VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: LIKE CARTER, OBAMA MAY TEMPT THE ENEMY TO TEST US **** Who Will Bell America? Remember the medieval fable about the mice that wanted their dangerous enemy, the cat, belled, but each preferred not to be the one to attempt the dangerous deed? Likewise, the world’s bad actors have long wanted America belled, but, like the mice, so far they have not been stupid or […]

Why President Obama’s Concept of the Middle East Will Fail: Just Listen to It: Barry Rubin To put it plainly, the press briefing intending to indicate how President Barack Obama thinks about Israel on the eve of his trip here was a combination of fantasy and insult. It is likely that the Obama administration made such statements for show — to persuade the Arabic-speaking world that the United States is […]


It was a gaffe on the order of bitter clingers, and this time in full public view: “If you’ve got a business–you didn’t build that,” President Obama said at a July 13, 2012, campaign rally in Roanoke, Va. “Somebody else made that happen.”

The president’s defenders and sycophants rushed to rationalize it away. Look at the complete context, they said, and we did:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business–you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

See, he meant somebody else built roads and bridges!

Of course that presupposed that the brilliant double Ivy graduate and former part-time elite law school professor lacked basic skills in grammar, logic and exposition. “That” is a singular pronoun; the plural equivalent is “those.” Along with the agreement in number, the noun “business” was proximate to the pronoun, as an antecedent should be. And even accepting the hypothesis of Obama’s hopeless incapacity for grammar, what was the owner of a construction contractor that builds roads and bridges supposed to make of the putative assertion that he did no such thing?

Obama’s vicious little riff turned out to have its origin in the work of George Lakoff, the Berkeley linguist who has written a series of books on leftist cognition and rhetoric. The best way to understand Lakoff is as the anti-Ayn Rand: As she celebrated the individual and scorned the collective, he does the converse.


Don’t Free Jonathan Pollard
A man who betrayed his country is no martyr to the Jewish people.

“Nations are rightly judged by their choice of heroes. Israel has plenty of worthy heroes, yet today there’s a square in Jerusalem named for Pollard. So here’s something else I’d like Mr. Obama to do while he’s in Israel: Insist that the square be renamed. Maybe then, in a quieter hour and without regard to diplomacy or politics, can Jonathan Pollard’s fate be reconsidered in a purely humanitarian grounds.”

There are a few things I’d like to hear Barack Obama say on his trip this week to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

I’d like to hear him go beyond the bromides about “having Israel’s back” and “not bluffing” about Iran’s nuclear ambitions to spell out a U.S. timetable and a U.S. red line. I’d especially like to hear the president say the U.S. is not interested in a diplomatic settlement that solves the immediate nuclear crisis but allows Iran to retain and expand its nuclear-industrial base.

Keeping Iran from sprinting to a single bomb now so that it can amble toward 50 bombs once Mr. Obama is out of office is not a policy worthy of any American presidency.

I’d also like to hear the president tell Palestinians during his visit to Bethlehem that what really stands between them and a state isn’t Israel or its settlements. Israel dismantled its settlements in Sinai for the sake of peace with Egypt, and dismantled them again in Gaza in the interests of disengaging from the restive coastal strip. Most Israelis would gladly do so again for the sake of a real peace with the Palestinians.

But Israelis can have no confidence in such a peace so long as Palestinians elect Hamas to power, cheer the rocketing of Israeli cities, insist on a “right of return” to Tel Aviv and Haifa, play charades at the U.N., refuse to negotiate directly with Israel, and raise their children on a diet of anti-Semitic slurs. In his 2009 speech in Cairo, Mr. Obama spoke the truth about the Arab world’s Holocaust denial. He shouldn’t deprive his Palestinian audience of a similar dose of truth-telling, least of all in Bethlehem.

Finally, I’d like to hear Mr. Obama tell Jordan’s King Abdullah that the U.S. will back the Hashemite kingdom to the hilt.

Right now, the king is dealing with a long-running financial crisis, the influx of more than 300,000 refugees from Syria, diminishing political support from tribal sheiks, and an assertive Muslim Brotherhood that smells political blood. If the king falls, the U.S. loses an ally, the Arab world loses a moderate, Israel loses a secure border, and a contest for power erupts in which all the outcomes are bad. U.S. assistance to Jordan came to $736 million last year. It’s cheap at five times the price.

But here’s something I don’t want to hear from Mr. Obama, especially not when he’s in Israel: that he has agreed to release former Navy intelligence analyst and convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

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Last week The Times reported on an anti-Semitic rant from the Labour peer Lord Ahmed. In an interview on Pakistani television in 2012, Lord Ahmed remarked that the prison sentence he had received in 2009 for dangerous driving was due to pressure that had been placed on the courts by “Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels”. He added: “My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians”, something that these Jews “opposed”.

These remarks are truly extraordinary. Lord Ahmed seems to believe that his actions were completely insignificant, until, that is, he came up against a vindictive Jewish establishment that was determined to punish him for his political views. Quite how this consortium of Jewish media magnates was able to manipulate the legal establishment is not clear. Still, there is no doubting that he was invoking the spectre of ‘Jewish power’ to explain his misfortune.

