AMB (RET) YORAM ETTINGER :Americans: Israel is the MVP

At a time when the White House is pressuring Israel to make dramatic concessions, the Jewish State enjoys an all-time high popularity among Americans, and therefore among their representatives in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate.

According to a February 18, 2014 Gallup Poll, Israel is the MVP (most favorite player) in the Middle East – 72% very/mostly favorable – leading all other Middle East countries by a dramatic margin: Egypt – 45%, Saudi Arabia – 35%, etc.

Israel’s popularity is at the highest since 1991, when Gallup first polled Americans on foreign countries, compared to 2009 (63%), 2010 (67%), 2011 (68%), 2012 (71%) and 2013 (66%).

Israel is more popular than most Western democracies, while the Palestinian Authority is ranked among the least favorable (19% favorability), along with North Korea (11%), Iran (12%), Syria (13%) and Iraq (16%). Thus, when President Obama delivered the 2014 State of the Union Address, he was greeted with indifference when stating: “American diplomacy [aims] to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians.” However, the president triggered resounding applause when continuing: “…and lasting peace and security for the state of Israel – a Jewish state that has known that America will always be at their side.”


Based on a true story about an Indian soldier admitted to the Meninger Clinic after World War 11 for treatment of symptoms which we now call PTSD, ”Jimmy P” is an absorbing blend of psychotherapy and cultural anthropology. Jimmy’s malady has stumped the staff and an unusual man named George Devereux has been summoned from New York to treat him. The French actor Matthieu Amalric plays the expatriated European doctor with the same panache older viewers will associate with Paul Henreid; he is charming, innovative and though well versed in Freudian precepts, equally familiar with Indian tribal lore and customs. Through a relationship that borders as much on friendship as doctor/patient status, Devereux encourages Jimmy, persuasively embodied by Benicio del Toro, to strip away the layers of time and denial in order to confront his primal fears and learn to successfully manage them. Devereux is a brilliant and insightful man, reluctant to rely on pat categories and always ready to apply his knowledge of Indian culture to understand this specific patient and his background influences.

What is strangely missing from a movie dwelling so intensely on the significance of the past, is any examination of Devereux’ own cataclysmic experiences in the holocaust. We get many clues to his identity but they are elliptical: the camera focuses on a forearm scar where a tattooed concentration camp number would have been surgically excised; we learn from his French lover that his real name was Gyorgy Dobo and that he was Rumanian, still lying about that. Though all of this is understandable and even familiar as the reactions of some survivors, it is completely antithetical to George’s dedication to the search for psychological truth. This cognitive dissonance is actually the most fascinating aspect of this complicated character and leaves us feeling that the story of these two men is incomplete.


“The Grinning Generals” by Rob Crllly is a recent London Telegraph story all about the above photo of two generals, one Afghan, one American. Noting the identity of the pair — Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the new ISAF commander, and Maj. Gen. Abdul Raziq, the police chief of Kandahar “accused of corruption, drug running and, most extraordinarily of all, mass murder,” Crilly is incredulous that this unseemly embrace was not secretly snapped and smuggled to news media. On the contrary, it is an official US government handout.

Pictures are snapped not by an outraged junior officer with an anonymous Facebook account, nor are they leaked surreptitiously to the media. The photographs are in fact distributed by the US military’s own media outfit.

If ever there were an illustration of the way the US and its allies have turned a blind eye to alleged human rights abuses in their rush for the exit, then this photograph of two beaming generals is it.

But … that’s only part of it.

The US mission to “nation-build” the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan while simultaneously fighting a “counterinsurgency” against Islamic extremists was doomed from the start — doomed by a strategy conceived in ignorance and denial of the fundamental differences between Islam and the West, as codified in sharia, which both the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamic extremists are influenced and even governed by.

Let’s review. From the Afghanistan Constitution

Article One: Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.

Article Two: The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals.

Free within the bounds of what “law”? Islamic law. See Article Three:

Article Three: No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.

For a decade, US and other Western troops have safeguarded that constitution. I call that making the world safe for sharia.

The FBI: Between a Rock and a Hard Place of Truth : Edward Cline

A few years ago, when I was researching one of my period detective novels, The Chameleon, I had occasion to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation for some details about the status and concerns of the FBI in 1929-1930. While the FBI history site gave me some information, it wasn’t quite enough. Because the story was about the discovery of an embryonic Nazi Bund near San Francisco, the questions I needed answers to were:
Was the Bureau of Investigation (or the BOI, as the FBI was known then) actively monitoring Nazi activities or Weimar Germany’s intelligence gathering in the U.S.? (Yes, to a limited extent.) Was the Department of Justice, under which the BOI operated, concerned about Nazi or German espionage or activism in the country? (Yes, to a limited extent.) Did it keep tabs on known Nazi sympathizers and organizations or on German intelligence operations in the country? (Yes.) Or was the Bureau more concerned with Communist activities in the country? (Yes, much more so.) For story purposes, because the novel is set in San Francisco in November 1929, where were BOI divisional headquarters? (We don’t know.)
I needed answers to these and other questions to write credibly about the BOI. I was finally able to contact someone with the FBI in Washington D.C. who scheduled a telephone conference for me with two agents: one who would answer my questions, and another who would audit the conversation but not participate. I was given their “field” names (which I no longer have a record of). The call lasted about 15 minutes. Both agents (male) seemed to be on the road during the call. It was a very cordial call, although I could sense that the one participating agent was reticent about some information concerning Communist activism in the country.
The “Yes” answers prompted me to further research, much of which is reflected in the novel.

