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Friday, August 31, 2012

Sabbath music video

Here's Yosef Chaim Shwekey with Aseh L'Maancha (Do for Yourself if not for us), which comes from the Slichoth prayers that Sfardim have started already, and that Ashkenazim will start next Saturday night.

Let's go to the videotape.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Friday, August 31.
1) Whose problem is it?

The New York Times reports Report on Iran Nuclear Work Puts Israel in a Box:
For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday offered findings validating his longstanding position that while harsh economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation may have hurt Iran, they have failed to slow Tehran’s nuclear program. If anything, the program is speeding up.
But the agency’s report has also put Israel in a corner, documenting that Iran is close to crossing what Israel has long said is its red line: the capability to produce nuclear weapons in a location invulnerable to Israeli attack.
With the report that the country has already installed more than 2,100 centrifuges inside a virtually impenetrable underground laboratory, and that it has ramped up production of nuclear fuel, officials and experts here say the conclusions may force Israel to strike Iran or concede it is not prepared to act on its own.
In other words PM Netanyahu, whom the New York Times has been portraying as eager to to war regardless of the cost, was right about Iran. Now the New York Times tells us, Netanyahu and Israel have a problem.

In contrast an editorial in the Washington Post, Iran at the brink, concludes:
Tehran’s refusal to negotiate seriously and its continuing buildup of nuclear capacity is nevertheless steadily increasing the danger that the Middle East will be engulfed by a new war — one that could interrupt oil supplies, damage the global economy and exacerbate the sectarian conflict already underway in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. An optimistic view would be that Iran is playing a familiar game of brinkmanship. If so, there may not be much more time to step back.
Both the New York Times news story and the Washington Post editorial present substantially the same information. The difference is in how they portray the actors. In the simplest terms, the Times portrays the problem of nuclear Iran as Israel's problem whereas the Post portrays it as a threat to the world.

David Horovitz in an article about the considerations being weighed by Israel regarding Iran (and which seems generally unsympathetic towards Netanyahu) writes (via Shmuel Rosner):
Everything you have heard about the personal hostility between Obama and Netanyahu is true, and then some, according to the insiders from both the pro- and anti-strike camps. The prime minister thinks the president is unreliable and misguided on matters Israeli, Middle Eastern and Islamist. Holding to “a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” as Obama put it in his AIPAC speech in March, is not the same as vowing explicitly to use whatever tools are needed, up to and including force, in order to guarantee that Iran does not gain a nuclear weapons capability.
It strikes me that if President Obama now views Netanyahu as reckless regarding Iran, part of the problem is that he unnecessarily antagonized Netanyahu over the past three and a half years. If Israel needs to trust the United States regarding Iran, it seems that President Obama has recklessly frittered away that trust.

In another attempt to confuse the issue, VOA reports, Experts: Tightening Iran Sanctions Hurts Ordinary Iranians (h/t Omri Ceren):
But Jamal Abdi, policy director of the National Iranian American Council, says U.S. policy toward Iran is doing more harm than good.
"We've gone from a policy that was supposed to be smart sanctions or targeted sanctions instead to ones that are designed to cripple the entire Iranian economy, and this is a counterproductive approach," he said. "This hurts ordinary people. It obstructs rather than facilitates diplomacy. And at the end of the day, I think it's going to put us on a collision course for a military confrontation with Iran."
What the article doesn't say is that the NIAC is an apologist for the current regime in Iran. Needless to say, its first priority is not the welfare of "ordinary" Iranians. Yet the VOA presents this not disinterested party as an "expert."

2) Eye on the prize

Radical professor Judith Butler has been awarded the Theodor Adorno prize from the city of Frankfurt, Germany. Given her support for Hamas and Hezbollah and her hatred of the state of Israel, giving her any award should be controversial.

Richard Landes, Petra Marquardt-Bigman, Edward Alexander, Dovid Efune and others have critiqued Butler's work.

Apparently in an effort to defend her, Columbia University Press has excerpted a selection from her recent book.
Let us reflect first on what it means to derive a set of principles from a cultural tradition and then move to the larger political issues at hand. As I noted, to say that principles are “derived” from Jewish resources raises the question of whether these principles remain Jewish once they are developed within a contemporary situation, assuming new historical forms? Or are they principles that can and must be, always have been, derived from various cultural and historical resources, thus “belonging” exclusively to none of them? In fact, does the generalizability of theprinciples in question depend fundamentally on their finally not belonging to any one cultural location or tradition from which they may have emerged? Does this nonbelonging, this exile, help to constitute the generalizability and transposability of the principles of justice and equality?
If such principles are derived from Jewish sources, others might conclude that they are Jewish values originally, fundamentally, even finally. It follows from that argument that one must look to that religious, secular, or historical set of traditions to understand those values, at which point Jewishness becomes a privileged cultural resource, and the Jewish framework remains the only or at least the privileged one by which to think the problem of cohabitation and even binationalism. We thus fail to depart from the exclusive cultural framework of Jewishness. And this has especially contradictory and unacceptable conclusions of we are trying to think about equality and justice in Israel/Palestine.
Even as such a conclusion is unacceptable, there seems to be no easy way around this paradox. One point, however, already seems clear: equality, justice, cohabitation, and the critique of state violence can only remain Jewish values if they are not exclusively Jewish values. This means that the articulation of such values must negate the primacy and exclusivity of the Jewish framework, must undergo its own dispersion. Indeed, as I hope to show, that dispersion is a condition of possibility for thinking justice, a condition we would do well to remember during these times. One might say, “ah, dispersion—a Jewish value! Derived from messianic scattering and other theological figures for diaspora! You attempt to depart from Jewishness, but you cannot!” If, however, the question of the ethical relation to the non-Jew has become definitive of what is Jewish, then we cannot capture or consolidate what is Jewish in this relation. Relationality displaces ontology, and it is a good thing, too. The point is not to stabilize the ontology of the Jew or of Jewishness, but rather to understand the ethical and political implications of a relation to alterity that is irreversible and defining and without which we cannot make sense of such fundamental terms as equality or justice. Such a relation, which is surely not singular, will be the obligatory passage beyond identity and nation as defining frameworks. It establishes the relation to alterity as constitutive of identity, which is to say that the relation to alterity interrupts identity, and this interruption is the condition of ethical relationality. Is this a Jewish notion? Yes and no.
This is so much gibberish. Using terms such "generalizability," "transposability," "alterity" and "relationality," (all four are flagged by my spell checker) sound impressive but do they mean anything? Or are these just concepts that Butler conceived for the sole purpose of making her argument? There is no clarity in her argument, just obfuscation.
If I understand the third paragraph quoted here, she's saying that since Israel doesn't adhere to Jewish values (according to her judgment) and since Jews have survived in exile, Israel doesn't deserve to exist as a Jewish state.
Given her explicit support for Hamas and Hezbollah (which she denies though the audio is quite clear) which are committed to destroying Israel and have acted on those commitments, how does she find Israel's resorting to "state violence" unacceptable? Terrorists targeting civilians is implicitly acceptable to her, but Israel fighting to protect its citizens is objectionable. It's not only hypocritical, it's illogical. She bases her appeal on Jewish culture, but a culture that abjures self-defense won't last very long.

3) A measured response

Irish pro-Israel activist Tom Carew wrote a letter to the Guardian:
I am a life-long reader and I measured the extent of today's Guardian *coverage* on the Rachel Corrie case - and it is really astounding.
Well over 20,000 Syrians have been slaughtered by the Assad regime in recent months, and 400 bodies were found yesterday in Darraya, but that horrendous massacre gets- [a] no Cartoon,
[b] no Editorial and
[c] no Comment piece,plus only
[d] 28.44 Sq Ins of a News story,along with a headline of *Claims of 400 dead* And also placed along the lower inside corner column of Page 19, where it could readily be overlooked.

