Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Israel Matzav: Howard Berman's moral equivalence

Howard Berman's moral equivalence

Representative Howard Berman (D-Cal.) seems torn between his love for Israel, on the one hand, and the political reality of being in a leadership position in the Democratic party on the other. Berman is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and on Tuesday he made a statement about the current crisis in relations between the US and Israel that included this little bit of moral equivalence.

The Palestinians may not like an Israeli announcement about prospective housing in Jerusalem, and the Israelis may not like the Palestinians naming a town square after a brutal terrorist, but the talks need to go forward.

Is there anyone else out there who is bothered by the comparison between honoring a mass murderer (the reference is to Dalal al-Mughrabi) to encourage more mass murderers on the one hand and building apartments for young couples on the other?

Jennifer Rubin adds:

The last statement, however, is an appalling example of moral relativism. Does Berman — who should know better — really mean to equate the extension of an apartment complex in Jerusalem with the Palestinian celebration of terrorism? Apparently so. One suspects that so do the Obami. Indeed, in the administration’s view, the apartment complex build-out warrants a “condemnation,” but the Palestinian cult of death does not. In fact the Obami’s current stance and rhetoric is worse than moral relativism: the White House has adopted the Palestinian narrative and now treats incitement to violence as a less egregious matter than the building of an apartment complex within a Jewish neighborhood of Israel’s capital.

Israel Matzav: Howard Berman's moral equivalence

Love of the Land: Bankrupting Terror

Bankrupting Terror

15 March '10

Shurat haDin's Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is the voice of Victims of Terror. By suing Hamas and other terror organizations, she is hitting them in the wallet, trying to put an end to terror.

Our Mission

We tend to think of the fight against terrorism as a burden that falls mainly on the shoulders of government—our military, diplomatic, homeland security, and law-enforcement agencies. Yet there is one area where private citizens can play a leading role: In stopping the flow of funds to terror organizations. Beginning in the 1990s, Western countries, and especially the United States, passed laws making it possible for victims of terror to sue the regimes that sponsor terror, banks that transfer funds to terror groups, front organizations that pretend to serve charitable causes, and even the terrorists themselves. For the first time, terror victims and their families have a chance to fight back through the courts.

Visit Shurat HaDin's website at

Love of the Land: Bankrupting Terror

Israel Matzav: Is Obama losing face over Israel?

Is Obama losing face over Israel?

This is from Politico's Ben Smith:

The Americans have stopped repeating their outrage. Congressional voices are calling on both sides to chill out, with the most senior yet, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman blaming the flap on the Israelis but also, notably, pushing the White House "to disentangle bilateral relations from the peace process."

And if Netanyahu doesn't wind up losing face, doesn't Obama? What was intended as a show of strength risks, without results, turning into a show of impotence.


Israel Matzav: Is Obama losing face over Israel?

Israel Matzav: More short questions and answers from Rosner

More short questions and answers from Rosner

JPost's Shmuel Rosner has more short questions and answers here. I'm going to quote a couple of them in full because I have a different take on them than he does.

1. Does Obama want Tzipi Livni to become the Prime Minister?

Short answer: Jeffrey Goldberg says he does. I think it is not as concrete as Goldberg describes it, but generally speaking I'm sure Obama would like it better if Livni we to be the PM. Problem is: She isn't, and from what I hear she might never be. Having talked to a couple of Kadima members in recent days the picture I get is this: They want coalition, want it badly, think it's coming soon, and don't care one bit what Livni thinks. In other words: Even if/when Kadima joins the government, Livni will not play the major role she'd like to play because she isn't even calling the shots in her own party. One should hope the Americans have someone explaining for them the updated realities of the treacherous waters that are Israeli politics.

Maybe in his ideal world Obama would like Livni to be Prime Minister, but even he must know that's not going to happen.

What I understood Goldberg as saying is that Obama is hoping to drive a wedge between Netanyahu and his partners on the Right and to have Livni and Kadima come in and replace them. Obama doesn't like Netanyahu, but he realizes that he's stuck with him.

3. Do most Israelis agree with Netanyahu or with Obama?

Sort answer: We don't have a poll yet, but I do not expect Obama's approval rating in Israel to rise. He got 4%-6% in the past, so the good news is that he can't go any lower.

Obama needs to think about how he's going to get a democracy to do his bidding when he has those kinds of poll numbers and no prospect of raising them.

As to Rosner's 4 and 5, the jury is still out.

Read the whole thing.

Israel Matzav: More short questions and answers from Rosner

Love of the Land: Allies Be Wary

Allies Be Wary

Jennifer Rubin
17 March '10

Robert Kagan says Israel shouldn’t take it personally:

Israelis shouldn’t feel that they have been singled out. In Britain, people are talking about the end of the “special relationship” with America and worrying that Obama has no great regard for the British, despite their ongoing sacrifices in Afghanistan. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has openly criticized Obama for months (and is finally being rewarded with a private dinner, presumably to mend fences). In Eastern and Central Europe, there has been fear since the administration canceled long-planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic that the United States may no longer be a reliable guarantor of security.

And that’s just the beginning of the scorned-ally list. As Kagan notes, the Obami are infatuated with engaging foes — Iran, China, Russia, and a hodge-podge of despotic regimes. He explains:

The president has shown seemingly limitless patience with the Russians as they stall an arms-control deal that could have been done in December. He accepted a year of Iranian insults and refusal to negotiate before hesitantly moving toward sanctions. The administration continues to woo Syria and Burma without much sign of reciprocation in Damascus or Rangoon. Yet Obama angrily orders a near-rupture of relations with Israel for a minor infraction like the recent settlement dispute — and after the Israeli prime minister publicly apologized.

This may be the one great innovation of Obama foreign policy. While displaying more continuity than discontinuity in his policies toward Afghanistan, Iraq and the war against terrorism, and garnering as a result considerable bipartisan support for those policies, Obama appears to be departing from a 60-year-old American grand strategy when it comes to allies.

It is therefore not purely a matter of Middle East policy when Obama kicks Israel in the shins.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Allies Be Wary

Israel Matzav: Bolton's advice for Netanyahu

Bolton's advice for Netanyahu

Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has some advice for former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations - and current Prime Minister - Binyamin Netanyahu: Don't count on Obama.

