Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goofy Republicans and the Jewish Vote

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

This year the Republicans have been making a huge push for the Jewish vote AND with that Jewish Campaign Donations. Because of that, we see a myriad of strange attacks none of which are fact based, and all of which ignore the traditional liberal nature of the American Jewish Polity.

Many of these attacks center on the U.S. relationship with Israel and/or how President Obama has slighted Israel in some way by either originally supporting forces of change  in the Arab World, working with the changes that have been wrought by the mass revolts of the "Arab Spring", or has stuck to the position of every American Government since 1967 with regards to secure borders and the land captured from Jordan in the Six Day War. And of course, one of these slights has been not responding to every single incident that the Israeli Right (and their supporters here) have determined to be anti-Semitic (and these incidents may be and are anti-Semitic but the President of the U.S. has other things to worry about than issuing condemnations regarding every single thing broadcast on Palestinian Authority or Hamas T.V.).

Hopefully, the American Jewish community which has traditionally been quite liberal is not going to buy this crap.

Lately we see the ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) sufferers on the Right,  just getting silly and spewing (and I mean spewing) nonsense like, continuing to call President Obama a secret Muslim, saying that he loves and enables "radical genocidal jihad", blaming him for the breakdown in talks in the Middle East, straight out calling Democrats anti-Semites and generally urging the American Jewish Community to turn to the Right and actually vote for Republicans this year.... all the while claiming they are still "liberal".

Of course what makes this nonsensical (aside from the fact that it is not true) is that nothing says "liberal" like ending affordable Healthcare, pushing for an end to Medicare, taxing the Middle Class and Poor while relieving the Ultra Wealthy of all tax burdens, undoing Roe v. Wade, Gutting the environment and on and on and on. (/snark)

AND THAT'S WHAT THESE NITWITS ARE VOTING FOR WHEN THEY VOTE REPUBLICAN! and yet amazingly they call themselves "Liberals"

They simply seem to forget that President Obama:

1. Is the First President ever to hold a Seder in the White House.

2. Is the First President to declare a month of the year "Jewish History Month" (May 2011).

3. Has increased aid and cooperation with/to Israel beyond a measure of any other President and has been termed by the Israeli President (Shimon Peres) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak as an "EXCEPTIONAL FRIEND" to Israeli Security

and on and on and on.

Yet, "The Derangers" (as we call them) yell... But, but, but.... "He is an anti-Semite".

It simply boggles the mind just what these fools come up with.

Of course, many of them seem to love Newt Gingrich because of his rabid denials of Palestinian peoplehood and his ties to the Israeli Hard Right YET... I haven't seen anyone of them commenting on any blog regarding the fact that he has not denounced this incident that happened at a church service that he was attending:
Inside, the topic of the evening discussion, led by Joel Rosenberg, a novelist who writes about Islamic terrorism, focused partially on how to convert Jews to the faith.
 "As a Jewish person," Rosenberg, who was raised by a Jewish father and a Gentile mother, "our people really didn't get it the first time Jesus came."
He urged the audience not to be bashful, and to act quickly in case the End Times were nigh. "I know you know Jewish people," he told them. "You have an accountant, you have a lawyer..."
HEY Derangers... where are your calls for Newt condemn this anti-Semitic bullshit? Eh, anyone... anyone.....

The President of the United States has the people of the United States and U.S. Alliances to worry about. Gestures like not moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or denying Palestinian history really don't amount to much considering his responsibilities and quite honestly his actions which prove beyond a doubt that he is supportive of our friendship with Israel.

But for these wanna-be Republicans I guess they will not like the following news from Nate Silver
7:29 P.M. |Jewish Turnout Low in Florida There has been some speculation that Democrats could struggle to hold the Jewish vote in 2012. They had struggled, for instance, in the special election in New York's 9th Congressional District in 2011, which has a heavy Orthodox Jewish population.
But there is no sign tonight of Jewish voters switching their registration over to the Republican side in Florida. According to early exit polls, just 1 percent of voters in tonight's Republican primary identified as Jewish. That's down from 3 percent in the Florida Republican primary in 2008, which also might mean that Jewish Republican voters in the state are not terribly enthusiastic about this group of candidates. Jewish turnout in general elections in Florida is normally about 4 percent
and then there is this:

I guess that President Obama is having such trouble with Jewish support that one of his top bundlers is the chairman of the American Jewish Congress
Among the newly named bundlers who have raised at least $500,000 or more for the Obama re-election are Marc Benioff, a Silicon Valley computer tycoon who founded Salesforce.com and hosted a fundraiser for the president at his home last spring; Jack Rosen, a prominent New York real estate developer who is chairman of the American Jewish Congress; and Kawana Brown, the chief operating officer of Magic Johnson Enterprises.
OH YEAH and according to the American Jewish Committee Poll 2011 (widely considered to be an accurate read on Jewish Political trends), while Jews do not identify as Democrats as much as they did in 2008 (54% to 46%), Republicans have not picked up anything and in fact, are down 1% in their support. Much of that support is now identified as "Independent", but if trends continue President Obama should still end up with close to 73% of the Jewish vote.

However it is important to continue to fight the misinformation, poor framing, and outright lies spread by the Republicans and their supporters/enablers in order to try to win enough of the Jewish vote away from the President particularly in States like Florida and Pennsylvania, where the President will need every vote that he can get.

As Mets102 so correctly wrote: Jewish values are Democratic Values and they are.These faux "liberals" (hey they claim David Horowitz is a "liberal" that is how far outside of rationality they are) don't represent anything but a wish list of Hard Rightists who are more worried about voting against a guy whose middle name is Hussein then they are with supporting Israel in fact or recognizing that President Obama is a true friend to Jewish Americans.

For me, and hopefully many of my Jewish brothers and sisters it will be OBAMA 2012!

Monday, January 30, 2012

UK Academic Union Rejected EU Definition of Antisemitism

This story is slightly old but it is the first I have been made aware of it:

Mirroring the less credentialed antisemites and Israel derangers who blog from basements, Britain's largest trade union of academics, the University College Union (UCU), has voted to disassociate itself from the European Union working definition of anti-Semitism.

The reasoning given by this union of PhDs is the same that one encounters from the barely literate Israel-derangers in the blogging world, namely that accusations of antisemitism prevents "legitimate criticism" of Israel. The objection must relate to this portion of the EU definition of antisemitism:

• Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
• Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.


It is obvious why antisemites and Israel-derangers don't like this definition - it implies that singling the Jewish people out as not deserving self-determination is antisemitic, which it of course is.

Because Israel is the subject of incessant criticism from certain supposedly progressive and academic quarters repeatedly day after day, far out of proportion to its tiny size and without any recognition of the complexity of issues involved with the Israeli-Arab conflict, I find it the height of dishonesty and banality for anyone to claim that criticism of Israel is being in any way prevented or stifled. Criticism of Israel is indeed a full time job and obsession for too much of the world, whether the halls of the academic humanities, or in the basements of suburban houses where keyboard warriors ply their trade.

Whether one is a substitute kindergarten teacher in Pittsburgh or a PhD at one of Britain's top institutions, Israel obsession and excessive demonization is antisemitic. And of course, Israel derangers don't stop there - they routinely accuse their Jewish countrymen of being more loyal to Israel, and of controlling the media and government. These things are virulently antisemitic, and this prejudice is uniquely allowed to flourish in certain quarters of the academy.

I hope that Britain's silent majority of reasonable academics reject what the UCU has done. As someone who spent an extended research visit in the UK - albeit in a science and not the humanities - my experience was that the academic environment there was not at all compromised by Israel derangement and that the faculty, postdocs, and others were politically moderate, reasonable, and inclusive. I believe that the UCU does not speak for British academia as a whole, and I hope that they are marginalized by this step.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Religious Newspaper Publishes Op-Ed Blasting Reparative Therapy

Chaim Levin wrote an op-ed published in yesterday's Jewish Press detailing his experiences in reparative therapy and criticizing the concept as a whole. While such detailing and criticism is not unique, the forum is. The Jewish Press is an Orthodox Jewish newspaper that is politically and culturally conservative. Its publication of Levin's op-ed speaks to the profound shift that is occurring with respect to homosexuality within some parts of the Modern Orthodox community.