In contrast the Corrie story gets -

[a] a large and vicious Cartoon, on Page 31, covering 61.88 Sq Ins, with an Israeli Bulldozer with the Star of David ploughing into the blindfolded figure of Justice,
[b] an Editorial, covering 39.84 sq Ins, on Page 32,
[c] a Comment piece below that, on Page 32, covering 43.45 Sq Ins, along with
[d] a News story, taking over the whole top half of Page 18, and covering 86.26 Sq Ins

Their overall coverage for Corrie totals 231.43 Sq Ins, which is 8.14 times that given to Syria
Sometimes bias can be measured.

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Obama's 'intelligence' agencies urge preparing for a 'post-Israel Middle East'

Remember Chas Freeman (pictured), President Obama's original choice for Director of National Intelligence? Chas didn't get the position because 'powerful bloggers' like yours truly worked hard to expose his indifference to the torture and murder of Chinese dissidents and his being deep in the pockets of the Saudi royal family.

Instead, Obama appointed James Clapper, who told Congress that China is the United States' biggest mortal threat, and that the Muslim Brotherhood is secular and will save us from al-Qaeda.

So Clapper is now the Director of National Intelligence and Freeman remains influential. Therefore, it's not surprising that President Obama's 'intelligence agencies' have prepared a report on a 'post-Israel Middle East' (Hat Tip: MFS - The Other News). (By the way, the author of this piece is VERY anti-Israel).
It’s a paper entitled “Preparing For A Post Israel Middle East”, an 82-page analysis that concludes that the American national interest in fundamentally at odds with that of Zionist Israel. The authors conclude that Israel is currently the greatest threat to US national interests because its nature and actions prevent normal US relations with Arab and Muslim countries and, to a growing degree, the wider international community.

The study was commissioned by the US Intelligence Community comprising 16 American intelligence agencies with an annual budget in excess of $ 70 billion. The IC includes the Departments of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Defense Intelligence Agency, Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, State, Treasure, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency commissioned the study.

Among the many findings that Ros-Lehtenin and Kristol and other unregistered agents of Israel will likely try to exploit politically between now and November 6, by using them to attack the Obama Administration are the following:

  • Israel, given its current brutal occupation and belligerence cannot be salvaged any more than apartheid south Africa could be when as late as 1987 Israel was the only “Western” nation that upheld diplomatic ties with South Africa and was the last country to join the international boycott campaign before the regime collapsed;
  • The Israel leadership, with its increasing support of the 700,000 settlers in illegal colonies in the occupied West Bank is increasing out of touch with the political, military and economic realities of the Middle East;
  • The post Labor government Likud coalition is deeply complicit with and influenced by the settlers’ political and financial power and will increasingly face domestic civil strife which the US government should not associate itself with or become involved with;
  • The Arab Spring and Islamic Awakening has to a major degree freed a large majority of the 1.2 billion Arab and Muslims to pursue what an overwhelming majority believe is the illegitimate, immoral and unsustainable European occupation of Palestine of the indigenous population;
  • Simultaneous with, but predating, rapidly expanding Arab and Muslim power in the region as evidenced by the Arab spring, Islamic Awakening and the ascendancy of Iran, as American power and influence recedes, the US commitment to belligerent oppressive Israel is becoming impossible to defend or execute consistent given paramount US national interests which include normalizing relations with the 57 Islamic countries;
  • Gross Israeli interference in the internal affairs of the United States through spying and illegal US arms transfers. This includes supporting more than 60 ‘front organizations’ and approximately 7,500 US officials who do Israel’s bidding and seek to dominate and intimidate the media and agencies of the US government which should no longer be condoned;
  • That the United States government no longer has the financial resources, or public support to continue funding Israel. The billions of dollars in direct and indirect aid from US taxpayers to Israel since 1967 is not affordable and is increasingly being objected to by US taxpayers who oppose continuing American military involvement in the Middle East. US public opinion no longer supports funding and executing widely perceived illegal US wars on Israel’s behalf. This view is increasingly being shared by Europe, Asia and the International public;
  • Israel’s segregationist occupation infrastructure evidenced by legalized discrimination and increasingly separate and unequal justice systems must no longer be directly or indirectly funded by the US taxpayers or ignored by the US government;
  • Israel has failed as a claimed democratic state and continued American financial and political cover will not change its continuing devolution as international pariah state;
  • Increasingly, rampant and violent racism exhibited among Jewish settlers in the West Bank is being condoned by the Israeli government to a degree that the Israel government has become its protector and partner;
  • The expanding chasm among American Jews objecting to Zionism and Israeli practices, including the killing and brutalizing of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, are gross violations of American and International law and raise questions within the US Jewish community regarding the American responsibility to protect (R2P) innocent civilians under occupation;
  • The international opposition to the increasingly apartheid regime can no longer be synchronized with American claimed humanitarian values or US expectations in its bi-lateral relations with the 193 member United Nations;
  • The Draft ends with language about the need to avoid entangling alliances that alienate much of the World and condemn American citizens to endure the consequences.
Interestingly, it notes Iran as an example of a country and people that have much in common and whose citizens have a real interest in enjoy bilateral associations (here an apparent reference to Israel and its US lobby) not determined by the wishes of other countries and their agents. It also highlights the need for the US to undertake the repairing of relations with Arab and Muslim countries, including the drastically curtained use of drone aircraft.
The source for the report is someone in the CIA.

Each point in the report can be refuted. But that's not the key here. The key is that this report represents the Obama administration's thinking. Four more years of this - God forbid - could be disastrous for Israel. And most American Jews are more concerned about unrestricted abortions.

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Rubio: 'Hope and change has become divide and conquer'

One day, Marco Rubio is going to be President of the United States. Bet on it. Here's an awesome speech that he gave Thursday night to the Republican National Convention. I love the stress on American exceptionalism.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Fire Andrea Mitchell via Bad Blue).

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Of course: Iran dismisses IAEA report as 'political'

Iran has rejected an IAEA report that shows it moving toward a nuclear weapon as a 'political' report designed to overshadow the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran this past week.
"Publishing this report while Iran is holding the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting does not mean anything other than it was a political move aimed at overshadowing the meeting in Tehran," lawmaker Kazem Jalali told the ISNA news agency.


"It seems that this report is a scenario for psychological warfare because Iran was able to show its authority and international position at the NAM summit," said Jalali, a member of parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee.
Iran is laughing all the way to the bank as Obama has now held his hand out for nearly four years. What could go wrong?

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A great idea - too bad they won't do it

Shurat HaDin has suggested to the Corrie family that they sue the 'Palestinian Authority' and the International Solidarity Movement for their daughter's death. Too bad they're most unlikely to take the advice.
“Rachel Corrie’s parents should sue the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) for being responsible for their daughter’s death” – this according to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center. The Tel Aviv-based counter-terror organization further noted on Wednesday that both the PA and ISM were the ones that provided support to Rachel Corrie while she was obstructing an IDF military operation aimed at uncovering terrorist-planted explosive devices.

Yesterday, the Haifa District Court ruled the 2003 incident a “regrettable accident,” rejecting completely claims made by the Corrie family’s that the IDF bulldozer intentionally ran over the ISM activist. In his verdict, the judge underlined that Rachel Corrie knowingly placed herself in a dangerous war zone, particularly an area which just hours before was the site of an attack against IDF forces. The judge moreover held that the bulldozer’s driver, as well as its commander, had not and could not have noticed Corrie due to an obstructed view. The ruling made point that the ISM had been found to be indirectly aiding terrorists in some cases.

“We applaud the district court’s decision. It has been undoubtedly evidenced that both the PA and ISM continue to associate with the scourge of terrorism directed against the Israeli democracy, even making use of foreign citizens to serve as human shields for militant activity. The Corrie family should point their fingers at the real culprits,” stressed Darshan-Leitner.
Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. This isn't about justice for Rachel Corrie; it's about bashing Israel.

