Obama's Second Term
|Armstrong Williams||January 29th 2015|
Most of the discussion following President Obamaâ€™s recent State of the Union Address pointed to his decision to announce various programs and goals that have no chance of being actually being passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate. But the most cynical, and probably the most dangerous, collision between reality and rhetoric was when the President spoke about Iranâ€™s illicit nuclear weapons program.
Members of Congress who are concerned by the ongoing nuclear progress of the worldâ€™s leading state sponsor of terrorism are interested in pursuing a bill that would provide a backstop should the talks between Iran and the P5+1 ultimately break down due to Tehranâ€™s unwillingness to dismantle its nuclear arms program.
The bipartisan legislation authored by Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez would not impose new sanctions on Iran; instead the measure is essentially a diplomatic insurance policy that improves the likelihood that Iran may decide to actually cut a deal rather than face stringent economic consequences.
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The Obama Administration has in recent days undertaken a full-fledged assault on the idea, wielding false assertions that seem to reflect desperation by the President and his staff to cut a deal with Iran at all costsâ€”even if that means agreeing to a bad deal. The administration has even gone so far as to solicit an oped from our European allies urging Congress not to put in place the necessary measures to use financial pressure if, and only if, the negotiations fail. These are dangerous games and they send exactly the wrong signal to Iran.
Islam on Edge
|Jay Ogilvy||January 29th 2015|
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The Charlie Hebdo attack and its aftermath in the streets and in the press tempt one to dust off Samuel Huntington's 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Despite the criticisms he provoked with that book and his earlier 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, recent events would seem to be proving him prescient.
Or was he?
While I am not about to deny the importance of religion and culture as drivers of geopolitical dynamics, I will argue that, more important than the clashes among the great civilizations, there is a clash within each of the great civilizations. This is the clash between those who have "made it" (in a sense yet to be defined) and those who have been "left behind" â€” a phrase that is rich with ironic resonance.
Before I make my argument, I warn that the point I'm trying to make is fairly subtle. So, in the interest of clarity, let me lay out what I'm not saying before I make that point. I am not saying that Islam as a whole is somehow retrograde. I am not agreeing with author Sam Harris' October 2014 remark on "Real Time with Bill Maher" that "Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas." Nor am I saying that all religions are somehow equal, or that culture is unimportant. The essays in the book Culture Matters, which Huntington helped edit, argue that different cultures have different comparative advantages when it comes to economic competitiveness. These essays build on the foundation laid down by Max Weber's 1905 work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is only the "sulfuric odor of race," as Harvard historian David Landes writes on the first page of the first essay in Culture Matters, that has kept scholars from exploring the under-researched linkages between culture and economic performance.
The Way We Are
|Peter Finn||January 29th 2015|
After a six-year legal battle, a detainee has given his side of the story of his arrest, rendition and interrogation. It's horrific.
There are many incredible things about the diary recently published by Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi. It contains over 2,500 redactions, and was only published after a six-year legal battle. Its author was cleared for release in 2010 but still languishes in Guantanamo, and is unlikely to be released this year.
Among other outrages, the diary documents how Slahi, after suffering the indignity and abuse that arose from genuine renditions, was subject to a â€œfake rendition processâ€ designed to make him feel he was â€œbeing transferred to some far, faraway secret prison.â€
As part of this fake rendition, he was subjected to a beating so severe he was unable to stand, then taken out to sea on a boat for three hours and forced to drink salt water as he feared he would be killed if he refused. Read more ..
The Edge of Tolerance
|Martin Barillas||January 28th 2015|
|Period photo of victim of Armenian genocide|
Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan has invited numerous heads of state to the April 24 commemoration, including Armenian President Serzh Sarkysian. In recent days, the Armenian press published Sarkysianâ€™s reply to Erdogan in which he rejects the invitation. The letter also accused Turkey of seeking to perpetuate its longstanding denial that the mass killing of 1.5 million people by the Ottomans amounted to a genocide.
Turkey has maintained that the genocide is to be blamed on Ottoman authorities who ruled the Anatolian peninsula, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Sarkysian accused the Turkish government of seeking to distract the worldâ€™s attention away from the memory of the genocide.
