Friday, 9 October 2009

Israel Matzav: Sabbath and Simchat Torah music video

Israel Matzav: Sabbath and Simchat Torah music video

Israel Matzav: The 'Palestinian' Bernie Madoff

The 'Palestinian' Bernie Madoff

His name is Ihab al-Kurd and he is the largest tunnel operator in Gaza. He and some 200 others have been arrested over the disappearance of some $500 million invested in smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Investment opportunities are rare in the Gaza Strip. So when Nabila Ghabin saw one last year, she pawned her car and jewelry and put $12,000 into a network of tunnels that brought in supplies smuggled from Egypt.

She was one of about 4,000 Gazans who gave cash to middlemen and tunnel operators in 2008 as Israel blocked the overland passage of goods. Then Israeli warplanes bombed the tunnels before and during the Dec. 27 to Jan. 18 Gaza offensive and the investments collapsed.

Now investors, who lost as much as $500 million, want their money back from Hamas, which runs Gaza. Hamas Economics Minister Ziad Zaza says about 200 people were taken into custody in connection with the tunnel investments; most have been released. Hamas is offering a partial repayment of 16.5 cents on the dollar using money recovered from Ihab al-Kurd, the biggest tunnel operator.

The imbroglio over the 800 to 1,000 tunnels has deepened Hamas’s decline in public opinion in Gaza and highlights the Wild West nature of the underground economy that supports this jammed enclave of 1.4 million people.

“When you compare the U.S. economy with ours and see how dependent we have become on the tunnels, I assure you that our scandal is much worse than Madoff,” said Omar Shaban, director of Pal-Think, an economic research institute in Gaza City, speaking of New York financier Bernard Madoff’s $65-billion Ponzi scheme.


There is no transparency, no public records, no regulators, none of the mechanisms that would let you trace what happened to all the money that people invested in the tunnels,” said Samir Abdullah, the Palestinian Authority’s former planning minister. “The smugglers provide essential revenue for Hamas.”


For those of you wondering how these 'poor Palestinians' could have so much money to invest, where did you think your 'aid money' was going?

Israel Matzav: The 'Palestinian' Bernie Madoff

Israel Matzav: Israel to recall ambassador to Sweden?

Israel to recall ambassador to Sweden?

When the Aftonbladet scandal broke two months ago, I argued that Sweden is an anti-Semitic country and that Israel ought to recall its ambassador. Now, YNet reports that someone is finally listening and that Israel is considering recalling its ambassador to Sweden.

Israel is considering recalling its ambassador to Stockholm in light of Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt's [pictured. CiJ] remarks in support of a UN report claiming war crimes were committed by both sides during the Israel-Hamas Gaza conflict.

Bildt told reporters in Stockholm Thursday that South African jurist Richard Goldstone, who headed the investigation into the war, is a person with "high credibility" and "high integrity" and that his report carries weight.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called to re-examine Israel's relations with Sweden.

"It is a shame that a person who refused to respond to the blood libel against Israel has come out in praise of this unprofessional report," Ayalon told Ynet Thursday evening.

Indeed. Bildt was at the head of the Swedish government's refusal to take a stand on Aftonbladet's preposterous claim that IDF soldiers kidnapped 'Palestinians' and stole their organs for sale abroad. Bildt is a despicable lowlife who should be declared persona non grata in Israel even if the government decides not to go along with Ayalon's idea.

Israel Matzav: Israel to recall ambassador to Sweden?

Israel Matzav: US 'furious' over Israeli 'incitement' against The One

US 'furious' over Israeli 'incitement' against The One

Haaretz reports that the United States is 'furious' over purported 'incitement' by Israel against President Obama.

The congressmen even hinted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been personally involved.

The source, who met in Washington with administration officials and members of Congress, told Haaretz he was stunned by the level of anger there over attempts to portray Obama to the American public as an enemy of Israel because of his efforts to restart peace talks and freeze settlement construction.

"There are people here who are playing with fire by damaging our relationship with the U.S.," the source said.

I am not paid by the Israeli government, I have very little contact with the Israeli government (other than paying my taxes) and Prime Minister Netanyahu has absolutely no say over what goes into my blog.

Yes, I try to portray President Obumbler as an enemy of Israel. Because he is one.

And I thought Americans were smart.

Israel Matzav: US 'furious' over Israeli 'incitement' against The One

Israel Matzav: Spencer defies German ban on Israeli flag

Spencer defies German ban on Israeli flag

Arutz Sheva has an interview with fellow blogger Robert Spencer, who defied a German ban on displaying the Israeli flag at demonstrations last week.

According to Spencer, many people attending the BPE demonstration had Israeli flags. However, as he notes, "The German police told the BPE organizers that we had to put the Israeli flags away when leftists and jihadis passed by. ...Apparently the police were afraid that the Israeli flag would 'provoke' the leftist/jihadist demonstrators. But as I am not fond of placating thuggery and kowtowing before Islamic supremacism, I thought, well, if the police really don't want the Israeli flag shown, let them arrest an American citizen, and then things will get even more interesting. So I went out front, close to the counterdemonstrators, waving the big flag, but the German police moved me back. ...A reporter, demonstrating an objectivity level on par with that of, say, Michael Kruse, passed by with a barrage of sharp words for me and my flag...."

In continuing defiance of the police ban, when invited to deliver his remarks, Spencer brought his Israeli flag to the podium and waved it back and forth before and after his speech.

Spencer spoke about the growing trend of governments to give in to "attempts to demonize the resistance to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism as 'hatred,' 'racism,' 'fascism.'" He quoted from the Koran and d that if the laws curbing "religious hatred and incitement to discrimination and violence" were actually fairly applied, they would not protect Islam, but condemn it. However, according to Spencer, such laws are primarily designed "to render the West mute and hence defenseless against the advancing jihad."

