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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

INTO THE FRAY: Obama at the UN – Why he was right…almost

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

…a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself…Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land. – Barack Hussein Obama, UN General Assembly Sept. 20, 2016

I should imagine that the title of this article—ostensibly laudatory towards Obama—may raise eyebrows among some of my regular readers. But patience—I urge you to reserve judgement.

As is usual with Obama’s prepared appearances, his Tuesday address to the UN General Assembly was an eloquent concoction of soaring rhetoric and banal platitudes, of statements of the obvious and of the obviously false, delivered with impeccable polish and panache.

The devil in the (omitted) details

It was a far-ranging survey of world events—from the conflicts in South China Sea to the Ukraine; from the menace of the Zika virus to the ravages of yawning socio-economic disparities.

In essence, it was a call for wider participatory democracy, greater acceptance of human diversity and greater integration and openness as the best template for global governance and for meeting the challenges facing humanity today—which is all very well…in principle.

The devil, however, is in the details—especially those omitted.

In his almost 6000 word tour d’horizon of international troubles and trouble spots, the word “Islam” or “Islamic” never appears—not even once. The word “Muslim” does appear once (in the plural)—proceeded by the adjective “innocent” to describe them.

Accordingly, any alien visitor from another planet, after hearing the leader of the Free World and the most powerful country on the globe, would have no inkling that one of the gravest and most pervasive threats facing civilized society today—from Bali to San Bernardino—is that of radical Muslim terror and fundamental Islamic ideology that fuels it. Neither would such a visitor come away with even the slightest sense that these

phenomena are neither minor nor marginal, but, in one way or another, impact the lives of hundreds of millions, over vast swathes of land, stretching across much of face of the Earth.

Portraying perpetrators as victims

However, better informed earthlings, more familiar with ongoing events on the planet, could quickly discern that many of the detrimental phenomena enumerated by Obama did in fact originate in, and were characteristic of, predominantly Muslim societies, particularly those where fundamental Islamic ideology is a pronounced societal feature.

Thus, although Obama began his address on an upbeat note, laying out the positive developments he saw as having transpired on his watch: “Let me recount the progress that we’ve made these last eight years”, he quickly moved on to list some of the grave crises, plaguing the world community today.

He lamented: Around the world, refugees flow across borders in flight from brutal conflict… Across vast swaths of the Middle East, basic security, basic order has broken down. We see too many governments muzzling journalists, and quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information. Terrorist networks use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies and spurring anger against innocent immigrants and Muslims.

But of course all this malevolent malfeasance, and the tragedy it precipitates , can be attributed almost exclusively to Muslim perpetrators – whether regimes, organizations or individuals. Yet Obama chose to refer to Muslims as victims of some amorphous social malaise, rather than its primary purveyors.

Obama rips…Islam?

After all the “refugees flow[ing] across borders” he refers to are almost all Muslim refugees. The “brutal conflict” they flee is a fratricidal Muslim conflict. The “vast swathes of the Middle East” where basic security [and] order have broken down” are Muslim-ruled (or misruled) territories. It is Muslim governments that are “muzzling journalists…quashing dissent, and censoring the flow of information.” And it is Muslim “terrorist networks” that “use social media to prey upon the minds of our youth, endangering open societies…”

Without actually referring to Muslim society, Obama went on to admonish phenomena that are, in many ways, defining features of Muslim societies, from Khartoum to Karachi and beyond: “I do not believe progress is possible if our desire to preserve our identities gives way to an impulse to dehumanize or dominate another group. If our religion leads us to persecute those of another faith, if we jail or beat people who are gay, if our traditions lead us to prevent girls from going to school, if we discriminate on the basis of race or tribe or ethnicity, then the fragile bonds of civilization will fray.”

Of course, this is a largely accurate depiction of the religious intolerance of infidels and kaffirs, the suppression, even prohibition, of non-Muslim faiths , the persecution of homosexuals and of the gender discriminations that abound—undeniably and indeed, undenied—throughout the Muslim world.

Mis-attributing cause

Yet, somehow Obama seeks to attribute the dismal state of Muslim society to a reaction to modernity. Thus, prefacing his catalogue of the social ailments mentioned above, he stated: “…around the globe we are seeing the same forces of global integration that have made us interdependent also expose deep fault lines in…existing international order.”

