Tag: US Politics


Two Resistances: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Sept. 6, 2017 — The quiet resistance — the one without black masks and clubs — is the more revolutionary force, and it transcends race, class, and gender.

Leftism Is Not Liberalism. Here Are the Differences: Dennis Prager, Daily Signal, Sept. 12, 2017— What is the difference between a leftist and a liberal?

Liberals' Addiction to Identity Politics Bad for Parties, Political Life: Robert Fulford, National Post, Aug. 25, 2017— Since the ignominious failure of the 2016 election, the Democrats have been searching their souls.

Israeli “Occupation”: The BIG LIE: Sally F. Zerker, CIJR, Sept. 15, 2017— The time has come to tell the world’s “liars”, boldly and forthrightly, that Israeli “occupation” is the BIG LIE of our age.


On Topic Links


9/11 Sixteen Years Later: Lessons Put Into Practice?: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Sept. 11, 2017

Cultural Approbation: Weekly Standard, Sept. 04, 2017

The New Manichaeans: Michael Knox Beran, National Review, Aug. 28, 2017

The Coming Terror: Mark Steyn, Jewish World Review, Sept. 5, 2017




Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, Sept. 6, 2017


The quiet resistance — the one without black masks and clubs — is the more revolutionary force, and it transcends race, class, and gender. After the election of Donald Trump, there arose a self-described “Resistance.” It apparently posed as a decentralized network of progressive activist groups dedicated to derailing the newly elected Trump administration.


Democrats and progressives borrowed their brand name from World War II French partisans. In rather psychodramatic fashion, they envisioned their heroic role over the next four years as that of virtual French insurgents — coming down from the Maquis hills, perhaps to waylay Trump’s White House, as if the president were an SS Obergruppenführer und General der Police running occupied Paris. Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone wrote admiringly about the furious Resistance’s pushback against Trump, with extravagant claims that his agenda was already derailed thanks to a zillion grass-roots and modern-day insurgents. Hillary Clinton belatedly announced that she too had joined up with the Resistance (“I’m now back to being an activist citizen and part of the Resistance”), apparently in approbation of both its methods and agendas.


Appropriating the name of heroic World War II fighters to characterize a loosely formed alliance of Trump resisters has since proven a mockery of history — and creepy as well. Powered by Resisters of various sorts have made use of repugnant assassination pornography: a Shakespearean troupe ritually stabbing Trump-Caesar every night, a widely viewed Trump decapitation video, loud boasts by Hollywood’s stars such as Robert De Niro and Johnny Depp of their desires either to beat Trump to a bloody pulp or to do a John Wilkes Booth hit on him, street demonstrations where the likes of multimillionaire exhibitionist Madonna dream out loud off blowing up the White House, while various state legislators, professors, and activists talk of presidential assassination. Is there a new division at the Secret Service whose sole task is solemnly informing the media that it is “investigating” the latest celebrity’s threat?


In more mainstream fashion, Democrats in Congress have often stalled Trump’s appointees, blocked Obamacare reform, and talked of removing Trump through impeachment or the 25th Amendment or the Emoluments Clause. The Resistance has gone from melodramatic charges of Trump’s collusion with the Russians, to amateur diagnoses of his mental incapacity, to fear-mongering about his supposed wild desire for a Strangelovian nuclear war with North Korea, to castigating him for his apparently callous and uncaring reactions to Hurricane Harvey victims.


The Democratic National Committee leaders in their speeches resort to scatology to reflect their furor at Trump’s victory. The media, led by CNN in its visceral hatred of Trump, has given up past pretenses of disinterested reporting. Indeed, a number of journalists have sought to ratify their prejudices by claiming that Trump is so toxic that old-style protocols of fairness can no longer apply. Street brownshirts such as those of Antifa (too rarely and belatedly disowned by a few mainstream Resistance leaders) justify their anti-democratic and anti-constitutional violence on the grounds that Trump is found guilty of being a Nazi — and therefore those alleged to be Nazis have to be resisted by any anti-Nazi means necessary.


In the olden days, demonstrators decked out in black, with masks and clubs, would have been deemed sinister by liberals. Now are they the necessary shock troops whose staged violence brings political dividends? Antifa’s dilemma is that its so-called good people wearing black masks can find almost no bad people in white masks to club, so they smash reporters, the disabled, and onlookers alike for sport — revealing that, at base, they perversely enjoy violence for violence’s sake. As the cowardly Klan taught us in the 1920s and 1960s: Put on a mask with a hundred like others, and even the most craven wimp believes he’s now a psychopathic thug.


For the most part, the Resistance leadership is not the modern version of a group of grass-roots idealistic outsiders living hand-to-mouth between missions in the scrub. Their announced leaders, such as Hillary Clinton, are often the embodiment of the status quo rich, influential, and elite America. The Resistance sees nothing incompatible in attacking Trump while working out of a townhouse in Georgetown, living in a Malibu compound, flying in a private jet, making a quarter-million a year as a university-endowed professor or a Southern Poverty Law Center grandee, or being a life-time Washington fixture or corporate CEO.


Indeed, anti-Trump activism and privilege may be symbiotic. If one were to look at a county map of the United States calibrated by average income, the Resistance leaders could be identified by their homes clustering in the nation’s most affluent enclaves on the two coasts. They are most certainly not resisting the market capitalism, Washington-establishment politics, and old-boy networking that so empowered them.


Nor is it very brave to loudly announce one’s membership in the Resistance, given that the powerful organs of popular culture and the American status quo — both the Republican and Democratic intellectual establishments, the foundations, universities, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street — are, in orthodox fashion, anti-Trump. Which of the following is a smarter career move at Google, at an Aspen Institute colloquium, on the set of Disney, in a CNN newsroom, at a Citibank retreat, in the Yale faculty lounge, on the beach at Martha’s Vineyard, while sunning on David Geffen’s yacht, or talking on a panel at the National Press Club: to admit to voting for Donald Trump, or to proudly proclaim you are a member of the Resistance?… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                      





Dennis Prager

Daily Signal, Sept. 12, 2017


What is the difference between a leftist and a liberal? Answering this question is vital to understanding the crisis facing America and the West today. Yet few seem able to do it. I offer the following as a guide. Here’s the first thing to know: The two have almost nothing in common. On the contrary, liberalism has far more in common with conservatism than it does with leftism. The left has appropriated the word “liberal” so effectively that almost everyone—liberals, leftists, and conservatives—thinks they are synonymous. But they aren’t. Let’s look at some important examples.


Race: This is perhaps the most obvious of the many moral differences between liberalism and leftism. The essence of the liberal position on race was that the color of one’s skin is insignificant. To liberals of a generation ago, only racists believed that race is intrinsically significant. However, to the left, the notion that race is insignificant is itself racist. Thus, the University of California officially regards the statement, “There is only one race, the human race,” as racist. For that reason, liberals were passionately committed to racial integration. Liberals should be sickened by the existence of black dormitories and separate black graduations on university campuses.


Capitalism: Liberals have always been pro-capitalism, recognizing it for what it is: the only economic means of lifting great numbers out of poverty. Liberals did often view government as able to play a bigger role in lifting people out of poverty than conservatives, but they were never opposed to capitalism, and they were never for socialism. Opposition to capitalism and advocacy of socialism are leftist values.


Nationalism: Liberals deeply believed in the nation-state, whether their nation was the United States, Great Britain, or France. The left has always opposed nationalism because leftism is rooted in class solidarity, not national solidarity. The left has contempt for nationalism, seeing in it intellectual and moral primitivism at best, and the road to fascism at worst. Liberals always wanted to protect American sovereignty and borders. The notion of open borders would have struck a liberal as just as objectionable as it does a conservative.


It is emblematic of our time that the left-wing writers of Superman comics had Superman announce a few years ago, “I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my American citizenship.” When the writers of Superman were liberal, Superman was not only an American but one who fought for “truth, justice, and the American way.” But in his announcement, he explained that motto is “not enough anymore.”


