Venezuelans went to the polls on Dec. 8 to elect more than 300 mayors and over 2,000 city council members in a nationwide ballot. Though the opposition coalition made some important gains in the cities, the ruling socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro managed to edge out its rivals in the popular vote (49% to 43%). I now fear that my country is one step closer to becoming a full-fledged dictatorship along the lines of Zimbabwe in Africa.

Less than a year after Hugo Chávez succumbed to cancer, Venezuela is now mired in a crisis unprecedented during the 14 years of the so-called “Bolivarian revolution.” Chávez was certainly a ruthless authoritarian; I know this from firsthand experience. Between 2000 and 2005, I was an elected opposition representative challenging the comandante’s agenda in the National Assembly.

I was forced to leave after Chávez officials tried to remove my parliamentary immunity by fabricating allegations of my involvement in a U.S.-backed conspiracy.

Now Mr. Maduro, whom I knew well in parliament as a more conciliatory figure, is rapidly accelerating the late president’s economic and social policies to their deadliest conclusion.

This is happening because Mr. Maduro, who served as Chávez’s foreign minister from 2006-13, has ties with Cuba’s ruling Communists that stretch back to the 1980s, when he trained in Havana as a labor-union organizer. Having entered Chávez’s trusted circle with the support of the Cubans, Mr. Maduro emerged as Chávez’s handpicked successor and came to power in April, defeating the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, by a razor thin margin of 1.5%. Despite thousands of allegations of voter fraud, the regime refused a recount.

Putin Says Surveillance Programs Are ‘a Necessity’ Russian President Adds Snowden’s Efforts to Reveal Them Are a Noble Cause :Lukas Alpert Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the kind of secret surveillance programs that Edward Snowden exposed in the U.S. as a “necessity,” but called the former National Security Agency contractor’s efforts to reveal them a “noble cause.” Mr. Putin, a former KGB officer in the Soviet Union, said he believed the U.S. had good reasons […]


WASHINGTON—The White House issued a rare veto threat in response to a bipartisan Senate bill that would slap Iran with new sanctions if it violates an interim deal reached last month to curb its nuclear program.
The threat sets up a standoff in the new year between President Barack Obama and more than two dozen Senate Democrats and Republicans who introduced the legislation on Thursday. The challenge to Mr. Obama is particularly stark because half of the lawmakers sponsoring the new bill are from his own party.

The bill could also imperil Mr. Obama’s efforts to reach a diplomatic end to the decadelong standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, which administration officials hope will be a signature achievement of his second term.

Iranian officials have repeatedly threatened in recent days to back out of negotiations with the U.S. and other global powers over Tehran’s nuclear program if Washington enacts new sanctions.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney criticized the Senate move, saying such sanctions would undermine Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts “no matter how they’re structured.”

“We don’t think it will be enacted. We certainly don’t think it should be enacted,” Mr. Carney said. “If it were to pass, the president would veto it.”

Settlements and the Future of Zionism: Moshe Dann

Controversy over “Israeli occupation,” “unilateral withdrawal” and the destruction of Jewish communities is not just about territory and the rights of Jews. It exposes a basic struggle between Zionism and post-/anti-Zionism.

Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, like those who lived in the Gaza Strip, represent an ideology whose roots are not only in modern Zionism, but in a deep attachment to Jewish history, Judaism and the Land of Israel. This ideology opposes the concept of Israel as a pluralistic, secular “nation of its citizens” like those in Europe.

This clash is inevitable and raises fundamental questions: What is Zionism? To whom does the Land of Israel belong, legally and historically? Do Jews need a state at all? Does Israel’s survival depend on establishing another Arab Palestinian state? It is not only a dispute about sovereignty and who controls land, but about what Israel represents as a society and a culture.

Deeply rooted in the fear that Israel will be wiped out, suggestions to abandon traditional Zionist ideals reflect a survivalist mentality.

Campaigns to boycott and delegitimize Israel are increasing fueled by Jew-hatred and Arab funding. In the face of this onslaught, calls to abandon the settlement movement and promoting the “inevitability” of another Palestinian state hardly seem irrational.

But it’s neither “the occupation” nor “Israeli apartheid” (Jewish racism) that makes Jew-haters so angry; it’s whether Israel as a country that defines itself as Jewish should exist.


