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Ron Radosh

I have no objections to Jeb Bush running for president. He obviously has a wide appeal as a potential candidate. With a Mexican wife, and as a man who speaks fluent Spanish, he would be able to increase the Hispanic vote in the GOP column. On the other hand, many in the Republican base find his position on immigration untenable, and would fight him tooth and nail during primary season. He is also a serious advocate of education reform. His support of Common Core, however, will also find many who are in the conservative ranks objecting, since they fear that Common Core represents educational centralism and having the government ram federal standards down their throats.

What I do object to is that Bush is already being heralded as the obvious candidate, the man to whom the big money must and will flow. As the Washington Post reports:

Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.

Apparently, whoever makes up this somewhat mysterious Republican “establishment” fears that their former hope, Gov. Chris Christie, is damaged goods. Secondly, they fear that unless they intervene quickly behind a chosen candidate, Sen. Rand Paul could win the nomination and, in a time of the necessity of strong actions abroad by the United States, could push their party and the country in an isolationist direction.  As one prominent unnamed bundler told the reporters about Jeb Bush, “he’s the most desired candidate out there.” The article goes on to note that at a moment’s notice, Bush could activate a waiting national fundraising effort that would give him more funds than any competitor in the Republican ranks.

Whatever happened to letting members of the Republican Party choose their own candidate freely, and holding a convention in which delegates actually can make their own choice for the nominee? Evidently, that moment has already passed, and the folks who gave us McCain and Romney have already made up their minds.

Again, I do not necessarily agree with the arguments against a Bush run, but those arguments will be made, and the threat always is lurking in the wings that some conservatives, finding that their favored candidate is not likely to get the nod, will begin to talk about running a “real conservative” on an independent line in 2016. And such an act would siphon off just the right amount of votes to put Hillary Clinton in office.

As for the Democratic Party, its equivalents in the big-money community have anointed Hillary as their preferred candidate. Like Jeb Bush, she has not said she is going to run, but is already taking all the steps to have the money ready to flow and the organizations on the ground should she decide to take the step.

Hillary Clinton also has obvious vulnerabilities: Benghazi, Benghazi and Benghazi for a start, followed by the “Russian reset” with which she is identified. And nationally, Hillary would do all she could to counter her negatives by resurrecting the charge that Republicans are “waging a war on women,” and by arguing that nothing could destroy their goal more than putting the first woman president in the White House.

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Writing in today’s New RepublicJohn B. Judis once again shows how little he knows about the situation in the Middle East, and about which party is responsible for the forthcoming failure of the so-called “peace process.” About the only point about which he is correct is the one stated in his headline: “John Kerry’s Peace Process is Nearly Dead.”

Judis, as in his recent book Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict (which I wrote a negative review of here), proves that he is seeking to present himself as an expert on policymaking in the Middle East, so that he can add to the chorus of those seeking to delegitimize and attack Israel as the sole power responsible for lack of movement towards peace in the region.

The truth is, as Jennifer Rubin points out, that President Obama was carefully orchestrating the talks to be able to paint Israel as the power that was obstinate, having attacked Israel before the talks while painting Mahmoud Abbas as a man of peace. As she writes: “In fact, Abbas last year forced out the only true Palestinian reformer Salam Fayyad, has refused to hold elections and occupies the presidency beyond the legally allotted term.” Moreover, he has agreed with the claim that Palestine will never give up “the right to return,” which would mean that Israel would be all Palestinian, as any Palestinian, even those born recently, could return to present-day Israel and take back the homes they claim were once theirs.

Abbas has also made it clear that the Palestinians will not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Already, Obama’s loyal troops in the Jewish community — in particular J-Street — have demanded that the Israeli government give up that demand. Its president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, wrote a letter to his supporters arguing that the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state must not be raised by Israel, and if Israel does insist on this, Israel alone will be responsible for failure of the process. He echoes John Kerry, whom he quotes as saying that the issue of a Jewish state cannot be made into “the critical decider of their attitude towards the possibility of a state and peace.”

Judis also makes this claim, revealing how little he knows about the issues. He writes that Netanyahu has made what he calls “the new demand” for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, made only so that “the Palestinians would reject it and that he could then blame the failure of the talks on them.” Here, as Rick Richman points out, he is only repeating what the New York Times previously argued, “that recognition of a Jewish state is a new issue, allegedly raised by Netanyahu to prevent peace.”

