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May 23, 2015 / 5 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Carter’

Competition for Islamic Terrorism Cluelessness Prize: Carter and Stewart Tie

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

People can argue about who the worst president of the United States was, but it is hard to dispute that the president who has done and said more idiotic things since leaving office is – hands down – Jimmy Carter.

And yet in a segment on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart on Monday, Jan. 13, Jimmy Carter seemed to be in a competition with his host to show who is more clueless about Islamic terrorism. The competitors tied for the prize. It might have been amusing to watch, if it wasn’t so painful.

Carter was on the show ostensibly because the Carter Center has an exhibit opening tomorrow at the Museum of Natural History, “Countdown to Zero, Defeating Diseases.”

But for most of the just-under eight minute segment, Carter and Stewart discussed the rise of extremist violence, even though the words “Charlie Hebdo” or “kosher grocery store” or even “ISIS” or “al Qaeda” were never mentioned.

Despite accounts by other media that Jon Stewart asked Carter about what happened in Paris, the conversation actually went a bit differently.

It was Stewart who set the tone, suggesting that religion really has nothing to do with the violence that the world has been witnessing.

After a brief discussion about the Carter Center’s humanitarian efforts in Africa, Stewart asked the former president whether he was disheartened, given the “great optimism” following the Camp David Accords.

Carter admitted he was disheartened, but then, veering the only time into a direct reference to the recent events in Paris, he commented on the fact that “the Palestinian leader and the Israeli leader both marched in the front line together in Paris.”

“We still have a hope for peace,” Carter said, “but it’s a distant hope.”

With that, Carter launched into his prescription for giving life to that hope: Israel has to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza (perhaps he forgets that all Israelis, living and dead, left Gaza almost a decade ago). Oh, and also “East Jerusalem,” Israelis have to leave there as well.

And what do the Palestinian Arabs have to do? “The Palestinians have to make sure that they commit themselves, without equivocation, to the freedom of Israel to live in peace alongside of them.”

Carter insisted that it was the United States which has to “be in the forefront of demanding that both the Palestinians and the Israelis come together and accept a reasonable solution to the problem.” His solution, of course.

Stewart then kind of slid into a more generalized history discussion of terrorism in the Middle East, allowing Carter to preen over bringing Sadat and Begin together.

After pointing out that “this extremism” was around at the time of Camp David, Stewart then shares his insight: “I view ‘this extremism’ as a kind of pretext, this idea that it’s a religious backing, seems a pretext for just powerless…they’re angry, nihilistic, and if they did not have the religious part, it would be something else, they would use something else as a pretext to be violent in this way.”

In other words, Stewart views the ISIS and al Qaeda members as simply the latest iteration of the school yard bullies: angry guys who feel powerless and are just using religion as a front, but they could just as easily use membership in a gang, or anything else to justify their “extremism.”

But Carter gives Stewart a tiny little bit of blowback. Instead of agreeing with Stewart, Carter veers down his familiar path of blaming Israel.

Carter responds to Stewart, essentially saying that religion is behind the “extremism” (most people call this terrorism), but it is all Israel’s fault for insulting the religion of these easily angered folks.

Netanyahu’s Struggle for the Presidency

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Behind closed doors, President Shimon Peres is whispering (loudly) that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to be a dictator over Israel.

That’s because the prime minister is attempting to end the president’s authorization to assign the top political party the task of assembling a governing coalition after each election.

Netanyahu also wants to postpone the presidential elections for up to six months, according to a report broadcast last week on Voice of Israel government radio. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein would take over the reins from Peres in July if the prime minister succeeds.

But according to a report last week in the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, Netanyahu’s real goal is to abolish the presidency altogether.

Peres said in conversations with confidantes that Netanyahu’s initiative is “an attempt to establish a dictatorship here,” The Jerusalem Post reported. He claimed the prime minister would not “be satisfied until there is an absolute ruler [in the prime minister’s office].”

The president, who retires next month when he turns 90 years old, has always been far more active politically and diplomatically than is generally accepted. In that he is similar to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, also elderly, who has traveled to numerous nations around the world and freely spoken his mind, regardless of the impact his actions might have on U.S. relations or foreign policy in those regions – including here in the Middle East.

In the State of Israel, the position of president is one that is supposed to be primarily ceremonial, rather than actively political, and brings with it little actual authority. This has proved to be a major frustration for Shimon Peres, who has likewise felt the need to express his opinions regardless of whether they contradict those of his own government. Both men have created awkward situations for their governments and at times have even sabotaged their governments’ efforts as a result.

However, not every president is a Shimon Peres and new presidential elections are coming up fast. Netanyahu still has to drum up support for any move either to postpone elections or to eliminate a president’s ability to assign coalition-building — or for that matter abolish the post — and that’s not easy.

Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, 74, has a great deal of support for his candidacy in the upcoming election, and not only from Bayit Yehudi Housing Minister, MK Uri Ariel. Although Rivlin appears to be a genial man, he is not likely to allow himself to be sidelined so quickly, nor are his colleagues likely to be willing to sit silently by and let it happen.

His biggest rival, Binyamin Ben-Eleizer, 78, is another strong contender unlikely to allow Netanyahu to give away his right to assign coalition formation. The Iraqi-born former IDF general is close with the Sephardic population and maintains excellent relations with Arab leaders.

Silvan Shalom, 55, and a former finance and former minister, also has considered running for president but now may drop the idea. His candidacy would likely not succeed due to allegations of sexual offenses against former employees. At least one involved formal charges, but the case was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired. Each of the others did not materialize for various other reasons, according to a statement by the Justice Ministry last week.

There are also reports that former Soviet refusenik Natan Scharansky, 66 and currently director of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been approached by various people asking him to toss his hat into the ring. Hugely popular, Scharansky has not yet discussed the matter in public.

Greetings from Apartheidia

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Friends (or at least those of you who aren’t… well you know),

Its another beautiful day here in Apartheidia, the place formerly known as Israel. The decision has been made to change names to reflect the reality of the situation that exists here now that we have not decided to commit suicide by accepting 5 million Palestinian refugees (there are actually only 3,500 refugees, but when you thrown in children, grandchildren, and their accountants the number grows somewhat), re-drawing the lines of Israel to only include the Port of Tel Aviv (we fought hard for that one), and Herzliyah Pituach (and that’s about it), and to neuter the IDF.

So, as that master of diplomatic acrobatics John Kerry so aptly pointed out, there is nothing left for us to do but to come out of the Apartheid closet.

There is just one problem we are all grappling with. Who are we exactly “apartheiding,” if I can put it that way. There have been numerous concerned citizen meetings in our town and others trying to get answers to this.

We asked our Ethiopian gardener about it and he said that he is saving up for an apartment, so if the country goes to hell, it should drive down the price of real estate. Our Arab family GP said no more antibiotics, get out and get some fresh air, even if it meant rubbing elbows with the apartheided.

Our Druze contractor did say that many of his family were being apartheided to death across the border in Syria, but he admitted that this didn’t have much to do with events on this side of the Golan.

There were some of our married friends who offered their spouse as an apartheid victim (or victor), the goal being a bit of critical distance.

But basically, we haven’t been able to quite figure out who is being apartheided. It’s funny, if you read the newspapers, you see the many opportunities for apartheid, whether it is Russians in the Ukraine, Christians most anywhere in the Mid East (oh, except here in Apartheidia, where they have just been recently responding to a voluntary IDF draft notice), and by their choice, Muslims most everywhere in Europe.

Look, if that searing light of diplomacy and international understanding, John Kerry (who must be channeling the all time guru of enlightened international affairs, Jimmy Carter) says we are an Apartheid state, then we must be.

We just need some help here getting with the Apartheid program. This place looks too much like one of those Benetton ads. One of the ideas that came out of the most recent town meeting was that “Apartheid Begins at Home.” In other words, each of us, in our own ways can start the ball rolling. Some particularly good ideas:

1. No more humus, because that might connote acceptance of  Arabs.

2. No more burekas, because that might connote acceptance of Mizrachim. Ditto malawa because of the toxic association with Yeminites.

3. Olives. Forget about it. Too many are grown by Arabs. Ditto dates.

4. Dining out in Tel Aviv, especially groovy areas like Neve Tzedek and Yaffo. Out of the question. Could be consorting with gays.

5. No more driving in northern Israel, since the main roads go through Druze villages and that’s no longer tolerable.

6. Jerusalem? No way. Its out of central casting for It’s A Small World.

7. Stay away from the IDF. They have those Beduoin units, Hareidi units, and they let Druze guys serve wherever they want.

8. You can’t even go to Judea and Samaria any more because too many Palestinians work there, in crimes against humanity locales like the SodaStream factory.

Jimmy Carter Backs Abbas’ Appeal to the UN

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter insisted Monday that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to ask for membership in international associations of the United Nations actually will help the “peace process.”

It takes a bit of a twisted imagination to follow the man’s mind. Such as it is, but here is what he said in a statement in the name of the “Elders,” a group of bored and boring world leaders who have decided they can promote peace in the world that they helped botch.

“The decision by the Palestinians to exercise their right to join international organizations should not be seen as a blow to the peace talks,” Carter said . “I hope that, on the contrary, it will help to redress the power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians, as we approach the 29 April deadline set by Secretary Kerry.”

