Grossly overpaid and overrated ADL’s Abe Foxman

August 18, 2011

The Anti-Defamation League’s Flat-Footed, Off-Key Shouter

Redacted from an open letter to the head of the ADL, denouncing his condemnations of those who see Sharia as a threat to American values and liberty.

Grossly overpaid and overrated ADL’s Abe Foxman

Alyssa A. Lappen

Dear Mr. Foxman,

From Rabbi Samuel of Babylonia to Rabbi Gershom of Germany, scholars throughout Jewish history taught the people to adapt to their host nations — and never demand the reverse. Rabbis also prized those students blessed with generosity and sufficient wisdom and humility to admit their errors and apologize to injured parties. No one is perfect, of course, but they correctly tutored Jewish men and women that those trying to achieve these charitable goals (among others) would at least reach goodness.

Alas, as a native of Vilna, Lithuania and child survivor of the Holocaust, none could have shouted more obstreperously than did your Aug. 10 Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) op-ed, headlined “Shout down the Sharia myth makers.”
Leaders do not shout. They speak, listen and continue to learn. Through off-key cheer-leading, you merely highlighted your own ignorance.

“The separation of church and state embodied in U.S. and state constitutions,” you wrote, renders completely unnecessary, proposed “anti-Sharia bills” in several states. Our constitution already “prohibits our courts from applying or considering religious law in any way that would constitute government advancement of or entanglement with religious law.”

Obviously, it would contradict every bedrock American principle to force any U.S. resident — whether citizen, legal resident, or illegal alien — to unwillingly comply with religious law. On this we agree. There, our agreement ends.

For you also allege that the bills — addressing recently exposed U.S. state court outrages imposing foreign laws that infringed upon constitutional law and universal human rights alike — were based not on reality or actual decisions. The bills rest on “prejudice and ignorance,” you claim, advanced through “myth making … about the threat of Sharia” in the U.S. These ills, you further assert, have effected “camouflaged bigotry” against Islam and Muslims.

Theoretically, American courts should strictly adhere to U.S. constitutional law concerning any and all religious practices, edicts or canons. But the record could not be more clear: they too often err on the side of foreign law — and make no apology.

Criminal defendants asked U.S. courts, as I noted to you in March 2011, to substitute Islamic laws in lieu of domestic statutes. In Massachusetts, a federal court denied the motion of jihad-financiers to excuse their terror-funding tax fraud via First Amendment religious freedom guarantees, which they asserted to protect their rights to provide Islamically-mandated “charity.”

Based on sharia, however, a New Jersey court did absolve wife beating and rape before that state’s appeals court reversed its ruling. And a Florida court similarly ordered parties in a civil dispute to follow Islamic, not U.S. law.

Face it, Mr. Foxman: for decades, U.S. courts have also miserably failed Muslim women and children on foundational precepts. On Mar. 24, 1986, for example, Laila Malak lost her 14-year old son and 9-year-old daughter when California’s appeals bench enforced a Beirut sharia custody ruling — given without her knowledge or participation, and allowing only 15 days from her post-facto notification to mount what would almost assuredly have been a futile “appeal.”

Sharia courts always give custody of minor children to fathers, a fact mentioned in footnote 2 to the California’s appeals bench decision. Married to Abdul in 1970 in Beirut, Laila in 1976 fled its bloody religious war with him and their son Fadi, and bore Ruha Jan. 25, 1977, in Abu Dhabi.

In July 1982, without Abdul’s permission (and therefore against Islamic law), Laila moved with her children to her brother’s San Jose home, where she filed for a divorce and custody. Santa Clara county superior court denied three attempts by Abdul to enforce a Nov. 1982 Abu Dhabi sharia order that gave him custody, without due process, Laila’s knowledge or court consideration of the children’s “best interests.”

Sharia courts are not “similar in nature” to U.S. courts, Mr. Foxman. As strictly Islamic judiciaries — neither secular nor civil — these dictatorial forums often force religious law on unwilling victims without recourse. Likely, Laila Malak has never seen her kids again. By contrast, Jewish law would not allow this; nor would a Jewish Beit Din (religious court) ask that its decision replace U.S. criminal, civil or secular law.

Since the 1970s, in dozens of similar cases, American courts nationwide applied sharia in lieu of constitutional laws. Albeit incomplete, a review of state courts and appellate benches produced manifold instances of “unconstitutional application of foreign and religious law in our judicial system.”

Whatever their total, one cannot accurately describe cases unearthed thus far, as “a proverbial solution in search of a problem,” as you want us to believe. For the women and children affected they were life-destroying cataclysms.

No American, nor any Jewish leader, should accept that. You head an institution founded to defend and protect the Jewish people from anti-Semitism. Mr. Foxman, in Islamic nations, sharia laws implement institutional discrimination against Jewish people and other non-Muslims. Sharia demands and requires non-Muslim subservience. Who are you to defend it? How dare you?

Sincerely yours,

Alyssa A. Lappen
Investigative journalist and poet

Sen. Patrick Leahy declares his mis-guided anti-Israel policy recommendations

Zionist Org. of America criticizes Sen. Leahy for Seeking Cut in U.S. Aid to Elite Israel Defense Forces.

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=1303

But Leahy supported increased aid to the Palestinian Authority

Redacted from a press release by Morton Klein, Pres. ZOA
August 17, 2011

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for promoting a bill that seeks to cut from the U.S. foreign assistance legislation for 2012 the component from U.S. military aid to Israel that is earmarked for three elite Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units – the Israeli Navy’s Shayetet 13 unit, the undercover Duvdevan unit and the Israel Air Force’s Shaldag unit. These units have been on the front lines protecting Israeli citizens in counter-terrorist operations, hunting down terrorists and securing Israel’s borders.

In contrast, Senator Leahy has never called for reducing aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), despite the PA’s continuing failure to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorists groups, end the promotion of hatred and violence against Israel and its recently signed unity agreement with Hamas. In fact, he has supported increased aid to the PA.

The ZOA has noted that Senator Leahy’s effort to defund these IDF units has emerged under pressure in his home state from anti-Israel activists seeking to criminalize Israeli self-defense. These activists have sought to have Israel declared guilty of human rights abuses last year when the Israeli Navy’s Shayetet 13 unit lawfully intercepted the Gaza-bound Turkish ship Mavi Mamara to ensure it was free of weaponry. Pro-Hamas operatives and other extremists on board carried out a pre-planned assault upon the Israeli boarding party, leading to the death of nine of the assailants in the resulting clash.

Leahy, who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee’s sub-committee on foreign operations, was the principle sponsor of a 1997 bill prohibiting the United States from providing military assistance or funding to foreign military units suspected of human rights abuses or war crimes.