Mr. Netanyahu's mistake has been to assume that Mr. Obama basically agrees that we must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But the White House likely believes that a nuclear Iran, though undesirable, can be contained and will therefore not support using military force to thwart Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

What's more, Mr. Obama is also unwilling to let anyone else, namely Israel, act instead. That means that if Israel bombs Iranian nuclear facilities, the president will likely withhold critical replenishments of destroyed Israeli aircraft and other weapons systems.

We are moving inexorably toward, and perhaps have now reached, an Israeli crisis with Mr. Obama. Americans must realize that allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons is empowering an existential threat to the Israeli state, to Arab governments in the region that are friendly to the U.S., and to long-term global peace and security.

Mr. Netanyahu must realize he has not been banking good behavior credits with Mr. Obama but simply postponing an inevitable confrontation. The prime minister should recalibrate his approach, and soon. Israel's deference on Palestinian issues will not help it with Mr. Obama after a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear program. It would be a mistake to think that further delays in such a strike will materially change the toxic political response Israel can expect from the White House. Israel's support will come from Congress and the American people, as opinion polls show, not from the president.

Mr. Obama is not merely heedless of America's predominant global position. He is also embarrassed enough by it not to regret diminishing it. In fact, we have achieved pre-eminence not simply to preen our American ego, but to defend our interests and those of like-minded allies. Ceding America's role in world affairs is not an act of becoming modesty but a dangerous signal of weakness to friends and adversaries alike. Israel may be the first ally to feel the pain.

Read the whole thing (for those of you who, like me, do not have a Wall Street Journal subscription, you can find the whole thing here). He's spot on.

Israel Matzav: Bolton's advice for Netanyahu

Israel Matzav: 'Next year in....' An open letter to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod

'Next year in....' An open letter to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod

This letter was written by David Wilder, who is the leader of the Hebron Jewish community (Hat Tip: Dani K).

´Next year in….´ An open letter to Rahm Emanuel & David Axelrod

David Wilder
March 15, 2010
Nisan 1, 5770, 3/15/2010
Dear Rahm and David,

I’m writing this as I sit and watch, via live internet, the ceremony marking the rededication of the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem, in the area you would classify “east Jerusalem”, disputed territory, or perhaps, ‘occupied territory’ over the ‘green line’ adjacent to 'Temple Mount.'

Before asking a few questions, I’d like to describe to you several men who took part in tonight’s celebration.

First, there is Reuvan ‘Ruby’ Rivlin, presently speaker of the Knesset. A seventh generation Jerusalemite, Ruby is a ‘Rivlin’ from both his mother and father’s side, descended from both Rebbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov and the Gra, the Gaon, Rebbi Eliyahu from Vilna.

Rivlin, a seasoned politician, had trouble controlling his voice as he spoke, his words quivering with emotion, as he repeated the words of his great-grandfather, who spoke at the rededication of the destroyed Hurva shul a hundred and fifty years ago.

Also speaking briefly was former Prisoner of Zion, former minister, and present chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, who described how, in 1992, he convinced the entire Israeli government to unanimously approve reconstruction of the Hurva, destroyed by the Jordanians following their occupation of the Jerusalem in 1948.

But the man who most impressed me was David Rabinovitch, an Israeli Russian, who contributed heavily to the renovation of the Hurva. Rubenstein spoke briefly, albeit in Russian, and announced that he and his partners, whose financial fortunes built the Hurva, would participate in rebuilding the nearby Tiferet Yisrael synagogue, also destroyed by the Arabs during the War of Independence. These men, who grew up without any Jewish background, and who today barely speak Hebrew, are investing their life’s fortunes in synagogues, in Jerusalem.

And you, Rahm and David, what are you investing your lives in?

Rahm, it is said that you are the cornerstone of your boss’ policy towards Israel and the Middle East. Since this administration took office, you are quoted, time and time again, as forcing a ‘two-state solution’ on Israel. “Israel now faces a moment of truth – it can either acquiesce to international demands and in return have its most serious threats dealt with, or maintain the status quo and have those threats persist.” In other words, Israel’s future, as a state, and in large part, the continued existence of the Jewish people, is dependent on Israel ‘towing the line,’ obeying US policy, and acquiescing to US-Arab terrorist demands.

And David, just a few days ago you publicly turned Israel over your knee and paddled her, saying, "What happened there was an affront,…It was an insult. ... This was not the right way to behave." This, of course, in reference to the announcement that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem.

Is this the behavior of two good Jewish boys, who, it is said, love Israel?

Rahm, truthfully it’s very difficult to understand your actions. You belong to an orthodox synagogue in Chicago. You grew up in a Jewish home, with a strong affinity to Israel. Your father was born in Jerusalem and your uncle, for whom you were named, was killed by Arabs in Jerusalem. But you still support a position forbidding Jewish building in Jerusalem!?

And David, you too are no stranger to Judaism. Born on the Lower East Side in New York, you always knew you were Jewish. Yet you see fit to push your own people into security situations which jeopardize the continued existence of the Jewish State.

How is it that two men whose lives have always been saturated with Judaism do not comprehend simple truths understood by others who grew up in Soviet Russia, knowing almost nothing about their Jewish roots.? Even your names reflect your Jewish souls: David – dating back to King David – the eternal King of Israel; and Rahm – meaning ‘high,’ hinting at the Creator, and in your case, a form of the word Rachamim, meaning mercy. Upon who do you have mercy, Mr. Emanuel? Perhaps both of you should repudiate your names, changing them, as did Hellenistic Jews in Israel during the time of Greek occupation of Israel. How can you carry such “Jewish names’ yet, at the same time, assist in pushing your people to the brink?

I have one other question for both of you men. Tonight marks the first day of the new month of Nisan, the month of Geula, of redemption from Egypt. In exactly two weeks we will begin the Passover holiday, commencing with the Seder, the first Pesach meal, when we relate the story of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt.

It is said that last year, both of you were invited to the President’s Passover Seder, but skipped it, preferring to eat Matza with your families, at home. Very touching. But why?

What I really want to know is not how you begin your family Seder, rather, how you end it. Normally, Jews finish the night’s ceremony declaring “Next year in Jerusalem” or Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem.”