A bilingual Armenian weekly published in Istanbul, Agos, called the invitation "a dishonest step" on the part of the Turkish leader. Christians living in Turkey say that the commemoration of the battle on the same day on which Armenians will remember the hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenians, Greeks, and others by Ottoman authorities in 1915 is an unnecessary provocation. Read more ..
|Star Parker||January 27th 2015|
This past week, following the nation's celebration of the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the U.S. Supreme Court heard an important case related to landmark law enacted during the civil rights era â€“ the Fair Housing Law of 1968.
This case highlights how some policies that followed civil rights era legislation â€“ in this case government low-income housing projects â€“ actually have hurt the very communities they were supposed to help.
The Court heard arguments in the case Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v The Inclusive Communities Project, a non-profit defining itself as for â€œthriving racially and economically inclusive communities.â€ No one questions the illegality of refusing to sell or rent to someone because of his or her race. But what about policies not intended to be discriminatory, but that may produce results that might be deemed as such? Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Newt Gingrich||January 19th 2015|
The United States has been at war with radical Islamist terrorism for at least 35 years, starting with the November 1979 Iranian seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and taking of 52 American hostages. President Jimmy Carter , in his State of the Union address two months later, declared the American captives â€œinnocent victims of terrorism.â€
For the next two decades, radical Islamist terrorism grew more powerful and more sophisticated. On Sept. 11, 2001, a remarkably sophisticated effort by Islamist terrorists killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania.
In response to the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, President George W. Bush told a joint session of Congress: â€œOur war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.â€ Read more ..
Islam's War Against Hinduism
|Phyllis Chesler||January 15th 2015|
On January 11, 2015, Anjali Devi, 57, was brutally murdered by a group of young men associated with Jamayat-e-Islami.
She was a Hindu, living in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, an honored teacher of nursing at a medical college, a nurse who was concerned with proper hygiene for nurses.
But the Islamist group Jamayat-e-Islami had issued a fatwa demanding that nurses wear hijab. By definition, doing so increases the risk of a nurse carrying a disease from one patient to another and violates operating room procedures. Bangladeshi daily newspaper The Independent reports that police are refusing to officially tie the attack to the groupâ€”â€œWe are not pretty sure who the real assassin is, and the motive behind it (murder) is not clear yet.â€â€”but witnesses noted Deviâ€™s opposition to the hijab as the most likely reason for the murder. Read more ..
|Mark Hyman||January 14th 2015|
Behind the Headlines
Last summer, more than 1,000 pages were released from a FOIA lawsuit. While Hillary Clinton was the Secretary, the State Department approved more than 200 speeches given by Bill Clinton to several countries including China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Turkey. Clintonâ€™s speaking fees were an astonishing 48 million dollars. When then-President-elect Barack Obama was negotiating with Hillary over the Secretary of State post Clinton promised there wouldnâ€™t be â€œeven the appearance of a conflict of interest.â€
215 times ethics determinations were made on Bill Clinton speaking engagements that netted millions from countries while his wife was running foreign policy. Every single time the State Department found no potential conflict. Hillary's chief of staff was routinely copied on these determinations.
Most neutral observers would probably find some conflict of interest or possibly unethical behavior existed. As to why this other journalist never heard of the story. According to a Lexis-Nexis search, the total number of stories carried by the cable news channels, TV networks, major newspapers, and the Associated Press from last summer thru December 31st is zero. Read more ..
The Edge of Tolerance
|Ben Cohen||January 13th 2015|
The openly anti-Semitic mayor of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has engaged in another ugly tirade against Jews, blaming the Israeli intelligence service Mossad for last weekâ€™s deadly terrorist attacks in France.
Ibrahim Melih GÃ¶kÃ§ek, a member of President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸanâ€™s ruling Justice and Development Party, told a youth congress on Sunday that Israel was angry with France for having voted in favor of Palestinian statehood resolution at a United Nations Security Council meeting last month.
â€œIsrael certainly doesnâ€™t want this sentiment to expand in Europe. Thatâ€™s why it is certain that Mossad is behind these kinds of incidents. Mossad inflames Islamophobia by causing such incidents,â€ GÃ¶kÃ§ek said, according a report in the Turkish newspaper Zaman. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Zalmi Unsdorfer||January 11th 2015|
Cutting Edge contributor
Todayâ€™s mass rally in Paris is a spectacular event for the French people and guaranteed to leave them aglow and refreshed after a most traumatic week.