In recent years, Senator Leahy has been sharply critical of Israel, including of Operation Cast Lead, the counter-offensive launched against Hamas in Gaza following thousands of rockets fired into southern Israel over preceding years. Leahy claimed that Israel had a right to self-defense but then criticized Israel merely for imposing a blockade on Gaza, saying that it had failed to change Hamas policies.

He did not ask whether the blockade’s effort to reduce the flow of weaponry to Hamas had been successful. Leahy also claimed that, “The blockade was not coupled with an effective strategy to address the underlying causes of the conflict.” Leahy found Hamas actions “deplorable” but did not say that Hamas needs to “address the underlying causes” of the conflict by ceasing to be a genocide-seeking terrorist movement calling in its Charter for the world-wide murder of Jews.

Unsurprisingly, Leahy has become very close to J Street, the extremist, left-wing lobby which falsely claims to be pro-Israel while having urged Obama not to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the UN, refused to support Israel’s 2008-9 defensive military operations against Hamas in Gaza and which has lobbied against sanctions on Iran.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Senator Leahy has shown in recent years a propensity to blame Israel for the Arab war on Israel so it is therefore perhaps not surprising that he has now sought to penalize Israel for defending itself, as in the case of the Mavi Mamara affair.

“Now, Senator Leahy has added fuel to the fire by seeking to penalize the brave, professional Israeli military forces that actually perform the dangerous and vital task of protecting Israeli civilians, the first duty of an Israeli government. He seeks to defund parts of the IDF on the basis of allegations of human rights abuses by long-term, hardened, anti-Israel extremists.

“The IDF is not only the indispensible defense force of Israel, it is also an amazingly valuable U.S. ally whose combat experience, innovation and intelligence-gathering have been of immense value to the United States and the U.S. armed forces. The Israeli forces that have had the most experience of dealing with ruthless, blood-thirsty terrorists are precisely the elite units that Senator Leahy has specifically sought to defund.

Great News on Gov. Rick Perry’s Foreign Policy Record

Redacted from article by Reid Smith
The American Spectator, August 11, 2011

Great News on Gov. Rick Perry’s Foreign Policy Record

Talking the Hawk: Regarding Rick Perry’s Foreign Policy

As we all know, this is a big week for GOP contenders. Thursday night’s debate and Saturday’s straw poll are important indicators for the media and Republican establishment as a sneak preview of their future candidate through the prism of perception. Of course, the straw poll is rigged through a stilted system of participatory imbursement — don’t forget Mitt Romney​’s hollow victory in the 2007 Ames ballot — but a win’s a win and one’s performance can fundamentally make or break a candidate’s media image.

Of course, one big name is conspicuously absent from the grand old party held this week in the Hawkeye State. With a campaign rollout planned for South Carolina, New Hampshire and Texas, Rick Perry​ threatens to overshadow the traditional kickstart to the Republican nomination. It’s rumored that the longtime Texas governor may augur up his presidential intentions in South Carolina on Saturday, before formally declaring next week in his home state. Needless to say, whoever comes out on top in the straw poll is bound to share headlines with Governor Perry​.

With Perry’s candidacy looming, some of us international relations wonks have begun to take note of his foreign policy positions. As governor, Perry has been quite the internationalist, taking his traveling sales-pitch to China, Mexico, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Qatar, France and Sweden to support free-market, free trade investment in the great state of Texas.

In a 2009 debate against primary opponent Kay Bailey Hutchinson​, Perry plainly stated that his faith required him to support Israel. This latter statement was bolstered by his trip to the Holy Land where he accepted the Defender of Jerusalem Award before breaking bread with then-President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He put his medal where his mouth is on June 28, 2011, when he wrote Attorney General Eric Holder encouraging him to prosecute Americans who would participate in the “unacceptable provocation” of a Gaza Flotilla against Israel.

Now, Foreign Policy is reporting that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has introduced Perry to a cabal of would-be national security strategists including former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith, former NSC expert William Luti, former Assistant U.S. Attorney and National Review columnist Andrew McCarthy​, the Heritage Foundation’s Asia expert Peter Brookes​, and former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalizad. Rumsfeld’s office confirmed the group gathered last week in Austin to provide Perry with his first national security briefing as a potential presidential candidate.

As governor, Perry has suggested the deployment of American troops to Mexico to control drug violence and proceeded with the execution of a Mexican citizen, despite impassioned requests from their government, President Obama​, the International Court of Justice and former President George W. Bush to stay the sentence.

Understood in context of the hard-line stance he’s taken on matters south of the Rio Grande, his national security team suggests Perry’s shaping up as the traditional defense hawk many conservative have been clamoring for in an age of Obama.

Reid Smith has worked as a research associate specializing on U.S. policy in the Middle East and as a political speechwriter. A doctoral student and graduate associate with the University of Delaware’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, he currently writes for the Foreign Policy Association.

Obama’s hollow claim of commitment to Israel’s security

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=1184

By MORTON KLEIN AND DANIEL MANDEL
08/01/2011

For a year, Obama prohibited any new US sanctions to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons – a looming existential threat to both Israel and the US.

Is President Barack Obama committed to Israel’s security? Reassuring bromides to that effect in his recent speeches are nullified by specific statements that spell out dangerous Israeli concessions and disregard for Israeli vital interests. Worse, the administration’s wider Middle East policies further denude those commitments of meaning.

Thus, when Obama said Israel must have secure, recognized borders “different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” many missed the point that this means little, when the new borders are to be “based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps” and therefore be virtually indistinguishable from those lines. Indeed, with Palestinians unlikely to agree to any swaps, Obama gave the Palestinians a veto over any continued Israel presence beyond the pre-1967 lines.

Moreover, Obama’s unprecedented call for a Palestinian state to have “permanent Palestinian borders with… Jordan” would require Israel ceding the Jordan Valley, whose retention successive Israeli governments have regarded as vital–another first for a US president.

Obama has also become the first US president to suggest that issues of “territory and security” be agreed upon first, before proceeding to negotiations on all other matters, including Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants.

Upholding Israel’s basic security would also mean repudiating the repatriation of the refugees and their descendants. Bush did so in his May 2004 letter; Obama has not. On the contrary, he has supported the so-called Saudi peace plan, which demands not only a return to the 1967 lines, but also the return of all refugees and their descendants.

In May, Obama reiterated that the US “will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and their rhetoric.” But he never has – nor does he now.

When, in August 2009, Fatah held a conference in Bethlehem, reaffirming its refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, glorifying terrorists, insisting on the so-called ‘right of return,’ and rejecting an end of claims in any future peace agreement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton astonishingly claimed that the conference showed “a broad consensus supporting negotiations with Israel and the two-state solution.”

