Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Real Economic Record

Paul M. Weyrich | 8/1/2008
Earlier this week the White House announced that the projected Fiscal Year 2009 deficit will be $490 billion, an amount much higher than originally anticipated and also a record for the national deficit. The deficit for the current fiscal year is expected to reach $410 billion. Among the factors contributing to the high numbers are the cost of military expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan, an economic downturn which is producing fewer tax revenues, the $170 billion tax-rebate package enacted earlier this year, and an inability in the Congress to eliminate or trim federal programs, costs and earmarks.As usual, politicians and many of the major media outlets explicitly or implicitly have blamed President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for much of the problem. According to The Washington Post, “Neither [Senator John S.] McCain nor [Senator Barack H.] Obama have been particularly mindful of the budget deficit. McCain has proposed to extend all of Bush's first-term tax cuts, which expire in 2011, and add hundreds of billions of additional tax cuts, mostly for business. Obama would allow only the tax cuts for the most affluent [families making $250,000 or more] to expire, leaving the lion's share in place and adding additional tax cuts for the working poor and middle class….” CNN stated, “The Bush administration has spent heavily on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and faces a large budget shortfall in tax revenue because of Bush's tax cuts and a souring economy.” Senator Kent Conrad, D-ND, criticized the Bush Administration for its “reckless fiscal policies,” and blamed Bush’s tax cuts for driving the federal government into deficit, saying he will be remembered as “the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation's history.”

While the last statement surely is an exaggeration, Bush has been a tremendous disappointment on fiscal issues. His reluctance to veto a spending bill for most of his presidency has allowed government spending to become irresponsible and to grow out of control. He inherited a budget surplus of $128 billion when he entered office but immediately squandered it – with the help of a Republican Congress, I might add.

The problem is not his tax cuts, though. Bush’s tax cuts stimulated tremendous economic growth. History and most economists inform us that a reduction in the tax burden almost always stimulates growth. After 1998, when Ireland reduced its corporate tax rate to 12.5 percent, its economy grew so quickly it became known as the “Celtic Tiger.” Unemployment fell from 18 percent to 5.5 percent and Gross National Product increased 62 percent in real terms. Meanwhile, the corporate tax rate in the United States hovers at 35 percent, one of the highest in the world among industrial countries. Middle-class American families still are suffering under the egregious Alternative Minimum Tax. And Americans face the prospect of a tax increase in 2011 when the Bush tax cuts expire unless Congress passes them again.

The American economy would benefit significantly from lower taxes. Yet disingenuous and influential members of the media and of Congress insist that the current malaise in the Federal Government’s budget is due to tax cuts. This is absolutely incorrect. The problem is that our elected officials lack the fortitude and wisdom to make the necessary cuts in spending that budget realities demand. To The Post’s credit, it noted that Senator Obama would like to spend hundreds of billions more on health care, energy and education. Senator McCain has not made the issue of government spending a priority in his campaign.

It should be clear that an enormously expensive national healthcare program, the pet project of many on the Left, is fiscally impossible unless Congress raises taxes even higher, which is not implausible. True, President Bush has failed fiscally. What we need to think of now is the future. Congress must make some difficult decisions and cut the Federal Government’s expenditures. Also, both presidential candidates should make the issue a top priority.

If the deficit continues to grow, the federal government borrows more money to pay for its bureaucracy, subsidies and social programs, and taxes are raised to meet the fiscal demands of new spending programs, the downturn in the American economy could be prolonged and be much worse than it currently is.
Paul M. Weyrich is Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Livni Plans To Maintain Peace Talks

BENNY AVNI, Staff Reporter of the Sun | August 1, 2008

UNITED NATIONS — One of the leading candidates to become Israel's next premier, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, says she intends to maintain the current drive to reach political agreements with Palestinian Arabs and act on other "national interests" even before leadership changes in Jerusalem. Ms. Livni's rivals, especially among her former colleagues at the Likud Party, raise the concern that the current government may saddle its successor with irreversible concessions on the eve of a possible major political reshuffle. After Prime Minister Olmert's announcement Wednesday of his intention to step aside by September, his government has no mandate to make major concessions, Likud members argue, adding Ms. Livni made a similar point back in 2000, when she was still a member of their party.

The current Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is heavily favored in national polls to win a national election, but he has no power to force such election. The current top party, Kadima, is expected to elect a leader to succeed Mr. Olmert in early September. Ms. Livni is competing for the spot against the transportation minister, Shaul Mofaz, a former Israel Defense Force chief of staff who is seen as more hawkish than Ms. Livni.

Speaking to reporters here yesterday after meeting Secretary-General Ban, Ms. Livni called on all Israeli political factions to join a government under Kadima's leadership. But analysts yesterday expressed doubts that Kadima can maintain a governing coalition. If it fails to gather enough votes to support its government in the 120-member Knesset, a new election will likely be held by March 2009.

"The internal situation in Israel doesn't affect the interests of Israel as a state," Ms. Livni told reporters after meeting Secretary-General Ban here. Israel has participated in the Annapolis process, which has envisioned, prior to the end of President Bush's tenure, the signing of a treaty detailing the creation of a Palestinian Arab state, she noted. "We promised to make all the effort to do so this year, and we'll continue to do so," she said.

Ms. Livni said that traditional political divisions in Israel are "a thing of the past," adding that most parties share an agenda on the diplomatic front and over security goals, calling on "every party that can be a partner on such an agenda to join the government" under a new Kadima leadership.

But Likud spokesmen, who have already rejected a call by Mr. Mofaz to join a Kadima-led national unity government, were seething yesterday. "This is chutzpa," a leading Knesset hawk, Yuval Steinitz of Likud, told The New York Sun. "There are certain norms. When an election approaches, you make no significant moves that shackle the next administration."

In 2000, Ehud Barak, who was then prime minister and is now defense minister, conducted last-minute negotiations in Taba, Egypt, with the Palestinian Authority president at the time, Yasser Arafat, just prior to the end of President Clinton's administration, and on an eve of an Israeli election. "When Barak conducted the Taba talks, Livni protested, saying he had no mandate to do so," Mr. Steinitz said. "Now she does exactly the same."

In an opinion poll conducted by Israel's Channel 10 News on Wednesday, 36% of potential voters said they preferred Mr. Netanyahu to lead the next government, while 24.6% said they would support Ms. Livni, if she led Kadima. 11.9% favored the Labor Party's leader, Mr. Barak. If Mr. Mofaz leads Kadima, Mr. Natanyahu's support numbers rise to 26.6% against Messrs. Barak with 14.8% and Mofaz with 12.4%.

Mr. Mofaz is more likely than Ms. Livni, however, to keep the current governing coalition intact, as an Orthodox party, Shas, is likely to drop out if Ms. Livni leads Kadima, forcing a new election.

Comment: This article in the NY Sun today should be the impetus for a campaign to squelch Kadima's effort to continue with the very policies that have brought us to the brink of disaster. What is the point of Olmert's having announced his resignation if he is still at the helm? Of course, Livni does not share the scandalous back-ground that have led to Olmert's downfall but her policies are not different from his and her willingness to yield to Rice's dangerous demands show that she should not assume leadership of Israel.

By the government's own admission, 1701 has not created the safety that we were promised when we left Lebanon. Livni should assume some responsibility for that - as a starting point. While the scandals are Olmert's legacy, under his rule danger to the State has increased both in the north and the south and his cohorts, like Livni, can be held responsible in large part.

On another subject, at the last seasonal meeting of the "Post Holocaust Anti-Semitism" group I asked
Dr. Gerstenfeld if he would meet with us and he agreed. Those of us who know him recognize his brilliance and his ability to think creatively. We just have to let him know when we would like to meet with him and I suggest that we not delay. I will be happy to contact him regarding setting up the date/time/place. The Knesset vacation is on so we do not have too many options for seeing people and we should take advantage of this opportunity.

Please let me know your thinking about the above. Even though it is summer and many are on vacation we know that the enemy is not on holiday and we must put our heads together and anticipate.

Fjordman: The Organization of the Islamic Conference and Eurabia

The European essayist Fjordman elucidates recent Islamic initiatives to end free speech in the West, and shows what's at stake:

Dr. Andrew Bostom, editor of the excellent book The Legacy of Jihad and the recent book about Islamic anti-Semitism, warns that the 57 Muslim nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference are trying to impose Islamic blasphemy law -- which includes the death penalty for those who "blaspheme" the Muslim prophet Muhammad -- as the universal standard across the world. These sentiments of the OIC were reiterated more brazenly by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. During a sermon in response to the Danish Muhammad cartoons which aired February 3, 2006, Qaradawi demanded action from the United Nations in accordance with sharia-based conceptions of blasphemy: "…the governments [of the world] must be pressured to demand that the U.N. adopt a clear resolution or law that categorically prohibits affronts to prophets—to the prophets of the Lord and his Messengers, to His holy books, and to the religious holy places."

As German journalist Henryk Broder noted back then: "Objectively speaking, the cartoon controversy was a tempest in a teacup. But subjectively it was a show of strength and, in the context of the 'clash of civilizations,' a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The Muslims demonstrated how quickly and effectively they can mobilize the masses, and the free West showed that it has nothing to counter the offensive -- nothing but fear, cowardice and an overriding concern about the balance of trade. Now the Islamists know that they are dealing with a paper tiger whose roar is nothing but a tape recording."

In the aftermath of the Cartoon Jihad, in Norway in June 2007 members of dozens of newspapers, TV stations and organizations participated in an international conference on how to "report diversity" in a non-offensive manner, with Arab News from Saudi Arabia as a moderator. Keynote speaker at the conference, Dr. Doudou Diène, the United Nations Special Envoy for racism, xenophobia and intolerance, urged the media to actively participate in the creation of a Multicultural society, and expressed concerns that the democratic process could lead to immigration-restrictive parties gaining influence in Western nations.

Diène said that it is a dangerous development when increasing numbers of intellectuals in the West believe that some cultures are better than others, and stated that "The media must transform diversity, which is a fact of life, into pluralism, which is a set of values." Getting diversity accepted is the role of the education system, and acceptance is the role of the law. "Promoting and defending diversity is the task of the media." Societies must recognize, accept and promote diversity, which always seems to mean sharia. Mr. Diène represents Senegal, an African Muslim country which is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the largest voting bloc at the United Nations, sponsored by Arab oil money.

There were already signs that large portions of the mainstream media have been working according to similar ideas long before his conference. In Britain, leading figures of the BBC have proudly announced that they actively promote Multiculturalism. In Denmark in 2008, while their country was threatened by Muslims across the world, public broadcaster Danmarks Radio, the local equivalent of the BBC and with the same left-wing bias, decided to hold a "Miss Headscarf" beauty contest for women with the only requirement being that they are over 15 and wear a headscarf or veil, the way proper Muslim women are supposed to do.

