Friday, March 8, 2013

Samira Ibrahim “Refuses to Apologize” for Her Tweets. By Jeffrey Goldberg.

Samira Ibrahim “Refuses to Apologize” for Her Tweets. By Jeffrey Goldberg. The Atlantic, March 7, 2013.

Kerry’s “Courage” Award Debacle. By Seth Mandel. Commentary, March 7, 2013.

The tweets that cost Samira Ibrahim her State Department award. By Caitlin Dewey. Washington Post, March 8, 2013.

Michelle Obama and John Kerry to Honor Anti-Semite and 9/11 Fan. By Samuel Tadros. The Weekly Standard, March 6, 2013.

More on Morsi and Egypt here.

Europeans Must Leave South Africa! By Brad Cibane.

Europeans Must Leave South Africa! By Brad Cibane. Thought Leader, March 6, 2013.

The Real Winners of the Global Economy: The Material Boys. By Joel Kotkin.

The Real Winners of the Global Economy: The Material Boys. By Joel Kotkin. New Geography, March 6, 2013.

New York City’s Revival: The Post-Sandy Apple. By Matthew Stevenson. New Geography, March 8, 2013.

No, Arabs Living Under Israeli Control are Not Going to Outnumber Jews Any Time Soon. By David Bernstein.

No, Arabs Living Under Israeli Control are Not Going to Outnumber Jews Any Time Soon. By David Bernstein. The Volokh Conspiracy, March 4, 2013.

Arab Spring and the Israeli Enemy. By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.

Arab Spring and the Israeli Enemy. By Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. Arab News, October 6, 2012.

To question our hatred of Israel is to invite abuse. By Carol Hunt. Independent-Ireland, March 3, 2013.

That unwitting indecency. By Sarah Honig. Jerusalem Post, January 24, 2013.

That unwitting indecency revisited. By Sarah Honig. Jerusalem Post, February 7, 2013.

Tonight with Vincent Browne calls Israel a “Cancer” and claims “They stole the land from the Arabs.” Ireland4Israel, October 24, 2012. YouTube.

I am not anti-Semitic, claims Vincent Browne. By Michael Brennan. Independent-Ireland, October 27, 2012.

TV3 ordered to say sorry for Browne’s anti-Israeli remarks. By Laura Butler. Independent-Ireland, March 1, 2013.


Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.

The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.

I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.

The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?

The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.

These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.

In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people.

In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?

On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel was declared. And just one day after that, on May 15, 1948 the Arabs declared war on Israel to get back Palestine. The war ended on March 10, 1949. It lasted for nine months, three weeks and two days. The Arabs lost the war and called this war Nakbah (catastrophic war). The Arabs gained nothing and thousands of Palestinians became refugees.

And in 1967, the Arabs led by Egypt under the rule of Gamal Abdul Nasser, went in war with Israel and lost more Palestinian land and made more Palestinian refugees who are now on the mercy of the countries that host them. The Arabs called this war Naksah (upset). The Arabs never admitted defeat in both wars and the Palestinian cause got more complicated. And now, with the never ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for the Palestinians refugees or Palestinian cause, because many Arabs are refugees themselves and under constant attacks from their own forces. Syrians are leaving their own country, not because of the Israeli planes dropping bombs on them. It is the Syrian Air Force which is dropping the bombs. And now, Iraqi Arab Muslims, most intelligent brains, are leaving Iraq for the est. In Yemen, the world’s saddest human tragedy play is being written by the Yemenis. In Egypt, the people in Sinai are forgotten.

Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?

The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.


Here in Ireland of course, as has recently been indignantly pointed out in the wake of the “Caherciveen scandal” we are not anti-Semitic at all. Just anti-Israel. So that's all right then.

When Sarah Honig wrote about the anti-Semitic ramblings she heard from a few schoolchildren in Co Kerry, she was immediately vilified as a liar and propagandist. As Honig later wrote: “Apart from two follow-ups which I initiated, the news reporting was astoundingly uniform. . . Simplistic, one-sided news accounts of what was presented as my attack on virtually the entire Irish nation bordered on the hysterical.”