When in 2010, the PA named a Ramallah square after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, Clinton falsely claimed that this ceremony was initiated by a “Hamas-run municipality.” Refusing to identify the PA as responsible, Obama has not penalized it.

INDEED, FAR from holding Palestinians accountable, Obama has consistently rewarded them, increasing aid to almost $1 billion per year. A Palestinian Media Watch report just presented to the US Congress documents that, in May 2011 alone, the PA paid $5,207,000 in salaries to Palestinians in Israeli jails, including blood-soaked terrorists. Last year the US provided $225 million to the general Palestinian budget from which these salaries are paid.

If Obama was genuine about holding the PA accountable, he would be demanding the disbanding of Fatah’s own Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – a US- recognized terrorist group. He would demand the abrogation of the PA’s unity agreement with Hamas (which calls for a genocide of Jews) as a precondition of any future talks. He has done neither.

It is also difficult to imagine what conception of American and Israeli security interests led Obama in January to ditch Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and call for political “transition… now” when protests erupted in Cairo. Still less clear is why his administration spoke immediately of involving “non-secular actors” – a clear allusion to the Muslim Brotherhood – given its virulent hostility to the US and Israel. Now, Obama has legitimized the Brotherhood by initiating contacts with it.

THE NET result is that Egypt is on the road from lukewarm ally and peace-maker to a dependable enemy – one to which Obama has announced the sale of 125 state-of-the-art M1A1 Abrams tanks. It is also disturbing that Obama has not pressured Egypt to close its Gaza border at Rafah, whose recent opening has enabled the flow of weaponry into Hamas-run Gaza.

For a year, Obama prohibited any new US sanctions to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons – a looming existential threat to both Israel and the US. Indeed, further measures which must be taken to stop Iran is precisely what Obama left untouched in his recent speeches.

Thus Obama’s words and deeds not only fail to match his stated commitment to Israel’s security – they negate it.

Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (London: Routledge, 2004).

The Budget Crisis as in Ancient Rome

Republican Virtue

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=1129

BY WILLIAM KRISTOL, Editor

The Weekly Standard
AUG 1, 2011, VOL. 16, NO. 43

Tempora, mores! O Cicero, (MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO, 106 BC–43 BC) if thou couldst be with us now! The corruption of our age is approaching that of your own! Who today speaks for the ancient Roman—and modern American—virtues of civic duty and personal responsibility?

Here’s who: the House Republicans.

The federal government has a problem. It’s hitting a debt ceiling limit passed into law last year by the Democratic Congress, and signed by President Obama. It’s doing so because of appropriations passed by that same Democratic Congress, and signed by that same Democratic president. Have the president and Senate Democrats proposed any legislation to deal with this problem? No.

House Republicans, on the other hand, did pass a budget earlier this year. Unfortunately, federal spending has gotten so out of control that even if the Republican budget were to become law, the federal government would have to borrow more money for several years to come. So House Republicans last week stepped up to the plate (to use a metaphor that might be unfamiliar to Cicero).

Their constituents hate the idea of voting to raise the debt ceiling. But the House GOP did what had to be done. They passed H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011. The legislation contains a debt ceiling increase and accompanies it with serious spending cuts, restraints, and the promise of a forthcoming vote on a constitutional amendment to balance the budget by capping spending. The House Republicans (and five Democrats) did their duty, in accordance with the procedures of Congress and in the light of day, proposing and passing legislation that their fellow citizens could read, debate, and judge.

And they are the only ones who’ve done their duty. Having failed to pass a budget for two years, Senate Democrats have done nothing to deal with the debt limit. President Obama has in effect withdrawn his February budget proposal, and hasn’t submitted a new one.

So the morally bankrupt leaders of our fiscally bankrupt government meet feverishly behind closed doors, out of sight of the public they’re supposed to represent, to figure out how to paper over the mess they’ve created. Gangs of senators occasionally emerge from their hideouts to announce deals that would raise taxes and gut defense in response to a crisis caused by domestic spending and entitlements.

The gangs roam the halls of the Capitol, invading television studios in order to terrorize the citizenry with the prospect of default and mayhem. They then retreat to their lairs, while Beltway insiders shower them with praise and scorn actual legislation passed by the House in accord with the norms of democratic government.

Enough! No more gangs! No more deals! Gangster government is unworthy of a democratic republic. We elect leaders, not dealers. These elected officials are responsible for the fiscal future of the United States. They aren’t negotiating with foreign enemies, when secrecy is often necessary. They aren’t authorizing covert intelligence operations, which have to be planned behind closed doors. They are supposed to be accountable to the people—much as many of our elites may resent that fact.

And so: All honor to the House Republicans. They refuse to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare how fiscal solvency and budgetary probity can be restored.

Meanwhile, liberal elites (and some conservative ones) tremble at the prospect of an honest debate on how to restore sound and responsible government. So, on July 22 Senate Democrats voted, 51-46, to table the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. No amendments were proposed or debated. No alternatives were offered. Democrats now stand before us as the party that, when faced with a deadline and a crisis, vote to .  .  . table.

For the next year and a half, real progress on the budget will be limited by the president and the Senate majority we have. The debt limit presumably will be increased, and the best House Republicans may be able to do is to insist on some spending cuts, prevent defense from being gutted, and keep tax burdens from rising.

Still: All honor to the House Republicans, who had the coolness, foresight, and capacity to introduce and pass legislation that is a rebuke and a stumbling block to the gangs of senators and the secret dealmakers. And to lay the groundwork for victory for the forces of limited and responsible government in 2012.

Obama, his appointees and George Soros conspire to pervert US Constitution to Socialism

http://israel-commentary.org/?p=990

More White House Ties to Soros-Funded Organization

By Aaron Klein
The Jewish Press, July 8 2011

Still more White House officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, have ties to an effort funded by billionaire George Soros to push for a new, “progressive” U.S. Constitution.

This column previously reported that President Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, maintained extensive ties to Soros’s funding, particularly with regard to a movement that openly seeks to create a “progressive” consensus on what the U.S. Constitution “should” provide by the year 2020.

Now, it has emerged that Lisa Brown, Obama’s staff secretary, served as executive director of the Soros-funded American Constitution Society, ACS, a progressive legal organization that was behind the Constitution scheme.

Also, Holder has been closely tied to the ACS, serving on the group’s board of directors and even keynoting its 10th anniversary national convention earlier this month. In 2008, Holder also keynoted its convention. At that event, he reportedly urged young lawyers to get involved in the liberal legal network, saying America would soon be “run by progressives.”

