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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Together we can free Jonathan Pollard

Dear Friends of Israel, 

This is an emergency campaign started because of a unique window of opportunity available to secure Jonathan Pollard's release after Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed he will publicly ask of the US President to pardon him.
Sign this form to be added as a signatory to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's letter to President Barack Obama requesting the release of Jonathan Pollard. 
To sign the form, click here
Jonathan Pollard has been imprisoned for the past 25 years of a life sentence for sharing information he considered vital to Israel's security. This sentence is comparable to punishments given to spies from enemy states, not allies! It is time for Pollard to come back home to Israel! For more information on Pollard's case, click here.
Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he will publicly call for the US to release Jonathan Pollard. By signing this form, you are adding your signature to the Prime Minister's letter that will be given to President Barack Obama. 
To sign the form, click here
The list of signatories will be sent to President Obama on December 30th.
Currently, we have 3813 signatories. Let's get tens of thousands! Please forward this email to everyone.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Obama Administration Gives Up On Pointless "Freeze" Diplomacy

By Barry Rubin
December 8, 2010

As I predicted here ten days ago, the Obama Administration has now given up attempts to get Israel to agree to a three-month freeze of construction on existing settlements.

Here is the most fascinating sentence in the New York Times' coverage:

"Officials said the administration decided to pull the plug because it concluded that even if Mr. Netanyahu persuaded his cabinet to accept an extension - which he had not yet been able to do - the 90-day negotiating period would not have produced the progress on core issues that the administration originally had hoped for."

Translation: They decided that a three-month freeze wouldn't do any good. In other words, as I've been saying since October, the administration put forward a policy that made no sense, offering big concessions in exchange for getting something worthless.

It is good that the U.S. government has recognized the silliness of what it has been doing the last six months.

Of course, the Times tried to blame Israel exclusively: "Mr. Netanyahu could face renewed pressure from the United States and the Palestinians as the hurdle to resumed talks." As happens so often, the newspaper's writers don't seem to be reading their own words.

After all, the reporter had just pointed out that Netanyahu tried but could not get the plan through his cabinet.  Moreover, the administration messed up its diplomacy to the point that nobody in Israel could tell what it was offering.

And, of course, the Palestinian Authority has been refusing to negotiate with Israel seriously for two solid years. Yet the Times wants to blame Israel or the lack of talks.

At some point early next year the Obama Administration will have to decide whether to put this issue on the back burner or keep knocking its head against a stone wall. And that stone wall isn't Israel, it's the Palestinian Authority which, now that it has recognition from Brazil and potentially from other countries, will be more intransigent than ever.

*               Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to  You can read and subscribe to his blog at

The Gloria Center depends on your contributions. To make a tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card, click the Donate button in the upper-right hand corner of this page. To donate via check, make it out to "American Friends of IDC," with "for GLORIA Center" in the memo line. Mail to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003.  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation from the United Kingdom or Germany please email us for more information here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

G-d Bless Our Hero, Earl Krugel

I read a few articles on his killing but it never mentioned who killed him,
it just said another inmate did it. It says Earl was going to blow up a mosque.
He shouldn't have been put in prison he should have been given a medal.