When Carter says “imbalance,” he means Abbas’ not having the upper hand. A “balance” of power means that Israel is under the bus.

In order to make that happen, Carter and the Elders ignored the fact the Abbas totally broke the rules of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Peace Talks Follies when he said he would turn to the United Nations.

What really happened, according to Carter, is that decision to ask to join 12 U.N. treaties and conventions was “consistent with the UN non-member observer state status obtained by Palestine in November 2012.”

Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and deputy chair of The Elders, added, “This move opens the way to more inclusive and accountable government in the West Bank and Gaza. It has the potential to strengthen respect for human rights and provide ordinary Palestinians with essential legal protections against discrimination or abuses by their own government.”

He thinks that the poor Arab on the street in Ramallah will benefit from the Palestinian Authority’s being a member of the organization for the rights of children, for example.  Does the distinguished former prime minister of Norway know that Iran and Saudi Arabia are member of Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Has the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which Abbas wants to join, helped the man on the street in Argentina, Angola, Egypt, Iran,, Libya, and Sudan, some of the most comport countries in the world who are members of the enlightened committee?

But none of this is important, because Carter said it is all going to help the peace process.

Jimmy Carter Says Boycotting Israel Is ‘Too Much’

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday he does not support the leftist-Arab “boycott, divest, sanction” campaign against Israel but added that products made in Judea and Samaria should not carry a “Made in Israel label.”

He told the Associated Press in an interview that he and other “elders,” a group of retired senior leaders, “decided not to publicly endorse any kind of embargo, or so forth, against Israeli invasion, or occupying troops in Palestine.”

“Israeli invasion?”

Not only did her use the phrase, the Associated Press did not have the decency to correct Carter’s perversions of history, For those under the age of 40 and who have never learned anything in the past beyond the Russian invasion of Ukraine, seven Arab countries tied to annihilate Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967. When they failed, they abandoned their second-class Arabs in Judea, Gaza and Samaria. So much for the “invasion.”

But Carter counts himself as pro-Israel because he does not support a boycott.

Thanks for no favors.

Robert Strauss, Democratic Kingmaker and Ambassador, Dies At 95

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Robert Strauss, the son of small-town Texas shopkeepers who became an adviser to presidents of both parties, died Wednesday at the age of 95.

He helped found in 1945 Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, the energy law firm that pioneered powerhouse lobbying after its 1971 move to Washington.

Strauss, whose parents ran a general store in a small town in Texas, forged his first important political ties at the University of Texas working on the congressional campaign of Lyndon Johnson and the student body campaign of John Connally, who later became governor.

Connally’s sponsorship decades later led to Strauss becoming chairman of the Democratic National Committee after the party’s presidential candidate, George McGovern, suffered a crushing defeat in 1972.

Strauss led the rebuilding of the party and started advocating on behalf of the little-known governor of Georgia as a possible candidate — a bet that paid off in 1976 with Jimmy Carter’s election as president.

Carter made Strauss a trade envoy and later named him a special ambassador so he could help negotiate the emerging Egypt-Israel peace agreement. Strauss was among Carter’s advisers who successfully counseled the president to resist bringing the Palestine Liberation Organization into the process until it recognized Israel.

Strauss also endeavored to smooth relations between the Jewish and black communities after Carter fired Andrew Young, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, for meeting with PLO officials.

Strauss, like so many top Jewish officials before and after him, was his administration’s unofficial liaison to the Jewish community — a role he did not appear to always relish, storming out of one particularly testy meeting with Jewish leaders over Carter’s peace process policies in 1980.

After Carter’s inauguration in 1977 and his naming Strauss as a trade envoy, JTA asked Strauss whether Carter would preserve Jackson-Vanik, the legislation linking human rights performance to trade status that was considered critical to liberalizing exits for Jews from the Soviet Union.

The Nixon and Ford administrations had fiercely resisted the legislation — Henry Kissinger, the Jewish secretary of state, was especially contemptuous of it — but Carter would go on to embrace it, one of the rare high points in his relationship with the Jewish community.

However, Strauss was noncommittal and felt it necessary to explain to JTA how being in government necessarily changed his perspective.

“I could have emotional and historical views and the prejudices from that,” he said. “Now, with my present responsibilities, I must be absolutely certain that I am looking at it [Jackson-Vanik] from the standpoint of the whole America. I will take a purely critical and analytical look and I will speak out when I have the authority.”

Strauss said he suffered little anti-Semitism growing up in Texas, saying that he only thought about being Jewish when his parents kept him home on Yom Kippur.

He joined the Baptist Young People’s Union to meet girls, he told the Dallas Morning News in a 1981 interview, and was elected its president.

“Of course, the preacher had to put a stop to that because I wasn’t a member of that church,” Strauss said.

