Monday, May 25, 2009

Yearning for the good old days

That's Beetle Bailey on the right, Plato on the left.

More on the Riverdale Bomb Plot

Only a jury will be able to decide, at the end of the day, if the Riverdale Four, David Williams, James Cromitie, Laguerre Payen and Onta Williams, are would be terror bombers or dupes of the FBI.

Relatives are already speaking out in defense of their kin, the New York Daily News reports. “He dismissed as "crazy" federal accusations that Williams was a Jew-hater who wanted to wage jihad,” says the story about David Williams’ sick brother, Lord McWilliams. His mother added to the claim of innocence. Mother and son are laying the foundation for entrapment, a legal doctrine where a person is induced or persuaded by law enforcement officers or their agents to commit a crime that he had no previous intent to commit.

Entrapment was used as a defense in the case of the Fort Dix Five who were found guilty in December 2008 of plotting to kill American soldiers at the New Jersey base.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How are home grown terrorists made?

Where or how terrorists are made is a subject of debate. While 9/11 was perpetrated by Saudi born terrorists, the London bus bombings were carried out by British born Muslims. The Riverdale Bomb Plot was attempted by four men living in Newburgh, NY. Of the plotters, the Times reported, "one is a Haitian immigrant and the other three are African-Americans." No foreigners here. So, what or who turned these men into potential killers?

Steven Emerson has an idea. In an article in The New York Post, RADICALS IN OUR PRISONS HOW TO STOP THE MUSLIM EXTREMISTS RECRUITING INMATES TO TERRORISM, Emerson notes, "one component of the case should come as no surprise - three of the alleged culprits converted to radical Islam in prison."

  • Jose Padilla, suspected of plotting to detonate a dirty bomb and convicted of conspiracy to murder people overseas and of providing material support to terrorists, converted and was radicalized.
  • That's where a California man, Kevin James, created his own cell, called the Jam'iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS), and recruited other inmates to plot attacks against military and Jewish targets in and around Los Angeles.
  • In New York, the man who was the head Muslim chaplain for state prisons considered the 9/11 hijackers to be martyrs. Warith Deen Umar spent 20 years working with New York prisons, overseeing the hiring of Muslim chaplains and leading prayer services.

According to Emerson, prisons are a vast breeding ground for terrorists and their supporters. Read the full article and you will see what he means.

The Riverdale Bomb Plot

Thank God for such a thing as informants, the men and women who have fallen into the hands of the law but whom, as part of a plea bargain or some other type deal, ally themselves with the folks who arrested them in the first place. Such is the type of police work that brought down a plot to bomb two synagogues, Jewish houses of worship, a few blocks from each other in the Bronx, NY neighborhood of Riverdale.

According to first reports in The New York Times, four men were arrested in “what the authorities said was a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, N.Y.”

“The men, all of whom live in Newburgh, about 60 miles north of New York City, were arrested around 9 p.m. after planting what they believed to be bombs in cars outside the Riverdale Temple and the nearby Riverdale Jewish Center, officials said. But the men did not know the bombs, obtained with the help of an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were fake.”

Hopefully, the media, print, radio and television, will pay more attention to this case than it has done in other cases and give it the exposure it deserves. Let’s face it; there are terrorists in our cities who mean us harm. They are a cancer in our midst and exposing them to the light of day is good medicine.

We'll be following this story as events unfurl.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Daniel Gordis - In Perspective: For the sake of clarity, a thought experiment

While as a rule I do not post entire articles, a May 14 column by Daniel Gordis appearing in the Jerusalem Post deserves it. Here it is:

"In Perspective: For the sake of clarity, a thought experiment

He was in his 20s, the young man with the question after my lecture. He couldn't have asked it more kindly or gently. Without a hint of cynicism or anger, he expressed what was clearly on the minds of many of the people his age in the crowd: "Can you justify a Jewish state," he wanted to know, "when having a Jewish state means giving up on so many of Judaism's values?"

Here's what he didn't say: Israel is the root of evil in the Middle East. It's the cause of checkpoints, of roadblocks, of a big ugly wall that runs along a border no one has agreed to. The Palestinians are desperate, and in the massive imbalance of power, they have no chance and no hope. Israel is the nuclear bully in a region that, were it not for Israel's existence, would no longer be on the front page. To achieve peace in the Middle East, Israel just needs to be subdued. Break Israel's intransigence, and we'll finally see progress.

That was his unspoken claim, and now it's also the position of the Obama administration. At AIPAC's recent Policy Conference, Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John Kerry made it clear that for the US to support Israel on Iran, Israel must settle the Palestinian problem once and for all. It has been widely reported that Rahm Emanuel, in an off-the-record session, said precisely the same thing. After decades of tacit agreement that the US would remain silent about Israel's nuclear capability, a State Department official publicly suggested that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as if, on the eve of Iran's going nuclear and with Pakistani weapons in danger of falling into the hands of the Taliban, Israel's nuclear arsenal is the world's most serious concern.