In March 2008, the United Nation's Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Dutch MP Wilder's movie Fitna as "offensively anti-Islamic," and said that "There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence." Does that mean that the UN is now going to ban the Koran? Earlier in March, the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is dominated by Muslim countries, passed a resolution saying it is deeply concerned about the defamation of religions and urging governments to prohibit it. The only religion specified was Islam. The document was put forward by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

I have been saying for a long time that trying to export "democracy" to Islamic countries is pointless. Islam can be compatible with "democracy" in the limited sense of voting rights and majority rule, but this has never automatically implied individual liberty. (See my online booklet Is Islam Compatible With Democracy?)

It's a sick joke that American soldiers are bleeding literally and American taxpayers financially to export "democracy" to Iraq while Muslims are exporting sharia to us. Freedom is free speech, that's the simplest definition of it. Muslims are using the UN to limit criticism of Islam globally, which basically means putting the entire world under Islamic rule.

My view of the United Nations is quite clear: It is at best irrelevant. At best. Increasingly, it is turning into an outright enemy, an enemy funded by us but used to attack us. I'm tired of sponsoring enemies, at home and abroad. I'm all for boycotting the UN and making it truly irrelevant by bleeding it dry for funds and ultimately withdrawing from it.

Muslims have lots of oil and lots of babies and lots of aggression, but that's all they have. Otherwise, they're a spectacular failure. We need them for very little. They need us for virtually everything. We should exploit that. We should separate ourselves from the Islamic world as much as possible. They will suffer far more from this than we will. We can start by boycotting the UN, which is now little more than a tool for global sharia, and the Arab Muslims of the West Bank and Gaza, who reinvented themselves as "Palestinians" and started whining at the UN after the Israelis kicked their collective behinds in 1967.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called upon Muslims worldwide to boycott Dutch products, following the release of the Islam-critical movie Fitna by Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Personally, I'm all for boycotts of and by Muslims. The more, the merrier. Mr. Mahathir held the notorious speech at the OIC conference in 2003 where he said that the Jews rule the world by proxy and that Muslims must unite to achieve a final victory over them. Not everybody remembers that he also boasted about the age when "Europeans had to kneel at the feet of Muslim scholars in order to access their own scholastic heritage."

Somebody should remind him that the so-called "golden age" of Islam was a result of a still-large non-Muslim population. As soon as that declined, due to harassment and discrimination, the Islamic world never recovered. Malaysia is sometimes portrayed as an economically successful Muslim nation, but that is because it only recently became majority Muslim and still has a large Chinese, Indian and other non-Muslim minority. Since Islam is becoming more aggressive and Muslims increase discrimination of non-Muslims, infidels will leave, and Malaysia will gradually be reduced to just another failed sharia state.

In 2008, the current Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi warned his British counterpart, PM Brown, that Muslim extremism in Britain will grow unless the government and society learn to understand Islam and allow the country's Muslims to live under sharia law. What he didn't say is that sharia applies to all members of society, also non-Muslims, who should have their freedoms curtailed as well.

Historian David Littman is a representative to the United Nations of the Association for World Education. He has spent years tracking the rise of Islamic influence at the UN. According to him, "In recent years, representatives of some Muslim states have demanded, and often received, special treatment at the United Nations." As a result, "non-diplomatic terms such as 'blasphemy' and 'defamation of Islam' have seeped into the United Nations system, leading to a situation in which non-Muslim governments accept certain rules of conduct in conformity with Islamic law (the Shari'a) and acquiesce to a self-imposed silence regarding topics touching on Islam."

In May 2007, the foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) expressed "grave concern" at the rising tide of intolerance against Muslims, especially in Europe and North America. They described "Islamophobia" as a deliberate defamation of Islam, and pointed out that whenever the issue of Islamophobia was discussed in international forums, the Western bloc, particularly some members of the European Union, tried to avoid discussing the core issue and instead diverted the attention from their region to the situation of non-Muslims and human rights in the OIC member states.

In June 2008, the OIC announced its plan for fighting Islamophobia. Here's what Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, their Secretary General, had to say: "We are encouraged to see however, that an awareness of the dangers of Islamophobia is gradually setting in the West. The condemnation by many Western leaders and governments of Islamophobic acts such as the [Dutch movie] Fitna are positive confidence building measures that lead us to believe that all is not lost and that the gap can be closed in time. But mere condemnation or distancing from the acts of the perpetrators of Islamophobia will not resolve the issue as long as they remain free to carry on with their campaign of incitement and provocation on the plea of freedom of expression."

As Baron Bodissey of the Gates of Vienna blog commented, the phrase "as long as they remain free…" clearly reveals their agenda: "Obviously, the intention of the OIC is to do everything within its power to make sure that the citizens of the Western democracies do not remain free." Mr. Ihsanoglu unveiled a ten-point program that he proposed in order to meet the OIC's ambitious goals. The plan is all there, laid out in black and white for anyone to read. Unfortunately, not everybody understands its implications.

In Der Spiegel in June 2008, Dirk Kurbjuweit commented on the Irish popular rejection of the Lisbon Treaty/EU Constitution by concluding that "Europe's politicians are determined to avoid asking the people their opinion. And they are right to do so." According to him, "Again and again, they trick their populations into accepting the European Union. It's been going on for 50 years: politicians making policy against the people. The only time anyone ever notices is when the people -- one people, in this case -- are asked for their opinion. It happened in Ireland recently, when the Irish made it clear that they refuse to accept the politics of scoundrels."

Regarding German chancellor Angela Merkel, he speculates whether "she is in fact wholeheartedly behind a strengthening of the European Union, perhaps even knowingly against the wishes of German citizens." Dirk Kurbjuweit seems to approve of this strategy of denying citizens a say in the future of their countries and their children. He concludes:

"Perhaps the EU's secret strategy is called 'strategic boredom' -- attract no attention and make no waves, but continue to plod along, quietly and stubbornly, ignoring the murmurs of concern from all around. The scoundrels in Brussels have sold the European people a lot of things: a single market, the euro, the lifting of many border controls and, most recently, a binding global climate policy. These have all been good things, and they have helped make Europe an eminently livable continent. Despite the many dull moments and emotions that have been negative at best, the end result has been laudable. Most of these improvements would have been held up, if not outright prevented, by referendums. Democracy doesn't mean having unlimited confidence in citizens. Sometimes the big picture is in better hands when politicians are running it, and a big picture takes time."

The "big picture" which is being implemented by these same political elites does not only include political integration within Europe, it also includes European cultural, political and economic integration with the Arab-Islamic world, conducted largely without the approval of European citizens. Mr. Kurbjuweit didn't mention that part.

In March 2008, Terry Davis, a former politician for the British Labour Party and now the General Secretary of the Council of Europe, wrote a letter in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten denouncing the republishing of the Muhammad cartoons, stating that "freedom of speech should not be used as a freedom to insult." As Jyllands-Posten wrote in a response, "Freedom of expression is exactly the freedom to insult anyone within the framework of the law."

The Council of Europe (CoE) was founded in 1949, earlier than the European Community/European Union. It is still a separate organization but very much within the orbit of the EU's Eurabian networks and cooperates increasingly closer on "dialogue" with Islamic countries. For instance, the North-South Centre (for cooperation between Europe and the Arab world), officially named the European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity, is an EU/CoE partnership. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union from May 2007 outlines many areas of cooperation between the two organizations, including intercultural dialogue and cultural diversity, education and youth as well as the fight against discrimination, racism, xenophobia and intolerance (which includes "Islamophobia").

One of the websites linked to from the CoE's homepage is the organization "All different, all equal." Yes, it does sound like something out of George Orwell's classic novel Animal Farm. The organization champions many activities. One of them was when the Council of Europe's Directorate of Youth and Sport and the Directorate of External Relations and Co-operation of the Islamic Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (ISESCO) in 2007 organized an "intercultural course" on Arabic language and culture in Morocco, intended for members of European youth organizations between the ages of 18 and 30. It was intended to "develop their language skills, to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue, international understanding, and to combat prejudice and all forms of racism and xenophobia."

There are also networks Combating Social Exclusion and Discrimination, and several youth organizations linked to by "All different, all equal" participated in a "Rainbow Paper" with recommendations for making Intercultural Dialogue happen on the ground. 2008 is the official "European Year of Intercultural Dialogue," jointly coordinated by the Council of Europe and the European Union. This "dialogue" is an extension of the EU's long-term plans for Euro-Arab dialogue, and focuses mainly on Islam and why Europeans should learn to love Islamic culture.

In connection with this, the Council of Europe in 2008 published a White Paper (pdf) on Intercultural Dialogue entitled "Living Together As Equals in Dignity." It places particular emphasis on providing proper "Multicultural" education to European children: "Within the formal curriculum, the intercultural dimension straddles all subjects.
History, language education and the teaching of religious and convictional facts are perhaps among the most relevant." Concerted efforts should be made to "avoid prejudice," and "In 2007, the European Ministers of Education underlined the importance of measures to improve understanding between cultural and/or religious communities through school education."

The White Paper focuses on the young: "Youth and sport organisations, together with religious communities, are particularly well placed to advance intercultural dialogue in a non-formal education context." "Educators at all levels play an essential role in fostering intercultural dialogue and in preparing future generations for dialogue." "Kindergartens, schools, youth clubs and youth activities in general are key sites for intercultural learning and dialogue." Moreover, "The workplace should not be ignored as a site for intercultural dialogue."

Among recommendations, the paper says the following:

"Public debate has to be marked by respect for cultural diversity. Public displays of racism, xenophobia or any other form of intolerance must be rejected and condemned, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, irrespective of whether they originate with bearers of public office or in civil society. Every form of stigmatisation of persons belonging to minority and disadvantaged groups in public discourse needs to be ruled out. The media can make a positive contribution to the fight against intolerance, especially where they foster a culture of understanding between members of different ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious communities. Media professionals should reflect on the problem of intolerance in the increasingly multicultural and multi-ethnic environment of the member states and on the measures which they might take to promote tolerance, mutual understanding and respect. States should have robust legislation to outlaw 'hate speech' and racist, xenophobic, homophobic, antisemitic, islamophobic and antigypsy or other expressions, where this incites hatred or violence. Members of the criminal justice system should be well trained to implement and uphold such legislation. Independent national anti-discrimination bodies or similar structures should also be in place, to scrutinise the effectiveness of such legislation."

"Islamophobia" is repeatedly singled out as one of the forms of "discrimination and racism" that needs to be ruthlessly stamped out through indoctrination as well as legal means across the entire European continent, a policy which is being implemented at an accelerating pace.

In addition to forcing the education system to teach European children to love "Islamic culture," the media should do the same with the adults: "The Council of Europe, together with media professionals and journalism training institutions, is launching in 2008 a campaign against discrimination, bringing into focus the role of the media in a multicultural Europe. Journalism, promoted in a responsible manner through codes of ethics as advanced by the media industry itself and a culture-sensitive training of journalists, can help provide fora for intercultural dialogue."

