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Religious Freedom

With YIISA’s Demise, a Lingering Question: Can Academia Ever Ignore Politics?

June 22nd 2011

Jewish Topics - YIISA

Can a clear line be drawn between academic scholarship and political imperatives? Of all the questions raised by Yale University’s recent closure of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA), this one is the most acute.

Even with the news that Yale is going to replace YIISA with a new program for the study of anti-Semitism, it is still instructive to think about what brought YIISA down. The institute’s detractors essentially fell into two categories. Some, like the bloggers Philip Weiss and Antony Lerman, marked its demise with displays of schadenfreude, having long caricatured YIISA as a Zionist advocacy organization masquerading as an academic institute. Read more ..

The Edge of War

Obama Needs to Declare Strategy and Goals for His Five Wars

June 22nd 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama perplexed

The United States is involved in hostilities in five countries across the Middle East and Southwest Asia - Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. It is not too much to ask that the Administration explain where, why and what we plan to accomplish. Thus far, there are more questions than answers.

President Obama declined to meet the provisions of the War Powers Act as regards NATO's war in Libya because, he said, Libya was not the sort of war envisioned by the Act's framers. The President's report to Congress noted, "U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops." Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

How to Get Through the Gaza Flotilla: Prosecute Them

June 20th 2011

Palestine Topics - Flotilla

Within days, anti-Israeli activists plan to launch another flotilla to Hamas-controlled Gaza, the main objective of which is to break the lawfully imposed Israeli naval blockade. Since Hamas has repeatedly and indiscriminately bombarded Israeli citizens with rockets and mortar rounds, there can be no serious doubt as to the legitimacy of the blockade. And although couched in humanitarian jargon, it could not be clearer that the aim of this year's flotilla, as was true last year, has nothing at all to do with the living conditions in Gaza, where plainly there is no humanitarian crisis. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Syria's Assad Regime Raised False Hopes for Palestinians at the Naksa Day Border Clash

June 19th 2011

Syrian Issues - Nakba Protests

On June 5, 2011, in a repeat of the events of "Nakba Day" only two weeks earlier, hundreds of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian demonstrators marked "Naksa Day," a commemoration of the Arab loss in the Six Day War, by sparking deadly riots on Israel's borders. The demonstrators attempted to infiltrate across Israel's border, forcing Israeli troops to disperse the crowds. Unlike the nonviolent protestors who have taken to the streets in Syria to demand governmental reform from President Bashar Assad - and who have been summarily brutalized and killed - the demonstrators on Israel's borders came armed with the intent to provoke Israel's army.

International media reports characterizing the protestors on the Syrian border as "non-violent" and "unarmed" were inaccurate. Armed gunmen were spotted in the crowds that gathered near the border fence and many other allegedly peaceful protestors flung Molotov cocktails and large rocks toward Israeli forces. At one point, the incendiaries launched by the protestors caused a mine field to ignite, leading to the explosion of four anti-tank mines which injured several protestors. The IDF cautioned the mob approaching the border to stay back. Read more ..

Edge on Justice

Sad, Sad John Edwards

June 17th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

I’ve just finished speaking with many of my colleagues and family members who live and work in the Carolinas, where a few reside in Raleigh. Tobacco Road is hot these days, but not just because of the heat wave. Locals in the Research Triangle specifically, and in North Carolina generally, are hopping mad over the federal indictment of their native son, former Senator John Edwards. It’s funny, instead of heads shaking over how far Edwards has fallen, I listened to reactions more along the lines of “come-uppance” – Edwards had finally received what he had coming to him.

You see, for years before John Edwards became Senator, he was a well-known trial attorney, netting millions by shaking down businesses and insurance companies. That trial attorney lifestyle allowed Edwards and his family to live comfortably and never have a care in the world. No one would begrudge their fellow American for making a living, but it was how John Edwards sold himself and his entire public life that causes many Carolinians and Americans to doubt everything about his “everyman” run at the White House. Here was a person who mocked the “haves” in the name of the “have nots.” He ridiculed ostentatious and excessive living. In short, Edwards heralded himself as the messiah of the masses – ready to renew America and unite the two countries we had become. What poppy-cock.

The irony here is we and the media knew of Edwards’ hypocrisy fairly early on. From the $400 haircuts to the lavish spending, to the now million-dollar hush campaign Edwards set up to conceal the illegitimate child he had fathered with his New Age girlfriend. This makes Schwarzenegger look tame, doesn’t it?

John Edwards wished he was the character he played in front of the cameras for those 22 months running on vice- and presidential tickets. He could only hope to understand the plight of workers struggling to make ends meet. And yet, we now learn that he had absolutely no clue what hardship was, in economic or any other form. Read more ..

