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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: February 2011

On J Street’s third day, the long awaited speech by Dennis Ross opened the day, at a large plenary that, this time, had major press attendance. If anyone hoped that Ross would say anything other than the usual State Department boilerplate, they must have been bitterly disappointed. Nevertheless, even Ross’s tepid speech seemed to be too much for the majority of the J Street attendees, who evidently thought it was too pro-Israel. The whole purpose of his presence there was made clear by Morton Halperin, who introduced  Ross by telling the audience that the Obama administration had promised that as long as President Obama is in office, someone from his administration would attend their national conferences. In that regard, it almost didn’t matter what he said; all that was required was that he, or someone else from the administration, was there. The purpose was to legitimize J Street as kosher. But since the organization is to the left of the administration, it allows the Obama team to depict themselves as in the center, and as friends of Israel, and not echoes of J Street.

In his presentation, which clocked in at little over half an hour, Ross began by talking about the Middle East and Egypt, without any mention of Israel or the Palestinians. The area, he said, was undergoing a remarkable transformation, in which a few months seemed like an eternity. Some governments like Mubarak’s fell, while in Libya, the leaders were taking a “desperate and irresponsible response to legitimate demands.” We must, Ross said, think of the Middle East in new ways, since “the world is changing.” He then quoted Obama, as well as Hillary Clinton, from past statements.  These could have easily been found from old press clippings, and of course, were not necessary to repeat. His purpose, it seems, was to make it appear that the Obama team was on top of things and prescient, rather than what was actually the case: having to respond to developments about which they were caught by surprise.

“The status quo,” Ross went on, “is not sustainable.” Dissent could not be stifled, and the old tactics used by dictators could not be carried on any more. There had to be openness for political space in Egypt. Mubarak tried to silence opposition, he said, and failed. The rebellions started when police broke into an internet café, took out a blogger critic, and then murdered him. A web space built in memoriam soon had half a million readers, due to the Google executive in Egypt who got worldwide fame for his role in starting up the rebellion.

No one, Ross noted, predicted how fast events would move. The tyrant Mubarak thought that change would be gradual because of the level of repression, and would not be overnight. But when dissent is not allowed, they found out that frustration that was pent up would soon explode. Ross was gratified to find that at the square, Muslims and Christians alike prayed together, in harmony because of their joint desire to be rid of their oppressors.  The Obama administration, he claimed, had told Mubarak from the beginning that he had to open up his system and lift Egypt’s emergency law that had been intact for decades. “Unfortunately,” Ross said, “Mubarak chose not to heed our warnings.” Again, Ross’s intent was to make the Obama administration seem on top of things, and to make it clear that it was not their fault Mubarak did not listen to them.

Now, the United States favored a broad outreach to all in Egypt, and stood for a negotiated transition. This was a delicate phase, and the U.S. had to reassign its aid to Egypt to be used for help in creating a democratic transition and recovery. “Now,” he said,
“is not a time to cut aid to Egypt,” since the stakes are enormous in the region. Ross applauded what he called the  “professionalism” of the military, and its decision to safeguard the population. The U.S., he noted, saws the military as a source of stability in this transition period.

The goal now is to carry out the transition to peacetime rule by civilians. The U.S., he stressed, had excellent ties to Egypt’s military that would be continued. They must learn that “repression does not pay.” That meant credible reform and maintaining the peace treaty with Israel that the military always had supported.  He was glad to cite as a positive sign the decision of the rulers of Bahrain to engage in a national dialogue, as well as Algeria’s decision to lift its nineteen-year-old emergency law. These steps were “credible” measures on the way to reformed societies. Those who use violence, Ross said, must stop immediately. His comments reminded me of nothing less than Rodney King’s plaintiff cry, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Ross then assured the audience that he and his colleagues regularly met at the State Department, and had study sessions where they looked at the different areas and focused on how to help the Middle East achieve reform. State, it seemed, was just another think tank in which they sat around studying things. “We have,” he assured everyone, “close and ongoing contact with the regional players.”

Ross praised the UN’s condemnation of Libya, and its urging that the regime be brought before the International Criminal Court. Egypt, he said, had broken the circle of isolation. Finally, turning to what he had not mentioned before — Israel — Ross said they had to go beyond the cold peace Egypt had with Israel in the past, and he warned that if change did not keep on developing, only the extremists would benefit.

The U.S., he said, “has an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.” This blanket statement received only a smattering of applause, as most of J Street sat silent. Ross noted that the United States gave Israel the Iron Dome anti-rocket system which Israel used to protect itself against rocket attacks from its enemies. Israel, he said, had to be strong given the changes in the region, and he warned that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians became more and more intractable as time passed. Thus our “efforts to promote peace are ongoing and intense.”

Continuing on the topic, Ross said that the clock was ticking, and that a two-state solution that met the needs of both sides had to be adopted quickly. Israel faced the demographic clock that would make it irrelevant and that challenged the “Zionist dream of building a Jewish and a democratic state.” Second, younger leaders were emerging, and they would no longer accept an enduring occupation by Israel of Palestinian land, and thus the hope for peace would fade. Leaders had to emerge who saw peace as a real possibility, and who would accept co-existence of both Palestinians and Israelis.

