The death of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela President Hugo Chávez may have been untimely, but it couldn’t have come soon enough for those of us who believe in the values of the free world. This is why many experienced what my son Noam wittily referred to as “Chávezfreude” when the 58-year-old tyrant was laid to rest on Thursday.

Much has been written over the past two days about the Chávez legacy, with discussions on whether he was actually a dictator. Whatever one wants to call his 14-year stranglehold on power, it was characterized by socialist policies and Communist methods that turned Venezuela into the most backward and broken-down country in Latin America.

It was also marked by a despotic quashing of opposition, and employing narcissism and megalomania to try to control the hearts and minds of the masses. This Chávez did by constantly appearing on television, giving performances that were a creepy mixture of charisma and clown-like craziness.

Contrary to what progressives like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore assert about El Presidente’s concern for the poor, Chávez was far more focused on his hatred of Western democracy than on easing the economic, social and educational plight of his people. They were his pawns, not his project.

This is not only illustrated by the untreated sewage, power outages, and poverty to which his citizenry was subjected; it is also reflected in the global alliances he forged.

Let’s start with Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadinejad, whose close political and personal ties with Chávez were born of a mutual hatred for the United States. Both leaders spent their lives denouncing American “colonialism and imperialism.” Ahmadinejad calls it the “Great Satan.” Chávez attacked Christopher Columbus for being “the spearhead of the biggest invasion and genocide ever seen in the history of humanity.”

This match made in hell — also cemented by shared anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism — resulted in the establishment of an “Axis of Unity” against the U.S., which involved Venezuela’s assisting a nuclearizing Iran to get a foothold in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Chávez visited Ahmadinehad in the Islamic republic 13 times. Ahmadinejad’s trip to Caracas for the funeral was his seventh.

Product Details

Returning to Israel this past January for the first time in 20 years carried a deep emotional charge for me. After World War II my British-born parents, young Labor-Zionist idealists, helped found a kibbutz in the northern Galilee. I was born there, but we moved back to England when I was seven. I’ve visited and lived in Israel since then, but mostly I’ve been in London and the United States. By most measures, every city in which I’ve put down roots in is an easier place to live than just about anywhere in Israel. I’ve never felt so British as when I’ve struggled to hold my place in what passes in Israel for a queue.

Yet I’ve also pined for the brash, aggressive country I had last seen in the mid-1970s, when public rudeness was a point of pride, when every stranger felt free to get into your business—but would reflexively rescue you in a pinch. In the early 1970s, in a small town north of Tel Aviv, I once fainted from heat and woke up lying on a sidewalk surrounded by a circle of faces, their voices theorizing about why I’d passed out. An old lady who could barely walk insisted on taking me home on the bus, where she barraged me with advice about what she was certain was my pregnancy and broadcast my “joyous news” to the passengers around us.

The noisy, busybody intrusiveness of Israeli public life could be a pain in the neck. But, having spent most of my life in two countries known for their surface good manners, I missed the directness and, sometimes, the rough charm. On a vacation in Tel Aviv in the early 1990s, the airline lost my luggage. I complained to the company’s Israeli representative—who spread his arms wide and answered genially, “Mah haba’aya?” What’s the problem? “Sometimes I don’t change my underwear for a week!”

On my recent two weeks of running around Israel with my 15-year-old daughter, I rarely encountered this kind of brazen chutzpah. The land of pioneering socialism and proliferating red tape has caught on to the capitalist service ethic big time. At the El Al desk at Heathrow Airport, a preternaturally polite young security guy with a mini-Mohawk apologized profusely for having to ask “a lot of questions.” No apologies were necessary: we were a walking red flag. I speak fluent Hebrew but do not carry an Israeli passport. Neither does my daughter—who is Chinese. We get stopped, frisked, grilled, just about fried in every airport we pass through. With courtly politesse, the young man questioned me for 15 minutes—then asked my daughter what her favorite Jewish holiday was. Flustered, she blurted, “Passover!” He said he’d never met a kid whose favorite holiday was Pesach. She shrugged and said she loved matzah ball soup. That did the trick. One more apology, and we were on our way.

