Arlene from Israel

Ah that I were a mind reader. But, alas, I am not. So I garner as much information as I can, and rely on my analysis and my intuition. Sometimes that’s not enough.

Last time I wrote, I alluded to a statement by Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who had criticized Peres’ eagerness for that “two state solution” and his fawning over Abbas. Peres doesn’t speak for the government, he said, and, “every declaration of this sort, certainly on the eve of negotiations, does not help Israel’s stance.”

I caught that “on the eve of negotiations,” and pointed it out with some unease, but with no certainty about what he was saying.


Yesterday, Steinitz had something else to say. “The government’s position is very clear, and I support it: We do support two states for two peoples…” he told Times of Israel.”

Oh, I see.

He even added that, “We are ready to make painful concessions on two conditions: that there will be peace and security.” That’s in spite of the fact, which he conceded, that there are many members of the coalition who are solidly opposed to a “two state solution.”



There are those who will see this as a caving of the Netanyahu government — a sign of some dangerous things to come. And perhaps they are right.

But I am seeing it differently, and far more tentatively.

First — and this is purely my own speculation — I can see Netanyahu having told Steinitz that, after saying that Peres didn’t speak for the government, he would have to make a statement that was on behalf of the government. After all, Peres was in there, tight with Kerry, and embracing Abbas — which made the US and the international community more broadly very happy. It wouldn’t pay to be too negative and let the world think that Israel was not on board.

So, Steinitz made his statement, which made headlines.


Is Steinitz really ready to see us make “painful concessions” for the right deal? Does this genuinely represent what Netanyahu wants to see? That’s what I don’t know.

But I would like to share Steinitz’s full statement, which sheds more than a little light on his position:

“Genuine peace would entail a ‘real recognition’ of Israel as a Jewish state and the end of all claims and incitement against Israel…Israel’s security requirements include a ‘total demilitarization’ of a future Palestinian state. Jerusalem would have the right to supervise and control that arrangement in order to be able to prevent arms smuggling or ‘any other negative security developments in the West Bank.'”


I don’t know how we define “real” recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, as versus “fake” recognition, but it’s moot, for Abbas won’t recognize Israel as the Jewish state in any terms.

End of claims is standard as a criterion for the peace agreement. But the end of all incitement? I believe this is a new stipulation. We’re talking about a PA that still teaches its students about jihad and honors terrorists (who, not incidentally, would love to see Israel leave Judea and Samaria so that they might operate more freely).

As to “total demilitarization” (which is not possible, really) we all know that the PLO is not going to go for this. And then with the further stipulation (which I believe is also new) that the Israeli government supervise and control the arrangements to prevent “negative security developments.” In Steinitz’s dreams, maybe. Nowhere else. Were Israel to “supervise and control,” the PLO would not have a sovereign state.

So, he says he’s for a state for the Palestinian Arabs — he’s “on board.” But then insists upon parameters that he knows full well would NEVER be accepted.

This might be called game-playing, and in a way it is. But I think it’s more. I think he’s saying that in an ideal world he would be for two states, and he doesn’t want to appear negative in this regard. But because he doesn’t trust these guys as far as he can throw them, the stipulations he outlines are essential for Israel’s security.

My gut tells me that this is probably Netanyahu’s real position.

It’s a far cry from Peres’ nauseating “you are our partner and we are yours. You share our hopes and efforts for peace.”


I must comment here on a statement made by head of the Israeli negotiating team Tzipi Livni — who met with Kerry in Amman earlier this week.

She wants the international community and the Europeans in particular, to pressure Abbas to come to the table.

“It’s the only way to have negotiations,” she declared at a conference sponsored by The Israel Project. “[Abbas] needs to know that the Europeans, and the world, they want him to sit in the negotiating room.”


Is Livni so obtuse that she doesn’t realize that if Abbas must be forced to “sit in the negotiating room” it means he doesn’t want to be there, and thus, will never constructively and sincerely negotiate “peace”?

It certainly appears that “negotiations” have become an end in themselves.


Rumors about a proposal for negotiations to be advanced by Kerry abound. And I will pass over much of what is being said because it is without verification or documentation. The PLO’s Saeb Erekat declared recently that Kerry was about to announce a “plan.” Maybe. But that’s Erekat talking and not a spokesperson for the US State Department.

David Ignatius of the Washington Post says that Kerry is “seeking agreement on basic parameters – the borders for a Palestinian state and an understanding about Israel’s security requirements – that would allow negotiations to begin in earnest.”