Finally, the White Paper lists many institutions it should cooperate with, most of them Islamic organizations or organizations geared towards appeasing Muslims, for instance the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, which is one of the EU's most important instruments for Eurabian cooperation:

"The Council of Europe will promote and expand co-operation with other organisations active in intercultural dialogue, including UNESCO and the 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative, the OSCE, the EU and the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, as well as other regional organisations, such as the League of Arab States and its educational, cultural and scientific organisation, ALECSO, representing a region with many ties to Europe and a distinct cultural tradition. The Council of Europe will also promote intercultural dialogue on the basis of its standards and values when cooperating in the context of specific projects with institutions such as the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA). The regional focus of this co-operation will be the interaction between Europe and its neighbouring regions, specifically the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia."

Notice the cooperation with institutions dedicated to "Islamic history." Concerted efforts are underway to rewrite European school textbooks in order to promote Islam in a positive light. In the European Parliament, the German Christian Democrat Hans-Gert Pöttering stated that textbooks should be reviewed for intolerant depictions of Islam to ensure they don't propagate prejudice. He suggested that the EU could co-operate with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to create a textbook review committee. This is in line with the general policy of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which desires to rewrite textbooks around the world to remove anything critical of Islam, silence mentioning of the victims of 1400 years of Islamic Jihad and glorify the achievements of "Islamic civilization."

In June 2008, the OIC stated that "We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed." As Robert Spencer commented, "That sounds like the statement of a victor in a war, dictating terms to the vanquished." Muslims are happy with their "progress" in Europe and now concentrate their fire on North America:

"'We have established an OIC Group in Washington D.C.,' Ihsanoglu explained, 'with the aim of playing a more active role in engaging American policy makers.' This will involve agitating for laws restricting free speech: "And in confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film 'Fitna,'' (which showed Muslims acting on violent passages in the Qur'an), Ihsanoglu continued, 'we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed.' Ihsanoglu says it's already working: 'As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.' In other words, 'irresponsible' speech -- which is defined as speech he disagrees with -- should be banned."

As Spencer warned, "Can honest discussion really be outlawed? You bet it can. As long as free people do nothing to stop it from happening. As the OIC presses American politicians to use anti-discrimination and hate speech laws to 'stem this illegal trend,' we need to stand up now with Mark Steyn and all the others who are on the front lines of this battle, and tell them that what they're doing to Steyn in Canada must never happen here. We must tell our elected officials to stop this outrage, resist OIC lobbying, and reaffirm in no uncertain terms our commitment to free speech -- particularly now, when so much depends on our being able to speak with honesty about the nature of the jihadist threat, and so many powerful entities want to make sure we do not do so. So much depends on this -- possibly even including our survival as a free people."

In the USA, the New York Times has suggested that the US should become more like Europe and Canada, abandon the silly protections of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment and ban "racism and hate speech." "It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken," Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books, "when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack."

The only "vicious attacks" today are those by Muslims against the free speech and liberty of non-Muslims around the world. The attacks by both individual Muslims and international organizations such as the OIC on criticism of Islam are part of a campaign to force the entire planet's population to accept sharia censorship and thus de facto Islamic rule, a scenario which will permanently end human freedom in any meaningful sense of the word. There can be no compromise with such an agenda. I do not always agree with American policies vis-à-vis Islam, and the US is far from free of Political Correctness and informal censorship, but when it comes to legal protection of free speech, the American approach is correct, and the European – and Canadian – one is dead wrong. We do not need more ideological censorship. On the contrary, we need to protect and expand the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

Thanks Jihad Watch

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Obama - The Talk of the Town"

Leslie J. Sacks

Barack Obama - the toast of the intelligentsia from Malibu to Hollywood.

I used to find his oratory impressive and commanding, his message of hope persuasive and compelling.

Now I find my attention to his rhetoric wanes with every repetitive exhortation for change. Independents seeking political satisfaction come away frustrated with what they see as "Obama Lite:" the supposed anti-politician pandering to the voters, short on details, flexible on principles.

Why this metamorphosis? Has Obama really gone from being a scintillating intellectual powerhouse to a manipulative rabble-rouser? From being the Messianic harbinger of inspired change to a purveyor of Machiavellian politics as usual, intent on winning at all costs? With a few Athenian exceptions, human societies have normally been led by controlling minorities that define directions and policies for the whole. One generally finds good and just people on the one hand or authoritarians and extremists on the other, all passionately and actively dictating positive or negative pathways for the passive majority to follow.

Either way the majority at the center gets swayed, whether by persuasion or by fear. Either way those leaders with the requisite charisma to inspire crowds, with enough power to motivate individuals, move the populace to their side, interjecting their beliefs along the way. Whether Kennedy or Hitler, Moses or Mao Tse Tung, Lincoln or Stalin, the psychology of conformity, of adoration, often remains the same.

The middle majority inevitably seeks answers to the unanswerable, to the incomprehensible, to their particularly insecure future. It desires hope and faith with which to fill the void, and in its fear and angst this majority latches on to any and all guarantees that posit positive change, that promise the actualization of their fantasies. It is here in this fertile ground that Obama feels most comfortable, working his genius, hugely negative about the recent past, spreading his limitless optimism for the future.

Our election zeitgeist is one of political immaturity and immediate gratification, one of self-indulgence and needy egocentricity. The limitations imposed by reality, by likely sacrifice and realpolitik, by needed compromise and tough planning for the unknown - these are all anathema to the majority. They all fade into irrelevance besides the soaring rhetoric of promised change, change that Obama assures us he will usher in, come November, at the start of his "Golden Era."

Do we, as the emperor's newly blessed children, follow the allure of Obama's sweet candy floss, his endless toffee apple; or do we visit the ever unpopular dentist? Do we as adults confront our enemies and balance the budget? Do we plan and make the necessary sacrifices, accepting pain now, as Joseph did in biblical Egypt, to survive the future's likely seven lean years?

Excellent grasp of what Kristof does not grasp!

Chana Givon

It is imperative to examine trends: during the last 90 years or so, a viable Jewish homeland has been whittled down to a 'slice' of what the League of Nations and the Balfour Declaration had envisioned. Kristof seems not to know about the historical background of the region - or does he choose to ignore it............

1. A Jewish state including what is today Jordan and all of Palestine - respectful of all religions.
2, Churchill lopping off 78% to create Transjordan - known as 'eastern Palestine' - for Arabs only - therefore, an apartheid state!
3. The remaining 22% -historic Palestine - all that is left for the Jewish state but open to all.
4. The British limitation of Jewish immigration -even in the face of the Holocaust -while allowing Arabs to emigrate from surrounding Arab entities

5. The British favoritism of the Arabs - arming them while turning a blind eye to their pogroms against Jewish communities.,,i.e. Hebron.
6. Arab collaboration with Hitler re the 'final solution'. This all took place before the formal creation of Israel in 1948.
6. The UN takeover after the failure of the British Mandate.
7. Continuous demands that Israel relinquish land and make dangerous concessions 'in the interest of peace' while the Arabs have never lived up
to any agreements - not a 'process' which implies give and take on both sides.
8. The fact that Israel's enemies are part of the same network of international terrorism that is threatening the destruction of Western civilization -
the agenda of that enemy - radical Islam - to create a worldwide caliphate ruled by sharia - strict Islamic law.
9. The Middle East conflict is not a Palestinian/ Israeli war ; it is an Islamic/Jewish-Israeli conflict . Territory is not the issue - only in that the
land concessions demanded of Israel would weaken her and bring her close to destruction and the long range goals of radical Islam against the

It is most unfortunate that the world has not recognized the dangers to its own existence when it relates to Israel as Kristof does. Thankfully, we have a Jonathan Tobin on the side of reality! Bless you!

Abbas to disband PA if Israel frees Hamas lawmakers

Schalit negotiations resume in Cairo
Former PLO chief Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas (ICEJ archive)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared last week that he would disband the Palestinian Authority if Israel releases jailed Hamas parliament members in a potential exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. Abbas relayed the message to IDF Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni through the director of the PA’s civil affairs department, Hussein al-Sheikh, who is in charge of communicating with Israel on any matters concerning the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Al-Sheikh informed Shamni that this was a “personal message” from the PA chairman, and emphasized that Abbas did not just talk about “resigning” but of “dismantling the PA.”

Quickly after Hamas kidnapped Schalit on June 25, 2006, Israel arrested a number of Hamas ministers and parliament members. Israel has freed several due to a military court order but still holds some 40 Hamas lawmakers in Israeli prisons.

Abbas’ message was considered very unusual, since he normally tries to present himself as the leader of the entire Palestinian community and has demanded that Israel free all Palestinian prisoners. But Abbas and his Fatah faction have been at odds with Hamas ever since the latter seized control of Gaza in June 2007. A mysterious explosion last Friday in Gaza that killed five Hamas operatives and a young Arab girl has led to another round of mutual arrests and reprisals between the bitter rivals.

It now appears Abbas is worried that freeing top Hamas politicians in trade for Schalit will bolster Hamas in the West Bank. But the threat will create even more difficulties for Israel in bringing Schalit home, as Hamas is demanding that 1,000 Palestinian prisoners be freed for his release, including terrorists involved in large-scale attacks. Israel received a list of 450 named prisoners that Hamas wants freed, but Israel has only authorized 70 so far. According to latest reports, the Hamas list does not include the Hamas politicians detained by Israel two years ago.

Hamas sent a delegation to Cairo on Tuesday for more Egypt-mediated talks regarding Schalit.

Abbas has repeatedly threatened to quit since he was elected PA 'president' in January 2005, but has never followed through, reported Haaretz.

Olmert's Shoulders

Editorial of The New York Sun | July 31, 2008

A joke in Israel has it that the Knesset, fed up with corruption among elected officials, passed a law. Every guilty official must walk into the Mediterranean to a depth consistent with the degree of guilt. So Haim Ramon, accused of kissing a woman who merely wanted a photograph, goes out up to his ankles. Finance Minister Hirchson, guilty of financial shenanigans, goes in up to his knees. President Katzav, guilty of serial sexual harassment, goes in until the Mediterranean laps his chin. Someone walking by on shore calls, "Katzav, why are you only out to where the water is up to your chin?" The disgraced president replies, "I'm standing on Olmert's shoulders." We thought of that story when Prime Minister Olmert announced, while denying the corruption charges swirling around him, that he will step down from Israel's most powerful political job. The move will come as soon as his party, Kadima, elects a successor in an already scheduled party primary. The betting is on Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni, who is vice premier, or the minister of transportation, Shaul Mofaz, who is deputy premier, former defense minister, and one-time chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. There is a sense that, for better or worse, whoever wins will be standing on Mr. Olmert's shoulders.

