Tomorrow night begins the holiday of Shavuot (one day here in Israel, two days elsewhere), which celebrates the receiving of the Torah (or the Commandments) and is marked by study through the night.
A good time, once again, to mark our priorities: to remember what comes first and what must guide us. A time to turn our focus heavenward and step away from the political nonsense of every day.
And so, to all, a Chag Shavuot sameach.
But for today, there is still that political nonsense…
Right now, we seem to be a whipping boy for the Syrians. On both sides. It’s a great irony.
The rebels are saying that we are conspiring to keep Assad in power. The Turkish daily Zaman reports that the claim was made by Abdulkader Saleh, commander of the al-Tawhid Brigade, which, I am reading, has ties with the Muslim Brotherhood:
“The opposition was going to take over arms, so Israel attacked. There is evidence pointing to this. There were some high-ranking officers with whom [the opposition forces] got into contact. [Those officers] were going to defect from [the Assad administration], handing over arms to the opposition. Israel hit these posts in fear that the opposition would take over the arms.”
“…This assault, of course, was intended to support the Assad administration.”
This is, of course, not exactly what was going on with the alleged Israeli hit on Iranian weaponry in Syria. The Israeli concern was and is that major game-changing weaponry such as sophisticated missiles not fall into hands of terrorists groups, whether Hezbollah or jihadist groups associated with the Syrian rebels, who would then turn those weapons on Israel. This was not about the sort of weapons defecting Syrian officers would likely be in a position to turn over to the opposition for use in fighting Assad.
What caught my eye, however, is that this rebel commander said that, “Assad [father and son, actually] has protected Israel’s border for 40 years.” This is as I wrote, and is one more indication that if rebels take Syria, they will feel no compunction about attempting to move into Israel.
What intensifies the irony is the claim by the Syrian government that they can now go into the Golan whenever they want. According to the Syria SANA news agency, Syria’s Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi, claims this right because of Israel’s act of aggression against Syria in hitting Syrian sites (that is, storage depots with weapons).
But, as was made very clear at the time, any Israeli attack on those sites (not officially acknowledged) would be to prevent a transfer of weapons and was not intended as an attack on Syria.
This is mostly saber-rattling, but….
Putative PA president Mahmoud Abbas is doing his own version of saber-rattling these days. His accusation is that Israel is attempting to harm the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount:
“If Israel is dreaming about establishing facts on the ground through its daily attacks against the Al-Aksa Mosque, then it is deluded.
“Eastern Jerusalem is our capital city, Al-Aksa belongs to us, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher belongs to us, and we will not accept [the Israelis’] harassment.”
This, undoubtedly, is the come-back for recent statements regarding Jewish rights to pray on the Temple Mount. If our leaders are serious about asserting on rights, on the Mount and elsewhere, we must understand that the battle ahead will not be easy. But, it is necessary.
I say “If” because of news that has broken today that is generating more than a little unease.
The major story is that secret talks were held two years ago between the Israel and the PA. Avi Issacharoff, writing in the Times of Israel, reports on information he has secured via an interview with the head of PLO Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo. And so even as I report on this, we must remember that it all comes from Abed Rabbo.
Credit: AFP/Abbas Momani
What he says is that there were secret meetings between Israel and the PA in late 2010 and early 2011 either in order to conduct negotiations or initiate them. A series of meetings was held between Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu’s envoy, and Abed Rabbo, at Molcho’s home in Israel. And then Prime Minister Netanyahu himself met with Rabbo, after which communication terminated.
“According to Abed Rabbo…Netanyahu seemed ready to renew negotiations within the framework of two states based on the June 4, 1967, lines. But the prime minister subsequently backed away from the contacts and the channel was discontinued.”
Not unsurprisingly, there is no comment from the prime minister’s office.
Abed Rabbo is reported as saying, with regard to his meetings with Molcho:
“We discussed all the issues. But I sat and demanded in those meetings that Israel present its map for a two-state solution concept, and publicly declare its willingness to speak about the 1967 lines as the framework for the meetings. Molcho was not prepared to present a map and the meetings were truly exhausting, a lot of chatter without agreement.” (Emphasis added)
Is Abed Rabbo’s description of a Netanyahu who “seemed ready to renew negotiations within the framework of two states based on the June 4, 1967 lines” consistent with the picture of a Molcho who would not present a map and talked a great deal with no agreement?
