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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Edward Klein On Obama And Wright

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

When we convened here on May 25, the topic of discussion was the media’s renewed ardor for Barack Obama now that the president appears to be facing a tough reelection challenge.

The matter of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was cited as a prime example of the skewed coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign. When journalists were finally forced to acknowledge Wright’s existence after months of hoping he’d somehow disappear, their sympathy for Obama – and even Wright himself– was all too clear. Just two brief examples:

Washington Post writer Sally Quinn lamented to PBS’s Charlie Rose, “To see his [Jeremiah Wright’s] career completely destroyed by three 20-second sound bites, all of the work he has done, his entire legacy gone down the drain, has been absolutely devastating to me – to him, sorry…. We are still a racist country…. I think that so many white people who had never been inside a black church were absolutely shocked by the tone and language that they heard [from Wright]…. I think it brought out a lot of latent racism.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper, prefacing a story about Wright’s anti-American sermons, complained that “We’re running it [videos snippets of Wright’s speeches] because – like it or not, legitimate or not – it has become an issue…. All this seems to have nothing to do with actual issues that the country is facing, which these candidates should be talking about and we probably should be talking about.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your allegedly objective media at work.

The issue of Jeremiah Wright and his relationship with Obama is being given new life by Edward Klein in his recently released book The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House.

(The generally dismissive reception accorded Klein’s book by the mainstream media is indicative of the protective cover Obama enjoys from the nation’s chattering class. Klein, after all, is a veteran journalist whose resume includes service as foreign editor of Newsweek, back when Newsweek was a serious publication, and editor-in-chief of The New York Times Magazine. The Monitor is pleased to note that notwithstanding some less than laudatory reviews, the book is number one on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list.)

Klein points out that for many years Obama would begin speeches to black audiences by saying, “I bring you greetings from my pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.”

Klein also writes that “Until Obama married Michelle Robinson in 1991, when he was thirty years old, his most significant adult relationship was with Jeremiah Wright. His connection to Wright ran long and deep, and went back further than has been generally reported. It started well before Obama joined Wright’s congregation…where the pastor’s sermons on Black Liberation theology encouraged a victimization mentality among his black parishioners.”

Wright, Klein writes, “became far more than a religious and spiritual guide to Obama; he was his substitute father, life coach, and political inspiration wrapped in one package. At each step of Obama’s career, Wright was there with practical advice and counsel…. It would be no exaggeration to say that Jeremiah Wright…prepared him to run for president.”

When Rolling Stone magazine in 2007 published a detailed account of Wright’s radicalism, the media ignored the story for more than a year. As Klein puts it, “One could only imagine how these journalists would have behaved if the shoe had been on the other foot and…President George W. Bush had sat for twenty years in a white-supremacist church and listened to anti-black rants.”

ABC News investigative correspondent Brian Ross finally broke the media silence in March 2008 when he broadcast videotapes of Wright ranting from the pulpit. He told Klein he “was surprised that no one else had picked up on the Jeremiah Wright story and pursued the videotapes.”

And – pay attention here – Ross added that “not everybody at ABC News was thrilled that I ran with the story. People who liked Obama were not happy with me. In fact, my story ran on ‘Good Morning America’ but was never picked up by ‘World News Tonight.’ ”

Can anyone imagine a more devastating indictment of a news organization?

Rubin Reports: Is Obama Strong on National Security? Of Course Not.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

http://rubinreports.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/is-obama-strong-on-national-security-of.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+Rubinreports+(RubinReports)&utm_content=Yahoo!+Mail

Let me explain to you why the Obama Administration’s propaganda leak effort to prove that the president is tough on national security is nonsense. Almost every example with two exceptions—a computer virus against Iran and regime change in Libya–revolves around the willingness to combat or kill al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden.

There has never been any question but that the Obama Administration views al-Qaida as an enemy and a danger that should be wiped out. That isn’t the problem. The problem is that this is the only entity in the world that this administration sees as a national security threat, since al-Qaida is eager to launch direct attacks against targets on American soil.

In contrast, though, the administration does not act against any other possible national security threat be it Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, North Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, the Turkish Islamist regime, the Muslim Brotherhood, or anything else you can think of.

