Monday, August 26, 2013

Israel’s Enmity?

OK, I admit it, I am a fan of the New York Sun and its editorial staff led by Seth Lipsky.  But reading the editorial set out below reinforces my belief that there is still hope for editorial integrity in America's media.

“President Rouhani is sending strong signals that he will dispatch a pragmatic, experienced team to the table when negotiations resume, possibly next month. That’s when we should begin to see answers to key questions: How much time and creative thinking are he and President Obama willing to invest in a negotiated solution, the only rational outcome? How much political risk are they willing to take, which for Mr. Obama must include managing the enmity that Israel and many members of Congress feel toward Iran?”
* * *
We’ve read our share of editorials in the New York Times, but it’s hard to recall a paragraph to match the above, issued Sunday under the headline “Reading Tweets From Iran.” It’s not altogether surprising that it took the new Persian president, Hassan Rouhani, only a few keystrokes on the social media to send the Gray Lady into a swoon of appeasement. But the suggestion that for President Obama this “must” include “managing the enmity that Israel and many members of Congress feel toward Iran”? Neville Chamberlain call your office.

The idea that the little difficulty with Iran has something to do with an enmity that Israel and many members of Congress feel toward Iran is just a classic of Timesian logic. What does the Times figure — that the poor, innocent mullahs were promulgating their peaceable revolution when the dastardly Israelis turned on them for no good reason other than bigortry, and the Congress the Times must imagine was bought and paid for by the Zionists suddenly turned against the Iranians? Just out of plain anti-Persian prejudice?

Maybe the Times figures that it’s similar to the enmity that FDR (and the Jews, for that matter) maintained for Nazi Germany. We understand that the Times strove to maneuver itself above that fray, too; it thought our enmity could be managed. But one would have thought that history would have taught it a lesson. The mistake wasn’t just the sacrifice of Czechoslovakia. It was the going to Munich in the first place. That was the mistake. The way we have put it before is that the talking is the appeasement.

As for President Obama, he rode into office on a promise of good will. He went to Cairo and reached out to the Muslim world. He said he would meet with the Iranians, and he’s taken every opportunity to talk to probe for possibilities. He pulled out of Iraq and is retreating in Afghanistan. This vast display of good will has delivered a Middle East in flames, a region where America’s standing is lower than at any nadir ever reached by any previous president. The fact is that a deal with the mullahs would be a defeat for freedom. Wisdom for Mr. Obama can only start with the comprehension that whatever enmity fuels this fight, it did not begin in either Israel or the Congress of the United States.
 You can read the on-line version Israel’s Enmity?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How to watch Al Jazeera America -

One thing that Americans should not have to be told is how to watch the news.  But some of us who have been watching news reports over the years know that things aren't always what they appear to be.  Case in point, Al Jazeera.

Now that Al Jazeera is coming here, Frida Ghitas writes a primer on who to watch its programming.

For those of us who believe the American public deserves and needs to know much more about what goes on in the rest of the world, the arrival of a television network determined to focus on hard news, to “make news the star,” to quote my old boss Ted Turner, should be cause for celebration. But when that network is Al Jazeera, we all need to take a few steps back and prepare before we start watching.
The first fact to keep in mind when watching the just launched Al Jazeera America is that the new network is, like the other Al Jazeera channels, owned by the royal family of Qatar, which has used Al Jazeera to spread its influence, raise its global profile, influence public opinion and try to create its desired outcomes.

Read more here:
 Doesn't sound good does it?  Read the full story.  How to watch Al Jazeera America

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Headline reads - Terror victims in call for new deal - but it's not the Mid East

A terrorist victims group has marked the 25th anniversary of the IRA’s Ballygawley bus bombing by calling for the full implementation of their “charter for innocent victims”.
The story can be found in the Belfast News Letter, about terror victims in Northern Ireland.  Called "the Troubles," the people of Northern Ireland suffered from Irish Republican Army terror attacks in their attempt to unite Northern Ireland with Ireland.

While now at peace, the people still struggle with the consequences of years of troubles.  This is a story about the aftermath.  Read it here - Terror victims in call for new deal.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Palestinian Heroes - Releasing murderers will not advance the peace process.

