Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Here we go again"-misguide and here is a response

Alan Stein

Please consider the
following submission for publication.

Please note that I am currently in Israel. If you wish to verify my
submission by phone, calling my home number in Connecticut won't work
but I can be reached in Israel by dialing 011-972-50-869-5035.

Thank you for considering this submission.

Thank God We're Not Spending Tens of Billions to Have American Soldiers
Defend Israel

Whoever wrote "Here we go again," published January 10, complains that
Israel hasn't "contributed one dime … for an American base in Israel."
That person clearly doesn't have a clue.

When we build American bases in other countries, those countries don't
pay us - we pay them and then, on top of that, spend countless billions
in endeavors that protect them far more than they protect America. In contrast, Israel defends itself and, in the process, protects the
shared interests with America while risking Israeli rather than American
lives. Its ports also provide a welcome respite for Americans serving
overseas in a generally - except for Israel - unfriendly area.

Israel's friendship has also benefitted America in immense and generally
unappreciated ways. For example, during the Cold War, Israel managed to
obtain a Soviet MIG, completely intact, and gave our American
intelligence community full access to it. The benefit of just that
friendly act, one of many, was enormous and had a value that could not
be measured in dollars.

It can, and has, been reasonably argued that Israel's surprise victory
over the Soviet-armed Arab armies in the 1967 war was the catalyst
setting off the chain of events that led to the disintegration of the
Soviet Union and America's victory in the Cold War.

On the other hand, that might be considered a mixed blessing, since many
also believe, with good reason, that the extreme Islamism that has been
rising in its place poses a far greater threat to the civilized world
than the Soviet Union ever did.


Alan Stein, Ph.D.
President, PRIMER-Connecticut
Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting

Comprehending the incomprehensible – Part I

Ted Belman. Sherman works from the premise that Israel’s problem is that she has lost the battle for hearts and minds because she didn’t try to win it. I disagree.

Right from the oil embargo in the seventies, her situation took a turn for the worse because of oil and interests. The world needed energy and did not want to alienate the Muslim world for a few measly Jews. The Saudis got all our African friends to back away from us and began the Eurabia project in which Europe agreed to turn its back on Israel. The US, from 1970 was trying to force Israel to return to the ’67 lines. Then the Muslim countries combined with the non-aligned countries, as part of the cold war, and took over the UN. All this in a half a dozen years.

A bigger hasbara budget would not have changed any or this. It may though have kept a few more Europeans from hating us.


Into The Fray: The first of a two-part analysis of why Israel is losing the international battle for hearts and minds.

Israel has made itself defenseless. Israel has vacated the battleground of the mind. Israeli ‘hasbara’ is a JOKE! –
British columnist Melanie Phillips, IBA Television, 2011

One of the gravest strategic threats facing Israel is its accelerating international delegitimization. This is developing into a strategic constraint that is increasingly curtailing the nation’s ability to protect itself and its citizens. Even more troubling, it is undermining international recognition of Israel’s right to exercise self-defense, even in the most blatant cases of aggression against it. Strategic debacle
Without wishing to diminish the significance of innate hostility towards Israel and the Jews from many sources in the international system, the present dismal and untenable situation has arisen in large measure because of the abysmal job the Israeli leadership has done in conducting – or more accurately, misconducting – its public diplomacy.

Indeed, Prof. Eitan Gilboa, a well-known authority on public diplomacy, warns: “The lack of an adequate PD [public diplomacy] program has significantly affected Israel’s strategic outlook and freedom of action. Any further neglect of PD would not only restrict Israel’s strategic options, it would be detrimental to its ability to survive in an increasingly intolerant and hostile world.”

Many find it puzzling why Israel – with its proven record of extraordinary achievement in so many other fields of human endeavor – does such a poor job in presenting its case to the world.

An inescapable truth
For anyone seeking the principal reason why Israel is losing the public diplomacy war, the answer is difficult to accept, yet very easy to prove.

Israel is losing the battle because it doesn’t want to win.

Or to put it differently: The people charged with the nation’s public diplomacy have a worldview that prevents them from adopting a winning strategy. Indeed, this chronic malaise was aptly diagnosed by Daniel Pipes when he observed: “No one at the upper echelons of Israel’s political life articulates the imperative for victory.” (More on this later).

Although difficult to accept, the lack of will to win is easy to prove. In gauging the motivation of any organization to achieve an objective, one of the most important indicators is the resources it allots for to achieve it.

Clearly, if the objective is considered important, more resources will be allotted, and vice-versa.

Surrender syndrome
Israel’s public diplomacy budget is ludicrously small.

Indeed, as one government minister bemoaned: “It is dreadful to hear that Bamba (a snack produced by the Osem corporation), has a promotional budget two to three times the size of the total state budget for public diplomacy.”

This frugality is not dictated by a lack of resources. Indeed, when Israel has desired to achieve an un-budgeted objective, money has rarely been an obstacle.

For example, when billions of shekels were needed for the construction of the West Bank security barrier, that was no problem; when billions of dollars were needed for the Gaza disengagement, that was no problem either.

Likewise, the tens of billions of dollars required for the planned “convergence” (i.e. withdrawal) from Judea and Samaria were not considered an insurmountable obstacle, even though it was clear the money would not be coming from the American taxpayer.

In last week’s column, I pointed out that if a small fraction of 1 percent of GDP were devoted to public diplomacy, this would generate a budget of $1 billion – rather than the paltry sums provided today.

So if the Israel leadership chooses not to allot available resources to assertively promote Israel’s case abroad, to resolutely defend its international image, to explain its operational constraints and security imperatives, to elucidate why certain measures are indispensable for the safety of its citizens, it must mean that – for one reason or another – it does not wish to. There is no other rational explanation.

How can one account for this syndrome of submissive surrender?

The key to the conundrum
This is a conundrum that cannot be deciphered without a firm grasp of the sociological – rather than the political – topography of country in general, and of the priorities and preferences of powerful civil society elites in particular.

Without this insight it is impossible to understand the dramatic and disturbing events that have taken place in Israel over the past two decades. Without it, it is impossible to understand:

• Why a country that displays such technotactical brilliance is afflicted by such strategic imbecility;
• Why hawkish candidates consistently win elections, but then immediately adopt the failed policy of their defeated dovish rivals;
• Why the doctrine of political appeasement and territorial concessions is repeatedly and consistently disproven, but somehow
never discredited – and certainly never discarded;
• Why the Israeli political establishment has not embraced more appreciatively and mobilized more effectively the huge potential in the support of communities such as the Evangelical Christians across the world, and particularly in the US, as a strategic asset.

None of these phenomena makes any sense unless one understands the decisive role that civil society elites have in setting the direction of the country’s strategic agenda – no matter who gets elected. As will become clear later, understanding this role is also the key to deciphering the riddle of Israel’s dismal public diplomacy performance.

Detrimental, dysfunctional, disloyal
Sadly, this is a role that is not only decisive, but also in many ways detrimental, dysfunctional and at times disloyal.

If to some this uncharitable description appears excessively harsh, consider the following examples and decide for yourselves how to characterize the conduct of civil society elites in the media, the academia and the legal establishment, who

(a) accuse Israel of being an “apartheid state” and support international boycott and sanctions against their own county, such as Prof. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University, who declared: “Israel today is an apartheid state. I have decided to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement… launched by Palestinian activists.”

(b) portray Israel as a bloodthirsty, intolerant nation bent on the persecution of minorities, such as Prof. Aeyal Gross of Tel Aviv University, who characterized Israel as “a society where shooting at children of the ‘other’ is the norm” and the Israeli public as “indifferent or worse to Israel’s widespread killing of Palestinian youth?” (c) condemn Israeli policies as being on a par with or worse than those of the apartheid regime in South Africa, such as the poet, writer and lecturer, Yitzhak Laor, who alleged that “Israel’s apartheid is worse… more ruthless than that seen in South Africa…. We have to get rid of Zionism. What lies behind Zionism are interests and a huge army hungering to justify its existence.”

(d) condone – and indeed appear to endorse – Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, such as Prof. Oren Yiftachel of Ben-Gurion University, who suggested that “Palestinian shelling from Gaza should be perceived as a prison uprising… suppressed with terror by the Israeli state.”

(e) deny the legitimacy of Israel preventative measures to ensure the security of the country and the safety of its citizens, such as journalist Gideon Levy, who in an article titled “The neighborhood bully strikes again,” written at the outset of the retaliatory Operation Cast Lead, undertaken to quell the firing of thousands of rockets at civilian communities, decried “Israel’s violent responses [which] cross every red line of… morality, international law,” asserting, “What began yesterday in Gaza is a war crime,” and such as Prof. Fania Oz-Salzberger of the University of Haifa, who following the Gaza Flotilla episode, when Israeli commandos were forced to defend themselves against a mob endeavoring to disembowel them, endorsed the international censure of Israel in a hastily published article titled “Ashamed of My Country,” proclaiming that “the almost-unanimous condemnation is spot on. I am ashamed,” and elsewhere asserting that “the true-blue pirates were the uniformed Israeli commandos.”

