Archive for September, 2010

Shorts: The end of J Street, and a letter to the editor

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Die, J Street, Die!

J street reminds me of Rasputin, who was supposedly poisoned, shot several time, clubbed, tied up in a carpet and thrown into the icy Neva river to freeze or drown before he finally died.

Revealed to be receiving money from donors associated with Arab and Iranian interests, called out by the Israeli Ambassador for taking positions that “could impair Israeli interests,” caught in a bare-faced lie about its connections to anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, J Street may be losing its influence with the Obama Administration and on Capitol Hill as it daily grows more radioactive.

Now new revelations published by the Washington Times about J Street’s covert lobbying on behalf of the notorious Goldstone report may finally wrap J Street and its smoothly mendacious director, Jeremy Ben Ami, in a carpet and throw them into the Neva:

J Street — the self-described pro-Israel, pro-peace lobbying group — facilitated meetings between members of Congress and South African Judge Richard Goldstone, author of a U.N. report that accused the Jewish state of systematic war crimes in its three-week military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

Colette Avital — a former member of Israel’s parliament, from the center-left Labor Party and until recently J Street’s liaison in Israel — told The Washington Times that her decision to resign her post with J Street earlier this year was a result in part of the group’s “connection to Judge Goldstone.”

“When Judge Goldstone came to Washington, [J Street leaders were] suggesting that they might help him set up his appointments on Capitol Hill,” she said. Ms. Avital later disavowed knowledge of J Street’s dealings with Judge Goldstone during a conference call arranged by J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami…

In a statement provided to The Washington Times this week, Mr. Ben-Ami said, “J Street did not host, arrange or facilitate any visit to Washington, D.C., by Judge Richard Goldstone.”

He went on to say, however, that “J Street staff spoke to colleagues at the organizations coordinating the meetings and, at their behest, reached out to a handful of congressional staff to inquire whether members would be interested in seeing Judge Goldstone.”

Ben-Ami’s explanation that he didn’t bring Goldstone to Washington — like his apology for ‘misleading’ the public about Soros — is reminiscent of a famous explication of the meaning of the word ‘is’.


A letter to the editor

One of my favorite quotations is this one, from journalist A. J. Liebling:

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.

My local newspaper, the Fresno Bee, owns several, and they jealously guard their freedom to keep persuasive presentations of contrary opinions off of them. Last week I wrote a letter in response to an op-ed by syndicated columnist Trudy Rubin, which they declined to print (they might still surprise me, but I doubt it).

Anyway, here are my 200 words on Trudy Rubin, with a couple of links added:

Trudy Rubin (“Hatred of Muslims hurts U.S.”) wrote of the promoter of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, “there is no question that he’s a proud American and a moderate Muslim.”

In a recent radio interview, this ‘moderate’ flatly refused to condemn the Palestinian Hamas – a murderous, extremist faction which is proud of its genocidal intentions. If you think I’m exaggerating, you can read the Hamas Covenant.

But Rubin seems intent to cast any objection to Rauf’s program – or indeed, any opposition to the political component of Islam – as “hatred of Muslims,” and suggests that it is all a trick by conservative politicians and propagandists (she mentions the usual suspects, Palin, Gingrich, Limbaugh, etc.)

It’s not religious prejudice to be concerned about a political program, one that is in direct opposition to our Constitution, when we’ve seen its destructive effects in many parts of the world.

We should all learn to draw the appropriate distinctions between politics and religion, extremists and moderates, and individuals and groups. Hate is never acceptable, but we can’t let political correctness make all discussion of Islam – and its politics — taboo.

I guess the taboo is in force at the Fresno Bee.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

US pressure only works one way

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

More than a year ago, Barack Obama stalled the ‘peace process’ by suggesting that construction inside existing Israeli settlements was ‘an obstacle to peace’.

The Palestinians immediately agreed with him, and refused to talk until ‘settlement activity’ stopped.

Obama applied pressure to Israel and succeeded in forcing it to agree to a 9-month freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria late last year. But it wasn’t good enough for the Palestinians, who still would not agree to negotiate.

In March of this year, the US administration took advantage of an announcement by a low-level clerk in Israel’s Housing Ministry that there were plans to construct 1,800 apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem to orchestrate a rupture in relations with Israel. After Obama’s widely publicized humiliation of Benjamin Netanyahu (which he later denied), Israel agreed to freeze construction in East Jerusalem too, although no official announcement was made. There were further concessions, but the Palestinians still weren’t satisfied.

Finally, last month, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was persuaded to agree to direct talks with Israel. The talks so far have consisted of the PA making demands while refusing to agree that the outcome of talks will be “two states for two peoples.”

The talks with ‘good cop’ Mahmoud Abbas have been accompanied by murderous attacks against Israelis by ‘bad cop’ Hamas, while Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah claim to be making progress in ‘unity talks’. Israel, on the other hand, has been restrained by the US from taking action against Hamas, so as not to ‘derail’ the ‘peace process’. In one recent attack, four Israelis were shot to death, including a pregnant woman.

