Saturday, November 08, 2008

Netanyahu offers new peace vision

Likud chairman meets US secretary of State Rice, tells her he intends to adopt peace model that combines diplomatic success with economic cooperation; peace vision premised on grassroots level progress, Bibi says
Roni Sofer

Wooing centrist voters: Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Friday that he intends to adopt a new peace model should he be elected as Israel's next prime minister. Netanyahu told Rice his model will combine diplomatic peace with economic peace, coupled with "accelerated development." He stressed that the peace model will be premised on improvement on the grassroots level and that would then move up to the leadership level.

The Likud chairman was referring to economic and trade ties between Israel and its neighbors that would ultimately prompt peace on the diplomatic front as well. His meeting with Rice in Jerusalem lasted 45 minutes.

During the meeting, the opposition chairman also expressed his gratitude to the Bush Administration, and specifically to the secretary of the state, for the American efforts to advance the Middle Eastern peace process. The two figures also discussed the Iranian threat.

Earlier Friday, the Iranian nuclear threat was also addressed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said that Israel is convinced that Tehran is still pursuing nuclear weapons, while simultaneously deceiving the world via negotiations.

Speaking after his own meeting with Rice, Barak said he believed that the leaders of the free world are aware of these developments, which must be taken into account in any future decision.

"As for Israel, we have said before that all options are open," he said.

Left-wing activists smuggle Palestinians out of Gaza

Activists who sailed to Gaza in hopes of 'breaking' naval blockade set off back to Cyprus, taking seven Palestinians with them
Roi Mandel and AP

The human rights activists who traveled to Gaza in an effort to defy the naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled coastal strip departed for Cyprus on Thursday afternoon. The activists say seven Palestinians, including five children, are also on board. It's unclear if the IDF will attempt to stop the boats. The Palestinians on board included a father and his 16-year-old son, who hopes to be fitted with an artificial leg abroad. The activists earlier claimed they would also take with them Palestinian students who were denied exit from Gaza on security grounds. The activists assert Israel does not have the right to prevent the exit of Palestinians from the Strip.

The activists sailed into Gaza last weekend to protest Israel's blockade, imposed after the Islamist Hamas movement seized control of the Strip in a bloody coup.

Hawida Araf, a law professor at al-Quds University and one of activists who sailed to Gaza, told Ynet that she and her group are prepared for the possibility of Israel forcibly preventing their journey. "They have no other way to keep us from leaving here with Palestinians who have already received visas and who have been accepted into European schools. It is their right," she said.

The activists said they waited for an answer from Cypriot authorities, as some of the Palestinians do not have entry visas to the country.

'Only civilians can break the siege'

The only Israeli in the group, Minnesota-born Jeff Halper, said taking the Palestinians out would prove the true test of the activists attempt to break the siege. Halper, who was arrested upon his return to Israel, was released on bail.

"We have no objection to Israel inspecting these ships, and we are aware of Israel's security concerns. But so long as Israel doesn't put forward the evidence proving why the Palestinians can't leave, it cannot deny people freedom of movement. That is a human rights violation, not to tell someone what he is being suspected of. Otherwise it's a totalitarian regime," said Halper.

Halper decided not to return to Cyprus with the rest of the activists. "I realized that the State is apparently planning to indict me, and so therefore I can't sail back to Cyprus. I took this into account when I did what I did. I wanted to say that peace, and the connection between peoples, cannot be restricted by a military order."

Halper noted that peace activist Abie Nathan, who died at the age of 81 on Wednesday, was also taken to court for his actions. "Abie met with Yaser Arafat, and was jailed twice. Today the president and the prime minister are eulogizing him. So the situation then was exactly as it is now. Nathan believed that as a citizen, he had do get up and do something, even if he had to pay a price for it. If people had listened to him then, maybe the occupation could have been prevented, or there would have been peace with Egypt and Israel could have been spared thousands of fatalities.

European PolticiansSail to Gaza

Third sailing protest sets off from Cyprus towards Strip with 11 politicians from UK, Switzerland, Italy in tow. 'We want to challenge failure of our gov'ts to uphold Geneva convention,' says British MP

Eleven European politicians set sail to Gaza from Cyprus on Friday after saying attempts to get to the Palestinian territory via Egypt failed. Members of parliament from Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy left the Mediterranean island on a boat arranged by a pro-Palestinian group.

"We were going to witness the living conditions in Gaza. We were not allowed through the Rafah crossing so we are going by boat because it is the only way to get in," said British MP Clare Short.

The parliamentarians said they expected to arrive in Gaza early on Saturday. It is the third time the US-based Free Gaza Movement has sailed from Cyprus to Gaza since August.

Israel has repeatedly announced that it would prohibit the group's boats from arriving at their destination, but the two previous sails have been successful. Angela Godfrey-Goldstein of the Free Gaza Movement told Ynet that this was good news.

"We are very pleased, and I believe people in Gaza are pleased as well and hope that Gaza's sea border remains open from now on."

The sea-goers are taking a metric ton of medical supplies and three medical scanners used for spinal injuries, said Arafat Shoukri, 37, a doctor based in Britain.

"We are taking very basic medical supplies like paracetamol and painkillers. We were shocked when we got the list from the Health Ministry in Gaza, it means they don't have anything," Shoukri said.

Short, a former minister in Tony Blair's government, said: "We want to witness the living conditions of these people, challenge the siege, and challenge the failure of our governments to uphold the Geneva convention. The whole of the EU is colluding to what is taking place in Gaza to our shame."

Organizers of the boat shuttle said more activists would travel to Gaza in mid-December, and a boat of European musicians would travel there in January.

Rice denies Annapolis peace push failed

During Ramallah news conference US secretary of state says she is certain if Palestinians, Israelis stay on Bush-endorsed track peace will be achieved; Abbas says he hopes Obama administration will begin tackling Mideast issues immediately

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday denied the Israeli-Palestinian peace process sponsored by US President George W. Bush was a failure, saying it should lay the ground for an eventual deal. Launched nearly a year ago at a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, the negotiations were hampered from the start by violence and bitter disputes over Jewish settlement building and the future of Jerusalem.

"We knew ... That if that agreement was not reached by the end of the year, there would be those that would say that the Annapolis process, the negotiations, had failed. In fact, it is quite the opposite," Rice told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"While we may not yet be at the finish line, I am quite certain that if Palestinians and Israelis stay on the Annapolis course, they are going to cross that finish line and can do so relatively soon," she added.

The White House acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that Bush's goal of a deal on Palestinian statehood before he leaves office in January was "unlikely" to be achieved.

Abbas and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made public commitments to Rice to continue the negotiations, which the secretary of state insisted had narrowed the gaps between the two sides.

Barack Obama, who won the US presidential election on Tuesday, takes office on Jan. 20 but it is unclear how soon he will engage in Middle East peacemaking. Rice on Thursday said it was an "open question" how the Bush administration would hand over the matter to Obama's team.

"We hope that the new administration will begin immediately tackling the Middle East issue so we would not waste time," Abbas told reporters.

He also said he complained to Rice about continued Israeli settlement building, "incursions" into Palestinian areas and what he called a "dangerous escalation" in attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest.

US officials attributed the failure to reach an agreement this year to Israel's decision to hold an early parliamentary election, scheduled for Feb. 10.

With Abbas at her side, Rice cautioned Israel about continued building activity in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, calling it damaging to peace prospects.

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Campaign Autopsy

Charles Krauthammer
Friday, November 7, 2008

In my previous life, I witnessed far more difficult postmortems. This one is easy. The patient was fatally stricken on Sept. 15 -- caught in the rubble when the roof fell in (at Lehman Brothers, according to the police report) -- although he did linger until his final, rather quiet demise on Nov. 4. In the excitement and decisiveness of Barack Obama's victory, we forget that in the first weeks of September, John McCain was actually ahead. Then Lehman collapsed, and the financial system went off a cliff.

This was not just a meltdown but a panic. For an agonizing few days, there was a collapse of faith in the entire financial system -- a run on banks, panicky money-market withdrawals, flights to safety, the impulse to hide one's savings under a mattress.

This did not just have the obvious effect of turning people against the incumbent party, however great or tenuous its responsibility for the crisis. It had the more profound effect of making people seek shelter in government.

After all, if even Goldman Sachs was getting government protection, why not you? And offering the comfort and safety of government is the Democratic Party's vocation. With a Republican White House having partially nationalized the banks and just about everything else, McCain's final anti-Obama maneuver -- Joe the Plumber spread-the-wealth charges of socialism -- became almost comical.

We don't yet appreciate how unprecedented were the events of September and October. We have never had a full-fledged financial panic in the middle of a presidential campaign. Consider. If the S&P 500 were to close at the end of the year where it did on Election Day, it will have suffered this year its steepest drop since 1937. That is 71 years.

At the same time, the economy had suffered nine consecutive months of job losses. Considering the carnage to both capital and labor (which covers just about everybody), even a Ronald Reagan could not have survived. The fact that John McCain got 46 percent of the electorate when 75 percent said the country was going in the wrong direction is quite remarkable.

However crushing the external events, McCain did make two significant unforced errors. His suspension of the campaign during the economic meltdown was a long shot that not only failed, it created the McCain-the-erratic meme that deeply undermined his huge advantage over Obama in perception of leadership.

