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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Nicholas Kristof, "The Two Israels": Good Jews and Bad Jews

Nicholas Kristof is back to his old tricks.

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Two Israels," Kristof writes:

"[Israel is] also a democracy with contradictions. West Bank Jews vote, but not West Bank Palestinians. A Jewish kid in Chicago has a birthright to Israel, but not a Palestinian child next door whose roots are in Haifa.

. . . .

On my visit here to the Negev, I faced two Israels. One is the thriving democracy that many of us admire, the one that gives disgruntled Arab citizens free speech and ballots, that treats the wounded Syrians brought across the border, that nurtures a civil society that stands up for the Bedouin. This is the Israel that anyone can support without risking harm to Arabs. Any of us would plant a tree in this Israel. (Indeed, Rabbis for Human Rights has its own tree-planting program.)

Yet the other Israel has been gaining ground. It’s more nationalistic, more militaristic, more determined to push Palestinians off land in the West Bank, more eager to dispatch the United States to bomb Iranian nuclear sites. This is the Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will represent in his address to Congress scheduled for this week."

Where to even begin?

West Bank Palestinians don't vote? Kristof avoids telling us that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is currently in his tenth year of a four-year term of office as president of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas and his friends in the West Bank refuse to hold elections for fear that they would not fare well for his Fatah party. Israel never once prevented Abbas from holding these elections or postponed such elections.

"A Jewish kid in Chicago has a birthright to Israel, but not a Palestinian child next door whose roots are in Haifa." Implicit in this statement is that Jews do not have their origins in Israel, and Israel is denying Palestinians statehood. A pity that Kristof doesn't take the trouble to examine the multitude of ancient Jewish coins scattered in the soil and sands throughout Israel, attesting to the existence of the Hasmonean Kingdom of the Maccabees, a thousand years before the Arab conquest of this land.

Kristof also makes certain not to mention that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. Krisof also ignores the fact that several years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Barak similarly offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and tear down 63 Israeli settlements. In exchange for the settlements that would remain part of Israel, Barak said he would increase the size of Gaza by a third. Barak also agreed to Palestinian control of much of East Jerusalem, which would become Palestine's capital, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat, however, also refused.

And Kristof makes a point of ignoring the fact that some 800,000 Jews from the Muslim Middle East were forced to abandon their homes and property, and make their way to Israel. The same thing happened during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, but Kristof would never want to allude to this.

The "other Israel" is "more nationalistic, more militaristic, more determined to push Palestinians off land in the West Bank, more eager to dispatch the United States to bomb Iranian nuclear sites," and will be represented by Netanyahu in his speech before Congress on Tuesday? Well, I favor a two-state solution, and I have never voted for the Likud Party; however, Israel is facing a nuclear holocaust owing to Obama's refusal to abide by his 2012 promises to dismantle Iran's nuclear weapons manufacturing capability, and I very much want Congress to know of the threat facing my family.

Nice try, Nicholas.

Maureen Dowd, "Dirty Words From Pretty Mouths": Lalaland's Flavor of the Month

I'm much in need of comic relief from the efforts of the Brookings Institution to rebuke Bibi Netanyahu for daring to get in the way of Obama's great nuclear weapons giveaway, and fortunately for me, Maureen Dowd is not writing today about the Israeli prime minister's speech before Congress. (Whoops, my serenity was just interrupted by Nicholas Kristof's inane "The Two Israels," i.e. good Jews and bad Jews.) Instead, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Dirty Words From Pretty Mouths," Dowd preoccupies herself with the flavor of the month in Lalaland:

"But, more and more, women are bringing the raunch to the screen on their own. Hollywood is still all about the dumb testosterone tentpoles and parched when it comes to women filmmakers. Yet there is a small but significant trend of women writing, directing and producing more sexually explicit movies and TV shows.

. . . .

In 'Sleeping With Other People,' written and directed by Leslye Headland, who also wrote the ribald 'Bachelorette,' Jason Sudeikis instructs Alison Brie on the art of pleasuring herself, using an empty green tea bottle as a stand-in for lady parts.

And, in the dark indie 'I Smile Back,' written by Amy Koppelman and Paige Dylan, Sarah Silverman plays a sex-and-drug-and-vodka drenched suburban mother who masturbates with her daughter’s teddy bear as she lies on the floor next to the sleeping child."

