Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh Canada...

The Gazette from Canada reports on a Liberal thinkers conference held at Montreal. In the course of the conference, David Dodge, former deputy finance minister and governor of the Bank of Canada made the following statement:

In a morning session on health care the conference was told that Canadians and their governments must face up to some hard facts and have “an adult conversation” about the future of the country’s health care system.
The advice came from David Dodge, the past governor of the Bank of Canada and former deputy finance minister who said medicare costs will inevitably rise in coming years at a greater rate than government revenues and the country’s gross domestic product, and require some unpalatable choices to be made.

Choices he suggested include new taxes specifically dedicated for health care or a steady reduction in the scope and quality of services provided by the public health system that would require people to either pay for private care themselves or suffer ever greater wait times for service in the public system.

“These are stark and unpalatable choices that we face with respect to health care, but there is no magic solution,” he said. “We absolutely must have an adult debate about how we deal with this. Finding solutions in this area is extraordinarily difficult, but it is imperative.”
Canadians have nothing to worry about. All they have to do is follow the plan devised by Obama and his acolytes. They will provide health care for 30 million uninsured and lower the cost of health care without affecting quality.

Oh, how I love a fairytale? Or is it gaytale? We don’t want to be politically incorrect.

The West is Burning, and we Fiddle

A 66 year old great- grandmother and pet shop owner in England has been fined 1,000£ and ordered to wear an electronic bracelet for two months of house arrest. Her crime: selling a goldfish to a 14 year old boy, violating an animal welfare law that prohibits the sell of pets to persons under the age of 16. The prosecution of Joan Higgins cost taxpayers 20,000£. The wearing of the electronic bracelet will also stop Ms Higgins from babysitting her grandchildren, and other social functions.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is illegal to sell pets - including goldfish - to children under the age of 16 unless they are accompanied by an adult. Pet shops must also provide advice on animal welfare to buyers.

The maximum penalty is imprisonment.

This is how insane the West has become and how dangerous bureaucracies and big governments are. A law is enacted about the sell of pets and suddenly the purchase of a goldfish by a child is placed on the same level with the purchase of a pit bull, a boa constrictor or a python. Goodbye decision making by children and parents; hello bureaucradaddy.

Just a few comparisons on crimes and punishments in England as published by the Daily Mail and that sheds light as to the priorities of an insane society:

Something to ponder about.  Can a British chef be sent to jail for preparing fish n' chips?

More on the Dubai Assassination

Interesting article by Jay Epstein, published in The Wall Street Journal. 

Read Article.

Attached is the article since the WSJ may require registration:

James Jesus Angleton, the legendary CIA counterintelligence chief, once discussed a series of suspicious deaths in Germany with me. "Any gang of thugs could murder someone," he said, "but it took an intelligence services to make a murder appear to be a suicide or natural death."

According to this precept, the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on the evening of Jan. 19, 2010, was almost certainly the work of an intelligence service. When Mabhouh's body was discovered the next day in his room in the five-star Al Bustan Rotana hotel, it appeared he'd died in bed of natural causes. There were no wounds, bruises or other signs of foul play.

Room 230 had no balcony or windows that could be opened, and the electronic door latch appeared to have been locked from the inside. If an ordinary tourist died under such nonsuspicious circumstances, investigators would routinely assume he had died in his sleep from natural causes.

But Mabhouh was no ordinary tourist. He was a senior commander and a co-founder of Hamas's military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. His activities included the abduction of Israeli soldiers, and he was wanted in three countries: Israel, Egypt (where he had been imprisoned for almost a year for his Muslim Brotherhood activities and was wanted on suspicion of subversion) and Jordan, on suspicion of terrorism.

Based in Damascus, Syria, Mabhouh was also a key intermediary in the covert arms traffic between Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the Syrian intelligence service, the Hamas government in Gaza, and other militants. He was ordinarily protected by a team of armed bodyguards. But they had not been allowed to accompany him to Dubai on Jan. 19 because there was no room on the flight, according to a Hamas spokesman in Damascus, Talal Nasser. So whether by design or accident, he was stripped of his protection, making his assassination easier to accomplish.

When the Dubai police, under pressure from Hamas, looked more closely into the crime scene, they found that the electronic lock on the door of his room had been reprogrammed to allow others to enter. The electronic lock can be accessed directly at the hotel room door by a sophisticated hacker.

