Brace Yourselves: Trump is Going to Win: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, May 16, 2016— Canadians and our media have watched U.S. primary season with a mixture of incredulity, disbelief, horror and smugness.
Burning Israel: Sanders’ Vision for the Democratic Party: Seth Lipsky, New York Post, May 26, 2016— What a hoopla has arisen over the fact that the first Jewish candidate to get to the homestretch of a Democratic presidential primary is making it his business to move the party formally away from its support of Israel.
Weakend at Bernie’s: Maureen Dowd, New York Times, May 21, 2016— Hillary clinton is the Democratic nominee. Really. Just ask her.
I Stand by my Critique of ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2016— Jonathan Greenblatt’s response to my criticism of his embrace of J Street, alleging that I distorted his message, is disingenuous and reaffirms my assessment.
From Hezbollah to Israeli Army: The Extraordinary Journey of a Father and Son: Times of Israel, May 14, 2016
Speech by Michael Gove, UK Conservative MP & Secretary of State for Justice (Video): Algemeiner, Mar. 31, 2016
Another Radical Islamist in the Sanders Camp: IPT, May 26, 2016
ADL Applies Moral Equivalence to Israelis and Palestinians: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, May 18, 2016
Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson
Globe & Mail, May 16, 2016
Canadians and our media have watched U.S. primary season with a mixture of incredulity, disbelief, horror and smugness. The conventional wisdom here, as well as among most American pundits, is that Donald Trump doesn’t stand a chance of winning the presidency and that the Democrats will retake the White House under Hillary Clinton.
The problem is that the conventional wisdom has been consistently wrong since last June. Many thought Mr. Trump would implode during the Republican primary. He didn’t. Many thought his reality-TV-show persona and foul-mouthed campaign style would eventually wear thin with voters. It hasn’t. Many thought – and still do – that his lack of policy substance and multiple about-faces – if not downright contradictions – on hot-button issues like abortion, Muslims and Mexican migrants would doom his campaign with Americans, who generally tend to have a strong sense of fair play and public decorum. That, too, hasn’t happened. Meanwhile the FBI investigation of Ms. Clinton’s personal e-mail accounts is ongoing and Vice-President Joe Biden is back on TV stating that he would be the best candidate.
What many fail to recognize is that Donald Trump is rewriting the rules of American politics with his take-no-prisoners, earned-rather-than-paid media campaign for the U.S. presidency. He is riding a tidal wave of profound dissatisfaction among ordinary American voters (and not just aging, white, middle-aged males, for that matter) that is driven by a volatile mix of xenophobic nationalism, falling wages and living standards for the middle and lower classes, a yawning and ever-widening gap between rich and poor, and an acute sense that America under President Barack Obama has taken a backseat role in world affairs, has mismanaged major issues and is no longer the leading great power it once was.
Donald Trump understands the angry mood of America better than his Washington-based Republicans, which is why he is the last man standing. Only Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders rivals Mr. Trump with his intuitive grasp of America’s state of mind and that is why he is giving Hillary Clinton such an unexpected run for her money.
America’s political establishment, including those in the media, are widely seen as being out of touch and arrogant and self-serving, which is why Mr. Trump’s “outsider” appeal has traction. If there were any lingering doubts, consider the extraordinary confession in the New York Times Magazine by Obama confidant, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. Mr. Rhodes openly bragged about lying about timelines in the Iranian nuclear deal to reporters while feeding their more inexperienced colleagues with stories to create, in his words, “an echo chamber” so that the public would support the deal. Talk about hubris! A just released Reuters online poll puts the race between Ms. Clinton and Mr. Trump as neck and neck. That is just one poll and a lot can happen between now and November. But Canadians and their government should nevertheless ready themselves for the possibility of a Trump presidency. Prudence is anticipating the worst before it happens and readying yourself for the consequences.
We should be deeply worried about Mr. Trump’s threat to throw NAFTA into the dustbin. It is not a hollow one. We should also disabuse ourselves of the notion that Mr. Trump would treat Canada differently from Mexico. He won’t, because he is a populist who is pandering to the public mood. Just look at what he said at a rally in Washington State a few days ago. Without actually naming Canada, Mr. Trump said he would put an end to lumber imports: “When we take their product, come on in folks, come on in. We’re not going to do it.”