The region needed leaders who were pragmatists, rather than rejectionists, and who accepted the national aspirations of both people. There could be no reform without peace, and continued conflict would interfere with the process of reform. In the ’90s, he said, Shimon Peres had spoken of building a new era of cooperation, and now decades later than opportunity had to be seized. “Reform and peace,” Ross said, “go hand in hand.”

Turning to Iran, Ross offered no new insights, instead choosing again to quote words of Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The administration, he said, was “keeping its eye on the ball in Iran,” which one would hope is certainly the case. If Iran did not show it was stopping a nuclear buildup, pressure would be increased. “We remain determined,” Ross said, “that Iran not get nuclear weapons.”  He said nothing, however, about any military options being kept on the table, simply repeating instead that “we will not be deflected from that goal.”

At the end of the speech, a short dialogue between Halperin and Ross took place. Halperin asked if there should be a new peace initiative. Ross said any such action had to be defended and supported by all parties, and again cited a recent speech by Secretary Clinton. Each side, he said, had to work in parallel directions. He cautioned that unilateral moves, such as the Palestinian announcement that they would announce creation of a state on their own, were counter-productive, since such moves would not produce an agreement that would work. Both sides, he said, had to have their needs addressed through negotiations.

Turing to the Palestinian authority, Ross praise both Abbas and Fayyad for making a serious effort to create a government that was not corrupt and was helping the West Bank develop. There was, he said,  a dramatic transformation of the Palestinian public in its attitude towards their own leaders. Ross did not address what everyone listening knows, which is that from all accounts, the support these leaders have is still rather minimal.

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J Street Day 2: A Continuing Anti-Israel Tirade

February 27th, 2011 - 7:18 pm

On J Street’s second day, I attended the main morning plenary session, “History Before Our Eyes: Broader Implications of Movements in the Arab World.”  The panelists were Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian journalist; Ron Pundak, director general of the Peres Center for Peace and an architect of the original Oslo agreement; and Robert Serry, UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. The chair was Ambassador Samuel Lewis, a former diplomat and former head of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

As I expected, this particular session would prove to be most revealing in what it showed about the approach J Street has towards critical issues. As the J Street program book announced the panel, “the politics of the Arab world could be the game-changer in 2011.” The first speaker, Robert Serry, set the tone by arguing that it was the job of the UN to promote fundamental change in the Arab world, because the “tide of history cannot be stopped; nor can it be hijacked by radical movements.” The best way to attain this end, he argued, was to help create viable democratic institutions by pushing forward the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority, Serry said, was developing solid reforms, and they had to be met by similar actions by Israel, especially that of rolling back Israel’s settlements. Palestinian statehood, Serry argued, was not sustainable unless Israel gave up Palestinian land it held in its own hands. Hebron, he said as an example, needed more land to expand and to create viable living arrangements for its Palestinian population. In making their demands known, he told the audience, Palestinians had to make a “root-and-branch” commitment to non-violence. And supporters of the Palestinians’ goals, a group he clearly thought included J Street, had to urge that Israel end its blockade of Gaza.  Israel, he said, could not punish Palestinian children because of its own dispute with Hamas.

There must be, he ended, no expansion by Israel of existing settlements.

Next to speak was Ron Pundak, who began by saying that he might be a minority of one in Israel, but he would nevertheless present his ideas, however little they might be representative of the organization to which he was now speaking.

In Israel, Pundak complained, no discussion of what was really necessary was taking place. The “right-wing government,” as he called Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu’s administration, was “obsessed with the past, and saw any criticism of Israeli policies as anti-Israel.” Bibi, he went on, “has nothing to say and uses hard words,” but the substance of what he says is virtually nothing.

Today’s Israeli regime, Pundak said, was jeopardizing the Zionist dream he and others grew up with. If Israel did not pursue a real and honest peace — which he evidently thought it was not doing — later on there would no Israeli prime minister around to accept a genuine offer of peace when it might be made. To great applause, Pundak said the millions of Palestinians living in the area had to be citizens of their own state, a policy he argued the majorities of Israelis favor. But without real leadership, he warned, there could never be such an outcome.

Turning to the vital issue of Iran, Pundak actually argued that Iran was being used as a pretext by those who did not want a Palestinian state to stop trying to attain peace. The Iranians were indeed trying to gain a nuclear capability, Pundak said, but they were not intent on annihilating Israel. Clearly, the words of Ahmadinejad meant nothing to him, nor did the worries of prominent Israelis like the historian Benny Morris. “Israel,” Pundak said, “can live with a nuclear Iran and it must not base its policies on a worst-case scenario.” Thus, it should not be looking for new enemies as an excuse not to make peace. In Pundak’s vision, clearly, Israel had no real enemies, and it was only the Netanyahu government who pronounced that they did. For example, he said that the Israeli government was now “creating Turkey as a future new enemy,” ignoring the growing Islamic orientation and new alliances of the Erdogan government.  Such an Israeli government, Pundak said, could not reach a comprehensive peace agreement with the Palestinians. It was the responsibility of Americans, therefore, to push the Obama administration to favor this course.

