Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's Get Out of Afghanistan Now

American soldiers engaging in "social work" and nation building in Afghanistan

Despite being a hawk and a believer that the United States should project its power, all I can say now is that the time has come to get out of Afghanistan.

Carl von Clausewitz defined war as the continuation of politics by other means. Our politicians and generals are defining politics as the continuation of war by other means. This is dooming the war to failure and American soldiers once more to victims of policies carried on on the coffins of heroes.

Wars should be fought with one goal in mind: Victory. Fighting a war differently when it’s deemed an insurgency rather than a conventional war is letting the enemy know that we are putting our troops off limits in certain areas. These areas become then the places where the enemy chooses to hide in and fight from. Combine this with rules of engagement (ROE) that tie the hands of troops; announce a withdrawal date and presto, you have created a formula for defeat.

This new methodology of warfare stems from a belief that the majority of Afghanis are peace-loving victims of the Taliban andal-Qaeda and that killing one of them will make radicals of many. The belief in this concept is at the root of the new ROE. But this is nonsensical. Liberals believe that we are all equal in our ambitions and creed, and that given the choice the entire world would vote for peace and choose to become Jeffersonian democrats. In Afghanistan, Afghanis will tell us what we want to hear, and then they will do to us as much damage they can. This has been their modus operandi for centuries, and the British and Russians can attest to it.

The fact is that in the Muslim world exists a combination of inferiority complex, intertwined with Jihadism, Islamism, and a historical tradition of violence that is incongruent with our democratic traditions. The minority that wants peace and democracy is too terrified of the consequences of cooperation with our troops knowing our defeatist attitude.

America should announce that we are leaving, but that the drones will remain. Afghanis once again will be free to stone women who were raped, hang homosexuals, kill the infidels, deal in drugs, prohibit education of women, reinstate the burka, cane women who are caught unaccompanied by their husbands, and let the kites vanish once more from the skies of Kabul.

But let them know that if the terrorists return, the drones will hunt them, and no place will be sacred enough to prevent our bombs from finding their targets. If the cowards hide among innocent civilians, so be it. I’d rather see innocent civilians dead in Afghanistan, than innocent civilians dead in Manhattan.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 68, and the oil spill continues

This is a picture of the A Whale, the largest oil skimmer in the world, with the capacity to skim 500, 000 barrels a day.  The rest of  the skimmers in the Gulf combined have skimmed 600,000 barrels combined. 

The A Whale was tied to a dock in Norfolk, Virginia waiting for authorization from the Coast Guard and the EPA who were concernede about safety and environmental impact.  Does anyone really care?  Why can't bureaucrats cease being bureucrats while the oil spill in the Gulf continues to gush? 

Let us try anything that seems capable of helping.  We will have plenty of time to push pencils after the oil is continues.

Click here for more on this story

Video - Obama Who Threatened To Filibuster Alito, Says Kagan Deserves Fair Shake

RealClearPolitics - Video - Obama Who Threatened To Filibuster Alito, Says Kagan Deserves Fair Shake.  Funny, I don't remember Obama saying the same thing during the confirmation hearins of Justice Alito.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

129 Days Left Till Election Day

Fascinating picture.  Senator Dodd, and Rep. Barney Frank celebrate after reaching an agreement over the shape of a new finance reform bill. 

It's appropriate that Barney Frank should be pulling his pants up after screwing 300 million Americans.  Here is a guy who "didn't know" that a male prostitution ring was being ran by his boyfriend from the basement of his house, but knows how to reform our economy.  Dodd, on the other hand, is the son of Thomas Dodd, of a former alcoholic senator who was censored by the senate for corruption.  Chris Dodd has so far avoided prosecution and jail by announcing that he is not running for reelection. 

The bill that democrats are about to ram through our throats contains 2000 pages of regulations that no one seems to understand how they will actually work and what their impact will be.  But the most interesting aspect of this legislation is that it attempts to reform our economy without mentioning once Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac.  This is the equivalent of performing surgery to remove a metastasized cancer and leaving the original tumor untouched.

For those who say that reform is needed to avoid another economic crisis, let me remind you that we live in a global economy.  Those who want derivatives or dangerous speculation will do so with a laptop, pressing the enter key and conducting their businesses from Singapore, Hong-Kong, Panama or a thousand different locations that will welcome American investments.  Wall Street does not have to be in lower Manhattan anymore.

The gambling industry is a perfect example.  We prohibit Internet gambling in America, and millions of gamblers are playing from home in virtual casinos located in Costa Rica.

Can't wait till November.  I just hope it wont be too late.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's World War II, not the Great Patriotic War

Ooops, he did it again.

In a press conference with Russian President Medvedev, Obama was attempting to convey a positive message oncerning the meeting between the two leaders. In reality, Russia got the technology it wanted, and the United States got some patronizing smiles and the promise of cooperation with an embargo of Iran that would not hurt the citizens of that nation. Basically, a promise of a poodle with no teeth. Just a little annoying barking against Iran. That should scare them into giving up the nuclear bomb!

As usual, Obama couldn’t control himself and had to mention the poor relations that existed between the two nations when he became president, as if the deterioration of relations was somehow related to President Bush, conveniently forgetting the invasion of Georgia by the thugocracy in Moscow. Obama then proceeded to mention the improvement of relations that resulted from his administration diplomatic breakthroughs. Just to show that he didn’t agree with Medvedev on everything, he reminded us that there were actually disagreements over Georgia. Obama then continued as if a disagreement over Georgia was a disagreement over whether to eat hamburgers or borscht and blinis for lunch.

Obama gave us a note of optimism and the hope that we could return to the “good old days” of the alliance between the United States and the Soviet Union during the “Great Patriotic War.”

The Great Patriotic War? Is Obama insane, or is it that he just cannot avoid using the terminology of his leftist upbringing? The Great Patriotic War was a term developed by Stalin after the USSR was betrayed and invaded by its German allies. The rest of the world calls it World War II. Only Russia continues referring to it by Stalin’s term.

Is Obama so insecure as to feel the need to ingratiate himself with every dictator around the Globe?

Given the fact that Obama is destroying NASA and will use Russian rockets to place American satellites, perhaps we should begin calling astronauts cosmonauts.

What do you say, tovarich?

