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Israel and Palestine

Myths and Facts About Mahmoud Abbas

November 22nd 2010

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard

Myth: “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a moderate interested in compromise.”

Fact: The definition of “moderate” is relative. Compared to Hamas, Hizbullah and Ahmadinejad, for example, Abbas can be viewed as a moderate since he explicitly negotiates with Israel. Abbas, however, has expressed no true willingness to compromise on any substantive issue, balks at true peace efforts and vehemently spews anti-Israel rhetoric that has significantly hampered the peace process in the past.

In November 2010, Abbas spoke at the sixth annual memorial service for Yasser Arafat and definitively announced that he will continue to tow the hard line agenda of his mentor and predecessor. Arafat, the Palestinian leader who died in 2004, is considered one of the fathers of Palestinian terrorism. Abbas is holding to Arafat’s policies of declaring Jerusalem the capital of Palestine; requiring Israeli withdrawal from all settlements; demanding the full right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants; and refusing to acknowledge the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Abbas also publicly glorifies Palestinian martyrs and allows Holocaust denial to spread in official Palestinian sources.

On the issue of Jerusalem, Abbas maintains that the city will be the capital of a future Palestinian state. “At the Camp David summit, the Palestinian leadership rejected an Israeli proposal to share sovereignty,” he said in 2005, “We continue to reject this offer. We cannot compromise on Jerusalem.” In an interview with the Washington Post in 2007, Abbas declared, “I have always said that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory. We have to restore it.” Again in 2010, he said that “the Arab city of Jerusalem, including its holy sites, is an integral part” of the future Palestinian state. Read more ..

Edge on Energy

Energy Independence for America is a Possible Dream

November 22nd 2010

Contributors / Staff - Gal Luft

Unlike Europe, which is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas for its electricity generation, the U.S. is essentially energy independent when it comes to its power supply. It does not need to import coal and natural gas, chief sources of electricity generation, and no foreign nation can turn off the United States' power at will. The U.S. energy security challenge boils down to one problem: oil.
Oil is the world's most strategic commodity not because the U.S. consumes or imports a lot of it, but because it enjoys a virtual monopoly over the global transportation fuel sector. This monopoly—almost all of the world's cars, trucks, ships and planes run on nothing but petroleum—enables a small group of nations, most of them members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to constrict oil supply, manipulate its prices, and even use it as an economic weapon when conflict emerges, as was the case during the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargo. While the OPEC cartel owns 78 percent of the world's reserves, it produces only one third of the world's oil—far less than its capacity permits. In fact, today OPEC pumps less oil than it did 40 years ago even though the global economy has doubled over the same period.

U.S. Security and Economic Interests

Most Americans fully understand the national security consequences of oil dependence. After all, petrodollars are the main source of revenue for some of America's sworn enemies. As long as the nations responsible for the spread of Islamic terrorism control the global transportation sector, which underlies the world economy, America will not be able to accomplish its foreign policy goals. But in times of economic adversity, one should also recognize the toxic impact oil dependence has on the U.S. economy. Read more ..

The Political Edge

The GOP Must Govern

November 15th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Now that the Republicans have taken back the House, their most difficult hurdle is ahead. President Obama has made it clear that he will not tack to the center a la Bill Clinton following 1994’s bloodbath, so we can expect a lot of gridlock—the Republicans will not bring the administration’s policies to a vote, but they do not have enough votes to easily override a veto unless they can get many Democrats to jump ship. However, even the threat of a veto should not prevent Republicans from passing the following legislation.

The first thing Republicans need to do is to renew the Bush tax cuts. Letting the Bush cuts expire will cost taxpayers $115 billion next year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and $2.6 trillion through 2020. Now if every single penny of those increases went to paying off our debt, maybe I would support letting them expire; however, we all know that this money will be appropriated elsewhere and will only increase our grandchildren’s burden and guarantee our slide into second rate world power. These cuts affect more than just the wealthy. The lowest personal income bracket jumps 50 percent—from 10 percent to 15 percent. The 25 percent bracket rises to 28 percent, and the old 28 percent goes up to 31 percent. Read more ..

After the Holocaust

Claims Conference Must Apologize for Fraud Committed by Insiders Against Holocaust Survivors

November 15th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Isi Leibler headshot

This week, the full extent of the fraud and theft of funds specifically earmarked by the German Government for Holocaust survivors was disclosed by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The money was stolen from the Hardship Fund and the Article 2 Fund, administered on behalf of the German Government by the Claims Conference.

The stolen amount was not $350,000 as indicated by the Claims Conference in February this year. Nor was it $7 million as the Claims Conference had suggested in June after the Jewish Week revealed that the scandal was far more substantial than the Claims Conference had initially inferred. It was a staggering $ 42.5 million and there is every probability that it may well substantially exceed this sum.