Within weeks of Carter’s defeat in 1980, Strauss — who had chaired Carter’s campaign — began to meet routinely with President-elect Ronald Reagan and became an adviser to him.

Reagan awarded Strauss the Medal of Freedom in 1981, and his vice president and successor, President George H. W. Bush, named him ambassador to the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991, which led to Strauss becoming the first U.S. envoy to the post-Soviet Russia.

Once it became clear in the 1980s — with credible female and African-American runs for the president and vice president – that presidents no longer had to be white, Christian and male, pundits often would turn to Strauss and ask him to name the first likely Jewish president. He invariably would offer himself.

The self-promotion ostensibly was in jest — Strauss liked to remind people that his mother expected him to become the first Jewish governor of Texas — until it wasn’t. Jack Germond, the political columnist, once recalled trying to talk Strauss out of a presidential run in 1983.

“He was a Jew from Texas and a lawyer and businessman who had made a lot of money in ways that might have to be defended,” Germond said in a 2005 Washingtonian magazine article cited in Strauss’ Washington Post obituary. “Above all, he had a wise mouth that no candidacy could survive in this age of political correctness.”

President Obama in a statement lauded Strauss’ appeal across the spectrum.

“Bob was one of the greatest leaders the Democratic Party ever had, yet presidents of both parties relied on his advice, his instincts, and his passion for public service — not to mention his well-honed sense of humor,” he said.

Strauss’ wife, Helen, died in 2006. Strauss is survived by two sons, a daughter and seven grandchildren.

Israel Must Learn Taiwan Lesson and Grow Up

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests. Paraphrasing Lord Palmerston (Henry John Temple)

While Israel and the United States share some common, fundamental values, in reality, they have very different interests.

The most basic example is the Middle East.

America’s first priority in the region is to keep the oil flowing, and reduce reliance on any single country for that resource.

Israel’s top priority is survival.

Iran is the best example of where these differences come to a head.

Israel is rightfully worried that Iran wants to commit nuclear genocide against it. America, on the other hand, is not overly concerned about an Iranian attack, but would definitely like to see Iranian oil flowing into the U.S., while keeping Iran out of Russian hands.

It fits well into an American Middle East strategy, that Iran, whatever its regime, would have a working relationship with the U.S.

That doesn’t mean that the U.S. would destroy Israel to satisfy Iran, but the it has no problem with Israel paying a price in exchange for Iran’s friendship.

Think Jimmy Carter, China and Taiwan. Back in 1979, Carter switched his allegiance from Taiwan to the People’s Republic, practically overnight. It’s what superpowers do.

This leaves Israel in a dilemma.

Iran will get nuclear missiles, because it plans to get them – at all costs. The U.S. wants a rapprochement with Iran, and a few nuclear bombs aren’t going to stand in the way of that. Israel attacking Iran, on the other hand, would.

Israel doesn’t have too many initial options here.

Israel can pressure the U.S. Congress to try to reduce the size of the bus Israel gets pushed under. Israel can attack Iran alone, and pray that it’s strong enough, and be prepared to endure the consequences it will face from the U.S. and from an Iranian retaliation. Or Israel can keep its mouth shut, ride out the Obama storm, and be prepared to eventually face off with a nuclear Iran, with expansionist goals, protecting its proxies on Israel’s border with its nuclear umbrella.

There is another option that Israel can take.

Israel can grow up, and cut the American umbilical cord.

Israel needs to diversify.

It needs to go out and begin building better and deeper relationships with other strong countries – Russia included. It doesn’t need to cut its ties with the US, but it does need to end its complete reliance on the US, because Israel’s interests and US interests are not the same.

It doesn’t need to be big moves either. Simply buying some military from Russia would give Israel customer (not client) status, and that would change all the relationships. The US would also be faced with a choice, and pushing Israel under the bus would have consequences for the US in return.

Israel could then play those relationships off one another, just like the big boys do.

The U.S. had been holding back parts of Israel’s economy, specifically that of the military industry. Israel can begin selling its systems that compete with the US’s military industry. It’s well known that Israel’s war tech is superior, and selling a few major systems would do well for the Israeli economy.

And finally, Israel can apply Israeli law over Area C, and unilaterally declare that the price for a nuclear Iran, is an Israel with borders that we believe are needed for our protection, as well are historically and legally ours. The Arabs in Areas A are free to run their government and live their lives however they want, as long as they don’t attack us or attempt to harm us in any way.

Taiwan manages to thrive and grow, despite the Chinese shadow, and its president being persona non grata in Washington (even if it is now trying to build a relationship with China)

Israel has a lot more going for it than Taiwan.

A little growing up, and a little diversity never hurt anyone.

Visit The Muqata.

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