For the next government is likely to have the same party composition as the present one; there is a less plausible scenario in which the new Kadima party leader and prime minister would reach out to try to include Likud, currently the main opposition party, in a coalition with Kadima and Labor. Such a coalition would have a commanding majority in the Knesset but with a fuzzy mandate. The push for a larger coalition will gain traction if the tide turns towards war in Gaza against the steadily rearming terrorist groups led by Hamas and or in Lebanon against the already rearmed Hezbollah. A large coalition might also take shape against the backdrop of a decision by the political and military chiefs to launch a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear and rocketry facilities.

As all this is worked out, Mr. Olmert will be remembered, at least in part, as one of Ariel Sharon's inner voices. We say one of because he had a number of conflicting passions. Mr. Olmert was the first to articulate the switch in Mr. Sharon's thinking about the future of Israel with respect to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Mr. Olmert did not have the national security gravitas that was part of Mr. Sharon's public persona. He became prime minister by riding Mr. Sharon's coattails, and helped lead a break-up of the Likud party over Mr. Sharon's plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, removing the Israelis who were living in villages there.

When Mr. Sharon suffered the stroke that ended his career, Mr. Olmert became premier. Visitors to Mr. Olmert's office the day after he officially acceded in May 2006 heard him say that the second stage of the "disengagement" — meaning the West Bank — was scheduled for December. Then an Israeli soldier was kidnapped and taken into the Gaza Strip. Two months later Hezbollah attacked and killed an Israeli army patrol, kidnapping two more soldiers. The IDF replied by taking the fight into Gaza and Lebanon, with indecisive results. Gaza became a launching pad for rockets, and the appeal among Israelis of Mr. Olmert's plan to do in the West Bank what had been done in Gaza began to fade.

* * *

The next Israeli government will inherit the remains of these policies. It is a time to remember that through much of its history, Israel has inspired millions at home and abroad. It has rarely done this with a retreat. It has done it with its commitment and daring, with its willingness to base its actions on the rightness of its cause. We have no doubt that an Israel that acts and advances will inspire the world anew, not to mention its own people. And that whoever is elected premier will have the good will of not only the Diaspora but of the Americans who have comprehended the idea of a Jewish restoration in Israel since the founding days of our own republic.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Obama Flipping and Floundering in Middle East

Kenneth R. Timmerman

For latest details about the Air Force captain's e-mail below, please read "Did Obama Blow Off Troops at Bagram?"

Everything seemed planned for the future campaign commercials — at least, that’s how it seemed to a U.S. Air Force captain when Sen. Barack Obama and his entourage swooped into Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan for an hour-long visit last Saturday at the start of a week-long foreign tour.

“He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle” without pausing to acknowledge the U.S. troops who had been waiting all day just for the opportunity to meet him, the officer told the Blackfive pro-military blog. As the soldiers lined up to shake his hand, the Illinois senator “blew them off and didn’t say a word,” ducking into the conference room to meet the general.

Then the armored vehicles took him to where “he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to soldiers to thank them for their service,” the captain wrote.

“As you know, I am not a very political person. I just wanted to share with you what happened” during Obama’s visit, the captain related.

“I swear, we got more thanks from the NBA basketball players or the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders than from Senator Obama,” he added.

The Illinois senator used his first-ever trip to Afghanistan to drive home his campaign message that the Bush administration — and by inference, his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain — have squandered resources in Iraq while ignoring the “central front” in the war on terror, which Obama insists is Afghanistan.

Traveling onward to Iraq, Obama met with U.S. commanders and with Iraqi leaders, who briefed him on the dramatic progress in decreasing violence that has been made since the U.S. troop surge began last year.

And yet, Obama told ABC News that he still would not have supported the surge, even knowing how things worked out.

“Hypotheticals are always difficult,” he said. “Hindsight is 20-20.”

Although U.S. casualties in Iraq dropped from 76 for the month of July 2007 to just five so far for July 2008, the Illinois senator said that President Bush’s policy was “just something I disagreed with.”

Of course, should he become president, Obama will be faced with similar situations where he will be required to make difficult decisions based on the “hypotheticals” of uncertain intelligence, inferences, and murky political forecasts of cause and effect.

CBS News anchor Katie Couric uncharacteristically grilled Obama on his unwillingness to acknowledge that the surge had been a success in a separate interview on Tuesday taped while Obama was in Jordan.

“You raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying why,” she said.

When Obama tried to avoid a direct answer, Couric came back to the charge repeatedly, asking him if the additional troops had helped to reduce the violence.

“Katie, as you’ve asked me three different times, and I have said repeatedly that there is no doubt that our troops helped reduce violence [in iraq]. There’s no doubt.”

Despite this, he said he continued to oppose the surge, prompting Couric to ask him again if the current reduced level of violence could have occurred without the troop increase ordered by Bush and supported by McCain.

“Katie, I have no idea what would have happened had we applied my approach, which was to put more pressure on the Iraqis to arrive at a political reconciliation,” Obama said. “So this is all hypotheticals.”

It was the type of comment that has allowed the McCain adviser Kori Schake to accuse Obama of “not understanding the consequences of his policy choices.”

In opposing the surge in January 2007, Obama stated that it would not “make a significant dent in the sectarian violence that’s taking place” in Iraq, and that it would “not prove to be the one [strategy] that changes the dynamics significantly.”

Of course, events have proved just the opposite. As the Washington Times pointed out recently in an editorial, if Obama’s initial policy of withdrawing all U.S. troops by March 2008 had been put into action, it “would have meant leaving the mission incomplete and leaving Iraq in defeat.”

Moving on to a carefully choreographed trip to Israel — only the second time he has ever visited the Jewish state — Obama immediately pledged that if elected he would tackle the issue of Middle East peace negotiations “right away.”

That elicited skepticism even from the traveling press corps, which for the most part has fawned over Obama from the start. “What fresh strategies would you bring?” he was asked.

In the world of marketing, Obama’s response would have been called a repackaging job. “A U.S. administration has to put its weight behind a process,” he said, “recognizing that it’s not going to happen immediately.”

The United States has been pushing a peace “process” between Arabs and Israelis since the administration of Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

During that time, Israel has been forced to fight two wars in Lebanon, put down two Palestinian uprisings, endure Iraqi missile strikes and waves of suicide bombers, and most recently suffer two thousand rocket attacks from neighboring Gaza.

Obama said his role in the “process” would not be “to dictate to either of the parties what this deal should be, but hopefully to be able to facilitate and promote a meaningful, realistic, pragmatic, concrete strategy.”

That prompted Hishem Melhem, the Washington, D.C., correspondent for the Al Arabiya satellite television network to politely scoff. “To begin with, the next American president will be forced, regardless of his intentions, to be focusing on the old so-called arc of crisis: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. If he’s going to focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict, he’s going to find an arid landscape.”

Yesterday, Obama sparred with reporters during a brief press conference in the Israeli town of Sderot, which has born the brunt of Palestinian rocket attacks over the past two years, over his offer to hold unconditional talks with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“A year ago, you said you would meet in your first year as president” with Ahmadinejad and other leaders of rogue nations, “Is there anything you’ve heard today in your discussions with Israeli leaders to make you rethink that pledge, or are you standing by that?” a reporter asked.

The reporter was referring to a moment in the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C., on July 23, 2007, when Obama was asked if he would be ”willing to meet separately, without pre-condition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divies our countries.”

At the time, Obama answered, “I would.”

On Wednesday, however, he attempted to shift ground. “I think you have to look at what the question was in South Carolina and how I responded . . . I think that what I said in response was that I would, at my time and choosing, be willing to meet with any leader if I thought it would promote the national security interests of the United States of America. And, Dan, that continues to be my position.”

In a hastily-organized conference call with reporters just one hour after Obama made those remarks, McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann accused Obama of “trying to rewrite history . . . I guess for Senator Obama, words matter — except when they pose an inconvenient truth.”

Sen. Obama’s goal throughout this rare overseas visit has been to generate the impression of foreign policy experience, and to win the confidence of American Jewish voters, who so far have responded lukewarmly to his candidacy.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that fully one-third of Jewish voters favor McCain, a dramatic increase in Republican support from previous elections. In 2004, Sen. John Kerry won 74 percent of the Jewish vote. In 2000, Al Gore won 79 percent.

While Jews make up just 3 percent of the U.S. electorate, campaign strategists in both camps believe that their vote could determine the outcome in key swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and possibly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as well.

In June, Obama made what appeared to be a firm pledge to support Jerusalem remaining the “undivided” capital of Israel in a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs committee (AIPAC).

Those comments won him a standing ovation from some 6,000 people in the Washington, D.C., convention center.

But just days later, Obama said he needed to “correct” that statement, that had been “poorly worded” by speech writers. Yesterday, he told reporters that the fate of Jerusalem was “a final status issue,” meaning that in fact it could be divided by mutual accord.

After the Obama press conference, McCain told reporters traveling with his campaign that it was hard to say how his administration would differ from an Obama administration on Israel.

"I don't know because I never know exactly what his position is," McCain said, citing Obama's Jerusalem comments. "I know the issues. I've been there time and time again."

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

State panel of inquiry to investigate treatment of evacuated settlers

Tomer Zarchin, Haaretz Correspondent

The State Control Committee decided on Wednesday to establish a state inquiry commission to investigate the government's treatment of the residents of Gush Katif and the northern West Bank who were evacuated in the 2005 disengagement.
The committee will focus on the delays in transferring the evacuees from mobile homes into permanent communities as well as the rampant unemployment among the evacuees.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced at the start of the State Control Committee meeting that he supported the establishment of such an inquiry panel, saying "the report we composed in 2006 on the disengagement was submitted in real time, and I can't say that its primary points were ever implemented. On the contrary, chapters and recommendations we raised have yet to be addressed and the process continues."

"Some ten thousand citizens are currently encountering difficulty," Lindenstrauss added. "This is not a political problem, this touches all of us."

Prime Minister's Office Director General Ra'anan Dinur welcomed the inquiry, saying that the government has nothing to hide. He added that the Prime Minister's Office was "eager for a responsible adult to decide on the issue."

Zevulun Orlev, the chairman of the State Control Committee, said that ten thousand people who were evacuated from their homes were "abandoned by the government." He added that the inquiry commission would rectify the severe failures of the government in its handling of the evacuees' needs.

Related articles:
# 2005 Disengagement Website
# Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's four-stage disengagement plan
# Two years later, Gush Katif evacuees still need housing

U.S. Intel: Iran Plans Nuclear Strike on U.S.

Kenneth R. Timmerman

Iran has carried out missile tests for what could be a plan for a nuclear strike on the United States, the head of a national security panel has warned.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and in remarks to a private conference on missile defense over the weekend hosted by the Claremont Institute, Dr. William Graham warned that the U.S. intelligence community “doesn’t have a story” to explain the recent Iranian tests. One group of tests that troubled Graham, the former White House science adviser under President Ronald Reagan, were successful efforts to launch a Scud missile from a platform in the Caspian Sea.

