Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A brilliant speech that marks the start of a Churchillian career (probably done w/o teleprompters!)

"The most brilliantly audacious defence of Israel since Moses parted the Red Sea" --The Irish Independent
UN Watch Briefing

Vol. 264,
Nov. 19, 2010

The remarkable speech below was presented by Gabriel Latner, a 19-year-old Cambridge student, at a recent debate of the prestigious university’s debating society. UN Watch is proud to announce that Mr. Latner will be coming to the United Nations in 2011 as an intern with our organization.

The Cambridge debate centered on the motion that “Israel is a rogue state.” It was proposed by England's Lauren Booth, an extreme opponent of Israel who works for Tehran’s state-run global TV channel, and who recently converted to Islam on a visit to Iran. Her side of the debate was joined by Mark McDonald, founder of the Labor Friends of Palestine, and Mr. Latner.

The Irish Independent has called Mr. Latner's speech “the most brilliantly audacious defence of Israel since Moses parted the Red Sea.”


Israel is a Rogue State
Gabriel Latner

This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening -- to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the “Aye” door.

I face a singular challenge -- most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds. This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it.

I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do -- simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel.

It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international “laws” to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death.

It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalized stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues.

But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state “rogue.” If it did, Canada, the U.S., and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain’s treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigor.

More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox.

I'm going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my speech I will have presented five pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a “rogue state,” than at least “roguish.”

Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is “bad.” I will not be arguing that it doesn’t deserve to exist. I won't be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is “rogue.”

The word “rogue” has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The Oxford English Dictionary defines rogue as “aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time,” while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition: “behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way.”

These definitions, and others, center on the idea of anomaly -- the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.

The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051%. In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% -- more than twice as likely. Israel’s Jewishness is a statistical aberration.

The second argument concerns Israel’s humanitarianism, in particular, Israel’s response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis -- for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that -- but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened and is still happening in Darfur is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. (I actually hoped that Mr. Massih would be able to speak about -- he's actually somewhat of an expert on the crisis in Darfur, in fact, it's his expertise that has called him away to represent the former dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.)

There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt -- where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk?

Because in Israel they are treated with compassion -- they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets.

Compare that to the U.S.’s reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst -- and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behaviour anomalous is an understatement.

My third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns -- it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands -- they're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP -- an organisation of “freedom fighters” that, under Abed Rabbo’s leadership, engaged in such freedom-promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students.

And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA -- the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel can do the exact same thing -- and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue -- behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.

Another part of the dictionary definition is behaviour or activity “occurring at an unexpected place or time.” When you compare Israel to its regional neighbours, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is. And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East -- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality.

In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence. In fact, it beats America.

Israel’s protection of its citizens’ civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.” In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a “free” country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in, say, Lebanon -- a country designated “partly free,” where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well. I’m hoping Ms. Booth will speak about this, given her experience working as a “journalist” for Iran.

Iran is a country given the rating of “not free,” putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran, as Ms. Booth I hoped would have said in her speech, there is a special “Press Court” which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the Ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the “foundations of the Islamic republic,” using “suspicious (i.e., Western) sources,” or insulting Islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. (I don't know if Ms Booth was affected by that.)

I guess we can’t really expect more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are. Theocracies and autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

I have one final argument -- the last nail in the opposition's coffin -- and it’s sitting right across the aisle. Mr. Ran Gidor’s presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr. Gidor is a political counsellor attached to Israel’s embassy in London. He’s the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them at the UN. He knows what he’s doing. And he’s here tonight. And it’s incredible.

Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off, to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That’s remarkable.

Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was “This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world,” that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No.

Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never.

And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

But Israel has sent Mr. Ran Gidor to argue tonight against a “journalist”-cum-reality TV star, and myself, a 19-year-old law student who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.

Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now -- because it forgot Rule No. 1. You never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It's the same reason you won't see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.

That's five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel. But I have a minute or two left. And here's an argument for all of you – Israel wilfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed Osirak -- Sadam Hussein’s nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq.

That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom-loving peoples. But it hasn't. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something: while you're here, Khomeini's Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you're honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity, act in a way that is the not the norm, and you'd better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran. Except Ms. Booth.

The author, a Cambridge University law student, will be a 2011 intern with UN Watch. Text edited for publication from the original.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The hypocrisy of the "tax-us-more" billionaires.