(f) ignore or obscure the fact that Israel policy towards the Palestinians is not driven by a discriminatory doctrine of racial superiority but by proven security concerns, such as columnist Akiva Eldar, who, in an article titled “Are Israel and apartheid South Africa really different?” dismissed the security realities, declaring: “As far as discriminatory practices are concerned, it’s hard to find differences between white rule in South Africa and Israeli rule,” or such as former attorney-general Michael Ben-Yair, who charged that Israel “enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society engaging in theft…. We established an apartheid regime.”

THIS IS but a small sampling of the assault on Israeli legitimacy from within its own civil society elites. Many examples abound of similar distortions, misrepresentations and exaggerations, of similar half-truths, non-truths and full-blooded fabrications from many other “intellectuals,” whether self-professed radical post-Zionists, or self-proclaimed “liberal” pro-Zionists.

The noxious nexus
But more than a expression of the political predilections of those who articulate them, these derogatory attitudes towards Israel reflect a socio-cultural milieu, in which the personal and professional interests of its members impose a code of conformity to political correctness – irrespective of any divergence this may have from the facts. It is a code strictly enforced – not by any formal fiat, but by the consequences of any violation.

No deviation beyond “acceptable” limits is brooked, and any such “delinquency” is likely to have grave repercussions in terms of livelihood, promotion and even social acceptability of the “perpetrator.”

This brings us to the nexus between the role of Israeli civil society elites and government policy in general and public diplomacy in particular. This is a topic which I shall elaborate on in detail in next week’s column (Part II).

In it, I will show how the combination of their unelected positions of power and privilege in the media, academia and legal establishment, on the one hand, and the nature of their personal and professional interests, on the other, confers on these elites both the ability and the motivation to determine the direction of the strategic agenda of the nation.

Naturally, this is a direction that reflects the worldview of the socio-cultural milieu they belong to, and which they can impose on the government no matter who prevails at the polls. This neutralizes voter preferences in the governance of the nation and dangerously undercuts the underpinnings of the democratic system.

This also impinges on the formulation and implementation of Israel’s public diplomacy.

After all, the senior professionals charged with conducting the county’s public diplomacy are drawn from – and interface with – the elites discussed previously.

In effect, this precludes them from adopting any strategy that would undermine their own worldview and dooms Israeli efforts to failure. But more on that next week.

No conspiracy
In closing, it is important to underscore that what is set out here is not a theory of a conscious conspiracy, contrived by some purposely malevolent elitist cabal. Rather, it is the elucidation of a mechanism comprising the accumulated consequences of individual decisions and actions driven by the short-term pursuit of prestige and profit of a group of empowered individuals, and which trump considerations of the long-term interest of the wider collective.

It is essential to understand this mechanism.

Otherwise, it will be impossible to “comprehend the ncomprehensible,” to understand why “Israel has made itself defenseless,” why Israel has “vacated the battleground of the mind” and why Israeli hasbara is an ineffective joke.

More important, without such an understanding it will be impossible to formulate any remedies.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What does it mean to be pro-Israel today?

Elder of Ziyon

Moment magazine has a very interesting (and somewhat puzzling) list of people answering the question "What does it mean to be pro-Israel today?"

I would answer it a bit differently than the esteemed contributors.

An important Jewish concept is to be "dan l'chaf zechut," to give the benefit of the doubt. And if there is a distinction to be made between the pro-Israel and the anti-Israel crowd, it is that the former practices this dictum with respect to Israel and the latter tramples upon it.

When anything happens in Israel that looks bad on the surface, the vast majority of the time it can be shown to have been misunderstood or even fabricated. The psyche of Israelis is one of morality; while there might be exceptions one cannot fairly say that Israel is an immoral country. There is always another side to the story, one that sadly does not get the publicity of the seemingly bad one. To be pro-Israel is to start with the assumption that Israel is right, and to be skeptical when things look otherwise. In the end, perhaps the explanation will not be satisfactory, but one needs to make the effort to at least find out what it is. If you are truly pro-Israel you would first do everything possible to find out the truth. That is what support means.

In short, being pro-Israel means treating it the way you would treat your own loving family.

It is a shame that some people who call themselves "pro-Israel" do the exact opposite - they take every sensationalist story out of the region as a priori proof that Israel is in the wrong. That is not "pro-Israel" by any definition. The excuse that they are doing it "for Israel's good" rings hollow when their antipathy is so consistent.

Being pro-Israel means that you are willing to be dan l'chaf zechut towards the Jewish nation.

Strategic Realignment and Energy Security in the Eastern Mediterranean

Dr. Alexander Murinson
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 159, January 9, 2012

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Since the cooling of relations with Ankara in 2010, Israel has sought alternative allies in the Mediterranean region, courting Greece and Cyprus. An economic and security partnership between the three non-Muslim countries in the eastern Mediterranean benefits all. The most urgent strategic issue that unites them, however, is their need for energy security. The recent discovery of substantial natural gas fields in the Israeli and Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) challenge Turkey’s claim as the central energy hub for Europe. Turkey is employing threatening rhetoric as well as its navy to deter and harass Cypriot and Israeli exploration efforts. Greece, Israel and Cyprus should increase their strategic cooperation in order to contain such Turkish hostility. Introduction
The eastern Mediterranean is becoming the focus of a growing geopolitical tectonic shift. Today, Turkey, emboldened by the ouster of pro-Western leaders in the region, such as Egyptian President Mubarak, envisions itself as a revitalized master of the region once ruled by its Ottoman predecessors prior to the dissolution of the Empire. This predominantly Sunni regional bloc includes Egypt, Jordan and the Maghreb countries. As the fall of the Alawite regime in Syria seems imminent, Syria and Lebanon are likely to join the Turkey-inspired bloc.
Turkey’s ruling AKP party has reoriented its foreign policy, moving away from Kemal Ataturk’s ideal and founding principle of Turkey as a part of