What is so disturbing here is not just the arrogance of his comments or the rehashing of anti-Semitic tropes; it is the fact that Lord Ahmed is a distinguished peer of the realm, a figure regarded in polite society as a genuine Muslim moderate.

Why did a figure in such an elevated position issue such a racist diatribe? The simple answer is that ‘blaming the Jews’ has become a ubiquitous feature of Muslim discourse, even in liberal western societies. The notion of personal and communal responsibility has been undermined by a cult of victimhood and a belief in paranoid conspiracy theories.

Take one example when the Muslim Council of Britain was asked to condemn Islamist terrorism, it did so equivocally. It blamed British foreign policy in Iraq, Afghanistan and ‘Palestine’ for stoking up Muslim anger, an argument that completely ignored how many more Muslims were being killed at the hands of their co-religionists. Terrorism was viewed as an understandable response to the alleged perfidy of Israel and its western backers.

Ahmed himself criticised the knighthood offered to Salman Rushdie by claiming that the writer “had blood on his hands”. Apparently the blood of innocent people had not been spilt by fanatics but by the writer himself.

The same kneejerk tendency to blame ‘the other’ is true in the wider Muslim world. Mahathir Muhammed, a former Prime Minister of Malaysia and a leading advocate of economic modernisation, raised a few eyebrows in 1997 when he blamed Jews for the collapse of his country’s currency. But he had spent decades making virulently racist statements about the alleged designs of international Jewry.

This Jew baiting is far worse in the Palestinian territories. Hardly a day goes by without the media organs of Fatah or Hamas purporting to reveal some sinister Jewish plot to undermine Palestinian society. Whether the claim is that Zionists are trying to destroy the al Aqsa shrine or harvest the organs of dead Palestinians, the Jews are somehow to blame for Arab misfortunes.

DANIEL GREENFIELD: DANCES WITH CONFUSED ELEPHANTS The one question I invariably encounter in a conservative movement that tends toward the gray side is how to engage the youth. And the answer is usually nothing that the questioners want to hear. Now the Republican Party has laid the corpse of the last election on the slab and come up with the […]

MEANWHILE IN PETRAEUSTAN …. A MOUNTING WAVE OF TERROR: ADAM SCHREK BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of bombings tore through Baghdad on Tuesday morning, killing at least 56 people and wounding more than 200, highlighting increasing sectarian tensions in Iraq on the eve of the anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion. The attacks, mostly by car bombs, targeted small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops in […]


“Palestine was the cradle of the most ancient cultures and civilisations. Its Arab people were engaged in farming and building, spreading culture throughout the land for thousands of years,” Yasser Arafat, applying several layers of gilding to the lily, told the UN General Assembly in his major address on 13 November 1974 denouncing Zionism and the Zionist Entity.

Subsequently, by themselves abandoning the term “Palestinian Arabs” in favour of “The Palestinians,” Israelis handed Arafat a major public relations victory. For they appear to concede that there was indeed a sovereign people by the latter name and accordingly reinforce a brilliant propagandistic makeover on the PLO’s part that is a tool for Israel’s delegitimisation.

Of course, despite the impression created by Arafat and his successors, there was never a sovereign people called “the Palestinians” and there was never a sovereign state called Palestine.

But try telling that to the myriad youths who, too ignorant of history to recognise the lie for what it is, have been conditioned to believe that there was, and add themselves to the ranks of the Palestine Solitary Campaign and comparable organisations.

And try telling that to their anti-Israel elders who should certainly know that when the First World War broke out, and for several centuries beforehand, Palestine was a backwater province of the Ottoman Empire …

George Galloway, for example, in ranting and raving last month about British foreign policy in the Middle East, began with an attack on Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt and proceeded with the charge that Britain committed “the original sin” of “wiping their [the Palestinians’] country off the map,” the only “country” in the Middle East to suffer such a fate.

And so it is that a rather nasty little video, featuring some well-known names among others, and recently translated into French for the benefit of gallic and francophone Israel-haters, was recently made by BDSers in Australia regarding what one participant contemptuously dubs “the so-called state of Israel” towards the “indigenous people” of Palestine. (It ends with references to “the line of division”: hence my post title.)

STAR PARKER: WHAT I SAW IN ISRAEL As President Obama prepares for his first trip to Israel, I hope when he gets there he sees what I saw. Several weeks ago I returned from my first trip to Israel. I went with a delegation headed by Governor Mike Huckabee, who visits Israel at least once every year. What did I see? […]

DAVID “SPENGLER” GOLDMAN: SPEAKING TRUTH TO IMPOTENCE It’s hard to imagine an unhappier man than Barack Obama’s aide Benjamin Rhodes, whose ”anguish” is the subject of a March 15 New York Times profile. What keeps the 35-year-old Deputy National Security Advisor up nights is the 70,000 casualties in two years of civil war in Syria, and the likelihood that whatever the […]