Eric Hoffer

As our government grows and becomes more and more intrusive, I was reminded by a quote from Eric Hoffer:

"The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An open letter to President Obama from Jon Voight

Actor Jon Voight
June 22, 2010

President Obama:

You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies. You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone's enemy — and it has resonated throughout the world. You are putting Israel in harm's way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world.

You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs. But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.

You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop, and I hope the people in this great country realize your agenda is not for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of your politics.

With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel,

Jon Voight

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Open Letter to Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain

Not long ago, in support of the Palestinian cause in the Middle East, Prime Minister Zapatero appeared in public wearing a kafieh.  Furthermore, Spain has been at the forefront of critics of Israel and the "immorality" of the treatment of Palestinians. This inspired Ieoshua Levi from Israel to post the following open letter to the Spanish Prime Minister.  The letter was written in Spanish, and I took the liberty to translate it for publication in http://www.portalofideas.com/.  I took some liberties in translating, since the irony of the author is difficult to convey in English.  All credit for the letter belongs to Mr. Levi.  All mistakes or omissions are mine. 

Open Letter to Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain

In 1492 the Jews were expelled form Spain.  This was one of the "just and moral" decisions of the Spanish people towards the Jews, who had to flee leaving behind all their belongings and material goods.  The Jews were not only expelled, humiliated, and attacked; they were also robbed by the Spanish people.  Who knows what Spanish person resides in the house of my ancestors, or has the belongings of those ancestors.

...yet, we don't hate the Spanish people.

Let us remember that in the same period Spain also created an institution dedicated to "truth and morality."  This institution that remains in the memory of mankind for their promotion of "tolerance and freedom of religion" is none other than the Inquisition.  Those paladins of justice and morality imprisoned, tortured and killed thousands.  Us, the Jews, they burned at the stake just for being Jews.

...and even though my people, the Jewish people, never created such dignified institutions, despite the hatred, abuse, torture and assassinations we don't hate the Spanish people.  Despite the silenced screams of our murdered ancestors; we don't judge Spain's moral fiber.

Spain continued with the belief that they had not finished their spreading of human values.  Spain was so noble and ethical that they had to spread their influence around the world.  So they came to America.  Not only they arrived there, but they "discovered" it.  Nobody, including the natives of America were aware of their own existence.  And in order to control the discovery and to spread the gallant Spanish morality, so noble and proud, they assassinated hundreds of thousand, in one of the largest genocides in history.  They stole tons of silver and gold that they had "discovered."  Not to mention the destruction of the native cultures.

...yet we, the children of the Hebrews, we don't judge the morality of the Spanish people nor investigate the sources of its richness.  We don't hate the Spanish people.

Perhaps this historical review is looking too far into the past.  So far, that some might say, we shouldn't take it into consideration..  Well, I am a a son of the Hebrew people, and I have 5,700 years of memories.  Inclusive, I remember current history.  For example, the period of Franco where the Spanish morality found a friend in Nazi Germany.  The consequence of so much "justice and morality" does not require the memories of 5,700 years.  Six million Jews perished in this period that wearers of kafiahs, and you too Mr. Zapatero, seem to attempt to deny.

And so, the State of Israel was born in 1948.  After centuries without a homeland, persecuted and enclosed in ghettos, we created an independent state.  Spain, so full of morality, so just and against racism, decided not to recognize the new state.  After being so nice to the Jewish people, it took decades for the just and moral Spanish nation to recognize the new state.

...despite all this, we don't hate the Spanish people.  We ask for nothing.

And when our neighbors attacked and murdered us, we didn't ask Spain to opine or defend us.  And they didn't defend us, but opine they did.  When our roads were mined, and our buses were burned, when our towns were bombed, when we were forced to wage war, Spain gave us opinions based on its history so full of "pacifism and humanism."

When suicide bombers blew themselves up in our restaurants and commercial centers, killing men, women, children, the elderly and the young, Spanish morality was nowhere to be found.  But when we reacted, the Spanish mass media, so objective, so well balanced, so full of morality and justice, so intelligent; did opine.  But as usual, as is the Spanish historical tradition, the reaction was to oppose the Jews.  And it isn't because of racism, or the Inquisition, or tradition or morality.  The reaction was because we the Jews bother them.  And I never understood why. 

...despite all this we felt sorry and identified with the Spanish people when they suffered terrorist attacks.  We felt close to the victims, their families and their suffering.  And we didn't hate the Spanish people.

And when thousands of missiles fall on the towns and cities of Israel, and we have dead and wounded, and when our soldiers are kidnapped, and our synagogues are attacked, and our cemeteries destroyed, and while Satanic theories are impugned on us attempting to dehumanize the Jews, we, Jews, shouldn't respond.  We have to put the other cheek.  We have to allow ourselves to be murdered, just like in the historical period that Mr. Zapatero remembers from the perspective of a Spain that wasn't involved.  This gives him the moral high ground to criticize us.

Put on  a kafiah, Mr. Zapatero, but never a kipah.  Our dead don't count; just like in the fires of the Inquisition. 

Put on Kafiah, while you allow Moroccan Muslims to drown on the Mediterranean when they attempt to reach to Spain.  Mr. Zapatero, they are Muslims and they use a Kafiah.  Don't you identify with their suffering?

Keep on the kafiah.  While you remember the Spanish trains, keep the kafiah on.  It look good on you.  Wear it while you talk to us about morality, truth, justice and humanism.  Don't forget anything.  We won't.  We remember the expulsion from Spain, the Inquisition, the persecution, the behavior of Spain in the "New World."  We won't forget the murders, and the thievery and we will never forget the Spanish "opposition" to Nazism.  We will remember how Spain never spoke of morality while we were being attacked and assassinated.

Keep the kafiaah on, Mr. Zapatero, and keep lecturing on morality, justice and humanism.  Spain has really a lot to lecture about.

Talk, Mr. Zapatero, while we are being butchered.  You are a noble son to the Spanish historical tradition.  The kafiah looks good on you, and it allows you to ally yourself to Islamic fundamentalism, so full of love and so many universal values of freedom, freedom of thought and opinion and divine justice and morality.

And while we talk about morality to us.