“They’ve got [test] ranges in Iran which are more than long enough to handle Scud launches and even Shahab-3 launches,” Dr. Graham said. “Why would they be launching from the surface of the Caspian Sea? They obviously have not explained that to us.”

Another troubling group of tests involved Shahab-3 launches where the Iranians "detonated the warhead near apogee, not over the target area where the thing would eventually land, but at altitude,” Graham said. “Why would they do that?”

Graham chairs the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, a blue-ribbon panel established by Congress in 2001.

The commission examined the Iranian tests “and without too much effort connected the dots,” even though the U.S. intelligence community previously had failed to do so, Graham said.

“The only plausible explanation we can find is that the Iranians are figuring out how to launch a missile from a ship and get it up to altitude and then detonate it,” he said. “And that’s exactly what you would do if you had a nuclear weapon on a Scud or a Shahab-3 or other missile, and you wanted to explode it over the United States.”

The commission warned in a report issued in April that the United States was at risk of a sneak nuclear attack by a rogue nation or a terrorist group designed to take out our nation’s critical infrastructure.

"If even a crude nuclear weapon were detonated anywhere between 40 kilometers to 400 kilometers above the earth, in a split-second it would generate an electro-magnetic pulse [EMP] that would cripple military and civilian communications, power, transportation, water, food, and other infrastructure," the report warned.

While not causing immediate civilian casualties, the near-term impact on U.S. society would dwarf the damage of a direct nuclear strike on a U.S. city.

“The first indication [of such an attack] would be that the power would go out, and some, but not all, the telecommunications would go out. We would not physically feel anything in our bodies,” Graham said.

As electric power, water and gas delivery systems failed, there would be “truly massive traffic jams,” Graham added, since modern automobiles and signaling systems all depend on sophisticated electronics that would be disabled by the EMP wave.

“So you would be walking. You wouldn’t be driving at that point,” Graham said. “And it wouldn’t do any good to call the maintenance or repair people because they wouldn’t be able to get there, even if you could get through to them.”

The food distribution system also would grind to a halt as cold-storage warehouses stockpiling perishables went offline. Even warehouses equipped with backup diesel generators would fail, because “we wouldn’t be able to pump the fuel into the trucks and get the trucks to the warehouses,” Graham said.

The United States “would quickly revert to an early 19th century type of country.” except that we would have 10 times as many people with ten times fewer resources, he said.

“Most of the things we depend upon would be gone, and we would literally be depending on our own assets and those we could reach by walking to them,” Graham said.

America would begin to resemble the 2002 TV series, “Jeremiah,” which depicts a world bereft of law, infrastructure, and memory.

In the TV series, an unspecified virus wipes out the entire adult population of the planet. In an EMP attack, the casualties would be caused by our almost total dependence on technology for everything from food and water, to hospital care.

Within a week or two of the attack, people would start dying, Graham says.

“People in hospitals would be dying faster than that, because they depend on power to stay alive. But then it would go to water, food, civil authority, emergency services. And we would end up with a country with many, many people not surviving the event.”

Asked just how many Americans would die if Iran were to launch the EMP attack it appears to be preparing, Graham gave a chilling reply.

“You have to go back into the 1800s to look at the size of population” that could survive in a nation deprived of mechanized agriculture, transportation, power, water, and communication.

“I’d have to say that 70 to 90 percent of the population would not be sustainable after this kind of attack,” he said.

America would be reduced to a core of around 30 million people — about the number that existed in the decades after America’s independence from Great Britain.

The modern electronic economy would shut down, and America would most likely revert to “an earlier economy based on barter,” the EMP commission’s report on Critical National Infrastructure concluded earlier this year.

In his recent congressional testimony, Graham revealed that Iranian military journals, translated by the CIA at his commission’s request, “explicitly discuss a nuclear EMP attack that would gravely harm the United States.”

Furthermore, if Iran launched its attack from a cargo ship plying the commercial sea lanes off the East coast — a scenario that appears to have been tested during the Caspian Sea tests — U.S. investigators might never determine who was behind the attack. Because of the limits of nuclear forensic technology, it could take months. And to disguise their traces, the Iranians could simply decide to sink the ship that had been used to launch it, Graham said.

Several participants in last weekend’s conference in Dearborn, Mich., hosted by the conservative Claremont Institute argued that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was thinking about an EMP attack when he opined that “a world without America is conceivable.”

In May 2007, then Undersecretary of State John Rood told Congress that the U.S. intelligence community estimates that Iran could develop an ICBM capable of hitting the continental United States by 2015.

But Iran could put a Scud missile on board a cargo ship and launch from the commercial sea lanes off America’s coasts well before then.

The only thing Iran is lacking for an effective EMP attack is a nuclear warhead, and no one knows with any certainty when that will occur. The latest U.S. intelligence estimate states that Iran could acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon as early as 2009, or as late as 2015, or possibly later.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld first detailed the “Scud-in-a-bucket” threat during a briefing in Huntsville, Ala., on Aug. 18, 2004.

While not explicitly naming Iran, Rumsfeld revealed that “one of the nations in the Middle East had launched a ballistic missile from a cargo vessel. They had taken a short-range, probably Scud missile, put it on a transporter-erector launcher, lowered it in, taken the vessel out into the water, peeled back the top, erected it, fired it, lowered it, and covered it up. And the ship that they used was using a radar and electronic equipment that was no different than 50, 60, 100 other ships operating in the immediate area.”

Iran’s first test of a ship-launched Scud missile occurred in spring 1998, and was mentioned several months later in veiled terms by the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, a blue-ribbon panel also known as the Rumsfeld Commission.

I was the first reporter to mention the Iran sea-launched missile test in an article appearing in the Washington Times in May 1999.

Intelligence reports on the launch were “well known to the White House but have not been disseminated to the appropriate congressional committees,” I wrote. Such a missile “could be used in a devastating stealth attack against the United States or Israel for which the United States has no known or planned defense.”

Few experts believe that Iran can be deterred from launching such an attack by the threat of massive retaliation against Iran. They point to a December 2001 statement by former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who mulled the possibility of Israeli retaliation after an Iranian nuclear strike.

“The use of an atomic bomb against Israel would destroy Israel completely, while [the same] against the Islamic only would cause damages. Such a scenario is not inconceivable,” Rafsanjani said at the time.

Rep. Trent Franks, R, Ariz., plans to introduce legislation next week that would require the Pentagon to lay the groundwork for an eventual military strike against Iran, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and EMP capability.

“An EMP attack on America would send us back to the horse and buggy era — without the horse and buggy,” he told the Claremont Institute conference on Saturday. “If you’re a terrorist, this is your ultimate goal, your ultimate asymmetric weapon.”

Noting Iran’s recent sea-launched and mid-flight warhead detonation tests, Rep. Franks concluded, “They could do it — either directly or anonymously by putting some freighter out there on the ocean.”

The only possible deterrent against Iran is the prospect of failure, Dr. Graham and other experts agreed. And the only way the United States could credibly threaten an Iranian missile strike would be to deploy effective national missile defenses.

“It’s well known that people don’t go on a diet until they’ve had a heart attack,” said Claremont Institute president Brian T. Kennedy. “And we as a nation are having a heart attack” when it comes to the threat of an EMP attack from Iran.

“As of today, we have no defense against such an attack. We need space-based missile defenses to protect against an EMP attack,” he told Newsmax.

Rep. Franks said he remains surprised at how partisan the subject of space-based missile defenses remain. “Nuclear missiles don’t discriminate on party lines when they land,” he said.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, a long-standing champion of missile defense, told the Claremont conference on Friday that Sen. Obama has opposed missile defense tooth and nail and as president would cut funding for these programs dramatically.

“Senator Obama has been quoted as saying, ‘I don’t agree with a missile defense system,’ and that we can cut $10 billion of the research out — never mind, as I say, that the entire budget is $9.6 billion, or $9.3 billion,” Kyl said.

Like Franks, Kyl believes that the only way to eventually deter Iran from launching an EMP attack on the United States is to deploy robust missile defense systems, including space-based interceptors.

The United States “needs a missile defense that is so strong, in all the different phases we need to defend against . . . that countries will decide it’s not worth coming up against us,” Kyl said.

“That’s one of the things that defeated the Soviet Union. That’s one of the ways we can deal with these rogue states . . . and also the way that we can keep countries that are not enemies today, but are potential enemies, from developing capabilities to challenge us. “

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

AP Falsely Reports Israel Building New Settlement

Barry Rubin
July 28, 2008

The AP falsely reported that Israel is building a new settlement on the West Bank and linked this to a wrong-headed spin on an important national leader visiting Israel.

No, not Obama! He's still just a candidate. I'm referring to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Curiously, Brown's visit was highlighted for its criticism of Israel by the AP though his trip was seen in Israel as incredibly supportive. Indeed, Brown made the most pro-Israel statements of any British leader since Margaret Thatcher left the scene. This was especially significant since Brown is the Labour party leader and given the incredibly hostile anti-Israel sentiment in the British media and academia. One wouldn't know this from the AP story, "British leader presses Israel to halt settlements," posted July 21, by Mohammed Daraghmeh. Its lead was Brown demanding "Israel cease settlement construction." Ironically, another AP story a few days later, in criticizing a reported Israeli decision to build a new West Bank settlement, pointed out (only in the context of criticizing Israel of course) that Israel had not started a new settlement in years.

In fact, the report was false. In fact, Israel had authorized the building of 22 houses on a settlement created more than 25 years ago.

The story claimed Brown's "strongest comments were reserved for the settlements: `I think the whole European Union is very clear on this matter: We want to see a freeze on settlements.'" But given the fact that no new settlement has been built for a long time what did he mean? The phrase used was "settlement expansion." But there is no expansion--settlements are not getting bigger though new buildings are built in existing settlements.

Even when an article reports facts fairly it sort of puts a spin on them. This article states:

"Israel and the Palestinians resumed peace talks late last year at a U.S.-backed conference in Annapolis, Md. Both sides had originally aspired to reach a final peace deal by the end of the year, but have backed away from that goal somewhat because of arguments over settlements and whether the Palestinians are capable of enforcing security in areas they control.

"Under the first phase of the internationally backed peace plan known as the road map, which is the basis of the negotiations, Israel was to freeze all settlement construction and Palestinians were to crack down on extremist groups."

Notice anything? Well, the AP gives a lot of attention to settlement construction but none to the Palestinian failure to "crack down on extremist groups" or enforce "security in areas they control." The fact is that the Palestinian Authority does very little or nothing in these directions but this is not presented as a problem or reported, virtually ever.