But Judis and the anti-Israel New York Times are wrong. Judis, clearly, does not know that Dennis Ross has said that when he was negotiating with the Palestinians during the Clinton administration, that issue was part of the negotiations. Earlier this month, Ross said the following in a talk titled “Israel, America and the Middle East:Challenges for 2014”:

When I hear it said that this is the first time this issue has been raised — the people who say that think that no one knows history. Now maybe it’s true that most people don’t know history. But they should never say it to me. When we were at Camp David, this issue was raised. In the period after Camp David, before we did the Clinton Parameters, this issue was raised. This issue has been raised for obvious reasons. From the Israeli standpoint, there is a need to know that the Palestinians are committed to two states, meaning in fact that one state is Palestinian and one is the state of the Jewish people. They need to know the Palestinians are not about two states, one Palestinian and one bi-national.

Ari Shavit, author of the best-selling My Promised Land:The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, has also beautifully stated the need for acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. Shavit, a man of the Israeli left, writes in Haaretz “that it is the most natural and justified demand imaginable.”  To this day, he writes, “the Palestinian national movement refuses to see the Jewish people and recognize in this way its right to a Jewish state.” Their refusal to do so, he points out, is what is responsible for the 100-year war “between them and us.”

It is Israel that now recognizes the need for a Palestinian state, and as a man of the left, he argues that they indeed have “legitimate rights.” Israelis know there is another people living in the land they share, while it is the Palestinians who have not and will not recognize that right for the Jews. As for the “right of return,” Shavit accurately notes that no Palestinian leader dares tell his people that in fact they will never return to the villages and cities they lost in the 1948 war. The Jewish people, he sarcastically writes, “is a people of this land, and it did not arrive here from Mars.” The Jews of Israel, he writes, “are not colonialists but legal neighbors.”

And that point brings me back to the reprehensible John B. Judis. He believes, contrary to historical fact, that Zionism is a “settler-colonialist” movement, and that it was created in order to oppress the Arabs and to take the land from them that was rightfully theirs. His entire book is based on the premise that Israel should not have been created. No wonder he supports what Shavit calls a one-sided peace process, in which “Israel gives and the Palestinians receive.”

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You’ve heard the argument before, perhaps the single most-used foreign-policy cliché: “if we don’t work with the current regime — totalitarian, authoritarian, or otherwise repressive as it is — the hard-liners waiting in the wings will take over, and things will be much worse for the United States.”

It has, of course, been used most in recent times about Iran, especially after the election of the so-called “moderate” Hassan Rouhani. A staff member of the leading American apologist group for Iran, the National Iranian American Council, puts it this way:

Reza Marashi, research director of the National Iranian American Council, an advocacy group that supports the nuclear talks, said it is political suicide for any Iranian official to accept no enrichment. Tehran’s hard-liners would accuse them of capitulation to the United States and Israel.

The logic is clear: if those warlike neo-cons argue that the deal favored by President Obama is not acceptable, and if we don’t allow the regime in Iran to continue with enrichment, the real bad guys will win the argument in Iran — and then there is no hope for keeping Iran from getting the bomb.

(For an answer to the claims about Rouhani, read Sohrab Ahmari, here and here.)

Here is the argument again, presented most succinctly in an article by Harvard professor Matthew Bunn. He is also an advisor to the White House on nuclear issues. In his “Deal weakens Iran’s hard-liners and strengthens U.S. interests,” Professor Bunn writes that those who argue the deal with Iran actually increases Iran’s chances of getting a nuclear weapon are “ … wrong. With this deal in place, it will be much harder for hard-liners in Iran to argue that Iran should tear up its agreements and build a bomb.”

We’ve also heard the argument recently regarding Russia and its aggression against Ukraine. Gregory Feifer explains:

Despite Putin’s challenge to European values and security, a rising tide of commentary is urging Western leaders to moderate their response, arguing that sanctions would have little effect, that they’re not in their interests, or both. After all, the logic goes, Moscow says it’s not interested in invading eastern Ukraine.

For a rebuttal, in yesterday’s New York Times, Alexey A. Navalny — who ran for mayor of Moscow as a pro-reform opposition candidate, and is now under house arrest for his criticism of the Putin government — writes the following:

There is a common delusion among the international community that although Mr. Putin is corrupt, his leadership is necessary because his regime subdues the dark, nationalist forces that otherwise would seize power in Russia.

The argument that we can’t assert our values and defend American interests because it will hurt the moderates in adversary countries has always been false, and yet, it has been used way back in the early days of the 20th Century.