While formally maintaining the Biblical proscription on homosexual behavior, some prominent communal leaders have begun to take a more nuanced view with it perhaps best being described along the lines of "hate the sin, love the sinner." However, as with any religious dispute, there has been push back against the liberalized positions. It is within this context Levin's op-ed has come about and which makes theJewish Press' decision to publish his op-ed so remarkable.

Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out reported the imminent publication of Levin's op-ed on Tuesday. Explaining the significance of its publication in the Jewish Press, Levin stated:

“The Jewish Press column is monumental because this is the first time that a national religious orthodox newspaper is printing an article that portrays gay people in a positive light,” Levin told Truth Wins Out. “Traditionally, this newspaper does not have a favorable LGBT record and it is a big step to allow me to share my story of being bullied, shamed, and abused for being gay.”
Before I discuss Levin's op-ed, let me first discuss the Statement of Principles I mention above. While nearly all of us here, myself included, have profound disagreements with some of its contents, its importance as a marker of progress cannot be understated. In that sense, it is a truly remarkable document, both in its acceptance of modern science regarding sexuality and the commitment, and commandment, to treat all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, with respect and dignity. I encourage everyone to read the full statement, but here are what I consider some key excerpts acknowledging the rights of the individual to autonomy, respect and dignity:


The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.

We affirm the religious right of those with a homosexual orientation to reject therapeutic approaches they reasonably see as useless or dangerous.

But communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews in the synagogue and school setting, and we encourage parents and family of homosexually partnered Jews to make every effort to maintain harmonious family relations and connections.
Now, onto Chaim Levin's piece. I wish I could quote more of it here, but, unfortunately, that would run afoul of fair use rules. Instead, I will restrict myself to quoting what I consider the most significant and compelling parts and encourage everyone to head over and read the piece in its entirety. It is excellently written and conveys the anguish he has felt and the simple demand that he be afforded the same individual respect and dignity any other member of the community would be afforded.

Describing his experience with attempts to change his sexuality, Levin writes:


After much time and research I found a well-known organization that “specialized” in reparative therapy. This organization had endorsements from a wide range of rabbanim and I was sure that it was the answer to all my problems. The organization’s executive director told me that he believes everyone can change if they simply put in the hard work. I would have done anything to change, and this message was just the hope I was looking for. I spent two years attending every group meeting, weekend, and individual life coaching sessions they offered. My parents and I paid thousands of dollars. Every day, every session, I was working and waiting to feel a shift in my desires or experience authentic change. That moment never came. I didn’t change, I never developed any sexual desire for women, and never stopped being attracted to men. Instead, I only felt more and more helpless because I wasn’t changing. The organization and its staff taught us that change only comes to those who truly want it and are willing to put in the work. So if I wasn’t changing, I was seen as someone who either really didn’t sincerely want it, or would not put in the necessary work. In other words, there was no one to blame but myself.
While Levin's written words are extremely powerful, the spoken words of his experience, along with those of Ben Unger, who attempted to change his sexuality through the "help" of the same "life coach" as Levin, are equally, if not more, compelling.



Levin's conclusion is extremely powerful. It is about basic human decency and kindness and a reminder that we should not judge others simply for being honest about themselves (all emphasis my own):


This is not an appeal to change halacha or anyone’s political views. This is not a push for gay marriage or any legitimizing of gay marriage within Orthodoxy. I am simply asking my community not to judge. Remember the compassion we show to the agunah [most frequently, a woman whose husband will not grant her a religious divorce], who may also desire something that is halachically prohibited through no fault of her own. Similarly, why pressure someone to participate in a program or therapy that they may have laredy tried or which causes harm. Just because someone is honest about being gay, does not mean that he engages in any sin or chillul Hashem [desecrating the name of G-d]. No one should feel silenced or asked to lie about who they are. Abuse and cruelty should never be tolerated or ignored. We should assume the best about people’s actions and intentions and ask Hashem for guidance in situations where we do not have easy answers. A little humility goes a long way. Sometimes the kindest and most thoughtful response when it comes to very difficult situations is, “I don’t know, but I’m here for you because you are part of my family and community.”

As I stated above, that this appeared in the Jewish Press is significant. It is a major newspaper of the Orthodox community, specifically, and not the more liberal broader Jewish community as a whole. By publishing this, they are no longer completely sweeping the issue under the rug. While most of the readership is unlikely to agree with any or most of what Chaim Levin writes, his words will still be there to read. A mere five years ago, this would have never reached publication. At least some change is occurring.

Nonetheless, there is still a long way to go. There is, most likely, a chasm which will never be completely bridged. However, on a personal level, things can change. That is what I believe we are now seeing. Levin wrote that even though he lacked legal recourse he still possessed his voice and the ability to speak out. That is something we all have as well. We are under the obligation to use our voice and to ensure that every human being is afforded the respect and dignity that we all deserve. More than anything else, the right to respect and dignity is what this is all about.

Finally, two last things. First, for an excellent piece about identity and sexuality, let me suggest this piece, written last year, by my friend MBNYC. Second, if you have not yet seen it, let me also recommend the documentary Trembling Before G-d (link to Hulu), which describes the experiences of gays and lesbians from an Orthodox Jewish background. Some of those interviewed in the documentary remain Orthodox, while others are not.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SOTU - One Year Later, What has the President Accomplished

Originally posted at Daily Kos and reposted at volleyboy1's request

Last night while driving, I was listening to the Sirius XM Left (channel 127) Show, Make It Plain with Mark Thompson and he was quoting a piece from Think Progress titled: FACTS: The State Of The Union by Judd Legum

Given the quality of the State of the Union Address last night, I thought it would be a good thing to cite this article and bring some of these facts to any discussion to be had with Republican friends or collegues

So here are some of Pro-President Obama facts Legum cited:

Since the last SOTU, the economy has created 1.9 million private sector jobs.

Source: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Also in the Bureau of Labor Report: Government jobs FELL by 280,000 from 2010 (mostly at the State Level and with the Republican attack on the Post Office - thanks Republicans!)

Interesting footnotes:

Healthcare Employment hiring rose by 315,000
Professional and Businesses hiring rose by 420,000
Leisure Industry was up by 240,000 jobs
Manufacturing was up by 196,000 jobs

Sad Footnote: African Americans at 15.8% and Hispanic Americans at 11% unemployment rates lagged behind their Caucasion (7.3%) and Asian counterparts (6.8%) by significant margins.

Private sector job creation under Obama in 2011 was larger than seven out of the eight years Bush was president.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/01/06/399167/private-sector-best-year-since-2005/

Politifact (who is seemingly dropping the ball in fact checking lately) though disputes this BUT does have this to say:

We understand the impulse to make such adjustments, but in Pelosi’s formulation, this principle is applied unequally. If the first year of the Bush administration, which also included a recession, were excluded from her calculation-- this would have magically erased a loss of 2.4 million jobs under Bush. The next seven years of the Bush presidency would have shown a gain of nearly 1.8 million jobs, rather than a loss of 653,000 for the full eight-year period.

Interestingly, if Pelosi had started the count for each president at the beginning of the second year of their presidencies, it would not only have been more defensible methodologically, but it would have also backed up Pelosi's argument better. Leaving out the first year for each president, private-sector job growth under Obama would have been 2.4 million, compared to 1.8 million under Bush.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance

Source:http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/12/20111214d.html

HHS had this to say:

Today, the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data illustrating that the Affordable Care Act continues to significantly increase the number of young adults who have health insurance.

Because of the health care law, young adults can stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26. This policy took effect in September 2010. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that since September 2010, the percentage of adults aged 19-25 covered by a private health insurance plan increased significantly, with approximately 2.5 million more young adults with insurance coverage compared to the number of young adults who would have been insured without the law.

Also on Healthcare:

2.65 million seniors saved an average of $569 on prescriptions last year thanks to the Affordable Care Act

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2011-12-05/Medicare-prescription-drugs-health-care-law/51663580/1

The article cited in USAToday had this comment:

WASHINGTON – More than 2.65 million Medicare recipients have saved more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions this year, a $569-per-person average, while premiums have remained stable, the government plans to announce today.

That's because of the provision of the health care law that put a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the "doughnut hole," the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the drug benefit, also known as Part D.

And, as of the end of November, more than 24 million people, or about half of those with traditional Medicare, have gone in for a free annual physical or other screening exam since the rules changed this year because of the health care law.

Finally for those suffering with Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) and their overweening concern that the President is "Soft on Terror".....