The Battle for Lebanon

Obama Needs to Get Serious about Confronting Iran and Standing up for U.S. Allies in Lebanon

June 15th 2011

Islamic Topics - Elamin mosque

Just a few years ago, Lebanon appeared to be a foreign-policy success for the United States. Outraged by the brutal 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, likely at the hands of Syria and its allies, the Lebanese people, bolstered by international support, succeeded in expelling Syrian military forces and asserting Lebanese sovereignty for the first time in decades. Again in 2009, the Lebanese affirmed their support for the pro-Western ruling coalition, awarding it a solid majority of seats in parliament during the May general elections.

These days, however, the country looks headed for a frightening crisis. The March 14 Coalition, as the ruling group is known, has been unable to capitalize on its popular mandate due to the overwhelming force wielded by Hezbollah, which is funded, trained, and armed by Iran and Syria. But it's not just Hezbollah's fault. U.S. policy toward Lebanon is significantly to blame for being unwilling to back up bold words with actions. Far from protecting America's allies, consecutive U.S. administrations have not only failed the pro-Western government but also empowered its worst enemies. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Time for the Republicans to Get Real about Government Spending

June 14th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams
Armstrong Williams

Let me tell you a quick story about one of the most marvelous and intriguing beasts in the animal kingdom. The African impala is a graceful animal yet full of raw force and power. It possesses the ability to jump 13 feet high from a standing position and as much as 30 feet out, with little more than a few gallops. Yet if you visit any zoo today, you can view the impala protected only by a three-foot wall. You see, when the impalas are young, they are taught they cannot jump over that tiny wall, despite their great, instinctual abilities - -the reason? Zookeepers manipulate a weakness in the adults to limit their full potential. A full-grown impala will hesitate and ultimately not leap over an object unless it can see where it’s going to land. So long as zoo personnel keep the other side out of view, it somehow hinders the impala from something it is fully capable of doing.

We have a similar inability in Washington today. Congressional leaders are paralyzed by their lack of faith to see this country through to the other side of prosperity and greater economic freedom we have not known in over a generation. The ensuing debate over spending, debt ceilings, and entitlement reforms holds far more than the process hostage. Our entire system of government hangs in a delicate balance.

Government does not create anything. It does not manufacture a good, or yield a product that’s traded on the open market. Instead, it confiscates our individual monies and redistributes those funds in a manner it deems best. So in that regard, money is the lifeblood of government; without which it essentially ceases to exist. Hence the reason that this time, this current debate over repairing and repaying our national debt, is so critical. For if our government falls, the institutions that have come to rely on that “full faith and credit” guarantee are in turn, capable of collapsing as well. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Upcoming UN Vote on Palestine is Loaded with Global Implications

June 14th 2011

Palestine Topics - Hamas-Fatah handshake

For more than 60 years, the United Nations has worked mightily to prevent the Arabs from paying the price of their rejection of the independence of Israel in 1948 and to stoke the fires of Palestinian irredentism: denying resettlement to Arabs who fled the Arab war against Israel; five separate UN committees dealing with "Palestine"; reliably large majorities of the General Assembly and Human Rights Commission regularly castigate Israel (including an inexplicable series of resolutions demanding that Gaza residents be removed from newly built apartments in Gaza and returned to UN-administered camps so that they look like refugees); denying Israel a seat in its regional bloc and its opportunity to serve on the Security Council.

All of this was possible for two reasons: None of it affected any of the other countries - although it did certainly warp the Palestinians; and the Security Council could be relied upon to nix the greatest of the excesses through a U.S. veto.

The Palestinian push for UN recognition of an independent State of Palestine through the General Assembly, however, may have been a bridge too far. Assembly President Joseph Deiss has reminded anyone who will listen that the Security Council must recommend new UN members, without a veto from any permanent member. Currently, the United States is blocking recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which seceded with Russian military assistance from Georgia. Russia is blocking recognition of Kosovo. Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

The Plight of Pakistan's Minorities is Inextricably Tied to the Nation's Future

June 14th 2011

Contributors / Staff - David Alton

In 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave a speech to the New Delhi Press Club, setting out the basis on which the new State of Pakistan was to be founded. In it, he forcefully defended the right of minorities to be protected and to have their beliefs respected:

“Minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion, faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life and their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste and creed.”

These words are a forgotten aspiration in today's Pakistan where minorities, ranging from Ahmadis to Sikhs, from Christians to Hindus, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, face relentless violence and profound discrimination.

