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May 31, 2010

Israelis Stop Hamas Blockade Run

J.E. Dyer at Contentions

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has a very good summary of points about the Hamas-backed attempt to break the maritime blockade of Gaza on May 31. The summary includes links on the Turkish “aid” group, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), and its associations with the Muslim Brotherhood and all the usual suspects of Islamist terror (including the Millennium bombing plot in 1999). There is convincing video footage of the fight mounted by the peace activists – using knives, metal pipe, handguns, stun grenades, and incendiary devices – against the Israeli commandos boarding M/V Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ferry used as the flotilla’s flagship. Probably the best compliment I can give Ed’s post is that it doesn’t adopt the credulous, pro-activist editorial perspective of virtually all the mainstream media outlets.

There is good reason not to. For one thing, the fingerprints of Hamas are all over this blockade-running attempt. IHH, a key organizer of the flotilla, has longstanding ties to Hamas that include establishing an IHH office in Gaza and setting up celebrated meetings between its leader, Bulent Yildirim, and Hamas leaders Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh. Moreover, British participation in the flotilla was organized by British Hamas leader Mohammed Sawalha, among other Hamas links to the European flotilla participants (laid out here).

Flotilla spokesmen told Islamic media repeatedly in the weeks before the attempt that their purpose was to break the blockade. Israel, of course, regularly allows aid convoys into Gaza; the Israelis offered to accept the humanitarian cargo in Ashdod and have it convoyed into Gaza over land. But IHH leaders stated that they hoped to widen the rift between Israel and Turkey by inciting Israel to take military action against the flotilla.


YnetNews.com report

A roundup at the Standard blog

Power Line has video and links

Melanie Phillips: "This was an Islamist terror ambush"

Gaza’s markets are full of produce, thousands of tons of supplies are travelling into Gaza every week through the Israeli-controlled border crossings, and there is no starvation or humanitarian crisis. It was always obvious that the flotilla was not the humanitarian exercise it was said to be. Here is footage of the IDF offering to dock the Marmara -- the main flotilla ship -- at Ashdod and transfer its supplies and being told ‘Negative, negative, our destination is Gaza’.

And now we can see that the real purpose of this invasion -- backed by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a radical Islamic organization outlawed by Israel in 2008 for allegedly serving as a major component in Hamas’s global fund-raising machine -- was to incite a violent uprising in the Middle East and across the Islamic world. As I write, reports are coming in of Arab rioting in Jerusalem.

The notion – uncritically swallowed by the lazy, ignorant and bigoted BBC and other western media – that the flotilla organisers are ‘peace activists’ is simply ludicrous.


Jonathan Tobin

The chorus of condemnations raining down on Jerusalem only hours after the incident shows the depth of anti-Israeli passion around the world, as governments, NGOs, and UN officials are all chiming in with the usual refrains about the use of “disproportionate” force, as well as the myth about the ships’ seeking to alleviate a humanitarian crisis in a region where food and medical supplies are not barred by the Israeli and Egyptian blockade, which is aimed at forcing Hamas to either step down from power or recognize Israel.

But while Israeli spokesmen will be scrambling to tell their side of the story in the coming days, the spotlight on “liberal Zionists” will be crucial in determining not only the way American Jewry responds to the crisis but also the reaction from the Obama administration.

As with the case of Israel’s December 2008 counterattack on terrorist strongholds in Gaza after years of ceaseless missile attacks on its southern towns and villages, today’s naval confrontation offers American Jews a stark choice. They can back Israel or Hamas.


Michael Rubin:


Spiegel Online: Israel Falls into the Trap


David Hazony

Veteran Israel journalist Ron Ben-Yishai at YNet describes IDF soldiers who were ill-prepared for having to disperse a violent response. “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” the soldiers yelled to each other as they were attacked, picked off one by one as they landed on the deck, still believing they were dealing with innocent ideologues rather than orchestrated violence. “Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one,” Ben-Yishai reports, “yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly.” Later on, caches were found on board containing more weapons. What’s clear is that these people were prepared for a fight - peace activists, indeed.


UPDATE: A good friend of mine is a nurse who was on duty in the emergency room at a Jerusalem hospital when some of the injured “activists” were brought in. She tells me that many of them are wearing camouflage. “Not sure they were official Turkish army clothes,” she says, “but they weren’t civilian dress, that’s for sure.”