Rahm Emanual and David Axelrod:







Isn’t it time you left the White House and came home to your real home, in Israel, in Jerusalem where you too can stand proudly at the Kotel and recite, as Jews have for eternity "Next year in [Jewish] Jerusalem"


Israel Matzav: 'Next year in....' An open letter to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod

Love of the Land: How Our Muslim Allies Understand the "Crisis" Between the US and Israel

How Our Muslim Allies Understand the "Crisis" Between the US and Israel

Harold Rhode
Hudson New York
17 March '10

Given the so-called crisis between the US Administration and Israel, it is important to keep in mind the context of how our Muslim friends’ view this. Our Arab friends in the Gulf see us as abandoning our closest ally. From a Muslim point of view, all Muslims are brothers in Islam. They also see the non-Muslims as one (united) group. Israel and America (and for that matter Christian Europe) are therefore seen as one block.

If the US abandons Israel -- such a close friend, ally and in some deep way family to the US -- our Muslim allies reason that the US would surely do the same to them --who are not part of the non-Muslim world, and by definition, "not part of the non-Muslim family/brotherhood." This indicates to them that if our friends in the Gulf cannot trust the US to stand by them, outsiders will not fare better.

This means to our Arab friends and allies in the Gulf that they must look elsewhere for protection - maybe China or Russia - or even try to appease Iran, their hated/mortal enemy, to the fullest extent they can - which does NOT bode well for America.

Probably the best way to explain what the Muslims expect in this situation is to quote, a classic Muslim scholar, ibn Hazmm on the concept of friendship, enmity, and war.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: How Our Muslim Allies Understand the "Crisis" Between the US and Israel

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas puppet show shows its love

Hamas puppet show shows its love

From MEMRI (h/t The Vicious Babushka):

The following are excerpts from a Hamas TV puppet show, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on March 11, 2010.
'Alloush: Uncle Hassan! Uncle Hassan!
Uncle Hassan: My God, why are you so happy, 'Alloush?
'Alloush: I am like the grown-ups, watching the news.
Uncle Hassan: Good, I hope it will be a good day to watch the news.
'Alloush: I've heard a very good report. Very good.
Uncle Hassan: That good?! This report will make us happy?
'Alloush: Yes! Do you know the Ibrahimi Mosque [in Hebron]?
Uncle Hassan: Who doesn't know it? We all do.
'Alloush: Well, they have turned it into a museum.
Uncle Hassan: What?!
'Alloush: So the people – all the Jews and the Christians – can visit it.
Uncle Hassan: Are you sure that's what you heard? Are you sure?
'Alloush: Yes.
Uncle Hassan: And you are still happy?!
'Alloush: Yes, this way they will protect it and stop destroying it. People will be able to see it, but not to touch it.
Uncle Hassan: Are you out of your mind, 'Alloush?
'Alloush: Why? What's wrong?
Uncle Hassan: Do you know that this mosque, at the Cave of the Patriarchs...
'Alloush: What about it?
Uncle Hassan: It dates back to the days of Ibrahim. This is our legacy, and part of the Islamic waqf. How can you possibly be happy when a mosque – where we would worship Allah and pray to Him night and day – is turned into a synagogue and an archeological site, and the Jews come to defile it?
'Alloush: I didn't know this. What, they're making fun of us in the news?!
Uncle Hassan: No, they are telling the truth in the news, but as you can see, the whole world is in turmoil over this. This is sad news, a real catastrophe for the Arab and Islamic world, 'Alloush.
'Alloush: Those Jews want to steal the Ibrahimi Mosque?
Uncle Hassan: Yes, they want to steal it, and then make it like their false temple. They want to add it to their legacy for their future generations, 'Alloush.
'Alloush: Okay, so what should we do about this sad thing?
Uncle Hassan: Unfortunately, 'Alloush and dear children, the Arab and Islamic nation is in a slumber. A deep slumber. We must stand up. We must awaken. 'Alloush and dear children – each one of you must tell his father, his grandfather, and the rest of his family that they should all arise as one. They must rise up against the criminal Zionists, who are planning to destroy Jerusalem, and to turn the Islamic waqf into something bad. We must rise against the Zionist criminals, the enemies of Allah, and liberate Jerusalem and all the holy places. We should liberate them. Do you hear, 'Alloush?
'Alloush: Ah, now I get it. I thought the Jews wanted to enable people to visit the Ibrahimi Mosque, but it turns out that they want to steal it.
Uncle Hassan: That's right, 'Alloush. It's a good thing that you got it. Did you tell this to anyone else, or just me?
'Alloush: Just you.
Uncle Hassan: Very good. You didn't make us look bad. Do you know what people would accuse you of, if you said this in the street?
'Alloush: Of what, Uncle Hassan?
Uncle Hassan: They would accuse you of being a collaborator. They would think that you are a Zionist collaborator. I would like to tell you two things, in conclusion: We must think before we speak. Get it? We should be familiar with all our Arab and Islamic holy places, okay?
'Alloush: Okay.

Besides the obvious anti-semitism, notice the subtext - Hamas is telling kids to be careful about what they say out loud, because if they say the wrong things, they could be branded "collaborators" - and therefore killed.

Other people want their kids to ask questions, to learn, to have their own opinions. Hamas, on the other hand, warns their children not to stray from the party line at the risk of their very lives.

This is the Islamic implementation of Orwellian newspeak. Limit what people can say and you therefore can control their thoughts.

What a great message for children's TV!

Elder of Ziyon: Hamas puppet show shows its love

Elder of Ziyon: Register for NORPAC MIssion to Washington

Register for NORPAC MIssion to Washington

For the past two years, I attended the NORPAC Mission to Washington, speaking with members of Congress and Senators and their aides about issues of vital importance to Israel and the US.

The trip is enormously rewarding. The opportunity to speak one-on-one with elected officials is too rare for the average citizen, and they take definite notice when such a large group comes down to speak with them, and it makes an impact. Everyone who visits in person is worth a thousand phone calls or emails.

Unfortunately, I cannot attend this year, but if you live in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area I urge you to register and attend.

Trust me, you will not regret it.

Elder of Ziyon: Register for NORPAC MIssion to Washington

Elder of Ziyon: Convicted felon in Gaza - pretending to be a US congressman

Convicted felon in Gaza - pretending to be a US congressman

From Ma'an:

US Congressman Jack Shepherd entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, the de facto border commission said.

Shepherd was received by members of the A'tta Mother and Child Society upon his arrival. The congressman will be in the coastal enclave for a two-day visit organized by the society.

The visit will include tours to hospitals, schools and other areas destroyed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008.

The A'tta Mother and Child Society is the first of its kind in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Firas Press reports on this visit by this member of Congress as well.

Unfortunately, there is no representative with that name in Congress.