Well yes, the responses to Honig’s piece were a little astonishing. They included such gems (published on Irish newspaper websites) as: “The state of Israel is the most racist state on the planet”; “They (Israelis) have been playing the ‘anti-Semitic card’ to justify their greed for Lebens-raum”; “Typical Israeli overreaction to everything – play the Jewish card” and “Screaming anti-Semitism is the most powerful Israeli weapon used in their colonisation of the Middle East” and many, many more in similar vein (these are the polite ones).

As Honig notes, there is a “3-D” test for “Judeophobia”. It occurs when “purported criticism slips into demonisation, delegitimisation and double-standards.” Does our coverage of Jewish and Israeli affairs pass it?

Eh, yes. Irish critics routinely demonise Israel. They question its right to exist. And they hold it to a standard not required of its neighbours. But, as they keep insisting, they are definitely not anti-Semitic, how dare anyone suggest it? Criticising the motives of people who routinely single out the state of Israel for demonisation is not tolerated in Ireland.

Suggestions that there may be other enemies of the Palestinian peoples who deserve censure are met with indignation and derision. Well-orchestrated campaigns ensure that anti-Israeli bias is kept in the headlines.

The double standards of those who seek to demonise democratic Israel yet are strangely silent on the atrocities committed by its neighbours would seem (to outsiders anyway) to support the accusation that many Irish “human rights campaigners” are indeed motivated by anti-Semitism.

But to even suggest that there’s something strange about the way in which so-called “pro-Palestinians” routinely and defiantly ignore the injustices inflicted on these people by countries other than Israel, is to risk personal abuse and censure – at best.

That a leading Irish political commentator can describe Israel, the democratic home of Jewish people, where Christians, Muslims and atheists – be they male, straight, gay or female – enjoy far more civil rights than they do in neighbouring countries, as “a cancer” on national TV and be applauded by many, is more than worrying.

Being gay is punishable by death in Gaza. No one is protesting that, are they? But of course, that doesn’t mean we’re anti-Semitic does it? Just anti the Jews that live in Israel.

Last October, on, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, a former Royal Saudi Naval officer wrote a ground-breaking op-ed piece called “Arab Spring and the Israel Enemy.” In it he called for Arabs to stop demonising and blaming Israel as the source of their problems.

He wrote: “The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for human lives and, finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.”

He added: “Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than in many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank enjoy more political and social rights than in some places of the Arab world.”

Where are the Irish activists protesting against the lack of rights afforded to Palestinians by Arabs? Non-existent. But that doesn’t make our “pro-Palestinians” anti-Semitic, does it?

The facts and history of the Middle East support Al-Mulhim’s comments. But just suggest to the many vociferous Irish critics of Israel – including the Catholic charity Trocaire – that their energies may be better directed elsewhere and you'll get a blast of abuse as they righteously defend their attitude.

The Tyranny of the Queen Bee. By Peggy Drexler.

The Tyranny of the Queen Bee. By Peggy Drexler. Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2013.

Readers Respond: “The Tyranny of the Queen Bee.” Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2013.

Don’t Just Blame the Queen Bee. By Peggy Drexler. The Daily Beast, March 8, 2013.

Rita Jahanforuz, Iranian-Born Israeli Singer, Builds Bridges Between Nations.

Rita Jahanforuz

Hosting Rita at UN, Israel sends message to Iran. By Michael Wilner. Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2013.

Rita rocks the UN. The Times of Israel, March 6, 2013.

Israeli singer Rita’s special surrealistic concert at the UN General Assembly. By Chemi Shalev. Haaretz. UN Watch, March 6, 2013.

Iran and Israel Can Agree on This: Rita Jahanforuz Totally Rocks. By Farnaz Fassihi and Joshua Mitnick. Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2012. Also here.

Fassihi and Mitnick:

Music-loving Iranians craving nostalgic Persian songs of a bygone era, or the upbeat dance music that is banned in their Islamic state, have new darling: Rita, the Israeli singing sensation.

Rita Jahanforuz, 50 years old, is Israel’s most famous female singer—and suddenly she’s big in Iran. Iranian-born and fluent in Persian, Rita, as she is universally known, moved to Israel as a child and has lived there ever since. Her latest album, “All My Joys,” revives old-time Persian hits, giving them an upbeat Mediterranean flavor that caters to the Israeli ear.