“In 2011, the United States killed Al Qaeda’s most effective propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki; its operating chief, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman; and of course its founder, chief executive and spiritual leader, Osama bin Laden.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/opinion/an-upbeat-view-of-americas-bad-year.html?_r=2&ref=alqaeda

This from an editorial in the NY Times that had this to say:

Take Al Qaeda, our most consistent adversary (by their definition and ours) since the 9/11 attacks. Despite some severe missteps, we have in 10 years degraded Al Qaeda’s capabilities to the point that they are having difficulty mounting attacks against significant targets. In 2011, the United States killed Al Qaeda’s most effective propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki; its operating chief, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman; and of course its founder, chief executive and spiritual leader, Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the Arab Spring undercut the notion that political change in the Middle East requires the violent jihad that Bin Laden spent his career espousing.

The fight against extremist Islam is an impossible one in which to declare success. Yet the fact remains that while Al Qaeda began the War on Terror with a horrific assault on the foremost symbols of U.S. economic and military power, it leaves 2011 effectively leaderless, rudderless and reduced to boasting about kidnapping defenseless U.S. aid workers.

This article goes on to make some very salient points regarding actions taken by the Administration to keep our position in the world strong.

ADDITIONALLY in Legum's article there are a number of stats regarding the State of our nation and things that need to be improved. Amongst these - facts that as a Nation we are lagging in University Education, Infrastructure development, that fact that 47% of all families receiving foodstamps have working parents, since citizens united corporations are paying LESS in taxes than they are giving to Political campaigns, amongst other things.

Anyway... Please discuss
Please discuss

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why I Vote for Democrats: Jewish Values are Democratic Values

From Reuven - Cross posted at Daily Kos

Every human being is a unique individual.  We are all special.  We are all deserving of respect and dignity.  We all have the right to autonomy.  We all have a responsibility to the community, but the community also has a responsibility to all of us.  Do these Jewish values sound familiar?  They should.  These are, after all, universal values.  Regardless of our cultural heritage or our religious beliefs, we share these values.  These are common values we hold as Democrats.  That is why I am a Democrat and why I believe it so important that we vote for Democrats.

know that I have written on this before, but it does bear repeating — and I will continue to shout it at the top of my lungs so long as some continue repeating the meme that Jews are leaving the Democratic Party.  The reason we are so staunchly Democratic is because our core values are the same as those of the Democratic Party.  A few lines written or spoken by some pundits, and given excessive play in the mainstream media, does not change this fact.  It also does not change the fact that Jewish-Americans remain overwhelmingly Democratic.

Our responsibility to our fellow community members does not end the moment they leave the womb.  In fact, it only intensifies.  We have a responsibility to provide education.  We believe that every person should have a roof over their head and food on their table.  We believe that every person should be able to visit the doctor when they are ill and not worry that it will bankrupt them.  We believe that everyone is deserving of a quality education.  We believe that there is a lifelong commitment from the moment a person is born to the moment a person dies.

This commitment goes both ways.  It is not just what the community should do for the individual.  It is also the responsibility the individual has to the community.  Just as the community has a responsibility to those neediest amongst us, so too does the individual.  To answer the famous question Cain asked of G-d after he killed Abel:  Yes, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.  And being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers includes making sure that our government remembers this fact.  There is one party that understands this and there is one party that does not.

Look back through history.  Look to when workers were fighting for the right to unionize in the early twentieth century.  Look to the Civil Rights movement.  Look to many of the members of Congress who have been among the most vocal in fighting for the rights of the poor and the working class and the oppressed.  Jewish-Americans were proudly at the forefront, joining with others because we are taught our responsibility to our fellow human beings from the moment we are born.

In Jewish tradition this is part of the concept known as Tikkun Olam — Repairing the World.  That is what I describe above.  It is recognizing, and acting upon, our commitment to the community.  It is the belief that everyone has basic needs and that for those who have difficulty meeting them we have a responsibility to help.  It is recognizing that we all breathe the same air and drink the same water.  It is recognizing that when we die, we will not be able to take our money with us — and, for those of us that are religious, it is recognizing that G-d will not reward us for any wealth we accumulate, but will instead ask us, “What good have you done with the money I gave you?”

As I wrote above, these core Jewish values are also core Democratic values.  It is why my mom taught me from an early age to be a Democrat and it is why I will teach my own children, when G-d willing I have, that same lesson.  It is because when my mom taught me core Jewish values, she was also teaching me core Democratic values; and it is because when I will teach any children I may have core Jewish values, I will be teaching them core Democratic values.

If you have read my previous work, and you have made your way through all of this, now you should understand why I vote for Democrats.

Twice Again.... The Obama Administration proves it's friendship to Israel

Once again the Obama Administration shows that when it comes to Israel, it's actions of friendship speak for themselves. Even at a time where the Republicans call for a "One State Solution" which would result in the end of Israel as a Jewish Democracy and/or Jewish State, the Obama administration shows its friendship. This time let me quote the words of Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Betainu):

"The U.S. is a true friend and ally of Israel," Ayalon said. "The partnership between the two countries is a natural one. Extending the loan guarantees strengthens the international position of the Israeli economy and will allow the government to continue to raise funds at lower costs."

Why is Ayalon saying this? Haaretz is reporting that the U.S. Government (that would be the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION) is granting a Three Year Extension of Loan Guarantees to Israel.

The U.S. government has informed Israel that it will recommend that Congress approve a three-year extension of loan guarantees to Israel, worth $3.8 billion. The announcement came after several months of worry in Israel that the loan guarantees would not be extended, despite Israel's request.

Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Thomas Nides and Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Neil Wolin announced the American decision at a meeting with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Monday. According to a senior U.S. official, the two emphasized to Ayalon that the recommendation to extend the guarantees through September 2015 would receive wide support from both parties in Congress and would be approved without any problems in the near future.

Also, according to Maan News U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice told the American Jewish Committee that the "new" Security Council was no more favorably inclined towards a Palestinian State than the old Security Council but that really didn't matter because the U.S. was going to veto a Palestinian request in any case.

Rice reaffirmed the US line that a Palestinian state would come only through direct negotiations with Israel, not "through a short-cut at the United Nations."

In her remarks to the AJC, Rice stressed US backing at the United Nations for Israel. Some US Republicans have accused President Barack Obama of being insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state.

With the US election campaign heating up, one of Rice's deputies spoke publicly last week on the need for reforming UN practices, addressing another concern of Republicans who charge the Obama administration is too close to the world body.


Of course, the critics that Rice sites overlook that this Administration (the Obama Administration) has:

1. Increased funding for Israel UP AND ABOVE the levels that were set by the Bush (R) Administration

2. Funded the Iron Dome Missile Defense System in addition to already increased funding

3. Continued funding of Arrow, David's Sling, and Magic Wand Defense Systems

4. Backed Israel with the United Nations and UNESCO 100% against the Palestinians unilateral attempts at Statehood - despite world pressure to the contrary

5. Drawn praise from all spectrum's of the Israeli Polity from President, Shimon Peres to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon for their overriding support for Israeli Security

6. Interceded with the Egyptian Military to rescue the Israeli Ambassador and staff when a mob tried to harm them

7. Supported Israel against time lines in Peace negotiations and Publicly stressed direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis (the Israeli negotiating position).

8. Working to Pressure the new Egyptian Government to maintain the Israeli/Egyptian Peace Treaty

All while the Republicans are calling for a One State solution that would destroy Israel as either a Democracy or as a State.

It's pretty easy to see just whose actions are friendly to Israel and just that easy to see which party deserves the vote of American Jews who are concerned with Israel's long term security needs (that would be the Democrats in 2012).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

BRILLIANT!!!

Here is a great piece of information from the Obama Administration about it's relationship with Israel.

Despite what those with ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) screech, the President has been a true friend to both the Israeli and Jewish people.

Please take a look at this video and pass it along

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/izUkZpTft2w" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

It is hard to argue with the facts in this case.

One thing I noticed in the film was the speech from Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Betainu). I admit that I had a hard time believing that he would be in praise of the President. SO I searched for that speech and found it. Here is an excerpt from the Jerusalem Post.

"Obama remains committed to Israel as a Jewish state and even demanded answers from the Palestinians regarding the reconciliation deal with Hamas," Ayalon said at a cultural event in Holon.


"The president stood up for Israel's right to self-defense," Ayalon added, as well as "the need for defensible borders and the end to [all] claims."