A new message is afloat - Israel is the problem, and the US has had enough. Even the pope couldn't help himself. His comments about the victims of the Holocaust were so tepid as to be outrageous, but he had no problem calling urgently for an immediate Palestinian state, as if Israelis haven't tried to create one for decades.

The young American Jews in my audience, clearly struggling with the morality of a Jewish state, now have the Obama administration and the pope echoing all their misgivings.

I have no illusions that all this can be changed overnight, but with the upcoming Binyamin Netanyahu-Barack Obama meetings putting Israel into the spotlight once again, I'd like to propose the following thought experiment - at least to these young American Jews, and possibly to Obama himself.

IMAGINE THAT ISRAELIS decide that by Jerusalem Day, this coming week, they want a deal. So we take down the security fence. We remove the checkpoints. We open all the roads, and Gaza's sea and air routes. We agree publicly to return to something closely approximating the pre-1967 borders, and we accede to the demands that parts of Jerusalem be internationally governed, or even put under Palestinian control.

Does this end the conflict? Of course it doesn't. The Hamas Charter calls not only for the destruction of Israel, but for Islamic war on Jews everywhere. (Why do we consistently refuse to believe that Hamas means what it says?) What would change? The noose would tighten. The rockets would be fired from a shorter distance and the demand for the return of refugees (thus ending the Jewishness of the state) would persist. As was the case when Israel left Lebanon in May 2000 or Gaza in the summer of 2005, Israel's enemies would smell a weakened, bloodied state and would prepare for the next stage of their war.

But peace would not have come. Much as we all want this conflict to end, does anyone really doubt that? There is, as honest brokers must admit, nothing that Israel can do to end this conflict.

NOW, HOWEVER, TRY the opposite side of the thought experiment. Imagine that the Palestinians decide that they have tired of the conflict, or their electorate begins its long-overdue rebellion and insists on a settlement. So the Palestinians, Hamas and Fatah, demand everything Israel's agreed to above - an end to roadblocks and the wall, an opening of Gaza, a bridge or a tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank and a return to the 1967 borders. Let's say that they even insist on Palestinian control of east Jerusalem.

But they also recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. They agree to an immediate and permanent cessation of hostilities and violence (this is a thought experiment, after all) and insist that any other outstanding issues be negotiated and resolved with the US and the Quartet as intermediaries. And they require Israelis to vote within a month, no longer, on whether to accept the deal.

Will there be Israelis who object? Will there be residents of the West Bank who will resist leaving their homes? Yes, there will be. But would an Israeli plebiscite overwhelmingly approve the offer? Without question. In a matter of weeks, three quarters of a century of bloodshed and suffering would come to an end.

This, of course, is not going to happen, because all the new rhetoric notwithstanding, and all the confusion of today's young American Jews aside, there's always been one party that's sought peace, and another that's rejected it. It was true in 1948, and it was true in Khartoum. It's no less true today.

It's never been up to us, and it's always been up to them.

But this simplistic thought experiment is worth considering not because it can be implemented, but because it brings one unfortunate truth into stark focus. Young American Jews ought to take note: Israel cannot end this conflict. It can weaken itself, but the only way it can bring peace to the region is to go out of business.

If that is what the peacemakers really seek, we'll see that soon enough, with frightening clarity.

Comments and responses can be posted on Gordis's website here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Terror Victims Getting Short Shrift at the White House?

Debra Burlingame a former attorney and a director of the National September 11 Memorial Foundation, is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, writes in today's Wall Street Journal On-line she and other victims feel "we'd been had" by the Obama administration as it dances around the issues surrounding justice for familes of 9/11 and the USS Cole attack. It seems the patience has worn out.
"Now, after more than eight years of waiting, Mr. Obama was stopping the trial of Abu Rahim al-Nashiri, the only individual to be held accountable for the bombing in a U.S. court. Patience finally gave out. The families were giving angry interviews, slamming the new president just days after he was sworn in."
She continues, "the Obama team quickly put together a meeting at the White House to get the situation under control. Individuals representing "a diversity of views" were invited to attend and express their concerns." The take on all this?
"We'd been had."
Delay, obfuscation, and out-right do-nothingness permeate the lives of terror victims families as they deal with the folks in Washington, D.C. Parents of kids murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in the 1990s are still waiting for the US to bring to justice the killers of their kids.