UPDATE 6/1: Jim Geraghty (from email newsletter Morning Jolt)

Digesting all this, I'm left wondering . . . the world has a lot of Rachel Corries, doesn't it? An armored bulldozer with momentum is not persuaded by your shining moral clarity. Bullets do not alter their courses because you are an outsider trying to make a bold statement about the necessity of peace in a region that hasn't known it in centuries. And when the Israeli Navy says "Stop," they're not joking around. You may think their order to stop is the most unjust thing since the last issue that got you to stand around and chant at a building, but ignoring it brings predictable hard consequences. Reality doesn't care whether or not you think it's fair. (I notice a large chunk of this crowd were Turks. I suspect these Turkish civilians got what they wanted: a chance to fight Jews.)

May 30, 2010

Miscellany 5/30

Dariusz Tolczyk - The New Criterion - Katyn: The Long Cover-up

Larry Elder - The Anti-Incumbency Myth

Mark Steyn - We're Too Broke to be This Stupid

Tom Joscelyn - Inside the Gitmo Task Force's Final Report. More here.

Doctor Zero on the reason lefties object to the term "Obamacare"

Jeffrey H. Anderson - Obamacare taking on water

May 29, 2010

Horowitz at UC San Diego

When Hitler comparisons are apt....

Text of David Horowitz' May 10 speech - The War Against the Jews

It is appropriate — and not coincidental of course — that I arrive here during “Israel Apartheid Week” or, as I prefer to call it, “Hitler Youth Week.” I use that reference because — as should be evident — what is going on here is part of a globally organized movement centered in the Arab Muslim Middle East to finish the job that Hitler started. Unlike the Nazis, who hid their “final solution” from ordinary Germans and the world at large, the Muslim radicals shout it from the rooftops, put it in their organizational charters and get applauded for doing so by millions of Muslims who want to see it happen. And the left does its job, as during the Cold War years, of conducting auxiliary campaigns to help the genocide along.

I dread the day David passes from the scene as an active force in political and social commentary. His intellect, courage, passion and wit, let alone his willingness to engage the modern day campus orthodoxies face to face, will be irreplaceable. Read it all, but here Horowitz takes apart the big lie...

...allow me to deal with some of the lies perpetrated by the Muslim Students Association and their “Israel Apartheid Week” on this campus. On the “apartheid” wall of hate funded by this university there is a map that pictures Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. It is labeled “occupied Palestine.” It is a lie.

There is no occupation of a country called “Palestine.” There were no Palestinian lands originally to be stolen. Israel was created in the same way that Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were created – out of the ruins of the Turkish Empire. The Turks are not Arabs. They had ruled the entire region for 400 years since the 16th Century, until they joined the powers that were defeated in World War I.

At the end of the war, the victors – Britain and France — divided up the spoils, in this case the defeated Turkish empire. The “Palestine Mandate,” which was part of these Turkish spoils did not refer to a people but to a geographical region. The people in the region for the previous thousand years called themselves “Arabs” not “Palestinians.” The word “Palestine” is not even an Arab word. It is Roman in origin. When the Romans drove the Jews out of their homeland, Judea, in the first century CE, they renamed it after the Jews’ enemies, the Philistines, who were Europeans, not Arabs. Hence the name “Palestine.”

The claim that Israel is “occupied Palestine” is a lie of Hitlerian proportions and has the same genocidal intention.


Horowitz - "Why Israel is the Victim..." - 2002

Big Lies: Demolishing The Myths of the Propaganda War Against Israel - David Meir-Levi - with an introduction by David Horowitz - 2005

May 27, 2010

McCarthy - The Grand Jihad

Andy McCarthy's new book is out this week, which is reason enough for me to read it by next week.

Here's an interview of Andy on Bill Bennett's radio show...plus another interview with Big Journalism.

In a recent column at NRO, McCarthy reacts to the shameful specter of two-thirds of our Congress standing to applaud Mexican President Calderon as he condemned Arizona's legal attempts to control its border with his country. One theme of the new book is that the shared enemy of both the Islamists and the American left...the West's freedom culture...is under organized assault. Here's McCarthy sensing that his President doesn't value that priceless freedom culture as he and millions of others do.

The House Divided

A number of years ago, at some risk to myself and my family, I prosecuted savage jihadists who had made themselves enemies of the United States. I was lauded for doing so by the Clinton administration. Though I disagreed with that administration philosophically, and particularly with its conception of international terrorism as a crime problem, I praised the much-needed overhaul by which it put teeth in our counterterrorism laws. Our disagreement was over the best way to protect the country, not over the imperative that the country be protected. Our debate was the traditional Right-Left debate.