ABC's Amanpour Trumpets 'Tax Us More' Liberal Democratic Quartet
At a time when the American mood has turned against excessive government spending, Christiane Amanpour devoted Sunday’s This Week to four liberal Democratic billionaires, though she failed to identify their political orientation, who want higher income tax rates on the wealthy. Unmentioned during the pre-taped interviews with Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner and Tom Steyer revolving around their participation in “The Giving Pledge” – the promise to give away at least half their wealth: how they are free now to give all the money they want to the federal government.Amanpour began by touting: “Warren Buffett has been practically begging the country, begging Congress to tax him more. In fact, many of the richest Americans like Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and Ted Turner say that they should pay higher tax.”
****There might be more sincerity to their statements if deductions for "charitable" giving were not made. That is, what does one want to do with one's money? Providing for one's progeny is a small part for these folks; they really want to dispose of their money in ways that they like. This does NOT include letting it get spent by the Government! They know as well as anyone that the government pisses money away and they don't want to give very much of their money for this purpose. Instead, they set up foundations or give to causes that delight them. This really isn't different from not paying taxes and "spending" your money on the things you like or want to do.****

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tom Jefferson was prescient and right!

Subject: How Did Jefferson Know?

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
Especially read the last quote from 1802.

When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.-Thomas Jefferson

The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.-Thomas Jefferson

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.-Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.-Thomas Jefferson

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -Thomas Jefferson

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.-Thomas Jefferson

The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.-Thomas Jefferson

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.-Thomas Jefferson

To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.-Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802: 'I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.'


****If Presidents were Fermions, I'd say that Obama was the "anti-Tom" with opposite charge and chirality but he doesn't have equal weight. Barack is better described as a BOZOn.****

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kyl is right to delay this treaty. Reasons include:

1) The administration's failure to include warhead modernization before Kyl raised objections leads on to think that they're either stupid or deliberately flaccid on national defense.
2) So far, Obama has gotten NADA from propitiating the Russians on such matters as the anti-ballistic missile defenses in Poland and Czechoslovakia (while throwing allies under the bus, as is Obama's wont.)
It's hard to think that national defense is predicated on Russian missiles. It IS based on Russia's willingness to endorse actions against a nuclear Iran and the worldwide jihadi menace. Negotiating with the Russians has not been a strong suit for either Obama, Clinton or, indeed, the State Department historically. Agreements to "inspect" have rarely been devoid of loopholes or sheer lying.***

Clinton calls for Senate to act on nuclear treaty
By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press – 1 hr 45 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday beseeched the Senate to vote this year on a U.S.-Russia nuclear weapons treaty, saying delay was a threat to the nation' security.
Clinton held a breakfast meeting with lawmakers from both parties a day after a key Senate Republican, Jon Kyl of Arizona, stunned the administration by coming out against a vote on the treaty during the current lame duck session.
"This is not an issue that can afford to be postponed," Clinton said after the meeting.
She pledged to work with Senate supporters of the pact to overcome resistance. "We will do whatever it takes literally around the clock," Clinton said.
The secretary was flanked by Sens. John Kerry and Dick Lugar, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the main advocates for the treaty. The pact would reduce limits on U.S. and Russian strategic warheads and revive on-the-ground inspections that ceased when a previous treaty expired nearly a year ago.
"I refuse to believe that the door shouldn't remain open" to a vote during the lame duck, said Kerry, D-Mass. "The national security of our country deserves nothing less."
Kerry said there were no substantive disagreements on the treaty itself and that a major objection of Kyl's should have been removed when the administration pledged an additional $4.1 billion for weapons modernization programs.
The country "is unlikely to have either the treaty or the modernization unless we get real," said Lugar, R-Ind.
All three stressed national security: Those in favor of postponing or avoiding a vote "vastly underestimate the continuing threat that is posed to this country," Clinton said.
Kyl, the second-ranked Senate Republican, issued a terse statement Tuesday saying a vote should be put off until next year. That dealt a major blow to President Barack Obama's efforts to improve ties with Russia and to his broader strategy for reducing nuclear arms worldwide. The treaty, known as New START, had been seen as one of the president's top foreign policy accomplishments.
Without the support of Kyl, the leading Republican voice on the treaty, Democrats have little hope of securing at least eight Republican votes — the minimum they would need for ratification in the current Senate.
On the sidelines of the summit of the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) last weekend, Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he believed the treaty could be cleared by the Senate before it leaves for the year, calling it a "top priority" of his administration.
In Moscow Wednesday, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said officials there still expect the Senate to find time for ratifying the treaty this fall.
"We have taken note of Senator Kyl's comment. It's not our business to interfere in the procedure of agenda agreement and the Senate's work," Ryabkov said.
He added: "I would like to remind you that the Russian leadership's line that the ratification processes in Russia and the U.S. should be synchronized remains fully valid."
Unless reversed, Kyl's position would delay the vote until the newly elected Senate, with an expanded Republican minority, has been sworn in January. Democrats would then need the support of at least 14 Republicans.
The White House has been trying to avoid that fate, knowing that ratification could slip out of reach in the face of opposition to the treaty from most Republicans and an increasingly partisan political environment in Washington.
At a minimum, that probably would set the treaty back for months, because Republicans are likely to demand new hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee so that newly elected lawmakers would be briefed.
Following Tuesday's setback, Vice President Joe Biden warned that failure to approve the treaty this year would endanger national security. He pointed out that the treaty would renew U.S. authority that expired last year to inspect Russia's nuclear arsenal.
The treaty would reduce U.S. and Russian limits on strategic warheads to 1,550 for each country from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would set up new procedures to allow both countries to inspect each other's arsenals to verify compliance.
Republicans have argued that the treaty would limit U.S. missile defense options and does not provide adequate procedures to verify that Russia is living up to its terms.
Kyl has argued that it makes no sense to reduce the number of U.S. warheads until more is done to maintain and modernize the remaining arsenal.