This is unmitigated nonsense — simply a sample of what passes for analytic writing but is nothing of the sort. An agreement on borders BEFORE negotiations have begun? Understand that “borders” encompasses, in addition to the question of retention of communities past the Green line, the issue of Jerusalem: united, or eastern Jerusalem as the Arab capital. What Kerry wants, of course, but will not get, is Israeli agreement to use the ’67 line, with adjustments, as the basis for negotiations.


According to Ignatius, Kerry is also “reanimating” the Arab League “Peace Initiative,” Heaven help us. If Kerry thinks Netanyahu is going to go for this, he’s got his head in the stratosphere. (Never mind: even if Kerry doesn’t think Netanyahu will go for this, he has his head in the stratosphere.)

This is Ignatius’s logic:

“The bottom line for Israel is that rather than just a two-state solution, it would get a 22-state solution (the Arab League members) and even a 57-state solution (if you add in the additional Muslim countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation).”

Wow! All Israel would have to do for this is return to the dangerous and unjust pre-’67 lines and allow “refugees” to return. In other words, commit suicide. And I’m aghast that he imagines the OIC would also go along with this deal.


But take a look at what Guy Bechor says about this (emphasis added):

“Who does the Arab League represent? Only the regimes of the Sunni countries, or what’s left of them. The Shiite countries – Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon – no longer cooperate with this League. So Israel makes peace with the Sunnis; but what about the others? We must keep in mind that the territory the IDF will withdraw from will be seized immediately by armed Salafis from all across the Arab world – as was the case in Sinai and Syria. Who will come to Israel’s aid when it is attacked? The fighters of the ‘peace-loving’ Arab League?

“Moreover, according to the League’s regulations, any amendment to the Arab initiative requires a vote among the heads of the Arab states, or, at the very least, their foreign ministers. But this will never happen, as no Arab leader will ever vote in favor of any such change. This initiative has always been nothing more than a diplomatic whim, and the Arab street will never accept it. Indeed, the Arab media hardly reported on this ‘amendment’ to the initiative, because it is virtual.

Note: I’ve been saying there has been no amendment, even though I keep seeing commentators, including Ignatius, who talk as if there has been. Bechor sets it straight.

See his entire informative piece:


Credit: idc


I highly recommend this article, “More Peace, Less Process,” by Ben Cohen (emphasis added):

“U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has already visited the Middle East four times since President Barack Obama named him to the post back in February. Perhaps anticipating the large number of yawns that such a statistic is likely to produce, Kerry directly addressed, during his latest jaunt, the growing number of peace process skeptics on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

“‘There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient, but detailed and tenacious, we can lay out a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people…’

“However much Kerry would like us to believe that there are routes to peace that haven’t yet been explored, there is a dreary sense of deja vu about his words. Every day, it seems, an American politician declares that time is running out…

“…it’s now 2013, and there is no State of Palestine, only a Palestinian Authority (PA) that shuns direct negotiations in favor of a unilateralist strategy…Moreover, the Palestinians are openly distrustful of U.S. efforts. ‘I’m hesitant to say we are seeing a miraculous transformation in American policy and its blind strategic alliance with Israel,’ said the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi upon Kerry’s arrival, conveniently regurgitating the widespread myth in the Arab world that American Middle East policy is determined solely by Israeli imperatives.

“Nor has Palestinian rhetoric changed for the better. The eliminationist desires of the Palestinian leadership—and I’m not talking here about Hamas, but about our ostensible peace partner, the PA—remain as ingrained as ever…

“The traditional approach of American and western negotiators has been to play down this kind of rhetoric as ideological baggage that will disappear once meaningful progress has been made. Time and again, this patronizing, even racist, manner, which treats Arab politicians as tantrum-prone children who say things they don’t really mean, has been proved wrong by events. And yet, the template for peace negotiations has barely been modified during the last 20 years.