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Uber-Leftist LA Times promotes anti-Semitic meme

The article and picture above (the two guys with Kippot are actually both Lubavitchers) are from the Los Angeles Times' coverage of the Republican National Convention. The Times is promoting the meme that Jewish money is the sole funding behind the Republican party.
Promoting the worst anti-semitic stereotypes, a front page LA Times article on the influence of money in the Republican Party prominently features Jewish donors and, for emphasis, adds a photo of two men wearing Kippot (see below, 8/30/12, pp. 1, 8). As to the many individuals who give the vast majority of funds to the GOP and are not Jewish, the LA Times declines to identify their religi0n. Blatant anti-semitism is characteristic, and underlies much, of the virulently anti-Israel coverage in the LA Times.
But would you expect otherwise from the Leftist media?

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Batsheva dance company disrupted in Edinburgh

And you thought the Brits were so 'cultured'.....
Protesters have disrupted a performance by an Israeli dance company which was taking place at the Edinburgh International Festival.

The show - Hora - by the Batsheva Dance Company, from Tel Aviv, had to be stopped three times after protests inside the Playhouse Theatre.

Earlier about 100 people gathered to sing, demonstrate and burn tickets outside the theatre.

Batsheva is partly funded by the Israeli government.
More British anti-Semitism at its finest.... In a few years, that country will be totally overrun by Muslims.

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Obama's Iran and Syria policies: Don't let anything happen before the elections

It would be fair to say that President Obama's policies with respect to both Iran and Syria could be summed up in one sentence: Don't let anything happen before the elections. The main problem is that all the dithering is eroding what little American credibility remains in this region. This is from Dov Zakheim, who was an adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush:
Washington's passivity has only aggravated both situations. The Syrian civil war calls for more drastic American action. After all, when rioters initially threw stones at Assad's men, his forces responded by using light weapons against the demonstrators. When the rebels obtained light weapons, Assad's military resorted to heavy weapons. As the rebels began to use mortars, the Syrian Army attacked with tanks. And so it has gone until now, when Assad has called in his air forces to bomb the opposition into oblivion. While there is no immediate need for American military intervention, the United States could certainly do more to strengthen the hand of the rebels. Washington could ship more, and more sophisticated, arms to the rebels via their allies, who certainly can afford to pay for American equipment. And the United States could also provide more intelligence support, if not directly to the rebels, then indirectly through Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. By failing to step up its support of the rebels, the Administration undermines its credibility, both with the rebels whom it professes to support, and with Assad, whose departure it so vocally seeks.

As for the impasse with Iran, here too, the key to achieving American objectives is the credibility of American pronouncements. There is more than Washington can do as it attempts win the trust of Israel's key decision makers on any Israeli attack-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Supplying missile defense systems is simply not enough for a nation that cannot tolerate even the most minimal probability that a nuclear weapon could penetrate those defenses.

To begin with, the Administration should not backslide on the question of Iran's ability to enrich uranium. The original US position was that enrichment should terminate; any indication of a more pliable position simply reinforces the view in both Tehran and Jerusalem that Washington is not serious about stopping the Iranian program. In addition, the Obama Administration should close the massive loopholes that it has created in the sanctions program: there is no reason why exceptions should be made for China or any of the other seventeen countries that continue to buy Iranian oil without penalty. Washington's willingness to look the other way further intensifies Israeli fears that, at the end of the day, Iran will develop a nuclear capability while America and the West wring their hands.

An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is likely to prove counterproductive. Even an American attack may not shut down the Iranian program. As with Syria, so with Iran and Israel: the only way to achieve American objectives is to restore American credibility in the region. It does not help at all that the Administration not only continues to talk of a "pivot" to Asia, but is prepared to tolerate a massive reduction in American defense capability, which will surely signal an abrupt end to American presence in the region. Unless and until the Administration recognizes that it is futile, and dangerous, both to tread water until November, and treat the U.S. defense program as a hostage to tax increases, the situation in the Middle East will continue to deteriorate, to the point where, possibly as soon as October, it may well spin out of anyone's control.
This article by Marc Thiessen lists the top 10 Obama foreign policy failures. Four of them are in this region (as is one of his additional two). Foreign policy isn't likely to drive the current US campaign, but it's an area in which Obama's failures are glaring, and likely to have serious consequences after the elections, if not sooner.

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Emergency Committee for Israel cuts an ad for Paul Ryan (and Mitt Romney)

This is the first Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) ad that I can recall that refers specifically to Paul Ryan. In fact, it's mostly about Ryan.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Yeah, right....

Egypt is looking to relaunch its nuclear program... but only to generate clean energy.... Right....
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who is visiting China, said that Egypt is looking into the possibility of re-launching its nuclear program in an effort to generate clean energy.
What could go wrong?

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'Robert Oppenheimer of Iran' resurfaces

A prominent Iranian nuclear scientist has resurfaced after several years of 'absence.'
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, widely compared with Robert Oppenheimer, the American physicist who oversaw the crash 1940s effort to build an atomic bomb, helped push Iran into its nuclear age over the past two decades. A senior officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, he oversaw Iran's research into the construction and detonation of a nuclear warhead, Western officials say.

Mr. Fakhrizadeh complained in 2006 that his funding and nuclear-weapons work had been frozen by Iran's government, according to intercepted email and phone calls, U.S. officials said. The intercepts contributed to a 2007 U.S. intelligence report that concluded Iran had halted its attempts to build a nuclear bomb in 2003.

Today, however, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, believes Mr. Fakhrizadeh has opened a research facility in Tehran's northern suburbs involved in studies relevant to developing nuclear weapons. The offices include some of the same scientists and military staff active in Iran's previous nuclear-weapons research, said intelligence officials who have seen intelligence on the facility.

A number of Mr. Fakhrizadeh's closest colleagues have risen up the ranks of the Iranian bureaucracy in recent months, placing them in positions to influence the future of Iran's nuclear program. Among them is Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and is one of the country's vice presidents.
What could go wrong? Read the whole thing.


Iran: Embarrassed but a victor nevertheless

Iran had to weather some embarrassing moments from two of its most prominent guests: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy, but at the end of the day, Iran won a massive victory due to the turnout for the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran. This is from the first link by Max Boot.
The ayatollahs had made much of the attendance of President Mohammad Morsi of Egypt–the largest Arab state–and of Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon of the United Nations. But they could not have liked what they heard from the two prominent visitors. Morsi openly came out in support of the revolt being waged by the Syrian people against Bashar Assad–Iran’s closest ally in the regime. “The Syrian people are fighting with courage, looking for freedom and human dignity,” he said prompting the Syrian ambassador to walk out.

Ban also denounced the repression carried out by the Syrian government with Iranian help. Then, even better, he upbraided the Iranian leadership for threatening to annihilate Israel and for denying the Holocaust. “I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust,” he said.

The Iranian news media apparently did not report Morsi’s or Ban’s remarks but it seems certain that they will be become widely known within Iran, thus presenting a strong counterpoint to the propaganda line of the regime.
But what the conference proved is that Iran is not isolated. That's a massive victory for Iran. This is from the second link by Herb Keinon.
When Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy blasted Syria's government at the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Conference in Tehran on Thursday, his comments prompted Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem to storm out. But when Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei slammed Israel, labeling it a state of "ferocious Zionist wolves" which controls the world media, nobody moved.

The silence of the world in the face of these charges is chilling. It also must be emboldening for the Iranians. They can trade in virulent anti-Semitism and the representatives of the world sit in their seats quietly, listening politely as the words are translated form Farsi to their native languages.

Nobody walks out. Nobody heckles. Nobody protests.

Granted, nobody in Israel is expecting much of Bangladesh, Cuba or South Africa. But how about those countries with whom Israel has strong ties – such as India, Colombia and Thailand? Why did they sit still, and what does that say? Only UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he "strongly rejects" threats by one UN state to destroy another, or to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust. But these words were far outweighed by his very presence at the parley.

It is obviously over-simplistic to say that the attendance of representatives from 120 countries at the NAM Conference was a vote of confidence in Iran or its polices. It was certainly not.