The album went gold in Israel in just three weeks, despite being sung entirely in Persian. It also propelled Rita onto the music scene in Iran, where she was all but unknown outside of Iran’s small Jewish population.

Now, from nightclubs in Tel Aviv to secret underground parties in Tehran, Israelis and Iranians alike go wild when the DJ plays her hit “Beegharar,” or “Restless.”

Rita’s fans within Iran, where the government heavily filters the Internet, use tricky software to furtively download her songs online. Bootleg CD sellers in the back alley of Tehran's old bazaar wrap her albums in unmarked packages and hush any inquiries when asked if they sell her music.

“Shhh…don’t mention Israel. Just say music by ‘Rita Khanum,’” which means “Ms. Rita,” said a young man named Reza selling bootleg music CDs and DVDs of Hollywood movies.

The governments of Iran and Israel are each other’s sworn enemies, and within Iran it is considered a taboo to publicly endorse anything that has to do with Israel. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said Israel should be wiped off the map. Israel has said it would consider pre-emptively bombing Iran to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon.

Rita, however, with her striking beauty and bubbly demeanor, has emerged as an unexpected bond between ordinary Iranians and Israelis—part cultural ambassador, part antiwar spokeswoman. A picture of Rita with the banner, “Iranians we will never bomb your country,” is posted on her Facebook page.

“These days, people only know the language of war and violence and hatred,” said Rita, referring to Israelis’ view of the Persian language, during a recent interview in Tel Aviv. After she started receiving emails from Iranian fans, she realized music can “puncture the wall” of tension.

Rita’s family immigrated to Israel in 1970. She grew up in a suburb near Tel Aviv listening to her mother sing melodies from their homeland as she cooked in the kitchen.

Her singing career kicked off when Rita joined a band in the Israeli army in the 1980s. She rose to stardom quickly, singing solo and mostly in Hebrew or English, packing concert halls and performing for Israeli officials and foreign delegates.

A year ago, she decided to revisit what she tells audiences is the “soundtrack of my childhood” by adapting Persian classics that most Iranians know by heart. Her 2011 single “Shaneh” is based on a traditional song that Iranian grandmothers are known to whisper to their grandchildren as they comb their hair. An homage to a lover, it includes lines such as, “Oh, love, don’t comb your hair because my heart rests in its waves.” Rita reworked the song, staying true to the lyrics but giving it a more modern sound, somewhere between pop and Jewish gypsy music.

Iranian fans responded overwhelmingly, bombarding her with emails and messages online. “Rita, I want one of these concerts in Iran. You have an amazing voice and you are another pride for Iran,” wrote an Iranian fan on one of her videos on YouTube.

In September, when Rita visited Radio Ran, a Persian-language Internet radio station based in a Tel Aviv suburb, the studio was flooded with calls from Iranians around the world.

In an Israeli television interview, speaking of her Iranian fans, she joked that if she ever traveled to Iran, she would like to sing a duet with Mr. Ahmadinejad, “Maybe I can soften him with my feminine charm,” she said.

Iran’s government has taken notice. Fars News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards Corps, wrote last July that Rita is Israel’s “latest plot in a soft war” to gain access to the hearts and minds of Iranians.

Iranian hard-line websites and blogs expressed particular displeasure at Rita for sending a message to Iranians this past March for the Norouz New Year, via a video posted on the Persian website of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Norouz messages are considered highly political and usually a tactic used by politicians like President Barack Obama and Iran’s opposition leaders.

“I hope that we all live alongside each other by dancing and singing because this is what will last,” Rita said in her Norouz message.

In May, Rita performed a sold-out concert in the city of Ashkelon, on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, singing mostly Persian songs. Fans crowded the stage and danced the aisles.

After the show, concert goers said they were swept away. “Listen, I'm not Persian,” said Meir Kanto, a 72-year-old farmer. “But the culture is so colorful and so beautiful, from my perspective, let them conquer us. It wouldn't hurt.”

In Tehran, guests at a recent engagement party jumped to their feet shimmying their hips and shoulders when Rita’s voice echoed from the speakers, mixing the rhythms of an old and uniquely southern Iranian song to techno dance beats. Even middle-age couples joined in.

“She is singing from her heart. So what if she is from Israel?” said Manijeh, a 43-year-old relative of the bride who asked that her surname not be published. “We love her.”