 David Frank Jennings, a known skinhead  was the murderer.
Krugel was martyred  on November 4, 2005, as he started
 his 20-year sentence in a medium-security federal prison 
in Phoenix but was promptly bludgeoned to death.
The apparent assailant, 30-year-old Jennings, 
was an alleged member of the Aryan Brotherhood,
 a feared prison gang. According to the
 Southern Poverty Law Center, 
its members comprise less than one-tenth 
of 1 percent of the nation’s prison population
 but commit 18 percent of all prison murders. 
The Brotherhood is primarily a crime syndicate 
that runs prison drug trafficking and prison 
prostitution, but it carries a nasty racist overlay.
Attorneys for Lola Krugel, the spirited and elfin woman 
who is Earl’s widow, allege that the U.S. government 
is culpable for her husband’s death.
 She did not want to be quoted, but her suit charges 
that prison officials failed to classify Jennings as an 
Aryan Brotherhood member despite his gang tattoos.
But within minutes of the start of the late-July trial, 
as Benjamin Schonbrun, the widow’s attorney, 
questioned former prison employee Thomas Bond 
about Jenning’s tattoos, Judge Wilson
 ordered the court cleared — bending to
 U.S. government attorneys, 
who wanted internal prison procedures, such 
as identifying gang members and gang tattoos, to remain secret.
(The federal government is so obsessed with 
secrecy in this case, that in a hallway of 
the federal building, when Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pinchas was asked by L.A. 
Weekly for his name, he only reluctantly provided it.)
In a statement later, Schonbrun said Wilson acted
 “without a fair hearing to permit anyone to dispute 
the necessity for a secret trial. When a federal judge 
can close an entire trial and exclude our free press, our society suffers.”
Strangely enough, a court order issued by Wilson himself,
 and publicly available, reveals many key prison 
procedures that had been expected to come out at the hearing.
 Moreover, the Aryan Brotherhood tattoos that the 
federal attorneys are so reluctant to discuss in public 
were found by the Weekly, readily accessible, 
on a Web page hosted by the Arizona Department of Corrections.
What is known is that in June 2004, before Jennings was moved
 to the prison in Phoenix, where he allegedly
 murdered Krugel, Kimberly L. Beakey, the Bureau of Prison’s 
“designator of inmates” for the Western region, 
initially qualified Jennings as a “high-security inmate” —
 but then “flexed down” Jennings to medium security
 so he could participate in a drug-abuse rehab program that is
 unavailable in maximum-security prisons.
Bureau of Prison documents show that Jennings 
had described himself as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood a
nd wore its tattoo — so Beakey specifically noted that
 further investigation of Jennings was required upon his arrival in Phoenix.
If Jennings was in the Aryan Brotherhood, 
federal rules required that he be committed t
o maximum security. At issue at last month’s trial 
was whether Bond and another prison officer who
 saw Jennings upon his arrival in Phoenix did enough
 research before allowing Jennings into the general 
population, and into the yard where he is believed
 to have murdered Earl krugel.
Jennings plead guilty eventually and was sentenced to
 35 years in Federal Prison.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Darrel Issa..Traitor

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) might be the contemporary, real-life version of Frank Sinatra’s “Manchurian Candidate.” Instead of communists, Issa’s allies are radical Islamists and supporters of terrorism against Americans, Israelis, Christians and Jews.