He is correct: during research for the book my wife and I are writing about the presidency of Warren G. Harding, we came across a letter written on Jan. 12, 1921 to Harding by Bruce Bliven, then managing editor of a New York City paper, The Globe. He was soon to become an editor of the “progressive” magazine of opinion The New Republic. Bliven told the president that he learned from the paper’s reporters, who were “in close touch with the Russian situation,” that the time had come for U.S. policy to change, and for the new administration to offer diplomatic recognition to the still young Bolshevik revolutionary government.

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We live in strange times. The Cold War is over, yet when it comes to Russia seeking to maintain its control of Ukraine, a new group of apologists for Vladimir Putin has emerged. Once again, the group in the West supporting the hegemonic attempts of control of Ukraine by the authoritarian Putin regime is made up of stalwarts on both the Right and the Left.

Support for Putin on the Right comes from the paleoconservatives led by Pat Buchanan, the editors of The American Conservative, and the writers for the website Anti-war.com. The entire group comes from the precincts of what historians call the Old Right, a phenomenon that harks back to the old isolationism of pre World War II conservatives and the large group they organized, the America First Committee.  Their motivations have been succinctly summarized by James Kirchick.

A new concern has been added to the traditional non-interventionist trope. They are favorable to much of Putin’s growing domestic positions on issues such as the growing repression of gays in Russia, actions which they also look kindly upon and wish were social policy in the United States. Opposition to gay rights is combined with support for Putin’s attempt to build what he calls a Christian Russia, and concern for what Buchanan sees as something greatly lacking in the secular United States.  In his book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan titled two chapters “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America.” He seems to be saying, “If only we had a leader in the United States with the vision of Vladimir Putin.” Indeed, he asked in one column, “Is Putin One of Us?” His answer, as you have undoubtedly guessed, is yes:

Nor is [Putin] without an argument when we reflect on America’s embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.

Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live.

Moreover, Putin asserts, the new immorality has been imposed undemocratically.

The “destruction of traditional values” in these countries, he said, comes “from the top” and is “inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.”

Does he not have a point?

 

As he bluntly says, America is not the nation “we grew up in,” and Putin sees Americans as “pagan and wildly progressive,” a statement with which Buchanan obviously agrees.

On the Left, leading the charge that the neo-cons are again trying to push us into war — a charge they assert whenever anyone makes an analysis with which they do not agree — is The Nation magazine and its writers and editors. And the number-one supporter and apologist for Putin is the historian of modern Russia, Stephen Cohen of Princeton and New York University. In the past two weeks, he has been on Fareed Zakaria’s TV program, on CNN, and on whatever other media outlets call upon him.

In Cohen’s cover story in a recent issue of The Nation, of which his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel is both publisher and editor-in-chief,  he claimed that American media coverage of Putin and Russia is “less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.” According to Cohen, Putin has worked to support American interests in stabilizing his nuclear-armed country, assisted U.S. security interests in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, and has magnanimously freed over 1000 political prisoners.

Evidently, Professor Cohen does not acknowledge that in Syria, for example, Putin has managed to box the U.S. into working with and bolstering the Assad regime, to which Russia constantly gives new battle-ready helicopters, and which to this day has brutally seen to the horrendous deaths of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, all brought down with Russian assistance. We are somehow supposed to believe that this is in our security interests.

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The latest shame of the academy is a vote by the Rutgers University New Brunswick Faculty Council calling on the administration to rescind its invitation to Condoleezza Rice as the speaker at the university’s graduation ceremonies. Rice is scheduled to give the commencement address this coming May. The professors explained their position in these words:

Condoleezza Rice … played a prominent role in (the Bush) administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. [She] at the very least condoned the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding. A Commencement speaker … should embody moral authority and exemplary citizenship. An honorary Doctor of Laws degree should not honor someone who participated in a political effort to circumvent the law.

No one called out the lack of tolerance for any view different than their own other than columnist Juan Williams. The African-American liberal journalist, himself a veteran of the civil rights movement and author of the classic Eyes on the Prize, was simply enraged at the faculty council’s statement and vote. Williams wrote:

Rice holds a Ph.D. in political science. She has taught college for decades. She was Provost of Stanford University. She worked her way up from a working-class family in the segregated South to the highest echelon of world power and politics.

But according to the Rutgers faculty council, all of that is negated by her service in President George W. Bush’s administration.