The administration obviously has shown its belief that engagement, flattery, refusal to help their intended victims, and concessions can win over these enemies. It has even tried to redefine the Taliban as a group that can be conciliated and given a share in a new Afghan government, despite its involvement in September 11!

The only partial exception to that list is Iran. Yet even there the Obama Administration tried to avoid doing anything for almost three years. Even now the government has been desperate to make a deal with Tehran and it is only Iran’s intransigence—and preference for stalling—that have prevented some bargain. Even on the Iran issue the administration did less than Congress wanted and virtually exempted China, Russia, and Turkey from having to observe the sanctions.

Thus, the one other case of administration “toughness” has been support for Israel’s strategy of using such delaying tactics as computer viruses. Of course, the administration is happy at low-cost, no-risk ideas to postpone its having to deal with Iran having nuclear weapons.

During its term, the administration has not been tough in terms of helping allies all over the world. A few dozen governments have been very disappointed by U.S. policy.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the administration has pursued withdrawal strategies initiated by its predecessor. This choice seems wise, but it should be noted that the Obama administration has been completely ineffective in Iraq, where the political system is in serious trouble. With no U.S. effort to resolve the conflict in sight, the Shia prime minister has put out an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president on a charge of terrorism, and the Kurdish president is helping him hide out.

As for Afghanistan, the possibility of a regime collapse and a Taliban takeover is a very real danger that the administration has not been able to counter. The administration favors a “moderate” Taliban participation in government, and has found no way, despite billions of dollars of U.S. aid, to get Pakistan to stop backing the Taliban.

That leaves Libya. This intervention was done because the Arab League, the UN, and the European Union all concurred, and the Gaddafi regime was an easy target. It is not yet clear whether this operation will leave Libya worse off and will jeopardize U.S. interests. Note that the Libyan transitional government is stalling on elections, apparently because these might result in a radical, anti-American Islamist regime or a regional conflict that would produce a new civil war. At any rate, it was less a bold action than a mere going along with the crowd, and whether the operation was of any benefit to U.S. interests is still to be seen.

Finally, there is the jewel in the crown: the assassination of Osama bin Laden. The administration’s portrayal of this as some courageous decision shows more than anything how weak he is. A normal U.S. government would have taken this choice for granted, and not felt the need to stress the president’s alleged machismo. (Even Jimmy Carter didn’t posture over the comparatively brave decision to launch an armed rescue mission of the U.S. hostages held in Iran.) Actually, given Obama’s worldview — don’t make the Muslims mad, fear looking like a bully, be ambiguous about the use of force, panic lest failure have a political cost — it was indeed a hard decision. But that supposed difficult pondering, by the White House’s own admission, precisely makes the point about this administration’s weakness.

Generally, the case of Obama being tough is sold by journalists by leaving out all of the points listed above. Indeed, they are often very vague about specifics in making the case for a heroic Obama. In normal times, with a media that made some serious effort at balance, they would be laughed off the stage.

As for the allegedly mysterious source of the leaks, this is a joke. Anyone who knows how these things work would have no doubt after reading the relevant articles, especially in the New York Times. All of those interviewed were former or current Obama appointees eager to make him look good. These are the people who told the press about national security secrets that relatively few people knew, especially in some detail.

Do these leaks endanger American soldiers and intelligence sources? Ask those at the Pentagon who are outspokenly bitter about self-serving Obama administration leaks, the British services whose penetration of al-Qaeda was irresponsibly revealed, and the Pakistani doctor sentenced to 33 years in prison for helping to get Osama without a huge U.S. effort to get him released.

Finally, here is Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post on what Obama is doing wrong; Ambassador John Bolton on what Obama should be doing; and most surprisingly of all, the usually in-the-tank-for-Obama Nicholas Kristof writing in the New York Times of his disgust at the president’s policy on Syria and Sudan.

Buying Time for Iran

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/05/buying-time-for-iran/ The talks last week between the Iranian regime and representatives of the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany (the “P5+1″) went more or less like this:

P5+1: We’ll reduce sanctions if you stop enriching uranium.

Iran: How about we enrich uranium and you reduce sanctions?

Unnamed US official: “We’re getting to things that matter.”