In a short political career, Issa’s statements and actions consistently defend terrorists, terrorist groups and terrorist sponsor states.
Saudi Arabia’s longtime lobbyist, James Gallagher, contributed to Issa’s campaign in November 2002, and Issa tried to overturn key classified evidence portions of President Bill Clinton’s 1995 counterterrorism bill. Issa is also credited with “declawing” the Patriot Act.
Then, there’s Issa’s dance with Hezbollah, an organization that is on the State Department’s terrorist list and one of the largest components of Al Qaeda. In the 1980s, Hezbollah–which means “Party of Allah”–murdered more than 260 U.S. Marines while they slept in Beirut and tortured to death Col. Richard Higgins (in 1990) and CIA attache William Buckley.
Hezbollah endorses “the use of hostages,” “suicide in jihad operations” and “the duty of all Muslims to engage in Islamic jihad if it ensures the ultimate goal [of] inflicting losses on the enemy.”
Less than a month after Sept. 11, Issa visited Syrian President Bashar Assad, praising Hezbollah and lauding Assad’s policies (Syria is on the State Department’s terrorist list).
The Tehran Times and IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, the official Iranian news agency) quoted Issa’s statements to Assad in Damascus: “Hezbollah acts legitimately and has never been involved in terrorist activities…. Hezbollah and any other Lebanese group has the right to resist the occupation of its territory…. Hezbollah’s humanitarian and governmental actions were legal…. Such behavior would be customary in any country.”
Issa denies the statements, but as a recent Los Angeles Times cover story demonstrates he has a record of stretching the truth–about his military record, his criminal history, his business affairs and his political positions.
In November 2001, for instance, Issa told syndicated columnist Debra Saunders he was vehemently against Arabs suing the airlines and government over profiling. At the same time, he told the rest of the press of his plans to introduce legislation to make it easier for Arabs to collect monetary damages for airline and government profiling.
And Issa’s other statements and actions corroborate their veracity:
Less than a month after Sept. 11, in an Oct. 9, 2001, interview with the Beirut Daily Star’s Ibrahim, during a trip to Lebanon, Issa said, “It is Lebanon which will determine whether the party’s [Hezbollah's] activities constitute terrorism or resistance … If [Hezbollah] wants the world to understand that its activities are legitimate, they should say it…. Resistance is a legitimate right recognized [by the U.N.]…. I have a great deal of sympathy for the work that Hezbollah tries to do.” He expressed hope that Hezbollah would “reform” and become a “government” like the P.L.O.
Assad’s state-run SANA (official Syrian news agency) covered Issa’s November 2001 meeting with Assad, quoting Issa as saying: “Hezbollah or any other party has the right to resist occupation.”
Occupation? Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon at least a year before, and the U.S. withdrew over a decade earlier.
Issa’s January 2003 actions regarding Israelis captured by Hezbollah asserted the terrorist group’s moral equivalence with Israel. According to The Guardian of London, per Hezbollah’s demand, Issa asked Israel to allow the Red Cross to see captured Hezbollah terrorists in exchange for interceding with Hezbollah to allow the Red Cross to see four Israeli prisoners held by the group.
On Oct. 31, 2001, the London Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat, reported, “U.S. Congressman of Lebanese origin Darrell Issa, during his recent visit to Beirut in the mid of October,” conveyed a proposal to Hezbollah leadership to remove Hezbollah from the State Department’s terrorist list and “normalize U.S. relations with” the group. Hezbollah refused the offer.
On May 31, 2003, Issa publicly made a similar proposal to legitimize Hezbollah by giving Lebanon $500 million of taxpayer money to disarm the group and turn it into a political party.
On May 9, 2001, during a House subcommittee discussion of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Extension Act of 2001, Issa praised Hezbollah, “in all candor, for the good things they do, too, the humanitarian, the hospitals, the schools they pay.”
On April 14, 2002, Issa told Fox News Channel’s Rita Cosby that Hezbollah has done “some good things” (and he also praised Yasser Arafat).
In November 2001, Issa told the Financial Times of London, “Hezbollah does in fact have a limited scope. You must differentiate … from other organizations that might have a global reach.”
Global? Hezbollah murdered 86 Jews and wounded hundreds of people in Buenos Aires in July 1994, in addition to murdering Israelis and U.S. Marines and civilians in Lebanon and Iran.
In a Sacramento radio interview, Issa said, “They do supply little old ladies with heating oil in the winter and all kinds of other activities,” characterizing terrorist Hezbollah as a mere “political party” and “farmers,” and adding, “I’d like to see a lot of them just go back to their farms, go back to some honest living.”
Then there’s Issa’s strange respect for Arafat and Palestinian terrorists.
Days after Sept. 11, Issa, during his House International Relations Committee’s discussion of fighting terrorism, tried to draw a distinction between “Palestinian groups that are resisting Israeli occupation” and Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
During his November 2001 trip to the Middle East, Issa told his hometown newspaper, the North County Times, that he was “particularly impressed with Arafat.”
“He is quite a charismatic individual, despite being a very small man and very old,” the congressman said. “He has a wry sense of humor. He gives you food off his plate if you sit next to him.”
Arafat’s personal food taster as your next governor?
In April 2003, Issa spoke of Arafat’s “charm” (also in the North County Times).
Issa’s softness on Syrian-sponsored terrorism is legendary, too. Syria is home to several fugitives, including Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, Hamas political director Moussa Abu Marzook, Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Jamil Al-Gashey, the only surviving perpetrator of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre–all wanted and/or indicted in the United States. However, Assad refuses their extradition.
Issa vehemently opposes the Syrian Accountability Act, which imposes sanctions on Syria until it stops sponsoring Hezbollah and other terrorists. Issa said Syria is “cooperative.”
The Reform Party of Syria said Issa “helps Syria with [its] propaganda campaign” and “objects to Mr. Issa’s presence in Syria. The Baath Party of Syria is duping Rep. Issa and using him as a propaganda tool.”
In June 2003, Issa attended the Beirut signing of a major oil deal between Syria and two U.S. firms. The contract states the companies will spend $29 million in Syria and train the state-run Syrian oil company.
Issa hosted a pro-Syrian Capitol Hill event with a pro-Syrian Arab business group. The event was organized by former staffers to Reps. David Bonior and John Dingell, who now lobby for a “change” to U.S. Middle East policy.
After the Iraq War, during one of several frequent Syrian trips, Issa praised Assad, saying, “His word seems to be good.”
Darrell Issa wants to be governor of California and ultimately president. With a record like this, do you want to help him?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

an enemy of peace.