Western civilization. Instead, it is forging strategic ties with its Arab neighbors and terrorist organizations like Hamas. The Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010 served as a pretext for the official demotion in diplomatic relations with Israel. Rather than being a cause for the dramatic breakdown of the strategic understanding between the two regional powers, it was a mere symptom of existing ill will.
This Turkish ambition is a logical extension of the “Strategic Depth” doctrine promulgated by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu who, since 2002, has served as chief foreign policy advisor to AKP leader and current Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan. In this vision, Turkey’s domination of the Mediterranean waters, including its sea routes and marine resources, plays an essential role.
Natural Gas: An Increasingly Critical Energy Source for Israel
Turkey’s enthusiastic flaunting of its Islamist credentials, especially in the context of the Arab Spring, has precipitated a freezing of the strategic partnership between Israel and Turkey. As a result, Israel has actively sought out new allies in the neighborhood, courting Greece and Cyprus.
One of the critical issues in the emerging balance of power is the growing importance of energy security in global affairs.
For Israel, gas is increasingly becoming an important fuel source for generating electricity. It currently relies on gas to meet around 36 percent of its electricity needs (compared to zero reliance in 2004). Energy forecasts evaluate that this could rise to around 70 percent by 2020, making gas imports from Egypt an increasingly important source of energy for Israeli firms and households. Egypt remains an important supplier of natural gas to Israel, although there have been significant interruptions in supply over the past six months. There are compelling reasons – economic and energy-security related – for Egypt and Israel to continue their energy trade. However, in the long- term, Israel must develop its domestic gas sources and move away from this unreliable provider. The outcome will also largely be influenced by the trajectory of the broader Israeli-Egyptian relationship. It seems unlikely that Egyptian popular opposition to exporting gas to Israel will wane, though a price hike could assuage some critics.
Since the end of the Cold War,
Turkey has promoted itself as the indispensable energy hub for Europe and
Israel. A joint gas exploration between Israel and Cyprus has been met by
hostility from Erdogan's government. The natural gas fields are situated in the
Mediterranean Sea shelf of the Republic of Cyprus and their ownership is
strongly contested by Turkey.
Since 2008, Egypt has supplied Israel with gas through a 100-kilometer undersea pipeline between El-Arish in the northern Sinai and a gas import facility in Ashkelon on Israel’s Mediterranean coast. The pipeline is an artery of the larger Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP), which pumps Egyptian gas to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The pipeline has been blown up by militants in Sinai five times over the past six months, sending energy prices in Israel skyrocketing.
Prior to the pipeline explosions, Egyptian exports accounted for around 40 percent of Israel’s gas consumption. In 2010, Egypt’s Eastern Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) supplied Israel’s state-owned Israel Electric Corporation with around 2.5 bcm (billion cubic meters). Israel’s domestic consumption that year was around 5.2 bcm. The remainder of Israel’s gas comes from its offshore Mari-B field, which is expected to be depleted by 2013.
In recent years, Israel and Cyprus have increasingly sought independent sources of energy on their Mediterranean marine shelves. In December 2010, the governments of Israel and Cyprus signed an agreement which delineated the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of both countries. The clarification of the borderline is essential in protecting Israel's rights to oil and underwater gas reservoirs. In the last three years, Israel has made discoveries at the Tamar and Leviathan fields, which hold around 184 bcm and 453 bcm, respectively. After 2013, Israel will rely on production from these recently discovered gas fields.
The American oil and gas company Noble Energy has been leading these exploration and exploitation efforts in the Israeli and Cypriot EEZ since 2009. Shares in the US company are held by the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority, Cyprus' national energy company, and by Israel's Delek Drilling LP and Avner Oil Exploration LLP. The May 2011 Oil and Investor Journal described the Leviathan gas field in the Israeli EEZ as the largest natural gas find in the world over the last year. Noble Energy also discovered a gas field called Bloc 12 near the Cyprus littoral that might produce as much as 280 bcm.
Challenges by Turkey and Lebanon to Israeli Gas Discoveries
In mid-September, Turkey sent three naval ships to “protect” the Norwegian boat hired by the Turkish government to conduct gas explorations in the territorial waters of the Republic of Cyprus.
In September 2011, Prime Minister Erdogan said that Turkey "will take
appropriate steps" and "prevent unilateral exploitation by Israel of natural
resources of the eastern Mediterranean.”
Under Turkish pressure, the government in Nicosia agreed to share the future gas resources with its northern neighbor.
Lebanon has also indicated its antagonism to the newly discovered natural gas fields in the Israeli Exclusive Economic Zone. Beirut attempted to file an appeal to the UN regarding the current demarcation of the maritime boundaries between the two countries, which remain formally at war. The Lebanese authorities claim that at least part of the gas reserves is located in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The Israeli side believes otherwise. According to an Israeli official statement, "...The border that Lebanon presented to the UN was much farther south than the one proposed by Israel. The proposed boundary is also contrary to the treaty which Lebanon concluded with Cyprus in 2007."
On December 21, 2011, Turkish warships demonstratively shelled the strip of water dividing the Israeli Leviathan and Cyprian Bloc 12 gas fields. Both of these exploration fields contain large amounts of natural resources vitally important to the energy security of these two small Mediterranean nations.
Cypriot and Israeli Responses
Turkey's recent hostile actions prompted a warning by Cypriot President Demetris Christofias to desist from such behavior in the future and the demand that Turkey discontinue the shelling by its warships. On December 23, Christofias said: "If Turkey does not change its gunboat diplomacy and stop playing the part of regional police officer, there will be consequences which, for sure, will not be good – either for the whole region or the Turkish people and first and foremost for Turkish Cypriots.”
Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, who visited Washington in the third week of December, conveyed her concerns about the Turkish provocations to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Kozakou-Marcoullis left feeling encouraged to continue with the gas drilling and to ignore Turkish harassment.
In a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Kozakou-Marcoullis called Turkey "the neighborhood bully," adding that a
On November 23, Turkish Energy
Minister Taner Yildiz stated that Israeli and Cyprian gas and oil explorations
in the eastern Mediterranean were illegal and called into question the agreed
upon demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zones between Israel and
Cyprus. He demanded that an agreement be signed among all parties, including Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), and
that the resources be shared equally.
Turkey "whose foreign minister once promoted a policy of 'zero problems' with its neighbors is now pursuing a policy of 'only problems.'" She added, "The tensions with Israel were just the beginning of a concerted effort by Ankara to delegitimize others in order to legitimize its actions."
In response to the Turkish naval demonstrations near the Israeli gas installations, Uzi Landau, Israel's Minister of Energy, stated that Israel "will continue to construct its gas platforms and will defend them." More importantly, Israeli authorities declared that for the safeguarding of its drilling platforms, they will use unmanned marine vehicles, equipped with night vision devices, radars and multiple launch rocket systems.
According to some Israeli military sources, the cancellation on December 22 of the $90 million sale to the Turkish Air Force of Elbit's hi-tech surveillance system was timed to send a signal to Turkey to desist from its campaign of harassment in and around Israel's gas fields.
Turkey's recent international behavior is a clear indication that its leadership, motivated by a neo-imperial syndrome, is leading the country's foreign policy into perilous waters. The conflict over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean only further exacerbates already strained Turkish-Israeli relations.
In view of increasing global competition for energy resources, Israel should accelerate the development of new gas fields in its Exclusive Economic Zone. As Israel plans to export its gas to Europe and, as has been recently disclosed, to its new strategic partner, India, Israel must demonstrate the legitimacy and security of its gas and marine installations. Therefore, Israel should pursue a diplomatic campaign to maintain its hold on its EEZ on par with other countries. Moreover, Israel should increase its naval presence in its EEZ in order to protect its access to its resources. Finally, Israel should enhance its cooperation with friendly countries in the eastern Mediterranean, such as Greece and Cyprus, in order to maintain energy security and construct pipelines for energy exports to Europe.
Alexander Murinson, an independent researcher who holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author of Turkey's Entente with Israel and Azerbaijan: State Identity and Security in the Middle East and Caucasus.
BESA Perspectives is published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friedman Cheers as Egyptians are Enslaved

Professor: [As the Martian ambassador starts disintegrating Congressmen with his ray gun]: "Mr. Ambassador, please! What are you doing? This doesn't make sense! It's not logical! It's not !" --"Mars Attacks"

By Barry Rubin

It is distasteful when Western intellectuals, politicians, and journalists who pride themselves on their enlightened humanitarian views watch people abroad fall subject to ruthless forces of dictatorship and dogma. When these same people actually cheer the new tyrannies, put their arms around the shoulders of those who despise them, and tell everyone else that there's nothing to worry about, that's actively disgusting.
Many in the West have so acted toward Egypt during the last year. They have also and previously done so for the Gaza Strip, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. Thomas Friedman has been one of them but perhaps no one else has been louder and more enthusiastic. In doing so, of course, he has echoed U.S. government policy.

Now, Friedman goes all-out to explain that the Muslim Brotherhood isn't radical, isn't a threat, in fact is a good thing, and will only become eve more moderate once it is in power.

In a column entitled, “Watching Elephants Fly,” obviously a reference to seeing something impossible happen, Friedman writes: “Here is what was so striking: virtually all the women we interviewed after the voting — all of whom were veiled, some with only slits for their eyes — said that they had voted for either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists. But almost none said they had voted that way for religious reasons.

“Many said they voted for Islamists because they were neighbors, people they knew, while secular liberal candidates had never once visited. Some illiterate elderly women confided that they could not read the ballot and just voted where their kids told them to. But practically all of them said they had voted for the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist candidates because they expected them to deliver better, more honest government — not more mosques or liquor bans.”

My reaction is, “So what?” They voted for an authoritarian, Sharia regime (and let’s remember a hardline interpretation of Sharia, not the interpretation of Sharia offered by New York Times reporters). That's what's important. People also had diverse reasons for supporting Communism, Fascism, and Nazism. Indeed, they always voted for such regimes because “they expected them to deliver better, more honest government.” Hasn’t Friedman ever heard that Mussolini made the trains run on time, Hitler built the autobahns, and the Communists promised to give land to the peasants?

But there’s even more irony here. These women are already living lives governed by Sharia and, as traditionalists, are happy (and told to be happy) with that situation. Thus, they have ample reason for supporting Islamists. There is nothing surprising in their political behavior, except to people like Friedman who predicted last year they would back liberal Westernized Facebook kids.

Once again, Friedman shows a striking inability to think logically. If women were voting on the basis of family orders (I'd bet on the husbands and fathers rather than the children so instructing them) how can he then say that they voted out of specific personal motives or--after reporting they were told what to do!--claim that their vote is a sign of freedom?
Why are all their neighbors Islamists? Because there are so few secular liberals they’ve never actually met one. A large portion of the voters for non-Islamist parties were Christians, who they’d never socialize with. And their Brotherhood and Salafist neighbors want an Islamist dictator?

As for “more mosques” being the supposed Islamist demand that they “reject” it shows ignorance on the author’s part. Egypt has plenty of mosques and the Brotherhood and Salafists don’t make mosque-building a top priority. The question is what will be taught in those mosques and how it will direct society.