Thank God for the Internet, though, as I was able to find exactly who this important official is. In fact, Jack Shepard has run for the Senate in Minnesota, not to mention governor - and President!

Jack Shepard (Italy / Minnesota)

STATUS: ANNOUNCED CANDIDATE. Dr. Jack Shepard is a USAF veteran and dentist ... and a convicted felon (narcotics possession) who fled as a fugitive to Italy to avoid trial in Minnesota when he became the suspect in the arson of his dental office. Claiming he was wrongly convicted in the drug case and wrong accused in the arson, Shepard continues -- from Rome, Italy -- to run as a candidate for federal political office in Minnesota to bring attention to his demand that the conviction be overturned and the arson charge dropped. He says the drug conviction should be overturned because dentists can have narcotics in their offices and that he is innocent on the arson charges. "I never broke the law," Shepard posted on one political website. The US government has never formally requested his extradition from the Italian government, although then-prosecutor Amy Klobuchar -- now US Senator -- requested the Feds seek his return. Shepard lost a GOP primary run for US Senate in 2002 and Congress in 2004 and 2006. In his campaigns -- waged on his websites and in emails to Minnesota newspapers -- accused various Democrats of either being tied to encouraging "the Terrorists" or being "owned" by "the Israel Lobby." Related links: Shepard for President (official site), (Congressional campaign site), and People for Peace Group (Shepard's organization).

And now he is scamming Palestinian Arabs!

Elder of Ziyon: Convicted felon in Gaza - pretending to be a US congressman

RubinReports: The Great Debate over America: Promise Achieved or Promise Broken?

The Great Debate over America: Promise Achieved or Promise Broken?

By Barry Rubin

My son made a casual remark that showed me the whole basis of the debate over America today. His teacher had told the class that while in the Declaration of Independence said, “All men are created equal,” but that this promise has not been kept, because of the treatment by America of African-Americans, Native Americans, and others.

Or, let's cut through all the double-talk, the teacher is conveying to these kids that America is both evil and a failure.

Anyone who says such a thing--in either the more polite or nastier versions--does not understand three points of the greatest possible importance. Indeed, comprehending these things marks the difference between, on the one hand, loving America, appreciating its greatness, and being able to make it better or, on the other hand, reviling and destroying it, ruining what may well be the greatest society in human history and a beacon for others to succeed in building their own nations in their own way.

The first point is about the nature of American history. There is a huge difference between saying that the promise has not been kept, or was not kept, and saying that it took a while to fulfill that promise. In the end, the promise was kept.

Therefore, American history is not a series of shames and disgraces but one of heroic fulfillment. Everything bad is matched by more that has been good. Or, to put it another way, it is not that wrong things weren't done but that they were corrected and that this was possible because of the nature of the promise, the foundation it created, and the system it set up.

And that is the difference between celebrating America and its history—with no need to conceal its (almost always remedied) flaws and failures—or in contrast teaching self-hatred and anti-Americanism. That also means the people of today cannot claim to be great geniuses of morality and wisdom but merely the lucky inheritors of what has been achieved by those who lived before them.

Second, the reason the promise could be kept was that the founders laid a foundation which made that possible. Even if they did not then, in the 1770s and 1780s, openly and consciously possess every belief that made for a fully equal society which did not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or national origin, they implicitly understood all these things.

They planted the seed. The history of the United States is the story of its growth into a healthy tree--the founders would have called it the tree of liberty--that fulfilled that dream and that plan.

If you have that foundation that includes a belief in human liberty, individual responsibility, the limit of government; division of powers to guard against tyranny or bureaucratic dictates; and basic equality then you can achieve great things. But if you lack that basis, no matter how beautiful the words or lavish the promises made, the result will be ashes and dust.

What could be greater than the promises and pledges to produce utopia of the French, Russian, Chinese, Cuban, and Iranian revolutions? Yet all ended in horror, massive bloodshed, and misery. (It doesn't make one an intellectual to remember their claims but forget their realities.) The Soviet constitution authored by Josef Stalin in the 1930s claimed to offer all good things, to fulfill all human desires, but was a sham because it was not really based on a true belief in individual liberty and equality. Equally, to extol the state or a class, or some all-embracing ideology over individual liberty is, inevitably, to engender tyranny.

And this leads to the third point, the system itself and its boundaries ensured the promise would be kept over the decades and centuries. If rights come from the Supreme Being—and if one doesn’t believe in a deity let's say nature—then they cannot be taken away by any earthly power. If they belong to the individual, they cannot be taken away by any collective group, except with a really compelling motive. And even that motive is based on the protection of the individual rights of others.

There is also one other aspect of this last point. This is a system that gives opportunity, not guaranteed results, a level playing field, not a trophy for everyone. Without this approach, the system could not succeed because to guarantee results one must impose them, decisively limiting the rights of some to ensure nobody got too far ahead or behind.

How forgotten—or should one say, deliberately concealed!—is this third point today. The founders and the system began by promising to make the rules fair. And for the times when it would be discovered that the rules were not fair, the system was designed so as to be capable of adjustment in order the better to achieve that original goal.

The fact that there are people who are richer or poorer, happier or less happy, who make good or bad decisions is not a failure of the promise but an inevitable outcome of this world. Individuals get to define--within very broad limits--what life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness means for them. It is not for the state to do it in their stead.

This includes their right to engage in certain behaviors--eating fatty foods, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, saying mean things about other individuals or groups--that others see as wrong. But they are not allowed to impose their will on you and you are not allowed to impose your will on them, again except for reasonable and limited ways.

If a chemical is dangerous to public health it can be banned, for example, but not what an individual adult does to themselves. If someone says things of which you don't approve, you can engage in free speech to try to convince them to act otherwise. You don't toss them into prison.

Trying to “fix” this system of basic rights combined with individual decision makes—as history has shown but as many still fail to realize—things much worse. Because if you can do this to someone else today, they can do it to you tomorrow. And inevitably, the kind of people who are going to seek and obtain power usually are the same kind of people who like using it to control others.

In fact, let’s read the context which makes all of the above admirably clear:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In Europe, the Government existed before the People; in America, it was the other way around. This is the essential spirit of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is explained in what is perhaps the most brilliant book ever written on governing, The Federalist Papers.

Notice that the Declaration of Independence does not say "consent of the majority" but rather says "consent of the governed." That's no accident. It means that what even a majority can impose on everyone is limited.