Itâ€™s also a useful PR boost for Francois Hollande who has probably been the most inept and farcical figure ever to have occupied the Elysee Palace. As for the other visiting dignitaries, the photo-ops wonâ€™t do Netanyahu any harm in his upcoming election and, as for the King and Queen of Jordan, Paris shopping will be a welcome distraction from ISIS forces knocking on their door back home.
Mahmoud Abbas is also making an appearance â€“ doubtless in gratitude for Hollandeâ€™s support of his UN bid for PLO statehood. Welcoming such a man to this celebration of tolerance and harmony is like inviting the grim reaper to a shiva.
But beyond all these ulterior motives and the feelgood factor for the citizens of France, this will not change anything where it counts. The crowds will drift away and life will go on, down the slippery slope to dhimmitude. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Lawrence A. Franklin||January 11th 2015|
|Grand Synagogue of Paris|
What did the shoppers in a Jewish supermarket, four of whom were slaughtered, have to do with the cartoon images of Mohammad?
In light of all the expressed concern about possible anti-Muslim incidents, claims on television that "Muslims are the most persecuted people" seemed jarring and wrong.
Perhaps they should have spent a little time reporting on the anti-Jewish rioting that took place in the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Trappes, a suburb of Paris?
A seemingly required inclusion in most reports on the recent mass murder in Paris was the rhetorical question posed by reporters has been: "Will these events invite a wave of anti-Muslim incidents"? Since these Islam-inspired murders, however, there have been only a few anti-Muslim actions -- all against property. Read more ..
The Edge of Intolerance
|Ben Cohen||January 9th 2015|
The anti-Semitism at the heart of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israel was again laid bare on January 8, as prominent activists from the campaign took to social media to advance the conspiracy theory that the terrorist attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was carried out by the Mossad.
Leading the charge was Greta Berlin, a spokesperson for the Free Gaza movement, an organization that has been closely involved with attempts to break Israelâ€™s blockade against the Hamas regime in Gaza.
In a Facebook posting, Berlin declared, â€œMOSSAD just hit the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in a clumsy false flag designed to damage the accord between Palestine and Franceâ€¦Hereâ€™s hoping the French police will be able to tell a well executed hit by a well trained Israeli intelligence service and not assume the Muslims would be likely to attack France when France is their freind (sic.) Israel did tell France there would be grave consequences if they voted with Palestine. A four year old could see who is responsible for this terrible attack.â€ Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Rachel Ehrenfeld||January 8th 2015|
President Obama is wrong. Free expression and a free press are clearly not "universal values," as he asserted in his condemnation of the attack on Charlie Hebdo's office in Paris. The terrorist attack today was merely an enforcement of decades-long Islamist intimidation and terrorism campaigns against the West.
The leading Islamist terrorist group, the PLO, has pioneered the use of libel suit as threats against me and the Wall Street Journal and the National Review who published my documentation of the terrorist nature of the Hamas affiliated Holy-land Foundation in the late 1980s, and in the early 1990s, they threaten to sue me and the Wall Street Journal for publishing a detailed expose of Yassar Arrafat's corruption. But they could scare us.
Al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks on America, marked the increase of Islamist intimidation of free expression. At first, it was in the form of economic warfare, by filing expensive libel suits against those who exposed the funders of al Qaeda. London became the "libel Capital" of the world and the British Bar was paid well to abandon its pride. Read more ..
Faith and Reason
|Kevin Cirilli||January 3rd 2015|
Pope Francis is increasingly driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church.â€¨
The magnetic pope has sparked new enthusiasm around the world for the church and has flexed his political muscles internationally, most recently by helping to engineer a new relationship between the United States and Cuba.â€¨â€¨
But Francisâ€™s agenda, which also includes calls to address income inequality and limit climate change, is putting him at odds with Republicans, including GOP Catholics in the United States.â€¨ Hours after President Obama announced moves to ease trade and travel restrictions to Cuba, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a practicing Catholic and potential 2016 presidential candidate, criticized the deal and Francis's role in it.
â€œI would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people, for a people to truly be free,â€ Rubio told reporters. Read more ..
