Tuesday, July 7, 2015

American-Left Politically-Correct Chicken-Shit

Michael L.

chickenThere is a moral disconnect between western-left opposition to racism, since the end of World War II, and its general disdain for the lone, sole Jewish state of Israel.

For most "liberals" or "leftists" or "progressives," depending on how one defines such terms, this disconnect is veiled and, therefore, sometimes difficult to see.

One way to put a spot-light on it, however, is to note the negative attention that Israel receives from the western press versus the degree and quality of attention that it gives to countries like Syria or Iraq or Sudan or Congo or Saudi Arabia or North Korea.  The press knows very well that while a few hundred Arabs were killed by Israel in its operation against Hamas in Gaza last summer, that hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been killed, and millions displaced, in Syria within the just the last two years alone.

The number of war dead in Syria, in fact, already far outstrips - by perhaps four-fold - the entire number of dead in the Arab-Israel conflict since 1948, which amounts to about fifty thousand dead, total.  About two-thirds Arab and one-third Jewish.

The fact that the western-left, and the universities, and the UN, and the EU, and the Obama administration focus their disdain on Israel and not on, say, Syria, gives away the lie.

They say that Israel is abusing the local Arab population, yet, somehow, they do not seem to much care about abused Arabs who live anywhere else.

It tells us very clearly that this is a sucker's game and Jews are the suckers.

Israel is propped up, over and over again, to be socked in the mouth by the "human rights" community.

Yet the human rights community - those who stridently and self-righteously call for "social justice" - are blatant hypocrites who care about no such thing.  It is very sad, in fact.  I grew up believing that if an organization had the word "justice" or "peace" directly within the name of the organization that it probably stood for justice or peace.

This is not the case... if it ever was.

The fact of the matter is that if the "human rights community" honestly cared about social justice and universal human rights then it would care far more about Islamic State atrocities than the efforts of six million Jews to protect themselves in that part of the world.

That so many concerned "liberal" non-Jews excoriate Israel tells us that at the heart of western-left "liberalism" is a bigoted worm, eating away at the very soul of the movement, that intends to do Jewish people harm.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What to look for from the candidates (cont.)

Sar Shalom

In my previous post about the presidential race, I wrote about what messages the presidential candidates should promote irrespective of what policies they would implement if elected. This post will look at what we can expect in the way of policy from whoever get elected. However, looking directly at what any candidate would do if elected is unlikely to be feasible because the candidates are unlikely to say anything more than that they would support Israel and may or may not include work towards a two-state solution. This type of pledge is so banal in checking off key constituencies that it tells us nothing about what any candidate would do if elected.

Yet, even without specifying exact policies or how hard they would push for a peace process, there is something which would provide a clue to the parameters bounding their potential policy: their narrative. For instance, if a candidate's justification for Israel's existence starts at Wannsee and ends at V-E Day, that candidate's sympathy for Jewish connection to any part of Jordan's 1949-conquest would probably be different than if the justification stems from 13 centuries of the Islamic equivalent of Jim Crow. Similarly, if the plight of the Palestinians is compared to that of the Kurds today or of the Jews until 1948, it would create more justification to push for their maximalist aims than if their plight is compared to that of the Hutus in post-genocide Rwanda.

While the candidates are unlikely to address the issue in such terms on their own, they would also have less reason to evade questions about the narrative than they would questions like, "Under what circumstances would you withhold your Security Council veto in protection of Israel?" Any chance of the Jewish media prodding in that direction?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Michael Oren Names a Villain

Michael L.

{Cross-posted at the Elder of ZiyonJews Down Under, and the Jewish Press.}

underwood5smallFormer Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has recently published his highly anticipated memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide.

In the weeks and months leading up to the publication much chatter arose suggesting that Oren primarily blamed US President Barack Obama for the deterioration of US-Israeli relations during Obama's tenure.  Oren's recent articles in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and Foreign Policy raised very serious concerns about Obama's foreign policy competency and his friendliness toward America's foremost ally in the Middle East, the Jewish State of Israel.

Those articles raised expectations concerning the book.

Therefore, many people are asking themselves "who is the villain?"


The Primary Question

Over the years, Barack Obama has nurtured an animosity among pro-Israel / pro-Jewish people throughout the world for his support of political Islam and his apparent eagerness to welcome a nuclear-armed Iran as a strategic partner to the United States... despite the fact that Iran is a Muslim-authoritarian theocracy that likes to hang Gay people from cranes.

Many of us who follow the conflicts in the Middle East want to know why Obama supports the Muslim Brotherhood and the forthcoming Iranian bomb?

