Tag: US Elections

IN U.S. MID-TERM ELECTION, “KITCHEN-TABLE ISSUES” WILL LIKELY OUTWEIGH HEADLINE-GRABBING EVENTS

Neither of this Week’s Attacks Will Affect the Midterms: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Oct. 27, 2018—Whom can we blame? How will it play in November?

Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre Sadly Exposes Linda Sarsour’s Opportunism: Steven Emerson, Algemeiner, Oct. 30, 2018 — Expressions of grief, shock, and solidarity came from all corners as a horrified nation learned about a Jew-hating gunman’s attack on a historic Pittsburgh synagogue.

Midterm Optics Are Bad for Progressives: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Oct. 25, 2018— For progressives, the looming midterm elections apparently should not hinge on a booming economy, a near-record-low unemployment rate, a strong stock market, and unprecedented energy production.

Democrats Are Blowing It, Again: Bret Stephens, New York Times, Oct. 12, 2018— Michael Kelly, the legendary journalist who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003, once wrote that the “animating impulse” of modern liberalism was to “marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company.

On Topic Links

Democrats No Match for ‘Nationalist’ Trump: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Oct. 26, 2018

‘Most Important Election Ever’ — Not: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Oct. 26, 2018

Domestic Issues, Not Israel, Key to Pivotal Jewish Voters in Midterm Elections: Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, Nov. 1, 2018

The Democrats are at a Low Point. Can They Regain Power?: Lawrence Martin, Globe & Mail, Oct. 12, 2018

 

          NEITHER OF THIS WEEK’S ATTACKS WILL AFFECT THE MIDTERMS                                                 Michael Goodwin

New York Post, Oct. 27, 2018

Whom can we blame? How will it play in November? For the second time in a week, those were the crass calculations running through the minds of the political class. First it was the pipe bombs and now it is the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. In both cases, the instant assumption was that the allegiance of the perpetrator would determine which side would be punished in the midterms and which side would reap the benefits of sympathy.

If this sounds heartless and ghoulish, welcome to America. The politicization of everything is exacting a terrible price on our country, with no crime or tragedy too heinous to exploit. As the number of pipe bombs grew and it became clear that all the targets were Democrats or fierce critics of President Trump, most fingers pointed in the obvious direction. Much of the media rushed to blame the president, and Dem congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi piled on, even denouncing Trump’s call for national unity.

“Time and time again, the president has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions,” they said in a statement that was remarkably harsh and partisan given that the suspect was still at large and fear was growing by the day. Meanwhile, the pattern of targets was too obvious for some in the president’s corner, and they smelled a “false flag” operation. They suspected the bombs were a plant by the left to put the blame on Trump and swing the coming election to the Dems.

But now that we know that suspect Cesar Sayoc, 56, is indeed a Trump supporter, we are back to the original assumptions. Phrases such as “MAGA Bomber” and “Native American Trump Supporter” who drove a “Trump Mobile” convey the tone of most of the media, with some coverage veering into a “we told you so” smugness. For the 1 millionth time, they were sure this would be the final straw in his popularity. Happy days would soon be here again.

And then came Saturday’s slaughter, which scrambles the political playbook because it defies easy assumptions about the fallout. Suspect Robert Bowers is a sick anti-Semite, the carrier of a disease nearly as old as mankind. Because of that, he is no fan of Trump, as he has said on ­social-media posts. For Bowers, Jews are the everything, the sole measuring rod of all things, which makes Trump part of the problem. The president, after all, is a strong supporter of Israel and his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism to marry Jared Kushner. The fact that Trump also dared to criticize white nationalists after the Charlottesville, Va., incident is proof he cannot be trusted, according to Bowers’ Nazi-like rants.

Still, that distinction may be buried in the rush to gain an edge, and the anti-Trumpers may be correct that the horrors will persuade enough voters in key districts and states that the president is to blame for the rise of political violence. In that case, Dems could sweep both houses and turn Trump into a piñata for the next two years, assuming he isn’t impeached and convicted before his term expires. So a bandwagon of belief is rolling in that direction, but nobody need save me a seat. I’m not convinced the bomb suspect’s support for Trump will swing the election or that the synagogue attack helps Democrats.

Here are three main reasons for my doubts. First, neither suspect was a solid citizen who suddenly turned to violence because of politics. Sayoc is a career criminal whose arrest record goes back three decades, including at least one charge for making terroristic threats. A recent former employer described him as “crazed” but not about politics. He was, as The Post put it in a headline, a “stripper with a steroid problem.” Bowers, based on what we know of him so far, is a freak of the fringe who would not be welcomed in any mainstream political party. His vileness isn’t partisan.

Although the public in general is distressed with gutter-level politics, and most feel Trump makes too many inflammatory comments, it doesn’t automatically follow that these two alleged criminals can be successfully pinned on the president. Just as most Americans did not blame Bernie Sanders when one of his supporters shot Republican Congressman Steve Scalise in a planned assassination attempt last year, most are more likely to believe Sayoc and Bowers are responsible for their own actions.

Second, the speed of events these days means no one storyline dominates for long, even in the anti-Trump-obsessed media. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle looked as if it would determine the election — until the caravan of Central American immigrants making their way toward the southern border vowed to get into the country, one way or another. Both events galvanized GOP voters and quashed most predictions of a blue wave. While it’s clear the media and Democrats will try to reverse the trend by hanging Sayoc and Bowers around Trump’s neck, that approach probably will work only with those already opposed to Trump.

Besides, the president’s supporters can — and already are — pointing to left-wing violence by antifa and comments by Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters and other Dems urging an uncivil campaign of harassment against Republicans. And The New York Times didn’t help the left’s cause with its outrageous publication of an article that fantasizes about an assassination of the president. Shamefully, the Gray Lady’s demand for civility doesn’t extend to its own conduct.