But still, their presence in Tehran at this time – no matter the reason – emboldens Iran. Their presence makes Iran look – and feel – a respected member of the fLinkamily of nations at a time when the goal of Israel, the US and the West, is to make them look and feel isolated, like a pariah state.

The argument the world is using in trying to dissuade Israel from any type of military actions is that all it is asking, is to give diplomacy a chance. "The sanctions are biting," this argument runs. "Iran is feeling the heat, it is feeling isolated. Just give us more time."

Isolated? Really? Two kings, 27 presidents, numerous foreign ministers and the UN Secretary-General does not send a message of isolation – not to Iran, not to its people, and not to the rest of the world.
Read the whole thing.

At the end of the day, the NAM meeting could come back to bite Iran. If Iran is not isolated, then Israel is. And if Israel is isolated then it must understand that it has no choice but to act. There is no one - other than God - on whom it can rely. As the Torah says, "For [the Jewish people] is a nation that dwells alone and is not counted among the nations." Ironically, that phrase was uttered by a non-Jew - the evil Bilam - when God took control of his mouth.

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Overnight music video

Here's Yosef Chaim Shwekey with L'cha Ezbach (Let us bring a thanksgiving offering), which is said on Rosh Chodesh and holidays.

Let's go to the videotape.

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TPaw: Time to start clock ticking on Iran

In an interview on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention, Romney campaign co-chair and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty tells Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin that it's time to start the clock ticking on Iran.
Neither the Iranians nor the Israelis see as credible Barack Obama' statements that containment of a nuclear Iran is not an option and that the president would use force to prevent that from happening, Pawlenty told The Cable in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention. A Mitt Romney administration would employ various new tactics to increase U.S. leverage over the Iranians and bolster the credibility of the threat of military action, he said.

"Options would include concluding the negotiations are not working, that the Iranians aren't taking them seriously, bringing them to a temporary or permanent end, and start the clock ticking on other alternatives and letting the Iranians know that," Pawlenty said.


He also warned that Iran may have spread its nuclear research and production facilities into heavily populated civilian areas, which would make a military effort to eliminate Iran's nuclear capabilities much more expansive.

"A lot of the public discourse around how and whether and when there might be military action on Iran focuses on bunker-busting bombs and installations under mountains. That may not only be the only locations where they have those capabilities," said Pawlenty. "Imagine that it's not limited to mountains and rural areas. Imagine that they have created some redundant capabilities and placed them in tunnels under cities. If you want to identify and eliminate those capabilities, it takes on additional challenges."

Pawlenty said the Obama administration resisted imposing crippling sanctions over the last three years and that sanctions even now don't seem to be changing the Iranian regime's calculus.

"We don't know yet, but measured by the Iranians' posture and position, it's fair to say it hasn't yet worked," he said.

Pawlenty endorsed the idea floated by Romney advisor Elliott Abrams last week that now is the time for Congress to pass an authorization of the use of military force against Iran.
Actually, and unfortunately, Pawlenty's prescriptions are kind of meaningless. Unless it is clear by early October that Romney will win the election and will take action, Israel is going to be left with no choice but to attack. Otherwise, if Obama is God forbid reelected, we would be looking at very weak 'containment' of a nuclear Iran (if that), the possibility of blackmail from a second term Obama administration ('go back to the '67 lines or we won't defend you against Iran') and an Israeli inability to act on our own. There is no choice. Iran must be attacked before the election unless it is 100% clear that Romney is going to win.

What could go wrong?

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US military chief Martin Dempsey to Israel: 'We won't have your back if you attack Iran'

Speaking to journalists in London at the opening of the Paralympic games, Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the United States would not have Israel's back if it unilaterally attacked Iran.
Distancing himself from any Israeli plan to bomb Iran, Dempsey said such an attack would "clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran's nuclear programme".

He added: "I don't want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it."

Dempsey said he did not know Iran's nuclear intentions, as intelligence did not reveal intentions. What was clear, he said, was that the "international coalition" applying pressure on Iran "could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely". Sanctions against Iran were having an effect, and they should be given a reasonable opportunity to succeed.
The sanctions are indeed having an effect on Iran, but it's not the one that the United States Congress intended. In the meantime, Dempsey's not wanting to be complicit indicates that the US will stand aside if there's an Israeli attack. I wonder whether that includes absorbing the inevitable Iranian attacks on US troops.

Here's the problem: Most of Israel is convinced that President Obama is more concerned with his own reelection than he is with this country's fate. So long as that is the case, he will not be able to stop Israel from taking unilateral action.

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Iranian television mistranslated Ban Ki-Moon's speech

In an earlier post, I reported that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had excoriated Iran at the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran for its threats against Israel and its Holocaust denial. I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that Persian language television in Iran mistranslated Ban's speech according to Bahman Kalbasi, New York/UN Correspondent for BBC TV News' Persian language service.
Iran domestic TV drastically mistranslated several passages of Ban's speech at the NAM summit in their live Persian translations.
I wonder if Ban even mentioned the nuclear weapons program. From what I have seen, he did not.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Video: Muslim Brotherhood official says peace brought cancer and other diseases to Egypt

Here's something that ought to convince us to immediately make peace with all of our Arab and Muslim neighbors. A leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the party that rules Egypt, says that the 30-year old peace treaty with Israel brought cancer and other diseases to Egypt.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Omri Ceren via Twitter).

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How 'bout those sanctions? IAEA report says Iran has more than doubled underground centrifuges since May, 75% of the way to completing Fordow site

International sanctions are having a huge effect on Iran's nuclear program. Unfortunately, it's not the one for which supporters of sanctions outside the Obama administration were hoping. The IAEA reports that despite the sanctions, since May, Iran has doubled the number of underground centrifuges that are enriching uranium. That's right. More than doubled. In three months.
The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its quarterly report on Iran that the number of centrifuges at Fordow, near the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom, about 130 km (80 miles) from the capital Tehran, had more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May.

The new machines were not yet operating, it said.

Iran's supreme leader repeated this week that Iran's nuclear programme was entirely peaceful. "Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a developing nations summit in Tehran.

But the expansion in enrichment infrastructure and the increasing in stockpiles of potent nuclear material revealed in the report will do nothing to allay fears or reduce the diplomatic and sanctions pressure on Iran.

The report showed that Iran had produced nearly 190 kg (418 pounds) of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, up from 145 kg in May.
And that's not all. The UN also had some comments about Parchin, the nuclear weapons testing facility that Iran is now trying to cover up.
"Significant ground scraping and landscaping have been undertaken over an extensive area at and around the location," it said.

Five buildings had been demolished and power lines, fences and paved roads removed, the report said, "extensive activities" that would hamper its investigation if granted access.

"The activities observed ... further strengthen the agency's assessment that it is necessary to have access to the location at Parchin without further delay", the IAEA said.

Iran says Parchin is a conventional military facility and has dismissed the allegations about it as "ridiculous".
The New York Times adds that the number of centrifuges installed is three quarters of what Iran needs to complete the Fordow site.
The Israelis in favor of military action, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the most outspoken proponent of moving quickly against the Iranian program, will point to evidence that Iran has now installed over 2,100 of the roughly 2,800 centrifuges destined for the underground site, called Fordow. More than 1,000 have been installed in the last three months, since the last report by the agency. For Mr. Barak, that is evidence that the “zone of immunity” he has warned about — the point at which Iran will be able to produce nuclear fuel from a site invulnerable to attack — will be reached in a matter of weeks.

But American officials urging caution will find plenty in the report to bolster their view as well. Only a third of the centrifuges at Fordow are actually operating, the inspectors reported, leaving open the question of whether Iran has run into technical difficulties or has made a political decision not to tempt its adversaries by rushing ahead in moving production of fuel to its best-protected facility. And while the agency’s statistics show that Iran has, since February, doubled its stockpile of fuel enriched to 20 percent purity — a level that bomb experts say could be converted to bomb grade in a matter of months — it still does not possess enough of that fuel to produce a complete nuclear weapon. Most of its stockpile is composed of a lower-enriched fuel that would take considerably longer to make useful in a weapon.
The Obama administration's position is completely untenable. Left to its own devices, Iran will complete the Fordow site by November, and the IAEA will report its completion shortly after the US Presidential elections. How convenient for Hussein Obama!