The choice of Sarah Palin was also a mistake. I'm talking here about its political effects, not the sideshow psychodrama of feminist rage and elite loathing that had little to do with politics and everything to do with cultural prejudices, resentments and affectations.

Palin was a mistake (" near suicidal," I wrote on the day of her selection) because she completely undercut McCain's principal case against Obama: his inexperience and unreadiness to lead. And her nomination not only intellectually undermined the readiness argument. It also changed the election dynamic by shifting attention, for days on end, to Palin's preparedness, fitness and experience -- and away from Obama's.

McCain thought he could steal from Obama the "change" issue by running a Two Mavericks campaign. A fool's errand from the very beginning. It defied logic for the incumbent-party candidate to try to take "change" away from the opposition. Election Day exit polls bore that out with a vengeance. Voters seeking the "change candidate" went 89 to 9 for Obama.

Which is not to say that Obama did not run a brilliant general election campaign. He did. In its tactically perfect minimalism, it was as well conceived and well executed as the electrifying, highflying, magic carpet ride of his primary victory. By the time of his Denver convention, Obama understood that he had to dispense with the magic and make himself kitchen-table real, accessible and, above all, reassuring. He did that. And when the economic tsunami hit, he understood that all he had to do was get out of the way. He did that too.

With him we get a president with the political intelligence of a Bill Clinton harnessed to the steely self-discipline of a Vladimir Putin. (I say this admiringly.) With these qualities, Obama will now bestride the political stage as largely as did Reagan.

But before our old soldier fades away, it is worth acknowledging that McCain ran a valiant race against impossible odds. He will be -- he should be -- remembered as the most worthy presidential nominee ever to be denied the prize.


So, nu, can we?


It was the signature line of the Obama campaign, a line that said nothing but signified everything: "Yes, we can."

It was a line that US President-elect Barack Obama, preacher-like, majestically weaved through his early campaign speeches; a line he used as a refrain to build up, crescendo-like, to the conclusion of his victory speech.

It was a line that appeared in blue placards by the thousands at Obama rallies and that was put to music in a video featuring A-list celebrities. And now, with the election come and gone and the long, arduous campaign finally over, millions of Americans and people from around the world will be asking, "So, nu, can we?" Or, more accurately, "Can he?" Can he really, as promised, change the system, repair the world and transform the way Washington does business?

Israel is one place where that question is being asked with particular interest and concern, simply because our fate and the fate of the US are so intertwined. Here government officials and the average Rafi will be asking - each in their own way - the question of moment: Can we count on Obama?

In other words, first of all, can we count on maintenance of the current level of US support and assistance?

Yes, we can. Even if, in an impossible-to-imagine worst-case scenario, Obama wanted to fundamentally change the US-Israeli relationship, it is unlikely he would be able to do so.

Eran Lerman, director of the Israel and Middle East Office of the American Jewish Committee, has pointed out that Obama does want to fundamentally change the US, to reform the country. To do that, he is going to need to go to Capitol Hill and build coalitions. And coalition-building in Washington is good for Israel because Israel has many friends on the Hill who could be expected to link one issue to the next.

Can we trust an Obama administration to stand by us in our time of need?

Yes, we can. Unless, of course, we elect an extreme right-wing government that - completely unprovoked - initiates a war with the entire Arab world.

Can we fly over Iraqi airspace to hit Iran's nuclear facilities?

No, we can't.

Can we ask America to look the other way while our jets find another way into Iran?

No, we can't.

Can we expect America to do the job for us in Iran?

No, we can't.

Can we count on American early warning systems ahead of Iranian missile launches?

Yes, we can. In fact, they are already here. We can also expect the 120 US soldiers operating that system to keep their eyes on our air force, so that there are no surprises, like a sudden, massive flight eastward.

Can we expect America to negotiate with Iran without preconditions?

Yes, we can, and we are not going to like it.

Indeed, the first public signs of disagreement on this issue emerged Thursday when Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made clear Israel was opposed to those direct contacts at this time. She said on Israel Radio that Obama's stated readiness to talk to Iran was potentially counterproductive to efforts to persuade Teheran to curb its nuclear program.

"We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue - in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue - is liable to be interpreted as weakness," she said.

Can we expect America to continue leading the efforts to impose sanctions on Iran?

Yes, we can. In fact, there are those who argue that the sanctions tool will be much more effective in Obama's hands than it was in the hands of President George W. Bush.

According to this argument, the night Obama won the election, America's stature in Europe went up 25 percent. There are players in Europe who didn't want to cooperate with Bush, simply because he was Bush, but who will have an interest in getting off on the right foot with Obama. One way to do this would be to forcefully back US economic sanctions. The question is whether Obama will make it a priority.

Can we expect continued forbearance if Israel continues to drag its feet on removing settlement outposts to avoid a confrontation with far-right settlers?

No, we can't. The new administration is unlikely to take as patient or subdued a stance to Israel's unwillingness, or inability, to carry out commitments it made to the US.

Can we expect Obama to engage in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking issues early on in his administration?

Yes, we can... and no, we can't. While it is likely Obama will set up a Middle East team relatively early, it is unlikely it will have too much to do before late spring or early summer, primarily because it will have to wait to see who Israel elects, and what kind of government is set up.
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Ahmadinejad to Obama: Restore Palestinian rights

Iranian president sends congratulatory telegram to US president-elect Obama. ‘We hope new government can fulfill its people's demand to distance itself from present statesmen's wrong approaches,’ he says
Dudi Cohen

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a congratulatory telegram to United States president-elect Barack Obama on his presidential victory, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported Thursday. IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as calling on Obama to make significant changes to America's approach to its role in the world.
Middle Eastern Perspective
Arabs waiting for Obama / Roee Nahmias
Roee Nahmias presents Arab world's view on American elections, Mideastern hopes for change
Full story

"You are generally expected to make a fast and clear response to the demands for basic... change in US domestic and foreign policy, which all people in the world and Americans want on top of your agenda,” the Iranian president wrote to his new counterpart.

Ahmadinejad went on to discuss his views on the extent of American involvement in the world. "They also want US intervention to be limited to its borders, especially in the Middle East. It is highly expected to reverse the unfair attitude towards restoring the rights of the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans,” he said.

Ahmadinejad took advantage of the opportunity to blast outgoing President George W. Bush, saying "we hope the new US government can fulfill its people's demand to distance itself from the present statesman's wrong approaches," he said.

'Short-lived opportunity'

"I hope you make the most of the chance of service and leave a good name by preferring people's real interests and justice to the insatiable demands of a selfish and indecent minority," wrote Ahmadinejad.

"You know the opportunities bestowed upon people by God are short-lived."

On Wednesday, government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham strengthened the Iranian president’s comments and called o Obama to "bring fundamental changes to the United States' approach to world questions in respect of human rights and to end the policy of domination and aggression against other countries."

Such changes could "improve the image of the United States and overcome the growing mistrust towards America," Elham said.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki also congratulated the new president-elect and said that Obama's election is an, "evident sign" that Americans want basic changes in policy.

"We hope the new US government can fulfill its people's demand to distance itself from the present statesmen's wrong approaches," he said.

During his campaign, Obama repeatedly said that if he is elected he will weigh the option of dialogue opposite the Iranian regime.

Israeli officials are worried about this option in fear that it may harm the efforts made to isolate the Iranian government, which continues to develop its nuclear plan despite the demands made by the United Nations Security Council and NATO’s sanctions on Tehran.,2506,L-3618948,00.html

5 Qassam rockets hit south

Palestinian terrorists fire two rockets at Sderot area; three more rockets land in open areas in western Negev; no injuries reported in rocket barrage. More than 50 rockets fired at Israel since Tuesday
Shmulik Hadad

Rocket attacks go on: Palestinian terrorists fired five Qassam rockets at Gaza-region communities Friday morning. Two rockets reportedly landed in the Sderot area, while three other rockets landed in open areas in the western Negev. No injuries were reported in the rocket barrage. The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the attack.

One of the rockets reportedly landed near a water reservoir at a southern kibbutz. Another rocket hit the fence of a western Negev kibbutz.

Meanwhile, the alert level in the south was raised ahead of the opening of the school day. Security chiefs at various regional communities urged parents to remain alert and boosted their patrols in the area.

In the southern city of Ashkelon, the municipal parents' association decided to postpone the opening of the school day in protest of the government's failure in handling ongoing rocket attacks on the city.

More than 50 rockets since Tuesday
On Thursday, four Qassam rockets were fired at Israel. No injuries were reported in the attacks. Since Tuesday, Palestinians fired a total of more than 50 rockets at Israel.

Security officials told Ynet Thursday that the next 24 hours could determine whether the Gaza Strip lull will continue. The officials said the defense establishment was preparing for any possibility.

Rocket attacks at Israel resumed this week in the wake of the IDF operation in the central Gaza Strip. The raid was meant to thwart the abduction of IDF soldiers via an underground tunnel dug by Palestinian terrorists.

Ali Waked contributed to the story

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Are B’tselem’s “Impartial Statistics” Really Accurate?