The purpose of government is not to tell people what to do but to do what the "consent of the governed" permits. To prevent monopolies, prevent discrimination, ensure that food and drugs are safe, regulate banks, collect taxes, provide a social safety net, and many other things fall within this framework. Yet this is always within the context of limiting the sphere of government and protecting the sphere of liberty. Each such step must meet a demonstrably compelling need and be accepted with a strong popular consensus, the "consent of the governed."

Suppose those in government claim they know better? The founders were well-acquainted with that argument, which was as familiar in the eighteenth century as it is today. But their view was that since power could not be trusted in the hands of mortal men--who would inevitably use it for their own self-interest, to bend others to their own personal preferences or both--it must be limited. Otherwise, where is one's control over one's own "life" and where is "liberty"?

Equally, they saw the purpose of government as not being to create the "perfect society" (since people will always disagree on what that is and define their own "pursuit of happiness"), not to hand people everything that (according to those in power, at least) they “need,” but to ensure their right to be secure in their persons and property, their right to define their own individual behavior and dream. Collectively, that’s called the American Dream.

Nothing is perfect by any means. But the promise has definitely been kept.

RubinReports: The Great Debate over America: Promise Achieved or Promise Broken?

Israel Matzav: Roger Cohen accuses Israel of racism

Roger Cohen accuses Israel of racism

I haven't been reading Roger Cohen lately - he's bad for my blood pressure. So I missed this.

The mass-market daily Maariv had a front-page post-Biden cartoon of Obama cooking Netanyahu in a pot. It was supposed to illustrate a relationship “in flames.” But the image — a black man cooking a white man over an open fire — also said something about the way Israel views its critics.

Roger Cohen seemingly forgets that this country's Jews are not all white - nor is our leadership. So the slur is false.

Jonathan Tobin says that it's become a new excuse for Obama's poor approval ratings in this country.

Israel’s liberal critics in this country are flummoxed by the fact that Obama is the least-liked American president by Israelis since Jimmy Carter. But rather than admit that this is the result of the administration’s conscious decision to distance itself from the Jewish state, writers like Cohen spin this understandable antagonism as being somehow the result of an Israeli character flaw. This is not the first time that the notion of Israeli racism has been claimed as the source of Obama’s unpopularity.


But had Barack Hussein Obama come into office ready to make good on his campaign pledges of support for Israel and not chosen to pick pointless fights with Israel’s government or downplay the threat from Iran, his poll numbers would be very different. George W. Bush also came into office with low Israeli popularity ratings, but he proved his friendship for the Jewish state with actions that eventually overshadowed the hostility most Jews felt for his father. Had Obama not sought to downgrade the alliance with Jerusalem, no one would be talking about the color of his skin having any impact on the way Israelis think of him. The attempt to blame the justified skepticism of Israelis about Obama’s intentions toward their country on Jewish racism is nothing but a contemptible slur.

I cannot recall any American President with popularity ratings as low as Obama's. Not even Jimmy Carter. But racism is not part of the picture.

Israel Matzav: Roger Cohen accuses Israel of racism

Israel Matzav: A 'Palestinian' hero

A 'Palestinian' hero

That's an American flag she's destroying in this picture.

On Tuesday, the 'Palestinian Authority' named a street in Ramallah "Rachel Corrie Street."

She's right up there with Dalal al-Mughrabi.

Israel Matzav: What the Evangelical Christian community did for us in this crisis

What the Evangelical Christian community did for us in this crisis

Jennifer Rubin reports on the Evangelical Christian community's reaction to the current crisis.

Christians United for Israel has swung into action; an alert went out to its very large mailing list (which includes pastors who in turn contact their church members)... What kind of response did they get? “Just 90 minutes after CUFI’s action alert was distributed, more than 5,000 of our members sent e-mails to the White House asking the president to ‘end this unnecessary crisis, return to a more productive approach, and stand with our ally Israel.’ As of last count we are averaging an e-mail every second, and I see no indication that this will slow down anytime soon.”

Many liberal, largely secular American Jews have been wary of, if not downright hostile to, evangelical support for Israel. Perhaps they should reconsider and figure out who the friends of Israel really are. They’re the ones sending, not receiving the e-mails.

Nice try Jennifer. The problem is that many of those liberal, largely secular American Jews couldn't care less about Israel. We're far down on their issues list.

Israel Matzav: What the Evangelical Christian community did for us in this crisis

Israel Matzav: Mitt Romney rips Obama on Israel

Mitt Romney rips Obama on Israel

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a likely Presidential candidate in 2012, has criticized the Obama administration's handling of Israel.

Mitt Romney’s spokesman e-mails me: “Governor Romney believes that President Obama spends way too much time placating our enemies while undermining our friends. Israel is one of our greatest allies, and has made many concessions for peace over the years, yet the Obama administration exerts pressure on Israel to stop its settlements while putting almost no pressure on the Palestinians.”

As David Rothkopf notes (Hat Tip: Noah Pollak):

The bigger message that will be unintentionally have been delivered to the world at the end of all this is that the United States is willing to get fierce with its friend Israel over a perceived insult but that we are likely to remain ineffective in the face of self-declared Iranian enemies' efforts to destabilize the entire Middle East with nuclear weapons. This is not only a problem for the president because the outcome is so dangerous. It's also that "tough on your friends, weak with your enemies" is neither a common trait among great leaders nor is it a particularly good campaign bumper sticker.

I'd look for all the Republican Presidential candidates to keep repeating that meme between now and 2012.

Israel Matzav: Mitt Romney rips Obama on Israel

Israel Matzav: Obama seeking regime change in Israel

Obama seeking regime change in Israel

I suspect that Jeffrey Goldberg is right about this.

I've been on the phone with many of the usual suspects (White House and otherwise), and I think it's fair to say that Obama is not trying to destroy America's relations with Israel; he's trying to organize Tzipi Livni's campaign for prime minister, or at least for her inclusion in a broad-based centrist government. I'm not actually suggesting that the White House is directly meddling in internal Israeli politics, but it's clear to everyone -- at the White House, at the State Department, at Goldblog -- that no progress will be made on any front if Avigdor Lieberman's far-right party, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Eli Yishai's fundamentalist Shas Party, remain in Netanyahu's surpassingly fragile coalition.