Another meeting has been set for July 18.

Ho hum…almost another month, more uranium enriched to (at least) 20% and the Fordow facilities get more centrifuges and become more difficult to hit. I suppose that ultimately the P5+1 will get tough, and ‘force’ Iran to agree to something more substantial than yet another meeting date. But since their initial bargaining position was considered by many (including Israeli PM Netanyahu) inadequate to prevent Iran from preparing a “fast breakout” position in which weapons could be built on short notice, how much less adequate will the final deal be?

In an editorial, the Washington Post said,

For now, the crucial question is whether even an interim, time-buying deal is possible. The administration’s optimism was based on the notion that Iran would agree to cease its most advanced form of uranium enrichment, export the stockpile of that material to the West and stop operations at Fordow in exchange for several Western concessions, like the supply of spare parts for commercial aircraft and fuel for a reactor that produces medical isotopes. In Baghdad, Iran rejected that deal as one-sided; it appears to expect major sanctions relief in exchange for any freeze of advanced enrichment.

Who is buying time here, of course is Iran — or rather, it is being given to them gratis. The sanctions and concessions that are on the table are ludicrous, given the fact that acquisition of nuclear weapons has been among the most important objectives of Iranian policy for decades, one to which enormous resources have been dedicated. Imagine trying to induce the US to drop the Manhattan Project in 1944!

It is a good bet that the only way to stop Iran today is by force. A European oil embargo is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but even that will leave loopholes. And there are other markets for Iranian oil, like Turkey and of course China, Japan, India and South Korea.

While the Iranian nuclear program is a problem for the US and for Israel, it is both more serious and more urgent for Israel.

The Obama Administration sent diplomat Wendy Sherman to Jerusalem on Friday to “reaffirm our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.” And no doubt to deploy various carrots and sticks to keep Israel from taking matters into its own hands.

Will Israel violate its long-held principle that it cannot depend on others to guarantee its security? I doubt it, for two reasons. One is that the West has time and again violated its commitments to Israel:

–Eisenhower’s 1956 promise to keep the strait of Tiran open was not honored by LBJ in 1967.

–In 1991, G. H. W. Bush promised to destroy the Scud launchers in Iraq if Israel stayed out of the conflict. Israel stayed out, but the Scuds continued to fall on Tel Aviv.

–During the Oslo period and the Second Intifada, Israel made numerous serious concessions and withdrawals in the name of peace, while the Arabs didn’t budge. Rather, Arafat started the Second Intifada and Hamas rocketed southern Israel from Gaza. Yet Western diplomatic pressure and condemnation of Israel increased.

–The UN Security Council passed resolution 1701 to end the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It called for UN forces to block Hizballah’s return to South Lebanon, to interdict arms shipments from Syria and to disarm Hizballah’s militia. None of these things happened, and Hizballah has refortified South Lebanon and rearmed with weapons delivered through Syria.

–The 1994 letter to then-PM Sharon from George W. Bush, which said that a “full and complete” return to 1949 lines and the settlement of Arab refugees in Israel were not “realistic,” was disavowed by the Obama Administration.

Jordan and the ‘Arab Spring’

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Jordan’s ‘Arab Spring’ protests started as a peaceful small-scale demonstration against corruption in the town of Theeban in January 2011. Since then the protests have spread out to the outlying governorates, along with the rise of so-called popular movements. However, the unrest never reached the magnitude of the uprisings in countries such as Yemen, Egypt and Libya.

As in other Arab countries, protests in Jordan were being led by the Islamist movement, which dominates the political opposition, as well as by the popular protest movement which includes numerous pro-reform organizations.

Protests

The Jordanians mainly protested against corruption and favoritism.

Demonstrators called for investigations into regime corruption at almost all the protests.

Later the protests were directed against the worsening economic situation in the country. The deterioration of the economic situation is alarming as it could lead to a full-blown revolution as happened earlier in Tunis and Egypt.

Jordanian demonstrators demanded reform and change in general in a peaceful way. Lately however, some protests have turned violent. Last week dozens of people were injured during clashes between Salafists and pro-government demonstrators in the city of Zarqa.