The economy is the third reason for my doubts that last week will dramatically reshape the election. Most Americans in the workforce today have never seen anything like the jobs boom and the rising incomes that go with historic low unemployment. To most voters, kitchen-table issues almost always outweigh headline-grabbing incidents, even horrible ones, a fact often lost on elite bubble dwellers. The media especially continue to fall hard for the illusion that the public trusts them to decide what matters most.

In short, I’m having that déjà vu feeling all over again. Much as they were in 2016, too many know-it-alls are 100 percent certain about which way the wind will blow on Nov. 6. The skeptic in me suspects they still are confusing facts with their own bias. My only certainty now is the same one I had two years ago: Voters have a mind of their own. Thank God for that.

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                              PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE MASSACRE SADLY

EXPOSES LINDA SARSOUR’S OPPORTUNISM                                                             

Steven Emerson

Algemeiner, Oct. 30, 2018

Expressions of grief, shock, and solidarity came from all corners as a horrified nation learned about a Jew-hating gunman’s attack on a historic Pittsburgh synagogue. Eleven Jews were killed because they were Jews, gathered for Shabbat services at the Tree of Life synagogue. Four Pittsburgh law enforcement officers were wounded as they raced toward the gunfire and prevented the tragedy from becoming even greater. But one person’s statements of grief and solidarity stand out, largely because it contrasts a long record of sowing enmity and antisemitism. During a vigil on Sunday outside the White House, Linda Sarsour, microphone in hand, spoke of love and solidarity with American Jews. “I hope that you commit and you join me and my sisters and brothers who are here today, to resist hate and choose unrelenting love every single time,” she said.

Her organization, MPower Change, issued a similar statement in Sarsour’s name, expressing “solidarity with our Jewish family, especially the community in Pittsburgh, after today’s horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. In the face of overwhelming hate, we choose unrelenting love and unity. We recommit ourselves to dismantling antisemitism and all forms of racism.” How nice. If she is sincere, however, Sarsour would do well to revisit the years of hatred she has expressed against Israel, the Jewish state, which is a vital safeguard for Jews threatened by antisemitism around the globe. And she won’t have to look back very far.

Just last month, Sarsour spoke at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)’s national convention. She called herself an “unapologetic, pro-BDS, one-state solution supporting resistance supporter.” By definition then, Sarsour’s ultimate ambition is a world with no Jewish state. BDS has been blasted as antisemitic, including by the Berlin State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, because it seeks to isolate Israel and many BDS leaders advocate Israel’s elimination. And a one-state solution would flood Israel demographically, stripping it of its Jewish majority.

At the same convention, Sarsour blamed the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — the most prominent Jewish advocacy group in America — for the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police. Why? Because the ADL runs a program that takes high-ranking police officials to Israel, where they learn about fighting terrorism and other threats. To Sarsour, that means American police officers must “come back here and do what? Stop and frisk, killing unarmed black people across the country.”…

Sarsour also argued at the ISNA convention that Muslims should not defend or “actually try to humanize the oppressor,” which was a reference to Israel. Sarsour knows that she is seen as an antisemite. She made a video last year that seemed cynically devised to shut down those concerns. But in trying to condemn Jew-hatred, Sarsour couldn’t help but minimize its severity, saying, “It’s different than anti-Black racism or Islamophobia because it’s not systemic.” During a discussion at New York’s New School a year ago, she blamed “Jewish media” for giving her a bad reputation. Sarsour famously tweeted, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism,” and rejected offers of solidarity from pro-Israel Jews that are similar to what she claims to offer after the Pittsburgh massacre. Those aren’t views limited to criticism of specific Israeli policies, but a wholesale rejection of a Jewish homeland.

There are about 14.5 million Jews in the world, nearly half — 6.5 million — of whom live in Israel. Another estimated 5.7 million live here in the United States, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom. For the sake of argument, say only half of those Jews living outside Israel consider themselves Zionists (though the available data indicates the figure is much higher). But that means that nearly 10 million of the world’s 14.5 million Jews are Zionists. Sarsour, by her own words, is hostile toward about 70 percent of world Jewry. But she’s no antisemite? She and her Women’s March colleagues have refused to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, even after he said that “powerful Jews are my enemy,” and recently called Jews “termites.”

Was the slaughter at the Tree of Life synagogue a turning point for Sarsour? It’s a valid question, considering her embrace of Rasmieh Odeh, a woman who was convicted in the 1969 bombing of a Jerusalem grocery store that killed two Israeli students. Odeh’s friend acknowledged her central role in the bombing plot — on camera — and Israeli investigators found similar explosives in Odeh’s bedroom. Still, Sarsour said that she was “honored and privileged” to be in Odeh’s presence last year — just before Odeh was deported for naturalization fraud.

And all of this doesn’t even address Sarsour’s inability to condemn Hamas or acknowledge that its obsession with destroying Israel makes life for Palestinians in Gaza worse every day. Sarsour spoke with emotion on Sunday. Her voice cracked at times, and if you didn’t know her, you’d think she was offering a sincere, heartfelt expression of grief, love, and support. The problem is that we do know Sarsour. And we know that our skepticism is more than justified.

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MIDTERM OPTICS ARE BAD FOR PROGRESSIVES                                                   

Victor Davis Hanson

                                                National Review, Oct. 25, 2018

For progressives, the looming midterm elections apparently should not hinge on a booming economy, a near-record-low unemployment rate, a strong stock market, and unprecedented energy production. Instead, progressives hope that race and gender questions overshadow pocketbook issues. The media are fixated on another caravan of foreign nationals flowing toward the United States from Central America. More than 5,000 mostly Honduran migrants say they will cross through Mexico. Then they plan to crash the American border, enter the U.S. illegally, claim refugee status, and demand asylum. Once inside the United States, the newcomers will count on a variety of ways to avoid deportation.