During the past few years, the battle for hearts and minds has become an integral part of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. On the one side, Israel's enemies are waging a campaign to shape the messages and the data to fit their perception of "the truth". Israel, on the other side, has the IDF Spokesperson, the Foreign Ministry's Media and Public Affairs Division, and the Prime Minister's National Information Directorate. However, for various reasons, including the IDF's prohibition from about two years ago on Israeli reporters entering the Gaza Strip, there is a dearth of reliable first-hand coverage and the media is usually presented with diverse versions of events. One of the most conspicuous examples of this is the subject of the number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces. The Palestinians usually claim that the dead were innocent civilians, while in the Israeli version they are terrorists. The IDF and other official Israeli sources rarely issue data about how and how many Palestinians are killed. Into the breach comes B’Tselem, "The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories". The organization has established an impressive data base of individuals killed during the latest Intifada. Every Palestinian killed is noted by name, date and the circumstances surrounding his death. On October 21 the list ran to 4,757. B’Tselem’s is widely respected by the international community and its reports are often quoted by various arms of the United Nations, international organizations and the media as providing the “true facts.”

B’Tselem’s annual report summed up the statistics for Palestinians killed in 2007. According to the B’Tselem report issued on December 30, 2007, between January 1 and December 29, 2007 “the Israeli security forces killed 373 Palestinians, 53 of them minors; 290 were in the Gaza Strip, and the remaining 83 in the West Bank. At least 131, 35%, were civilians who were not fighting at the time they were killed.”

An examination of the data base appended to the report exposes many defects in fact-gathering, the deletion of pertinent facts and the omission of relevant information, as well as distortions and errors. The list was downloaded from the B'Tselem website on January 1, 2008, and analyzed by a team from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, headed by Dr. Dore Gold. Jonathan Dahoah-Halevi, formerly a lieutenant colonel in Military Intelligence, wrote the article summarizing their findings.

The B'Tselem report divided the Palestinians killed into three categories: “participated in fighting” (195), “did not participate in fighting” (119), and miscellaneous (66).

B’Tselem’s definition of “participated in fighting” is extremely narrow and relates only to Palestinians who at the time of their deaths were actively shooting, launching rockets, throwing Molotov cocktails, conducting surveillance to gather intelligence, etc. It does not include members of terrorist organizations who were not on the front line, or were on their way from one attack to another, or were involved in support for terrorism (i.e., transporting ammunition), or in planning and carrying out terrorist attacks. For example, six terrorist operatives from the Army of Islam (Al-Qaeda’s branch in the Gaza Strip) who died in a targeted killing were categorized by B’Tselem as “residents of the Gaza Strip killed while driving in a vehicle in the center of Gaza City.”

B’Tselem’s list of killed Palestinians makes almost no mention of their membership or roles in the various terrorist organizations. For example, Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, and his replacement, Abd Aziz Rantisi, and Salah Shehade, the head of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who were responsible for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel in which hundreds of Israelis were killed, are listed as “residents of the Gaza Strip” who were “targets of assassinations” and killed when they, respectively, “left the mosque,” “were in their cars,” and “asleep.”

Dahoah-Halevi’s analysis comes up with completely different data: among the 119 Palestinians who according to B’Tselem did not participate in the fighting, 55 were terror operatives (and one was an operative in the Authority’s national-security services), 60 were uninvolved civilians and three were not killed by Israel at all. Out of the 66 “uncategorized,” he found 60 terror operatives and six civilians. B'Tselem's data did not include 19 Palestinian operatives belonging to various terrorist organizations who were killed by Israel in 2007. Final tally: out of 396 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, 330 (83.3%) were "military operatives" and 67 (16.7%) were civililans (not 31.3%, as claimed in the B'Tselem report).

The civilians who were killed were either involved in suspicious activities such as infiltration, surveillance during fighting, hunting birds near the border, holding toy rifles, disobeying soldiers’ orders to halt, etc.; or were in a battle arena in a built-up area; or were in proximity to terrorists or rocket launchers; or were killed during the dispersal of riots; or were killed while attacking soldiers.

Information about the circumstances surrounding the deaths and terrorist organization affiliation of the names on the list was taken from the Palestinian press, Arab news sites, official Palestinian terrorist organization websites, human rights organizations websites, the official sites of the State of Israel and the Israeli media, archive material, sites of Palestinian families, sites documenting Palestinian deaths, the official sites of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian municipalities and local councils devoting space to shaheeds, etc.

מח' מידע ואינטרנט – אגף תקשורת

Sharia finance expert warns Obama to avoid Islamic finance

Frank Gaffney speaketh truth to power: "Expert Warns Obama To Avoid Islamic Finance," by Dave Eberhart for NewsMax, November 5:

Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warns that the president-elect should avoid financing his great society with tainted Islamic-correct petro dollars, saying their strings might be attached inextricably to the nation’s worst extremist enemies. With Barack Obama’s victory Tuesday sucking the oxygen from the air, few are focusing on Thursday, the day the U.S. Treasury Department will embrace the so-called “Shariah-Compliant Finance” or SCF.

If “Shariah” doesn’t ring any bells other than sounding foreign and somewhat ominous, it is simply the “religio-political-legal code authoritative Islam seeks to impose worldwide under a global theocracy,” Gaffney said.

The Treasury Department will host a “seminar for the policy community” entitled “Islamic Finance 101,” and it’s all about getting warm and fuzzy with SCF. Co-sponsoring the event is the Islamic Finance Project at Harvard Law School.

Harvard has benefitted mightily from the infusion of millions of dollars from a Wahhabi Saudi prince and his government, Gaffney said.

Yes, it’s all about money.

U.S. financial institutions, reeling from the credit crunch, are hungrily eyeballing more than $1 trillion in petrodollars, including Shariah-compliant bonds, mutual funds, mortgages, insurance, hedge funds, and real estate investment trusts.

Dow Jones Corp. has even created its own index for Islamic-correct investments: the Dow Jones Islamic Index, according to The Coalition to Stop Shariah.

Enter Uncle Sam, the always cash-strapped giant that must feed at any convenient trough these days, regardless of what strings are attached.

And what a trough it is. The global Shariah market is growing at a 15 percent pace, courtesy of the oil boom and resurgence in Islamic fundamentalism, according to the Center for Security Policy. It’s expected to more than double during the next 10 years.

Attractive chunk of available change and maybe even an imperative, but some watchdogs are ringing alarm bells.

Investors Business Daily recently examined Shariah-compliant finance and its involvement with investments and other transactions that have been structured to conform to the orthodox teachings of Islamic law.

“That means they can’t charge or earn interest, the cornerstone of our credit-driven economy,” the business publication advised. “Nor can they take any stake in ‘haram,’ or forbidden, industries, including meat and beverage producers (if they process any pork or alcohol); entertainment; gaming; and interest-based financing.

“Wall Street is jumping into this hot new market oblivious to the risks not just to the bottom line, but to national security. It knows little about Shariah law and is turning to consultants to create ‘ethical’ products to sell.

“Lost in the hype over these Muslim-friendly funds is that they must ‘purify’ their returns by transferring at least 3 percent into Islamic charities, many of which funnel funds to terrorists.”...

Towards a winning Palestinian strategy

Daoud Kuttab
Daily News Egypt

AMMAN: I must say I wasn’t surprised when I read the statements made by outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I had been informed by an Israeli friend of mine about Olmert’s dramatic conversion over the past few years, and especially last year. The statements can be seen as a refreshing vindication for Abbas’ engagement instead of confrontation. But will they be translated into real change, or will these be just more courageous statements made after a senior politician has lost power?

Olmert’s statements, made after his days in office, remind me of the many statements made by US presidents and senior officials after they left office and were no longer under the pressure of the pro-Israel lobby.

Of course, the problem for Palestinians is much more complicated. The decades of struggle and fighting produced no substantial results. On the ground, Palestinian control over their land and future has been gradually deteriorating since 1948. Palestinian efforts to attain freedom and liberty have passed through the entire ambit. From commitment to the armed struggle as the only way to liberate Palestine, to the use of diplomacy and negotiations, they passed through a partially nonviolent Intifada and a much more violent Intifada in between.

Palestinians are also starting to question the shape of the state they want to live in. Ever since the PLO was established, the Palestinian charter had specified that the inhabitants of the area need to live in a secular democratic state. But in 1988, with Yasser Arafat declaring a Palestinian state on part of Palestine, Palestinian nationalism shifted to embrace a two-state solution.

Non-stop Jewish settlements in the Palestinian part of this two-state division have rendered this territorial idea impractical and nearly un-executable.

The coming months are certainly going to force Palestinians to choose a strategy and an overall direction. The Islamic Hamas declared that Jan. 9, 2009 is the final day for President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the Palestinian interim constitution, when the term of a president ends or when he is no longer around (as was the case with Arafat), the speaker of the parliament rules the country for 60 days, during which preparations for presidential elections are to take place.

Parliament speaker Aziz Dweik is held administratively by the Israelis ever since an Israeli soldier was captured. Hamas and others are demanding Dweik and other prisoners (reportedly including Marwan Barghouthi) to be released in return for freeing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

There is, of course, a dispute irrespective of whether Abbas’ term ends on Jan. 9, or one year later, when the parliament also reaches the end of its term. Much can happen between now and then, but unless agreement is reached for early parliamentary and presidential elections, it will be difficult to see how this problem can be resolved easily.

Early elections are unlikely to take place without Hamas’ voluntary agreement. And with polls showing them not regaining a majority or winning the presidency, it is unlikely that they will voluntarily agree on early elections.