At the same time, the PA has not responded to Obama’s calls to end the vicious antisemitic incitement that’s a permanent feature of its media and mosques.

Apparently US pressure only works against Israel and not against the PA, which is funded to a great extent by the US!

Now the construction freeze that was agreed upon last year has expired, and of course the PA is threatening to stop talking unless it is extended.

You would think that a rational person would say to the PA, “look, you guys held up talks for months  and insisted on Israeli concessions as preconditions. You can’t expect Israel to keep doing this for nothing. How about you giving something for a change, like ending incitement, agreeing to ‘two states for two peoples’, etc.?”

Not the Obama administration. They are falling back on the old reliable approach of blaming and pressuring Israel:

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, in the first Obama administration comment on the matter since the freeze ended, said the US was “disappointed” by the Israeli decision, but remained “focused on our long-term objective and will be talking to the parties about the implications of the Israeli decision.”

Both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Jerusalem over the past two weeks to extend the moratorium, and for the Palestinians to remain in the talks. Crowley said that position had not changed, and he praised Abbas for not immediately walking away from the talks.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

J Street and the Arab lobby

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The connections between J Street and the Dark Side of the Middle East are becoming more and more evident. Recently it was revealed that the anti-Zionist George Soros was a large contributor, although J Street had categorically denied that until now. But even more interesting was the fact that the single largest contribution to J Street in 2008-9  — $811,697 came from an unknown woman in Hong Kong, Connie Esdicul. Here she is with my favorite martial arts guy:

The mysterious Consolacion Esdicul with the great Jackie Chan

The mysterious Consolacion Esdicul with the great Jackie Chan

Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street explained that Esdicul was an associate of Pittsburgh multimillionaire and software entrepreneur William Benter, and contributed the money “at his urging”. Benter may have made as much as $27 million a year by applying computer modeling techniques to Hong Kong horse-racing, and has been called “the most successful horse racing player in modern times”.  All this appeared in my previous article, but now we’ve found out more about him.

An anonymous contributor to the Israeli ‘scoops forum’ at [Hebrew] noticed that Benter is also a member of the advisory board of the Rand Corporation’s Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP). This is interesting for several reasons.

CMEPP’s board president, Richard Abdoo — a former board member of the Arab-American Institute (AAI), who gave J Street PAC $11,500 in the 2008 cycle, is a director of AMIDEAST, an ‘educational’ organization that “strengthens mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa” (except Israel).  AMIDEAST’s primary funder is the Saudi Aramco oil company.

Also sitting on the CMEPP advisory board is another AMIDEAST board member, Odeh Aburdene. Aburdene was a Vice President of Occidental Petroleum, and a member of the Task Force In Support of Arab Democracy (a group sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, along with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of Ground Zero mosque notoriety).

Others include Ray Irani, Occidental CEO. His wife, Ghada, is yet another AMIDEAST director. And Nicholas Veliotes has a seat on the boards of both J Street and AMIDEAST. This is like a 19th-century Russian novel.

The Rand Corporation has close ties with the CIA, an organization that, together with the State Department, includes some of the most anti-Israel circles in the US government. Immediately prior to the 1967 war, the CIA advised President Johnson not to airlift military supplies to Israel, although it was impossible to predict the unlikely event that Israel would succeed in destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground.

We are getting far away from the liberal Jews that Ben-Ami claims as his constituency, aren’t we?

J Street’s Saudi connections were documented by Lenny Ben-David in December 2009:

A member of J Street’s advisory board, Judith Barnett [also an AMIDEAST director — ed.], worked on aspects of the Saudi account for Qorvis in 2004. She was also one of the first contributors to J Street’s PAC and was later joined in the PAC by Nancy Dutton, the Saudi Embassy’s Washington attorney; Lewis Elbinger, a U.S. State Department official who was based in Saudi Arabia; and Ray Close, the CIA’s station chief in Saudi Arabia for 22 years who later went to work for Saudi intelligence bosses. Close’s son Kenneth registered at the Justice Department as a foreign agent, working for Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, the author of the Saudi peace plan.

Beyond sharing support for the Saudi plan, the J Street-AAI financial and ideological ties also appear to be very tight. Richard Abdoo is a member of J Street’s finance committee with its minimum contribution of $10,000 to J Street’s PAC. James Zogby recently wrote in the Bahrain Gulf Daily, “On October 25, [2009] the Arab American Institute and J Street convened a joint meeting that brought leaders and activists from both communities together as an expression of our shared commitment to advance a just and comprehensive Middle East peace.”

Saudi Arabia, AMIDEAST, the Rand Corporation, the CIA — seriously, now, all you “pro-Israel pro-peace” types: are these the people that you should be supporting?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Really stupid British Jews

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

Those antisemites who think that Jews are using their unnaturally high intelligence to take over the world must have missed this:

FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus (AP) — A boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Germany, the U.S. and Britain set sail on Sunday for Gaza, hoping to breach Israel’s naval blockade there.

Richard Kuper, an organizer with the British group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said one goal is to show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians. Kuper said the boat, which set sail from northern Cyprus flying a British flag, won’t resist if Israeli authorities try to stop it.