This gambit appears mysteriously timed to arrive right before the U.S. midterms — apparently to create empathy and sway voters toward progressive candidates supporting a more relaxed immigration policy. Open-borders advocates and progressives assume that if border-security officials are forced to detain the intruders and separate parents who broke the law from their children, it will make President Trump and Republican candidates appear cold-hearted and callous. Earlier this year, a similar border melodrama became sensationalized in the media and almost certainly dropped Trump’s approval ratings. But this time around, the optics may be different.

The new caravan appears strangely well organized. The marchers, many of them young men, do not appear destitute. They do not seem to fit the profile of desperate refugees whose lives were in immediate danger in their homeland. For many Americans, the would-be refugees may seem presumptuous in assuming that they have the right to barge into someone else’s country. Most Americans realize that if an organized caravan of foreigners can simply announce in advance plans to crash into the U.S. illegally, then the concepts of a border, citizenship, sovereignty, and even a country itself no longer exist.

A number of other events on the eve of the midterm elections also may have the opposite of the intended effect on voters. The Supreme Court nomination hearings for Brett Kavanaugh ended up as scripted melodrama. Protesters disrupted the Senate on cue. They screamed from the gallery. Democratic senators staged a walkout. They filibustered and interrupted the proceedings. Their collective aim was to show America that male Republican senators were insensitive to the feelings and charges of Christine Blasey Ford, and therefore callous and sexist.

Ford had alleged that Kavanaugh 36 years earlier had sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. But she produced no corroborating testimony, physical evidence, or witnesses. Many of her assertions were contested by other people. Many Americans finally concluded that there was no reason to deny Kavanaugh’s nomination to the court. To find Kavanaugh guilty of Ford’s charges, Americans were asked to suspend the very ideas of due process and Western jurisprudence. The furious demonstrations that followed Kavanaugh’s confirmation only made the optics worse. Republican senators were confronted at their offices and on elevators. Protesters broke through police cordons and beat and scratched at the Supreme Court doors, apparently in vain efforts to break in and disrupt the swearing-in ceremonies. Liberal icons such as Hillary Clinton, former attorney general Eric Holder, and Senator Cory Booker seemed to encourage the incivility and disruptions.

Did the ongoing chaos work to change public opinion in their direction? Perhaps not. Most Americans do not want frenzied shriekers scratching at doors on Capitol Hill. They are turned off by shouters popping up in Senate galleries. Few are comfortable with efforts to bully or intimidate senators rather than to persuade them. In yet another misreading of the public, Senator Elizabeth Warren produced the results of a DNA test to prove she had properly claimed advantageous minority status on the basis of her alleged Native American family history. But the test only confirmed that Warren might be 1 percent (or less) Native American and is probably not from a tribe in the continental U.S…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

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DEMOCRATS ARE BLOWING IT, AGAIN

Bret Stephens

New York Times, Oct. 12, 2018

Michael Kelly, the legendary journalist who died covering the invasion of Iraq in 2003, once wrote that the “animating impulse” of modern liberalism was to “marginalize itself and then enjoy its own company. And to make itself as unattractive to as many as possible.” “If it were a person,” he added, “it would pierce its tongue.”

I thought of that line while reading a tweet from Nate Cohn, The Times’s polling guru: “Take everything together, and, on balance, it’s been a good 10 days of state/cd polling for the GOP in a lot of important battlegrounds.” The “cd” refers to congressional districts, where Republicans now have at least a fighting chance of holding on to a majority despite the widely anticipated blue wave. Even better are Republican chances of holding the Senate. On Sept. 30, RealClearPolitics gave the G.O.P. a lock on 47 seats, with 9 tossups. Now it’s 50 and 6, with races in Tennessee, Texas, and North Dakota increasingly leaning right. Donald Trump’s approval rating is also up from a month ago.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not during a midterm when the opposition party almost always gains seats. Not after 21 months of Trumpian chaos. Not after a year of #MeToo. Not after Christine Blasey Ford’s emotional testimony and Brett Kavanaugh’s angry retort. And yet it is. Predictably. Once again, American liberalism has pierced its own tongue. It pierced its tongue on CNN this week, when Hillary Clinton told Christiane Amanpour that “you cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” And when former Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday, “When they go low, we kick ’em.”

It pierced its tongue last week when New York’s Representative Jerrold Nadler pledged to use a Democratic House majority to open an investigation into Kavanaugh’s alleged perjury and the “whitewash” investigation by the F.B.I. A party that can’t change its mind and won’t change the subject meets the classic definition of a fanatic. It pierced its tongue last month when Cory Booker and Kamala Harris turned Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing into audition tapes for their presidential bids, complete with “I am Spartacus” histrionics and bald misrepresentations about Kavanaugh’s views on racial profiling and contraception.

It pierced its tongue when Minority Leader Chuck Schumer chose to make Kavanaugh’s confirmation the year’s decisive political test, rather than run a broad referendum on Trump’s inglorious tenure. As I wrote in July, the political strategy was guaranteed to hurt red-state Democrats, as they were put “to the choice of looking like political sellouts if they vote for Kavanaugh, or moral cowards if they don’t.” It pierced its tongue when The New Yorker violated normal journalistic standards by reporting Deborah Ramirez’s uncorroborated allegation against Kavanaugh, and much of the rest of the media gave credence to Julie Swetnick’s lurid one. The pile-on wound up doing more to stiffen Republican spines against an apparent witch hunt than it did to weaken their resolve in the face of Blasey’s powerful accusation…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Democrats No Match for ‘Nationalist’ Trump: Konrad Yakabuski, Globe & Mail, Oct. 26, 2018—A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. midterm elections.