As late as last week, in preparation for an article I wrote in Israel Hayom, the Claims Conference refused to acknowledge the extent of the fraud in response to enquiries from the Israel Hayom editors.

However, following the announcement of the U.S. Attorney's Office this week, the Claims Conference can no longer play down the extent of the fraud or the role played by employees and insiders of the Claims Conference. As stated by the US Attorney, "six corrupt insiders ... systematically defrauded the Article 2 Fund and the Hardship programs for over a decade." These insiders, who were employees of the Claims Conference, "allegedly processed thousands of fraudulent applications for payments meant for actual victims of the Holocaust." Read more ..

Turkey on the Edge

The Choice Turkey Must Make About Israel

November 8th 2010

Turkish Topics - Turkish Flags

While all eyes are fixed on the faltering Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Israel is involved in another diplomatic standoff whose consequences may be just as dire for the future of the Middle East. The impasse in question is between Turkey and Israel -- erstwhile allies whose deteriorating relations undermine the security of the entire region. This conflict -- more than Ankara's outreach to Iran or tensions with the EU -- calls starkly into question the role Turkey will play in regional politics and peacemaking. Read more ..

Inside the Mideast

Mr. Carter: Do You Have Any Shame?

November 8th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Abraham Foxman Color cropped

It was only nine months ago that former President Jimmy Carter issued an open letter to the American Jewish community asking for forgiveness for the pain he had caused by his comments which may have stigmatized Israel. Mr. Carter went on to imply that he would avoid in the future the kind of biased remarks about the Jewish state that have been his hallmark for so long.

Among the more egregious comments that the ex-president had made were those comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa, and those agreeing with Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's conspiracy theory about Jewish control of American policy.

What does one do when a former president begs forgiveness? It would not have been responsible or seemly to ignore this kind of outreach by a distinguished public figure. On the other hand, it would have been naïve simply to accept this apology as indicating a major transformation. So I welcomed the statement as the "beginning of reconciliation," but added, "to what extent it is an epiphany, time will tell. There certainly is hurt which needs to be repaired."

At that time, I suggested several criteria to measure whether Mr. Carter was, in fact, living up to his plea for forgiveness. First, was whether he continued to use explosive negative imagery about Israel such as the apartheid comparison. Second, whether his statements would be balanced in their criticism of both sides. And third, whether the complexity of Israeli actions and decision-making would be taken into consideration. Read more ..

The Metal Edge

China’s Rare-earth Monopoly

November 1st 2010

Energy Topics - Chinese Miners after April Accident

Earlier this year, China announced a 72 percent reduction in the export quotas for rare-earth metals for the second half of 2010, sending tremors across America’s industrial complex. Rare earths are a group of 17 metals vital to the production of precision-guided munitions, cruise missiles, radar and other defense systems as well as consumer electronics and renewable-energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and hybrid vehicles. Such metals are often compared to the yeast in bread—small in proportion but huge in contribution.

The rationale behind Beijing’s decision to cut exports: China produces 97 percent of the world’s rare earths, and its fast economic growth requires that more of its metals production remain at home for domestic use. But last month’s unofficial embargo on shipment of rare-earth elements to Japan in response to the detention of a Chinese fishing-boat captain whose boat collided with a Japanese patrol boat shows that for China, rare-earth metals are not only iPod ingredients but also tools of economic warfare. As Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping noted in 1992: “The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths.” Read more ..

The Historical Edge

The Separation of Church and State Is Rooted in American Christianity

November 1st 2010

Politics - Declaration of Independence

Many Americans are worried that America’s Christian heritage is being threatened. Even if the threat is more perceptual than actual, it has mobilized important religious leaders and politicians to question the separation of church and state. Indeed, many conservatives construe efforts to separate church and state as an attack on America’s Christian majority. Many liberals, on the other hand, treat the separation of church and state as solely a political issue, a way to protect the state from religious influence. Read more ..

Midterm Elections

A Spirit of Forgiveness is Needed in a Climate of Vicious Political Divisions

October 27th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Despite what the secular Left would have you believe, America is a nation of faith. The country was founded on the first principle that we are God’s creation, and as such, have both rights and responsibilities.

Amazingly enough, that simple point is controversial today, at least among those in the mainstream media. Acts of faith that can only be understood as such are portrayed as psychological hangups, or political maneuverings, or are assigned dark and scurrilous motives.

And yet by any measure, the vast majority of Americans are people of faith themselves. They’re the majority. The Left hates this, because when it comes down to it, they just don’t understand religious commitment or the motivations it provides.

We see a perfect example of this in the near-universal media condemnation of Ginni Thomas.

Christianity is a religion of forgiveness, and as Christians, we're not only forgiven for our own wrongs, but we're called to forgive others for theirs. That’s not easy, and we don’t always get the reaction we want, but it’s an important part of our faith. Read more ..