Israel Matzav: Spencer defies German ban on Israeli flag

Israel Matzav: Wishful thinkers beware! Reality is once again battering down your door

Wishful thinkers beware! Reality is once again battering down your door

Barry Rubin explains why the Nobel Peace Prize winner is unlikely to bring peace to the Middle East anytime soon.

Briefly, the Obama Administration is trying to make peace and wants the PA’s cooperation. If the UN goes ballistic and now bashes Israel as an evil, illegitimate, war criminal—on the basis of Hamas propaganda no less which is all the Goldstone Commission really purveys—this will not help the cause of peace and will wreck U.S. policy.

So the Obama Administration basically said to the PA: Look, we’re getting you lots of money and diplomatic help on the basis of the idea that you want peace. No president in history has ever been more sympathetic and supportive of you. So stand aside on this issue for a few days. Do us this little favor.

But this is too much for the PA, which now faces protests and criticism at home. (Fun fact: If the PA cannot even refrain from sponsoring Goldstone, can anyone expect it to compromise on territory, security measures, an end to the conflict, and the settlement of all Palestinian refugees in Palestine? Think about that one for five minutes please.)

This is at least the fourth time in its short nine-month history where the Palestinians and Arab states did this to Obama:
--PA leader Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Washington for his first trip and said he had no intention of compromising on anything but would just wait until the United States delivered an Israel which had to give up everything.

--Abbas refused to negotiate with Israel unless he had a total freeze of construction on all settlements with no exceptions despite Obama’s desperate efforts to get talks going.

--Arab states asked to make small confidence-building steps toward Israel to help the president said “No!”

So much for Obama’s apologies, his Cairo and UN speeches, strong words of support for the Palestinians (the people supposedly in an intolerable situation and desperate for a state), and his panegyrics for Islam. Flattery, Mr. President, will get you nowhere.

Can you get it, Mr. President: All this merely feeds the fires of radicalism. Like, in a real sense, the peace process of the 1990s and the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, more concessions breed more violence; more apologies give birth to more demands.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: Wishful thinkers beware! Reality is once again battering down your door

Israel Matzav: Unlikely comment of the day

Unlikely comment of the day

I assume that most of you have heard already that President Obumbler has won the Nobel Peace Prize for... well, no one can figure out what just yet - maybe just for being the anti-Bush since the Euroweenies hate Bush so much. Thanks to GamesWorldWide for dropping it into my comments (with a Hebrew link) so that I would refresh Twitter and see what's going on.

I thought this comment - reported by Sky News out of London - was the most unlikely comment of the day about the 'peace prize.'

An administration official says President Obama feels "humbled" to have won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Sky News reports.

Yeah, right. Nothing humbles that pompous a**.

Exit question: Who is the least deserving Nobel Peace Prize winner evah: Barack Obama, Yasser Arafat or name someone else? Comments invited.


How absurd is this selection? Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize had to be presented by February 3, 2009. What did he do in TWO WEEKS that merited a Nobel Peace Prize? Replace George Bush?

Israel Matzav: Unlikely comment of the day

Israel Matzav: South Africa conducting witch hunt for IDF soldiers

South Africa conducting witch hunt for IDF soldiers

Back in August, I reported on efforts in South Africa to arrest IDF legal officer and Israeli - South African dual citizen David Benjamin while Benjamin was in South Africa for a visit. Russ H points me to this story which claims that South Africa is actually conducting a witch hunt for IDF soldiers who fought in Operation Cast Lead and who hold South African citizenship.

Some 75 IDF soldiers are involved. Former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Israeli-Palestinian Disputed territories John Dugard [pictured. CiJ] and the Media Review Network are considering an application to the International Criminal Court to bring the charge of war crimes against 75 South Africans who allegedly served in the IDF during the recent war in Gaza.


Since the NPA [South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority. CiJ] has up until now not investigated the charges, Dugard is threatening to take the charges to the International Criminal Court.

Even though Dugard concedes that “except for one individual, whom he declined to name, there was scant proof that these soldiers actually participated in the fighting” he has nevertheless wasted the time of the NPA and intends to do the same with the ICC. Its not like the NPA are busy with a serious crime problem!

Since there is no attempt to call for charges against war crimes committed by Hamas, since there is no proof that the 75 South Africans actually took part in the fighting, and since there is no proof that even if they did that they were involved in war crimes, I can only conclude that this is nothing but a sinister witch hunt against South African Jews.

I'm not concerned with wasting the time of the ICC (I know little of the NPA). But I am concerned that Israeli dual citizens being prosecuted in their former home countries for actions taken in the IDF will have a chilling effect on the dedication of these soldiers and their fighting ethos. And while this would not catch Americans right now (the United States has not ratified the Rome Treaty that established the ICC, although under Obama one can never be sure), it obviously has implications for Americans living in Israel as well.

This is why - again - it's important for Israel to draft a core of lawyers who can fight these cases and make it possible for IDF soldiers to freely travel abroad again.

Israel Matzav: South Africa conducting witch hunt for IDF soldiers

Israel Matzav: Nice idea, but where?

Nice idea, but where?

Alan Dershowitz thinks it's time for Israeli leaders to be put on trial in a fair forum where he is sure they will be vindicated for the manner in which the IDF fights terrorism.

