04/16/14

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Yippee-Ki-Yay Edition

The Watcher’s Council

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

The Council In Action!

This week, Midknight Review, Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion and The Pirate’s Cove earned honorable mention status with some great articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!

04/14/14

Wisdom – BLM versus Cliven Bundy Post Mortem

By: Andrea Shea-King
The Radio Patriot


Kholten Gleave, right, of Utah, pauses for the National Anthem outside of Bunkerville, NV while gathering with other supporters of the Bundy family to challenge the Bureau of Land Management on Saturday.

Jason Bean/Las Vegas Review-Journal/AP

On his radio show right now, Glenn Beck is talking about his take on what happened this weekend on Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch. He’ll be interviewing Bundy on the radio program during the third hour this morning.

But in the meantime, there’s this… a piece by Herschel Smith that (coincidentally) echoes what Glenn is saying today. Here’s the link to Glenn’s thoughts. And here’s what Herschel Smith wrote in the same vein. Glad there are men with this vision and understanding.

http://www.captainsjournal.com/2014/04/13/bureau-of-land-management-versus-cliven-bundy-post-mortem/

Bureau Of Land Management Versus Cliven Bundy Post Mortem

BY HERSCHEL SMITH
8 hours, 58 minutes ago

I had previously mentioned that I would not weigh in on Cliven Bundy. I usually like to read my homework very carefully. I don’t know Cliven Bundy and he doesn’t know me. I know little about his family and his history, but fortunately for us, this has all been made very easy.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with tortoises or grazing fees. Dana Loesch has done a good job of explaining it, and by now it has made its way to several other venues. It has to do with evil, greed, cronyism, nepotism, and malfeasance in office.

There are several takeaways from this affair. First of all, the main stream media is dead. The reports of conditions on the ground were given to us by blogs, alternative media, email and social media like Facebook and Twitter. The main stream media still hasn’t caught up. Perhaps in a month of two some large news publication like The New York Times or The Chicago Tribune will come out with an expose on Harry Reid’s evil in this affair, but don’t bet on it, and even if they do, it will be a month too late.

This death has been a long time coming, but it is finally here. The only thing anyone needs the main stream media for now is to cite their ridiculous editorials for the purpose of ridicule. The collectivists and the press have been like two ticks and no dog – both of them parasites. Eventually parasites have to perish. Unfortunately for us, many more parasites are in cahoots with the collectivists, but that’s for another time. Right now, don’t lament the death of the main stream media. They deserve it. Good riddance. You can write their obituary and bid them farewell. They’re done.

Next, Mike Vanderboegh has harped on a theme, that being “We won’t fire the first shot. We will shoot in self defense.” Sure enough, it almost came to that, but not quite. The militia who did show up held their composure and did remarkably well. No one took wild shots, no one escalated the situation, but a strong message was sent.

That said, this is far from over. The BLM is still very active, and for those who are of like mind, i.e., the notion that the federal government owns land is morally abominable, there are many miles to go before we rest. In fact, this wasn’t even a skirmish. It was a prelude to coming attractions if the federal government doesn’t check its own power (something not likely to happen). There are many federal agencies (DOJ, ATF, EPA, BLM, DHS, DEA, etc.), and together they can successfully trample rights just about anywhere over just about anything they wish.

Next, while I do like my AR-15, for the men who were providing overwatch and security for the protesters, I wondered if I was in that position which weapon I would want? My answer? My scoped, bolt action rifle. Leave the squad rushes and advance through fields of fire to the U.S. Marines on base at Camps Lejeune and Pendleton. Such would have been folly in a situation like this. One commenter remarked concerning a previous article that a sniper is anyone firing from a clandestine position. I don’t buy it. If that’s true, I can arm my mother and stick here in a hole and call her a sniper. Skilled shooting would have been at a premium if this had escalated to an engagement.

Finally (and there will be many more observations we will be able to make as this all sinks in), since the roots of this are so easily explained, the judgment is just as simple. Tyrants wish to usurp God’s authority. Thus their lusts and desires for rule over others runs antithetical to the economy and administration of the Almighty.

The halls of tyranny are the abode of demons and haters of God. But God will not be mocked. Tyrants and those who enable them will lose their souls, but even before that, time isn’t on their side. Tyrants will be held accountable both in time and eternity.

Every high thing must come down
Every stronghold shall be broken
He wears the Victor’s crown
He shall overcome
He shall overcome

Be of strong heart and good cheer. You are not on the losing side.

UPDATE:

Terresa Monroe-Hamilton also has posted about the Bundy/BLM issue:

04/13/14

Winding Down

Arlene from Israel

Preparing for the Pesach holiday, just a day away now. Beginning to turn away from everyday happenings, to focus on ultimate questions, family, and the ritual of Seder. I will not be posting again before the holiday starts on Monday night. And I do not know that I will have a chance to post in the course of the week-long holiday.

I wish one and all a joyous and meaningful holiday: Chag Pesach Kasher v’Sameach.