“Molcho,” says Abed Rabbo, “was willing to include a military official in the meetings, a map expert who would present Israel’s security demands to me. Molcho emphasized in the meetings the importance of the Jordan Valley, settlement blocs, and early-warning stations on West Bank mountains. I ruled this option out. He claimed that he wanted to show me these considerations on a map, but I told him that Israel’s security concerns are not a starting point — it’s a non-starter and under the pretense of ‘security,’ you can claim anything. I made it clear that, first of all, we need to agree to speak about 1967 lines, and then start debating security issues, or even both in parallel.
“…From our standpoint, it was possible to discuss borders and security issues, but it cannot be that ‘security considerations’ would determine the borders.” (Emphasis added here and above)
Was Molcho, on behalf of the prime minister, prepared to talk about giving away the store? Myself, I would not talk about surrendering a square centimeter, but it doesn’t sound like he was conveying a readiness to give it all away.
Abed Rabbo describes a Netanyahu who was prepared to begin serious negotiations:
“Netanyahu didn’t rule anything out. He mostly listened. He asked me about the idea of a joint committee to manage issues related to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem — as Olmert had suggested…In the end I said to him, ‘If you want to start something serious, if you agree to the 1967 borders as a basis, including Jerusalem, then we can talk about the other things.’
“He asked if we were ready to start negotiations immediately. I said yes…
“He said to me, ‘Give me two days and I’ll get back to you.’ We said goodbye. He asked me to send his regards to Abu Mazen. And from that point on, I didn’t hear from Bibi or Molcho. A year later, I relayed him a message through a third party that I’ve been sitting waiting by the phone for a year, but Netanyahu did not respond.”
We could speculate unendingly on what was going on here. Maybe Netanyahu was testing the PA; maybe he was serious and then thought better of it or was dissuaded. Perhaps Abed Rabbo read more into Netanyahu’s words than was intended. The meetings were not documented.
There are those who will panic at this, because Netanyahu allegedly met in secret with a PLO representative and asked about a joint committee for Temple Mount issues, as Olmert had proposed. But what I see in the end is that the prime minister did not pursue those talks and stonewalled Abed Rabbo. And, in fact, as the meetings were not documented, he left nothing on the record to weaken Israel’s position. And there were no maps.
In point of fact, this interview may have been provided by Abed Rabbo right now as a political tool: a way to make Netanyahu look less than forthcoming on negotiations and thus bring pressure to bear.
I will state here what I have said many times: I do not always trust Binyamin Netanyahu. He has given me scant reason to do so. And, demonstrating a particular weakness, he is all too ready to show himself as accommodating — which leads him down a dangerous and slippery slope. (See more on this below.)
I have never believed, however, that he is an Ehud Olmert clone, simply itching to give our country away. And, whatever my unease, whatever my distress, I have not yet seen clear evidence that he is that clone. I pray that I never do.
What is disconcerting, annoying, worrisome is the announcement that the prime minister has ordered a delay– of “at least three weeks” (we shouldn’t hold our collective breath) — in issuing tenders for building 1,500 units in Ramat Shlomo, which is over the Green Line, even though all procedures were in place.
Credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post
According to the JPost, the holdup was because of “political sensitivity.” You may remember when Vice President Biden was here and a routine announcement came out about building plans in Ramat Shlomo. US officials responded as if Israel had deliberately mortified their vice president, and used this issue to generate quite a scene (with Hillary Clinton doing quite a bit of that generating).
Ramat Shlomo construction was held up for some time after that, which was unfortunate, because new housing is needed in that neighborhood. It’s not all about politics here, folks — it’s about needing places to live. If the project was now set to go forward, it should have gone forward.
I will add here in closing, with regard to fears of our prime minister “giving away” eastern Jerusalem, that, to the very best of my understanding legislation is on the books since November 2010 that requires approval in a public referendum and the votes of at least 60 Knesset members before any withdrawal from East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
Hat Tip: BB
Hat Tip: BB
Hat Tip: Curtis Frantz
By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Five months before Barack Obama was elected to his first term as president, Herbert Romerstein and I finished a Washington, D.C. briefing on “The Stealth Candidate”—Barack Obama—and his communist connections. I opened it up for questions. “I’m Dana Milbank from The Washington Post,” said the questioner. “So what’s the upshot? Do you think that Barack Obama is a communist?”
Not wanting to fall into an obvious trap, I replied, “We have no way to judge.”