It is disgraceful that Israeli leaders cannot walk the streets of London safely, while Hamas and Hezbollah leaders are honored and celebrated. The time has come for Israel to confront this issue directly and to take legal action to prevent radical Israel-haters from misusing decent laws to achieve indecent results. Just imagine what a trial would look like, if it were conducted fairly and objectively. The Israelis would be able to prove that their campaign of targeted assassinations of terrorists has worked effectively to reduce terrorism against Israeli citizens and others. Israel has inadvertently killed some civilians, but the ratio of deaths has been reduced to 1 civilian for every 28 terrorists. This is the best ratio of any country in the world that is fighting asymmetrical warfare against terrorists who hide behind civilians. It is far better than the ratio achieved by Great Britain and the United States in Iraq or Afghanistan, where both nations employ targeted killings of terrorist leaders. Recall that it was Great Britain that implemented a policy during the Second World War of targeting civilians in cities such as Dresden and that it was the United States that implemented the same policy in its firebombing of Tokyo. Indeed, it is fair to say that no country in modern history has ever been more protective of enemy civilians than Israel has been during its 75 year fight against terrorism.

It's a nice idea, but where other than God's court in Heaven does Dershowitz believe a Jew can get a fair trial in 2009 when there's a Muslim on the other side?

Israel Matzav: Nice idea, but where?

Israel Matzav: What the delayed inspection of Qom means

What the delayed inspection of Qom means

Although the IAEA first learned of the 'secret' Iranian nuclear plant in Qom on September 21, the inspection is currently scheduled for October 25, more than one month later. That delay is significant. Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations and the author of The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West explains why.

Back in March 2004, the IAEA was convinced there was incriminating evidence about the Iranian nuclear program at the Lavizan Technological Research center near Teheran. The Iranians managed to postpone the IAEA visit for about 30 days, and in the meantime they razed several buildings at the facility and even dug out two meters of the earth where they had previously stood in order to make it more difficult for inspectors to take soil samples that contained radioactive materials.

By delaying the IAEA visit to Lavizan, the Iranian government concealed what its scientists were doing there. Teheran was off the hook from any crippling sanctions. Moreover, Lavizan was the location of the Iranian weaponization group which designed and constructed nuclear warheads.

Former Israeli intelligence sources believe that the Iranians simply used the time they gained in dismantling Lavizan, after they were caught, and moved their weaponization work to another site. Time allowed Iran to not only cleanse Lavizan, but also to transfer valuable equipment elsewhere.

There was an even longer delay for an IAEA inspection during the previous year, when the UN nuclear watchdog sought to inspect the Kalaye electric facility. The Iranians managed to get a delay from February to August 2003. In the meantime they retiled and repainted several suspected rooms before the IAEA teams arrived. Their purpose was to prevent the inspectors from obtaining any incriminating evidence from swipes of the walls that radioactive materials were ever present. Another Iranian technique was to permit the IAEA to take environmental samples near some buildings but not close to others; Teheran adopted this method when the IAEA came in 2005 to inspect, after yet another delay, the Parchin Military Complex, where conventional high explosives had been tested that could be used for detonating a nuclear device.

Gold goes on to recount several other instances in which Iran has managed to delay inspections that otherwise would have found 'smoking gun' evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons development program. But the truth is that we all know what Iran's game is. And it's a game that has to be stopped one way or the other.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: What the delayed inspection of Qom means

Love of the Land: Simhat Torah

Simhat Torah

simhat torah, a joyous jewish holiday : Dry Bones cartoon.

Love of the Land: Simhat Torah

Love of the Land: The1937 Nobel Peace Prize

The1937 Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky
Shark Blog
October 18, 2002

If you want to put Jimmy Carter's (Barack Obama's) Nobel Peace Prize in its proper perspective, and to see how little the Nobel committee has learned in the last seventy years, go back to the 1930s and see who was winning the Peace prizes while Hitler was preparing to conquer Europe. The 1937 Nobel Prize went to a British nobleman named Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (Lord Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil), who was president of the International Peace Campaign, and earlier helped found the League of Nations. Even then, The Nobel Committee was still singing the same refrains of disarmament, moral equivalence and aimless diplomacy.

The Committee explained the goals of the International Peace Campaign:

international disarmament and «establishment within the framework of the League of Nations of effective machinery for remedying international conditions which might lead to war»

The Peace Campaign apparently didn't do a lot to stop Hitler or Tojo, but not because the pacifists weren't optimistic enough.

Cecil gave his acceptance lecture on June 1, 1938, just a few months after the Anschluss, and showed us why he was the Jimmy Carter of his day, or maybe it's the other way around:

I am still convinced that with a little more courage and foresight, particularly among those who were directing the policy of the so-called Great Powers, we might have achieved a limitation of international armaments, with all the enormously beneficial consequences which that would have given us....And I am perfectly satisfied that the attempt to limit and reduce armaments by international action must be resumed and the sooner the better, if the world is to be saved from a fresh and bloody disaster.

But Hitler was happily on a roll, what conceivable incentive did he have to disarm?

Cecil had a momentary glimpse into the abyss of reality:

The Italian invasion of Abyssinia ... was, perhaps, even more indefensible internationally than the invasion of China by Japan, and unhappily it was equally successful. Here, there was no excuse for the peace-loving powers. They had unquestionably the strength and the opportunity to have stopped that defiance of the principles of the supremacy of law in international affairs, and they declined to use them.

But the realism quickly fades and he's back to wishful thinking and a call for unspecific diplomacy

Let us, rather, examine where we now stand and what steps we ought to take in order to strengthen the international system and thrust back again the forces of reaction.

