Displaying posts published in

April 2017


In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” a soothsayer confronts Caesar: “Beware the Ides of March,” he warns. In 44BC, the Ides foretold the death of Caesar. In 2017, they portended a difficult month, domestically and globally. Creating further mistrust among already polarized Americans has been a rash of “fake” news, which I define as not just news that is blatantly false, but news that is based on innuendos and half-truths. One example: A week ago, a column in The New York Times carried the headline, “Amid ‘Trump Effect,’ Fear: 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applications.” It was half true. The survey found that 39% of responding institutions did see a decline in applications, but 35% saw an increase and 26% had no change.

The allegation that Putin interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Donald Trump is predicated on the likelihood that Russia did try to interfere in the election. It should not surprise us. Interference in elections is something competing nations do. However, the implication that Putin would have preferred Trump, an untested politician and a man characterized as volatile, stupid and xenophobic, is nonsensical. It is unlikely he would have preferred Mr. Trump to Mrs. Clinton, a woman he knows – and perhaps dislikes – but who he had been able to use for his benefit. Think of Russian ties to the Clinton Foundation and Russian purchase of U.S. uranium assets, with help from the Clintons. Consider the Podesta brothers. It makes no sense that Putin would have preferred the unknown to the known.

The assertion by Mr. Trump that Obama wiretapped him has been met with derision and disbelief. While it appears far-fetched, intercepted communications among the Trump transition team were uncovered in an investigation into links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald Trump, at least according to an article in The New York Times by Michael Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo on January 19, 2017. The article begins: “American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications…into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump.” Further on, they add, “One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided by the [Obama] White House.” Are we now witnessing the uncovering of a massive ‘cover-up’?

In 2013, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid detonated the nuclear option for all judicial nominations, other than for the Supreme Court. Would it be surprising if current Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell invokes the nuclear option for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch if Democrats filibuster? Polarization has poisoned our politics. It has made us less civil. Would Republicans treat an incoming Democrat President, in four years or eight years, with dignity or with disdain?

Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution? Western statesmen and politicians have long asserted that the two-state solution commands majority support on the ground. Most Palestinians say otherwise. Daniel Polisar

Last December, while defending the Obama administration’s decision to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry laid out the options facing Israelis and Palestinians:https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2017/04/do-palestinians-want-a-two-state-solution/

[I]f the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic—it cannot be both—and it won’t ever really be at peace. Moreover, the Palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution. Most on both sides understand this basic choice, and that’s why it’s important that polls of Israelis and Palestinians show there is still strong support for the two-state solution—in theory. They just don’t believe that it can happen.

In emphasizing the “strong” popular support on both sides for a two-state solution, Kerry was following in his own footsteps. Whether in public statements or in private meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, he had repeatedly cited polling evidence to advance his case for a two-state solution throughout his four-year tenure at the State Department.

The claim was a staple of other American policymakers during this period as well. Martin Indyk, special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, asserted at a Washington conference in 2014 that “Consistently over the last decade, polling on both sides reveals majority support for the two-state solution.” Vice-President Joseph Biden opined at another Washington conference that year that “Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people depends on . . . reaching a two-state solution. . . . It is a difficult job to stay engaged . . . [but] we continue to believe that, at least I do, and the president does . . . that the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, they think that it is the right way to go.” Echoing the same idea, a July 2016 statement by the Middle East Quartet—consisting of the U.S., Russia, the EU, and the UN—declared that “the majority of people on both sides . . . express their support for the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security.”

As with Kerry’s, such statements were routinely qualified by the worry that, popular support notwithstanding, the two-state solution was in jeopardy due to actions taken by the two sides. Indyk lamented that “neither side believes the other side wants [the two-state solution], and neither seems to understand the concerns of the other.” In the “seriously concerned” view of the Quartet’s members, the parties’ “continuing on the current course will make this [two-state] prospect increasingly remote.”

In brief, it is commonly asserted that there is majority support among Palestinians and Israelis for a two-state solution, but that misguided policies and a growing lack of mutual understanding are rapidly closing the window of opportunity.

In what follows, my purpose is to determine what in fact is the extent and the nature of support for a two-state solution among the Palestinians. When especially relevant, I will also make reference to findings from surveys of Israelis, though to this and related issues in Israeli public opinion I plan to devote a more in-depth examination in the future.