In Cairo recently, Hamas was reported to have backed down on contesting a possible extension of Abbas’ presidency.

A number of Palestinians feel it is illogical to discuss elections, the presidency or the parliament while the siege of Gaza, the occupation of the West Bank, and the illegal Jewish settlements in Palestinian lands continue unabated.

A study by the Palestine Strategy Study group calls for a serious change of discourse. It notes that terms like peacemaking, and state-building have become code words for the continuation of the status quo, in which Palestinians react, not act. This must be replaced, they argue, by “smart resistance” and “self-determination”.

The Palestinian strategy, they say, might have to resort to the decolonization strategy rather than waste time and effort on useless nation building and peace making discourse.

Naturally, the study group, made mostly of Palestinians living in occupied Palestine, calls for national unity as one of the most strategic points of power for Palestinians. Their call is not limited to Gaza and the West Bank, but, more importantly, asserts the need for Palestinians to have unified goals and strategy. The group insists that Palestinians must clarify to the Israelis and to third parties the meaning of the loss of the two-state solution.

While not agreeing on the alternative, they note that if needed, the new Palestinian strategy might have to pursue the one-state solution, and, if and when appropriate, dissolve the Palestinian Authority and let the Israelis take legal, moral and financial responsibility, thus exposing their real ongoing occupation. Their argument is summarized by the need to use strategic tools to make costly whatever option Israelis choose.

The ideas of the study group have not gathered enough steam among Palestinians. It will take some time before such ideas reach critical mass. But this 80-some-page document at least outlines in clear, logical terms a direction that Palestinians need to look at in order to get out of the decades-old policies of reacting instead of taking the initiative.

Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist. He was born in Jerusalem in 1955. He is a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University in the United States. This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from The Jordan Times.

IDF: Next 24 hours critical to ceasefire's future

Defense sources say rocket fire on western Negev expected on heels of IDF op in Gaza; add Israel's tolerance wearing thin, military will react if fire continues. Hamas reportedly asks Islamic Jihad to refrain from launching rockets, escalating situation
Hanan Greenberg

The next 24 hours will be crucial to ceasefire's future, a source in the defense establishment told Ynet on Wednesday night, adding that the "IDF is preparing for every possible scenario." The defense establishment is closely monitoring the escalation noted in the southern front, as dozens of Qassam rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel on Wednesday, in retaliation to the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night.

Taking a Stand
Barak: We will not hesitate to strike again / Shmulik Hadad
Defense minister meets with heads of Gaza vicinity communities following latest Qassam salvo on area; says Israel has no interest in seeing ceasefire end but will act to impede any threat
Full story

The latest Qassam rocket was fired at Israel at 10 pm, landing near the security fence. No injuries or damage were reported in the shooting, which was claimed by Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades.

The defense establishment attempted to play down the unusual military operation, carried out some 270 yards into the Strip. Six soldiers were wounded during the operation, two moderately and four mildly.

The IDF stressed that the operation, dubbed "Operation Double Dare," was a surgical one, meant to curb an imminent threat. Israel, reiterated the military, has no intention of ending the ceasefire agreement, signed with the militant groups in Gaza in June.

As for the intense Qassam fire on the western Negev, a defense establishment source said that "while we expected Hamas to retaliate, we will not allow the rocket fire to become a patter. If the rocket fire does not stop, we will respond as we see fit."

Security sources added that Israel believed the rocket fire to be a limited, although broad, response to the operation, since Hamas has no interest in seeing the situation escalate once again.

A Palestinian source told Ynet that Hamas has asked Islamic Jihad to refrain from firing any more Qassam rockets at Israel. The Islamist group, it is believed, will be able to put a stop to rocket fire emanating from Gaza within a matter hours.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the defense establishment to keep the goods crossings between Israel and Gaza closed on Thursday as well, in light of the continued rocket fire from the Strip.

Shmulik Hadad and Ali Waked contributed to this report

Is Obama good for Israel?

President Obama will be good for Israel as long as he’s able to restore America’s power
Ron Ben-Yishai

Part one of analysis by Ron Ben-Yishai

Will President Obama be good for Israel? That’s not the right question. What should interest us is whether Obama will be good for America. If he will indeed be good for America, we shall benefit as well; if he fails, we will be in trouble. From an Israeli security perspective, the identity of the person in the White House and his attitude to Israel are secondary concerns. Since Israel’s establishment, all American presidents were ultimately pro-Israeli, because of the shared values and the deep involvement of American Jews in American politics.

Yet what is truly important to Israel’s security are the economic power and military-strategic determination that America conveys, as well as its position as a superpower on the global stage. The deterrence umbrella we gain through our deep and multilayered connection with our great friend overseas is derived from the above-mentioned factors.

The United States also grants us strategic as well as logistic-military safety net, which has already stood the test even during the terms of less sympathetic presidents, such as Richard Nixon and George Bush Sr. Moreover, we have been granted almost unconditional diplomatic support for more than 30 years now – even at times of disagreement between our governments.

America’s cultural and technological dominance allows us to integrate not only into the family of nations, but also among regional nations that see us as a foreign implant. Without all of the above, the State of Israel would be a much less safe place to live in.

The equation is a very simple one: Israel’s strategic situation improves the greater the power America conveys in the international arena, coupled with uncompromising commitment to the State of Israel’s security and wellbeing. As America’s status as a global power is mostly affected by its economic, technological, and social power, the next president’s ability to address the financial crisis in the United States is of critical importance – for us too.

This matter is much more fundamental in respect to our security than the question of whether Barack Obama deeply sympathizes with us, like Bush Jr. and McCain, or whether he balances his sympathies with his compassion for the suffering of Palestinians, as was the case with Jimmy Carter, for example.

Jewish vote cannot be ignored

Being a crafty American politician, who wishes to be elected for another term in office, Obama would not be able to ignore Israel’s existential interests and would have to take them into consideration. For example, in case he embarks on intensive diplomatic dialogue with Iran, as he said he intends to do. In his second term in office he would also have to take the positions of the Democratic camp that sent him to the White House, as well as the Jewish vote, into account.

What matters is the power and determination to be conveyed by America in the global theater. American-Iranian dialogue, for example, regardless of whether it prompts Tehran to stop uranium enrichment, would produce much more positive results for us should the president manage it from a position of economic and military strength.

The results of such dialogue would be different should the Iranians know that the US cannot really threaten them with a military stick or offer them truly tempting economic carrots.

The bottom line is as follows: The next president will be good for Israel should he be able to restore his country’s economic and diplomatic power, extract its army from the Iraqi quagmire, and leverage his election victory in order to unite the American people behind his policies. All of the above are seemingly domestic American issues, but they will indirectly affect the security of the State of Israel and its citizens.

Part two of Ron Ben-Yishai’s analysis will be published Thursday

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"As It Is"

There is nothing to be said about the Obama win yesterday except that good things are wished for America. Things will play out over time. When and as it is appropriate, I will comment. From the perspective here in Israel, the important thing is to have a strong government that will speak for us effectively and defend our rights in the land. And, on this point I continue to be cautiously optimistic.

Benny Begin, who has joined Likud, held a press conference yesterday with Binyamin Netanyahu. Since his very recent announcement to run on the Likud list, he has been barraged with old media clips showing him fiercely criticizing Netanyahu for the Hevron Accord. Now he said:

"I saw that the media have taken clips from the attic that have no connection to the current reality...Adults can decide to overcome the problems of the past.

"I joined the Likud to deal with difficult challenges that lie ahead and because I want to participate and have influence in the current ideological debate.

"The reality has changed. People in Israel realize that there can no longer be illusions. The quest for diplomatic compromise has been tried by Israeli governments, and it led us nowhere but to increased violence."

Saying that he is still opposed to surrendering any of our land, Begin declared that Netanyahu was now "more mature" and the public had "reawakened from its illusions." The picture he is painting is one of a confluence of events that makes the time ripe for a real shift in this country, away from what's been happening for several years.


Netanyahu, for his part, said he had made no promises to Begin ruling out negotiations with the Palestinians. What I had read earlier, however, is that he did promise that there would be no negotiations on Jerusalem, and it is to be hoped that this makes serious negotiations a nonstarter.

Of Begin, Netanyahu said, "I want help from his leadership and integrity to make the necessary changes to return security and economy and undertake an educational revolution."


The issue of education, raised here by Netanyahu, is actually exceedingly critical. There is a tendency to focus on defense because if we are not secure in the land everything else becomes moot. But it is all connected.

We have been stalemated in an impossible situation for as long as we have precisely because of a failure of (secular) education in this country. The very essence of why we're here and what matters to us as a matter of right and tradition and longstanding history has been removed from the educational process. Secular schools teach world history instead of Jewish history, and multiculturalism but not Jewish values.

(This is not the case, I will note with the religious Zionist educational system -- which is why religious boys volunteer disproportionately for combat units in the army and are among our bravest and best soldiers. They understand and thus are devoted.)

The fact that people have not been taught what they need to know brings them to being casual about giving up what is ours and incapable of making our case within the world. They have lost the Jewish narrative. Once upon a time, this was not the case. The exemplar of this was David Ben Gurion. Not a religious or observant man, he knew his Bible, knew our roots in the land and how we connected to it.

And so, it is a hopeful thing indeed to hear talk about an educational revolution.