And even after the Nuremburg Laws he sees no difference between life under the Union Jack and life under the Swastika, because they are morally equivalent, and investing in defense of one's homeland is a waste of money:

The civil life of every nation is deformed and weakened and obstructed by this threat of war. We are wasting gigantic sums, sums far greater than we have ever wasted before, on preparations for war, because war has again become a very present possibility and, at the same time, its horrors and dangers are enormously greater than they were before 1914. And so the world is spending some three or four thousand million pounds sterling every year on preparations for what we all know will be, if it comes to pass, a tremendous danger to the whole of our civilization, whoever wins and whoever loses.

And then Cecil's stirring finale, which you have probably never read, because it was long ago stuffed into a plastic bag and left on the doorstep of the Goodwill store of history

The acceptance of the principle of international cooperation is of immense importance for all states....May Heaven grant that the statesmen of the world may realize this before it is too late and, by the exertion of the needed courage and prudence, restore again to the position of authority which it had only a few years ago, that great institution for the maintenance of peace on which the future of civilization so largely depends. I mean, of course, the League of Nations.

The Nobel Peace Prize of 1938 was awarded to the Nansen International Office for Refugees, which was needed to assist the victims of both Hitler and the failed policies of hollow diplomacy and moral equivalence of the International Peace Campaign. In 1940 Norway fell to the Nazis. The Peace Prize was not awarded again until 1944, when it went to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Oslo was liberated in 1945 by Allied peacemakers, using guns.

The moral vacuum that is the Nobel Peace Prize inspired me to create the Sharkansky Peace Prize

Love of the Land: The1937 Nobel Peace Prize

Love of the Land: We Don’t Have to Take This

We Don’t Have to Take This
08 October 09
2005 antisemitic cartoon in Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida

2005 antisemitic cartoon in Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida. Courtesy Palestinian Media Watch,

Jonathan Rosenblum wrote,

Shimon Peres once remarked, “I don’t care what the Palestinians say, only what’s written in the agreements.” But what the Palestinians say to one another, and particularly what they teach their children, is far more important than what’s written in peace agreements.

Incitement and demonization are not just one more treaty violation. They reflect the failure of the Palestinians since the beginning of Oslo to create a constituency for peace with Israel, to educate the Palestinian population to the idea of living side-by-side with a Jewish state or to make clear that peace will also require concessions on the Palestinians’ part.

That has never happened. Even worse, there has been no education to accept the existence of Israel in any borders or to renounce once and for all the dream of throwing all the Jews into the sea.

The Palestinian Authority [PA] has gone out of its way to make heroes of the most vicious terrorists – not exactly the way to encourage thoughts of reconciliation and peace. Mahmoud Abbas sent his warmest congratulations to child-murderer Samir Kuntar, upon his release from an Israeli jail, and commissioned festive celebrations in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, the mastermind of the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre in which 38 Israelis were murdered.

Day in and day out, Palestinians are exposed to clearly antisemitic rantings and wild accusations on their radio, TV and newspapers, in their mosques and their schools. Here are a few of them that Rosenblum mentions:

…Israel will pay NIS 4,500 to any Palestinian who can prove he is a drug addict; Israel produced and distributed to Palestinians 200 tons of drug-laced bubble gum designed to destroy the genetic systems of Palestinian youth; it also distributes carcinogenic food and fruits for Palestinian consumption and children’s games that beam radioactive x-rays. And don’t forget the HIV-infected Jewish prostitutes whom Israel unleashed on Palestinian youth. Or Suha Arafat’s accusation to Hillary Clinton that Israel poisons Palestinian wells.

The very outlandishness of these slanders — like the IDF organ-stealing story, which also originated in the Palestinian press — shows that the Palestinian audience has been conditioned to regard them as believable, by years of being fed similar poison.

The effect of decades of incitement to destroy Israel is fully reflected in Palestinian polls. A June 5-7 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that three-quarters of Palestinians reject any possibility of reconciliation with Israel in this generation, even if a final peace agreement were signed and an independent Palestinian state created.

The PA is not alone in this, although the effect of its propaganda on the prospects of the ‘peace process’ has been huge. Egypt is probably the world leader in production of antisemitic propaganda of all kinds, from films and TV programs — for example this 30-part series based on “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — to publication of “Mein Kampf” and the Protocols translated into Arabic.

You know what? We don’t have to take this.

It’s difficult for Israel to pressure Sweden, for example, to control its hate-mongers, although perhaps more could have been done diplomatically in response to the Aftonbladet scandal.

But the PA is wholly dependent on Israel and the US. And Egypt receives $3 billion a year from the US. Even without the help of the US, Israel can make life very difficult for the PA.

It is remarkable that Israel does not take decisive action to force the PA to finally put an end to the incitement — which after all comes from their state-controlled institutions. Perhaps Israelis, too, are so accustomed to hearing themselves compared to pigs and apes that it doesn’t register any more.

The Obama administration appears to be devoting a large amount of effort and political capital to an attempt to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as its unfortunate demand for a settlement freeze. Ending Palestinian and other Arab incitement would be one of the most constructive steps it could take.

Or — don’t bother. Take them at their hateful word. Make no further concessions and do what’s necessary to ensure Israel’s safety. If they insist on being Nazis, treat them as such.

Either way, self-respect demands that we don’t continue to accept this, not for one more day.

Love of the Land: We Don’t Have to Take This

Love of the Land: Weekly Commentary: Israel should take vocal stand on Fatah-Hamas unity agreement

Weekly Commentary: Israel should take vocal stand on Fatah-Hamas unity agreement

Dr. Aaron Lerner
08 October 09

Pop quiz: What weapons systems has Israel deterred Hezbollah or Hamas from deploying in their respective areas?

Now if the answer to that question is an impressive list of weapons that would otherwise be pointing at Israel today, then there might be some credence to the claim that Israel has achieved some degree of deterrence on these fronts.