...remember, despite everything, we don't hate the Spanish people.  We respect them, read their books, listen to their music, we talk to them, visit them and approach them.  We don't hate Spaniards, or Germans or Arabs.  We only want to live in peace.  But those who placed on you the kafiah, those from Septemeber 11, the Madrid and London bombings, those who teach hatred and lies and barbarism wont let us.

Ieoshua Levi


Mort Zuckerman: World Sees Obama as Incompetent and Amateur

Mort Zuckerman has just published a scathing indictment of the Obama administration and the way they conduct foreign policy.  His conclusion, as is the conclusion of many observers is that the world views Obama as incompetent and amateur.  Zuckerman writes:

The reviews of Obama’s performance have been disappointing. He has seemed uncomfortable in the role of leading other nations, and often seems to suggest there is nothing special about America’s role in the world. The global community was puzzled over the pictures of Obama bowing to some of the world’s leaders and surprised by his gratuitous criticisms of and apologies for America’s foreign policy under the previous administration of George W. Bush. One Middle East authority, Fouad Ajami, pointed out that Obama seems unaware that it is bad form and even a great moral lapse to speak ill of one’s own tribe while in the lands of others.

Even in Britain, for decades our closest ally, the talk in the press—supported by polls—is about the end of the “special relationship” with America. French President Nicolas Sarkozy openly criticized Obama for months, including a direct attack on his policies at the United Nations. Sarkozy cited the need to recognize the real world, not the virtual world, a clear reference to Obama’s speech on nuclear weapons. When the French president is seen as tougher than the American president, you have to know that something is awry. Vladimir Putin of Russia has publicly scorned a number of Obama’s visions. Relations with the Chinese leadership got off to a bad start with the president’s poorly-organized visit to China, where his hosts treated him disdainfully and prevented him from speaking to a national television audience of the Chinese people. The Chinese behavior was unprecedented when compared to visits by other U.S. presidents.
Obama’s policy on Afghanistan—supporting a surge in troops, but setting a date next year when they will begin to withdraw—not only gave a mixed signal, but provided an incentive for the Taliban just to wait us out. The withdrawal part of the policy was meant to satisfy a domestic constituency, but succeeded in upsetting all of our allies in the region. Further anxiety was provoked by Obama’s severe public criticism of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his coterie of family and friends for their lackluster leadership, followed by a reversal of sorts regarding the same leaders.
Obama clearly wishes to do good and means well. But he is one of those people who believe that the world was born with the word and exists by means of persuasion, such that there is no person or country that you cannot, by means of logical and moral argument, bring around to your side. He speaks as a teacher, as someone imparting values and generalities appropriate for a Sunday morning sermon, not as a tough-minded leader. He urges that things “must be done” and “should be done” and that “it is time” to do them. As the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Les Gelb, put it, there is “the impression that Obama might confuse speeches with policy.” Another journalist put it differently when he described Obama as an “NPR [National Public Radio] president who gives wonderful speeches.” In other words, he talks the talk but doesn’t know how to walk the walk. The Obama presidency has so far been characterized by a well-intentioned but excessive belief in the power of rhetoric with too little appreciation of reality and loyalty.
Zuckerman concludes:

The end result is that a critical mass of influential people in world affairs who once held high hopes for the president have begun to wonder whether they misjudged the man. They are no longer dazzled by his rock star personality and there is a sense that there is something amateurish and even incompetent about how Obama is managing U.S. power. … America right now appears to be unreliable to traditional friends, compliant to rivals, and weak to enemies.
Click here to read the complete article in U.S. News and World Report

Hillel Neuer Rips U.N. Human Rights Council for Double Standards

Monday, June 21, 2010

Israel and the Surrender of the West

One of the world's oldest stories is playing out before our eyes: The Jews are being scapegoated again.

By SHELBY STEELE in the Wall Street Journal

The most interesting voice in all the fallout surrounding the Gaza flotilla incident is that sanctimonious and meddling voice known as "world opinion."  At every turn "world opinion," like a school marm, takes offense and condemns Israel for yet another infraction of the world's moral sensibility. And this voice has achieved an international political legitimacy so that even the silliest condemnation of Israel is an opportunity for self-congratulation.

Rock bands now find moral imprimatur in canceling their summer tour stops in Israel (Elvis Costello, the Pixies, the Gorillaz, the Klaxons). A demonstrator at an anti-Israel rally in New York carries a sign depicting
the skull and crossbones drawn over the word "Israel." White House correspondent Helen Thomas, in one of the ugliest incarnations of this voice, calls on Jews to move back to Poland. And of course the United
Nations and other international organizations smugly pass one condemnatory resolution after another against Israel while the Obama administration either joins in or demurs with a wink.

This is something new in the world, this almost complete segregation of Israel in the community of nations. And if Helen Thomas's remarks were pathetic and ugly, didn't they also point to the end game of this isolation
effort: the nullification of Israel's legitimacy as a nation? There is a chilling familiarity in all this. One of the world's oldest stories is playing out before our eyes: The Jews are being scapegoated again.

"World opinion" labors mightily to make Israel look like South Africa looked in its apartheid era-a nation beyond the moral pale. And it projects onto Israel the same sin that made apartheid South Africa so untouchable: white supremacy. Somehow "world opinion" has moved away from the old 20th century view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a complicated territorial dispute between two long-suffering peoples. Today the world puts its thumb on the scale for the Palestinians by demonizing the stronger and whiter Israel as essentially a colonial power committed to the "occupation" of a beleaguered Third World people.

This is now-figuratively in some quarters and literally in others-the moral template through which Israel is seen. It doesn't matter that much of the world may actually know better. This template has become propriety itself, a form of good manners, a political correctness. Thus it is good manners to be outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza, and it is bad manners to be outraged at Hamas's recent attack on a school because it educated girls, or at the thousands of rockets Hamas has fired into Israeli towns-or even at the fact that Hamas is armed and funded by Iran. The world wants independent investigations of Israel, not of Hamas.

One reason for this is that the entire Western world has suffered from a deficit of moral authority for decades now. Today we in the West are reluctant to use our full military might in war lest we seem imperialistic;
we hesitate to enforce our borders lest we seem racist; we are reluctant to ask for assimilation from new immigrants lest we seem xenophobic; and we are pained to give Western Civilization primacy in our educational curricula lest we seem supremacist. Today the West lives on the defensive, the very legitimacy of our modern societies requiring constant dissociation from the sins of the Western past-racism, economic exploitation, imperialism and so on.