View of America: Liberals venerated America. Watch American films from the 1930s through the 1950s and you will be watching overtly patriotic, America-celebrating films—virtually all produced, directed, and acted in by liberals. Liberals well understand that America is imperfect, but they agree with a liberal icon named Abraham Lincoln that America is “the last best hope of earth.”


To the left, America is essentially a racist, sexist, violent, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic country. The left around the world loathe America, and it is hard to imagine why the American left would differ in this one way from fellow leftists around the world. Leftists often take offense at having their love of America doubted. But those left-wing descriptions of  America are not the only reason to assume that the left has more contempt than love for America. The left’s view of America was encapsulated in then-presidential candidate Barack Obama’s statement in 2008. “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” he said. Now, if you were to meet a man who said that he wanted to fundamentally transform his wife, or a woman who said that about her husband, would you assume that either loved their spouse? Of course not.


Free speech: The difference between the left and liberals regarding free speech is as dramatic as the difference regarding race. No one was more committed than American liberals to the famous statement, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Liberals still are. But the left is leading the first nationwide suppression of free speech in American history—from the universities to Google to almost every other institution and place of work. It claims to only oppose hate speech. But protecting the right of person A to say what person B deems objectionable is the entire point of free speech.


Western civilization: Liberals have a deep love of Western civilization. They taught it at virtually every university and celebrated its unique moral, ethical, philosophical, artistic, musical, and literary achievements. No liberal would have joined the leftist Rev. Jesse Jackson in chanting at Stanford University: “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Western civ has got to go.” The most revered liberal in American history is probably former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who frequently cited the need to protect not just Western civilization but Christian civilization. Yet leftists unanimously denounced President Donald Trump for his speech in Warsaw, Poland, in which he spoke of protecting Western civilization. They argued not only that Western civilization is not superior to any other civilization but also that it is no more than a euphemism for white supremacy.


Judaism and Christianity: Liberals knew and appreciated the Judeo-Christian roots of American civilization. They themselves went to church or synagogue, or at the very least appreciated that most of their fellow Americans did. The contempt that the left has—and has always had—for religion (except for Islam today) is not something with which a liberal would ever have identified. If the left is not defeated, American and Western civilization will not survive. But the left will not be defeated until good liberals understand this and join the fight. Dear liberals: Conservatives are not your enemy. The left is.  





BAD FOR PARTIES, POLITICAL LIFE                                                                   

Robert Fulford

National Post, Aug. 25, 2017


Since the ignominious failure of the 2016 election, the Democrats have been searching their souls. How could a once-great party have fallen so low? Was it the lacklustre campaign of their presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton? Was it the failure of the Democrats to grasp Donald Trump’s vote-getting power? Was it a complete breakdown of the party’s national machine? Mark Lilla, a widely praised social critic and Columbia professor, believes he has the answer. He delivers it in The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics (Harper/Collins), a sharply intelligent and highly persuasive book.


He deals with American politics, but his perceptions also apply to Canada. A large part of our public life is conducted through identity politics. Canadians anxious to better the lives of Indigenous people, for example, increasingly tend to express themselves in issue-specific organizations rather than through political parties. A long-time leftist, Lilla claims that the Democrats have become addicted to pressure groups that slice the public into ethnic, national and sexual elements. These slices have together overwhelmed the Democratic Party itself and rendered it irrelevant. The left has now balkanized the electorate and invested its energies in social movements rather than party politics.


Lilla yearns for the big-tent appeal of the old Democrats. He looks back in history to Roosevelt’s New Deal as a golden age of liberalism. He wants public life to emphasize “what we all share and owe one another as citizens, not what differentiates us.” He calls for an end to movement politics. “We need no more marchers. We need more mayors. And governors, and state legislators, and members of Congress.” He imagines a healthier form of politics that transcends identity attachments. Organizations claiming to speak for repressed Americans are usually given the benefit of the doubt by the public. Lilla isn’t so generous. A few days after the 2016 election he wrote in a New York Times article that “Liberals should bear in mind that the first identity movement in American politics was the Ku Klux Klan. Those who play the identity game should be prepared to lose it.”


Born in 1956, Lilla grounds his account of identity politics in what he knows of the 1960s and its effects. From 1965 or so, war and the rise of feminism together left many of the young dissatisfied with conventional politics. To side with the Democrats was to embrace Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam policy. That was okay for parents, but the furious young needed something different.


In the early stages of revived, second-generation feminism, women with leftish inclinations wanted a more specific approach. In 1970 a slogan arose, “the personal is political.” It raced through women’s discussions and found a permanent place in the rhetoric of feminism. It was a time when women met in groups for “consciousness-raising,” which meant sharing various forms of dissatisfaction with their condition as women. Encouraged to confess or complain, women turned their meetings into variations of therapy groups or prayer meetings. They expressed themselves (as the literature on the subject demonstrates) in purely personal terms. In trying to research the subject, they turned inward, examining their own feelings. A sense of identity took hold, setting the pattern for scores of later movements, fundamentally altering the structure of liberal politics.


As Lilla says, a young woman of today “may come from a comfortable, middle-class background” but “her identity confers on her the status of one of history’s victims.” Now she has claims to make—not claims for the whole of society but claims for her particular slice. Her politics will be based on this self-definition. If she’s in college she may join a women’s organization. Soon her views on women’s issues become non-negotiable. Her teachers, always ready to identify and endorse popular new ideas, become willing mentors….

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    




Sally F. Zerker                                         

CIJR, Sept. 15, 2017


The time has come to tell the world’s “liars”, boldly and forthrightly, that Israeli “occupation” is the BIG LIE of our age. We’ve all seen the propaganda effectiveness of “the big lie” many times before, and this one too is working its indecorous distortion of the truth.


The truth is that Jews cannot be occupiers of the Biblical lands, which include present-day Israel, Judea, Samaria, and some of the country of Jordan. The term occupation is meant to signify larceny, theft of others’ property, abuse of the Other, cheating, immorality, and dreadful deeds. Obviously, this is a very offensive concept. But Jews are not, and cannot be guilty of these crimes, for two reasons. One, Jews are the extant aboriginal people of this land, and two, Jews have international legal rights to this territory. These two concepts, historical and legal, require elucidation.


What defines Jewish indigenousness is the consistency of modern Jews with their ancestors of thousands of years ago. They live in a country with the same name, Israel, as that which existed in 1312 B.C.E. Today’s Israelis speak the same language that was spoken by Jews in that land more than 3000 years ago. We do not need a Rosetta stone to understand ancient Hebrew scripts because the language and letters are the same as current Hebrew. Israelis chant from the same biblical texts that their ancestors did millennia past. Their Jewish law presently is derived from that found in their Talmud which was originally oral and later written down about twenty-five hundred years ago. Their Temple, which was destroyed by invaders twice, can be archaeologically located in their original site in Jerusalem. And Jerusalem which was founded by their biblical King David, still stands as the centre of Jewish sovereignty, as it did when King David ruled the Jews.


In reality, the Jewish people established a distinct civilization in their ancient homeland approximately 3500 years ago, and the roots of that civilization are still much of the source of Jewish life in Israel right now. And, despite a series of conquests and expulsions over the centuries, (Roman, Muslim, Crusaders), Jews retained and rebuilt communities in Jerusalem, Tiberius, Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa, Caesarea, Safed and elsewhere. Years before the Zionist migrations began in the 1870s, Jews lived continuously over time throughout the land of Israel.


Anthropologist Jose Martinez-Cobo, a Special Rapporteur for the UN who studied the place and condition of indigenous peoples and nations, defined such communities as those that have continuity, with the land, with shared culture in general, such as religion, lifestyle etc., with intrinsic language, with common ancestry, and other relevant factors. By that respected definition of indigenousness, it is irrefutable that Jews are indeed the indigenous people of the land of Israel.