To a large degree, this echoes his attempted apologetics in his 2009 Muslim outreach speech in Cairo where he tried to explain away the discordant disparity between the West and Islam. He then suggested that: “the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to Islamic traditions.”

But of course, Islamic traditions of gender discrimination, homophobia, religious intolerance and political tyranny, which Obama himself excoriated, have nothing to do with the onset of globalization, or modernity. Indeed, they have been an abiding—almost a defining—feature of the Muslim society for centuries, long inimical—indeed, incompatible with—the kind of tolerance and openness that Obama professes to subscribe to.

Could Obama, who has boasted of his close familiarity with Islam–“I have known Islam on three continents”—be oblivious to this?

Indeed, one can hardly be blamed for feeling that the outgoing president was being just a touch disingenuous when he remarked ,disapprovingly “… in Europe and the United States, you see people wrestle with concerns about immigration and changing demographics, and suggesting that somehow people who look different are corrupting the character of our countries”.

“No stronger retrograde force exists…”

Of course, it should be painfully obvious that what bothers increasing numbers of indigenous Europeans and non-Muslim Americans is not the way Muslim immigrants look, but the way a perceptible number of them behave. Indeed, Muslim perpetrated rape and lethal terror attacks probably have far more to do with the growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the West, than their physical appearance.

Indeed, if one compares the list of social iniquities that Obama diagnoses, but refrains from attributing them to societies in which they are prevalent, they paint much the same picture as that portrayed by Winston Churchill, more than a century ago—well before globalization and modernization could threaten Islam’s “traditional values”.

In an era, yet unshackled by disingenuous restraints of political correctness, he catalogued with brutal candor what he saw as the depravity of Muslim society: “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! … The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.” He underscored the discriminatory attitude towards women, still prevalent in much of the Islamic world: “The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.”

He warned that although: “Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities…the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world”

“…the prime enemy of our civilization?”

As far back as the 19th century, he foretold the Muslim drive for expansion and subjugation: “Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith… raising fearless warriors at every step”, cautioning direly “were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science…the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome”

Four decades later, the prominent Anglo-French writer Hilaire Belloc raised similar fears: “Will not perhaps the temporal power of Islam return and with it the menace of an armed Muhammadan world, which will shake the dominion of Europeans—still nominally Christian—and reappear again as the prime enemy of our civilization? . . .

A decade before the horrors of 9/11, the then prominent Indian journalist and today senior politician, M.J. Akbar predicted: “The West’s next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin.”

Much that has transpired since then leaves little doubt that his prognosis has the ominous ring of truth to it.

Indeed, this cataclysmic clash between two incompatible civilizations, each entailing mutually exclusive and antithetical cultural values regarding religious tolerance, gender equality, sexual preferences, and socio-political diversity has been brewing for over a hundred years. It is now finding greater, more violent and more frequent expression with

each passing week. Yet despite its potentially catastrophic consequences, and prospect of its possible nuclearization in the foreseeable future, it was given no explicit mention in Obama’s UN address—apart from vague generic references to some of the socio-political blights that accompany it.

Obama is right: Efficacy of walls is limited

It is against this background of far-reaching reluctance to condemn anything remotely identified with Islam that Obama’s short reference to Israel should be seen—although appropriate caution should not imply total rejection.

For example, there was ring of truth in his disapproving skepticism in the long-term efficacy of walls—although he probably had Donald Trump’s proposal for the Mexican border, not Gaza, in mind.

Indeed, to understand this, look at the newest proposal to surround Gaza with a wall, reportedly to be not only up to 20 m about above ground, but up to 40 m below it—to contend with the threat of tunnels. Its construction, along a 50 km border, will take years and cost billions. Now imagine the efforts needed to construct a similar barrier, along a 500 km border, should a Palestinian entity be established in Judea-Samaria (aka the “West Bank”). Moreover, as daunting as defensive installations may be, some methods will always be devised to overcome, or circumvent it (e.g. digging a tunnel 45 m deep to circumvent a wall 40 m deep).

For too long Israel has tried to thwart threats defensively rather than eliminate them offensively. In this regard, I find myself in agreement with Caroline Glick, when she wrote in an opinion piece published this week: “Our leaders are failing us because they refuse to act on the sure knowledge that an over-reliance on defensive measures does not deter aggression. It invites aggression”.

Obama is right: End the occupation

This brings us to an additional point on which Obama was right—sort of: Israel should end the “Occupation”.