Then a Dubai forensic lab retesting his body fluids discovered traces of succinylcholine. This is a quick-acting, depolarizing, paralytic drug that, by rendering Mabhouh incapable of resisting, could account for the lack of bruise marks on the body.

In February, Dubai's chief coroner, Fawzi Benomran, reversed his verdict of a natural death. Instead, describing the death as "one of the most challenging cases" in the history of the emirate, he concluded it was a disguised homicide "meant to look like death from natural causes during sleep."

Meanwhile, Dubai investigators examined 645 hours of videos from surveillance cameras at the hotel and elsewhere. They saw that, after Mabhouh left his hotel room, four suspicious-looking individuals got out of the elevator on the second floor near his room. Several hours later, at 8:25 p.m., Mabhouh returned to his room (according to the electronic lock). Shortly afterwards, the four men were seen via the cameras leaving the floor.

The police theorized that these men had surreptitiously entered Mabhouh's room while he was out, incapacitated him with the paralytic drug on his return, induced a heart attack by suffocating him with a pillow, and reprogrammed the electric lock to make it appear it had been locked from the inside.

With the aid of facial recognition software, Dubai police then identified 26 suspects. All had been in Dubai at the time of Mabhouh's brief visit. All had entered Dubai using fake or fraudulently obtained passports from countries not requiring a Dubai visa, including Britain, Ireland, France, Germany and Australia.

All the passports turned out to be stolen identities with faked passport photos. The charge cards, airline tickets and pre-paid phone cards these suspects used were also in the name of their stolen identities. The only real clue to their real identities was that eight of the identities had been stolen from people with dual Israeli citizenship. Since Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, had previously used dual citizens' passports to fake identities, Dubai authorities concluded the suspects were from Mossad.

Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the head of the Dubai police force, stated on a government-owned Web site, that he "is 99 percent, if not 100 percent, that Mossad is standing behind the murder." While this authoritative finger-pointing was largely accepted as am "aha" moment by the media, Dubai is not exactly an uninterested party in the Mabhouh affair. It is, after all, the principal transshipment points for the lethal arms trade between Iran and Hamas—and Mabhouh had been one of the major players in this trade.

The much-publicized hotel surveillance videos, while highly diverting on YouTube, do not show any of the 26 suspects engaging in any illegal activities other than using false identities, a practice which is not unknown in Dubai. (Mabhouh himself reportedly had five different passports.) Even if all 26 identity thieves were intelligence operatives, as seems the case, it does not necessarily follow that they were all in Dubai on the same business, or even working for the same side.

Since Iran maintains its largest offshore financing facility in Dubai—which is used by the Revolutionary Guard, among others, to support its traffic in covert weapons— more than one intelligence service might be interested in Mabhouh's trip. Consider, for example, the peculiar fact that two of the 26 Dubai suspects exited by boat to Iran, according to Dubai authorities; this is not a likely escape route for Mossad agents.

Two other individuals whom the Dubai police had named as suspects worked for the Palestinian Authority, an arch-enemy of Hamas. (They were arrested in Jordan and turned over to Dubai.) Another person wanted by Dubai for questioning returned to Damascus just prior to the killing. And then there is the question of who in Syria played a role in stripping Mabhouh of his protection just hours before his flight to Dubai.

The key missing piece in the jigsaw remains Mabhouh's mission to Dubai—apparently important enough for him to travel there without his normal contingent of bodyguards.

Mabhouh arrived from the airport at his hotel shortly before 3 p.m., and after changing his clothes left for an unknown destination. He was gone for several hours. But even with its state-of-the-art surveillance cameras in Dubai, and extensive interviews with all the taxi drivers at the hotel, authorities claim they cannot determine either his whereabouts during these hours or the identity of whom he met.

The world-wide focus on the spooks—whose false identities allowed many of them to vanish in the intelligence netherworld—has diverted attention from the potentially embarrassing mission that brought Mabhouh to Dubai. The real intrigue here is not who killed a wanted terrorist, but what he was up to. Without this missing piece, any rush to judgment about who his killers were may be premature.

Mr. Epstein, who frequently writes on intelligence issues, is the author most recently of "The Hollywood Economist" (Melville, 2010).

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, Mrch 27, 2010, page A15

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Worth Reading!

Norman Podhoretz has written in the Wall Street Journal an excellent defense of Sarah Palin. The article compares attacks on Palin with attacks on Ronald Reagan. The accusations of her lack of expertise in foreign affairs is looked upon while comparing her to Biden, who despite being an expert in the field has been wrong on his conclusions on major issues for most of his career in the Senate. The comparisons and contrasts are terrific and illustrate the irrational hatred of Sarah Palin’s opponents.