Credit: fhdphotos

I read a commentary the other day, about how we were able to come out of Egypt, with the help of the Almighty, because we had courage to move on, chutzpah (nerviness), this commentator said. This is what our people here, and our leadership especially, require today.

It occurs to me, as well, that we were brought from Egypt to come to Sinai and the Torah, and then to enter the Land. And now it is our task to hold fast to our inheritance. Something to be remembered at this time especially.

~~~~~~~~~~

There is no telling what the “peace process” situation will be by the time Pesach is over. I had, foolishly, assumed that – while it would ultimately come back to haunt us – we had a reprieve that would last for a while. But the “doctors” at the US State Department insist on trying to put the patient on a respirator. In the course of those US efforts, rumor-based headlines are generated that occasionally give one a near heart attack.

Pure logic tells us that there cannot be a resumption of the talks now. (Although pure logic is not exactly the best yardstick to use in assessing this situation.) Netanyahu has said unequivocally that we would not come back to the table unless the PA withdraws its applications to international organizations, and Abbas has said, figuratively, that he’d rather die than do this. In any event those applications have been accepted.

On Friday, Channel 10 News cited Israeli officials who declared that there was “zero chance that an agreement [that would bring the parties back to the table] will be reached in the coming weeks.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/179546#.U0o2CZvNvIV

But then again, other sources hint that something might still happen. Depends on which unnamed source is being cited and the political orientation of that source, as well as the political orientation of the media site doing the citing.

~~~~~~~~~~

What I’m seeing – at least now and please Heaven may it continue – is that Netanyahu is standing strong, not caving to the US pressure for us to make additional concessions, or back off on our position. Quite the contrary. In spite of the disapproval registered by the US, Israel is taking actions against the PA.

The Israeli action that has most rattled the PA is the decision to withhold some of the tax revenues (customs, etc.) that Israel by agreement collects for the PA and then turns over to Palestinian Arab officials. We are not going to withhold all revenues – only the amount that Abbas pays to terrorists and their families: Every Palestinian Arab in Israeli prison because of terror-related crimes receives a “salary.” See http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=1005 on this – it’s eye-opening.

The money that is withheld will go to paying off debts that the PA has accrued with Israel. The PA owes $400 million to Israel just for electricity that Israel supplies, per agreement.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-moves-to-scale-back-palestinian-authority-funding/

So I think this will be splendid, if it really happens. What has galled me no end is that Israel – presumably fearing international condemnation – has not simply stopped supplying electricity to them. (This is in spite of the fact that electric rates for Israelis were on the cusp of being increased to cover this default.) My electricity would be cut off if I consistently reneged on paying my bill.

The idea of withholding money to pay these bills was advanced as a sort of “retribution” for the PA having filed with international agencies. But it shouldn’t have been linked to other PA behaviors, or considered “retribution,” it should have been done because it is necessary and right.

Other actions, such as limiting transfers between Israeli and PA banks are also projected.

~~~~~~~~~~

The PA – which diverts international donations to “pay” terrorists – is alarmed at the idea that their funds should be cut. Abbas even made a statement about how this might cause the PA to collapse and there have been charges that what Israel is about to do is “illegal.”

What I observe is the pathological need the international community has to keep the PA afloat, even when evidence of misuse of funds donated abounds.

According to Palestinian Media Watch, “monthly salaries to prisoners ( which goes to their families) range from 2,400 shekels [about $700] to 12,000 shekels [about $3,500]. The PA economic report listed the prisoners’ salaries as part of the PA general salary budget, which includes civil servants, military personnel and others.” In other words, terrorists are doing the work of the PA.

There is a correlation between the amount paid per month and the length of the sentence – those who have committed more heinous crimes apparently meriting more monthly. Please, wrap your heads around this fact. Those Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons for non-terror related crimes receive no “salary.”

Additionally, those prisoners who have been released as the part of the deal to bring the PA to the table have received from the PA $2,000 for every year served. This amounts to tens of thousands per prisoner, because these were all convicted pre-Oslo – we’re looking at $40,000 plus per prisoner for over 70 prisoners or well over $2 million.

Yet, completely ignoring the need for PA fiscal accountability (and we haven’t even mentioned the incredible corruption that puts money in the pockets of PA leaders), State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was able to say on Friday that:

“…We believe that the regular transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been beneficial and is important to the well-being of the Palestinian economy.”

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Despite-State-Dept-frown-Israel-to-continue-responding-to-PA-unilateral-moves-348332

Please keep in mind that, per capita, the PA receives more money in international assistance than any other group or country.

~~~~~~~~~~

At least one EU official – European Parliament Budget Committee Chairman Michael Theurer – has finally seen the light with regard PA funding by the EU, the PA’s largest donor. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, he said (emphasis added):

“In its report, issued in December, the European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism…

“…the Palestinian Authority is the only body that receives EU funds regardless of its human rights record or economic performance.”