But if, instead, it is only thanks to the ongoing efforts of Israel and other parties that Hezbollah and Hamas have yet to deploy certain weapons systems, then the quasi-calm some Israelis cite as evidence of deterrence may be no more than a reflection of the patience these groups to have as they prepare to attack the Jewish State at a time and place of their choosing.

Add to the puzzle the unity agreement Hamas is slated to sign with our "peace partner" Fatah on 25 October in Cairo.

Israeli officials have expressed some concerns over the legitimization of Hamas and the integration of the Hamas army into the PA army as well as other possible ramifications of the unity agreement, but with possibly just around two weeks remaining before a deal may go through, Israel's concerns, red lines and plans for possible measures should an agreement go through remain dangerously vague.

Even Israel's stance regarding the deployment of forces from various third parties in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere remains unclear.

This could cost the Jewish State dearly as arrangements are made that undermine Israel's interests and needs.

This is hardly the time for Israeli officials to sit back and wait.

Love of the Land: Weekly Commentary: Israel should take vocal stand on Fatah-Hamas unity agreement

The Torah Revolution: Ynet's "Jewish World"

The Torah Revolution: Ynet's "Jewish World"

The Torah Revolution: According to the Torah

The Torah Revolution: According to the Torah

The Ultimate Silliness

The Ultimate Silliness

For the past few hours I've been trying to think of anything sillier than this. Alas, I haven't found it.

Of course, it may be that it's not silly at all. It may be dead earnest. When language loses its anchor in reality, this is what you may get. When one of Man's noblest aspirations becomes so jaded by familiarity for the lucky ones who already have it, so debased by over-usage that it loses any meaning, this is what we're left with. Not silly: grotesque.
Originally posted byYaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

RubinReports: Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize--What More Do You Need to Know to Understand Today's World?

Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize--What More Do You Need to Know to Understand Today's World?

By Barry Rubin

The news that President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize seems like a prize bit of satire, like Chicago getting the Olympics. “Are you laughing or crying,” wrote a reader to me. “Neither. I’m thinking about what this tells us about the world today,” I responded.

Then I checked over and over and over again on the Internet and called up several people just to make sure that this wasn’t a satire, that some new type of computer virus hadn’t infiltrated my software that would make fools of anyone credulous enough to believe this hoax.

And then I realized that it makes perfect sense.

It was considered a big joke when people quoted Woody Allen, the American comedian and film director, as saying, that showing up is eighty percent of success. (Allen says he doesn’t remember ever having said that.) With Obama the percentage is considerably higher.

But after all the mocking or cheering, what this shows is that we live in the world now not of realism but of imagination and wishful thinking. The Nobel Committee even said that it gave the prize not because Obama has done anything but that they support him. They want him to do something.

In the past, the ancestors of Westerners had to work hard, most lived in grinding poverty, faced wars and famines. Remember the proletariat? Remember the slums?

But now they—or at least not only the elites who govern but also the masses of the upper middle class that make and shape the news—are living off the fat of the land. In America, even slum-dwellers usually have hi-tech music devices, expensive sports’ shoes among the young, and other consumer goods far beyond Third World living standards.

Is it an accident that according to the UN Human Development Index, Norway, once the home of starving farmers and fishermen, is number one in the whole world in terms of living standards. While the Norwegians did some of it themselves, a lot comes from the exploitation of oilfields off their coasts, unearned wealth.

And the left, no longer is champion of the actual poor and downtrodden, they just talk about it a lot, then party with the dictators who keep their people in those conditions. In good Marxian fashion they pursue their own interests: bigger government and grant programs to give them high-paying jobs and to provide for their needs; the feeling of being a good and moral person even when those they are supporting are terrorists.

To a large extent, too, those who govern—as in the times of aristocratic rule—don’t actually produce anything, or at least not anything but words, concepts, proposals, programs, and statements. The old American slang for this is that they’ve never met a payroll. Some of them have, but the money came from either government or foundations. They know about selling an idea but not manufacturing or selling three-dimensional objects.

Meanwhile, the resource base is narrowing, at least in Europe, and societies are living beyond their means. Crime is rising; terrorism and mass violence is peeking out. Proportionately large sections of proportionately large immigrant populations may not want to integrate. But to adjust to these facts makes the voters unhappy and so everyone pretends otherwise. Don’t worry, be happy is a theme which wins a lot of backing.

In all of this context, feeling good is more important than doing good. Doing good may involve doing gritty things, like building factories to employ people at higher wages (uh, oh, environment, man-made global warming, nasty developers demonized in films) or to work real hard in school or start a small business and slave away at it (what are you, Asian?) or to fight in wars against totalitarian foes (and what if you hit a civilian by mistake when your enemies are shooting them on purpose or hiding behind them?)

Films, music, and other forms of entertainment—the main shapers of popular ideas—portray constantly young people who have lots of money but have never worked for it. Instant success, instant fame, instant wealth. The hero is not the courageous soldier but the actor who plays a courageous soldier on the screen.

And so what better symbol for this is Barack Obama, the man who has never achieved anything except being elected president. (His earlier posts were mainly the gifts of the most corrupt political machine in America.)

He talks; everyone cheers and goes home.

Listen to the words of the Nobel Committee statement: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

Really? But I would say all American presidents capture the world’s attention. As for giving people hope for a better future, which people? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Hugo Chavez?

Are peasants in their fields in China and India saying to their children: “Look little [insert appropriate name] Barack Obama will save us!”

It is one thing to believe in a messianic figure but doesn’t he have to do something first?