Midterm Elections

Obama Confronts Iran at Mid-Term Elections

October 27th 2010

Obama Admin Topics - Obama and Flag

We are days away from the 2010 U.S. midterm elections. The outcome is already locked in. Whether the Republicans take the House or the Senate is close to immaterial. It is almost certain that the dynamics of American domestic politics will change. The Democrats will lose their ability to impose cloture in the Senate and thereby shut off debate. Whether they lose the House or not, the Democrats will lose the ability to pass legislation at the will of the House Democratic leadership. The large majority held by the Democrats will be gone, and party discipline will not be strong enough (it never is) to prevent some defections. Read more ..

The Metal Edge

The US Should Ramp Up Offensive to Counter China's Rare-Earth Monopoly

October 22nd 2010

China Topics - China rare earth mine

Earlier this year, China announced a 72 percent reduction in the export quotas for rare-earth metals for the second half of 2010, sending tremors across America's industrial complex. Rare earths are a group of 17 metals vital to the production of precision-guided munitions, cruise missiles, radar and other defense systems as well as consumer electronics and renewable-energy technologies such as wind turbines, solar panels and hybrid vehicles. Such metals are often compared to the yeast in bread - small in proportion but huge in contribution. Read more ..

Edge on the Economy

The New Dark Financial Ages

October 18th 2010

Economy - Tim Geitner
Secretary Timothy Geitner at Congressional hearing

It’s been two months since Timothy Geithner welcomed us to what he called economic recovery in a New York Times op-ed.  It’s been about that long since I argued here that the so-called recovery was a joke.

Who can you trust?  Is there a consensus shaping up elsewhere that would help you decide between these positions?

How about the financial press and the Masters of the Universe themselves?  What are they saying about the future, near and far?  Not that we should accredit their opinions just because they believe in capitalism.  Five years ago, they were betting on a future that looks nothing like the present.  Read more ..

Mideast Peace on Edge

Mideast Negotiations stall over Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Refusal to Recognize Jewish State

October 18th 2010

Israel Topics - Obama Netanyahu Abbas1

In negotiating tradecraft, the distinction between positions and interests is a fundamental one. Parties with divergent interests can unite behind common positions, like the environmentalists and trade unions who opposed NAFTA in the 1990s. Just as often, parties with opposing positions fail to perceive their common interests, like divorcing parents whose acrimony blinds them to what is best for their children.

It is neglect of this vital distinction that now has the United States scrambling to salvage Middle East peace talks, which are threatened by a resurgent dispute over Israeli settlement activity. The Obama administration initially viewed the settlements issue as "low-hanging fruit" -- the Palestinians, Arab states, international public opinion, and frankly even many Israelis were against settlement activity, whereas a seeming minority on the Israeli right favored it. Read more ..

Midterm Elections

Who’s in Charge of the Tea Party?

October 11th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Is it Sarah Palin and her lunch pail brand of God, guns, and the Constitution? Is it Dick Armey, the former House majority leader who danced to his own tune and was the mastermind behind the GOP’s Contract with America? Or is the Tea Party led by a few private mega-funders—a George Soros clan of the conservative movement?

One thing is certain: liberals have no idea who their opponent is, and they and the mainstream media are desperate to find out.

Several months ago, when the tea party crusade hit its stride with a Kentucky primary win by Rand Paul to succeed retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican, the Left went out of its way to link Mr. Paul as the puppet behind a larger Republican machine. Democrat operatives quickly labeled Mr. Paul and his style of politics as wholly indicative of what the GOP had become.

As predicted, Republicans had reverted to their old-school style of hate politics, the storyline went, making this November a clear choice between “policies of the past” versus the future. Read more ..

China's Energy Future

China Gambles on Oil-free Future as America Fritters Away in Afghanistan

October 4th 2010

Energy Topics - Solar array Shandong China
World's largest solar array - Shangdong China

Thomas Friedman makes a very important point in his excellent column published in the New York Times on September 25.

The gist of the article, "Their Moon Shot and Ours," is that China is looking decades into the future and building the world's biggest network of ultra-modern airports, creating a web of high-speed trains, developing a world-class cell/genetic engineering industry, and lastly, China is investing $15 billion in its fast growing electric vehicle industry. Read more ..

Edge on Financial Crisis

America Must Face its Cash Flow Dilemma

October 4th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Are banks and state governments unwittingly colluding to prevent millions of Americans from being able to afford to pay their bills or profitably run their small businesses? Several pieces of economic data have raised serious questions about the ability of a whole subsection of Americans and small business owners to take the first steps toward building wealth — namely, lack of credit.