As with Israeli opinion, the benefits of investigating Palestinian public opinion should be obvious. Palestinian views on a two-state solution have substantial ramifications regarding the leeway their leaders have in negotiations with Israel, the expectations with which Israelis should approach talks, the ability of third-party brokers like the U.S. to bring the sides together, the steps most likely to bring about a peaceful and stable resolution, and the prospects that a two-state solution will be durable if the sides succeed in striking a deal.

Fortunately, Palestinian public opinion need not be the subject of assertion or speculation. According to David Pollock, a leading scholar in the field, Palestinian survey research is of very high quality, and it should be noted as well that polls of Palestinians are carried out frequently and by a variety of reputable institutes.

In preparing this essay, I have examined 400 surveys carried out by five Palestinian research centers, each of which has conducted regular polls in the West Bank and Gaza for many years and has made the results available online in English and Arabic. In addition, leading international pollsters have carried out their own surveys of Palestinians, generally in conjunction with one of these firms or with the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO); I have used these as well. Though I have also been given access to some polls not publicly available, this piece, like my previous Mosaic essay, “What Do Palestinians Want?,” is based only on data freely accessible online so that my findings and interpretations can more easily be challenged or confirmed.


Anti-Israel Voices at AIPAC’s ConferenceHow can a pro-Israel group invite a Hamas apologist? Daniel Greenfield

The low point of the AIPAC policy conference came when Nancy Pelosi read a letter from J Street. The letter, officially authored by David Price and Gerry Connolly, urged opposing “unilateral actions by either of the two parties that would push the prospects for peace further out of reach.”

That’s a euphemism for Jews living in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel claimed by Islamic terrorists.

Price and Connolly are some of the more anti-Israel Democrats in Congress. Price was one of the “Hamas 54” members of Congress who had signed another letter calling for an end to the Israeli embargo on Hamas in Gaza. Connolly is known for his associations with the Muslim Brotherhood. He had defended funding the PA even when it included members of Hamas.

But AIPAC is a bipartisan organization. That means it has to have leading Democrats like Pelosi over. It’s the figures whom AIPAC chose to invite that are truly troubling.

Among the list of speakers was Robert Malley. Malley had been originally dropped by Obama during the campaign due to his contacts with Hamas on behalf of Soros’ International Crisis Group.

Once Obama was secure, Malley was brought back in and quickly moved up the ranks.

Malley is about as anti-Israel as they come. AIPAC had invited the author of an article titled, “Making the Best of Hamas’ Victory”. The article urged funding Hamas and warned, “don’t ostracize or actively undermine a Hamas-backed PA.”

He co-wrote an article with Aaron David Miller, another speaker at the AIPAC conference, which argued that, “A national unity government between Fatah and Hamas appears within reach… America shouldn’t stand in the way — regardless of whether Hamas recognizes Israel or formally renounces violence.”

At one point, Malley was too anti-Israel for Obama. Now he’s good enough for AIPAC. If AIPAC can’t draw the line at Robert Malley where can it draw the line?

But it’s not just about who was invited to AIPAC. It’s the sharp contrast with who wasn’t invited.

David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research had sought to offer a briefing on UNRWA’s links to terrorism. His latest book investigates the ugly nature of the Palestinian Authority. He couldn’t get anywhere with AIPAC. On the list however is Laura Blumenfeld of the State Department, a former Washington Post reporter who headed communications for the Kerry Israel-bashing peace bid.

The Need for Campus ‘Safe Spaces’ For conservative and moderate students. Jack Kerwick

College campuses in contemporary America are rough places.

At any rate, it is of this that SJWs (“Social Justice Warriors”), i.e. “progressive” activists, have been assuring the country for quite some time.

“Racism,” “sexism,” “homophobia,” “transphobia,” “ageism,” “ableism,” “classism”—all of the “isms” and “phobias” that the left insists are endemic to Western civilization generally and America specifically have not only infected academia. To judge from the tireless rhetoric of both leftist student activists and their ideological ilk in the professoriate, these secular sins may be even more ensconced in colleges and universities than they are in the larger society.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go!” Nearly 30 years ago, Jesse Jackson led hordes of students at Stanford University with this chant as they succeeded in pressuring the school to jettison required courses in Western civilization. The Western Civilization curriculum, so went the thinking at the time, is ridden with “European and Western male bias,” biases that privilege white men over and against historically “marginalized” groups.