Next in line was Mona Eltahawy, the talented and outspoken Egyptian journalist who has been a presence on most television news programs the past few weeks. She was proud and jubilant about the uprisings throughout the Arab world. That in Libya, she emphasized, was not a civil war as many called it; rather, it was a war by Gaddafi against the people of Libya. Moreover, she said it was not about Israel, but rather about the desire of freedom and dignity by the Arab people. “It is,” she said to loud and boisterous applause, “about us for a change.”

All of these rebellions, Eltahawy said, were not supposed to take place because Arabs are supposed to be passive. “But,” she said, “we did it and are doing it. Nobody is being left unaffected.” She proceeded to list all the countries that have moved to rebellion since Mubarak fell, and argued that the Twitter revolution was preparing for more in the coming days. Turning again to Israel, she told the audience that at Tel Aviv University, she spoke with  a new generation of Arab students who were born after 1979. Arab students there — a group of 15 — told her to tell the Israelis “we will hate them until they end the occupation and treat Palestinians with dignity.” This too got a huge ovation from the J Street audience.

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The first session of J. Street’s 2nd National Conference has just come to an end. The first plenary session, held at the Washington Convention Center, was attended by about 2000 delegates, many of them — at least 500 — young people from J Street chapters at different campuses across the country.

The main speaker was Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. After his presentation, the organization honored three “heroes”:  journalist Peter Beinart, Israeli activist Sara Benninga, and Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a physician whose three daughters lost their lives during the Gaza war in 2009.

Rabbi Saperstein began by laying out what he said was the main focus of J Street. There are two visions of America: that which sees the government as an enemy — a clear allusion to the Tea Party and Republicans — and that which sees the government as the agency which carries out the ethical needs of people who live in society. Peace, he argued, would arrive through those who lived true Jewish values: those of “social justice,” which God required. One could not, the rabbi said, fulfill the destiny demanded by God and be holy, unless one fought for “justice, peace and equality.” In other words, Saperstein was essentially arguing that to be Jewish, one has to be on the left or be a liberal. The reason Jews still exist as a people, he argued, was that they were called to help shape a better and more hopeful world, by feeding the hungry, speaking out against injustice, and working on behalf of a fair wage for working people. What any of this had to do with Israel might be a question those not in J Street are asking themselves.

Jews, he continued, have a thirst for social justice. They worked to develop standards for just war, and strive to use moral means when fighting a war. That means giving full rights to Israeli Arabs and working for a free and viable Palestinian state living alongside a Jewish state in peace. One could use the military in the short term to fight Israel’s enemies, but, he warned, a military approach could not defeat terrorism.

He then made an assertion some would challenge. Israel, he said — ignoring the reality that terrorist attacks in Israel have declined tremendously since Israel built the security wall — had fewer attacks in the last few years of the Oslo Accords. The only way to achieve peace, he told the audience, was to make a real two-state solution take place. He said that both the U.S. and Israel had to have this as their policy, and Israel had to be pressured not to expand any of its settlements. American supporters of Israel, therefore, had to criticize policies of the Israeli government they felt were wrong, since that was in the best long-term interests of Israel itself. We could not be, he said, “idle bystanders of Israel’s role.” J Street, he told them to applause, was the single greatest contribution made by the American Jewish community in years.

After softening up the audience with constant praise of their group, Saperstein suddenly turned and presented a tactical criticism that did not go over well with the surprised audience. How, he asked, should we apply our values? How do we decide when to make tactical decisions that do not have great support in America’s Jewish community? “When,” he asked, “do we push the envelope?” Saperstein then let the audience know he was referring to the organization’s recent decision to favor the recent UN resolution condemning Israel, which the Obama administration vetoed in the United Nations.

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Even before its national conference convenes on Saturday night (which I and other PJM folk will be covering and blogging about throughout the conference), J Street is facing opposition from Kadima, the Israeli centrist party headed by Tzipi Livni, because some of its members agreed to attend and speak at the event.

Writing today in the Jerusalem Post, Gil Hoffman reveals that the few who accepted the invitation to speak were told by colleagues in their own faction that “they should not be supporting the left-wing American lobby.” By putting it in this way, the opponents of participation have accurately portrayed J Street for what it is: a fringe leftist sect trying to appear as a mainstream part of American Jewish life.

Hoffman also notes that J Street was unable to get senior Israeli politicians to attend, even a minister whom Hoffman calls “the most dovish minister in the cabinet, Intelligence Services Minister Dan Meridor,” who is from Likud, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s party.

J Street, which continually tries to assert that it is “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” is well known for opposing whatever measures the Israeli government takes to protect the country. Most recently, it refused to oppose the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. Now that the United States voted against it — (although UN Ambassador Susan Rice undercut the meaning of the vote by explaining the administration’s reluctance and stating that “we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. We view Israeli settlement activity in territories that were occupied in 1967 as undermining Israel’s security, its democracy, and hopes for peace and stability…”) — J Street is in the position  of formally opposing a decision taken by the United States delegation to the UN.

The organization had also escorted Judge Richard Goldstone around Washington, D.C., to gather support for his notoriously biased anti-Israel report, and refused to condemn the Goldstone Report, even though it accused Israel’s leaders of purposefully targeting civilians in Gaza. Most recently, as Lenny  Ben-David pointed out at PJM, its founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami, has greatly compromised the group’s raison d’etre.