Today, in Lebanon, Jimmy Carter repeated his attacks against the State of Israel.
This man is such a disgrace.
Some say that he is not anti-Semitic, but anyone who is that one-sided in his critique of the Arab-Israeli conflict is de facto an anti-Semite.
To say that Jimmy Carter is more precisely, anti-Jew would be accurate (since he seems quite fond of the Arabs he speaks for, and Arabs are Semitic).
Carter wrote a book recently entitled, “Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid”, a one-sided slur against Israel and her leaders.
Alan Dershowitz said of the book, “the book is so filled with simple mistakes of fact and deliberate omissions that were it a brief filed in a court of law, it would be struck and its author sanctioned for misleading the court. Mr. Carter too is guilty of misleading the court of public opinion.  “
Mr Carter reportedly blames his election loss on “the Jews”.
He failed to gain re-election because he was incompetent, and obviously, not a leader.

On a personal note, I really hate this guy.
Many people looked up to him.
He talked about protecting the planet before it was popular.
He was peaceful.
He seemed caring.
He helped the poor.

Then this betrayal.
To side with an avowed enemy of all that civilization stands for.
For Carter to mouth talking points for the Arab and Persian despots whose stated goal is the destruction of the tiny Jewish state is worse than traitorous.

He has become an embarrassment.
And an enemy of peace.

Monday, October 11, 2010

News Being Manufactured: A Graphic Example of How This is Done to Slander Israel

October 11, 2010

It is understandably hard for people to believe the amount of violence that is staged and stories that are manipulated coming from the Middle East. Here is a bit of video from the eastern part of Jerusalem.

See what happens: Kids are ready to throw stones at passing cars with Israeli license plates, five of them run into the road, blocking it, ready to throw stones at an approaching Israeli automobile. Another car is  deliberately parked across the road, partly blocking it. Surprised by the ambush, the Israeli driver slams on his brakes but one of the kids is hit by the car and he flies up and over it.

Note the following:

1. The Palestinian and other media release a story saying the driver deliberately hit him. Here's a report in al-Jazira with a photo designed to lie about what happened.   This claim is clearly not true. If the driver had been speeding and wanted to do injury he could easily have hit three or four of the kids. Indeed, I've been told that Arabic-language news media is reporting that the driver killed two children (only one was slightly injured). The response to this could be terrorist attacks to get revenge. This is a common pattern.

2. There are a lot of reporters there filming (you can see them on the left and bottom edges). So this was set up for media coverage, as is so much violence in the West Bank particularly. Indeed, there are at least seven photographers visible and there are as many journalists, if not more, than there were rock-throwers.

3. At the end there is a very strange scene. The boy does not appear to have been injured seriously. (I was once hit by a car exactly in this manner and walked away. If you are thrown into the air you will just get some bruises, as long as you don't fall under the car.) But there is an ambulance which has just been standing there waiting for something like this to happen, a sign it is being staged.

4. Yet the boy is holding onto the ambulance door, trying to avoid being put into the ambulance. Why? It may be too much of a stretch to say he fears being made into a martyr by his comrades, or maybe he just wants to stay with his friends but he looks pretty desperate not to get in. If I've overreached on this point I apologize.

5. The Israeli driver's back window has been smashed in by a stone. The driver's young son is also in the car.  If the car is trapped there he and his son could be killed by the stones or dragged out of the car and murdered. As far as he knows, any second guns could start firing bullets through his windows. The reporters and cameramen standing and watching won't lift a finger to help him. The driver eases past the parked car and speeds away. He reported the incident to the police and didn't try to hide that it had happened.