This line of thinking (or unthinking) dominates academia to the present day.

To put it bluntly: Unless one is white, heterosexual, Christian, and deviates from the hegemon of Political Correctness (PC) that rules academia, the current climate on college campuses promises to be oppressive.

This is the version of reality advanced by SJWs. Reality itself, however, is quite otherwise.

In reality, it is true that college campuses have indeed become oppressive. The disinterested pursuit of truth and knowledge; the free marketplace of ideas; the cultivation of intellectual and moral virtues—these goods that have traditionally been the university’s raison d’ etre have largely given way to a new ideal: activism.

Groupthink on Campus My “diversity statement.” Bruce Bawer

In 2012 I published a book entitled The Victims’ Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind. In it, I deplored the increasing fixation on group identity in the humanities and social sciences departments of American universities. That fixation, I noted, was coupled with “a preoccupation with the historical grievances of certain groups” as well as “a virulent hostility to America, which is consistently cast as the prime villain in the histories of these groups.” I devoted the book’s first chapter to tracing the theoretical origins of this lamentable phenomenon, then spent a chapter apiece outlining four of the group-oriented “studies” that had become established parts of today’s academic curricula – Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, and Chicano Studies. In an additional chapter, I presented a round-up of other “studies,” some of which were, at the time, relatively new and on the rise: Cultural Studies, Disability Studies, Fat Studies, Men’s Studies, Whiteness Studies.

My overall point was simple: none of this nonsense had anything to do with actual education. It was all about encouraging students to identify not as individuals who were at college to prepare themselves for a successful life but as members of one or more oppressed groups (the more, by the way, the better) and to see themselves, on that account, as victims of deep-seated prejudice on the part of a system that was determined to keep them down and prevent their success. And if you weren’t a member of any of those groups – if, in other words, you were a healthy heterosexual white male – the goal of all these pseudo-studies was to teach you that you were in possession of an undeserved privilege for which you were obliged to spend your life apologizing and making amends. Never mind if you’d grown up dirt-poor and had worked your toches off to get into college.

When The Victims’ Revolution came out, the New York Times Book Review assigned it to Andrew Delbanco, a humanities professor at Columbia University and one of the Times’s top go-to guys on education. The thrust of Delbanco’s review was that my picture of the academy today was (a) “mostly a caricature” and (b) “out of date,” because “this kind of thing is a shrinking sector of academic life.”

As to (a), well, given that my book was principally a work of reportage, all I could say in my defense was that if it read like a caricature, it was because the academy had, in fact, become a caricature. As to (b), just look around you. It’s now old news that, as a “sector of academic life,” identity studies haven’t shrunk – they’ve ballooned. The stunted mentality disseminated in these courses has spread beyond the humanities and social studies departments and taken over the campuses as a whole (not to mention the Democratic Party, the mainstream media, and whole swaths of the popular culture). On American campuses, to a staggering extent, group identity has supplanted traditional morality and critical thinking.

Syrian in South Carolina Busted in 2nd Islamic Terror Plot Daniel Greenfield

If at first you don’t succeed, the authorities will let you try, try again.

A South Carolina teenager plead guilty to gun charges after officials say he plotted to attack a US military base in hopes of joining ISIS.

“It wasn’t like some fantasy he was acting out and then was nothing to bear out,” says 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett. “This was a legitimate and sincere desire and effort on his part to accomplish these things.”

The 16-year-old boy, whose name is not being released, lived in York County but his family is originally from Syria.

Authorities said the investigation shows he was involved in “some radical Islamic activities” and associated with people in “radical Islamic groups.” They say the teen had expressed some of these thoughts publicly for a while, but no one came forward.

Of course they didn’t. It’s the Great Green Wall of Silence of Islam.

He was sentenced to be held by the Department of Juvenile Justice and was to attend counseling.

Brackett says the teen, in court, said he had changed his ways and no long believed the ideas he held before, but Brackett is skeptical. He says the teen appeared to hold the ideas fairly closely when he was first interviewed about them.

You can guess the sequel to the story two years later.

Brackett said Abdin told the court he was troubled, that his father had died, and swore this was an isolated incident, adding he had just been confused. He promised they wouldn’t hear from him again, Brackett said.

The judge sentenced Abdin to the maximum punishment, an indeterminate sentence that would keep him behind bars until his 21st birthday, Brackett said.