Why is Friedman dishonest? Because if he claimed that these women weren’t interested in enforcing an “Islamic” lifestyle or destroying Israel or spreading Islamism elsewhere or enforcing on all Egyptian women the dress code they follow, then readers would see through such an argument as ridiculous. So he must create silly demands for the Islamists so he can claim that the people don’t want those things.

The same point applies on the supposed disinterest in bans on liquor sales. How many of these people have ever seen a liquor store? There are already proportionately few in Egypt and they cater overwhelmingly to Christians and tourists. Such a ban would not affect their lives but would make them feel that Egypt was a moral, Islamically corect county.

Again, these are trivial issues. We can all think of far more serious ones that the Islamists and their supporters do focus on.

An aspect of Friedman’s work that makes it so popular is that he constantly invents simple new theories and catch phrases to explain Middle East politics. After reading his column it is possible to believe that one has easily achieved understanding of the region. Of course, the reason that he must come up with so many theories is that they almost always fail.

Now he has a new, materialistic explanation for why Islamists will become moderate: they need the money. He cites how Egyptian Islamists have issued conflicting statements about allowing tourists to have alcohol and bikinis as proving that they must make lots of accommodations with reality. No oil money, you see.

But I heard similar things about Iran in the late 1970s — they’ll have to be moderate because they need to sell the oil — and about Yasir Arafat at the start of the peace process in the early 1980s — he’ll have to be moderate because the Palestinians he rules will demand garbage collection and decent schools. One might just as well have posited that the Turkish government would never turn against Israel because Israeli tourists brought in so much money.

There have been many examples of the Friedman theory since Karl Marx first wrote that the means of production detemined the shape of society. When Lenin invoked the New Economic Policy to get the new-born USSR through its tough, post-World War I period, naive Westerners announced that Communism had been tamed. My relatives and their neighbors in Poland — I can document this — comforted themselves by thinking the Germans wouldn’t kill them because the Nazis needed their forced labor.

It is awesome how our political geniuses simply don’t learn from history.

The tourism problem is simple. Visitors will be segregated into specific areas like beach resorts where they can drink, party, and bikini away without contact with many Egyptians. The same applies to the up-the-Nile cruises to antiquities sites. Problem solved, except perhaps for the occasional Salafist terrorist attack.

I vividly remember the moment 30 years ago when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini gave his own response to Friedman’s “new” theory. Allow me to paraphrase: Western observers don’t understand Iran’s revolution. They think it is about lowering the price of watermelons (i.e., material well-being) but it is about invoking the will of Allah. Once you have enough people who think this way, forget about Western-style materialistic pragmatism.

Much of the Western intelligentsia cannot conceive that there are many people who don’t think like them in other parts of the world. So much for cosmopolitan international sophistication. (Of course, they often make the same mistake about their own fellow countrymen, too.)

All of this, however, is standard Friedman and standard Western media. That’s not why what Friedman is doing now might be described as his Jane Fonda moment.

The first reason is his shocking enthusiasm for the Brotherhood, summed up in his reported phrase: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a legitimate, authentic, progressive alternative.” Mr. Friedman has responded that he was referring not to the Brotherhood but instead meant to say, “the Egyptian elections produced, for the first time, were legitimate, authentic, liberal, secular, nationalist, progressive alternatives to the Muslim Brotherhood and now the Brotherhood would have to compete with such alternatives — for the first time.”

If that is what he meant it is not very impressive. “Nationalist” alternatives to the Brotherhood have been running Egypt since 1952, after all, and “liberal, secular” movements were very active in the latter Mubarak years. I wonder who Friedman is referring to as “progessive,” the radical nationalist-Marxist parties? Moreover, under Egyptian law, the Brotherhood was outlawed and while it did function it was weak compared to now. So to act as if alternatives to the Brotherhood have now arisen is like saying after the fall of the czar and the Russian revolution that things were better because now there was an alternative to the Bolsheviks.

Friedman has never written anything critical about the Brotherhood and Salafists. He certainly didn’t say, “Great election, too bad about the result.” And so he and many others including the U.S. government have given not just grudging acceptance but absolute approval to a party with a long history down to the present day of anti-Americanism, antisemitism, and support for terrorism, as well as the desire to transform Egypt into a repressive society and a political dictatorship.

But since even Friedman agrees that he used such words, let’s examine them:

– “Legitimate.” Does “legitimate” merely mean here that a lot of Egyptians accept the Brotherhood as their leader? But by this definition Stalinism, Nazism, fascism, and Japanese racist militarism were all “legitimate” doctrines. What is an “illegitimate” doctrine? I suppose nowadays only Zionism gets presented as such. Friedman, who is never short of criticisms on Israel, finds revolutionary Islamism more to his taste.

On the other hand, it is not at all clear that secular and liberal groups are now “legitimate” since they have been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters and are likely to face significant harassment from the army, Brotherhood, and Salafists.

On broader grounds, Western leftist intellectuals cannot understand how a dictatorship can be popular and yet still be a dictatorship that those who believe in democracy and freedom should criticize. This was the basis of the great divide among leftist and liberal intellectuals of earlier generations over the Soviet Union and other left-wing dictatorships. Since real liberals today have been, at least temporarily, wiped out, few are left other than conservatives to make this point.

–”Authentic.” That usually means something arising from one’s society and properly fitting into it. But here’s a problem. Today, democracy as known in the West is not an “authentic” doctrine for Egyptians. It is seen as an import and doesn’t have a strong cultural, intellectual, political, economic, or religious basis. And since liberal parties didn’t get many votes, that tends to indicate that liberty, equality for women, tolerance, and all the other elements of a real democracy also aren’t “legitimate” in Egypt either.

–”Progressive.” In recent years, “progressive” has become a false flag for extreme left-wing movements in the West. Friedman says he did not apply that word to the Brotherhood, so let’s leave him out of it personally. Still, though, there is no doubt that many people who consider themselves “progressive” are also enthusiastic about the Brotherhood. In fact, I’ve never heard any such person criticize the group, or Islamists generally for that matter.

So “progressives” see revolutionary Islamism as the proper Middle East counterpart of the Western left. Observers often ask how these two forces can work together when their views and values are apparently so different. Here’s the answer: many or most Western leftists do view Islamism as a kindred movement. In part, that’s because they don’t understand Islamism; and in part they don’t understand Islamism because when they see it they shout not, “Down with the reactionary clerical-fascists!” but rather: “Comrade!”

Unfortunately, the Islamists don’t reciprocate this love.

Isn’t Friedman aware that real Egyptian democrats are rushing to get visas and leave the country? That many Christians are getting out and the rest are trembling?

Within hours of the Friedman statement, the Free Egyptians Party — the most “authentic” liberal party in Egypt — declared a boycott of the remaining elections, claiming electoral fraud. Personally, I don’t think electoral fraud was a major factor but, rather, the party is reacting out of hopelessness, knowing that an open democratic society has no chance now in Egypt and that it cannot depend on any help from Western governments, which support its enemies.

The real moderates and democrats are in despair, knowing what they will be living under. And Friedman cheers their oppressors and says there is nothing to worry about. How is this better than becoming a booster for some Latin American military dictator or African tyrant or ruthless Communist oligarchy?

In playing these games, Friedman and the U.S. government ignore the mature adult way to handle such issues. A foreign policy professional should say something like this:

The Muslim Brotherhood won elections and clearly enjoys support from many Egyptians. It is now up to the Brotherhood to live up to those hopes and fulfill the promise of true democracy. To do so, the Brotherhood will have to break with past beliefs and policies. We all hope this change does indeed happen. But we will be watching closely and never hesitate to point out when it acts in a different manner. The Brotherhood will have to prove, to Egyptians and the world alike, that it truly is now moderate and democratic. Only then would we accept such a claim.

You see the difference? My version says: We have an open mind, we are willing to work with you, but the burden is on you to prove your claims. We know enough about you to be skeptical and we will not be fooled.

His version says: Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? Brotherhood! Brotherhood! yay, Brotherhood!

The second thing that disgusts me is Friedman’s attempts to win applause by sucking up to his Egyptian audience. He tells them that the U.S. Congress is profoundly corrupt. Aside from demeaning his own country and civilization, the signal that statement sends is: Hey, democracy doesn’t really work!

And what does an Egyptian audience think of when it hears this line about money ruling? Not insider stock-trading but rather the old Arab assertion that the Zionist lobby directs U.S. policy, that’s what.

If Friedman actually was knowledgeable on the Middle East he would have understood the message he is conveying and have avoided such statements. Oh, wait, Friedman himself has made such a charge, saying that the Jewish lobby bought Congress’s enthusiastic reception of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, being saved from accusations of antisemitism only because he is the son of Jewish parents.

