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.

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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.

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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 rotter.net [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?

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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.

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Cyberwar!

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.

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Breaking: From J Street to Happy Valley

Friday, September 24th, 2010

J Street, the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby which consistently takes positions opposed to Israeli interests — such as opposing sanctions on Iran, calling for an immediate cease-fire at the beginning of the Gaza war, favoring negotiations with Hamas — was severely criticized for taking money for its PAC from people associated with Arab and Iranian interests. But the majority of its funding was still assumed to come from liberal Jews.

There has always been a suspicion that George Soros, the anti-Zionist billionaire who was involved in the creation of J Street as an ‘alternative to AIPAC,’ also provided some of the funding. But both parties realized that a relationship with the anti-Israel Soros could be the kiss of death for J Street, and so both Soros and J Street denied that he was a major funder.

Now it has become clear that this was a lie. In a brilliant piece of investigative journalism, Eli Lake writes,

Tax forms obtained by The Washington Times reveal that Mr. Soros and his two children, Jonathan and Andrea Soros, contributed a total $245,000 to J Street from one Manhattan address in New York during the fiscal year from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009.

The contributions represent a third of the group’s revenue from U.S. sources during the period. Nearly half of J Street’s revenue during the timeframe — a total of $811,697 — however, came from a single donor in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, named Consolacion Esdicul.

Who?

When asked about Ms. Esdicul, the Happy Valley, Hong Kong based donor of nearly half the group’s revenue for the 2008 to 2009 fiscal year,  [J Street Executive Director Jeremy] Ben Ami said she gave J Street the money in multiple wire transfers at the urging of William Benter, a Pittsburgh-based philanthropist and the chief executive officer of Acusis, a medical services firm.

“She is trying to make the Middle East a Happy Valley,” Mr. Ben Ami said. “She is a business associate of Bill Benter and Bill solicited her for the contribution.” Happy Valley is a Hong Kong suburb.

This is weird, but there’s not much more in the article about Esdicul and Benter. So here are a few things I found:

Benter is listed as having made $136,300 of political contributions in the 2008 cycle, mostly to Democratic politicians and causes (including, of course, Soros’ MoveOn.org). But he also gave $2,300 to the presidential campaign of antisemitic wacko Ron Paul.

Now it begins to get surreal. Benter is a  mathematician:

He employed a variety of econometric modeling techniques to examine an important financial market — the horserace betting market in Hong Kong. He developed a successful computer-based econometric model to forecast outcomes in this market.

He’s been called “the most successful horse racing player in modern times“:

Benter’s software program works so well, it’s riled the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the powerful organizer behind Hong Kong’s $10.7 billion-a-year horse-racing circuit. The Jockey Club thinks Benter and other professional betting syndicates hold an unfair advantage over casual gamblers. It’s closed the accounts of some of the pros in the past because it felt they were “not in the best interest of the general public.” While not banned from the track entirely, Benter has not been allowed to place bets over the phone since 1996.

No matter. He and his buddies still usually bet about $260,000 each race, and make an average return of 24%. Let’s do the math: There are some 600 races a year at Hong Kong’s Sha Tin and Happy Valley racetracks. That means Benter’s annual take-home pay amounts to $37 million.Yulanda Chung, Smartgambler (2000)

Here’s a photo of Happy Valley and the track there:

Happy Valley, Hong Kong

Happy Valley, Hong Kong

It would make sense that perhaps Consolacion Esdicul, whoever she is, has received some profitable tips from Benter. And she was happy to distribute some of it in accordance with his wishes. Nothing illegal here, folks. Just move on. These are not the droids you’re looking for.

Benter and Soros have a lot in common. Soros, too, is a gambler, although he specializes in the international currency market. Indeed, several academic papers compare the strategies of Soros and various hedge funds with those of Benter.

I think there’s more to come. Stay tuned!

Update [2113 PDT]: Regarding ‘Happy Valley’, Wikipedia says:

Early settlers had suggested the area to be used as a business centre, but the suggestion was put off due to the valley’s marshy environment, which was causing fatal diseases. The death rate in the area and Victoria City was high in the early colonial days, and the valley became a burial ground for the dead. As a result, the valley was renamed as Happy Valley, a common euphemism for cemeteries.

I guess this explains Ben Ami’s comment that “She is trying to make the Middle East a Happy Valley.”

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Ahmadinejad’s multiple kinds of truth

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Bret Stephens, a smart guy himself, wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal about a press meeting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad, he said, was the “smartest guy in the room,” successfully manipulating reporters and correspondents.