The Arab World on Edge
|Mordechai Kedar||January 1st 2015|
2014 was a year in which we witnessed the continued deterioration of the modern Arab state, while in contrast, two older poitical frameworks rose in popularity.
Syria is undergoing a long and bloody process of disintegration. Assad controls about a quarter of the country, including Damascus, part of Haleb in the north, the coastal strip and the Ansari mountains where the Allawites, his non-Muslim brothers, are to be found. Two new frameworks arose on the ruins of Syria: an independent Kurdish area in the northeast and Islamic State on about 30% of Syrian land. The Kurds feel a strong connection to their Iraqi brothers and have no intentions of being under Arab domination ever again. Read more ..
|Shiryn Ghermezian||December 29th 2014|
Israeli journalist Itai Anghel said in a radio interview last week that it was â€œhorrifyingâ€ to hear about terrorist tactics and their graphic details described to him by captured ISIS fighters he spoke with while in Iraq and Syria.
Anghel spent a week in each country, staying in the Kurdish-held territories to report on ISIS for the Israeli television show Uvdah. He interviewed ISIS fighters captured by Kurdish forces about acts they committed as members of the terrorist group, including beheadings, as well as their stance on Jews and Israel. Some of the captives were blindfolded during their interviews with Anghel and none of them knew that the reporter was Israeli. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Paul Miller||December 24th 2014|
When Ismaaiyl Brinsley set out to murder two New York City police officers, his motive may have been more than revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, the two men killed by police. Brinsley appears to have been influenced by Islamic extremism.
On his Instagram account several months ago, Brinsley revealed he was planning to visit â€œAl-Farooq Tomorrow inshallah.â€ This appears to be a reference to Masjid Al-Farooq in Brooklyn, a mosque with a history of hosting terror sympathizers and allegedly raising funds for al-Qaeda.
Images from Brinsleyâ€™s Facebook page (now removed) captured by the website Jihad Watch, reveal he posted one of the most controversial quotes from the Quran (8:60) in March:
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know (but) whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged. Read more ..
Israel and Palestine
|Bernie Quigley||December 22nd 2014|
"In a place where there are no worthy men, strive to be worthy." â€” Ethics of the Father
Today, as Palestinians stage a pro-Hamas rally at Temple Mount, as a deputy speaker in the Swedish parliament calls on Jews to abandon their religious identity, the better to become proper Swedes, as Jews here and everywhere light a candle against the darkness, today, in an essay titled "The Embattled Dream of Palestine," The New York Times celebrates its "vision of two separate states, with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace," as "[having] been at the core of years of arduous negotiations to solve the Middle East conflict."
But the "Embattled Dream" was not Israel's dream; it was America's. It was Jimmy Carter's (who identifies himself today as a world "elder"), Bill Clinton's, George W. Bush's and Barack Obama's. The "two-state solution" they longed so long for is "no closer to reality than it was decades ago." Read more ..
|Rebecca Shabad||December 18th 2014|
The $1.1 trillion spending bill approved by the Senate Saturday includes emergency funding and dozens of policy riders that will affect policy throughout the government.
The main purpose of the bill is to keep the government funded, and the so-called â€œcromnibusâ€ includes 11 appropriations bill that will fund most of the government through September 2015. It also includes a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27. This is to answer GOP critics of President Obama's immigration executive actions, who had pushed to defund the agency.
Here's a look at some of the key riders in the bill:
Wall Street un-reform
The bill includes language repealing part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that will allow banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to directly engage in derivatives trading. Read more ..
|Soeren Kern||December 17th 2014|
The Internet giant Google has announced that it is shutting down its Google News service in Spain. The move came in response to a new copyright law in Spain that would require Google and other news aggregators to pay Spanish publishers for linking to their content. The Spanish law follows similar legislation in other parts of the European Union, where politicians are increasingly lashing out at Google over a host of complaints about antitrust, privacy and taxation issues.
Google has accommodated critics in some countries, but with Spain, the government appears to have completely overreached: Spain's ailing newspaper industry, which is utterly dependent upon Google News to drive traffic and revenues, is now at risk.