As Ambassador to the United States, Oren is used to fielding all sorts of questions concerning Israel.  One question that he found interesting, and I paraphrase, is this:
Is it easier to explain Americans to Israelis or Israel to Americans?  
He suggests that it is much harder to explain America - or, at least, the current American president - to Israelis than the other way around.

For Israelis, but also for many alert diaspora Jews, Obama's support for the Muslim Brotherhood is alarming and unfathomable given the fact that the Brotherhood is the parent organization of both Hamas and al-Qaeda and it called for the conquest of Jerusalem during Muhammad Morsi campaign rallies.

The Muslim Brotherhood is, in fact, a genocidal organization because it contemplates a second Holocaust against the Jews of the Middle East, via the conquest of Israel, and it supported Nazi Germany and the Nazi cause during, and after, World War II.

Thus, Oren writes:
"Most challenging to explain to Israelis was Obama's support for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.  Contrary to the assurances I had received that the administration would not engage the Isamist movement, the State Department formally initiated ties with Brotherhood leaders in January 2012.  Six months ater, after the election of the movement's leaders, Mohammed Morsi, to the presidency - by just over 51 percent of th vote - those contracts became an embrace."
This is a question that concerned Jews - aside from the ideologically blinkered - have been grappling with for years.  Although Obama's supporters, and particularly his Jewish supporters, refuse to acknowledge the obvious, the fact remains that the President of the United States supports a movement - political Islam - that oppresses women, is chasing Christians out of the Middle East, despises Gay people, is destroying antiquities, and screams from the hilltops for the blood of the Jews.

The fundamental question that Oren seeks to answer is, how is this possible?


The Cairo Speech of 2009

Whether or not the Cairo speech is the most important speech in the career of Barack Obama, it is the one wherein he endeavored to "reset" the American relationship to the Islamic world... as if there is any such monolith.

Concerning the speech, Oren writes:
More passionately than ever, he described his personal connections with Muslims and his conviction that "Islam is part of America."  He reiterated his vision of a new era of understanding between the United States and Muslims based on "mutual interests and respect" and the shared American and Quranic values of "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."
Oren suggests that if you wish to understand Obama's foreign policy in regards the Middle East then the Cairo speech is key.  Unlike President George W. Bush, Oren claims that Obama was intent on supporting authentic, democratically-elected Muslim leadership.  Whereas Bush hoped to impose democracy, Muslim or otherwise, onto the Arab-Muslim Middle East, Obama was intent on taking what he considered a more "enlightened" and respectful approach grounded in his education at the feet of post-colonial professors such as Edward Said and Rashid Khalidi in places like Columbia University and Harvard.

The events around the Cairo speech presaged what was to come.  Over Hosni Mubarak's objections, Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood to the speech despite the fact that the Brotherhood has generally been considered an enemy of Egyptian governments since the 1920s.  However, Mubarak represented old-school Cold War-style Arab-Nationalist dictatorships of the sort that Obama opposes in contradistinction to the new-school democratically elected "authentic" Islamists which Obama supports.

While opposing secular dictatorships is certainly within the liberal tradition, if Obama is a liberal and liberals support freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and social justice, then why does Barack Obama support the Ayatollahs and the Brotherhood?

The answer, according to Oren, is that both are seen by the president as representing authentic expressions of Muslim democracy.  Many Christian Copts may have been kept from voting at the point of a rifle by Brotherhood members and Iran's "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Khamenei, was not democratically elected and, in fact, was a product of the anti-American 1979 revolution. Nonetheless, according to Oren, Obama concluded that they represent the true democratic will of the Muslim world, along with other milder Islamists like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.


The Post-Colonialists

Obama's instincts are not his alone.

The Cairo speech is an expression of American post-colonialism as derived from an important strand of western academia typified by the late professor of literary criticism, Edward Said, and historian Rashid Khalidi, among others.  

Obama grew up in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and through the decay of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States toward the end of the twentieth-century.  He attended university at a time when veterans of both those fights held influence and tenureship throughout the Western academe and who generally looked upon American and Western influence throughout the non-western world as one of imperialism, racism, and theft of natural resources.

Oren says this:
Their ideas found fullest expression in Orientalism, a book published in 1978 by Edward Said, a Columbia literary critic and spokesman for the Palestinian cause.  Said denounced Middle East experts - the Orientalists - as "racist, imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentic," and accused them of abetting the region's conquests by the West.  Only by identifying "wholeheartedly with the Arabs" and becoming "genuinely engaged and sympathetic... to the Islamic world" could these scholars redeem themselves.  They had to shun traditional Middle Eastern professors such as Bernard Lewis and reject Israel, which Said maligned as the ultimate Orientalist project.
Thus according to Said and any number of currently working academics - including Jewish ones who claim to be pro-Israel - Israel represents a western, racist imperial intrusion onto the land of other people.