Compared to the protests in other countries across the region, those in Jordan have been relatively sparse. This situation can be explained by a lack of organizational skills among the few political parties and an effective security system. In addition, from the outset, the protests’ consensus was that political and economic reform – not regime change – were the solution.

Palestinians

The fact that the Palestinians, who make up almost two thirds of the population, have not joined the protests may explain why there hasn’t been a full-blown revolution in Jordan.

However, the Palestinian Arabs in Jordan have good reasons to be angry at King Abdullah and his government. Although the majority of Jordan’s population is Palestinian, they have been discriminated against for decades.

This is something which King Abdullah in fact admitted when, back in 1999, he called upon his Jordanian (non-Palestinian) subjects to “end class divisions that have marginalized Palestinian citizens of the Hashemite Kingdom.”  He also said at the time that “discrimination must end.”

This discrimination includes the refusal of the Jordanian Government to let Palestinians actively take part in the governing of the country. For example, the Palestinian majority in Jordan holds only 6 seats in a 120 member Parliament, while in Israel the 20 % Arab minority holds 14 out of 120 seats in the Israeli Parliament.

In addition the UN Higher Commission for Refugees confirms that Jordan’s government still treats the majority of its Palestinian citizens as refugees. Human Rights Watch reported in 2010 that King Abdullah’s government has  been randomly cancelling passports of numerous Palestinians throughout Jordan, thereby destroying livelihoods and breaking up families.

Recently Jordan even revoked citizenship of PLO and PA officials. At the same time, a new electoral law sought to limit Palestinian representation in the Jordanian parliament even further.

Instead of taking responsibility for his government’s discriminatory actions, King Abdullah has  accused Israel of being an ‘apartheid’ state. He made this accusation in an interview with the Washington Post about the failed peace negotiations between Israel and the PA which were conducted in Amman. The king said that “Israel will have to choose between democracy and apartheid”.

Reforms

From the outset of the revolts in other Arab countries it was clear that King Abdullah was very concerned that a similar revolt could threaten his regime. He was therefore quick to announce reforms.

He has also been trying to divert the attention towards Israel by blaming the Jewish state for the shortcomings and failures of the Jordanian government, just like other Arab leaders have been doing for years.

Abdullah also tries to hide his opposition to the Syrian regime because he fears Assad’s repercussions and because the Jordanian economy largely depends on Syria.

The majority of Jordanian-produced goods are imported by Syria and Syria also serves as Jordan’s gateway to Lebanon, Turkey, and Eastern Europe. If the trade relations between both countries were to come to an end, the already weak Jordanian economy would receive a massive blow, which in turn could spark more protests and demands to topple the King and the Jordanian government.

One of the reform measures which Abdullah implemented included firing the government and replacing it with a new one. Similar actions were undertaken by Saudi Arabia, which uses its oil wealth to keep its citizens quiet.

However, the reform measures were not enough to satisfy the protesters and they demanded more extensive changes. Their demands included serious efforts to fight the regime’s corruption, a demand for an elected prime minister (instead of a prime minister appointed by the king), abolition of the senate (also appointed by the king) – or its transformation into a body elected by the people, and a demand to pass a new elections law.

In short, the protest and reform movement demands a decrease in the king’s powers and more influence and freedom of action for the parliament.

Aggressive

The protests continued, becoming more aggressive over time. Some protestors even publicly demanded that King Abdullah step down (there is a law in Jordan which forbids direct criticism of the Royal Family).

The tone of the demonstrations changed when the protesters saw that their situation was not really changing for the good.

Demonstrators started to display signs with slogans such as “there can be no reform under the current security grip” and “the people want freedom, justice and an end to corruption.” More recently various opposition members and groups have been accusing the King of being an “occupier”. They also accused Queen Rania of ruling the country instead of her husband.

In response to the radicalization of the protests, the regime has taken several measures to satisfy the Islamic movement and Bedouin tribes in Jordan. This included attempts to buy them off with money and positions of power.

The regime started to show flexibility on several issues which were previously considered sacred. For example, the king now said that he would be willing to curtail his own powers and that there might be talks about a constitutional monarchy.

Islamists

The regime also tried to pacify the Islamists by starting a dialogue. This move came after it became clear that the Islamic parties were the driving force behind the protests which are taking place in cities all over Jordan almost every Friday.

In addition, the regime capitulated to the demand of the Islamic movement to free prisoners, including the release of 150 Salafi-Jihadist prisoners who were imprisoned for attacking security officers with swords during a rally in the city of Al-Zarqa which took place in April 2011.

Furthermore, the regime also announced that it would renew its contacts with Hamas. The relations between Jordan and Hamas were suspended in 1999 because of Hamas’s terrorist activities. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was subsequently expelled from Jordan, after which he moved to Damascus. In 2006 Jordan blacklisted the organization after an alleged weapons cache was discovered in the country.

Now the regime is trying to patch up things with Hamas, in order to satisfy the Islamists in Jordan.

Khaled Mashaal visited Jordan at the end of January 2012, allegedly to find a new home for Hamas’s headquarters which until then had been located in Damascus.

The US government however, immediately made clear that it would not tolerate the establishment of Hamas’s headquarters on Jordanian soil and warned that there would be serious repercussions if the regime did not prevent this from happening.

Shortly afterwards the Jordanian regime hurried to make it clear that Mashaal’s visit had no “political implications and does not signal a change in Jordan’s political agenda.”

Israel

In Israel pundits are worried that the Jordanian regime will not be able to hold off the Islamists in the long run. New concessions to keep the Islamists at bay will probably be necessary but could further destabilize the region.

These concessions will no doubt include a review of the relations with Israel. Already at this moment it is apparent that Israeli-Jordanian relations are deteriorating.

The (failed) Global March to liberate al Quds/Jerusalem (an anti-Israel manifestation that took place at the end of March) was, for instance, prepared at a conference in Amman last January.

In the same month Jordanian MP’s called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. Recently a spokesman for the Jordanian government called Israeli actions against the continuing rocket fire from Gaza “barbaric aggression.” In the beginning of April, Jordanian state TV broadcasted an inciting sermon by imam Khaleb Rabab’a. He told worshippers that “Jordan’s army will destroy Israel and will regain Jerusalem from the killers of prophets.”

Report: House Armed Services Committee Proposes Additional $680 Million for Iron Dome

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The Washington Post quoted a Republican congressional aide speaking on condition of anonymity as saying that the House Armed Services Committee will propose an increase of $680 million in funding for Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system when it convenes to formulate the 2013 fiscal year’s defense budget.

The $680 million would be in addition to the special budgetary request of $205 million granted in 2011 by the Obama administration and Congress. The aide said the amount was based on the system’s present capabilities, as well as those of Hamas and Hizbollah.

The Republican-controlled panel’s proposal is seen as an election-year challenge to President Obama to reveal the true extent of his dedication to Israel’s security. Although the Pentagon last month said it was planning to ask Congress to provide additional funds for the missile defense system, the panel’s proposal will force the Obama administration to determine and divulge the level of financial support it believes the Iron Dome warrants.

At the time, the Pentagon did not go into specifics and released a statement saying that “[t]he Department of Defense has been in conversations with the Government of Israel about U.S. support for the acquisition of additional Iron Dome systems and intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity.”

The cost of one Iron Dome battery is $50 million, while each missile costs over $60,000. There are currently four operational and actively deployed Iron Dome batteries, three in the south of Israel and one in the central region. Last month, Ambassador to the US Michael Oren wrote an article  in which he stated that “at least ten Iron Dome systems will be necessary in order to defend the whole country.”

 

 

Rubin Reports: Obama’s ‘Secret’ Plan on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Issue and Why (Even the Saudis Tell You) It Will Fail

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/04/obamas-secret-plan-on-irans-nuclear.html

Hey, there’s no hurry! The negotiations with Iran have just been postponed a month. What’s another month after the current U.S. administration has given Iran 38 of them to keep developing nuclear weapons?

The problem with the Obama administration is that it wants to pursue policies acceptable to the day-dreaming cultural elite, but not to regimes that are full of cunning and deceit, like the Iranian regime, whose primary objectives do not include development, openness, humanitarian values, the well-being of its citizens, or even religious tolerance; rather, all that the Iranian regime – and the ideology behind it – cares about is expansion and infiltrating other countries.