Spain's new Intellectual Property Law (Ley de Propiedad Intelectual) was approved in February 2014 and enters into effect on January 1, 2015. Also known as the "Google Tax" (tasa Google), the purpose of the new law is to force predominately American internet content aggregators to pay for the rejuvenation of digital media in Spain. Read more ..
Venezuela on Edge
|Frederick B. Mills||December 12th 2014|
Led by Senators Robert Menendez and Marco Rubio, the U.S. Senate passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act on December 8. The House is expected to vote tonight on the bill. The new legislation hatched by the hard right wing of the Upper House will place targeted sanctions on Venezuelan officials â€œplanning, facilitating, or perpetrating gross human rights violations against peaceful demonstrators, journalists, and other members of civil society in Venezuela.â€
Such sanctions include travel restrictions and the freezing of assets of those found culpable of the offenses. On May 28, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill with similar sanctions against Venezuela, but at that time, former democratic Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, fiercely opposed it. Similarly, the White House did not support the measure, arguing that it could jeopardize discussions between the government and the opposition. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Ben Kamisar ||December 8th 2014|
The Supreme Court could have an outsized impact on President Obamaâ€™s agenda next year.
The court has been a mixed bag for Obama during his presidency. Heâ€™s had big wins, including rulings affirming the Affordable Care Act and striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. But there have been losses too, including a challenge to ObamaCareâ€™s contraceptive mandate and the elimination of part of the Voting Rights Act.
With challenges on issues including ObamaCare, EPA regulations and potentially gay marriage, here are five ways that the Supreme Court could impact Obamaâ€™s agenda in the twilight of his presidency. Read more ..
|Bernie Becker||December 7th 2014|
The NAACP president said Sunday that full-scale changes need to be made to battle what he called a â€œpandemic of police misconduct.â€
Cornell William Brooks, speaking on CBSâ€™s â€œFace the Nation,â€ said that more and more citizens want to make broad changes to police culture in the wake of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.
â€œWe have to change the model of policing,â€ Brooks said after grand juries in both Missouri and New York declined to indict police officers involved in the Brown and Garner cases.
â€œSo in other words where we have police fulfilling the role, or serving the role as an occupying army, as opposed to using a community policing model, that's where we have to go.â€ Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Mariella Sala||December 6th 2014|
In 1995, then-President Alberto Fujimori met with Peruvian feminists at the UN Womenâ€™s Conference in Beijing and announced he would liberalize Peruâ€™s strict laws on contraception by allowing women to have their tubes tied without getting their husbandsâ€™ permission. For Peruvian feminists, who had been fighting for more reproductive rights against powerful opposition from the Catholic Church and Opus Dei, this was a victory. They had no idea that the Fujimori government would use the new law to forcibly sterilize three hundred thousand indigenous women in the Andes between 1995 - 2000.
There are many historical instances of forced sterilization, which is currently being practised on HIV-positive women in Namibia, for purposes of population control in Uzbekistan, and against the Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. It is among the offenses listed as crimes against humanity by the Rome Statute of 2005: â€œRape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.â€ Read more ..
Edge of Tolerance
|Thekla Hritz||December 1st 2014|
Pope Francis and the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians have called for peace in Ukraine and appealed to all sides to pursue dialogue based on international law to resolve the conflict.
Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a joint declaration on November 30 in Istanbul at the end of a lengthy liturgy to mark the feast of St. Andrew, an important feast in the Orthodox Church.
In the statement, the two Christian leaders said they were praying for peace in Ukraine "while we call upon all parties involved to pursue the path of dialogue and of respect for international law in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony."
The celebration was the main reason for Francis's three-day visit to Turkey. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Elise Vliebeck||November 29th 2014|
The Obama administration is facing a slew of healthcare challenges as the winter holidays approach.
While this fall has been a far cry from last year, when HealthCare.gov was melting down, 2014 has brought wholly unexpected problems to the fore for federal health officials and the White House.
Take the conflict surrounding Jonathan Gruber, the ObamaCare consultant whose suggestion that a "lack of transparency" and voters' "stupidity" helped the law pass, went viral.
Though Democrats have sought to distance themselves from Gruber, his remarks have become a new flashpoint in debate over healthcare reform, invigorating GOP critics as the party prepares to take control of the Senate. Read more ..