When the Israeli commandos boarded that last boat in the flotilla and, after being attacked with metal rods, killed nine of their attackers, they were acting in a world without the moral authority to give them the benefit of the doubt. By appearances they were shock troopers from a largely white First World nation willing to slaughter even "peace activists" in order to enforce a blockade against the impoverished brown people of Gaza. Thus the irony: In the eyes of a morally compromised Western world, the Israelis looked like the Gestapo.

This, of course, is not the reality of modern Israel. Israel does not seek to oppress or occupy-and certainly not to annihilate-the Palestinians in the pursuit of some atavistic Jewish supremacy. But the merest echo of the
shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.  The West also lacks the self-assurance to see the Palestinians accurately.  Here again it is safer in the white West to see the Palestinians as they advertise themselves-as an "occupied" people denied sovereignty and simple human dignity by a white Western colonizer. The West is simply too vulnerable to the racist stigma to object to this "neo-colonial"

Our problem in the West is understandable. We don't want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So we choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians-and for that matter much of the Middle East-are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want-a sovereign nation and even, let's say, a nuclear weapon-they would wake the
next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority. For better or for worse, modernity is now the measure of man.

And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity-no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority, while my enemy's wealth proves his inhumanity.

In other words, my hatred is my self-esteem. This must have much to do with why Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak's famous Camp David offer of 2000 in which Israel offered more than 90% of what the Palestinians had demanded. To have accepted that offer would have been to forgo hatred as consolation and meaning. Thus it would have plunged the Palestinians-and by implication the broader Muslim world-into a confrontation with their inferiority relative to modernity. Arafat knew that without the Jews to hate an all-defining cohesion would leave the Muslim world. So he said no to peace. And this recalcitrance in the Muslim world, this attraction to the consolations of hatred, is one of the world's great problems today-whether in the suburbs of Paris and London, or in Kabul and Karachi, or in Queens, N.Y., and Gaza. The fervor for hatred as deliverance may not define the Muslim world, but it has become a drug that consoles elements of that world in the larger competition with the West. This is the problem we in the West have no easy solution to, and we scapegoat Israel-admonish it to behave better-so as not to feel helpless. We see our own vulnerability there.

Mr. Steele is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

If Israel goes down, we all go down

Former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar, has written an article for The Times of London in support of Israel. 

For those of you who have forgotten, Aznar lost the 2004 election when the cowardly Spanish elected Zapatero after the Madrid bombings.  Zapatero, as most members of the international left, has been a critic of Israel, while anti-Semitism is again becoming quite virulent in the land of Torquemada and the Inquisition.

Here is Aznar's article:

 If Israel goes down, we all go down

For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion. In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship. In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organised a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.

In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN. Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.

Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances.

Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was attacked by its neighbours using the conventional weapons of war. Then it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks. Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.

Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.

For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.

The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.

The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation. It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East. Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.

Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down. To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders, requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.

The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith. To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.

This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people, including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual George Weigel.

It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we believe in diversity.

What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defence of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic error of the first magnitude.

Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Must read this weekend...

My hero Mark Steyn has a brilliant analysis of the Obama presidency and the impact of two leaks.  The leak in the Gulf and the leak in public support for a president who fooled more than half of the electorate into believing that he was a genius of almost messianic capabilities.

Read Mark Steyn's article.

On similar vein to the above topic, Peggy Noonan explains Barack Obama is in the process of becoming a Jimmy Carter.

Read Peggy Noonan's article.

To complement Steyn and Noonan, we have Charles Krauthammer explaining Obama's visionary approach and his believe that the government can do everything, including the development of unknown sources of energy.  The same government that cannot "plug the hole."

Read Charles Krauthammer's article.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Lesson of a Jewish Cemetery

Mark Steyn has once again managed to distill in an article the essence of the problems Jews are facing, and the way the world at large is reacting to Israel and Jews.

Reading this column made me remember the axiom "Not all critics of Israel are anti Semites, but all anti Semites are critics of Israel.

The article was published in the Canadian magazine Maclean's.

The lesson of a Jewish cemetery, by Mark Steyn

Jewish cemetery in Cracow

Thanks to the wonders of globalization, I’m writing this in a fairly decrepit salon de thé off the rue de la Liberté in Tangiers, enjoying a coffee and a stale croissant grilled and flattened into a panini. What could be more authentically Moroccan? For some reason, the napkins are emblazoned with “Gracias por su visita.”

Through a blizzard of flies, I can just about make out the plasma TV up in the corner on which Jimmy Carter, dubbed into Arabic, is denouncing Israel. Al Jazeera doesn’t so much cover the Zionist Entity as feast on it, hour after hour, without end. So here, at the western frontier of the Muslim world (if you don’t include Yorkshire), the only news that matters is from a tiny strip of land barely wider at its narrowest point than a rural Canadian township way down the other end of the Mediterranean.

Notwithstanding saturation coverage of the “Massacre In The Med” (as the front page headline in Britain’s Daily Mirror put it), there are other Jewish stories in the news. This one caught my eye in Canada’s Shalom Life: “No danger to the Jewish cemeteries in Tangiers.” Apparently, the old Jewish hospital in this ancient port city was torn down a couple of months back, and the Moroccan Jewish diaspora back in Toronto worried that their graveyards might be next on the list. Not to worry, Abraham Azancot assured Shalom Life readers. The Jewish cemetery on the rue du Portugal is perfectly safe. “Its sanctity has consistently been respected by the local government that is actually providing the community with resources to assist in its current grooming.”

Sounds great. Being in the neighbourhood, I thought I’d swing by and check out the “current grooming.” It’s kind of hard to spot unless you’re consciously looking for it: two solid black metal gates off a steep, narrow street where the rue du Portugal crosses the rue Salah Dine, and only the smallest of signs to indicate what lies behind. On pushing open the gate and squeezing through, I was greeted by a pair of long underwear, flapping in the breeze. In Haiti, this would be some voodoo ritual, alerting one to go no further. But in Tangiers it was merely wash day, and laundry lines dangled over the nearest graves. If you happen to be Ysaac Benzaquen (died 1921) or Samuel Maman (died 1925), it is your lot to spend eternity with the groundskeeper’s long johns. Pace Mr. Azancot, there is no sense of “sanctity” or “community”: as the underwear advertises, this is no longer a public place, merely a backyard that happens to have a ton of gravestones in it. I use the term “groundskeeper” but keeping the grounds doesn’t seem to be a priority: another row of graves was propping up piles of logs he was busy chopping out of hefty tree trunks. Beyond that, chickens roamed amidst burial plots strewn with garbage bags, dozens of old shoes, and hundreds of broken bottles.

