Thursday, July 05, 2012

Don't let Jonathan Pollard die in prison

From the Jewish Press, 18 Nisan 5772 - April 10, 2012, by Yishai Fleisher:

....If Jonathan Pollard dies in prison then our whole generation will die just a little. We will all bear the stain of having not helped the man who risked his life to protect Israel. When our children will ask us: “Were you around when Jonathan Pollard was alive? Why did he die in prison?” The shameful answer will be: “Yes I was around, and I did not do enough to help him…”

To remind you: Pollard was a US Naval intelligence analyst who passed information to Israel, an ally, about its own self-defense. He was caught and agreed to a plea bargain, and instead of getting 2-4 years like agents who spied against the US for enemy states, Pollard got life in prison without parole. This harsh sentence came about as a result of affidavits written to the court by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Weinberger has been discredited by the likes of Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor at the time, who has written to President Obama stating that Weinberger had a history of “unbalanced reasoning” when it came to Israel. But Pollard is still in prison and if he dies, Israel’s relationship with the US will be forever marred. The ugliness of this whole affair will surface, and it will not sink away like some people would like it to. The stain will grow darker and uglier.

The US presents itself as the global champion of liberty, yet this miscarriage of justice goes on and on. How many more US leaders must stand up so that this torture ends? As Lawrence Korb has written: “Most of the major decision-makers who were intimately involved in the case have issued public calls for clemency. They include former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Senator David Durenberger (R-MI) (who served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Pollard’s conviction), and former Congressman Lee Hamilton (R-IN) (Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Pollard’s sentencing)… Key figures who viewed the classified damage assessment years later also favor Pollard’s release. They include former head of Senate Intelligence Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ), Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, as well as James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA. Mukasey, who was attorney general for George W. Bush, stated it well when he wrote that no one alleges Pollard intended to harm the United States with his actions – nor was he ever charged with harming the US.”

I am calling on Israel’s gentile friends: This is the hour of your test – will you let this Jew, who is serving an immoral life sentence for defending Israel, die? Do you want this on your conscience? What will you say to those Jews who ask you: “With all the love you show Israel, did you raise your voice to defend a man who languished – and died – in your prison for attempting to save the Jewish State?” It is your time to stand up and use the democratic channels of which America is so proud. Pull out all the stops. You already have top brass behind the cause, but now the voice of the people must be heard. Make sure your congressmen, senators, and president know that this will not stand. Because without justice and liberty, what is America?

That being said, it is easy to pass the buck. We can blame the US all we want, but have we Israelis made it clear that we demand Pollard’s freedom? No. We went to work, and sent our kids to school, we had a Pesach Seder and some of us mentioned Jonathan’s name, even left a chair for him.

But we did not disrupt our lives, and we did not do enough to disrupt our government’s life and the life of Jewish organizations who represent us. We certainly did not do enough to disrupt the US government’s daily business. In other words, Pollard’s slow death did not matter enough for us to shake things up.

There are efforts being made, for sure: Shimon Peres was handed a letter by the Pollard lobby chairman MK Uri Ariel who said: “Mr. President, I submit to you a letter for President Obama that has been signed by 81 MKs and which calls on him to release Jonathan Pollard. We would be very grateful if you would deliver this letter at your meeting with President Obama in June. We are asking the President of the State of Israel not to wait until the Presidential Medal of freedom award ceremony and even now present this official request to the US President that he pardons Jonathan Pollard on humanitarian grounds forthwith.” President Peres did issue a quick letter to President Obama calling for Pollard’s immediate release on health and humanitarian grounds. But the answer, so far, has been disappointing.

After news of Pollard’s hospitalization, PM Netanyahu’s Media Advisor communicated the following: “The time has come to release Jonathan Pollard. The Festival of Freedom of all Jews needs to become Jonathan Pollard’s private festival of freedom. I have done much, and will continue work, for his release.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Spring has sprung...

Egypt is fighting both religious and military fascism

From the Egypt Zindependent, 3 July 2012:

The political landscape over the past few weeks has largely been described as divided among an Islamist bloc, a military bloc and a third one that remains rather undefined.

The division was best manifested in the presidential runoff election, in which the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy beat former air force commander Ahmed Shafiq. Amid the polarization, many liberals came out vociferously against the Brotherhood, raising questions about whether they perceive the generals as their saviors from the Islamization of the state.