Israel cannot indefinitely rule over a growing, and increasingly radicalized Palestinian-Arab population, as I have pointed out in “Mowing the lawn won’t cut it”.

But neither can it, nor should it, allow the establishment of yet another Muslim-majority tyranny, with all the violent and intolerant hallmarks of “traditional Muslim values”, abutting, and overlooking, its most populous urban areas. Nor can it integrate the Arab population in Judea-Samaria (and Gaza) into the permanent population of the Jewish state—without creating the inevitable “Lebanonization” of Israeli society, with all the subsequent inter-ethnic strife that would undoubtedly follow such an ill-advised measure.

Accordingly, the only non-coercive policy that can preserve Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and remove the Palestinian-Arabs from Jewish rule, is to set up a system of economic inducements, entailing enticing incentives for them to leave, together with daunting disincentives to stay, and provide non-belligerents and their families an opportunity for a better life elsewhere out of harm’s way. That is the only feasible way to end the “Occupation”. But I am sure I have said that before.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Shiloh Musings: Bibi and Obama Do Not Have to Like Each Other

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

One of the big differences between the Israeli and American forms of government is that an American President is limited to two elected terms, eight years, while an Israeli Prime Minister can hold the office indefinitely, for decades even. Though nobody has been PM for that long. The longest serving David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, like Netanyahu, did not serve all terms consecutively. Click here for a list.

From what it has been said in the news over the years, and the grimaces caught by cameras, United States President Barack Hussein Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu have never really gotten along. The glowing smiles that Obama always has plastered on his face when meeting Arabs are never seen when he’s meeting with Bibi. His speechwriters always prepare him with friendly, funny quips to trade with Bibi, who is well-known for his quick mind and on target ad libs. But Bibi, who in some ways can be considered even “more American” than Obama, has never found a common language and comfortable demeanor with the present POTUS.

They are not going to have to put up with each other much longer. Soon there will be a new American President, and Obama will be able to spend time with whomever he wants. No doubt, that’s the reason for the smiles and jovial mood of last week’s meeting between the two.

Batya Medad

Obama Vetoes Bill Letting 9/11 Families Sue Saudi Arabia

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

President Obama on Friday vetoed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act,” which was passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, helping families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia. The bill enables the families to sue the Kingdom should it be shown to be legally liable, having supported the attack. Out of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists, 15 were Saudi nationals.

Obama released a statement Friday, saying he bears “deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously. I also have a deep appreciation of these families’ desire to pursue justice and am strongly committed to assisting them in their efforts.”

However, the president explained, the 9/11 bill is sure to “invite consequential decisions to be made based upon incomplete information and risk having different courts reaching different conclusions about the culpability of individual foreign governments and their role in terrorist activities directed against the United States — which is neither an effective nor a coordinated way for us to respond to indications that a foreign government might have been behind a terrorist attack.”

Yes, he actually used that as his argument: it’s going to cause a mess in the courts system.

A group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism released a statement Friday saying it is “outraged and dismayed” over the president’s veto, arguing that his reasoning is “unconvincing and unsupportable.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she supports the bill. Her spokesman said in a statement that “Clinton continues to support the efforts by Senator Schumer and his colleagues in Congress to secure the ability of 9/11 families and other victims of terror to hold accountable those responsible. She would sign this legislation if it came to her desk.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Obama’s veto was “shameful,” adding in a statement: “That President Obama would deny the parents, spouses and children of those we lost on that horrific day the chance to close this painful chapter in their lives is a disgrace.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said earlier last week that he believes ” the votes are there for the override.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, (D-NY), who co-sponsored the bill, is on the record as promising to help override a veto.

This is the 12th veto by President Obama in his eight years in the White House, and none of his first 11 have been overturned. His predecessor, President GW Bush, used his veto power 12 times and was overturned four times. Out of President Bill Clinton’s 36 vetoes, two were overridden; President GHW Bush had 29 vetoes (in one term) and lost only one.


What If Bibi Jabbed Obama at the UN But No One Noticed?

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

No one in the Israeli media or abroad seems to have noticed, and if they did they are yet to elaborate on the fact that in the midst of his optimistic speech before the UN General Assembly in NY, about the stellar future of Israel, and while he was inviting the global community to benefit from Israel’s amazing technological and other gifts, Prime Minister Netanyahu also delivered a shot across the bow of both the UN Security Council and, despite all his flourish of gratitude for the man, at President Obama, too.