Among the organization’s many recent embarrassments, Ben-Ami was first discovered denying that the anti-Israel billionaire George Soros was funding the group, then reluctantly trying to spin his extensive monetary contributions after they were exposed, to finally bragging about his financial support to make it appear that they always knew about it and were proud of his role in helping them.

As  Lenny Ben-David reported, J Street founder Ben-Ami co-authored an article with Trita Parsi in 2009 opposing U.S. sanctions on Iran, in favor of diplomacy. At the time, the real debate in our country was between those who supported some form of military action against Iran — because they argued sanctions were not working and would not work — and those who argued we should rely on sanctions alone. There were very few who took the position taken by Ben-Ami and Parsi, which was a stance that, if adopted, would have strengthened the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.  No wonder that, as Hoffman writes, Kadima members of the Knesset “were also upset with J Street for undermining the international effort to prevent the nuclearization of Iran.”

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How the Left Sees the Union Crisis in Madison

February 22nd, 2011 - 9:01 am

We live in two different worlds. Try looking at the situation in Wisconsin through the eyes of the American Left. They are, as my colleague Roger L. Simon so aptly puts it, thoroughly reactionary. For the Left, there is no real fiscal crisis. The states can easily afford to give the public sector unions everything they ask for. There is one easy answer: tax the rich.

Because the great right-wing conspiracy has been so effective, due to its funding by the Koch brothers, the masses have been manipulated to vote for their own worst enemies. Marx’s theory of “false consciousness” has been proved once again. “What’s the matter with Kansas?”  indeed. If only they all read The Nation there would be no problem. And evidently, they don’t even read Paul Krugman. If they did, they would see that the great economist explained it all: the Right doesn’t care about reality; they just want power. Their real goal, says Krugman, is nothing less than “to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy.”

Let us pause for a moment to ask whether Krugman is serious. The Wisconsin voters, having heard Governor Walker campaign on a promise to rein in the public sector unions and do something about Wisconsin’s debt crisis, not only voted him in, but voted in Republicans overwhelmingly in once Democratic districts. So democracy did its job, but not to Krugman’s liking. The people want an oligarchy.

For the entire Left, the budget is simply the excuse to gain power and crush the unions. The academic leftists, as expected, are also weighing in. On the History News Network site, leftist historian Mark Naison looks back nostalgically at the Flint, Michigan, sit-down strikes in 1936-37, seeing today’s Madison events as the modern equivalent — a watershed moment for the labor movement. Not even pausing to address the major differences between this era’s public sector unions and the assembly line industrial unions of the Depression era, Naison sees the strikes as simply about  “dignity and respect,” not income.

Naison reminds readers that the auto workers, helped by “numerous left-wing organizations,” occupied the factories, ending their occupation only when GM and U.S. Steel agreed to bargain collectively with the recently formed Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). So Naison calls for a similar movement today — urging delegations from every state in the union “to join the occupation and the protests and give whatever financial aid and legal support is necessary to teachers who are keeping the local schools closed.”

Of course, no sooner did his article hit the web than the union asked teachers to return to work. Their leadership realizes that their action has produced a huge backlash among working men and women in Wisconsin, who can’t go to work because they have to stay home to watch the kids. Besides resenting that kind of behavior at their own jobs, they have nothing compared to what the public sector workers have in their contracts with the state.

Joining him in a similar assessment is the socialist labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein. At least Lichtenstein realizes that the nation is talking about public sector unions, not industrial unions of a bygone age. He acknowledges the real question: “Who will pay for the budget deficits that bedevil so many states?” But he also knows the other question is whether or not “the unions [will] continue to be a backbone of the Democratic Party….” He also acknowledges another truth — that “public employees are far more likely to be unionized than private-sector workers.”

Lichtenstein, however, does not comprehend the nature of what has become a real sweetheart deal for the public sector unions. Union PACs use member dues to support and elect Democrats. Then, the same unions sits before these elected officials to negotiate contracts. These elected politicians then do all they can to give the union reps everything they ask for. It worked for a long time, especially in large urban cities like New York, until that city found its own books ready to collapse.

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It’s rare in these tumultuous times that humorists take on radical Islam, as well as the ill-named UN Human Rights Commission. But this video done a few months ago by a British eccentric blogger and video commentator, who has a terrific sense of irony combined with anger, has done it.  His name is Pat Condell, and he blogs here.

In this video, which could have been delivered yesterday — Condell tears apart the West’s failure to face head-on the nature of Islamist thought and politics. And, he signs off after his devastating take, with — the peace sign! The clear message of his sign-off is that if you want peace, you better deal with defeating radical Islam first.

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First, a note about Staughton Lynd for younger readers. In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, Lynd was somewhat of a household name. Life magazine, then the nation’s leading popular newsweekly, had a cover photo of Lynd and the radical activist Dave Dellinger being pelted with fake blood and eggs on its cover; along with Tom Hayden and the Communist Party historian Herbert Aptheker, Lynd took a trip to Vietnam in 1965-66, from which they returned extolling the virtues of Vietnamese Communism and urging U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the war. Lynd at the time was a Professor of History at Yale University. His activism and his trip to Hanoi led the university to not renew his teaching contract, and he was fired.  (Were he in a similar position today, he would be immediately offered a  Distinguished Professorship at scores of American universities.) Lynd was so popular among the Left, that when Lyndon B. Johnson was President, Students for Democratic Society offered a button, proclaiming “Lynd not Lyndon.”