The deputy foreign minister continued, "It is clear from Obama's speech that no agreement will be forced upon Israel and that unilateral measures will fail."

With yesterday's victory of the hardline Islamists in Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood got 38% and Salafist al-Nour got 29% of the popular vote), Israel's security needs become that much more paramount. Ensuring that the new rulers of Egypt adhere to the Peace Treaty (which no one is sure yet what they will do) is of Prime Importance. Particularly with Hamas/Egyptian ties growing and Hamas/Iran-Syria ties diminishing. Hamas is most likely going to try to provoke something unless the Egyptians rein them in.

The President and his administration have done everything possible to affect this - though American leadership has not met with the Salafists (who have been compared to the Taliban). According to the administration, their course of action (and this makes perfect sense) is to judge what the Egyptian Government actually does and base policy decisions on that. But unless they are "in the game" they have no way to affect change. As the article cited below mentions... the U.S. is heavily involved for precisely this reason as well as has been involved in getting assurances from the Egyptians.

Referring to a recent on the Muslim Brotherhood member interview with Al Hayat, where he said that the treaty with Israel is not binding, Nuland said: "We’ve seen this press report. I would say that it is one member of the Muslim Brotherhood. We have‬ had other assurances from the party with regard to their commitment not only to universal human rights, but to the international obligations that the Government of Egypt has undertaken."
         
The U.S. official added by saying that, "as we’ve said again and again, not only with regard to Egypt but with regard to other states in that region in transition, we expect that legitimate parties will not only support universal human rights, but will also continue to support international obligations made by their governments they have made commitments to us along those regards, and as I said, we will judge these parties by what they do."

Nuland's comments came after last month top Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei told Iran's Fars news agency that the United States is engaged in secret talks with Egypt's ruling military council geared at ensuring that the country's democratically elected regime will maintain its peace treaty with Israel.

"The negotiations were completely secret and confidential," ElBaradei told Fars, adding that what the ruling military indicated "said was that the talks were about bilateral and mutual relations, but I believe that Americans wanted to ensure that the deals signed between Egypt and Israel will remain intact if Islamists ascend to power."

Anyhow, Please take a look at the video - or the link that is posted. It is campaign material and so should be viewed in that light - but it is very effective and it is all true.

WELL DONE BY TEAM OBAMA!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Republicans Betray Israel and Jewish People, Seek One State Solution to Conflict in the Middle East

The RNC has continued to show how the Republican Party is no friend to either the Jewish People or the State of Israel. In their latest move the RNC has done the unthinkable and endorsed the One State Solution as a plan for Peace in the Middle East.

Here is the text, plain as day:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of this body support Israel in their natural and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon their own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and that peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people.

AND when questioned by blogger Mitchell Plitkin about it had this to say:

Me: Dear Ms. Costa,[...] I just wanted to check with you that this was in fact an officially adopted RNC resolution. Can you please let me know? Thanks.
Costa: Yes it was adopted unanimously by the RNC last Friday at our winter meeting in New Orleans. Cindy

The text of the resolution is as follows:

AN RNC RESOLUTION TO COMMEND THE NATION OF ISRAEL FOR ITS RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

WHEREAS, Israel has been granted her lands under and through the oldest recorded deed as reported in the Old Testament, a tome of scripture held sacred and reverenced by Jew and Christian, alike, as the acts and words of God; and

WHEREAS, as the Grantor of said lands, God stated to the Jewish people in the Old Testament; in Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 24:  “Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey”; and

WHEREAS, God has never rescinded his grant of said lands; and

WHEREAS, along with the grant of said lands to the Jewish people, God provided for the non-Jewish residents of the land in commanding that governance must be in one law for all without drawing distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, as contained in Leviticus 24:22, and

WHEREAS, the Nation of Israel declared its independent control and governance of said lands on May 14, 1948, with the goal of re-establishing their God-given lands as a homeland for the Jewish people; and

WHEREAS, the United States of America, having been the first country to recognize Israel as an independent nation and as Israel’s principal Mideast ally, has enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship with Israel and her people; and

WHEREAS, indeed, Israel is the United States of America’s greatest friend in the Mideast; and

WHEREAS, the roots of Israel and the roots of the United States of America are so intertwined that it is difficult to separate one from the other under the word and protection of almighty God; and

WHEREAS, there are those in the Middle East who have sought to destroy Israel from its inception as anation; and

WHEREAS, those same enemies of Israel also seek to destroy the United States of America; and

WHEREAS, the United States of America and the nation of Israel have enjoyed cordial and mutually beneficial relations since 1948, a friendship that should continues to strengthen with each passing year.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Republican Nation Committee that the committee by this resolution commends the nation of Israel for its relations with the United States of America.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the members of this body support Israel in their natural and God-given right of self-governance and self-defense upon their own lands, recognizing that Israel is neither an attacking force nor an occupier of the lands of others; and that peace can be afforded the region only through a united Israel governed under one law for all people.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate Leadership and each of the legislatures of the states within the United States of America with the request and recommendation of this body that a similar resolution to that stated herein be proposed within their respective bodies.

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen... the One State Solution. Now, one can safely assume that the Republican version of the One State Solution and the Palestinian version of the One State Solution are very different takes on the same thing.

The Republican version calls for something similar to what Israeli Rightists, in the YESHA and National Union envisage for a One State Solution. I assumes that Israel will annex all of the territory that is the West Bank of Jordan and incorporate the Palestinian population there into it's own. Strangely enough this is also something called for by the hard left of the Palestinian polity though for very different reasons. BUT, the idea behind the Republican Resolution is to say in short: "G-d gave all the land to Israel, we like Israel, so all the land is theirs to do as they see fit".

So how is this a "betrayal" of Israel? Only in that it would destroy Israel in almost every way. Let's look at some scenario's:

Scenario One: Israel annexes all of the West Bank and Gaza Formally.

Assuming that Israel then absorbs the Palestinian population the demographics of Israel change radically. Currently Israel as a nation is 75.2% Jewish and 20.5% Arab. Israel's Jewish Population stands at  about 5,865,300 individuals and Israel's Arab Population stands at about 1,597,300 individuals. If one includes the West Bank, and Gaza, the demographic mixture changes to: 5,749,000 Arabs/Palestinians and 5,865,300 Jews. Now current birthrates favor a quick transition from Israel being a Jewish State to becoming a Palestinian State with a large Jewish minority. Given that Israel was created to be the State and National Homeland of the Jewish People this makes the future of Israel problematic.

Remember the RNC Resolution calls one law for all people without distinction. So Israel, as a democracy would then become a Palestinian Majority State. Just how long does anyone think that a Palestinian Majority State would be run as the National Homeland and State of the Jewish People? Five minutes... Ten minutes...

ALSO, Hoq' ha shvut - IF, the Jewish Law of Return (a cornerstone law regarding Israel) would still be in effect then Palestinian Right of Return would also have to be in effect. That would reduce the Jewish % of the population even further.

FURTHERMORE... No has asked the Palestinians if they even want this situation though secular, leftist Palestinians and their supporters have this as their agenda for the obvious end result.

Scenario Two: Israel annexes only the West Bank and leaves Gaza on it's own.

This would mean that he total population shifts to about 5,865,000 Jews and 4,149,000 Palestinians then living in Israel with 1.6 million Palestinians STILL living in Gaza.

First, off while this would maintain a Jewish majority, that figure would go from a 75% - 21% split to 58% - 42% split. Given Birthrates and immigration, that demographic would be shifting rapidly.

All of this of course does not even take into account that the Palestinians are not being asked if they agree with this. In all honesty, I can't really see that in the case of this scenario. Though Palestinians are not (as a polity) currently favorable to Hamas, they do favor unification for their polity and do consider Gazans as Palestinians. A population split like this almost guarantees civil war. And the fact that majorities in either polities reject this notion, this is a recipe for disaster.

Scenario Three: Meir Kahane's Dream Come True

NOW... let's say the Republicans don't really mean this and they mean to say... This land is all Jewish, then what happens to the people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip? Does Israel simply move them? Ethnically cleanse them from their homes? Where do the Palestinians go? Do they go to the already established State of Jordan (as Arye Eldad of National Union proposes)?

What would doing that do the character of the State of Israel as a "light unto nations" or as a Modern Western Democracy as was envisioned by it's founders? Does that "light unto nations" mean driving millions of people out of their homes? OF COURSE NOT!

