04/14/14

Forum: Do Ethnic Or Religious Sensibilities Trump Free Speech? Should A Line Be Drawn?

The Watcher’s Council

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, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: Do Ethnic Or Religious Sensibilities Trump Free Speech? Should A Line Be Drawn?

Liberty’s Spirit: Absolutely NOT. As Voltaire said {paraphrased} about freedom of speech “I may not agree with what you say, but will defend to my death your right to say it.” Freedom of speech is the right to insult people as much as you want and for them to insult you back. It is a precarious slippery slope deciding what is or is not permitted speech, because that tyranny will change depending upon who is in power at any given time. Additionally, without free speech society could not challenge, grow and develop into democracies. No ruler, potentate, oligarch or tyrant would ever allow anything they did to be challenged especially, by free speech. This is why free speech is a crime in the majority of countries in the world.

In fact, the first line of freedom is freedom of speech. It is why it is one of the 5 freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment. These are the rights that the founding fathers knew to be the most essential in order to preserve a democratic society. Freedom of speech may allow haters to vent their ignorance but it also allows you to answer them and to fight them. This is why the Fairness Doctrine and Net Neutrality are so insidious, and why free speech advocates are enraged that the Obama administration is going to turn over certain operations of the internet to the UN. This organization is run by tyrants, absolute monarchies and oligarchs. The importance of the internet is exemplified by the fact that the overt first acts of these dictatorship is to cut off or severely limit access to the internet or internet programs like twitter.

The UN, in fact, may best be described as “Animal Farm,” without the human element of compassion. It is important to remember that the UN directorate, which is beholden to Islamist nations for their positions (due to voting blocs), is also pushing for a blasphemy law promoted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This law would punish anyone who questions Islam on any level. It is important to note that Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration support such a law curtailing freedom of speech. These laws and dictator-run-groups are meant to cut off and prevent freedom of speech on every level. It is beyond comprehension how anyone in the political class of the United States would support curtailing our most basic freedoms, but our President and presumed democratic nominee for 2016 do apparently support tyranny.

Freedom of speech is not easy. But it is important to note that freedom of speech is the hallmark of the enlightenment period. Without it all humanity would revert back into serfdom. Meant only to serve the political classes’ desires and wants, just as our ancestors were forced to serve the ruling/royal classes during much of human history. Like the novel “1984,” the march forward into a better world would end and we would see another Dark Ages. Something, by the way, the international political classes are trying to engineer by promoting and capitulating to Islamist aggression coupled with political correctness and cultural relativism worldwide, including in the United States.

Simply Jews: No.

Sorry, it was a partial answer only. Here is a full one:

No. No.

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Oh, that’s easy!

NOT!!

Perhaps the most contentious issue in Free World?

If liberty of expression is not highly valued, as has often been the case, there is no problem: freedom of expression is simply curtailed in favor of other values. Free speech becomes a hot issue when it is highly valued because only then do the limitations placed upon it become controversial.

The first thing to note in any sensible discussion of freedom of speech is that it will have to be limited. Every society places some limits on the exercise of speech because speech always takes place within a context of competing values. In this sense, Stanley Fish is correct when he says that there is no such thing as free speech (in the sense of unlimited speech).

If free speech were ‘absolute,’ you could even lawfully kill somedobby, as long as you were doing it to make some statement.

On all sides of the debate, we can agree that speech is necessary for democracy. Governments ought not to abridge speech en masse. Government must show how the speech in question poses a genuine danger.

FreeSpeechDebate has an excellent piece up that systematically knocks out 19 arguments in favor of Speech Control. Well worth checking out, here is just a killer sample

The ‘globalisation’ argument:

‘The 2005 Danish You Know Who cartoons demonstrated how free speech in the West, even if harmless at home, can have violent repercussions around the world. In an era of instantaneous electronic communications, overly broad freedoms of speech can have dangerous consequences.’

Reply:

It is illegitimate a priori to suggest that one society’s norms of democratic citizenship must be abridged because members of another society dislike its exercise. By analogy, in many societies, electronic communications revealing scantily clad Western women also provoke hostility, which, however, would scarcely justify calls for Western women to start covering themselves up.

JoshuaPundit: Our Supreme Court has weighed in on this a number of times, and originally came up with an excellent dividing line in Schenck v. United States where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. coined the “clear and present danger” doctrine. Simply put, if speech was intended to result in a crime and had a good chance of succeeding, it was no longer protected speech.I largely agree with that doctrine. It’s a necessary line for the protection of a civil society.