Theurer is disturbed by the fact that EU funds are utilized in “paying the salaries of Palestinian Authority officials living in the Gaza Strip, who in fact do not work at all and have not for years since the Hamas takeover in 2007.” He also notes that the salaries paid to the terrorists are five times the average paid by the PA to workers in Judea and Samaria.

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=16843

~~~~~~~~~~

Please, my friends, the myth of the poor suffering Palestinians, who are deprived because of the Israeli “occupation,” persists. Utilize this information about PA funds broadly in setting the record straight. Share with others, do talk-backs, write letters to the editor, etc.

~~~~~~~~~~

According to the Times of Israel:

“… unnamed senior Israeli official, quoted by Channel 2 on Friday night, asserted that it was Kerry who was to blame for the breakdown [in talks]. ‘He’s responsible for the crisis,’ the official reportedly said. This was because Kerry inaccurately told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would be willing to release Israeli Arabs in the fourth group of prisoners, when Israel had not agreed to do so. There was also a difference between the sides about how many prisoners would go free. The secretary had months to try to resolve the discrepancies but failed to do so, the report said.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-blames-kerry-as-peace-talks-hopes-fade/

It is crystal clear why Kerry proceeded in this fashion: he gave the PA what it demanded, assuming that in due course he would be able to pressure Israel to agree. Bravo for us that we didn’t.

~~~~~~~~~~

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Obama administration waged a “secret media war” against Israel after talks fell apart. They “sought to lay the groundwork for Israel to take the blame for talks collapsing by peddling a narrative to the Israeli press claiming that the Palestinians were outraged over Israeli settlements…This paved the way for Secretary of State John Kerry to go before Congress…and publicly blame Israel for tanking the talks.

“…The primary source of these multiple reports has been identified as Middle East envoy Martin Indyk and his staff…” (Emphasis added)

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/inside-the-white-houses-secret-campaign-to-scapegoat-israel/

This should comes as no surprise – anyone who has been following the situation over the years knows full well that Indyk is no friend to Israel. Nor should we think that this is an isolated incident. The name of the “negotiations” game is pressuring Israel in one way or another.

~~~~~~~~~~

I knew that the PA has been refusing to sit directly with Israel in negotiations. But I have just learned that it has been thus since November – that’s more than half the allotted time for these talks. Their negotiators insist on dealing with US officials only. A farce. Kerry cannot be truly hopeful that anything good can result from such a situation. It’s all a matter of appearances.

Indyk has now returned home for the week of Pesach. (It’s painful for me to acknowledge that he is a Jew.)

I begin our holiday grateful that no catastrophe has ensued, and yet am careful not to be naïve about what may yet happen. To our prime minister, I can only say Chazak! Chazak! Be strong, be ever strong!

~~~~~~~~~~

I mention here only in passing that, not unexpectedly, this “negotiations” situation has placed some strains on the coalition. This is both with regard to Naftali Bennett (head of Bayit Hayehudi) threating to leave if Israel releases Israeli Arab prisoners, and parties on the left making similar threats if “peace negotiations” are not advanced. Avigdor Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) is making noises about separating from the Likud in due course and aiming for the position of prime minister down the road.

What I hope to be able to do after Pesach is focus on other issues. Too much time and too many words have been devoted to the “negotiations” nonsense. Around us, chaos abounds and the dangers increase.

Nothing, but nothing, is more serious than the matter of the negotiations the P5+1 are holding with Iran: Appeasement rules the day. Poison gas has been used in Syria again, with each side accusing the others. Rockets have come now and again from Gaza and the situation in Egypt is unsettled, to put it mildly. All these situations require attention in my writing.

~~~~~~~~~~

Among the dangers that I see is an erosion of genuine democracy in the US.

Shame of major proportions accrues to Brandeis University in the instance I address here. Brandeis was scheduled to give an honorary degree at commencement time to Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, best-selling author and human rights activist, now living in the US.


Credit: FreedomsPhoenix

But under pressure from groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Students Association, the offer was withdrawn. Both groups, reports Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, have documented roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Hirsi Ali, born and raised into a Muslim family, renounced her faith and chronicled her reasons why in two best-selling books. She has been targeted for death by radical Islamists, including in a note pinned onto the body of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh after he was shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street.

“The two collaborated on a short film, ‘Submission,’ which was critical of the way women are treated in Islam. Hirsi Ali has made many statements critical of the religion, and her foundation works to protect women from physical abuse like honor violence, genital mutilation and forced marriage.