Since Morsy’s victory and inauguration, liberal forces are reassessing their position in the new order and deciding how they will proceed under a Muslim Brotherhood presidency. The Free Egyptians Party, one of the largest liberal groups, plans to hold a series of “national reconciliation” discussions with political, cultural and economic figures in order to overcome the rivalries hatched during the election season.

Morsy is expected to nominate at least some liberal figures to his cabinet. But it may take more than cabinet appointments and national reconciliation talks to pave over the issues between Egypt’s largest Islamist group and the country’s liberals.

Members of the Free Egyptians, Democratic Front and Tagammu parties, as well as representatives from the Kefaya political movement, held a joint press conference on the eve of the announcement of the presidential election result...

Osama al-Ghazaly Harb, a former member of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party and the founder of the Democratic Front Party, discussed what he called the Brotherhood’s attempts to “monopolize” the revolution. Harb said the sit-in in Tahrir Square, which began after the runoff vote ended and comprised mostly Morsy supporters, reflects “a lack of trust and a desire to impose the result in advance.”

Free Egyptians Party leader Ahmed Saeed criticized groups that “attack [the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] one day and make alliances with it the next, when they need it,” clearly referring to the Brotherhood.

Although deeply rooted in the history of Egypt’s contentious politics, the liberal-Islamist split took a new turn following the 18-day uprising that toppled the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

The first public spat was over the March 2011 referendum on the Constitutional Declaration put forward by the military council and the transitional road map which recommended holding parliamentary elections before writing the constitution. Islamists favored this arrangement because they felt confident they would dominate parliamentary elections and it promised them potential control over the writing of the constitution. Liberals opposed it.

Since then, liberals and secular groups have repeatedly accused Islamists of complicity with the military. Islamists responded in kind in November 2011 during the battle over a document drafted by former Vice Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy. This proposed a series of supra-constitutional principles that would have determined the civil nature of the state and preserved the ruling generals’ protected position.

But Bassel Adel, a member of the Free Egyptians Party, rejected accusations that liberals have come out in support of the military in their fight against a religious state.

“We’re fighting both religious and military fascism — we’re stuck between the lion’s jaws,” Adel said.

Adel added that the SCAF has a duty to protect the secular nature of the state, not in its capacity as the head of the military but as a body charged with administering the country’s affairs.

“We’re not throwing ourselves on the military, but rather affirming the secular nature of the state and sending the message that there still exists a force in Egypt that insists on this secularism at a time when some liberals appeared in a press conference with the Brotherhood,” Adel said.

He said the Brotherhood represented a threat to civil liberties, could drag the country into a religious war, and posed a risk to economic and civil rights.

“There is no such thing as reassurances from the Muslim Brothers, because for 84 years, they’ve been doing the opposite of what they say,” Adel said.

Former MP Mohamed Abou Hamed, founder of the Lives of the Egyptians Party, agreed. He has been at the front lines of the anti-Brotherhood invective, posting statements on his Twitter account such as “Down with the Muslim Brotherhood, the shoes of America.”

Abou Hamed, who describes himself as pro-revolution, attracted criticism both for these attacks and for his support of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq for the presidency. Many members of revolutionary circles regard Shafiq as a symbol of the Mubarak regime.

The former MP has also defended the controversial Justice Ministry decree passed shortly before the election that gave military personnel the power to arrest civilians.

Abou Hamed told Egypt Independent that the decision “is aimed at protecting the country, because religious forces threatened chaos if the election result wasn’t to their liking. In addition, there are a huge number of weapons in the country and so it was essential to have a law dealing with these threats.”

The Administrative Court halted the decree last Tuesday.

Like Adel, Abou Hamed said he believes Egyptian society faces the dual threat of military and religious oppression. Before the revolution, there was political repression but “no pressure on basic freedoms.”

“It was a choice between two dangers, and we chose what we regard as the lesser danger because the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi state is the worst,” he said.

Writer and blogger Bassem Sabry suggested that liberals might indeed be seeking to weaken the Brotherhood’s public appeal, together with the military council ahead of the formation the assembly that will write the new constitution, “for a possibly more secular outcome.” The current Constituent Assembly is criticized for being dominated by Islamists.