So what is the goal? The goal is force a rupture in the governing coalition that will make it necessary for Netanyahu to take into his government Livni's centrist Kadima Party (he has already tried to do this, but too much on his terms) and form a broad, 68-seat majority in Knesset that does not have to rely on gangsters, messianists and medievalists for votes. It's up to Livni, of course, to recognize that it is in Israel's best interests to join a government with Netanyahu and Barak, and I, for one, hope she puts the interests of Israel ahead of her own ambitions.

Well, she had that opportunity a year ago and her own ambitions clearly came first.

Why would Netanyahu want to do form a government with Livni at this point? It certainly wouldn't be any more stable. You'd probably have both a Likud breakoff (the Feiglin group) and a Kadima breakoff (Mofaz who would be peeved at not being Defense Minister again) within months.

And it's not Lieberman who's preventing 'progress' on the 'peace process.' It's the 'Palestinians.'

Goldberg is probably right about what the Obami are trying to do, but Obama has misread the map here as usual.

Israel Matzav: Obama seeking regime change in Israel

Love of the Land: The Subtext of the Obama-Israel Dispute

The Subtext of the Obama-Israel Dispute

Amy D. Goldstein
American Thinker
17 March '10

President Obama has consistently stated that the Jewish state should not expand the so-called settlements beyond the Green Line even for natural growth. Today is the second day of the Jewish month of Nissan -- in two weeks, the Jewish people will celebrate the holiday of Passover, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, when God liberated the Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh had tried to end "natural growth" of the Children of Israel by killing all of the Jewish newborn boys, but Moses escaped to become God's vehicle for salvation. Two weeks ago, Jews celebrated Purim, the holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's salvation from Haman's attempts to annihilate them throughout the Persian Empire (today's Iran), by retelling the story of Queen Esther.

Throughout history, non-Jewish leaders have locked Jewish communities into ghettos in an attempt to limit natural growth through hardship and disease. Just seventy-five years ago, Hitler rounded up Jews, ghettoized them, and finally murdered six million of them in Europe in an attempt to destroy the entire people. Just a few days after the eight-day Passover holiday, the Jewish people will remember the Holocaust on Yom Ha-Shoah, a day when all Israeli citizens stand silent in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Throughout the world, Jewish communities gather to remember, recite the names of those murdered, and light candles in memory of those whose names we still do not know.

Jews are particularly sensitive to attempts to limit their "natural growth" and the area in which they can live. President Obama continues to hit that nerve -- whether it is intentional or not.

Moreover, there is the issue of Jerusalem. For over 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been both the political and spiritual capital of the Jewish people. There has never been another.

(Read full article)

Love of the Land: The Subtext of the Obama-Israel Dispute

Love of the Land: About Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem, An Interesting Clarification

About Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem, An Interesting Clarification

Batya Medad
Shilo Musings
17 March '10

Hat tip: IMRA

When people hear the term "East Jerusalem" they think of a old, rundown section of Jerusalem teeming with Arabs. They don't think of the fancy apartments and homes in Beit Chanina, nor of Jews and Jewish History. The labeling of Ramat Shlomo as "East Jerusalem" makes people think its an enclave, like the Jewish buildings supported and protected by the Ir David, City of David Foundation.

Now just to clarify before the clarification, Jews have the right to live and build in any neighborhood in Jerusalem and any part of the Land of Israel. Anyone who says otherwise is supporting anti-Jewish apartheid, immorally discriminating against Jews. The fact that Jews are forbidden to live as Jews in various countries in the Middle East is contrary to the accepted norms of civil rights, and I don't understand why there aren't international protests against this. Can we credit latent antisemitism?

Now, I'm just curious. Do you know where Ramat Shlomo is? Next to which Jerusalem neighborhood is it adjacent?

Basically, Ramat Shlomo is in the middle of a forest in what was once considered "no man's land." Between 1948/9 and 1967, it was pretty much ignored by both Israel and Jordan.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: About Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem, An Interesting Clarification

Love of the Land: Is General Petraeus Behind Obama’s Dressing Down of Israel?

Is General Petraeus Behind Obama’s Dressing Down of Israel?

Max Boot
16 March '10

What’s behind the administration’s new get-tough policy with Israel? If you believe Mark Perry, a former Arafat adviser and author of Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with Its Enemies, it’s the doing of General David Petraeus. In a rather imaginative post at Foreign Policy’s web site, he claims that on Jan. 16,

a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) “too old, too slow … and too late.”

According to Perry, the briefing “hit the White House like a bombshell,” because in effect the U.S. military was placing itself in opposition to the “powerful … Israeli lobby” by announcing that “America’s relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America’s soldiers.”

That didn’t ring true to me, so I asked a military officer who is familiar with the briefing in question and with Petraeus’s thinking on the issue to clarify matters. He told me that Perry’s item was “incorrect.” In the first place, Petraeus never recommended shifting the Palestinian territories to Centcom’s purview from European Command, as claimed by Perry. Nor did Petraeus belittle George Mitchell, whom he holds in high regard. All that happened, this officer told me, is that there was a “staff-officer briefing … on the situation in the West Bank, because that situation is a concern that Centcom hears in the Arab world all the time. Nothing more than that.”

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Is General Petraeus Behind Obama’s Dressing Down of Israel?

Life in Israel: POTD


Brazilian President Lula Da Silva placing a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat (after he refused to visit and place a wreath at the grave of Theodore Herzl) ..

Life in Israel: POTD

Elder of Ziyon: The exaggerated refugees

The exaggerated refugees

I just came across this interesting article from the Milwaukee Sentinel, February 19, 1971. Click to enlarge.
The more things change....

Elder of Ziyon: The exaggerated refugees

Elder of Ziyon: BDS loses another one at Davis

BDS loses another one at Davis

From the Divest This! blog:

On Monday evening, the forces of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) were handed a major defeat when the Davis Food Co-op, located in Davis California, turned down demands by BDS activists to put a boycott of Israeli goods to a Co-op wide vote.

While this story may not be big enough to hit the national press, the details surrounding the decision make this as significant an event in the continuing annals of BDS failure as the Presbyterian Church’s 2006 decision to abandon divestment altogether (a decision which changed the threat level of BDS from “potential issue” to “serious loser”).

Read the whole thing.

Elder of Ziyon: BDS loses another one at Davis

Elder of Ziyon: Gunbattles, kidnappings, rocket fire in Gaza. The usual.

Gunbattles, kidnappings, rocket fire in Gaza. The usual.

PCHR reports that there was a gunbattle in the Jabalya camp in Gaza yesterday, in which hand grenades were used. One was injured.