‘Most Important Election Ever’ — Not: David Harsanyi, New York Post, Oct. 26, 2018—If you believe that a midterm election in a time of relative peace and economic prosperity is the most important in history or even the most important in your fortunate lifetime, you either are oblivious to history or don’t have a single nonpartisan synapse firing in your skull.

Domestic Issues, Not Israel, Key to Pivotal Jewish Voters in Midterm Elections: Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, Nov. 1, 2018—When Republican candidate for Florida governor Rick DeSantis was asked at an October 21 debate whether President Donald Trump is a role model for kids, he pivoted — to Israel.

The Democrats are at a Low Point. Can They Regain Power?: Lawrence Martin, Globe & Mail, Oct. 12, 2018—Whatever happened, it is often asked, to the Republican Party?

 

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

 

Contents:Weekly Quotes|Short Takes|On Topic

 

International Conference

 

 

CIJR’S Latest ISRAZINE is now available.

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Israel’s Levy Report –
Clarifying the Misconceptions

 

 

“Hopefully, from [Barack] Obama’s vantage, he may have appreciated that bullying or demeaning Netanyahu was counter-productive…Should Obama revert to his earlier approach of continuously publicly reprimanding Israel while treating the duplicitous Palestinian leaders with kid gloves, he could bring about a confrontation with Congress.  By now, Obama may also have independently reached the conclusion that by distancing the US and exerting harsh pressure on Israel, all he achieved was to embolden the radical Islamists and encourage the Palestinians to become more intransigent in their demands….We should therefore, at least at the outset, adopt a positive approach to the new administration and assume that Obama will adhere to his commitments and that the improvement in relations with Israel created over the past six months will be sustained. We may be facing difficult times. But we must remain optimistic in the knowledge that the United States is a democracy. As long as public opinion continues to support Israel, the relationship between both countries may, as in the past, undergo strains and stresses, but will remain intact.” —Isi Liebler, commenting on the re-election of Barack Obama as President. (Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2012)

 

“[A]lthough I think Romney would have been a more effective president than Obama, with a better program, I am in fact more in sympathy with President Obama’s declared goals in judicial and welfare matters…. It is scandalous that such a rich country as the United States has 45-million poor people, and I agree with the spirit of the Democratic effort to assist those people. But I do not think their professed methods would be any more successful than the well-intentioned, but largely counter-productive programs of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society legislation of 45 years ago — which I also ardently supported at the time…. — Conrad Black in response to the re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. (National Post, November 7, 2012)

 

"Four years ago, Obama … announced he would extend the hand of cooperation to Iran. But he pursued a different path and imposed unprecedented sanctions and it is natural the Iranian people will never forget such crimes. After all this pressure and crimes against the people of Iran, relations with America cannot be possible overnight and Americans should not think they can hold our nation to ransom by coming to the negotiating table," Sadeq Larijani, head of the Iranian judiciary as quoted by IRNA news agency following the re-election of President Barack Obama. (Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2012)

 

"I am a refugee but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine. And the other parts [are] Israel. I want to see Safed. It is my right to see it but not to live there. Palestine now for me is ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever …This is Palestine for me..” —Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in an English language statement to Israel Television’s Channel 2 which was widely interpreted to be a renunciation of  the so called “right of return” of all Palestinian “refugees” to their original homes in Israel proper.  However, following an angry backlash from other Palestinians, notably Hamas and members of Fatah, he clarified his remarks telling Egypt’s al-Hayat television, in Arabic,  “Speaking about Safed was a personal position and it did not mean conceding the right of return. No one would give up their right of return. But all those international formulas, especially that of [UN Resolution] 194 speak of a just and agreed-upon solution to the refugee issue, and agreed-upon means on the part of Israel.” (National Post, November 1, 2012)

 

“I watched President Abbas’ interview at the weekend, and I heard that since then he has already managed to recant. Peace can be advanced only around the negotiating table, and not through unilateral resolutions at the U.N. General Assembly, which will only put peace further away and bring about instability,” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Mahmoud Abbas’ interview with Channel 2 Television. (National Post, November 4, 2012)

 

“If it is true that Abbas’ statement can be understood to be relinquishing the “right of return,” then this is nothing more than a purely tactical mistake because a position like this should be declared in the context of negotiations and bargaining, and not to be offered as a free offering ahead of time. …[M]ore importantly, “the right of return” is inconsistent with the two-state solution…While the Middle East unravels into religious, sectarian and ethnic groups that fear one another…it would take us a great deal of naivety to believe that the Jews of Israel would accept the “return” of 5 to 6 million Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, to live in their midst. This is pure delusion whose only purpose is to undermine the two-state solution as a prelude to doing away with it completely. This is particularly the case when the call for “the right of return” is coupled with threats about numerical and demographic shifts in favor of the Arab population. In a region that is unable to resolve the question of Kirkuk and whether it is Arab, Kurd or Turkish, the question of the return of Palestinians to the territories of 1948 is closer to being a matter of innocence possessed by a lot of devilry that rejects any kind of peace and does not want to see any end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.” — Hazem Saghieh in an opinion article translated from the original Arabic on the Egyptian online news site Dar al-Hayat. (Dar-al-Hayat,  November 6, 2012)

 

"We told Bashar [al-Assad] he needed to find a political solution to the crisis. We said, 'These are our people that we are killing.' We suggested that we work with Friends of Syria group, but he categorically refused to stop the operations or to negotiate. He is trying to replicate his father's fight in the 1980s." — Riyad Hijab, former Prime Minister of Syria who fled to Jordan in August of this year.  "Bashar used to be scared of the international community – he was really worried that they would impose a no-fly zone over Syria," he said. "But then he tested the waters, and pushed and pushed and nothing happened. Now he can run air strikes and drop cluster bombs on his own population." (The Telegraph, Nov4, 2012)

 

“Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria. Of course, I would favour him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done. I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain but if wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged.“ —British Prime Minister David Cameron, in an interview with al-Arabia while on an official visit to Abu Dhabi, floating the idea of offering Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad immunity from prosecution as a way of persuading him to leave power.