This is more like electing someone the world’s most popular parent because he let the kids stay up all night, not do their homework, throw parties, and consume large amounts of alcohol and drugs.

And then the committee said: "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

The most obvious point is that whether he shares the values and attitudes of Americans, the country he leads, is of minor importance. But exactly what are these values and attitudes? Oh, I have it, that the United States has long been the world’s greatest villain.

And best of all, the head of the Nobel Committee stated that the prize was given, “because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve"

It’s sort of like giving the Nobel Prize for chemistry to a scientist who hasn’t discovered anything but seems like a nice person and is, after all, trying to cure cancer. So we support what he is “trying to achieve.”

But what if he is trying to achieve it badly, What if he is trying to achieve it in a way such that he is destined to fail and make things worse? By this standard British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain deserved the Nobel Peace Prize of 1938 for his efforts to achieve peace. That’s why Nobel Prizes—and sometimes presidencies—are given to people who have already done something. They have proven an ability to do so.

President Theodore Roosevelt, a man who, in comparison, makes Obama look like a microbe, received the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese war. In comparison, Obama has helped set back the Israel-Palestinian conflict 20 years (to be fair, 18, that is before the Oslo agreement).

But yes that’s the measure of the world today: If you envision something then that makes it true. If you tell a smug elite what it wants to hear, not only do they applaud but they report in all their media that everyone else applauded also.

The biggest problem with all this is the following: The fate of the world may depend on whether Barack Obama is capable of learning. Yet if Obama keeps getting rewarded for doing nothing or doing the wrong thing he won’t learn. And things will get worse.

Recently, my son's soccer team lost a game 10-0. At the end of the game, rather than tell them the truth--they were doing terribly and they needed to improve their strategy and skills--their coach told them they were playing great. That team is like the Obama Administration; the media, and now the Nobel Committee, are just like that coach.

Doesn't look like it's going to be a good season.

Yes, we live in the real world ultimately, not the world of public relations and wishful thinking. There are prices to be paid. Impractical idealists can get people killed and make big messes as much as cynics. Let me amend that: far more than cynics.

Even Obama seems to sense a bit--and his critics are highlighting this point--that this is too much, too absurd, an embarrassing contrast between minimal achievement, maximum perception of success, and on top of that near-deification.

What sums up this situation best is a line from Tom Lehrer, the math professor who once wrote successful liberal satirical songs but then stopped and never did again. Asked why, he responded: When Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize it killed satire.

Poor satire is really in trouble now.

RubinReports: Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize--What More Do You Need to Know to Understand Today's World?

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Parshat Ve'Zot

The main topic of this week’s parshah is the blessings that Moshe bestows upon each tribe just before his impending death. Before actually blessing the tribes, Moshe starts off by recalling the merit that makes the nation worthy of receiving a blessing:

“Hashem came from Sinai — having shone forth to them from Seir, having appeared from Mount Paran…” [Deuteronomy: 33: 2]

What exactly does the verse mean when it says that God came forth from the locations of “Seir” and “Paran” and what does it have to do with receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai?

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi, 1040-1105, famed as the author of the first comprehensive commentaries on the Torah) explains that before approaching the Jewish people with the Torah, God first offered it to the descendants of Eisav, who dwelled in Seir, and to the descendants of Ishmael, who dwelled in Paran. After both of these nations refused to accept the Torah, God offered it to the Jewish nation who accepted it with open arms. It was this merit that Moshe recalls in order to show God that the Jewish people were fit for a blessing.

Although the nations of the world declined God’s offer, we are taught in the Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history) that in the end of days they seek forgiveness before God and ask for another chance; to accept the Torah anew. God accedes to their request, but not by offering the Torah. Rather God says “I have an easy commandment and its name is Succah. Go and perform it”. The Talmud then describes how the nations were not able to perform this commandment properly and it therefore demonstrated that they were undeserving of a second chance from God.

One may ask: If the nations were attempting to show their loyalty and commitment to the entire Torah, why did God offer them only one commandment? And why was it that God chose the commandment of Succah in particular?

Seemingly, we may suggest that by observing the commandment of Succah one is, in some fashion, committing himself to the entire Torah. How is that?

For seven days we leave the comfort of our homes and we dwell (eat, drink, sleep etc.) in the Succah. On a deeper level, we are meant to leave more than just our homes. The holiday of Succos requires us to leave our fixed mindset and routine that we have accustomed ourselves to throughout the entire year. In order to be enveloped by God’s loving embrace, which is represented by the Succah, we must force ourselves to go against our natural tendencies. Yes, it is uncomfortable and yes, it is difficult. But this is what is expected of us.

Accepting upon ourselves the yoke of Torah is seen in the same vein. As a Jew, committing ourselves to the Torah is meant to be an uncomfortable and difficult lifestyle. God doesn’t want us to live our lives as we see fit and only afterwards somehow squeeze in the Torah and its commandments. Accepting the Torah means accepting the whole Torah; we can’t pick and choose the commandments we wish to keep. Therefore, bringing Torah into our lives consequentially breaches the walls of our daily schedule and natural tendencies.

Only after sitting in a Succah for seven days and committing ourselves to internalizing this idea can we truly rejoice and find happiness (Simcha) within God’s Torah on the upcoming holiday of Simchas Torah.

Good Shabbos,

Chag Samayach,


Parshat Ve’Zot Ha’Brachah: Simchas Torah

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Never fight alone...

Never fight alone...

October 8, 2009 5:30 AM
by William Katz Editor, Urgent Agenda
The Ultimate Weapon
Never fight unless you have to. Never fight alone. Never fight for long.