Read Article in The Wall Street Journal.

The following article by Ronen Berman, correspondent for Yediot Aharonot, offers three scenarion for the outbreak of hostilities in the Midddle East:

How the Next Middle East War Could Start
By Ronen Bergman

The three most plausible scenarios all involve Iran.

This May, Israel will celebrate its 62nd Independence Day. And barring the unexpected, the country will have good reason to celebrate. This will have been the safest year in a decade and a half for Israeli civilians—the year with the fewest fatalities in acts of war or terror.

Ironically, Israel’s most bitter foes are responsible for this achievement. The leadership of both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza have imposed a temporary policy of nonconfrontation on their respective followers, as well as on other armed groups operating within the territories they control. They are now part of the administration and don’t want to be blamed for igniting another war in the region. As a result, the once almost daily rocket attacks on civilian targets in the north and south of Israel have been reduced to a trickle.

This is as good as it gets in this part of the world. But the truth is that the Middle East remains as ever on the brink of war. One careless move by any party, and the now dormant volcano could erupt once again.

Israel is certainly aware of this volatility, and it is preparing for the worst. In late February the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a secret war game, code-named Firestone 12, which simulated a general conflict in the region. Under the scenario used in the exercise, Iran instructs its Hezbollah proxies to initiate military action against Israel in order to divert attention from the Iranian nuclear project. Israel responds with massive force against Hezbollah in Lebanon, which draws Syria and Hamas into the conflict.

The exercise was supposed to conclude with the mobilization of a large number of reserves. But because military and political tensions were running high, the army decided not to call up the additional units.

Until recently, the most plausible scenario for the outbreak of the next war would have begun with an Israeli aerial assault on Iranian nuclear installations. This would lead to a response by members of the group that the Israeli intelligence community refers to as the “radical front”: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. But for now, this scenario is regarded as somewhat less likely, since it appears that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go along with the U.S. demand that Israel allow time for sanctions to achieve their purpose.

Yet there are other scenarios that create a very real danger of war breaking out.

Scenario I: Hamas attacks in order to break the impasse. These are hard times for Hamas. It sustained a military defeat at the hands of Israel in late 2008 and is now engaged in a bitter confrontation with Egypt over a barrier Egypt is constructing to prevent smuggling from the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza. Various sources, including IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, who briefed parliament on Tuesday, have suggested that Hamas may try to break the impasse by instigating a military operation to upset the balance of forces in the region. In addition, the organization’s desire to avenge the assassination of senior commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last January in Dubai has only increased its motivation to act.

Scenario II: Hezbollah avenges Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination. Hezbollah believes that the Mossad was behind the assassination of the organization’s military commander two years ago. Mughniyeh was the most wanted terrorist on the FBI’s list before Sept. 11, 2001, and he was in charge of the suicide attacks on the American Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut in 1982/1983. Mossad and the CIA tried to catch or kill him numerous times in the past.

In order to avenge Mughniyeh’s death, Hezbollah attempted to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan, attack Israeli tourists in the Sinai, and abduct Israeli businessmen in Africa. Yet these failures have not blunted its resolve. Any successful act of revenge—especially if it is a spectacular operation such as killing a large number of Israelis or Jews outside Israel, or assassinating a prominent figure inside Israel—would lead to considerable public pressure on the Israeli government to take action against Hezbollah inside Lebanon.


Scenario III: Syria supplies Hezbollah with “equilibrium-breaking” weapons. Today Syria is Hezbollah’s chief supplier of arms. Many Iranian-developed weapons are manufactured in Syria and transported to Lebanon where they are delivered to the Shiite organization. Syria possesses a number of weapons systems, mainly various types of long-range missiles and anti-aircraft and antinaval missiles, that Israel regards as “equilibrium-breaking” (i.e., systems that in the hands of Hezbollah would threaten Israel’s ability to operate with impunity in Lebanon’s airspace and along its coastline).

The Syrian ambassador to Washington, Imad Mustafa, was recently summoned to the State Department, where he was informed that the U.S. expects Syria to cease arming Hezbollah because of the very real risk of war. This meeting took place after Israel came close to attacking a Syrian arms convoy, deciding not to at the last moment.