Eventually Lynd decided to leave history and to become a full-time activist, first as a community organizer and later as a labor lawyer in the union town of Youngstown Ohio, where he practices law today. This does not stop him, at times, from returning to historical inquiry. His own field of expertise was in events of the 18th and 19th Century. But now, he was evidently compelled to write about something of which he knows next to nothing—the favorite topic of return for American leftists, the Rosenberg case.

In the current issue of the decades old Marxist magazine Monthly Review, founded in 1949 by Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy, Lynd has an article titled “Is There Anything More to Say About the Rosenberg Case?” I have read his article, and my comments on it will follow. But I would answer the question he raises in the title with a firm NO, since his own piece adds nothing of substance to understanding the real issues in the case.  What Lynd does do, however, is reveal something   that is of great importance to understanding the mindset of the Left in America—which is certainly not the intent he had in writing about the case.

So let me now turn to Lynd’s argument. First, Lynd’s bias is revealed immediately in what he cites as sources for his discussion. He is impressed with the book by the late Walter Schneir, Final Verdict:What Really Happened in the Rosenberg Case, which I have reviewed here and here, and which Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes discussed here. Lynd believes the new conspiracy theory developed by Schneir in his book, but while he cites the old book by Klehr and Haynes on Venona, he seems not to be aware of their most recent book.  In Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, which appeared in 2009 and came out in a paper edition last year-they present new material about the Rosenberg case. Had Lynd read this book, it would have harmed his own argument in favor of the Schneir’s book. Since it is very easy for him to find out about its publication, one must assume that Lynd is a very sloppy historian.

What Lynd goes on to argue is that first, since Venona, most people understand that the decrypts of Soviet KGB cables “unmistakably showed that Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet agent [and]indeed had been the head of a Soviet spy ring.” But naturally, he objects to the fact that “those who have all along argued that the Rosenbergs were guilty feel triumphant.”

Do I feel triumphant, since Lynd is talking about me and the late Joyce Milton, with whom I wrote The Rosenberg File in 1983, the first book to argue that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were Soviet spies, and not political martyrs? As most PJM readers probably know, for decades the Left- including the moderate Left- has condemned me for this conclusion. Yes, it is nice to find one’s research and argument vindicated by history, and by new research not available in the 1980’s that confirm my original findings- but what satisfies me is that I was able to contribute something that helped tear apart the Left’s argument that history proved the United States was the single villain in the Cold War years.

What disturbs Lynd however is not the fact that coming out of the American left- particularly the American Communist Party- a ring was composed of a group that betrayed their own nation and stole its classified secrets. What disturbs him is that the government used evidence that came, he says, from those who decided to “snitch.”  Lynd digresses from his analysis to write that “the Rosenbergs’ execution was really all about their refusal to snitch.” And as he says, “refusal to snitch is one of the highest values of long-term prisoners.”

The use of this loaded term gives us a good indication of how Lynd thinks. What were the Rosenbergs asked to do by the government? They were asked to identify other members of the spy network Julius had set up. Two of them, Joel Barr and Alfred Sarant, had managed to elude the FBI and fled the country, where they ended up eventually in the Soviet Union, where they used their expertise gained in the United States to modernize the Soviet military and to establish its first computerized systems for the military. (The details are provided in Steve Usdin’s important book, Engineering Communism: How Two Americans Spied for Stalin and Founded the Soviet Silicon Valley.) Others were still at large, and one of them- a top scientist named William Perl, was able to steal major military secrets of jet aircrafts and give them to Rosenberg for transmission to the Soviets.

To Lynd, not telling the truth about these spies is trumped by what he sees as their nobility in not snitching, even though it meant they were willing to orphan their own children in the service of Joseph Stalin’s USSR.

In the next part of his article, he reiterates arguments long since discredited, without informing his gullible left-wing readers where and how this has taken place. Yet, Lynd argues that the Rosenbergs were convicted in a “sham” trial- since although they were guilty- the government was not able to use the Venona decrypts in court, and thus- according to Lynd- they developed a false case. In other words, his argument is that they were guilty, but should have been found innocent by the evidence available in the 1950’s.

Next, he argues that the Rosenbergs conducted only “industrial espionage,” which if so, sounds less problematic and rather inconsequential. This, of course, is false—and Lynd, unless he really is dumb-knows that this is not true. Second, he says they could not be convicted then or now for atomic espionage “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This also is false.  And third, he argues that Ethel Rosenberg was only an accessory whose role was not as important as that of her husband. Only the third is partially true, since we now know from Spies that she played a bigger role than anyone previously thought.

Next, we get to the heart of his argument, where he reveals his real agenda. The Rosenbergs, he actually argues, had a higher duty than to their own country, and this he says has “rarely, if ever, been publicly discussed.” So what is this higher duty? Here he lets the cat out of the bag. Lynd writes: “It concerns the Rosenbergs’ obligations as Communists, and as citizens of the world.” (my emphasis.)

The Rosenbergs, he is actually arguing, had to obey their loyalty to Stalin, the Soviet Union and the system he was seeking to expand all over the world, at the height of the Cold War. It was their “obligation,” after all. The reason, he continues to argue, is visible in a question he says few dared to ask: “If an American helped the Soviet Union to obtain the atomic bomb as soon as possible, might that have been justified? (my emphasis.)