The release of Palestinian prisoners caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal editors.  The write of the "Palestinian heroes" otherwise known as murderers released by Israel in the first step of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
I am in agreement with the concluding sentence- Perhaps the larger question is why anyone should expect that a peace process that begins by setting murderers free is likely to result in peace.
Because of website restrictions at, I've printed the entire editorial. If you wish to read it on line, try Palestinian Heroes.

Are you in favor of the release of convicted murderers?  Let me know what you think.

Stephen M. Flatow

Palestinian Heroes: Releasing murderers will not advance the peace process 

South Africa has Nelson Mandela, Poland has John Paul II, and Burma has Aung San Suu Kyi: Though the measure isn't exact, one way to judge a nation is by looking at its heroes. So what does it say about a prospective state of Palestine that among its heroes is Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mugdad?

Mugdad is among 104 prisoners Israel intends to release as part of a deal orchestrated by Secretary of State John Kerry to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. In 1993, Mugdad killed hotel security guard Israel Tenenbaum "by beating him in the head with a steel rod," according to the Times of Israel. Tenenbaum was 72 at the time of his murder.

Also being released is Salameh Abdallah Musleh, imprisoned for the murder of convenience-store owner Reuven David. "Abdallah, together with an accomplice, entered David's convenience store on May 20, 1991, bound David's arms and legs and beat him to death, before locking the store and fleeing the scene," the Times reports.

Ditto for other Palestinian prisoners. Every society has its criminals, psychotics and killers, and Israel is no exception. But it says something about the current Palestinian leadership that it has made the release of killers a condition of peace talks. It also says something about the moral values of too many Palestinians that they should treat the returning prisoners not as pariahs but as heroes.

The Israeli decision to release the prisoners was shortly followed by the approval of additional construction permits for housing in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements. The move elicited howls of condemnation from the usual suspects, as if building houses is more objectionable than murdering people in cold blood. Perhaps the larger question is why anyone should expect that a peace process that begins by setting murderers free is likely to result in peace.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rubbing salt into the wounds? Northern Ireland faces a test

From the BBC, a series of reports on a proposed march of IRA supporters in the village of Castlederg.

A victims group from west Tyrone is to meet Secretary of State Theresa Villiers later to express opposition to a republican parade in Castlederg.
The DUP's Arlene Foster will be among the politicians accompanying them at the meeting.
Sinn Féin are supporting the Tyrone Volunteers Day Parade which is due to take place on Sunday.
Unionist politicians have called on the secretary of state to ban the parade or at least condemn it.
Why?  The wounds of years of violence between Nationalists and Unionists have not healed.  Victims and their families are upset.
They say it will glorify terrorism and traumatise families affected by IRA violence.
Maybe the Irish will understand the feelings in Israel whenever the Palestinian Authority glorifies mass murder.  Then again, maybe not.

That's what I think.
Stephen M. Flatow

Read the report and find links to related stories -
BBC News - West Tyrone victims group in Castlederg parade meeting

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

America overreacting to terrorism? Ted Koppel thinks so

The following appeared in the Wall Street Journal.  It is set out in full because you can't read it on line with out a subscription.

Do I agree with his conclusions?  Yes, I do.  What do you think?