6. Some of the driver's friends suggest that he may have been personally targeted for an ambush because he has been an activist on Jerusalem-related issues. They say his car is well-known and he often travels that road. This might be true since there is no evidence of rock-throwing at any cars before he arrived.

Here's a technical analysis of the incident.

If you see stories in your local newspapers or on television saying that an Israeli settler deliberately ran down and killed two Palestinian boys you now know the real story. But most of the readers or viewers won't know any better.

Multiply this story by hundreds of such cases, far too many to correct; add the fact that such clear proof of falsification is often lacking; and blend in the sympathy of many reporters with misreporting events. (Even after Israel released footage showing the soldiers landing on the deck of the Mavi Marmara were attacked and beaten, the New York Times implied that this didn't prove anything).

Now you get a picture of the situation regarding media coverage of Israel.

PS: I've been told--though I haven't confirmed it directly--that Canadian Ttelevision played the clip with the narration implying that he had run them over on purpose. So even if you see the opposite the viewer is conditioned to accept the anti-Israel propaganda line
*               Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to  You can read and subscribe to his blog at

Gloria Center depends on your contributions. To make a tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card, click the Donate button in the upper-right hand corner of this page. To donate via check, make it out to "American Friends of IDC," with "for GLORIA Center" in the memo line. Mail to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003.  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation from the United Kingdom or Germany please email us for more information here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Shana Tova! To my Friend, Earl Leslie Krugel

Shana Tova to all, especially the families of Earl Leslie Krugel and Irv Rubin, OBM, who sacrificed so much for the Jewish people, and all free thinking people.

Earl Krugel suffered for his heroism, but he never spoke of it.
I treasure every word from him in the extensive correspondence we shared.
I have never known someone who could laugh and sing and care so much while under a death sentence from the state, and the Islamist community, and the Nazi's, (yimach shemo), who are, regrettably, still with us.
If there is a G-d, he is there with my friend.
G-d Bless you, Earl!

Barack Hearts Bibi

September 6, 2010

We have entered into a new period of U.S. policy toward Israel for the Obama Administration. Basically, President Barack Obama needs Israel, requires its cooperation, and is eager to get along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How long this will last is unclear but it should characterize, barring unforeseen events, at least for the next year.

What is the basis of this new era? When it came to office, the Obama Administration was in radical mode, determined to distance itself from Israel as a key to winning over Arabs and Muslims, assuming that peace could be achieved with sufficient pressure on Israel as the only requirement, and hostile to Israel’s current government.

A measure of reality eventually set in, involving a large number of factors ranging from the lack of Arab cooperation, to Iran’s intransigence, the lack of progress in engaging Syria, and the tasks of dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan. The administration’s head-on charge over demanding a freeze of construction on settlements only produced a one-year-plus delay on Israel-Palestinian negotiations. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was uncooperative. American public opinion was unhappy with the policy toward Israel. 

This is not to say that the situation is simple but by September 2010 things are very different. The Obama Administration is desperate for diplomatic successes, or at least the appearance of having them. What’s happening regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons’ drive cannot be concealed or ignored.

The U.S. government is also is aware of falling public support--including a sharp decline in Jewish backing though pro-Israel forces extend far more widely throughout American society—on the eve of American elections. In addition, it’s clear that Netanyahu’s government isn’t going away and there is no “dovish” alternative that will give Obama everything he wants for little or nothing in exchange.

So now Obama needs Netanyahu. He needs to keep the new peace talks going and looking good. The president also requires that Netanyahu keep things quiet on the Israel-Palestinian front so as—so he thinks—to make it easier to get Arab and Muslim support for other U.S. policies. And since Obama’s orientation is mainly domestic and his world view is horrified by power politics, he wants to avoid international crises generally. Anti-Israel officials in the administration are being ignored.

The truth is—and this is analysis, not a political statement—Netanyahu and his government, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, have performed brilliantly in facing this challenge. It has met U.S. requests without sacrificing Israeli interests, if nothing else secure in the knowledge that the PA isn’t going to make a deal any way and wanting to focus American attention on the Iranian threat. Whatever the U.S. government says in public it has to realize that the PA, not Israel, is the roadblock to peace. 