Is a liberal approach to defense and foreign policy a result of hormones?

"...Women also get a boost of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, when they speak to others, and estrogen enhances its effects. While men get this, too, testosterone blunts its effects. "This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view—men can't defend their families if they are burdened with high levels of a hormone that compels them to make friends of all they meet," says Dr. Legato, author of "Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget." "Thus, men in their prime with high levels of testosterone are the least likely to be interested in social exchanges and bonding to others."

****Perhaps this somewhat explains why women are predominately "liberal" and conservatives think liberals are a bit,ahem, "effeminate."***

Monday, November 15, 2010

The problem is letting a Congressman serve 20+ terms

The defense that he "didn't intend..." "...forgot..." is a hilarious because it points up the underlying problem:
Rangel, and others of his seniority, are so arrogantly sure that ordinary rules don't apply to them that they
don't even avail themselves of legal means to do the same things. How many of us would merely be subject
to censure for ethics violations if we willfully evaded taxes for over 20 years on $600,000 of assets that we didn't mention?
Term limits should be applied and not require the fortuitous intercession of the Grim Reaper for such as John Murtha and
Charlie Rangel.
Colleagues deny Rangel's plea for delay in trial By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Rep. Charles Rangel of New York walked out of his ethics trial Monday after pleading in vain for a postponement, saying his lawyers abandoned him because he ran out of money after paying them some $2 million. The proceeding went on without him.
With Rangel gone, House ethics committee chief counsel Blake Chisam pushed for a decision on the 13 counts of fundraising and financial conduct that allegedly violated House rules...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Islamic menace is beyond Al Qaeda

Despite Obama's deliberate blind spot, jihad is embraced by much more of the Islamic world than those identifiable as Al Qaeda. Islam is not just another religion but is a political system whose adherents strive for earthly hegemony and adoption of Sharia.It is hardly necessary to prove affiliation with A.Q. to know that such as Maj. Nidal Hassan is a jihadi terrorist when he screams Allahu Akbar while mowing down over a dozen of his fellow officers. It is past time to jettison the political correctness that fails to recognize the worldwide threat, including from American, home-grown Muslims.

Empowering our homegrown enemies By Caroline B. Glick

Disturbingly, the establishments in the two countries most actively targeted by the global jihad — the US and Israel — remain in deep denial about the challenges of homegrown jihadist fifth columnists...****These are not economically deprived or uneducated. Jihadism is a conscious and voluntary activity and extending extra rights to the community that engenders them is folly and counterproductive. Europe (e.g. Merkel,Blair...) is starting to recognize this while the most glaring example of denial is the Obama administration. Surprisingly, the Israeli Left is almost as wrong-headed making it a Left phenomenon that endangers Western Civilization ( that the Left doesn't seem to like, anyway.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The unhelpful "Abu Hussein"

New York Post

Why Hamas loves Bam

"Abu Hussain! Palestine loves you!!!"

This slogan, in English, appears on a poster and other products produced by the Palestinian Hamas movement and put on sale in Gaza. Yesterday, it adorned the front pages of several leading Arab dailies.

The "Abu Hussain" is President Obama. The poster pictures him wearing the signature Arab headgear, the kaffiyeh.

That the most radical Palestinian faction has declared its love for the president may be bad news for the stalled Middle East peace talks, which Obama has promised to help restart before the end of the year.