It’s prime real estate, with a magnificent view of the Mediterranean, if you don’t mind the trash and the stench and the chickenshit, and you tiptoe cautiously around the broken glass. I wandered past the graves: Jacob Cohen, Samuel J. Cohen, Samuel M. Cohen . . . Lot of Cohens here over the years. Not anymore. In one isolated corner, six young men—des musulmans, naturellement—watched a seventh lightly scrub a tombstone, as part of a make-work project “providing the community with resources to assist in its current grooming.”

What “community”? By 2005, there were fewer than 150 Jews in Tangiers, almost all of them very old. By 2015, it is estimated that there will be precisely none. Whenever I mention such statistics to people, the reaction is a shrug: why would Jews live in Morocco anyway? But in 1945 there were some 300,000 in this country. Today some 3,000 Jews remain—i.e., about one per cent of what was once a large and significant population. That would be an unusual demographic reconfiguration in most countries: imagine if Canada’s francophone population or Inuit population were today one per cent of what it was in 1945. But it’s not unusual for Jews. There are cemeteries like that on the rue du Portugal all over the world, places where once were Jews and now are none. I mentioned only last week that in the twenties, Baghdad was 40 per cent Jewish. But you could just as easily cite Czernowitz in the Bukovina, now part of Ukraine. “There is not a shop that has not a Jewish name painted above its windows,” wrote Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, visiting the city in 1937. Not today. As in Tangiers, the “community” resides in the cemetery.

You can sense the same process already under way in, say, London, the 13th-biggest Jewish city in the world, but one with an aging population; and in Malmö, Sweden, where a surge in anti-Semitism from, ahem, certain quarters has led Jewish residents to abandon the city for Stockholm and beyond; and in Odense, Denmark, where last year superintendent Olav Nielsen announced he would no longer admit Jewish children to the local school. The Jewish presence almost anywhere on the map is as precarious as, to coin a phrase, a fiddler on the roof. And Israel’s enemies are determined that the biggest Jewish community of all should be just as precarious and prove just as impermanent.

In 1936, during the Cable Street riots, the British Union of Fascists jeered at London Jews, “Go back to Palestine!”, “Palestine” being in those days the designation for the Jewish homeland. Last week, Helen Thomas, the doyenne of the White House press corps, jeered at today’s Jews, “Get the hell out of Palestine,” “Palestine” being now the designation for the land illegally occupied by the Jewish apartheid state. “Go home,” advised Miss Thomas, “to Poland and Germany.” Wherever a Jew is, whatever a Jew is, he should be something else somewhere else. And then he can be hated for that, too.

North Korea sinks a South Korean ship; hundreds of thousands of people die in the Sudan; millions die in the Congo. But 10 men die at the hands of Israeli commandos and it dominates the news day in, day out for weeks, with UN resolutions, international investigations, calls for boycotts, and every Western prime minister and foreign minister expected to rise in parliament and express the outrage of the international community.
Odd. But why?

Because Israel is supposed to be up for grabs in a way that the Congo, Sudan or even North Korea aren’t. Only the Jewish state attracts an intellectually respectable movement querying its very existence, and insisting that, after 62 years of independence, that issue is still not resolved. Let’s take a nation that came into existence at precisely the same time as the Zionist Entity, and involved far bloodier population displacements. I happen to think the creation of Pakistan was the greatest failure of postwar British imperial policy. But the fact is that Pakistan exists, and if I were to launch a movement of anti-Pakism it would get pretty short shrift, and in Canada a “human rights” complaint or three.

The “Palestinian question” is a land dispute, but not in the sense of a boundary-line argument between two Ontario farmers. Rather, it represents the coming together of two psychoses. Islam is a one-way street. Once you’re in the Dar al-Islam, that’s it; there’s no checkout desk. They take land, they hold it, forever.

That’s why, in his first post-9/11 message to the troops, Osama droned on about the fall of Andalusia: it’s been half a millennium, but he still hasn’t gotten over it, and so, a couple of years ago, when I was at the Pentagon being shown some of the maps found in al-Qaeda safe houses, “the new caliphate” had Spain and India being re-incorporated within the Muslim world. If that’s how you think, no wonder a tiny little sliver of a Jewish state smack dab in the heart of the Dar al-Islam drives you nuts: to accept Israel’s “right to exist” would be as unthinkable as accepting a re-Christianized Constantinople.

To this fierce Islamic imperialism, the new Europeans, post-Christian, post-nationalist and postmodern as they are, nevertheless bring one of their oldest prejudices—that in the modern world as much as in medieval Christendom Jews can never be accorded full property rights. On a patch of the Holy Land, they are certainly the current leaseholders, but they will never have recognized legal title. To be sure, there are a lot of them there right now. But then there were a lot of them in Tangiers and Baghdad and the Bukovina and Germany and Poland, for a while. Why shouldn’t Tel Aviv one day be just another city with some crumbling cemeteries and a few elderly Jews?

That’s the reason the “Palestinian question” is never settled. Because, as long as it’s unresolved, then Israel’s legitimacy is unsettled, too.

Still, the impatience of the new globalized Judenhass is now palpable. I used to think that, when Iran got the bomb, it wouldn’t use it. I wouldn’t take that bet now. The new anti-Semitism is a Euro-Islamic fusion so universal, so irrational and so fevered that it’s foolish to assume any limits.