And so it went from the moment we landed at Ben Gurion airport, now bustling with souped-up boutiques and fancy eateries. Everywhere—from the posh, scrubbed and renovated Jaffa quarter of Tel Aviv, to a now-privatized Galilee kibbutz whose members own their own homes, to the small town of Rosh Pina, once known as the “armpit of the Middle East” but now a gentrified home to artists, hipsters and nouvelle cuisine restaurateurs—it was please, thank you, can I help you and, to my horror, have a nice day.

When I marveled about this, Israeli friends laughed said that if I wanted to see the old churlishness, I just had to stick around a while. And it’s true that if you know where to look, you’ll still find the old belligerence in abundance, notably in government offices and on public transportation. After we stood in line for nearly two hours at the Jerusalem bus station to reserve our place for a trip to the north, a couple of latecomers elbowed my daughter out of the way and breezed onto the bus without so much as a by-your-leave.

Once in the early 1970s, when I was a graduate student commuting home from Tel Aviv University, I had to duck when two men in coveralls started throwing punches around my head over political differences. It’s not recommended behavior, but I loved that sense of engagement with public life. Israelis may still be great political brawlers, but they don’t seem to talk politics as much as they used to. Politically, our Israeli hosts were all over the map: friends living across the green line in suburban Jerusalem, a woman working for Palestinian rights, Golan kibbutzniks anxious about the Syrian civil war. Yet even with Hamas rocket attacks fresh in memory and national elections imminent, few Israelis seemed interested in political debate beyond laughing their heads off at Eretz Nehederet, “Wonderful Land,” the satirical TV program that skewers corrupt posturing by local politicians and the ridiculous proliferation of tiny political parties on the electoral landscape.

True, as the headlines scream, Israel is polarized these days; and perhaps Israelis are as weary of politics as I am of being the schizoid Israeli-abroad who sounds like Jabotinsky when defending Israel to the hard Left and fiercely criticizes the occupation when debating the hard Right. Neither of these shrieking groups understands that Israelis, in their daily lives, know how to improvise a precarious harmony.

Andrew McCarthy: Challenges to Islamic totalitarianism are ‘suppressed in the media’ [VIDEO]

In an interview with The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas, Andrew C. McCarthy, the former assistant United States attorney who successfully led the prosecutions of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers, explained why he thinks more people don’t focus on threats posed by extremists.

“Political correctness is a big part of the problem of not confronting other ideologies,” he said. “That is an idea that is suppressed in the media, it’s suppressed on the campus, it’s suppressed almost pervasively throughout society.”

“The most important thing that ordinary citizens can do is insist on our ability to communicate robustly — that is, to insist upon our free-speech rights. It’s the free-speech rights that actually move the politicians.”

Blasphemy Mucho—How Sharia Kills Free Speech: Andrew Bostom [1]Losing free speech via the toxic synergy of mainstream, supremacist Islam, and Western self-loathing *** Al Qaeda’s English language magazine “Inspire [2],” in its latest edition, has expressed the jihad terror organization’s outrage over the “Innocents of Muslims” video trailer, an amateurish production, which merely depicted some of the less salutary aspects [3] of […]

Israel’s Ongoing Public Diplomacy Fiasco By David Isaac On Feb. 28, at a meeting of something called the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, Turkey’s Prime Minister Tacip Erdogan called Zionism “a crime against humanity.” Another day, another vicious slur on Israel, in this case from the leader of a country that only yesterday had been its strategic ally in the region. All that […]


Spring is coming, and so is Israel Apartheid Week to campuses across the country.Here in Boston, Harvard students already got an “eviction notice” pasted on their doors by the Palestine Solidarity Committee who likened the notices to the “Illegal displacement of Palestinians” in Israel. At Northeastern University a full week of activities, films, an “apartheid wall,” etc. is being planned starting next week. At Boston University, an “academic” panel on “Right of Return” is being set up.What can our side do?Tell the truth: that this is a lie and that the real apartheid in the Middle East is Arab Apartheid, where women, gays, Christians, Jews and other minorities are subjugated, humiliated, raped, and slaughtered.We need the Jewish students on campus to use THIS argument – not to say, as some of our feckless leaders are telling them to say: “We are not so bad as they say we are.”You can help make Arab Apartheid a meme (an idea that spreads). Here’s how:Read this wonderful article by Professor Ephraim Karsh that explains it all very simply and with easily remembered facts and arguments.Then spread it around to everyone you know. Charles Jacobs