Williams disagreed with many of the positions Rice took as national security advisor and secretary of State under George W. Bush. Nevertheless, Williams says that she deserves the honor, and that her life and career should be an inspiration to all students, as her life “personifies the American dream.” The decision, he added, is simply one that stems from a “disgraceful double standard” by liberals, who have nothing but “hatred for black conservatives.”

Indeed, he writes: “Black Americans must be obedient liberals on all things or risk being called a race traitor or an Uncle Tom.”

Williams asks a rhetorical question: Is the faculty afraid to hear her views because they might not be equipped to refute them? The answer is “of course.” They believe that only leftist views — i.e., the truth as they see it — should be heard by those they teach. Why confuse inquiring minds with ways to see the world that are different than those of the Left?

Those opposing her, he writes, are nothing but “pompous jackass professors.”

For more evidence that many professors — in this case, historians — are exactly what Williams calls them, note the second farce to appear in recent days: an amicus curiae brief in a case before the Supreme Court, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. John Rosenberg has written a first-rate contribution dissecting the fallacies of those who support affirmative action — you can read his long version here, and a shorter one at Minding the CampusHere is the gist of his answer about what affirmative action results in on a campus, and why it is a completely wrong-headed policy:

Under affirmative action preferred minorities are, of course, given preferential treatment because of their race or ethnicity, but the rationale for the preference is not to benefit the minorities but the whites and Asians who are exposed to them. “White students interacting with African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans sometimes come with stereotypes about these minorities,” Lee Bollinger, former president of the University of Michigan, told the Michigan Daily (quoted here). ”That kind of breaking down of expectations is the essence of what a liberal education is all about.” Bollinger did not address the evidence that admitting less qualified minorities who proceed to cluster at the bottom of their classes actually reinforces stereotypes of underperforming minorities.

Rushing to defend affirmative action, the brief by 75 historians was written to help the policy’s advocates in an effort to convince the justices of the Supreme Court why affirmative action should be upheld. Among the 75 are leading lights of the left-wing academy, including the red-diaper baby at Columbia Eric Foner Henry Louis Gates of Harvard, Annette Gordon-Reed of Harvard, Glenda Gilmore of Yale, Ira Berlin of the Univ. of Maryland, and many other scholars of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

The list is made up, one might say, of the big guns in the history profession. Basing their case on the 14th Amendment, they argue:

The history surrounding the Fourteenth Amendment demonstrates that the Amendment’s Framers intended to eliminate special burdens on racial minorities’ ability to seek legislative change such as the enactment of race-conscious affirmative action. 
In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, newly freed slaves found themselves unable to influence the legislatures of the former Confederate states. On one side, freedmen were bounded by Northerners, some of whom were not yet interested in granting blacks the franchise. 
On the other side, freedmen who sought to persuade their neighbors and countrymen to support their reform initiatives and policy goals faced systematic exclusion, as well as outright violence, from Southern Democrats and former Confederates hostile to the notion of black freedom — let alone self- determination. Northern blacks, most Northern white Republicans, and the small number of white Republicans and Unionists who lived in the South supported the freedmen’s efforts.

They are claiming, in other words, that the 14th Amendment is violated by a state when the legislature passes a law prohibiting preferential treatment based on race. But the historians in their brief are addressing history to try to prove affirmative action is necessary. In particular, they refer to what took place after the end of the Civil War. Schools in the Reconstruction states were created for the “freedmen,” which they argue proves that “race-conscious” actions were not intended to be prohibited by the 14th Amendment.

Actually, the policies enacted then were meant to prohibit discrimination based on “previous condition of servitude,” i.e., slavery — and race was not used as a criterion for the schools of the time. Yes, the slaves were black — but those who opposed it opposed slavery per se, not just slavery when imposed on blacks. The language used in particular avoided racial categorization.

The historians argue: “[T]he Amendment precludes a state from imposing special burdens on a minority group’s ability to access the political process.” So, the real question rests on whether or not a university can demand standards for admission that all students must meet before being admitted, or whether such standards can be lowered for those who happen to be in a racial group other than white — and who would not be admitted if the standards for most high school graduates were imposed on them.

Is being subject to the same standards as whites or Asians really a “special burden,” since it would demand equal treatment by all, not special treatment for those of one racial group?

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by Ron and Allis Radosh

At the AIPAC final session this morning, the 14,000 delegates heard two powerful speeches. The first was delivered by Robert Menendez, the Democratic senator from New Jersey and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and the second was given by the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. He came to AIPAC a day after his meeting with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and others in the administration.