This final scenario is perhaps the most dangerous. Syrian President Bashar Assad has taken significant risks in the past, most recently when he embarked on the joint Syrian-Iranian-North Korean nuclear project knowing full well that Israel would not be able to allow it to reach completion. If Mr. Netanyahu shows less restraint than he has so far and orders an attack on a Syrian military convoy, the high number of Syrian casualties that would likely ensue could force Mr. Assad’s hand.

What these three scenarios all have in common is the centrality of Iran: It is arming Hamas, it effectively controls Hezbollah, and it is doing its best to involve Syria in open confrontation with Israel. To date, these attempts have been unsuccessful. But only the U.S. has the ability to take decisive steps to prevent a general conflagration in the region.

Mr. Bergman, senior military and intelligence analyst for Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli daily, is the author of “The Secret War With Iran” (Free Press, 2008).

Bibi had to make this statement. Did he really mean it?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thanks for nothing, Hussein Obama

East Jerusalem

The posture of Obama’s administration with respect to East Jerusalem has encouraged the Arabs to take a different attitude toward negotiations with Israel.

Yesterday, Amr Moussa, chief of the Arab League stated that there will be no peace while Jerusalem is occupied.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a guest at the summit, said in his speech that the Israeli “violation” of peace in Jerusalem and Muslim holy sites was unacceptable.

Erdogan said that the Israeli position defining the whole of Jerusalem as its united capital was “madness.” Israeli construction in East Jerusalem was completely unjustified, he said.

These reactions are the direct result of the arm twisting and humiliation of Biby Netaniyahu by Obama. For seventeen years, since Oslo, negociations took place with the agreement that the status of Jerusalem would be negociated and not established as a precondition. 200,000 Jews live in East Jerusalem, and this sector of Jerusalem should be allowed to grow and develop just like any other city. Now, however, the Arabs have nothing to gain by negociating when they realize that Obama will do their bidding.

The world is watching this American administration, and I have very little doubt that many allies of the United States are looking longingly at the past “cowboy” administration.

From Iran to North Korea, from Russia to China, from Brazil to Venezuela, one can see the impact that a weak American administration is having on world affairs. Obama is kowtowing to dictators around the world, and these dictators are acting accordinly.

To quote Colonel Ralph Peters, we are playing checkers, while our enemies are playing chess. Guess who has better strategies.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Obama Humiliates Netanyahu

Obama, who during the last elections received tremendous support form the Jewish community, repaid his supporters by humiliating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a way unprecedented in US-Israeli relations. 

Meanwhile the Obama administration has announced a lessening of the Iranian embargo.  I guess the former member of Reverend Wright's church didnt want to humiliate Ahmadinejad. 

The Jewish community in America will retaliate against Obama in the next presidential election by giving him only 76 percent of the vote.

In another development, Obama is about to sign an arms deal with Russia that is only beneficial to Putin. I guess this was done as a way of thanking the fromer KGB man for the way he is working to prevent Iran from developig a nuclear weapon and the way the Russians treated Hilary during her last visit to Russia.

There is no confirmation from the White House abut the rumors that they have just ordered 1000 pairs of kid gloves to give to American diplomats dealing with North Korea.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Obama's Approval Index

Textbooks as Tools of Propaganda

One of the most troubling elements in the propagation of Islamism and Islamic propaganda has been taking place in the last decade through control of what is included in social studies textbooks. No important textbook is published today without vetting by professors who are sympathizers of radical Islam, or beholden to Saudi dollars given to them in grant money.

In addition, The Saudi embassy sends “educational material” to schools across the country that social studies teachers are only too happy to use. It does not require research or preparation.

Now the Foreign Policy Research Institute has produced a ten-volume series for middle schools and high schools titled the "World of Islam" and published by Mason Crest Publishers, and CAIR is up to its old tricks crying anti Islamic bias.

Richard Pipes has a great article on the topic.

Read Article

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'll be back next Monday

I'll be away for several days.  I'll return to blogging next Monday.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Israel Expands its Capital; Not Building Settlements

As the media and blogosphere report about Israeli disrespect and lack of consideration towards vice-president Biden during his visit to the Middle East, by announcing the construction of 1600 residential units in East Jerusalem, let us remember a couple of American commitments made to Israel by the former administration and the Congress of the United States, that Obama seems to be ignoring or willfully disregarding.

The current administration is ignoring the fact that prior administrations have stated that borders are to be negotiated.