“Such a life, such a dedication to improving women’s lives, is deserving of an honor like the one Brandeis planned. But the school reneged, issuing a statement which said it could not fulfill its promise due to ‘certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.’”

http://www.investigativeproject.org/4348/brandeis-flap-marks-another-win-for-islamist

So much for free speech in America, when that speech is critical of Islam.

~~~~~~~~~~

What makes this more horrendous is that Brandeis gave the same award to radical leftist anti-Israel playwright Tony Kushner (NO relation). When Kushner’s political views were called into question, the response of then-president of Brandeis Yehuda Reinhartz was that:

“Mr. Kushner is not being honored…for his political opinions. Brandeis is honoring him for his extraordinary achievements as one of this generation’s foremost playwrights, whose work is recognized in the arts and also addresses Brandeis’s commitment to social justice.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/179456#.U0qQt5vNvIU

And Hirsi Ali did not deserve recognition for her extraordinary commitment to social justice??

~~~~~~~~~~

With the holiday of Pesach approaching, and its themes of freedom, this feels all the more distressing and reprehensible.

~~~~~~~~~~

Is there good news? Sure enough.

Pesach is upon us, with it messages of hope and redemption.

~~~~~~~~~~

A very special song for Pesach – my very favorite – is this rendition of V’hi She’amda, arranged by Yonaton Razel and sung by Razel and Ya’akov Shwekey:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=RDPg5bfHd-zMA&v=Pg5bfHd-zMA

The words are from the Pesach Haggadah: “This is what has stood by our fathers and us: For not just one alone has arisen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One blessed be He, saves us from their hand!”

