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August 2015

Does Israeli Intelligence Favor the Iran Deal? No! Martin Kramer

This post first appeared at the Commentary blog on August 24.

J.J. Goldberg at the Forward has been running a campaign to persuade Americans that Israel’s intelligence community is at odds with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Iran deal. Not only the preponderance of retired professionals, but also currently serving ones, dissent from Netanyahu’s read of the deal. Netanyahu can’t silence the former, but he’s given a “gag order” to the latter—to no avail. Military intelligence has even produced a “surprising,” “game-changing” assessment that undermines him completely, according to which the “upsides [of the deal] aren’t perfect,” but “the downsides aren’t unmanageable…. The disadvantages are not too calamitous for anyone to cope with them.” Military intelligence sees “an imperfect but real opening in Iran. It believes that opportunities are being lost.” Netanyahu’s own “diagnosis doesn’t match his own intelligence.”

It’s all polemical and politicized nonsense.

A real expert, Emily Landau (at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv) has already taken Goldberg to the woodshed about the retired professionals (Goldberg has a weird predilection for calling them “spooks”). Landau, without naming the names of these “experts,” points out that Iranian politics and nuclear issues are well beyond the expertise of most of them. Not everyone with a pension and an opinion is equal. And most of those who think that Israel should back off a fight over the deal still think it’s a bad one. They just argue that it’s inevitable anyway, so why provoke Barack Obama? This isn’t support for the deal, it’s resigned acquiescence. (The military correspondent of The Times of Israel did a parallel debunking, after the White House began to tweet similar claims.)

Anonymous and the Islamic State Bafflement: A Reasonable Response to a Barbarian Upsurge By Paul Berman

Why do American diplomats sign their essays Anonymous whenever they have something large and upsetting to say? Why not Publius? It was Anonymous, anyway, who published a commentary on the Islamic State in the New York Review of Books of August 13—Anonymous, who is said, by the editors, to be “formerly an official of a NATO country,” which could mean Canada, of course, or Estonia. But the United States does seem probable. And Anonymous is said to be someone with “wide experience in the Middle East.” An expert, therefore, accustomed to the sobrieties of power. Anonymous, then—how does Anonymous account for the Islamic State? With what analysis? Anonymous is at a loss. Anonymous confesses to “bafflement.” This is large, and it is upsetting.

Sydney M. Williams Thought of the Day “The Phenomenon that is Trump”

First off, I have been wrong about Donald Trump. A few months ago, I thought that by now he would be gone. In terms of political ambitions, I have thought him a clown – not stupid, but neither funny nor nice. Now I fear he is a demagogue. When a leader (or would-be leader) appeals to emotions and prejudices rather than intellect and reasoning, or spews vitriol rather than hope, and when he (or she) appeals to those who prefer to be led rather than guided, the ground is set for demagoguery.

Mr. Trump has tapped into the unhappiness, which polls show to be prevalent, and the cynicism it breeds. Some of his followers may be ill-informed, but they all recognize condescension. Many Americans find offensive the aura of sanctimony that enshrouds politicians in Washington and much of the Press. People abhor attitudes of moral and intellectual superiority. Mr. Trump pierced that veneer and has shown it to be shallow. Despite his privileged background and his wealth, he has become the champion of the disenfranchised – or, at least, of those on the right.


There is an old Yiddish word “Trumpanik” which is defined as troublemaker. It is not “haute” Yiddish and its derivation is argued. Some say it comes from a diminutive of trumpet, therefore describing someone who blows his own horn. You get the picture.

To those friends who wring their hands with worry about a Trump victory, I say revisit some old polls and campaigns. Here are two examples.

1.HERMAN CAIN VAULTS TO LEAD – OCTOBER 2011 Cain Vaults to Lead in Poll – Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal Oct 13, 2011 – Former corporate executive Herman Cain has catapulted to the lead in the race … Mitt Romney, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
CONCORD, N.H.—Former restaurant-industry executive Herman Cain has catapulted to the lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as GOP voters grow disenchanted with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and remain wary of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
Drawn by Mr. Cain’s blunt, folksy style in recent debates, 27% of Republican primary voters picked him as their first choice for the nomination, a jump of 22 percentage points from six weeks ago.


ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 22 /PRNewswire/ — Howard Dean has established a strong national lead over all other candidates for the Democratic candidates.While the selection of the Democratic candidate will depend on the Iowa caucuses and primary elections in New Hampshire and many other states, the former Vermont governor has pulled ahead of all other candidates among
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents nationwide. The Harris Poll(R) finds that Dean is now the preferred candidate of 21% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, with a strong lead overSenator Joe Lieberman (10%), who is in second place, and all the othercandidates.

David Singer: Palestine – Changed Narratives Needed To Nurture New Negotiations

France is not expected to present its anticipated draft proposal for the declaration of a Palestinian State to the U.N. Security Council in September – having reportedly been criticized both by Israel – which does not want any external solution imposed on it – and by the PLO – which fears the Security Council will not meet its demands.

The Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap are dead and buried – even if the headstone is yet to be ceremoniously unveiled marking the actual date when the collective records, transcripts and secret minutes detailing fruitless negotiations conducted during the last 20 years between Israel and the now-disbanded Palestinian Authority were finally consigned to the graveyard of history.

It is now also becoming increasingly apparent that creating a 22nd independent Arab State between Israel, Jordan and Egypt can:

Iran and ISIS: More in Common than We Think The supposed rivals are working together — and working with the Taliban. By Kyle Orton

The admission by the Taliban on July 30 that its leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, had died was widely seen as good news for the Islamic State (ISIS) against its jihadist competitors. But while ISIS’s growing power in Afghanistan over the last year has garnered significant attention, the rise of Iran’s influence in the country has been less noted. Worse, in the light of the nuclear agreement with the U.S., Iran’s expanded influence is held by some observers to be a stability-promoting development. This is a dangerous fantasy that has already been falsified in the Fertile Crescent, where the synergetic growth of Iran and ISIS promotes chaos and radicalism — to the advantage of both and the disadvantage of the forces of moderation and order.

Several leaders of the Pakistani Taliban and the al-Qaeda–linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan have defected to ISIS in the Afghanistan–Pakistan theater, but ISIS’s presence in the area remains small. This has not prevented an outrageous attempt by Tehran to sell its recent increase in support to the Taliban as an anti-ISIS measure. Tehran’s argument does not fit the timeline — which shows consistent Iranian support for anti-Western Sunni jihadist forces in Afghanistan from the beginning of the Western intervention in 2001.

The Trump Virus and Its Symptoms :Charles Cooke

A plague is sweeping the land, gathering victims of all shapes and sizes and turning them into fools. Its name — for now — is Trumpism.

The Trump virus’s primary effect is twofold: First, it implants in its hosts the unshakable conviction that one of the most execrable clowns in the history of these United States is a hero who deserves to be elevated to the White House; then, having inculcated the conceit, it removes the faculties that are necessary for its removal. The results are ruinous. As might the partisans of a deliberately unfalsifiable conspiracy theory, those who have been stricken soon come to believe in earnest that there is no such thing as a fair-minded or legitimate criticism of their swashbuckling charge, and that all embarrassments, mistakes, and inadequacies are in fact signs of imminent victory. To converse at length with a committed Trumpite is, in consequence, akin in nature to conversing at length with a moon-landing denier: Every protestation is taken as a clear indication of complicity in the cover-up; distinctions between matters of minor and major import are disintegrated at will; run-of-the-mill inquiries are received as telltale signs of “fear” or of “hatred”; and bluster and the turning of rhetorical tables (“so who do you like: Jeb?”) substitute for patience and for forthrightness. There is a certain irony in this. By their own insistence, Trump’s devotees consider themselves to be the rebels at the gates; by their dull, unreflective, often ovine behavior, they resemble binary and nuancless drones, as might be found in a novel by Aldous Huxley or Yevgeny Zamyatin.