For many Americans, this will preclude their ability to meet short-term financial commitments let alone achieve long-term financial stability. What is driving these negative trends in consumer and business credit? It is the same banking regulators who are supposed to be looking out for and protecting consumers. In fact, the constriction of consumer credit is the product of banking regulators who have continued to add to the hurdles that banks must meet to make loans, including raising the banks' reserve requirements. As a result, it makes it nearly impossible for the banks to meet the credit needs of this growing population of Americans — nearly 100 million strong. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Massive Sale of U.S. Arms to Saudi Arabia Undercuts American Values

September 27th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard

The Arab lobby now seeks to capitalize on fears of war with Iran to convince Congress to approve the largest arms sale in U.S. history to Saudi Arabia. In fact, the sale will do nothing to protect the Saudis from Iran and will reward them for continuing to undermine our values and interests.

Who is this Arab lobby? It is led by the Saudis themselves and supported by Arabists – current and former government officials who believe America must keep the Saudis happy to ensure the flow of oil – oil companies who profit from that relationship and defense contractors who also make money and tell the Pentagon they can lower the unit costs for American weapons and keep production lines open. This formidable lobby has proven nearly impossible to defeat as the Saudis have already purchased roughly $100 billion worth of U.S. arms.

The argument that the Saudis need $60 billion worth of new arms to defend themselves from Iran is especially ludicrous. If the Obama administration prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, then Iran poses less danger to the Saudis; if Iran gets the bomb, the new arms will be of no use.

While the Saudis argue the sale is needed to defend them from the Iranians, a significant part of the arms deal is dedicated to bolstering the palace guard. This reflects the Saudis’ main concern, protecting the monarchy from internal opponents who cannot be fought with fighter planes and helicopters. Read more ..

Cuba on Edge

Does Castro's Change of Heart Signal a Change in Pace in U.S.- Cuba Relations?

September 27th 2010

Cuba Topics - Fidel Castro remonstrating

After four years of silence induced by grave physical illness, punctuated only by occasional newspaper commentaries, Fidel Castro has regained his voice. To the surprise of many, he is using it to make some startling comments on the escalating conflict between Iran and the western world. In one of his most recent statements on the subject, expressed in an exclusive interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine, Castro surprised friends and foes alike by excoriating Iran’s Ahmadinejad for intensifying conflict in the Middle East by encouraging anti-Semitism in Iran. Specifically, Castro criticized Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust, declaring to Jeffrey Goldberg, “The Jews have lived an existence that is much harder than ours. There is nothing that compares to the Holocaust.”

Castro has come out since publication of Goldberg’s piece to explain that the reporter missed the crucial irony in his statement that was originally heralded as a shocking admission that the Cuban economic model was failing. Instead, Castro explained that he had meant “exactly the opposite,” that the US capitalist model could no longer be seen as a model for the U.S., much less for Cuba. Fidel has made no such clarification or retraction regarding his words for Ahmadinejad, however. In this case, at least, it seems that Goldberg got Castro’s message right the first time. Read more ..

Inside Islam

What Arabs Really Think About Iran

September 20th 2010

Arab Topics - Saudi Prince in Meeting

It is no secret that Arab public opinion toward U.S. President Barack Obama has soured since his June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt. According to a slew of recent opinion polls, Arabs have been deeply disappointed with Obama’s accommodations to Israel. Analysts have suggested that this discontent has caused Arabs to embrace Iran and its nuclear program, and are hostile to U.S.-led attempts to isolate and pressure the Islamic Republic. But on this front, the numbers tell a very different story. Read more ..

Media on the Edge

TIME Magazine is Lying When it Says Israel Does Not Care About Peace

September 20th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard

As the author of a book on myths and facts about the Arab-Israeli conflict, I am often asked to identify the most prevalent myth. The answer can be found on the cover of the recent edition of Time magazine, which purports to explain "Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace."

This assertion reinforces the views of the Arab lobby, especially State Department Arabists, who often work in tandem with foreign interests to frustrate broader U.S. policy goals. They have long believed that Israelis don't know what's best for themselves and must be forced, like recalcitrant children, to capitulate to the demands of the Arabs for their own good.

The Arabists, especially concerned that the creation of a Jewish state would jeopardize our access to Saudi oil, initially tried to prevent the creation of Israel altogether. Since 1948, their consistent posture has been that U.S. interests are best served by distancing the United States from Israel in order to improve our ties with Arab states.

We now have more than six decades of experience, which has utterly refuted this view. During these decades, we've seen U.S.-Israel relations grow closer without adversely affecting either our ties with Arab allies or oil supplies. Moreover, the true threats to U.S. interests have been external powers - the Soviet Union, regional provocateurs like the Iranians, inter-Arab rivalries (e.g., Syria and Lebanon) and terrorism, all of which the Arabists either ignored or downplayed. Read more ..