Moreover, as a New York lawyer who made no secret of having conservative views, I was a decided minority, even among my fellow prosecutors. But that only mattered in the occasional, friendly joust over a beer. Day to day, our politics had nothing to do with how we went about our jobs. At the office, I had friends across the ideological spectrum. Most of them were from the political left, but we liked and respected one another. The bond we shared, the sense that we were doing something good for the nation we all loved, was stronger than any ideological divisions.

Why does that matter now? Because, for the first time in our history, we have a president who would be much more comfortable sitting in a room with Bill Ayers than sitting in a room with me. We have a governing class that is too often comfortable with anti-American radicals, with rogue and dysfunctional governments that blame America for their problems, and with Muslim Brotherhood ideologues who abhor individual liberty, capitalism, freedom of conscience, and, in general, Western enlightenment. To this president and his government, I am the problem.

May 24, 2010

UN Audits Released

Claudia Rosett, who did the heaviest of the heavy lifting exposing the billion dollar Oil-for-Food scandal in the United Nations, says it's probably a coincidence....but I doubt it.

Just days after I queried the U.S. Mission to the UN about its commitment to UN transparency (Paging Ambassador Susan Rice), the Mission finally posted on its web site more than 130 previously secret UN internal audit reports. The UN, for all its endless promises about transparency and its ample enjoyment of other people’s money, does not release these reports to the public. It is only thanks to the U.S. that they are now seeing daylight at all — though it takes some trolling through the Mission’s web site to find them.

For anyone who cares about even minimal integrity in UN management and handling of taxpayer money, there’s a trove of bombshell material here. Together, the reports total hundreds of pages, but the typical report runs about 10-20 pages. They date from October, 2008 through August, 2009.

Again, Rosett is doing the legwork so we don't have to, though she encourages readers to browse the records for themselves. Based on her early assessment, it's hard to be encouraged that the relentless corruption at the U.N. will slow anytime soon. As Rosett says, audits are one thing, and action to bring about reform is something else again...and there is little appetite for the latter. The Obama people do deserve credit for this small step. Go for links and details.

May 22, 2010

Delusional Pap

For allowing themselves to be used by the White House to promote a piece of legislation, Mark Steyn says the least the family of Daniel Pearl deserved was a bit of honesty from President Obama. What they got instead was the same "delusional pap" we've come to expect from an administration trying to remove any reference to Islamic-inspired terrorism from the government lexicon.

Tom Blumer writing at Newsbusters, has the quotes and links, but here's the offending Obama line:

"And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.

The Pearl family had been notified by the White House just four days before the bill's signing that they could be props at the ceremony for the legislation bearing Daniel's name. The bill is a "free press" matter, and while Pearl was clearly an advocate of that ideal, it seems to me cynical for the administration to make use of public sympathy for Pearl in the service of their latest legislative photo op, and then gloss over the real reasons why this particular journalist was "silenced".

The twisted version of events that served Obama's momentary purpose is that Pearl was beheaded on video for the entire world to see because he was a journalist....presumably silenced for seeking truth by forces opposed to its disclosure. The words of KSM, Pearl's confessed beheader, provide enough clarity for me to get the picture..."I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi." Truth-telling doesn't seem to have been a stumbling block for KSM here.

Interesting how the journalist thing doesn't come up. The murderers are at best just selective enemies of a free press...using the Internet to virally spread their murder video to a global audience, while denying free expression wherever they can.

As usual, Steyn is reacting more eloquently (and entertainingly) than the rest of us...

Now Obama's off the prompter, when his silver-tongued rhetoric invariably turns to sludge. But he's talking about a dead man here, a guy murdered in public for all the world to see. Furthermore, the deceased's family is standing all around him. And, even for a busy president, it's the work of moments to come up with a sentence that would be respectful, moving and true. Indeed, for Obama, it's the work of seconds, because he has a taxpayer-funded staff sitting around all day with nothing to do but provide him with that sentence.

Instead, he delivered the one above, which in its clumsiness and insipidness is most revealing. First of all, note the passivity: "The loss of Daniel Pearl." He wasn't "lost." He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his "loss" merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.


But what did the "loss" of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was "one of those moments that captured the world's imagination." Really? Evidently it never captured Obama's imagination because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl's fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: "one of those moments" – you know, like Princess Di's wedding, Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, whatever – "that captured the world's imagination."

Read it all, naturally.