In April 2005, Sunstein opened up a conference at Yale Law School entitled “The Constitution in 2020,” which sought to change the nature and interpretation of the Constitution by that year. The event was sponsored by Soros’s Open Society Institute and the Center for American Progress, which is led by John Podesta, who served as co-chair of Obama’s presidential transition team. Podesta’s center is said to be highly influential in helping to craft White House policy.

The Yale event on the Constitution was also sponsored by the ACS, which has received more that $2.2 million from Soros’s Open Society since 2002.

Sunstein himself has been pushing for a new socialist-style U.S. bill of rights that, among other things, would constitutionally require the government to offer each citizen a “useful” job in the farms or industries of the nation. According to Sunstein’s new bill of rights, the U.S. government can also intercede to ensure every farmer can sell his product for a good return. It also is granted power to act against “unfair competition” and monopolies in business.

All this and more is contained in Sunstein’s 2004 book, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’S Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever. In the work, Sunstein advanced the idea that welfare rights, including some controversial inceptions, be granted by the state.

Ronnie Reagan’s advice to next Republican Presidential Candidate

Reagan Was Right

BY THE EDITORS, The Weekly Standard
JUN 27, 2011, VOL. 16, NO. 39

We at The Weekly Standard have had plenty of advice for Republicans on how to criticize (and occasionally to support) Obama administration foreign and defense policies. But as the GOP presidential campaign heats up, it seems that some candidates are more tempted to imitate the foreign policy orientation of George McGovern or John Kerry than of Ronald Reagan. So we thought it might be useful to remind them of what Reagan said when he took on and defeated a Democratic incumbent.

Here, then, are excerpts from Ronald Reagan’s acceptance speech to the 1980 Republican Convention:

…”When we move from domestic affairs and cast our eyes abroad, we see an equally sorry chapter on the record of the present administration. .  .  .

America’s defense strength is at its lowest ebb in a generation. .  .  .

Our .  .  . allies, looking nervously at the growing menace from the East, turn to us for leadership and fail to find it. .  .  .

Adversaries large and small test our will and seek to confound our resolve, but we are given weakness when we need strength; vacillation when the times demand firmness.

The Carter (Obama) administration lives in the world of make-believe. Every day, drawing up a response to that day’s problems, troubles, regardless of what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow.

The rest of us, however, live in the real world. It is here that disasters are overtaking our nation without any real response from Washington. .  .  .

I’ll tell you where I stand. I do not favor a peacetime draft or registration, but I do favor pay and benefit levels that will attract and keep highly motivated men and women in our volunteer forces and an active reserve trained and ready for an instant call in case of an emergency.

There may be a sailor at the helm of the ship of state, but the ship has no rudder. Critical decisions are made at times almost in comic fashion, but who can laugh? Who was not embarrassed when the administration handed a major propaganda victory in the United Nations to the enemies of Israel, our staunch Middle East ally? .  .  .

Who does not feel a growing sense of unease as our allies, facing repeated instances of an amateurish and confused administration, reluctantly conclude that America is unwilling or unable to fulfill its obligations as the leader of the free world?

Who does not feel rising alarm when the question in any discussion of American foreign policy is no longer, “Should we do something?” but “Do we have the capacity to do anything?”

The administration which has brought us to this state is seeking your endorsement for four more years of weakness, indecision, mediocrity, and incompetence. No American should vote until he or she has asked, is the United States stronger and more respected now than it was three-and-a-half years ago? Is the world today a safer place in which to live? .  .  .

We are not a warlike people. Quite the opposite. We always seek to live in peace. We resort to force infrequently and with great reluctance—and only after we have determined that it is absolutely necessary. .  .  . But neither can we be naïve or foolish. .  .  . We know only too well that war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak. It is then that tyrants are tempted. .  .  .

Let our friends and those who may wish us ill take note: The United States has an obligation to its citizens and to the people of the world never to let those who would destroy freedom dictate the future course of human life on this planet. I would regard my election as proof that we have renewed our resolve to preserve world peace and freedom. This nation will once again be strong enough to do that. .  .  .

Reagan’s unapologetic defense of American strength is as timely today as it was three decades ago. Which Republican candidate will make a name for himself (or herself) by delivering a suitably updated version of this message?

Martin Luther King Would Be Repulsed By Black Anti-Semitism

By Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King’s personal attorney and adviser, and Joel Engel

The Jewish Press, May 10, 2011

Earlier this month, at a Los Angeles event for the national African-American fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi, the keynote speaker launched into an anti-Semitic tirade – directed at the fraternity’s guest of honor. The shocking episode shows just how far we’ve strayed from the original vision of the civil rights movement – and how far we have yet to travel to realize that vision.

The guest of honor, Daphna Ziman, an Israeli-American woman, had just received the Tom Bradley Award for generous philanthropy and public service. But instead of praise, the Rev. Eric Lee berated her. “The Jews,” he claimed, “have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us.” (Mr. Lee would later apologize to Ms. Ziman.)

It was bad enough that the event took place on April 4, the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Even more galling, Mr. Lee is the president-CEO of the L.A. branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation – the very civil-rights organization co-founded by the slain civil-rights leader.

Martin would have been repelled by Mr. Lee’s remarks. I was Martin’s lawyer and one of his closest advisers, and I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism.

“There isn’t anyone in this country more likely to understand our struggle than Jews,” Martin told me. “Whatever progress we’ve made so far as a people, their support has been essential.”

Martin was disheartened that so many blacks could be swayed by Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam and other black separatists, rejecting his message of nonviolence and grumbling about “Jew landlords” and “Jew interlopers” – even “Jew slave traders.”

The resentment and anger displayed toward people who offered so much support for civil rights was then nascent. But it has only festered and grown over four decades. Today, black-Jewish relations have arguably grown worse, not better.

For that, Martin would place fault principally on the shoulders of black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson – either for making anti-Semitic statements, inciting anti-Semitism (including violence), or failing to condemn overt anti-Semitism within the black community.

When American cities were burning in the summers before he died, Martin listened to any number of young blacks holding matches blame Jewish landlords or Jewish store-owners in the inner city – no matter that Jews were a minority of landlords and store owners.

He asked them, Who else might have bought the buildings that we lived in and rented us apartments? Who else was willing to come in and open stores and sell us the things we needed? Where were these Negroes with money who’d abandoned their communities? And if blacks had bought those businesses and buildings, would they have charged less for rent and bread?

As Martin wrote in 1967:

Negroes nurture a persistent myth that the Jews of America attained social mobility and status solely because they had money. It is unwise to ignore the error for many reasons. In a negative sense it encourages anti-Semitism and overestimates money as a value. In a positive sense, the full truth reveals a useful lesson.

