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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘2012’

How Morsi Took Power in Egypt

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Earlier this year, most analysts in Egypt assessed Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi as the key figure in that country’s politics and President Mohamed Morsi as a lightweight, so it came as a surprise when Morsi fired Tantawi on Aug. 12, 2012.

This matters because Tantawi would have kept the country out of Islamist hands while Morsi is speedily moving the country in the direction of applying Islamic law. If Morsi succeeds at this, the result will have major negative implications for America’s standing in the region.

Tantawi, then the effective ruler of Egypt, had handpicked Morsi to become president, seeing him as the safest option, someone who could be manipulated or (if necessary) replaced. Toward this end, Tantawi instructed the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to approve Morsi as a candidate, despite his arrest on Jan. 27, 2011, for “treason and espionage,” his time in prison, and despite the SCC having excluded other Muslim Brotherhood candidates, especially the rich, charismatic, and visionary Khairat El-Shater, on the basis of their own imprisonment. Tantawi wanted the obscure, inelegant, and epileptic Morsi to run for president because Shater was too dangerous and another Brotherhood candidate, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fettouh, too popular.What happened?

Sometimes after Morsi became president on June 30, Tantawi openly signaled his intent to overthrow him via a mass demonstration to take place on Aug. 24. His mouthpiece Tawfik Okasha openly encouraged a military coup against Morsi. But Morsi acted first and took several steps on Aug. 12: he annulled the constitutional declaration limiting his power, dismissed Tantawi, and replaced him with Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the head of military intelligence.

Morsi, in brief, pre-empted the impending military coup d’état against him. Tarek al-Zomor, a leading jihadi and Morsi supporter, acknowledged that “choosing Sissi to replace Tantawi was to stop a coup,” publicly acknowledging Morsi’s urgent need to act before Aug. 24. Hamdi Kandil, one of Egypt’s most prominent journalists, rightly characterized Morsi’s act as “a civilian coup.”

They missed one hidden factor: Brotherhood-oriented military officers turn out to have been far more numerous and powerful than previously realized: they both knew about the Aug. 24 plot plan and helped Morsi to beat it. If it was long apparent that some officers had an outlook sympathetic to the Brotherhood, the extent of their network has only just come out in the three months since the coup. How did Morsi pull it off? How did the lamb slaughter the butcher? Why did so many analysts not see this coming?

For example, we now know that Major General Abbas Mekheimar, the army officer assigned to oversee the purge of officers with Brotherhood or other Islamist affiliations, himself is aligned with the Brotherhood or perhaps a member of it. As for Sissi, while the Brotherhood denies his direct membership, one of its leaders says he belongs to its informal “family” – which makes sense, seeing that high-ranking public figures best advance its agenda when not formal members. His position as head of military intelligence gave him access to information about Tantawi’s Aug. 24 planned coup and historian Ali Al-Ashmawi found that Sissi tracked military officials loyal to Tantawi and had them discharged.

Where does this leave matters? Tantawi and company are safely pensioned off, and (unlike Hosni Mubarak) are not going to jail. Sissi’s military has retreated to roughly the same position that Tantawi’s military occupied before Mubarak’s overthrow in Feb. 2011, which is to say it is allied with the president and following his leadership without being fully subordinate to him. It retains control over its own budget, its promotions and dismissals, and its economic empire.

But the military leadership lost the direct political power that it enjoyed for 1½ years in 2011-12. In retrospect, this network should not be a great surprise, for it has a precedent: the Brotherhood had infiltrated the military in the 1940s, standing behind the “Free Officers” movement that overthrew King Farouq in 1952. After having been shut out in the period 1954-74, the Muslim Brotherhood then rebuilt its network of officers in ways invisible and unknown to outside observers, including ourselves. One top Brotherhood figure,Tharwat al-Kharabawi, now acknowledges that some of the organization’s members “became high-ranking leaders in the military.”

Morsi’s future is far from assured. Not only does he face competing factions of Islamists but Egypt faces a terrible economic crisis. Morsi’s power today unquestionably brings major short-term benefits for himself and the Brotherhood; but in the long term it will likely discredit Brotherhood rule.

In short, following thirty years of stasis under Mubarak, Egypt’s political drama has just begun.

Originally published at the Washington Times and DanielPipes.org on Nov. 14, 2012.

UC Irvine Students Vote for ‘Israel Divestment’ But Have No Investments to Divest

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Late last night, November 13, there was a unanimous vote at a California school for divestment from certain companies that do business with Israel.  Unanimous, 16 -0.

There are, however, several points militating against an uptick in alarm.

For one thing, the school at which this took place was the University of California at Irvine.  Yes, the school that allowed students to repeatedly disrupt Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, in 2010.  Eleven of those hooligans were charged and convicted of conspiracy and disrupting a public meeting.  Those convictions were obtained despite the efforts of many UCIrvine faculty members, including a large number of  Jewish Studies department faculty.

But more importantly, the vote was taken by the UC Irvine Student Government, which, in all likelihood, does not have any investments in the targeted companies, or any other companies, for that matter.

