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April 2018


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Only in America? by Mark Steyn

There were many interesting moments in Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress – starting with the gazillionaire child-man’s decision to follow Larry Kudlow’s advice and eschew his usual garb for a suit and tie. “I’m tired of that t-shirt, hoodie stuff,” remarked Larry. “The guy’s running one of the largest corporations of the world, for heaven’s sake.” This was reported by the leftie lads at ThinkProgress under the headline “Trump official rants about Zuckerberg’s clothes”.

I’m with Larry on this one. One of the reasons my old boss Conrad Black was resented by large sections of the proletariat (and, eventually, a decisive sliver of his Chicago jury) was that he looked like the masses’ idea of a rich man, bespoke and luxuriously upholstered. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen Conrad out in public in a top hat, but he was wearing one metaphorically. Like 19th century robber-baron cartoons and the Monopoly man, he hewed to time-honored preconceptions of the plutocrat. Zuckerberg does not. He is, as Larry noted, a “chief executive” of a “corporation”, but he talks of it as if he’s running a kindly charity – his customers are “the community”, and all he does is “connect” them, a word that means harvesting your personal information as Planned Parenthood harvests your body parts. Streamlining traditional business models by discreetly transforming the customer into the product has proved infinitely more lucrative than making widgets. But it is necessary to be somewhat coy about this, and, if you think at this stage that the hoodie is not a consciously selected prop in this strategy, I’ve a bridge-building community-outreach social-media data-mining operation in Brooklyn to connect you with.

My favorite exchange yesterday came when Senator Dan Sullivan took the microphone. He’s a Republican from Alaska, but he could as easily have been a Democrat of a certain disposition. He observed that Mr Zuckerberg had created his spectacularly lucrative global behemoth in his college dorm room at the age of nineteen. And then he said: “Facebook is an ‘Only in America’ story, right?”

The witness looked befuddled – as I do in, say, Marseille, when a bit of local vernacular runs up against the limits of my conversational French.

So Senator Sullivan attempted to clarify what he meant. “You couldn’t do this in China, right?”

Zuckerberg considered the matter, sincerely. “Well, Senator,” he said, “there are some very strong Chinese Internet companies.”

“Come on, I’m trying to help you,” growled the plain-spoken Sullivan, throwing in the towel. “Gimme a break, you’re in front of a bunch of senators: the answer is yes.” The audience laughed. But the child-man seemed genuinely nonplussed.

U.N. Resolution: The 12% Solution : Ruth King

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 elicited euphoria among world Zionists. It was to be short lived as a chain of betrayals truncated the land promised to the Jews and limited their immigration.

The 1922 White Paper (also known as the Churchill White Paper) averred that Jews were in Palestine by right, but bowing to Arab pressure, ceded 76 percent –all the land East of the Jordan River–to the Hashemite Emir Abdullah. It was renamed Transjordan, and closed to Jewish settlement. The remaining land- the West Bank of the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea was to be the Jewish state. In explanation the British stated:

“England…does not want Palestine to become ‘as Jewish as England is English’, but, rather, should become ‘a center in which Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride.’ (Ironically today Israel is poised to become more Jewish than England is English given the very real prospect that Muslims will become a majority in that nation.)

The Jews of Palestine had no choice but to accept the partition of 1922, but Arab thirst for all of Palestine resulted in murders and terrorist attacks, the Hebron massacre of 1929 and later the 1936-39 “Arab Revolt.”

The British responded with the White Paper of 1939 all but eliminating Jewish immigration to Palestine. This occurred after the infamous Evian conference of July 1938. With the exception of the Dominican Republic, all the participants refused to alter their immigration policies, thereby trapping Europe’s Jews. The Nazis were to kill one of every three Jews in the world.

In 1982, Sir Harold Wilson, who had been a member of Clement Attlee’s Cabinet when Israel became independent in 1948 and served as Prime Minister during the Six-Day War, wrote The Chariot of Israel-Britain, America and the State of Israel in which he described the British actions in 1939 as shameful and inexcusable.

Tariq Ramadan’s Rape Trial: Blame the Victim by Giulio Meotti

If defending Tariq Ramadan is regrettable, Western silence is worse.

There are also those who blame Ramadan’s alleged victims. According to The New Yorker, “[Ayeri] is something of a heroine in the extreme-right circles of the fachosphère, where Islamophobia is a ticket of admission”. So, the “real” problem is “Islamophobia,” not the Muslim subjugation of women.

The three women who accused Ramadan of rape have been the subjects of intimidation, violence and threats.

“The blindness of the Anglo-Saxons on political Islam is frightening”. — Pascal Bruckner, French philosopher.

“If you thought it was challenging for women to come forward and accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, consider accusing the Islamic theologian Tariq Ramadan”, wrote Sylvie Kauffman, the former editor of Le Monde.

Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Bana, is a Swiss lecturer on Islam with millions of followers and one of Time Magazine’s “men of the year”. Accused of rape by three women, however, Ramadan is now in custody of the French police. In denying the allegations of sexual violence, his #MeToo case has turned into a political and religious affair.

The Algerian writer Kamel Daoud summarized the response of the Arab-Islamic world to the Ramadan affair: “Silence, discomfort, embarrassment and theories of mass conspiracy”.

The Muslim communities likely know what is at stake in the case of Ramadan, which the Muslim sociologist Omero Marongiu-Perria has called a “crumbling myth”. But if the Muslims’ silence and defense of Tariq Ramadan is something regrettable, Western silence is worse.

Ramadan’s ethnic and religious identity — as is becoming increasingly common (for instance, here, here and here) — has been evoked as part of his defense. After the first sexual accusations came out against Ramadan, Professor Eugene Rogan, Director of Oxford’s Middle East Centre, where Ramadan also teaches, defended his colleague. Ramadan, Rogan said, is a “prominent Muslim”.

According to the French philosopher Pascal Bruckner, “the blindness of the Anglo-Saxons on political Islam is frightening. In the United States, as in the UK, attacking Tariq Ramadan earn you a charge of racism”.

Christian, Yazidi Women Still in ISIS Captivity by Sirwan Kajjo

Despite losing control of Raqqa and other major strongholds in Syria and Iraq, ISIS continues to keep many of the women it kidnapped during its rise in 2014. The world seems to have forgotten about them.

Habib, traded four times during her captivity, witnessed many cases of Christian and Yazidi girls — some as young as 9 years old — sold, raped and tortured by ISIS members.

Currently, there are an estimated 1,500 Christian and Yazidi girls and women still in captivity, while 1,000 others are missing in Iraq and Syria. Others are believed to have been sold to sex traffickers in Turkey. It is an issue that the international community cannot ignore.

After more than three years, Rita Habib, a 30-year-old Christian woman from the Iraqi city of Mosul, was recently reunited with her blind father in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. She and her father are the sole survivors of a family whose members, like thousands of Christians and other non-Muslims, was murdered by ISIS in mid-2014. Habib was among hundreds of Christian and Yazidi women and girls abducted at the time and sold into the sex trade. She was one of the lucky ones to be rescued by the Christian advocacy group, the Shlomo Organization for Documentation, which paid ISIS $30,000 for her release.

Abu Shujaa, a Yazidi activist who has been involved in rescuing hundreds of Yazidi women from ISIS, helps secure their release in various ways, but said that all require money, which is hard to come by.

When Raqqa, the former de facto capital of ISIS, was liberated by U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, many captured women were freed. Despite losing control of Raqqa and other major strongholds in Syria and Iraq, however, ISIS continues to enslave many of the women and girls it kidnapped during its rise in 2014. The world seems to have forgotten about them.

Palestinians and the Arabs By Robert Vincent

This past Friday, April 13th, I attended a small gathering at the University of Toledo campus, entitled, “Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State?,” sponsored by the local chapter of the notorious Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The guest speaker was Josh Ruebner, Policy Director for the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. It proved to be an educational experience for me.

The audience of around 30 people included primarily SJP members, with a few other curious, if sympathetic, students and non-students. Also present was Mike Galbraith, who is running as a Democrat for the 5th Congressional District (my district). when I arrived before the meeting began, Mr. Galbraith was engaged in a very friendly and animated discussion with Mr. Ruebner.

The talk initially centered on recent events in Gaza. Mr. Ruebner went on in great detail about gross violations of human rights allegedly carried out by Israeli forces in response to the ‘march of return’ currently being organized by Hamas, and Israeli oppression and discrimination against Palestinians in general. I have only once before experienced such an unending stream of undiluted vitriol directed at Israel, and that was during the UT student government BDS vote meeting I attended there two years ago.

One striking aspect of Mr. Ruebner diatribe was that he never made a single reference to any Palestinian leadership organization. The Palestinians were simply referred to as just that, a seemingly hapless collection of victims being targeted by Israel, with no leadership or representation of any kind; simply persecuted and deprived of their rights.

There was no reference made to the PA, the PLO, and certainly not to Hamas (I could not even get him to say the word; more on this in a moment). Of course, he also did not make any reference to the severe denial of Palestinian rights in other neighboring countries, at least until I forced him to address this during the Q&A portion; which brings us to the most revealing part of the event.

Most of the questions were sympathetic, as one would expect, given the composition of the audience. One woman, for example, asked how one could deal with the common perception that being critical of Israel was synonymous with being anti-Semitic. Here I saw a major opening, when it was my turn to participate.

I pointed out that Gaza is not simply bordered by Israel, but also by Egypt in the west. I described how Egypt had very tightly sealed the border there, and that even if all of his claims of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians were true – and I disputed these – how is it that only Israel is held responsible? I asked why he only wants to boycott Israel.

He replied that he would also like to boycott Egypt, so I laid out his real agenda, telling him and those gathered that he didn’t even mention Egypt until I brought it up, that his focus on only the Jewish state – of two states “oppressing” the Palestinians in Gaza – is a perfect example of how people like him are in fact promoting Jew hatred with their activities.

The Adulthood Track Recent national test results make clear that schools should offer students training for the working world that doesn’t require a college degree. Ray Domanico

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released this week, offer little to celebrate. Political leaders and education advocates are struggling to find evidence that their preferred policy—whatever it might be—is having much impact on student performance. Progress has stalled in recent years, and results at the state and national level are far below where most education policymakers thought they would be by now. Despite the efforts of George W. Bush, many children are still being left behind; despite the efforts of Barack Obama, the race to the top didn’t produce many winners.

Administered to a representative sample of youngsters, the NAEP is a rigorous test, the only instrument we have to make valid comparisons across states—and some major local school districts—and to track nationwide progress over time. The test sets a high bar for achievement: it defines “proficiency” as mastery of challenging subject matter, as distinguished from grade-level proficiency (good enough to pass). The NAEP results reveal that slightly more than a third of the nation’s eighth-graders were proficient in reading and math in 2017. These numbers have moved up slowly: since 2003, math proficiency is up five points, to 34 percent, and reading is up four points, to 36 percent. But the average eight-grade math score is currently 16 points below proficiency, while the average reading score falls 14 points short—discouraging figures, though better than 2003. If improvement continues at this glacial pace, it will be 45 years until the average eighth-grader is considered proficient in mathematics and 49 years for an average eighth-grader to achieve reading proficiency.

We should not be surprised by the NAEP findings, as they align with trends in college completion. Nationally, 84 percent of high school students graduate, and of those, about 70 percent enroll in a two- or four-year college. But college-completion rates are just 60 percent for four-year colleges and 30 percent for two-year colleges. Overall, only about 30 percent of the students who start out in the American K-12 system complete a college degree by age 25. Students who plan to complete college should be scoring at the NAEP’s proficiency levels by eighth grade; two-thirds are not doing so.