“Which is why negotiators at the State Department would be wise to consult an important new paper published by two Israeli academics, Joel Fishman and Kobi Michael, in the academic journal, the Jewish Political Studies Review. Introducing the notion of a ‘positive peace,’ Fishman and Michael warn against efforts to create a Palestinian state without worrying about its governance and internal political culture…

“Positive peace, the authors assert, is not just the about the absence of war, nor about elevating the right of national self-determination above all other considerations. ‘The real problem,’ they write, ‘is that, long ago, the would-be peacemakers, in their haste and fear of failure, did not frame the problem correctly. They failed to ask the right question. In order to avoid disagreement, they concentrated on process and postponed the substantive issues of content…’

“In the Israeli-Palestinian context, a positive peace entails a complete overhaul of the zero-sum attitude toward Israel that has become institutionalized in Palestinian politics. For decades, the Palestinians have regarded negotiations as simply one of several avenues in pursuing their war on Israel’s existence…

“Fishman and Michael cite the pioneering Israeli scholar Yehoshafat Harkabi’s observation that in Arab discourse, the idea of peace with justice is equivalent to the vision of a Middle East without Israel. And in marked contrast to American worries that time is running out, they point out that as far as the Palestinians are concerned, we’ve got all the time in the world…

“Though they don’t say it explicitly, there is a strong sense in the paper that negotiations that are not preceded by meaningful, internal political reform in the Palestinian entity will share the miserable fate of the Oslo Agreement. And if that’s correct, then the ‘path that could conceivably surprise people,’ as John Kerry put it, begins not with discussions about settlements, water rights or the size of the Palestinian security forces, but with what the Palestinians themselves believe about the world around them—and whether they are capable of change.”


Credit: stljewishlight


You might also like to see a piece — “Memo to Kerry: It’s not the economy, stupid” — by David Horovitz, which explains the fallacies behind Kerry’s $4 billion initiative, which is supposed to come from private business persons but is exceedingly unlikely to appear.



In my last posting, I wrote, “the Russians expected that Israel would refrain from further attacks inside Israel on armaments bound for Hezbollah..” I believe for almost all of my readers it was clear that I meant attacks inside of Syria, but I do appreciate it when an eagle-eyed reader picks up the error. And so I note it here.

The Syrian situation is deteriorating further and I hope I’ll get to that next posting.


Dishonoring America’s Veterans

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin called it “arguably the biggest scandal the Obama Administration is facing in Washington right now—the Department of Veterans’ Affairs disability claims backlog.” The average wait time, she reported, is 273 days. “Despite a half-a-billion dollar new computer system designed to improve efficiency at the VA, 97 percent of all the claims are still filed on paper.”

In the wake of the Memorial Day weekend, it is important to remember that 600,000 veterans’ claims have been waiting over 125 days to be cleared by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly 900,000 claims were still waiting to be cleared, overall, as of April, according to The Washington Examiner. If the Bush Administration was capable of handling veterans’ benefits, why isn’t President Obama? After all, his Vice President calls this his “sacred obligation.”

“We have a lot of obligations—to our children, to the elderly, to the poor,” said Vice President Biden this past April. “But there’s only [one] truly sacred obligation in my view, and that’s to equip those we send to war and care for those who come home from war and their families.”

“That’s a sacred obligation.”

According to Change.gov, from back in 2009, “Obama and Biden will improve the quality of health care for veterans, rebuild the VA’s broken benefits system, and combat homelessness among veterans.” That included fixing the “benefits bureaucracy” by hiring “additional claims workers” and improving “training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently,” as well as transforming “the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness” (emphasis added).

Rather than improving timeliness, veterans’ benefits backlogs have increased under Obama’s presidential leadership. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to provide service-related benefits has “virtually collapsed under President Obama.” This is the contention raised by Aaron Glantz, a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, back in March. “The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December—an increase of more than 2,000 percent,” reported Glantz (emphasis added).

As a result, 67 U.S. senators, including 34 Democrats, sent a letter to the President asking him to resolve this situation. “In the last four years, the number of claims pending for over a year has grown by over 2000%, despite a 40% increase in the VA’s budget,” they wrote. “As a reminder, during this same time period, Congress has given VA everything it has asked for in terms of more funding and more employees; however, this has not eliminated the backlog of claims.” The budget for the VA is $140 billion for 2013, second only to the Department of Defense.

Just last week, the chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), pressed for the departments of Defense and Veterans’ Affairs to “combine their electronic health records, calling on President Barack Obama to end ‘the bureaucratic back and forth on veterans’ records,’” reported Kathleen Miller and Danielle Ivory for Bloomberg News on May 23.

“It has taken about 250 days to process a claim, according to a February memo signed by Allison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits, and Frederick Vollrath, a Pentagon official,” reported Miller and Ivory. “Almost 175 of those days ‘are spent trying to secure’ military service treatment records, according to the document obtained by Bloomberg.”

“The Pentagon plans to buy an electronic health-records system following increasing pressure from lawmakers to end a backlog in U.S. veterans’ disability claims.”

