Archive for September, 2010

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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