Here’s what the prime minister said, verbatim, about 1,200 words into his Thursday’s speech:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished delegates from so many lands,

“I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms.

“The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended.

“Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?

“We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.”

Everything Netanyahu has been doing over the past month or so, most notably his concession to a degraded US military aid package that could hamper Israel’s future ability to both use some of the aid money for its own industry and to appeal to a friendly US Congress for additional funds, were out of his concern for an Obama Administration November surprise.

Since the summer of 2015, the rumor mill has churned an alarming note regarding the outgoing president’s plan to take down Bibi at the final round, after the Nov. 8 vote will have been cast. Once the Democratic Party no longer needed the Jewish and pro-Israel Christian vote, regardless of who was elected, the US envoy at the UN Samantha Power would either vote in favor of a UNSC resolution on a Palestinian State in all of Judea and Samaria, or merely abstain, which would be tantamount to giving it its full support. Indeed, as Netanyahu stressed in his Thursday speech, “the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011.”

There is no valid US vote other than a veto on an anti-Israel resolution, in the context of a healthy alliance between the US and Israel. On Thursday, Netanyahu made it loud and clear: if the UNSC imposes such a vote on Israel, without an American veto, Israel will disregard it.

Here’s an idea one can only raise in a rightwing Jewish publication such as The JewishPress.com: What if the fact that no one has noticed Netanyahu’s unveiled threat is because they were not expecting it? At least not as a full, frontal, in-your-face challenge? Maybe the entire speech was too “messianic” for anyone to grasp the fact that the PM was foretelling a new world order, the biblical kind? I’ll explain.

The Haftora this week is Isaiah 60, 1-22. Of the entire cycle of Isaiah prophecies of comfort Jews recite on the Shabbat days between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah, this one is probably the least mystical. It does not promise any harmony between lambs and lions; instead it describes a scene astonishingly reminiscent of Netanyahu’s speech at the UN Assembly Thursday.

This chapter in Isaiah reads almost like a newspaper account of Israel’s economic, technological and diplomatic rise. It very well could be published as an actual report, with a few textual changes — taking out the camels laden with goods is recommended, for instance — that could be the leading article of some major publication on Rosh Hashanah 5778, when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Zionist miracle.

Here is a selection of verses, there are 22 altogether — can you see these verses as headlines for current articles?

3: TECHNOLOGY: And nations will walk by your light, and kings by the brightness of your rising.

4. DEMOGRAPHIC GROWTH: Lift up your eyes round about, and see: They all are gathered together, and come to you; Your sons come from far, And your daughters are carried on their mothers’ side.

5. NATURAL GAS: Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will throb and expand; Because the abundance of the sea will be given to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you.

6. FOREIGN INVESTMENTS: The caravans of camels will cover you, And of the young camels of Midian and Ephah, All coming from Sheba; They will bring gold and incense, And will proclaim the praises of God.

9. MASSIVE ALIYA: Surely the islands will wait for Me, And the ships of Tarshish first, To bring your sons from far, Their silver and their gold with them, For the name of the Lord your God, And for the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you.

11. POLITICAL PROMINENCE: Your gates also will be open continually, Day and night, they will not be shut; That men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, And their kings in procession.

12. SECURITY: Because a nation and kingdom that will not serve you will perish; Yes, those nations will be utterly wasted.

Is that a cool prophecy, or what? Obviously, the running theme through the prophecy is the fact that it’s all being done strictly because God wants it this way. He signed several covenants to this effect and now He’s starting the implementation. So, obviously, we’ll need to behave ourselves, that whole love your fellow Jew thing.

Enjoy your Shabbat…

David Israel

Report: US Jewish Donors Mostly Avoid Trump, Favor Clinton

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The website FiveThirtyEight, whose Editor in Chief Nate Silver is possibly the most trusted odds maker in North America, published a report Wednesday suggesting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is being abandoned by Jewish donors. To measure the relationship between Republicans and Jewish supporters, FiveThirtyEight took in data about campaign contributors, because there’s no other reliable way to measure Jewish voting, seeing as Jews make less than 2% of the US population, so that in a representative sample of 1,000 Americans, which is the accepted norm, you get about 20 people who say they are Jewish, and so pollster don’t really have enough to work with on Jewish voters, except for their donations. The AJC poll released last week claimed to offer reliable information on Jewish voter behavior, but one poll does not a reliable behavior reflect.