It is estimated that, of a population of over 172 million people, at least 4 percent of the population come from the minorities: in 2011 the Pakistan Hindu Council put the number of Hindus alone at 5.5% - some 7 million people, while there are almost 3 million Christians, and Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community is 4 million strong. All of these minorities have suffered grievously, along with those caught up in the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims.

Jinnah rightly declared that the Government of Pakistan has a duty to protect all of its citizens, regardless of their beliefs or origins. The international community ought to be asking how the State today honours that pledge. Take the Ahmadis. One year ago, in two separate attacks in Lahore, 98 Ahmadis were murdered and many more injured while they were at Friday prayers. The vicious brutality of these attacks is magnified when considering the Ahmadis' belief: “love for all and hatred for none.” Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

A Great Loss to Our Understanding of Anti-Semitism

June 13th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Andre Oboler

Last month, while visiting New York, Washington and San Francisco, I took a small detour to New Haven and Yale University. As an expert in anti-Semitism, the visit to Yale University, and specifically to the offices of YIISA, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, was an essential stop. I met with YIISA’s director, Prof Charles Small, and Prof Avi Silberschatz, the head of Yale’s Computer Science department.

We spoke of the challenges that result from online hate, and I outlined some new solutions my own team in Australia and Israel are currently designing. We discussed the need for new research to support this work, and how YIISA, with the support of the computer science department, was uniquely placed to carry out this work. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Grounding Iranian Crude to a Halt

June 13th 2011

Iran - Iran gas station brule
Tehran Gas Station Vandalized for Supplies

Through the Comprehensive Iran Sanction Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA), passed in 2010, the United States Congress has taken strong measures to check Iran's ability to abuse the international banking sector and the refined energy space. Despite this act, however, Iran is using its vast crude oil reserves to skirt financial sanctions and gain access to huge sums of hard currency. Nevertheless, there are additional methods that members of Congress should consider deploying to curb Iran's access to much-needed funds.

Iran holds the third-largest known oil reserves in the world and the second-largest natural gas reserves. According to Oil and Gas Journal, as of January 2010, Iran had roughly 10 percent of the world's total oil reserves, with approximately 40 oil fields—27 onshore and 13 offshore—that hold mid-grade-quality crude similar to that found in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. In 2008, Iran exported approximately $73 billion worth of oil, which represented half of its government revenue. Read more ..

Edge on Immigration Reform

In Immigration Reform, It’s The Consumer that Matters

June 13th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

The recent Supreme Court Ruling in Chamber of Commerce v Whiting highlights a fundamental and before now underappreciated factor in the immigration debate: immigrants come here illegally because they know that U.S. companies will hire them. Furthermore, while most of the immigration laws have focused on the status and treatment of illegal immigrants themselves, very few of them have focused on the consumers of their labor: companies, and, by extension the consumers they serve.

Many people at the highest levels of Government and industry have taken a cynical and duplicitous approach to illegal immigration. In a way, it’s symbolic of the approach most average Americans have taken. We rely on immigrant labor to fill jobs that Americans won’t do (at the wages and under the working conditions immigrants are subjected to), while complaining about the side effects—overburdened social services, crime, and cultural dilution in the border states. After all, it’s not hard to spot the illegal immigrants in any given neighborhood. In fact it’s quite simple. They are the only people tending your lawn, babysitting your children, and running your restaurants on the cheap. Illegal immigration in many ways acts like outsourcing for non-exportable jobs in this country. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Rahm Emanuel is All Wrong about the Obama Peace Plan

June 6th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama with Flag

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s attempted last week to reassure Israel that President Obama’s May 19 speech was misconstrued; Mr. Obama’s repeated calls for Israel’s return to the 1967 lines grew out of his concern for the Jewish state, claimed the former White House Chief of Staff.

In his June 2 Washington Post article, Mr. Emanuel echoed the president’s contention that “the hard realities of demography” threaten the survival of the Jewish state. Clearly, both anchored their arguments in the conjured estimates of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. A 2006 World Bank study found “32 percent ‘inflation’ in the number of Arab births,” alleged by the Palestinians.

A more recent comprehensive study on Jewish-Arab Demographic Trends in the Land of Israel, published earlier this year by Yakov Faitelson, found that “ in 2011 there is a 66 percent Jewish majority … in the combined area of pre-1967 Israel, Judea and Samaria.”

The study demonstrated that:

• “Despite 120 years of demographic calamity projections, the Jewish
population in the Land of Israel succeeded to grow from a 5 percent minority to a 60 percent majority.”

• “In 2010, the Jewish fertility rate is 63 percent higher than Lebanon’s, 53 percent higher than Iran’s, 33 percent higher than Turkey’s and Kuwait’s, 23 percent higher thanSaudi Arabia’s, slightly higher than Egypt’s and only 7 percent and 4 percent lower than Jordan’s and Syria’s respectively.”

• “Israeli Arab fertility rate has collapsed since the 1970s [due to a most successful integration into the infrastructures of education, employment, finance, politics, culture, sports, etc.] … It declined to 3.5 births per woman in 2009.” Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Obama’s Two Pro-Israel Speeches—that You Haven’t Heard About

June 5th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and Flag

Football, they say, is a game of inches. So too, is Middle East peace making — both figuratively, and in some cases quite literally. President Obama was reminded of that last week when his comments about terms of reference for future Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations provoked a significant public debate, and in some cases, a furious reaction.

Many Republicans—some acting out of purely political motives—and many Democrats, myself included—acting out of genuine concern—reacted quickly and negatively when President Obama adopted as American policy on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks what had previously been described by this Administration as a “Palestinian goal—that is, a Palestinian state “based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps.” Read more ..

After the Balkans Genocide

Monster Mladic and his U.N. Minions

June 4th 2011

Genocides - Ratko Mladic killer

The UN appeasers of butchers Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic today demonize Jews, the West, and support Muslim dictatorships. As it turns out, this has been a stand-out month in the battle against evil. First, there was the killing of Osama bin Laden. Now, finally, the capture of the fugitive Serb war criminal, Ratko Mladic. In 1994, I was a fairly junior media relations officer with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), deployed in midst of the war in the former Yugoslavia. It was a time when Mladic was at the height of his powers, able to control the flow of aid into besieged Sarajevo with the imperious ease of a man turning a faucet on and off. Read more ..

Inside Pakistan

World's Focus on bin Laden Death Detracts from Plight of Pakistan's Minority Christians

June 4th 2011

PakistanTopics - Anti blasphemy protest

The wave of terrorism and Osama Bin Laden`s killing has left the whole world doomed and gloomed; it has not only cast a bad spell over US-Pakistani relations, it has also managed to sideline what was once considered to be 2010’s defining issues and 2011’s tragic and bitter realities: The status of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Caught up in the thrilling world of espionage, the media and the authorities seem to have forgotten that somewhere, a woman is still being held in custody under a controversial blasphemy law. Apparently we have forgotten about Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination. Collective silence over these killings showed government incompetence to tackle these issues and it also exhibit their intolerance and inability to understand fully and recognized the importance of freedom of speech, moral values and deprivation of basic human rights which has lead the common people to compromise even with the moderate opinions.

Taseer's murderer was formally indicted on February 15 but nothing has been done to curb the sentiments that caused the assassination in the first place. The government is silent, failing to acknowledge that anyone suggesting amendments to the law has been threatened into submission. Self-professed ‘activists,’ prominent media persons and the exalted judiciary, too, seem to be focusing on ‘less controversial’ issues. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Obama Walking a Fine Line on Borders Issue

May 31st 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama in deep thought

On May 19, President Barack Obama delivered powerful remarks on democracy and reform in the Middle East. He not only raised these normally hortatory ideals to top-tier U.S. interests, but he put the dictator of America’s most dangerous Arab antagonist—Syria’s Bashar Assad—on personal notice that he may soon find himself joining the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia in forced retirement. All this was welcome news.

The last part of the president’s remarks, however, took a different course. After critiquing Arab regimes that have used the Arab-Israeli conflict as a distraction from their own internal problems, he undermined the potency and effect of his own message by unveiling new—and controversial—principles guiding U.S. efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Obama’s Push-Pull Strategy: How Washington Should Plan for a Post-Assad Syria

May 31st 2011

Syrian Issues - Day of Rage in Syria Urged

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama gave Syrian President Bashar al-Assad an ultimatum: Lead a transition to democracy, or, in Obama’s words, “get out of the way.” The speech recognized an inconvenient truth for Washington: Although the Assad regime has not yet reached a tipping point like that of the Ben Ali and Mubarak regimes, nearly three months of protests across Syria have shaken the Assad regime to its core. Government forces have killed 1,000 protesters and arrested another 10,000, yet demonstrators continue to fill the streets demanding the fall of the government. Assad is now caught in a dilemma: He can continue relying on his fellow Alawite security chiefs and the minority system they dominate to persecute the predominately Sunni protesters, or he can enact deep political reforms that could convince the protesters to return home but would end the Alawite-led system on which he so heavily relies. Either way, the Assad regime as it has existed for more than four decades is disintegrating. Read more ..

