12/13/12

Book Review: Mike Huckabee – Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Purchase at Penguin.com or Amazon.com

Want a heartwarming book for Christmas? Well, this is it. You will recognize Mike Huckabee from Fox News… he was also a politician, governor and pastor. This book is his gift to his grandchildren, so they will remember him long after he is gone. In a series of letters, he recounts memories, stories, wisdom and lessons learned along the way. His love for his family touches the heart and his love shows through in his splendid writing. At this time of year especially, we all count our blessings and love and we rejoice in the birth of the Savior. We also contemplate all that has gone before and what is to come. This is an incredible way for Mr. Huckabee to share himself with those he cherishes and loves. I think it is fantastic!

Mixed in with all the love and history, is humor and basic truths that lift the soul. The book is his legacy put to print and is a golden gift of love to his grandchildren. I believe that each of us, if possible, would love to leave something similar to those we love. We carry those that go before us in our minds and hearts, but it is oh, so special to have something tangible to bring them close and warm your heart. This is not politics, it’s love – a refreshing break for this political wonk. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

From Penguin.com:

“I wrote these letters so that long after I’m gone, you’ll know that I loved you, had great hopes for you, and wanted to give you my best advice on living in this tough world. If I can’t be there with you, I hope my letters will act as a sort of reminder of me—as if I’m standing there beside you, whispering in your ear, and putting my arm around your shoulder.”

On education:

“The stuff you learn in school is not the only education worth having. There are so many different types of knowledge, each of them valuable in its own way. As you go through life, you’ll meet people with less formal education than you, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid. Some of the smartest people I’ve ever known didn’t have a degree from anywhere but the University of Life, where they learned things no book or professor could ever have taught them.”

On work:

“Your grandpa wants to give you the world, and it’s awfully tempting to want to give you things that I had to work so hard to get as a kid. But now that I’m older, I realize that the best things I got from my hard work were not a paycheck or a catcher’s mitt, but a willingness to do whatever it took to accomplish my goals.”

On love and marriage:

“Ever since Adam and Eve, men and women have been trying to figure each other out….Save yourself some energy: Don’t try to blow out the flame of the sun with your breath and don’t try to figure out the opposite gender. Just assume that God designed us so very differently from one another and yet made us wildly attracted to each other because He has a sense of humor.”

What a selfless act of love this book is. Pick up your copy at Penguin.com or Amazon.com. Also visit Mr. Huckabee’s site. Now, I need a Kleenex. ;)

12/13/12

In the Midst of Fury

Arlene from Israel

Sometimes it happens that a project — writing/activist — claims a good portion of my time, so that there is less possibility for posting. That’s the situation in which I find myself now, with no regrets. For it is a very meaningful project — which will come clear in due course — that I’m working on. My postings, though not absent, are a bit less frequent…

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Inside a hurricane, with its fury of wind and rain, there is a calm center. Right now it feels a bit as if Israel is at the heart of such a hurricane. Here, life is normal. We are getting the blessing of rain. We are lighting our candles and celebrating Chanukah. Children are off from school and there are diverse activities doing.

And then there’s the election campaign I don’t know if I’d exactly call that calm. But it is totally normal.

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But around us, there are places that are moving from awful to more horrible. Prime among these are Syria and Egypt — violence-ridden places on the verge of collapse, each in its own way.

Syria’s situation has been horrendous for a long time now. President Bashar al-Assad has less than no concern for the lives of his people and the figure of those his regime has killed is way beyond 40,000 at this point. As he inches towards loss of control of the country, and he feels more desperate, his measures will grow more extreme.

Assad has one of the largest caches of weapons of mass destruction in the world, and this has generated concern for some time — lest he use these lethal weapons against the rebels in his country. Or that he fall from power and terrorists seize this material.

Monitoring of the situation is being done by Israel and by the US. It was known when Assad moved the weapons to various locations around the country, and when there was mixing of various ingredients necessary for preparing a gas.

Serious warnings have come from the governments both of the US and Israel regarding his use of this stuff on his own people. There is no deep concern that Assad himself intends to use these weapons against Israel, but there are serious ramifications none-the-less. I do believe that if the situation warranted it, troops would be sent into Syria to prevent a WMD disaster.

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Now, today, there are reports — coming from the US and NATO — that the Syrian government, in what has been interpreted as a sign of desperation, yesterday fired six scud rockets at the Sheikh Suleiman base north of Aleppo. Aleppo itself is on the verge of being lost, and this base has been seized by the Islamist al-Nusra Front, associated with al-Qaeda.