Those three chunks of wisdom were given, in the 1920s, to a young Army officer named Dwight D. Eisenhower by his mentor, Major General Fox Conner. The advice he gave reflected an understanding that stretched beyond the details of warfare. It was an understanding of the American people, what they think and feel: We are not a warlike nation, we like having allies, and we demand quick results.

Americans may be bored with the war on terror, but our enemies are not. The line attributed to Leon Trotsky applies: "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." In the last four weeks we have seen three terrorist plots thwarted within the United States. It's simply a matter of time before one succeeds.

In past conflicts we had slogans: "Back the attack." "Free a man to fight." "V for Victory." "Keep e'm Flying." In the current struggle against terrorism the only thing we've come up with is, "If you see something, say something." What an inspiration. Off to battle. Even the term, "war on terror" has come under assault. Now a terrorist attack is called a "man-made disaster," like the man-made disaster that killed 3,000 Americans in 2001.

Today, America faces a morale crisis. The American people, who were never made part of the war on terror by President Bush, have been pushed away even further by President Obama. While the president addressed a joint session of Congress on health care, we have seen no similar effort to stir the nation for the international battles before us. Indeed, some polls show that Americans are souring on Afghanistan, where the hot war is now blazing, and where the attacks of September 11, 2001, were planned, and then celebrated.

Our morale problem is something to be taken far more seriously. Armies don't go to war. Nations go to war. The ultimate weapon is not a new plane or ship. The ultimate weapon is the American people. But America has been fighting the war on terror for eight years, and, reflecting Fox Conner's admonition - never fight for long - time is taking its toll on morale.

American presidents, up through John F. Kennedy, seemed to have a knack for raising the American spirit. Franklin D. Roosevelt, in particular, worried about the effects of morale on the war effort. He even feared that Americans would eventually forget the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that took place on December 7, 1941. Right after the attack, the White House contacted Hollywood and asked that a song be written to boost American morale. The result was the anthem, "Remember Pearl Harbor." And four months after the attack, Roosevelt sent the aircraft carrier USS Hornet dangerously close to Japan to launch the famous Doolittle raid. He knew that the raid would not do much damage, but would electrify the American spirit. He was right about both the song and the raid.

Roosevelt was a master of morale. And he had in his counterpart in Britain, Winston Churchill, a man who used the English language as a weapon, to stir his people to battle.

We see almost none of that today. The last president to truly understand the importance of maintaining the spirit of the nation was Ronald Reagan, and he left office two decades ago. With the possible exception of George W. Bush, it is inconceivable that any president since would demand, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Those on the front lines of the war on terror worry about the lack of public involvement. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, made up of the chiefs of the 63 largest police departments in the U.S. and Canada, have now endorsed a concept known as iWATCH. The program uses brochures, public service announcements, and meetings with community groups, to increase awareness of the threat of terror, and to teach what types of behavior might legitimately raise a citizen's suspicion. It's about seven years late, but at least it's being done.

But far more needs to be done. To use a favorite word of this administration, the war on terror must be "reset." The sad fact is, though, that the Obama administration doesn't appear to have any zeal for resetting it. The steps that must be taken are not those that fit the Obama style, or the philosophy of the president's major advisers, who seem to regard the war on terror as a painful inconvenience, at best. But if we could have a dream "reset," what would it be? These would be the steps in such a reset:

First, the president would address the American people on the specific subject of national security, not relegate security to a list read off in the State of the Union. He would avoid his natural tendency to intellectualize - to speak vaguely, without prescribing any course of action. He would lay out before the people the nature of the threat, that it is continuing, and is based on an ideology. He would use visual effects, like maps, and actual terrorist bombs that have been discovered. He would starkly show the effects of a nuclear device going off in an American city to illustrate the danger of such weapons falling into terrorist hands. In World War II, President Roosevelt used maps in radio addresses, asking his audience to buy similar maps and follow with their fingers as he described where events were taking place. Map stores were sold out.

Television is a powerful weapon in the hands of a president, and it has not been used effectively to inform Americans, and boost their commitment, in the war on terror.

Mr. Obama would give these addresses periodically, like Roosevelt's fireside chats, making the war on terror a continuing story, rather than an intermittent talking point. He would discuss plots that have been thwarted. He would compare the struggle to the Cold War, and how Americans fought it for four decades, with little complaint, until victory. He would stress to the nation that the threat of terrorism may well grow, rather than diminish, if terror groups feel they are on the verge of success, or acquire weapons of mass destruction.

And he would emphasize the consequences of losing. Terror groups would expand, and operate more freely against American targets, both overseas and at home. Our allies, having lost faith in us, would cut deals with our enemies. Our economy could be severely damaged, as terror organizations, operating in the same manner as organized crime, demand that nations, foreign companies, and labor unions, not buy or handle American goods.

Some would say this is overkill, but it is not. Eisenhower said that if you have a problem that is difficult to solve, enlarge the problem. We have, over the years, diminished the issue of terrorism in the minds of our people, sometimes making it appear to be a local, technical, or legal issue. A president needs to stress that this battle is as important as any ever fought, that it is global war by other means.

Second, Mr. Obama would, using Reagan's example, speak over the heads of the media, directly to the population. Statements at press conferences get chewed up by assorted pundits. In recent decades we have seen the media drift further and further to the left, to a kind of European style of journalism, where facts are mixed with a generous serving of opinion, not all of it well informed.

Third, the administration would exude a sense of urgency about the war on terror, something it simply has not done. Spending 25 minutes with our Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal, on the tarmac in Copenhagen, just doesn't cut it. Mr. Obama should look back at the stagecraft associated with meetings, in past wars, between presidents and generals. They were considered major events, with enormous respect shown for the military and its contribution. The very staging of the meetings signaled to Americans that something very important to the future of their families was going on.