 

(Top of Page)

 

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OBAMA WINS A SECOND TERM (Washington) President Barack Obama narrowly won re-election, overcoming public doubts about his performance on the economy. Obama won 60,297,130 votes or 50.4% of the popular vote to Romney’s 57,527,755 votes or 48.1% of the popular vote. This translated into 303 Electoral College votes for Obama to 206 Electoral College (EC) votes for Romney out of a total of 538 EC votes available. 270 EC votes were required to win the presidency.  Florida, with 29 EC votes, has not yet been declared at this writing. For Mr. Obama, the victory sets up a test of whether he can forge a productive second term in a still deeply divided political system. The Democrats have retained their majority in the Senate while Republicans maintain their stranglehold on the House of Representatives, at least for the next two years until the next Congressional elections in 2014. (Wall Street Journal, November 7, 2012)

 

ELECTION FAILS TO END DEBATE OVER OBAMA’S SHARE OF JEWISH VOTE —(Washington)  Expect four more years of tussling between Jewish Republicans and Democrats about the meaning of Obama’s dip from 78 percent Jewish support in 2008 exit polls to 69% this year in the national exit polls run by a media consortium. Is it a result of Obama’s fractious relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Or is it a natural fall-off in an election that was closer across the board than it was four years ago? Does it reflect a significant shift in Jewish voting patterns toward the Republicans? A separate national exit poll released Wednesday by Jim Gerstein, a pollster affiliated with the dovish Israel policy group J Street, had similar numbers: 70 percent of respondents said they voted for Obama, while 30 percent…said they voted Republican…Matt Brooks, who directs the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the $6.5 million spent by his group and the $1.5 million doled out by an affiliated political action committee to woo Jewish voters was “well worth it.” “We’ve increased our share of the Jewish vote by almost 50 percent,” he said, noting that Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee, won 22 percent in exit polls to Romney’s 30 percent. “What yichus is there in the possibility of having picked up a handful of Jewish votes having spent so many millions of dollars?” [Steve] Rabinowitz, a consultant to Jewish and Democratic groups, asked, using the Yiddish word connoting status. (Times of Israel, November 7, 2012)

 

PA STATEHOOD BID A 'POLITICAL SUICIDE' (Herzliya) According to Middle East expert Dr. Guy Bechor, the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral [statehood] bid to the United Nations is a political suicide.  Dr. Bechor noted that the United States has warned Abbas that going ahead with the unilateral initiative would result in the closing of the PLO office in the U.S., the end of American funding to the PA and that he will be considered persona non grata in the U.S. Abbas has also been warned of harsh Israeli measures as a result of the UN bid, such as curbing the flow of funds to the PA, a move which would mean the end of the PA financially.  [T]he U.S. informed the United Nations that there is a law that prohibits the U.S. from funding international organizations which recognize a Palestinian state, and that if the UN recognizes ‘Palestine’ it will no longer receive funds from the U.S., similar to what happened when UNESCO recognized ‘Palestine’. “It is well known that the Palestinians commit suicide every few years, but this time they can take the United Nations with them," he said. (Israel National News, November 7, 2012)

 

3 SYRIAN TANKS CROSS INTO GOLAN DEMILITARIZED ZONE, ISRAEL RAISES ALERT (Tel Aviv) The Israeli army, which has been braced for Syrian fighting spilling into Israel, reports the incident to UN peacekeepers. The Israel Defense Forces raised its alert level in the Northern Command area, and a military spokeswoman said Israel complained to the U.N. peacekeeping force in the area after the tanks entered. The incident — the first such violation in 40 years — was not regarded as an incident of hostility toward Israel. Rather, the Syrian tanks were apparently facing off against Syrian rebel forces. Nonetheless, Syrian-Israeli relations are relentlessly fraught, and any border incident raises tensions.(Times of Israel, November 3, 2012)

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MEETS WITH JEWISH BILLIONAIRE, ARABS UPSET
(Cairo)Al Masry al Youm reports that U.S. billionaire David Bonderman left Cairo on Tuesday after a one-day visit to Egypt where he met Khairat El-Shater, the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sources said that Bonder was seeking investment opportunities in Egypt. AlArab Online, a London-based pan-Arab newspaper, says that the Muslim Brotherhood "revealed its true face" by meeting with a Jewish businessman. It raised questions about why Shater, who is not a member of the government, would be meeting with Bonderman, ranked #683 in Forbes list of billionaires. It accuses him of supporting Israel (I didn't see any particularly Zionist ties) and said that this shows that the Brotherhood will do anything to stay in power, even reaching out to "Israel." (Elder of Ziyon, November 7, 2012)

 