“It shows how desperate they are and how irreconcilable things with the Brotherhood currently are. And this is in some ways a point of no return in that relationship. They put all their bets on the SCAF,” Sabry said. “Of course, being this aligned means there is a price to pay in the end.”

Abou Hamed, meanwhile, said religious groups have misled the public about the meaning of a ‘madaniya’ — a secular or civilian state.

“A ‘madaniya’ state means the opposite of military [or] religious one, but the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis have selectively chosen to suggest that the danger is restricted to the existence of a military state so that everyone fights that,” Abou Hamed said. “The truth is, however, that a religious state is more dangerous because Brotherhood and Salafi thought is extremist.”

Obama administration turns its back on Israel

From the NRO, 2 July 2012, by Anne Bayefsky:

Today, at the United Nations, the Obama administration is turning its back on Israel. For the very first time, the U.N. Security Council has invited the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to “brief” the Council specifically on the subject of Israel and the commissioner’s list of trumped-up sins. Though the U.S. is a veto-holding power, the extraordinary move has full American approval, despite the fact that the global soapbox will be handed to Navi Pillay, a notorious anti-Israel partisan.

Moreover, the American-backed action exposes President Obama’s profound weakness on the international stage. It turns out that the deal to sponsor an Israel-bashing session at the highest levels was a trade-off for having the high commissioner brief the Council on the subject of Syria.

The Security Council has not acted on Syria since an April 21, 2012, resolution, which sent unarmed observers over to watch the bloodshed. France wanted a high commissioner briefing on Syria to generate more noise. Council member Pakistan said no, unless Israel was on the chopping block, too. The Russians also said no, unless Libya was on the table. Russia seeks to use the mess in that country to obstruct stronger measures on Syria.

At this point in the diplomatic game, the Obama administration could have insisted that Israel not be sacrificed as the quid pro quo for paying due attention to the Syrian carnage. Instead, they caved, agreeing to a spectacle which casts Syria and Israel as moral equals.

Team Obama’s only caveat? The Syrian briefing should be in the morning and the Israel briefing should be in the afternoon so that the briefings — by the same person — can be labeled “two” meetings and the trade-off will be less visible. Obama’s U.N. ambassador Susan Rice can then run to the cameras before the afternoon session and claim the Council’s consideration of Syria was a “success.”

The betrayal of Israel is especially outrageous in light of what the administration knows about Navi Pillay. She’s the U.N. official who questioned the legality of the killing of Osama bin Laden within hours of his death. She’s the lead champion of the Durban “anti-racism” declaration and conferences. She’s the human-rights aficionado who sat glued to her conference chair — while democracies walked out en masse — when speaker Iranian president Ahmadinejad questioned the veracity of the Holocaust.

Only last month, when Pillay sought a renewal of her term as high commissioner, the administration lobbied (ineffectively) against it, in part precisely because of her anti-Israel bias. But a month later, Obama officials are welcoming her into the U.N.’s inner sanctum as a supposed expert on Israel’s inequities and legitimizing her message.

Pillay’s lecture is eminently predictable. Back in July 2010 when she was asked to address the Security Council on the general subject of the “protection of civilians” anywhere in the world, she managed only two pleas, and both were directed at Israel. She “urged” the Council to force Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza — notwithstanding the obvious anti-human-rights consequences of creating an Iranian arms depot on the Mediterranean. And she “urged” the Council to support the infamous Goldstone report.

Last November, when she was asked to brief the Council on “the protection of civilians in armed conflict,” she placed alleged “violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers” alongside ending impunity for “summary executions, rape and torture” in Cote d’Ivoire, “brutal violence” affecting “tens of thousands” in Syria, and “systematic torture” in Afghanistan.

As for the burning necessity of more briefings by Pillay, the last time the Security Council was briefed in detail on “the Palestinian question” was all of 13 days ago on June 19, 2012. In fact, detailed briefings of the Council on the issue, including ritualistic condemnation of Israel by U.N. “experts” and a series of non-democracies, are already held monthly.