What you won’t hear from the mainstream media is how successful the Bush Administration was at decreasing these backlogs. VA’s internal documents “show that the average wait time for veterans filing disability claims fell by more than a third under President George W. Bush, even as more than 320,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans filed disability claims,” reported Glantz. “The documents show delays escalated only after Obama took office and have more than doubled since, as 455,000 more returning veterans filed their claims.” So, the number of returning veterans has increased about 30%, yet the number of delays has “more than doubled” under President Obama.

Shouldn’t this travesty be reported in its true light, then? Simply put, President Bush did a better job at ensuring that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans received their disability benefits, the data shows. “We need to hear from the President of the United States, and ever since this national controversy emerged a few weeks ago, we still have not heard from the President of the United States,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, last April on MSNBC. “And the impact for our veterans on the ground is tremendous.” According to the CIR report, internal data indicate that wait times are, on average, between 316 and 327 days to process a veteran’s disability claim. “Those filing for the first time in America’s major population centers wait up to twice as long—642 days in New York, 619 days in Los Angeles and 542 days in Chicago,” wrote Glantz. Rieckhoff told MSBNC’s Morning Joe that he had spoken to those whose claims may have spanned 1,000 or 1,200 days.

Recent reporting has focused on the institutional factors that may be delaying these claims, such as the Veterans Affairs office’s reliance on paper records and the need for modernization. The Veterans Affairs Secretary is promoting a digitization method as a way to fix this problem by 2015. Yes, by 2015.

One mitigating factor that Jennifer Griffin of Fox News pointed out is that Eric Shinseki, the retired four-star general who took over as Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs in 2009, “removed obstacles for veterans to receive disability benefits for post-traumatic stress, which caused a surge in claims. The total number of post-9/11 combat vets receiving VA disability payments for PTSD soared from 27,000 to 196,000 from 2006 to 2012.”

In March, MSNBC’s Morning Joe highlighted this opinion piece by Joe Klein, who asked, “Why aren’t the claims processed according to severity?” (emphasis in original). “Why should an Army Ranger who suffered a 100% debilitating traumatic brain injury in Konar Province three years ago still be waiting for his disability check?” he asked. “Why should that Ranger have to wait behind a Vietnam veteran, who is filing a 3rd time claim to get his disability for post-traumatic stress raised from 50% to 60%?” This misses the point entirely. As the senators’ letter states, the VA has received a 40% increase in funding and greater resources. Yet the problem is growing.

“The question is, why hasn’t the VA—and the Obama Administration—made this obvious call,” wrote Klein. “The answer is: for the same reason that it’s hard to get anything done in Washington. Special interest power” (emphasis in original).

The biggest special interest in Washington is the Administration itself. The media should be asking why the Obama Administration is not able to deal more effectively with this issue. Instead, they are raising questions about efficiency—which do have their place. However, if the Bush Administration was capable of handling this issue, why isn’t Obama? And if these results had occurred under Bush, how would the media have treated them? The results under the Obama Administration have been scandalous. The question is whether the explanation for this failure is the same incompetence factor that the Administration embraces when explaining their actions in the IRS or Benghazi scandals, since the alternative is even worse.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected].


Watcher’s Council Nominations – ’Scandal? What Scandal?’ 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.

This is your weekly magazine of the best in opinion and commentary from around the web.., everything you need to know to stay on top of things.

This week’s contest is dedicated to Ray Manzarek… a wonderful musician and a sweet soul who finally broke on through to the other side. So long, Ray… RIP:

Council News:

Council alumnus Trevor Loudon of New Zeal has a new book out entitled, “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress,” that focuses on the real details of communists, socialists and radicals now in the U.S. Congress. If you’ve sampled Loudon’s blog posts or his previous book, “Barack Obama And the Enemies Within,” you know you’re in for a great, meticulously sourced read.

The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress” is due out August 20th and you can pre-order here.

Up For Grabs – There is a vacancy currently available in the Watcher’s Council. This is a very special group and a superb opportunity for a blogger to reach a wider audience and showcase their work. If you think you qualify and are interested in applying, leave a comment with a link to your site, your e-mail address (which will remain confidential) and any questions you might have as a comment on any article over at Joshuapundit.

This week, The Pirate’s Cove, Right Truth, Maggie’s Notebook and SooperMexican took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status with some great pieces.

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.

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 on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!


New York’s Socialist Politicians 3: Christine C. (for Communist?) Quinn

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

While under pressure from disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, is still favored to win the Democratic nomination for NYC Mayor.