Sami Al-Arian, poster boy for terror supporters the world over, was not brought to trial until 8 years after his books, records and computers were seized by Federal agents. The result, aged evidence that didn't translate well in the ears of the jurors. The trial resulted in an acquittal of the most serious charges and a plea by Al-Arian to supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

President Obama has not been clear on what his true intentions are on the release of Guantanamo detainees and how he will deal with captured terrorists in the future.

Read the full article Obama and the 9/11 Families

Sunday, May 3, 2009

FDR and the Jews - the myths

I can't say that my elders would specifically tell me that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a good friend of the Jews. However, I did not meet a Jewish Republican until I was 14 or 15 years old. It was one of our neighbors who had a successful business, and his admission, I think, shocked everyone who heard it.

I do know that my father worshipped Eleanor Roosevelt but I never had a chance to ask him if it was because of FDR or her human rights record after World War II.

Personal experiences aside, there has been, among Jews, a long time fascination with FDR and his alleged support for Jewish causes.

For several years, FDR's record on the Jews has been under attack. Questions about his regard or disregard of German refugees and his failure to order the bombing of concentration camps or the rail lines leading to them have not been met with great answers.

A new book, "Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald 1933-1945," edited by Richard Breitman, Severin Hochberg, and Barbara McDonald Stewart, published this week by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Indiana University Press "claims to “reveal” FDR’s interest in settling large numbers of Jewish refugees in Africa or Latin America in the 1930s."

Well, the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies looked at the book and in an article on its website, “New Evidence” on FDR’s Response To The Holocaust? Not New, Not Evidence debunks much of what the book claims to show--that FDR was concerned about the plight of Jewish refugees.

I think it's worthwhile to spend a few minutes reading the Wyman report on the book. Here are some abstracts from NOT NEW, NOT EVIDENCE:

What Breitman/Hochberg Claim:

“we have found some fundamentally new information about the president’s views and policies before and during the Holocaust...”
What the Historical Record Shows:

The “resettlement initiatives” cited by Breitman/Hochberg were actually revealed in other books many years ago. They are not “new evidence.” As the analysis below demonstrates, they were discussed in detail in HenryFeingold’s The Politics of Rescue (1970), David Wyman’s Paper Walls (1968), Haim Genizi’s American Apathy (1983), and in Prof. Breitman’s own 1987 book, American Refugee Policy and European Jewry (coauthored by Alan Kraut), as well as other books.

Not only are the Breitman/Hochberg claims not new, they also do not demonstrate FDR’s sincere interest in helping the Jews. Rather, they simply reiterate the well-known fact that Roosevelt harbored grandiose visions about the refugee problem that were not rooted in reality, and which he made no serious effort to implement.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Arab Terrorism Against Jews is Nothing New

Supporters of terror often blame the victims. For instance, if there was no "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza by Israel, Palestinian terrorists would not blow-up cafes, buses or hotel restaurants. Thus, in the mind of the terrorist, the victim becomes the maker of his own fate.

How, then do you explain Arab riots against Jews during the days of the British Mandate. There was no occupied West Bank or Gaza. There were no military checkpoints; just Jews leaving in the their homeland.

And, as Sarah Honig reminds us, there was murder and mayhem on more than one occasion. In "Another Tack: The May Day massacre of 1921," Honig discusses the unprovoked murder of Jews by Arabs on that day.

She begins:

There's no telling where the final ideological resting place of intellectually restless Yosef Haim Brenner - one of the Second Aliya luminaries and founding giants of modern Hebrew literature - would have been had he not been slain before reaching his 40th birthday. He might have evolved into a nationalist like initially-leftist Moshe Shamir, or followed his socialist leanings to the farthest radical fringe. Speculations are moot. Brenner was a full deck of cards from which any hand could have been dealt. Nothing was irrevocably predetermined when Arab marauders took his life on May 2, 1921.

As Brenner's tragic fate undeniably illustrates, to our enemies a Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Our enemies are equal-opportunity assassins. They spill Jewish blood without discrimination, without first bothering to verify the political orientations of prospective victims.

There is no doubt that British soldiers played into the hands of Arab rioters that day. They stood by while mobs attacked defenseless Jews. But when Jewish forces arrived to protect their fellows, the British dis-armed them.

It goes against our ingrained wishful thinking to acknowledge that enduring Arab animosity has nothing to do with the desperation which the Jewish state's birth supposedly fomented among so-called Palestinians, with the occupation which supposedly represses them or even with the supposed aspiration to found a Palestinian state which the Jews supposedly foil. In 1921 there were no traces of the above pretexts - so prevalent in the manipulative Arab narrative, so popular among progressive sorts here and almost universally accepted as gospel abroad.

I wish the above was not true, but it is. Read the full article, Another Tack: The May Day massacre of 1921.