This kind of charm diplomacy may be what Netanyahu is best at doing. His 
speech in Washington was a masterpiece, praising Obama and making clear that his goal is a true and stable peace, not merely:

“A brief interlude between two wars…a temporary respite between outbursts of terror. We seek a peace that will end the conflict between us once and for all. We seek a peace that will last for generations.” He called Abbas, “my partner in peace….We recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here today to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.”

Netanyahu concluded: “I did not come here to win an argument. I came here to forge a peace. I did not come here to play a blame game where even the winners lose. I came here to achieve a peace that will bring benefits to all. I did not come here to find excuses. I came here to find solutions.” 

He made this approach without illusions: “We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror. We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned into a third Iranian sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel. That is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us.”

Is the PA going to meet even a single one of Israel’s requirements? End of conflict; real security guarantees, demilitarization of a Palestinian state, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, resettlement of all Palestinian refugees in the state of Palestine? Of course not. Possibly there might be agreement on some minor border changes but even that is unlikely, much less giving even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem to Israel or some other parts of eastern or northern Jerusalem areas.

What Israel has to do, though, is to continue to put forward reasonable demands, show itself cooperative and flexible, while letting the months of futile talks roll ever onward. He isn’t threatened by right-wing walk-outs from the coalition, which at any rate will be discouraged by the fact that he isn’t actually giving anything away. At any rate, he controls the Likud; the Labor Party has no alternative; the opposition Kadima has no leadership or program. At some point next year, Netanyahu will call elections and win a resounding mandate. 

Abbas will go along with the charades up to a point but increasingly, as he gives nothing himself, will blame Israel for the lack of progress. Even Marwan Barghouti, leader of Fatah’s West Bank grassroots’ organization, opposes talks publicly and much of the Fatah establishment opposes them privately. Abbas will be itching to walk out and insist that only a unilateral declaration of independence can “solve” the issue. But during this period, at least, that’s the very last thing the Obama Administration wants: a huge crisis, a difficult decision, potential mass violence stirring up the region, a likely diplomatic catastrophe.

All of this doesn’t mean the administration understands the extent to which Iran’s nuclear weapons pose a big and negative strategic shift in the area, the extent of the threat from revolutionary Islamists, how Iraq is at the brink of political anarchy, the futility of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, the at least temporary loss of Turkey, the capture of Lebanon by the Iran-Syria bloc, and all the other ills of the Middle East. 

But the current U.S. government understands enough about what’s going on to comprehend that it doesn’t want a crisis with Israel as well and that it isn’t going to achieve some dramatic breakthrough to Arab-Israeli peace. As for Obama, no politician desires anything more passionately—other than election—than having someone else making him look good, perhaps especially when he doesn’t deserve it. Consequently, now is the time for a somewhat belated Obama-Netanyahu honeymoon.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to You can read and subscribe to his blog at

The Gloria Center depends on your contributions. To make a tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card, click the Donate button in the upper-right hand corner of this page. To donate via check, make it out to "American Friends of IDC," with "for GLORIA Center" in the memo line. Mail to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003.  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation from the United Kingdom or Germany please email us for more information here.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Czech List: Sometimes Even A Conference Can Teach Vivid Political Realities

By Barry Rubin*
August 25, 2010

I'm not a big fan of conferences. There's nothing more repetitive than sitting in a panel where the presentations have interesting titles but are otherwise disappointing. Or listening to a speaker who may be very good but says absolutely nothing you don't know already. 

But sometimes you have fascinating experiences which are not exactly on the agenda. Here are three from a conference I attended in Prague a few years ago, each of which contains its own lessons. Incidentally, nothing about the below was off the record, though the names and some details have been omitted since this is about points, not personalities.

1. The German parliamentarian was well-dressed, angry, and red in the face. He raised his voice in righteous indignation. Why, he complained, were there a number of Israelis at the meeting but no Palestinians. Obviously he thought that he had caught the Czech hosts in some politically incorrect indiscretion. 

After he finished his somewhat insulting remarks and sat down, one of the Czechs stood up and explained very politely that plenty of Palestinians had been invited; all expenses paid, and had accepted but had simply not shown up. That's something I've seen plenty of times.