The Arab Spring

US Aid to Arab Spring Must Foster Democracy—Not Fascism

May 30th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Walid Phares new

President Obama’s grand plan to provide U.S. financial aid to emerging democracies in the Middle East, Egypt, and Tunisia now, and possibly later a post-Saleh Yemen and post-Assad Syria, may be commendable but could bring catastrophic results.

If the billions in foreign debt-to-be-forgiven or granted in cash to be invested will be used by democratic governments in the region to move their societies away from fundamentalism, radicalism, and inequality toward secular, liberal democracy, then the financial support is commensurate with American ideals, the will of the American people and their elected leaders.

If the aid will be used to fund programs instituted by the Islamists and their movements, old and new, then the Obama administration’s new Middle East initiative will cause greater injustice for the peoples of the region, and eventually produce greater conflicts for future American generations.

President Obama’s speech and comments by his advisers attempted to liken the alleged “historic” aid package for the countries arising out of the Middle East revolts, to the Marshall Plan which helped many European countries cope with post-World War II economic stresses.

The major difference then and now between Europe and the Middle East is that while European societies had already experienced and were returning to democracy after a few years of fascism, most of the Arab world has no experience with liberal democracy and those societies that have arisen against authoritarianism are still threatened by jihadi fascism. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Can Peace Come If Israel Returns to Pre-1967 Borders

May 29th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard
Mitch Bard

When President Barack Obama said, "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded sharply by declaring "[Israel] cannot go back to the 1967 lines - because these lines are indefensible." In stating this position, Netanyahu was reiterating the longstanding view of the government of Israel. In the wake of the Six Day War, and Israel's capture of the West Bank and Golan Heights, Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the United Nations: "The June [1967] map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz." Nearly thirty years later, soon after signing the Oslo Peace Accords, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear: "The border of the State of Israel ... will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the June 1967 lines."

What Eban and Rabin understood, and what countless military and legislative officials - both in Israel and the United States - have echoed, is that by withdrawing to the pre-1967 lines, Israel would lose all of its strategic, tactical, geographic and topographic advantages, opening up its homefront to easy attack. Strategically, by completely withdrawing, Israel would lose its extensive system of early-warning radars, its bases of operations that have worked to halt Palestinian terrorism and its control over the Jordan Rift Valley that allows the Israel Defense Forces to prevent the smuggling of illegal weapons and protects Israel from the type of invasion it faced in 1948 and 1967. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Netanyahu's Masterful Response to Obama's Ambush over Relations with Palestinians

May 28th 2011

Israel Topics - Netanyahu addresses Congress

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has responded in a masterful manner to Obama's unanticipated Middle East policy statement - presented without prior consultation on the eve of the Israeli leader's arrival in Washington - hardly how one would expect the US leader to relate to its "close ally," an embattled nation.

Sensitive of the imperative to avoid antagonizing the American public by openly humiliating its president, Netanyahu exercised his diplomatic talent and communication skills by providing a restrained response, and outlining why Israel simply could not afford to adopt some of Obama's recommendations. Our leader's remarks to the press after meeting with the president, his address to AIPAC, and his brilliant presentation to the joint session of Congress represented a tour de force and made most Israelis feel extremely proud. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Did Israel React Disproportionately to Palestinian Nakba Protests

May 25th 2011

Palestine Topics - Nakba day protests 2011

On May 15, 2011, Palestinians across the Middle East commemorated the 63rd anniversary of "al-Nakba," marking the "the catastrophe" of Israel's creation in 1948. Violent protests sprang up across Jerusalem and the West Bank as well as along Israel's borders with Gaza, Syria and Lebanon. Many commentators were quick to suggest that the demonstrations were a Palestinian extension of the "Arab Spring." Fox News, for example, declared there was "little doubt" the protests "were inspired by the extraordinary Arab Spring," while UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, said he was "shocked" by Israel's use of "disproportionate, deadly force" in response to people tearing down parts of Israel's border fence and illegally storming into the country. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Ukraine Faces an Identity Crisis as it Contemplates John Demjanjuk and the Nazi Past

May 25th 2011

History-Genocide - Fine Young Cannibal John Demjanjuk
World War 2 era identification card for John Demjanjuk

Ukraine has been an ethnic, social, religious, and political crossroads. Its rich heritage has yet to be fully and successfully integrated in a post Imperial and Soviet age. This is especially true when it comes to Jewish-Ukrainian relations that too often harbor fear, distrust, and misunderstanding frequently encouraged by Russia’s foreign policy objectives to marginalize Ukrainian culture, language, and sovereignty. Strained Jewish-Ukrainian relations again become apparent in the case of John Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian immigrant who settled in Ohio after World War II. He has been the focus of war crime allegations for more than thirty years. The case is indicative of a larger friction between Ukrainian Jews and gentiles. It may, however, provide an opportunity for healing, understanding, communication, and long overdue reconciliation. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Obama's Speech and Israel's Reality

May 20th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama Israel speech

Most of the media focus of the President's speech appears to be on his belief that Israel should shrink to the 1967 borders - with minimal land swaps - and should make that deal even before discussing the status of Jerusalem (the capital of the Jewish people and never the capital of any other people) and refugees. The Israelis will answer the President in their time and their way, we are sure.