AFTER NEARLY 25 YEARS OF SECRECY, ISRAEL ADMITS TO KILLING ARAFAT DEPUTY(Jerusalem) Lifting a nearly 25-year veil of secrecy, Israel is admitting that it killed the deputy of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a 1988 raid in Tunis. Israel has long been suspected of assassinating Khalil al-Wazir, who was better known by his nom de guerre Abu Jihad. But only Thursday did the country’s military censor clear the Yediot Ahronot daily to publish the information, including an interview with the commando who killed him. Dozens of brazen operations have been attributed to Israel over the decades. But Israel rarely takes responsibility. The acknowledgement gives a rare glimpse into the country’s covert operations. Abu Jihad founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization with Mr. Arafat and was blamed for a series of attacks against Israelis. (Globe and Mail), Nov. 1 2012)

 

YES, ANTI-SEMITISM IS STILL A PROBLEM ON CAMPUS — (Washington) Mitchell Bard and Jeff Dawson’s new study, “Israel and the Campus: The Real Story,” led many newspapers to trumpet that anti-Semitism is not a problem on American campuses. They pointed to the study’s finding that significant anti-Israel incidents occurred at only about three percent of schools, with most occurring in only a handful of colleges. But the headlines got the wrong take-away message from the study… Nearly half of the students interviewed for the study – 43% – reported that anti-Semitism is a problem at their schools. The authors acknowledge this is a “shockingly high” level. Nor should we take comfort from the finding that anti-Israel events occurred at “only” 108 out of 4,000 schools, and that one-third occurred at only 10 schools. These were not obscure schools. The list included some of the largest, most prestigious and influential schools in the country: Harvard, Columbia, four University of California campuses including UCLA, and the University of Maryland. Fortunately, not all schools are a problem, but the challenge is serious and should not be minimized. (Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2012)

 

CONDEMNING ISRAEL’S DEMOCRACY WHILE SERVING IN KNESSET (Jerusalem)  Contrary to the illiberal politics in most of the Arab Middle East, democracy in Israel is thriving, and Jamal Zahalka is certainly using it to full advantage. Jamal Zahalka is an Arab citizen of Israel, an Israeli MK, and the leader of the Balad Party (National Democratic Assembly) a political party which opposes his state’s existence. He has received a BA, MA and PhD at Hebrew University. In April of 2006, after a Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, during Passover, killed nine Israelis and wounded more than sixty, Zahalka met, not with families of the victims, but with top Hamas members, in a show of solidarity. He and three of his colleagues visited Syria and Lebanon in September 2006, after the 2nd Lebanon War in a show of solidarity with Hezbollah. In 2009, Zahalka attended a pro-Hamas rally near the Gaza border, on the one-year anniversary of Cast Lead, and accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of enjoying “…killing children in Gaza.”  In 2009, the Israeli Central Elections Committee accused the party which Zahalka belongs to of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. [On] Nov.  4, Zahalka penned an essay at ‘Comment is Free’, calling for sanctions against Israel, which he characterized as a “racist”, “extremist” state that is suffering form an erosion in democracy. (Jewish Press,  November 6th, 2012)

 

ARABS SENDING CHILDREN TO PROVOKE ISRAELI SOLDIERS (Nabi Salih, West Bank) A video shot at a Friday protest in the village of Nabi Salih, in the central West Bank, captured an  image of a young Palestinian girl attempting to provoke Israeli soldiers. Soon thereafter the girl is joined by many other seemingly young-looking people from the village. A senior IDF source told Ynet News that intelligence indicates that pro-Palestinian activists pay Palestinian children from Nabi Salih and other nearby villages to confront the soldiers. “The soldiers are briefed on the fact that these protests are staged for the sake of provocation, so that they could be filmed acting violently and so that those videos could be distributed worldwide in an effort to harm the IDF’s image,” the officer said. (Algemeiner, November 5, 2012)

 

 

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The Elections, Gridlock and Foreign Policy: George Friedman, Real Clear World, November 7, 2012
Obama does not have enough congressional support for dramatic new initiatives, and getting appointments through the Senate that Republicans oppose will be difficult.

 

Foreign Policy: Obama Facing Iran DilemmaTim Marshall, Sky News, November 7, 2012
The biggest foreign policy issue facing newly re-elected President Barack Obama is the prospect of a nuclear armed Iran. It is a scenario that will take up a lot of the president's thinking, and one which has consequences that might even keep 'No drama Obama' awake at night.

 

Startling puzzle of O’s second chance:  Michael Goodwin, New York Post, November 7, 2012
His first four years were mostly a bust, he offered no promises or agenda for the second four—and Barack Obama won anyway.Go figure. I’ll always be proud of my country, but Obama’s victory defies political logic and economic reality. It was a stunning personal triumph for a president who was ripe for a downfall.

 

 

 

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Prof. Harold M. Waller: The United States Election:A Critical Juncture For Israel

 

When examining the Presidential election campaign, it is tempting to focus on the polls, the debates, the television commercials, and the candidates’ speeches.  But from the perspective of most Israelis the dominant issue is much more profound.  It concerns not only the Iranian nuclear threat, but thousands of years of Jewish history. 

 

   Jews as a people first lived in Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, over 3,000 years ago.  In addition to practicing what we now know as the Jewish religion, they established a political community that governed the land, albeit with interruptions, for over a millennium.  During that lengthy period, there were two national disasters that terminated the exercise of Jewish sovereignty, the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E., and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E.  The latter calamity led to an exile that lasted for nearly 2,000 years.

 

   The reestablishment or reconstitution of Jewish sovereignty in Israel in 1948 is rightly seen as one of the major developments in Jewish history, and has led to the incredible flowering of Jewish life in all its dimensions.  There is no need to rehearse Israel’s accomplishments in sixty-four years of renewed sovereignty.  Rather it is essential to focus on the threat to the existence of that reconstituted Jewish state represented by Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.  It is no exaggeration to assert that the emerging threat rivals the destructions of the two Temples in historical significance and the Holocaust in terms of the threat to Jewish lives.