The Bug Some Call it “Passion,” but it’s Much Worse Than That. By Kevin D. Williamson

Walter Annenberg, son of a very successful gangster and newspaper distributor who made his bones back in the day when those two occupations were synonymous, inherited the Daily Racing Form and the Philadelphia Inquirer when his father went away on tax charges. He built his publishing interests into a phenomenally successful enterprise — he had the foresight to launch TV Guide at just the moment it was needed — and ended up so wealthy that he gave away not millions but billions of dollars to good causes. He was, for a while, my neighbor in Lower Merion, Pa., though in spite of our both being newspapermen, our paths never crossed; strangely, I had hardly any nonagenarian billionaire Nixon cronies in my social circle at all.

I have always admired Annenberg, and to some extent his father, Moe, as well: Walter was a devil-may-care young man who quit Wharton to chase skirts (one of which was draped upon the person of Ginger Rogers), while Moe was an immigrant and self-made man who settled disputes with baseball bats and read Spinoza in his spare time. (Christopher Ogden relates many amusing anecdotes about the two.) The newspaper racket will, alas, never see their likes again. The disappointing thing about Walter Annenberg was that he spent so much of his time and energy trying to buy his way in to an attenuated social caste whose good opinion wasn’t worth his time. (If you own a major newspaper and still feel the need to rent status, you don’t know what to do with a daily broadsheet.) He could afford to live among the Biddles and Dorrances and Penns — indeed, he could have bought and sold all those old Main Line clans many times over — but he was always the felon’s son, the Jew, the arriviste whose money came from TV Guide. They never forgot, and he never forgave. Eventually, he leased himself an embassy and was installed as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s. He was not obviously well qualified to occupy that diplomatic aerie, but he thrived in the position, and added a KBE to the slightly dented name his father bequeathed him.

New and Old European Anti-Semitism: Lessons from the Matisyahu Saga By Ari Lieberman

The modern mainstreaming of Jew hatred reaches a new level in Spain.

Europeans, at least the folks on the Western side of the continent, like to think of themselves as enlightened, freethinking and humanistic but events at last week’s Rototom Sunsplash music festival near Barcelona demonstrate that the situation is quite the opposite. Organizers of the event caved into pressure from BDS activists and disinvited Jewish reggae sensation, Matisyahu, under the pretext that he was too supportive of Israel and unsupportive of “Palestine.” Matisyahu refused to release a statement, as demanded by the event’s organizers, critical of Israel’s policies. He was the only performer targeted for special treatment.

The ban sparked immediate worldwide outrage from Jewish leaders as well as the Spanish government and press. Matisyahu is not an Israeli citizen and was targeted merely for being Jewish and for ostensibly having pro-Israel views. Others were indignant over the fact that the Sunsplash organizers were attempting to control political thought by making pro-Palestinian views a condition precedent for performing. After facing a torrent of negative publicity, the festival organizers quite shamefacedly reversed their initial odious decision to ban Matisyahu and re-invited him. Matisyahu accepted and despite the presence of anti-Semitic protestors waving Palestinian flags, defiantly sang his hit song “Jerusalem,” which is peppered with references supportive of Israel.

Building an Islamic State in America, One Church at a Time- Churches Fall, Mosques Rise. Daniel Greenfield

Across Europe, thousands of churches have closed and many of them have become mosques. The St. Mark’s Cathedral in London survived Nazi bombers in WW2, but fell to a new invasion and became the New Peckham Mosque. In France, where there are now more Muslims than practicing Catholics, the Islamic colonists demanded that thousands of empty churches be turned into mosques. The Capernaum Church in Germany has become the Al-Nour Islamic Center. In Amsterdam, the St. Ignatius Church was transformed into the Fatih Camii Mosque. Its name means ‘The Conqueror’s Mosque’.

The original Fatih Camii Mosque had been built by the Turkish invaders in Constantinople on the site of the Church of the Holy Apostles. Like their ISIS descendants, the Turks drove out the Greek Christians, destroyed the church and replaced it with a mosque named after the monster Mehmed II, who inaugurated Islamic rule over the fallen city with slavery, rape and beheadings in the ISIS style.

Today ‘Conqueror’s Mosques’ have sprung up not only in Istanbul and Amsterdam, but in Paris, Toronto, Melbourne and Brooklyn, where within sight of the Statue of Liberty extending her torch of freedom to the oppressed of the world, stands the grim squalid outpost of the oppressor of the world.