It doesn't matter whether Iran is actually operating the centrifuges. Once they are installed in a bunker that is impermeable by any weapons Israel has, Iran can start operating them at any time. Israel will have no viable response. It will be totally dependent on US military action to take out Iran's nuclear weapons capability. And President Obama has been unwilling to commit explicitly to take that action.

President Hussein Obama wants Israel to stand down until after the US elections, by which time, it is now obvious, Iran's Fordow underground facility will be completed. As I told everyone with whom I discussed this in the US, Israel doesn't trust Obama and will put its survival ahead of Obama's reelection. Look for an Israeli strike on Iran between the end of the Succoth holiday and the US Presidential elections.

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Gaza's 600 millionaires

In the face of a United Nations report that Gaza will be 'unlivable' by 2020, Asharq al-Awswat reports (via Khaled Abu Toameh) that there are 600 millionaires in the Gaza Strip, and that the biggest beneficiary of their wealth is the Hamas 'government' (Hat Tip: Bad Blue).
But according to an investigative report published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, there are at least 600 millionaires living in the Gaza Strip. The newspaper report also refutes the claim that the Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of an Israeli blockade.

Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority security commander of the Gaza Strip, further said last week that Hamas was the only party that was laying siege to the Gaza Strip; that it is Hamas, and not Israel or Egypt, that is strangling and punishing the people there.

The Palestinian millionaires, according to the report, have made their wealth thanks to the hundreds of underground tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Informed Palestinian sources revealed that every day, in addition to weapons, thousands of tons of fuel, medicine, various types of merchandise, vehicles, electrical appliances, drugs, medicine and cigarettes are smuggled into the Gaza Strip through more than 400 tunnels. A former Sudanese government official who visited the Gaza Strip lately was quoted as saying that he found basic goods that were not available in Sudan. Almost all the tunnels are controlled by the Hamas government, which has established a special commission to oversee the smuggling business, which makes the Hamas government the biggest benefactor of the smuggling industry.

Palestinians estimate that 25% of the Hamas government's budget comes from taxes imposed on the owners of the underground tunnels.
Aren't you glad that your tax dollars are going to support the 'poor' Gazans?

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UN Ambassador Prosor slams UN report on Gaza Strip

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, has sent a scathing letter to the United Nations Security Council President Gerard Araud, blasting a UN report that claims that Gaza will be 'unlivable' by 2020. This is from the first link.
“This week, Israel’s children started their school year with the all-too-familiar sounds of sirens and explosions, as terrorists in Gaza fired six more rockets into their communities, Prosor wrote.

“While Israel’s schoolchildren were taking cover in bomb shelters, the UN released yet another biased report about Gaza. Apparently, the roar of rockets flying out of Gaza has not reached the deaf ears of the UN agencies that produced this report.”


Prosor said the officials who wrote the document “conveniently failed to mention that Hamas has brutally hijacked Gaza and deliberately targets Israeli civilians in relentless rocket attacks.”

The truth, he wrote, was “plain and simple: Hamas is responsible for the suffering in Gaza.”

Prosor said it was “high time” for the Security Council and other UN bodies to speak out loudly and clearly “against the violence that Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza continue to unleash on the children of our region, Israelis and Palestinians alike.”
Well, don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

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Netanyahu to UN General Assembly to tell the truth about Iran

Prime Minister Netanyahu will make a quick trip to New York between Yom Kippur and Succoth to tell the United Nations General Assembly the truth about Iran.
"In Tehran the representatives of 120 countries listened to a blood libel against Israel and were quiet. That silence needs to stop, therefore I will travel to the UN's General Assembly and in a clear voice speak the truth about the Iranian terrorist regime that represents the biggest threat to world peace," Netanyahu said.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accused "ferocious Zionist wolves" in the "criminal regime" of "organizing state terror" and controlling the media at Thursday's Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran

"Political and military leaders of the usurping Zionist regime have not avoided any crimes," Khamenei said, according to Iran's Mehr news agency.

Denouncing the West's condemnation of Palestinian terrorism, Khamenei said "The media networks which belong to Zionism and many of the Western and mercenary media repeat this great lie in violation of ethical values and journalistic commitment."

Advocating a one-state solution to the conflict Khamenei said "all the Palestinians who have suffered from years of exile should return to their country" and take part in a referendum to choose a political system.
Why does Netanyahu think the UN as a whole will react differently than the 60% of it that is part of the Non-Aligned Movement?

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BDS is not the Australian way

An Australian shoe store was occupied by BDS'ers protesting the fact that the store sells shoes from Israel. Australians are very supportive of the store's owner.
Owner Sally McGregor said activists had occupied her store until told to leave by police. They spent close to three hours outside and threatened to return each weekend. Sales -- already slow in the weak retail environment -- were significantly disrupted.

But a feisty Ms McGregor, a practising podiatrist for 25 years before opening the shop on a mission for better foot health, has no intention of backing down.

"I will not be bullied," she said yesterday.

Member for Oxley and parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer Bernie Ripoll, who has already fought the BDS movement in Brisbane, said yesterday the protest "offended every fibre in my body".

"These people are extremists," he said, warning he would not just stand by in the face of their protest activities.

Mr Ripoll said BDS tactics "are not the Australian way".

"The overwhelming majority of Australians who believe in tolerance and a fair go will no doubt be dubious about the tactics of these extremists."
If only the rest of the world were as clear-headed as the Australians. G'day.

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Thursday, August 30.
1) Why Jeffrey Goldberg is so frustrating

I would prefer to ignore Jeffrey Goldberg. He, in many ways, is simply just another leftist writing about the Middle East. It took him a while before he took issue with J-Street. He believes that "settlers" represent the undoing of Israel. But every once in a while he writes an important column.

The focus of his latest is a Ron Rosenbaum essay, "Holocaust obsessed" It's the new Antisemitic slur. The central question of Rosenbaum's argument is:
Demonstrating that it has become a widely recognized shibboleth on both sides of the discourse over American Israeli relations, Jonathan Rosen, in his astute New York Times Book Review critique of Peter Beinart's Crisis in Zion offered a caustic assessment of those self-proclaimed enlightened moralists who accuse others of a "Holocaust-obsessed" mentality.
Much of the recent use of the phrase has been prompted by people comparing Iran today to Hitler’s Germany. I should mention that I am not necessarily in favor of a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear capacity. I think the issue is insoluble and either way I see a catastrophe coming. But I just don't have patience with those who try to exclude the real historical catastrophe from relevance by denigrating any concern with it as "obsession."
Is it better, then, to be “somewhat interested” in the holocaust, rather than “holocaust-obsessed”? Moderately interested? Temperately troubled? How much is the correct amount of interest one should devote to rapidly receding history? How much should the charge of obsession affect the way we look at the victims of collective hate murders in the present: 9/11, the Oslo slayings and the Sikhs, for instance. Do they qualify for a heightened degree of concern since the killers obviously—had they the means—would have wanted to murder many, many more? How should it affect the way we view exterminationist threats not yet realized?
(I don't agree with Rosenbaum's assessment of "American exceptionalism," but that doesn't detract too much from the overall essay.)