Since then, our courts and our politicians have steadily chipped away at that doctrine, with various ‘hate speech’ codes in universities and other institutions being upheld whether they advocated crime and violence or pose a clear and present danger or not. This is a huge danger to the First Amendment that, frankly, comes with the Left’s increasing use of identity politics to foster division in this country. A president like Barack Obama who makes use of this as a major part of his political strategy is the natural result.

This danger to our traditional freedom of expression from this new ‘right to be offended’ has spread over the American landscape, the more so because the use of partisan identity politics is unequal, as is the fear of retaliation. An Al Sharpton, a Gloria Alred or a Louis Farrakhan can freely indulge in blatant sexism, racism or anti-semitism with no consequences, while it is open season on anyone not belonging to one of the protected groups who is guilty of what Orwell would have called thought crimes.

Another part of what I’ll call the Fear Factor is the introduction into America of fundamentalist Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood by our last three presidents. While hardliners belonging to other religions may be unpleasant and call names, Islam mandates the violent death of those whom ‘insult’ its doctrines,its prophet or its Qu’ran and a significant number of Muslims agree with that view entirely. The fear of Muslims and how they might react to something has become so pervasive in our media, military, law enforcement, academia, and politics that in itself, a significant amount of Islam and how it is practiced and proselytized in the West has become that clear and present danger Justice Homes spoke about, any number of decent, peaceful Muslims not withstanding. It has even infected our Supreme Court to the point where one Supreme Court Justice has been open about abrogating our First Amendment and another certainly leans in that direction in order to avoid any possibility of angering restive Muslims.

These threats to our First Amendment freedoms are something we are going to have to deal with in the future if we wish to retain them at all.

The Razor: Tricky question.The cliché is the limit of free speech is yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there isn’t one, so free speech isn’t without limits. Another example would be personal threats. One isn’t free to threaten to kill another. The problem is once you draw the line it’s difficult to stop moving it.

Take for example the Islamic extremists in the UK who threaten non-believers. Is that protected speech? I would say it is. However if the extremists threaten to kill David Cameron or move from the general to the specific, such as threatening to kill Jews or a British soldier, then in my view they’ve crossed that line.

But the question really is nowhere near that limit. It’s really about offensive speech. Muslims and their Leftist useful idiots have become quite adept at using speech codes to silence opposition to Islamic extremism in the UK as well as on American college campuses. These codes have nothing to do with protecting against threats and everything to do with silencing opposing voices through the justification of causing offense. The “logic” behind such codes is that there is an equivalent between mental anguish and physical pain; therefore the old adage that “sticks and stones my break my bones but words can never hurt me,” is false. Words can hurt just as much as physical abuse. That’s bulls**t. This twisted logic also assumes that humans can exist in a social state of non-confrontational bliss, which is also bullocks. Such a state assumes a level of conformity in thought and action that simply isn’t achievable without social engineering on a scale that has only been glimpsed in books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. Given that such utopian social engineering underlays both Leftist and Islamic ideologies, I suppose it’s not a surprise to find these unlikely bedfellows united in their promotion of speech codes limiting the free expression of contrary ideas and opinions.

It would be nice to live in a completely free society, one without lines, but the real world demands we must set boundaries and that means drawing lines. But these lines should be set as close to the ideal as possible, meaning that the cases that cross the line and the impact such crossing has affects as few people as absolutely necessary.

The Independent Sentinel: No. People shouldn’t be rude but it’s the price we pay for free speech. Sensibilities never trump free speech.

People shouldn’t be sued or have to accommodate others for their inherent right to free speech simply because someone is offended. If every time we speak, we have to think of who we might offend, we lose far too much freedom.

I was giving a lecture one day and I referred to my flip chart. Everyone’s gasped. I had no idea why. Apparently it’s an insult to Philippine people. Where do we stop if we have to worry about people’s sensibilities? Do we have to know insults in other languages and do we have to know the origin of words because they might have been offensive once?

The recent event on the Bundy ranch should have everyone offended. The government, in addition to the whole martial law thing, set up free speech zones far from the ranch. They made a point of calling them free speech zones. Using those words was meant to send a message that the rest of the areas are not free speech zones. It was done deliberately because they want us to get used to the idea.

All of America is a free speech zone!

Bookworm Room: No. Free speech must trump any ethnic or religious sensibilities. It’s that simple. Once you start carving out little exceptions, you stop having free speech, no matter how little those exceptions are initially. And once you lose free speech, you lose freedom which is easily lost and almost impossible to regain.

Part of living in a free society is having a thick skin. One of the most terrible things the Left has done to America is to turn various ethnic, religious, racial, sex, and gender identity groups into panicked, hysterical bundles of over-exposed nerves. Few things are more dangerous than an angry, aggressive coward fighting for what the coward perceives to be his survival — and that’s what we’ve all been trained to be over the last forty, and especially the last twenty years.

