Displaying posts published in

July 2012


The Call for July 22, 2012: “Russian Ambitions in the Middle East’


The Gate conducts regular conference calls with a group of journalists and invited experts. An edited transcript of a July 22 roundtable is below

1. Russia will maintain its presence in Syria at all costs in order to prevent a repeat of the NATO Libya intervention last year—even if this is unlikely in an election year.
2. The Free Syrian Army is a tribal and confessional patchwork not presently capable of ruling.
3. Assad is likely to survive, possibly by creating an Alawite enclave surrounded by a chaotic tribal region in which various Sunni factions contend for power; Russia would back this.
4. Russia is additionally concerned about Islamist elements in Syria igniting trouble in its own Muslim regions, and is worried that Syrian chemical weapons might end up in the hands of terrorists.


David Samuels, literary editor, Tablet and contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine

Pepe Escobar, Roving Correspondent, the Asia Times

David P. Goldman, “Spengler” columnist at Asia Times and PJ Media and president of Macrostrategy LLC


Jim Davis, President, South Shore Consultants

Tony Badran: Across the Bay blog, Fellow at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies



It is hard to make a living telling stories about yourself. Since one lifetime will contain only so many good stories, it is pretty easy to see what would tempt someone like Mike Daisey to just make stuff up – it sells.

Ahmed Mahmoud apparently thought so, too. By his own description he is a “Palestinian writer, director and academic based in the UK”. He is working on a novel, but last year he published an essay about his family. Problem is, he appears to have greatly enhanced the drama of his childhood by making stuff up.

I imagine that Masoud or his supporters will use the Mike Daisey defense, “If you think this story is bigger than that story, something is wrong with your priorities.” Lying is fine as long as it’s for a good cause, the ends justify the means. But I hope he doesn’t. I hope that he simply apologizes, and pledges to stick to the truth going forward. I don’t have a lot of hope that he will, since he has already failed to respond to the evidence of fabulism.

DIANA MUIR APPLEBAUM:Tinghir-Jerusalem, Echoes from the Mellah: The Rediscovery of a Judeo-Berber Culture


A French-born, Muslim Berber filmmaker helps us understand why Morroco was the world’s most complex Jewish community, and perhaps the most paradigmatic.

How old is the community? We don’t really know, although a Moroccan archaeological museum preserves an oil lamb impressed with a menorah discovered in the Roman city of Volubilis. The Jews may have stayed after the Romans left, living among the Berber people who lived in Morocco before and after the Romans, speaking languages whose Berber descendent tongues are still spoken in the mountains of southern Morocco.

Kamal Hachkar, the young French high school teacher who brought his first film to the New York Sephardic Film Festival this spring, grew up speaking Arabic, French and Berber, especially on visits to his grandparents in Tinghir, a Berber oasis city east of the Atlas Mountains. As a young adult, he was surprised to learn that his grandparent’s Berber Muslim town once had a substantial Jewish community.


Israeli kids take gold in mindlab olympics

For the seventh straight year, a team of Israeli schoolchildren bests peers from several countries in games of strategy.

A team of four Israeli sixth-graders captured first place at the seventh annual MindLab Olympics international championships, a “thinking games” competition for children from 10 countries.

It wasn’t the first time, either. In fact, Israel has brought home the gold all seven years of the competition.

Each national team consists of the highest-scoring school’s top contenders in each of four games: Abalone, Quoridor, checkers and Octi. In Israel, 18 schools competed for the privilege of representing their country in the Romanian resort city of Sinaia against teams from Brazil, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Australia, Panama, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

ISRAEL21c spoke with Avi Klein, the checkers champ of this year’s Israeli team from the Ma’aleh HaTorah school in Ma’aleh Adumim. This was the same school that won last year, too.

“I started learning the games in fifth grade and I didn’t really like them,” Avi admits. “Then I saw checkers and I wanted to play that. Checkers teaches you to think before you act, because after you play [a move] you can’t go back.”




In the American “campaign season” – which now lasts about 3 AND A HALF YEARS – there is always that One Nasty Issue that ends up shaping the election.

Most times it’s not at all what the American People are interested in: typically it’s a controversial, hot-button-pushing, extremely divisive topic that gets the populace foaming at the mouth, distracting them from the policies and issues that truly should be important. Well, for the upcoming 2012 Presidential Election we have a choice. Is it going to be…

(1) Immigration: “What do we do with all these people who are doing the jobs no one born here wants to do?”

(2) Taxes: “How can a candidate claim to fix our economy when his millions are sheltered in foreign bank accounts?” Or, our pick:

(3) Socialism: “Will we all soon be riding around on pigs instead of in cars? And, will these pigs help to counter our reliance on foreign oil?”


“For THIS I Left the Soviet Union?!” — by Julia Gorin

I’m from the USSR and I know a socialist when I see one. Before her husband was even inaugurated, Komrade Michelle was already putting me to work via this email:

Julia… Barack and I will join thousands of people all across the country for an extraordinary national day of service. It will take ordinary citizens working together with a common purpose to get this country back on track.