The emphasis on Israel, however, may be a smokescreen for something more frightening - billions in aid to Egypt even before we understand who and what the government of Egypt is. And to understand what happens to American aid in the hands of governments that do not share American values and concerns, shift focus to Pakistan. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Obama Sent a Message to Trump

May 18th 2011

Politics - the donald

Donald Trump was probably never really going to run for president.

And President Obama’s epic smackdown of The Donald probably didn’t scare Trump away from the race as much as the idea of releasing his financial records did.

But through Trump, Obama sent two powerful messages: This is a game for grown-ups, and Obama’s patience for the silliness of some Republicans only goes so far.

White House officials draw little distinction between Trump and other fringe candidates such as former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) or Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), but it seems clear Trump touched a nerve with Obama.

Obama, like many of his predecessors, has a thin skin when it comes to amateurs questioning his administration. At the White House correspondents dinner, while Obama was whipping the crowd into laughter at Trump’s expense, there was a steely edge to the president’s voice. Read more ..

After bin Laden

The US Got bin Laden—but Missed Taking Jihadism to Nuremberg

May 18th 2011

Terrorism - Osama bin-Laden preaching

He was number one on world’s “Most Wanted” list, a serial mass murderer of Americans the United States wanted dead or alive, a fugitive from UN justice pursued by the nations of the world, and to millions of people around the world, evil incarnate. Osama Bin Laden’s (OBL) conscious disregard for the sanctity of human life manifested itself in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in the US, Europe, and Central and South Asia. The grandiose attacks he commissioned in New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Madrid, London, Moscow, Karachi, and Bali underscored the al Qaeda leader’s malevolence and accomplished a feat that has eluded the Community of Nations since the UN’s founding in 1945—from the local Tanzanian police station to the Norwegian Room (UNSC Chamber) in New York, it galvanized world consensus around a single goal: bring Bin Laden to justice! Read more ..

Edge on Argentina

Making Sense of Argentina's Frenzied Policies

May 18th 2011

Latin American Topics - Chavez and Fernandez
President Chavez of Venezuela and President Kirchner of Argentina

Since the arrival of the Kirchner phenomenon to Argentinean politics in 2003, there has been a sense that history has begun again. The late Nestor Kirchner served as president of the country from 2003 to 2007 when his wife Cristina was elected to the presidency.

The Kirchner era is not merely seen as another presidential term that has brought change. It is considered by many of its supporters as an era of major change that is almost revolutionary. Kirchner’s popularity is helped by the fact that Argentina has seen economic growth mostly thanks to the international price of Argentinean commodities; mainly soy.

However, it is Kirchner’s policies of populist redistribution and rejection of Argentina’s political past that makes the government revolutionary. Yet, such rejection is only partial since old practices have prevailed in the Kirchner era. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Obama's Last Chance to Further the Peace Process in the Mideast

May 18th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama in deep thought

President Barack Obama has reached a critical juncture in his presidency.

After simultaneously snuffing out Osama Bin Laden and nearly killing Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, he has the extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on this string of feats when the Mideast peace parade swings through Washington later this week.

With a speech to AIPAC and meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, it seems that Obama would seize the moment to drive home the point that terrorists can't win.

Unfortunately, this probably won't happen.

The Battle for Syria

Bashar Soprano of Syria: Compared to the Assad clan, the Mafia is a Bunch of Boy Scouts

May 18th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syrian security forces
Syrian people protesting their government

 I confess. I never watched The Sopranos. I didn’t need to; I already had my fill of blood, murder, mayhem, fratricide and evil by observing the Assad family saga since the early 1970s, when Hafez Assad carried out his coup in Syria. I admit that as an intern reporter for the Near East Report, I predicted that, as was the way of Syrian leaders up to that point, Assad’s tenure would be brief and would probably end with acute lead poisoning. Of course, he went on to lead Syria for almost 30 years, and then passed on the gavel – and stiletto, bomb and pistol – to his son Bashar in 2000. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Norman Finkelstein: An American Academic Who Supports Targeting of Innocent Israelis