Education was also uppermost in the thoughts of people within National Union and NRP as they called their press conference to announce their merger. Education, they said, would be the top priority because, according to MK Tzvi Hendel, of NU, we are dealing with "a crisis of values in politics and in every field in this country. The public understands that education is the foundation of everything."

Speaking of values, it was wonderful to hear MK Zevulun Orlev, head of NRP, say that NRP -- by merging its list with NU in order to make one large party that everyone who believes in Zionism could join -- was "sacrificing itself" (that is, its unique and long-standing identity) to better fight for the nation's "soul."

Instead of being small opposition parties, NRP and NU hope now to be part of a coalition that stands for the nation's values.

Amen to this. The implications are enormous.


The party representatives present at the press conference explained that the new merged list would include two "non-kippah wearers" (i.e., representing secular nationalists), four people not on either list previously, and two women.


It is, to my thinking, only a tremendous and painful loss of Jewish values that can make this possible:

Elisheva Federman -- whose home outside of Kiryat Arba was destroyed by authorities in the middle of the night -- was stopped by police and detained for interrogation yesterday. The police said they wanted to question her about assaults on police officers (throwing of stones) that took place during and after the destruction of her home by teens and young adults camping out on the site.

Said Elisheva, it was ironic that the police "are charging me with their own crimes." She reports that she and her husband Noam were thrown to the ground and lightly beaten when they were driven out of their home.

Now police insisted on taking a few strands of her hair for a DNA sample. A DNA sample? This is done when suspects face charges of serious crimes. "In this case," said a police spokesman, "because questioning had to do with assault, we took a DNA sample."

This strikes me as unmitigated nonsense. Harassment. She is not a "suspect." This is not a case of needing to prove that she committed a particular crime. The police, as far as I can determine, simply wanted information on what others had done.

The settler as criminal.


Update on Beit HaShalom in Hevron: The 20 resident families have not been evacuated in spite of an order from Attorney General Mazuz saying they have to leave until the Court makes its decision with regard to the evidence brought -- that tape recording of the Palestinian seller verifying that he indeed did sell the house to Jews.

This is most likely first because 50 members of Knesset wrote a letter asking that this not be done, and then because activists in numbers had gathered at the scene.

The situation remains tense and uncertain, however.


Last night and today a barrage of some 35 Kassams has been fired on Israel from Gaza, including three on Ashkelon and a few that damaged greenhouses.

As far as I can determine a good percentage of these fell before a brief IDF foray into Gaza this morning and additional rockets fell following.

The operation into Gaza consisted of special forces sent to blow up a tunnel that was being constructed to facilitate kidnappings (it would have run under the fence at the border into Israel). Our soldiers met resistance from Palestinian gunmen; in the ensuing battle, six Israeli soldiers were injured and at least six Palestinians were killed.


A variety of mixed messages are now coming both from our military and Hamas:

From our side has come a statement that we want to continue the ceasefire, as the quiet benefits the communities near the Gaza border.

But at the same time there was an accompanying statement acknowledging that Hamas has been strengthening during the lull that began in June. This is maddening, for ultimately is it not in the best interest of these communities near Gaza for Hamas to grow even stronger and to have the capacity to launch attacks when they choose.

Following this was a warning: that Hamas now knows we won't sit still for every plan they have, as evidenced by the fact that we just launched this operation. And so, we are being told, our military has to be prepared for the possibility that the ceasefire might fall apart, or that, alternatively, Hamas might claim that it wants to sustain the ceasefire but then launch a terror attack.

Got all that?

Hamas, for its part, has also declared a desire to sustain the ceasefire. It really does serve its interests now. But along with this came saber rattling.

And even before this incident, Muhammad Deif, former head of Hamas's military wing surfaced to declare that Jihad would continue "until victory and martyrdom."

One senses that the days of quiet may be coming to an end, as ultimately they were bound to.


Condoleezza Rice is headed our way one last time, to assess the "peace" situation. She should pack it in now. As the two parties will not be drafting an interim document assessing what gains have been made in negotiations, she will be drawing up a report for the new administration that sets out the parameters of what she perceives necessary for achieving peace.

see my website

Saudi Arabia Will Benefit

Tariq Alhomayed
Asharq Alwsat

By tomorrow we will know who the new president of the United States of America will be, Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama, ushering in a new, critical era that will affect our region and our Islamic world. The new president will be faced with the mission of wrapping up the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan successfully or bringing them to an end, as well as the Arab-Israeli issue and dealing with Iran. The new president will also have to launch the battle of reforming the American economy, the effects of which are global.

The new president would not be able to do all of the above in isolation of our region, as oil is a key factor in stabilizing the American and world economy. Therefore, in consideration of this forthcoming era from the angle of our region, and who will benefit most from it, all the indications point towards Saudi Arabia.

Following the tragic events of 9/11, Riyadh once again became an important factor that Washington could not ignore. Some saw this as Saudi luck but luck plays no part in politics; rather it is based on mastering the language of interests.

To say that Saudi Arabia will benefit the most in our region is not wishful thinking inasmuch as it is based on the facts on the ground that go back to political rationality and facing important internal and external issues. If Obama becomes president and wants to improve America’s reputation and put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (the president of which has already called for a Saudi role) and to solve the financial crisis, then he will go to Riyadh.

If Obama’s goal is to initiate dialogue then he stands by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who has already launched interfaith dialogue. If Obama wants to improve Arab-Israeli relations, then he has the Saudi Arabian initiative for peace in his hands, which Israel now welcomes.

As for dealing with Iran, Obama cannot ignore Saudi Arabia, as the drop in oil prices to approximately $70 per barrel is tragic for the Iranian regime in contrast to Riyadh. Accordingly, the Saudi political role will have considerable influence contrary to the diminishing political significance of the Iranian dollar on issues in the Middle East.

Some might say that Obama attacked Saudi Arabia during the election because of oil, as did his vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden before him, but American history shows that whilst six American presidents since Nixon have pledged to move away from Saudi oil, in reality, the opposite occurred.

All of this also applies to McCain if he were to ascend to presidency; he would also find that Saudi Arabia has an important a role as mentioned above. In addition, since McCain is running for one presidential term only, should he wish to make historic breakthroughs with regards to the Palestinian issue, he will find himself dealing with Saudi Arabia that launched the Arab Peace Initiative in this regard.

Saudi Arabia is also a pivotal country with regards to Iraq since it does not have its own ambitions towards Baghdad unlike Iran and has a strong record on trying to break Al Qaeda. This pushed Ford M. Fraker, the US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia to state that with regards to the fight against terror, Saudi Arabia is a great success story, and that Riyadh is the only city in the Middle East to have defeated Al Qaeda at home.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently visited a rehabilitation centre for extremists near Riyadh where he met a number of inmates. Moreover, Gordon Brown, an economic expert, also praised the Saudi financial system.

A few days ago, the French Foreign Minister [Bernard Kouchner] spoke about the role of Saudi Arabia, a role that cannot be overlooked. In conclusion, Saudi Arabia is entering a new era.

America turns left

Sever Plocker says Obama win opens unfamiliar social-democratic chapter in US history
Sever Plocker

It wasn’t about skin color, but rather, about the views. For the first time in history, a statesman who can be characterized as a European-style social-democrat will enter the White House. It never happened before and it wouldn’t have happened now had it not been for the American financial crisis, which exposed the failure of unrestrained, merciless, rampant capitalism. The broad and overwhelming objection to the collapsing “Wall Street system” enabled Obama to convey his message to the masses: Things will change. No more business as usual! I will lead the change. America under my leadership will forever part ways with the decayed financial system that brought us here, Obama told the young men and women who melted in the face of his gaze and quivered to the sound of his voice.

And what will replace the old system? Obama has remained economical in respect to the details of his presidential plans. However, his latest appearances conveyed great credibility because of the three figures standing by him: Former Treasury Secretaries Larry Summers and Bob Rubin, as well as former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. The three aces.

Republican candidate John McCain not only lacked such dream team – during his election campaign he relied on the advice of dubious economists bordering on charlatanism. Only towards the end of the campaign he brought in some distinguished characters, such as the plumber from Ohio and the governor of California. But that was too late.

I do not view the election of a dark-skinned citizen as America’s president as a historic revolution. Afro-Americans have already served in the most senior government position: Secretary of state. Had Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice run for president and won, the change in America’s political life would be minor; marginal even.

The great turnaround has to do with the unique blend featured by Obama: Not only is he a social-democrat, he is black too; not only is he black, he is young; not only is he young, he is a Muslim who became Christian; Not only is a Muslim-turned-Christian, he’s pro-Zionist; not only is he pro-Zionist, he is black too; not only is he black, he’s a social-democrat.

This multifaceted blend excited Americans to the point of losing all senses, including the natural sense of criticism and skepticism. Leading American intellectuals, ranging from columnists to physics professors, from authors to filmmakers, bowed down before Obama. And they were not the only ones. According to a poll by British weekly The Economist, citizens of the world would have granted Obama 80% support, at least, had they been able to vote in the elections.

Obama’s courage
Obama became the darling of the media, of the Third World, of Europe, of young voters, of the street, and even of the Jews. Moreover, he matured and became much more serious during his campaign. In my view, he crossed the line from demagogical candidate to worthy candidate when he did not hesitate to back the treasury of secretary and the fed chairman – both members of an opposing party – and granted overwhelming support to their bailout plan.