How gratifying to know that the world of motion pictures is reaching for new artistic heights! How morally and aesthetically uplifting!

Meanwhile, here I am trying to get someone to read my screenplay about a CIA operative captured by ISIS in Syria (you can download, read and rate "The Hannibal Protocol" via The Blacklist), and now I learn that female raunch is all the rage.

As I've told my children a million times, timing is everything, and "almost" is not enough.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Robert Kagan, "At what price Netanyahu?": Who Cares If Obama Gives an Atomic Bomb to a Maniacal Regime Intent Upon Israel's Destruction?

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "At what price Netanyahu?," Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, again lashes out at Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's upcoming speech before Congress. Telling us that enough contrary opinion has already been expressed in America's media, Kagan declares:

"Even the most eloquent speech by Netanyahu will not add more than marginally to what has already been said and heard. But even if the drama of the situation and the prime minister’s eloquence were to highlight the already well-articulated case against a bad deal, the question is: at what price?"

An "already well-articulated case against a bad deal"? Netanyahu has no information concerning the Iranian nuclear development program that has yet to be revealed by the media? If so, why is the Obama administration attempting to orchestrate a boycott of Netanyahu's speech, and why is it so busy attacking his so-called interference with the conduct of American foreign affairs? More to the point, why are Obama and friends so afraid of this speech?

Arguing that Netanyahu's speech is a bad precedent which is apt to damage Israel's relationship with the US, Kagan concludes:

"Those who favor having Netanyahu speak may imagine this is an extraordinary situation requiring extraordinary measures, that one side is so clearly right, the other so clearly wrong. Yet that is often how people feel about the crisis of their time. We can be sure that in the future the urgency will seem just as great. The only difference between then and now is that today, bringing a foreign leader before Congress to challenge a U.S. president’s policies is unprecedented. After next week, it will be just another weapon in our bitter partisan struggle."

Next week, Netanyahu's speech will "be just another weapon in our bitter partisan struggle"? Maybe for Kagan, but not for those who live in Israel. Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei repeatedly threatens to annihilate Israel, and Obama is about to allow Iran to build its first nuclear weapon - perhaps not during what remains of Obama's second term as president, but certainly during the next decade, when all of the restrictions are removed pursuant to Iran's draft agreement with the P5+1.

Israelis should ignore Iranian threats of annihilation in order to avoiding establishing a bad precedent involving a foreign leader making the case in Washington for his/her country's very existence?
Netanyahu must deliver the speech, and if "progressives" from the Democratic Party such as Betty McCollum decide that they do not wish to learn about a decision that imperils Israel's life, so be it.

[Yesterday, The New York Times published an op-ed written by Robert Einhorn, also a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, which makes the case for a deal with Khamenei. Interesting . . .]

David Brooks, "Converting the Ayatollahs": Only a Naif Such as Obama Would Not Take Khamenei at His Word

Some 80 years ago, Hitler told anyone who would listen that he was intent upon annihilating world Jewry. No one listened, including Europe's Jews, two-thirds of whom would be killed by Nazi Germany during the ensuing decade. Today, Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, busy holding competitions to mock the Holocaust, is repeatedly telling us that he intends to annihilate Israel. Should we believe him? I do. Obama doesn't.

Today, in an important New York Times op-ed entitled "Converting the Ayatollahs," David Brooks concludes:

"If the Iranian leaders believe what they say, then United States policy should be exactly the opposite of the one now being pursued. Instead of embracing and enriching Iran, sanctions should be toughened to further isolate and weaken it. Instead of accepting a nuclear capacity, eliminating that capacity should be restored as the centerpiece of American policy. Instead of a condominium with Iran that offends traditional allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, the U.S. should build a regional strategy around strengthening relations with those historic pillars.

It’s hard to know what’s going on in the souls of Iran’s leadership class, but a giant bet is being placed on one interpretation. March could be a ruinous month for the Middle East. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel could weaken U.S.-Israeli relations, especially on the Democratic left. The world might accept an Iranian nuclear capacity. Efforts designed to palliate a rogue regime may end up enriching and emboldening it."

Convert Khamenei? Make this monster a friend and ally of the West? Cause him to love his neighbors as himself? Compel this leopard to change his spots? I don't think so.

As I stated earlier today, given that Iran stones to death women accused of adultery, hangs homosexuals, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, abuses Sunni Muslims, funds Hezbollah, supports Assad, brutally quashes political opposition, and perpetrated the bombing of a Jewish community center in distant Argentina resulting in the deaths of 87 persons, only a fool would not take Khamenei at his word.

Betty McCollum, "Why I won’t be attending Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress": The Stupidest Member of Congress?

On January 9, 2009, Ugly (in character) Betty McCollum, in a speech before the House of Representatives, declared:

"Despite the fact too many Israeli citizens are under great stress from Hamas rockets, these weapons do not represent an existential threat to Israel. Rather than a serious military challenge, these rockets are like a drug gang that uses drive by shootings as a tactic to terrify a neighborhood. When is the solution to this type of terror for authorities to lay waste to the neighborhood?"

Thousands of Hamas rockets and missiles fired at Israeli towns and cities are no more than a "tactic" intended to terrify a neighborhood? I don't know another member of Congress who is so vile and immoral.

Well, it's six years later, and McCollum is now telling us in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Why I won’t be attending Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in Congress" that she will refuse to listen to Israel's prime minister on March 3. McCollum writes:

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of a heated reelection campaign. Yet he is traveling 5,900 miles to give a speech before a joint meeting of Congress on March 3 — just two weeks before Israelis go to the polls. House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), working with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, a former Republican political operative who renounced his U.S. citizenship, extended the invitation in a clear effort to undermine the president while the United States and its five partners engage in tough negotiations with Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons — a national security priority I strongly support."

"Tough negotiations with Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons"? In fact, Obama has consistently given in to Khamenei in order to obtain an agreement described by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes's as "probably the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy." Rhodes went on to characterize such a deal as the equivalent of healthcare for the president.

However, as observed today by Charles Krauthammer in a must-read Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The fatal flaw in the Iran deal," Obama is in fact conceding to the Iranians the right to manufacture atomic weapons and ICBMs:

"News leaked Monday of the elements of a 'sunset clause.' President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

. . . .

Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations."

Apparently, Obama is gambling that Khamenei will not attempt a covert break out under his watch, which ends in two years. From 2017, it becomes someone else's mess. And then, just maybe, Khamenei, who is ill with cancer, might be replaced by someone more "moderate." But given that Iran stones to death women accused of adultery, hangs homosexuals, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, abuses Sunni Muslims, and brutally quashes political opposition, this is a gamble that even a fool would not accept.

McCullom further states:

"[T]he speaker of the House has provided the Israeli prime minister with a global platform to both attack our president and deliver a campaign message to voters at home."

It just doesn't occur to McCullom that Netanyahu does not intend to "attack" Obama. Rather, at a time when Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei continues to call for Israel's annihilation, Netanyahu has no choice but to address Congress and protest Obama's willingness to offer Iran the opportunity to manufacture nuclear weapons on a silver platter. But then what should we expect from a congresswoman who believes that Grad missiles aimed at Israeli civilians are not a "serious military challenge"? Maybe she believes that ICBMs with nuclear warheards aimed at Israel are just another nuisance?

A "campaign message to voters at home"? I know many Israelis who detest Netanyahu and would never vote for him, but still want him speaking before Congress. After all, their lives and those of their children are very much at stake.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Robert Einhorn, "Deterring an Iranian Nuclear Breakout": Ignoring Parchin, ICBM Development and Human Rights Abuses

Yesterday, in an editorial entitled "An Emerging Nuclear Deal With Iran," The New York Times claimed that "Iran’s major nuclear installations are already monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency and watched by the United States." Iran, however, is refusing access to the Parchin military base outside Tehran. I informed Andrew Rosenthal of The Times of this "error" by email, but he didn't bother responding.

Today, Robert Einhorn, serves up more nonsense in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Deterring an Iranian Nuclear Breakout," also intended to persuade us to accept Obama's pending deal with Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei. Einhorn, who, according the op-ed, is "a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution" and "served on the U.S. delegation to the Iran nuclear negotiations from 2009 to 2013," writes:

"Fortunately, even if an agreement cannot eliminate Iran’s capability to enrich uranium to weapons grade, it can prevent Iran from exercising that capability. It can do so by deterring Iran’s leaders from making the decision to break out of the agreement and produce nuclear weapons. To deter such a decision, a deal should meet three requirements.