On the other hand, there were no Muslims in existence until almost 2000 years after Jews had already settled in Israel, because Islam was the religion that Mohammed founded. Arabs, who are the ethnic peoples out of the Arabian Peninsula, had not come to the region through their conquests until after Mohammed’s death in 632 ACE. It is important to understand that no independent Arab or Palestinian state has ever existed in this region, which came to be called Palaestina, after the Romans so renamed it in the second century. The Romans purpose for this alteration was to break the link of the Jews with their past, after they had crushed the Jewish revolt in ACE 135. Thus, when the Arabs did conquer and occupy parts of the land, they did so as occupiers of previously settled territories by Jews.


As for more recent Arab settlers, if one looks at the period when Jews began to immigrate to the region in large numbers in 1882, there were fewer than 250,000 Arabs living in the region, and the majority of these had arrived in recent decades. According to many observers and authorities, the vast majority of the Arab population in the early decades of the twentieth century were comparative newcomers, either late immigrants or descendants of persons who had immigrated into the territory in the previous seventy years. BDS supporters, who accept the premise that the Palestinians are indigenous and oppressed by white colonialists have it backward according Barbara Kay, columnist for the National Post (Canada). “It is the (non-white) Mizrachi Jews in continuous habitation in Israel from time immemorial who were oppressed under a series of imperial regimes, up to and including the British Mandate.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


Dr. Sally F. Zerker is Professor Emerita, York University,

and Academic Co-Chair of CIJR’s Toronto Chapter.

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links


9/11 Sixteen Years Later: Lessons Put Into Practice?: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Sept. 11, 2017—Today marks the 16th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. We learned much on that tragic day, at enormous human and material cost. Perilously, however, America has already forgotten many of September 11’s lessons.

Cultural Approbation: Weekly Standard, Sept. 04, 2017—The Delta Sigma Phi fraternity chapter at the University of Michigan had what it thought was a delightful theme—antiquity on the Nile—for a party kicking off the school year. They invited guests to come as a “mummy, Cleopatra, or King Tut, it doesn’t matter to us. Get your best ancient Egyptian robe and headdress and be ready to party in the desert.”

The New Manichaeans: Michael Knox Beran, National Review, Aug. 28, 2017—In November 2016, Mark Lilla, the humanities scholar, published an essay, “The End of Identity Liberalism,” in the New York Times. “In recent years,” he wrote, “American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.”

The Coming Terror: Mark Steyn, Jewish World Review, Sept. 5, 2017—Most of the news bulletins I'm exposed to are on the radio, as I'm tootling around hither and yon. So it took me a while to discover that what the media call "peace activists", "anti-racists" and "anti-Nazis" are, in fact, men and women garbed in black from head to toe, including face masks.









Let me give it to you straight. I believe that President Obama exhibited great hostility to the state of Israel and to its Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu. So I said, what we should do is frame the issue; those people who are upset with Obama’s position on Israel…should vote against the Democrats.”—Former New York City mayor and lifetime Democrat, Ed Koch, explaining his endorsement of Republican candidate Bob Turner, who this week won a special election over David Weprin (D) in the heavily Jewish and Democratic 9th New York Congressional District.


Shlomo Slonim
Jerusalem Post, September 13, 2011

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is reported to have charged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with being an ingrate for failing to accept President Barack Obama’s terms for a settlement with the Palestinians. In this, Gates is echoing earlier presidential “spokesmen” such as former ambassador Martin Indyk and New York Times correspondent Thomas Friedman.

Apparently, it is expected that a country benefiting from American largesse will agree to surrender territory, rights and history in return.

In order to understand what the president was asking of Israel, and therefore why Netanyahu had to refuse, it is necessary to analyze just what his pronouncement calling for talks to start on the basis of the June 1967 lines entails.

For one thing, no previous American president had premised the Israeli-Palestinian talks on such a basis. American pronouncements repeatedly emphasized that the negotiations, and indeed any forthcoming agreement, was a matter for the parties to agree upon. No outside party was entitled to intervene and dictate the terms of the discussions.

The closest that any administration came to making such suggestions was the ill-fated Rogers Plan of 1969 which, while calling for Jerusalem to remain united, also endorsed a settlement with only minor territorial changes. Israel vigorously rejected the Rogers Plan, with prime minister Golda Meir declaring that a government accepting that plan as a starting point would be guilty of undermining Israeli security. The Nixon administration beat a hasty retreat, and with the substitution of Henry Kissinger as secretary of state in place of William P. Rogers, nothing more was heard of the plan.

That episode also highlights another unusual feature of the Obama pronouncements.

Presidents generally float new ideas by means of a subordinate, a state department official or even a secretary of state. Such a procedure ensures that the president’s prestige is not directly involved. It allows the president to backtrack, if need be, or qualify the subordinate’s statement without loss of face and without the embarrassment of a major confrontation and crisis with an injured party. In relation to the Middle East, however, Obama is acting very much as his own secretary of state, issuing orders or statements directly from the White House. This leaves very little room for revision of policy. It becomes this or nothing.

On the subject of Jerusalem, such an approach is fraught with danger.

When Jordan unleashed its barrage on Jerusalem, against Israeli suburbs, during the Six Day War, the Israeli response was immediate and overwhelming. Within two days Israel had expelled the Jordanians and united Jerusalem under Israeli control.

The international legal implications of this development were spelled out by Stephen Schwebel, subsequently America’s judge on the International Court of Justice, in an article entitled, “What Weight to Conquest,” that appeared in the American Journal of International Law in 1970. He wrote: “Having regard to the consideration that…Israel…[acted] defensively in 1948 and 1967…and her Arab neighbors…[acted] aggressively in 1948 and 1967…Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan or Egypt.”

It should be remembered that neither President Johnson’s Five Points nor Security Council Resolution 242 mentioned Palestinians.… Israel contends that nothing has occurred in the interval to disturb Israel’s sovereign right in all of Jerusalem. This status was confirmed in 1980 by the Knesset when it adopted a law declaring: “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”

Nor did the 1993 Oslo Accords modify matters, even with Jerusalem being designated as the first item listed for the final status talks. Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared in 1995: “Undivided Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people and the capital of the state of Israel. Undivided Jerusalem is ours.” Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, in a 1994 interview, said: “We have told the Palestinians this—we are very adamant about our position. Jerusalem will not be redivided.…”

It is this status of Jerusalem that President Obama apparently seeks to modify. He cannot challenge Israel’s title directly. By confirming the ‘67 line he seeks to posit that Israel lacks title in east Jerusalem. However, both the facts and the law regarding Israel’s claim are clear and decisive. Prime Minister Netanyahu was therefore fully justified, and even compelled, to adhere to the pattern of his predecessors in declaring categorically that the ‘67 lines are not the starting point for any negotiations. Those lines were armistice lines, and no more.…

(Shlomo Slonim is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.)


Dan Senor

Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2011

New York’s special congressional election on Tuesday was the first electoral outcome directly affected by President Obama’s Israel policy. Democrats were forced to expend enormous resources in a losing effort to defend this safe Democratic district, covering Queens and Brooklyn, that Anthony Weiner won last year by a comfortable margin.

A Public Policy Poll taken days before the election found a plurality of voters saying that Israel was “very important” in determining their votes. Among those voters, Republican candidate Robert Turner was winning by a 71-22 margin. Only 22% of Jewish voters approved of President Obama’s handling of Israel. Ed Koch, the Democrat and former New York mayor, endorsed Mr. Turner because he said he wanted to send a message to the president about his anti-Israel policies.

This is a preview of what President Obama might face in his re-election campaign with a demographic group that voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. And it could affect the electoral map, given the battleground states—such as Florida and Pennsylvania—with significant Jewish populations. In another ominous barometer for the Obama campaign, its Jewish fund-raising has deeply eroded: One poll by McLaughlin & Associates found that of Jewish donors who donated to Mr. Obama in 2008, only 64% have already donated or plan to donate to his re-election campaign.