May 9th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Alan Dershowitz lecture

The terrorists on the West Bank who murdered the Fogel family and the war criminals from Gaza who aimed sophisticated mortars at a school bus had the support of an American academic who is widely admired by Palestinians, Europeans and radical Americans. Norman Finkelstein didn't wield the knife that slit the throat of the Fogel baby or fire the mortar that seriously injured a 16 year old and barely missed killing 30 other students, but he might as well have. Just days after the Fogel murders, and days before the attempted school bus massacre, Finkelstein advised his Palestinian admirers that terrorist groups like Hezbollah, and presumably Hamas and Islamic Jihad "has the right to target Israeli civilians…"

This is a remarkable statement even for Finkelstein, who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Obama Takes a Page From Israel's Anti-Terrorism Manual and Strikes a Blow on Al Qaeda

May 8th 2011

Terrorism - Osama bin Laden in mufti

While Israel has routinely been criticized for the targeted killing of terrorists, the United States has actively engaged in a policy of assassinating al-Qaeda operatives since 9/11, culminating in the announcement on May 1, 2011, that Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special operations forces. Like Israel, the United States believes that killing the planners and perpetrators of terror attacks is vital to its national security. This strategy prevents attacks, sends a message to would-be terrorists that there is a price to pay for terror and makes the planning of attacks more difficult by keeping the terrorists on the run. Read more ..

Palestine and Israel

Jewish Dems Press Netanyahu to Forge Peace With Hamas-Fatah Terror Alliance

May 8th 2011

Palestine Topics - Abbas Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Abbas

The power of delusion is truly remarkable.

Just days after the Hamas leadership condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden and praised him as a "holy warrior," the National Jewish Democratic Council pressed Israel's government to forge peace with a new Fatah-Hamas alliance, saying they hoped "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not see this as a reason to be deterred from presenting bold steps towards a lasting peace."


How much more evidence do they need that Hamas is not interested in a "lasting peace"? Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

2012 Election is all about Obama and his failed policies

May 8th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

The media is gearing up to full throttle to tease and manipulate the public again with the early favorites leading up to the 2012 presidential elections.

At the inception of the 2008 election season, Illinois Senator Obama wasn’t a blip or afterthought in the minds of the American people as someone who had a snow ball’s chance in purgatory of capturing the coveted prize of the White house. How shocked we all were when the final dust settled that indeed a new breed and untested brand of leadership would take the most sought after prize in American politics. For that reason, this election season is proving very, very interesting to watch.

We are already being told, as in early 2007, who to keep an eye out for during this next presidential election cycle.

President Obama is starting his campaign well before anyone else, with Hillary stating that she doesn’t want to work under Obama anymore. Trump and his hair are making their presence known as a possible presidential candidate. He’s a vehement birther and a television star in desperate need of viewership, yet he still somehow, good or bad, resonates with the people.

Trump has garnered so much attention it makes me wonder: perhaps Charlie Sheen will run as the “tiger blooded” presidential nominee for the Warlock Party. Who knows? Seriously people, it is way too early for any of this to be making headlines, there is so much wrong with the country that we should be more concerned with fixing the issues we have now instead of consuming ourselves with whoever will become the next Scapegoat of State. Read more ..

The War on Terror

The Gulf Between Praising the Death of Innocents and Glee over the Demise of Terrorists

May 8th 2011

Politics - Obama supporters

Writing is a dangerous business. Perhaps not quite as dangerous as, say, being a U.S. Navy SEAL, but writers do face their own unique challenges. One of those challenges is the constant downward pressure on your own beliefs and opinions. When you are looking to get published, your most careful and nuanced thoughts tend to become a bit squished and compact; rules of logic devolve into rules of thumb, and cautious conclusions morph over time into potentially absurd attitudes.

Take, for example, some of the responses to the recent killing of Osama bin Laden. If one’s first instinct is to compare jubilant Americans celebrating the death of bin Laden to jubilant Muslims celebrating the death and destruction of September 11, then you are, I suspect, just a tiny bit crazy. “Diseased, sickly”, “full of cracks or flaws” and “of unsound mind or behaving as so” are all relevant etymological definitions of craziness, which in this instance manifests as an inability to see the most striking and essential differences between joy at the death of a moral monster, and joy for the death of innocents. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Road to Serfdom or Path to Erudition?

May 2nd 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

In the midst of a season that has provided riveting political theater—the budget extension impasse and the impending battle over raising the debt ceiling—a bright ideological line has emerged between the two major political parties. It is not about whether we must reduce our debt (both sides ostensibly agree that we must), but about where those cuts should come from.