Where are the reports of the PA failing to stop terrorists, releasing them, glorifying them, putting them on its payroll, endorsing their goals, inciting to terrorism in its media, providing rationales for their actions in its schools, and so on? Why are radical speeches by PA and Fatah officials ignored?

This week, Palestinian Media Watch documents how the PA's official newspaper claims that Jewish settlers are bringing in and releasing hundreds of super-rats that only attack Palestinians to drive Arabs out of east Jerusalem. Do Palestinians believe this? Many no doubt do, at least in part. But the point is that the PA wants them to believe it. By showing what is really going on it would be clear why peace is so unachievable and who is responsible.

Consider this simple question: If Israel withdrew from all the West Bank and/or freed all Palestinian prisoners would anything really change? Would the Palestinians reciprocate or alter their line, stopping terrorism and backing an end to the conflict. The evidence indicates not.

At any rate, the media gives no hint of such matters but only pursues its own agenda, which requires misstating Brown's agenda.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History?of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin,?(Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online.

Barack Obama's Stealth Socialism

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Monday, July 28, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Election '08: Before friendly audiences, Barack Obama speaks passionately about something called "economic justice." He uses the term obliquely, though, speaking in code — socialist code.

During his NAACP speech earlier this month, Sen. Obama repeated the term at least four times. "I've been working my entire adult life to help build an America where economic justice is being served," he said at the group's 99th annual convention in Cincinnati. Democrat Barack Obama arrives in Washington on Monday. On the campaign trail, Obama has styled himself a centrist. But a look at those who've served as his advisers and mentors over the years shows a far more left-leaning tilt to his background — and to his politics.

And as president, "we'll ensure that economic justice is served," he asserted. "That's what this election is about." Obama never spelled out the meaning of the term, but he didn't have to. His audience knew what he meant, judging from its thumping approval.

It's the rest of the public that remains in the dark, which is why we're launching this special educational series.

"Economic justice" simply means punishing the successful and redistributing their wealth by government fiat. It's a euphemism for socialism.

In the past, such rhetoric was just that — rhetoric. But Obama's positioning himself with alarming stealth to put that rhetoric into action on a scale not seen since the birth of the welfare state.

In his latest memoir he shares that he'd like to "recast" the welfare net that FDR and LBJ cast while rolling back what he derisively calls the "winner-take-all" market economy that Ronald Reagan reignited (with record gains in living standards for all).

Obama also talks about "restoring fairness to the economy," code for soaking the "rich" — a segment of society he fails to understand that includes mom-and-pop businesses filing individual tax returns.

It's clear from a close reading of his two books that he's a firm believer in class envy. He assumes the economy is a fixed pie, whereby the successful only get rich at the expense of the poor.

Following this discredited Marxist model, he believes government must step in and redistribute pieces of the pie. That requires massive transfers of wealth through government taxing and spending, a return to the entitlement days of old.

Of course, Obama is too smart to try to smuggle such hoary collectivist garbage through the front door. He's disguising the wealth transfers as "investments" — "to make America more competitive," he says, or "that give us a fighting chance," whatever that means.

Among his proposed "investments":

• "Universal," "guaranteed" health care.

• "Free" college tuition.

• "Universal national service" (a la Havana).

• "Universal 401(k)s" (in which the government would match contributions made by "low- and moderate-income families").

• "Free" job training (even for criminals).

• "Wage insurance" (to supplement dislocated union workers' old income levels).

• "Free" child care and "universal" preschool.

• More subsidized public housing.

• A fatter earned income tax credit for "working poor."

• And even a Global Poverty Act that amounts to a Marshall Plan for the Third World, first and foremost Africa.

His new New Deal also guarantees a "living wage," with a $10 minimum wage indexed to inflation; and "fair trade" and "fair labor practices," with breaks for "patriot employers" who cow-tow to unions, and sticks for "nonpatriot" companies that don't.

That's just for starters — first-term stuff.

Obama doesn't stop with socialized health care. He wants to socialize your entire human resources department — from payrolls to pensions. His social-microengineering even extends to mandating all employers provide seven paid sick days per year to salary and hourly workers alike.

You can see why Obama was ranked, hands-down, the most liberal member of the Senate by the National Journal. Some, including colleague and presidential challenger John McCain, think he's the most liberal member in Congress.

But could he really be "more left," as McCain recently remarked, than self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (for whom Obama has openly campaigned, even making a special trip to Vermont to rally voters)?

Obama's voting record, going back to his days in the Illinois statehouse, says yes. His career path — and those who guided it — leads to the same unsettling conclusion.

The seeds of his far-left ideology were planted in his formative years as a teenager in Hawaii — and they were far more radical than any biography or profile in the media has portrayed.

A careful reading of Obama's first memoir, "Dreams From My Father," reveals that his childhood mentor up to age 18 — a man he cryptically refers to as "Frank" — was none other than the late communist Frank Marshall Davis, who fled Chicago after the FBI and Congress opened investigations into his "subversive," "un-American activities."

As Obama was preparing to head off to college, he sat at Davis' feet in his Waikiki bungalow for nightly bull sessions. Davis plied his impressionable guest with liberal doses of whiskey and advice, including: Never trust the white establishment.

"They'll train you so good," he said, "you'll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh**."

After college, where he palled around with Marxist professors and took in socialist conferences "for inspiration," Obama followed in Davis' footsteps, becoming a "community organizer" in Chicago.

His boss there was Gerald Kellman, whose identity Obama also tries to hide in his book. Turns out Kellman's a disciple of the late Saul "The Red" Alinsky, a hard-boiled Chicago socialist who wrote the "Rules for Radicals" and agitated for social revolution in America.

The Chicago-based Woods Fund provided Kellman with his original $25,000 to hire Obama. In turn, Obama would later serve on the Woods board with terrorist Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground. Ayers was one of Obama's early political supporters.

After three years agitating with marginal success for more welfare programs in South Side Chicago, Obama decided he would need to study law to "bring about real change" — on a large scale.

While at Harvard Law School, he still found time to hone his organizing skills. For example, he spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course taught by Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation. With his newly minted law degree, he returned to Chicago to reapply — as well as teach — Alinsky's "agitation" tactics.

(A video-streamed bio on Obama's Web site includes a photo of him teaching in a University of Chicago classroom. If you freeze the frame and look closely at the blackboard Obama is writing on, you can make out the words "Power Analysis" and "Relationships Built on Self Interest" — terms right out of Alinsky's rule book.)

Amid all this, Obama reunited with his late father's communist tribe in Kenya, the Luo, during trips to Africa.

As a Nairobi bureaucrat, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a Harvard-educated economist, grew to challenge the ruling pro-Western government for not being socialist enough. In an eight-page scholarly paper published in 1965, he argued for eliminating private farming and nationalizing businesses "owned by Asians and Europeans."

His ideas for communist-style expropriation didn't stop there. He also proposed massive taxes on the rich to "redistribute our economic gains to the benefit of all."

"Theoretically, there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed," Obama Sr. wrote. "I do not see why the government cannot tax those who have more and syphon some of these revenues into savings which can be utilized in investment for future development."

Taxes and "investment" . . . the fruit truly does not fall far from the vine.

(Voters might also be interested to know that Obama, the supposed straight shooter, does not once mention his father's communist leanings in an entire book dedicated to his memory.)

In Kenya's recent civil unrest, Obama privately phoned the leader of the opposition Luo tribe, Raila Odinga, to voice his support. Odinga is so committed to communism he named his oldest son after Fidel Castro.

With his African identity sewn up, Obama returned to Chicago and fell under the spell of an Afrocentric pastor. It was a natural attraction. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright preaches a Marxist version of Christianity called "black liberation theology" and has supported the communists in Cuba, Nicaragua and elsewhere.

Obama joined Wright's militant church, pledging allegiance to a system of "black values" that demonizes white "middle classness" and other mainstream pursuits.

(Obama in his first book, published in 1995, calls such values "sensible." There's no mention of them in his new book.)

With the large church behind him, Obama decided to run for political office, where he could organize for "change" more effectively. "As an elected official," he said, "I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer."

He could also exercise real, top-down power, the kind that grass-roots activists lack. Alinsky would be proud.

Throughout his career, Obama has worked closely with a network of stone-cold socialists and full-blown communists striving for "economic justice."

He's been traveling in an orbit of collectivism that runs from Nairobi to Honolulu, and on through Chicago to Washington.

Yet a recent AP poll found that only 6% of Americans would describe Obama as "liberal," let alone socialist.

Public opinion polls usually reflect media opinion, and the media by and large have portrayed Obama as a moderate "outsider" (the No. 1 term survey respondents associate him with) who will bring a "breath of fresh air" to Washington.

The few who have drilled down on his radical roots have tended to downplay or pooh-pooh them. Even skeptics have failed to connect the dots for fear of being called the dreaded "r" word.

But too much is at stake in this election to continue mincing words.

Both a historic banking crisis and 1970s-style stagflation loom over the economy. Democrats, who already control Congress, now threaten to filibuster-proof the Senate in what could be a watershed election for them — at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

A perfect storm of statism is forming, and our economic freedoms are at serious risk.

Those who care less about looking politically correct than preserving the free-market individualism that's made this country great have to start calling things by their proper name to avert long-term disaste

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Olmert Seeks Palestinian Settlement Excluding Jerusalem

GWEN ACKERMAN, Bloomberg News | July 29, 2008

PARIS — Prime Minister Olmert wants to reach a partial settlement with the Palestinian Arabs that excludes Jerusalem, seeking to forge an agreement on issues including borders, security, and refugees.

Mr. Olmert aims to avoid having the issue of Jerusalem torpedo the "significant progress," made in the other area, his spokesman, Mark Regev, said in a statement yesterday. The city is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs as their capital. Acknowledging that Jerusalem won't be part of an agreement this year means the two sides will miss their goal of reaching a peace agreement in 2008. The push for a limited settlement with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority may reflect Mr. Olmert's effort to head off an effort to drive him from office. He's facing six investigations, two into alleged illegal financial dealings. While he has denied wrongdoing, his Kadima Party has set primaries in September to choose a new leader.

"Olmert doesn't want to go down in history as the prime minister who went down for corruption," a professor of political science at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, Shmuel Sandler, said. "He's looking for a formula that will allow him to claim he has an agreement."

Mr. Abbas is also in the midst of domestic turmoil as tensions with the rival Hamas have escalated following a July 25 explosion in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip that left five Islamic fighters and a girl dead. Hamas blamed Mr. Abbas's Fatah movement for the bombing. Fatah has denied any involvement.

In related news, Syria is serious about seeking peace with Israel in exchange for the return of the Golan Heights, said its American ambassador, the strongest signal of Syrian interest in reaching a deal with its enemy of six decades.

"This is the state of Syria telling the state of Israel that we desire to end the state of war between us, to conclude peace between the two states, and to recognize each other and live as peaceful neighbors within a normalized context," the diplomat, Imad Moustapha, told the nonpartisan Peace Now organization. Tel Aviv-based Peace Now posted a recording of the comments on its Web site yesterday.

Ireland's Jews: Past, Present, Future

Rory Miller

● Irish Jews have historically played a role in Jewish life out of all proportion to their numbers, despite the fact that they were on the margins of the Jewish world. Before 1948 the Irish Jewish community, which had come overwhelmingly from Lithuania in the period from 1880 to 1914, was one of the most pro-Zionist in Western Europe and a major per capita supporter of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), as well as other Zionist organizations and institutions.

● Irish Jews have played a significant role in all sectors of Irish society including national political life, but since the early 1950s when it peaked at 4,500 members the community has been shrinking in size and influence. According to the 2006 census there are 1,930 Jews in Ireland, with about 1,250 residing in Dublin and the remainder scattered across the country.
● Although there have always been sporadic anti-Semitic incidents, Ireland has provided a safe haven for Jews. But the current widespread support for a boycott of Israel among civil society groups is a worrying development, as is the potential of the growing Irish Muslim community to become radicalized.

● The economic boom since the 1990s provided a number of opportunities and challenges for Irish Jewry. The strong economy led to an increase in the number of Jews who have settled in Ireland for economic reasons. It also, however, turned Ireland into a multicultural and multiracial society that has challenged Irish Jewry's status as the major non-Christian minority in the country.

In May 2008, the Dublin City Council organized a walking tour of "Little Jerusalem," the section of central Dublin historically at the heart of Irish Jewish life. In line with similar events, the organizers expected forty to seventy people to attend but were astonished when over two hundred turned up in the rain to hear about the history of Dublin's Jewish community.

The popularity of this event clearly highlights that as a subject of historical interest and cultural curiosity the Jews of Ireland are thriving. This has been further evidenced recently by the success of two books on the history of Irish Jews: the scholarly Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: A Socioeconomic History, by Professor Cormac Ó Gráda, and the more popular photographic coffee-table book, Jewish Dublin: Portraits of Life by the Liffey, a bestseller in Ireland on its publication in late 2007.[1]

The Historic Irish Jewish Community
The first Jews arrived in Ireland from Spain and Portugal in the early sixteenth century. The first synagogue was opened in Dublin in 1660 and the first Jewish cemetery opened in the early 1700s, by which time Dublin was the only city in the British Isles outside of London that could claim a Jewish community of any note. But this did not last long. As Ireland lost significance in the British Empire, the Jewish community shrank. The Irish census started recording religion in 1861, and in 1881 there were 353 Jews in Dublin and 61 in Belfast.

The ancestors of the current community were Lithuanian Jews who began arriving in Dublin, Belfast, and Cork in the mid-1870s. This resulted in an immediate rise in the population, with 1,500 Irish Jews in Dublin in 1891 and an estimated 3,000 a decade later.

This was still numerically insignificant. As Ó Gráda has shown in his socioeconomic history of Irish Jewry in the early twentieth century, Ireland only absorbed about 0.15 percent of the pre-1914 Jewish exodus from Eastern Europe. On the eve of World War I, there were 3,000 Jews in Dublin compared to 11,000 in Liverpool, 30,000 in Manchester, and 180,000 in London.[2]

Thus it is hardly surprising that the only encounter most people will have had with Irish Jews in this early period is through reading James Joyce's iconic novel Ulysses, which follows the fictional Leopold Bloom through Dublin city on one day in June 1904. Bloom, the baptized son of a Hungarian Jewish father and an Irish Protestant mother had little in common in terms of religious upbringing or daily life with the conservative, traditional, and hard-working Lithuanian Jews who made up the Irish community at the time.

These new immigrants were all from the same part of the northern Russian Empire and they settled near each other in urban areas. They had close ties with coreligionists in Manchester, London, and Leeds but as Ó Gráda has shown there were some noticeable differences. Dublin Jews lived in better conditions in "Little Jerusalem" than the Jews of the East End of London or many of the provisional Jewish communities of Britain. A lower percentage of Jewish women worked outside the home and the community was less strictly segregated from their neighbors than the Jews of Britain.[3]

The biggest difference was that almost immediately upon arrival this new immigrant group overwhelmed the preexisting Jewish community, swept away their influence, and marginalized what passed for an established Irish Jewish elite. This allowed the new immigrants to proceed to establish, unfettered, a highly nationalist community like the one they had left behind in Lithuania, thus arguably building the most Zionist-oriented community in Western Europe.

The Zionist Connection
Irish Jews' profound attachment to Zionism in the period before Israel's establishment can be traced back to the 1890s, when Irish Zionist Associations and branches of Chovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion) were among the most active in Europe. In 1900, the Dublin Daughters of Zion (DDZ) was founded. This was the first women's Zionist society in Western Europe. To put this in context, it was not until February 1912 that Henrietta Szold convened the first meeting of the American Daughters of Zion, the first women's Zionist group in the United States.

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), Dublin Commission, developed into a not insignificant branch of the worldwide JNF and, from the late 1930s, its per capita contributions were higher than those made by communities in Leeds, Glasgow, and London. In his autobiography, Chaim Herzog, the Irish-born two-term president of Israel, recalled how during his childhood in Dublin and Belfast "the concept of a Jewish state emerged in our collective consciousness [and] added considerably to our sense of pride. As that consciousness expanded, it strengthened our entire community."[4]

The consequences of this could be seen after the birth of Israel. According to the political scientist Michael Brecher, in terms of individuals who occupied posts of head of an operational department or higher within the Israeli Foreign Ministry or related civil or military branches, Irish Jews equaled the contribution of Iraqis and Austrians, played a larger role than Jews from Hungary, Italy, or Egypt, and were only surpassed by Jewish immigrants from eight nations including Russia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.[5]

However, the vast majority of Irish Jews chose to stay in Ireland and by the mid-1950s, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that only fifty Irish families resided in Israel. Those who remained made a mark on almost every area of life, from literature and art to medicine and law.

Most notably, Irish Jewry has played a role in the political life of the country out of all proportion to its size. There has been a Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin three times (Robert Briscoe in 1956 and 1961 and his son Ben Briscoe in 1988) and of Cork once (Gerald Goldberg in 1977). Robert Briscoe, a founding member of the Fianna Fáil political party, represented that party in the Dáil (the Irish parliament) for three decades. Even in the 1990s, when the community was only 1,400 strong, there were three Jewish members of parliament (compared to one Protestant parliamentarian out of a community numbering well over 100,000). The sole current Jewish member of the Dáil, Alan Shatter, holds the distinction of having had more private members' bills passed than anyone else in the history of the state.

In the pre-1948 era Irish nationalists embraced Zionism as a national movement for self-determination and greatly admired the revival of Hebrew, which they saw as Zionism's greatest achievement. As a member of a Zionist delegation from Jerusalem wrote home during a visit to Dublin in 1931, Irish leaders were "greatly inspired" by the rebirth of Hebrew and confessed that Zionists had "more idealism" than the Irish.[6]

However, since Israel's establishment there has been a lack of diplomatic and political support for the Jewish state. In 1975, Ireland became the last member of the EEC to exchange nonresidential ambassadors with Israel, and in 1993 it was the last member of the enlarged EU to allow Israel to establish a residential embassy.

This slow move toward full diplomatic relations was due to a number of factors including the role of the Catholic church in influencing Irish foreign policy, the negative impact on Irish-Israeli ties of clashes over Irish troops serving with the United Nations in Lebanon, and the fact that the Irish beef industry, a major supplier to the Arab and Muslim world, was concerned that improved relations with Israel would damage this trade.

However, current Irish government policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict is in line with general EU policy and on a bilateral level is primarily concerned with further developing trade ties that have grown significantly since the mid-1990s.[7]

Support for Boycott
A far more worrying factor is the growing support for a boycott of Israel among Irish civil society groups. The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), the Irish branch of the International Solidarity Movement, is one of the most sophisticated anti-Israel groups in Europe. It organizes numerous events and has a state-of-the-art website that it uses to relentlessly promote the boycott of everything from Israeli agricultural products and football matches to flights to Israel and cultural and academic exchanges.[8]

In 2004, the IPSC collected twelve thousand Irish signatures in favor of a boycott, and its efforts have gained some support from supposedly apolitical NGOs such as Christian Aid and Trócaire. The IPSC also played a role in the call by sixty-one Irish academics for an academic boycott of Israel.[9]

Since entering the mainstream of Irish political life following the peace process in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), has become an outspoken critic of Israel in Irish political circles. However, this may actually improve Israel's standing in Ireland as the vast majority of Irish voters are suspicious of Sinn Féin's position on most domestic and foreign policy issues.

A far more troubling development occurred in June 2008 when the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) issued a report calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and services and disinvestment from Israeli firms. ICTU is the largest civil society body in Ireland, representing 832,000 workers and with fifty-five unions affiliated to it including IMPACT, the largest public-sector union in the Republic of Ireland and NIPSA, the largest public-sector union in Northern Ireland, both of which have also endorsed the call for a boycott.

There is no support for a boycott of Israel in Irish government or diplomatic circles and two primarily non-Jewish groups, the Ireland-Israel Friendship League and the Irish Christian Friends of Israel have worked hard to oppose the boycott. But that is little comfort given the fact that boycotters are making good ground in their effort to further demonize Israel across Irish society.

The relentless call for the boycott of Israel is part of an effort to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state and its supporters across the world. This creates an uncomfortable environment for an Irish Jewish community that remains openly supportive of Israel. However, traditional anti-Semitism is not widespread and community spokesmen like to say that Ireland is the only country in Europe in which no Jew has died or been killed because of their religion. This is debatable, and indeed some historians believe that in 1923 a twenty-four-year-old Dublin Jew, Emanuel Kahn, was shot dead because he was Jewish.[10]

Moreover, there have been some unpleasant nonfatal incidents. The most notorious case occurred in Limerick in 1904-1905 when a Catholic preacher, Father John Creagh, led a boycott of several Jewish traders among the 170 Jews in a city with a population of forty thousand, which only ended when a number of Jewish families were driven out of the town. An IRA campaign against moneylenders in the mid-1920s focused primarily on targeting Jews, which caused significant concern in the community despite a number of IRA denials that any anti-Semitism was involved.