While the Republican McCain was stammering, the Democratic Obama was quick to convene a press conference aired coast-to-coast and declare: When it comes to the economic plan, I back the Administration. If we need to bail out banks, we will. If we need to assist mortgage crisis victims, we will. If we need to increase the budget, we will.

It is easy for a US presidential candidate to speak out against the war in Iraq: Most Americans hate it. However, significant political courage is needed in order to back complex and very expensive economic moves, which are perceived by parts of public opinion as a matter of “bailing out the fat cats” or as
“socialism in America.” Obama proved that he possesses this kind of courage; that he is no populist.

Obama’s victory opens an unfamiliar chapter in the history of the US; the social-democratic chapter. We shall see greater government involvement in the American economy, more federal funds earmarked to infrastructure and development, a more vigorous nationwide struggle against poverty, and higher taxes on the income of the wealthiest individuals. Moreover, we will see an Administration willing to manage financial institutions in practice during times of need and crisis.

Obama’s election as US president will signal to the whole world that America is bidding rampant capitalism farewell and making a left turn, big time.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Backs Dividing Jerusalem

Hana Levi Julian Obama Backs Dividing Jerusalem

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama privately expressed his support for a new Arab state within Israel's current borders, including eastern Jerusalem, during his meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah this summer. According to a report published Tuesday in the Lebanese newspaper al-Ahbar, Obama told Abbas that he supports a PA state, and Arab "rights to east Jerusalem" as well. The sources said Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "heard the best things they ever heard from an American president" during the meeting. However, said sources quoted in the report, the candidate asked them to keep his declaration a secret.

PA spokesman Nimar Hamad said he had no comment on the remarks, other than to describe the briefing Abbas and Fayyad had given to the presidential hopeful.

"The Palestinian Authority views the American elections as an internal matter and does not favor one person over another," he said in an official statement. "The PA hopes that the next American president will fulfill his commitment towards the Palestinians and pressure Israel."

( Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama privately expressed his support for a new Arab state within Israel's current borders, including eastern Jerusalem, during his meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah this summer.

According to a report published Tuesday in the Lebanese newspaper al-Ahbar, Obama told Abbas that he supports a PA state, and Arab "rights to east Jerusalem" as well. The sources said Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "heard the best things they ever heard from an American president" during the meeting. However, said sources quoted in the report, the candidate asked them to keep his declaration a secret.

PA spokesman Nimar Hamad said he had no comment on the remarks, other than to describe the briefing Abbas and Fayyad had given to the presidential hopeful.

"The Palestinian Authority views the American elections as an internal matter and does not favor one person over another," he said in an official statement. "The PA hopes that the next American president will fulfill his commitment towards the Palestinians and pressure Israel."

Abbas, Fayyad and the rest of the Arab world are clearly hoping for an Obama victory, however. Hamas sources quoted in the article said that Arabs fear new wars would break out in the Middle East if Republican candidate Senator John McCain wins, but they believe there will be an official peace agreement with an Obama White House.

Mixed Messages in Gaza
PA Arabs who live in Gaza were reportedly celebrating in the streets with impromptu demonstrations, waving Hamas flags in anticipation of an Obama win, according to Voice of Israel government radio.

But officials for the terrorist group that controls the region were skeptical that a change in the White House would lead to a change in facts on the ground.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum was quoted by Voice of Israel as saying that voters who would have to choose between Obama and McCain were being presented with two "awful" options.

The group's Damascus-based political bureau chief, Khaled Mashaal, softened the statement by saying the group is prepared to work with any U.S. president and would welcome any change in American policy, especially if it corrected what he referred to as a "bias" toward the Jewish State.

Some final thoughts on Tuesday's election


In Tuesday's presidential election, I know who I "should" vote for. ......

.... ticking off issues on my list, I should vote Libertarian, as usual.

The thing is, often in life we don't do what we "should." Remember that colorless, unexciting person your mom thought would be the perfect marriage match for you?

I'm viscerally angry at the way the shrill and vicious Democrat redistributionists and their puppets in the press have savaged Sarah Palin, a woman about whom they'd be making TV movies-of-the-week if her politics leaned "correctly" to the left.

I'm not a member of the "religious right." I'd be just as angry at the treatment of this upstanding American if she were Catholic or atheist or a Jew. A former beauty queen (when did good genes become a bad thing?), star high school athlete who bravely played through pain to win the championship, married to a member of a defamed racial minority, who works summers on her husband's fishing boat, a charming, freedom-loving homeschool mom who took on the corrupt establishment of her own state party and defeated them to become a successful and popular state governor, Sarah Palin has accomplished far more in the first half of her life than 99 percent of her detractors ever have or ever will. Yet she's mocked as some rural Mayberry rube who isn't as "qualified" to be president as Barack Obama.

Oh, please. Though bright and talented, John Kennedy was underqualified for the presidency in 1960. He did so miserably against Khrushchev at their meetings in Vienna that the Russian premier was emboldened to test the obviously inexperienced young president with what became the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Yet John Kennedy was a seasoned pro by Barack Obama standards. Kennedy had been in combat, performing heroically after his boat went down. Kennedy served 14 years in the House and Senate (Barack Obama has yet to serve four) and ran on a pledge to cut taxes -- which he actually did! Next to the experience of John F. Kennedy -- whose inexperience rendered him a not terribly effective president -- Obama is a mere short-pants schoolchild.

And no, I don't think his experience working for and helping funnel millions in foundation money to ACORN counts in Obama's favor.

Exactly how much "foreign policy experience" -- other than organizing anti-American rallies in London -- did Bill Clinton have when he left Little Rock?

Does flying a jet fighter make you a great commander of men? Not necessarily. But if war threatens, John McCain knows what it is to throw young men into harm's way. Yet their experience wheeling and dealing with crooked lobbyists inside the Beltway make Barack Obama and Joe Biden "better qualified" to judge a proper strategy to respond to a surprise attack on a U.S. base overseas?

Why do you think Democratic registrars so often put on a sad face and cry crocodile tears as they report, "Aww, some of the military absentee ballots came in too late to count ... again"? Why do you suppose the military backs McCain-Palin, 68-23? Because they're all fundamentalist Christian cretins?

(Note Barack Obama answered a 1996 candidate questionnaire -- which bears his own handwriting -- saying he supported legislation to "ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns." He has since voted for a version of U.S. Senate bill 397 which would have banned virtually all rifle ammunition.)

What they really mean when they say Sarah Palin is "unqualified" is that she's a regular person who knows what it is to work a regular job and shop at a grocery store, not some bought-and-paid-for ivory tower Washington lawyer in thrall to the Brookings Institution and The Washington Post and the Council on Foreign Relations who thinks National Socialism can still work; we just haven't given it a proper try.

Sarah Palin ridicules federal funding of fruit-fly research, and the other side says she's so stupid she doesn't understand the medical usefulness of fruit-fly research. But she didn't ridicule fruit-fly research. She ridiculed the federal funding of fruit-fly research, which is indeed not authorized by the Constitution -- not even close. Opposing a federal takeover of medical practice and research does not mean you reject the usefulness of medicine.

The Mainstream Media have covered this race as though Barack Obama, the only flawless man since the Nazarene, had won the thing last spring, since which time he has been made to endure the pointless criticisms of this insufferable little troll John McCain, who was supposed to just go home and shut up as of Labor Day.

Unfortunately, John McCain did indeed look like he'd rather not have been there for the debates -- he had the same expression on his face as a young father dealing with his first dirty diaper when his handlers told him he had to detail young Mr. Obama's learn-at-their-knee relationship with every terrorist bomber and pinko street hustler to pass through Chicago in recent decades -- relationships that just might help us guess the plans of a freshman lawmaker with a curiously blank-slate legislative record.

Should the GOP pull off an unforeseen upset, despite their missed chance to nominate an actual candidate of principle in Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the very newspaper and TV commentators who'll be asking "What happened?" should take a good look in the mirror.

I have only one marginally effective way to tell those who have spent the past three months libeling and trashing Sarah Palin -- and with her, every "regular American" who owns a gun or goes to church and lives outside their oh-so-correct urban enclaves of Washington, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles -- where to shove it. And that's to vote against the communist sympathizer who would make legally owned self-defense weapons as rare as whooping cranes, and for a true American hero -- to vote a Republican presidential ticket for the first time in my life.

By the way, and finally, Barack Obama's campaign Web site promises he'll do more to "protect women from violence."

By championing the cause of allowing any woman to carry a concealed handgun without jumping through a bunch of unconstitutional hoops to get a "permit," that being the only way to "protect women from violence" that doesn't involve drawing chalk outlines on the sidewalk?


I didn't think so.

Vin Suprynowicz ( is the assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of "The Black Arrow."

The True Name of Barack Obama's Change: Intolerance

Jeff Tyler
American Thinker

I have to disagree with those who say that Sen. Obama has not achieved anything significant in his political career. He has some record setting achievements to present to America. He has managed to raise more money for his campaign than any other presidential candidate. $600,000,000 is no small amount, even if some of the money comes from very rich people like George Soros, very rich companies like Goldman Sachs, and a stream of unidentifiable foreign contributors.
Sen. Obama has managed to gather more foreign votes than American ones. As a Kenyan newspaper said recently,

The world has elected Barack Obama president of the United States. It is now waiting to see if the Americans will reject him on November 4.