Letter from US President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon upon Israel’s withdrawal and uprooting of 8000 settles from Gaza:

His Excellency Ariel Sharon
Prime Minister of Israel.

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

...... The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking (i.e. the disengagement from Gaza) represents. I therefore want to reassure you on several points.

First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the roadmap, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel.

The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a
strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.

Second, there will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and all states, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.

Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt, and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means.

The United States understands that after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue. The United States is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state.... "
In addition, on April 24, 1990 the U.S. Congress passed the following resolution concerning Jerusalem:

"House Resolution Expressing Support for Jerusalem as Israel's Capital.

Whereas the State of Israel has declared Jerusalem to be its capital; Whereas from 1948 to 1967 Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths were not permitted access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan;

Whereas since 1967 Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city; Whereas the President and the Secretary of State have demonstrated their strong desire to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and have worked diligently toward that end;

Whereas ambiguous statements by the Government of the United States concerning the right of Jews to live in all parts of Jerusalem raise concerns in Israel that Jerusalem might one day be redivided and access to
religious sites in Jerusalem denied to Israeli citizens; and the search for a lasting peace in the region: Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress

(1) acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel;

(2) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic religious group are protected; and

(3) calls upon all parties involved in the search for peace to maintain their strong efforts to bring about negotiations between Israel and Palestinian representatives."
Finally, if Netanihau showed any disrespect towards Biden, he was doing nothing more thatn repay the Obama administration for the treatment he received when visiting Washington.

Israel should not have to justify construction on what should be forever a unified Jerusalem under Israel's control.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alan Dershowitz on Israeli Apartheid Week

Every year at about this time, radical Islamic students - aided by radical anti-Israel professors - hold an event they call "Israel Apartheid Week." During this week, they try to persuade students on campuses around the world to demonize Israel as an apartheid regime. Most students seem to ignore the rantings of these extremists, but some naïve students seem to take them seriously. Some pro-Israel and Jewish students claim that they are intimidated when they try to respond to these untruths. As one who strongly opposes any censorship, my solution is to fight bad speech with good speech, lies with truth and educational malpractice with real education.

Accordingly, I support a "Middle East Apartheid Education Week" to be held at universities throughout the world. It would be based on the universally accepted human rights principle of "the worst first." In other words, the worst forms of apartheid being practiced by Middle East nations and entities would be studied and exposed first. Then the apartheid practices of other countries would be studied in order of their seriousness and impact on vulnerable minorities.

Under this principle, the first country studied would be Saudi Arabia. That tyrannical kingdom practices gender apartheid to an extreme, relegating women to an extremely low status. Indeed, a prominent Saudi imam recently issued a fatwa declaring that anyone who advocates women working alongside men or otherwise compromises with regard to absolute gender apartheid is subject to execution.

The Saudis also practice apartheid based on sexual orientation, executing and imprisoning gay and lesbian Saudis. Finally, Saudi Arabia openly practices religious apartheid. It has special roads for "Muslims only." It discriminates against Christians, refusing them the right to practice their religion openly. And needless to say, it doesn't allow Jews the right to live in Saudi Arabia, to own property or even (with limited exceptions) to enter the country. Now that's apartheid with a vengeance.

The second entity on any apartheid list would be Hamas, the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. Hamas too discriminates openly against women, gays and Christians. It permits no dissent, no free speech and no freedom of religion.

Every single Middle East country practices these forms of apartheid to one degree or another. Consider the most "liberal" and pro-American nation in the area, namely Jordan. The Kingdom of Jordan, which the King himself admits is not a democracy, has a law on its books forbidding Jews from becoming citizens or owning land. Despite the efforts of its progressive Queen, women are still de facto subordinate in virtually all aspects of Jordanian life.

Iran, of course, practices no discrimination against gays, because its president has assured us that there are no gays in Iran. In Pakistan, Sikhs have been executed for refusing to convert to Islam, and throughout the Middle East, honor killings of women are practiced, often with a wink and a nod from the religious and secular authorities.

Every Muslim country in the Middle East has a single, established religion, namely Islam, and makes no pretense of affording religious equality to members of other faiths. That is a brief review of some, but certainly not all, apartheid practices in the Middle East.

Now let's turn to Israel. The secular Jewish state of Israel recognizes fully the rights of Christians and Muslims and prohibits any discrimination based on religion (except against Conservative and Reform Jews, but that's another story!). Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel (of which there are over a million) have the right to vote and have elected members of the Knesset, some of whom even oppose Israel's right to exist. There is an Arab member of the Supreme Court, an Arab member of the Cabinet and numerous Israeli Arabs in important positions in businesses, universities and the cultural life of the nation.