Via Jen Rubin, an interview with Judea Pearl at Haaretz.com

The Obama people cannot dodge forever the public spectacle of re-living 9/11 and its radical religious inspiration. Pearl's murderer, the 9/11 terrorist leader, awaits trial, and sooner or later they have to decide how and where to hold it. The vibe you get is that they don't want to dredge up all that nasty 9/11 carnage by trying its strategic mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. How is that going to impact the Obami outreach to the Muslim world? Or their radio silence on the connection of Islam to what they are now calling "violent extremism".

And if trying the terrorist mastermind for the crimes of 9/11 presents a troubling and badly-timed image problem for the administration, think how little they want to deal with Mullah Omar, the now-captured clerical ideologue who, along with Osama bin Laden, sent KSM on his murderous mission. So far, they refuse to acknowledge that he is even in custody, let alone say how they plan to bring him to justice.

I stumbled on an older piece by Judea Peal at danielpearl.org, and had to share. It doesn't seem dated half a decade out. From the top...

After Terror

In his speech of April 15, 2004, President George Bush linked the murder of my son, Daniel Pearl, to a global "ideology of murder." "The terrorist who takes hostages, or plants a roadside bomb near Baghdad" said Bush "is serving the same ideology of murder that kills innocent people on trains in Madrid, and murders children on buses in Jerusalem, and blows up a nightclub in Bali, and cuts the throat of a young reporter for being a Jew.

A week later, while engaging in a Jewish-Muslim dialogue in Williamsburg, Virginia, the first question reporters asked me was: "What is your reaction to the President's mention of your son?" My answer was:
"I agree with the President's observation that Daniel's tragedy is pivotal for understanding the current tide of madness." However, I consider Danny's legacy as a communicator and bridge builder to be equally pivotal in inspiring and revitalizing East/West dialogues, an effort to which I am devoting my energies.

The wave of violence now rocking the planet is of a fundamentally different character than anything this planet has known in the past few centuries. For the first time in recent history a friendly messenger is killed by calculated design, in front of millions of spectators, for the sheer purpose of transmitting a message to those it deems its enemies.

True, planet earth has known cruelty before, and on a much greater scale. Yet even the Nazis labored to hide their gruesome deeds, thus unveiling some inkling of shame, doubt or fear. Daniel's murderers, in shocking contrast, boasted openly in their cruelty, totally secured in faith and righteousness, triumphantly expecting spectators to rally in sympathy. More shocking yet, many of their spectators did rally in sympathy (according to reports from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) and, as the recent murders of Nicholas Berg and Fabrizio Quattrocchi indicate, message-transmission killing has become an increasingly acceptable practice in certain parts of the world.

Such brazen assault on the sanctity of human life marks a profound transgression in the evolution of human civilization, and we must ask ourselves what the origin of this transgression is, and whether it can be isolated, understood and controlled.

Pearl's moral clarity is refreshing, and his message of hope for eventual peaceful reconciliation makes this worth reading in full.

May 18, 2010

Healthcare Consequences

No, You Can't Keep Your Health Plan - Scott Gottlieb: WSJ.com

That was big lie number one. Number two was the projected cost savings benefits of Obamacare...remember? (older link). More from Ed at Hot Air

UPDATE: WSJ: Goodbye, Employer-Sponsored Insurance

Like Obama promises tend to do, those two have reached their expiration dates.

Related articles from the last three weeks or so, as the early effects of the legislation start to show....

Medicare and Medicaid’s Hidden Costs - The Agenda

Obamacare's Danger Signs
- Critical Condition blog

Side Effects: Doctor Participation May Vary - Heritage

Side Effects: Physician-Owned Hospitals Face New Regulations, Limits on Growth - Heritage

Obamacare Mulligan - WSJ

In case you missed it last time:

REPEAL - Why and how Obamacare must be undone - Yuval Levin

UPDATE 5/24: Two good articles in last week's Weekly Standard: The first, Cash For Doctors, deals with the ways medical service providers are already devising ways to deal with, and in some ways circumvent, the new Obamacare realities. The second, Put the Patient in Charge, by Peter J. Hansen, is a more comprehensive plan for real reform, focused on leveling the playing field, by giving people who purchase their own healthcare plans the same tax treatment people under employer-sponsored plans receive.

May 16, 2010

Serial Contradictions

Victor Davis Hanson

This is the strangest presidency I have seen in my lifetime. President Obama gives soaring lectures on civility, but still continues his old campaign invective (“get in their face,” “bring a gun to a knife fight,” etc.) with new attacks on particular senators, Rush Limbaugh, and entire classes of people—surgeons, insurers, Wall Street, those at Fox News, tea-partiers, etc.

