Monday, July 29, 2013

Anti-Zionists Claim To Be Completely Different To Anti-Semites. By Brendan O’Neill.

Anti-Zionists claim to be completely different to anti-Semites. But there’s one key thing they have in common. By Brendan O’Neill. The Telegraph, July 19, 2013.


Nick Clegg’s withdrawal of the party whip from his Bradford East MP David Ward will reignite the debate over whether there’s a difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. In January this year, Mr Ward found himself at the centre of a media storm when, on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, he lambasted “the Jews” for their cruelty towards the Palestinians. But it is for his more recent comments about Zionism that Mr Ward has had his knuckles rapped by Clegg. Mr Ward tweeted on Saturday night: “Am I wrong or am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?” Some argue that criticising Zionism or Israel is an entirely legitimate thing to do and is not remotely comparable to expressing disdain or disgust for “the Jews”, and so if Mr Ward was to be punished for anything it should have been for his earlier, very dodgy comments about “the Jews,” not for his blathering about Zionism.
I have some sympathy with this viewpoint – but not nearly as much as I might have had in the past. I think the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is getting thinner all the time. These two worldviews are, if obviously not the exact same thing, then at least very close cousins. There is one inescapable thing that they share in common: a tendency to trace all global problems and instabilities back to the behaviour and beliefs of a Jewish thing, whether the Jewish people or the Jewish State. Modern-day anti-Zionism, particularly as practised by left-leaning, trendy Europeans, among whom it is highly fashionable, is the heir to old-style anti-Semitism in one very important way: it has a scary habit of treating Jewish stuff or Jewish people as the source of the world’s ills.
What is most striking about modern-day Israel-bashers is their conviction that Israel is not only a state that sometimes fights wars, like, say, America and Britain does, but more importantly is a state which corrupts global politics. It is commonplace to hear radical leftists argue that Israel is the secret instigator of most of the wars in the world, particularly those in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, we’re told, were launched by Washington and London at Israel’s behest. In the words of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, if it wasn’t for the insidious influence of Israel’s agents in the US capital, “America would not be in Iraq today.” Anti-Zionists always talk about an “Israel lobby,” which apparently didn’t only spearhead the entire War on Terror but is now “cowboying up for war with Iran.” So widespread is the idea that Israel is to blame for everything rotten in the world that a few years ago a poll of Europeans found that a majority think Israel is “the greatest threat to world peace.” Arabs also believe Israel is the greatest threat to world peace. Israel is now regularly referred to as a “rogue,” “criminal” or “insane” state which is becoming “dangerously erratic,” threatening both more regional war and also global tensions. It’s treated as the well of global poison.
The obsessive Israel-bashers will say: “Ah, but we are criticising a state, not a people. We’re attacking the Zionist entity, not the Jews.” Fine. Except that their criticisms of Zionism have eerie echoes of earlier expressions of hatred for Jews in the sense that both are about finding one thing, normally a Jewish thing, which can be blamed for all sorts of very complex global problems. In modern public debate, “Zionism” seems simply to have replaced “the Jews” as the thing we can point at and say: “It’s their fault.” That is why modern-day depictions of Israel often closely resemble old-world depictions of the Jews, such as when the Guardian recently caricatured Israeli leaders as the puppetmasters of global affairs. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries in particular, some Europeans who felt threatened or thrown by the rapid pace of change and instability in emerging capitalist society visited their fury upon the Jews, irrationally treating them as the source of these modernising trends. “The Jews” became the catch-all explanation for bad or weird things that people couldn’t find other explanations for. A German Marxist referred to this as “the socialism of fools.” Today, by the same token, the laying of blame for every global conflict and problem at the feet of Zionism or Israel is the anti-imperialism of fools.

America Exploits a Gullible Arab World. The Daily Star (Lebanon).

Machiavellian plot. The Daily Star (Lebanon), July 29, 2013.

Martin Indyk and Moral Equivalency. By Paul Eidelberg.

Martin Indyk and Moral Equivalency. By Paul Eidelberg. Arutz Sheva 7, July 28, 2013.

What Should We Expect From Martin Indyk? By Rachel Cohen. The Daily Beast, July 24, 2013.