Goldberg applies Rosenbaum's argument to current events in greater detail, Are Jews who fear Iran obsessed with the Holocaust? (h/t Yaacov Lozowick):
Regime apologists will note that Iranian leaders talk about the elimination not of “Israel” -- a word they generally refuse to utter -- but of the “Zionist regime,” which, to the naive and the cynical, implies the replacement of one government with another. This is a pernicious euphemism. Without the “Zionist regime” -- which is to say, the democratically elected government of Israel, its armed forces and security services, and the courts and structures of state -- the Jews who survived the onslaught that “dismantled” their government would face immediate dispossession, and perhaps much worse.
Rosenbaum, an expert on Hitlerian euphemism, told me that one difference between Nazi rhetoric and that of the Iranian regime is that the Iranians’ words are blunter, especially when compared with pre-Kristallnacht Nazi language. Rosenbaum notes, in particular, the Iranian reliance on epidemiological metaphor when describing Israel: This year, the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Israel is “a true cancer tumor on this region that should be cut off.”
Which returns us to Rosenbaum’s central question: Is it obsessive for a group of people who not long ago saw a third of their number slaughtered to worry when the leaders of Iran call Israel a cancerous tumor? Or is it the natural and appropriate response of a people who, conditioned by history, choose to err on the side of caution?
In essence, Rosenbaum's arguing (and Goldberg agrees) that Iran's belligerence isn't simply hyperbole, but a threat with possibly immediate consequences. This week an editorial in the New York Times, Iran's Nuclear Quest argued:
Iran’s continuing activity violates United Nations Security Council demands to halt enrichment, but as one official said, it is “not a game-changer.” The disclosure about the centrifuges is in a report expected soon from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are clearly dangerous to Israel and the region. But the administration argues that Iran is not on the verge of producing a weapon and that the United Nations inspectors will provide warning before it gets to that point.
Washington’s caution is well-placed, especially when set against the overheated statements of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, that time is running out. He has never warmed to the idea of negotiations between Iran and the United States and other major powers. The speculation now is that he is escalating his warnings before the United States election in a cynical gambit to get President Obama’s agreement to act against Iran soon.
Note how dismissive the editors of the New York Times are towards Netanyahu's concerns. To them the invocation of the Holocaust is simply a cover for Netanyahu's unbridled aggression.

A few months ago, Shmuel Rosner wrote Playing the Holocaust Card. Despite the unfortunate title, Rosner concluded:
Netanyahu’s “uncomfortable truth” that Iran intends to launch another Holocaust may, or may not, be correct. But this other disquieting notion surely is: the memory of the Holocaust is too fresh and the price of over-optimism too well known for any Israeli to disregard even the most preposterous scenario.
Though I wish his conclusion were more universal (applied not only to Israel) this is in line with Rosenbaum and Goldberg. And it is also the point that the New York Times ignores.

2) The sound of one hand clapping

A few months ago, Thomas Friedman wrote Watching Elephants Fly, his paean to the victorious Islamists in Egypt:
Here are some quotes from Egyptian women on why they voted Islamist: “I love the Muslim Brotherhood; they are the only honest ones. ... I want good education and clean air to breathe. ... We need proper medical care. ... I want my kids to be properly educated. They can’t find any jobs. ... The Muslim Brotherhood is not just an Islamist party. It is going to help solve all the problems of the country. ... We have to get the youth working and to raise salaries. Education here is only getting worse. ... My biggest fear is lack of security. We sit in our homes — afraid. You are afraid your son won’t be able to go back and forth to school without being kidnapped.”
And there you have Egypt today — a four-way power struggle between the army, the rising Islamist parties, the smaller liberal parties and the secular youth of Tahrir Square. All of them will have a say in how this story plays out. “We want to see a new Egyptian government with new thoughts,” said Hassan. “I am ready to go back into Tahrir Square if I have to.”
Indeed, everyone feels more empowered now. The army has its guns and now runs the country; both the Islamists and the liberals have won electoral mandates; and the secular youth from Tahrir feel empowered by the street — by their now proven ability to mobilize and to fight whenever they see things going awry. Even the silent majority here, called “The Party of the Couch,” feels more empowered, having just voted in high numbers in an election where the votes actually got counted.
His point was that though the Islamists won the parliamentary elections they would honor their mandate and not impose their views on the electorate. In response, Barry Rubin wrote, Friedman cheers as Egyptians are enslaved:
Isn’t Friedman aware that real Egyptian democrats are rushing to get visas and leave the country? That many Christians are getting out and the rest are trembling?
Within hours of the Friedman statement, the Free Egyptians Party — the most “authentic” liberal party in Egypt — declared a boycott of the remaining elections, claiming electoral fraud. Personally, I don’t think electoral fraud was a major factor but, rather, the party is reacting out of hopelessness, knowing that an open democratic society has no chance now in Egypt and that it cannot depend on any help from Western governments, which support its enemies.
The real moderates and democrats are in despair, knowing what they will be living under. And Friedman cheers their oppressors and says there is nothing to worry about. How is this better than becoming a booster for some Latin American military dictator or African tyrant or ruthless Communist oligarchy?
Yesterday, things finally got out of hand and, in response, Friedman wrote Morsi's wrong turn:
I find it very disturbing that one of the first trips by Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will be to attend the Nonaligned Movement’s summit meeting in Tehran this week. Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason the Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran’s people that the world approves of their country’s clerical leadership and therefore they should never, ever, ever again think about launching a democracy movement — the exact same kind of democracy movement that brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt.
This is a good reason to criticize Morsi (and Ban Ki Moon, which Friedman does later in the column). John McCain is impressed:
I always knew if I waited long enough, I'd agree with a Tom Friedman column... "Morsi’s Wrong Turn"
I'm not impressed with the column. It's not that the sentiment is wrong; it's misplaced. Two weeks ago Eric Trager wrote Egypt's New President Moves Against Democracy:
On Sunday, having purged top military officials, Muslim Brotherhood veteran and new President Mohammed Morsi issued a sweeping constitutional declaration. It grants him complete executive and legislative power, plus the authority to select the writers of Egypt's new constitution. Eighteen months after Hosni Mubarak's ouster, Egypt has a new dictator -- and the way in which Mr. Morsi grabbed power says much about what he will do with it.
More important, Mr. Morsi used the Sinai crisis to assume the powers that the junta had undemocratically asserted for itself in a March 2011 constitutional declaration. He thus claimed unprecedented executive power, including complete authority over legislation, public budgets, foreign affairs, pardons, and political and military appointments.
Consider the editors he appointed to lead Egypt's two largest state-run newspapers. The new editor of Al-Ahram is an old Mubarak regime hack who called last year's uprising "foreign funded" and lost his column in 2010 for writing anti-Christian articles. The new editor of Gomhoriya shut down a conference on religious freedoms in 2008 and called for the murder of a well-known Bahai activist in 2009. The new editor of Al-Akhbar recently censored an article that criticized the Brotherhood.
In the past month Morsi has fired those who could have challenged his authority, seized more political power for himself and took greater control over Egypt's media. But none of these actions elicited a complaint from Friedman. Only Morsi's trip to Iran - which in contrast to the concrete steps Morsi took to increase his own power is just atmospherics - brought about Friedman's disapproval. Friedman missed the real story and focused on mere imagery.

3) Mistakes I've made a few

In writing about the Corrie verdict I made a few mistakes. The picture in this article was not photoshopped as I wrote. It was misleading as it didn't reflect the conditions immediately prior to Corrie death.

It's a point worth emphasizing regarding Robert Mackey's ode to Rachel Corrie, Witness to Rachel Corrie’s Death Responds to Israeli Court Ruling Absolving Soldier. If you pay attention, Mackey refers to the photograph of Corrie standing in front of a bulldozer but doesn't reproduce it. Even he must have realized that the picture was inconsistent with the story he wanted to tell. Needless to say, Mackey, an anti-Israel activist takes everything told him by ISM members as the truth.