The FiveThirtyEight authors were hoping that Studying Jewish political contributors would offer a “useful signal,” because, while they may be an insignificant percentage of the population, Jews make up a much larger share of campaign contributors. So that if one discerned a significant swing in their donation behavior, one might assume the entire tribe is reacting in a similar fashion.

So they looked at every contribution of more than $200 to a federal candidate, in data provided by Catalist, a political data vendor which offers reasonably reliable estimates on whether a US voter is Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist or other. Jews are easier to verify this way, because they often have recognizable names and live in geographic clusters. Yes, Upper West Siders, we mean you, but we don’t mean you, former Senator William Cohen of Maine.

Now the results: in 2012, about 70% of Jewish money and Jewish votes (the total given was $160 million) went to President Obama. But in 2016, out of the $95 million given to presidential campaigns so far by Jewish donors, according to FiveThirtyEight, 84% went to Democrats, only 16% to Republicans, including all 16 losers in the primaries. Meanwhile, discounting the Jewish money donated to primary losers, 95% of all Jewish contributions went to Clinton.

But here is the result that’s the most devastating in terms of Jewish support for Trump: as a percentage of all contributors, Jews made up 18% of Obama’s donors and 7% of Romney’s donors in 2012. In 2016, 20% of Clinton’s donors are probably Jewish, only 3% of Trump’s donors have stood at Mount Sinai.

With such a dramatic shift in numbers, assuming they are reliable (having been following Nate Silver for a while, we believe they are), we can’t discount as “leftists” all the Jews who are sending their $200 donations to Clinton, because they probably aren’t. It’s safer to say that Donald Trump has yet to convince Jewish voters that they can trust him as leader of the free world. They barely trust Hillary, for that matter.


The Bombings, Part II: De Blasio, Obama, And Cuomo: A Study In Contrasts

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

The reactions of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and President Obama are also revealing. The president and the mayor, as true progressives, strove mightily to avoid using the “terror“ word – no doubt fearing that someone might, Heaven forbid, make a Muslim connection.

The identity and background of the arrested suspect show just how off the mark their approach was. To his credit, Gov. Cuomo told it like it was right out of the box.

“A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism,” the governor said soon after the news broke of the Manhattan attack.

And while Mr. Cuomo initially hesitated to speculate on a foreign connection, once the identity of the suspect was made known, he was quick to say that “today’s information suggests it may be foreign related.”

(In retrospect, how could it have been otherwise? After all, it was immediately known that explosives were placed in a pressure cooker with shrapnel and that there had been an earlier bombing in New Jersey.)

But Mayor de Blasio was not having any of that, and instead refused to acknowledge what everyone knew to be the case: that terrorism was in play. He said:


Here is what we know: it was intentional, it was a violent act, it was certainly a criminal act, it was a bombing – that’s what we know…. To understand there were any specific motivations, political motivations, and connection to an organization – that’s what we don’t know.


But nobody asked him to ascribe specific motivations. Surely he had a duty to assure New Yorkers that he had some handle on the scope of the dangers they faced. And to what would he ascribe the explosions – run of the mill vandalism? Yet it wasn’t until Monday, after the identity of a prime suspect went viral, that the mayor first broached the notion that the bombings may indeed have been terrorist acts.

As for the progressive-in-chief, 72 hours after the Saturday bombings President Obama had yet to utter the word “terrorist” in reference to them – despite the Islamist allegiance of the alleged perpetrator.

Indeed, as if to underscore his refusal to accept, even now, any overarching Muslim connection, the president, who arrived in New York on Sunday for the annual UN General Assembly, declined to accord any special significance to the bombings by passing without stopping at the site of the Chelsea bombing.

At least we can say kudos to Gov. Cuomo.

Editorial Board

Israel Inspired: Finding Your Story Within Israel’s Story [audio]

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

As Prime Minister Netanyahu boldly exposes the world’s double standard against Israel, both President Obama and prominent figures within American Jewry condemn him for it. In this program, Ari & Jeremy delve into the eternal wisdom of this week’s Torah portion to determine how we can awaken from our slumber and make sense out of the injustice and confusion of our times.

The Land of Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/land-of-israel/ari-and-jeremy/israel-inspired-finding-your-story-within-israels-story-audio/2016/09/21/

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