The Obama campaign has launched a counteroffensive, including hiring a high-level Jewish outreach director and sending former White House aide David Axelrod and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to reassure Jewish donors. The Obama team told the Washington Post that its Israel problem is a messaging problem, and that with enough explanation of its record the Jewish community will return to the fold in 2012. Here is an inventory of what Mr. Obama’s aides will have to address:

• February 2008: When running for president, then-Sen. Obama told an audience in Cleveland: “There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel.” Likud had been out of power for two years when Mr. Obama made this statement. At the time the country was being led by the…Kadima government of Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Olmert had been pursuing an unprecedented territorial compromise. As for Likud governments, it was under Likud that Israel made its largest territorial compromises—withdrawals from Sinai and Gaza.

• July 2009: Mr. Obama hosted American Jewish leaders at the White House, reportedly telling them that he sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel. “For eight years”—during the Bush administration—“there was no light between the United States and Israel, and nothing got accomplished,” he declared.

Nothing? Prime Minister Ariel Sharon uprooted thousands of settlers from their homes in Gaza and the northern West Bank and deployed the Israeli army to forcibly relocate their fellow citizens. Mr. Sharon then resigned from the Likud Party to build a majority party based on a two-state consensus.

In the same meeting with Jewish leaders, Mr. Obama told the group that Israel would need “to engage in serious self-reflection.” This statement stunned the Americans in attendance: Israeli society is many things, but lacking in self-reflection isn’t one of them. It’s impossible to envision the president delivering a similar lecture to Muslim leaders.

• September 2009: In his first address to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama devoted five paragraphs to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, during which he declared (to loud applause) that “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” He went on to draw a connection between rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with living conditions in Gaza. There was not a single unconditional criticism of Palestinian terrorism.

• March 2010: During Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, a Jerusalem municipal office announced plans for new construction in a part of Jerusalem. The president launched an unprecedented weeks-long offensive against Israel. Mr. Biden very publicly departed Israel.…  Ten days later, Mr. Netanyahu traveled to Washington to mend fences but was snubbed at a White House meeting with President Obama—no photo op, no joint statement, and he was sent out through a side door.

• April 2010: Mr. Netanyahu pulled out of the Obama-sponsored Washington summit on nuclear proliferation after it became clear that Turkey and Egypt intended to use the occasion to condemn the Israeli nuclear program, and Mr. Obama would not intervene.

• March 2011: Mr. Obama returned to his habit of urging Israelis to engage in self-reflection, inviting Jewish community leaders to the White House and instructing them to “search your souls” about Israel’s dedication to peace.

• May 2011: The State Department issued a press release declaring that the department’s No. 2 official, James Steinberg, would be visiting “Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank.” In other words, Jerusalem is not part of Israel. Later in the month, only hours before Mr. Netanyahu departed from Israel to Washington, Mr. Obama delivered his Arab Spring speech, which focused on a demand that Israel return to its indefensible pre-1967 borders with land swaps.

Mr. Obama has…built the most consistently one-sided diplomatic record against Israel of any American president in generations. His problem with Jewish voters is one of substance, not messaging.

(Dan Senor is co-author with Saul Singer of “Start-up Nation:
The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” [Twelve, 2011].)


Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2011

Up until Tuesday night’s surprise victory of Republican Bob Turner over Democratic David Weprin in the heavily Jewish and Democratic 9th New York Congressional District, news of US President Barack Obama’s waning support among American Jews was largely anecdotal.

Every once in a while stories of traditionally-Democratic Jews articulating deep concern for Obama’s treatment of Israel would appear in the general media or US political websites. There was also the occasional story about Jews who donate large amounts to the Democratic Party saying that as a result of their disenchantment with the White House’s Middle East policies, in the next election cycle they would think twice.

[Furthermore], number-crunchers looked at the exit polls from the 2008 Presidential election that showed that Obama took 78 percent of the Jewish vote, [and] compared that with polls that showed the Democrats took “just” 66% of the Jewish vote in the midterm 2010 election. [They also] noted that the president’s approval rating [this] summer among Jews was “only” 60%, and concluded that Obama was losing the Jews. Not all the Jews—not even a majority of the Jews—but enough to make a difference in the 2012 presidential election.

Turner’s victory over Weprin Tuesday showed that this thesis no longer exists only in the anecdotal or extrapolatory realm.

Turner’s victory was the most serious sign of erosion to date in American-Jewish support for Obama; the most serious shot from the Jewish community across the White House’s bow; the most serious message from Jewish voters of concern about the president’s stand on Israel. And while it is undeniable that Israel was not the only issue in the campaign, it is equally undeniable that it was among the top issues. The other major issue was the economy.

History has shown that as one specific factor, Israel is not enough to drive Jews to vote against a Democratic candidate. But put Israel together with a faltering economy that is also impacting negatively on America’s Jews, and more Jews than usual may currently be ready to bolt the Democrats than in the past.

New York’s election shows Obama is in trouble with significant swaths of US Jews. To give an indication of how much dissatisfaction there is, keep in mind that New York’s 9th District has not voted for a Republican congressman since 1920, and that Weprin is an Orthodox Jew who is a strong supporter of Israel.

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under George W. Bush, said at a panel discussion at the AIPAC conference in May that if Obama wins over the Jews 4:1, as he did last time, he wins the next election; but that if he only takes the Jews 3:1, he’s in trouble. A shift of a few percentage votes among Jews in 2012 in key battleground states with large Jewish populations such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, could have a huge impact in a close presidential race.…

None of this, obviously, is lost on the Obama administration, which, by appointing an empathetic and sympathetic ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, earlier this year, and hiring veteran Jewish political insider Ira Forman in August as its Jewish liaison, is taking what it has described as its “messaging” problem to the Jewish community very seriously, and trying to correct it.

An indication of how serious the problem is being taken came earlier this week, when the National Jewish Democratic Coalition sent out an e-mail blast highlighting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s warm expression of gratitude to Obama Saturday for what he did to free the six Israeli security guards holed up in the ransacked Israeli embassy in Cairo.

It is safe to say that this email blast—obviously intended to show American Jews how much Obama does care about Israel—made its way into the inbox of thousands of Jewish voters who went to the poll in New York’s special election on Tuesday. Apparently, however, it didn’t make much of a dent.

The lesson is clear: It will take much more from Washington, and many more heartfelt expressions of gratitude from Netanyahu to Obama, to convince a significant part of the American Jewish community that former New York mayor Ed Koch was wrong when, while campaigning for Turner in New York’s 9th District, said Obama “is willing to toss it [Israel] under the bus.”


Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2011

What is Israel’s predicament? It is this: It is surrounded on nearly all sides by enemies who are aggressively committed to its destruction. And too many people who call themselves its friends are only ambivalently committed to its security.

Consider the month that Israel has just had:

• On Aug. 18, eight Israelis were killed in a sophisticated cross-border ambush near the frontier with Egypt.

• From Aug. 18-24, some 200 large-caliber, factory-made rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza.

• On Sept. 1, the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency announced that it was moving the bulk of its enrichment facilities to a heavily fortified site near the city of Qom.

• On Sept. 2, the United Nations released a report on the May 2010 Turkish flotilla incident, which defended Israel’s right to enforce a naval blockade on Gaza and noted that Israeli commandos faced “organized and violent resistance.” The Turkish government responded by yanking its ambassador from Tel Aviv and expelling Israel’s from Ankara.

• On Sept. 4, the U.S. made a final appeal to the Palestinian Authority to drop its bid to seek statehood recognition at the U.N., a bid that sends to the rubbish bin decades of international agreements that a Palestinian state can be established only on the basis of negotiations. The PA rebuffed the American entreaties.

• On Sept. 8, Turkey’s prime minister announced that Turkish warships would escort future Gaza-bound flotillas.