Edge of Tolerance
|David Meyers||November 26th 2014|
At least two major media outlets have this week reported the shocking statistic that 40 percent of of Palestinian children detained in Jerusalem have been sexually abused by Israeli police. Thereâ€™s only one problem â€“ the statistic is entirely fabricated.
Writing for the International Business Times, contributor Tabatha Kinder reported the following:
Around 600 Palestinian children have been arrested in Jerusalem since June 2013, the International Middle East Media Centre news agency reports. This means approximately 240 minors could have been abused during their arrest or investigation by Israeli authorities, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PCC).
The PCC say the â€œdaily arrest campaignsâ€ inflicted on young Palestinians living in the historic capital are a â€œcollective punishment against Palestinian residents of Jerusalemâ€. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Eli E. Hertz||November 21st 2014|
Myths and Facts
What kind of a society consciously and purposely sacrifices its own youth for political gain and tactical advantage? Suicide bombers are an escalation of a small-arms war introduced during the first Intifada (1987-1993) and championed by Palestinian leaders, even prior to Arafatâ€™s arrival from Tunis in July 1994. Today the overwhelming majority of Palestinian Arabs nurture a blind hatred of Israel. They created a cultural milieu of vengeance, violence and death - preparing their children to be sacrifices in a death cult. Proud parents dress up their toddlers not in clown costumes, but with suicide belts, and countless others celebrate their childrenâ€™s deaths with traditional sweet holiday cakes and candies.
It is clear that in Palestinian society something has gone dreadfully wrong. Children in Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza are turned into â€œself-destructing human bombsâ€ capable of carrying out casualty terrorist attacks in the struggle between Palestinians and Israelis - a phenomenon whose seeds can be traced to the first Intifada.
Clearly horrified by the use of children in armed conflict, Israeli author and peace advocate Aharon Megged wrote during the first Intifada:
â€œNot since the Childrenâ€™s Crusade in 1212 â€¦ has there been a horror such as this â€“ no people, no land where adults send children age 8-9 or 14-15 to the front, day-after-day, while they themselves hide in their houses or go out to work far-far away. They continue, and send them time-after-time, and donâ€™t stop them even when they know they are liable to be killed, maimed, beaten or arrested.â€ Read more ..
The Healthy Edge
|Lawrence Kadish||November 21st 2014|
Rabbis became, in essence, the health department of their time.
Much as Jews were accused and attacked for supposedly spreading the plague in the 14th Century because their dietary ad sanitary rituals gave them a slight edge in preventing disease, doctors in West Africa have been attacked on suspicion that they are actually infecting people with the disease rather than combating it.
In an era before antibiotics, blood tests and digital scanning thermometers; In an era before EKG's, stethoscopes, blood transfusions and even refrigeration; In an era before doctors, science and even a rudimentary understanding of human anatomy, there was the ancient Jewish dietary law of kosher, which continues to offer a lesson for today's fractured societies of western Africa struggling to contain the Ebola epidemic. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Mike Eckel and Harun Maruf||November 19th 2014|
|Somali Muslims protest in Minneapolis, June 2014|
When Dayib Ahmed Abdi and his family arrived in the United States in 1996, his son Abdifatah already had an independent streak. The family settled in Minnesota along with thousands of other refugees from Somaliâ€™s civil war and Abdifatah, known also as Abdirahman Muhumed, went in his own direction. Minnesota's ethnic Somali population has mushroomed in the last two decades from a small group to more than 50,000.
On September 27, 2013, hundreds, including Ilhan Issa, gathered at a solidarity rally in Minneapolis to protest terrorist attacks by Al-Shabab. He frequented gyms, lifted weights and played basketball. He wasnâ€™t particularly religious. He liked going out to night clubs and was considered handsome, â€œa heartthrob,â€ his father said. Abdifatah ended up marrying three times, having eight children in all. His father hoped he would join the military. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||November 17th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks - a member of Britain's House of Lords - summed up in just over eight minutes in a speech before the deliberative body a stunning and succinct analysis of the grave danger posed by ISIS in the Mideast but also by Islamic radicalism the world over. Importantly, Rabbi Sacks notes that the Jewish people want peace, prosperity, and freedom for the children of Palestine as much as for the children of Israel.