Not too mention that it would set off a regional war that would threaten to widen into World War III. The second Israel started to forcibly transfer population, the surrounding nations (and I believe Russia) would immediately take action. At BEST the E.U. would put full economic sanctions on Israel, and I cannot see how the U.S. population would tolerate this.

Should the population NOT be transferred but just decide to annex the territory and keep the population as less than citizens then the Republicans would be obligated to take action against Israel as this would run counter to their insistence that "One Law" would apply to all.

Oh and for those out there who really want to channel Rabbi Kahane and Kach... Jordan is not Palestine. It was recognized as a separate nation and NOT part of the mandate early on. And Jordan currently is really Israel's last friend in the region. Israeli and American Rightist calls to get Jordan recognized as the homeland of the Palestinians (which it is not) is the fastest way to completely destroy that peace treaty. A peace treaty that has greatly benefited both sides.

Here is a key passage from Israel's Declaration of Establishment:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

ON THE OTHER SIDE.... President Barak Obama and the Democratic Party fully supports the traditional American position of Two States for Two Peoples (and rightly so). Both sides need to have their legitimate rights to self determination recognized. The Jewish People in Israel and the Palestinian people in Palestine. The Two State solution is the only possibly peaceful way forward (and that is not guaranteed with the level of militancy that exists on both sides at this time) and while it may not be ideal for either side it is the best option for both peoples.

Given this declaration by the Republicans anyone who thinks that voting for them is better for than voting for proven friend of the Jewish people and Israel, our President Barak Obama, needs to have their heads closely examined. This Republican declaration is a straight up call for the destruction of Israel and a blow to the soul of the Jewish people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hamas continues it's quest to shut down Freedom

Yesterday it was Hamas beating up on Shiite worshippers and then denying their existence. Today, it is them wiping out the Palestinian version of "American Idol" or "The X Factor". Maan News is reporting: Hamas Bans 'New Star' singing contest:

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip has banned residents of the coastal enclave from participating in the national reality singing show "New Star."....
....Hasan Abu Hashish, who heads the media office in the Hamas-run government, told Ma'an's public relations director Ala al-Abed that the program was "indecent."

The contest contradicts the customs and traditions of the Gaza community, Abu Hashish said, adding that singing was the passion of a few and not in the interests of the majority of the community.
Interestingly the talkbacks in the Maan piece seem to be providing an interesting arguments between some Palestinians and other Islamic partisans from other parts of the world. Usually I don't deal or care about talkbacks but these have a slightly different tone. What I notice is that the secular Palestinians are calling for a State for Palestinians and are seeing this purely on a national level. At the same time those from outside of Palestine AND religious supporters of Hamas are seeing this in global terms. Read through the talkbacks, they are interesting for the most part.
However, with all of this, Hamas represents a far greater % of the Palestinian Polity than does the PFLP activist posting in the talkbalks in favor of a more Western Style of Government.
Correspondingly, though Hamas is getting a lot of press a Norwegian think tank study over six years finds that Ismail Haniyeh's overall standing with Palestinian Polity is far lower than that of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas. Interestingly, according to the survey only 25% of Palestinians feel that either Governmental organization (The Palestinian Authority or Hamas) satisfactory in advancing democracy and only 30% feel either is satisfactorally promoting Human Rights. YET... these are the bodies that are advancing the cause of Statehood and a One State solution (though the PA in theory supports a "Two State Solution).
In the meanwhile, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been conducting talks to "unify the Palestinian Resistance". It is important to remember that both Hamas and P.I.J. have agreed to join the PLO and as a result this deal will have direct implications on any potential Peace Talks or negotiations with Israel towards ending the Occupation (which honestly Israel does not seem to be in a hurry to do) AND establishing a modern, democratic Palestinian State. 
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The leader of Gaza's government Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday called for an in-depth dialogue between his Hamas party and Islamic Jihad, an official said.

Muhammad al-Hindi, an Islamic Jihad leader, said the two sides hoped to unify the Palestinian resistance forces. He said this was an Islamic and national duty.

He said bringing the two sides into closer cooperation was important due to the uprisings across the Arab world, which the factions hope to give a more "Islamic dimension."

Al-Hindi praised Haniyeh's call and said talks were already underway at home and abroad.

For proponents of a peaceful solution whether it be a One State solution or a "faux" Two State solution (Israel exists but all the Palestinian refugees and their descendents from the 1948 War of Independence get to move back to Israel - thus causing a demographic shift in favor of Palestinians and in effect creating Palestine and Palestine), this combination CANNOT be heartening. Islamic Jihad has rejected non-violence as a part of "resistance" as has Hamas.
How the PLO will reconcile this with their plans for unity is unknown and an Israeli reaction to unity with Hamas and P.I.J. joining the process (a process they both oppose) is sure to be both strong and in the opposite direction of those who think that this unification will serve the purpose of creating either Two States or Peace.
Please discuss.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves on Obama Jobs Panel Report

Here's what we know about the proposals put forth by President Obama's jobs panel, according to the report from Reuters:

Corporate Taxes

The panel calls for lowering corporate tax rates to "internationally competitive levels" while broadening the corporate tax base by eliminating deductions and loopholes.

Regulation

In addition, the report called for a series of reforms to further streamline government rules and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses, which it said would enhance U.S. competitiveness.

Fossil Fuels

"The Jobs Council recommends expanding and expediting the domestic production of fossil fuels - including allowing more access to oil, gas, and coal opportunities on federal lands - while ensuring safe and responsible development of those sites," the report said.


Before passing any judgments on the report, and any associated proposals, we should first wait to see the details. They say the devil is in the details, and here, in particular, this true.

First, on fossil fuels, I think we have to get off fossil fuels and onto clean energy. I think any proposal which places first emphasis on fossil fuels is a mistake and such proposals should be opposed. However, if temporary increases in fossil fuel production, complete with environmental impact studies, are proposed in the context of a broader clean energy plan that is somewhat different.

Still, I would want to see the increased fossil fuel production tied to specific green energy goals with fossil fuel production decreasing once our clean energy production begins hitting critical thresholds. Additionally, I would favor, as part of any increase in production on federal lands, increases in royalties and taxes, with the majority of that additional revenue specifically earmarked for funding clean energy.

On regulation, I'm fairly confident President Obama neither supports, nor is he proposing, the type of cutbacks in regulations that Republicans salivate about. Instead, he is focusing on protecting consumers and workers, while, at the same time, making it easier for businesses to comply with the regulations and not have to deal with one million different agencies. President Obama made this clear last week. Follow it, if you can.

Finally, we get to taxes, by far the least straightforward, and most complicated, element of this proposal. From the wording, it might seem as though this is a proposed corporate tax cut. From the standpoint of the rate at which taxable income is taxed, this would be the case. However, that does not necessarily make it a tax cut in actuality. While officially a tax cut, it might be an actual tax increase. We should focus not on the official rate paid on taxable income, but on the effective rate paid on all income.

Ask pretty much anyone who has studied even a little bit about how our corporate tax structure works in this country, and they will tell you that the whole tax system is based upon the combination of the rates and the loopholes. There are all sorts of tax accounting rules that diminish taxable income without having any effect on GAAP income.

The easiest way to demonstrate this is to show an example of both principles in actions. First, let's start with a system where corporate income is taxed at 35%, but there are plenty of loopholes that decrease taxable income.

Income$1.5 million
Taxable Income$500,000
Taxes paid @35%$175,000
Effective tax rate11.67%

Now, let's switch over to a system where the corporate tax rate is cut all the way down to 20%, but, at the same time, half of the loopholes are cut. It might seem like corporate taxes are being cut nearly 43%. Are they really? Let's see.

Income$1.5 million
Taxable Income$1 million
Taxes paid @20%$200,000
Effective tax rate13.33%

Turns out, the tax "cut" is actually a tax increase. The corporation's tax bill went up by $25,000 and the amount of total income paid in taxes went from 11.67% to 13.33%. Now, we don't know if this is what will happen under the Obama proposal, but it seems that is the direction it is heading. However, we have to wait to see the specifics, including revenue projections, before labeling it as a tax "cut" and deriding it as a giveaway to business. After all, that official tax "cut" might turn out to be an effective tax increase.