And now, time lo laugh at a world gone insane

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Computer Problems

I have been having computer problems.  Five minutes ago I finished fixing the problems, and I will be back blogging tomorrow. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deporting 'Son of Hamas'

The Obama administration, which wants to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, suddenly became tough and is getting ready to deport a person that abandoned terrorism and risked his life for Israel and the United States.  Perhaps Mosab Hassan Yousef should marry Obama's aunt, who got political asylum without any evidence that her life was in danger if deported to Obama's ancestral homeland, Kenya.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the case:

Deporting 'Son of Hamas'
The U.S. may send an anti-terror agent back to the West Bank.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is a best-selling author who wrote "Son of Hamas" about his life as a Palestinian who became an informant for Israeli intelligence. He's probably near the top of every Islamist terror hit list, yet, incredibly enough, the U.S. may soon deport him as a terror threat.

In 2007, Mr. Yousef came to the United States, where he converted to Christianity from Islam and applied for political asylum. The request was denied in February 2009, Mr. Yousef says, on grounds that he was potentially "a danger to the security of the United States" and had "engaged in terrorist activity." His case has automatically proceeded to the deportation stage, and on June 30 at 8 a.m. he will appear before Judge Rico Bartolomei in Homeland Security Immigration Court in San Diego.

Homeland Security is well aware of the author's history, and in fact is using it against him. According to Mr. Yousef, a letter from Homeland Security attorney Kerri Calcador cites passages in "Son of Hamas" as evidence of his connection to terrorist leaders and suggests that the work he did for Hamas while spying for Israel provided aid to terrorists. "At a bare minimum, evidence of the respondent's transport of Hamas members to safe houses . . . indicates that the respondent provided material support to a [Tier I] terrorist organization," the U.S. lawyer wrote.

But unless Ms. Calcador knows more than she's saying, this is bizarre. As a spy for Israel, Mr. Yousef had to make his colleagues believe he was a loyal member of Hamas. He used that trust to gain information that he provided to Israeli intelligence, which used it to prevent terror attacks and save lives. One of Mr. Yousef's handlers at Shin Bet confirmed his book's account to the Israeli daily Haaretz, and his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, has disowned him from the Israeli prison he has occupied since 2005. (See our Weekend Interview with the younger Yousef, "They Need to Be Liberated From Their God," March 6, 2010.)

The problem seems to be that, under a provision of U.S. immigration law, anyone who is shown to have provided "material support" for terrorist organizations is automatically denied asylum. In the relentless way that bureaucracy works, this is being interpreted as leaving little discretion for deserving exceptions like the case of Mr. Yousef. In some cases Homeland Security does have the power to issue a waiver of this "no admission" rule—an option that was not exercised before Mr. Yousef's asylum was denied.

If Mr. Yousef were a security threat, you'd expect that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would have found reason to detain him. Yet he remains free to travel and even to hit the book-selling circuit. A senior government official tells us that Homeland Security will "not be mounting a stiff defense" of the 2009 decision to deny him asylum, which is at least one burst of common sense.

Mr. Yousef is a native of the West Bank, which is where he would presumably return if he is deported and where Hamas would immediately seek to kill him. Under the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. has an international treaty obligation not to return people to countries where their lives would be at risk. That concern stopped the return to China of the Uighers at Guantanamo, and rightly so. It would dishonor the U.S. to deport a convert in the war on terror because our immigration bureaucracy is too obtuse to make even life and death distinctions.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sources: Obama Administration to Support Anti-Israel Resolution at UN Next Week

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, reports that the Obama administration will support next week an anti-Israel resolution.  Here is the report:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident. The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror.

While UN Ambassador Susan Rice is reported to have played an important role in pushing for U.S. support of a UN investigation, the decision is, one official stressed, of course the president's. The government of Israel has been consulting with the U.S. government on its own Israeli investigative panel, to be led by a retired supreme court justice, that would include respected international participants, including one from the U.S. But the Obama administration is reportedly saying that such a “kosher panel” is not good enough to satisfy the international community, or the Obama White House.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reuters Does it Again

I have written earlier about the editing and cropping done on pictures published by Reuters.  Now LittlleGreenFootballs.com has exposed some more selective editing designed to prevent the exposure of the "peace activists" as armed thugs.

This is the picture published by Reuters:

This is the original picture before cropping:

We can see in the original the hand holding a serrated knife.  In the picture below we can see a magnification of the hand holding the knife and a pool of blood that Reuters deemed unnecessary to publish. 

Finally, with the help of PhotoShop, the picture was lightened, and now we can see not only the knife, but an injured Israeli soldier:

I guess Reuters didn't want to tarnish the image of the "activists."

RealClearPolitics - Video - Krauthammer: Sanctions Reveal "Fecklessness" Of U.S. And Int'l Community

RealClearPolitics - Video - Krauthammer: Sanctions Reveal "Fecklessness" Of U.S. And Int'l Community

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brett Stephens in the WSJ on Israel and its liberal "friends."

Israel and Its Liberal 'Friends'

Why don't they apply the same tough love to the Palestinians?

Questions for liberals: What does it mean to be a friend of Israel? What does it mean to be a friend of the Palestinians? And should the same standards of friendship apply to Israelis and Palestinians alike, or is
there a double standard here as well?

It has become the predictable refrain among Israel's liberal critics that their criticism is, in fact, the deepest form of friendship. Who but a real friend, after all, is willing to tell Israel the hard truths it will not tell itself? Who will remind Israel that it is now the strong party, and that it cannot continue to play the victim and evade the duties of moral judgment and prudential restraint? Above all, who will remind Israel that it cannot go on denying Palestinians their rights, their dignity, and a country they can call their own?

The answer, say people like Peter Beinart, formerly of the New Republic, is people like . . . Peter Beinart. And now that Israel has found itself in another public relations hole thanks to last week's raid on the Gaza
flotilla, Israelis will surely be hearing a lot more from him.

Now consider what it means for liberals to be friends of the Palestinians.

Here, the criticism becomes oddly muted. So Egypt, a country that also once occupied Gaza, enforces precisely the same blockade on the Strip as Israel:
Do liberal friends of Palestine urge the Obama administration to get tough on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as they urge him to do with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? So a bunch of "peace" activists teams up with a Turkish group of virulently anti-Semitic bent and with links both to Hamas and al Qaeda: Does this prompt liberal soul-searching about the moral drift of the pro-Palestinian movement? So Hamas trashes a U.N.-run school, as it did the other week, because it educates girls: Do liberals wag stern
fingers at Palestinians for giving up on the dream of a secular, progressive state?

