Sunday, April 17, 2011

PLEASE EXPLAIN--PART II

On March 25th I wrote that I could not understand the strategic rationale for the U.S. involvement in Libya, particularly considering similar situations in the Middle East where we have much at stake but where we are taking no military action and often taking little non-military action, particularly given what is at stake.

Events since March 25th have not made things any clearer.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

KNOCK KNOCK

Get Those Old Keys Out 
 
Reports are that that Palestinian “refugees” are planning to gather on the Israeli green line (the 1949 truce lines) on Israeli Independence Day with keys and deeds in hand and demand to visit their former homes. Never mind that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is the only instance in history where the U.N. or any other body has defined children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and apparently everyone on down the line in perpetuity as refugees. 

Nonetheless, I think this is a great opportunity. I suggest that Israel let them in and that Israelis welcome them. Show them around. Show them what a free, vibrant, tolerant society in the Middle East looks like. Take them to schools, parks, shopping centers, churches, and mosques so that they can see Jewish, Arab, Christian, and Moslem citizens going about their business.

JIMMY NEVER DISAPPOINTS

 
The continued silence of former President Jimmy Carter in light of the ongoing repression of those who seek freedom in the Arab world is disgraceful but not surprising. As previously noted, the former president, who is seemingly everywhere touting human rights, has been bought and paid for by Arab tyrants. So, while he manages to be critical of governments around the globe, and particularly of Israel, he remains silent on some of the absolute worst regimes imaginable.

I might have some sympathy for him if he just shut up or fessed up to his dilemna: he cannot bite the hand that fed him. But, instead, he adopts a transparent diversionary tactic of flying off to Cuba for a few days and requests the release of an unfairly jailed American. Good mission, very questionable motives.

And, of course, just to let us know that he continues to campaign for the title of tackiest ex-president around, he criticizes American policy toward Cuba while in Cuba. One has to work at being an outsider even amongst one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, the ex-U.S. presidents club, but Jimmy Carter works very hard at it.
 

DAY 301 COUNTDOWN TO EGYPTIAN DEMOCRACY

On the eve of 300 days to go in our Countdown to Egyptian Democracy, the hopes held by many pundits and so-called “experts” that Egyptian democracy was just around the corner must be starting to fade or, at least, come in for some serious questioning. Of course, those who really understand Arab politics and culture counseled all along that there was little likelihood of Western-style democracies suddenly sprouting up in the Middle East.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

HOME IS WHERE THE. . .

My wife and I have been back in the U.S. for just a few days over a month, after spending three months in Israel, the largest period we have spent abroad since our 20's.  Sacramento is a wonderful place, especially when spring has sprung as it has the last few days.  Terrific weather, greenery everywhere, fresh air, calm atmosphere, pleasant stores.  On Monday I went skiing up in the Sierras, just an hour-and-a-half away, with one of our sons and our daughter and her boyfriend.  Today they went swimming in the pool at the complex where we live in Sacramento.  That's California.  Add in family, many close friends, and a community you have been a part of for 52 years and it is hard to beat.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

GOLDSTONE: QUESTIONS FROM A LAW PROFESSOR

Ed Rabin is a widely-respected retired law professor from the University of California, Davis King Hall School of Law.  (Full disclosure:  I am a graduate of King Hall)  Professor Rabin has a few questions that Judge Goldstone neglected to answer:

According to the UN’s infamous Human Rights Council, it has refused to change the status of the Goldstone Report since it does not take action on the basis of a op-ed piece in a newspaper.  Much as I despise the HRC, it has a valid point here.  Goldstone was one of four members of the Goldstone committee and there is no indication that any of the other members of the committee agree with Goldstone’s latest position. 

This raises a serious question.  Has Goldstone attempted to persuade the other members of his committee?  If not, why not?  If he has, what has been their response?  Has Goldstone officially approached the HRC and informed it that he wants to amend the original report or at least file a minority or dissenting opinion?  If not, why not? 

Judging by his silence on the question of amending the report, one can surmise that he has taken no such action.  As of now, it appears that he wants it both ways—to keep his one-sided and erroneous report in play while simultaneously claiming to have partially retracted it.  I eagerly wait to learn  of his next step on the crooked path he has chosen to follow.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

JUDGE GOLDSTONE SEES THE LIGHT? NOT QUITE

In  Day 354 of my Countdown to Egyptian Democracy, posted on February 23rd, I made mention of a fight amongst Jewish lawyers in my home community of Sacramento over the invitation issued by the local Jewish lawyers group to Judge Richard Goldstone, author of, depending on one's view, the famous or infamous UN sanctioned Goldstone Report on Israel's conduct during the Gaza War, a war initiated by Israel after the civilians in the south of Israel suffered for years from over 7,000 rockets aimed at them.

The fight was the nastiest and most personal I ever experienced in 40 years of Jewish community involvement in Sacramento.  Things got so bad that the daughter of the esteemed California Court of Appeals Justice, outspoken Zionist, and Jewish community leader for whom the group was named finally weighed in.  She took no position on the merits.  She instead stated that she knew that her father would have been livid over the bitterness and divisiveness the debate was causing "in the family," and she asked that for the sake of peace in the community that the invitation be rescinded or the event postponed until a format more acceptable to all could be agreed upon.  Her wishes were not respected.

WHERE HAS THIS GUY BEEN?

I caught some of former NATO Commander and National Security Advisor General James Jones' interview with Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union this morning.  The General said that about a year and a half ago Iran showed its true colors or stripes or some such platitude. 

Say what?  Where's the guy been for the last 30 years?  What about helping blow up U.S. barracks and slaughter American soldiers in Lebanon?  Spreading terrorism all over the world?  Oppressing minority religions?  Hanging gays?  Arming Hezbollah and Hamas? This didn't give the retired General a hint prior to a year and a half ago? 

DAY 315 COUNTDOWN TO EGYPTIAN DEMOCRACY

While one can still hope for a turnaround, it is increasingly looking like the optimistic predictions of imminent democracy resulting from the overthrow of President Mubarak were just that, optimistic.  The Egyptian Army, which is now in control, is not slaughtering people a la Libya, and people certainly feel freer to speak out.  However, the situation still looks a lot unlike a liberal democracy. 

With new elections just six months away, there is reason for hope.  However, the relative rush to elections gives Mubarak's old party and the Muslim Brotherhood a big leg up over the long-dormant or dead liberal, secular parties.  Moreover, even if these parties did have a fair start, extensive polling in the last few years in the Arab world, including Egypt, shows a depressingly strong showing for Islamisty parties, for Muslim domination, against pluralism and tolerance for others, and for the oppresion of women.