• On Sept. 9, thousands of hooligans stormed and nearly sacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Israel evacuated nearly its entire diplomatic mission from Egypt the following morning.

One other item: On Sept. 5, an organization called NGO Monitor reported that an associate director of the New Israel Fund, cited in a February 2011 State Department cable released by Wikileaks, said that “the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.” The NIF describes itself as a group “dedicated to a vision of Israel as both the Jewish homeland and a shared society at peace with itself and its neighbors.”

Maybe the case of the (now former) NIF official is a relatively rare one. Or maybe it’s just rare to have such off-the-record candor find its way into the public domain.

Not rare, however, is the idea that Israel’s legitimacy is a function of its moral performance, and that judgment of its performance lies in the hands of its foreign critics and their designated Israeli scolds. Should the legitimacy of Pakistan or Zimbabwe be called into doubt on account of the wretched mess they have made of their existence as self-governing states? Nobody says this. Nor do many people say that the Palestinian Authority—half of which is ruled by a terrorist group and the other half by a president whose elected term in office expired more than two years ago—hasn’t quite earned the moral right to statehood.

Only Israel is on perpetual trial. Only Israel, by way of this or that policy, is routinely held to moral account for the terrorist outrages committed against it. Only the Jews, as Eric Hoffer put it in 1968, are expected to be “the only real Christians in the world.”

But then the argument is made that Israel is occupying somebody else’s country. And risking its own future as a Jewish democracy, on account of well-known demographic trends. And all of this is corrosive, so it is often said, to Israel’s soul.

Yet the purported concern for Israel’s soul would be more convincing if it were joined by some decent respect for Israel’s mind. Israel today labors under the invidious stereotype that it is too clever to blunder militarily or politically—and therefore that any such blunders are, in fact, acts of malice aforethought. But Israel also labors under the stereotype that it is too stupid or shortsighted to recognize its own strategic interest in coming to terms with a Palestinian state.

Will it some day dawn on Israel’s so-called friends that 18 years of abortive efforts to come to terms with the Palestinians—the spurned statehood offers in 2000 and 2008, the withdrawal of the settlers from Gaza in 2005, the experience of what a “liberated” Gaza soon became—has soured Israelis on the idea of a Palestinian state? Or that the long-term demographic threat is worth risking in the face of the immediate threats of a near-nuclear Iran, a newly hostile Egypt, and a still-irredentist Palestinian leadership? Or that a professed commitment to Israeli democracy means, among other things, some regard to the conclusions Israelis have drawn about the prospects of peace by way of their electoral choices?

No democracy in the world today lies under a darker shadow of existential dread than Israel. And the events of the past month ought to demonstrate that Israel’s dread is not of shadows only. Israel’s efforts to allay the enmity of its enemies or mollify the scorn of its critics have failed. But is it too much to ask its friends for support—this time, for once, without cavil or reservation?





Ben Smith

Politico, June 29, 2011


David Ainsman really began to get worried about President Barack Obama’s standing with his fellow Jewish Democrats when a recent dinner with his wife and two other couples—all Obama voters in 2008—nearly turned into a screaming match.

Ainsman, a prominent Democratic lawyer and Pittsburgh Jewish community leader, was trying to explain that Obama had just been offering Israel a bit of “tough love” in his May 19 speech on the Arab Spring. His friends disagreed—to say the least. One said he had the sense that Obama “took the opportunity to throw Israel under the bus.” Another…admitted he’d lost faith in the president.

If several dozen interviews…are any indication, a similar conversation is taking place in Jewish communities across the country. Obama’s speech last month seems to have crystallized the doubts many pro-Israel Democrats had about Obama in 2008 in a way that could, on the margins, cost the president votes and money in 2012 and will not be easy to repair.…

The immediate controversy sparked by the speech was Obama’s statement that Israel should embrace the country’s 1967 borders, with “land swaps,” as a basis for peace talks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized on the first half of that phrase and the threat of a return to what Israelis sometimes refer to as “Auschwitz borders.” Obama’s Jewish allies stressed the second half: that land swaps would—as American negotiators have long contemplated—give Israel security in its narrow middle, and the deal would give the country international legitimacy and normalcy.

But the noisy fray after the speech mirrored any number of smaller controversies. Politically hawkish Jews and groups such as the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Committee for Israel pounded Obama in news releases. White House surrogates and staffers defended him, as did the plentiful American Jews who have long wanted the White House to lean harder on Israel’s conservative government.

Based on [numerous] conversations, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that some kind of tipping point has been reached.

Most of those interviewed were center-left American Jews and Obama supporters—and many of them Democratic donors. On some core issues involving Israel, they’re well to the left of Netanyahu and many Americans: They refer to the “West Bank,” not to “Judea and Samaria,” fervently supported the Oslo peace process and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and believe in the urgency of creating a Palestinian state.

But they are also fearful for Israel at a moment of turmoil in a hostile region when the moderate Palestinian Authority is joining forces with the militantly anti-Israel Hamas.… Some of these traditional Democrats now say, to their own astonishment, that they’ll consider voting for a Republican in 2012. And many of those who continue to support Obama said they find themselves constantly on the defensive in conversations with friends.…

The qualms that many Jewish Democrats express about Obama date back to his emergence onto the national scene in 2007. Though he had warm relations with Chicago’s Jewish community, he had also been friends with leading Palestinian activists, unusual in the Democratic establishment. And though he seemed to be trying to take a conventionally pro-Israel stand, he was a novice at the complicated politics of the America-Israel relationship, and his sheer inexperience showed at times.

At the 2007 AIPAC Policy Conference, Obama professed his love for Israel but then seemed—to some who were there for his informal talk—to betray a kind of naivete about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians: “The biggest enemy” he said, using the same rhetoric he applied to American politics, was “not just terrorists, it’s not just Hezbollah, it’s not just Hamas—it’s also cynicism.”

At the next year’s AIPAC conference, he again botched the conflict’s code, committing himself to an “undivided Jerusalem” and then walking it back the next day.

Those doubts and gaffes lingered, even for many of the majority who supported him.

“There’s an inclination in the community to not trust this president’s gut feel on Israel and every time he sets out on a path that’s troubling you do get this ‘ouch’ reaction from the Jewish Community because they’re distrustful of him,” said the president of a major national Jewish organization, who declined to be quoted by name to avoid endangering his ties to the White House.

Many of Obama’s supporters, then and now, said they were unworried about the political allegiance of Jewish voters. Every four years, they say, Republicans claim to be making inroads with American Jews, and every four years, voters and donors go overwhelmingly for the Democrats, voting on a range of issues that include, but aren’t limited to Israel.…

That, perhaps, is the crux of the political question: Pro-Israel Jewish voters and activists…are largely die-hard Democrats, few of whom have ever cast a vote for a Republican to be president. Does the new wave of Jewish angst matter?…


John Podhoretz
Contentions, July 5, 2011


The talk of the Jewish world today is that Gallup has found no significant change in the president’s popularity among Jews after the controversies of the past few months. Gallup measures his approval at 60 percent, statistically unchanged from the 64 percent previously measured—but significantly changed from the 80 percent he registered a few months into 2009. So an argument is raging about what this means—an argument that largely misses the point about the nature of the difficulty between Obama and the Jewish community. For those Jews whose support for the president was going to be affected by his behavior toward Israel, the damage was pretty much done last year. In one sense, then, what the president’s behavior this year has done is to make it unlikely his popularity among Jews will rise again to the levels it once enjoyed. So by continuing to behave in a manner many of us perceive as hostile, he has solidified some opposition among those who were enthusiastic about him in 2008.…

This doesn’t mean Jews won’t vote for him again, and in landslide numbers, in 2012—especially if the Republicans put up someone Jews decide to despise. But which Jews vote or don’t vote for Obama doesn’t matter all that much except when it comes to conversations around the seder table.