Emanuele Ottolenghi comments (h/t Yaakov Lozowick),

There is, nevertheless, a certain irony in the fact that they use Northern Cyprus as a staging ground for their activities — like the Mavi Marmara-led Flotilla did last May. Here’s the irony — Northern Cyprus is an illegally occupied territory that belongs to the EU as part of its member state, Cyprus; it was seized by force in 1974 by the Turkish army; its legal status as a fictionally independent state is only recognized by Turkey (the occupying power); Turkey forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks from that territory and settled its own population to permanently alter the ethnic balance of the area – and, in the process, encouraged the building of what one could characterize as settlements.

Now doesn’t this sound awfully familiar — the kind of accusations that organizations such as the JFJFP would routinely level at Israel’s presence in the West Bank and, until 2005, in Gaza? These are the kind of things that get such enlightened Jews agitated enough that they need to spring into action — if the alleged perpetrator is Israel.

I can imagine how this project got started:

Jew for Justice for Palestinians no. 1: I am so tired of being accused of supporting Israel just because I’m Jewish! Last night I met a super hot chick at the rally against the Judaization of Arab hummus, but as soon as she saw my  Magen David tattoo she  said, “you don’t care about the Palestinian people because you’re Jewish, so just naff off!”  And then she went home with a Turkish guy.

JFJFP 2: I have an idea. Let’s have a flotilla! You saw for yourself what it did for the Turks.

JFJFP 1: But they won’t let us get near Gaza. How will it help the oppressed Palestinian people?

JFJFP 2: Oh, I thought the problem was the chicks.

I guess all the really smart Jews are busy developing cyber-weapons to attack Iran with.

I mean, in all seriousness, what is it possible to say except “stupid, stupid, stupid”?

"Naff off," she said.

"Naff off," she said.

Update [28 Sep 0809 PDT]: Stupid British Jews finally get a date:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Technorati Tags: , , ,


Saturday, September 25th, 2010

Maybe Israel doesn’t need to bomb anything:

Computerworld – Officials in Iran have confirmed that the Stuxnet worm infected at least 30,000 Windows PCs in the country, multiple Iranian news services reported on Saturday.

Experts from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization also reportedly met this week to discuss how to remove the malware.

Stuxnet, considered by many security researchers to be the most sophisticated malware ever, was first spotted in mid-June by VirusBlokAda, a little-known security firm based in Belarus. A month later Microsoft acknowledged that the worm targeted Windows PCs that managed large-scale industrial-control systems in manufacturing and utility companies.

Those control systems, called SCADA, for “supervisory control and data acquisition,” operate everything from power plants and factory machinery to oil pipelines and military installations.

According to researchers with U.S.-based antivirus vendor Symantec, Iran was hardest hit by Stuxnet. Nearly 60% of all infected PCs in the earliest-known infection were located in that country.

Since then, experts have amassed evidence that Stuxnet has been attacking SCADA systems since at least January 2010. Meanwhile, others have speculated that Stuxnet was created by a state-sponsored team of programmers, and designed to cripple Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor.

No need to stop with nuclear installations. It might be an exaggeration to say that a cyber-attack could  propel a country back into the stone age, but it could give it a good start. Almost all modern industrial systems use programmable logic controllers (PLCs), minicomputers which collect input from data collection devices and operate the relays, solenoids, valves, etc. which control the system.

These PLCs are often connected to PCs running common operating systems like Windows and forms of Unix, which provide the user-interface and programming capability.  The Stuxnet worm not only compromises the PC, but inserts its own code into the PLC itself. Then it renders this added code undetectable by normal procedures.

Can you imagine turbines spinning out of control and flying apart? Pipelines exploding from excess pressure? Nationwide electrical blackouts? Dams overflowing? Satellites commanded to change their orbits? Even military missiles launching themselves or self-destructing in their silos? All this and more is possible.

In fact, it has already happened:

It was a Trojan program inserted into SCADA system software that caused a massive natural gas explosion along the Trans-Siberian pipeline in 1982. A newspaper reported the resulting fireball yielded “the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space.” …

The 3-kiloton Trans-Siberian natural gas pipeline explosion … occurred during the Reagan administration. The event was initially acknowledged by a Russian general, and then subsequently denied by the Russian press, and kept secret within the CIA until 2004, when details were released upon publication of the Cold War memoirs of a retired insider. The events and methodology were explained and later presented in security testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives. — Pipeline and Gas Journal

The difference is that today almost every PC is connected to the Internet, and the delivery of the weaponized code is easier and does not require physical access to the target computer.

Cyber-weapons could be a ‘disruptive technology’ in warfare — a game-changer like the English longbow, the machine gun or the military aircraft. Nations that succeed in developing such weapons and the concomitant defensive technologies first will have a huge advantage in almost any conflict.

Importantly, the relative size of the combatants is irrelevant to their capabilities or vulnerabilities in this area. A small country could deter a much larger one with a credible threat of a cyber-attack.

Do I need to tell you what small country is a superpower in software and computer technology? I didn’t think so.

Technorati Tags: , ,