Well, no. And no. And no. Instead, liberal support for Palestinians is now mainly of the no-hard-questions-asked variety. But that is precisely the kind of support that liberals decry as toxic when it comes to Western
support for Israel.

I leave it to others to decide whether this is simple hypocrisy or otherwise evidence of how disingenuous claims by certain liberals to friendship with Israel have become. Still, these liberals insist that their remonstrances are necessary because, without them, Israelis won't get the tough love they


Really? Consider a sample of recent clippings from the Israeli press. An editorial in Haaretz: "Like a robot lacking judgment . . . that's how the [Israeli] government is behaving in its handling of the aid flotillas to the
Gaza Strip." A columnist in the Jerusalem Post: "As evil as these jihadists [aboard the flotilla] are, they were acting in a cause the whole decent, democratic world knows is right: Freedom for Gaza. Freedom for the
Palestinians. And end to the occupation. An end to the blockade." A member of Israel's cabinet: "We need to ease the population's conditions and find security-sensitive, worthy alternatives to the embargo."
None of this indicates a society lacking in a capacity for self-criticism.  Yet that capacity hardly has any parallel in the closed circle of Palestinian media or politics, a point that ought to bother Western

It doesn't. One wonders why.

Part of the reason surely has to be intellectual confusion, an inability to grasp the difference between national "liberation" and genuine freedom. Ho Chi Minh was not a "freedom fighter," and neither was Yasser Arafat. How many times does the world have to go through this drill for liberals to get the point?

There's also a psychology at work. Harvard's Ruth Wisse calls it "moral solipsism"-obsessive regard for your own moral performance; complete indifference to the performance of those who wish you ill.

Finally there's the fact that liberalism has become a politics of easy targets. Liberals have no trouble taking stands against abstinence educators, Prop 8 supporters or members of the tea party. But when it comes
to genuine bigots and religious fanatics-and Hamas has few equals in those categories-liberals have a way of discovering their capacity for cultural nuance and political pragmatism

Today, by contrast, the task of defending Israel is hard. It's hard because defenders must eschew cliches about "the powerful" and "the powerless." It is hard because it goes against prevailing ideological fashions. And it's hard because it requires an appreciation that the choice of evils that endlessly confronts Israeli policy makers is not something they can simply wash their hands of by "ending the occupation." They tried that before-in Gaza.

Is there a liberalism that is capable of recognizing this? Or are we again at the stage where it has been consumed by its instinct for fellow-traveling? In 1968, Eric Hoffer wrote: "I have a premonition that
will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us.  Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us." By "us," he meant liberals, too, and maybe most of all.

Worth reading...

Jeff Jacoby, of the Boston Globe has well thought article on the way to oil has enriched our lives.  Read it even if you are one of those who call oil consumption an addiction.

Read Article

Should Muslim women breastfeed Muslim men?  Some clerics think so and the debate continues among Muslims who want to move Islam from the Middle Ages to...well...the Middle Ages.

Read Article

Monday, June 7, 2010

Reuters Does it Again

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet has released pictures of the "peace activists" involved with the Gaza flotilla while they were attempting to take Israeli soldiers as hostages.  Reuters picked up one of the pictures and cropped it before distribution.  Can you identify what is missing form the cropped picture?

Picture published by Hurriyet

Cropped picture

I assume that it is not uncommon for news agencies to crop pictures.  However, within the context of this story, the removal of the knife changes the whole context of the story, where Islamist claimed that they were not armed.  In my dictionary, a sharp pointy knife qualifies as a deadly weapon.

Israel: Pioneering Technological Development

This is an interesting video that explains Israel's contributions to the world of science and technology. I wonder if boycotters of Israel have given up the many tools developed in Israel with which they communicate and propagate their hateful messages. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Siege Fatigue and the Flotilla Mistake

Ronen Bergman, for Yediot Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, has written for the Wall Street Journal a very well thought column on the Gaza Flotilla fiasco.  Here is a reprint:

Monday's botched commando raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla has proven disastrous for Israel. World public opinion has united in condemning the Jewish state and the U.N. Security Council has already demanded an inquiry. Closer to home, the strategic alliance that Israel had painstakingly forged with Turkey is in tatters.

Global View Columnist Bret Stephens explains why Israel's best friend in the Middle East is now an adversary.
The horrific outcome—so far nine killed and dozens wounded—has caused irreparable damage to Israel's image. Even if the video evidence proves beyond doubt that the activists on board the ships were armed and that they were the first to attack, the battle for public opinion (which, after all, is what the flotilla exercise was really about) was lost the moment the first Israeli soldier set foot on the deck of the Mavi Marmara—the Turkish ferry that served as the flagship.

What makes the flotilla fiasco all the more astounding is that Israel has been preparing for this confrontation for months. It has had time to run various scenarios, and even to review strategies it has previously employed for similar events.

In 1988, 131 members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who had been deported from the Palestinian Territories following the outbreak of the first intifada intended to set sail to Gaza from Limassol, Cyprus. Their boat, called Al Awda or the Ship of the Return, was accompanied by 200 journalists.

The Mavi Marmara, lead boat of a flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip, which was stormed by Israeli naval commandos.
Publicly, Israel announced that it would use any force necessary to prevent the vessel from reaching Gaza. But behind the scenes the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general staff, including then Deputy Chief of Staff Ehud Barak, recognized that while seizing control of the ship or blowing it out of the water were not operationally complicated, the international repercussions of such plans would be grim if the Israelis were met with resistance and a battle ensued.

For this reason, the idea of a direct confrontation was abandoned, and the IDF decided to implement a covert operation instead. On Feb. 15, hours before it was due to set sail, the empty ship was blown up in Limassol harbor by a team of Mossad agents and frogmen from Flotilla 13 (the Israeli equivalent of Navy Seals). The team was led by Yoav Galant, then a young officer and today a major general in the IDF. The operation was a success. There were no casualties on either side and the PLO gave up on the idea of sailing to Gaza.

More recently, in August 2006 two ships carrying peace activists and food aid set out to Gaza, again from Cyprus. Under instructions from then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the vessels were boarded at sea without resistance. After a search uncovered no weapons, the ships were permitted to continue on toward the Strip. The Israeli naval forces went home, Hamas declared victory, and that was that.