Fourth, and very critical, the United States, in fighting the war on terror, would show a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, but no more than a decent respect. You cannot successfully wage an international struggle while constantly worrying about popularity. Popularity may have its place, but defending the nation takes precedence. Some American leaders seem nostalgic for the time right after the 9-11 attacks when, they recall, America had the world's sympathy. They are nostalgic, though, for a time that never was. Whatever sympathy existed after the attacks faded within days, replaced by the start of the carping anti-Americanism we've come to know. Indeed, the BBC was on the air 48 hours after the attacks with a vicious anti-American program.

The war on terror, or whatever phrase is used, is ongoing, but you would never know it. It needs to be reset in the minds of the American people, who showed endurance and courage during the Cold War. Until it is, we may see public officials guided by opinion polls showing a lack of commitment to the battle, and the consequences for this country could well be diminished power and influence, increased vulnerability to attack, disillusionment among allies, and a vastly greater chance for ideological enemies to acquire the means to make the 9-11 tragedy look like a minor event.

Copyright © 2009 Hudson New York. All rights reserved.
Originally posted by B'NAI ELIM (Sons of the Mighty)

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Overnight music video

Israel Matzav: Lieberman tells Mitchell no deal possible now

Lieberman tells Mitchell no deal possible now

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is telling US Middle East envoy George Mitchell that no deal is possible with the 'Palestinians' right now. And according to Lieberman, no one should be upset about that.

"I will tell him clearly, there are many conflicts in the world that haven't reached a comprehensive solution and people learned to live with it," Lieberman told Israel Radio.

"But together with this, people made the most dramatic decision. To give up using force. To give up terror. And to stop inciting against one another," he said.


"What is possible to reach is a long-term intermediate agreement ... that leaves the tough issues for a much later stage," Lieberman said, referring to issues like the future status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and borders.

I think that was tried once. It was called the "Oslo accords" and it called for an interim agreement with a final status agreement to be reached within five years. After seven years during which no agreement could be reached due to 'Palestinian' intransigence, the 'Palestinians' launched a terror war.

Maybe we'd better try something else. How about managing the conflict without an agreement - interim or otherwise.

Israel Matzav: Lieberman tells Mitchell no deal possible now

Israel Matzav: 'Shock absorber' to fight anti-tank missiles

'Shock absorber' to fight anti-tank missiles

Israel Military Industries (IMI) has developed a 'shock absorber' system that protects armored and infantry troops by deflecting anti-tank missiles.

The system will be featured in an IMI display in a weapons exposition in the US. Various militaries worldwide have already expressed keen interest in the system.

Shock Absorber is a portable anti-missile system, which allows is to be deployed on ground within minutes.

"The system can disrupt the paths of missile the likes of Kornet and Milan, used by Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War," Eyal Ben-Haim, head of IMI's Land Systems Division said.

"Such missiles are controlled by a handler who navigates them to their target. Our system ensures the missile hits anywhere but where it was aimed at."

The development of Shock Absorber was part of the IDF's post-war analysis of the 2006 Lebanon campaign and it incorporated operational lessons from Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, as well.


Israel Matzav: 'Shock absorber' to fight anti-tank missiles

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

IDF Women

DoubleTapper: IDF Women

Israel Matzav: Claim: Support for Israel really does matter for American Jews

Claim: Support for Israel really does matter for American Jews

Support for Israel is a critical element of Jews’ voting behavior. An experiment we embedded in a survey for the National Jewish Democratic Council provides the most telling evidence. For half of the sample we pitted a Republican candidate "Jones" who had a "strong pro-Israel record" and a variety of typical Republican issue positions against a Democratic opponent "Smith," who also had a “strong pro-Israel record” along with typical Democratic positions on the same issues. The other half of the sample was given identical portraits of “Jones” and "Smith" except that, for the second group, the Democrat lacked the pro-Israel record.

Comparing the vote in the two halves of the sample reveals the substantial difference support for Israel makes to Jewish voters.

The pro-Israel Democrat won by a 45-point margin, while the Democrat who was identical, except on Israel, eked out only a three-point win. Support for Israel alone created a massive 42-point swing in the margin, clear evidence of the centrality of Israel to Jewish voters.

Exactly what constitutes a “pro-Israel” candidate is uncertain, but the new American Jewish Committee poll hints at some indicia. Ninety-four percent of Jews believe the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state; two-thirds would endorse Israeli military action to prevent Iran from going nuclear; nearly six in 10 oppose a compromise that left Jerusalem divided or outside Israeli sovereignty. While 60 percent would dismantle at least some Israeli settlements in exchange for peace, only 8 percent would dismantle them all. As J Street’s poll makes clear, 75 percent supported Israel’s military action in Gaza, while almost the entire community supports an active role for the U.S. in pursuing peace.

So how did Obama win? Here's what pollster Mark Mellman claims:

With 76 percent labeling the president pro-Israel, Democrats appeal to Jews’ economic and cultural instincts, as well as to their pro-Israel commitments.

Well, then there's a huge gap between American Jews and their Israeli brethren, 96% of whom claim Obama is not pro-Israel. That's a huge gap and it's not just explained by someone being fooled.

I believe American Jews vote differently on the President than they do on Congress. They need a lot more evidence to vote against a Democratic candidate for President. Since Obama voted 'present' so much - and since much of the case against him was based on his associations, which the media did its best to hide - that record wasn't there.

If Obama is the Democratic candidate in 2012, I'd look for him to get a lot less than 78% of the Jewish vote. Unless he bombs Iran....

Israel Matzav: Claim: Support for Israel really does matter for American Jews
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