So, with this in mind, let’s see what he did at the UN General Assembly today. Here’s a piece of an account by the Jerusalem Post:

Ahmadinejad said there were “three viewpoints” in identifying those responsible for the September 11th attacks. The main viewpoint, he said, “advocated by American statesmen,” is that “a very powerful and complex terrorist group, able to successfully cross all layers of the American intelligence and security, carried out the attack.”

The second viewpoint – which Ahmadinejad called the viewpoint of “the majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians” – was “that some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack in order to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.”

Finally, he said, some believe September 11th “was carried out by a terrorist group but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation.” He conceded that “this viewpoint has fewer proponents.”

Ahmadinejad announced that, in light of this professed ambiguity as to the culpable parties, Iran will host a conference “to study terrorism and the means to confront it.” He also suggested that the UN set up a fact-finding group for September 11th.

Unsurprisingly, the US delegation and several others walked out.

Stephens is right. This was a carefully planned performance which undoubtedly achieved its aim. The idea that the US or the ‘Zionists’ perpetrated 9/11 is — in a certain sense — believed by most of the Muslim world. Of course, at the same time and without cognitive dissonance, Islamists believe that 9/11 was a successful ‘martyrdom operation’, a magnificent piece of jihad.

You are probably wondering how this can be. The answer is that there are different kinds of truth. There is the simple truth that 9/11 was a successful terrorist operation carried out by radical Islamists.

And at the same time, behind Ahmadinejad’s smirk, is the other truth, demonstrated by the act itself of standing in the UN building in New York, the same New York that was struck on 9/11, and humiliating Western dignitaries by accusing them of being the agents of their own punishment. By forcing them to submit to his reality, he places himself — and Islam — above them. The ‘truth’ embodied in this act of dominance is that Islam is superior and will be victorious in the long-term struggle.

Every radical Islamist in the world will immediately grasp both of these truths, and will swell with pride as they watch Ahmadinejad strike a psychic blow, just like the physical blow of 9/11.

The idea of the psychic blow is unintelligible to many Westerners, who will see Ahmadinejad as just a boor (incidentally, these are the same people who don’t get the point of the Ground Zero mosque). But Stephens was right. He is a lot more dangerous than a simple boor.

How should we react? He could have been dragged from the stage and beaten viciously, then thrown into a filthy cell and held hostage until they surrender their uranium (and incidentally release the two young hostages they are holding).

This would have sent the message that we refuse to submit to humiliation, we refuse to accept the dominance of Islam. Of course we would never do that, because we don’t behave like that.

Right there you have the paradox of the asymmetric conflict that we find ourselves in.

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Palestinian Arabs prove they don’t want a state

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

The negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are supposed to result in “two states for two peoples”. Even US negotiator George Mitchell thinks so.  Here is what he said last week at Sharm el-Sheikh, where Israeli and PA negotiators began a second round of talks:

Our common goal remains two states for two peoples. And we are committed to a solution to the conflict that resolves all issues for the state of Israel and a sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security. [my emphasis]

The ‘two peoples’, for Mitchell, are the Jewish and Palestinian peoples. And finding a solution means, in particular, that the PA will drop its claims against Israel.

I’ve argued that the PLO/Fatah which presently dominates the PA does not accept either of these principles. They do not believe that there is a Jewish people — they insist that there is only a Jewish religion — and they do not accept the rights of the Jews to any of the land, which in their view is ‘owned’ by the Palestinian Arabs. This has been a consistent theme, which the US and the ‘peace processors’ have just as consistently ignored.

Yesterday Salam Fayyad, the most ‘moderate’ representative of the PA — he is not even a member of Fatah — expressed it in a way which cannot be ignored any longer:

NEW YORK — Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad angrily left a UN Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee meeting and canceled a scheduled subsequent press conference with Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon in New York on Tuesday, after Ayalon refused to approve a summary of the meeting which said “two states” but did not include the words “two states for two peoples.”