But unlike 2006, the rhetoric from both sides—as well as the fact that the Insani Yardim Vakfi, a front group for the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood, organized the flotilla—made it clear that any attempt to take control of the vessels would almost certainly result in violent confrontation. This is what makes inexplicable the IDF's decision to have members of the Flotilla 13 commando unit board the Marmara. These men are not trained to deal with civilian protestors. And there were other options available to the IDF, such as disabling the ships at sea and towing them to an Israeli port.

While the instinct of many is no doubt to lay the blame at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's door, it should not be forgotten that the current minister of defense is Ehud Barak, a calmer head whose wealth of military experience includes, as mentioned above, firsthand familiarity with the arguments for and against employing potentially violent methods in similar situations.

What, then, are we to make of the decision-making that led to this tragedy?

Many observers, myself included, often resort to the concept of siege mentality when attempting to make sense of Jerusalem's approach to international relations. It is also true that the memory of the Holocaust still looms large in Israel, especially when existential threats—in which category I emphatically do not include a grab-bag collection of Turkish boats—emerge on Israel's horizon. But until recently, even with its siege mentality, the Israeli government always made an attempt—half-hearted, or ill-conceived, or badly executed, but an attempt nonetheless—to act in a way that would minimize possible harm to the state's international image.

What we witnessed in the early hours of Monday morning was symptomatic of a new degree of fatigue in Israeli governing circles. The fact that both the political and the military authorities could sign off on such an irresponsible operation suggests that the leadership of the country has given up what it has concluded is ultimately a Sisyphean attempt to accommodate world opinion. Isolation is no longer a threat to be fought, their thinking seems to go, because Israel is terminally isolated. What remains is to concentrate exclusively on what is best for Israel's survival, shedding any regard for the opinion of others.

"It makes no difference what we do, or how careful we are, or how we tackle the matter of the flotilla," I was told by a very senior military source two days before the operation. "Whatever we do, they'll all be against us, they'll condemn us at the U.N., and we'll be scolded. We might as well at least preserve our national dignity and maintain the blockade of Gaza." In other words, the war over world opinion is over—and Israel has lost.

Everything that has happened in the past year—the Goldstone Report condemning Israel's war in Gaza, the international furor after the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, even the statement singling out Israel at the recent Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference—is taken as an indication that any attempt to do the "right thing" is pointless and perhaps counterproductive. One might as well simply give up.

This feeling is shared by a large section of the Israeli population—not merely the right wing of Israeli society. While many are condemning the IDF's operation on Monday, it is probably fair to say that the majority of the country instinctively understands why these events were permitted to occur.

Israel's fatigue and deep sense of ostracism is, to say the least, unhealthy. It would be unhealthy for any country at the best of times. But it is particularly troubling when the country in question is at perpetual war, and when it is repeatedly threatened with annihilation by the leader of a country who is actively pursuing nuclear weapons. And, of course, it is profoundly disturbing when the fatigued and isolated country itself has the means to strike pre-emptively and punishingly at its enemies, including in ways from which, realistically, there may be no return.

Mr. Bergman, a senior military and political analyst for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, is the author of "The Secret War With Iran" (Free Press, 2008).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Michael Goodwwin in the New York Post

Anti-Israel sharks sniff O's weakness

In the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla fiasco, the air is thick with nonsense. Chief among the instant myths is that Israel has created a dilemma for President Obama.

Actually, it's the other way around.

The president's appeasement policies helped to create the incident. Israel took the bait, but the trap was set in Washington.

Weakness always begets aggression, and, like clockwork, Obama's repeated signals that he is weakening America's commitment to Israel are emboldening the Jewish state's enemies. From Syria to Iran to Lebanon, from Hezbollah to Hamas and the PLO, the wolves smell blood and are trying to gauge whether they can get close enough for the kill.

And whether the United States will stop them. That they even dare hope we won't reflects the danger of Obama's demented decisions.

The huge flotilla is the latest example of the open-season mania, with the result that Israel is under international siege -- for defending itself. And, not incidentally, for defending an embargo on Gaza that Washington supports.

Obama says he wants the facts of the incident, but let's hope he also wants the truth, even if it is inconvenient to his worldview.

The first fact is that the flotilla was not really a humanitarian effort. The compassion claim was a fig leaf for the political aim of busting the 3-year-old maritime blockade, as organizers admitted last week.

They knew they would not be allowed to dock in Gaza, but still rejected Israel's offer to unload the goods in Israeli ports and, after inspection, truck them overland. At least a few of the passengers were armed.

"We're trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip and tell the world that Israel has no right to starve 1.5 million Palestinians," Greta Berlin, the head of an organization called Free Gaza Movement, said in typical exaggeration to a British newspaper.

Her group's boats were turned away before, but they vowed not to be stopped this time. "The previous boats were making a statement -- these boats will be making a real impact," Berlin said four days before the launch.

Israel, of course, is not exempt from criticism for what was clearly a bungled effort. Incredibly, given what they knew beforehand about the intent of the activists, its military leaders sent in only a handful of lightly armed commandos who were easy targets as they slid down ropes from helicopters.

Yet it's also fair to ask where Obama was while the problem was building. Even if he was too busy with the oil disaster in the Gulf, where was the secretary of state? It was long clear the flotilla had the potential to cause a regional ruckus, but Washington watched it unfold like a spectator.

That's strange in and of itself, because the US and Europe supported the blockade to force Hamas from power in Gaza, or force it to recognize Israel and renounce violence. They might have stopped the dangerous flotilla simply by making it clear they would support Israel's right to interdict it.

The most troubling fact of shifting allegiances is Turkey's role as sponsor of the convoy. Not so long ago, Israel and Turkey were allies, even conducting joint military exercises.

But Turkey, a member of NATO, has been moving away from Israel and the West and toward the Islamic bloc. Witness its recent, destructive foray into the Iranian nuclear game.

Instead of siding with Europe and America, ostensibly its allies, Turkey joined with Brazil to give cover for the Iranian program. Its prime minister even blasted the US, saying, "While they still have nuclear weapons, where do they get the credibility to ask other countries not to have them?"

These are the facts, and the truth. For the obvious stakes, they shouldn't present a dilemma for Obama.

He should do what any American president would -- protect our friend and ally from the predators who want to devour it.