West Yorkshire, England that something was amiss. That point: when children’s services authorities lost track of 205 (!) kids, of which they have since found 172. The missing 33 are girls who are feared to have been forced into Muslim marriages or made victims of “honor violence”—the often deadly assault on females practiced by Muslim fanatics who claim justification in Islamic scripture.

Ministers had local authorities launch a formal investigation. Which proved difficult. As the Times of London reports:

Campaigners say that a fear of being seen as racist, and misplaced cultural sensitivity, are preventing teachers from following up cases when youngsters are removed from classes.

Misplaced cultural sensitivity indeed.

When the Times reported this story on March 8th, they spoke to former policeman and “vulnerable persons officer responsible for Asian women in the Bradford district” (V.P.O.R.A.W.B., presumably) Philip Balmforth. The V.P.O.R.A.W.B. had this to say in reference to the cowardly proceedings:

If these girls are missing, who has been told? Who is doing anything about it? I want to know from every education authority, “How many children did you lose last year? And where are they?” At the moment, we just don’t know. It’s like knocking a nail into a piece of stone.

Words sensible enough to get him suspended, it turns out. Balmforth faces permanent dismissal for “damaging the reputation” of West Yorkshire Police by speaking to a newspaper without consent. A man who has reportedly helped thousands of young girls will be sacked for saying 33 young girls need help. Melanie Phillips, in the Spectator, reports that Balmforth may not have stood a chance, as his suspension was likely due to pressure from the “‘biraderie’ — the Punjabi word for the extended family — which now ran Bradford city council.”

While West Yorkshire girls fall victim to Body Snatchers, local officials imitate Stepford Wives. And the one man determined to deliver his city from this horror movie mash-up is now out of work. Just another overcast day in England.

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IQ2

Political and policy debates in America are too often conducted either with soundbites or speeches. There is not much tradition in this country of Oxford-style debates in which two teams of debaters try to win over the audience with a combination of facts and clever rhetoric. Even on the floor of Congress, lawmakers tend to talk past one another. And on TV the “Firing Line” debates expired almost a decade ago.

That’s a shortfall that Robert Rosenkranz, a New York financier and philanthropist, decided to remedy. In September 2006 he created an American analog to the Intelligence Squared (IQ2) debate series which has been a long-running hit in London. The U.S. version of IQ2 has been equally successfully, playing to sold-out audiences at the Asia Society in New York and to a much larger audience via National Public Radio.

I’ve been a member of the IQ2US advisory board from the start but hadn’t participated in a debate until now. On Wednesday I was part of a team of three, along with Johns Hopkins scholar Michael Mandelbaum and British think tanker Douglas Murray, speaking in favor of the motion, “Resolved, America should be the world’s policeman.” Our adversaries were Ellen Laipson, president of the Henry Stimson Center in Washington; Ian Bremmer, head of the Eurasia Group (a consulting firm); and Matthew Parris, a columnist for the Times of London.

Notwithstanding a snowstorm raging outside, the turnout was good and the debate was lively. Parris went a bit too far in mocking the members of our team, but other than that the debate was conducted on the merits. (For a transcript, see here; it will be aired on NPR stations starting next week.) Various arguments and counterarguments were aired and audience members drew their conclusions. At the end, I was amazed to find that the debate had actually swayed many of those in the room.

At the beginning of the night, 24% of the audience voted in favor of the motion that “America should be the world’s policeman,” while 44% were against and 32% undecided. At the end, 47% voted for the motion, 48% against, and only 5% were still undecided. Although we lost by one point, I think that counts as a moral victory for our side. It’s nice to know that even in a liberal bastion like New York there are still a lot of people who understand the good that America does by policing the globe. Just as importantly, it’s good to see the spirit of reasoned debate alive at a time when snarling talking heads appear to reign supreme.

Political and policy debates in America are too often conducted either with soundbites or speeches. There is not much tradition in this country of Oxford-style debates in which two teams of debaters try to win over the audience with a combination of facts and clever rhetoric. Even on the floor of Congress, lawmakers tend to talk past one another. And on TV the “Firing Line” debates expired almost a decade ago.

That’s a shortfall that Robert Rosenkranz, a New York financier and philanthropist, decided to remedy. In September 2006 he created an American analog to the Intelligence Squared (IQ2) debate series which has been a long-running hit in London. The U.S. version of IQ2 has been equally successfully, playing to sold-out audiences at the Asia Society in New York and to a much larger audience via National Public Radio.