“What I say is that if the Palestinians are not willing to talk about two states for two peoples, let alone a Jewish state for Israel, then there’s nothing to talk about,” Ayalon told the Post in a telephone interview. “And also, I said if the Palestinians mean, at the end of the process, to have one Palestinian state and one bi-national state, this will not happen.” … “I also said that I don’t need the Palestinians to say Israel is a Jewish state in Hebrew. I need them to say it in Arabic to their own people.” — Jerusalem Post

Recently the PA has been threatening that if the ‘freeze’ on construction east of the 1949 lines is not extended, they will leave the talks. Naturally, this would be spun as Israel’s fault — or at best the fault of ‘right-wing’ elements in Netanyahu’s government — and Israel would be subjected to pressure to submit. This is the normal process, apparently, in which Israel is forced to make concessions for nothing.

But now Fayyad has shown the world that the PA simply cannot live next door to a Jewish state. How will it be possible to spin this as Israel’s fault?

Nevertheless, at a different meeting, he was in more comfortable territory:

NEW YORK, Sept 21, 2010 (AFP) – The western-backed Palestinian Authority requires an additional 500 million dollars in aid this year, prime minister Salam Fayyad said on Monday ahead of a key donor meeting.

“What we are looking for now in the course of what remains of this year is to find about half a billion dollars that we will need to balance the books,” Fayyad told reporters.

He was speaking following a meeting hosted by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store with foreign ministers of Arab states who were pressed to meet up their pledges for aid…

The Norwegian foreign minister said that Israeli road blocks and administrative impediments in the occupied West Bank were the biggest challenge impeding Palestinian development.

Wrong. The biggest challenge is this: it is far more important to them for there to not be a Jewish state than for there to be a Palestinian one. They proved this in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008. And now they are proving it again.

Update [23 Sept 1034 PDT]: Now the Palestinians claim that it was Ayalon who walked out of the meeting, contradicting  YNet and JPost (the YNet article was tweeted by Ayalon). The Norwegian FM said that “the meeting completed normally.”

But whoever lost his cool is irrelevant. There was no final statement or press conference because Fayyad would not accept “two states for two peoples.”

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Shorts: talking tough, the future, and Twitter

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

How to talk tough to Ahmadinejad

News item:

WASHINGTON, Sept 20 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama will use his visit to the United Nations General Assembly later this week to emphasize to Iran that the “door is open” to them for international engagement, the White House said on Monday.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during a telephone briefing that in order for Iran to walk through that door, it would have to demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program.

Translation: we’re too weak to stop you from getting nuclear weapons, but we’re prepared to let you humiliate us if that will make you be nicer. Maybe we’ll offer you a prize of some kind — then you can pocket it and go on with your program. Because why shouldn’t you?

Sometimes we do things that are so stupid! See Harold Rhode on the sources of Iranian negotiating behavior.

What might work is this: “If you don’t stop your nuclear program, we’ll do x.” Of course x has to be very bad for them, and we have to be ready to really do it if they don’t stop. But if we’re not prepared to do this, then we are better off saying nothing at all.

The future

Somebody recently asked me if I thought the present negotiations would bring peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. No, I didn’t think so. “Then what will happen?” I was asked.

What will most likely happen will be the second round of the war with Hizballah. Most analysts expect that this will be a major war, with major consequences. Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute writes,

If war does in fact come to Israel’s northern border, it would bear little resemblance to the 2006 conflict in Lebanon. Instead, it would in all likelihood be a transformational, even fateful, event for the region—certainly for Hizballah and Lebanon, probably for Syria, and perhaps even for Iran. Israel and its regional standing would likely undergo substantial alterations as well.

Today neither side wants war: Israel because it knows well that both military and civilian casualties would be significantly greater than in recent ‘little’ wars; and Iran, because the regime would like to be left alone to develop its nuclear weapons. A war between Israel and Hizballah would open up all kinds of possibilities — Iran could fire missiles at Israel and provoke retaliation, Iran could take action against oil supplies and precipitate a strike by the US, etc.

But it seems to me that the stated goals of the Iran-Syria-Hizballah axis, made concrete by the huge array of short- and long-range rockets arrayed against Israel in Lebanon and Syria, make this war inevitable. Either they will attack Israel, or Israel will preempt an attack. The rockets will not be left to rust away.

I think that most of the instability in the Mideast today comes from Iran. If Iran and her proxies are defeated, it can only be an improvement. Of course, the other epicenter of anti-Zionism and antisemitism in the Mideast is Saudi Arabia, which will be strengthened in this case.

With the Palestinian Arabs, it will mean a whole new ball game. Nobody’s crystal ball sees that far.

Twitter

What everyone’s been waiting for (right): Now you can follow FresnoZionism on Twitter! Presently I am only tweeting links to new posts, but I’m still looking into possibilities for more functionality. Maybe a hat like Roland Hedley’s would help.

