Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tony Blair condemns the delegitimization of Israel

Excerpt from a recent speech:

There are two forms of de-legitimisation. One is traditional, obvious and from the quarters it emanates, expected. It is easier to deal with. This is attack from those who openly question Israel’s right to exist. It is easier to deal with, because it is so clear. When the President of Iran says he wants Israel wiped off the face of the map, we all know where we are. This is not to minimise the threat of course. It remains and is profound. It is just to say that were this the only form of de-legitimisation, it wouldn’t warrant a conference of analysis; simply a course of action.

The other form is more insidious, harder to spot, harder to anticipate and harder to deal with, because many of those engaging in it, will fiercely deny they are doing so. It is this form that is in danger of growing, and whose impact is potentially highly threatening, in part because it isn’t obvious.

I would define in it this way: it is a conscious or often unconscious resistance, sometimes bordering on refusal, to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view. Note that I say refusal to accept Israel has a legitimate point of view. I’m not saying refusal to agree with it. People are perfectly entitled to agree or not; but rather an unwillingness to listen to the other side, to acknowledge that Israel has a point, to embrace the notion that this is a complex matter that requires understanding of the other way of looking at it.

The challenge is that this often does not come from ill-intentioned people; but well-intentioned. They would dispute vigorously such a characterisation of their mindset. They would point to the injustice of Palestinian suffering, acts of the Israeli Government or army which are unjustifiable and they would say, rightly, that you cannot say that to criticise Israel is to de-legitimise it. Such minds are often to be found in the west. They will say they advocate a two state solution and they will point to that as proof positive that they accept Israel’s existence fully.

The problem is that though this is true in theory, in practice they wear Nelson’s eye patch when they lift the telescope of scrutiny to the Israeli case. In a very real sense, they don’t see it.

So, for example, on Gaza they won’t accept that Israel might have a right to search vessels bringing cargo into Gaza, given that even this year over 100 rockets have been fired from that territory into Israel Leave aside the multiple investigations relating to the flotilla, upon which there will naturally be heated debate. I mean a refusal to accept that, however handled, no Israeli government could be indifferent to the possibility of weapons and missiles being brought into Gaza.

I often have a conversation about the West Bank which goes like this. Someone says: Israel must lift the occupation. I reply: I agree but it has to be sure that when it does so, there will be security and a Palestinian force capable of preventing terrorism. They say: so you’re supporting occupation. I say: I’m not: I’m simply pointing out that if Hamas, with an unchanged position on Israel, were running the West Bank, Israel would have a perfectly legitimate right to be concerned about it’s security.

A constant conversation I have with some, by no means all, of my European colleagues is to argue to them: don’t apply rules to the Government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country. In any of our nations, if there were people firing rockets, committing acts of terrorism and living next door to us, our public opinion would go crazy. And any political leader who took the line that we shouldn’t get too excited about it, wouldn’t last long as a political leader. This is a democracy. Israel lost 1000 citizens to terrorism in the intifada. That equates in UK population terms to 10,000. I remember the bomb attacks from Republican terrorism in the 1970’s. There weren’t many arguing for a policy of phlegmatic calm.

So the issue of de-legitimisation is not simply about an overt denial of the State of Israel. It is the application of prejudice in not allowing that Israel has a point of view that should be listened to.

One thing I state repeatedly in interviews about Gaza – despite disagreeing with the previous policy on it – is to say to western media outlets: just at least comprehend why Israel feels as it does. In 2005 it got out of Gaza i.e. ceased occupying it, took over 7000 settlers with it and in return got rockets and terror attacks. Now I know all the counter-arguments about the unilateral nature of the withdrawal, the 2005 Access and Movement agreement and the closure of the crossings. But the fact remains: there is another point of view and you can’t describe it as illegitimate.

This is then hugely heightened by the way things are reported. Here the televisual images – whether in Lebanon, Gaza or indeed any field of conflict – in Afghanistan for example, are so shocking that they tend to overwhelm debate about how or why conflict began. Because Israel – like the US or the UK – has superior force and because in such situations the horrible tragedy is that the innocent die – these images arouse anger, sympathy and a disgust that at one level is completely understandable but at another obscures the difficult choices nations like ours face, when they come under attack.

The combination of all of this is curious disjunction of perception. I spend large amounts of time in Israel, and outside of it in different parts of the world. To those outside, Israel is regularly perceived as arrogant, overbearing and aggressive. To Israelis, there is a sense that the world is isolating it unfairly and perversely refusing to see they too have a right to have their voice heard. Hence this conference.



Gridlock Is Our Greatest Hope: The case for divided government

Get ready for the most productive and decent political condition known to man: sweet gridlock. You get nothing. And after what you've been through these past few years, you deserve it.

Hey, things are tough. A new Rasmussen poll says 48 percent of voters regard President Barack Obama's political views as "extreme." Not surprising, seeing as —how can I put this without being hyperbolic?— Washington has been doing to the economy what Piranha 3D has done to cinematic excellence.

So with Democrats in deep trouble, it's time to start pondering this creepy and amorphous "anti-incumbent" wave.

Whatever the why, Republicans will have enough votes to prevent any more great leaps forward. Nothing of consequence will happen. And nothing could be better.

This week, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio)—emboldened by the prospect of an unearned return to power—asked the president for the resignations of his economic team of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers. (As if it makes a difference which technocrat is meddling with your life.) Republicans would, unlike the last time out, make significant cuts in spending and taxes, ease the overbearing regulatory system, and repeal nationalized health care.

Maybe. But in the near term, the president certainly would veto any ideologically unpalatable legislation. Just as certainly, he never would allow Republicans to undo his major legislative "accomplishments." If Republicans do take over the Senate, Democrats can filibuster legislation just as easily. There is no greater check on power in Washington than two strong political parties.