How much hard work and stamina, how much self-sacrifice and heroism, are required in each generation to defend civilization against its enemies.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton once said that the American State Department is dominated by “moral equivalency” which applies especially to Foggy Bottom's morally neutral policy toward Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This means that the State Department, consistent with the academic doctrine of cultural relativism, makes no significant distinction between good and evil regimes. American foreign policy thus tends to be morally neutral or value-free.
Carry the logic a step further. The State Department’s foreign policy requires its envoys or diplomats to be morally neutral or value-free. But to be morally neutral or value–free is to be shameless! This, inescapably, is the logical implication of the State Department mind-set. Hence, it’s reasonable to assume that this will be the mind-set of Martin Indyk: the Envoy chosen to mediate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Three years ago I wrote a review of Martin Indyk. Indyk was born in England 1951 but grew up and was educated in Australia.  He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1972 and received a PhD in international relations from the Australian National University in 1977. He immigrated to the United States and later gained American citizenship in 1993.
Indyk has taught at the Middle East Institute at Columbia University and at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. He served two stints as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, from April 1995 to September 1997 and from January 2000 to July 2001.
On April 19, 2010, Indyk wrote an op ed in the New York Times blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the rift with the Obama administration.  He went so far as to say “Israel has to adjust its policy to the interests of the United States.”
Like his Washington handlers, and consistent with the moral equivalency that permeated his university education, Indyk has long advocated a Palestinian state. He should have no problem on that issue with Mr. Netanyahu, who in effect manifested the same moral equivalency on June 14, 2009 when he endorsed the “two state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
One does not require military expertise to arrive at a former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff conclusion that a Palestinian a state would endanger Israel’s existence. This is why Netanyahu insists that a Palestinian state must be demilitarized and barred from forming alliances with any Arab regime—a non-sequitur in international law.
Be that as it may, since no Palestinian leader would survive a day if he accepted such limitations, and since Prime Minister Netanyahu has the flexible spine required by the American State Department’s policy of moral equivalency, we should expect the PM to flex his spine more than his muscles vis-à-vis Martin Indyk.
We certainly can’t expect Indyk to be holier than the Pope. After all, Netanyahu, like the American State Department, behaves as if ignorant of, or indifferent to, the murderous and mendacious character of Arab-Islamic culture. It matters neither to him nor to the State Department that Egyptian-born scholar, the intrepid Bat Ye’or, has called Islam a “culture of hate.” Likewise, it matters neither to him nor the State Department that another intrepid woman, Syrian-born psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, is so contemptuous of Islam that, unlike Bibi, she doesn’t deem Islam worthy of being called a “civilization.”
So what is to be expected of a diplomat like Martin Indyk whose university education has imbued him—as it has the American State Department as a whole—with the shameless doctrine of moral equivalency?
By the way, the intellectual and moral level of Indyk’s academic credentials and diplomatic posts reminds me of George Orwell’s assessment of British academics of the 1930s who held diplomatic posts in the Chamberlain government. Orwell saw that Britain’s intelligentsia was steeped in moral relativism, and that this pernicious doctrine had enfeebled Chamberlain’s foreign policy.
The same decadence is evident in the moral equivalency that Ambassador Bolton saw in the America State Department. No wonder: The State Department has more PhDs than any other department of American government. Let me spell this out in the clearest terms, which requires a candid but unpublicized view of higher education in the democratic world, the education of the university graduates that shape the foreign policies of the secular democratic state.
Inasmuch these graduates, who have been virtually indoctrinated in moral equivalency and cultural relativism, are now pursuing a career in the cynical domain of international politics where power and economic interests predominate, do not expect them to take evil seriously. This means that the State Department diplomats referred to by John Bolton tend to behave like children who take civilization for granted!
Thanks to their morally neutral education, they are abysmally ignorant of what is required to preserve civilization. Smug and steeped in the moral equivalency, which they do not even recognize as shameless, they are oblivious of how much hard work and stamina, how much self-sacrifice and heroism, are required in each generation to defend civilization against its enemies.
Think of how much it cost in blood and treasure for America to save Europe from barbarism in the last century—the same barbarism threatening Israel today from Arabs animated by the genocidal charter of the Palestinian Authority.
But what does this matter to Martin Indyk and Benjamin Netanyahu, neither of whom has the spine of intrepid women like Bat Ye’or and Wafa Sultan?

Obama Is Bad News for Blacks. By Richard Rahn.

Obama Is Bad News for Blacks. By Richard Rahn. Washington Times, July 26, 2013.