But let’s be clear: Without a serious challenge by Congressional Republicans, the seriousness of America’s debt situation would not occupy its rightful place at the forefront of the political debate.

Let’s face it: The U.S. government is bankrupt. Its liabilities exceed its revenues by more than 200 percent by some estimates. If it were not for America’s status as a reserve currency—a status earned by the nation’s long history of political stability and economic growth—we would find ourselves in the same position as Greece and Portugal.

Those countries are not only unable to repay the principal amount they borrowed, but also have trouble meeting the minimum debt service payments without additional borrowing. In what appears to be an inexorable death spiral—borrowing costs rising, while revenues are falling—it appears those countries are going into default. Read more ..

Ecuador on Edge

Ecuador Faces Crucial Referendum and Widening Differences in Society

May 2nd 2011

Latin American Topics - Eduardo Correa
President Rafael Correa of Ecuador

Once again, Ecuador finds itself deeply divided leading up to the country’s sixth popular referendum scheduled for Saturday, May 7. The current campaign exemplifies the ideological fragmentation currently afflicting Ecuador, pitting the country’s President Rafael Correa against an array of groups with varying political profiles. Wide-ranging opposition exists against a pro-vote among the indigenous population, labor unions, environmental organizations, mass media, university students, Catholic clergy, the upper and upper-middle classes, and political parties like the Partido Social Cristiano, Izquierda Democrática, Sociedad Patrótica and Movimiento Popular Democrático. Read more ..

War on Drugs

What's Good for the Marijuana Industry is Good for America

May 2nd 2011

Mexican Topics - Mexico marijuana seizure

Few topics of debate are as stigmatizing and polarizing as the legalization of marijuana. For the majority of the U.S. population, the idea invokes one of two reactions: a firm guffaw at the ridiculousness of it, or a tenacious, almost blind, support of it. Regardless of their stance, most people derive their opinions from personal beliefs and unsubstantiated myth rather than unassailable fact. Disinformation on marijuana is rampant and several U.S. presidents have been stubbornly opposed to any serious discussion about marijuana legalization. National interest in the subject is evidenced by the myriad of legalization-related questions directed at the White House, yet President Obama cannot stifle his laughter every time the topic is brought up. Read more ..

Egypt after the Revolt

Understanding Post-Mubarak Egypt

May 2nd 2011

Egypt - Bye bye Mubarak

As Egypt lurches into a new era, a look at its complexities and subtleties helps to understand the country's likely course. Some thoughts on key issues:

The spirit of Tahrir Square is real and alive but exceedingly remote from the halls of power. Revolutionary ideas – that government should serve the people, not the reverse; that rulers should be chosen by the people; and that individuals have inherent dignity and rights – have finally penetrated a substantial portion of the country, and especially the young. In the long term, these ideas can work wonders. But for now, they are dissident ideas, firmly excluded from any operational role.

A military court sentenced liberal blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in jail. And military rule will continue. Soldiers did not seize power with Hosni Mubarak's departure two months ago; they did so in 1952. That's when the Free Officers overthrew the constitutional monarchy and took office. Read more ..

Edge on Travel

Sleeping Like the Air Traffic Controllers Do

May 2nd 2011

Transportation Topics - Night-time air traffick controllers

You may well have heard by now that five U.S. air-traffic controllers — a rather shocking number — have been found literally asleep at the switch on the overnight shifts of several U.S. airports just since late March. So many — including a supervisor — that federal transportation secretary Ray LaHood has ordered that a minimum of two controllers be on duty at those airports where a decent number of flights land after dark.

Catching a flick's not cool on MANY jobs.

LaHood has used words like “ridiculous” and “outrageous” to discuss the on-the-job naps and other embarrassing lapses by controllers. They included an incident at Cleveland’s air transportation center in which a controller who was watching a movie — let me say that again: he was watching a MOVIE on a DVD player — while planes were landing, couldn’t be reached by the incoming pilots. He compounded his apparent stupidity by leaving his microphone open for three minutes while the soundtrack from the movie blared into the pilots’ headphones. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

America's Stake in Stabilizing Syria

April 27th 2011

Syrian Issues - Syrian Protests March 2011

The Obama administration says it may look for "targeted sanctions" on Junior Assad's Syria, and "condemns" the violence there, but - hey, look guys, it isn't Libya, for Pete's sake. Asked the difference, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "We had a Gaddafi regime that was moving against its own people in a coordinated military fashion and was about to assault a very large city on the promise that it would show...that city and its residents no mercy...We had an international consensus to act. We had the Arab League." Read more ..

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