Monthly Archives: May 2010

Obama’s Unofficial In-house Jihadist

Well, he’s not unofficial as far as high ranking, uh, officials in the Obama administration go – it’s just that he’s not officially the White House jihadist yet; give it a few days.

Cropped for LM brennan_from_fox I’m talking of course about the top counterterrorism official in the White House, John Brennan. According to this NY Times article his official designation is “assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism,” but that was apparently just something they came up with to get around the need for Senate confirmation. (If you’re wondering why, keep reading.) I think maybe we should just call him “terrorism czar;” it’s an easier handle to use, and more descriptive of his actual function within the administration.

4LM_Final_day_of_the_war_sees_Katyusha_rockets_in_Haifa So anyway, whatever we should call him, Brennan first came to my attention as having said last week, basically, that Hezbollah is not really such a bad bunch, after all. That we should be paying less attention to the admitted terrorists dominating the organization, and begin reaching out to the “moderates.” As many have pointed out since that statement, Hezbollah is an organization dedicated to the complete destruction of Israel (and anyone else who gets in its way), by means of terror, aggressive military action, mass extermination of civilian populations, or whatever else seems handy at the moment, and saying that the group contains moderates is, well, to put it mildly, an oxymoron of the highest caliber. And to say we should be “reaching out” a hand to them is to say we really would like to be left with a bloody stump, or probably worse.

Ok, we could at this point give the man the benefit of the doubt and just say he’s an idiot (don’t bother asking why an idiot is occupying a top level position in the Obama administration – that’s another topic), but he’s not stopping there. A few days after the news of his fondness for the Hezzies came out, it also came to light that he thinks of Jerusalem not as Jerusalem, but as Al-Quds. For those of you who don’t follow such matters (and perhaps I should begin to wonder why I do), Al-Quds is the Arabic name for the capital of Israel, and as one observer put it,

No one refers to Jerusalem in the English language as Al-Quds, unless they have a specific political, anti-Israel agenda – in this case, pandering to Israel’s enemies, who will draw comfort from the use of the term Al-Quds by a senior U.S. government official.

Or, simply, whether one uses “Jerusalem” or “Al-Quds” is simply a matter of preference and loyalty, not stupidity.

So now, if we haven’t yet caught on, we should be really wondering where this guy’s loyalties lie, and whether he might perhaps be dangerous to not only Israel, but to the US as well. Well wonder no more! His latest revelation is that jihad is not actually a program of ongoing warfare against western society, but sort of a self-improvement program for Muslims. What a lovely thought! Now we can relax all of our defenses and welcome Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and all these other armed to the teeth hell-bent on destruction self-help groups to come help themselves to ourselves and everything we have or stand for. Maybe we can even invite them to a guest appearance on Oprah before they behead us.

In case you’re wondering if maybe Brennan has a point there, here is what the Quran itself has to say on the matter:

The hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim contain entire books on jihad, and the Qur’an is littered with verses devoted to it. It’s not a pretty sight. The first verse of the Qur’an that deals with jihad is 002.190, for which the Qur’an translated by Al-Hilali and Khan provides the following footnote:

Al-Jihâd (holy fighting) in Allâh’s Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands). By Jihâd Islam is established, Allâh’s Word is made superior (His Word being Lâ ilaha illallâh which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh), and His religion (Islam) is propagated. By abandoning Jihâd (may Allâh protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihâd is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty, or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfill this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite.

(Many thanks to Droog’s Concise Guide to Islam for that brief but authoritative description!)

4LM from NYT John Brennan, the top White House counterterrorism adviser meeting with Obama in May. So we really should not be wondering at this point which side Brennan is on. I think it is not stretching the point at all to refer to him as the unofficial jihadist for the White House. (Or as one eloquent tweeter put it, Ambassador for Al Qaeda to the United States.) And as I said at the start of this post, give it a few days & maybe it will become official.


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Filed under Jihad, U.S. against Israel

140s – the few, the fantastic, the overdue.

I haven’t posted anything very twitterific for a while, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s been happening. Here’s a sampling of what’s been going on while I’ve been gone:

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs published an alarming comment today with regard to the Lebanese Armed Forces receiving shipments of weaponry from both Syria and the US. A UNIFIL officer is quoted as saying  "Lebanon is a sovereign country, and the donors took seriously the requests made by the government." The problem, as JINSA points out, is that Lebanon is not effectively a sovereign country at all. Especially troubling is that Hezbollah constitutes a significant part of the government. Are we helping our “friend” Syria indirectly furnish arms to Hezbollah? Should Syria even be our friend in the first place?

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Not alarming, just disappointing, though not surprising, is that the Western media blithely ignores the fact that Israel sends thousands of tons of aid weekly through its Gaza border crossings to the residents of Hamastan. Maybe they ignore the fact because it disproves their assertion that there is an Israeli blockade of Gaza, slowly choking the life out of its people. There is a blockade, all right, but it’s a blockade of war materials. In case you forget, Hamas maintains a constant state of war against Israel. And if you think the life is slowly being choked out of Gazans, you may be right – if you consider that Hamas is the one doing the choking.

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Speaking of the Palestinian Arab people themselves, as separate from their corrupt leaders, just whose side are they on, anyway? It is interesting to note that a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found over 72% of residents opposed to another intifada against Israel. Too bad neither Fatah nor Hamas allow their people any say in their destiny.

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The US has been trying for a while to make a connection between Palestinian demands on Israel, and Iran’s nuclear threat. As if that has actually worked (or maybe because it hasn’t), now we try to say eliminating Israel’s nuclear arsenal is the key to solving the problem with Iran.  I’ll say here what I said in my tweet: we’re not just fools, we’re stupid fools, if we think hobbling Israel will make Ahmadinejad  go away!