Rita Narrows Israeli-Iranian Gap with Music. Israelity Blog, June 4, 2012.

Exclusive Interview: Rita Farouz, Israeli Icon With Iranian Roots. By David Caspi. The Algemeiner, June 7, 2012.

Israeli-Iranian Pop Star Transcends Generals, Politicians on Both Sides. By Richard Silverstein. Tikun Olam, June 9, 2012.

Rita’s Official YouTube page.

Rita Official Website, English version.

Rita: Shaneh (Official Video). ritaofficial, July 10, 2011. YouTube.

Rita: Time for Peace (in English). teevevents, September 28, 2009. YouTube. Also find audio of a new version recorded by Rita ahead of her March 5 U.N. concert here.

Israel’s Rita Rocks the U.N. HumanRightsUN, March 6, 2013. Full U.N. concert. YouTube. Also at UN Web TV.

Calvin Coolidge and the Moral Case for Economy. By Amity Shlaes.

Calvin Coolidge and the Moral Case for Economy. By Amity Shlaes. Imprimis, Vol. 42, No. 2 (February 2013). PDF.

U.S. Aid to Syria’s Revolution Could Go to Jihadists. By Walid Phares.

U.S. Aid to Syria’s Revolution Could Go to Jihadists. By Walid Phares. History News Network, March 1, 2013.

Elizabeth Warren Takes On Banks, Regulators As Senator. By Andrew Miga.

Elizabeth Warren Takes On Banks, Regulators As Senator. By Andrew Miga. AP. The Huffington Post, March 8, 2013.

Rand Paul’s Tea Too Strong for the GOP? By Walter Russell Mead.

Rand Paul’s Tea Too Strong for the GOP? By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, March 7, 2013.


Diligent students of Meadism know that WRM divides the landscape of American foreign policy thought into four camps, named for four famous US leaders: Alexander Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson. Each of these four thinkers inspires a school of thought that still has followers today, but since Sept. 11, Jacksonians have made the most noise, especially in the GOP. Jacksonians are populists who want a muscular and realist foreign policy. They are more into bad-guy bashing than into nation building, and if our enemies break the laws of war they don’t think the US should be bound by Marquis of Queensbury rules. When the Iraq War was about weapons of mass destruction, Jacksonians backed it to the hilt. When it turned into an expensive and bloody exercise in democracy building in a country far, far away, Jacksonians grew disenchanted, but they stuck it out because the only thing they hate more than fighting unnecessary wars is losing.

While democracy promoting neoconservatives did most of the writing about Bush’s foreign policy from the Republican side, Jacksonians did most of the voting that kept him in the White House for eight years.

Flash forward to 2013 and the landscape has changed. Liberated from the need to defend the policies of a Republican president, and benefiting from the sense that both Bush and Obama managed to reduce the direct threat to the United States from Al Qaeda, some Republicans are taking another look at this whole world policeman concept. Jacksonians only want to get involved overseas in response to threats; Jeffersonians think we can reduce threats coming from abroad by scaling down our overseas military presence. Put the two camps together and a significant Republican and conservative movement for a less aggressive, less global foreign policy starts to emerge.

Jeffersonians follow our nation’s third President in wanting a small government at home, limited entanglements abroad, and in hating and fearing the potential for abuse inherent in the rise of a national-security state. World War Two, the Cold War and then 9/11 pushed Jeffersonians into the background in American politics.  The world looked like such a dangerous place that a certain amount of proactive global policy seemed attractive, but with the death of Osama bin Laden the Jeffersonian worldview has gained new support. Al Qaeda looks more like a nuisance than an existential threat, China isn’t ready for prime time and Russia is over the hill. Maybe it’s time for the Atlas of the West to take a break.

Meanwhile, growing fears of an entitlement state fueled by infinitely extended budget deficits an order of magnitude bigger than many Americans like have made spending at home look more dangerous than bad guys abroad. Jeffersonian ideas, in a slightly less crack-potty format than the one advanced by the elder Paul, now begin to look like a compelling alternative to ambitious young politicians in the GOP. The younger Paul, hoping to build on his father’s core of supporters without some of the old man’s baggage, seems to see a path ahead.