There are varying reports as to whether the end is truly at hand for Assad. For the first time, the Russians, who have been his supporters, are conceding that he may be about to fall — and are preparing to move nationals out of Syria. But I’ve seen at least one report that says that Assad’s military is still the strongest force in the country, and that the Alawite minority — which retains control of part of the country — will fight for all it is worth to keep from going down. What is more, Iran is still able to get into the Damascus airport to augment Syrian weapons.

If Assad does go down, it will not be until he has unleashed a paroxysm of further killing.

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The key question, if and when Assad falls, is which group would replace his regime.

In an interview with ABC News, President Obama has said that the US intends to formally recognize a Syrian opposition coalition as the de facto administration of regions under rebel control:

“We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”

This is a group that has already been recognized by Britain and France, and it seems clear that Obama, after having been badly burned is Libya, is stepping very carefully here.

In what has to be the understatement of the week, the president commented that:
“Not everybody who is participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people that we are comfortable with. There are some who I think have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-US agenda.”

He thinks?

The coalition Obama will recognize may be “inclusive,” but that means it includes radical rebel forces, who will do all in their power to fight their way into positions of control.

No talk of arming the rebels.

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In Egypt, confronting growing violence, President Morsi is fighting for his political life. A referendum on a new constitution that he is promoting will be held in two parts, this Saturday and next. The opposition is threatening blood, and the Carter Center says it will not be monitoring the voting.

See an analysis by Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt:

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=295722

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The Jerusalem Post held a Diplomatic Conference in Herzliya yesterday, at which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke:

“I am compelled to tell the truth,” he told the room filled with diplomats. “My sense is that all the promises and commitments to Israel’s security are mere words. When push comes to shove, many key leaders would be willing to sacrifice Israel without batting an eyelid in order to appease the radical Islamic militants and ensure quiet for themselves.”

Indeed…

Although it should be pointed out that, contrary to a commonly held belief, appeasing Islamists does not “ensure quiet.”

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Lieberman may have been specifically addressing a report of what happened at the EU foreign ministers meeting. Accord to the Times of Israel:

“Four European Union member states [Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Ireland] reportedly opposed an official condemnation of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s incitement-filled speech last weekend, leading to harsh responses from Israeli leaders that Europe was being one-sided.”

These states wanted the EU to condemn only Israel, for plans to build in E1. “In the end, the statement included a brief rebuke of Hamas’s call for Israel’s destruction, after an 11th-hour intervention by Germany and the Czech Republic.”

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Dan Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel, also spoke at the Diplomatic Conference. What he said is that changes in Judea and Samaria that have taken place since 1967 (by which he means settlements) will have to be addressed via land swaps between the parties.

Seems as if he’s recognizing Israel’s claim to land beyond the Green Line where Jewish communities have been established? Look again:

“Land swaps” is code for: the Palestinian Arabs have a claim to everything past the Green Line, but if there are Jewish communities there that Israel wants to retain, then Israel must give the Arabs an equivalent amount of land inside the Green Line.

“Nobody else from the outside can draw that map, and that is why we need to get those negotiations going.”

Still talking “negotiations.” This is Obama policy.

In fact, Shapiro says the PA is not prepared to come to the table now, but, “As soon as the parties are ready, President Obama is ready to be a full partner.”

Isn’t that nice. He just shouldn’t hold his breath.

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Khaled Abu Toameh has just done a piece on the growing radicalism of Palestinian Arabs (emphasis added):

“When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas returned from New York to Ramallah and told the Palestinians that he obtained UN recognition of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines — namely, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — fewer than 5,000 Palestinians, many of them civil servants who receive their salaries from the Palestinian Authority government, turned out to greet him in Ramallah.

“When Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal came last week to the Gaza Strip and told Palestinians that armed struggle and jihad were the only way to liberate all Palestine, ‘from the river to the sea,’ and that there was no room for the Zionists in Palestine because the country belonged only to Muslim and Arabs, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians showed up to welcome Mashaal and voice support for his plan to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamic state.

“Even many Palestinians in the West Bank expressed support for Mashaal, especially when he said that the Palestinians would never ‘give up one inch of Palestine.’

“…If anything, the widespread support for Hamas’s position is a sign of how much the Palestinians have been radicalized over the past few decades.

“A Palestinian leader who talks about a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem is less popular than one who talks about ‘liberating Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Safed.’”

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3492/radical-moderate-palestinians

What was it that Ambassador Shapiro said, about a land swap and coming to the negotiating table?

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Still reading and relying up the NYTimes ? Please see a report by CAMERA on the bias against Israel found in the Times.