According to its charter, Hamas wants to eliminate Israel and to replace it with a single Palestinian state covering the territory of the Jewish state and the territories it occupied in 1967.

Iran, Libya and a range of radical Islamist movements, including al Qaeda, support Hamas' policy, sometimes known as the "one-state solution." But Obama has said he supports President George W. Bush's two-state policy.

If Hamas' declaration of love for Obama is based on a misunderstanding, the problem may lie in Obama's ambiguous approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

When Bush said he wanted a two-state solution, he saw the realities on the ground as the starting point. Obama and his special emissary, George Mitchell, however, have talked about a return to the pre-1967 "borders" as demanded by several UN resolutions.

But there were no borders in 1967 -- only cease-fire lines drawn at the end of the 1948 war. And there was no Palestine to have any borders -- the cease-fire lines separated Israel on the one hand from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria on the other. Indeed, a return to those cease-fire lines would be tantamount to recreating a situation that had already led to two wars.

Obama also drops hints that he means to be tough with Israel. To advertise his toughness, he makes occasional statements about Jewish settlements. Yet this puts the whole exercise on a different trajectory, with talks focused on the settlements rather than the core issue -- the creation of a Palestinian state.

Pressuring Israel may look good to "Abu Hussain" and his Hamas admirers. But it may reduce the chances of agreement on the creation of a Palestinian state.

Fearful that its chief ally, America, might be trying to abandon it or, worse still, stab it in the back, Israel may revert to what Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called "the hedgehog strategy." Because Israel holds the lands on which a Palestinian state is to be built, there would be no progress in that direction.

History shows that Israel has made concessions -- including withdrawing from vast territories it captured from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon -- only when it has felt sure of its principal ally.

Peace is made when

1) the winner of a war (or a series of wars) is convinced that he can create a new status quo in his favor, especially by ensuring his security, and 2) the loser also feels that the peace offer is the best it could hope for under the circumstances. Obama's approach meets neither condition.

The winner, Israel, feels threatened by what it feels is a US attempt at bullying it into a deal. The loser, the Palestinian side, is deluded into thinking that, thanks to Obama's support, it can hold out for an ever-elusive better deal. Believing that they have US support, some Palestinians are even talking of declaring statehood without winning prior Israeli approval.

Obama's Mideast policy has made progress toward peace more difficult. His promise of achieving a peace deal before year's end seems destined to join a long list of other broken promises.

Amir Taheri is the author of "The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obama panders in Muslim Indonesia; refuses to recognize "jihad" while in India

Guy Benson
Obama Criticizes Israel in Indonesia - UPDATE: Netanyahu Responds
The spectacle of President Obama openly chiding Israel hardly comes as a surprise any more, considering his track record in office and past personal associations. Still, it's jarring to see any President of the United States criticizing our closest Middle Eastern ally while on foreign soil -- especially that of the world's most populous Muslim nation:

JAKARTA, Indonesia – President Barack Obama has criticized Israel construction plans in East Jerusalem, saying they're unhelpful to the pursuit of peace.

The president said he was concerned Israel and Palestinian were not making enough of an effort to advance peace negotiations.

Obama's caution came as the Israeli government moved ahead with plans to build nearly 1,300 apartments in that disputed part of the city.

Israel has said the plans to seek public comment on the building plans were merely procedural. But the move comes on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday.

Obama said he did not receive a briefing on the new construction.

For a president who exhibited profound reservations about "meddling" in the internal affairs of Iran as its government stole an election and lethally suppressed freedom rallies, Obama demonstrates little hesitancy to publicly denounce Israeli domestic policy decision. This presidential tut-tutting of a key US friend is probably not what Congressmen and Senators had in mind when they wrote letters to the president last year urging a thaw in US-Israeli relations.

UPDATE: A reader reminds me that as President Obama was refusing to "meddle" in Iran, his administration was meddling hardcore in Honduras -- and doing so on behalf of the wrong side.

UPDATE II: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushes back:

A few hours later, Mr. Netanyahu’s office responded with a statement, saying that “Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.”
The United States and Israel have well-known differences over Jerusalem, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said in the statement, adding that building plans should have no effect on the peace talks.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The PC attempt to include Islam in the historical American fabric is getting pukeworthy.

from Best of the Web by James Taranto:
CNN.com has a curious quote in a story about last week's thwarted package-bombing plot:

"Since two of the suspicious packages that were intercepted were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, all churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations," said FBI Special Agent Ross Rice.

Both of the "religious institutions" to which the packages were addressed were synagogues. By what logic does the FBI conclude that mosques need to be vigilant because Islamic supremacists are sending dangerous packages to synagogues?