Jews progressed because they possessed a tradition of education combined with social and political action. The Jewish family enthroned education and sacrificed to get it. The result was far more than abstract learning. Uniting social action with educational competence, Jews became enormously effective in political life.

To Martin, who believed the pursuit of excellence would trump adversity, Jewish success should, and could, be used as a blueprint and inspiration for blacks’ own success rather than as an incitement to bitterness.

Any blacks who subscribe to the views represented in Mr. Lee’s speech would do well to heed the words and deeds of the man whose name and legacy they claim to represent.

Israel with no more time for false hopes and naive dependency upon others must act.

EXPECTED EFFECTS OF AN IRANIAN NUCLEAR ATTACK ON ISRAEL
4 June 2011

By Louis René Beres
Professor, Department of Political Science
Purdue University
West Lafayette IN 47907

A just-released report by the IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency, pretty much makes it official: Iran’s entry into the Nuclear Club is now incontestably probable, and also sooner than expected. This once-preventable development will be the direct result of persistently false hopes in both Washington and Jerusalem. For Israel, especially, the remaining prevention options will now be severely limited. As to the plausible consequences of any significant strategic failure, these outcomes would be grave, or even unimaginable.

Will a newly-elected nuclear leadership in Tehran be fully rational? What will happen to Israel if Iranian leaders, endowed with nuclear weapons, should prove to value certain presumed religious obligations more highly than their state’s national survival? This is not a silly or disingenuous question. Many of Iran’s current leaders, including President Ahmadinejad, subscribe faithfully to the explosive narrative of a Shi’ite apocalypse.

Whether rational or irrational, any Iranian leadership that slouches toward inevitable conflict with the “Zionist Entity,” could, in less than three years, unleash nuclear war. Deliberately or inadvertently, as a “bolt from the blue,” or as a fully unintended result of escalation, whether out of an inexorable religious commitment to Jihad against “unbelievers,” or for much more mundane reasons of miscalculation, accident, coup d’état, or command-control failure, a nuclear Tehran could ignite a real-world Armageddon.

Thirty-one years ago, I published the first of ten books that contained authoritative descriptions of the physical and medical consequences of nuclear war, any nuclear war. These descriptions were drawn largely from a still-valid 1975 report by the National Academy of Sciences, and included the following very tangible outcomes: large temperature changes; contamination of food and water; disease epidemics in crops, domesticated animals, and humans due to ionizing radiation; shortening of growing seasons; irreversible injuries to aquatic species; widespread and long-term cancers due to inhalation of plutonium particles; radiation-induced abnormalities in persons in utero at the time of detonations; a vast growth in the number of skin cancers, and increasing genetic disease.

Overwhelming health problems would afflict the survivors of any Iranian nuclear attack upon Israel. These difficulties would extend beyond prompt burn injuries. Retinal burns would even occur in the eyes of persons very far from the actual explosions.

Tens of thousands of Israelis would be crushed by collapsing buildings, and torn to shreds by flying glass. Others would fall victim to raging firestorms. Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury, produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiations; superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations; and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.

After an Iranian nuclear attack, even a “small” one, those few medical facilities that might still exist in Israel would be taxed beyond capacity. Water supplies would become unusable. Housing and shelter could be unavailable for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of survivors. Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels. Food shortages would be critical and long-term.

Israel’s normally complex network of exchange systems would be shattered. Virtually everyone would be deprived of the most basic means of livelihood. Emergency police and fire services would be decimated. All systems dependent upon electrical power could stop functioning. Severe trauma would occasion widespread disorientation and psychiatric disorders for which there would be no therapeutic services.

Normal human society would cease. The pestilence of unrestrained murder and banditry could soon augment plague and epidemics. Many of the survivors would expect an increase in serious degenerative diseases. They would also expect premature death; impaired vision, and sterility. An increased incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach, breast, ovary and uterine cervix would be unavoidable.

Extensive fallout would upset many delicately balanced relationships in nature. Israelis who survive the nuclear attack would still have to deal with enlarged insect populations. Like the locusts of biblical times, mushrooming insect hordes would spread from the radiation-damaged areas in which they arose.

Insects are generally more resistant to radiation than humans. This fact, coupled with the prevalence of unburied corpses, uncontrolled waste and untreated sewage, would generate tens of trillions of flies and mosquitoes. Breeding in the dead bodies, these insects would make it impossible to control typhus, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis. Throughout Israel, tens or even hundreds of thousands of rotting human corpses would pose the largest health threat.

Reciprocally, all of these same effects, possibly even more expansive and destructive, would be unleashed upon Iran by Israel. An immediate massive Israeli retaliation for any Iranian nuclear aggression would be certain. In Iran, the once eagerly-expected joys of “martyrdom” would fade in a literal flash.

In its newest report, the IAEA “remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities, involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” Now, when effective preemption or “anticipatory self-defense” by Israel is no longer practicable, and when any sustained nuclear deterrence with Iran would be both unstable and unpredictable, even if there were a sudden end to Israel’s “nuclear ambiguity,” Jerusalem may need to place most of its ultimate survival bets on ballistic missile defense (the “Arrow”).

Should these bets fail, no lilacs could breed out of the dead land. Before anything fully human could ever again be born in such a necropolis, a gravedigger would have to wield the forceps.

No wonder over 90% of teachers vote Democrat!

Fat City

Thank you, Illinois taxpayers, for my cushy life.

Redacted from an article
By Professor Emeritus David Rubenstein
Weekly Standard, May 30, 2011

After 34 years of teaching sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I recently retired at age 64 at 80 percent of my pay for life. This calculation was based on a salary spiked by summer teaching, and since I no longer pay into the retirement fund, I now receive significantly more than when I “worked.” But that’s not all: There’s a generous health insurance plan, a guaranteed 3 percent annual cost of living increase, and a few other perquisites.

Having over-invested in my retirement annuity, I received a fat refund and—when it rains, it pours—another for unused sick leave. I was also offered the opportunity to teach as an emeritus for three years, receiving $8,000 per course, double the pay for adjuncts, which works out to over $200 an hour. Another going-away present was summer pay, one-ninth of my salary, with no teaching obligation.

I haven’t done the math but I suspect that, given a normal life span, these benefits nearly doubled my salary. And in Illinois these benefits are constitutionally guaranteed, up there with freedom of religion and speech.

… Why do I put “worked” in quotation marks? Because my main task as a university professor was self-cultivation: reading and writing about topics that interested me. Maybe this counts as work. But here I am today—like many of my retired colleagues—doing pretty much what I have done since the day I began graduate school, albeit with less intensity.

Before retiring, I carried a teaching load of two courses per semester: six hours of lecture a week. I usually scheduled classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays: The rest of the week was mine. Sometimes my teaching began at 9:30 a.m., but this was hardship duty. A night owl, I preferred to start my courses at 11 or 12.