But Herb told Milbank: “No, let’s answer that one a little differently. We’re telling you that you’re not doing your job. We didn’t say Obama was a communist. We said that you have to do due diligence in tracking down what Obama really is because right now he’s a stealth candidate. So, if you don’t do your job, that’s your problem.”
“Herb, you just got us a bad story in The Washington Post, for crying out loud,” I said. To which Herb responded, “I don’t remember ever seeing a good story in The Washington Post.”
Milbank promptly did write a story, labeling Herb “a living relic from the House Committee on Un-American Activities.” It was this committee, of course, that uncovered the treason of State Department official Alger Hiss and his service to the Soviet Union.
Herb’s family, friends and admirers paid tribute to him at a graveside burial service on May 9. This veteran of the Korean War fought for his country not only in wartime but also in peacetime, when the communists continued their onslaught against the West through other means. His wife Pat accepted the American flag in his honor. His daughters talked about their father’s dedication to the cause of freedom and family, as they recounted how he would question and challenge their own beliefs and statements. They cried but also laughed. Herb could be serious but funny, as he showed in that exchange with Milbank.
Herb did the serious research Milbank and his associates did not want to do. He helped unmask one of their icons, I.F. Stone, as a Soviet agent, and exposed Senator Ted Kennedy’s collaboration with the Soviet KGB.
It’s true that Herb worked for the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He also worked for the House Internal Security Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, and headed the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation and Active Measures of the United States Information Agency. He was part of the Reagan Revolution that safeguarded our freedom and turned back the Soviet Union and its proxies in the 1980s. As a result of his research in the archives of the Communist International in Moscow, which were briefly opened for outside inspection after the Soviet collapse, Herb ascertained that Harry Bridges of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union had been a secret member of the Communist Party USA. Bridges had always denied party membership.
As the reaction of Dana Milbank suggests, the media wanted to ridicule our findings on Obama or trick us into saying something that might backfire. Others in the media simply covered these findings up. Even the Drudge Report declined to run our advertising highlighting Obama’s connection to Frank Marshall Davis, Obama’s Communist mentorduring his growing up years in Hawaii, and communist networks in Hawaii and Chicago.
Today, slowly but surely, people are waking up to the stench of betrayal in Washington. It seems to have taken four dead Americans in Benghazi, obvious lies and a blatant cover-up, to wake up some members of the press to what this administration is doing in foreign affairs. High-level officials falsely blamed a terrorist attack on a video, and didn’t authorize military action to save American lives.
Who are these people? It’s a question that should have been answered back in 2008 when the media ignored their obligation to “vet” Obama and his associates. Blogger Trevor Loudon and Glenn Beck did have success in exposing Obama’s appointment of extremist Van Jones to one position in the federal government. But Van Jones resigned and went to work for CNN, whileBeck was forced out of Fox News after going after George Soros, the moneybags behind Obama’s rise to power.
Herb understood that there are enemies of our freedom and security who operate largely behind the scenes and must be exposed. It remains to be seen if Congress will get to the bottom of any of the mushrooming scandals now getting some major media coverage.
To Milbank’s credit, he did quote me correctly, even while dismissing our charges as “implausible.” I said, “We believe that any public figure with links to foreign and hostile interests should be asked to explain those associations. In the case of Obama, a relatively new figure on the national scene, we submit the facts suggest that he would have serious difficulty getting a security clearance in the United States government. An FBI background check was once used to examine one’s character, loyalty to the United States, and associations.”
We stand by the research and Herb’s challenge to the press.
Herb’s passing has left the anti-communist cause without a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about the conflict between communism and freedom. His archives have been acquired by the Hoover Institution. Milbank and other reporters would rather see them burned.
Some may not know that this fierce anti-communist was once a communist himself. Herb was in the tradition of Whittaker Chambers, the ex-communist who exposed Alger Hiss. His books included The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage, co-authored with Eric Breindel, and Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, co-authored with veteran journalist M. Stanton Evans. It documents how hundreds of Soviet agents infiltrated the U.S. government during and after the World War II period.
It won’t take decades to discover the truth about what’s happening in the Obama Administration, because Herb was part of the process that investigated Obama before he was elected in 2008. We know much already.