I was reminded of Subotnik (The Saturday) – a ‘volunteer’ program in the Soviet Union, which involved working an extra day of the week a couple times a year. A group of workers was instructed to write a “request” to the government stating they would like to work an extra day, so as to “make our country even better.” And so it was announced: By request of the diligent workers themselves, every worker is now required to volunteer at least two Saturdays a year.

Michelle may have had me confused with Virtual “Julia” that Obama rolled out this year – a prototype in whose life “the government is involved in all aspects:

“It plans, regulates and provides free services,” as Investors Business Daily put it. It’s part of the Obama campaign’s new slogan, “Forward.” Which, funny enough, is an old Socialist slogan.

Next I heard from some of my favorite actors. In one voice on youtube, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore recited: “I pledge to be of service to our president. And all mankind. I was starting to feel right at home! In the USSR, media, artists and entertainers supported the government vision. Which helps explain that White House-NEA conference call “nudging artists to produce works supporting the Obama Administration’s legislative priorities.”

School kids were pledging “allegiance to Barack Hussein Obama” in a song that had the words “we’re all the same.” Sameness of course being a key component of socialist utopias – to negate human distinctions such as talents and interests.

Upon His victory, plans were underway for a national holiday in His honor (see Cuba, North Korea, China, USSR). Meanwhile, He was planning His own army and setting up Organizing for America: citizen volunteers building support for His agenda while earning college credit(!) , and before I knew it… 9/11 was declared a Day of Service.

I was actually up for the idea of a national holiday, but is one day really enough for such a huge American milestone? So as not to diminish the hysterical historical significance of Obama’s victory I thought he should declare a day in his honor and take no fewer than 4 years off. Or, since he likes the Euro-socialist Third-Way, perhaps he could be our first president to go on strike.

Obama has been hailed as “America’s first truly global president” and “a citizen of the world.” A good thing, since technically he doesn’t appear to be a citizen of the United States. The White House is as much on international soil right now as it was under the last communist in the Oval Office (1993-2000). But at least THAT one had the sense to not give his daughter a Russian name like “Sasha.”


Yesterday on Fox Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed condolences for the Aurora massacre and said, I paraphrase, that Israel, more than others understands this brutal killing of innocent civilians.

It’ s not quite that straightforward Mr. Netanyahu. The Aurora killer is a madman, driven by demons that we still do not understand. When the dust settles much will be learned about him.

However, when Israeli civilians are killed in tour buses, in bus stops, in markets, on the beach, while hiking, in restaurants, at Passover……the perpetrators are quite different from the lunatics that kill and maim in Arizona, Aurora, Virginia, Columbine….one could go on and on.

In Israel, and against Jews all over the world the killers are faith driven fanatics who commit their jihads enabled by a world that ignores radical Islam and its acolytes whether they call themselves Al-Shabbab, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Ayatollahs in Iran or the P.L.O.



The Wages of Willful Blindness: Is It Time for Defenders of Liberty to Abandon the GOP?

The embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood by President Obama, aided and abetted by the Republican establishment, is not new. It is the culmination of a gradual surrender whose silhouette was already evident nearly twenty years ago. I wrote about it in Willful Blindness, a memoir about the start of our nation’s confrontation with Islamic supremacism as a domestic threat — back in the early Nineties, when I led the prosecution of the Blind Sheikh’s New York jihadist cell, which carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Is our wayward course one that can be corrected? The ongoing controversy over Islamist influence on our government will probably answer that question.

Spotlighted are concerns raised by five conservative members of the House of Representatives about (i) Brotherhood-friendly government policymaking and (ii) government officials, such as the State Department’s Huma Abedin, who have longstanding Islamist ties. The crossroads at which we’ve arrived, however, involve a lot more than any single government official or policy. Let me be stark: Our liberty and security are threatened, and the questions not only of whether GOP leaders comprehend the stakes, but also of whether the Republican Party remains a worthy home for defenders of liberty, have become very real.

A little history, to measure how far we’ve veered. When we tried Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and his cohorts in 1995, the overarching charge was that all 12 defendants, plus dozens of unindicted coconspirators, conspired to wage a war of urban terrorism against the United States. Beyond the Trade Center attack, this campaign included a more ambitious plot to bomb New York City landmarks (e.g., Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, UN complex, FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters, some U.S. military installations, etc.), as well as sundry schemes to kidnap or assassinate current and former government officials, murder the president of Egypt, and the like.

Here is the crucial part that you need to understand: The Blind Sheikh and his subordinates were not merely “violent extremists,” seized by some sort of psychological problem. They were Islamic supremacists. Yes, their methods were barbaric; but that does not mean they were insane or irrational. Indeed, had that been the case, they would have been not guilty by reason of mental incapacity.