Also yesterday, there was the usual kidnapping and beating of a man in Gaza:

At approximately 21:30 on Sunday, 14 March 2010, Salah al-Masri, an n employee in the Palestinian National Authority, was in a shop near his house in al-‘Oyoun Street in al-Nasser neighborhood in the north of Gaza city. In the meanwhile, a Golf car stopped, an three masked gunmen stepped down from it. At gunpoint, the gunmen forced al-Masri to get into the car. They blindfolded him with his sweater and drove him to an unknown destination. Al-Masri told PCHR that the gunmen took him into a building in an area that he does not know and questioned him about his relationship with the government in Ramallah. They tied his hands behind his back and forced him sit in a painful position, known as "Shabeh."They then violently beat him. They questioned him for several hours. During questioning, the beat him with an iron chain on his head and they tortured him with electrical shocks to his feet. At midnight, they drove him to the currency market in the east of Gaza city. They left him there and drove away.

During the last three weeks, PCHR documented two similar attacks in Rafah and in Deir al-Balah town in the southern and central Gaza Strip respectively. In Rafah, Hammad Mohammed Abu Jazar, 42, was kidnapped and tortured by masked gunmen. According to Abu Jazar, on Saturday evening, 13 March 2010, a Hyundai car intercepted him while on his way to his house in al-Brazil neighborhood in Rafah. Two gunmen in civil clothes stepped down from the car and forced Abu Jazar to get into the car at gunpoint. They drove him to an unknown destination. Abu Jazar stated that the gunmen who were in the car beat him with their hands and gun butts throughout his body. They accused him of insulting Mohammed Shamali, a member of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas, who was killed on 14 August 2009 in armed clashes that took place in the vicinity of Ibn Taymeya Mosque. Fifteen minutes later, the gunmen dumped him near the border area. Abu Jazar then called one of his friends who came and transferred him to the hospital for medical treatment.

On 02 March, Yousef Fu'ad al-Ma’ni, 21, from Deir al-Balah, was kidnapped and tortured by unknown gunmen. According to statements given by al-Ma’ni to PCHR, he was tortured by unknown persons who pressured him to sign and fingerprint documents that he does not know what they were for. They then drove him to an unknown destination, hit him on his head with a sharp tool and dumped him in the street.

PCHR is loathe to accuse Hamas outright of these kidnappings, of course, but most of them indeed seem to be done by Hamas security forces.

You know, those freedom fighters that people like George Galloway love so much. I don't know about the freedom part, but they sure love to fight!

Also, a Qassam rocket exploded immediately after launch near Beit Lahiya today.

Elder of Ziyon: Gunbattles, kidnappings, rocket fire in Gaza. The usual.

Netanyahu's Brother-in-Law: Obama's an Anti-Semite - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Netanyahu's Brother-in-Law: Obama's an Anti-Semite - Inside Israel - Israel News - Israel National News

Despite US Pressure, Israel Insists: No Preconditions for Talks - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Despite US Pressure, Israel Insists: No Preconditions for Talks - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama's Policy Challenges Congressional Law on Jerusalem - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama's Policy Challenges Congressional Law on Jerusalem - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama%u2019s Policy Challenges Congressional Law on Jerusalem - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Obama%u2019s Policy Challenges Congressional Law on Jerusalem - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

PA Incitement Increases as Riots Subside - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

PA Incitement Increases as Riots Subside - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Will Holland's Next Prime Minister Be Jewish? - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Will Holland's Next Prime Minister Be Jewish? - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Strong Showing by Anti-Semitic Le Pen in French Regional Vote - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Strong Showing by Anti-Semitic Le Pen in French Regional Vote - Jewish World - Israel News - Israel National News

Tuesday Night Live #45: Aliyah - Jews Gather in their Homeland - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Tuesday Night Live #45: Aliyah - Jews Gather in their Homeland - A7 Exclusive Features - Israel News - Israel National News

Elder of Ziyon: Abbas adopts a boy. Love or politics?

Elder of Ziyon: Abbas adopts a boy. Love or politics?

Love of the Land: Two dedications

Two dedications
16 March '10

Yesterday, the newly rebuilt Hurva (which means ‘ruin’ in Hebrew) Synagogue, located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was rededicated.

Started in 1701, the Hurva was destroyed for the first time (by unpaid Arab creditors) in 1720. Rebuilt in 1864 by the Sultan’s architect with money from Montefiore, the Rothschilds and Jewish communities around the world, the synagogue was the tallest structure in the Jewish quarter — which is itself on a hill, making it reach higher than the al-Aqsa Mosque — it was a magnificent structure. Benjamin Balint writes,

It also was a forum for public assemblies. Here the city’s Jews held a memorial service for Queen Victoria; celebrated the coronation of King George V; thrilled to the orations of such Zionist leaders as Theodor Herzl and Zeev Jabotinsky; and, in 1942, conducted a mass prayer service for the victims of Hitler’s genocide.

Naturally, the jealous and racist Muslim world found the existence of such a Jewish structure unacceptable. In 1948, Jordanian troops overran the Jewish Quarter, expelled the Jews and blew up the Hurva. After 1967 plans were made to rebuild it, but in a gesture of misplaced generosity to Muslim sensibilities, only a memorial arch was built. After all, how could anything Jewish be allowed to overshadow the Muslim holy places?

Now it has yet again been rebuilt, in a form similar to the 18th century version. And — guess what — the Arabs are furious!

Jews have lived in the Old City since long before Muhammad was a gleam in his father’s eye, but Palestinians insist that any part of the city that was conquered and ethnically cleansed by the Jordanians in 1948 is “Arab East Jerusalem,” so they declared a “day of rage” today, complete with the usual stone- and firebomb-throwing.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: Two dedications

Israel Matzav: Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades asks for weapons to 'defend Jerusalem'

Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades asks for weapons to 'defend Jerusalem'

Third 'intifada' anyone?

Israel Matzav: Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades asks for weapons to 'defend Jerusalem'

Israel Matzav: Good news: Jumblatt to have kissing session with Assad

Good news: Jumblatt to have kissing session with Assad

As I reported on Monday, Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has apologized to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for calling him some not very nice names. Through the good offices of Hezbullah politburo chief Hassan Nasrallah, Jumblatt has now received an invitation (date to be announced) to go to Damascus and kiss and make up with Assad.