Where it matters—where Obama’s team is clearly worried and where it is seeking to come up with counterarguments to give to surrogates—is money. It’s one thing to cast a single vote as the member of a small minority community to which outsized attention is paid. But Jews are uncommonly generous givers, both philanthropically and politically, and while they might still cast a vote for Obama, they might give him nothing. Or half what they gave him in 2008. And that decline in enthusiasm might be reflected not only in giving to the reelection campaign, but to Democratic campaigns generally. That’s the real fear, and that’s the real problem for the Democrats. They have Jewish support at the ballot box. They can bank on that. They’re worried they won’t be able to bank on Jewish support in the other sense of the term, and that worry is very real, and very realistic, and can’t be argued away.



Jerusalem Post, July 5, 2011


Judging from voting trends during the past three decades, Democratic President Barack Obama can rest assured that he will receive a majority of Jewish votes in the 2012 presidential election. Even Ronald Reagan, who was the only modern Republican presidential candidate to seriously challenge Democrats’ dominance among Jews, mustered just 39 percent of the Jewish vote in the 1980 elections. Subsequent Republican candidates have received anywhere from 11% to 24% of the Jewish vote. In the last elections, John McCain received 22% to Obama’s 78%.

That said, a report by Ben Smith in Politico at the end of June, which has generated quite a bit of attention, claims to have located a possible “tipping point” in American Jewish opinion. Obama’s falling out with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, during the latter’s May visit to Washington, purportedly has forced more center-left Jews to reconsider their political loyalties ahead of next year’s presidential race.…

It might very well be an exaggeration, however, to claim that the US president is losing the Jewish vote over his policies vis-a-vis Israel. As JTA’s Washington bureau chief Ron Kampeas blogged recently, [American Jewish Committee] surveys in the past four years have shown that Israel has consistently ranked no more than fifth on American Jewish voters’ priority list. Ranking higher are domestic matters such as unemployment, house prices and health care, and international military conflicts in which US soldiers’ lives were under constant danger.

In addition, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that Americans in general (there was no breakdown for Jews) perceive the Obama administration to have a fundamentally positive approach to Israel. In a survey conducted just days after Obama’s May 19 State Department speech and his May 22 AIPAC address, 50% said the president was striking the right balance in the Middle East situation, while 21% said he favors the Palestinians too much.…

Regardless of the Pew poll results, however, there may have been a turn for the worse in the White House’s position on Israel, as Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, argued in an interview with The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon that appeared in Friday’s paper.

A prime example pointing to such a shift is Obama’s refusal to reaffirm former president George Bush’s 2004 letter, endorsed in overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress. A central element in the letter was its rejection of the notion that any Israeli-Palestinian agreement would include a full and complete return to the 1949 armistice lines. Obama, in contrast, has insisted on using the 1949 borders as the basis for talks, with land swaps to compensate the Palestinians for territories beyond the armistice lines that remain under Israeli control. In essence, this means Israel will be forced, according to Abrams, to “give up sovereign Green Line territory to keep the Kotel,” a “ridiculous” demand that seriously weakens the Israeli negotiating position.

Another example given by Abrams is the Obama administration’s different approach to the United Nations. The Bush administration cast nine vetoes blocking anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council over an eight-year span, out of a conviction that the UN is inherently biased against Israel. In contrast, the Obama administration “is desperate to avoid vetoes,” Abrams said.

Abrams also implied that until now Obama might have been constrained by domestic politics and that in a second term he might feel freer to place more pressure on Israel. Perhaps this helps explain the Palestinians’ success in using their September statehood bid in the UN to put pressure on Israel.

Obama will undoubtedly continue to enjoy wide support among American Jewry. But it is a sobering thought…that this does not mean his Mideast policies will be good for Israel.


Daniel Greenfield

Daniel Greenfield Blog, July 5, 2011


Every election season brings another round of predictable essays about the Jewish vote. Variations of these essays have been going round and round for decades without getting anywhere. So let’s begin by demystifying the Jewish vote.

The Jewish vote is not a single entity. There is no monolithic Jewish vote, because there is no monolithic Jewish community. The Jewish community is small, but in its own way it is as complex and diverse as American Christians are. Which is to say that there’s a Jewish spectrum covering everything from Baptists to Unitarians. And politically everything from Rand to Marx.

Let’s begin by breaking down the Jewish vote into thirds as a way to get a larger overview of the picture on the ground.

The first third is conservative. They may be socially conservative, economically conservative or both. This covers everything from Hasidic Jews who are worried about moral decay to gay millionaires who are fans of Ayn Rand. It covers the Russian Jewish immigrant who is active in the Tea Party and the former liberal living in the suburbs who slowly finds herself drifting to the right. This group will vote Republican if there are available and viable candidates.…

The second third is liberal. This group ranges from hard core leftists to more mainstream liberals. It will rarely if ever vote for Republicans, unless they are of the Bloomberg type, and even then it will usually vote for the party’s choice. It is strongly socially liberal and for big government. It is somewhat liberal on foreign policy issues. Its positions on Israel vary from hard core antis to pro-peace and pro-security.

This is the progressive camp. Its influence significantly outweighs its numbers, because it includes a greater share of academics, media figures, writers, organization executives and other opinion leaders. When someone claiming to represent the Jewish community speaks out on an issue, it’s usually one of them. And rising to the top without being in this camp is difficult.

The final third is moderate or middle of the road. This group is squishy, it typically does not hold very strong political opinions. It usually follows the majority or whatever the conventional position seems to be. It believes that government should help people, but is less enthusiastic about many social issues. It is fairly pro-Israel, but believes that the Democrats and Republicans are both equally pro-Israel. But members of this group do sometimes begin to worry about radicals like Carter or Obama.…

When serious doubts are raised, then members of this group become the swing vote. The entire group never shifts, but percentages of it do.

This is just a rough snapshot. These numbers derive from a Jewish community in flux. Underneath this there are deeper demographic issues. For example the Jewish vote becomes more conservative out West, and more liberal back East.…

The Jewish population has been slowly drifting out of the central areas in New York and California to the suburbs and beyond. The Northeast now holds less than half of the Jewish population in America. The South and the West each host about a quarter. The Republican House Majority Leader is a Jewish man from Virginia. A geographical shift does not mean an immediate political shift, but politics are often contextual. The kind of voting that makes sense in New York City, does not always make sense in Arizona.

Then there’s immigration. The Jewish immigrants of the 1990’s and onward tend to be Russian or Middle-Eastern and conservative. Unlike the Russian and Eastern European immigrants of the 1890’s-1930’s who were fleeing right wing tyrannies, the 1990’s Russian and Eastern European immigrants were escaping totalitarian left-wing regimes. And that has given them a worldview closer to the Cubans. The Middle-Eastern immigrants also tend to be socially conservative, with a bias toward free enterprise.…

The biggest demographic factor however is religious. Following a general pattern in American religious life, the more conservative religious movements are marrying earlier and having more children. Among Jews that means a rising demographic trend for the orthodox, who are claiming a larger percentage of the 18-29 population. The trend is not as definitive as in the UK, where three out of every four Jewish births are orthodox, but it will still define the future.

How significant is this? In a 2011 survey, 67 percent of Orthodox Jews found the Tea Party “refreshing”. Some exit polls [after the 2008 U.S. election] placed the Jewish vote for Obama at 78 percent. But Orthodox polling showed that the 78 percent went the other way, with McCain polling at 78 to Obama’s 13.…

The Jewish vote will not change overnight, but its trajectory is slowly shifting. The American Jewish population in a generation will be more conservative, less urban and less tied to the dinosaur leftist organizations that have exerted a death grip on Jewish life. It will be a day when The Forward is gone, the ADL is history and the Federations have lost their Jewish identity and have merged with other charities into a non-denominational grouping.…

The Jewish vote will look more like the way it did before the full impact of Eastern European immigration altered the scales. Roughly divided between both parties. And the political clock will have been turned back to the early 20th century.