Furnishing Pillay with a Security Council podium to attack Israel, therefore, must be set side by side with President Obama’s reelection campaign verbiage. Voters are rightly concerned by the president’s full frontal embrace of the United Nations. So administration officials are being dispatched to address Jewish voters in key states like Florida quite specifically on the subject of the Obama response to the demonization of Israel at the U.N.

Here’s Esther Brimmer, assistant secretary at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, speaking to a Jewish group in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, Florida on April 24, 2012: “Our diplomatic engagement . . . at the U.N., is rooted in an ironclad commitment by President Obama to support Israel across the U.N. system. . . . Our commitment to defend Israel throughout the U.N. system, both in countering biased anti-Israeli actions and in opposing those who seek platforms to expand anti-Israel efforts at the U.N., remains strong.”

And here’s U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice at a synagogue in Boca Raton, Fla., on May 10, 2012: “Not a day goes by — not one — when my colleagues and I don’t work hard to defend Israel’s security and legitimacy at the United Nations. . . . President Obama has insisted that the United States be clear: The treatment Israel receives across the U.N. system is unacceptable. Efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy have been met with the unflinching opposition of the United States.”

It ain’t so.

Monday, July 02, 2012

More bluster from the Iranian dictators

From  Reuters, Sun Jul 1, 2012, by Yeganeh Torbati, DUBAI:
Iran announced missile tests on Sunday and threatened to wipe Israel "off the face of the earth" if the Jewish state attacked it, brandishing some of its starkest threats on the day Europe began enforcing an oil embargo and harsh new sanctions.
The European sanctions - including a ban on imports of Iranian oil by EU states and measures that make it difficult for other countries to trade with Iran - were enacted earlier this year but mainly came into effect on July 1.
They are designed to break Iran's economy and force it to curb nuclear work that Western countries say is aimed at producing an atomic weapon. Reporting by Reuters has shown in recent months that the sanctions have already had a significant effect on Iran's economy.
Israel says it could attack Iran if diplomacy fails to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear aims. The United States also says military force is on the table as a last resort, but U.S. officials have repeatedly encouraged the Israelis to be patient while new sanctions take effect.
Washington said the EU's oil ban might force Tehran to give ground at the next round of nuclear talks, scheduled for this week in Istanbul.
Announcing three days of missile tests in the coming week, Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the exercises should be seen as a message "that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to ... bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly."
Any attack on Iran by Israel would be answered resolutely: "If they take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth," said Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' airborne division, according to state news agency IRNA.
The missile tests will target mock-ups of air bases in the region, Hajizadeh said, adding that its ability to strike U.S. bases in the Gulf protects Iran from U.S. support for Israel.
"U.S. bases in the region are within range of our missiles and weapons, and therefore they certainly will not cooperate with the regime (Israel)," he told IRNA.
Iran has repeatedly unnerved oil markets by threatening reprisals if it were to be attacked or its trade disrupted.
The threat against the Jewish state echoed words President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke in 2005, saying Israel "must be wiped off the page of time" - a phrase often translated as "wiped off the map" and cited by Israel to show how allowing Iran to get nuclear arms would be a threat to its existence.
The EU ban on Iranian oil imports directly deprives Iran of a market that bought 18 percent of its exports a year ago. The sanctions also bar EU companies from transporting Iranian crude or insuring shipments, hurting its trade worldwide.
"They signal our clear determination to intensify the peaceful diplomatic pressure," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
The EU sanctions come alongside stringent new measures imposed by Washington this year on third countries doing business with Iran. The United States welcomed the EU sanctions as an "essential part" of diplomatic efforts "to seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said he hoped the sanctions would force Tehran to make concessions in technical-level talks with six world powers later this week.

"Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community's concerns with Iran's nuclear activities," Carney said in a statement.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain - foes of Iran which face it across the oil-rich Gulf - announced their own joint air force exercises on Sunday which they said would take "several days," their state news agencies reported.
In three rounds of talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the Western powers have demanded Tehran halt high-grade uranium enrichment, ship out all high-grade uranium and close a key enrichment facility.
The talks lost steam at the last meeting in Moscow last month and there was not enough common ground for negotiators to agree whether to meet again. Officials - but not political decision-makers - meet in Turkey on Tuesday.
Washington sees the sanctions and talks as a potential way out of the standoff to avert the need for military action, but has not said it would block Israel from attacking Iran.
...Iranian central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani ...has struggled to prevent a plunge in the value of the rial currency and steadily rising inflation as the sanctions have taken effect. He said the effects of the sanctions were tough but that Iran had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect its economy.
...Last Friday, another Revolutionary Guards commander, Ali Fadavi, said Iran would equip its ships in the Strait of Hormuz - the neck of the Gulf and a vital oil transit point - with shorter-range missiles.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Barack Hussein Obama: A view from Israel