In light of Israel Apartheid Week, which hit cities and campuses throughout the world recently, supporters of the Jewish state find it difficult to agree on the best response to this hate fest. Some suggest emphasizing Israel’s peacemaking efforts, others propose rebranding the country by highlighting its numerous achievements and success stories. Still others advocate reminding the world of “what Zionism is – a movement of Jewish national liberation – and what it isn’t – racist.” Each of these approaches has its merits yet none will do the trick.

Peace seeking and/or prosperity are no proof of domestic benevolence and equality. The most brutal regimes have peacefully coexisted with their neighbors while repressing their own populations; the most prosperous societies have discriminated against vulnerable minorities. South Africa was hardly impoverished and technologically backward; the United States, probably the most successful and affluent nation in recent times was largely segregated not that long ago.

Nor for that matter is the apartheid libel driven by forgetfulness of Zionism’s true nature. It is driven by rejection of Israel’s very existence. No sooner had the dust settled on the Nazi extermination camps than the Arabs and their western champions equated the Jewish victims with their tormentors.


SEN. FEINSTEIN’S HUBBY…A POINT MAN ON GORE’S TV SALE TO AL JAZEERA Via Drudge, a Hollywood Reporter story on a $5 million lawsuit filed by a consultant who was cut out of a share of the Current TV/Al Jazeera deal. What is even more interesting is the key role David Blum, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s […]



Waste, fraud and US-taxpayer-abuse.

The final Special Inspector General’s Iraq Report (SIGIR) is out this week. Curl up with it and find out where $60 billion taxpayer dollars went in Iraq (spoiler alert: down the drain). Boosters point to the relative success of Iraqi security forces in “keeping order” (trained at a cost of $20-plus billion) — and Petraeus and Crocker, in their introduction to the report, still burble on, old Western-serial-style, about providing “new opportunity to the citizens of the Land of the Two Rivers” — although somehow it seems relevant to note that Iraqi security forces under dictator Saddam Hussein also “kept order,” sans such costly US training.

Out of Afghanistan, the waste, fraud and abuse story is even more grotesque. Afghanistan’s Special Inspector General estimates that Americans have spent $100 billlion (and counting) on construction projects. After all, there was little to re-construct, except the Kajaki Dam, which we first built back in the 1950s. Now, USAID is pulling the plug on it.

Enough said? Not on your life.


Yesterday, March 6, 2013, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), embarked on a filluster to block the nomination of John Brennan to director of the CIA pending confirmation from the Obama White House that it agrees the president is bound by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees Americans’ right to due process, and therefore will never use drones to kill American non-combatants on American soil.

To date, the White House answer is silence.

Here are Paul’s opening remarks, which began at 11:47 am, excerpted from the uncorrected transcript to be found at Paul’s official website. Paul’s dramatic, public, and instructive defense of Constitutional rights against executive overreach is the best thing to have happened to America in a long time.

BRUCE BAWER: NATIVE NORWEGIANS WILL SOON BECOME A MINORITY IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY NRK has done it again. I’ve written before about Norway’s state broadcasting service, which magically converts Norwegians’ compulsory “license fees” into – as I put it last October – “outright, shameless, and (not infrequently) downright vile propaganda.” Propaganda, for example, against the critics of Islam. Propaganda, a few weeks back, about a gypsy lady […]

The Hollywood Left Mourns Its ‘Great Hero’ Chavez: Mark Tapson Tuesday was a dark day for socialist totalitarians everywhere, including among the Hollywood elite. Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez finally succumbed to cancer, and a pair of Hollywood heavyweight supporters mourned him openly and proudly. “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had,” declared Sean Penn, Hollywood’s most […]