Walter Russell Mead
Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2011

It is, the pundits keep telling us, a time of American decline, of a post-American world. The 21st century will belong to someone else. Crippled by debt at home, hammered by the aftermath of a financial crisis, bloodied by long wars in the Middle East, the American Atlas can no longer hold up the sky. Like Britain before us, America is headed into an assisted-living facility for retired global powers.

This fashionable chatter could not be more wrong. Sure, America has big problems. Trillions of dollars in national debt and uncounted trillions more in off-the-books liabilities will give anyone pause. Rising powers are also challenging the international order even as our key Cold War allies sink deeper into decline.

But what is unique about the United States is not our problems. Every major country in the world today faces extraordinary challenges—and the 21st century will throw more at us. Yet looking toward the tumultuous century ahead, no country is better positioned to take advantage of the opportunities or manage the dangers than the United States.

Geopolitically, the doomsayers tell us, China will soon challenge American leadership throughout the world. Perhaps. But to focus exclusively on China is to miss how U.S. interests intersect with Asian realities in ways that cement rather than challenge the U.S. position in world affairs.

China is not Germany, the U.S. is not Great Britain, and 2011 is not 1910. In 1910 Germany was a rising power surrounded by decline: France, Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary were all growing weaker every year even as Germany went from strength to strength. The European power system grew less stable every year.

In Asia today China is rising—but so is India, another emerging nuclear superpower with a population on course to pass China’s. Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Australia are all vibrant, growing powers that have no intention of falling under China’s sway. Japan remains a formidable presence. Unlike Europe in 1910, Asia today looks like an emerging multipolar region that no single country, however large and dynamic, can hope to control.

This fits American interests precisely. The U.S. has no interest in controlling Asia or in blocking economic prosperity that will benefit the entire Pacific basin, including our part of it. U.S. policy in Asia is not fighting the tide of China’s inexorable rise. Rather, our interests harmonize with the natural course of events. Life rarely moves smoothly and it is likely that Asia will see great political disturbances. But through it all, it appears that the U.S. will be swimming with, rather than against, the tides of history.

Around the world we have no other real rivals. Even the Europeans have stopped talking about a rising EU superpower. The specter of a clash of civilizations between the West and an Islamic world united behind fanatics like the unlamented Osama bin Laden is less likely than ever. Russia’s demographic decline and poor economic prospects (not to mention its concerns about Islamic radicalism and a rising China) make it a poor prospect as a rival superpower.

When it comes to the world of ideas, the American agenda will also be the global agenda in the 21st century. Ninety years after the formation of the Communist Party of China, 50 years after the death of the philosopher of modern militant Islam Sayyid Qutb, liberal capitalist democracy remains the wave of the future.

Fascism, like Franco, is still dead. Communism lingers on life support in Pyongyang and a handful of other redoubts but shows no signs of regaining the power it has lost since 1989 and the Soviet collapse. “Islamic” fanaticism failed in Iraq, can only cling to power by torture and repression in Iran, and has been marginalized (so far) in the Arab Spring. Nowhere have the fanatics been able to demonstrate that their approach can protect the dignity and enhance the prosperity of people better than liberal capitalism. The heirs of Qutb are further from power than they were during the first Egyptian Revolution in 1953.

Closer to home, Hugo Chavez and his Axis of Anklebiters are descending towards farce. The economic success of Chile and Brazil cuts the ground out from under the “Bolivarean” caudillos. They may strut and prance on the stage, appear with Fidel on TV and draw a crowd by attacking the Yanquis, but the dream of uniting South America into a great anticapitalist, anti-U.S. bloc is as dead as Che Guevara.

So the geopolitics are favorable and the ideological climate is warming. But on a still-deeper level this is shaping up to be an even more American century than the last. The global game is moving towards America’s home court.

The great trend of this century is the accelerating and deepening wave of change sweeping through every element of human life. Each year sees more scientists with better funding, better instruments and faster, smarter computers probing deeper and seeing further into the mysteries of the physical world. Each year more entrepreneurs are seeking to convert those discoveries and insights into ways to produce new things, or to make old things better and more cheaply. Each year the world’s financial markets are more eager and better prepared to fund new startups, underwrite new investments, and otherwise help entrepreneurs and firms deploy new knowledge and insight more rapidly.

Scientific and technological revolutions trigger economic, social and political upheavals. Industry migrates around the world at a breathtaking—and accelerating—rate. Hundreds of millions of people migrate to cities at an unprecedented pace. Each year the price of communication goes down and the means of communication increase.

New ideas disturb the peace of once-stable cultures. Young people grasp the possibilities of change and revolt at the conservatism of their elders. Sacred taboos and ancient hierarchies totter; women demand equality; citizens rise against monarchs. All over the world more tea is thrown into more harbors as more and more people decide that the times demand change.

This tsunami of change affects every society—and turbulent politics in so many countries make for a turbulent international environment. Managing, mastering and surviving change: These are the primary tasks of every ruler and polity. Increasingly these are also the primary tasks of every firm and household.

This challenge will not go away. On the contrary: It has increased, and it will go on increasing through the rest of our time. The 19th century was more tumultuous than its predecessor; the 20th was more tumultuous still, and the 21st will be the fastest, most exhilarating and most dangerous ride the world has ever seen.

Everybody is going to feel the stress, but the United States of America is better placed to surf this transformation than any other country. Change is our home field. It is who we are and what we do. Brazil may be the country of the future, but America is its hometown.

Happy Fourth of July.

(Mr. Mead is a professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College
and editor-at-large of the American Interest.


Victor Davis Hanson

Philadelphia Inquirer, July 4, 2011


For the last 235 years, on the Fourth of July, Americans have celebrated the birth of the United States, and the founding ideas that have made it the most powerful, wealthiest, and freest nation in the history of civilization.

But today, there has never been more uncertainty about the future of America—and the anxiety transcends even the dismal economy and three foreign wars. President Obama prompted such introspection in April 2009, when he suggested that the United States, as one of many nations, was not necessarily any more exceptional than others. Recently, a New Yorker magazine article sympathetically described our new foreign policy as “leading from behind.”

The administration not long ago sought from the United Nations and the Arab League—but not from Congress—authorization to attack Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya. Earlier, conservative opponents had made much of the president’s bows to Chinese and Saudi Arabian heads of state, which, coupled with serial apologies for America’s distant and recent past, were seen as symbolically deferential efforts to signal the world that the United States was at last not necessarily preeminent among nations.

Yet there has never been any nation even remotely similar to America. Here’s why. Most revolutions seek to destroy the existing class order and use all-powerful government to mandate an equality of result rather than of opportunity—in the manner of the French Revolution’s slogan of “liberty, equality and fraternity” or the Russian Revolution’s “peace, land and bread.”

In contrast, our revolutionaries shouted “Don’t tread on me!” and “Give me liberty or give me death!” The Founders were convinced that constitutionally protected freedom would allow the individual to create wealth apart from government. Such enlightened self-interest would then enrich society at large far more effectively that could an all-powerful state.

Such constitutionally protected private property, free enterprise, and market capitalism explain why the United States—with only about 4.5 percent of the world’s population—even today, in an intensely competitive global economy, still produces a quarter of the world’s goods and services. To make America unexceptional, inept government overseers, as elsewhere in the world, would determine the conditions under which businesses operate.

Individual freedom in America manifests itself in ways most of the world can hardly fathom—whether…the near impossibility of proving libel in American courts, or the singular custom of multimillion-dollar philanthropic institutions, foundations, and private endowments. Herding, silencing, or enfeebling Americans is almost impossible—and will remain so as long as well-protected citizens can say what they want and do as they please with their hard-earned money.

Race, tribe, or religion often defines a nation’s character. And while the United States was originally crafted largely by white males who improved upon Anglo-Saxon customs and the European Enlightenment, the Founders set in place an “all men are created equal” system that evolved into the racially blind society of today.