Lynd, in other words, not being able to find his own country’s citizens then or now voting to make all military secrets open to the entire world, and since he desires just such a development, believes that anyone so doing was heroic in doing their part to give away top secrets. Lynd, not our elected representatives, believes that any citizen should be able to make the decision to give away top secrets in the name of democracy. And finally, he particularly thinks it justified because in his eyes, the enemy of the world was American imperialism and militarism, and Joseph Stalin and the U.S.S.R. was the only world power standing in America’s way, and hence had to be supported.

We are talking here about one of the world’s greatest tyrannies, whose leader not only killed millions at a whim, but who was developing a foreign policy of aggression, meant to not only cement his hold on the Eastern European nations he already had subjected to the rule of local Stalinist thugs, but was seeking to do so as well in France and Italy, where he was actually close to success. Lynd talks about how silly is “parochial nationalism,” citing Debs, Tom Paine, William Lloyd Garrison and others for support, while using their names to justify support to Stalin’s Soviet Union. Any of these men he cites, including the socialist Debs, would be furious to find their names invoked to justify such a cause.

Lynd ends by speculating about what the Rosenbergs thought about all the conflicts and turmoil occurring in the American CP, during the period they were involved with carrying out Soviet espionage. He wonders where they thought, and actually writes, in a footnote, that they may never have even been formal CP members. Again, he is unaware of the evidence that indicates their membership in the CP for a long time has been established, and is not even contested by anyone at present. (outside of a few fringe figures he cites.) He does not know that even once they severed their formal ties, they continued to pay regular dues to the CP liaison they regularly saw, Bernard Schuster.

We also know that the Rosenbergs were recruited during the Nazi-Soviet Pact, not in 1944, as he writes, and that they continued to carry on their activities until the day of their arrest, when the Cold War was on. They were hard line Stalinists, not CP reformers. So his speculation that perhaps they opposed the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima is nothing but wishful thinking. The CP supported the use of the bomb, as it did the incarceration of Japanese Americans by FDR during the war. As good Communists, who always followed the Party line, they would have done nothing else. They were not feel-good pacifists like Lynd, who confuses his own inclinations with that of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

Lynd hopes that it was “actual use of the atomic bomb [that] may well have motivated people like Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to do more to ensure that the Soviet Union learned how to make an atomic bomb as soon as possible.” The problem with that argument is that Julius started his network and recruited atomic spies well before the U.S. dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima. Nevertheless, he ends by wondering whether helping Stalin get the bomb was not only “justifiable,”  but  possibly “even obligatory?”

So Staughton Lynd speaks in the true voice of the American Left: Its motto then, and now is this: The United States is the enemy, the opponent of all those good people who want peace, freedom and socialism. It alone is the enemy of the people of the world. In the 1940’s and 50’s, its power was checked by the Soviet Union, which internationally, was a force for good since it alone stood in America’s way. Not only is the enemy of my enemy my friend—but America’s enemies are the people’s; i.e., the Left’s, real friends. One helps his true friends, not those who are his oppressors. So Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, in betraying their own nation, were heroes.

Even Fidel Castro, who recently told the press that he acted incorrectly and dangerously at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, is more critical than Lynd. In his article, Lynd says that if Russia did not have the bomb, it is not certain that the world would have been able to “preserve the improbable independence of Communist Cuba.” Is he kidding? Cuba was practically a Western output of the Soviet Union in that period, and never was independent. If anything, without a nuclear umbrella, Castro might not have been able to stay in power, and the Cuban people would have been able to create a free Cuba without being led by corrupt authoritarians of the Right or Stalinist totalitarians of the Left.

Lynd is free to believe that if the Rosenbergs “hastened the development of a Soviet atomic bomb, it may have tended to preserve the peace of the world.” He is free to ignore that it also allowed Stalinist repression to continue unabated far longer than it might have, something that seems not to concern him.

Finally, we have to acknowledge that Lynd has changed the terms of the Left’s debate. They used to argue- for many years- that the Rosenbergs were totally innocent and framed up. Now Lynd argues they may have been guilty, and instead of not admitting that, we should celebrate them for being traitors to their own land. In making such an argument, Staughton Lynd has revealed the real agenda of the far Left in America.

Much has been written about the Muslim Brotherhood in the past few weeks, and for good reason. Since no one disputes that at present they are the most organized and ready-to-go political force in Egypt, there exists sound worry that they are well placed to assume power — if not immediately, then in the near future.

At present, the Brotherhood leaders pledge to not seek a presidential candidate and to be content with having a place at the table, as they do in the coalition that is meeting to write a new Egyptian constitution.

Their apparent stance of moderation is leading many pundits to proclaim that they are not a threat, that they remain but one force in an Egypt whose rebellion was sparked by non-Islamist and even secular-minded Egyptians, mainly composed of the country’s youth. Some have argued that their position has been exaggerated by those dreadful neo-cons who wish only to find a new reason to extend America’s imperial reach in the region, and who want our country to be the power guiding and later putting in place the kind of government friendly to U.S. interests.