If you knew nothing else about President Obama other than looking at the data, you might conclude that he was insensitive to blacks, given that they have done far worse economically under his administration than Hispanics or whites. What is striking is that the president and his advisers still seem to be clueless about which economic policies work and which don't work. Despite his (at least for this week) emphasis on the economy, he persists in being the anti-Reagan, with anti-growth policies. In his speech Wednesday in Illinois, the president came up with no new pro-growth proposals, just more of what has not worked.
President Reagan reduced the maximum tax rate on job creators by 60 percent; Mr. Obama increased the maximum tax rate on job creators by 17 percent. Reagan cut non-defense, discretionary, federal government spending by a third as a percentage of gross domestic product; Mr. Obama has increased it. Reagan cut government regulations while Mr. Obama has greatly increased them.
The results are:
Under Reagan, adult black unemployment fell by 20 percent, but under Mr. Obama, it has increased by 42 percent.
Black teenage unemployment fell by 16 percent under Reagan, but has risen by 56 percent under Mr. Obama.
The increase in unemployment rates has been far worse for blacks under Mr. Obama than for whites and Hispanics.
Inflation-adjusted real incomes are slightly higher for Hispanics and whites than they were in 2008, but are lower for blacks.
The labor force participation rate has fallen for all groups, but remains far lower for blacks than for whites and Hispanics.
Most people, when confronted with the evidence presented above, probably would realize that they had been mistaken and then try a set of policies that were successful in the past. Not Mr. Obama. Given the tenor of his most recent talks, he seems to be intent on doubling down on his own failed policies.
It was true until the Industrial Revolution of two centuries ago, in a world of little economic growth, that for any individual to become better off, others would have to become worse off. Adam Smith was one of the first to understand that as a result of new technologies and better political and business institutions and organizations — and, most important, the rule of law and proper incentives — everyone could become better off without taking anything from anyone else. Despite the empirical evidence of the past 200 years that Smith and all of the clear and rational thinkers who followed him were right about economic growth, there is still the widespread belief that for one person to prosper someone else needs to suffer. It is this mindset that serves as the basic rationale for socialism and the state as an instrument of income redistribution. One would think that only the uneducated still would have this mindset, but it is most prevalent in universities.
Perhaps a major reason that professors and other educators are so dense when it comes to productivity increases and the resulting economic growth and real rise in living standards is that most classrooms are not much more productive than they were when Aristotle was speaking to a dozen or so students 2,500 years ago. By contrast, entrepreneurs see better ways of producing more for less and visualize and create things that never existed (i.e., the automobile, the airplane, the iPad, etc.) — and they create wealth and jobs. Mr. Obama comes from the government/academic class rather than the entrepreneurial class and has a much more static view of the world.
Reagan thought like an entrepreneur, and thus intuitively understood that economic growth creates opportunities for everyone — most important, for those who have the least. Mr. Obama has fewer senior advisers and top officials in his administration who have had significant private-sector experience than any previous president; hence, like all too many of the European statists and socialists, they think in static terms.
The unfortunate irony is that America’s first black president seems bent on continuing a set of policies that can lead only to continued slow growth or stagnation. The ones who are and will suffer the most from these policies are those who have the least. Mr. Obama no doubt has real compassion for the poor, but until he can begin to understand the destructive second-order effects of his policies and see that getting the foot of government off the forces of economic growth is the only real way to make life better for most of them, all too many will continue to suffer unnecessarily.

Reza Aslan Misrepresents His Scholarly Credentials on Fox News. By Matthew J. Franck.

Reza Aslan Misrepresents His Scholarly Credentials. By Matthew J. Franck. First Things, July 29, 2013.

Muslim Author Reza Aslan: I Knew “What I Was Getting Into” By Going on Fox News. By Matt Wilstein. Mediaite, July 29, 2013.

Is Muslim Academic Reza Aslan More Biased Than a Christian Scholar? By David A. Graham. The Atlantic, July 29, 2013.

Reza Aslan and the Fox News Zealot. By Zaki Hasan. The Huffington Post, July 29, 2013.

Why the Fox News Scandal Is Good News for Reza Aslan. By Connor Simpson. The Atlantic, July 28, 2013.

Reza Aslan Feels “Kind of Bad” for His Fox News Interrogator. By Dan Amira. New York Magazine, July 29, 2013.

Reza Aslan To Fox News: Yes I “Happen ToBe A Muslim,” But Wrote “Zealot” Because I Am An Expert. The Huffington Post, July 27, 2013.

The Most Damning Part of That Reza Aslan Fox News Interview You’ve Been Hearing About. By Asawin Suebsaeng. Mother Jones, July 28, 2013.

Reza Aslan Interviewed by Fox News Anchor Lauren Green. Video. Breaking News Today!!!, July 28, 2013. YouTube. Also here. Also at BuzzFeed.

Reza Aslan: I Knew What I Was Getting Into Going On Fox News. Video. SamSeder, July 29, 2013. YouTube.

Sam Harris vs. Reza Aslan, January 25, 2007. Full Unedited Video. AllSamHarrisContent, May 27, 2012. YouTube.

George Will on Detroit’s Cultural Collapse.

George Will On ABC: “Cultural Collapse,” “Unwed Mothers,” “Voting For Incompetents” Bankrupted Detroit. By Evan McMurry. Mediaite, July 28, 2013. Video at YouTube.

George Will: Detroit doesn’t have a fiscal problem, but a “cultural collapse.” By Jeff Poor. The Daily Caller, July 28, 2013.

The Left’s Evolving Blame Game on Detroit. By Seth Mandel. Commentary, July 29, 2013.