In addition to making a mistake about the picture, I missed a more important point. Yesterday's New York Times reported:
Ms. Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., joined the International Solidarity Movement in January, 2003, and spent the last weeks of her life in Rafah, the Gaza town that borders Egypt. In a Feb. 27, 2003, e-mail home, she wrote that 600 homes had been destroyed there since the start of the intifada. On March 16 she and seven other American and British activists acted as human shields, dropping to their knees between the bulldozers and a home they believed were marked for destruction. The verdict came more than a year after the last of 15 sessions of oral testimony, which began in March 2010. Some of the witnesses, including the drivers and commanders of two bulldozers that were operating in the area that day, testified from behind a screen to protect their identities. Ms. Corrie’s parents or sister attended every session of the trial, spending about $200,000 on travel, translating about 2,000 pages of documents, and other expenses.
(Emphasis mine)

The judge's decision noted in part:
The two bulldozers and the armored personnel carrier were occupied with the clear military operational task of clearing the land in a dangerous area which posed a significant risk. The force’s action was designed to eliminate the danger of terrorists hiding and to expose hidden explosive devices, both of which were intended to kill IDF soldiers. The act of clearing the land was “a war-related action.”
(Emphasis mine)

The items in bold - that the activists dropped to their knees and that the IDF was seeking to clear explosives from the area - show the degree to which the ISM activists put their lives at risk. (Whether the did so knowingly or not is another question. It is clear that having their activists killed is something that ISM's founders saw as a positive outcome.) I missed the implication of this information.

Lenny Ben David has similar thoughts.

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Rachel Corrie: Murder or suicide?

Lenny Ben David asks some tough questions about Rachel Corrie's death.
We’re all shocked by the horrifying pictures of Corrie lying on the ground, broken and bleeding. But has anyone ever asked what kind of ghoul would snap pictures rather than rush to her aid or run to get help?

Numerous pictures of Corrie standing defiantly in front of an Israeli bulldozer appeared in the media, but upon investigation it transpired that not a single one was from the incident that killed her. Some were taken hours before the fatal incident with a different bulldozer; others were sloppy photoshopped forgeries. Why were there photos after she was injured and not before?

Corrie was not the only member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who was nearly crushed beneath the bulldozer’s maw that day. Indeed, at least two – “Will and Jenny” – were pulled away by their colleagues at the last second.

Immediately after Corrie’s death, several leaders of ISM were interviewed. They didn’t express horror or even sorrow. They spoke of peace soldiers’ sacrifices in battle and the PR benefits of an American woman dying at hands of Israel’s army.

The ghoulish photographer was an ISM member who went by the name of “Joe Smith.” His real name: Joseph Carr, a self-proclaimed anarchist who apparently used aliases to travel in and out of Israel and anti-American hotspots like Fallujah, Iraq. His March 17 affidavit immediately after Corrie’s death suggests a narcissist who speaks more about his trauma than Corrie’s death, and an agitprop specialist who had all of the press contacts and numbers readily at hand to launch a press campaign just 30 minutes after her death.
But Smith/Carr may not have been the only culprit.
Why would the “internationals” risk their lives in such a way? And was Corrie a partner to this treacherous game? Reporter Joshua Hammer explained that on that fateful day the ISM members decided to take their confrontation with the IDF up a notch. They needed to prove themselves to the local population:
An anonymous letter was circulating which referred to Corrie and the other expatriate women in Rafah as “nasty foreign bitches” whom “our Palestinian young men are following around.”

That morning [of Corrie’s death], the ISM team tried to devise a strategy to counteract the letter’s effects. “We all had a feeling that our role was too passive,” said one ISM member. “We talked about how to engage the Israeli military.” That morning, team members made a number of proposals that seemed designed only to aggravate the problem. …“The idea was to more directly challenge the Israeli military dominance using our international status,” said the ISMer.
One of the ISM founders, Thom Saffold, admitted to The Washington Post the day after Corrie’s death that “it’s possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked.”

Saffold continued with astounding callousness: “But we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.”

That wasn’t the only statement indicating that Corrie was cannon fodder for the ISM. Another of ISM’s founders, George Rishmawi, told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2004:
When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore. But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.
Another ISMer in Gaza committed to writing similar sentiments in a letter home in February 2003:
You just can’t imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well aware that your experience is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen.” (emphasis added)
The author was Rachel Corrie, one month before she died. Did she believe that she should be that unarmed US citizen? Did the Gaza ISM cadre believe that they had to prove to the Palestinian locals that they were as committed to the cause as the Palestinian shihads blowing themselves up on Israeli buses?
Read the whole thing. Related thoughts here.

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Video: Shia Muslims protest against Hezbullah

A large number of Lebenese citizens are speaking out against Hezbollah, the terrorist group that controls southern Lebanon and refuses to disarm. As Hezbollah continues to support the Assad regime's war crimes a short distance away in Syria, many Shi'a Muslims -- Hezbollah's base, that is -- are protesting Hassan Nasrallah's behavior.

Here's a report from al-Arabiya English.

Let's go to the videotape.

So if Israel attacks Iran, Hezbullah attacks Israel, and Israel pounds Lebanon, will Lebanese - including Shia - turn on Hezbullah? Hmmm.

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Video: Dirty Barry v. Dirty Harry

Dear me.... It's Grandma Jan and Jihad Kitty's latest video, Dirty Barry v. Dirty Harry - November 6, 2012.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Jack W).

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Should Ban Ki-Moon be in Iran?

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is in Tehran attending the Non-Aligned Movement summit. He actually used the occasion to blast Iran for its threats against Israel and its Holocaust denial.
"I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another, or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust," Ban said in his speech to a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in the Iranian capital.

"Claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold," he added.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and this month described Israel as a "cancerous tumor." In 2005 he caused uproar by being quoted as saying that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
Moon's behavior reminds me of the behavior of Columbia University President Lee Bollinger in 2007. Bollinger, you will recall, invited Ahmadinejad to speak on campus and then asked him some embarrassing questions.
Bollinger’s performance, however skillful, was illusory and narcissistic, precisely because he and his admirers forget that human ideals require the force of political and military institutions to guarantee their relevance. He prefers to think, no doubt, that it is his own idealism—and his knack for projecting it—that is defeating his victim. If Bollinger had to live as Iranian citizens do, he would know that idealism alone does not suffice. Any number of Iran’s jailed pro-democracy dissidents might be just as eloquent as Bollinger, but we can’t hear their voices. They lack the comfort of his illusions.

At Columbia, Bollinger was in the position of an effete mob boss in any number of gangster movies: slapping his victim around while the poor guy’s arms are pinned back. Ahmadinejad is no hero, and he deserves no sympathy. But that shouldn’t stop us from regarding Bollinger as a weakling, and being rather disgusted by the entire spectacle.
Evelyn Gordon writes that even Hamas has more moral sense than Ban (Hat Tip: Stephen D).
While Hamas was invited to attend the NAM summit by Iran, it ultimately declined. This decision followed a public threat by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that if Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh went, he would stay home. But senior Hamas officials say the desire to prevent an open rift with Abbas was only a secondary consideration. Their number-one reason for staying home was that they didn’t want to be seen as supporting Iran at a time when Iran is openly supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s slaughter of his own people by supplying him with arms and even troops.

Clearly, no such qualms troubled Ban or any of the other high-profile delegates, most of whom are very senior officials of their own countries. By attending the summit, they sent the clearest possible message: Assad is free to continue slaughtering his people (the death toll has already topped 19,000, with no end in sight). And Iran is free to continue helping him do so without suffering any consequences whatsoever: It will still be treated as an honored and valued member of the international community.

So now we know that even Hamas has a red line: Murdering 19,000 fellow Sunni Muslims is beyond the pale. But for Ban and the other 120 delegates, there are no red lines: Mass murder is fine and dandy.

Actually, this shouldn’t come as a surprise; both the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement have shown many times before that they have no moral red lines. But here’s what is surprising: that so many Western countries–including all of Europe and, under Barack Obama, the U.S. as well–nevertheless continue to treat the UN as a source of moral authority, without whose imprimatur no international action is justified.
Ban should have stayed home. Any of his statements could have been made just as effectively from the UN's podium. And if he had stayed home, maybe some of those 120 nations would have kept their delegates home too.