Turkey on the Edge

An Imaginary Vote in the Turkish Election

September 20th 2010

Turkish Topics - Turkish Flags

Had I voted in Sunday's referendum in Turkey, I would have struggled to decide whether to vote for or against the constitutional amendments put forth by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

On the one hand, the reform package includes progressive amendments, such as constitutionally guaranteed gender equality. On the other hand, it grants the AKP the power to appoint most of Turkey's high court judges without a confirmation process. Prior to Sunday, the secular courts were the last remaining check on the power of the AKP -- an authoritarian movement with Islamist roots that has often interpreted democracy as unchallenged majority rule. That judicial check is now gone. Read more ..

Argentina on the Edge

Hot Times in Argentina Leading to the 2011 Presidential Election

September 20th 2010

Latin American Topics - Cristina Fernandez gesture
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Alleged wiretapping hearings lead by a politician, the shutdown of an Internet provider and the investigation of a newsprint factory have all occurred in Argentina over the last few days. They all connect in one clear way: they signify the climax of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s presidency; they represent a moment of truth for the controversial figure. Argentina is fast approaching the 2011 presidential elections and the whole country is seized by the battle between the Kirchnerites and their fierce opposition. In this war, great names will be toppled and the ghosts of Argentina’s past—specifically the lingering effects of the country’s brutal military dictatorship—will certainly influence the country’s future. Read more ..

Edge on Terrorism

Nine Years after 9/11 and What have We Wrought?

September 13th 2010

Terrorism - Twin Towers 9/11

It has now been nine years since al Qaeda attacked the United States. It has been nine years in which the primary focus of the United States has been on the Islamic world. In addition to a massive investment in homeland security, the United States has engaged in two multi-year, multi-divisional wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, inserted forces in other countries in smaller operations and conducted a global covert campaign against al Qaeda and other radical jihadist groups.

In order to understand the last nine years you must understand the first 24 hours of the war — and recall your own feelings in those 24 hours. First, the attack was a shock, its audaciousness frightening. Second, we did not know what was coming next. The attack had destroyed the right to complacent assumptions. Were there other cells standing by in the United States? Did they have capabilities even more substantial than what they showed on Sept. 11? Could they be detected and stopped? Any American not frightened on Sept. 12 was not in touch with reality. Many who are now claiming that the United States overreacted are forgetting their own sense of panic. We are all calm and collected nine years after. Read more ..

Brazil on the Edge

The Stakes are High in Brazil's Forthcoming Presidential Election

September 13th 2010

Latin American Topics - Dilma Rouseff and Lula
Candidate Dilma Rousseff and President Lula da Silva of Brazil

In a scene from my first book, Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics and the Challenge to the U.S., I discuss how Brazil became an ally of Venezuela during a key moment of heightened political tensions. It was December, 2002 and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was facing down an economically damaging lock-out of the oil sector launched by the right wing political opposition. The lock-out capped a tumultuous political year for Chávez: just eight months earlier, he had scarcely managed to face down a coup d’etat launched by pro-U.S. elements within the country’s military and business elite.

As a result of the lock-out, Venezuela was obliged to import gasoline for domestic use. Chávez, who at the time was locked in a bitter political struggle with the Bush White House in Washington, desperately needed allies. Fortunately, just across the border Venezuela found an important diplomatic supporter in Brazil. In a clear sign that the South American giant was in no mood to cooperate with U.S. efforts designed to isolate Venezuela, Brazil shipped half a million barrels of oil to the Chávez government. Read more ..

Edge on Freedom

America's Free Speech Rights must be Shielded from Foreign Lawsuits

September 13th 2010

Social Topics - Bill of Rights

Although Washington is often mired in partisan political battles, there are some issues on which Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree — and where they can work together in unison. One of these is our nation’s tradition of freedom of speech. Thanks to strong, bipartisan cooperation, an important bill to protect free speech is now set to become law.

The SPEECH Act (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage) will protect Americans’ free-speech rights from the chilling effect of foreign libel lawsuits. The Act will ensure that American courts cannot be used to enforce foreign libel judgments against American journalists, authors and publishers if those judgments undermine Americans’ First Amendment rights.

For too long, American writers and publishers have been taken to court in countries with speech protections that are weaker than what our First Amendment affords. Moreover, these lawsuits often are brought in the courts of countries that lack any substantial connection to the speech or publisher, and that are selected by the plaintiff only because of that country’s weak free-speech standards. This is known as libel tourism. Read more ..

Israel and Palestine

Palestinians Will Not Accept Israel Within Any Borders

September 13th 2010

Jewish Topics - Women at The Wall

Last week, a small item of news shed piercing light on the reason for the intractability of the Arab war on Israel. The well-known 1970s disco group, Boney M, invited by the Palestine International Festival to give a concert in Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled Ramallah, was pressured to drop performing one of its signature hit songs, ‘Rivers of Babylon.’