Mr. Trump’s threat to disband NATO because it is an “obsolete” Cold War relic on which allies, including Canada, are not carrying their share of the burden should also worry us. Mr. Trump has repeatedly said he won’t defend “free riders.” He certainly won’t look kindly on Canada, which spends barely 1 per cent of GDP on defence compared to the 4 per cent the United States does, nor will he attach much credence to our views on global issues. It is time for business interests on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, which have benefited enormously from NAFTA, to rally and make their views known by actively countering the anti-free-trade, protectionist message of Mr. Trump and other presidential contenders like Mr. Sanders. It is also time for more than rhetoric to anchor our security.
Conventional thinking about this election has been consistently wrong and unexpected developments may still lie ahead, but Canadians and their government may also have to start thinking the unthinkable – a Trump presidency that shatters the most foundational element of our foreign policy, the way we have managed relations with the United States over the past 60-odd years. The values and interests we profess to share may not prove to be the most effective prescription.
New York Post, May 26, 2016
What a hoopla has arisen over the fact that the first Jewish candidate to get to the homestretch of a Democratic presidential primary is making it his business to move the party formally away from its support of Israel. At least to the degree that President Obama hasn’t already done so. This story comes into focus with the announcement of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ nominees to the Democratic Party’s platform committee. The five — out of a total of 11 on the committee — are a parody of leftist politics.
They include a radical environmentalist, Bill McKibben; a Native American activist, Deborah Parker; and a particularly progressive congressman, Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) The big news, though, is that Sanders’ surrogates include the pro-Palestinian activist James Zogby and the leftist professor Cornel West. They are two of the harshest critics of Israel on the national scene. It’s not my intention here to suggest that any of these worthies ought to be excluded from the Democratic — or any other — Party’s political debate. But what does it say about Sanders that these are his platform writers?
“The first Jewish candidate to win state primaries and amass millions of votes,” writes the editor of the liberal Jewish Forward, “is also the one trying to steer the Democratic Party platform away from its full-throated support of Israel.” The anti-Israel edge to Sanders’ surrogates is so pronounced that even The New York Times fronted a dispatch to mark the point. It warned that a “bitter divide over the Middle East could threaten Democratic Party unity.”
Nor does this seem to be unintended. West, a veteran of Harvard and Princeton, and Zogby, head of the Arab American Institute, were themselves quoted by the Times as vowing to overturn what it called the party’s “lopsided support for Israel.” Supposedly Hillary Clinton is going to resist this. But even her camarilla is a marker of how far the party has been shifting. One of her nominees is former State Department aide Wendy Sherman. By dint of Sherman’s seniority at State, she could be considered Clinton’s main foreign-policy person on the platform committee. Yet Sherman’s claim to fame — or infamy — is as co-author of the articles of appeasement on Iran. Those, remember, were opposed not only by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but also by the left-of-center opposition in Israel. And by majorities of both houses of the Congress — and not just Republicans.
As it stands, the only members of the Dems’ committee to have made support for Israel a main marker of their careers are those installed by the party’s national chairman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. It was she who put the former congressman Howard Berman on the committee. She also named its chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. Both have supportive records on Israel. Then again, it turns out that Wasserman Schultz’s own hold on the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is in danger, according to The Hill newspaper. It reports that Wasserman Schultz is seen as too “divisive,” meaning too anti-Sanders. If the congresswoman goes, it’s hard to imagine who could provide adult supervision to the platform writers.
The cynics might say that party platforms don’t matter anymore, not in the age of the Internet. Now the debate can be shifted by whatever thumb Mark Zuckerberg has put on Facebook’s trending algorithm. Every once in a while, though, a platform offers a glimpse of where a party really stands. This happened at the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, when the press discovered that God and Jerusalem had been dropped from the platform. It prompted the convention chairman to ask for a voice vote to correct the oversight. The “ayes” were eclipsed by the “nays.” The correction was rammed through anyhow, but not before the country, watching on TV, saw what the Democrats had become.
“Crass” is the word Abraham Foxman used, when I spoke with him Thursday, to describe Sanders’ moves on Israel. I detected a note of sadness in this aging hero of the Jewish struggle. Foxman, after all, has spent his entire life laboring to end prejudice against, among many others, the Jews. Finally a Jew makes it into the homestretch for presidential nomination. And his agenda is to turn his party away from the Jewish state.
New York Times, May 21, 2016
Hillary Clinton is the democratic nominee. Really. Just ask her. She should have been able to finally savor shattering that “highest, hardest glass ceiling” — the one she gloried in putting 18 million cracks in last time around — when she attends her convention in Philadelphia in July.
Instead, she is reduced to stomping her feet on CNN, asserting her dominance in a contest that has left her looking anything but dominant. Once more attempting to shake off the old socialist dude hammering her with a sickle, Clinton insisted to Chris Cuomo on Thursday: “I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done, in effect. There is no way that I won’t be.”