Herb was the one I turned to in 2008, after Trevor Loudon began the process of uncovering the shocking truth about Barack Obama and his connections to Frank Marshall Davis and other communists. His first report was, “Communism in Hawaii and the Obama Connection.” When we obtained the 600-page FBI file on Frank Marshall Davis, I knew that Herb was the one who should analyze its significance. The result was, “Who Was Frank Marshall Davis?” He also wrote, “What was the Weather Underground?,” exposing the roots of the terrorist group whose members, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, would launch Barack Obama’s political career in Chicago.
Herb’s masterful report, “From Henry Wallace to William Ayers – the Communist and ‘Progressive’ Movements,” analyzes how Henry Wallace’s Third Party Movement in 1948—the Progressive Party—was under total Communist Party control, and he explains how the “New Left” of the 1960s and 70s included Communists involved in such groups as Students for a Democratic Society and its terrorist offspring, the Weather Underground. Some of them would later become members of “Progressives for Obama.”
The problems in Congress did not escape Herb’s attention and will be the subject of a forthcoming book from Trevor Loudon. In addition to exposing Ted Kennedy’s collaboration with the KGB against the Reagan Administration, Herb filled in some of the most important details about the communist background of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).
Herb’s interest in the Barbara Lee story actually began in 1984, when Herb was selected, along with Michael Ledeen, to analyze documents captured on Grenada after the U.S. liberation of that island from communists. The result was Grenada documents: an overview and selection, an extraordinary compilation of documents on how a communist regime operates.
Some of the documents demonstrated that Barbara Lee and other aides to then-Rep. Ron Dellums (D-CA) were working with the regime in Grenada to keep the communists in power. Herb would also document that Lee became a top officer of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), a spin-off from the Communist Party after the Soviet collapse. She succeeded Dellums, himself a perceived security risk, in Congress.
Lee, who is today a member of the Democratic House Leadership through her work as a Senior Democratic Whip, holds the dubious distinction of casting the lone vote in the House against U.S. military action to remove the Taliban regime in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. She is a close associate of Obama who openly supports the Castro regime in Cuba.
So the questions that apply to Obama, in terms of escaping a background check for federal office, also apply to Barbara Lee and other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, consisting of 75 members of the United States House of Representatives, the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus.
One can examine documents that Herb uncovered for my report on Lee and see that another member of the CCDS was Maurice Jackson, a former high-ranking member of the Communist Party who is now an Associate Professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches such courses as “Black Power in America” and “Black Thinkers and Black Movements.”
Researcher Max Friedman has brought to my attention a July 6, 1989, issue of the Communist Party People’s Daily World noting a Maurice Jackson appearance on Howard University television, where he talked about a trip to Cuba and Soviet support for “liberation struggles.”
Additional research turned up the fact that he was the 2011 “Annual Peace Day Speaker” at the Sidwell Friends Quaker School in Washington, D.C., which Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, attend.
These developments demonstrate that communism is not a thing of the past but has taken on a new form and is still a problem that America has not fully exposed and corrected. The infiltration of our society goes through academia to politics, all the way to the White House.
To carry on Herb’s important work, Congress must re-establish committees and subcommittees dealing with internal security problems. Liberals such as Ted Kennedy abolished the last of them in the 1970s.
Herb contributed greatly to securing our freedom. His work must and will continue.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].
Hat Tip: BB
Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: Should Rape Be A Capital Crime?
Rhymes With Right: Should rape be a capital crime?
It would be easy to simply say “Yes.”
But the reality is that isn’t my position.
My position is “Hell yes! Why on earth would any sane person with a functioning moral compass believe otherwise?”
But then again, a middle school classmate of mine was abducted, raped and murdered only days after she finished eighth grade. A number of women close to me have been sexually assaulted as well and I have watched them struggle with the devastation these vicious crimes have caused in their lives.
So yes, I definitely support the creation (actually, the re-creation) of the crime of capital rape, with the death penalty as an option when the circumstances are particularly heinous and the identity of the rapist is particularly clear. It would not be available in every case and like capital murder, would require certain findings by either the judge or jury before a sentence of death could be imposed. But in the end, it is beyond question that some offenses can only be properly punished with the ultimate sanctioned.
The Razor: A long time ago my girlfriend at the time was gang raped on a beach by strangers. I had a ring-side seat to the emotional devastation that comes after the crime, the insensitivity of the authorities including two cops who were cracking jokes as she was treated in the ER and being awakened by her screams in the middle of the night as she relived the attack. I take this crime very seriously, which is why I see maladjusted idiots who claim to have been raped or threatened with the crime, such as Meg Lanker-Simons, a student activist at the University of Wyoming, as doing real damage to women and undermining the hard-earned respect victims of rape have gained in the legal system over the past 30 years. The rape threw my girlfriend into an abyss and in my attempt to save her I was dragged into it until I was pulled out by a family member. She disappeared into a pit of drugs and the sex industry, and our paths never again crossed.