A Lesson: Why get rewarded for deciding not to succeed? Hamas refuses to act peacefully, and then is rewarded for having committed aggression and been soundly defeated as a result (2008-2009). Same applies for Hizballah (2006). The Palestinian Authority refuses to make peace and then is rewarded for alleged suffering under an occupation it has the power to end when it so wishes.

Recently, a reader made a startling suggestion to me that I think is a brilliant insight. In this day when not only equal opportunity but equal results is supposedly supposed (yes, that double use is deliberate) guaranteed, Israel is being "unfair" at doing so well socially and economically. 

In past decades, the failure of a nation to achieve democracy or prosperity would have been attributed to its own choices. That's a good thing because its people can then realize their mistakes, realize them, and succeed. Today, however, failure is often attributed to being a victim of racism, imperialism, and pure meanness.

Woody Allen allegedly said (it isn't clear that he did) that 99 percent of life is showing up. Yes, indeed. Showing up and performing well. But in the counter-Calvinism of our time, material achievement is a proof of damnation. 

The development theory of the 1950s and 1960s focused on how a country could achieve take-off to progress and prosperity. It is a model followed nowadays by China, South Korea, and some others.

The currently dominant view, at least in intellectual circles and among fashionable dictators and terrorists is the idea that underdevelopment is not a result of history, culture, society, and bad choices but of imperialist exploitation.  Instead of reforming yourself, the object is to wage war and other struggle to get the West to hand over the loot. This leads to violence, social intransigence, political stagnation, and failure. But at least it is a popular, rationalized failure.

2. The pompous American intellectual made a stirring speech about how great things were going in Afghanistan, a country he obviously knew nothing about. He was playing those Washington and academic games in which the lives of distant people are toyed with on the basis of book learning and theories. The fact that this particular fool happened to be conservative didn't change anything in the usual pattern.

My Afghan friend, who had been analyzing his own country for years and seen, as he put it, half his family murdered by the Communists and the other half murdered by the Islamists, could take no more. He stood up and countered with facts and details. His talk was a devastating response. The police in Kabul wouldn't leave their barracks to deal with violence. The war lords were out of control. Despite official optimism, Afghanistan was still Afghanistan and American plans were just illusions. 

A lesson: One would have thought that the arrogant fool would have been forever silenced by the graphic demonstration that he knew nothing and was speaking nonsense. Of course, such people are never influenced by that kind of humiliation. I've heard and read him since saying similar things. These "masters of the universe," to use Tom Wolfe's phrase-historically on the right but nowadays much more common on the left-think about their egos and careers, not the lives being affected by their prattling.

Nevertheless, the experience provided a stirring example of the difference between the real and fantasy worlds, between those who know and those who blow hot air, between those who merely articulate their ideological desires and those who have the courage to speak the truth.

I'm cynical enough to ask: Guess who gets the bigger honors and rewards? But not so pessimistic or craven to stop trying to do what's right. 

3. Its one thing to be a pacifist but quite another to talk like a pacifist while being a high-ranking official at the French Defense Ministry. The well-dressed, debonair, and relatively young man was explaining how nothing was worth fighting for, how conflict had to be avoided at virtually any cost. Naturally, he would object to my summary but it is nonetheless accurate.

I have a friend, though, who loves being provocative in a funny way. In personal life, he is a sweet and considerate person but he loves to play the role of the nasty, arrogant hardliner. You could see in his glittering eyes and slight smile that he saw a big fat target of opportunity.

And so as the French bureaucrat proclaimed that no one should go to war without prior approval of the UN, my friend stood up and pointed out that France had intervened dozens of times in Africa-overthrown governments, put down revolts, backed up oppressive regimes-without any reference to the UN whatsoever.

Up on stage, the French guy was livid, totally losing his temper, rose menacingly, and as I remember it threatened to punch out my friend. The spiritual man of peace had instantly turned into macho man cruising for a bruising. I think someone physically restrained him.

A lesson: When others advise that you have no right of self-defense, are using excessive force, and similar such stuff, note how ferocious they become and totally indifferent to moral or legal considerations when their interests are at stake.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to You can read and subscribe to his blog at

Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel