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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Speaking to NPR on Sunday from Germany, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the chorus of administration officials who seem ready to welcome and whitewash the record of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Today,” Secretary Clinton said, “we learned the Muslim Brotherhood decided to participate, which suggests they at least are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged.”

Clinton was referring to the MB’s announcement that they would participate within Egypt in the talks leading to the creation of a transitional government. She added that the United States demands non-violence and an understanding that the Egyptian people “are looking for an orderly transition that can lead to free and fair elections. That is what the United States has consistently supported.”

The Brotherhood, of course, is adamant that before negotiations go any further President Mubarak must immediately resign. As one of their representatives explained, “I think Mubarak will have to stop being stubborn by the end of this week because the country cannot take more million strong protests.”

One thing the MB understands is patience. They have been waiting a long time for the chance to get a foot in the door, and their pretense of moderation, it seems, is getting acceptance from the wishful thinkers among the Washington policy makers. For the Brotherhood’s leaders, an “orderly transition” is precisely the ticket they need to seize in order to eventually make themselves the leaders of a new Islamist Egypt.

In a major editorial explaining their views, the Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief, David Horovitz, notes that although precedents abound, “the US government seems intent on ignoring them.” For that reason, Horovitz’s article should be mandatory reading in our nation’s capital. There have been many areas in which, as so many have pointed out, President Obama is pursuing many of the same counter-terrorist policies adopted by George W. Bush. But one he should not emulate is the policy the former administration pursued in 2006, when the United States moved ahead with insisting on elections in Gaza, leading to Hamas gaining a parliamentary majority which eventually led to their taking over the Gaza Strip a year later.

Horovitz adds that both in Lebanon in the past few weeks and in Turkey, liberal leaders have been outmaneuvered and have proved unable to prevent “growing Islamic domination” of their countries, with the additional result that Turkey “is now drifting inexorably out of the western orbit.” In Egypt, the editor notes that rather than usher in a new partnership with the Muslim world, Obama made no effort to pressure Mubarak to reform in the past few years, failing to see that the people of Egypt would become embittered, and resort to the mass protests that emerged these previous weeks.  Horovitz notes the dangers that then took place:

But however one gauges the realpolitik involved in that dramatic recoil from a 30-year ally, the White House’s subsequent reported moves to legitimate Egypt’s Islamists – whose outlook conflicts utterly with the democratic agenda – make no sense, and suggest a frighteningly superficial understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood’s intentions and potential achievements.

Far from learning the lessons of the Islamists’ skilled subversion of other pro-democracy movements, working with potential leaders of an Egyptian transition to minimize the risk of such a process recurring, and making publicly plain that there will be no ongoing American alliance with an Egypt in which an unreformed Islamist movement has even a marginal role in government, the White House seems to be actively encouraging a transitional outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood.

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When I wrote my memoir Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left, I had a chapter that I titled “Commie Camp,” about my years as both a camper and counselor in the now-defunct Camp Woodland in Phoenicia, New York. I wrote about how instead of Olympics, they had a “World Youth Festival,” modeled after the Soviet bloc’s festivals; of the dedication to the culture and politics of left-wing folk music; and of how counselors even used the camp’s premises to try and recruit older campers into the Communist Party’s youth movement.

I assumed that in the 21st century, those days of Red summer camps had come to an end. Alas, that is not the case. Evidently Gabe Zimmerman, the director of community outreach for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) who died standing by her side in the Tucson shootings, was a proud counselor in 2001 at one of these remaining camps, Camp Kinderland in Eastern Massachusetts.

According to an report in the weekly Jewish newspaper The Forward, the camp “is an idiosyncratic sort of place, a living relic of American Jewry’s red diaper past.” To say the least! After all, it had its beginnings in 1923, when Jewish Communists created it. For years its camp grounds were in Hopewell Junction, New York. Set on a large lake, the opposite side made up the camp grounds of the competing Jewish social-democratic camp, Kinder Ring, run by the Workmen’s Circle, a moderate fraternal organization of so-called “right-wing socialists,” who set up shop in 1927.

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