“With respect to Israel,” President Obama said in his interview this week to the New Yorker,

the interests of Israel in stability and security are actually very closely aligned with the interests of the Sunni states…. What’s preventing them from entering into even an informal alliance with at least normalized diplomatic relations is not that their interests are profoundly in conflict but the Palestinian issue, as well as a long history of anti-Semitism that’s developed over the course of decades there, and anti-Arab sentiment that’s increased inside of Israel based on seeing buses being blown up.

Obama meant, of course, an alliance against Shiite Iran. Indeed, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has referred several times to behind-the-scenes cooperation between Israel and Sunni Arab states against the Iranian threat. The catch is “behind the scenes”; Israel is still too much the regional pariah to bring these interactions out in the open.

Obama adduces the Palestinian issue and Arab anti-Semitism going back “decades” as the factors preventing an “informal alliance” and “diplomatic relations.” The implication is that these problems—along with Israeli “anti-Arab sentiment”—can be overcome. The administration, spearheaded by Secretary of State Kerry, has indeed thrown itself headlong into another round of the “Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

The problems with Obama’s take on the matter, however, begin with the word “decades.”

DAVID SOLWAY:Pray on Your Own Time and in Your Own Space ****


I learned recently that Carleton University in the nation’s capital, Ottawa, following in the footsteps of other Canadian universities, has set aside a designated and enlarged prayer space, intended mainly for Muslim students who, as the Ottawa Citizen reports, “pray five times a day and for years have suggested that they need more room.” Otherwise, as president of the Muslim Student Association Mohamed Abdalla informs us, students end up praying in stairwells or libraries. That would clog up the works p.d.q., especially when convened five times a day.

Such accommodation, however, has no place in the public mandate of the academy’s parietal affairs, and Muslim students who proceed to foreground their faith in this disruptive manner should perhaps consider attending a Muslim university, or no university at all. The easing of the prayer crunch by constructing or expanding a designated venue, accepted by the author of the Citizen puff job as a prudent expedient, should not disguise the fact that public prayer (and in particular numerous prayer sessions punctuating the scholarly habitat) has no place in the Western university whatsoever.

I do not believe that Muslim students need more room. I believe that they need less mollycoddling and fewer concessions made in the name of their religious convictions. The university is a secular institution operating under an implicit code of academic conduct, which stipulates, inter alia, that classes be attended, that academic work proceed under rules of normative and respectable behavior, that examinations be held and properly invigilated, that modes of dress not be offensive, and that religious observances not interfere with a course of study. Allowing students to march five times a day to a prayer room in the midst of pursuing a concentrated program of academic activity, whether in the middle of a class or in the middle of a test or in the middle of a joint research project, does not seem an optimum means of following a university curriculum.


Saudi columnist says number of Ariel Sharon’s “victims” tiny compared with victims of Arab rulers and terrorists
To write this in the Saudi government daily is pretty remarkable and may surprise many readers that it was even allowed. His recognition of Israeli democracy is possibly more acute than in much Western media:

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is reporting that the Saudi government daily Okaz has published a remarkable piece of writing by a liberal Saudi columnist in which he tears in to the tyranny and terrorism of the Arab world, even going so far as to praise Israeli democracy.

The article was written pegging off the death of Ariel Sharon and contains the usual extreme attacks on him. However, it is the lengths to which he is prepared to go to condemn the Arab world that will be surprising to many people. The excerpts quoted below are from MEMRI’s translation from the original Arabic.

“…as we ponder the news of the death of the [former] Israeli prime minister [Ariel Sharon], we find that, despite the horrific acts of massacre he carried out against the Palestinians, the number of his Arab victims is nowhere near that of the number of Arabs who have been murdered by tyrannical Arab [rulers] or killed in suicide bombings carried out by Arab terrorist groups. This is the truth, whose shame will haunt us throughout history.”

U.S. Attorney Issues Subpoenas in Bridge Query-Ted Mann and Jennifer Smith


Federal Prosecutors Demand Christie Re-Election Campaign, Republican Committee Documents

Federal prosecutors have demanded documents from Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election campaign and the New Jersey Republican State Committee, an attorney representing both entities said on Thursday.

The subpoenas were issued by Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey who is investigating the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge last September that have mushroomed into a political scandal for Mr. Christie and his administration.

The subpoenas for documents come after a previous round of subpoenas was issued to the campaign and many of the governor’s staff and associates by a legislative committee that is investigating the lane closures.