Netanyahu’s speech took place not only after his meeting with the president, but two days after President Obama, in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, publicly chastised him. At that meeting, the president took what Goldberg termed a “sharper view.” Goldberg:

“[Obama argued] that if Netanyahu ‘does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach.’ He added,  ‘It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.’”

Netanyahu’s speech was made within that context. Without specifically addressing the president’s remarks, Netanyahu made it clear that it was both in the United States and Israel’s interest to maintain our alliance, and to stand together as one in addressing the threats facing both democracies. But when it came to specifics, both he and Menendez made clear their disagreement with Obama on one critical issue — Obama’s claim that he was right to “to fight a congressional effort to impose more time-delayed sanctions on Iran just as nuclear negotiations were commencing.”

He came to draw a red line, Netanyahu told AIPAC, “between life and death, right and wrong,” between the “blessings of a brilliant future and the curses of a dark past.” Israel, he stressed, was a humane, compassionate nation and a force for good in the world, one that comprehended the dividing line between “decency and depravity.” He recounted how Israeli field hospitals treated Palestinians from Gaza and refugees from Syria, while Iran sends rockets, terrorism and missiles abroad, executes political prisoners, and represses millions in the brutal theocracy run by the mullahs.

Quoting the head of Hezbollah, who said “Iran loves death and Israel loves life” and that was why Iran would win, Netanyahu responded that the first part of his statement was correct, but the second was wrong — Israel would win that fight.

Turning to Iran’s nuclear program, he asked how Iran can claim it wants only nuclear power while they are building ICBMs that could reach the United States and carry a nuclear payload.

Netanyahu presented Iran’s program as a danger both to the U.S. and to Israel, and why the goal is to get rid of its stockpiles, its centrifuges, and its heavy water reactors. All of those are not needed for electricity, and only for a military nuclear capability.

The world powers — and clearly he included the United States — seemed content, he said, with leaving Iran with the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran would then be able to rapidly develop that goal if an agreement fell apart, and could do so as the world looked elsewhere.

As the leader of Israel, he said he would see to it that the Jewish people would “never be brought to the brink of extinction again,” and that he would do what was necessary to defend “the Jewish state of Israel.”

Of course, he said — addressing both Kerry’s argument and Obama’s — Israel wants diplomacy to succeed. But Iran’s threat, he cautioned, “could not be eliminated by any agreement at all,” only one “that forces Iran to dismantle its nuclear capability.”

That goal could be achieved not by relieving pressure on Iran, but by adding pressure. He said Iran came to the table only when pressure was applied, and only more pressure — not less — would get them to abandon their goal of military nuclear capability. Lessening sanctions and pressure would make war more likely. “The greater the pressure on Iran,” he said, “the smaller the chance that force will have to be used.”

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by Ron Radosh and Allis Radosh

At the AIPAC final session this morning, the 14,000 delegates heard two powerful speeches — the first from Senator Robert Menendez, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, and the second from the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who came to AIPAC a day after his meeting with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and others in the administration.

Netanyahu’s speech took place not only after his meeting with the president, but two days after President Obama, in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, publicly chastised the Israeli prime minister. At that meeting, the president took what Goldberg termed a “sharper view,” arguing “that if Netanyahu ‘does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach.’ He added,  ‘It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.’”

Netanyahu’s speech was made within that context. Without specifically addressing the president’s remarks, Netanyahu made it clear that he realized it was in the interest of both the United States and Israel to maintain our alliance, and to stand together as one in addressing the threats facing both democracies. But when it came to specifics, both he and Menendez made clear their disagreement on one critical issue — Obama’s claim that he was right to “to fight a congressional effort to impose more time-delayed sanctions on Iran just as nuclear negotiations were commencing.”

He came to draw a red line, Netanyahu told AIPAC, a line “between life and death, right and wrong,” between the “blessings of a brilliant future and the curses of a dark past.” Israel, he stressed, was a humane, compassionate nation and a force for good in the world, one that comprehended the dividing line between “decency and depravity.”  The prime minister recounted how Israeli field hospitals treated Palestinians from Gaza and refugees from Syria, while Iran sent rockets, terrorism and missiles abroad, while executing political prisoners and repressing millions in the brutal theocracy run by the mullahs.