This schedule held for 30 weeks of the year, leaving free three months in summer, a month in December, and a week in spring, plus all the usual holidays. Every six years, there was sabbatical leave: a semester off at full pay to do research, which sometimes actually got done. The grandest prize of all is, of course, tenure. The tenured live in a different world than ordinary mortals, a world in which fears of unemployment are banished, futures can be confidently planned, and retirement is secure.

The only really arduous part of teaching was grading exams and papers. But for most of my classes I had teaching assistants to do this, graduate students who usually knew little more about the topic than the undergraduates.

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Harvard, donating 4 to 1 in favor of Democrats in 2008, was one of the more politically diverse major American universities. Ninety-two percent of employees at the University of Chicago donated to Democrats. The University of California favored Democrats over Republicans, 90 percent to 10 percent. And William and Mary employees preferred Democrats to the GOP by a margin of 99 percent to 1 percent. Neil Gross of Harvard found that 87.6 percent of social scientists voted for Kerry, 6.2 percent for Bush.

Gross also found that 25 percent of sociologists characterize themselves as Marxists, likely a higher percentage than members of the Chinese Communist party. I would guess that if Lenin were around today he would be teaching sociology and seeking grants to fund the revolution.

An argument can be made that, compared with professionals in the private sector, college professors are underpaid, though according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “By rank, the average salary was $108,749 for full professors.” It is difficult to compare the overall goodness of different lives, but there is a back of the envelope shortcut. The rarity of quits and the abundance of applications is good evidence that the life of the college professor is indeed enviable.

And then there are the public schools. Because K-12 education is local, generalizations are difficult. But there are many egregious cases. Less than 2 percent of teachers in Los Angeles are denied tenure. In the last decade, according to LA Weekly, the city “spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district’s 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance.”

Protests against efforts to reform pay scales, teaching loads, and retirement benefits employ a “solidarity forever, the union makes us strong” rhetoric. What these professors and other government workers do not understand is that they are not demanding a share of the profits from the fat-cat bourgeoisie. They are squeezing taxpayers—for whom the professors purport to advocate—whose lives are in most cases far harsher than their own.

David Rubinstein is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago

It is far past time we understood Syria and what happened in Lebanon

(And, for Obama to demand that Israel give up the Golan to pacify Syria and thus destroy itself, only testifies to Obama’s obvious goals)

THE LEVANTINE CRUCIBLE

BY MICHAEL J. TOTTEN

ENCOUNTER, 360 pages

Redacted from a more detailed review by SOHRAB AHMARI
Commentary Magazine, June 2111

2. Plus Rep. Ros Lehtinen action in Congress yesterday!

MODERN terrorist attacks, Regis Debray has argued, are “manifestos written in other people’s blood.” In the winter of 2005, one such manifesto was inscribed in the blood of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 20 of his associates. (Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005 when explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove past the St. George Hotel in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.) Its drafters were bent on subjugating Lebanon to the will of their Syrian and Iranian paymasters.

More important, they sought to prevent Hariri from moving his compatriots beyond the failed ideologies that had defined Lebanon for more than a generation. But rather than cower in fear and submit, a majority of the Lebanese— usually notorious for their sectarian fractiousness— united around the March 14 movement, calling for political freedom and the withdrawal of Syria’s occupation force from their country.

In The Road to Fatima Gate, Michael J. Totten offers a masterful account of this Cedar Revolution, as it came to be known, and its
tragic aftermath. He ends up far more clear-sighted than the many analysts who claim objectivity but share neither his love of the region and its inhabitants nor his concern for its future. Totten’s Lebanon is a Mideast crucible, foretelling the promise—and peril—of the democratic uprisings that would rock the region in 2009 and then again last winter.

First, the promise In Lebanon, it was represented by more than one million people who—in what was then an unprecedented sight in the Arab world—peacefully took to the streets of Beirut in response to Harari’s assassination. Beyond their specific demands, the young leaders of the March 14 movement were determined to radically alter the very nature of Lebanese politics. “We want to rebuild our country,” one tells Totten. ” We stand not only for freedom and independence, but also national unity and a new, modern, common, tolerant Lebanese identity.”

The remarkable realignment of political attitudes among Lebanon’s sectarian elites could not be credited solely to March 14’s moral accomplishments. It also reflected a long-term shift in the balance of power in Lebanese society-and the growing menace of the Iranian backed Shia terrorist organization Hezbollah.

Totten makes his way into Hezbollah’s squalid, backward stronghold in the dahiyeh (suburb) of Haret Hreik, among other Hezbollah-controlled areas. What he finds “looked, alternately, like a slum of Tehran or Damascus.” Here, Lebanese Shia are kept dependent on Hezbollah’s welfare system, force-fed a steady diet of anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda, and taught to seek “martyrdom” rather than help rebuild Lebanon.

…The mullahs’ foothold in the Levant allows them to wage jihad against Israel at minimal cost to the Islamic Republic. As Totten leams, Hezbollah’s method of launching thousands of blind rockets at Israeli border towns, while cheap and crude, is nevertheless unimaginably cruel. Indeed, the most terrifying firsthand experience he relates is of covering northern Israel during Hezbollah’s rocket campaign. “When you’re under fire from above,” he writes, “the sky feels like a gigantic malevolent eyeball.” Of course, when Israel retaliates, as it did in the July 2006 war, Lebanon foots the bill for Iranian aggression and adventurism.

Israel’s 2006 excursion into Lebanon produced, at best, mixed results. The IDF rattled Hezbollah’s leadership, but failed to folly
dismantle the organization’s terror infrastructure. As soon as hostilities ceased, Iran began replenishing Hezbollah’s rocket stockpiles. Then, in 2008, a cornered Hezbollah lashed out northward, placing the March 14 movement in its crosshairs.

Nasrallah sought to accomplish by brute force what he could not in the realm of con sensual politics, and he succeeded. Hezbollah snipers—aided by the fascist thugs of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party—conquered Beirut once more. In the process, they permanently disrupted Lebanon’s carefully balanced sectarian power-sharing structure.

Totten frequently quotes the Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt to the effect that the solution to his country’s troubles lies in Tehran. It
is appropriate, then, that Totten’s narrative of modem Lebanon’s failed quest for freedom should end not in Beirut, but in the Persian capital.

In 2009, the angel of history seemed poised to vindicate Beirut’s defeated liberals in Tehran, the very heart of the Shia empire of “resistance.” Alas, the angel’s vengeful wrath could not overcome the mullahs’ limitless brutality. Last winter, it took flight from Tehran to Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, where the self-immolation of a fruit vendor led to the fall of a rotten autocracy. From there, it traveled to Cairo, Benghazi, Manama, Sanaa, Daraa, and so on. The outcome of each of these uprisings hangs in the balance.