From JPost, 28 June 2012, by MARTIN SHERMAN:
Three years after Obama’s ‘Beginning’ speech in Cairo, prospects are bleaker for everyone – except the Muslim Brotherhood.

...Almost exactly three years have elapsed between Obama’s June 2009 “New Beginning” speech in Cairo, designed to be a US gesture of outreach to the Muslim world, and the Islamist takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brothers and their more radical coreligionists, the Salafis.
The transformation of America’s relationship with the Islamic world was one of the centerpieces – arguably the centerpiece – of the Obama foreign policy, led by a president who ostensibly had more familiarity and firsthand experience with Islam than any of his predecessors. As Obama proclaimed: “I have known Islam on three continents....
That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.”
With the presidential elections less than 20 weeks away, this might be an appropriate juncture for a review of the administration’s Mideast policy to date, and an assessment of what course it might take in the future.
...Although he did chide the Muslim world for the lack of political freedom, gender equality and religious freedom, the overall tenor of the address was one of glowing accolades for Islamic achievement and imaginative apologetics for its failures, based on questionable, indeed at times fanciful, interpretations of history...
To the chagrin of the Egyptian authorities, Obama insisted on inviting the Muslim Brotherhood to his address, which reportedly infuriated Hosni Mubarak, who did not attend the event.
Although several sources suggested that this might be due to his advanced age and/or grief over the death of his grandson Muhammad three weeks previously, his absence was described by the British Guardian as “strikingly” noticeable.
Of course, it is easy to dismiss this as trivial happenstance. But given Obama’s brusque abandonment of Washington’s erstwhile staunch ally, it is not difficult to understand why some might see in this incident an ominous presage of things to come barely 18 months later. In view of recent events it would be hard to dismiss such musings as implausible.

coexistence and cooperation?
There was much in Obama’s “New Beginning” address that could give legitimate cause for raised eyebrows. Take for instance this passage: “The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars.”
While the reference to “conflict and religious wars” is indisputably true, the bit about “centuries of coexistence and cooperation” is a little more obscure and it would have been helpful had Obama elaborated on where precisely he identified this spirit of alleged prolonged interfaith amitiĆ© taking place.
Ever since the 8th century (and arguably even before), Islam and the West have been engaged in bloody conflict, from the Muslim assault on Europe from the west, the south and east though the Iberian peninsula and southern France, southern Italy and the Balkans.
Then there were the Crusades; then the Barbary wars – involving the US – which brings us to the 19th century. The 20th century was also hardly free of Muslim conflict with the West, particularly the fierce battles between Allies and the Ottoman Empire which allied itself with Germany in World War I.
There is, of course, the Muslim-European cooperation later in the 1930s and ’40s, when the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al- Husseini, embraced the Nazi doctrine, forged an alliance with Hitler and enthusiastically recruited Balkan Muslims to Muslim SS divisions, which he convinced local Muslim leaders would be in the interests of Islam.
But as it is doubtful that this is what the US president was invoking, we are left to puzzle over precisely which period and which place he had in mind when he referred to “centuries of coexistence and cooperation” between Islam and the West.

Ignorance or apologetics?
Obama’s characterization of Islam is totally at odds not only with the anecdotal evidence regarding the realities being reported daily from across the Muslim world, whether in Algeria or Afghanistan, whether in Syria or Sudan or Somalia, in Iran and in Iraq, and even in Indonesia where he spent some of his childhood.
It flies in the face of statistical data as well.
He claims: “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. America and Islam share common principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Well, not according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted just before the Arab Spring erupted which found massive public support for cruel and primitive punishments such as stoning for adultery; whipping/amputation for theft; and the death penalty for apostasy.
Levels of support surpassed 80 percent in Egypt and Pakistan, reaching about 75% in Jordan and over 50% in Nigeria. Even in Indonesia there was significant endorsement of these measures of Islamic “tolerance,” with sizable minorities of up to 40% backing them.
Obama seems wildly out of touch with realities in his erstwhile homeland. He stated: “I saw it [Islam’s proud tradition of tolerance] firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country.”
Compare this with the description of the prevailing level of “tolerance” in the country, set out in a ruling handed down by the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (February 4, 2010): “Christian churches throughout Indonesia have been burned, bombed, and vandalized by Muslim extremists often accompanied by threats, such as ‘Death to all Christians.’” Hmmm.