Recently, a score of sober-minded analysts have responded with forceful arguments reminding their audience what the Brotherhood actually stands for, and what its real agenda is. In the Wall Street Journal, foreign policy columnist Bret Stephens pointed out that “it’s easy to be taken in by the Brotherhood.” Indeed it is. I sent my column to one friend who considers himself somewhat of an expert on the group, and he responded by telling me that Stephens is nothing but “a partisan” and a purveyor of  “agit-prop” who is “not a scholar.”

That is a way of dealing with evidence that seems to be par for course for a new group of useful idiots who apologize for radical Islam the way fellow travelers used to apologize for Stalinism. They prefer to ignore what Stephens points to: “Eight decades as a disciplined, underground organization, outwardly involved in charitable social work, have made them experts at tailoring messages to separate audiences.” While the MB might sound moderate by the standards of Western society,  Stephens adds, they are hardly “moderate by Western standards.”

Writing today on his blog at World Affairs Journal, Josh Muravchik notes that the problem is that so many administration analysts are “dominated by left-liberal ideologues [so] that too little rigorous analysis takes place.” He proceeds to go through the MB’s record to show its heritage of violence and its goal of creating an Islamist state, refuting the now discredited statement of NID James Clapper that the Brotherhood is “secular.” He reaches the sad conclusion that evidently “our intelligence analysts believe their main mission is to protect the world from benighted Americans who feel uneasy about radical Islam.”

In other words, damn the facts. But for those who prefer to assess the situation by dealing with reality, no better source exists than an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel, whose editors had the good sense to seek out the voice of the Brotherhood in Egypt and to carry out an interview with him. He is Youssef al-Qaradawi, the Muslim televangelist whose program Sharia and Life has been the no.1 hit on Al Jazeera for the past fifteen years. We are talking about a man who knew the Koran by heart by the time he was ten years old. It is not surprising that his weekly audience numbers 60 million Muslims each week!

The reporter, Alexander Smoltczyk, refers to al-Qaradawi as “the father figure of Egypt’s Muslim Broterhood,” a man who “hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself.” In one sermon, he asked God “to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them.” In January 2009, he told his listeners that “throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler.” In his eyes, the Brotherhood and Muslims, evidently, are those who should finish the job in the present. He is not exactly what we would call a man of peace committed to non-violence.

This is the same Muslim leader welcomed to London by its former mayor, “Red” Ken  Livingstone, for whom any enemy of the West is a friend. He told the mayor that while he was against attacks on homosexuals, he was not opposed to giving them 100 lashes if that was imposed by a Sharia judge. If the Muslim court makes it a punishment, that is clearly not an attack, as al-Qaradawi sees things.

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You can count on the New York Times to continually let its readers know how Israel is the guilty party when it comes to finding out why the Israeli-Palestinian peace process fell apart. This time, its readers were given a 4700 word cover article in the paper’s Sunday magazine by Bernard Avishai, who favors the replacement of Israel by what he calls a secular “Hebrew republic” open to all who inhabit its borders, rather than the existing Jewish state. Avishai is also a “peace activist,” although the magazine does not inform his readers of this.

The heart of Avishai’s claim is that a chance recently existed “to end the Israeli occupation and found a Palestinian state.”  Its essence took place in 2008 when Ehud Olmert was prime minister of Israel, and he and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority engaged in two-year long negotiations and made what Avishai calls “far-reaching proposals.”  As Avishai relates the story, both sides almost concluded an agreement that would have ended with a Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel. Abbas, he says, “had been most flexible on Israel’s security demands”; Olmert had “conceded to Abbas every major demand Palestinians had made for decades.”

So what happened? You can read Avishai’s article yourself. But the reason this agreement came to naught is simple: Israel backed out! As Avishai writes: “Olmert made his most comprehensive offer to Abbas on Sept.16,2008, the opening day of the General Assembly in New York. Abbas then ‘went silent.’” But it wasn’t his fault. Abbas was ready to resume talks, but corruption charges and the Gaza war distracted him, and he failed to send someone to a talk proposed in Washington by Condoleezza Rice. But he made it clear he was ready to continue negotiations until a settlement took place. Olmert, facing his own problems, did not respond. And then, the Netanyahu government won the Israeli election, and as we all know, the hard-line new PM is opposed to a settlement with the Palestinians.

So, Avishai argues, now is the time for President Obama to use his position to resuscitate peace talks and pick up where Olmert and Abbas left off before it is too late.

The New York Times, in running Avishai’s lead piece, and putting it online as well in its world news section, makes it clear they consider Avishai a journalist who has delivered a major scoop — the first person to present all the previously hidden details of what had ensued and had led to abandonment of the one moment that both sides had come closest to reaching a deal.

The problem is, Avishai’s article is a complete fraud! Thank God for Sol Stern, a journalist who years ago, ironically, used to write from Israel for the NYT as a special reporter, and who himself used to have feature articles in the New York Times Magazine. But that was decades ago, when Stern was on the political left and was an editor of Ramparts magazine. Now he is a conservative working at the Manhattan Institute; the New York Times is not exactly knocking at his door.

Writing today at Jewish Ideas Daily, a relatively new website edited by former Commentary editor-in-chief Neal Kozodoy, Sol Stern demolishes Avishai’s article, and  not only makes mincemeat of it, but embarrasses the editors of the magazine for even having run the article in the first place, since, as he proves, there is nothing new in it and, as Stern writes, “what’s new isn’t true.”