 

   What does this rumination on Jewish history have to do with an American election?  The political and military reality today is that Israel, in to respond to the threat from Iran, is dependent to a large extent on American political and military support.  This is not the occasion to examine the prospects of Israel’s “going it alone” vis-à-vis Iran.  But it is widely agreed that the prospects of eliminating Iran’s nuclear threat are much greater if the U.S. participates in any needed military action.  And given the preeminence of the President with respect to American foreign policy, the 2012 election is proving to hold great significance for Israel.

 

   There is no suggestion here that the only way to deal with the Iranian threat is through military action.  Nevertheless the case can be made that sanctions and diplomatic pressure from well-intentioned Western countries will not be able to deflect the ayatollahs from their drive to harness nuclear energy for military purposes.  And of course the announced primary target is Israel, a state that has been demonized by the Iranian religious and governmental leadership for over 30 years.

 

   Over a history that extends back even before 1948, Israelis have realized that although the use of military force should never be the first choice it is sometimes necessary, and can achieve important national goals.  In the present circumstance there is no Israeli who wants to attack Iran’s nuclear program as a first choice. Yet there are many who have come to the conclusion that such an attack is preferable to the alternative of sitting back and waiting for sanctions – even “crippling sanctions” – to work while Iran plows ahead to acquire nuclear weapons.  For following that would be a period in which reliance on deterrence would be the key to Israel’s security. 

 

   Deterrence worked during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.  But it depended on rational analysis on both sides.  Many Israelis are not confident that the same calculations would work with a nuclear-armed Iran.  Moreover, Israeli military analysts understand that Iranian nuclear-tipped missiles are not simply a threat of Israel’s destruction, as if that were not enough.  The threat of their use would also be likely to deter Israel from responding to various provocations from neighboring countries or groups.  That would necessitate a radical restructuring of Israeli military doctrine and strategic thinking in an unfavorable direction.

 

   In light of the foregoing, it is essential for Israel to have a U.S. Administration that will back Israel vigorously and not undermine its position.  So from the perspective of supporters of Israel, the posture of the American political parties, members of Congress, and the President is a highly consequential consideration.

           

   Prior to 1967 there was little doubt that the Democratic Party was more supportive of Israel than the Republican Party.  It was not just a matter of recalling the recognition of Israel by Democratic President Harry Truman in 1948.  It was also a matter of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower coming down hard on Israel after the 1956 Sinai Campaign, when he exerted extreme pressure on Israel to withdraw.  It was also Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s clear lack of empathy for Israel’s situation.  Indeed, on my first visit to Israel in 1960, the most common questions that I encountered involved “why are Eisenhower and Dulles treating us so shabbily”.  But 1967 proved to be a turning point. 

 

   Not only did Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson fail to deliver on the promises of the Eisenhower Administration when Egypt provoked the crisis.  But after the Six Day War, a number of people on the left, shocked by Israel’s acquisition of territory, began to criticize Israel. The Democratic Administration did back Israel strongly at the UN Security Council when Resolution 242 was drafted.  But by 1972 the party was led by a Presidential candidate who was lukewarm to Israel and whose foreign policy intentions were not helpful to Israel.  Furthermore the leftward turn of Democratic activists weakened their party’s support for Israel.

 

   Meanwhile Republicans began to take over the internationalist orientation that many Democrats had abandoned.  But most Presidents of both parties understood that given the array of international forces opposed to Israel it was necessary for the United States to be a forthright supporter.  Beneath the surface, however, over the past 40 years there has been a definite slippage in support for Israel among activist Democrats and, lately, Democratic members of Congress.  Meanwhile the Republicans gradually came to embrace the cause of Israel.  Looking at today’s Congress, in general the Republicans are much more staunch supporters of Israel than the Democrats.  And those who openly oppose Israel’s interests on one or more issues are overwhelmingly Democrats.

 

   The apotheosis of this trend was apparent to all at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, when the party platform omitted several key items from previous platforms that had symbolized support for Israel.  Presumably such changes would have been cleared with the highest levels of the party structure.  In response to public outcry and pressure it was decided (presumably by the President) to reinstate a symbolic clause declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel (which it is, regardless of what either party says).  D

 

   On the voice vote to reinstate that clause, which had to be taken three times, most observers believed that the assembled delegates had not provided the required 2/3 majority, and probably not even a simple majority.  When the Chair, exercizing its prerogative, declared that the motion had carried, there was considerable booing in the hall.  What should a pro-Israel voter make of such a spectacle?

 

   Of course the main focus has to be on the two candidates for President.  The problem is that one candidate, President Barack Obama, has a four-year foreign policy track record, while his opponent, Mitt Romney, is running mainly on promises.  Therefore it is hard to judge what a Romney Presidency might look like, but we certainly do know what an Obama Presidency looks like. 

 

   Even now, in the third debate of the campaign, President Obama—responding to Romney’s criticism–stressed that he had visited Israel in 2008, before the election (he has not been there since).  But his references to that trip focused on his visits to Yad Vashem and to Sderoth, both of which represent Jewish victimhood.  They are consistent with the President’s 2009 Cairo speech, when he seemed to imply that the primary reason that Israel was created was because of Western guilt over the Holocaust.

 

   There are two types of problems that arise with President Obama’s approach to Israel.  On the level of strategy or basic concepts, he does not appear to elevate Israel to as high a priority as many supporters of Israel would like.  Clearly he has been trying to curry favor with Arab and more broadly Muslim states, which led to his famous comment about putting daylight between the U.S. and Israel.  It might be inferred that he sees enthusiastic support for Israel as undermining his efforts to establish better ties in the Arab world.  On the other hand, he has generally been strongly supportive of close military and security ties between the U.S. and Israel.