It’s a vexing time for the Clintons. As Bill told a crowd in Fargo, N.D., on Friday, it’s been an “interesting” year: “That’s the most neutral word I can think of.” After all, why should Bernie Sanders get to be the Democratic nominee when he isn’t even a Democrat? And how is Donald Trump going to be the Republican nominee when he considers being a Republican merely a starting bid?
It must be hard for Hillary to look at all the pictures of young women swooning over Bernie as though he were Bieber. She assumed that the fix was in, that she and the D.N.C. had arranged for the coronation that she felt she was robbed of in the tulip craze of 2008. Everyone just laughed when Sanders, a cranky loner from Vermont with a nondescript Senate record, decided to challenge Queen Hillary. Clinton and her aides intoned — wink, wink — that it would be healthy to have a primary fight with Sanders and Martin O’Malley.
But Bernie became the surprise belle of his side’s revolutionary ball. And now he has gotten a taste of it and he likes it and he won’t let it go. He’s bedeviling the daylight out of Hillary. Hillary and her allies are spinning a narrative that Bernie is less loyal to the Democratic cause than she was with Obama. And Trump does delight in quoting Bernie’s contention that Hillary lacks the judgment to be president. On Friday, when he accepted the endorsement of the N.R.A. at its convention, Trump mischievously urged Sanders to run as a third-party candidate and said he would love to have a debate with both Hillary and Bernie onstage.
Hillary says Sanders needs to “do his part” to unify the party, as she did in 2008. But even on the day of the last primaries in that race, when she was the one who was mathematically eliminated unless the superdelegates turned, she came onstage to Terry McAuliffe heralding her as “the next president of the United States.” She then touted having more votes than any primary candidate in history as her fans cheered “Yes, she will!” and “Denver!”
Seeing Trump’s soaring negatives, Sanders thinks, if he could just get past Hillary, he could actually be president. The Bernie bro violence — chair throwing, sexist name-calling and feral threats — at the Nevada state party convention last weekend was denounced as “a scary situation” by his Senate colleague Barbara Boxer.
Sanders condemned the violence while stoking the outrage, urging the Democratic Party to “open the doors, let the people in.” He flashed a bit of Trump, so sure in his belief that the system is rigged that he fed off the nasty energy. Boxer had to call Sanders several times before he called back. She and other Democratic Senate women are fed up with his crusade, feeling enough is enough. I’ve talked to several former Clinton and Obama White House aides who don’t enjoy checking in with the joyless Clinton campaign in Brooklyn. “It’s the Bataan Death March,” one says.
Hopeful acceptance of Hillary has shifted to amazed disbelief that she can’t put away Bernie. Given dynasty fatigue and Hillary’s age, many Democrats assumed that their front-runner would come out of the gate with a vision for the future that gave her campaign a fresh hue, instead of white papers tinkering around the edges. She should have been far over her husband’s bridge to the 21st century and way down the highway by now.
Instead, her big new idea is to put Bill in charge of the economy again (hopefully, with less Wall Street deregulation). Again with the two for the price of one. And please don’t deny us the pleasure of seeing Bill choose the china patterns. Hillary’s Bataan Death March is making Republicans reconsider their own suicide mission with Trump. More are looking at Clinton’s inability to get the flashing lights going like her husband, and thinking: Huh, maybe we’re not dead here. Maybe Teflon Don could pull this off.
The 2016 race is transcendentally bizarre. We have two near-nominees with the highest unfavorables at this point in the race of any in modern history. We seem to have a majority of voters in both parties who are driven by the desire to vote against the other candidate, rather than for their own. Debbie Wasserman Schultz tries to herd young women to Hillary by raising the specter of Roe v. Wade being overturned. And former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Trump’s obsession with “10s” and D-cups would “come back to haunt him’’ and give Democrats wins because “there are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women.”
Hillary can’t generate excitement on her own so she is relying on fear of Trump to get her into the White House. And Trump is relying on fear of everything to get him into the White House. So voters are stuck in the muck of the negative: What are you most afraid of?
Jerusalem Post, May 26, 2016
Jonathan Greenblatt’s response to my criticism of his embrace of J Street, alleging that I distorted his message, is disingenuous and reaffirms my assessment. Invoking clichés “that there are steps Israel can take to ensure the viability of a two-state solution” are ill-becoming the head of a major Jewish organization whose contact with Israel has been minimal. It only serves to encourage US President Barack Obama and the heads of other governments to intensify pressure against us. Greenblatt is surely aware that there is a consensus in Israel supporting immediate separation from the Palestinians, but also a recognition that further unilateral concessions in the absence of a genuine peace partner would endanger our security.