But Obama's most important achievement to date has not been getting enough press: In less than a year Sen. Obama has managed to divide our country to the degree it has not seen for over a hundred years.

Remember the time when it was okay to disagree with (or even dislike) a presidential candidate? If you're reading this, you're old enough to remember that time -- since it was just a year ago. It's not okay anymore.

Sure, many people, myself included, openly express their negative opinions of Sen. Obama. But what about the level of tolerance his supporters have for these opinions? It's pretty low these days. If, somehow, you have been avoiding any political discussions, you're in for a surprise.

Perhaps even for a shock. These days if you disagree with Sen. Obama you're almost immediately called a racist. These days if you question Sen. Obama, like Joe the Plumber questioned him, you come under the scrutiny of hundreds of professionals in the press and in the government.

These days expressing a concern about Sen. Obama almost guarantees you get a crash course on English obscenities. I know -- I've tried. Within two hours after expressing concerns about Sen. Obama's character on my blog, I was called a racist pig, a right-wing nut, and Hitler. And these were the mildest of labels.

But who am I to complain. The whole country is going crazy. Internet forums are seething with intolerance. I'm not exaggerating -- just visit a forum on Sen. Obama's site. "White people should not be allowed to vote!" says a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist -- and the paper stays in business, although had they suggested taking the voting right away from black Americans, they'd be rightfully facing a nation-wide outcry. An Obama supporter hangs an effigy of a VP candidate by a noose in front of his house -- and gets only smirks from bystanders. This is a Halloween decoration, he says in the interview with the press, standing in front of an effigy of the Republican presidential candidate being burned alive.

Since when did it become okay to hang a figure of a real woman -- a mother of five -- on the streets? Since when did it become okay to parade around with blood-covered guillotine decorated with the head of the President -- a get not a peep from the media?

I can tell you since when. Since Sen. Obama has started deliberately dividing the country. True, a good share of his speeches featured obligatory "united we stand" messages. But many, many other speeches have been sending a very different signal. For months Sen. Obama has been going on stage and drawing lines in every major cultural divide, be it race, income, party or gender, trying to turn Americans against each other. Let's take a look at Sen. Obama's own statements.

When it comes to race, Sen. Obama has played the race card time and again: "They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?" he predicted back in June. They will tell you "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills," he prophesied a month later. After each of these divinations an explanation was issued from Sen. Obama's campaign explaining what he really meant.

But to interpret these oracles you need not trust either his handlers in the campaign or his disciples in the media. Go to the scripture. Open Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father. It's full of quotes like this: "I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race."

Do you ever remember being called racist for not voting for someone?
Last year, four years ago, ever? Now you have all kinds of people doing so, ranging from the media to a Democratic congressman, to your coworker.

Why? Is it because the level of racial intolerance in America was suddenly and inexplicably on the rise last year? Or is it because someone very visible has been hinting over and over again that the main barrier standing between him and the Oval Office is racism?

When it comes to comparing incomes, Sen. Obama has been deliberately promoting class warfare. His endless talk about social justice and government-arranged wealth distribution is nothing but a new incarnation of a two hundred year old theory that has created the worst regimes in history.

Just days ago Sen. Obama labeled Americans who don't support his idea of raising taxes "selfish." Think about his famous ad that focused on Sen. McCain's homes. How many people realized that the ad was simply attacking McCain for being rich? The ad portrayed people who have earned a high level of income as untrustworthy ... even evil. So much for American dream.

Do you remember seeing rich vs. poor headlines a year ago?
Now they adorn the front pages of newspapers every day. Is it because the poverty level has gone up dramatically over the last 12 months? Or is it because the most visible US politician has spared no effort to highlight that some people make more money than others ... and that this is just not fair?

No matter where you look, Sen. Obama shows the same pattern: divide, divide, divide. Why? Because divide and conquer is a proven way to gain power. Month after month Obama paints a shining dream before the eyes of millions of people. He promises them hope. He promises them change. He gets some of them into a nearly ecstatic state where they literally think that they won't have to fill their tank with gas anymore once they elect a President Obama.

And then Obama hints that there are others who want to take that dream away from them. Others who stand against fairness and justice and equality. And he knows precisely what he is creating: his converts start seeing anyone who disagrees with Obama as someone who stands between them and their dream. And then we get chuckling crowds in front of an effigy of Sarah Palin hung by a noose.

People within a group -- large or small -- maintain a certain level of tolerance and respect for others in that group. This level of tolerance and respect can be moved up or down through physical or verbal manipulation or intimidation. Moving the level down is much easier than taking it up. Depending on the topic, you can argue for an hour with someone who has totally different opinion and still walk away friends. But when, in response to a question, your opponent calls you an idiot, a bigot, and a racist, you're no longer in the mood for a polite discussion. The level of toleration and respect is likely to go downhill from there.

Nations are very large communities and they work in the same way. Once the level of tolerance and respect has gone down, getting it back up is very hard.

Deliberately dividing people to achieve political objectives is a very old trick in the book of power. It has often worked. When it does work, it has always cost the people of the nation who have been blinded by inspiring divisive orators. That cost has usually been dear. That cost has sometimes been freedom.

America is on a dangerous path. It's easy to forget how lucky we are. We're not a perfect community -- there are no perfect communities. We're not one happy family -- we're millions of families, some of them quite unhappy. There are tensions; there are problems; there's some hate to overcome; there are some really ugly things to take care of; and there are thousands of issues to solve.

But if you look around at what's been happening in the America, if you look back at our own -- not so distant -- past, you realize that what we've been having for the last two decades is probably as good as it gets in the real world. As a nation we've been quite all right for a while. It tells you a lot about a person when he steps into the spotlight and time and again tries to pit us all against each other, camouflaging his actions beneath sweet images of hope and change.

Sen. Obama has broken quite a few promises this year. But, you can be sure, he'll be a man of his word when it comes to his fundamental promise ... change. Not only he will bring it -- he has already given us a good preview of it.

It's not in the speeches and rallies. It's in the newspapers and the spiteful remarks on the internet forums, in the rhetoric of politicians and the Halloween decorations on the streets, on the t-shirts shamelessly promoting hate, and in the crowds booing people holding a McCain sign.

It's everywhere. This change has many names but the key one is intolerance. And everyone should think twice before voting for it. There's some deep irony in the fact that the campaign that was supposed to be the last step in helping America to leave a shameful past behind has created a shameful present. It's up to us to ensure that it doesn't turn into an even more shameful future.

Jeff Tyler divides his time between his work in the field of internet communications and writing. His thoughts on American society and politics can be found at his blog Dr. Slogan's Prescriptions.
Page Printed from: at November 04, 2008 - 08:00:38 AM EST

Symposium: Why do so many Jews still vote Democrat?


Several AT writers share their thoughts on election eve.

Richard Baehr:

More and more often, I am getting asked by Jews (conservative) and non-Jews alike: Why are American Jews still aligned with the Democratic Party, why are they backing Obama so fervently, and why are they so incredibly hostile to American Christians, who have never harmed them? I've run out of ideas for answers. I can easily trace the history of the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party and I can explain the traditional, pre-20th Century Jewish wariness of Christians, but I cannot explain how, in the 21st Century, these views still hold. The 20th Century (especially the late 20th Century) showed us that American Christians are mostly our friends; the 20th Century showed us that the socialist state is hostile to Jews, often genocidally so; this campaign is showing us that Obama's default friends and advisors, the ones to whom he automatically gravitates, are anti-Israel and anti-Jewish; and this political season has shown us the Left increasingly casting off the illusion that it isn't wildly antisemitic.

Are either of you interested in taking a stab at answering this question? By now, all I've come up with are two Biblical answers (that the Jews are a "stubborn" people and that the Jews have a historical knack of making stupid political decisions) and one nasty answer (that American Jews are just stupid).

I also wonder whether it's an intellectual snobbery thing. An ongoing sense of pride for Jews has been that they're smart -- but too often they confuse smart with "intellectual" or "possessing a degree." They'll sneer at the incredibly intuitive, competent, successful plumber (or governor), but fall all over themselves lauding someone who has a degree from an Ivy League University, regardless of that person's actual merits. I was certainly raised that way, but I managed to figure out that there's often a huge chasm between being smart (and, one hopes, moral) and being educated (and, sadly, so often immoral or amoral).

Sign me frustrated.


I think the biggest problem is that liberalism is a core part of the identity of most secular Jews, more than Judaism. and in fact, Judaism is believed to be supportive of liberalism-hence the effort to find some biblical passages to support tikkun olam and fixing the environment, and helping the poor. Jews would sooner give up their Judaism (which happens all the time), than their liberalism. Asking Jews to give up their liberalism is to ask them to become new people.

Clarice Feldman:

You ask why do (so many) Jews vote for the Democrats? It's a good question because in so many respects the party no longer-if it ever did-reflects their views or advances their interests.

I think you can't answer this without acknowledging that these voters are not a single bloc.

Orthodox Jews are less likely to vote for the Democrats. This is largely a reflection of their place on the cultural divide and their recognition that the Democrats are less likely to support the strong foreign policy and defense initiatives necessary to really protect Israel.

