Archive for the 'Israel' Category
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Istanbul, compared the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing to the nine Turkish activists killed by the IDF as they tried to break Gaza’s naval blockade. Here’s what Kerry said:
I know it’s an emotional issue with some people. I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident we understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them. And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We’re very sensitive to that.
Kerry is here conflating the legitimate use of force by an allied state, against people who knowingly put themselves in harm’s way by challenging a naval blockade, with a terrorist act against the wholly innocent citizens of Boston. His statement insults the citizens of Boston, it demonstrates hostility toward Israel, and it blurs moral distinctions and projects a sense of weakness which can only encourage more terrorist attacks against the United States in the future.
As Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks said, “It’s unconscionable to compare the loss of life resulting from an act of self-defense to the results of cold-blooded, premeditated murder by terrorists.”
In related news, Richard Falk, the Princeton professor emeritus who is a high official of the UN “Human Rights Council,” blamed the Boston terror attacks on US foreign policy and “Tel Aviv.” More at Breitbart:
The Obama administration has long championed the UN Human Rights Council, which it decided to join as one of its first foreign policy moves in 2009. Thanks to the Obama administration, U.S. began a second three-year term on the Council this past January. At the opening of the Council’s most recent session in March, Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer traveled to Geneva to address what she called “this esteemed body.” As author Anne Bayefsky says:
There is nothing about a “human rights” body that countenances the likes of Richard Falk that is “esteemed,” and the United States should resign–effective immediately.
Negative items (weaknesses and threats) first.
Overconcentration of political belief systems by geography and especially by vocation, notably in journalism; the corresponding threat is misdiagnosis of motivation and identity of perpetrators.
This was on full display over the past week, and although the most prominent examples were instances of the amazingly robust narrative about a supposed right-wing fundamentalist Christian underground, the persistence of which reveals a great deal about the mindset of the “liberal” bien-pensant, they’re not the only ones who have this problem. Claiming that people in Boston are cowering under their beds and wishing they had AR-15s, or casually accusing various (and singularly unimpressive) American politicians of being Communists, isn’t much better than fantasizing about entirely nonexistent WASP terrorists. And there has already been at least one wild-goose chase in recent years, the nationwide Federal investigation to find the co-conspirators of Scott Roeder in the assassination of George Tiller. He didn’t have any, and was known very early on to have acted alone. Your tax dollars nonetheless went to work; see also “memetic parasitism,” below.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Society, Current Events, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Media, Middle East, National Security, Organizational Analysis, Politics, Predictions, Society, Terrorism, Tradeoffs, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
A bit late to this. Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust remembrance day, was April 8.
Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors has twenty questions for American Jews:
Do you believe that the lesson we should learn from the Holocaust is one of tolerance?
Do you believe that the mainstream media reports fairly about Middle East issues?
Do you believe that Israel practices apartheid?
Do you favor the two-state solution?
Do you believe that the unrest in the Middle East would end if a Palestinian state were established?
Do you believe that Israel should compromise more for the so-called peace process?
Do you believe the settlements in Israel are an obstacle to peace?
Do you doubt that Islam desires to establish global dominance?
Do you believe that continued sanctions and negotiations will deter a nuclear Iran?
Do you believe that the international community has the right to dictate Israel’s appropriate response to terrorism in defense of its citizens?
Do you believe that you can be anti-Israel and not anti-Semitic?
Do you believe that the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe is caused by Israel?
Do you believe that Islamophobia in America is far worse than anti-Semitism?
Do you believe there would have been no Holocaust if a Jewish state had existed in Hitler’s time?
Do you believe Franklin D. Roosevelt was a hero to the Jews during the Holocaust?
Do you believe that American Jewry did all they could to stop the slaughter during the Holocaust?
Do you believe your life as a Jew would be unaffected if there were no Jewish state?
Do you believe social justice should be taught in public schools?
Do you believe that you are safer if only the government is armed?
Do you believe that another Holocaust can’t happen?
“Bus attacks by suicide bombers have fairly monotonous features. They occur during the morning rush hour because ridership is high at that time. Bombers board buses near the end of their routes in order to maximize the number of people in the bus at the time of detonation. They preferentially board at the middle doors in order to be centered in the midst of the passengers. They detonate shortly after boarding the bus because of concern that they will be discovered, restrained, and prevented from detonating. They stand as they detonate in order to provide a direct, injurious path for shrapnel. Head and chest injuries are common among seated passengers. The injured are usually those some distance away from the bomber; those nearby are killed outright, those at the ends of the bus may escape with minor injuries. The primary mechanism of injury of those not killed outright by the blast is impaling by shrapnel. Shrapnel is sometimes soaked in poison, eg organophosphate crop insecticides, to increase lethality.”
Resilience Engineering: Concepts and Precepts
Chapter 13, Taking Things in One’s Stride: Cognitive Features of Two Resilient Performances
Richard I. Cook and Christopher Nemeth
“But wouldn’t it be luxury to fight in a war some time where, when you were surrounded, you could surrender?”
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Neptunus Lex, from 2004: Monsters
Robert Avrech, from yesterday: Liberty, Then and Now
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th January 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
We now have a re-elected president Obama who no longer has to face another election. He has “more flexibility”" as he assured Russian president Medvedev. His cabinet appointments so far give us a good view of what the next four years, at least, will bring. David Ingatius gives us the leftist view of the future in a Washington Post story.
Thinking about Eisenhower’s presidency helps clarify the challenges and dilemmas of Barack Obama’s second term. Like Ike, Obama wants to pull the nation back from the overextension of global wars of the previous decade. Like Ike, he wants to trim defense spending and reduce the national debt.
I would hardly call Obama an example of Eisenhower-like determination in national defense. Ignatius seems to believe that Israel is an ally best abandoned.
Or as Glenn Reynolds might say, another rube self-identifies.
Some people catch on slower than others. In this case one of our foremost legal minds has just figured out that, by golly, maybe Barack Obama isn’t quite the great friend of the Jewish people his Jewish supporters insisted he was.
But let’s not be too hard on Dersh. Anyone can make a mistake. And it’s not like Obama’s animus towards Israel was obvious or anything.
American Jews who voted for Obama, here’s your thanks. Enjoy. You can rationalize your foolishness by blaming everything on Bibi and those nasty Likudniks (never mind that Israeli voters, who paid a high cost in blood for the harebrained appeasement policies implemented between 1993 and 2005, now keep giving the Likud governing pluralities).
As Israel’s “peace partners” become increasingly hostile, Obama and his crew of leftist ideologues, Islamist apologists and Israel haters double down on pressing Israel to risk more lives and treasure while demanding nothing of Israel’s adversaries. But hey, we don’t want anyone to accuse us Jews of having dual loyalties, do we? Better to support Obama’s failed policies that weaken the USA and its allies. Or something. Intellectually, I sort of understand how leftist Jews can put partisan politics above national interest and self-interest, or (most likely, I think) can define national and self-interest as synonymous with the goals of leftist partisan politics. But emotionally, I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you eagerly support a democratic country run by your own people and allied with the USA, against the warlords, dictatorships and gangster satrapies that would destroy it? Another one of life’s mysteries.
An interesting article about the development of this Israeli weapons system at the WSJ.
The American Sidewinder air-to-air missile system was also initially developed in something of a skunkworks environment. (Management consultant Tom Peters has used Sidewinder as a good example of successful skunkwork innovation, IIRC, though I can’t find a link at the moment)
Somewhat related: My post about Bernard Schriever and the development of the American ICBM.
Posted by Lexington Green on 20th November 2012 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Posted by Lexington Green on 19th November 2012 (All posts by Lexington Green)
1 Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.
2 Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.
3 Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?
4 How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?
5 They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage.
6 They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.
7 Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.
8 Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?
9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?
10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?
11 The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;
13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.
15 But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.
16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?
21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.
22 But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.
23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off.
Playwright David Mamet has published an article addressed to those Jews planning to vote for Obama.
The Long Island Jewish Star has endorsed Mitt Romney–see the editorial by Jeff Dunetz.
See this article from about a year ago: Barack Obama’s top ten insults against Israel, by British commentator Nile Gardiner.
Hostility toward Israel is disturbingly common throughout the Democratic Party’s base. 25% of Democrats say the U.S. is “too supportive” of Israel, versus only 13% of Republicans giving that answer. Only 9% of Democrats say the U.S. is “not supportive enough” of that country, versus 46% of Republican who think the U.S. should be more supportive.
A survey conducted by YouGov earlier this year indicates that 37% of Democrats believe pro-Israel lobby groups have “too much influence”…about twice the percentage that gave this response among Republicans.
In addition to the lack of support and outright hostility toward Israel that appear among the Democratic base, outright anti-Semitism appears to be all too common. 20% of Democrats and Independents view Jews as “caring only about themselves,” compared with 12% of Republicans giving this answer. Another survey, conducted in the wake of the Bernard Madoff debacle, indicates that 32% of Democrats blamed “the Jews” for the financial crisis, while only 18% of Republicans did so. (” This difference is somewhat surprising given the presumed higher degree of racial tolerance among liberals and the fact that Jews are a central part of the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition,” said the study’s authors.)
Obama’s clear hostility to Israel, and the disturbing opinion patterns among the Democratic base, should be of concern not only to Jews and to those who have a particular affinity for Israel, but also to all Americans who are interested in world stability and peace, and in an American polity which is not ripped apart by ethnic conflicts.
(The transcript is here)
In the last post, I reviewed Biden’s comments about the Benghazi debacle; now I’d like to discuss his thoughts about Iranian nuclear weapons.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up. Then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon. So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk — what are they talking about?…We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon, they don’t have a weapon to put it into…Facts matter. All this loose talk about them — all they have to do is get to — enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon — not true.
It is extremely important to understand that, while one might think going from 20% uranium enrichment to the 90% that is required for a nuclear weapon, means that one is only 20/90 of the way there, this is not correct. The first steps in enrichment require more effort–more centrifuges, more energy–than the later steps, because the amounts of mass that must be dealt with are much greater. The nuclear industry actually has a metric, “separative work units,” to measure this. Enriching uranium from a standing start to 5.6kg of highly enriched uranium requires about 1270 SWU, whereas if you start with a feedstock that is already 20% enriched, you only need less than 200 SWU. Even if you begin with material enriched only to the level needed for a power reactor, only about 400 SWU are needed: a savings of 3:1 compared with starting from scratch. (Here’s another analysis with slightly different numbers but making the same point…4% enrichment is much more than 4/90 of the way there, and 20/90 is far more than 20/90 of the way there.)
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 6th October 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
The reverberations are still going on after the Wednesday debate. The theme coming from the Obama campaign is that Romney did not tell the truth about his policies. Most of the discussion on the non-campaign left is like Bill Mahers’ who said “It looks like he took my million and spent it all on weed.”
One of the most peculiar reactions was at the U of Wisconsin the next day. Hundreds of UW students were filing into an Obama on-campus campaign rally and were asked by a Breitbart writer if it was unfair that Obama couldn’t use his Teleprompter in the debate. Amazingly, most of the students agreed. What would a Teleprompter do ? Would they stop the debate for a few minutes while Obama’s handlers thought of a good response?
The polls will take a few more days to show the response but already something is going on. A poll of Illinois’ 10th Congressional district last August was ignored but another poll now suggests that Illinois might be in play in this election.
But not only was Obama not interested in any such gesture, he was not prepared to tell him this to his face. This snub may stem from the open dislike the two men have for each other, but as I wrote earlier this week, this is about more than personalities. The message from Washington was clear: Israel has no leverage over Obama on this issue even during the presidential campaign and will have even less in a second term.
Netanyahu has been accused of trying to play politics with Obama during the last months of the presidential campaign or of favoring Mitt Romney. But whatever Netanyahu thinks privately, it should be understood that his concern transcends any misgivings about Obama’s penchant for picking fights with Israel during the past four years. If he really thought Romney might win, he would be showing more, not less patience with Obama since presumably Israel would only have a few months to wait before getting a different answer from a more sympathetic White House.
It’s worth reading Tobin’s post in full, as well as his earlier post (linked in the quoted segment above).
As Tobin makes clear, the media’s “clash of personalities” framing of the issue has helped Obama by obscuring the conflict of interests between his administration and Israel. Obama will do nothing substantial to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and no longer cares who knows it. Perhaps if he is reelected he will begin to discuss “containing” Iran, and eventually will push for a regional nuclear treaty that will be designed to get Israel to disarm in exchange for Iranian promises. Good luck with that. In any event it seems unlikely that Obama, who was unwilling publicly to oppose the mullahs when it would have been easy to do and might have brought them to heel, will begin to act resolutely against them once they acquire nukes.
The key insight from Tobin’s post may be in the last sentence of the second paragraph above. If Netanyahu were confident of a Romney victory it would make little sense for him to engage the obstreperous Obama now. The fact that Netanyahu decided to run the risk suggests that he thinks Obama is likely to be reelected or that little time remains for an effective strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. If this reasoning is correct Israel may attack soon, perhaps shortly after the election if Obama is reelected.
The current situation is more than a little like the period before the Six Day War. There are bellicose enemies, feckless allies, an existential threat to the Jews, fruitless diplomacy under the clock, much FUD about a possible world or regional war as a result of an Israeli attack, a difficult tactical problem, and a coalition government in Israel. Some things that are different are the degree of direct US involvement in the Middle East, Islamism, the absence of the USSR, and probably a weaker political consensus within Israeli society. We will know soon enough what Netanyahu and his cabinet decide to do.
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them…
UPDATE: See also this post on Israeli politics (via Seth Mandel).
UPDATE 2: Richard Fernandez puts Obama’s bungling into perspective in the context of long-term US policy mistakes:
Worth watching. Glick bluntly describes the delusional nature of current US foreign policy and predicts terrible consequences unless we change course. As she puts it in her closing remarks, Israel embarked on a similar delusional course of action in the early 1990s at the eventual cost of thousands of lives. Current US policy repeats Israel’s naive mistakes on a grand scale and will be much more costly unless we change it. And we have the power to change it merely by voting in a new government.
It’s been obvious for some time that Obama simply cannot stand Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s also increasingly obvious that the President feels a real sense of liking for and fellow-spiritedness with Turkish leader Recep Erdogan, who has moved his country away from secular democracy and disturbingly far in the direction of Islamic fundamentalism and hostility to Israel.
Which says plenty about the kind of leadership we are getting from Obama himself.
Posted by Lexington Green on 25th April 2012 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day. Screenwriter Robert Avrech has posted the first part of his Emmy-award-winning film The Devil’s Arithmetic, which is based on Jane Yolen’s book of the same name, for on-line viewing.
The DVD is available from the usual sources, including Amazon and Netflix. Highly recommended.
Martin Kramer on Facebook:
Some pro-Palestinian ‘activists’ may make it onto flights to Ben-Gurion Airport for tomorrow’s ‘flytilla.’ (Many of them won’t, since Israel provided foreign airlines with lists of persons who will be denied entry, and the airlines have been canceling their reservations in compliance.) Those who do get through will be sent right back, but not before being handed this letter. Have a nice flight.
The letter is well worth a click. Read it here.
UPDATE: One of the initial commenters in response to Kramer’s FB post takes the Israelis to task for producing this “childish” letter. I disagree. The letter isn’t for the benefit of a few anti-Israel activists who are never going to change their minds. It’s a clever PR move that costs nothing and will get a lot of exposure. The Israelis should do more of this kind of thing and we should too.
Via Martin Kramer, who asks: “What happens to aging ’60s American Jewish radicals after the kids move out, the dog dies, and their parents (may they rest in peace), who so valued and cherished Israel, have passed on to their heavenly reward?”
If the trailer is representative, this is a slick piece of agitprop packaged as folksy interviews with thoughtful Jewish intellectuals who just happen to have doubts about Israel, no doubt because their integrity and independent-mindedness let them see clearly the evils of Israel that other Jews (and most non-Jewish Americans) are brainwashed into overlooking. In fact this is a bunch of leftist hacks repeating buzzwords (apartheid etc.) and citing events pruned of context to single out Israel for demonization. The woman in the last interview gives the game away by blaming Israel for the “stateless” condition of Palestinian refugees, even though Palestinian Arab statelessness, to the extent it still exists, is a racket maintained by Arab governments and the Palestinians themselves, and even though the post-WW2 world has had many refugee populations that dwarfed the Palestinian Arab refugee population and that, unlike the Palestinians, were mostly resettled within a few years. The difference is that people like those in this movie couldn’t use those other refugee populations as a weapon against the Jews. You would have to be profoundly ignorant to find this movie convincing, but ignorant people seem to be the target audience. Watch it for yourself.
I was fortunate to have had in high school a leftist, anti-Semitic history teacher, a man who was an enthusiast of Third World “liberation” movements run by kleptocrats and gangsters but who put Israel under a moral microscope. The Israeli Jews, as he saw it, had treated the Palestinian Arabs unjustly by (he would quote a particular historian whose book he always had at the ready) expelling them and this unjust treatment colored everything that Israel did subsequently. Two wrongs — an allusion to the Holocaust — don’t make a right. We should all be citizens of the world and should drop our parochialisms and be happy. Of course he mainly applied this argument to the Jews, and I was not clever enough to point out that the Jews’ enemies had often persecuted them for supposedly being too worldly. I argued, and learned a great deal in that class, and watching this movie trailer transports me right back to it. Shabbat shalom.
Via Martin Kramer. This is a very well done sermon by a Reform rabbi, a political liberal, against Peter Beinart’s argument that we should penalize Israel by boycott because of Israel’s continued control over the area between the Jordan River and the 1949 armistice line.
Beinart’s Times op-ed is a monument to sloppy reasoning. He ignores the key facts underlying Israel’s reluctant continuing control over Judea and Samaria: that Israel captured the territory in a defensive war to prevent its own destruction and therefore holds it legitimately absent a peace deal, that most Israelis would be happy to return control over the territory to an Arab government in exchange for a reasonable peace deal, and that none of the Arab governments that have controlled the territory has been willing to make such a deal (which is why Israeli public opinion has shifted away from its 1990s accommodationism). The settler issue per se is a red herring, since there is no obvious rationale other than anti-Jewish ethnic cleansing for preventing Jewish settlers from remaining in their homes under Arab rule (as more than one million Arabs live in Israel), and most of the “settlers” are residents of close-in suburbs of Jerusalem that would be incorporated into Israel under any reasonable final deal. (Why is the term apartheid only used to color the perceptions of ignorant people about democratic Israel but never used in connection with the proposed de-Judeization of the West Bank?)
Beinart strikes me as either a committed leftist or an opportunist who is trying to position himself to make hay from the BDS movement. Perhaps he is both. Regardless of his motives, his arguments are weak.
From a comment by “Eggplant” at Belmont Club:
Supposedly the US has war gamed this thing and the prospects look poor. A war game is only as good as the assumptions programmed into it. Can the war game be programmed to consider the possibility that a single Iranian leader has access to an ex-Soviet nuke and is crazed enough to use it?
Of course the answer is “No Way”.
A valid war game would be a Monte Carlo simulation that considered a range of possible scenarios. However the tails of that Gaussian distribution would offer extremely frightening scenarios. The Israelis are in the situation where truly catastrophic scenarios have tiny probability but the expectation value [consequence times probability] is still horrific. However “fortune favors the brave”. Also being the driver of events is almost always better than passively waiting and hoping for a miracle. That last argument means the Israelis will launch an attack and probably before the American election.
These are important points. The outcomes of simulations, including the results of focus groups used in business and political marketing, may be path-dependent. If they are the results of any one simulation may be misleading and it may be tempting to game the starting assumptions in order to nudge the output in the direction you want. It is much better if you can run many simulations using a wide range of inputs. Then you can say something like: We ran 100 simulations using the parameter ranges specified below and found that the results converged on X in 83 percent of the cases. Or: We ran 100 simulations and found no clear pattern in the results as long as Parameter Y was in the range 20-80. And by the way, here are the data. We don’t know the structure of the leaked US simulation of an Israeli attack on Iran and its aftermath.
It’s also true, as Eggplant points out, that the Israelis have to consider outlier possibilities that may be highly unlikely but would be catastrophic if they came to pass. These are possibilities that might show up only a few times or not at all in the output of a hypothetical 100-run Monte Carlo simulation. But such possibilities must still be taken into account because 1) they are theoretically possible and sufficiently bad that they cannot be allowed to happen under any circumstances and 2) the simulation-based probabilities may be inaccurate due to errors in assumptions.