“Money will kill your democracy like it did ours,” said Friedman. So Egypt is now a democracy but America isn’t? And, again, who do Arab ideologues identify with using “money” to control politics? Answer: Not Tony Rezko.

Friedman calls Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum an example of an American extremist. This tells Egyptians: We have no right to criticize you! You now have leaders who openly call for genocide against Jews. Well, we have people who don’t favor gay marriage!

Friedman (and Obama) can’t think a move ahead. If (ok, when) the Brotherhood starts to crack down and at some point even Obama might feel inclined to criticize its repression, Egyptian leaders and writers will respond: How dare you criticize us! According to your own Friedman you are ruled by money, don’t have proper democracy, and are full of extremists. So mind your own business.

And yet at the end of his lecture in Cairo the audience was still reportedly critical of Friedman, one more proof that you cannot win over those who hate you on the basis of a seriously constructed worldview by flattering them and bashing your own side.

I’m almost done but there’s one more thing important for you to know. It’s from a column I wrote a year ago, in the midst of the revolution. The radical blogger Angry Arab made fun of Friedman back then. Referring to Friedman as a “Zionist,” the blogger mocked him for claiming that the revolution would produce a moderate pro-American Egypt ready to keep the peace with Israel. Every Arab understood, said Angry Arab, that the exact opposite would happen.

A humorous example of Friedman’s lack of self-awareness is the fact that he called his column, “Watching Elephants Fly.” Can many Americans hear that phrase and not think of a certain famous animated film by Walt Disney?


Arlene Kushner

That means "Anyone But Obama," although I might qualify that with "almost."

Perhaps it's in the nature of the game, but as I watch from Jerusalem while the candidates vying for the Republican nomination go at each other, I am unsettled. Especially as sometimes accusations are over the top. In the end, of course, the Republicans will settle on one of those currently vying for the nomination. But we must hope that, by that time, the competition that preceded it will not have so tarnished his image that his capacity to beat Obama at the polls has been compromised.

Be it Romney or Santorum or Gingrich, any of these serving as president would be far better for America, and Israel and the Western world than Obama is. And in the end, I hope that is what Republicans in the US will remember, rallying in strength and with genuine enthusiasm behind the victor. This election, in the main, is not Obama's to win -- his credentials are down the tubes -- so much as it is the Republicans to lose. At the moment, it's looking like Romney. And if it is, he'll have a tough fight on his hands.

Bill Daley, who took over from Rahm Emanuel as Obama's chief of staff, has resigned after a one-year stint. Obama has now replaced him with Jacob (Jack) Lew, who has been serving as Director of Management and Budget.

Former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew on Nov. 8, 2011. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Lew Source:Reuters

What has been broadly announced is that he is an "Orthodox Jew." According to the Forward, this means he "keeps an observant lifestyle, eats kosher food and does not drive on the Sabbath. He does not wear a kippa (traditional Jewish skullcap) in his daily life."

I know nothing about him (other than what I just wrote above)...yet. But I confess to pondering long and hard how he can be comfortable working for Obama.

And you'd have a very hard time convincing me that this particular appointment is just a coincidence, when Obama is so vigorously courting the Jewish community.


So now it's Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, Iranian professor and department head of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, who has been blown to kingdom-come (with or without the 72 virgins), in this case by a magnetic car bomb, in Teheran.

I'm am not prepared to say that Israel did it -- although this is the working assumption in many quarters. This likelihood was fueled by a comment by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz yesterday, before Ahmadi-Roshan was hit, regarding the fact that in 2012 Iran can expect more "unnatural" events.

There are suggestions that rebels from inside Iran are responsible for some of these attacks. Or, as one blogger citing unnamed sources claims, the Mossad working with Iranians from inside. A plausible possibility.

Ahmadi-Roshan, is, I believe, the third Iranian scientist to have been taken out.

What makes these operations effective is not just the elimination of experts needed by Iran, but the uneasy and underlying anxiety that is generated.


I wrote recently about how difficult predictions are because of constantly shifting dynamics. Now Khaled Abu Toameh has written a piece, "The many contradictions of Mahmoud Abbas," which addresses precisely this with regard to the PA president:

"Seven years have passed since Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the Palestinian Authority, and many Palestinians appear to be as confused as ever regarding their leader’s true intentions."

Abbas has offered conflicting messages with regard to policy, unity, reelections, peace talks and a third intifada.

My question is whether Abbas is himself conflicted, or, as I would suggest, there is method to his madness (or indecision).


I'm beginning to see suggestions once again -- which make me furious once again -- regarding the need for Israel to "make a gesture of good faith" to keep the Palestinian Arabs sitting at the table. But this is precisely what Abbas and company hope for: They confess to a burning desire to make peace, and reveal with tears in their eyes that it is being thwarted by the Israelis' refusal to freeze settlements, etc.

A gullible, appeasing world is quite happy to lean on Israel -- once again -- in the deluded hope that maybe one more concession will make a difference. Heaven forbid Israel should budge in this regard!

Here I want to refer to one specific suggestion, which I consider particularly foolish and dangerous. Perhaps, it is being said, we should give the PA more control of certain areas, ceasing IDF operations. What is ignored when such suggestions are made is that it is the IDF, operating nightly, that stops terrorists, finds weapons caches, and the like. The PA so-called security forces will not do this. To make this suggestion is to ever so casually and ignorantly suggest putting innocent Israelis at risk.


Guilio Meotti has written an insightful, indeed fascinating, thought-piece, "Israel, the Pistol Nation":

"In Israel, war and democracy have made an unusual marriage to create a Jew fit to survive in continuous sacrifice. It is not about gargantuan deeds by superhuman champions; it is family-and home-oriented, and rather intimate in tone.

"The militarization of the Jew, which is the burden and the salvation at the same time, has been the most dramatic psychological transformation of the Zionist revolution. Where once Jews were mocked for being 'cowards' and 'parasites,' today they are condemned by the world for being 'aggressors.'

"...That’s the Jewish revolution, which the West can’t accept, the most admirable Israeli phenomenon: A people still able to defend itself against the forces of evil.",7340,L-4174273,00.html


A 1,500 year old ceramic stamp bearing the image of a menorah has been found during Israel Antiquities Authorities excavations near the city of Akko. It has been identified as coming from the Byzantine period (6th century CE), and is a "bread stamp": It was used to certify that baked goods were kosher.

Menorah stamp


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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Knesset Approves Infiltration Law

Elad Benari

The Knesset approved late Monday night the law that would prevent infiltrations into Israel, Channel 2 News reported.

The law allows for the arrest and detention of infiltrators for a period of three years. It also includes a provision that permits imposing a life sentence on any infiltrator convicted of property related crimes. Another provision in the law allows for punishment of five to 15 years for anyone convicted of helping infiltrators.

Channel 2 reported that 37 MKs supported the proposal and eight MKs opposed it. During the debate, objections were presented by MKs from the Meretz and Hadash parties. The objections were rejected. The legislation is part of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan for dealing with illegal work infiltrators. The plan also calls for the completion of the Egypt-Eilat border fence using a budget of 280 million shekels being allocated for this purpose, as well as the expansion of the Saharonim facility at Ketziot, where infiltrators are being held, from 2,200 places to 5,500.

Recent statistics showed that infiltrations of Africans into Israel reached a dizzying pace. The infiltrations grow month by month, but the Population and Immigration Authority has said that it cannot prevent the infiltrators from going to urban areas and being employed illegally, because they do not have a facility in which to keep them until possible deportation. Tens of thousands have remained in Israel, which often does not deport them and instead allows them to remain in the country.

The Population and Immigration Authority said last week that 2,931 people entered Israel illegally through its border with Egypt in December, a record number.

Egypt: Israeli pilgrimage 'impossible' this year

Egypt: It would not be "appropriate" for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta • Activists mobilize to block the pilgrimage route • Simon Wiesenthal Center denounces the attempts to block pilgrimage, accuses Muslim Brotherhood of trying to "curb religious freedom of Jews."
The Associated Press

CAIRO — Egypt's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be "appropriate" for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta, as activists mobilized to block the pilgrimage route.

Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatizra have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade, with Islamists, nationalists, and others claiming that the government by allowing the pilgrimage is pursuing an unpopular policy of normalization with the country's former enemy. Egypt notified Israel two months ago that it would be "impossible to hold the annual ceremony because of the political and security situation in the country," the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

An Islamist politician involved in organizing protests against the march meanwhile said that visiting Abu Hatzira's gravesite in the village of Daymouta, 180 kilometers (112 miles) north of Cairo would be a "suicide mission" for Israelis, because of popular opposition to their presence in Egypt.

"Normalization (of relations) with Israel is forced on the people, and the visits too come against the will of the people and despite popular rejection," said Gamal Heshmat of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's best organized political group.