The student government also called on the UC Irvine administration to divest from the named companies, but a student group’s call on its university to take the students’ investment advice is not exactly like money in (or, in this case, out of) the bank.

While the vote was really the equivalent of a small group of children shouting at those acting in loco parentis to take its investment advice, last night’s effort by anti-Israel student leadership at UCI is noteworthy for a small shift in tactic.

Although the Resolution repeatedly compared Israeli activity to Apartheid South Africa, the student government Resolution only sought divestment from those companies it deemed to provide support for the Security Fence, the demolition of “Palestinian” homes, and the building or maintenance of  the “illegal Israeli settlements” on “occupied Palestinian territory.”  In the past, calls for divestment from Israel typically called for divestment from any company doing business in Israel, which was the South Africa Apartheid divestment model.

The nitty gritty details, that is, that it was a student group that voted to divest its own (non-existent) financial holdings from certain companies – and was not the vote by a university to divest its holdings from companies doing business in Israel – was completely lost on most other media reporting on the vote.  Professional Israel haters such as Ali Abunimeh and Noam Chomsky were quick to add their support, as were Muslim Student Associations and other anti-Israel groups across the country.  To see the misguided glee, check on twitter #IrvineDivest.

The Resolution, which was introduced by Sabreen Shalabi, and seconded by Shadi Jafari, follows:

 

Item Number: 16 Legislation Number (B: Bill, R: Resolution): R48-15
Synopsis: Divestment from Companies that Profit from Apartheid
Date of Presentation: November 13, 2012
 Divestment from Companies that Profit from ApartheidWHEREAS, it is UC Irvine’s duty to maintain the values of “respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, and empathy” which includes the promotion of human rights, equality, and dignity for all people without distinction;WHEREAS, it is the mission of the UCI Foundation to “ensure the appropriate use of all funds” in order to uphold the values of respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment appreciation, and empathy;WHEREAS, students have a legacy of standing against oppression and injustice at UC Irvine and across the U.S.;WHEREAS, the role of student activists in exposing South Africa’s apartheid system and  supporting equality, freedom, and dignity sets an example for us to follow as students of global conscience;WHEREAS, as the example of South Africa shows, it is imperative for students to stand unequivocally against all forms of racism and bigotry globally and on campus, including but not limited to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, patriarchy, and Israel’s system of apartheid;WHEREAS, the occupied Palestinian Territory is controlled militarily by the Israeli government;WHEREAS, certain companies have promoted and been complicit in these ongoing human rights violations systematically committed by the Israeli government, which have been documented by human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, Addameer, B’tselem, Adalah, Badil, and the Israeli Coalition Against Home Demolitions;WHEREAS, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated régime are contrary to international law”;WHEREAS, according to the same ICJ decision, the establishment and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem is also illegal by international law;

Parshas Toldos

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
November 16, 2012 – 2 Kislev 5773
4:17 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

 

Sabbath Ends: 5:24 p.m. NYC E.S.T.
Weekly Reading: Toldos
Weekly Haftara: Masa D’var Hashem (Malachi 1:1 – 2:7)
Daf Yomi: Shabbos 44
Mishna Yomit: Sotah 1:8-9
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 153:21 –154:1
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Rotzeach u’Shemiras ha’Nefesh  chap. 2-4
Earliest time for tallis and tefillin: 5:49 a.m. NYC E.S.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:14 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

 

Community Currents – November 16, 2012

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The Conservatives’ Obama Delusion

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

For most of the past two years, if not the past four, many conservatives and Republicans assumed that Barack Obama could not be reelected. A poor economy, an unpopular liberal agenda shoved down the throat of the country, and a largely uninspiring presidential leadership style combined to create a widespread belief on the right that the 2012 election would be a lay-up for them.

We now know what some of us suspected for a long time: Republicans drastically underestimated the president’s appeal as a historic figure.

The postmortem on the Republican failure to defeat the president will go on until 2016, but the finger pointing within the party will largely miss the point. The big problem was not Romney’s moderation (likely to be the right wing’s favorite theory); the influence of the Tea Party (the standard liberal interpretation); the failure to do outreach to Hispanics (though Republicans need to address this problem); Romney’s inability to run against ObamaCare; the GOP standard-bearer’s decision not to talk more about himself and letting the Democrats define him; the decision not to hammer Obama more over the Benghazi fiasco or even Hurricane Sandy.

The main obstacle to a Republican victory was that the party was seeking to defeat the first African-American president – one aided by a supportive mainstream media and buttressed by the power of incumbency and what turned out to be a tremendously efficient campaign organization.

Contrary to the delusion that Obama was a loser waiting to be knocked off, beating him was always going to be a long shot. Most conservatives were prepared to acknowledge that the majority of Americans were still pleased with the idea of righting some historic wrongs by electing an African-American in 2008. But they failed to understand that even though Obama’s administration was not widely viewed as a great success, at least half the country was not prepared to toss him out of office after only one term.

As an incumbent, Obama was able to claim credit concerning things for which he did not deserve many plaudits, like the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the response to the hurricane in the last days before the election. He also could count on the unfailing support of much of the media even when he was embarrassed by events, such as the Benghazi attack.