Lazer Brody (http://lazerbrody.typepad.com/lazer_beams/) calls this the Eternal Promise. “It conveys a very timely message for the Jewish people: He who stood by our forefathers stands by us to deliver us from the hands of our enemies in every generation.”

~~~~~~~~~~

On a lighter note, but carrying the same theme, is this neat Pesach song video by a group of young boys:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWG4GGmw06E

04/12/14

A Little Past Due Love for Cousin Glen

By: Lloyd Marcus

As a 9 or 10 year old, my knowledge of the situation was limited. Therefore, I can not pass judgment on the adults. I do not know what was done or not done to rescue my cousin Glen, a little boy who was severely abused by his mom, my late aunt Bummie (a nickname). My dad threatened to report Aunt Bummie to the authorities and warned her, “Do not physically discipline my kids.”

A homosexual, Glen’s adult life was cut extremely short due to AIDS. My purpose for writing is to let the world know that Glen was here, his suffering and that I loved him.

Aunt Bummie was my mom’s older sister. Their childhood was horrendous. Their father was accidentally killed in a street shooting. Their alcoholic mother would abandon the two little girls for long periods of time. Mom and Bummie endured things kids should not have to endure.

In the 1950s when Dad broke the color barrier to become a Baltimore City firefighter, our family (mom and four younger siblings) moved out of the government projects into our own home in a black suburban community.

Aunt Bummie and her five sons by two absentee fathers remained in the projects on welfare. I enjoyed occasional sleepovers at my cousins’ government provided townhouse in the city. Aunt Bummie’s house was unkempt with holes punched in walls and broken furniture.

Aunt Bummie, when I grow up, I’m gonna buy you new furniture”. “Thanks Peanut”, (my nickname), she replied.

I got along great with Aunt Bummie and her boys. And yet, I felt my cousins’ envy of me having a dad in our home. I felt sorry for them.

Aunt Bummie and her boys lived different than my family. Aunt Bummie did not have a job. Unlike my home, the refrigerator was off limits to her children. Food was very valuable; each boy was protective of his food when eating. I remember large generic labeled boxes of government cheese and powdered milk – cans of meat and peanut butter.

Fondly, I remember Aunt Bummie covering her table with newspapers and dumping a huge pile of fried chicken necks and backs on it for us boys to devour. I still like fried chicken necks and backs.

Even as a little boy, I felt the sadness, anger and dysfunction of their household. Aunt Bummie was extremely kind and gentle with me, but brutal towards her boys – Glen in particular, the baby. I vaguely recall overhearing my parents saying Bummie hated Glen because he reminded her the most of his father.

Their household humor was weird and violent – the five boys along with Aunt Bummie would laugh hysterically about the time she broke the baseball bat while beating Jimmie and how she bent the cooking pot while beating Glen.

Glen was the family servant. When everyone was watching TV, anyone could order Glen to go fetch something for them. The slightest non compliance from Glen would result in Aunt Bummie screaming at him, and/or beating him; not spanking, beating. My heart always went out to Glen as I watched him cry during his beatings. The lack of love. The unfairness. The cruelty.

Lawrence, the eldest, was very intelligent and responsible. He played substitute dad to his brothers. Glen was intelligent and responsible. Aunt Bummie’s other three sons acted like Neanderthals. And yet, she catered to her two most lazy and irresponsible boys while being extremely tough on Lawrence and Glen.

Etched in my brain is the day I witnessed something emotionally die in Glen. Aunt Bummie was beating Glen, pounding away at him with her fists. Though his seven or eight year old body bent in reaction to her punches, Glen just stood there with a blank look on his face, not shedding a tear. It was chilling.

Sadly, Aunt Bummie and four of her sons died young. Her surviving son is one of her favorites who is now in his 50s. He never had a job in his life and lives in a nursing home.

The one bright spot in Aunt Bummie’s depressed household was her eldest son, Lawrence. Incredibility, Lawrence worked his way through college and achieved great things. Her favorite jobless adult sons lived at home. Despite two non working adult sons living with Aunt Bummie, a phone call would bring Lawrence with financial support. Lawrence, a homosexual, died of AIDS in his late 30s.

My heart goes out to Aunt Bummie and her boys, no husband in the home for her and no father for her sons. She was prone to explosive fits of rage. Aunt Bummie and her adult sons embraced cradle-to-grave government dependency. I believe their lives could have been so much more. Aunt Bummie eventually became a born-again Christian. Praise God!

But there is a special place in my heart for Glen. That kid never got any love. When he became an adult, according to the family grapevine, Glen was a bit wild and crazy, sexually promiscuous with very little self-respect. What if Glen would have had a real dad rather than the federal government? His life would have probably been much different. Truly sad. Truly tragic.

Lloyd Marcus, Proud Unhyphenated American
Chairman: Conservative Campaign Committee
LloydMarcus.com

04/11/14

The Council Has Spoken!! This Weeks’ Watcher’s Council Results – 04/11/14

The Watcher’s Council


We Stand With Cliven Bundy

Alea iacta est… the Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and we have the results for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.

“In war, truth is the first casualty” – Aeschylus

“We maintain peace through our strength; appeasement only invites aggression” – President Ronald Reagan, 1983

“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 8:11

This week’s winner was Joshuapundit’s Yes, The Peace Talks Are Dead – And An Opportunity For Real Peace Comes Alive. Here’s the real story of how things imploded and why, and how the Obama Administration set things up for failure. I attempt to wrap up the post mortum and show that there’s an opportunity for real peace here, what I think it would take and what it might look like. Here’s a slice:

While neither side has formally acknowledged it, the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are dead, and even John Kerry has thrown in the towel.

The Obama Team would never admit it, but they’re fully aware that it was Palestine’s unelected dictator Mahmoud Abbas that pulled the trigger and ended the talks, and his own controlled Palestinian media proudly admits it. Both Palestinian and Israeli media outlets on Thursday night quoted Abbas as saying, “I would rather become a martyr” than rescind the applications he signed on Tuesday to join 15 UN and other international treaties and conventions.

Kerry and the rest of the Obama team managed to arm twist the Israelis into discussing a further release of convicted terrorists along with releasing the fourth batch provided Abbas rescinded the UN membership applications and agreed to extend the deadline of the talks.

Instead of agreeing to what amounted to another gimmee, Abbas came out with a whole new set of pre-conditions to continue talks, conditions he knew no Israeli government could accept. According to Abbas’ own Palestinian News Agency Ma’an, the new pre-conditions included formal Israeli recognition of the borders of ‘Palestine’ as the pre-67 lines with all of East Jerusalem as its capitol; the release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners including convicted terrorist leaders Marwan Barghouti, Fuad Shweiki and Ahmad Saadat; a Israeli building freeze in East Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria; Israeli citizenship for 15,000 Palestinians under a ‘family reunification program’ essentially a recognition of a Palestinian ‘right of return’; the end of Israel’s blockade of Hamas in Gaza; the right of return for PLO terrorists who were exiled to European countries under an agreement between the EU and Israel after the 2002 Palestinian siege of the Church of the Nativity; forbidding the IDF to enter Area A, the part of Judea and Samaria under PA control which would essentially create an escape zone for terrorists after attacks on Israelis since the PA has never jailed anyone for murdering an Israeli; and Palestinian control of parts of Area C, the areas now under full Israeli sovereignty.

And that was just to continue listening to Abbas say no for another few months!