Heshmat said that activists planned to stage sit-ins and other protests to block the route as soon as they hear the pilgrims are on their way. Egypt's daily Al-Ahram newspaper reported Tuesday that 31 parties and groups had joined this year's campaign.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization based in Los Angeles, denounced the attempts to block the pilgrimage. In a Tuesday statement, the center's Abraham Cooper accused the Brotherhood of trying to "curb religious freedom of Jews."

"In their worldview, there is no respect for the traditions for Jews, dead or alive," he said.

A son to a chief rabbi of Morocco, Abu Hatzira was revered by some Jews as a mystic renowned for his piety and for performing miracles. The elderly rabbi was making his way from his native Morocco to the Holy Land in 1879 when he fell ill and died in the Egyptian city of Damanhour near Alexandria.

According to tradition, his followers tried to move his tomb three times, and three times heavy storms prevented them.

After Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, Jewish devotees — mostly of Moroccan origin — have traveled annually to the site. But Egypt has limited the numbers of pilgrims.

In 2001 and 2004, two court orders banned the ceremony after opponents filed legal challenges.

Since then, both Delta residents and activist groups have denounced the ceremony. The residents complain of harassment by security forces deployed to protect the pilgrims. Activists oppose the normalization of relations with a country that Egypt fought in four wars between 1948 and 1973, and also see the defiance of the court order as part of the Mubarak regime's general trampling of the rule of law.

In 2009, Egypt officially denied the pilgrims entry because the anniversary fell while Israel was conducing an offensive in Gaza.

A year later, the Israeli press reported that Mubarak accepted a request from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lift the limits on the number of pilgrims.

The tomb is a vestige of Egypt's once-prosperous Jewish community, which at the time of the first war with Israel in 1948 numbered about 80,000 people.

But the Arab-Israeli wars, and the resentment and expulsions that they engendered, have reduced the number of Egypt's Jews to about 60 individuals, according to the Israeli embassy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Obama's Arrogant Authoritarianism

Lachlan Markay

January 10, 2012

Last week, President Barack Obama took the latest step on his road toward an arrogant, new authoritarianism with four illegal appointments that entirely trampled on the Constitution’s requirements. More troubling still, the President chose to shred the Constitution all in the name of serving his Big Labor agenda while killing jobs in the process.

The President’s actions once again gave voice to his animating view of governing: doing so is much easier when one isn’t constrained by the Constitution and its checks and balances. “We can’t wait,” the President exclaimed after unilaterally appointing Richard Cordray as director of the newly inaugurated Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He also appointed three officials to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), two of whom had been nominated less than a month before. The policy implications of the President’s appointments? The CFPB will now have unmitigated authority to issue regulation upon regulation, contributing to the already-crippling red tape that is strangling business in America. And the NLRB will have the power to advance the President’s agenda to bolster unions across the country at the expense of job growth in a smarting economy.

For what, exactly, can’t the President wait? Quite simply, constitutional republicanism — the system of checks and balances integral to American government and political freedom. He grew impatient with the delays that inevitably accompany any legislative action an acted outside the Constitution’s mandated process. But the American people should ask, “Is such action really preferable to a deliberative, if slower-moving, constitutional republic?”

The President’s appointments last week, troubling as they are, are but the next steps on the road to a despotic form of governance that has come to characterize his Administration — and all of liberalism in America today — what authors Fred Siegel and Joel Kotkin termed in City Journal this week Obama’s “New Authoritarianism.” Frustrated by the unwillingness of the people’s representatives to enact his agenda wholesale, Obama has, from early in his Administration, sought to enact a series of proposals through administrative fiat, not the legislative process:

The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected his cap-and-trade plan, so Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide, the compound that sustains vegetative life, as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
After Congress defeated his stealth-amnesty immigration proposal, the DREAM Act, the Department of Homeland Security instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to “adopt enforcement parameters that bring about the same ends as the DREAM Act,” as Heritage’s Mike Brownfield explained.
When the woefully misnamed Employee Free Choice Act–explicitly designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls–was defeated by Congress, the NLRB announced a rule that would implement “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy.
After an innovation-killing Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced — on Christmas Eve, no less — that it would regulate the Web anyway, despite even a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority to do so.
In its push for national education standards, the Education Department decided to tie waivers for the No Child Left Behind law to requirements that states adopt those standards, shutting Congress out of the effort.
Rather than push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, the Department of Justice (DOJ) simply decided it would no longer enforce those laws.
DOJ made a similar move with respect to the Defense of Marriage Act: rather than seeking legislative recourse, DOJ announced it would stop enforcing the law.

While these efforts are all aimed at circumventing the legislative process, none was so brazen as his four illegal appointments. Last week, Obama went one step further: He violated not just the spirit of the Constitution, which vests in Congress the power to make laws, but the letter of the law as well.

The move is “a breathtaking violation of the separation of powers,” explain former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese and Heritage colleague Todd Gaziano, a former attorney in DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, in a Washington Post column. “[N]ever before has a president purported to make a ‘recess’ appointment when the Senate is demonstrably not in recess,” they note. “That is a constitutional abuse of a high order.”

Dr. Matthew Spalding, vice president of American Studies and director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation, explains that this “new despotism” — a government where regulations and unilateral actions replace republican governance — runs entirely counter to the Founders’ vision of America:

The greatest political revolution since the American Founding has been the shift of power away from the institutions of constitutional government to an oligarchy of unelected experts. They rule over virtually every aspect of our daily lives, ostensibly in the name of the American people but in actuality by the claimed authority of science, policy expertise, and administrative efficiency.

If this regime becomes the undisputed norm — accepted not only among the intellectual and political elites, but also by the American people, as the defining characteristic of the modern state — it could well mark the end of our great experiment in self-government.

President Obama’s actions are exactly the kind that the Founders feared and sought to guard against. His illegal appointments usurp power from the American people’s duly elected representatives, and the regulations they will promulgate will, undoubtedly, contribute to the unabated growth of the undemocratic administrative state.

Now that the President has crossed the threshold of constitutionality, there really is no telling where he may stop. There is a clear trend here, however, and it leads further and further from the constitutional order. With these illegal appointments, the President has taken to new heights his disdain for the separation of powers. Whether it will stop here depends on Congress — Will lawmakers of both parties reassert the legislature’s constitutional authority and take a stand against Obama’s arrogant new authoritarianism?

Quick Hits:

Voters in New Hampshire head to the polls today in the “first in the nation” primary for the 2012 presidential election. A record turnout is projected.
White House chief of staff William M. Daley resigned on Monday nearly a year earlier than expected, with budget chief Jacob Lew set to fill the position. The President has had four chiefs of staff in only 16 months.
Sami Osmakac, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen from the former Yugoslavia, was arrested on Monday for planning a bombing and shooting rampage in Florida. The arrest marks the 44th known terrorist plot against the United States that has been averted.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad yesterday lashed out at the media and blamed “outside planning” for the uprising against his government. Despite an ongoing revolt, Assad vowed to continue his rule.
The NFL Players Association just came out against Indiana’s proposed right-to-work law. Find out why this isn’t surprising, all on

Who’s threatening democracy?

Isi Leibler
January 10, 2012

The collapse of the Palestinian initiative to achieve unilateral independence and the widespread consensus within Israel concerning the principal threats confronting us, have deeply frustrated marginalized far left groups. Their response has been to launch a global campaign portraying us as a State losing its democratic ethos and adopting fascism - a theme eagerly endorsed by much of the Western media.

The religious zealots, whose revolting behavior towards women dominated the Israeli media over the past month, are portrayed as harbingers of a medieval theocratic State. Most of the media ignored the fact that the President, Prime Minister and the vast majority of the public, including many of the ultra-Orthodox and their rabbis, vigorously condemned the behavior and demanded prompt action to punish the hoodlums with the full severity of the law. Another cynical spin to discredit democracy is the suggestion that the government’s reluctance to subsidize a bankrupt TV channel represented an effort by Netanyahu to restrict freedom of expression and take control of the left leaning media.

The legislation relating to NGOs currently under review in the Knesset has also been distorted and presented as a conspiracy to deny freedom of expression.

Yet there are genuine grounds for remedial action to minimize the harm NGOs inflict upon the State. It was only after the publication of the Goldstone Report that Israelis became aware of the full extent to which these organizations, purporting to promote human rights, were instigating global campaigns to boycott, divest, and delegitimize their country.

What particularly infuriated Israelis was that some NGOs are funded (usually furtively) by foreign - often hostile – governments, to the tune of nearly NIS 30 million per annum. Organizations like B’tselem and Breaking the Silence which receive respectively 62% and 73% of their budgets from foreign governments, frenziedly accuse Israel of “devotion to Nazi values” and “committing humanity’s worst atrocities”.