Remember, as liberals and/or progressives, we should be looking deeper to the actual effects of policy, and not just the apparent effects created on the surface. On the surface, these proposals may seem like much, if not most or all, of what Republicans wants. However, when we dig a bit deeper we see that it's most likely a far cry from that. Our immediate focus should be on seeing through the implementation of good liberal and/or progressive policy and not the window-dressing. Our long-term focus, however, should also include changing the terms of discourse. Conservatives did this during their period of ascendancy. We should return the favor, but realize that it will take time and will not happen overnight.

Hamas Shows Gives a Glimpse of the Future

Maan News is reporting today that Hamas attacked a group of Shiites and called them a "criminal gang".

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of Shiite worshipers say masked police violently raided a religious service in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, prompting furious denials by the Hamas-dominated government in the territory.

Around 20 followers of the Shia branch of Islam were performing a ceremony for Ashura, the commemoration of the death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, when masked police stormed the private home in Beit Lahiya, they told Palestinian human rights groups.


Security officers beat the worshipers with clubs, and took them for interrogation at a police station where they were further assaulted, they told the Gaza-headquartered Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

Several sustained fractures and bruises from the beating and were taken to Balsam and Kamal Odwan hospitals, PCHR said.


SO... Hamas - the winner in the last Palestinian elections and rulers of the Gaza strip - WHO also recently joined the PLO (along with the radical Palestinian Islamic Jihad) is showing what it considers to be religious freedom. According to the Palestinian Authority all religions are to be tolerated and respected however, Palestinian Shiites have claimed that they actually get worse treatment at the hands of the P.A. than they do by Hamas (whose largest benefactor is the Shiite Government of Iran).

However, Hamas has said in the past that Palestine is a Sunni country where Shi'ism does not exist. They also said that they respect those "non-existant" Shiites in Gaza. Of course, here is Hamas talking about religious freedom:

"We respect all the doctrines around the world, especially the Shiite school, and we don’t intervene in what they believe and we don’t want them to intervene in our beliefs as well," the statement said.

While vowing to study allegations of human rights abuse, the interior ministry warned human rights groups to consult official sources and not believe just any account of events.


So Hamas "warned" Human Rights groups to consult the government eh? Basically saying - "Don't listen to those groups, just take our governments word for it. Interesting. How can anyone who claims they support human rights stand up for either this government OR for a government that includes these people as principle actors?

This is a frightening view of a future where Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian Polity and a leading member of the PLO (the national representatives of the Palestinian people).

Speaking of the PLO, Haaretz is reporting that according to a "Palestinian militant" the PLO is considering a military option against Israel - PLEASE NOTE - THIS IS UNCONFIRMED as of now. Is that going to work as well as "Cast Lead" or Intifada II for them. I am not sure what that even means. HOWEVER, I did see these stories in Haaretz:

IDF ARRESTS TWO PALESTINIANS CARRYING PIPE BOMBS, AMMUNITION NEAR JENIN

The two Palestinians, aged 20, were arrested at the Salem checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Jenin, where four Palestinians were also arrested last week for carrying makeshift bombs

According to Israeli security forces' investigation into the previous incident, the weapons that were apprehended were supposed to be used to carry out an attack on a military court near the Salem checkpoint.

Since the second incident happened at the same place and within a short timeframe from the first, security forces believe the two Palestinians arrested on Monday had the same intention.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thoughtful Jewish Teenager Writes Heartfelt Essay Critical of Israel. Or Maybe Not...

As reported on Elder of Ziyon, a 17 year old Jewish teenager from suburban Pittsburgh, Jesse Lieberfeld, has won an essay contest for MLK Day sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University.

The young man pens a piece in which he supposedly shares his internal angst about going to his Rabbi and unnamed community elders with questions about Israel. He claims to start out as a Israel supporter:

I always kept the doubts I had about Israel’s spotless reputation to the back of my mind. “Our people” were fighting a war, one I did not fully comprehend, but I naturally assumed that it must be justified. We would never be so amoral as to fight an unjust war. Yet as I came to learn more about our so-called “conflict” with the Palestinians, I grew more concerned. I routinely heard about unexplained mass killings, attacks on medical bases, and other alarmingly violent actions for which I could see no possible reason. “Genocide” almost seemed the more appropriate term, yet no one I knew would have ever dreamed of portraying the war in that manner; they always described the situation in shockingly neutral terms. Whenever I brought up the subject, I was always given the answer that there were faults on both sides, that no one was really to blame, or simply that it was a “difficult situation.”


But then has an epiphany:

It was not until eighth grade that I fully understood what I was on the side of. One afternoon, after a fresh round of killings was announced on our bus ride home, I asked two of my friends who actively supported Israel what they thought. “We need to defend our race,” they told me. “It’s our right.”

....

When I was finally given the chance to ask a question, I asked, “I want to support Israel. But how can I when it lets its army commit so many killings?” I was met with a few angry glares from some of the older men, but the rabbi answered me. “It is a terrible thing, isn’t it?” he said. “But there’s nothing we can do. It’s just a fact of life.”


And then the G word:

"Genocide" almost seemed the more
appropriate term, yet no one I knew would have ever dreamed of
portraying the war in that manner


It's a story we've heard over and over. "I'm Jewish and I used to support Israel but now I'm just so bothered by what Israel is doing." But is this young man's tale of having his supposedly naive mind changed by the hard facts true?

--------------------------

It turns out that Jesse's father is none other than Professor Daniel Lieberfeld, of Duqesne University. Professor Lieberfeld teaches a class called PLSC 412: The Israeli-Arab Conflict and has published articles such as "Media Coverage and Israel's 'Four Mothers' Antiwar Protest: Agendas, Tactics, and Political Context in Movement Success. Media, War & Conflict."

The blurb for professor Lieberfeld's course states:
The clash between Jewish Zionists and the Arab peoples of Palestine and surrounding countries has been a focal point of world politics for roughly the last 100 years.

(emphasis mine)

So, I find it quite hard to believe that little Jesse ever had any naivite to be lost when it comes to the I/P conflict. I find it hard to believe that Israel ever had a "spotless reputation" in his mind. Rather, he seems to have been steeped in Israel criticism, or at least Israel awareness, for his entire life.

Additionally, in spite of his father's supposed expertise on the subject, Jesse pushes some of the typical ignorant and borderline antisemitic rhetoric we've come to expect from Israel derangers. One example is:

I did not intend to go on being one of the Self-Chosen People

This deliberate misinterpreting of the concept of the "Chosen People" is a staple of antisemitism.

If you ask me, Carnegie Mellon and all of us seem to be the victims of a ruse here. Jesse Lieberfeld has had no epiphanies taking him from ignorant loyal Jew to enlightened ashamed Jew. He never envisioned Israel having a "spotless reputation" to which he found an overdue correction. He is a child of academia both of whose parents are professors and Fulbright scholars, who has been steeped in I/P conflict content for years.

Way to be suckered, Carnegie Mellon.

Lastly, I say shame on Carnegie Mellon for using MLK day to promote an anti-Zionist essay. MLK was a committed Zionist.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Progressive Zionist FOOTBALL Open Thread.

Hey all....

As some of you know, I am a HUGE 49'er fan. I could not be more thrilled this weekend as not only do the 'Niners get a home game BUT, they took out the very good, very talented N.O. Saints.

Now, many here who also participate at the PZ are New York/New Jersey Giants fans. And that is a fine thing. Having gone to Rutgers in Grad School many of my friends there were Giants fans as well.

SO.... I will be watching the game and getting fired up all week...

I leave you this:

http://youtu.be/TzG05gBW2ks

Let's have some fun

I'm Sick and Tired of Being Told it's My Fault I'm Unemployed

I just had a big fight with a relative over the fact that I'm unemployed. My relative is seemingly under the impression that jobs are out there like fruit on a tree — plentiful and just waiting to be picked off. No matter how many times I explained just how bad the job market is for those of us under 30, and how much worse it is for young lawyers on top of that, this relative refused to be disabused of that notion. Instead, the implication that the fact that I am unemployed is my fault continued unabated. My relative isn't the only one, though. The president of the American Bar Association thinks the same thing:

"It's inconceivable to me that someone with a college education, or a graduate-level education, would not know before deciding to go to law school that the economy has declined over the last several years and that the job market out there is not as opportune as it might have been five, six, seven, eight years ago," [ABA President William Robinson] said.