Their future in the Middle East is neither guaranteed nor immune from the region’s underlying geopolitical realities. It is never enough, then, for liberals to merely compose manifestos with beautiful watchwords like “compromise” and “consent” when their opponents write theirs in blood.

SOHRAB AHMARI is coeditor of “Re-Orient”
Palgrave Macmillan’s forthcoming anthology of essays by young Mideast reformers.

2. Ros-Lehtinen Calls for Lebanon Aid Cutoff

by IPT News • Jun 14, 2011 at 11:00 pm
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., is calling for a cutoff of all U.S. aid to Lebanon’s new government, which is dominated by allies of the Hizballah terror organization.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati – appointed head of a caretaker government in January after Hizballah toppled the moderate government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri – announced the formation of a government in which Hizballah and its allies hold 18 of the 30 positions. Hizballah brought down the government in an effort to derail an investigation of the February 2005 murder of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The Shiite radical group is suspected of involvement in the slaying.

“The U.S. should immediately cut off assistance to the Lebanese government as long as any violent extremist group designated by the U.S. as foreign terror organizations participates in it,” Ros-Lehtinen said Monday. She warned that Hizballah and its allies “will control the Lebanese government and likely benefit from the years of U.S. assistance, including to the Lebanese military.”

Read more at: http://www.investigativeproject.org/2974/ros-lehtinen-calls-for-lebanon-aid-cutoff

Another Obama Personal Stimulus Package to relieve US Debt

Editorial: An entourage more royal than the Queen’s

By Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service editorials and opinion

The heads of government in London for the G-20 summit are discussing serious and weighty issues, which in time will be duly reported on, but right now the British press is entranced by the sheer size of President Obama’s traveling entourage. No wonder! Obama arrived with 500 staff in tow, including 200 Secret Service agents, a team of six doctors, the White House chef and kitchen staff with the president’s own food and water.

And, according to the Evening Standard, he also came with “35 vehicles in all, four speech writers and 12 teleprompters.” For sure, our president is not going to be at a loss for words. (No word as to how many teleprompters)

The press duly reported on Air Force One and all its bells and whistles but also on the presence of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, and a fleet of identical decoys to ferry him from Stansted airport to central London.

Among all those vehicles is the presidential limousine, which one local paper mistakenly called Cadillac One, but is universally referred to as the Beast. The limo, reinforced with ceramic and titanium armor, carries tear gas cannon, night vision devices, its own oxygen and is resistant to chemical and radiation attack. It is, marveled one reporter, a sort of mobile panic room. The Guardian called it “the ultimate in heavily armored transport.”

The president is entitled (Like all the other “entitlements” politicians use to attract votes and bankrupt the country) to all the security, communications and support he feels necessary to do his job but surely, when we’re trying to project a more restrained, humble image to the world, the president’s huge retinue could be scaled back to something less than the triumphal march from “Aida.”

http://www.scrippsnews.com

Israel thanks PM Stephen Harper and the Nation of Canada

Israel Thanks Canada for Defense at G8 Summit

by Chana Ya’ar

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman made sure to pick up the telephone and call his counterpart in Ottawa this weekend to thank him for Canada’s stance at the G8 summit last week. Lieberman told John Baird, who recently came into the post, that Canada is a “true friend of Israel.”

Israel’s foreign minister added that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been correct in his reading of the situation to know that the 1967-1949 Armistice lines are incompatible with the demographic realities in the Jewish State – and are indefensible as borders. Harper blocked the G8 from issuing statements with any mention of the recommendation, stated by U.S. President Barack Obama in his Middle Eastern policy speech a week prior.

Although G8 leaders called for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the group’s final communique issued Friday in Deauville, France, the “1967 lines” were not included. A day later, the Arab League issued its own communique, stating it would support the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to return to any negotiations.

Instead, the Arab League will back a bid by the PA to appeal directly to the United Nations for recognition of a new Arab country called “Palestine” in Gaza, Judea and Samaria with much of Jerusalem as its capital – including many areas where Jews currently live and work.

The “peace process follow up committee” at the Doha meeting in Qatar said it would request membership for the “State of Palestine” at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September. Qatar is set to chair that meeting, according to the current rotation.

As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pointed out in his speech to the US Congress last week, there are more than half a million Israelis, most of whom are Jewish, living in the areas claimed by the PA and they are not all leaving. Israel’s decision will be based upon Israel’s necessary defensive positions and demographic considerations long in place.

The least competent manager of our diplomatic portfolio in a long time.

By WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine

The Dreamer Goes Down For The Count

I had never thought there were many similarities between the pleasure-loving Charles II of England and the more upright Barack Obama until this week. Listening to his speeches on the Middle East at the State Department, US-Israel relations at the AIPAC annual meeting and most recently his address to the British Parliament the comparison becomes irresistible.

“Here lies our sovereign king,” wrote the Earl of Rochester about King Charles: Whose word no man relies on. Who never said a foolish thing Or ever did a wise one.”

This seems to capture President Obama’s Middle East problems in a nutshell. The President’s descriptions of the situation are comprehensive and urbane. He correctly identifies the forces at work. He develops interesting policy ideas and approaches that address important political and moral elements of the complex problems we face. He crafts approaches that might, with good will and deft management, bridge the gaps between the sides. He reads thoughtful speeches full of sensible reflections.

But the last few weeks have cast him as the least competent manager of America’s Middle East diplomatic portfolio in a very long time. He has infuriated and frustrated long term friends, but made no headway in reconciling enemies. He has strained our ties with the established regimes without winning new friends on the Arab Street . He has committed our forces in the strategically irrelevant backwater of Libya not, as he originally told us, for “days, not weeks” but for months not days.

Where he has failed so dramatically is in the arena he himself has so frequently identified as vital: the search for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. His record of grotesque, humiliating and total diplomatic failure in his dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has few parallels in American history. Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed. This last defeat — Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties — may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla — or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.

The Prime Minister mopped the floor with our guy. Obama made his ’67 speech; Bibi ripped him to shreds. Obama goes to AIPAC, nervous, off-balance, backing and filling. Then Bibi drops the C-Bomb, demonstrating to the whole world that the Prime Minister of Israel has substantially more support in both the House and the Senate than the President of the United States .

President Obama’s new Middle East policy, intended to liquidate the wreckage resulting from his old policy and get the President somehow on to firmer ground, lies in ruins even before it could be launched. He had dropped the George Mitchell approach, refused to lay out his own set of parameters for settling the conflict, and accepted some important Israeli red lines — but for some reason he chose not to follow through with the logic of these decisions and offer Netanyahu a reset button.