Ted Koppel: America's Chronic Overreaction to Terrorism The country's capacity for self-inflicted damage must have astounded even Osama bin Laden
 June 28, 2014, will mark the 100th anniversary of what is arguably the most eventful terrorist attack in history. That was the day that Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb, shot and killed the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.
 In one of those mega-oversimplifications that journalists love and historians abhor, the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife, Sophie, led directly and unavoidably to World War I. Between 1914 and 1918, 37 million soldiers and civilians were injured or killed. If there should ever be a terrorists' Hall of Fame, Gavrilo Princip will surely deserve consideration as its most effective practitioner.
 Terrorism, after all, is designed to produce overreaction. It is the means by which the weak induce the powerful to inflict damage upon themselves—and al Qaeda and groups like it are surely counting on that as the centerpiece of their strategy.
 It appears to be working. Right now, 19 American embassies and a number of consulates and smaller diplomatic outposts are closed for the week due to the perceived threat of attacks against U.S. targets. Meantime, the U.S. has launched drone strikes on al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.
 By the standards of World War I, however, the United States has responded to the goading of contemporary terrorism with relative moderation. Indeed, during almost a decade of terrorist provocation, the U.S. government showed the utmost restraint. In February of 1993, before most of us had any real awareness of al Qaeda, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who would later be identified as the principal architect of 9/11, financed an earlier attack on the World Trade Center with car bombs that killed six and injured more than 1,000.
 Five years later, al Qaeda launched synchronized attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 220 and injuring well over 4,000 people. In October 2000, al Qaeda operatives rammed a boat carrying explosives into the USS Cole, which was docked in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed and 39 were injured.
 Each of these attacks occurred during the presidency of Bill Clinton. In each case, the U.S. responded with caution and restraint. Covert and special operations were launched. The U.S. came close to killing or capturing Osama bin Laden at least twice, but there was a clear awareness among many policy makers that bin Laden might be trying to lure the U.S. into overreacting. Clinton administration counterterrorism policy erred, if at all, on the side of excessive caution.
 Critics may argue that Washington's feckless response during the Clinton years encouraged al Qaeda to launch its most spectacular and devastating attack on Sept. 11, 2001. But President George W. Bush also showed great initial restraint in ordering a response to the 9/11 attacks. Covert American intelligence operatives working with special operations forces coordinated indigenous Afghan opposition forces against the Taliban on the ground, while U.S. air power was directed against the Taliban and al Qaeda as they fled toward Pakistan.
 It was only 18 months later, with the invasion of Iraq in 2003, that the U.S. began to inflict upon itself a degree of damage that no external power could have achieved. Even bin Laden must have been astounded. He had, it has been reported, hoped that the U.S. would be drawn into a ground war in Afghanistan, that graveyard to so many foreign armies. But Iraq! In the end, the war left 4,500 American soldiers dead and 32,000 wounded. It cost well in excess of a trillion dollars—every penny of which was borrowed money.
 Saddam was killed, it's true, and the world is a better place for it. What prior U.S. administrations understood, however, was Saddam's value as a regional counterweight to Iran. It is hard to look at Iraq today and find that the U.S. gained much for its sacrifices there. Nor, as we seek to untangle ourselves from Afghanistan, can U.S. achievements there be seen as much of a bargain for the price paid in blood and treasure.
 At home, the U.S. has constructed an antiterrorism enterprise so immense, so costly and so inexorably interwoven with the defense establishment, police and intelligence agencies, communications systems, and with social media, travel networks and their attendant security apparatus, that the idea of downsizing, let alone disbanding such a construct, is an exercise in futility.
 The Sunday TV talk shows this past weekend resonated with the rare sound of partisan agreement: The intercepted "chatter" between al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri and the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was sufficiently ominous that few questions have been raised about the government's decision to close its embassies.
 It may be that an inadequate response to danger signals that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi last September contributed to an overreaction in the current instance. Clearly, it does not hurt, at a time when the intelligence community is charged with being overly intrusive in its harvesting of intelligence data, that we be presented with dramatic evidence of the program's effectiveness.
 Yet when all is said and done, al Qaeda—by most accounts decimated and battered by more than a decade of the worst damage that the world's most powerful nation can inflict—remains a serious enough threat that Washington ordered 19 of its embassies to pull up their drawbridges and take shelter for fear of what those terrorists still might do.
 Will terrorists kill innocent civilians in the years to come? Of course. They did so more than 100 years ago, when they were called anarchists—and a responsible nation-state must take reasonable measures to protect its citizens. But there is no way to completely eliminate terrorism.
 The challenge that confronts us is how we will live with that threat. We have created an economy of fear, an industry of fear, a national psychology of fear. Al Qaeda could never have achieved that on its own. We have inflicted it on ourselves.
 Over the coming years many more Americans will die in car crashes, of gunshot wounds inflicted by family members and by falling off ladders than from any attack by al Qaeda.
 There is always the nightmare of terrorists acquiring and using a weapon of mass destruction. But nothing would give our terrorist enemies greater satisfaction than that we focus obsessively on that remote possibility, and restrict our lives and liberties accordingly.
 Mr. Koppel is a special correspondent for NBC News and news analyst for NPR.
 A version of this article appeared August 7, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: America's Chronic Overreaction to Terrorism.

Stephen M. Flatow