This is revealing. It reflects the fact that, since its inception in 1994, the PA has sought to deny and erase all Jewish connection with the land of Israel. This in turn reflects the fact that the PA and Palestinian society in general – as confirmed by many polls – reject Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, whose validity stems from the Jewish people’s religious and historical connection to the country. Read more ..

Economic Crisis

Where Can Americans Turn in a Government-created Artificial Reality?

September 13th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE
Star Parker

Many low income families bought homes they couldn't afford, not just because of lying mortgage brokers, but because the whole artificial reality that distorted prices and credit was created by government policy.  

It's interesting why behavior that we readily recognize on an individual level as undesirable, we routinely promote and accept as government and social policy.

What rational person would suggest that being detached from reality is a good thing? Or what rational person does not want good information when making important decisions?

But increasingly we live in an environment, created by government driven policies, in which the picture of reality we have is false, and the information available to us for making routine decisions is distorted. 

University of Chicago economist Raghuram Rajan demonstrates this problem in what he calls "let them eat credit." According to Rajan, we have a big problem at the lower end of our income spectrum. Low end incomes not only are languishing, but adjusted for inflation, are dropping. From 2002 to 2008, real wages for the top ten percent of earners increased, but for everyone else they dropped. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

America's Options in Iran and the Israel Attack Potential

September 6th 2010

Israeli Military - Israeli Jets Parked

Public discussion of potential attacks on Iran’s nuclear development sites is surging again. This has happened before. On several occasions, leaks about potential airstrikes have created an atmosphere of impending war. These leaks normally coincided with diplomatic initiatives and were designed to intimidate the Iranians and facilitate a settlement favorable to the United States and Israel. These initiatives have failed in the past. It is therefore reasonable to associate the current avalanche of reports with the imposition of sanctions and view it as an attempt to increase the pressure on Iran and either force a policy shift or take advantage of divisions within the regime. Read more ..

Electoral Edge

When Truth Itself Isn’t What Matters

September 6th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

In this modern era, in the United States, we often find ourselves, as voting adults, faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils. Take, for instance, the high-profile Senate race in Nevada where one of the most unpopular sitting elected officials in the nation, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, is neck and neck with someone whose only real selling point is that she’s – well, it’s simple: she’s not Harry Reid.

I don’t mean to disparage Sharron Angle. I’m only saying that Nevadans don’t seem particularly high on her. Nevada independents and moderates – who usually decide general elections – are not rushing to vote for a woman who wants to abolish the Department of Education, privatize Social Security, and who recently told a radio station she believes she was called by God to run for the Senate. (It’s important for me to note here, especially given my unabashed belief in the importance of faith in public life, that I am not mocking or ridiculing Angle’s belief that God called her to run for the Senate. I am merely commenting on the effect her claim might have on her chances of eventually capturing Reid’s Senate seat. And I, as do most Christians, understand what she was probably trying to say is that she feels God’s will for her is to run for the Senate seat, win or lose. After all, many people feel after long prayer, that God blesses their desires to be, say, a school teacher. I, as a matter of fact, believe God has answered my prayers in allowing me to use the talents he’s blessed me with in my own career. The prudence of making such a claim on the campaign trail is another matter, and it’s one that, instead of making her the presumptive Senator-elect from Nevada, has made her “the lesser of two evils” in the minds of key Nevada voters.) Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Are Iran Sanctions Too Big to Fail?

August 30th 2010

Iran - Iran Nuclear Equipment

On July 1, 2010, The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), which passed by a large majority in the Congress, was signed into law. This Act puts the onus on American banks to audit and certify that their foreign correspondent banks are not knowingly facilitating or supporting Iran’s nuclear program and terrorist activities.

U.S law enforcement agencies’ investigation of the U.S. unit of HSBC could soon test the Administration’s resolve to act against big foreign correspondent banks that ignore the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA).

President Obama’s statement at the signing of CISADA, noted that this Act “requires sanctions on financial institutions facilitating certain activities involving Iran” (emphasis added). The vagueness of the President’s statement clearly indicates the Administration’s ambiguity towards the enforcement of severe sanctions against those who continue to fuel Iran’s coffers. Read more ..

Middle East Peace Process

Since America Wants Them, Mideast Peace Talks Begin Again

August 30th 2010

Israel Topics - Obama Netanyahu Abbas

The Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have agreed to engage in direct peace talks Sept. 2 in Washington. Neither side has expressed any enthusiasm about the talks. In part, this comes from the fact that entering any negotiations with enthusiasm weakens your bargaining position. But the deeper reason is simply that there have been so many peace talks between the two sides and so many failures that it is difficult for a rational person to see much hope in them. Moreover, the failures have not occurred for trivial reasons. They have occurred because of profound divergences in the interests and outlooks of each side. Read more ..