“A disproportionate, continuous, embedded indictment of Israel dominates both news and commentary sections. Israeli views are downplayed while Palestinian perspectives, especially criticism of Israel, are amplified and even promoted. The net effect is an overarching message, woven into the fabric of the coverage, of Israeli fault and responsibility for the conflict.

“The Times presents criticism of Israel more than twice as often as it does criticism of the Palestinians. It de-emphasizes Palestinian aggression and incitement, while headlining Israeli defensive strikes. When other media outlets emulate the Times, the effect of the distortion is greatly magnified.”

http://www.camera.org/images_user/pdf/NYT%20study%20exec%20summary_ind.pdf

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Closing with some good news:

“With 40 days to go before the Knesset elections, a new Israel Hayom poll shows that the right-wing bloc in the Knesset is likely to have an easy task of maintaining its governing coalition after the Jan. 22 elections.”

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=6720

The left, I should mention, is in serious disarray.

12/13/12

PLO Calls On EU To Take Tougher Measures Against Israel

By: Fern Sidman

On Tuesday, December 11th, PLO Executive Committee member, Hanan Ashwari called on those foreign ministers gathered on Monday December 10 at the European Union summit in Brussels to “reconsider” it’s political and trade relations with Israel over what it called “provocations.”

The EU’s meeting in Brussels was convened to debate Israel’s approval last week of the thousands of housing units to be built in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. As had been predicted, the meeting resulted in a severe condemnation of Israel’s decisions. Following discussions on the matter, the EU issued a statement saying that it was, “deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in east Jerusalem, and in particular plans to develop the E1 area,” and said all of its agreements with Israel only applied to the pre-1967 lines. Diplomatic sources have indicated that they fear that the language in the council statement as it pertained to recognition of Israel only within the context of the 1967 borders, was placed there to lay the groundwork for labeling and possibly banning settlement products in the future.

While praising the EU condemnation of Israeli settlement plans, Ashwari exhorted them to take further punitive measures against the Jewish state. “We call on the EU to hold Israel accountable for its illegal occupation of Palestine, reconsider its political and trade relations with Israel and agreements, including the EU-Israel Association agreement, implement a ban on Israeli settler products and extremist settlers, and rescue the chances for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Ashrawi said. Specifically condemning Israel for “settlement activities and the rise of settler violence,” Ashwari also accused Israel of “the blatant attack on Palestinian security forces, the raiding and plundering of the offices of Palestinian NGOs and civil society organizations, and the increase in home demolitions.”

In response to inflammatory statements made over the weekend by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on his premier visit to Gaza, in which he called for Israel’s annihilation, the EU released a statement saying that it denounces as “unacceptable” statements by Hamas “that deny Israel’s right to exist.” Pressured to speak out against the objectives of Hamas by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued his own condemnations of the failure of the international community to stand up for Israel in the face of direct threats made by terrorist organizations, the EU said in a statement released following the meeting that the bloc reiterated its “fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, including with regard to vital threats in the region,” adding it “will never stop opposing those who embrace and promote violence as a way to achieve political goals.”

The announcement of Israeli plans for the expansion of Jewish settlements and the addition of 3000 new homes near the E1 area of Jerusalem has significantly raised the ire of the international group and prompted them to issue further condemnations. “The E1 plan, if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states,” the EU claimed. “In the light of its core objective of achieving the two-state solution, the EU will closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and act accordingly,” the statement concluded.

In an interview Tuesday with Israel Radio, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent shockwaves when he compared European diplomacy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Holocaust. “I’m not pleased with Europe’s position that again, again in history, ignores calls to annihilate the nation of Israel.” Hamas, he said, missed no opportunity to clearly state its objective of annihilating the state of Israel, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he insisted, supported that position. “We already went through this Europe at the end of the 30s, in the 40s. They are sacrificing all their values in favor of their interests. Even then, in the 40s they knew what was going on with the concentration camps, to the Jews, and they didn’t exactly act,” Lieberman said.

12/13/12

Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Claims He Was Forced To Join SS

By: Fern Sidman

A former Nazi concentration camp guard who has lived for the last 50 years in western Pennsylvania, is now engaged in legal wrangling against deportation proceedings initiated by the government. According to published reports, on Thursday, December 6th, 88-year old Anton Geiser, took his fight against deportation to the nation’s highest immigration court, proffering the argument that he shouldn’t be punished because he served in Hitler’s army against his will. Geiser, of Sharon, Pennsylvania, who has acknowledged his service in the Nazi SS as a guard in the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps, had his appeal in the case heard by the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia.