As so often in the past, but catastrophically this time, he found the “sour spot”: the position that angers everyone and pleases none. He moved close enough to the Israelis to infuriate the Palestinians while keeping the Israelis at too great a distance to earn their trust. One can argue (correctly in my view) that US policy must at some level distance itself from the agendas of both parties to help bring peace.

But that has to be done carefully, and to make it work one first needs to win their trust. Obama lost the trust of the Israelis early in the administration and never earned it back; he lost the Palestinians when he was unable to deliver Israeli concessions he led them to expect.

The President is now wandering across Europe seeking to mend fences with allies ( Britain, France, Poland ) he had earlier neglected and/or offended; at home, his authority and credibility have been holed below the waterline.

Everyone who followed the events of the last week knows that the President has lost control of the American-Israeli relationship and that he has no near-term prospects of rescuing the peace process. The Israelis, the Palestinians and the US Congress have all rejected his leadership.

Peace processes are generally good things even if they seldom bring peace; one hopes the President can find a way to re-launch American diplomacy on this issue but for now he seems to have reached a dead end — and to have allowd himself to be fatally tagged as too pro-Israel to win the affection of the Europeans and Arabs, and too pro-Palestinian to be trusted either by Israel or by many of the Americans who support it.

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more. The President has significantly less capacity to act than he did a week ago. The Bin Laden dividend, already cruelly diminished by what The Daily Caller said was the administration’s “victory lap in a clown car” is now history. The GOP, in trouble recently as voters recoil from what many see as Republican extremism on issues like Medicare and public unions, will be able to use the national security card in new and potent ways.

As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America .

It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God. Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value. Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: “I think it’s clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace.”

President Obama probably understands this intellectually; he understands many things intellectually. But what he can’t seem to do is to incorporate that knowledge into a politically sustainable line of policy. The deep American sense of connection to and, yes, love of Israel limits the flexibility of any administration. Again, the President seems to know that with his head. But he clearly had no idea what he was up against when Bibi Netanyahu came to town.

As a result, he’s taking another ride in the clown car, and this time it isn’t a victory lap. I hope I’m wrong, but I think the next intifada got a lot closer this week. (Hashem forbid!)

How to determine the winner of the Obamacare/Medicare debate?

Redacted from the article, “Beyond Mediscare”
By Yuval Levin
The Weekly Standard, May 30, 2011

Do House Republicans want to kill the elderly? If you listen to the left these days, you’d certainly think so. Last week, a liberal advocacy group called “The Agenda Project”—which claims to advance “rational, effective ideas in the public debate”—released an ad showing a look-alike of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. “Is America beautiful without Medicare?” the ad inquires of viewers. “Ask Paul Ryan and his friends in Congress.”

Nor is it only rabid interest groups that have succumbed to such appeals. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, said more or less the same thing earlier this month. When asked about the House Republican budget’s approach to Medicare, Sebelius said that, under the plan, “If you run out of the government voucher and then you run out of your own money, you’re left to scrape together charity care, go without care, die sooner. There really aren’t a lot of options.”

The president himself has come pretty close to this view. The Republican budget, Obama said in a speech at George Washington University last month, “says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher. And if that voucher isn’t worth enough to buy the insurance that’s available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck—you’re on your own. Put simply, it ends Medicare as we know it.”

Clearly, the GOP Medicare reform has struck a nerve. Democrats seem unwilling to speak about it honestly. Maybe they know that the facts do not support their case.

Let’s start with “Medicare as we know it.” According to the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare’s trustees, the program has a long-term unfunded liability of more than $30 trillion. It’s about a decade from insolvency. The trustees’ latest annual report, released on May 13, notes that the Medicare trust fund is projected to run out of money five years sooner than was projected last year. Its current trajectory would swallow up the federal budget. Taxes could not be raised high or fast enough to keep up with its growth without crushing the economy.

The Democrats cannot deny the figures, but their solution is to let the crisis come. President Obama’s budget offered nothing beyond Obamacare as a solution. In an extraordinary letter affixed to the recent trustees’ report, Medicare’s chief actuary noted that Obamacare’s approach to the program—price controls determined by a board of experts and devoid of market-based reforms that could help health care providers improve their efficiency—would actually exacerbate Medicare’s troubles.

The Republican budget offers precisely such market-based reforms. It proposes not just to reduce the growth rate of Medicare spending, but to introduce consumer pressures into the system that would create financial incentives for providers to work more efficiently and reduce the growth of the health care costs that are at the heart of the problem.

Currently Medicare recipients play no part in determining who gets paid and how much, and have no sense of what their health care costs. Providers have no financial incentive to deliver better care at lower prices. And price controls that would reduce what Medicare pays per service (the Obamacare solution) would only create an incentive for providers to supply a greater volume of services to make up the difference. That is exactly what price controls have done in the past—drive efficiency down and costs up.

The House Republican proposal would change Medicare’s counterproductive design. It would leave today’s seniors and those now 55 or older in the current system, since they have planned their retirements around it. But everyone younger than that would join a redesigned Medicare when they retire.

Rather than pay all providers a set fee directly, seniors would use the money (in the form of a premium support payment that would start at current Medicare rates and grow with inflation) to choose insurance plans from a menu of guaranteed private coverage options. Poor seniors and those in the worst health would get significantly greater support, while the wealthiest would receive less.

And seniors would be buying guaranteed insurance with limits on out of pocket costs, not paying directly for care. Sebelius’s notion that they would simply “run out” of money if they got sick is nothing more than fear-mongering.

Insurers and providers would compete for seniors’ dollars. They would be free to find innovative ways to offer better quality at lower costs. That’s how markets produce efficiency: by letting sellers find ways to offer buyers what they want at prices they want to pay. Everyone agrees that such efficiency improvements are essential. As Ryan has put it, the basic choice offered by the parties’ competing approaches to Medicare has to do with how efficiency is achieved. It’s a choice between giving a board of experts the power to deny care to seniors based on its magisterial judgment of quality and value, and giving seniors the power to deny business to providers based on their individual opinions and priorities.

For politicians, it is also a choice between reforming a program that seniors are comfortable with and leaving it alone despite its fatal problems. Republicans have chosen to deal with that difficulty by leaving current seniors with all the benefits they are accustomed to in the current program and reforming it for the next generation.

Democrats have chosen to deal with it by pretending there is no problem, falsely insisting that any reform will harm today’s seniors, and leaving a colossal disaster for the next generation. Republicans, in other words, have chosen a policy solution that carries political risk while the Democrats have opted for political advantage.