Twittermeister Roland Hedley.

Twittermeister Roland Hedley.

You can find some of Hedley’s tweets here.

Update [1419 PDT]: I just saw this:

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 21 (AFP) Sep 21, 2010
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday in New York that if the United States started a conflict with Iran it would be a war with “no limits,” US media reported.

“The United States has never entered a serious war, and has never been victorious,” Ahmadinejad told a meeting with US media owners and editors. “The United States doesn’t understand what war looks like. When a war starts, it knows no limits,” reports of the event quoted him as saying.

The limits on American exercise of power are political. The power is there. Ahmadinejad is confusing the disinclination to use power with the lack of power. He is the one who is threatening to remove the limits. It’s hard to express how irresponsible it would be for him to try to carry out his threat — unlimited war against the US would mean tens of millions of dead Iranians.

It’s time to remove this madman from power and preferably from this earth.

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Would-be Hitlers should not be treated like human beings

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York, where he will shortly speak to the UN General Assembly.

This man is a throwback to the barbarism of Hitler or Stalin. He is undoubtedly the greatest danger to peace and stability in the world today. But for Jews, it’s worse. It’s personal. Since Hitler, there has not been a constellation of forces arrayed against the Jewish people that is as powerful and single-minded as the one that is led by Ahmadinejad (of course, today, thanks to the success of Zionism, we have the means to fight back).

An organization called Genocide Prevention Now (GPN) has created a timeline of anti-Zionist and antisemitic statements coming from Iran. Dr. Elihu Richter of GPN describes its purpose [forthcoming on the GPN website] and what it tells us:

Genocide Prevention Now (GPN) uses timelines to track the early warning signs of genocidal threats. These timelines enable us to spot trends in hindsight that are often missed in real time, and to suggest forecasts based on past trends. GPN’s chronologic timeline of Iranian incitement — the first of its kind — shows that since 2000, the statements of Iran’s leaders –- political and religious — have become ever more frequent, and the viciousness of these statements, has increased. Terms such as “cancer”, “filthy corpse”, and “microbes” abound. There are ever more calls for jihadi action and shahidi martyrdom to destroy Israel. Alternatively, these calls are cast in the form of predictions, and are accompanied by statements delegitimizing Israel and Zionism, disinformation, defamation and double standards. Ahmadinejad and his Iranian colleagues are explicit about their goal—the destruction of Israel…

Yet there are ups and downs in the intensity and frequency of statements in the timeline. We cannot rule out the possibility that the Iranian leadership made additional other statements which websites or media did not pick up. Of the statements we found and listed, between 2000 and 2006, websites and journalistic media had reported less than 10 such statements of incitement or hate language per year by the Iranian leadership. In the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq, there were hardly any such statements.

After Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in the fall of 2005, the situation suddenly changed. In 2006, there were 7 inflammatory statements. In 2007, they increased to 19, and then in 2008, in the aftermath of the grotesquely flawed US New Intelligence Estimate in November 2007, which stated that Iran had stopped working towards making a nuclear bomb, there were 46. In 2009, there were 28 such statements. In 2010 (through August), there already have been 26. In these years, Iran has moved ever closer to nuclearization, its military power has increased, and its support for terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza has increased.

GPN’s timeline will soon be available on its website, but in honor of Ahmadinejad’s visit to the UN, you can download it here by right-clicking the following link and selecting ‘save link as': Iranian incitement to genocide

There is simply no excuse for treating this creature — who already has the blood of many of his own young people on his hands, not to mention that of the Israelis whose deaths at the hands of Hamas and Hizballah he facilitated — as an honored guest in the United States.

There are plenty of  New Yorkers, Jewish and otherwise, who understand what  Ahmadinejad is. If a tenth of them were to picket his hotel (like this), refuse any form of service to his delegation — or indeed the UN — block his motorcade, turn off his electricity, etc., it would be a practical demonstration that we don’t have to pretend that would-be Hitlers are human beings.

Here’s the appropriate spirit:

New York reaction when Ahmadinejad wanted to visit Ground Zero in 2007

New York reaction when Ahmadinejad wanted to visit Ground Zero in 2007

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Why US Muslims feel threatened

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

News item:

NEW YORK — A proposed Islamic center near ground zero is slowly being embraced by some Muslims who initially were indifferent about the plan, partly in response to a sense that their faith is under attack.

A summit of U.S. Muslim organizations is scheduled to begin Sunday in New York City to address both the project and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and rhetoric that has accompanied the nationwide debate over the project.

It has yet to be seen whether the groups will emerge with a firm stand on the proposed community center, dubbed Park51. The primary purpose of the meeting is to talk about ways to combat religious bigotry.

But Shaik Ubaid of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, one of the groups organizing the gathering, said he has a growing sense that some American Muslims who initially had trepidation are now throwing their support behind the plan.

“Once it became a rallying cry for extremists, we had no choice but to stand with Feisal (Abdul) Rauf,” he said, referring to the New York City imam who has been leading the drive for the center.

Shaik Ubaid, you have earned one of my coveted FresnoZionism F’s in logic.

If Stalin opposes Hitler, should I be pro-Nazi? Speaking of Hitler, if he had been a vegetarian (actually he wasn’t), should I therefore become a meat-eater? If Terry Jones burns Qurans in Florida, do we need to have a mosque near Ground Zero?

It’s telling that Muslims say that “their faith is under attack.” Especially since the large immigration of Eastern European Jews in the beginning of the 20th Century, US Jews have dealt with antisemitic bias and sometimes violence — to a far greater extent than Muslims — but I can’t think of a case in which they have expressed themselves by saying ‘Judaism is under attack’.

Keep in mind also that there are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world (22% of the population), and the number is rapidly growing. Islam is projected to overtake Christianity as the majority religion on earth later in this century.  One would think that Jews (0.2%)  would be more likely to feel that their faith was besieged, especially in light of the massive campaign of defamation being waged against the world’s only Jewish state.

I think the reason they don’t is because the Jews have acclimated to being a minority everywhere in the Diaspora. They find this an acceptable condition, insofar as they are not persecuted. Post-Biblical Jewish writings, starting with the Talmud, are all about living as a minority in foreign lands. They see Judaism as part of Jews, something that can’t be taken away from them (as the kol nidre prayer on the eve of Yom Kippur makes clear) even under duress.

Islam, on the other hand, is a religion which seeks political power and is unsatisfied unless lands where Muslims live are ruled by a Muslim ruler (and for Islamists, a regime compliant with sharia). This explains the worldwide Muslim obsession with removing the ‘Jewish cancer’ from the heart of dar al Islam, which (as I mentioned yesterday) is quite irrational from a Western point of view.

Islam is a religious faith, but it is also in essence a political ideology — something entirely foreign to Diaspora Jewry, which finds safety in accepting the prevailing regimes and ideologies.

So anything which works against Muslim political power or the symbols thereof — such as a mosque built in the heart of America’s power, America’s Jerusalem, New York City — is viewed as an attack on Islam itself.

This also makes clear why any criticism of Islam or Muslim behavior engenders such a hostile response: Muslims expect that Muslims should rule, not be ruled, and criticism represents chutzpah — how dare those whose place it is to be subjects speak thus to those who should be rulers?

Another corollary is that Muslims must never compromise. Who ever heard of a ruler giving in to the ruled? And whoever heard of democracy, especially when some citizens can be infidels!

I said that this is essential to Islam, and it is certainly inherent in Islam today, as it developed in the autocratic cultures of the Middle East. Could there be an Islam without it?

I don’t know, but today’s Islamic politics are directly opposed to the ideals of the American democratic republic as constituted by the Founding Fathers and accepted by almost all Americans today — and if American Muslims don’t get this, the relationship is going to get worse, not better.

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CAIR appreciates Helen Thomas

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

News item:

The longtime White House correspondent who resigned from Hearst newspaper in June in the wake of comments she made about Israel will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR is honoring Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent and now 90 years old, at its Leadership Conference and 16th Annual Fundraising Banquet on Oct. 9 in Arlington, Va. Speakers will also include Oxford Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan.

Thomas started at the White House as a reporter during the Kennedy administration. In a video interview captured at a White House Jewish heritage event for RabbiLIVE.com that spread quickly across the Internet, Thomas advised Israeli Jews to get the hell out of Palestine and go home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.

One wonders if her long career would have earned her an award if she hadn’t ended it the way she did?

The worldwide Muslim obsession with Israel is sort of deranged. Aren’t issues like Iran’s program to subsume the whole Middle East under a Shia caliphate more important to the average Muslim than a tiny Jewish state, one in which Arabs have it better — both economically and politically — than anywhere else in the region?

If Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear weapons factories, will CAIR give the IDF an award? They should.

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