The Glittering Eye: No. Your free exercise ends where my freedom of expression begins. The First Amendment is pretty clear on this subject and, since it’s incorporated, that applies to state and local governments as well.

There is no guarantee of not being offended by the speech of others, either explicit or implied.

AskMarion: In the end each of our relationships with and to God is all that matters, and so I believe it is with countries and societies as well. As for organized religion, I have gone through my phases with religion(s) in general, individual churches and practicing at all, throughout my life. And looking at America’s changing relationship with God and His principles on which our nation was founded and the corresponding decline in America, American society and in our standing in the world, I would say that there is a fine line between the importance of freedom of speech, basic principles and ethnic or religious sensibilities.

I believe that in the end, if you do not have freedom and the right to speak out you lose it all, or at best life becomes very difficult, but in order to have freedom and allow freedom of speech, it requires civility, understanding and some compromise by all. For if you destroy the vehicle that allows you your freedoms, even if they aren’t perfect, you will soon find yourself living in anarchy and in a place that just might not allow you any freedom or at least not the freedoms that are important to you.

We are now seeing the exact opposite of what our Founders envisioned. We are living in a country where you can be destroyed, fired, and singled out for speaking up or donating to a cause that aligns with your religious beliefs, especially if you are a Christian, in deference to groups that have made huge strides in their freedoms in the past 10-years, because average Americans were willing to compromise.

Thomas Jefferson and the other Founders believed that they were inspired by God and that God had his hand on America. They believed that there definitely should not be central religion, like in Great Britain, but they believed that our country and Constitution would be best served if based on Judeo-Christian principles…. and they absolutely supported prayer at governmental events and in school as well as the mention of God and posting of the 10 Commandments in founding documents and governmental buildings and monuments. That is the basis for the huge misunderstood principle of separation of church and state, that is nowhere mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.

So yes… sometimes what is best for the society or country as a whole, must prevail. There are few absolutes, so although generally freedom of speech must be the measuring stick, sometimes common sense or the greater good must prevail because there is no freedom in chaos.

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.

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04/14/14

Mark Levin’s “Liberty” Amendments: Legalizing Tyranny

By: Publius Huldah
Publius-Hulday’s Blog

For 100 years, the federal government has usurped powers not delegated to it in our Constitution.

What should we do about it? Should we reclaim our existing Constitution and put an end to the usurpations?

Or should we “modernize” the Constitution by delegating to the federal government the powers it has usurped – so as to legalize what is now unconstitutional?

Mark Levin begins “The Liberty Amendments” by saying he doesn’t believe the Constitution requires “modernization through amendments”. But he then proposes a series of amendments, six of which modernize our Constitution to delegate to the federal government most of the powers it has usurped during the last 100 years.

And each of his six amendments does the opposite of what its title promises. I’ll show you. 1

Levin’s amendment to “limit the federal bureaucracy” [p 99-100 of his book]

George Washington’s cabinet had four members: Secretary of State, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney General. Those functions are authorized by our Constitution. 2

But today there are numerous agencies in the Executive Branch of the federal government. Where is the constitutional authority? What Article, Section, and Clause authorizes the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Labor, Transportation, HHS, HUD, DHS, EPA, SBA, etc., etc., etc.?

There is no constitutional authority! Accordingly, all these agencies are unconstitutional as outside the scope of the powers delegated in our Constitution.

Well then, a person who wanted to “limit the federal bureaucracy” would demand that these agencies be closed, and their functions returned to the States and The People, right?

But Mark Levin doesn’t do this. Section 1 of his amendment legalizes all these agencies. It says:

“All federal departments and agencies shall expire if said departments and agencies are not individually reauthorized in stand-alone reauthorization bills every three years by a majority vote of the House of Representatives and the Senate.”

As long as Congress periodically “reauthorizes” the agencies – they remain.

Continue reading

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:

04/14/14

Harry Reid’s Nevada family values

By: Richard Cameron
Communities Digital News

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2014 — One thing Harry Reid does well is live up to his moniker, “Dirty Harry.” On his side of the Democrat wing of the organized crime family in Washington, Reid has few equals as a world class bag man.

It may be pure coincidence that the army of heavily armed agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are now pulling back from their positions encircling Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s family ranch, North of Las Vegas. But it’s doubtful. It may have everything to do with a new round of intense scrutiny of Reid’s use of influence to reward family members and campaign donors in lucrative development deals across the state.