And like the campaign, he still talks of bipartisanship (remember, he was the most partisan politician in the Senate), but has rammed through health care without a single Republican vote. His entire agenda—federal take-overs of businesses, near two-trillion-dollar deficits, health care, amnesty, and cap and trade—does not earn a majority in the polls. Indeed, the same surveys reveal him to be the most polarizing president in memory.

His base was hyper-critical of deficit spending under Bush, the war on terror, Iraq and Afghanistan, and government involvement with Wall Street. But suddenly even the most vocal of the left have gone silent as Obama’s felonies have trumped Bush’s misdemeanors on every count.

All this reminds me of the LaLa land of academia. Let me explain.

May 13, 2010

Answering Questions No One's Asking

Of the treasure trove of documents from the Cold War era Soviet Union, smuggled out by dissidents at great personal risk, most still await translation into English. Shunned by publishers, they're still waiting for most anyone to care about them, let alone mine them for history.

There was no Nuremberg equivalent after the fall of the Soviet Union to assess and hold to account the regime that killed tens of millions of innocents, and to discredit communism as a social model once and for all. For many of the same reasons, I suspect, there's little appetite today in the media, the academy or among political elites in the U.S. or Europe, to dredge up the messy details about how collectivism works in practice. It hits too close to home.

Just a couple of excerpts from a fascinating City Journal piece by Claire Berlinski: A Hidden History of Evil, to get you to go read the whole thing.

In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.

For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can’t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can’t get anyone to take much interest in them at all.


Stroilov claims that his documents “tell a completely new story about the end of the Cold War. The ‘commonly accepted’ version of history of that period consists of myths almost entirely. These documents are capable of ruining each of those myths.” Is this so? I couldn’t say. I don’t read Russian. Of Stroilov’s documents, I have seen only the few that have been translated into English. Certainly, they shouldn’t be taken at face value; they were, after all, written by Communists. But the possibility that Stroilov is right should surely compel keen curiosity.

For instance, the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSR’s downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983—a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:

Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.

Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?


And what of Zagladin’s description of his dealings with our own current vice president in 1979?

Unofficially, [Senator Joseph] Biden and [Senator Richard] Lugar said that, in the end of the day, they were not so much concerned with having a problem of this or that citizen solved as with showing to the American public that they do care for “human rights.” . . . In other words, the collocutors directly admitted that what is happening is a kind of a show, that they absolutely do not care for the fate of most so-called dissidents.

Remarkably, the world has shown little interest in the unread Soviet archives. That paragraph about Biden is a good example. Stroilov and Bukovsky coauthored a piece about it for the online magazine FrontPage on October 10, 2008; it passed without remark. Americans considered the episode so uninteresting that even Biden’s political opponents didn’t try to turn it into political capital. Imagine, if you can, what it must feel like to have spent the prime of your life in a Soviet psychiatric hospital, to know that Joe Biden is now vice president of the United States, and to know that no one gives a damn.

Certainly there's more available here than "gotcha" moments for the political right. Topics like the history of Soviet financing and conduct of espionage and terrorism, their attempts to create a socialistic re-united Germany, and their support of foreign groups they felt to be in their best interests...like Britain's official nuclear disarmament campaign...have to be of interest to journalists somewhere. Don't they?

Maybe not in my lifetime. That's what Klehr and Haynes are for.

UPDATE 5/28: Ron Radosh has a few bones to pick with Berlinski

May 2, 2010

On Our Terms

I just revisited three longish essays that I had saved as a single post back in February because they shared the theme of "changing the narrative" in our political and public policy debates, and looked ahead toward governance by any coming center-right majority. Not sure why they never got posted back then, and I thought they held up pretty well 90 days out...so...better late than never. I'll spare you excerpts, since they can't do justice to the material...just a suggestion on the order in which to take it in.

Jeff Bergner hangs a definition on "The Narrative" and looks at the problems facing conservatives if they can't reshape the debate. What do you do when you're running things as the unapologetic "Party of No"? - Can Republicans Govern?.

Jennifer (J.E.) Dyer cites Bergner, and develops his challenge into her own ideas on a narrative for conservatives, along with a withering critique of the progressive mindset. America at the Crossroads; The Inner Life. (Read more J.E. Dyer at Contentions)

Chase all that with Doctor Zero - An Answer to Socialism. Plain talk on collectivism vs. individual liberty.

Collectivism, with it's blood-stained 20th century resumé in tow, has an address in American politics....and it is the Democratic Party, now with Obama as its proud vanguard. That this relentless statism is the polar opposite of individualism, that empowering American ideal, is one point the nascent center-right coalition should be stressing as a way to re-frame the debate.