Quoting the head of Hezbollah, who said “Iran loves death and Israel loves life” and that was why they would win, Netanyahu responded that the first part of his statement was correct, but the second was wrong — and that it was Israel who would win that fight. Turning to Iran’s nuclear program, he stressed that despite Iran’s claim it wanted only peaceful nuclear power, why were they building ICBMs that could reach the United States and were meant to carry a nuclear payload? That desire is a danger both to the U.S. and Israel, and that is why it had to have as its goal getting rid of its stockpiles and its centrifuges and heavy water reactors — all of which were not needed for simply peaceful purposes. Iran’s goal, as he understood it, was to develop a military nuclear capability.

The world powers — and clearly that includes the United States — seemed content, he said, with leaving Iran with the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon. They would then be able to rapidly develop that goal if an agreement fell apart, and could do so as the world looked elsewhere.

As the leader of Israel, he said, he would see to it that the Jewish people would “never be brought to the brink of extinction again.” He would do what is necessary to defend “the Jewish state of Israel.” Of course, he said — addressing both Kerry’s argument  before AIPAC the day before as well as that of Obama — Israel wants diplomacy to succeed. But Iran’s threat, he cautioned, “could not be eliminated by any agreement at all,” only one “that forces Iran to dismantle its nuclear capability.” That goal could be achieved not by relieving pressure on Iran, but by adding pressure. Iran came to the table, he said, only when pressure was applied, and only more pressure — not less — would get them to abandon their goal of military nuclear capability. The other position — lessening sanctions and pressure — would make war more likely. “The greater the pressure on Iran,” he said, “the smaller the chance that force will have to be used.”

On the issue of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu agreed that peace would be good for both sides. It could lead to developing ties with the other Arab nations, many of whose rulers realize now that Israel is not their enemy, and that they, in conjunction with the Gulf states, would catapult the economic and social development of the entire region moving forward, resolving major problems of both water supply and energy. On that point, he was agreeing with the outlook and argument made earlier by Secretary Kerry. The lives of millions in the Middle East, he said, would be made better.

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Writing in The New Republic, John B. Judis offered an answer to his critics — me, Rick Richman in Commentary, and Jordan C. Hirsch in the Wall Street Journal. Richman has already responded in detail at Commentary, and I will not repeat what I consider to be his devastating critique of Judis.

Judis accuses all of us of writing “condemnatory reviews.” Actually, Judis avoided answering my review in the Jewish Review of Books; instead he linked to an op-ed I was asked to write by the editorial page editor of the Jerusalem Post, who said he wanted to acquaint Israeli readers with Judis’ book and to explain why it was important. Judis knows the difference between an op-ed and a review, and yet he chose to call my column a review, although my actual review was already online when he wrote his answer.

What Judis does in his answer and throughout his book is to take the approach of Israel’s anti-Israel historians, Israel’s equivalent to those historians who follow Howard Zinn in the United States. These so-called “new historians,” historian Efraim Karsh explains, are “politicized historians” who have “turned the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims and vice-versa.” Omitted, always, is the desire of the Arabs to push all the Jews out of Palestine, preferably into the sea, and to do all in their power to prevent the creation of a Jewish state.

1. What Happened in Hebron in 1929

Judis says that I falsely accuse him of writing an apologia for the Hebron massacre in 1929, when in reality he did not play down or justify the massacre. In his eyes, the Arabs were indigenous to the region, while the Jews were “settler-colonialists.” If this were the case, one would not be surprised that he would think the Jews brought Arab hostility on themselves: as he so crudely puts it in various places in his book, the Jews “screwed the Arabs” out of land that was rightfully theirs.

For example, Judis writes that from the 1890s on, “when Zionists first settled in Palestine with the express purpose of creating a Jewish state where Arabs had lived for centuries … the responsibility for the conflict lay primarily with the Zionists. They initiated it by migrating to Palestine with the purpose of establishing a Jewish state that would rule the native Arab population.” (My emphasis.)

Judis neglects to acknowledge that Palestine had been the homeland of the Jews for centuries prior to the 1890s, as Lee  S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin write in The Algemeiner. The intention of the Zionists, as Vladimir Jabotinsky wrote, was definitely not to settle in Palestine in order to subjugate the Arab population.

It is not surprising that Judis downplays the significance of fierce Arab attacks against Jews. What he does write — and what he leaves out of his response — is his claim that the 1929 events were caused by Revisionist Zionists marching to the Arab section of Jerusalem yelling “the wall is ours!”, and carrying the Zionist flag. It was their march to the home of the anti-Semitic Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, according to Judis, that “set off demonstrations that degenerated into large scale riots.”