He noted that the "religion in whose name atrocities are being carried out, innocent people butchered and beheaded, children treated as slaves, civilians turned into human shileds, and young people into weapons of self-destruction, is no the Islam that once earned the admiration of the world, nor is its God the God of Abraham. It was Nietzsche not the prophets who worshipped the will to power. It was Machiavelli not sacred scripture who taught tht it is better to be feared tan to be loved." Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|James M. Thunder||November 10th 2014|
"We ought to be debating the fact that corporations are now controlling not only the Republican Party, but the government of the United States.â€ â€” Howard ("Screamin'") Dean, November 9, Meet the Press
"Donâ€™t let anybody tell you that itâ€™s corporations and businesses that create jobs.â€ â€” Hillary ("What Difference Does It Make") Clinton, October 24, Boston
54-42, Senate Democrats vote in favor of S.J. Resolution 19, to gut the First Amendment, September 11 - - reported by Mark Pfiefle in The American Spectator Read more ..
The Edge of Tolerance
|Ben Cohen||November 10th 2014|
While Iâ€™ve never been a big fan of celebrity interventions in politics, I will concede that, on occasion, a big-screen actor or a rock star will achieve the kind of impact that mere mortals can only dream about.
Case in point: Maureen Lipman, a much-loved British Jewish actress whom American audiences will recognize from her role in Roman Polanskiâ€™s 2002 film about the Holocaust, â€œThe Pianist,â€ in which she played the mother of the filmâ€™s main protagonist, Wladyslaw Szpilman.
Last week, Lipman wrote an article for Standpoint, a British political magazine, entitled â€œLabour has Lost Me.â€ (Sheâ€™s referring to the current opposition party in a country where they spell â€˜laborâ€™ with a â€˜u.â€™) In that piece, she did two things. Read more ..
Books and Authors
|James Graham Wilson||November 7th 2014|
One unfortunate consequence of the Watergate scandal was the demise of the White House taping system. Historians of the post-Nixon era must settle for memoirs, diaries, interviews, private collections, and official records stored in the National Archives and printed in the Foreign Relations of the United States series. Memories are selective, however; policymakers tend to win their own memoranda of conversations; and, no piece of paper can match a surreptitiously-recorded meeting with the president of the United States.
With the Ronald Reagan administration, minutes of the majority of meetings of two principals committees - - the National Security Council (NSC) and National Security Planning Group (NSPG) - - are available to researchers at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, and are highly illuminating. Especially in the early years of that administration, Counselor to the President Edwin Meese, a longtime Reagan associate with no formal foreign policy brief, is the person steering the conversation. One might even regard Meese as the de facto National Security Advisor in 1981, since the person actually bearing the title that year, Richard Allen, reported to him.
Five years later, then-Attorney General Meese may well have saved Reagan's presidency. On November 25, 1986, he took over a White House press briefing after his boss announced the resignation of National Security Advisor John Poindexter and the dismissal of NSC staffer Lt. Colonel Oliver North. Meese provided the results of an initial White House inquiry after newspaper reports surfaced of clandestine U.S. arms transfers to Iran and illicit support for Contras fighting against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Read more ..
European Jewry on Edge
|Ben Cohen||November 6th 2014|
The uninitiated reader spying the BBCâ€™s initial headline about this morningâ€™s terrorist attack in Jerusalem â€“ â€œDriver hits pedestrians in Jerusalemâ€ â€“ could have been forgiving for thinking that this was a report of a traffic accident in Israelâ€™s capital.
The accompanying tease â€“ â€œA driver rams a car into several pedestrians in East Jerusalemâ€ â€“ communicated the sense that most of the victims were Palestinians, since this part of the city is predominantly Arab.
Then, the headline was changed to the more accurate â€œJerusalem attack: New Palestinian car attack kills one,â€ prompting media watchdog Honest Reporting to ask, â€œIs the BBC asking to be ridiculed? Draw your own conclusions.â€ Read more ..
Israel and America
|Ben Cohen||November 2nd 2014|
Naftali Bennett, Israelâ€™s economy minister, got it 100 percent right in a Facebook posting just a few hours after the latest blow to American-Israeli relationsâ€”aka â€œchickenshitgateâ€â€”surfaced in the media.