What Sol Stern has produced is nothing less than a tour de force. His article should be mandatory reading in journalism schools for how the mainstream media gets things wrong, and especially how what was once the paper of record does so. First, Stern shows that Avishai’s narrative appeared January 27 in a supposed scoop by Ethan Bronner, who wrote that progress towards peace was stopped when the new “hard-line” government of Benjamin Netanyahu took over.  Bronner based his article on an interview that none other than Bernard Avishai had conducted with Olmert and Abbas earlier. Now, a short time later, “the paper has twice put its weight behind pieces of copycat journalism that…happen to fortify its own editorial position” on the so-called peace process.

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Each day, the apologists for the Muslim Brotherhood continue to carry on their propaganda campaign, meant to gain acceptance for the group’s participation in the new democratic Egypt. The most outrageous example comes from the International Herald Tribune, the English language daily of the New York Times in Europe. It is an op-ed from none other than the would-be moderate Muslim, Tariq Ramadan, who writes that “not only is Islamism a mosaic of widely differing trends and factions, but its many different facets have emerged over time and in response to historical shifts.”

The different facet, as you expected, is the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna. Ramadan continues:

The Muslim Brothers began in the 1930s as a legalist, anti-colonialist and nonviolent movement that claimed legitimacy for armed resistance in Palestine against Zionist expansionism during the period before World War II. The writings from between 1930 and 1945 of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Brotherhood, show that he opposed colonialism and strongly criticized the fascist governments in Germany and Italy. He rejected use of violence in Egypt, even though he considered it legitimate in Palestine, in resistance to the Zionist Stern and Irgun terror gangs. He believed that the British parliamentary model represented the kind closest to Islamic principles.

Al-Banna’s objective was to found an “Islamic state” based on gradual reform, beginning with popular education and broad-based social programs. He was assassinated in 1949 by the Egyptian government on the orders of the British occupiers.

We know, thanks largely to the writer Paul Berman, that Ramadan’s reputation as an insightful moderate is itself a falsehood. In a much discussed 2007 essay in TNR, and later in his important book The Flight of the Intellectuals, Berman notes that the writer Paul Landau describes “al-Banna, in his position as chief guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, as a figure comparable to Il Duce and the Führer. Landau attributes a lot of importance to al-Banna’s friendship with Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem—who, as Hitler’s ally, helped organize a Muslim division of the Waffen-SS and then, after the war, when he was wanted for war crimes (owing to his SS division), succeeded in escaping to Egypt, thanks to help from al-Banna himself.” Berman writes that al-Banna had the following goals:

the creation of a properly Muslim individual person, in thought and belief; of a properly Muslim family; of a properly Muslim people or community; of an Islamic state; and, finally, the resurrection of the ancient Islamic Empire—which al-Banna describes by referring admiringly to what he calls the “German Reich” and to Mussolini’s dream of a resurrected Roman Empire, though naturally al-Banna regards his own resurrected Islamic Empire as vastly preferable and theologically more legitimate than anything Mussolini could have contemplated.

To put it simply, al-Banna had a fascist program in mind, and his conception of the Brotherhood was anything but non-violent, or a parliamentary Western model of government, or legalist. Two Iranian scholars he quotes, Ladan and Royan Boroumand, also point out that “[f]rom the Fascists—and behind them, from the European tradition of putatively ‘transformative’ or ‘purifying’ revolutionary violence that began with the Jacobins—Banna also borrowed the idea of heroic death as a political art form.”

There is much more to learn, which you can do by buying Berman’s book or reading his article. Leave it to the editors of the IHT to run Ramadan’s article, from which readers will gain a false impression about the origins of the Brotherhood, and which, without the antidote of someone like Paul Berman to inform them about the truth, they will accept as proof of the reasonable program of the Muslim Brotherhood.

One other point about Ramadan’s disingenuous article. He refers to al-Banna’s claim that his grandfather favored “legitimate” opposition to the extremist Irgun and Stern gangs in pre-1948 Jewish Palestine, against which he said violence could be used. Those who know anything about the two Jewish terrorist groups know that the mainstream Zionists opposed them as counter-productive and even called them fascist, and that the leader of the Yishuv and Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, ordered the Haganah to stop them by force. What al-Banna favored was violence against the entire Jewish community in Palestine, and its just effort to create a Jewish state and to oppose the British control of the Mandate.

Anyone who takes Ramadan’s assurances that today’s Brotherhood is modern, favors “the Turkish example” of Islam (he does not talk about what happened in Turkey with that model in the very recent past), and wishes only to participate in the democratic transition is accepting assurances from a very tainted and unreliable source. Moreover, even Ramadan lets the cat out of the bag when he writes that “the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership has signaled that now is not the time to expose itself by making political demands that might frighten the West, not to mention the Egyptian people. Caution is the watchword.”

Translated, you can get the gist of what the Brotherhood’s leaders really want; i.e., to proclaim their true agenda when the time is ripe, when they can advance to the Islamic state and take the secular Egyptian populace along for the ride, and when they no longer have to worry about frightening the West. It is the tactic of the stealth jihad, of which Ramadan himself is a good example of one of its top practitioners.

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