A couple of years ago I attended a concert at the Jerusalem YMCA at which Daniel Barrenboim conducted a mixed orchestra of Israeli and Palestinian musicians. There was a mixed audience of Israelis and Palestinians, and the man sitting next to me was an Israeli Arab - the culture minister of the State of Israel. Can anyone imagine that kind of concert having taking place in apartheid South Africa, or in apartheid Saudi Arabia?

There is complete freedom of dissent in Israel and it is practiced vigorously by Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. And Israel is a vibrant democracy.

What is true of Israel proper, including Israeli Arab areas, is not true of the occupied territories. Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip several years ago, only to be attacked by Hamas rockets. Israel maintains its occupation of the West Bank only because the Palestinians walked away from a generous offer of statehood on 97 percent of the West Bank, with its capital in Jerusalem and with a $35 billion compensation package for refugees. Had it accepted that offer by President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak, there would now be a Palestinian state in the West Bank. There would be no separation barrier. There would be no roads restricted to Israeli citizens (Jews, Arabs and Christians). And there would be no civilian settlements.

I have long opposed civilian settlements in the West Bank, as many, perhaps most, Israelis do. But to call an occupation, which continues because of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the two-state solution, "apartheid", is to misuse that word. As those of us who fought in the actual struggle of apartheid well understand, there is no comparison between what happened in South Africa and what is now taking place on the West Bank. As Congressman John Conyors, who helped found the congressional Black caucus, well put it: "[Applying the word 'apartheid' to Israel] does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong."

The current "Israel Apartheid Week" on universities around the world, by focusing only on the imperfections of the Middle East's sole democracy, is carefully designed to cover up far more serious problems of real apartheid in Arab and Muslim nations. The question is why do so many students identify with regimes that denigrate women, gays, non-Muslims, dissenters, environmentalists and human rights advocates, while demonizing a democratic regime that grants equal rights to women (the chief justice and speaker of the Parliament of Israel are women), gays (there are openly gay generals in the Israeli Army), non-Jews (Muslims and Christians serve in high positions in Israel) and dissenters, (virtually all Israelis dissent about something).

Israel has the best environmental record in the Middle East, it exports more life saving medical technology than any country in the region and it has sacrificed more for peace than any country in the Middle East. Yet on many college campuses democratic, egalitarian Israel is a pariah, while sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, terrorist Hamas is a champion. There is something very wrong with this picture.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Friend and Faux on Human Rights

Iran bids to join the UN Human Rights Commission

Some of the world’s most courageous champions of human rights will convene today, Monday, March 8, in Geneva, seat of the United Nations’s Human Rights Council. But don’t expect the Council itself to welcome these distinguished visitors.

The Geneva Summit-organized by groups such as U.N. Watch and Freedom House, and chaired by Poland’s Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel-will bring together political dissidents from China, Iran and Burma, rights activists for the Tibetan and Uighur peoples, a survivor of the North Korean gulag, plus a former Sudanese slave named Simon Deng who plans to speak about “the gross human-rights abuses by radical jihadists and the Islamic government in Khartoum.”

As for the U.N. Council’s meeting, the main drama (apart from the ritual Israel-bashing) will be Iran’s bid to get elected later this spring as a member. Among its presumptive qualifications, says Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, is that last June’s elections were “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.” Other contenders vying for election include the Maldives, which bans the public practice of all religions save Sunni Islam; and Malaysia, whose judiciary is currently prosecuting opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on dubious charges of sodomy.

The U.S. also has a seat on the Council. A year ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that by joining the Council-the Bush Administration had refused-the U.S. “will engage in the work of improving the U.N. human rights system.” Whatever they’re doing, it doesn’t seem to be working.

In 1975, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote that it was time “that the American spokesman came to be feared in international forums for the truths he might tell.” In Geneva today, the real truth tellers will be meeting down the block from the Council’s chambers. It would be nice to see the U.S. ambassador show up.