So, really, just who is the villain here?


The Villain

If anyone intends to use Oren's book to castigate or malign the Obama administration there is plenty of material here to mine.

Do not be shy.  Go right ahead.

I do not need to draw bullet points, just go into the index and choose the pet peeve of your choice.

{Mine is the apology to Erdogan which Oren actually approved of.}

An important truth of this book, however, is that while Oren is unsurprisingly kinder to Benjamin Netanyahu than he is to Barack Obama, he is also more than fair to Barack Obama.  This is not a book intended to smear anyone.  Oren is a well-respected historian and I, as someone who follows the conflict closely, found his portrayal of his central characters, including himself, to be decent.

Obama is not a villain in this treatment because the writer, in terms of Obama versus Netanyahu, is not dealing in Good Guys versus Bad Guys.  He is doing his best to be fair while, simultaneously, keeping an eye on his own political future, in the coming years, within Israel as a Knesset member with the moderate Kulanu party.

If there is a villain in Oren's story it is not Barack Obama nor, obviously, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The real villain is the news media.

Again and again throughout the book Oren castigates the news media for distorting the truth and Matti Friedman's important contribution to this subject did not go beneath notice.

Oren writes:
Israel sells.  Arabs massacring Arabs in, say, Syria is a footnote, while a Palestinian child shot by Israeli soldiers is a scoop.  The racist undertones are clear but the reality, irrefutable.  And no one understands it better than the terrorists, Hamas and Hezbollah.  If they fire at Israeli civilians, Irael will retaliate and invariably kill the Palestnian and Lebanese civilians behind whom the terrorists hide.  The pictures will be gruesome, and if insufficiently so, the terrorists will manufacture them, exhuming bodies from morgues and graveyards.  The staged images, picked up by editorless blogs proliferate on the Internet.  Many will be reproduced, uncritically, by the mainstream press.
Oren has many significant criticisms of Barack Obama and understands his flaws as a product of western post-colonial ideology which, in my view, is correct.  The problem is not that Obama has malice toward Israel, but that he honestly believes that the Arabs have been abused under Israel due to circumstances that neither could well control.  Obama is sympathetic toward the plight of the Jews in the Middle East, but he is also sympathetic toward the local Arab population who he believes have been displaced and occupied.


The End

Ultimately the book is a terrific read because, throughout, Oren is on the run and he is a man with a mission and that mission is defending and protecting the Jewish State of Israel.  His take on Barack Obama, however, is fair.  He gives Obama credit where credit is due, but he also criticizes Obama in an honest and straight-forward manner, which is why this highly sensitive administration takes such objections to the book.

The main criticism that he has of Obama is that he is an ideologically-driven president who simply does not understand the Middle East.  Obama hoped that an unclenched American hand could meet an unclenched Islamic hand.  This is an admirable goal for any president of the United States, but the only happy faces that Obama is finding in the Middle East are in the faces of the Iranian ayatollahs.

And that is not good for either Israel or the United States or Europe or the Sunni-Arab states.

No one is happy with the Iran nuke deal aside from the Iranians, Barack Obama, and some within the Democratic Party.

Oren certainly is not.

Friday, July 3, 2015

zen


Recent Piece for Vocal International

Michael L.

Vocal International, out of Brussels, Belgium, has brought me in as a writer and adviser.

They focus on news as it is related to European lives and have mainly been assigning me pieces concerning the Middle East and its relationships to Europe, the West, and Israel.

My most recent article, entitled, Saudi Arabia to Go Nuclear,  is a mere 700 words and is concerned with the recent Russian-Saudi nuclear agreement wherein Russia will build, and help maintain, up to sixteen nuclear reactors in the Saudi Peninsula.

Here is a tid-bit:
My suspicion – and it is only a suspicion – is that the Russian-Saudi deal is, at least in part, a reaction to the nuclear deal that United States President Barack Obama hopes to shortly conclude with Iran. Analysts are predicting that Obama’s Iran nuke deal will fuel a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and, in all likelihood, this is what we are looking at.  It could be that the primary motivation of the Saudis is simple economics.  By building nuclear facilities for domestic energy consumption they can sell more oil on the international market.  What is also quite likely, however, is that Saudi Arabia, like Iran, has cast its eye on the potential for a nuclear weapon. It seems highly unlikely that Sunni-controlled Saudi Arabia, not to mention Sunni-controlled Egypt, is going to look kindly upon a Shia bomb in the neighborhood.
You can read the piece in its entirety here.