A detailed report of Reid’s efforts to promote a Chinese takeover of 9,000 acres in Clark County for the purposes of building a solar energy farm and manufacturing plant was released by Reuters’ Marcus Stern, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. Stern revealed:

The Langfang, China-based ENN Energy Group hopes to build what would be the largest solar energy complex in America. The site chosen with Rory Reid’s guidance is in tiny Laughlin, Nevada, a gambling town of 7,300 along the Colorado River, 90 miles south of Las Vegas. ENN is headed by Chinese energy tycoon Wang Yusuo, who made a fortune estimated by Forbes at $2.2 billion distributing natural gas in China. Wang escorted Reid and a delegation of nine other U.S. senators on a tour of the company’s clean energy operations in Langfang, and Reid featured Wang as a speaker at his 4th annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas last year.

Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada. His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.

How much below appraised value? Enough to cause a few raised eyebrows at the sweetheart deal approved by the Clark County Commission that Reid’s son formerly chaired. While the acreage had an appraised value between $28 and $36 million, the sale price was negotiated down to $4.5 million. Compared to so-called “Russian Negotiation,” Chinese negotiation seems supercharged with the high-octane fuel of the Reid Nevada political machine.

Reid’s use of elected office to enrich himself and his cronies in Nevada is nothing new. In 2006, Reid was investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee concerning his role in a speculative land deal in Las Vegas that netted him $700,000. Reid purchased a tract of land, folded it into an LLC with a friend who purchased an adjacent plot, and then used his clout as senator to persuade the local zoning committee to rezone the property for retail. A $400,000 investment turned into $1.1 million. Reid failed to disclose to the Federal Election Commission that he had transferred the land into Patrick Lane LLC, the partnership he created with business associate Jay Brown.

The accounts of such activity are numerous and persistent. Senator Reid has sponsored as much as $47 million in earmarks that enriched clients of his son Key Reid, who represented them as a professional lobbyist. As reported in the LA Times, Reid’s son-in-law, Steve Barringer cashed in to the tune of $300,000 when the Senator pushed “a provision allowing the company to acquire 998 acres of federal land ripe for development in the exploding Las Vegas metropolitan area.”

The bill also benefited a real-estate development headed by a senior partner in the Nevada law firm that then employed all four of Reid’s sons — Rory, Leif, Josh, and Key — by moving the right-of-way for a federal power transmission line off his property and onto what had been protected federal wilderness.

Reid may be a product of his environment, doing business as it’s often done in Nevada, but he is unusually good at it. This extends to the way in which he accepts money from operators like convicted influence peddler Jack Abramoff. Reid adopts the posture that somehow the $61,000 he got from Abramoff to smooth out legislative pot holes for Indian tribal interests is sanctified by the fact that it went to him, not to a Republican. The “Abramoff matter,” Reid protests, is a “Republican scandal.”

Reid’s play to pay activities go on for pages – you can review them at Key Wiki.

Another bit of business with Reid’s fingerprints all over it bookends his sordid record, illuminating his sense of invincibility and his motive for public office. Reid has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very pharmaceutical industry that he, President Obama, and other Democrats pretended vigorously to oppose prior to the vote on the Affordable Care Act. The pharmaceutical industry funded campaign ads to help Reid withstand Sharron Angle’s 2010 challenge, a campaign in which only a heavy infusion of union money and help from numerous Reid affiliates in the state GOP saved his seat.

Reid accepted the maximum allowed sum of $10,000 from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), along with another $10,000 from drug maker Eli Lilly’s Political Action Committee (PAC). In 2010 alone, Reid took over $154,000 from drug industry PACs.

He was worth every penny. Reid shepherd a bill, called a “reform,” through Congress for PhRMA. The bill was essentially written by the drug lobby. It carved out mandates and subsidies and enshrined 12-year monopolies for related bio-tech firms.

The “risk corridor” provisions of Obamacare that have taxpayers underwriting possible insurance industry losses, were part and parcel of the same process.

According to Natural News:

In addition to PACs, Reid secures drug industry funding via volunteer lobbyist fundraisers known as “bundlers.” One of these bundlers is Paul DiNino, a lobbyist whose firm represents PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis. Another is Tony Podesta, who represents Amgen and Genzyme. A third is William Singer, who represents Pfizer. DiNino raised $23,950 for Reid in the last year, Singer raised $39,705 and Podesta has raised $78,400. A PAC for lobbying firm DLA Piper has raised at least $26,500 for his campaign.

Reid’s critics might have good reason if they smell in the heavy-handed use of BLM agents as button men in the Bundy Ranch debacle, the stench of Harry Reid lining up other more lucrative uses for the land around the ranch than a Desert Tortoise preserve.

Be cautious in telling Harry Reid to “help yourself” — unless you need a job done in Nevada or Washington.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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??

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

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Is there good news? Sure enough.

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

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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.”

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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