Mark Sheridan, an attorney at Patton Boggs LLP, which is representing the campaign and the Republican committee in connection with the legislative and federal investigations, confirmed the federal subpoenas, which are in addition to a subpoena that the campaign received from the legislative committee.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303947904579338253880436492?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop President Obama and his allies keep saying that a major second-term priority is to expand subsidies and mandates to produce alternatives to carbon energy, so they must not be watching Europe. On Wednesday the European Commission abandoned country-by-country targets for greenhouse-gas emissions after 2020. The Commission did propose a 40% reduction target in emissions […]


http://sarahhonig.com/2014/01/24/another-tack-patent-medicine-messiah/ A quip in a private conversation got Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon into hot water. Quite a hullabaloo was stirred up by his suggestion that US Secretary of State John Kerry may be messianic in his obsessive keenness to impose a pseudo-solution upon us. Ya’alon’s observation can, plausibly, be interpreted on several levels. It may […]


During a press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, an Israeli reporter asked visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, “Is Canada paying a price for being so supportive of Israel? Is it possible to support Israel and still have ties to the Arab world?”

This question goes to the heart of what is generally perceived as Israel’s greatest weakness. The Arab boycott of Israel and of companies doing business with Israel has served as one of the most potent weapons in the anti-Israel arsenal for over a generation. Indeed, since the OPEC oil embargo in 1974, it has been the Arabs’ single most powerful weapon in their unceasing campaign for the destruction of the Jewish state.
It was Arab economic bullying that forced African nations to cut their ties with the Jewish state.

It was the Arab use of the oil weapon after the 1973 Yom Kippur War that convinced Western Europe to end its diplomatic support for Israel and throw in with the PLO.More than anything else, it is the Arab economic boycott of companies that do business with Israel that has eroded Israel’s diplomatic standing over the past two generations and transformed the only human rights respecting democracy in the Middle East into an international pariah.
And yet, under Stephen Harper, as the noose of international isolation is drawn around Israel’s neck more tightly every day, Canada has emerged as an outspoken supporter and defender of the Jewish state.
So in essence, the Israeli reporter’s question to Harper could easily be rephrased as, “Are you crazy?”

Harper responded to the question by rejecting its premises – that the Arab world behaves as a bloc, and that standing up for your convictions is a losing proposition when those convictions involve taking unpopular stands.
As he put it, “I wouldn’t want to say there is no price, but my general view of the world is that people respect your view, if you express it appropriately and they understand it’s genuine….The fact of the matter is, Canada has deep relations with many Arab countries…. And frankly [there are] many matters where we probably far more often agree than disagree. So look, I don’t think it’s automatically the view that if you have a particular issue where you disagree, that this needs to rupture relationships irrevocably.”

In other words, what Harper acknowledged was that yes, Canada has lost contracts in some Arab countries due to its support for Israel. But by and large, it hasn’t taken a serious hit.

The obvious follow-up question would have been to ask if Canada gains anything from its support for Israel that can compensate for the economic hits it takes for it.

The answer to that question is yes, Canada, and other countries that support Israel now, when such support is more notable than it was in the past, do gain significantly from their actions. This is true on two levels.

First, economically, Israel is in a far different position than it was 20 years ago. During Harper’s visit, Canada and Israel updated their free trade agreement and signed a number of other agreements enhancing cooperation in multiple fields.

As Netanyahu said, “I think that cooperation makes us both stronger and more prosperous and more secure countries.

Canada isn’t alone in recognizing the economic potential of good ties with Israel. Consider Norway.

Canada’s Prime Minister: A Display of Rare Courage by Salim Mansur

  http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4140/canada-harper-israel “It [the new face of anti-Semitism] targets the Jewish people by targeting Israel…. What else can we call criticism that selectively concerns only the Jewish state and effectively denies its right to exist, to defend itself, while systematically ignoring or excusing the violence and oppression all around it?” — Stephen Harper, Prime Minister […]

Mabrouk to Abbas on Tenth Year of His Four Year Term! Mid-East Peace Process by Khaled Abu Toameh

Mabrouk to Abbas on Tenth Year of His Four Year Term! Mid-East Peace Process by Khaled Abu Toameh http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4141/abbas-term-of-office Kerry does not seem to care whether Abbas is a “rightful” president or not. He is so desperate for a diplomatic achievement that he is prepared to ignore fundamental facts. How exactly does Abbas plan to […]

Arabs Hating Arabs – That’s the Entire Problem – Jack Engelhard

Op-Ed: Arabs Hating Arabs – That’s the Entire Problem

Not a single American soldier has ever been asked to fight and die for Israel, but it is upon Israel that we place demands.
So now it turns out that for all the blood, sweat and tears we have lost Iraq. The terrorists are back. They have recaptured virtually every part of the country that had been won by our valorous men and women.

The cost? More than 4,000 Americans dead and more than 30,000 wounded. Plus billions of dollars — and all for what?

When it comes to the Arab world we simply do not know what we are doing and because of that everything we do is wrong.

On TV yesterday one expert said we never should have gone into Iraq. He was right. The other expert said we never should have left Iraq. He was also right.

Because when it comes to the Arab world we are strangers in strange lands and we will always be strangers. There is nothing we can fix unless they fix it themselves.