As Elie Mystal sarcastically explained at the blog, Above the Law:

Robinson had the grace and the courage to tell law students it was their own fault for the rampant price gouging that happens as a result of the ABA’s ineffective oversight of law schools. It took real strength of character for Robinson to share this anecdote: “When I was going to law school . . . I sold my Corvair to make first-semester tuition and books for $330.” I mean, how many people in Robinson’s position would be so out of touch that they think prospective law students are driving automobiles that can cover a whole semester of tuition at an American law school!

That’s right, future 1Ls, don’t get too used to your Jaguar XKR. Don’t become too attached to your Lexus hybrid. You’ll need to sell your luxury automobile to pay for law school. D’uh!

So with the spiraling cost of law school, the economy stinking and fewer and fewer law jobs out there to be had, it's all my fault that I'm unemployed. The jobs are just out there, like fruit on a tree waiting to be picked off, and I'm unemployed simply because I'm not reaching for them. How the fuck am I supposed to reach for something that isn't there? Did they see the article in The Atlantic reporting how while other fields were gaining jobs law was still shedding them? Jordan Weissmann writes:

The fact that the world might not need as many investment bankers and insurance brokers isn't a problem per se. But the fact that it could need fewer lawyers is. Outside of a few elite MBA programs, not many people get a degree specifically to become the next Will Emerson. But roughly 45,000 students do graduate from law school each spring. Most of them have taken on significant debt. And despite the old saw about being able to "do anything" with a law degree, they don't have the specific technical or quantitative skills to go into faster growing fields. While the overall unemployment rate for lawyers is a microscopic 2.1%, that doesn't take into account the trouble recent graduates are facing to find work that will soon pay off their debt. The industry is entering a period where it will be well oversupplied with talent. Unless a whole lot of old lawyers start retiring ASAP, that situation probably won't change.

Writing on this, Elie Mystal says at Above the Law:

You know how everybody has been talking about the jobless recovery? Well, not for lawyers. The legal job market was still contracting in 2011!

If you are going to go to law school, you better love the law so much that you’d practice it for free. If you expect to get paid for your services, take a number; it might be a long time before the legal economy gets around to serving law graduate 45,001.

And about the charts in The Atlantic that show what's happened to the legal profession, Mystal captures exactly how I, and, I'm sure, plenty of other young attorneys and recent law school graduates feel about our lot in life and the debt we've accumulated going through three years of legal education just to wind up unemployed and living at home with our parents or even worse:

Here, the Atlantic has put things in a fancy chart. Pictures people, it’ll be like an LSAT game: how many people made a terrible investment in higher education?

I'm sick and fucking tired of being told it's my fault I'm unemployed. Will people get a clue already? There are tens of thousands coming out of law school every year. Law is still shedding jobs. Do the fucking math! I accumulated $130,000 in debt to go to law school. I'd be buried even deeper in debt if I had taken out loans for undergraduate or I had gone away to law school instead of living at home.

Yeah, some people are fighting back against the law schools. But, what good is that going to do me? I still have over $90,000 left to pay back on my loans. I'm still unemployed. I'm still looking for temping gigs so I'm not completely dependent, like so many others my age, upon my mom to help cover my bills.

I know how lucky I am that I don't have to worry about a roof over my head and food on my table and even making the monthly payments on my loans. I really am lucky. There are way too many out there that are not nearly as lucky. However, can people just shut up already with how this is all my fault? Seriously. Please.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yet Again President Obama Sides with Israel

Yet again, President Obama shows that his actions in support of Israel speak louder than critics suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS).

In addition to his "exceptional support for Israeli Security" (as stated by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak) and additional funding for Israel's Missle Defense systems, AND in addition to his support at the U.N. against Palestinian unlitateralism (which seems like it will be continuing in light of what looks to be a failure in the Amman Talks) AND in addition to his support in the rescue of Israeli Diplomats from an angry mob of Egyptians, AND in addition to his administrations support and committment of viewing an attack on Israel as tantamount to an attack on the U.S., the President YET AGAIN shows that he is a true friend to the nation of Israel and to it's people.

According to the White House:

"The two leaders also discussed recent Iran-related developments, including the international community’s efforts to hold Iran accountable for its failures to meet its international obligations," the White House said in a statement. 

"The president reiterated his unshakable commitment to Israel’s security, and the president and the prime minister promised to stay in touch in the coming weeks on these and other issues of mutual concern." 

Iran's "nuclear development problem can't be ignored by the world, so from that perspective we understand the US actions," Finance Minister Jun Azumi told reporters after meeting with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was visiting Tokyo after two days in Beijing.

Japan imports about 10% of its oil from Iran, Azumi said.

"We plan to start reducing this 10% share as soon as possible in a planned manner," he said.

Apparently the President's efforts at getting support for sanctions against the Iranian regime are bearing fruit. To get Japan on board with this... Pretty good.

Additionally, in referring to the Amman Peace Talks that seem to have stalled over the issue of borders (to be fair the Palestinains have produced a map based on the 1967 borders with 1.9% land swaps, Israel refuses to present a map) and continued Israeli Settlement construction, White House had this to say:

"Although this January 26th date has been out there, we do not want to see it be a rigid sort of straitjacket which chills the atmosphere", she said, adding that the date “was a proposal made by the Quartet. It was illustrative of what we wanted to see happen.”

“So it's really incumbent on the parties now to do the hard work to fill out the rest of the game plan through 2012. We don't want them or anybody else to get so fixated on the date that it chills the mood. We want them to keep going on the hard work that they're doing together,” she said.

Currently the two sides are arguing over whether the Quartet set Jan. 26th date is the actual date for talks to expire. The Quartet said that the two sides had Three months to get their act together and start talking. The Palestinians take this to mean that the "clock started running" at the time of that pronouncement. The Israelis have said that the "clock started running" with the opening of negotiations last week. Here is the U.S. taking an active stand and siding with the Israelis in saying "let's get this to work and nevermind the clock". An Israeli positive position.

Kudos to President Obama for taking these stands and standing with Israel as a friend to the Israeli and Jewish people.

Mitt Romney Takes Immigration Stance Against Himself

Here is Mitt's campaign in South Carolina:
Around the beginning of the year, voters in South Carolina received mailings that noted the former Massachusetts governor’s position on illegal immigration.
 “The mailer talks about putting an end to magnets or benefits that illegal immigrants have,” a local South Carolina publication quoted a Romney campaign spokesman, Ryan Williams, as saying, “ensuring a tamper-proof system that allows employers to check the status of their employees and creating a strong border fence.”
“The Obama administration is opposed to common sense immigration laws,” SummervillePatch.com quoted Williams as saying. “With Romney’s plan there would be no magnets, no jobs, no holes in the borders.”
Well it turns out that Mr. Romney himself has roots in Mexico and that his Grandparents were ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO MEXICO and then Mittens' dad was born in Mexico and "came back" to the U.S. It turns out that Mitt Romney can be the first Hispanic President of the United States.

Here is Rubin Naverette (a Right Wing guy himself) at cnn.com
Or should I say, "primo!" As much as it embarrasses me to admit it, given some of his views and how he expresses them, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and I could be distant cousins. Romney's father, George, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and so was my grandfather, Roman.
Que? You didn't know that Mitt Romney was half-Mexican? It's true. In fact, if he makes it to the White House, in addition to becoming the first Mormon in the Oval Office, he could also be the nation's first Hispanic president....
.....Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled the United States and crossed into Mexico in 1885 to escape religious persecution. He helped build the Mormon enclave of Colonia Juarez in Chihuahua.
Miles Park Romney never became a Mexican citizen, and neither did his son, Gaskell, or grandson, George. They were all denied Mexican citizenship because statutes on the books in Mexico denied that right to American settlers and their offspring.
Apparently Mitt Romney's family first illegally entered Mexico in 1885, tried to become citizens of Mexico and were denied citizenship. It seems that they then came back seeking... what is it Mitt says... "economic magnets". Man, if we had, had the laws that Mitt and xenophobic friends propose for the border now, I bet Mitt wouldn't have been allowed back. After all, his grandfather LEFT the U.S. (so much for American exceptionalism)... 

What is even more interesting is that "Mittens" just picked up the endorsement of those who wrote Arizona's hateful Immigration Law. According to the HuffPo's Elise Foley:

WASHINGTON -- GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney announced on Wednesday an endorsement from Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who helped write laws meant to drive immigrants out of states like Arizona and Alabama....

.... In a statement released Wednesday, Romney praised Kobach's efforts to cut down on unauthorized immigration and said he will support the South Carolina and Alabama immigration laws..
"I'm so proud to earn Kris's support," Romney said. "Kris has been a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country."