Kerry’s deputy Martin Indyk mediated a nine hour meeting between head Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj, and Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho and tried to cable together some semblance of a reasonable platform, but he was yelled down by the Palestinian negotiators and the entire meeting turned into a shouting match, with even the ever flexible Tzipi Livni unable to contain herself. At one point, Livni reportedly demanded of Erekat that Abbas rescind the applications to the 15 UN organizations and conventions he’d submitted in order to negotiate any other preconditions. Erekat flatly refused, and Livni announced the next day that Israel would definitely not release that fourth batch of convicted Palestinian terrorists.

When Indyk tried to reason with the Palestinians, saying that any agreement had to consider Israel’s security considerations, Faraj snapped back that the Palestinians weren’t there to discuss Israeli security, but to negotiate over a timetable to get all of their demands met.

Things went quickly downhill from there, with the Palestinians threatening to join even more international bodies and take prosecute Israel for ‘war crimes’ at the International Criminal Court and the Israelis promising retaliation if they did so.

Abbas never had any intention of actually negotiating. Even Saeb Erekat admitted earlier this month that Abbas was staying in the talks just to get the terrorist releases.

Much more at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Matt WalshHey gay rights militants: your fascism is showing, submitted by Joshuapundit. It’s Walsh’s defiant blowback to the Gay Mafia and progressive fascism in general, and it makes for some stirring reading.

Okay, here are this week’s full results.

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! Don’t forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week’s Watcher’s Forum, as the Council and their invited special guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day with short takes and weigh in… don’t you dare miss it. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!

04/10/14

How Putin Uses KGB-style “Active Measures”

By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media

The global crisis over Ukraine is bringing much-needed attention to what North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls “Russian propaganda and disinformation,” a campaign of deliberate lies and distortions emanating from Moscow which attempts to control the narrative over what is happening on the ground.

At the same time, the lack of an effective U.S. response has reminded experts in the field of “information warfare” that U.S. government efforts to counter “active measures” were mostly dismantled at the end of the Cold War.

Thomas Boghardt, historian at the International Spy Museum, notes that Soviet “active measures” aimed to discredit the United States and “conquer world public opinion.” He quotes retired KGB Major General Oleg Kalugin as saying, “It’s a tradition, it’s not something new. That’s important to see the past projected onto the present—and the future.”

During the 1980s, under President Reagan, there was a federal “Active Measures Working Group” to counter Soviet propaganda. This group of officials from various federal agencies was run out of the U.S. Information Agency, later folded into the State Department.

A 1984 video on “Soviet Active Measures” was produced by the U.S. Information Agency and is now available on YouTube. It features a Soviet KGB defector, Stanislav Levchenko. With Herbert Romerstein, a member of the Active Measures Working Group, Levchenko wrote The KGB Against the “Main Enemy”: How the Soviet Intelligence Service Operates Against the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin would have been deeply involved in these activities. During the late 1980s he was a KGB colonel and spy in East Germany. Later, he became head of the FSB, the KGB’s main successor.

In what AIM called “one of the most notorious examples of Communist disinformation appearing in the U.S. media,” Dan Rather aired the Soviet claim that the AIDS virus was manufactured in a Pentagon laboratory, without offering any rebuttal.

Today, the Russian government is so brazen that it pumps propaganda directly into American living rooms through Russia Today (RT), the Moscow-funded English-language channel carried by Comcast and other cable systems.

On April 8, for example, RT host Thom Hartmann gave airtime to Putin apologist Stephen Cohen, identified as one of several commentators “whose observations are often egregiously at odds with verifiable facts” in “A User’s Guide to Russian Propaganda,” compiled by several pro-Ukrainian activists.

Hartmann was once hailed by the publication POLITICO as a progressive hero, in a story ignoring his service to Moscow as a paid Russian agent.

However, some conservatives are also following the Kremlin line, including radio talk-show host Michael Savage and Patrick J. Buchanan.

In a column entitled “When Conservatives Go Wrong,” analyst J.R. Nyquist says about Buchanan, who insists that Putin is a committed Christian, “Like many famous names from earlier decades, Buchanan has become a fellow traveler and a ‘useful idiot.’”

But there is hope, some of it due to the heavy-handed nature of Russian propaganda over Ukraine and the willingness of people with access to the facts to dispute it.

For example, The New York Times has effectively debunked Russian propaganda claims about neo-Nazis running rampant in Ukraine and influencing the new government. “Among Ukraine’s Jews, the Bigger Worry Is Putin, Not Pogroms,” was the headline over the Times article. Pogrom is a Russian word designating an organized attack on Jews. The Times said, “Despite assertions by Russia, many Ukrainian Jews say there has not been a resurgence of anti-Semitism since the revolution in February.”

The paper noted evidence that it’s Putin, not the government of Ukraine, taking the side of anti-Semites and neo-Nazis. An open letter to Putin from representatives of more than 20 Ukrainian Jewish organizations asserted that Russian neo-Nazis “are encouraged by your security forces.”

Meanwhile, Russian propaganda is resulting in anti-Catholic bigotry in the now Russian-occupied part of Ukraine known as Crimea.

Bishop Bohdan Dzyurakh, secretary-general of the Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops, told Catholic News Service about “the threats and accusations” against his community, recalling “Soviet propaganda from when our church was suppressed in 1945-46, and we’ve no illusions as to what this portends.”

He went on: “Catholics who support Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity are being viewed as enemies. Priests’ families are also being mistreated by people influenced by Russian propaganda, which has succeeded in fueling aggression between citizens who previously lived in peace.”

Catholic News Service added, “The Ukrainian Catholic Church, a Byzantine rite, was outlawed under Soviet rule from 1946 to 1989, when many clergy were imprisoned and most church properties seized by the state or transferred to Russian Orthodox possession.”

In Crimea, according to the news agency, Bishop Dzyurakh said the situation was “tense and dangerous” for Catholic clergy, after one priest was arrested and threatened with prison, and other priests were branded as “Vatican agents” and warned to leave.

The Russian Orthodox Church, long dominated and controlled by the Soviet/Russian intelligence services, backs the Putin regime. Putin claimed the takeover of Crimea was designed to protect the Russians there from “rabid Ukrainian nationalists, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites” in control of the government of Ukraine.

The report, “A User’s Guide to Russian Propaganda,” notes that “the Russian propaganda machine is a mature and venerable institution that engages in an art that, for better or for worse, the West simply does not practice as often nor as effectively.” It concludes, “Propaganda is a very powerful tool in times of war. Primary sources and data are readily available to verify the facts to counter that propaganda. Too many lives are at stake not to do so.”

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org. View the complete archives from Cliff Kincaid.

04/9/14

Crossing Lines

Arlene from Israel

Has our government finally learned? No matter what efforts we make, no matter the concessions – in the end it is Israel that faces accusations when things go wrong. The lesson here is that we should stop trying and refrain from further concessions.

What I am referring to is the tone, as well as content, of testimony given by Kerry yesterday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Tovah Lazaroff, providing an analysis in the JPost, wrote:

“It wasn’t what Secretary of State John Kerry said…it was how he said it….

“It was a narrative exclamation, and pause, strong enough to be heard round the world.

“It fell, like a slow drumbeat…”

Kerry’s accusation: that an announcement by Israel about building over the ‘67 line is what killed the chance to revive the “peace negotiations”

http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Poof-that-was-sort-of-the-moment-347973