Back in 2010, a federal judge ordered him deported on grounds of engaging in crimes against humanity. Geiser’s attorney, Adrian Roe, has argued that the court should have considered that Geiser was forced to join the SS against his will as a 17-year-old. Lawyers representing the government have argued to uphold the deportation decision, saying that federal law places former Nazis in a harsher immigration category, and no exceptions should be made because of compulsory service. Mr. Roe has acknowledged that Congress did indeed place Nazis in a separate, harsher category when it comes to determining their rights to immigrate to and live in the United States, but he said that not everyone conscripted into the Hitler war machine is truly a Nazi. “The label Nazi itself sort of goes to belief,” Roe said. “If they were a true believer, we don’t want them here. If they were a forced participant, are they really a Nazi?”

Geiser, who was recently hospitalized, did not attend Thursday’s hearing. He came to the U.S. in 1956 and was naturalized in 1962. He lived in Sharon, about 75 miles north of Pittsburgh, where he worked in a steel mill for decades and raised five children.

Susan Siegal, a Justice Department lawyer cast credible doubts on Geiser’s assertion that his service as a Nazi SS camp guard was truly involuntary. She said he could have requested a transfer back to the Russian front, where he was initially serving, or that he could have simply walked away from service or defied immoral orders. She said the Nuremberg trials after World War II and military code established the precedent that following immoral orders is not an adequate defense. “I’m sorry- Mr. Geiser did engage in crimes against humanity,” Siegal said.

Roe took exception to the portrayal of Geiser as a war criminal. Geiser says he was forced to join the SS in 1942 and that he never killed anyone, though tens of thousands are believed to have died at Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. Geiser does not dispute that the Nazi camps were horrific and he previously told prosecutors he was ashamed of his service. “I was not proud where I served and I didn’t like it then and I didn’t like it now,” he said.

The hearing, for the most part, did not focus on Geiser’s crimes during the war, but on narrow questions of legal precedent and procedural issues. Roe argued that a 2009 Supreme Court decision requires immigration judges to consider whether an alleged perpetrator of persecution was doing so voluntarily. More broadly, he said US law in nearly all aspects takes into account whether a person was compelled to behave against his will and he asserted that the same principles should be extended to Geiser’s case.

The three members of the Board that heard the case – two appointed by Republicans, one by a Democrat – are expected to issue their ruling in a few months. While it is the highest immigration court, it is an administrative body and its rulings are subject to review by federal judges and the Supreme Court. It is expected that the board’s ruling will be appealed by the losing side.

“We hope that Geiser is deported,” said Joy Braunstein, director of the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. But Kurt Schrimm, the head of the special prosecutors’ office in Germany that investigates Nazi war crimes, said they aren’t currently investigating Geiser’s case and the Austrian Justice Ministry said it hasn’t corresponded with American authorities.

In the case of Johann Breyer of Philadelphia, another accused former Nazi guard, a judge allowed him to stay in the US reasoning in part that because Breyer had joined the SS at age 17, he couldn’t be held responsible for what he did as a minor. Federal prosecutors, however, say that even if Anton Geiser didn’t kill anyone, his work as a concentration camp guard makes him a party to the persecution of countless men, women and children, no matter how long ago that happened. Geiser escorted prisoners to slave labor sites and was under orders to shoot any prisoners who attempted to escape. Both sides agree that Geiser guarded only the perimeter of the camps, but previous court rulings have found that doing so is enough to make someone ineligible for US citizenship.

The Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald camps held some political and military prisoners, but tens of thousands of people also died there under horrific conditions, such as starvation, slave labor, medical experiments and executions. Peter Black, the senior historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said that it’s “very difficult” to tell whether any particular individual actually volunteered for the SS or was pressured to join, but he did say that guards were essential to the concentration camp system.

“Even if they don’t have any contact with a prisoner, by walking the perimeter as an armed guard, they are helping to keep the people inside that place where they are enduring persecution,” Black said, adding that SS guards were paid, received leave time and health benefits for their service.
In 2006, a federal judge in Pittsburgh revoked Geiser’s citizenship and then was ordered deported by a federal judge four years later. Having lost a circuit court appeal in 2008, the US Supreme Court refused to hear his case in 2009. In 2010 an immigration judge ordered him deported to Austria, or any other country that will take him. The Austrian Embassy in Washington, D.C. did not immediately respond to a question about whether the country would accept Geiser.

The Justice Department didn’t respond to questions for comment on the Geiser case, which is part of its efforts to investigate former Nazis. Since the 1979 inception of the program, it has won more than 100 cases.