Abdin served time at the juvenile justice facility in Columbia but was paroled a few months ago, Brackett said. He said he and York Police Chief Andy Robinson had strong objections to Abdin’s parole.

“Given nature of allegations and the incident here, and evidence I saw in 2015, I’m not terribly surprised. I always thought these beliefs were much more deeply rooted,” Brackett said. “I’m grateful that the federal authorities were keeping close tabs on him and able to intervene before anyone got hurt.”

Texas Gov. Lays Down The Law Against Sanctuary City Sheriffs The guardians of sanctuary cities may soon be facing jail-time in the Lone Star State. Matthew Vadum

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he’s itching to sign state legislation that could imprison county sheriffs in the Lone Star State if they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement authorities.

Abbott is an avowed foe of the so-called sanctuary movement, which is a key component of today’s left-wing activist repertoire. Its supporters are the soft-headed souls who carry protest signs emblazoned with the red-herring of a slogan “no human being is illegal” and who apply all the usual smear-adjectives – including racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic – to anyone who supports having secure borders. The movement gave illegal aliens permission to rob, rape, and murder Americans by, among other things, stigmatizing immigration enforcement.

Some left-wingers use the dreadful euphemism “civil liberties safe zones” to describe sanctuary jurisdictions. The phrase blurs the distinction between citizens and non-citizens by implying illegal aliens somehow possess a civil right to be present in the U.S.

Abbott, a Republican, is fed up with local governments refusing to hand over illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

One of the worst offenders is Travis County, home to the state capitol in Austin.

Citing a recent ICE report, Abbott has noted “there were 206 instances nationally during the first week of February where law enforcement agencies had declined ICE detainers, with 70 percent of the declines coming from Travis County,” according to Texas Monthly. This means Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez (D) refused to honor ICE detainers issued for 142 illegal aliens, whom the liberal magazine quite predictably describes as “unauthorized immigrants.”

The ICE report “is deeply disturbing and highlights the urgent need for a statewide sanctuary city ban in Texas,” Abbott said, adding:

The Travis County Sheriff’s decision to deny ICE detainer requests and release back into our communities criminals charged with heinous crimes—including sexual offenses against children, domestic violence and kidnapping—is dangerous and should be criminal in itself. Texas will act to put an end to sanctuary policies that put the lives of our citizens at risk.

A few days ago Abbott elaborated.

“We have been pushing a piece of legislation in Texas that is going to pass that I will be signing into law that imposes even sterner penalties on counties,” Abbott said on “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.

It will include things such as further defunding them. It will impose fines. And it could impose jail time for these sheriffs to enforce the laws. Oddly enough these sheriffs could wind up behind the very bars they are releasing these criminals from.

On a French Campus, the Falk-Tilley Report Raises its Ugly Head (video)

At Rennes, in Brittany, a city whose name all familiar with the infamous Dreyfus Affair will recognise, university students prove their crass immaturity and fascistic left credentials by disrupting a talk by Israel’s ambasssador to France, Madame Aliza Bin-Noun.

Screaming the usual malicious canards, and citing the despicable one-sided report just released by the loathsome Richard Falk and his accomplice Virginia Tilley, they belie the very liberty, equality and fraternity that underpins the Republic, and the very democratic principles they accuse Israel of lacking.


May their own futures not be blighted, ces enfants, by the Islamic menace that endangers the viability of long-term Jewish existence in La Belle Pays …

Palestinians: The Diploma for Terror by Bassam Tawil

A glance at their leaders and senior officials tells them that Palestinian Authority jobs go to “graduates” of Israeli prisons.

Besides sending a message to Palestinians about who is valued in Palestinian society, the Fatah leader is also making it clear that the path to leadership and employment passes through Israeli prisons. Abbas’s senior representative is telling Palestinians that there is no need for them to pursue actual education: Israeli prisons are the best “universities.”

The longer the time spent in prison, the higher the military rank. Ten years will earn them the rank of Colonel. More than that will earn them General. The path to winning a job with a PA ministry also passes through Israeli prisons. These are the leaders touted as role models to young Palestinians.

Palestinians who are being held in Israeli prisons are “a model for sensibility and national culture and constitute a pillar for the establishment of a Palestinian state.” This glorification of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are behind bars for murdering Jews, was issued last week by Fayez Abu Aitah, a senior representative of President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.