For the most part Jews who have settled in Ireland have found a safe haven. Recently, overt anti-Semitism has been a lot less prevalent than the racism encountered by new immigrants from Asia and Africa. From 2001 to 2003, according to the Jewish community's own statistics, there were no incidents of "extreme violence," "assault," or "damage or desecration of property" and only sixteen recorded cases of "abusive behavior." In 2002 alone, however, members of the Asian and African communities reported one hundred racist incidents to the authorities.[11]

But anti-Semitic incidents do continue. From November 2004 to July 2005, there was on average one recorded anti-Semitic incident per week in Dublin and these included the daubing of the Jewish school, an Orthodox synagogue, and the Irish Jewish museum with anti-Semitic slogans. In response the then justice minister Michael McDowell met with a delegation from the community and there was cross-party condemnation of these incidents in the Dáil. Again in May 2008, an Italian Jewish man living in a small town outside of Dublin had "Go Home Jew" and a swastika daubed on his wall and suffered two arson attacks on his car.[12]

One of the darkest chapters in Irish-Jewish relations was the refusal of neutral Ireland to provide a haven for Jewish refugees attempting to escape Nazi extermination in the late 1930s and 1940s. This was followed by the infamous decision of Irish leader Eamon de Valera to sign the book of condolences in the German legation in Dublin following the death of Adolf Hitler.

In 1995, then-Irish premier John Bruton acknowledged Ireland's failure in responding to the Holocaust and 2005 saw the establishment of the Holocaust Educational Trust of Ireland. This body has contributed significantly to Holocaust awareness, with 450 schools involved in one of its projects. It also organizes a high-profile annual Holocaust memorial event that is attended by politicians and public figures.

Communal Size and Structure
The size of the Irish Jewish community peaked in the late 1940s at about 4,500 members. From that point on it fell in size until 2002 when the census recorded 1,790 Irish Jews. According to the 2006 census there are 1,930 Jews in Ireland, with about 1,250 residing in Dublin and the remainder scattered across the country.[13] The present community is elderly and the historic pattern of emigration to Manchester, London, and Israel continues among young people looking for partners or pursuing career opportunities and their parents who follow them.

The rise in the Jewish population by 7.8 percent from 2002 to 2006 is due to the arrival of Jewish economic migrants into Ireland as part of the "Celtic Tiger" economy. The Jewish community has attempted to capitalize on the Irish economic boom to advertise for immigrants from other Jewish communities across the world, especially those in Argentina and South Africa. Named Operation Springbok, the plan has had limited success for two reasons: those in charge of the project have only looked to attract observant Jews; and the Irish authorities will not waive standard visa requirements for what are essentially economic migrants.

As such, the largest increase of Jews in Ireland is among Israelis who have moved here to work in the hi-tech sector. Some have no interest in Jewish life, a few are outspoken critics of Israeli policies and have been co-opted into the anti-Israel movement, but a fair few have integrated into the community, attend synagogue, and enroll their children in the Jewish primary school. Whether this immigration will continue depends almost fully on the future strength of the Irish economy and, to a lesser extent, the willingness of the community to subsidize the settlement of new Jewish families and to invest in communal infrastructure.

Currently there are two Orthodox synagogues in Dublin, one Progressive synagogue, one Jewish golf club with non-Jewish members, one Jewish school, with an all-Jewish primary school and a mixed secondary school, and one Jewish retirement home where accommodation is shared with the Quaker community. The community no longer has its own kosher butcher, and kosher meat and other products are imported from the United Kingdom. Nor is there a Jewish community or sports center, as the Maccabi sports club, one of the best sports facilities in the country, was sold off a number of years ago.

The existing community institutions are overseen by the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland (JRCI), whose members are either elected or appointed. This body has run the community since the late 1940s, when Irish Jews gave up their seats on the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the representative body of Anglo-Jewry, following Ireland's withdrawal from the British Commonwealth.

Irish Jews benefited from the "Celtic Tiger." Historically Ireland was not an industrialized nation and as such there was never a tradition of Jewish industrial grandees or magnates. However, Irish Jews have always had trades and skills, with more self-employed as a percentage of the population and a lower percentage of wage earners than other communities. Thus, by the time of the boom in the early 1990s, although there were very few multimillionaires, the vast majority of Irish Jews were part of the urban middle class.

At the heart of the Irish boom was the property market, an economic sector in which Irish Jews have long been involved. Many members of the community have become wealthy as the value of commercial and residential property has skyrocketed.

Interestingly, this wealth has not been reinvested in the community to any significant extent. Dublin Jewry has always had a much greater tradition of supporting Israeli charities than the needy within their own community. Some members have been reluctant to donate funds because their children have settled abroad. Moreover, major disagreements over the closure and sale of Adelaide Road Synagogue over a decade ago split the community. Whereas the sale of this synagogue along with the Maccabi sports club meant that the community gained some significant capital, this created a disincentive for individuals to give donations from their own pockets.

The Irish Muslim Community
The rise of the "Celtic Tiger" economy meant that for the first time in 150 years, from 1991 to 1996 Ireland saw net immigration rather than net emigration. Society has rapidly become both multicultural and multiracial. This is most clearly seen in the growth of the Irish Muslim community.

Muslims are now the third largest religious group in the country after Roman Catholics, who number 3.7 million or 86.8 percent of the population and the Church of Ireland, which has 125,000 adherents.[14] According to the 2006 census, there are 32,529 Muslims in Ireland, up from 19,147 in 2002, an increase of 69.9 percent in four years. The most obvious sign of this is that the once-Jewish area of "Little Jerusalem" now borders a vibrant and growing Muslim shopping quarter.

Over the last decade many European societies have been challenged by the multiculturalism caused by growing Muslim communities. The same process is now occurring in Ireland. In 2007, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the premier medical school in the country, announced that toilets in all new buildings will face away from Mecca "[out of] respect for the cultural diversity of the student population."[15] In May 2008, the Islamic Cultural Center, which is based at the largest Sunni mosque in Dublin, spoke of the "urgent need" for Sharia-compliant financial services in Ireland. And in June 2008, the government wrote to the heads of four thousand schools across Ireland to seek their views on the wearing of the hijab headscarf.[16]

At the time of the Danish Muhammad-cartoons controversy the reaction among Irish Muslims was relatively mild, with a few hundred marching in Dublin with placards carrying the words "Don't insult the Prophet." However, as has been the case in other European countries, much Irish Muslim funding emanates from Saudi Arabia and this can make the community vulnerable to Wahhabi extremism.

Moreover, there already are a number of groups in Dublin that have alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood. These include the Federation of Islamic Student Societies (FOSIS), the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR). This latter group was founded by the controversial Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi in 1997 and is permanently headquartered in the Islamic Cultural Center in Dublin. In 2003, the ECFR issued a fatwa endorsing "martyrdom operations" against Israel "even if the victims include civilians."[17]

On a national level there is growing concern that Ireland could develop into a base for money laundering, document forging, and even a transit base for terrorists. The security services listed radical Islamic extremism as the number one priority for 2006 and in the same year the chief of staff of the Irish army admitted, regarding Islamic extremists, that "there's always the danger that people would use Ireland as a back door to the UK."[18]

Although this is a challenge for the whole of Irish society, the rising influence of the Muslim community raises issues particularly for Irish Jews. The first is that the Islamicization of politics has never been good for Jews. There is a strong correlation between anti-Jewish incidents across Europe and a rising focus in domestic politics on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Irish Jewish museum was smeared the day after Yasser Arafat died in November 2004. Second, Irish Jews were historically the largest and most public non-Christian minority. According to the 2006 census, Judaism is now the fifteenth largest religious group out of twenty-three in a country of 4.2 million people. Islam ranks third, Orthodox Christianity is sixth, and Irish Jews also rank behind Buddhists (ninth), Hindus (tenth), and Jehovah's Witnesses (thirteenth).[19]

The 1937 Irish Constitution gave Jews special recognition and protection as the largest non-Christian group in a society overwhelmingly dominated by Roman Catholicism. However, the present marginal position of Irish Jewry could mark the beginning of the end of its influence on a national level. This has not yet happened as evidenced by the fact that in 2007 the Jewish community was one of the religious groups invited to participate in a new framework established by the government to facilitate discussion between the state and religious leaders on various matters. Moreover, symbolically important annual events continue such as the lighting of the menorah candles at the residence of the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the Chief Rabbi's televised address to the nation on the eve of the Jewish New Year.

Nevertheless, the community is undoubtedly at a crossroads. It is financially secure in the medium term but faces the abovementioned challenges without the benefit of any real leadership. This more than any other factor places in jeopardy the future viability of a once thriving community built from scratch by what Max Nurock, the Dublin-born and educated Jew who later became Israel's ambassador to Australia, remembered fondly as an "incomparable generation of Litvak [Lithuanian] pioneers."[20]

* * *


[1] See Cormac Ó Gráda, Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: A Socioeconomic History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); Asher Benson, Jewish Dublin: Portraits of Life by the Liffey (Dublin: A. & A. Farmer, 2007).

[2] O'Grada, Jewish Ireland, 10-12, 209.

[3] Ibid., 43.

[4] Chaim Herzog, Living History: A Memoir (London: Phoenix, 1996), 9.

[5] Michael Brecher, The Foreign Policy of Israel: Setting, Images, Process (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), 440.

[6] See L. Jaffe to the Keren Hayesod Head office, Jerusalem, 18 November 1931, Dublin Jewish Museum Archive, Box 29.

[7] For a detailed study of Irish-Israeli bilateral relations, see Rory Miller, Ireland and the Palestine Question, 1948-2004 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2005).

[8] Rory Miller, "Taking the Peace," Magill Magazine, 18 June-14 July 2005, 46-47.

[9] See "Academics Call for Boycott of Israel," Irish Times, 16 September 2006.

[10] Katrina Goldstone, "Who Shot Emanuel Kahn?" Irish Times, 18 November 2003.

[11] See Report on Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitic Incidents in Ireland for the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Inter-Culturalism (Dublin: Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, 2003), 6.

[12] "Anti-Semitic Acts Call for Tougher Laws," Irish Times, 18 June 2005; "Thugs Target Couple in Anti-Semitic Attack," Irish Independent, 15 May 2008.

[13] Census 2006: Principal Demographic Results: Population Classified by Religion (Dublin: Central Statistics Office, 2007), 85.

[14] Ibid., 85.

[15] "Surgeons Perform Delicate Operation for Muslims," Irish Independent, 8 April 2007.

[16] "Pupils' Right to Wear Hijab Is Backed by Almost Half Those Surveyed," Irish Times, 9 June 2008.

[17] '"Theologian of Terror' Held Radical Islamic Council Session Here," Sunday Independent, 6 March 2005.

[18] "Gardai Crack Down on Islamic Extremism," Irish Times, 3 January 2006; see also Interview with Lieutenant General Jim Sreenan, Irish Times, 27 December 2006.

[19] Census 2006: Principal Demographic Results: Population Classified by Religion, 85.

[20] Letter from Max Nurock to the Joint Palestine Appeal, Dublin, 10 April 1960, Dublin Jewish Museum Archive, Box 14.

* * *

Rory Miller is senior lecturer in Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London where he teaches on U.S. and EU involvement in the Middle East and Mediterranean and on the history of anti-Zionism. He is the author or editor of four books and associate editor of the journal Israel Affairs. His articles have appeared in a number of publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Irish Times, The New Republic, the Beirut Daily Star, and Commentary magazine.