The ‘colonialism’ canard
Obama offers the following explanation for the sad state of affairs between the West and Islam that followed the previously alleged “centuries of coexistence and cooperation,” suggesting that “more recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims.”
This position raises troubling issues.
For example, while it is true that much of the Middle East was under imperial rule for centuries, this was mostly Muslim imperialism – i.e. the Ottoman Empire.
With perhaps the exception of North Africa, Western colonialism was imposed for a relatively short period after WWI, and ended soon after World War II. This hardly seems long enough to engender the indelible Islamic enmity we see today.
So if complaints are to be lodged regarding colonialist deprivation of Muslim rights and opportunities, shouldn’t they be directed at the... Muslim imperialists? Strangely, the two areas that comprise the crucibles of today’s most extreme anti-Western Islam were barely touched by colonialism: The Arabian peninsula and Iran.
Although neither have endured any – including Western – imperial rule of any consequence, the former birthed the Sunniderivative version of Islamic radicalism and the latter the Shia-derivative version. This fact sits uneasily with Obama’s diagnosis of ascribing recent tension between Muslims and the West to colonialism.
One might well ask why the iniquities of colonialism have not afflicted, say, Hindimajority India, whose people were certainly “denied rights and opportunities” under the yoke of British Imperialism in the same way.
... Why has India been able to put its colonial past behind it and become a vibrant economic juggernaut? Why has it not allowed itself to remain tethered to the past and mired in homicidal frustration? Indeed, since by far the greatest victims of Muslim violence are other Muslims, rights and opportunities allegedly denied by foreign occupiers seven decades ago seem a poor explanation for such horrific conduct.

Modernity as culprit?
Obama not only singles out colonialism as the root of Muslim tensions with the West.
He points an accusatory finger at phenomena that in some respects might be considered the diametric inverse – modernity and globalization – declaring that “the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.”
Some might consider that strange. After all, Islam is the youngest of all major religions, being founded centuries – even in some cases, millennia – after Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity. So why would the newest religion find that the developments of modernity threaten its traditions in a manner that apparently do not threaten the traditions of faiths far more ancient? Why do they not generate the same tensions with the West that we find in the case of the Muslim faith? Could it perhaps be that Islam is fundamentally incompatible not only with modernity but with anything that is not Islam, and that Obama cannot – or worse, will not – recognize this?

Obama unmoored from America’s Judeo-Christian heritage?
The fact that a US president could give such a patently inaccurate assessment of Islam and the realities in the Muslim world – especially one supposedly intimately familiar with both – is deeply disturbing for Israel.
Remember, it was he who declared that the “partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.”
What drove him to do this is crucial and what motivates the administration is of definite significance as the 2012 elections approach. After all, if the pro-Israel elements apparent in some of the recent actions of his administration are the result of perceived electoral constraints alone, the issue of how Israel will be treated by a second-term president, with a fundamentally adversarial agenda and free of reelection concerns, becomes acute.
In this regard, Obama’s primal sentiments toward Israel should be assessed within the framework of his overall weltanschauung. In many ways the inputs that have gone into shaping his geo-political credo cannot but generate a sense of unease – both in terms of his associates and of his formative environment.
His perception of the international role the US should play, the nature of its interests and the manner in which they should be pursued seems to be a dramatic departure from that of most of his predecessors, including a deepseated belief that Islam is not inherently inimical to American values.
There is, thus, a distinct possibility that Israel could face a second-term president who is fundamentally unmoored from America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, a heritage, which despite occasional periods of tensions, was for decades the elemental underpinning of the relationship between the two countries.
The prospect of a White House incumbent with an inherent affinity for Israel’s adversaries and unshackled by considerations of reelection is one that must be considered with the utmost seriousness....