I’ve been a member of the IQ2US advisory board from the start but hadn’t participated in a debate until now. On Wednesday I was part of a team of three, along with Johns Hopkins scholar Michael Mandelbaum and British think tanker Douglas Murray, speaking in favor of the motion, “Resolved, America should be the world’s policeman.” Our adversaries were Ellen Laipson, president of the Henry Stimson Center in Washington; Ian Bremmer, head of the Eurasia Group (a consulting firm); and Matthew Parris, a columnist for the Times of London.

Notwithstanding a snowstorm raging outside, the turnout was good and the debate was lively. Parris went a bit too far in mocking the members of our team, but other than that the debate was conducted on the merits. (For a transcript, see here; it will be aired on NPR stations starting next week.) Various arguments and counterarguments were aired and audience members drew their conclusions. At the end, I was amazed to find that the debate had actually swayed many of those in the room.

At the beginning of the night, 24% of the audience voted in favor of the motion that “America should be the world’s policeman,” while 44% were against and 32% undecided. At the end, 47% voted for the motion, 48% against, and only 5% were still undecided. Although we lost by one point, I think that counts as a moral victory for our side. It’s nice to know that even in a liberal bastion like New York there are still a lot of people who understand the good that America does by policing the globe. Just as importantly, it’s good to see the spirit of reasoned debate alive at a time when snarling talking heads appear to reign supreme.

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Indoctrination at the University of Delaware

A conspicuously embarrassed University of Delaware abandoned its residence life education program last week after details of its curriculum were made public by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). At issue was the training manual prepared by Shakti Butler, a diversity training specialist with a national practice, who has conducted facilitator training sessions for Shell Global and the Kellogg Foundation. Butler’s Diversity Facilitation Training manual was meant to guide the university’s resident assistants in their meetings and training sessions with students (a one-on-one meeting with the RA was mandatory).

The manual begins with a fascinating glossary, according to which all whites, without exception, are racists, while non-whites cannot be (“by definition,” it explains helpfully). To read the entire glossary is to take a nostalgic journey into the identity politics of a generation ago (in fact, it is a 1995 revision of an even older document). For example:

A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists . . .

A NON-RACIST: A non-term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called “blaming the victim”) . . .

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A conspicuously embarrassed University of Delaware abandoned its residence life education program last week after details of its curriculum were made public by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). At issue was the training manual prepared by Shakti Butler, a diversity training specialist with a national practice, who has conducted facilitator training sessions for Shell Global and the Kellogg Foundation. Butler’s Diversity Facilitation Training manual was meant to guide the university’s resident assistants in their meetings and training sessions with students (a one-on-one meeting with the RA was mandatory).

The manual begins with a fascinating glossary, according to which all whites, without exception, are racists, while non-whites cannot be (“by definition,” it explains helpfully). To read the entire glossary is to take a nostalgic journey into the identity politics of a generation ago (in fact, it is a 1995 revision of an even older document). For example:

A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture, or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists . . .

A NON-RACIST: A non-term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism, to maintain an aura of innocence in the face of racial oppression, and to shift responsibility for that oppression from whites to people of color (called “blaming the victim”) . . .

Although the University of Delaware program was spectacularly inept, it is hardly the nation’s only residential life program that includes ideological indoctrination. Such programs have become rather common, although this will be news to most adults over thirty. In fact, the emergence of these residential life programs in the past decade is a sociological phenomenon of considerable interest, and marks a great swing of the generational pendulum.

Fifty years ago, it was still understood that colleges would exert some sort of moral control over the lives of its students—through such institutions as parietal hours and compulsory chapel. Such prudery was soon swept away everywhere, and by the 1970’s, colleges no longer presumed themselves to be acting in loco parentis. Their scope of moral action had been reduced to that of a policeman at Woodstock: act in a life-threatening situation and otherwise look away.