"In the framework of the mediation initiated by Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah with the Syrian leadership, which came upon the request of Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, and following the clear stances and the courageous revision he has made concerning the happenings and developments of the previous phase and following his reconfirmation of the essential political principles especially in what concerns the relation with Syria, the Resistance and Palestine, Sayyed Nasrallah informed MP Walid Jumblatt this evening that the Syrian leadership, committed to establish the best relations with all Lebanese and all political forces in Lebanon and taking into account his latest stances, has decided to exceed what has happened during the previous phase and will open a new page it hopes it would be beneficial for all parties," the statement said, according to the website.

"Sayyed Nasrallah told Jumblatt that Syrian President Bachar Assad will receive him in Damascus during the visit he would pay to the Syrian capital at a date to be announced in the few coming days," the statement concluded.

In case you are wondering, Jumblatt's turnaround is the result of Obama abandoning the anti-Hezbullah forces in Lebanon, followed by the Saudis reading the writing on the wall and making a deal with Syria to compromise Lebanon's sovereignty. More on that here.

So Obama has become a great unifier for Lebanon. Hariri and Jumblatt have joined forces with Nasrallah and Assad and Ahmadinejad under Obama's auspices.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Good news: Jumblatt to have kissing session with Assad

Israel Matzav: Bipartisan criticism of Obama on Israel

Bipartisan criticism of Obama on Israel

Criticism of President Obama's handling of relations with Israel has gone bipartisan.

Pennsylvania Rep. Christopher Carney, a Democrat, and Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk are sending a letter this morning to President Obama asking the administration to climb down.

"We urge your Administration to refrain from further public criticism of Israel and to focus on more pressing issues affecting this vital relationship, such as signing and enforcing the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act when it comes to your desk," they write.

New York's intensely pro-Israel delegation has also begun to criticize the White House openly, if in measured tones.

"We should not have a disproportionate response to Israel. We need to be careful and measured in our response, and I think we all have to take a step back," Rep. Eliot Engel said on the floor of Congress yesterday.

"While the timing of the East Jerusalem housing announcement was regrettable, it must not cloud the most critical foreign policy issue facing both counties — Irans nuclear threat," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

"The Administration, to the extent that it has disagreements with Israel on policy matters, should find way to do so in private and do what they can to defuse this situation," said Rep. Steve Israel.

Carney and Kirk actually wrote more than what's quoted in that letter to Obama.

Pennsylvania Rep. Christopher Carney, a Democrat, and Illinois Republican Rep. Mark Kirk are sending a joint letter to Obama telling him to recommit to a number of principles, including “the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, [under which] official United States policy recognizes Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”

There are also signs that the crisis may finally be winding down.

“I don’t buy that,” Clinton said of the “crisis.” She told reporters Tuesday, “We have an absolute commitment to Israel’s security. We have a close, unshakeable bond between the United States and Israel and between the American and Israeli people, …but that doesn’t mean that we are going to agree. We don’t agree with any of our international partners on everything.”


Clinton referred to the issue Tuesday, saying that “we have expressed our dismay and disappointment,” but she did not mention her public condemnation of the Israeli government’s announcement.

And Netanyahu has reciprocated the calming words:

"The State of Israel appreciates and respects the warm words said by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding the deep bond between the U.S. and Israel, and on the U.S.' commitment to Israel's security," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

"With regard to commitments to peace, the government of Israel has proven over the last year that it is commitment to peace, both in words and actions," said the statement."

The statement cited as examples Netanyahu's inaugural foreign policy speech made at Bar Ilan University, the removal of hundreds of roadblocks across the West Bank, and its decision to freeze temporarily construction in West Bank settlements. The latter, said the statement, was even called by Clinton an "unprecedented" move.

So is it over? Well, maybe.

Clinton last week made specific demands of Netanyahu about the housing project and about showing commitment to U.S.-mediated indirect peace talks, the State Department has said.

"We do expect to have the Israeli response shortly," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Tuesday. "I would anticipate that, you know, very soon there is likely going to be a conversation between the secretary and Prime Minister Netanyahu."

Crowley said he was "not forecasting that'll happen today," but did expect the conversation to occur sometime this week."

When asked whether the U.S. was putting impossible political pressure on Netanyahu, Crowley said: "We are pursuing peace in the Middle East. We are looking for the best way to get the parties into formal negotiations that lead to a comprehensive peace agreement. That is in our interest. It is in Israel's interest. It is in the Palestinian interest.

"And we are - we are playing the role that we've always played in this peace process. And we're going to push the parties as hard as we can, as far as we can. Ultimately, they're the ones that have to sit together and work through these challenging issues. We're just trying to find the right recipe to get them to the table."‬

So if it's a choice of saying no or not responding, which is Netanyahu better off doing? I'd say to wait until he meets Clinton in Washington next week and ask which she'd prefer. I suspect she'd prefer to let her demands die.

Oh, and another Democrat who is critical of Obama:

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, also released a statement on Tuesday declaring: "Israel is and will remain the United States' most stalwart ally."

And a somewhat surprising defender:

Co-Chairman of the House and Senate Foreign Affairs committees, Congressman Howard Berman, defended the Obama administration's rebuke and called on Israel to ensure such moves not happen again,

"The Administration had real justification for being upset with the timing of the settlements announcement," he said in a statement. "A process was supposed to be in place to keep the United States from being blindsided by just such a development, and yet once again we were blindsided. The Israeli leadership needs to get this right and put a system in place so it won't happen again.

"We need to disentangle bilateral relations from the peace process," he added. "Let's keep in mind that peace talks are not a gift to one party or the other. They are an opportunity for both parties, Israelis and Palestinians, both of whom badly need peace.

"The Palestinians may not like an Israeli announcement about prospective housing in Jerusalem, and the Israelis may not like the Palestinians naming a town square after a brutal terrorist, but the talks need to go forward."

So how will we know whether it's over? On Tuesday in Washington, the Obama administration said that the President would not campaign for any Representative or Senator who votes against his healthcare reform package. If it's not over, you'll see support for him on Israel become a litmus test as well. And that's good news. Because Obama's poll numbers are so bad right now that no one in their right mind would want him to campaign for them. Ask Martha Coakley.


Israel Matzav: Bipartisan criticism of Obama on Israel

Israel Matzav: Hamas' new indoctrination cartoon for children

Hamas' new indoctrination cartoon for children

This is what the Hamas kiddies are watching on television. I doubt it's something you'd want your kids to watch.

Let's go to the videotape.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Hamas' new indoctrination cartoon for children
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