Quoted from The Wall Street Journal

Monday, March 8, 2010

Krugman v. Krugman

Paul Krugman takes note in his New York Times column of what the calls "the incredible gap that has opened up between the parties":

Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.
"What Democrats believe," he says "is what textbook economics says" 
But that's not how Republicans see it. Here's what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning's position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."
Krugman scoffs: "To me, that's a bizarre point of view--but then, I don't live in Mr. Kyl's universe."
What does textbook economics have to say about this question? Here is a passage from a textbook called "Macroeconomics":

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker's incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of "Eurosclerosis," the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.
So it turns out that what Krugman calls Sen. Kyl's "bizarre point of view" is, in fact, textbook economics. The authors of that textbook are Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. Miss Wells is also known as Mrs. Paul Krugman.

Quoted from Best of the Web

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Ha’aretz reports:

Israel yesterday lodged a formal complaint with Spain, charging that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are being instilled in elementary students across parts of the country.

The Israeli embassy in Madrid has received dozens of postcards addressed to the Israeli envoy – from students ages 5 and 6 – including hand-written messages such as “Jews kill for money,” “Evacuate the country for Palestinians,” and “Go to someplace where someone will be willing to accept you.”

According to sources in the Foreign Ministry, this is an organized campaign by officials outside the education system in Spain that have been given permission to work with the students.

The Foreign Ministry had originally planned to summon the Spanish envoy to Israel, Alvaro Iranzo, to rebuke him.

However, in an effort to prevent a diplomatic crisis, the ministry decided instead to discuss the matter with him via telephone.

Naor Gilon, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director for Western Europe, spoke with Iranzo on Sunday and said, “Israel feels strong discontent over the postcards sent by school students and views the matter with utmost gravity.”

The Spanish envoy explained that the postcards were a private initiative, and not one that is part of Spain’s education ministry.

Gilon said Israel understands this is not a government policy, but stressed that these types of initiatives have no place in schools and that Israel requests action be taken to have the campaign stopped.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What a difference a new administration can make...

• "If the Republicans pushing against the filibuster love majority rule so much, they should propose getting rid of the Senate altogether. But doing so would mean acknowledging what's really going on here: regime change disguised as a narrow rules fight. We could choose to institute a British-style parliamentary system in which majorities get almost everything they want. But advocates of such a radical departure should be honest enough to propose amending the Constitution first."--E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, March 22, 2005

• "The Founders said nothing in the Constitution about the filibuster, let alone 'reconciliation.' Judging from what they put in the actual document, the Founders would be appalled at the idea that every major bill should need the votes of three-fifths of the Senate to pass."--E.J. Dionne, Washington Post, March 4, 2010

From James Taranto's Best of the Web

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


It grows food in sand, powers homes with the sun and this year launches the world's first city-wide electric car system. So how has war-torn Israel become such an eco-pioneer?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

By Matthew Kalman

BY THE end of this year the world’s first all-electric car network will be up and running in one of the most unlikely settings. The cars built by Renault-Nissan need a network of re-charging points and battery changing stations and these are being set up in Denmark, Hawaii, California, Canada and Australia.

But the first place to host a national electric car network will be one that has almost permanently been at war with its neighbours since its inception. This is Israel, which invented the original technology and is home to Better Place, the company that came up with the idea.

“Israel will be the fi rst country in the world with this new technology. Jerusalem will be the fi rst city,” says Better Place boss Shai Agassi, who recently unveiled Israel’s first car charging points. The car looks like a regular Renault Megane except it has no exhaust pipe and an electric socket where the petrol cap should be. It drives noticeably quieter than a regular car and powered by a 450lb lithium-ion battery it can run for about 140 miles without re-charging, compared with 300 miles for the average family car on a full tank of petrol.

Drivers will plug in their cars to recharge for several hours at home, work or at designated free car parks throughout the country. Or they will swap empty batteries for fully-charged ones at a network of up to 200 “swap stations” throughout Israel. The electricity for the cars will come from solar technology being developed in the desert in southern Israel. Amid the gunfire this tiny country the size of Wales and with a population of just under 7.5million leads the world in developing and exporting green technologies that could save the planet.

Ironically it is precisely because of its precarious position that such eco-inventions have flourished. Surrounded by hostile neighbours, with few natural resources of its own and two-thirds of its area inhos pitable desert, Israel has had to use its wits to survive. When Warren Buffett, the world’s wealthiest man, decided to make his first investment outside the United States, he chose Israel. “Some Amerircans have come to the Middle East looking for oil so they didn’t stop in Israel. We came to the Middle East looking for brains and we stopped in Israel,” Buffett explained as he put $4billion into Iscar, a precision tool maker.