Safe to say there will be enough secure Democrats and secure Republicans that legislative activity will be winnowed down to the bare necessities—namely, politics without policy results. And that's fine by me. What we need now is to stop the implementation of any more bright ideas and give everyone a break.

I recently read a Newsweek piece ("On Our Own") examining the nation's economic troubles. Government, the story explained with a straight face, "seems to have run out of ideas for rebuilding the economy, but businesses and consumers are figuring it out for themselves."

Out of ideas? Hardly. And that's the problem. But what I particularly liked about the piece was that it neatly summed up the prevailing "idea" of the Washington establishment: Without government's help, you're on your own (a condition, incidentally, that is supposed to be scary). Washington is stocked with folks who possess the extraordinary gift of believing that they have the ability to manage and organize complex economic systems —and our behavior in them.



Media blackout on NYC mosque protests finally breached

Mr. Kelly, who is a political satirist, wrote in his column: “Sometimes a subject is so serious that even we need to take a step back and let the story tell itself. This is one of those times. … Despite public opinion, the mainstream media has virtually ignored the protests against the WTC mosque. According to internet reports, not one major TV network or camera crew covered this recent protest. … Uncredited photos of the New York protests have surfaced, bypassing the mainstream media’s unbalanced reporting, and have since caused a stir on the internet. Few words are necessary. The photos of the mystery photographer speak louder than any words ever could.”

Kelly wrote those words on August 12, more than two months after the “feminist AynRandian” blogger and human-rights activist Pamela Geller led a massive rally at Ground Zero in New York. The purpose of that rally was to draw attention to grassroots opposition aimed at the proposed mega-mosque headed by the controversial Imam Feisal Rauf. This past week, the story that the dominant liberal establishment media tried to keep from you has gone international and become one of the defining issues of recent times.

With a recent Rasmussen poll showing 62% of Americans are against the 13 story mosque, Geller’s efforts to inform public opinion have been more than vindicated as mainstream. The 38% who support Rauf’s plans include the Democrat leadership, the elite mainstream media and the radical 1960s left, who together have formed an arrogant, chauvinistic machine, pushing the mosque project and vilifying those who oppose it.

Imam Feisal Rauf is the man who heads the Cordoba Initiative. He plans to build a Sharia-promoting Islamic complex and mosque 560 feet from where 9/11 terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center towers.

New Yorkers and the American public are becoming aware that there are many Islamic groups like Rauf’s who claim to be moderate, but are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood. Imam Rauf is a radical extremist cleric who plays to the sensitivities and ignorance of those who live in the liberal/left media and academic bubble. They fall over each other praising him and attacking anyone who questions his motives. Time magazine online, in the space of two weeks, ran four articles characterizing anyone opposed to the mosque as being racist bigots.




Tighter Medical Privacy Rules Sought: "The Obama administration is rewriting new rules on medical privacy after an outpouring of criticism from consumer groups and members of Congress who say the rules do not adequately protect the rights of patients. Democratic lawmakers and a few Republicans have denounced the rules, saying they fall short of offering patients the fullest protections possible. The rules specify when doctors, hospitals and insurers must tell patients about the improper use or disclosure of information in their medical records. Such breaches appear to have become more frequent, with the growing use of health information technology, social media and the Internet."

A Hillary comeback? "A sure sign that an administration is in trouble is Beltway buzz about making dramatic changes at or near the top. Lately, there has been increasing chatter about moving Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to a new job. The goal of the musical chairs would be to keep her from challenging the politically flailing President Obama in a Democratic primary in 2012. Most speculation centers on elevating Mrs. Clinton to the second spot on the ticket. It seems early in the game for a "Dump Biden" movement, but some schemes would move him over to the State Department as a major consolation prize."

Homebuyer tax credit: the scam of the century?: "Many of the homes purchased with the credit have already declined in value in excess of the credit’s maximum $8000 benefit (i.e. a mere 2.5% decline on a $350,000 home) leaving many unwitting home “buyers” in the cruel predicament of sinking in a quicksand of asset price deflation for simply having jumped for a slight nibble of the government’s meager tax carrot"

Wal-Mart asks SCOTUS to block giant gender bias lawsuit: "Retail giant Wal-Mart on Wednesday asked the US Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling allowing more than 1.5 million women employees of the company to join together in what would become the largest class-action employment lawsuit in history. The lawsuit filed by six women in 2001 charges that Wal-Mart engaged in gender discrimination by paying female employees less than men, and in passing women over for promotions that went to men. It seeks billions of dollars in damages. Gender discrimination lawsuits are usually litigated one employee at a time.”

Where are the new jobs?: "‘Corporate profits are soaring. Companies are sitting on billions of dollars of cash. And still, they’ve yet to amp up hiring or make major investments.’ So writes The Washington Post about the recession’s stubborn refusal to go away. The statisticians at the National Bureau of Economic Research declared the Great Recession over — but tell that to people who can’t find jobs. Today, businesses replace equipment and inventory, but they are reluctant to hire new workers.”

Will they ever learn? “Santiago, Chile, is a city of more than 5 million people, with one of the highest standards of living in Latin America. … In the middle part of the last decade, Santiago featured a flourishing system of private buses, with more than 3,000 companies offering quick and inexpensive transportation all over the city and mostly managing to turn a profit. The system was not without its flaws, however. The buses emitted a great deal of pollution, and overzealous bus drivers often caused accidents or hit pedestrians in efforts to pick up passengers before their competition. Such problems led the government to scrap the private system in favor of a public one in 2007, and [Michael] Munger explains how this led to far worse outcomes on pretty much every measure.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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