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keystonekops Speaking of stupid, the way we’re addressing the very serious matter of Islamic terrorism in general may be summed up thus: Obama National Security Policy: Hope Their Bombs Don’t Work. Noted columnist Ann Coulter writing in Human Events has a few things to say on the subject which you may find amusing, or maddening, or both.

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Saeb_Erekat_l I’m not sure – does US President Barack Obama continue to say that he’s on the side of our only democratic ally in the Middle East, or at least maintain that he’s trying to act as an impartial mediator? Not so, according to this report. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says he has a letter from Obama which says that “he views Israel as the obstacle to peace and will approach further peace efforts from that point of view.” I really don’t think we can believe either Saeb or Barack, so only time will tell. God help us.

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Did we ‘lynch the wrong guy’ at Human Rights Watch?

Watching the scandal spin out of control, Apkon took note of the irony that the pro-Israel community had lynched one of the people at HRW who was most sympathetic to its concerns. “You’re sitting there watching this, and you realize: They’re going after the wrong guy!”

garlasco-iron-cross Do y’all remember Marc Garlasco? He is (or was) the military analyst over at Human Rights Watch whose partiality with respect to reporting on Israel  was called into serious question via the revelation that he just happened to be an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia.

Robt_Bernstein_image_2639 A  report last week (yeah – I’ve been away) in The New Republic detailed some of the internal turmoil at HRW which eventually led to founder Robert Bernstein publicly distancing himself from the organization’s blatant hostility toward Israel. The report by Benjamin Birnbaum chronicles some of the behind the scenes activities which demonstrated a disturbing bias in its reporting, a bias that deeply conflicted with the principles of honesty that Bernstein had brought to the table when he began the organization over thirty years prior.

Birnbaum introduces a broader cast of rather disturbing characters such as Sarah Whitson, who keeps a movie poster in her office “that attempts [sic] to humanize Palestinian suicide bombers,” and who says in one breath that Hamas is wrong for making rocket targets (let alone human shields) out of civilians, and in the next breath that “no one can deny that the pain and destruction that Israel causes cannot be compared to what Hamas is doing.”

Or take Norm Finkelstein, an “avowed Hezbollah supporter who has likened Israel to Nazi Germany,” and who prosecuted a successful campaign to extract an official apology for a press release critical of Palestinian officers.

Goldstone-at-UNHRC-WEB The infamous Richard Goldstone is also cited by Birnbaum as agreeing with Whitson and HRW executive director Ken Roth that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats to “wipe Israel off the map” were not something worthy of any special attention. They had other fish to fry, you see.

Birnbaum touches as well on some of the other ways a pervasive anti-Israel attitude generally made itself felt at HRW. HRW’s grossly disproportionate reportage of alleged Israeli abuses while giving relatively minimal attention to the far more excessive abuses practiced by regimes such as Libya, Syria, or Iran is characterized by one of their own members as going after the “low-hanging fruit.” In other words, it’s easy to pick on Israel – not so easy to penetrate Iran.

Birnbaum notes HRW’s report on Israel’s 2002 anti-terrorist operation in Jenin deftly ignored Israel’s decision not to use aerial bombardment in order to greatly reduce the potential for civilian casualties, at the cost of greater casualties among its own military personnel. That sort of information defeats the organization’s purpose of demonizing Israel, in case you can’t tell.

Other occasions are cited by Birnbaum where HRW withheld critical information or simply misreported key factual details. Accuracy in reporting does not appear to hold a high priority at HRW.

Birnbaum went on to some length illustrating the gross bias on the part of the organization, but I was caught by surprise as he turned his attention to the Garlasco affair. Not that I was surprised when he delved into it, but that his characterization of it drew a picture indicating Garlasco was really not nearly so much a sworn enemy of Israel as were others within the establishment. Birnbaum’s interviews with advisory committee member Steve Apkon brought out some interesting – and possibly mitigating – details about Garlasco’s background and viewpoints. Even his pre-occupation with Nazi artifacts can be seen in a different light if you consider what Apkon says about Garlasco’s relatively narrow focus as a military analyst. Did he report unfavorably on Israeli activites, as part and parcel of his employment? Yes, of course he did. But Apkon also brings up some things that we didn’t know about Garlasco. That, for instance, owing to his military experience, he at times expressed sympathy for Israeli soldiers with regard to the no-win predicaments in which they continually find themselves. Or that he also (if perhaps too quietly to make an impact) pointed out discrepancies in the way his bosses handled the issue of white phosphorous in combat. He knew it was used not only by Israel, but by the U.S. and Britain, and that it did not necessarily imply a misuse of military technology. Or that in general Garlasco expressed some degree of frustration with HRW’s seeming inability (or unwillingness) to acknowledge even the very complexity of war. Birnbaum cites Apkon as going so far as to say Garlasco had already been considering leaving HRW when the scandal broke. The notoriety gained by the exposure of his odd proclivities apparently did little more than to seal the deal.

Do I think Garlasco got a raw deal out of the whole matter? I suppose that depends on whether he ultimately suffered from the exposure, and whether the exposure was uncalled for. My purpose at the time that I  participated in that exposure (not that I harbor illusions of having made a significant impact) was, and still is, to shed light wherever I can into dark corners wherever I spot them. Or to be at least another relay point in the transmission of information when someone else has turned the lights on. And in that, I am convinced more than ever that Human Rights Watch has a lot of dark corners needing illumination.

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Filed under Perspectives, World against Israel