Responding to the anonymous â€œsenior Obama administrationâ€ official who told The Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a â€œchickenshit,â€ Bennett said, â€œCursing the prime minister and calling him names is an insult not just to him but to the millions of Israeli citizens and Jews across the globe. The leader of Syria who slaughtered 150,000 people was not awarded the name â€˜chickenshit.â€™ Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Ben Cohen||October 30th 2014|
The New Israel Fund, the New York-based non-profit which granted nearly $27 million to left-wing and progressive NGOs in Israel according to its latest financial report, is again under scrutiny following revelations of extreme anti-Israel rhetoric by the Executive Director of the Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF,) a body supported financially by the NIF.
A just-released fact sheet from NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog that monitors foreign funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, discloses that the Executive Director of the HRDF, Alma Biblash, has described Israel in such inflammatory terms as â€œracist,â€ and â€œmurderous.â€
Biblash also described Israel as a â€œtemporary Jewish apartheid state.â€ According to NGO Monitor, â€œBiblash also supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns and promotes the Palestinian â€˜right of return,â€™ meaning the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.â€ Read more ..
Russia on Edge
|Kristina Gorelik and Daisy Sindelar||October 29th 2014|
Hundreds of Russians lined up outside Moscow's former KGB headquarters on October 29 for an annual ritual commemorating the tens of thousands of people executed during the Great Terror of Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
Each victim is granted just a few words -- name, age, occupation, and the date when they were killed, usually by a shot to the head.
Sometimes, the speakers have no connection to the victims they name. Other times, it couldn't be more personal.
"Avramov, Roman Petrovich, 56 years old. My father," an elderly man says in a shaking voice. "Manager of the All-Soviet Bakery-Building Trust. Shot January 8, 1938. After several months they arrested my mother, Avramova, Faina Avramovna. She spent eight years in the Karaganda labor camps. I was 5 at the time."
The ritual is simple but staggering in its reflection of the sheer scope of the Stalin-era purges, when people of every ethnicity, profession, and political leaning were subject to summary arrest, sentence, and execution, often on flimsy political pretexts.
The daylong commemoration, organized by the Memorial human rights organization, comes as a new public survey shows many Russians expect to see a fresh wave of similar repressions in the future.
The poll, conducted by the pro-Kremlin Public Opinion Foundation (known by its Russian acronym, FOM), indicates that 48 percent of Russians surveyed said there was a chance they would live to see a repetition of Soviet-style repressions. Read more ..
Israel on Edge
|Mosaic Magazine||October 26th 2014|
How has the tumult in the Middle East affected the debate over Israelâ€™s territorial requirements? For an answer, Mosaic approached Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has long promoted the concept of defensible borders primarily as a means of meeting Israelâ€™s security needs in the West Bank. Our exchange was conducted by email.
Q. Before we get to the idea of â€œdefensible bordersâ€ itself, can you begin by telling us about your involvement in it?
A: I became immersed in this issue when I was serving as foreign-policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his first term in the late 1990s. I was tasked with converting the IDFâ€™s â€œInterests Mapâ€ for the West Bank into a form that could be presented to President Bill Clinton; I joined the prime minister for that presentation in the White House Map Room. Four years later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked me to condense the work for his meeting in the Oval Office with President George W. Bush. Read more ..
The 2014 Vote
|Star Parker||October 25th 2014|
Cutting Edge commentator
Prospects that three term Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu will return to the US Senate to represent Louisiana for a fourth term are looking increasingly bleak. Senator Landrieu has good reason to be concerned. One reason is disenchantment among Louisianaâ€™s black population, which amounts to 32 percent of the population of the state â€“ the nationâ€™s second largest black population percentage-wise. Justification for black disillusionment is eloquently and explosively captured in the ad being run by Republican State Senator Elbert Guilloryâ€™s FreeAtLast PAC.
Guillory shook things up in 2013 when the then conservative black Democrat announced he was switching to the Republican Party.
In the ad, Guillory stands on Academy Street, in a poor black neighborhood in Opelouses, Louisiana, delivering his message, graphically powerful as the camera pans across the poverty of the neighborhood, that nothing has changed during the 18 years that Mary Landrieu has represented Louisiana in the US Senate. Read more ..
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