If he had read the works of other scholars instead of the Arabists he cites in his footnotes, he would find the true reasons.

Efraim Karsh points out in Palestine Betrayed, a book which Judis obviously has not read, that it was the mufti who “utilized the immense inflammatory potential of Islam … and its deep anti-Jewish sentiment” to inflame the population against the Jews. The mufti had distributed copies of  The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the Arab population in the early 1920s, something Judis somehow fails to mention. He simply writes that Hebron was proof of Jabotinsky’s admonition that “the ends of Zionism justified the means.”

Judis might also have looked at the book by historian Stephen Norwood, Anti-Semitism and the American Far Left. Norwood writes that the 1929 events were “aroused by the virulently anti-Semitic harangues of the grand mufti of Jerusalem.”

Norwood’s accurate description, had Judis cited it, would make clear on whom the responsibility lay for the attacks on the Jews. Moreover, it would have revealed to readers just what the Arabs did. Norwood writes:

Arab mobs armed with swords and axes, knives, sledgehammers, iron bars, and stones, screaming “Allah is Great … Kill the Jews!” attacked Jews in Hebron, Jerusalem, Safed, Haifa, Jaffa and even Tel Aviv, as well as many Jewish agricultural settlements. They broke into Jewish homes and massacred men and women — including the elderly and children, some of them less than five years old. The Arabs’s savagery was unrestrained. The pogromists beheaded some of their victims with axes and chopped off hands. They gouged out the eyes of a Jewish pharmacist in Hebron while he was still alive and then murdered him.

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We did not have to wait long to see how The Nation, the flagship publication of the American Left, would respond to the events in Venezuela. And no one has put it as well as one of its contributing editors, Marc Cooper. He posted the following on his Facebook page:

Here we go again. After winding up on the wrong side of Ukrainian history this week, The Nation magazine … now calls for the Venezuelan government to take a MORE radical line and rather stupidly argues that the current student protests are simply a mechanism to return the “elites” to power. As if Chavismo has not created a new elite! This piece also brims with the usual claptrap about the revolutionary and democratic process. Yada yada yada, What a lack of courage and honesty! And people wonder why the U.S. Left is impotent and irrelevant?

Cooper is referring to the article on The Nation’s website by George Ciccariello-Maher, an assistant professor of political science at Drexel University. (God help the students subjected to his teaching.) Ciccariello-Maher wants his readers not to “be excited by people on the streets,” as Nation writers always are when the event is something like Occupy Wall Street. The thousands protesting against the Castroite tyranny emerging in Venezuela are not, he writes, “simply the latest act in an upsurge of world-historic proportions.” Rather, “these protests have far more to do with returning economic and political elites to power.”

The collapse of the economy as oil prices fall, the inability to obtain common goods like toilet paper, the rampaging inflation that is destroying the ability of middle-class and working-class folk to buy goods — all this is evidently not anything to be concerned about. What Chavismo has created is, to the Nation writer, a movement of “radical social movements against a repressive, neoliberal state.”

To the Left, as this article makes clear, repression exists in an actual democratic polity, when people are free to speak their minds, opposition political leaders are allowed to challenge the power of the existing leaders in free elections, and when freedom of the press exists. The closing down of opposition newspapers, the arrest of journalists, and the suppression of TV networks that reported the actual news and not Chavista propaganda? Not repression. That is simply seeing to it that the truth as defined by the Left is the only thing the rulers allow the citizens to hear.

This outlook stems from the philosophical double-talk of the influential Frankfurt School scholar, the late Herbert Marcuse, from whom the New Left learned that there was supposedly something called “repressive tolerance.” According to Marcuse, the people’s forces fighting for socialist revolution had the right and duty to suppress propaganda made by the capitalist ruling class. Once the voice of the right-wing was forbidden — right-wing defined as anyone opposed to leftists — then the people could learn the truth.  Or as The Nation journalist-professor puts it:

For decades, armed guerrillas, peasants and workers, women, Afro- and indigenous Venezuelans, students and the urban poor struggled against a system that — while formally democratic — was far from it in practice.

You know that Lopez is a monster of the ruling class. The proof? He received funding for the building of a democratic civil society in Venezuela from the bipartisan U.S. institution funded by Congress, the National Endowment for Democracy! The NED, as long-time readers of The Nation know, is a decades-long bugaboo of the American Left. After all, it also funded opposition to the dissidents in Eastern Europe during the waning days of the Cold War. What better proof could you want?