But in the past generation, colleges have rediscovered their moralizing potential—at first reluctantly and then, in many cases, eagerly. In large part, this was the result of anxiety over underage drinking. With the drinking age raised to twenty-one, and with dire financial consequences for alcohol-related deaths, colleges began working diligently to reduce any legal liability they might incur. But once administrators were hired to monitor student life, they soon widened their purview—moving from what students drink to what they think. In an ominous essay, John Leo offers a tantalizing hypothesis as to how this happened: “highly ideological freshman orientation programs are now widespread and meet so little resistance, the temptation to extend the brainwashing to all four years of college may seem irresistible to eager ideologues.”

When the celebrated architect Louis Kahn was hired in 1960 to design a dormitory at Bryn Mawr College, he was told that the rooms were not to have locks on the doors. The women students might lock their valuables in closets, but they were not to be able to lock their doors. Today’s students no longer need worry about guarding the privacy of their rooms. As for the privacy of their minds, that is another matter.

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New York City Under Attack

Walking out of COMMENTARY’s offices yesterday on my way home, I stepped into the street at exactly 6:00 PM. Minutes earlier, a powerful explosion had blown a huge hole in the street at 41st and Lexington Avenue. Reaching the corner of 56th and Lex., I became aware of the blast and could see a huge column of smoke rising into the sky, dwarfing even the skyscrapers surrounding it.

A great many pedestrians were staring straight south. Others were fleeing north. Traffic was at a standstill. Everyone seemed to be dialing cell phones, but with circuits overloaded it was difficult to get through. No one knew what had happened. A colleague I ran into was wondering whether to walk home to Riverdale seven miles to the north or find a hotel room. A policeman I asked told me that it was a manhole explosion, which weirdly turned out to be true, but was in no way commensurate with the power of the blast and the scale of the plume. It took quite a while before word came via the news that it was a ruptured steam pipe and not an al Qaeda summer spectacular, one exquisitely timed to accompany the CIA’s latest warning, issued earlier in the week, about continuing threats to the U.S. homeland.

To those of us who were in New York on September 11, 2001, yesterday’s episode brought back terrifying memories. But it also made many of us more acute observers of what we were experiencing, as if for a second time. My own thoughts were focused on the complete lack of information about what had just happened. To be sure, the authorities themselves were initially in the dark. But what struck me was that there was no single emergency channel on television, radio, the Internet, on PDA’s, etc., to which one could turn for reliable information.

What were we facing? Were the subways functioning? Where should one go? Even if the authorities themselves could not yet answer such questions, it would still have been useful at least to know that they too were in the dark and that we would eventually get from them a steady stream of established facts as they were received. Six years after 9/11, putting in place such an emergency information service is a good idea whose time is past due.

Walking out of COMMENTARY’s offices yesterday on my way home, I stepped into the street at exactly 6:00 PM. Minutes earlier, a powerful explosion had blown a huge hole in the street at 41st and Lexington Avenue. Reaching the corner of 56th and Lex., I became aware of the blast and could see a huge column of smoke rising into the sky, dwarfing even the skyscrapers surrounding it.

A great many pedestrians were staring straight south. Others were fleeing north. Traffic was at a standstill. Everyone seemed to be dialing cell phones, but with circuits overloaded it was difficult to get through. No one knew what had happened. A colleague I ran into was wondering whether to walk home to Riverdale seven miles to the north or find a hotel room. A policeman I asked told me that it was a manhole explosion, which weirdly turned out to be true, but was in no way commensurate with the power of the blast and the scale of the plume. It took quite a while before word came via the news that it was a ruptured steam pipe and not an al Qaeda summer spectacular, one exquisitely timed to accompany the CIA’s latest warning, issued earlier in the week, about continuing threats to the U.S. homeland.

To those of us who were in New York on September 11, 2001, yesterday’s episode brought back terrifying memories. But it also made many of us more acute observers of what we were experiencing, as if for a second time. My own thoughts were focused on the complete lack of information about what had just happened. To be sure, the authorities themselves were initially in the dark. But what struck me was that there was no single emergency channel on television, radio, the Internet, on PDA’s, etc., to which one could turn for reliable information.

What were we facing? Were the subways functioning? Where should one go? Even if the authorities themselves could not yet answer such questions, it would still have been useful at least to know that they too were in the dark and that we would eventually get from them a steady stream of established facts as they were received. Six years after 9/11, putting in place such an emergency information service is a good idea whose time is past due.

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A Tale of Two “Doctors’ Plots”

What is the difference between an Islamic Doctors’ Plot and a Jewish Doctors’ Plot?