It is surely inconceivable for a democratic country under siege to tolerate organizations, funded by foreign governments, engaging in unbridled defamatory campaigns which seriously damage national interests.

That is not to dispute that there are legitimate grounds for disagreeing with some aspects of the proposed draft legislation which could be deemed discriminatory.

However, the legislation that will be passed is likely to be non-discriminatory, modeled along similar lines to the NGO Funding Transparency Law adopted by the Knesset in February 2011. This emulates the US precedent, making it obligatory for all NGOs receiving funds from abroad to register as foreign agencies. That would impose transparency, enabling the government to monitor activity and take action if a NGO breaches the law. If paralleled by diplomatic pressure on foreign governments to desist from interfering in our internal affairs, it would almost certainly neutralize their more nefarious interventions.

The most vexatious issue is Israel's Supreme Court, which many Israelis today regard as elitist and dominated by left–wing attitudes.

It is widely recognized that the Supreme Court became excessively interventionist from the time that Aaron Barak served as its president. It abrogated Knesset supremacy in a country without a written constitution, basing itself on a few ambiguous words such as "human dignity" as contained in a Basic Law adopted by the Knesset which failed to anticipate the extent to which it would be abused. In addition, unlike the US Supreme Court, the Israeli Court usually rejects Government contentions that certain issues should be settled in the Knesset domain.

The Israeli Supreme Court also differs from other courts in accepting thousands of petitions annually against the Government or a public servant - on any subject from anyone - with no requirement to show a direct interest of the petitioner to the issue. This reduces time available to deal with ongoing criminal or civil appeals which remain unresolved for years.

It is understandable that tensions increase in a climate in which public attitudes are undergoing changes and conflict with the prevailing left outlook of those currently occupying positions on the Supreme Court. From the perspective of frustrated legislators, the Supreme Court, unlike courts in the US or any other democratic country, is flippantly vetoing the will of the Knesset majority over non-judicial issues, thus ignoring the elementary principle of separation of powers between the three branches of government. This is manifested by the Court frequently intruding in matters which are not a question of law but an expression of political bias.

Regrettably, the far-left have succeeded in creating the perception, especially amongst Diaspora Jews, that any reform would breach the fundamental rights of minorities and represent a genuine threat to the democratic ethos of our society.

That is ridiculous. There is, at the very least, a desperate need to reform the prevailing undemocratic process for selecting new judges which enables incumbent judges to effectively veto a candidate for any reason. For example, in 2005 Ruth Gavison, an outstanding candidate, was blackballed by the then Supreme Court President Aaron Barak, who claimed she had an “agenda” – i.e. she lacked the “progressive” outlook of other members of the Court. More recently it was reflected in a negative attitude displayed towards the candidature of Judge Noam Solberg (who was subsequently elected, but only as a result of unseemly horse-trading) because he is a “settler” living in Alon Shvut and had therefore been depicted in the media as “right wing”.

The current system ensures the perpetuation of the prevailing ideological composition of the Court, denying entry to candidates with different social and political outlooks. Dispensing with such a veto democratizes the selection process and avoids discrimination. Despite its weaknesses, the US system is far more democratic, avoids judicial cronyism, and ensures that the composition of the Court reflects changes in public attitudes. Candidates for the US Supreme Court are nominated by the President and undergo parallel congressional scrutiny and those with questionable or controversial backgrounds are excluded.

The Prime Minister should ignore the political diatribes of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch who described proposed amendments as “inciting against the judges” and an effort to destroy “the democracy upon which our society stands”. There is no other High Court in the Western world in which sitting judges are able to effectively veto candidates who may not share their views. Even though public pressure resulted in a more balanced selection of judges this time, Netanyahu should proceed with reforms to democratize the selection process of judges. Once implemented, the Supreme Court will begin to reflect the changes within society without compromising its judicial role.

Of course, The Knesset must take care not to throw out the baby with the bathwater and must therefore avoid compromising the balance of powers between the legislature and the courts and retain

In the broader context, Prime Minister Netanyahu should not allow himself to be intimidated by those falsely portraying themselves as guardians of civil rights. They are merely attempting to forestall a genuine extension of democracy and should be exposed as hypocrites and purveyors of Orwellian double-talk.

We should take great pride in the fact that despite being the only country in the world facing continuous existential threats from its neighbors, Israel is and will remain an oasis of thriving democracy in a cruel region in which autocracy, denial of human rights and Islamic fanaticism are the order of the day.

The writer’s website can be viewed at

He may be contacted at

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Monday, January 09, 2012


The Shamgar Committee, which had been charged with establishing guidelines on how the government should respond if terrorists abduct Israelis in the future, has completed its work and submitted its report to Defense Minister Barak last Thursday. It is being said that the goal of the protocol that is recommended is to guide Israelis to abide by a "national moral code," as well as to send a message to the enemy that it will not be profitable to kidnap Israelis.

Credit: YNet

According to Israel Radio, the report is currently classified "top secret," and while parts of it may remain confidential, parts may ultimately be published.

Apparently the entire issue was examined, including everything from deterrence to how much should be paid for an abductee. What is known about the recommendations is that they call for a toughening of the stance of the government:

Explained Meir Shamgar, the former High Court president who headed the committee, "We didn't only discuss the question of how to conduct negotiations over prisoner swaps, but also the question of whether to hold negotiations at all, and who should be the one to lead them. We recommend that the issue of saving hostages be under the rule of the defense minister, the prime minister and the government." There is informed speculation that the Committee recommended appointing a permanent committee to deal with abductions and that special envoys no longer be utilized.

"The issue of secrecy is an integral component of our recommendations," said Shamgar. "It is preferable to keep certain things secret, so information will not be leaked to hostile elements."


After receiving the report, Barak said:

"It's important that we have solidarity, that we see that we are able to pay a heavy price when necessary and, most importantly, that we have set guidelines and expectations from the beginning so that this can impact the expectations of the other side."

Not quite sure what he has in mind when he refers to "a heavy price when necessary," but the issue of solidarity that he mentions is of considerable importance. There's no question in my mind that the price for Shalit went up because people in Israel eager to see him released were publicly lobbying the prime minister. The members of Hamas are not fools -- they saw the pressure Netanyahu was under.

And the existence of guidelines -- which, in broad terms, must be public knowledge -- are critical. Potential terrorist-captors must know before the fact that what Israel will offer in return for a hostage -- if anything at all -- has a very definite limit.


Apparently Barak will now discuss these guidelines with the prime minister. He will then either institute what is recommended or go to the Knesset to seek appropriate legislation.

I'm all for that legislation, so that negotiators are bound by law and cannot suddenly concede more than is wise when under pressure.


According to a report from Israel Hayom at the very end of December, the Forum of Eight (senior ministers, including the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister) decided unanimously that if another soldier is abducted Israel will go to war.

"The era of self-restraint is over," one senior government official said. "Anyone who kidnaps an Israeli will have to pay, possibly with the end of his rule."

Observed Netanyahu, "Reality is forcing us to change the rules of the game."

At about the same time, MK Zevulun Orlev (Bayit Yehudi) declared that many MKs and ministers now regret having released so many terrorists for Shalit. He announced intention to introduce legislation that would limit the authority of the government to abrogate the sentences of terrorists for the sake of a policy objective.


This is a switch that merits a "finally," as well, I think:

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz recently addressed "the rising potential for a multi-arena event" -- by which is meant war on several fronts. "Facing in several directions as we are...we can't afford to stay on the defensive and must come up with offensive measures."

About time it was said!


I'd like to say "finally" about this, too, but I don't know that I can:

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey gave an interview to CBS News; it was intended to demonstrate how rough and tough the US will remain in spite of military cuts made by Obama that are both horrendous and exceedingly ill-advised.

Declared Panetta, "our red line to Iran is to not develop a nuclear weapon. That's a red line for us."

That should be a "finally," a badly needed definitive statement. However...

General Dempsey, when asked how difficult it would be to take out Iran's nuclear capacity, answered:

"I'd rather not discuss the degree of difficulty and in any way encourage them to read anything into that."

That merits a groan. Why didn't he say that it doesn't matter how difficult it is, because the US military can do it? Instead, he explained:

"But I will say that -- our -- my responsibility is to encourage the right degree of planning to understand the risks associated with any kind of military option... in some cases to position assets, to provide those options... in a timely fashion. And all those activities are going on."

Talk about a statement lacking in certainty and clarity! And this wasn't the end.

When asked about whether the US could take out the Iranian nuclear capacity without using nuclear weapons, Dempsey replied:

"I certainly want them to believe that that's the case."

He actually SAID this on national TV? This is a direct quote, provided by YNet. Hey guys, if the leaders of Hamas are not stupid, neither are the leaders in Iran.