Israel At 70

Cherry tomatoes were engineered in Israel.
Israel is the only county to have more trees today than it did 50 years ago.
After Tokyo and New York City, Tel Aviv has the most sushi restaurants per capita.
People of the book: Israel publishes more books per capita than any other country.
Israel has the world’s highest rate of entrepreneurship among women.
Israel has the highest number of university degrees per capita than any other country.
Buses around Israel have signs that quote the biblical passage, “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old.”
One million notes are left in the Kotel (Western Wall) each year. They are cleaned out twice a year, before Passover and Rosh Hashanah.
Beersheva has the largest number of chess grandmasters per capita of any city in the world.
Israeli bank notes have Braille on them to assist the blind.
Microsoft has more employees in Israel than it does per capita anywhere in the world.
Israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world.
Israel has more orchestras per capita than any other country.
Israeli academics produce more scientific papers per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Israel has more computers per capita than any other country.
Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the number of Christians is increasing.
Relative to its population, Israel has absorbed more immigrants than any other country, with newcomers from more than 100 countries.
Voicemail technology was developed in Israel.
Life expectancy in Israel is among the highest in the world, at 82 years.
Israel has won more Nobel Prizes than all other Middle East countries combined.
Jerusalem has over 1,500 public parks and gardens.

Israel at 70 – Mature and Prosperous The ingredients for a bright future. Joseph Puder

I am on my way to Israel to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Jewish state. Having experienced many of Israel’s birthdays before, when the country was noticeably less mature or prosperous, this birthday is a special occasion. With all the glory attached to the coming of age, there are also sets of precedents that require caution and good judgment.

The number 70 has meaningful commutations in Jewish tradition. It recalls the 70-year Babylonian Exile that led to the start of the Second Jewish Commonwealth in 530 BCE. The return to the Land of Israel occurred through the Charter given by the Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, allowing Jews who wished to return to “Jerusalem that is in Judah” and build a “House for the God of Heaven” to do so. Prime Minister Netanyahu, in praising Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, compared him to King Cyrus the Great. Similarly, President Harry Truman was told that in recognizing the Jewish state, he would become another King Cyrus for Jews everywhere.

Zerubbabel, a descendent of King David, led the first wave of returnees to Jerusalem. The second wave come with the Scribe Ezra (book of Ezra in the third portion of the Hebrew Bible called Ketuvim). The third stage of mass return to the land occurred with Nehemiah, a high official in the Persian Empire administration.

The first returnees had to deal with the Samaritans and the Ammonites, in the same way the 19th and 20th century returnees had to deal with the Arabs. The Samaritans, like the Arabs of later times, were brought into the land of Israel by the Assyrian kings at the end of the Eight Century BCE in place of the Israelites they had deported. Arabs settled in the Land of Israel following the deportation of the Jews (most but not all) by the Romans in the aftermath of the Jewish rebellion, which ended in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

To Fire or Not to Fire Mueller That is the question. Bruce Thornton

Robert Mueller, who just sicced a federal prosecutor on Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is out of control. Like many federal prosecutors, he is puffed up by his own self-righteous arrogance, one fueled by the unaccountable and unrestrained power he’s been given in our supposedly democratic republic. Forget all the “integrity” and “professionalism” encomia from the bipartisan, deep-state mutual back-scratchers. Mueller represents one of the greatest threats to our political order: the abuse of power under cover of law.

But the question is not whether Mueller deserves to be fired and disgraced. He obviously should. The real question is whether Trump should pull the trigger.

Most of the advice from mainstream Republicans is telling the president to back off. The Wall Street Journal summarizes their counsel: “Firing Mr. Mueller wouldn’t stop the investigation, though it would cost him Republican support and probably guarantee his impeachment if Democrats take the House in November.” Instead, ignore Mueller and line up some more achievement to lay before the voters.

Another argument for patience is that numerous investigations are currently underway looking into the conduct of Obama’s FBI and DOJ regarding their handling investigations of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and family foundation. There are also continuing Congressional investigations into these and other matters. Keeping his head down will make Trump less likely to steal any media thunder from the bombshell revelations that may be unearthed by these investigations in the next few months.