It sounds like the opening line of a joke, but it’s not.

So far, in the Islamic Doctors’ Plot now being unraveled by Scotland Yard, eight people have been arrested in connection with two failed car-bombings in London and a third at the Glasgow airport. Seven are doctors, and the eighth is a laboratory technician. They are all suspected of planning or participating in a mass casualty attack, using gas canisters, gasoline, and nails to inflict maximum carnage on innocents civilians, as part of a broader worldwide campaign of terror in the name of Islam.

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What is the difference between an Islamic Doctors’ Plot and a Jewish Doctors’ Plot?

It sounds like the opening line of a joke, but it’s not.

So far, in the Islamic Doctors’ Plot now being unraveled by Scotland Yard, eight people have been arrested in connection with two failed car-bombings in London and a third at the Glasgow airport. Seven are doctors, and the eighth is a laboratory technician. They are all suspected of planning or participating in a mass casualty attack, using gas canisters, gasoline, and nails to inflict maximum carnage on innocents civilians, as part of a broader worldwide campaign of terror in the name of Islam.

We do not yet know the nature of the evidence against all of those arrested, and presumably there is the possibility that some of them might be innocent of the charges on which they are being held. But, of course, the evidence against one of them, Dr. Khalid Ahmed, who was shouting “Allah, Allah” as he punched a British policeman and was burned over much of his body while attempting to pour gasoline on his burning Jeep Cherokee as it was lodged in the entranceway of Glasgow airport, would appear to be rather strong.

The Jewish Doctors’ Plot is another kettle of fish altogether. On January 13, 1953, the Soviet Communist party newspaper Pravda published an article under the headline “Vicious Spies and Killers under the Mask of Academic Physicians.” It told of a vast plot by a group of doctors who “deliberately and viciously undermined their patients’ health by making incorrect diagnoses, and then killed them with bad and incorrect treatments.”

The participants in the plot, continued Pravda,

were bought by American intelligence. They were recruited by a branch-office of American intelligence—the international Jewish bourgeois-nationalist organization called “Joint.” The filthy face of this Zionist spy organization, covering up their vicious actions under the mask of charity, is now completely revealed . . . .

Unmasking the gang of poisoner-doctors struck a blow against the international Jewish Zionist organization. . . . Now all can see what sort of philanthropists and “friends of peace” hid beneath the sign-board of “Joint.”

The victims of this alleged terrorist conspiracy were high-ranking Soviet officials. All but two of the nine doctors who were arrested for their part in the purported plot were Jewish.

The arrests were evidently the opening salvo of a vast new purge that was only interrupted by the death of Joseph Stalin on March 5, 1953. By April 1953, the charges against the doctors were retracted and a handful of mid- and low-level officials were arrested and executed for having fabricated them. The high-ranking associates of Stalin who had actually set the campaign in motion at his behest escaped unscathed. Seven of the doctors were released. Two had already perished while incarcerated. A fascinating “top-secret” CIA analysis of the episode, produced in the days when the CIA knew what it was doing, has just been declassified and made available on the web.

A notable sidelight is the reaction at the time—actually, the non-reaction—of the British medical establishment to the obviously trumped-up charges. As the Israeli scholar A. Mark Clarfield has pointed out, neither the British Medical Journal nor the Lancet, the country’s two leading medical journals, deigned to make any mention of the episode until after the doctors were already exonerated.

After the seven doctors finally were set free, the British Medical Journal issued an absurd statement, noting that as “doctors we felt disturbed by the assault upon the professional integrity of our Russian colleagues” and especially disturbed “by the probable effect of the accusation on the trust patients universally have in the doctor-patient relationship.”

Another notable sidelight is the contemporary reaction of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to the Islamic Doctors’ Plot. It has posted on its website a statement from the Association of Muslim Health Officials that juxtaposes the events in the United Kingdom with a number of other greater and lesser crimes, including “unethical research for profit”:

If found to be guilty, these men will not be the first doctors to plan or perform heinous acts. If British justice system finds them guilty of these crimes, we put them in a pantheon of heinous physicians performing acts that go against the grain of all we believe in as Muslim Health Professionals. Josef Mengele, Mike Swango, Harold Shipman, and in the UK, John B Adams are small list of psychopaths with medical degrees who have harmed countless numbers of people in defiance of their professional oaths. We make no difference between health professionals who use their skills contrary to the human rights of any individual. Whether it is serial murder or genocide, medical torture for the military, or unethical research for profit, these people are not from us and we are not from them.