But we survived. As best as I can tell she rebuilt her life and appears to be thriving in her hometown. Because of this I do not believe rape should be punished with death. Yes, the attack is devastating, but one can recover from it, survive and perhaps even rebuild what has been lost – unlike victims of other capital crimes.
JoshuaPundit: I think we’re dealing with a couple of issues here. I think, first of all, we need to have formal legal degrees of rape just as we have with murder. There’s obviously a big difference between two adults who get intentionally and willingly get intoxicated and end up having sex that one of them might decide later he or she didn’t want and a case where someone is physically forced or coerced into sex, abducted by a stranger or a group of strangers or has something like Rohypnol or GBH administered to them unknowingly.
In the latter cases, where there is clearly no ‘gray’ area and no reasonable doubt, I think the death penalty is warranted. Because rape lasts a lifetime. And as with child molestation, when you look into the background story behind many violent sexual assaults, the number of repeat offenders who should never have been walking around free in the first place is astounding.
We also live in perverse times where a number of women have found it expedient to accuse men of ‘rape’ for revenge, as an exercise in power, because it’s convenient or simply to draw attention to themselves, because the current political climate and the War on Men in America allows them to do so with virtually no real fear of punishment in all but the most egregious cases. In that context, I think we also need extremely harsh penalties for women (and it is overwhelmingly if not exclusively women who do this) who make what turn out to be unfounded accusations.
Bookworm Room: Should rape be a capital crime?
As with murder, there are degrees to rape. Here’s the lowest degree: someone I know worked for a judge who was trying a rape case. The victim was not only dumb as a post, but it turned out that everyone involved in the party that led to the “rape” had been skunk drunk. The victim initially thought that the defendant was her boyfriend (although the boyfriend had a cast on his arm and the defendant didn’t), so she gave consent. Then, when her dull brain finally woke up and she realized it wasn’t her boyfriend, not only was the defendant drunk, he was also about 3/4 of the way through the act and therefore didn’t respond to her drunkenly slurred “No.” Rape? Well, eventually it wasn’t consensual, but…
Colleges today claim that 1 out of every 4 women has been “raped.” That’s just a false number. Even adjusting downwards, though, to meet some semblance of reality, a lot of those college rapes involve something called “gray rape.” This is the situation in which the woman gets absolutely drunk out of her mind. The guy is often equally drunk. She either agrees to sex or doesn’t protest but, when she wakes up the next morning, she feels “violated” and cries “rape.”
There’s also the rape scenario that sees a woman fail to say “no” because she felt intimidated. She didn’t say “yes,” but the guy didn’t hear her say “no.” Later, she says it was rape — and from her point of view it was, because she felt forced to have sex. Except he will say, rightly, that she never said “no.” One might say that his behavior made it clear that he was going to have sex regardless of whether she said “no,” but the fact is, she didn’t. Hmmm.
There’s the Duke University case where the “victim” just lied, for reasons of her own. A lot of these stories crop up in the British press.
And finally there are cases such as the Cleveland case where a man imprisoned, raped, beat and forced abortions on three women (through malnutrition and beatings), and he did this over the course of a decade. I think an American-style capital crime is too sterile and humane for him. Of course, because it’s important that we don’t descend to the realm of savagery, I know that, as a matter of law, the “due process” death penalty that isn’t “inhumane” is the right way to go. But as a matter of satisfactory justice and revenge, if there weren’t a Constitution, I would smear him with honey, stake him out in the Texas desert on a very hot day, and leave him there. And should they so desire, I would let his victims watch, while waving before his eyes tall, cool glasses containing a drink of their choice.
My point, of course, is that giving the death penalty for rape fails to take into account the fact that as is the case with killing people, there is a broad range of intents and actions that have to be considered. In certain cases, the rape is sufficiently brutal and horrible that it is tantamount to taking a life (or a substantial part of a life), making the death penalty reasonable. In other cases, even though it is a violent and terrible act, it does not rise to the emotional level of a capital crime. And then there are the PC situations in which men are made the victims of consensual acts that women later regret. Just imagine if the death penalty was available for those crimes too…
Well, there you have it.
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.
It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it.