Note to Paul Krugman: It Took More Than Markets to Ruin Detroit. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, July 23, 2013.

This Week TranscriptABC News, July 28, 2013.

GEORGE WILL: You can’t solve their problems, because their problems are cultural. You have a city, 139 square miles, you can graze cattle in vast portions of it, dangerous herds of feral dogs roam in there. 3 percent of fourth graders reading at the national math standards, 47 percent of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate, 79 percent of Detroit children are born to unmarried mothers. They don’t have a fiscal problem, Steve, they have a cultural collapse.
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL: I find that really insulting to the people of Detroit. I think there is a serious discussion about the future of cities in a time of deindustrialization. But in many ways, Detroit has been a victim of market forces, and I think that what Steve said is so critical, that retirees and workers should not bear this. And this story should not be hijacked as one of about greedy, fiscal, public unions.
WILL: But Steve said he . . .
VANDEN HEUVEL: And fiscally responsibility.
WILL: But Steve said in his op-ed was the people of Detroit are no more to blame than the victims of Hurricane Sandy, because apart from voting, he said. Well, what did they vote for, for 60 years of incompetence, malcontents, and in some cases criminals.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let’s (inaudible) get the last word.
STEVE RATTNER: So that’s fine. And so what do you want to do, do you want to leave them sitting in exactly the situation you just described, or in the spirit of America trying to help people who are less fortunate, whether their victims of natural disasters or their own ignorance or whatever, do you want to reach out and try to help them and try to reinvent Detroit for not a lot of money. We’re talking about a couple billion dollars here, this is small potatoes in the great scheme of life, or else you have your scenario, just leave them all sit with feral dogs for the rest of their lives.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Hobbesian anarchy.

Perspectives on Arab-Israeli Diplomacy.

Perspectives on Arab-Israeli Diplomacy. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, June 23, 2013.

The current efforts of the Obama administration to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks come after years in which the two sides have not been engaged in any negotiations. This diplomatic hiatus has had an impact on the public discourse about the questions involved. Many observers in academia, government, and journalism are frequently not familiar with all the nuances that will be raised. The list of studies presented (at link) is intended to fill that vacuum by providing key background papers on the most critical issues that will be on the negotiating table. The authors of these works are former senior diplomats, military officers, and governmental advisors, thus providing the reader an insider’s perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the options to be considered for its resolution.

America Can’t Escape the Middle East. By Zachary C. Shirkey.

America Can’t Escape the Middle East. By Zachary C. Shirkey. The National Interest, July 29, 2013.

Review of Marc Morris’s “The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England.” By Jim Cullen.

Review of Marc Morris’s The Norman Conquest: The Battle of Hastings and the Fall of Anglo-Saxon England. By Jim Cullen. History News Network, July 19, 2013.

Book at

92 Professors Go After Mitch Daniels Over Howard Zinn. By Ronald Radosh.

92 Professors Go After Mitch Daniels. By Ronald Radosh. History News Network, July 25, 2013. Also at Minding the Campus.

Why the Relentless Assault on Abortion in the United States? By Ruth Rosen.

Why the Relentless Assault on Abortion in the United States? By Ruth Rosen. History News Network, July 29, 2013. Also at openDemocracy.

Bayit Yehudi MK: Gov’t That Releases Prisoners, Will Uproot Settlements. By Lahav Harkov.

Bayit Yehudi MK: Gov’t that releases prisoners, will uproot settlements. By Lahav Harkov. Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2013.

Talks About Talks Set to Resume. By Walter Russell Mead.

Talks About Talks Set to Resume. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, July 29, 2013.


With Israel’s cabinet having voted to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, the headlines this morning are particularly optimistic about prospects for Israeli-Palestinian talks. The NY Times: “Israel and Palestinians Set to Resume Peace Talks, U.S. Announces”. The Washington Post: “Peace talks set to begin after Israel agrees to free 104 Palestinian prisoners”.
These are all a little misleading: Israelis and Palesitinians aren’t yet ready for actual talks about peace. What has happened is that they have moved from indirect talks about talks about peace to direct talks about talks about peace.
We’ll see; neither side really thinks the negotiations will work, but neither side wants to get blamed for failure. That gives Secretary Kerry something to work with. Since this is about the only good news coming out of the Middle East these days, we will cherish it and hope for the best. The Times story in particular suggests that Martin Indyk will be named by Kerry to represent the United States at these talks (about talks). This is even more reason to be hopeful. Indyk is an experienced diplomat and is unlikely to get deeply involved unless he thinks there is a real chance for significant progress.
And even if Kerry can’t, as most observers still think, get real peace, there might still be some ways that more people on both sides could go about their daily business without interference or threat. Given the way things have been going for the past decade or so, that would be an achievement.