First, it should have rigorous monitoring measures to convince Iran that any attempt to violate and break out of the agreement at either declared or covert sites would be detected very quickly. This would require intrusive verification provisions that go beyond the measures contained in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s additional protocol, including frequent access to centrifuge production facilities, detailed reporting of nuclear-related procurement and robust inspection procedures."

Ah, yes, "the rigorous monitoring measures." However, as reported by the IAEA last Thursday, the agency "remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile." And meanwhile, Iran continues to bar the IAEA from inspecting the Parchin military base outside of Iran.

Is Einhorn naive enough to believe that the Iranians will not attempt to circumvent "monitoring measures" and thereby reduce break out time to months or even days? And then, who is going to stop them if they do this? Obama, already famous for his "red line" warning with regard to the use of chemical weapons against civilians by Assad? I don't think so.

Einhorn continues:

"One alternative is to try to ratchet up sanctions dramatically in the hope of pressuring Iran to make concessions it has been unwilling to make. But it may be very difficult to persuade states that have supported sanctions at considerable cost to themselves to adopt much tougher measures, especially if Iran is successful in portraying itself as not to blame for the negotiating impasse. And even if the United States could persuade others to adopt stronger sanctions, it is questionable whether they would produce the desired Iranian flexibility, given Iran’s ability so far to withstand punishing sanctions and the repeated assertions by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Iran can make do economically without an agreement."

"Iran’s ability so far to withstand punishing sanctions"? This is pure rubbish. With Iran on its knees in 2012, Obama eased the sanctions in order to bring Khamenei to the negotiating table. Now, with the dramatic decline in oil prices over recent months, reinstatement of the sanctions (if this can still be done after Obama let the genie out of the bottle) would severely destabilize the Iranian economy.

"[R]epeated assertions by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Iran can make do economically without an agreement"? Khamenei is also repeatedly calling for the annihilation of Israel, but I suppose Einhorn believes that these declarations should be ignored.

In a must-read Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The fatal flaw in the Iran deal," Charles Krauthammer observes today:

"News leaked Monday of the elements of a 'sunset clause.' President Obama had accepted the Iranian demand that any restrictions on its program be time-limited. After which, the mullahs can crank up their nuclear program at will and produce as much enriched uranium as they want.

. . . .

Meanwhile, Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is subject to no restrictions at all. It’s not even part of these negotiations."

Apparently, Obama is gambling that Khamenei will not attempt a covert break out under his watch, which ends in two years. From 2017, it becomes someone else's mess. And then, just maybe, Khamenei, who is ill with cancer, might be replaced by someone more "moderate." But given that Iran stones to death women accused of adultery, hangs homosexuals, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, abuses Sunni Muslims, and brutally quashes political opposition, this is a gamble that no rational person would accept.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trita Parsi, "Netanyahu has crossed the point of no return on Iran": CNN's Latest Anti-Israel Propaganda Piece

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, in a CNN "opinion" entitled "Netanyahu has crossed the point of no return on Iran," which is now being given a prominent place on CNN's home page, writes:

"But over the course of the past 18 months, the Netanyahu government has made Iran all about Israel. While virtually the entire world is eager for a peaceful nuclear deal, Israel stands alone (bar a few Arab states in the Persian Gulf) in opposing the talks. While Israel helped shape international consensus about Iran's nuclear program in the years past, Israel is today decisively outside of that consensus."

Israel stands alone? I wonder why? I guess it never occurred to darling Trita that Israel is the only country in the world being threatened with annihilation by Iran. Consider, for example, the following recent tweet from Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei calling for the destruction of Israel:

"This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated."

Not sufficient reason for Israel to be concerned by Obama's hand over fist concessions to a maniacal Iranian regime that stones to death women accused of adultery, hangs homosexuals, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, abuses Sunni Muslims, and brutally quashes political opposition? Not for Trita . . .

By the way, have a look at the advisory board of the National Iranian American Council. Listed first is former US ambassador Thomas Pickering, who co-authored a critical report concerning security arrangements at the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, but which let Hillary Clinton off the hook. Charming . . .