“We found that the real trick in business is not to be a genius yourself but to go around associating with geniuses who are already doing a good job and stay out of their way.” Israeli innovations range from Intel microprocessors to messaging systems that ensure the safety of nearly all the world’s financial transactions. Micro soft Intel, IBM and NDS, a firm that designs TV set-top boxes to unscramble cable and satellite signals, all have research and development centres in Israel drawing on the brainpower of those “genius”.

There are more than 1,000 clean-technology start-up companies in Israel, a country that has attracted more foreign investment in high-tech businesses in the past decade than all of Europe. It has more companies quoted on the high-tech NASDAQ stock exchange in New York than any other country outside the United States. In innovation it outshines all its neighbours. Between 1980 and 2000 Egyptians registered 77 patents in the US. Saudis registered 171. Israelis registered 7,652.

“We are flexible and we are smart because we know that we have to be to survive,” says Shraga Brosh, chairman of the Israeli Manufacturers’ Association. A primary motor of this technical innovation is the Israeli army. Its units cream off the top teenagers, ram them through accelerated university training and give them sophisticated military assignments. Agassi of Better Place, like the founders of computer security pioneers Check-point, demobbed from Unit 8200, a top-secret division of military intelligence where every other soldier is a computer whiz-kid.

TALPIOT, another military programme veiled in secrecy, whips its high-achieving teenagers through electronics, engineering or physics degrees before setting them up in state-of-the-art laboratories to build next-generation defence solutions. “The ingenuity in technology is tremendous. Israel is a fountain of knowledge,” says Avishay Braverman, an Israeli cabinet minister and former World Bank economist.

“The reason for the success in high-tech industry is that the army invested so much in research. Where else do you have men and women operating the most sophisticated computers in the world at such a young age?” The ingenuity and training is mixed with a need to solve Israel’s problems due to its geography and political isolation. Its main water sources are controlled by its enemies Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The land is sandy and infertile. “Israel has become a world power in terms of green technology because of our long experience in dealing with scarcity,” says Jon Medved, head of the pioneering video ringtone company Vringo and an investor in Israeli clean technology companies. “ We’ve created these technologies to solve problems that are acute here.”

Israel and experts such as Dov Pasternak lead the world in countering the creeping desertifi cation that has made large swathes of Africa and Asia uninhabitable. Satellite photographs show that only two countries have increased the area of land covered by forest and agriculture – the United States and Israel. Israeli farmers revolutionised the watering of agricultural crops more than 40 years ago through the drip irrigation system which has since been adopted worldwide.

Water is carried directly to the roots of the plant through tiny holes in small tubes that can be easily redeployed according to need. The system is set on a timer, reducing evaporation and eliminating run-off. Because the water is delivered direct to the roots of the crop there is less moisture on the leaves and surrounding soil, suppressing mould and weeds. That reduces the need for chemicals and pesticides.

Netafim, which markets the technology, says it is now used in more than 110 countries and has helped create self-sustaining agricultural communities in drought-stricken areas, particularly in Africa. Israel now recycles 70 per cent of its waste water – a huge amount that puts it way ahead of any other country. The water is used for agriculture, waste management and for fi sh farms in the desert.

Israel is also a pioneer in geothermal and solar energy. The world’s leading company in geothermal power – harnessing Earth’s heat to generate electricity – is Ormat, an Israeli company. For decades visitors to Israel have been struck by the solar heating panels and water tanks on the top of almost every building. These provide solar-heated water to just about every home and business.

Now Israel is leading the way in a new technology that harnesses solar power for clean electricity production. One company, Solel, was snapped up by the German industrial giant Siemens last year for more than $400million. It is competing with Brightsource, another Israeli company, for contracts to supply more than two million homes in California with electricity produced without any fossil fuels.

But Israeli ingenuity in electricity is not limited to the sun. Innowattech is developing a system to generate electricity from the pressure of traffic driving along roads. Piezo-electric generators are installed inches beneath the upper layer of asphalt and convert the mechanical energy of traffic passing over them into electrical energy.

INNOWATTECH estimates that its generators placed along a half-mile stretch of a four-lane motorway would produce about 1MWh of electricity – enough to power 2,500 households. It is testing prototypes for roads, railways, pedestrian walkways and airport runways – all of which could generate completely clean electricity.

Before too long it will be possible to drive an electric car powered by a battery whose electricity was generated by the sun or by other cars driving across sub-surface generator, and whose engine is cooled by recycled water.

But only in Israel.