Oops! I didn’t write that last paragraph and there’s no plagiarism intended! These are the words of Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of al-Sharq al-Awsat in that Saudi-backed newspaper’s  April 15 issue.  He once again illustrates a point I keep trying to make: anti-Islamist and moderate Arab states, intellectuals, and democratic opposition movements are just as upset with the Obama Administration as I am. And they are just as endangered by current U.S. policies as Israel is.

Alhomayed is horrified by reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she thinks there are signs that Iran is moderating on the nuclear weapons issue and is going to negotiate seriously.

Iran, Alhomayed continued, has been working for three decades to “infiltrate our region” and “divide Arab states from within.” As examples he cites Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon as well as the Palestinians. He even claims Tehran at times works with al-Qaida today, an accusation incidentally that U.S. intelligence reporting has confirmed. So why, Alhomayed asks, would anyone trust Iran?

It is astonishing to note how much the Obama Administration, supposedly so sensitive to the views of Arabs and Muslims, has ignored the concerns of America’s own Arab allies. And it is astounding to see how much that same administration, which is so obsessed with being popular among Arabs and Muslims, is mistrusted and ridiculed by so many Arabs, Turks, and Iranians who want to be allies of the United States, as well as being ridiculed and stepped on by America’s enemies in the region.

Alhomayed is on target. The Washington Post has revealed what can be called President Barack Obama’s secret plan to solve the Iran nuclear crisis without a confrontation. It might sound familiar.

If Iran somehow proves that it doesn’t want nuclear weapons, the United States will agree to Tehran’ having peaceful nuclear power.

This is what Obama has just told the Iranian leadership through the visiting Turkish prime minister. Well, guess what? This is precisely the same plan he’s been proposing since 2009. This strategy hasn’t worked and it won’t work.

From a high-level U.S. government group-think approach, Obama’s plan sounds brilliant. It gives Tehran a way out and is intellectually cute. Hey, you claim you don’t want nuclear weapons but only nuclear-generated power so we’ll call your bluff.

One could also read into this a bit of nasty trickery: you pretend you aren’t building nuclear weapons and we’ll play along if you don’t actually assemble one or be too obvious about the drive for military weapons of mass destruction.

The phrase “too clever by half” might have been invented to describe this situation.

Someone who doesn’t know much about Iran, revolutionary Islamism, or Middle East politics might expect that this plan could possibly work in the real sense. Iran would recognize its “true interests” (as defined in Washington governmental corridors and media offices) and back down.

And someone who doesn’t know much about Iran, revolutionary Islamism, or Middle East politics might expect that this plan could possibly work in the fraudulent sense. Iran could recognize how to exploit this offer by taking the deal and pretend to be moderate while going ahead with its nuclear weapons’ drive.

Yet why should Tehran do either? Iran’s leadership really does want nuclear weapons and it doesn’t need to fool the West when it can call the West’s bluff.  The Iranian leadership doesn’t believe the United States will attack because it views Obama as weak and itself as strong. They’re right in assuming they don’t have to worry about a U.S. assault.

At the same time, the Islamist leadership—like the Communist regimes of the past—firmly believes that the West is intrinsically hostile.  So the Tehran regime finds the idea that the West might keep such a deal to be laughable.  The Islamist regime is convinced that the Crusader-Zionist West will target it whatever Iran does. Stalling for time and continuing to seek deliverable nuclear weapons is obviously the best choice.

One could argue that Obama’s strategy is to give Tehran every chance to resolve the issue so that if Iran refuses to do so then Obama can some day mobilize support for military action.  My view, however, is that he is engaging in wishful thinking allowing him to argue that he is working hard on the issue when in fact he isn’t doing anything. This strategy makes it far more likely that Iran will get nuclear weapons and also more likely that a war would result at some point.

Title: When General Grant Expelled the Jews

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Title: When General Grant Expelled the Jews Author: Jonathan Sarna Publisher: Schocken

Not all Civil War-era Jews were speculators, peddlers or smugglers, and not all Civil War-era speculators, peddlers and smugglers were Jews. But Americans living through the rebellion – and many crises before and since – often cast blame on the tiny minority that 19th-century Northerners and Southerners often referred to as “the Israelites.” Shocking as it seems, one of the most notorious offenders was the greatest Union hero of the war: Ulysses S. Grant.