Incredibly, of the main Democratic contenders, Quinn is regarded as furthest to the “right.” Even the Communist Party USA has been pushing that line.

According to the Communist Party member Danny Rubin, writing in the People’s World:

It is widely agreed that the politics of the four range from Christine Quinn, toward the right, to Bill DeBlasio, to William Thompson, to John Liu on the left. Council Speaker Quinn’s politics are similar to Michael Bloomberg’s but still better than any of the non-Democrats. Yet her election would hardly change the direction of the city. While appealing to some because she would be the first woman and first openly gay mayor, her positions on issues go against their interests. She continually slows down and compromises all pro-working families legislation, such as holding up a vote on sick leave. She joins the Republicans in pledging to reappoint Ray Kelly as police commissioner, despite his stop-and-frisk policy. She has strong real estate developer financing.

Well the Communists should know all about Christine Quinn – she’s been hanging around with them long enough.

Quinn entered politics to manage the City Council campaign of Tom Duane in 1991, after which she was Duane’s Chief of Staff for five years. Quinn’s former partner, Laura Morrison, was Chief of Staff to Duane when he became a New York State Senator. Duane was, and is, a long-time Communist Party affiliate.

On November 4, 1999, New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried presented State Assembly citations to Elizabeth Hall, a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party and her comrade Bobbie Rabinowitz, at the People’s Weekly World 75th Anniversary celebrations at the Henry Winston Unity Auditorium in New York. Event co-chairs were communists Maria Ramos, of the United Federation of Teachers and Carolyn Rummel, Managing Editor of the People’s Weekly World.

Chelsea area Council member Christine Quinn, sent a citation from the City Council listing the accomplishments of the honorees.

On October 22, 2000, the People’s Weekly World held its 4th annual celebration luncheon in New York, at the Henry Winston Auditorium.

Speakers included City Council members Bill Perkins and Christine Quinn, Assembly member Richard Gottfried, State Senator Tom Duane, Larry Moskowitz of the Communist Party and Working Families Party and Elena Mora for the Communist Party.

When Estelle Katz, a member of both the Communist Party and the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, died in November 2012, fellow club member and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said this of her:

“Without Estelle’s light, Chelsea and New York City will be a little darker.” “Katz was a leader,” said Quinn, “in the true sense of the word. She thought about others before she thought about herself, and was always working to make our community a better place. She was not shy about sharing her thoughts and feelings with me or other elected officials. I couldn’t be where I am, without Estelle’s work and support.”

Quinn also has ties to other Marxist groups, including Asian Americans for Equality, a creation of the notoriously violent Communist Workers Party.

Back in 1990, Quinn represented the Housing Justice Campaign at one of Democratic Socialists of America‘s annual Socialist Scholars Conferences. Her panel was entitled “Homelessness and the Right to Housing in New York.” The question “at whose expense?” probably was not addressed.

More recently, on May 31, 2012, Christine Quinn was an Honorary Chair at far left “non profit” Demos‘ “Transforming America Awards.”

Demos is a partner organization of the far left Institute of Policy Studies and is led by former Students for a Democratic Society radical and long-time Democratic Socialists of America supporter, Miles Rapoport, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren‘s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi.

Notable Demos Board members have included well known radical extremists Barack Obama and Van Jones.

Is the Communist Party trying to portray Christine Quinn as “to the right” merely to obscure her Marxist background?

Surely the communists would never do such a thing?

Let’s hope New Yorkers never have to take that risk.


Teaser!!! Some of What You’ll Find in “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress”

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Trevor Loudon’s soon to be released “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress,” is like no other book on U.S. politics.

Most Americans don’t know that U.S. communists still exist, let alone that they have managed to infiltrate their allies into the highest reaches of the Senate and the House of Representatives.


More than 60 representatives are comprehensively profiled.

Communist and socialist ties ranging from the 1960s to a few days ago, are meticulously documented, with source documents and photographs included.

This is more than a list of biographies however. The U.S.’s leading subversive organizations are also exposed, their agendas, foreign allegiances and their influence, way out of proportion to their numbers, are all laid bare…

And then there’s “Communism’s big secret.” Something seldom if ever written about before.

Loudon’s book tells you what it is… and gives several examples of its ongoing application in today’s America.

This book is going to upset a lot of people.

The book will be formally released August 20, 2013, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

U.S. residents however can pre-order the book today.

Order your copy now!!!