Of course the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) disagrees with this as Kobach was legal counsel to FAIR:
The Southern Poverty Law Center says FAIR is a racist organization. The center’s report on Kobach describes the Republican as a political opportunist, comparing him to the character of con man Harold Hill in the musical “The Music Man.”
“Like Hill, they say, Kobach comes to town with big ideas and a can-do attitude but leaves behind a trail of tears — huge legal bills and unworkable laws coupled with social turmoil,” the report said.
and of course Kobach's support of racial profiling:
Kobach, 44, has spent much of his professional life developing the legal framework that a growing number of state and local officials have used to justify anti-immigration proposals. A rising star in the GOP establishment, Kobach—a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School—joined John Ashcroft's Justice Department days before 9/11. Over the next two years, he helped create a program that required all visiting citizens from 25 mostly Arab countries to be fingerprinted and monitored—a policy that critics said amounted to racial profiling.
I wonder what Kobach would say about Mittens and his grandfather.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Jersey Synagogue Firebombed

In the latest antisemitic incident in the New York City area, a Rutherford, New Jersey synagogue was firebombed. Unfortunately, as those who have read several previous diaries here, these incidents are becoming all too common in New York City and its environs. This also represents a particularly alarming turn of events. Previous incidents were property crimes or minor assaults. This event was an attack on a residence, as the synagogue's rabbi and his family live in the building as well. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli explained:

At this point it’s not just a hate crime and a bias crime. It’s now an attempted murder. (emphasis my own)

Describing what happened, Rabbi Nosson Schuman said:

“We just woke up to flames roaring through my window and my quilt caught on fire,” he told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan. “I really think by the grace of God the fire did go out and when it came through the window it did not come on our faces. It went on the blankets.”

[snip]

“My quilt was on fire. I had to put it out,” he told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams. “Got the kids out and realized that this must have been a continuation of the hate crimes that have been occurring throughout the area.”


According to the report, several devices were thrown specifically at the upper portion of the building, which is where the residence is located. These devices included molotov cocktails and lit aerosol cans. Thankfully, the injuries suffered were only minor. However, they could have been much worse.

As Adam Dickter writes in The Jewish Week, perhaps it is time for Chris Christie to come back to New Jersey and do his job:

So now might a good time for Governor Christie to tour some of the affected areas and make it clear, as only he can, that criminals who commit any kind of bias crime on his watch will "go down" just as swiftly as those hecklers in New Hampshire.

Living my whole life in New York, and being under 30, I previously felt safe. Now, I don't know that I feel as safe. I see all these incidents going on around me. It's probably even more pronounced since I've become more observant over the past few months. I generally cover my head these days when I'm outside the house. Usually, I'll wear a baseball cap. However, sometimes I'll wear a kippah (yarmulke or skullcap). And all this is on top of already being used to the police checking in at my synagogue on the holidays to make sure everything is okay.

Things don't exactly feel different, but at the same time they do. I'm a bit more vigilant, but I'm not terrified. It's hard to put into words. It's a gut feeling. I guess the least imperfect way of explaining it is that it seems that whenever I look in the news there's always something there to remind that I'm a Jew and that many in this world hate me simply for existing.

My Eight year old: "That man wants to destroy our country"

Last night, my sons and I were driving to my martial arts class (they come and watch sometimes) and on the radio I was listening to live feeds of the New Hampshire Primary results on the POTUS XM Radio Channel. Now POTUS, which claims to be neutral is not exactly that, and last nights radio was listening to Republicans declare the race over and lots of Mitt love. BUT they do play live feeds from all the candidates and live speeches from all of our politicians so I figured last night I would check it out.

Now, I admit, our kids get a healthy dose of Pro-President Obama propaganda in our house. My wife and I both are strong liberals/progressives who try to get our news not from the MSM T.V. drones (except for Bob O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow) but from satallite radio and other sources (NYT and WaPo amongst others) that are a tad more reliable.

Back to the comment... we are in the car, driving down the road and listening to the Romney speech with (of course) editorializing from dad when my Eight year old (soon to be Nine) son, who is also listening and not plugged into his DSI Gaming device says: "You know Dad... you are right, that man does want to destroy our country. What is up with Republicans, why are they like that?"

Here is what prompted him to say that when he heard this (from Romney's speech):
The President has run out of ideas. Now, he's running out of excuses. And tonight, we are asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time.
I get that he doesn't really understand what is happening BUT, he knows that President Obama has a lot of ideas and that he is not making excuses. He knows that the Republicans are the ones who block bill after bill that the President proposes in order to get this country moving again. His comment following the one above was "Why is this man lying about President Obama". To that I could only answer: "It's the way politics in our country works and it's really to bad".

But there was a more chilling part to Romneys speech that bothered me even more:
The path I lay out is not one paved with ever increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurances that government will always be the solution. If this election is a bidding war for who can promise more benefits, then I'm not your President. You have that President today.
Basically Romney just said here: "Hey folks, Guess what... When I am President - you get no safety net"... He is saying straight out here that benefits, (benefits that millions of Americans pay into and need) will be gone.

This is what this election is all about. Protecting America from one group of people that want to completely destroy the social safety net that was put in place to protect Americans from the ravages of the unregulated free market.

As a nation we cannot allow this safety net to be destroyed for the millions and millions of Americans who need it just to survive.

Take the advice of my Eight Year old and stop these people from trying to destroy our nation.

An Open Letter to the ACLU

In the past I have discussed my attempt to get a simple response from the ACLU over their decision to endorse and participate in the Durban III conference, this past year's heir to the virulently antisemitic sham that took place ten years ago. My most recent attempt was a letter directly to ACLU headquarters, which, like my e-mail inquiry before it, received no response, even though I am a long time member and contributor.

I have previously been an enthusiastic financial supporter of the ACLU, and all I've asked for all along is an explanation of their position and decision to participate in and endorse Durban III.

I want to know what such a meeting of the words most odious dictators to engage in an orgy of Holocaust denial and Israel bashing has to do with protecting the First Amendment, free speech, and religious freedom in America.

It's that simple, and my requests have been polite and information seeking. I have made it clear that I am ready to resume contributing to the ACLU if they would simply respond to my concerns. But no response has been forthcoming. So, below I paste the letter that I mailed two months ago, for all to see:

Dear Sirs,

In regard to my membership renewal (member #xxxxxx) I am writing now with a second inquiry about an issue that is very important to me. My first inquiry, which was via e-mail and which was acknowledged as received (ticket# xxxxxxxxx), was never met with a reply.

I have been a "card carrying" ACLU member since 2000. However, a recent posting on the ACLU's blog made me very concerned that the organization may be straying from its mission of protecting civil liberties into unrelated advocacy that I do not support.

The issue I am concerned about is the ACLU's participation at a UN meeting commemorating the Durban Conferences on racism, known as Durban I and II. As many people are aware, the Durban I Conference was largely hijacked by disgusting, brazen antisemitism from some of the world's worst regimes and non-governmental organizations. Durban II offered a platform for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deny the and minimize the Nazi Holocaust. That, along with the refusal of the conference to acknowledge the Arab slave trade which wreaked havoc on Africa for centuries, is why the US, Canada, and most other Western nations boycotted Durban III.

Why would the ACLU criticize the US government for not participating in a forum commemorating Durban? Durban I and II became a sham and a mockery, and the US, and other Western nations, are right to boycott the commemoration.

I would really appreciate a further explanation as to why the ACLU chose to take part in this forum in the first place, and criticize the US government for not taking part. I am open to feeling differently about this issue, but my previous inquiry was never answered.

Did the ACLU consider the objections to the Durban conference? And, more importantly, what does the Durban commemoration meeting have to do with the ACLU's mission of protecting civil liberties? I am not seeing how Durban is a free speech issue in any way. The United States government should be free to decline to participate in such a forum, in my opinion, and I request a clarification of the ACLU's thinking on this matter.

Sincerely,
Fizziks
My town


So what is it, ACLU? Does a 10 year member get the dignity of a response? I urge other progressives who are disgusted by Durban's antisemitism and the ACLU's lack of an explanation in this instance to join me in withholding contributions until a response is given addressing our concerns. Again, as I state in the letter:

I am open to feeling differently about this issue, but my previous inquiry was never answered.


Answer it, ACLU.