Fitzgerald: The point of CNN’s religious fundamentalism series

Christiane Amanpour has at least one parent who was part of what one would have hoped to describe as the intelligent secular ancien regime. They were the people pushed out by Khomeini and his epigones, and therefore, one would have thought, comprehending the nature of Islam. Well, it turns out that not everyone who has fled Iran quite has that necessary understanding. Some like to pretend that Khomeini is a sport, when the real sport was the Shah and his father, in their de-emphasis on Islam, their emphasis on the pre-Islamic past of Iran, and their willingness to limit the power of the mullahs — and, above all, to give the non-Muslims of Iran, the Christians, Jews, and Baha’is, reasonable security and even something akin to legal equality.

But Amanpour does not realize that. Nor, in her aggressive climb through the media ranks, has she stopped to study Islam. She has not stopped to find out what happened to the Zoroastrians or what happens to them in Iran today. She has not stopped to find out why, even in the 20th century, a Jew could be killed for going out in the rain (where a drop might ricochet off him and hit an innocent Muslim with this raindrop of najis-ness, thus contaminating him).

She might, that is, have begun with the history of Islam in Iran and considered the treatment of non-Muslims, and how Shah Abbas II overnight ordered the conversion of all the Jews and Armenians in an Iranian city (possibly Tabriz), and why the real, as opposed to the Iranian exile’s dreamy fictional history of Iran, is full of such episodes. She might have gotten hold of E. J. Browne’s work on Persian literature, and studied Hafiz and Sa’adi. She might have read Omar Khayyam, and come to realize just how un-Islamic he was. She might have read the Shahnameh of Firdowsi, and seen how his literary talent was put to work preventing the linguistic and cultural imperialism of the Arabs from successfully coming to damage and then overwhelm the Iranian culture. She might have done a special program on Islam as a vehicle of Arab cultural and linguistic imperialism, and used Iran as an example of one place where it did not succeed as it did elsewhere.

Oh, there are many things that raw-boned massive Christiane Amanpour might have done, if she had allowed herself the leisure to think, and be something more than one more media star, one more mere reporter incapable of making sense of what she reports on.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR BASHES ISRAEL AT MANDELA MEMORIAL SERVICE CNN’s Amanpour Smears Israel at Mandela Memorial Service   During coverage of the December 10 memorial service for the former South African president, Nelson Mandela, held in Johannesburg, frequent Israel basher and CNN (Cable News Network) personality, Christiane Amanpour reminiscing about Mandela, drew what she thought was a key lesson from Mandela’s leadership applicable to an intractable conflict […]

After Geneva, “The Islamic Bomb” by Guy Millière On the day when the “interim agreements” were ratified in Geneva, November 24 2013, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was photographed smiling. He had good reason to be pleased; not since the Munich Agreement in 1938 have Western leaders given so much for so little. As Bret Stephens wrote in the […]


In the 1960s, the American Left embraced the anti-Vietnam War movement as its cri de coeur.

In the 1970s, the Left’s foreign policy focus shifted to calling for unilateral nuclear disarmament by the US and its Western allies.

In the 1980s, supporting the Sandinista Communists’ takeover of Nicaragua became the catechism of the Left.

In the 1990s, the war on global capitalism – that is, the anti-globalization movement – captivated the passions of US Leftists from coast to coast.

In the 2000s, it was again, the anti-war movement. This time the Left rioted and demonstrated against the war in Iraq.

And in this decade, the main foreign policy issue that galvanizes the passions and energies of the committed American Left is the movement to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.

This week has been a big one for the anti-Israel movement. In the space of a few days, two quasi academic organizations – the American Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association – have launched boycotts against Israeli universities. Their boycotts follow a similar one announced in April by the Asian Studies Association.

GIULIO MEOTTI: ISRAEL’S GHETTO MENTALITY It is ghetto-like thinking that leads Israel’s government ministers to seriously advocate uprooting Jewish towns and villages in the Jews’ ancestral homeland in order to curry favor with Arab potentates and US coteries. Claude Lanzmann is a great filmaker. His new movie, “The Last of the Unjust”, tells the incredible story of Benjamin Murmelstein, the […]

VICTOR SHARPE: TERRITORY OR INSANITY? Aruitz Sheva’s Mark Langfan made news when he re-publicized the Joint Chief of Staff memo from 1967. Arutz Sheva publicized it the first time in 2009 and it is just as crucial a read today. The US Joint Chiefs were not interested in Jewish patrimony or Biblical history. They were solely concerned with the […]