Just a minute

From JPost, 28 June 2012, by Israel Kasnett:

Israel has competed at the Olympic Games since 1952. Forty years later, in 1992, Israeli athletes won, for the first time, the silver and bronze medals and Israel has since gone on to win a total of seven medals, including a gold by Gal Fridman in the 2004 sailing competition in Athens.
But this year, the number 40 has special significance for a different reason.
Israel’s participation and success in the Olympic games has remained overshadowed by the Munich Massacre in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by members of the Black September terrorist group during the 1972 Olympics – 40 years ago.
And the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has never held an official memorial service in their memory.
Ankie Spitzer, the widow of murdered athlete Andrei Spitzer, and Ilana Romano, the widow of murdered athlete Yossef Romano, have been trying for years to convince the IOC to honor the dead in a minute of silence.
Teaming up in 2010 with the Jewish Community Center of Rockland, New York, they have doubled their efforts and are now leading a campaign through the website to get 100,000 people to sign a petition.
Spitzer writes, “Silence is a fitting tribute for athletes who lost their lives on the Olympic stage. Silence contains no statements, assumptions or beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret.”
In a parallel but unrelated effort to help raise awareness, students from the Catholic University of America have taken action and created a YouTube video in which they declare their support for one minute of silence at the 2012 London Olympics.
A student tells viewers, “As a generation of young people affected by the September 11 attacks, we feel it is important to raise awareness and to stand in solidarity with victims of terrorism anywhere.”
Another student says, “It is our charge, our call, to reach out to others... to promote values of respect and justice throughout the world, and I think the Olympics share those ideals.”
And another student says, “In the 40 years since this massacre occurred, the International Olympic Committee has failed to properly memorialize this event. It is important that we remember and we learn from this tragedy as a global community – send a message that we stand together in solidarity with all of the victims of violence and terror, whoever and wherever they may be.”
And the best place to do that is at the Olympics.
Aside from grassroots campaigns, governments have taken up the cause as well.
The American, Canadian and Australian parliaments have all passed a resolution calling on the IOC to hold a minute’s silence.
As reported by JTA, the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Monday urging the IOC to observe a moment of silence at the 2012 London Olympics for the Munich 11.
A similar resolution introduced in the US House of Representatives by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) was passed unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We are not persuaded by arguments articulated by members of the IOC and others that a minute of silence would politicize the Olympic Games or risk alienating countries that have disagreements with Israel,” Engel and Lowey said.
THE ROLE of the IOC, according to the Olympic Charter on its website, includes:
• To encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sport as well as education of youth through sport and to dedicate its efforts to ensuring that, in sport, the spirit of fair play prevails and violence is banned;
• To cooperate with the competent public or private organisations and authorities in the endeavour to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace;
• To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement;
• To oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes;
• To promote a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries;
• To encourage and support initiatives blending sport with culture and education.
AS EXPLAINED in an editorial in this paper last month, the horror of the Munich tragedy was amplified by the fact that the terrorists ruthlessly exploited an atmosphere of mutual brotherhood and peace among the nations that is at the heart of the Olympic Games.
Their actions went completely against the values in the charter and a minute of silence at the games next month would reinforce these values.
But the IOC has rejected the ongoing worldwide petition seeking a moment of silence at the London Games.
While it has, over the years, attended side events memorializing the murdered athletes, the IOC has never made it an official part of the Olympic ceremonies.
Last month, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon asked the IOC in an official letter to commemorate those killed on the 40th anniversary of their deaths. This was the first time the government of Israel has ever made a formal request concerning this issue.
But in his written response, IOC President Jacques Rogge did not specifically address the request of a minute’s silence.
Ayalon said, “The terrorist murders of the Israeli athletes were not just an attack on people because of their nationality and religion; it was an attack on the Olympic Games and the international community.
“This rejection told us as Israelis that this tragedy is ours alone and not a tragedy within the family of nations,” he added. “This is a very disappointing approach and we hope that this decision will be overturned so the international community as one can remember, reflect and learn the appropriate lesson from this dark stain on Olympic history.”
Forty years of silence can be reversed in one minute. If only the IOC would care.