Religious Freedom

The Endless Wars of Islam

August 30th 2010

Islamic Topics - Islamic Protesters

Islam emerged from what is modern day Saudi Arabia in the 7th century, and never looked back. Muslim armies swept across North Africa and invaded Catholic Spain, destroying or converting the Christian communities along the way. They turned churches into mosques, and made Islam the official religion. Muslim armies also took over the Holy Land, destroyed the last non-Islamic Persian empire, and moved into Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). By the 16th century, Islam had destroyed the Christian Byzantine Empire, had taken over Constantinople, and had turned the Hagia Sophia -- the most beautiful church in Christendom -- into a mosque. A century later, Muslim armies were outside the gates of Vienna. Read more ..

The Electoral Edge

For Republicans, 2010 is the Year of the Woman

August 23rd 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

The results of the recent primary elections have political pundits declaring 2010 to be the year of the woman. This may be true, but the real story is that this is the year of the conservative woman.

This year the GOP has nominated more female candidates than in any previous election cycle. The number of GOP women running for U.S. House or Senate seats has doubled over the past two years. In California, Republicans nominated Carly Fiorina to run for Senate and Meg Whitman to run for governor. In New Mexico, Sussana Martinez was nominated by the Republicans to run for governor. Linda McMahon, who formerly headed World Wrestling Entertainment, is the GOP Senate nominee in Connecticut. In Nevada, former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle was nominated by the Republicans to run against the Liberal Democratic standard bearer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. An unwavering conservative, Angle seeks to cut federal waste by eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education. A recent Rasmussen poll put her ahead of Reid by a 50 to 39 margin.

In South Carolina, Nikki Heley will be a candidate in a run-off election. Of course the conservative queen-maker and Tea Party standard bearer was Sarah Palin. Two of the recent primaries’ biggest winners, Fiorina and Nikki Haley, were endorsed by Palin. This past week, Palin threw her support behind three more female GOP candidates, whom she called “liberty-loving Mama Grizzlies.” For the first time in history, the conservative movement and the Republic Party are headlined by women rather than middle aged white men. Read more ..

The Nuclear Edge

The Bomb Was Not Necessary

August 23rd 2010

Military - Atomic Mushroom Cloud

With the sixty-fifth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb almost upon us, there is undoubtedly going to be a flood of commentary on the wisdom of its use by the United States during World War II. The justified scolding of Charles Pellegrino and his The Last Train From Hiroshima and Nagasaki is likely only the opening salvo.

Venturing into the arena of discussing the wisdom of the use of the atomic bomb is fraught with danger. It is somewhat akin to asking for the creation of an "impartial panel" to rationally discuss the issue of abortion, immigration reform, or the merits of the Obama health plan.

Virtually overlooked in the often heated debate is the question of whether the use of the bomb was justified from a strategic viewpoint. In other words, could we have induced Japan to surrender without the use of the bomb? This writer says yes.

For anyone looking for a recent accumulation of articles both pro and con, a useful starting point would be the 2005 essay by J. Samuel Walker in that April’s Diplomatic History. Clearly, the issue of the bomb is still an important story and will be with us for some time. Walker references a 1999 poll by Newseum, a museum of the news media, of sixty-seven American journalists who ranked the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945 at the top of all the news stories of the twentieth century. It would not be surprising if the story had the same rank at the end of this century. Walker, like almost all the others who venture into this arena, concentrates on the ethics and morality of President Truman's decision to utilize the bomb. Whether it was necessary to win the war is not discussed. Read more ..

Arabs and Israelis

The Palestinian National Narrative is the Biggest Obstacle to Peace

August 23rd 2010

Palestine Topics - Palestinian refugees

A specter is haunting the prospective Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations—the specter of the Nakba. The literal meaning of the Arabic word is “disaster”; but in its current, expansive usage, it connotes a historical catastrophe inflicted on an innocent and blameless people (in this case, the Palestinians) by an overpowering outside force (international Zionism). The Nakba is the heart of the Palestinians’ backward-looking national narrative, which depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as the original sin that dispossessed the land’s native people. Every year, on the anniversary of Israel’s independence, more and more Palestinians (including Arab citizens of Israel) commemorate the Nakba with pageants that express longing for a lost paradise. Every year, the legend grows of the crimes committed against the Palestinians in 1948, crimes now routinely equated with the Holocaust. Echoing the Nakba narrative is an international coalition of leftists that celebrates the Palestinians as the quintessential Other, the last victims of Western racism and colonialism. Read more ..

The Ground Zero Mosque

Ground Zero Mosque is a Mistake

August 16th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Star Parker, CURE
Star Parker

President Obama brought with him to the presidency a conviction that we Americans somehow bore some responsibility for the antipathy towards us in the Islamic world and that outreach would help. This is false.

The "Ground Zero" Mosque project should not go forward and let's hope that Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf who is behind this $100 million project gets this message and backs off.