A question that emerges from all of this: is the world better off facing an Islamic Doctors’ Plot or a Jewish Doctors’ Plot? I doubt CAIR will be holding a contest to answer this question anytime soon.

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The Fall of Antioch

Why did Antioch College fail? The announcement that the celebrated college in Yellow Springs, Ohio would be closing its doors in July 2008 sent a collective shudder through the academic establishment. Corporations go bankrupt, automobile manufacturers and commercial airlines go bankrupt, but not prominent colleges—and certainly not one founded by Horace Mann (1796-1859), the “Father of American Education.” In all the speculation about what went wrong at Antioch runs a distinct current of apprehension: it can’t happen again—or can it?

A consensus has already emerged that Antioch was the victim of its own progressive agenda. And indeed, from its inception in 1852, Antioch has been assertively progressive, accepting female students and—after 1863—black ones as well. During the 1920’s it established an innovative cooperative education program, giving students practical work experience. Later it was one of the first schools to abolish traditional letter grades in favor of “narrative evaluations.” It was this varied and intense liberal-arts education that produced such alumni as Coretta Scott King, Rod Serling, and Stephen Jay Gould.

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Why did Antioch College fail? The announcement that the celebrated college in Yellow Springs, Ohio would be closing its doors in July 2008 sent a collective shudder through the academic establishment. Corporations go bankrupt, automobile manufacturers and commercial airlines go bankrupt, but not prominent colleges—and certainly not one founded by Horace Mann (1796-1859), the “Father of American Education.” In all the speculation about what went wrong at Antioch runs a distinct current of apprehension: it can’t happen again—or can it?

A consensus has already emerged that Antioch was the victim of its own progressive agenda. And indeed, from its inception in 1852, Antioch has been assertively progressive, accepting female students and—after 1863—black ones as well. During the 1920’s it established an innovative cooperative education program, giving students practical work experience. Later it was one of the first schools to abolish traditional letter grades in favor of “narrative evaluations.” It was this varied and intense liberal-arts education that produced such alumni as Coretta Scott King, Rod Serling, and Stephen Jay Gould.

Over the past decade, however, Antioch’s progressive politics became something of a national laughingstock. Accounts of its closing invariably cite its notorious rules for sexual conduct, which mandated verbal consent at each stage of escalating intimacy (helpfully explaining that “A person can not give consent while sleeping”). Less amusing was the commencement speaker chosen by Antioch’s class of 2000, Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was sentenced to death for murdering a Philadelphia policeman and who delivered his commencement address from his cell on death row. National outrage over this event clearly contributed to plummeting enrollments. Only 125 students were accepted this year out of an expected class of 309. These declining numbers, and its relatively small endowment of $36 million, spelled the end of Antioch.

Of course, Antioch is hardly the only school to launch a sexual inquisition or to open its doors to embarrassing speakers: liberal-arts colleges such as Oberlin and Swarthmore similarly pride themselves on their progressive politics and activism. Nor is it the only school to teeter along on a woefully inadequate endowment (one thinks of perennially troubled Bennington). But somewhere along the line Antioch crossed a threshold, its radical aura drawing an ever more radical student body, which radicalized it still further, until the process became a death spiral.

A poignant op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Goldfarb, a student at Antioch from 1968 to 1971, illuminates the beginning of that process. “[O]ut there in the middle of the cornfields,” Goldfarb writes, “the only ‘bourgeois’ thing to fight was Antioch College itself,” and a devastating student strike in the early 1970′s “trashed the campus.” A year later, enrollments had fallen by half. Those who remained became increasingly conformist and homogeneous:

In two decades students went from being practitioners of free love to prisoners of gender. Antioch became like one of those Essene communities in the Judean desert in the first century after Christ that, convinced of their own purity, died out while waiting for a golden age that never came.

Perhaps that Essene sense of purity was there from the beginning. In a perceptive essay, Peter Wood of the Manhattan Institute calls attention to Horace Mann’s own verdict on the good inhabitants of Yellow Springs: “souls so small that a million sprinkled on a diamond would not make it dusty.”

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