Greenblatt explicitly condemned Jews who deny the rights of “marginalized Palestinians” and fail to recognize the legitimacy of “the Palestinian narrative.” When he condemned “those who place blame on one side instead of putting forward solutions that acknowledge the role and responsibility of both sides”, he provided grist for the propaganda mills of those applying moral equivalence to Israelis and the Palestinians who sanctify terrorism and are bent on our destruction. Greenblatt now reiterates (as I initially stated) that in his address to J Street, he also made remarks supporting Israel and condemning anti-Semitism. So what?
Jewish communists, the antecedents of J Street, also described themselves as “pro-peace” and defended Soviet anti-Semitism while portraying themselves as “pro-Jewish.” Likewise, J Street claims to be “pro-Israel” despite raising funds to support anti-Israeli congressional candidates, lobbying the Obama administration to exert further pressure on Israel, accepting generous funding from George Soros to support the government’s appeasement of Iran, and constantly condemning the security policies of the Israeli government.
Greenblatt cannot refute this. Does he really believe that Jews, whose principal objective is to undermine and demonize Israel and encourage foreign intervention, should still be considered members of the mainstream of the Jewish community and included in the big tent? Would the ADL seek to address and engage in dialogue with Jews promoting racism or homophobia? The ADL national director goes further. He endorses the Black Lives Matter movement despite its open hostility to Israel. He also laments that the viciously anti-Israeli fringe group If Not Now is denied “safe space” for discourse and has informed them that the ADL “shares your commitment to change.”
Likewise, Greenblatt claims that the J Street group he addressed comprised “deeply thoughtful college students whose commitment to Israel is genuine and whose passion on the issue is impressive.” His objective is to maintain “a true sense of community and inclusion” with them.
Setting aside the legitimacy provided to J Street when endorsed by the head of a major Jewish body, one would have expected Greenblatt to spell out realities to these youngsters rather than praising them and engaging in kumbaya. He should surely have admonished them and explained why it is utterly immoral for Diaspora Jews to publicly campaign against security-related policies with life-and-death implications endorsed by the vast majority of Israelis.
Furthermore, as head of the organization whose principal mandate is to combat anti-Semitism, Greenblatt should have focused his address on emphasizing how despicable it was for students to demonize Israel while their Jewish student peers at many campuses were subjected to unprecedented waves of anti-Israeli incitement and anti-Semitism. Instead, Greenblatt nonsensically justifies his position, stating that “disagreement and dissent are not Jewish ideas – they are Jewish ideals.” In other words, Jews who defame Israel and canvas foreign governments to intensify pressure on the Jewish state should be welcomed.
He goes one step further and says, “Whether Leibler likes it or not, these are the future leaders in our community and country.” Well, like any committed Jew, I certainly would not “like it.” And if Greenblatt endorses people sharing the views of J Street heading our community, the ADL Board would be well advised to have a serious chat with him. With the current surge of violent global anti-Semitism which has already impacted on Jewish students at many American campuses, there is an urgent need for a powerful Jewish body dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism.<br> <br> The ADL’s task is not to provide advice to Israel on security issues. Nor should it purport to speak on behalf of the Jewish community on broad social issues concerning which Jews share different opinions. It should concentrate more on Islamic terrorism rather than highlighting so-called Islamophobia, which poses far less of a problem than anti-Semitism. While it should broadly condemn all forms of discrimination, its principal role today must be to concentrate on its primary mandate, which is to combat anti-Semitism.
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!
From Hezbollah to Israeli Army: The Extraordinary Journey of a Father and Son: Times of Israel, May 14, 2016 — When 120 young Israeli soldiers lined up outside the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Thursday to receive citations for their distinguished service, leaders lauded and paid tribute to their exceptional personal tales.
Speech by Michael Gove, UK Conservative MP & Secretary of State for Justice (Video): Algemeiner, Mar. 31, 2016
Another Radical Islamist in the Sanders Camp: IPT, May 26, 2016—As Democratic Party leaders struggle to end their increasingly vitriolic presidential primary campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is winning concessions in hopes he'll tone down the rhetoric.
ADL Applies Moral Equivalence to Israelis and Palestinians: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, May 18, 2016—The Anti-Defamation League’s new National Director, Jonathan Greenblatt, previously a special assistant to U.S. President Barack Obama, has begun to court the liberal glitterati and their media by following the Obama lead and creating daylight between the ADL and the Israeli government.