But given what he is hearing from the liberals in New York, including the city's Mayor, the congressman in whose district Ground Zero sits, and the New York Times, it's hard to be optimistic that he will change his mind. 

Opposition to the Mosque is being portrayed, as the New York Times editorial page put it, as abandoning "the principles of freedom and tolerance."  But the Times makes its own tenuous grasp of reality clear as it goes on in its editorial embracing the Mosque and Islamic Center to say that "The attacks of September 11 were not a religious event."

We can only wonder what those at the Times think was motivating the young Muslims who, while embracing their Korans and chanting to Allah, committed suicide, taking 3,000 innocent Americans to their deaths along with them.

The website for the project, the Cordoba Initiative, advertises itself as "Improving Muslim-West Relations" and "steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions." Read more ..

Turkey On the Edge

Turkey May be Headed to Scary 1940s European Model

August 16th 2010

Turkish Topics - Turkish Flags

There has been speculation about where Turkey is heading ever since the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002. The early years suggested to most observers that Turkey was heading West, as the AKP lobbied hard for membership in the European Union, and pushed the liberal-democratic and free-market reforms that membership requires. Lately, the consensus view has shifted 180 degrees. As Europe makes clear its resistance to welcoming a Muslim-majority member, Turkey seems to be positioning itself as a regional power broker among its Islamist neighbors, most dramatically by casting a no vote against U.N. sanctions on Iran. Read more ..

The Education Edge

Education is the Silver Bullet

August 9th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams
Armstrong Williams

America’s once proud public education system is officially broken. Just about every study, statistic, expert, and professional agrees that without serious changes, our schools and our students will continue to fall further and further behind the world standard. But although parents, politicians, and policy makers recognize the problems facing our schools, they aren’t doing the right things to fix them. They’ve tried - in fact, they’ve tried ad nauseam – but they’re using band aids when reconstructive surgery is needed.

Whether it’s the No Child Left Behind Act enacted in 2002, President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign started this year, or the countless other education program instituted in between, our leaders seem to recognize that our education system is bleeding. Teachers, individual schools, school districts, local governments, states, and the federal government also see the problem and have made many legitimate attempts in the last decade to improve schools and better educate our children.

And it seems as though every politician and education professional has, at one time or another, spouted off various ways to fix our schools and help our children catch up with their international counterparts. The problem with all these ideas and initiatives however – no matter how sincere they are – is that none of them truly address the real problem in education: a lack of funding. Read more ..

BDS--the New Anti-Jewish Boycott

Isolation as a Tactic of Political Warfare

August 9th 2010

Contributors / Staff - Gerald Steinberg
Gerald M. Steinberg

Since 1948, Israel has been relatively isolated. In contrast to the Arab League, there is no "Jewish" League, and alliances depend on shared interests and values. European support has generally been problematic, and close cooperation with the United States only developed after 1967, with periodic friction, particularly during the Carter presidency (1977-1981). In the region, informal security links with Iran, Turkey and Jordan and the 1979 treaty with Egypt were exceptions.

The 1993 Oslo declaration opened many doors, and the era of Israel's isolation appeared to be over. But the Oslo process' violent end and other changes in the region reversed much of this progress. European governments became more distant again, and tentative ties with some Gulf countries and North Africa were reversed. However, cooperation with the US during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations remained very strong and Israelis were able to ignore the wider isolation.

The Obama administration has different priorities and perceptions, and relations have cooled considerably. Friction over Jerusalem construction, and images of humiliation during Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's March 2010 visit to the White House, suggested a major crisis. Conflict with Europe over the peace process and demands for Israeli concessions also expanded. In the region, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reversed years of close ties, instead forming alliances with Syria and Iran and joining in their support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Read more ..

Mideast Peace on the Edge

Palestinian Leader Abbas Seeks to Adopt Policy Based on Ethnic Cleansing of Jews

August 9th 2010

Palestine Topics - Mahmoud Abbas and Big Bro Arafat

The Palestinian Authority is under heavy international pressure, mostly American, aimed at facilitating the transition from proximity talks to direct negotiations with Israel.

The written message recently sent by President Obama to Palestinian Chairman Mahmud Abbas indicated that the American administration is not content, to say the least, with the Palestinian foot-dragging in the peace process, or with what is perceived to be a lack of appreciation for American pressure on Israel (which led PM Netanyahu to accept the two-state solution and to temporarily freeze settlement activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem.)

However, there is no obvious fundamental change in the Palestinian stance. The PA hesitates and refrains from explicit commitment to direct negotiations without any pre-conditions. Instead, it tries to weather the American demands by raising a new proposal to convene a three-way meeting of Palestine, Israel, and America to discuss the agenda of the negotiations, its legitimacy, and the settlement cessation. Read more ..

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