~~~~~~~~~~

Lazaroff describes the progression of events that Kerry presented. I want to review it quickly here because Kerry’s misrepresentations require correction. No one should take him at his word.

Israel – which had committed to the release of 106 pre-Oslo prisoners, in four stages, in order to get the PA to the table for nine months – announced towards the end of March that the final group of prisoners would not be released as scheduled because of evidence that this painful (and, many would say, horribly inappropriate) concession was not achieving its intended results. The Palestinian Authority had stopped participating in direct negotiations – there was only separate contact by each party with US negotiators. What is more, there was solid evidence that once Abbas secured the release of that last group of prisoners, he was intending to call a halt to “talks.” He had been hanging in at a minimal level only to achieve the victory of the release of terrorists.

Israel said that the final group of prisoners would be released only if the PA committed to another nine months at the table after April 29th. A predictable furor followed, with the PA saying that it was entitled to the final prisoner release without having to make any further commitment.

At this point the US, seeking to salvage the process, intervened, and the news was full of talk about Pollard possibly being let out of prison (to “motivate” members of the Israeli government to agree to further concessions), and Israel agreeing both to the release of that final group of prisoners plus another 400 and, to boot, a partial freeze in construction in Judea and Samaria (NOT including Jerusalem and exempting building for which tenders were already out). All so the PA would stay at the table for another nine months.

Enough to give a nationalist Zionist a heart attack, even with the tentative talk about Pollard’s release (a cruel manipulation). But from the US perspective there should have been acknowledgement that Netanyahu was really trying.

~~~~~~~~~~

Before this grand new deal could be finalized, Abbas announced that he had signed applications for membership in 15 international organizations. This was precisely what he was not supposed to do, as long as there were negotiations. And this was the final blow. Kerry cancelled plans to fly to Ramallah to finalize the expanded deal, the US announced that it was no longer considering the release of Pollard, and Israel said all offers were off the table.

At the time this happened, I was astounded, that Abbas could very likely have secured the release of some 420 prisoners, and yet opted to go a different route instead. To me it was obvious that he was tired of the negotiations charade and was prepared to move to the next step – one that was well planned and bound to come sooner or later. Abbas blew it, willfully and defiantly.

~~~~~~~~~~

At the same time all of this was transpiring, an announcement was made by Israel regarding the construction of 700 new housing units in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. The tenders for this construction had been put out prior to this. It was not something new.

Kerry, however, has now chosen to point his finger at Israel, saying that this announcement about construction is what destroyed the possibility of salvaging the process.

This is how Lazaroff describes Kerry’s testimony (emphasis added):

“But while Kerry said the 15 applications were not helpful, he didn’t pause in that part of the narrative, nor did he state that this was the point of no return.

“He described matter-of-factly what happened after the March 29 release was delayed as both sides tried to conclude a deal to keep the talks going for another nine-months.

“’Unfortunately the prisoners weren’t released on Saturday, when they were suppose to be released,’ Kerry said.

“’A day went by. Day two went by. Day three went by,’ Kerry said. He moved his arms to underscore his words.

“’And then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof,’ Kerry said as he spread his arms wide and paused. It was a move that accentuated the drama.

“Kerry then finished his sentence: ‘That was sort of the moment,’ he said as he brought his hands down.’”