Abu Aitah’s words of appreciation for murderers of Jews came during a visit he paid to Hatem al-Maghari, a Palestinian Authority (PA) policeman who was released last week after serving 17 years in prison for his role in the lynching of two Israeli reserve soldiers who mistakenly entered Ramallah. Upon his arrival at his home in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Al-Maghari received a hero’s welcome. Hundreds of Palestinians have since converged on his home to congratulate him on his release from prison and heap praise him on for his “contribution” to the Palestinian cause.

Abbas’s Fatah was quick to embrace al-Maghari as “one of our sons” in order to send a message to Palestinians that the Fatah faction is also involved in terror attacks against Israel. For years, Fatah’s opponents have been accusing it of abandoning the “armed struggle” in favor of a peace process with Israel. Groups such as Hamas, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to criticize Fatah for not being sufficiently active in the terror campaign against Israel.

France’s Rightward Shift Scandal is sinking the center-right candidate in the French election, and Marine Le Pen is trying to fill the void. By Charles C. W. Cooke

France — Fact is stranger than fiction. In France, doubly so. On the day I leave for Paris, the following headline adorns Le Monde’s front page: “Fillon Received $50,000 to Introduce a Lebanese Industrialist to Putin.”

Alors. A scandal to mar the French election. Anything less and they wouldn’t really be trying, would they? Of all the world’s political gods, those that serve the French are the most puckish.

And yet, the persistent rumors that have engulfed François Fillon are, in truth, the least interesting thing about this extraordinary election cycle. That Fillon’s descent has left a gaping political void is interesting, certainly. But what’s really fascinating is how it’s being filled. Late last year, it seemed all but certain that France would have a sensible, center-right president of the sort you could take home to your mother. Today? Heaven only knows.

On paper, Fillon was perfectly placed. He had the experience, having been prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, and he had the novelty value, having become the North Star of a new French conservatism that has embraced Catholicism in spite of laïcité, turned happily toward “Anglo-Saxon” free markets, and even rebranded its flagship party as “the Republicans.” In addition, he was well suited to bridge the gap between the sects in a country that remains as divided as ever — “How,” Charles de Gaulle asked, “can you govern a country that has 246 different sorts of cheese?” — but has become steadily more right-leaning as the years have gone by. Astonishingly for a French politician, Fillon is running on a platform would be familiar to voters in the United States: Inter alia, he wants to reduce the number of civil servants, abolish France’s “wealth tax,” abolish the 35-hour work week, reform the health-care system, and raise the retirement age; and, while he has promised to protect the legal status quo, he is vocally pro-life and opposed to gay marriage. For once, the stars seemed to have aligned: The most credible, electable option was also the most sound.

But, damn those puckish gods, it was not to be. And, alas, the alternatives to Fillon are markedly less appealing than is he. There is Marine Le Pen of the Front National (FN), who, despite having distanced herself from her father and swapped open-handed racism for implication-heavy populism, is still rather unpleasant. There is Benoît Hamon, the most left-wing candidate within the Parti Socialiste, whose big ideas are to tax robots and to add a universal basic income on top of France’s creaking welfare state. There is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a cerebral left-leaner whose destiny is to be the best-spoken also-ran in French history. And there is Emmanuel Macron, a self-described post-ideological moderate who is a leading contender for Luckiest Man in France.

Macron, an independent with no party apparatus around him, is a former Rothschild banker who at one point seemed destined to be a footnote but after Fillon’s implosion is now the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. Perilously untested, chronically vacuous, and ostensibly tarred by his work under the incumbent president, François Hollande (the most unpopular the Fifth Republic has ever had), Macron nevertheless seems set to take the lion’s share of a political middle that is sorely lacking in credible representatives. Cosmopolitan, pro-immigration, and publicly insistent that “there is no such thing as French culture,” Macron is precisely of whom Marine Le Pen is thinking when she lambastes the “savage globalization that has been a nightmare” for France.

Politically, France is in a bad place. Under Hollande’s feckless leadership, the country has been attacked from both without and within and seen an average of 1 percent growth for almost half a decade. Unemployment among 15-to-24-year-olds is now at a staggering 25 percent and has led to an exodus that has rendered London the sixth-largest French-speaking city in the world. The reflexively proud French are no longer sure that they have a future. They are afraid for their economy. They are afraid of immigration. They are afraid of technology. There is, almost everywhere you go, a tangible sense of ennui. It is an uncertainty that does not suit the people that produced de Gaulle.