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Meet 'rabbis for Obama' member Lynn Gottlieb

This is an example of the kind of 'rabbi' that's supporting the reelection of Barack Hussein Obama (Hat Tip: Jack W).

The problem is that the world thinks that this 'rabbi' is representative of authentic Jewish thought.

The bigger problem is that too many Jews think that this 'rabbi' is representative of authentic Jewish thought.

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Welcome to Michiganistan, where a burnt Koran is worth more than a beaten Jew

Zachary Tennen said two college-aged males asked if he was Jewish and when he answered yes, the two men assaulted him. Zachary told police the two men then “stapled me in the back side of my bottom teeth, starting in my gums and going upwards.”
Tennen, a journalism sophomore who loves basketball, is recovering from his injuries, but he had this to say.

“I’m really, really upset in a few ways,” Zachary Tennen said. “First of all it is a terrible experience, physically and also mentally to know someone would do something like this,” he said before his surgery, despite the difficulties for him to talk.


East Lansing Police appear to be skeptical and are denying that this was a hate crime. They were not nearly as reticent when it came to a burnt Koran left outside the Islamic Center of East Lansing.
The East Lansing Police Department is seeking the publics help to find who is responsible for burning and desecrating a Koran. The incident happened on September 11. It was found at the front door of the Islamic Center of East Lansing. The department is offering $10,000 for any information that would lead to the identification and prosecution of those responsible for this act.
It would appear that a burnt Koran merits a $10,000 reward, but a beaten Jewish college student can be safely ignored by the East Lansing Police.
Michigan is sounding more and more like a country in Europe.

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Overnight music video

Here's Yaakov Shwekey with Al Naharoth Bavel (On the rivers of Babylon), which is from Psalm 137.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, August 29.
The Corrie Verdict

The New York Times reported in Court Rules Israel Is Not at Fault in Death of American Activist:
Ms. Corrie, a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., joined the International Solidarity Movement in January, 2003, and spent the last weeks of her life in Rafah, the Gaza town that borders Egypt. In a Feb. 27, 2003, e-mail home, she wrote that 600 homes had been destroyed there since the start of the intifada. On March 16 she and seven other American and British activists acted as human shields, dropping to their knees between the bulldozers and a home they believed were marked for destruction. The verdict came more than a year after the last of 15 sessions of oral testimony, which began in March 2010. Some of the witnesses, including the drivers and commanders of two bulldozers that were operating in the area that day, testified from behind a screen to protect their identities. Ms. Corrie’s parents or sister attended every session of the trial, spending about $200,000 on travel, translating about 2,000 pages of documents, and other expenses.
“A lawsuit is not a substitute for a legal investigation, which we never had,” Ms. Corrie’s mother, Cindy Corrie, said at Tuesday’s news conference. “The diplomatic process between the United States and Israel failed us.” The United States Embassy, which sent a representative to the oral-testimony sessions, declined to comment on the verdict. In June 2004, a representative of the secretary of state wrote to the Corrie family saying the United States agreed with them that the military’s investigation was not “thorough, credible and transparent.”
In Washington, the State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said, “We understand the family’s disappointment with the outcome of the trial,” and noted that American diplomats “have worked with the family all through this process” and that they would continue to do so. She declined to discuss the remarks that Ms. Corrie’s family attributed to the American ambassador that the Israeli investigation had not been transparent. But on Tuesday, Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said in a statement that the United States government “has been noticeably absent, and its silence is deafening,” calling Washington “complicit in compounding the crime.” She also said that the trial had revealed “overwhelming proof that Rachel was deliberately murdered” and said that “Palestinians as a whole will continue to love Rachel and cherish her memory.”
Much of the article is devoted to Corrie's posthumous fame and the grief of her family and supporters and little to the evidence or the legal reasoning of the court. In Context has a comparison between two points reported in the New York Times and what actually was presented in the report. Though not related to the New York Times story, CiF Watch looks at a photograph of Rachel Corrie and concludes that it was photoshopped.

And while this has nothing to do with what was reported, the New York Times chose a picture of Corrie with a reflective pose. But a different picture, specifically the news photo used by Front Page, would tell a much different story. Certainly, it tells a different story from the narrative that the New York Times presents here.

David Bernstein writes at the Volokh Conspiracy about Poor coverage of the Rachel Corrie verdict:
I’ve been reading different accounts of an Israeli court’s decision to deny a judgment for Rachel Corrie’s parents. Corrie, you may remember, was the young American activist who was struck by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza while protesting trying to prevent housing demolitions during the first intifada [UPDATE: more precisely, she intentionally went to a closed military zone and put herself in between a military bulldozer and a house it was trying to demolish; see how easy it is to make a pretty reckless action on her part sound like she was just quietly protesting on the sidelines; and I didn't even do it on purpose.]. I’ve come up with a pretty clear dividing line for sound coverage and poor coverage. Sound coverage at the very least mentions that Corrie was working for the International Solidarity Movement. Even if the story doesn’t give any further details, a bit of Googling would quickly reveal that the ISM is a far-leftist organization that supports Palestinian terrorism, has served as cover for terrorists, and encourages its participants to insert themselves as dangerous situations where they may suffer “martyrdom.” Consider this: “Less than two weeks after Corrie’s death, ISM members allegedly tried to prevent Israeli troops from searching their office in Jenin in the West Bank. When the soldiers forced their way in, they discovered Shadi Sukia, a leading member of Islamic Jihad.”
(See In Context, cited above, regarding the house. Still Bernstein's critique is well worth reading in its entirety.)
Brendan O'Neill writes at the Telegraph in the Secular Beatification of Rachel Corrie ...:
The transformation of Corrie’s life and death into a black-and-white morality tale – featuring a well-off white American who was pure of heart, poor little brown people who have no hope, and a Zionist entity that is supremely evil – sums up the boneheadedness of modern-day Palestinian solidarity. There was a time when supporting Palestine meant looking upon Palestinians as a people capable of governing their own lives, even of running their own state, free from the meddling or bossing-about of outsiders. Now, Palestinian solidarity is all about treating Palestinians as the ultimate victims, as helpless, hapless, sad-eyed creatures who need decent Westerners, ideally well-educated ones brought up in Amnesty-supporting households, to come over and “save” them, in a not dissimilar way to how Bible-wielding white folk once tried to saved the savages of Africa.
Palestinian solidarity has become creepily anthropological. It increasingly treats Palestinians, not as a people who simply need more political independence, but as a threatened tribe that must be protected from further harm by “human shields” from the enlightened west. Decked out in Arafat-style keffiyehs (a PC form of blacking up), and possessed of a conviction that it falls to white-skinned, iPhone-armed westerners to expose Israel’s “genocidal” crimes to the world media, solidarity activists who travel to Palestinian territories are becoming more and more like secular versions of the crusaders of old. They are effectively going to Palestine to find themselves, to try to give meaning to their potentially shallow lives through imagining that they can “save” an entire people and halt a “genocide” by standing in front of a tank or writing some blog posts about how tragic are the lives of cute Palestinian children. It is a peculiar form of solidarity that reduces an entire foreign people to the level of child-like victims who need the likes of St Rachel to save them.
Tom Gross recalls the forgotten Rachels:
But other Rachels have lost their lives as well – Jewish victims of the Intifada. Does anyone remember them? In Britain, where the play is being staged, how many people even know the name of Rachel Thaler, a British citizen who was murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber in an Israeli shopping mall at the age of 16?
“Not a single British journalist has ever interviewed me or mentioned Rachel’s death,” her mother Ginette Thaler told me three and a half years after her murder. Below, an article of mine published in the weekly British magazine, The Spectator, explores these phenomena and also marks the first time Rachel Thaler’s name has been mentioned in the mainstream British media. Earlier, in April 2005, I wrote another piece on “The Forgotten Rachels” for The Jerusalem Post, to mark the play’s initial staging.
So has the Muqata.

Other roundups of material are at Honest Reporting, Meryl Yourish and Elder of Ziyon.

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