Poof? Kerry has sunk to a new low, even for him.

~~~~~~~~~~

I want to make several points here:

First, Israel had not committed to freezing building under the terms of the current negotiations, nor is there anything in the Oslo Accords that would prohibit this. Israel was in the process of offering a partial freeze when things fell apart, but had already clarified that the partial freeze would not include Jerusalem.

Gilo is over the ‘67 line, but it stands on what had been Jewishly owned property even prior to 1967.


Credit: JerusalemShots

The Arabs refer to it as being in “East” Jerusalem, but in point of fact it is in Jerusalem’s south (or more accurately south west).


Credit: Crethiplethi

Sometimes Gilo is referred to as a “settlement” – which is what Kerry just did: it’s more dramatic than talking about a part of Jerusalem. Gilo, however, is solidly within the municipal borders of Jerusalem. It is a Jewish neighborhood with over 40,000 residents that no one believes would ever become part of a Palestinian state even if one were – Heaven forbid – to be established.

The furor over this is nothing but posturing.

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan Tobin, editor of Commentary, responded similarly to Kerry’s “poof” statement. “Why did Kerry lie about Israeli blame?” he asks. And then proceeds to answer the question (emphasis added):

“…to blame the collapse on the decision to build apartments in Gilo…is, to put it mildly, a mendacious effort to shift blame away from the side that seized the first pretext to flee talks onto the one that has made concessions in order to get the Palestinians to sit at the table. But why would Kerry utter such a blatant falsehood about the process he has championed?

“The answer is simple. Kerry doesn’t want to blame the Palestinians for walking out because to do so would be a tacit admission that his critics were right when they suggested last year that he was embarking on a fool’s errand…

“Since Kerry hopes to entice the Palestinians back to the talks at some point, blaming Israel also gives him leverage to demand more concessions from the Jewish state to bribe Abbas to negotiate. Being honest about the Palestinian stance would not only undermine the basis for the talks but also make it harder to justify the administration’s continued insistence on pressuring the Israelis rather than seek to force Abbas to alter his intransigent positions.

“Seen in that light, Kerry probably thinks no harm can come from blaming the Israelis who have always been the convenient whipping boys of the peace process no matter what the circumstances. But he’s wrong about that too. Just as the Clinton administration did inestimable damage to the credibility of the peace process and set the stage for another round of violence by whitewashing Yasir Arafat’s support for terrorism and incitement to hatred in the 1990s, so, too, do Kerry’s efforts to portray Abbas as the victim rather than the author of this fiasco undermine his efforts for peace.”

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/04/08/why-did-kerry-lie-about-israeli-blame-peace-process-palestinians/

It is said sometimes that trying to make peace cannot hurt. But we see that it can, when the effort is mismanaged.

Tobin’s assumption that Kerry hopes to entice the Palestinians back at some point is probably correct. Until today I have avoided posting about the interminable haggling about the end of this process. It has been unbearable to witness.

I do think it’s come to an end, for now, even though Kerry is still talking about what the next few days may bring. Imagine, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying, “Gaps remain, but both sides are committed to narrow[ing] the gaps.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his part, has instructed ministers to cut off high-level contacts with the Palestinian Authority on non-security related issues (Tzipi Livni excepted).

~~~~~~~~~~

Some are speaking about scaling down expectations. Thus did Shlomo Avineri, a former director general of the Israeli foreign ministry say, “The gap between the most moderate position in Israel and the most moderate position in the Palestinian leadership is too [wide] right now. It’s time for the U.S. to think of a contingency plan —treating this as a conflict-management situation.”

Perhaps a short term compromise, of sorts. What I see, however, is that Israel is trapped by Oslo, as these accords call for negotiations to resolve final issues. Thus will the process of negotiations come back to haunt us again and again, in various formulations, until there is the courage in the government to declare Oslo failed, and null and void because the PLO has abrogated its terms.

04/9/14

Watcher’s Council Nominations – The New Fascism Edition

The Watcher’s Council

It’s all over the place, isn’t it? ‘Nuff said.

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

First off, we have a party to go to, we do. Nice Deb’s actual birthday was April 6th, but we’ll celebrate it in style today!

First off, a cake. I chose a double Dutch chocolate number, with chocolate ganache icing and just a lil’ bit of rum for flavor.

Beverage? I thought some Kristal Brut would go nicely. Can’t go wrong with a classic, yes?

Our friend Debra is fairly new to the Council. Back last June, when a vacancy opened up, I happened across her site and really liked what this no nonsense conservative lady was putting out. Her response when I asked if she’d be interested in joining the Council? “Sure, sounds like fun.”

You see, that’s the other side of her persona. Among her other attributes, she has a really good sense of humor, so I knew right then she’d fit in well with the rest of the gang. And she certainly has, to say the least.

Not that it should be any surprise, of course. As she’s shown me and her other Council mates on many occasions, she really is Nice Deb.

Happy Birthday, Debra… and many, many more.

THE COUNCIL IN ACTION:

This week, Midknight Review, Right Reason, Maggie’s Notebook and The Pirate’s Cove earned honorable mention status with some fine articles.

You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

To bring something to my attention, simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title and a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address (which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6 PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category. Then return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week when it comes out Wednesday morning.

Simple, no?

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have for you this week…

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!