That Grant harbored anti-Semitic inclinations should come as no surprise. He was educated at West Point and spent years in the Army, both bastions of period intolerance. In 1862, he assumed a particularly chaotic military command, including border states technically loyal to the Union but filled with slave-owners and Confederate sympathizers. Into this combustible mix swarmed speculators eager to turn chaos into cash – among them, certainly, Jewish ones. Grant and his chief lieutenant, William T. Sherman, groused about the Jews’ presence repeatedly but initially kept their concerns to themselves.

What apparently sent Grant over the edge was the arrival of another camp follower – his greedy father, accompanied by three Jewish business partners, all eager to use the general to secure profitable cotton-trading permits. Grant blamed the Jews.

Still, no historian has been able to fully understand – much less justify – why, on Dec. 17, 1862, Grant issued his notorious General Orders No. 11 deporting Jewish citizens. “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade,” went the chilling text, “…are hereby expelled from [his command in the West] within twenty-four hours.” Those returning would be “held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners.” Just two weeks before, while Abraham Lincoln was scheduled to extend freedom to one minority group with the Emancipation Proclamation, his most promising general thus initiated a virtual pogrom against another.

In the end, as the gifted and resourceful historian Jonathan D. Sarna points out in this compelling page-turner, General Orders No. 11 uprooted fewer than 100 Jews. But for a few weeks, he suggests, it terrorized and infuriated the Union’s entire Jewish population. It also inspired one of the community’s first effective lobbying campaigns. Jewish newspapers compared Grant to Haman, of the Purim story. A delegation of Jewish leaders traveled to the White House to protest directly to the president, who quickly but quietly had the order revoked, eager to right a wrong but reluctant to humiliate a valuable military commander. As Lincoln carefully put it, “I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners.” He never mentioned the episode publicly.

Grant tried not to as well, understandably omitting it from his otherwise exhaustive memoirs. In 1868, however, he did issue a letter confessing: “I do not pretend to sustain the Order…. [It] was issued and sent without any reflection and without thinking of the Jews as a sect or race…. I have no prejudice against sect or race.” But Sarna notes that this weak and “self-serving” statement – neither an admission nor an apology – “did not actually bear close scrutiny.” Besides, it was motivated as much by politics as regret. At the time, Grant was running for president, and Jews were threatening to block-vote against the Republican. Although no statistical evidence survives, most Jews probably did vote Democratic in 1868. The general won anyway. And to his credit, he continued to evolve.

The Jewish tradition encourages atonement and makes forgiveness mandatory. Grant made amends; the Jews forgave. As president, Grant appointed Jews to official posts, welcomed Jewish delegations, supported Jewish relief efforts in Europe and once attended a worship service at a Washington synagogue, the first president to do so. When he died, Jews mourned him as a hero.

Sarna’s account shines brightest around the edges of the story, offering valuable new insights into ethnic politics, press power and the onetime ability of leaders to flip-flop with grace. In a particularly stunning, if disturbing, argument, he suggests that many Northern Jews brought suspicion on themselves by questioning emancipation, fearful that freed blacks, abetted by anti-Semitic abolitionists, would compete with immigrant Jews for economic opportunity. Sarna shows how ineffective communications within Grant’s command further ignited unfounded calumnies against Jews. And he posits that the general’s military subordinates might have urged their overworked chief to ban Jewish speculators in order to leave the field open for their own graft.

Some quibbles: The illustration of “Grant, about 1860” is a photo of a beef contractor mistaken for the general; and Sarna’s occasional embrace of au courant phrases (“He was a one-man Anti-Defamation League,” “speak truth to power”) proves jarring.

What is still the best analysis ever offered about Grant’s greatest mistake came from his widow. In her own unsparing memoirs, Julia Dent Grant called General Orders No. 11 “obnoxious,” admitting that her husband “had no right to make an order against any special sect.” Sarna’s excellent study offers no excuses either and comes closer than ever to an explanation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-when-general-grant-expelled-the-jews/2012/03/29/

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