Older people, still enamored of Roosevelt and stung so badly by the anti-Semitic attitudes and actions of the upper class when they were young, cannot see or acknowledge the shift in the two parties since at least the moment Buckley kicked Buchanan and his ilk to the curb and the Democrats were seduced by the pro-Palestinian European left. It is hard to see that there is much anyone can do to change this.

As for the rest, so many live in urban areas. And our large urban areas are quite solidly a leftish coalition of the very rich and very poor who have left behind-if not denigrated-the middle class views and lifestyles of the present day Republicans. It takes a determined effort and independent thinking for an urbanite to think outside this ideological box. It takes a great deal of time because most of the major press in those areas is utterly in the tank for the left.

I think the best we can do to change this pattern is this: We at American Thinker must continue to boil down the facts these people need to make independent decisions into a form that busy but smart people can grasp. I must say that with few other rare exceptions-Commentary, for example-too many bloggers and online publications on the right spend far too much time on silliness (responding to the clearly demented Andrew Sullivan, for example) and insider ephemera instead of providing in pithy format news urban Jewish voters need to know to make better political choices.

Marc Sheppard:

Jewish loyalty to the Democratic Party is legendary, and often attributed to FDR, whose New Deal social reform package fit snuggly with the principles of social justice Jews had acquired through centuries of both religious teachings and oppression. Indeed, Jews supported Roosevelt by an overwhelming 9-to-1 in both 1940 and 1944, and have been voting largely Liberal ever since. But similar progressive political concerns notwithstanding and with one unique exception -- LBJ -- Democratic presidents have proven anything but simpatico with the broader interests of the Jewish people.

In fact, they got it wrong right from the get go. As President during history's once greatest threat to the survival of the Jewish people, FDR was by no measure an ally. To the contrary - In 1939, while his anti-Semitic secretary of state, Breckinridge Long, worked overtime to stop Jewish immigration, it was FDR himself that denied the SS St. Louis -- a German ocean liner carrying over 950 Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler -- entry to our shores.

It turned out that the dearly beloved Democrat actually refused virtually every opportunity presented him to stop the Holocaust. Just one example: Beginning in August of 1944, American bombers regularly targeted industrial complexes within five miles of Auschwitz's gas chambers. Yet, not a single bomb ever fell on it or any other southern Poland death camp or on the railroad tracks leading to them, even though their precise locations were well-known. We're left to wonder how many might have been spared the ovens had the abattoir where 1.6 million Jews took their final anguished breathes been decommissioned a full 10 months before V-E Day.

Now, 64 years later and facing the threat of a new madman bent on exterminating them in greater numbers than the last, a preponderance of Jews appear poised once-again to overlook what's best for their very survival to affirm their Liberal mettle. As Ahmadinejad swiftly spreads his nuclear wings, the candidate Jews favor 2-to-1 proposes to engage him with "tough-minded diplomacy." And if that doesn't scare the deranged little tyrant - who threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" after calling it a "stinking corpse" - into submission, President Obama promises to really let him have it by imposing "stronger sanctions."

Bad enough Obama's weak-kneed policies will do less than zero to impede Iran's nuclear-weapons aspirations. But by refusing -- and refuse he will -- to covertly green-light any preemptive operations, he'll also represent a major obstacle to Israel's only self-defense against prospective annihilation.

You'd think that even if the indictment against Jewish support for an Obama presidency ended there -- he'd never be the choice of the greater part of the chosen.

And yet, it doesn't end there -- not by a longshot.

Fortunately, as a voting block, Jews appear to be gradually wiggling free of the Democrats' half-nelson. While both Clinton over Dole and Gore over Bush went 5-to-1; Kerry dropped to 3-to-1, and Obama will lose more ground still. That said, he'll likely receive almost 3 of every 5 Jewish votes in an election that may decide the fate of Iran's bomb and with it, that of the Jewish people.

What ever happened to the oath of "never again?"

C. Edmund Wright:

The overwhelming political support the Jewish community gives liberal Democrats is one of the many political astigmatisms plaguing our electoral process. As one who has been personally involved in uncompromising, Bible believing and somewhat charismatic church bodies for a couple decades, it is clear to me that there is no group on the planet as "pro-Israel" as the American Religious Right. It is palpable in thousands of churches every week. And while the religious right includes a good number of "Messianic Jews," their support for the state of Israel is by no means dependent on Jewish conversion to Christianity.

The "threat" of conversion and some Catholic history in Europe, however, seem to be at the root of the knee jerk reaction for Jews to shun the party of the religious right. Ironic that this throws them into the party of the Islamic right.

This particular issue is so pervasive and frustrating that it is the founding tenet behind the ministry of Rabbi Daniel Lapin and two different organizations he operates out of ultra-liberal Mercer Island, Washington. In his words:

Jews and Christians need each other if Biblical civilization is to survive, which is why I started the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.

Because it is so unusual these days for a rabbi to say nice things about Christians, I consider it necessary to explain that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Christian.

I do not believe a devoutly religious Jew can also be a born-again Christian. One faith has produced Judaism, the longest-lasting, continuous culture in the history of the world, while the other has been responsible for the founding of America, the greatest civilization the world has ever known.

In making the case for Christianity in America, I am not suggesting that Jews ought to embrace the Christian faith. I believe that Jews should actively embrace traditional Judaism; I have spent many years of my life helping to bring that about.

But I am suggesting, at the very least, that Jews should stop speaking and acting as if Christian America is their enemy. I feel that all Americans who love freedom, whether or not they are religious, should welcome the reawakening of earnest Christianity throughout the land. I shall try to establish that Jews as well as other minorities have the most to fear from a post-Christian America.

Lapin is often a guest on Christian radio, and there appears to be a genuine friendship between him and Dr. James Dobson. The Rabbi understands that while he and Dobson will never agree on the tenets of their respective faiths, the future of both America and Israel depend on these two faiths working together for common goals in the secular culture. For both of these men, and frankly anyone who studies the issue in a sober and intellectual manner -- it is obvious that while Orthodox Jews and Born again Christians differ on the eternal - these two groups have the same vision for the temporal and the same enemies as well.

As he states, to not realize this is destructive:

Quite frankly, if it is appropriate to blame today's American Christians for the sins of past Europeans, why isn't it okay to blame today's Jews for things that our ancestors may have done?

Clearly both are wrong and doing so harms our relationships with one of the few groups still friendly toward us today. Jewish groups that fracture friendship between Christians and Jews are performing no valuable service to American Jews.

Ed Lasky:

The demographics of the Jewish community have always elicited discussion in the community. Normally this involves declining birth rates and increasing intermarriage rates: a dynamic that will lead to a smaller Jewish community in the years ahead. This has been less of a factor in past years when immigration from the Soviet Union replenished the community. However, that source has been “tapped out” for all intents and purposes and the looming demographic deficit is again rearing its head.

However, a different dynamic is at work within this larger dynamic. The proportion of the Jewish population that hails from its Conservative and Orthodox sup-populations is climbing and will continue to climb in the years ahead. Simply put, Conservative and Orthodox Jews have children at younger ages and have more children on average than their brethren in the Reform community.

The consequences will be manifest and game-changing in the years ahead.

Orthodox Jews lean to the right politically. They share a conservative morality that is sympathetic to those within the Republican Party that have the same adherence to a common Judeo-Christian culture. They are more receptive to working with Evangelicals (who favor Republicans) than those in the Reform community have been. They tend to be more sensitive to national security concerns than reform Jews. A study was just released that indicates they tend to take a more hawkish approach towards Israel and the threat she faces than do those in the reform community. The “peacenicks” within the Jewish community (the crowd around J Street, the Israel Policy Forum) may lose influence as the numbers of Conservative and Orthodox Jews grow.

Politically, we already have seen glimmers of a political alignment in its early stages: Orthodox Jews support John McCain over Barack Obama. As their population increases relative to the Reform community (which tends to be Democratic) they will begin to exercise more influence at the political level. Furthermore, these communities tend to be tightly knit. Political parties will come to realize the electoral influence of a well-organized community whose numbers are growing.

We have seen a slew of rabbis come to the aid of Barack Obama; in the years ahead, we may see a more visible and audible manifestation of this support coming to politicians from leaders among Conservative and Orthodox Jews.

How will established Jewish organizations adapt? Will they recognize that the community has changed? Will they be more receptive to the contributions of Orthodox Jews? The media and political parties give a lot of coverage to the pronouncements (some of them controversial) of the leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Eric Yoffe, who have become de facto “leaders of the Jewish community” when journalists look for a supposedly “representative” quote about how the Jewish community feels about a wide variety of issues?

Will sheer numbers alone compel the media to listen to Orthodox leaders in order to get a read on the community’s views.

One hopes that will occur and that their megaphone will be effective in conveying an essential truth: the Jewish community is far more varied (and multi-colored, red and blue) than is commonly perceived.

This is important.

For far too long, people have stereotyped Jews as being lock-step liberal Democrats. Like all stereotypes this is not only false but is potentially harmful. A broader chorus of voices makes the music resound more richly.

Otis A. Glazebrook IV:

Once one accepts that Liberalism is a Religion this becomes a simpler question.

Jewish merely describes a Liberal Jew’s Race, it has nothing to do with his/her moral compass.

Liberalism and all its tenants will come first.

How else does one explain the Kapo mentality of some Jews in the concentration camps.

Some Kapos were Rabbis ..

Page Printed from: at November 04, 2008 - 12:10:06 AM EST