To the contrary, we proved that their actions were rationally motivated by Islamic supremacist ideology, an easily knowable interpretation of Islam, drawn directly from Muslim scripture, that commands its adherents to coerce societies into adopting sharia. Sharia is Islam’s totalitarian framework for how societies are to be ruled. It is not just a set of spiritual guidelines; it is a comprehensive social and legal system, said to be Allah’s gift and directive to mankind. It governs all human activity — not just prayer and worship, but financial, social, familial, political, military, and even hygienic activity.


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/22/sanders-in-syria-another-nationalist-failure/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS Whatever develops out of the bloody, chaotic mess Syria has become, it is unlikely that the short-term outcome will be good or the long-term prospects much brighter. One has only to recall the dozens of post-World War II coups that preceded the arrival of the Assad/Alawite/Baathist dictatorship in 1970, a dictatorship that survived in […]



Now for something about nothing …

Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt.
Reviewed by Spengler

In the first pages of his new book, Jim Holt misquotes my old professor, Columbia University philosopher Sidney Morgenbesser:
“Professor Morgenbesser, why is there something rather than nothing?” a student asked him one day. To which Morgenbesser replied, “Oh, even if there was nothing, you still wouldn’t be satisfied.”

Morgenbesser actually said: “If there was nothing, you’d also complain.” There’s a world of difference, as we shall see, between “not being satisfied” and “complaining”. Part of the difference, of course, is the unmistakably Jewish irony directed at the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, a member of the Nazi party. Heidegger’s famous question, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” is the opening challenge of the German philosopher’s famous essay “What is Metaphysics?” and the jumping-off point for Holt’s peroration through the mysteries of Creation.

But there was a deeper point to Morgenbesser’s quip. To brandish Nothingness against Being is not an analytical procedure, but a complaint – specifically, the Devil’s complaint about Creation. Since the philosopher Parmenides taught a generation before Socrates, philosophers have confronted a paradox: We can neither think nor speak of “Nothing”, for the moment we employ the term, we are speaking or thinking about a thing, namely “nothing”. One can’t get at “Nothing” directly; one can only sneak up upon it through such things as boredom, violence and perversion.

As Holt quotes Heidegger:

The question [of Nothing] looms in moments of great despair when things tend to lose all their weight and all meaning becomes obscured. It is present in moments of rejoicing, when all the things around us are transfigured and seem to be there for the first time … The question is upon us in boredom, when we are equally removed from despair and joy, and everything about us seems to hopelessly commonplace that we no longer care whether anything is or is not.

Every German schoolboy (but few American writers) would recognize in Heidegger the voice of Goethe’s Mephistopheles, who tells Faust:

I am the spirit that denies!
And justly so; for all that time creates,
He does well who annihilates!
Better, it ne’er had had beginning;
And so, then, all that you call sinning,
Destruction, – all you pronounce ill-meant, –
Is my original element.

Mephisto is a manifestation of the primal chaos which envies the light, and seeks in vain to restore this chaos:

That which at nothing the gauntlet has hurled,
This, what’s its name? this clumsy world,
So far as I have undertaken,
I have to own, remains unshaken
By wave, storm, earthquake, fiery brand.
Calm, after all, remain both sea and land.

Faust observes that the Devil can do no harm in the large, and so engages in petty acts of destruction. “Go find something else to do, strange son of Chaos!” the philosopher scolds.

That is why Morgenbesser’s actual joke – “If there was nothing, you would also complain” – is as insightful as Mr Holt’s misquotation is misleading. Holt doesn’t get the joke; he doesn’t even understand that it is a joke to begin with. The question betrays the character of the questioner, both in the case of Heidegger and Holt. A predilection for Nothing is metaphysical nonsense, but it has an existential meaning: It is the complaint of the bored, the jaded, the jealous, the perverted against life. Goethe’s act of genius was to personify the metaphysical impossibility of Nothingness as a spiritual craving for Nothingness, in the stage personage of the Devil.

As the leading Jewish philosopher Michael Wyschogrod observes, Heidegger’s predilection for Nothingness expressed itself in his membership in the Nazi Party – in perversion, destruction and hatred. “The embracing of nonbeing,” he wrote, “is violence. In violence, being is turned against itself, toward its own destruction … Killing is the purest form of deontology. And it is for this reason that Nazism is the deontology of Heidegger.”

A brilliant mind, Heidegger tragically remained in the grip of a Satanic impulse similar to Hitler’s – the disappointment of Germany after its defeat in World War I. The philosopher killed no Jews (and made no public anti-Semitic statements even while he praised Hitler). Eventually the Nazis had no use for him, but he never apologized for his Nazi Party membership or his open support for Hitler during his brief tenure as Rector of the University of Freiburg.


http://frontpagemag.com/2012/investor/how-obama-engineered-mideast-radicalization/ Reprinted from Investor’s Business Daily. The Obama Record: After angry Egyptians pelted her motorcade with shoes, chanting “Leave!,” Secretary of State Clinton insisted the U.S. wasn’t there to take sides. Too late. “I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even […]