Jeff Gedmin: Russia’s Long Shadow. The view from Estonia.

The modern name of Estonia’s capital is thought to come from Tallide-linn, city of stables in the country’s tongue, or Taani-linn, meaning Danish castle-town. The lovely old center, a medieval trading city, is splashed in summer with light and color, I’m told. Cafés bustle. In winter, though, Tallinn is bleak. I’m here in fog, sleet, and rain. The streets are mostly empty by early evening, as everyone seems to be hobbited away with warm fires and ice-cold vodka.

Estonia is a country of glaring contrasts. Try to size it up today and one is reminded of Boris Yeltsin’s assessment of the Russian economy in the 1990s. Asked by a journalist about the state of play, the president answered, “Good.” When pressed for more than a one-word response, Yeltsin replied, “Not good.”

For this tiny country of 1.3 million, things are, from one perspective, excellent indeed. Since independence in 1991, Estonia has welcomed democracy and a market economy, become a member of NATO and the European Union, and adopted the euro. The country exudes modernity, consumerism, and freedom. There’s wireless Internet nearly everywhere—parks, pubs, squares, beaches, forests—and nearly always free. When you walk through Tallinn Airport, you feel like you’re in a trendy version of an Ikea store, with semi-inviting cafés, book alcoves, ready-to-use iPads.

Washington Regrets the Shinzo Abe it Wished For David Pilling By David Pilling See Note Please

Well our peripathetic Sec. of State has been so busy processing peace in the Middle East that he’s put China, North Korea, Japan, Ukraine all on the back burner….rsk

The US fears that Japan’s departure from postwar pacifism will provoke Beijing

It is fairly easy to assess the relationship between Shinzo Abe’s Japan and Xi Jinping’s China. Neither likes the other very much. Both are using nationalism as a prop to further policy aims. Both conceivably find it useful to have a “tough man” on the other side, the better to push against.

Less easy to calibrate is the state of relations between Japan and the US. This ought to be far easier to decipher. Japan is, after all, the US’s most important ally in Asia, the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” that has hosted US fighter aircraft and troops since the end of the second world war. Now, in Mr Abe, it has a leader who, after decades of American prodding, is finally willing to adopt a more robust defence posture and revisit the “freeloader” defence doctrine that pacifist Japan has long embraced. Yet having attained what it has long been after, Washington is showing signs it is getting cold feet.

One sign of that was its expression of “disappointment” after the December visit of Mr Abe to Yasukuni shrine, which is regarded as a symbol of Japan’s unrepentant militarism by China and South Korea. In the past, Washington has privately voiced its displeasure at Yasukuni visits, but has not publicly reprimanded Japan. Tokyo was taken aback by the use of the word “disappointed” – translated as shitsubo – which sounds harsh in Japanese.

Interview: Naftali Bennett in London What occupation? The word Israel’s ‘straight-talker’ won’t say in London: By Anshel Pfeffer, “If you say the right things, then you’re very popular,” says Economy Minister and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett with an ironic smile. “The media embraces you, the world embraces you, but in the end it will be my children and me paying the price. I’m not prepared to give up the truth for […]


It has come to my sad attention that Saul S. Friedman- a scholar, historian, Zionist and truth teller died in March 2013. Among his many books and columns on the Holocaust and Jewish history and Palestine is “Land of Dust”-Palestine at the Turn of the Century” (1982)Professor Friedman was among the first of the few […]


The infamy perpetrated by the Muslim Waqf, occurring daily upon Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, cries out for speedy denunciation by the entire world. Tragically it will not happen for a veritable veil of deception has fallen across what is left of the West.

As Giulio Meotti, a journalist with the Italian newspaper, Il Foglio, wrote back in 2012: “The Waqf is now attempting to deliberately destroy all archaeological evidence of Jewish claims to this site, while using terror and intimidation to impose its exclusive claim to the Temple Mount. The Waqf has removed every sign of ancient Jewish presence at the site. At the entrance, a Waqf sign says “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.

“Today Jews are barred from praying on the Mount and are not even allowed to carry any holy articles with them. With Muslim observers supervising visits, Israeli police, to their shame, have frequently arrested Jews for various “violations,” such as singing or reciting a prayer even in a whisper.”

What may well be one of the worst crimes against civilization is the ruthless and relentless destruction of Jewish and Christian artifacts and antiquities by the Moslem authorities, the Waqf, who were foolishly given permission by Israel’s Moshe Dayan to control the Temple Mount in 1967.


Job No. 1? Ukraine.

You can only imagine Russian President Vladimir Putin is none too pleased about the civil unrest there — and the less than flattering spotlight it’s shining on Russia — not to mention distracting attention from his signature sports event in Sochi.

But oozing confidence as the Olympic Games draw to a close, you can bet that once the snow and ice-making equipment are switched off at the balmy Black Sea resort, Putin will turn his full attention to those pesky protesters next door.

You see: Losing Kiev from Moscow’s orbit is simply a non-starter for the Kremlin & Co.

Russia wants to hold Ukraine firmly under its sway. Moscow sees the country as protecting its soft strategic underbelly where hopeful conquerors of the past (e.g., the Nazis) invaded Mother Russia.

Ukraine is a central part of Russia’s perception of its own history and security. It’s a critical buffer state between Russia and American-led NATO, surprisingly still part of the Kremlin’s paranoia two-plus decades after the end of the Cold War.

To keep Ukraine as a loyal part of its periphery and locked into its sphere of influence, Russia is willing to use whatever influence is necessary to ensure success.