 

   Turning to tactics, Obama critics have compiled a long list of what they consider to be his failings.  One of the most complete compilations was published by Anne Bayefsky and contains over a dozen items.  Among them are the “daylight” comment, the introduction of the concept of a settlement freeze that has led to major stumbling blocks in Israel-Palestinian negotiations, the perceived personal insults to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on various occasions, the suggestion that negotiations for a settlement of the status of the West Bank begin from the position of the 1949 armistice lines, which Israel regards as indefensible, and efforts to prevent Israel from taking action against Iran’s nuclear program.  It is fair to say that all of these incidents taken together appear to form a pattern that represents much less than enthusiastic support for Israel.

 

            What about Mitt Romney?  As stated, we have little to go on here, aside from notoriously unreliable campaign rhetoric.  But it is worthwhile to point out that while his opponents have roundly criticized Romney for flip-flopping on a number of policy issues, his views on Israel have been rather consistent.  He shares Prime Minister Netanyahu’s view that the critical issue with respect to Iran is reaching nuclear capability, as opposed to the President’s stress on acquiring nuclear weapons.  Moreover, he has expressed support for Israel on a fundamental level and his strategic outlook is consistent with strong support for Israel as a key ally in the Middle East. 

 

    As well, his desire to increase American influence in the region would be beneficial to Israel.  Does that mean that he would respond positively to any request from an Israeli prime minister?  Hardly.  But it does suggest that he would be well-disposed to entertain arguments from Israel on issues that are vital to Israel’s security.

 

   Where does this leave an American voter for whom Israel is very important?  It depends on how one orders his or her priorities.  Those who put Israel’s well-being as their top priority are likely to lean toward Romney, while those for whom Israel is third or fourth on the list are likely to find manifold reasons to be inclined to support Obama.  From Israel’s perspective, in any case, the choice is crucial–this is not just another Presidential election.

 

(Harold Waller is a Canadian Institute for Jewish Research Fellow,

 and Professor of Political Science at McGill University, Montreal.)

 

National Jewish Democratic Council Disappointed in Republican Ron Paul Tribute

A Blog by Lawrence Solomon,
Fellow, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

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The National Jewish Democratic Council is disappointed that the Republicans will be giving Ron Paul a tribute at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week. I’m disappointed that the Republicans aren’t honouring Paul to an even greater extent, and that American Jewish Democrats are so blindly partisan that they fail to understand who Israel’s true friends are.

 

Jews are right to have concerns over anti-Semitic comments attributed to Paul that appeared in his investment newsletter in the 1990s. But Paul claims he didn't write those comments and disavows them. In a spirit of generosity, I believe we should take Paul at his word. Even if he was once an anti-Semite, and has now changed, why hold that against him?

The main criticism of Paul by Jews today is his attitude toward Israel. But is his attitude truly hostile, as Paul critics contend?

 

“I do not believe we should be Israel’s master but, rather, her friend,” Paul told Haaretz last December. “We should not be dictating her policies and announcing her negotiating positions before talks with her neighbors have even begun.”

 

Had Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon taken this Ron Paul approach, Israel wouldn’t have had to return territory won in the 1956 Suez War without obtaining concessions from Egypt, wouldn’t have had to accept an early ceasefire in 1967, wouldn’t have had to spare Egypt’s army in 1973. In these and other wars, in fact, Israel has had to fight the clock as much as its aggressors, knowing that U.S. presidents had little patience for Israeli success on the battlefield.

 

If U.S. presidents had their way, neither Saddam Hussein’s or Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor would have been destroyed. As for Iran, a Ron Paul approach would have let Israel attack Iran early, before a decision to do so became highly risky. Paul believes an Israeli attack on Iran is Israel’s business, not America’s. George Bush didn’t give Israel that much leeway, let alone Barack Obama.

 

Jewish Democrats attack Paul for wanting to stop foreign aid to Israel. What’s wrong with that? Paul wants the U.S. to stop foreign aid to all countries, Arab states included. This isn’t an anti-Israel position, it’s an entirely reasonable foreign policy and fiscal position perspective that, if it ever happened, might benefit Israel on balance, since it might disadvantage Israel less than its enemies. U.S. aid to Israel is no longer vitally necessary for Israel’s survival – it represents about 1% of Israel’s GDP and is worth less than 1% because the aid comes with strings attached. Even if losing the aid caused Israelis some hardship – say it required Israelis to pay higher taxes to fund the Israeli military – where is the logic or the honour in American Jews asking Americans citizens to be taxed more to fund Israel’s military?

 

Paul holds various views that, to my mind, are so off-base as to be wacky. He sees Iran as relatively benign, for example, and wouldn’t want the U.S. to intervene to prevent Iran from having the bomb. But why should that disqualify him for being honoured for his profound defence of liberty and the American constitution over the decades? The Republicans in no way endorse his views of Iran – Romney and every other serious candidate made that crystal clear. Ironically, Paul’s view on Iran and on war in general would have far more adherents among Democratic Jews who castigate him than among rank and file Republicans who admire him.

More generally, do Jews really want a litmus test for candidates to high office?

 

Must all candidates slavishly conform to some Jewish Democratic notion of what’s good for Israel or risk opprobrium? The insults levied against Paul by the Jewish Democrats can only promote animosity toward Jews among millions of Ron Paul supporters, both because the insults are off the mark and because they display an intolerance of those who hold reasonable but contrary views.

 

From my perspective, Paul has shown uncommon respect for Israel and for Jews. Maybe Jews should reciprocate with a little respect of their own.