This year a minority of babies born in the United States will resemble the look of the Founding Fathers. Yet America will continue as it was envisioned, as long as those of various races and colors are committed to the country’s original ideals. When International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexual assault against a West African immigrant maid in New York, supposedly liberal French elites were outraged that America would dare bring charges against such an establishment aristocrat. Americans, on the other hand, would have been more outraged had their country not done so.

The Founders’ notion of the rule of law, coupled with freedom of the individual, explains why the United States runs on merit, not tribal affinities or birth. Elsewhere, being a first cousin of a government official, or having a prestigious name, ensures special treatment from the state. Yet in America, nepotism is never assured. End that notion of American merit and replace it with racial tribalism, cronyism, or aristocratic privilege, and America itself would vanish as we know it.

There is no rational reason why a small republican experiment in 1776 grew to dominate global culture and society—except that America is the only nation, past or present, that put trust in the individual rather than in the state and its elite bureaucracy. Such confidence in the average free citizen made America absolutely exceptional—something we should remember more than ever on this Fourth of July.

(Mr. Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.)


Steven Plaut

FrontPage, July 4, 2011


When the War of Independence began, it quickly assumed the nature of a civil war. Those opposing the declaration of statehood fought alongside the organized armies of their kinsmen, which invaded the territory of the infant state from all directions. The fighting was bloody, and the opponents of independence used terrorism against the population seeking statehood. The country was partitioned between the areas of the new state and the territories remaining under the rule of the foreign invaders.

As the fighting dragged on, the opponents of independence began a mass exodus. In most cases, they left because they feared the consequences of staying on as a political minority or because they simply opposed on principle the new political entity.… They fled across the frontiers, moving their families to live in the areas controlled by the armies of their political kin. From there, some joined the invading forces and launched cross-border raids. When the fighting ceased, most of the refugees who had fled from the new state were refused permission to return.

The events described above did not transpire in 1947-49, but rather in 1775-1781. The refugees in question were not Arabs, but Tory “Loyalists” who supported the British against the American revolutionists seeking independence. During the American War of Independence, large numbers of Loyalist refugees fled the new country. Estimates of the numbers vary, but perhaps 100,000 refugees left or were expelled, a very significant number given the sparse population of the thirteen colonies.

While there are many differences, there are also many similarities between the plight of the Palestinians and that of the Tory refugees during the first years of American independence. The advocates of Palestinian rights are in fact clearly in the same political bed with King George`s allies who fought against American democracy and independence.

Like all wars of independence, both the Israeli and American wars were in fact civil wars. In both cases, religious sectarianism played an important role in defining the opposing forces, although for Americans, taxation was even more important. (Israelis suffered under abominable taxation only after independence.) Among the causes of the American Revolution was the attempt to establish the Anglican Church, or Church of England, as the official bishopric of the colonies. Anglicans were the largest ethnic group opposing independence in the 1770s, as were Palestinian Muslims in the 1940s, although in both cases, other religious/ethnic groups were also represented in the anti-independence movement.

Those fearing the possibility of being forced to live as minorities under the tyrannical religious supremacy of the Anglicans and Muslims, respectively, formed the forces fighting for independence. The Anglicans and Muslims hoped to establish themselves with the armed support of their co-religionists across the borders. New England was the center of patriotism to a large extent because of the mistrust of the Anglican church by the Puritan and Congregationalist majorities there. The later incorporation of the separation of church and state into the U.S. Constitution was largely motivated by the memory of would-be Anglican dominance.…

When independence was declared, the populations of the opposing forces were about even in both 18th century America and 20th century Palestine. The exact distribution of pro- and anti-independence forces in the American colonies is not known, but the estimate by John Adams is probably as good a guess as any—namely, one-third patriot, one-third Loyalist, and one-third neutral.

When fighting broke out, civilians were often the first victims in both wars. The Tories formed terrorist units and plundered and raided the territories under patriot control. The southwestern frontier areas of the colonies, like the southwestern border of Palestine, were scenes of particularly bloody terrorism. In South Carolina, the Tory leader Major William Cunningham, known as “Bloody Bill,” became the Ahmed Jibril of the struggle, conducting massacres of patriot civilians.…

Terrorist raids were particularly common along the New England coast and up the Delaware River. General Sir Henry Clinton organized many guerilla raids upon patriot territory. Loyalists also launched assassination plots, including an attempt to murder George Washington in New York in 1776. Among the terrorists participating in that plot was the mayor of New York City.

There were Loyalist insurrections against the patriots in every colony. Tory military activity was particularly severe in the Chesapeake, on Long Island, in Delaware, in Maryland, and along the Virginia coast. As violence escalated and spread, the forces of the revolution took countermeasures. Tories were tarred and feathered. Indiscriminate expulsions sometimes took place. Tory areas were sometimes placed under martial rule, with all civil rights, such as habeas corpus and due process, suspended.…

In some colonies, Loyalists were excluded from practicing law and from some other professions. Tories were frequently stripped of all property rights, and had their lands confiscated. In colony after colony, “Acts of Banishment” forced masses of Loyalists to leave their homes and emigrate. The most common destination was the Canadian Maritimes, with others going to the British West Indies, to England, and to Australia.

In both the Israeli and American wars for independence, anti-independence refugees fled the country in order to live in areas under the control of their political allies. Many who opposed independence nevertheless stayed put. After the wars ended, these people generally found the devil was not as bad as they had feared, and were permitted to live as tolerated political minorities with civil rights. (This in spite of the fact that many refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new states, sometimes for decades.)

The colonies/states that had banished Loyalists refused to allow them to return, even after a peace treaty was signed. In most cases, property was never returned. There was fear that returning Tories could act as a sort of fifth column, particularly if the British took it into their heads to attempt another invasion. (Such an invasion took place in 1812).…

The Tory refugees were regarded by all as the problem of Britain. The American patriots allowed small numbers to return. Others attempted to return illegally and were killed. But most languished across the partition lines in eastern British Canada, mainly in what would become Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The refugees would never be granted the “right to return.” In most cases, they would never even be granted compensation for property; Benjamin Franklin was among the leading opponents of any such compensation.

At this point, the similarity between the Palestinian refugees and the Tory Loyalists breaks down. The British, unlike the Arabs, did a great deal to settle their refugees, rather than force them into festering camps, and allotted $20 million for their resettlement. The Tory refugees quickly became a non-problem, and never played any subsequent role in British-American relations.

Nevertheless, an interesting thought-experiment might be to imagine what would have occurred had the British done things the Arab way. Tory refugees would have been converted into terrorist cadres and trained by British commandos. They would have begun a ceaseless wave of incursions and invasions of the independent United States, mainly from bases along the Canadian frontier. The British, Hessians and their allies would have launched a global diplomatic campaign for self-determination for the Loyalist Americans. They would have set up an American Liberation Organization (ALO) to hijack whalers and merchant marines and assassinate U.S. diplomats.

Benedict Arnold would have been chosen ALO chairman and would have written the Tory National Charter under the nom de guerre of Abu Albion. The British would have organized underground terrorist cells among the Loyalist population that had not fled. Britain and her empire would have boycotted the new country commercially and pressured others to do the same, asserting that the national rights of the Loyalist people were inalienable and eternal, no matter how many years had passed since the refugees fled. International pressure would have been exerted on the U.S. to give up much of its territory and to internationalize Philadelphia.

For more than fifty years, the position of the American State Department has been that Israel should grant the Palestinian refugees the “right to return,” that Israel is liable for the suffering of the refugees and should be responsible for their resettlement. The State Department also thinks the refugees should be represented at Middle East peace talks. The State Department is sympathetic to calls for recognizing the rights of the refugees to self-determination and political expression.

The State Department, in other words, is exhibiting Loyalist Tory sympathies. A large portrait of Benedict Arnold should grace the office of every “Arabist” at Foggy Bottom.