Sorry -- spin this as you may, as deliberate disinformation or whatever -- I am underwhelmed, and definitely not reassured.


Let's look for just a moment at our "peace partners" in the PA/PLO:

Last week, after the meeting in Amman, I reported that, while the PA negotiators had submitted their proposals, the Israeli proposals for borders and security requirements that had been requested by the Quartet had still not been submitted.

According to Herb Keinon, who cited "Western diplomatic officials" in the JPost last Thursday, Israel did submit something. However, "the just a rough outline of issues that need to be discussed, and did not present in any detail Israel’s position on the matters."

Another meeting is scheduled for tomorrow. An adviser to Abbas said they will respond to this outline at the meeting.


Ehud Barak, who is always pumping for a "peace process," now readily concedes that the chances are very slight that any significant progress will be made during these talks.

However, he sees the talks as having benefit, none-the-less:

"Good faith negotiations with the Palestinians can impede attempts to isolate Israel. It's important that it be clear that Israel is active in a real way. It can hinder the effectiveness of attempts to isolate us internationally."

Is Netanyahu taking his cues from his buddy Barak? This is his "play-the-game" policy.


Meanwhile, speaking of playing a game, Mahmoud al-Aloul, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said in a speech on behalf of Abbas in Ramallah that the first meeting in Amman was very disappointing because the Israelis came without any new proposals. Of course, the PA proposal, that demanded negotiations based on the '67 line, was just loaded with new ideas, right?

Just listen:

"The Palestinian leadership has spared no effort to seek peace and has complied with all initiatives. But all our efforts have been in vain...The Israelis are not prepared for any solutions."

The Israeli response? That it had been decided at the meeting that neither side would make statements about the negotiations and that the Jordanians would be the spokespersons. In other words, al-Aloul was out of line.


Meanwhile, according to the reliable Middle East Newsline, Fatah is currently wracked by infighting because of Abbas's failure to succeed at the UN. This faction is definitely not of one mind with regard to the Amman meetings. Even if there were no other problems with regard to the "negotiations," the ambivalence of Fatah would be the kiss of death.


There continue to be events in this part of the world that are shifting so rapidly that I wonder if I need a spread sheet to keep track of it all. I've said this before: these are extraordinary times, with shifting alliances, roiling dynamics. Truly impossible to adequately call very much of what will happen -- events can only be monitored as they unfold. A couple of mentions here will suffice for now:

Last Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt had given the US assurances that it would honor Egypt's peace treaty with Israel. Various parties have given "good guarantees," she said.

On Saturday, Essam al-Erian, deputy head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, speaking to Al-Hayat, an Arabic paper in London, said that the accords "are under the responsibility of the people and state institutions, and it would not be right for anyone to speak on behalf of the Egyptian people....We are not in a position to give assurances."

By that point, Rashad al-Bayoumi, the Brotherhood's second in command, had already told Al-Hayat that "the Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel under any circumstances and might put the peace treaty with the Jewish state up to a referendum.

"[The Brotherhood] did not sign the peace accords… We are allowed to ask the people or the elected parliament to express their opinion on the treaty...We will take the proper legal steps in dealing with the peace deal. To me, it isn't binding at all. The people will express their opinion on the matter."

But at almost the same time that al-Erian's statement was published, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon made a statement on the subject: "The peace treaty with Egypt is not in danger." All the main players in Egypt understand the benefits of retaining the treaty, he maintains.

Could be. Could be that the hedging by the Brotherhood is just political blather, or that their representatives are covering their rears because they intended their reassurances -- that Nuland so blithely announced -- to be kept quiet.

Could also be that the Brotherhood itself isn't sure yet what it will do.


I have not been tracking the horrendous situation in Syria, in which some 5,000 have been killed by the government in the last 10 months, but this is another case in point: Will Assad come down soon or not? In spite of everything it is not at all certain that he will.

On Friday, Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby met in Cairo with Hamas politburo head Khaled Mashaal, and asked him to appeal to the Syria government to halt the violence. Mashaal cannot have been happy with this assignment -- Hamas is in a bit of a tight situation in Syria and, as I have indicated, is seeking a home elsewhere. Not sure how much clout Hamas has with Assad at this point.

And how does the situation in Syria impinge upon Hezbollah? Right now there is less assistance to that terrorist group because Assad is drained and otherwise occupied. And if a new regime enters the picture? Muslim Brotherhood in Syria refused assistance from Iran because it has been a supporter of the Assad regime. Losing the Assad connection could be a big blow Iran's goals in this area.

Watch it play out...


Iran is obviously hurting, as sanctions squeeze its economy -- its currency rate is at a record low. But will those sanctions be levied with enough seriousness to do the trick?

Is Ahmadinejad's threat to close the Straits of Hormuz more than a threat? Should he actually do so, it might be seen as a casus belli in the West.

More to watch...


Please see this excellent piece, "Israel is our land," by Naftali Bennett, Director General of the Yesha Council.

"...As long as we keep on utilizing practical arguments while leaving the arena of justice to the Palestinians, we shall lose. The time has come for the Israeli government to go back to the simple truth: The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel.",7340,L-4172316,00.html


And just up on YouTube: A flash mob in Beit Shemesh on Friday: 250 women dancing in the old city square -- an open expression of their refusal to be barred from the public domain by ultra-Orthodox. What fun. Three of my granddaughters danced.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Terrorist Attack Foiled; 12 Pipe Bombs Found at Checkpoint

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A7 News

Border Police Sunday morning foiled large-scale terrorist attacks by Palestinian Authority Arabs who carried pipe bombs and an 8-inch commando knife when they were searched at a security fence checkpoint in Samaria.

Border Police arrested four terrorists from the village of Balata, near Shechem in central Samaria. In addition to the bombs and knife, police discovered the terrorists were carrying an improvised revolver and ammunition.

The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) is questioning the men. The planned attack is one of the latest in a growing number of terrorist threats that have been attributed to the release of more than 1,000 terrorists in exchange for the return of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and to the Palestinian Authority bid for United Nations recognition instead of returning to direct talks with Israel.

Last week, authorities released for publication the information that two Israeli Arabs were arrested last month on charges of helping the Hamas terrorist organization. The two men, who are brothers, admitted that they were in contact with Hamas terrorists in Judea and Samaria, who asked them to cooperate in helping to attack Israeli Jews.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been a Zionist
Ever since I can remember, I have always been a Zionist


Ever since I can remember, I have always been a Zionist. To understand this, we have to go back to my childhood, in fact my school days. I have always heard an extremely negative and detrimental description about the Jewish people, that they are the most cunning, mean, ruthless, selfish, self centered, conniving, greedy and sick people. I always used to counter-question those in authority about why are they supposed to be so bad, and I always got very petty reasons, saying because they killed innocent Muslims and still are killing so many innocent Muslims in Palestine, and mainly because they killed so many prophets. I had never personally met a Jew in my life (actually I still have not met any), but from what I had seen, heard and read in the media, they seemed like pretty normal people with two hands, two feet, two eyes, two ears and a nose, and they definitely do not have horns on their heads. It was only recently that I discovered that the Jews are actually the oppressed and not the oppressor as otherwise claimed by the Arabs. To understand my point of view, it is very vital that you all know the true historical background of Israel and the Jews. This lesson in history is especially imperative for the ignorant and misinformed Muslims who are totally oblivious to the facts, so here it goes.

1. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam. 2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years, with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.

4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.

5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.

7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem.

8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.

9. In 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.

10. The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution, and slaughter.

11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to be around 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.

12. Arab refugees were intentionally not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people’s lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey.

13. The Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.

14. The PLO’s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.

15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.

16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.

17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.

18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.

19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like a policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.
If you consider the above facts, you will see that the state of Palestine never existed in history. When the Romans changed the name of Israel to Palestine, the people living there at the time were Jews, not Arabs. If there had been a “Palestinian People,” which there never was, they would have been Jews. Israel was called Palestine for two thousand years. Before the Israelis won the land in war, Gaza belonged to Egypt, and there were no “Palestinians” then. The West Bank belonged to Jordan, and there were no “Palestinians” then. The only reason that Muslims want Israel is because of their hatred toward Jews, Judaism, and anything that is not Muslim.

Muslims believe in only one thing, that is, hatred. They hate everyone, whether they are Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists or anyone who is not a Muslim. Because of the hate-filled teachings of Muhammad, Islam is in a constant state of war with every religion on the planet. But did you notice? None of these other religions are at war with each other, at least not in the current state of affairs.

They even hate Muslims who are not from the same sect, that is, Shias hate Sunnis and vice versa. Mohammed indeed created a monster, and that is Islam. Even after 14 centuries, that monster continues to haunt us and will continue to do so unless and until we do something to stop it.