In this manner, Ciccariello-Maher becomes another one of those journalists described in the Daily Beast by Michael P. Moynihan, one of “Venezuela’s Useful Idiots.” As Moynihan writes, “All over the internet, one finds a seemingly inexhaustible supply of useful idiots and Sandinista nostalgists willing to contextualize the disastrous Bolivarian Revolution.” Moynihan presents wonderful examples of how other writers are rationalizing the growing repression of the would-be totalitarians anxious to copy the regime of the Castro brothers in Cuba.

He cites a Huffington Post writer who tells his leftist audience that the Venezuelan economy is doing well. The reality is that capital is fleeing the country, the shelves in the supermarkets are bare, and inflation is skyrocketing. But to say the opposite is anti-revolutionary. Who cares what the reality is? My favorite anecdote in his article is the report about the headline in the British Guardian that informs its readers: “Venezuela’s hardliner reappears as Nicolas Maduro expels US officials.” The “hardliner” here is not Maduro, but none other than the now-jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

The British paper’s editorial actually attacks Barack Obama as a neo-con, who in their eyes is supporting “regime change” in Venezuela. If only that were the case.

Returning to The Nation article, one must note the description of Chavista armed thugs, called “the radical sectors of Chavismo,” who ride through the streets on motorcycles, wear red shirts, and are “poor-looking or dark-skinned.” Rather than goons spreading terror to dissuade protestors from gathering, they are described by Professor Ciccariello-Maher as “popular grassroots organizers” who are “the most direct, organic expressions of the wretched of the Venezuelan earth.” He calls them representative of “the most independent sectors of the revolution … those most familiar with the repressive force of the state.”

Don’t be confused. He is referring to those who held power before the coup led by the late Hugo Chavez, who represents real democracy. Nothing the state now led by Maduro does is, of course, repressive.

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Will Venezuela Follow Ukraine?

February 22nd, 2014 - 10:05 am

Cuban troops

As the world focuses on the demonstrations and “Day of Liberation” in Kiev, as the oppressive regime in Ukraine has fled to areas in which they have support, events closer to the United States are also flaring up.

While the demonstrations against the leftist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro continue in Venezuela, news has arrived that a new group of Cuban troops has arrived in Caracas to help the regime defeat the protestors.  As PJ Media contributor Alberto de la Cruz reports at Babalu, the anti-Castro website, these troops are in fact “simply joining the thousands of other Cuban soldiers already stationed in the Cuban pseudo-colony.”  Recently, Raul Castro threatened to unleash these troops to help the Maduro regime stay in power.

The situation in Venezuela is producing a serious opposition, which now includes both students and regular middle-class Venezuelans, as this report from Al Jazeera reveals. In the city of San Cristobal, where the protests began, Caracas Chronicles reports that many sections have fallen out of control of the regime.

The response of Maduro and his cronies, Reuters reports, is of the usual leftist variety: “Small fascist groups” are working in league with the United States to overthrow the government. Maduro is the same leader who recently told Venezuelans, Michael P. Moynihan writes, that he has seen Hugo Chavez appear to him in the form of a bird, as well as having spotted his ghost lingering in the Caracas subway. We know, of course, that this could not be true, since Maduro would no longer be caught dead in the subway — preferring to ride through his occupied capital in a bullet-proof car protected by his troops.

Last week, Maduro had the popular opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez arrested and thrown in jail, where he is awaiting trial on the charge that he has incited the crowds to riot, is guilty of homicide, and, finally, that he is a terrorist. We all know what the outcome of that trial will be. “The fascist right-wing,” Maduro told a crowd of organized supporters, is finally “in the hands of justice.” Maduro continued to tell his small rally that “we have been informed that the ultra-right wing of Venezuela, in tandem with the ultra-right wing of Miami, apropos the bench warrant, activated foreign groups to find and kill [Lopez] so as to fuel a political crisis and lead us to civil war.”

To translate: Maduro, whose regime has done everything to stifle a democratic opposition from being heard, including the recent murders of demonstrators by the regime’s police, is now claiming that they are in fact, by arresting Lopez, protecting him from the wrath of other of his fascist followers! Just like when Stalin had one of his agents assassinate Leon Trotsky, in exile in Mexico, by wielding an ice-ax to his skull, he was protecting the people from Trotsky’s supposed coming alliance with Hitler to overthrow Stalin’s workers’ paradise.

So far, the ranks of the American leftwing have been relatively silent, except for one voice, as you’ll see on the next page.

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