These were strengths that many Republicans continually discounted or disregarded entirely.

The close nature of the loss at a time when the national economy is still stagnant will naturally cause many on the right to speculate on what Romney and his campaign could have done differently. They will be right when they point out he should have fought back immediately against the slurs on his character that were the focus of much of the Obama campaign’s early efforts.

Maybe a perfect GOP effort could have gotten that extra one percent of the vote that would have turned a few close states and elected Romney. That’s something that will torment conservatives as ObamaCare is implemented and Obama continues to govern from the left.

But even his sternest critics must admit that Romney ran a creditable campaign and was able to use the debates to make the race closer and even take a lead in some polls in the last month. They must also acknowledge that the conservative assumption that the electorate in 2012 would be very different than it was in 2008 was wrong.

The good news for the GOP is that contrary to those who will claim a permanent Democratic majority, the circumstances of 2012 won’t be repeated in four years. Obama will be gone in 2016 and anyone who thinks that Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo or even Hillary Clinton will have an easy time against the deep Republican bench that is ready to run next time misunderstands the nature of American politics.

The bottom line is that Barack Obama won the 2012 election far more than the Republicans lost it. Obama may be a remarkably unsuccessful president (he’s the first to win re-election by a smaller margin) but he was never the patsy most conservatives imagined.

Conservatives spent the two years since their 2010 midterm victory operating under a serious delusion about the president’s political strengths. That’s a terrible indictment of their political acumen, but it won’t affect their chances in four years when Obama is no longer on the ballot.

The City that has Problems with Synagogues

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

My congressional campaign is over, but one of the main reasons I ran remains. What first impelled me to seek public office was the feeling of powerlessness to stop Muammar Kaddafi from coming to stay in the home immediately next door to me in Englewood, N.J., in the autumn of 2009.

And though we ultimately succeeded, with God’s blessing, in pushing him out, I could not persuade my city to challenge the tax exemption of an international terrorist which forced me, and all the other residents of Englewood, to be complicit in evil in having to subsidize a murderous government’s compound in our midst. (The staff living there did not have the decency to even once lower their flag to half-staff in the wake of the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.)

If only my city were to treat me with the same courtesy they accorded Kaddafi.

For the past year my congregants and I have been locked in a bitter struggle with Englewood to get our home properly zoned as a Synagogue. We have hosted prayer, religious services, and educational events for more than 13 years, but the city continues to cite us as requiring a variance in order to host communal worship. The same city that could not, for three decades, muster the courage to challenge the Libyans’ tax-exempt presence in our town has obstructed a fair hearing of our congregants’ right to establish a house of worship. As the Chairman of our Board, Michael Fromm, has put it, “It’s an outrage. We have had hearings canceled for nefarious reasons, the rules have been changed mid-game, city officials have abused their power to thwart us, board members have publicly displayed prejudice against us, and we have been held to a higher standard than international terrorists.”

The city’s efforts to block our Synagogue application have been brazen. First, they canceled our hearing at the Board of Adjustment – for which we had prepared for months at considerable expense – on the very same day it was to take place on October 24, 2011. Then, after having our hearing unlawfully canceled by one Board, we spent thousands more to ready ourselves for a hearing at the Planning Board, appointed and overseen by the City’s mayor, Frank Huttle. Unbelievably, they too found a legal loophole to deny us from even being heard. The full video of the hearing is available here and you may draw your own conclusions as to the fairness of their arguments and vote.

So, thousands of dollars later we were back at the Board of Adjustment for a hearing scheduled for May 21, 2012. Then, just a week before the hearing we were forwarded a letter, authored by Ken Albert, the City Engineer, dated March 27, 2012, that demanded, for the first time, a host of new improvements in order for us to even qualify for the hearing. Bizarrely, the city stamped his letter April 24th, 2012, suggesting they had sat on the letter for a full month prior to forwarding it, thereby making it impossible for our hearing to go ahead as planned.

We acquired a new date of June 25, 2012 only to have that hearing canceled by Chairwoman Rosemary Byrne a mere four hours before it was scheduled, wasting thousands more of our organization’s money. Was the city’s strategy to have us squander all our funds without even a hearing so that we would throw in the towel?

We finally decided to go public about the many obstacles and cancellations thrown in our path for the creation of a House of Worship, while leaving the Libyans to live peacefully at Englewood taxpayer expense. We also prepared a Federal lawsuit against the city under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Once the newspaper reports appeared, we were granted a hearing.

We’ve had two since. Unfortunately, the hearings have been characterized by what would seem to be a predetermined outcome. A simple read of the transcripts provides a great deal of illumination, with one board member in particular, Harry Reidler, seeming particularly vexed by our application.

Reidler, who is a member of the local Democratic Municipal Committee, several times raised my Congressional bid in the district (Republican) even though it was never germane to our Synagogue’s application. When, for the first time, he brought up my race for Congress he was interrupted three times by the Chairwoman and told, “Wait.” Still he objected, saying ‘…I mean, we know that this Rabbi is running for Congress.”

Community Currents 0 November 9, 2012

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/community-currents/community-currents-0-november-9-2012/2012/11/07/

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