Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gilad Shalit: 900 days in a Gaza Prison

A series of boats, stocked with reporters and (on second thought) presumed medical and food supplies have plied the waters of the Gaza coast, hoping to provoke a strong Israeli reaction. The ongoing blockade by Israel’s small but efficient navy prevents shipments of TNT, rockets, bombs, guns, ammunition and assorted other war/terrorism materials from reaching Hamas and their full time Jihadists. Israel’s detractors call Gaza a “jail” in turn.

Whether these boats are stopped or allowed through, their wake of publicity churns through the world’s media at such a rate that coverage of the ongoing tragedies in Congo and Darfur, among others, appear as mere oversights, as footnotes to the real story: namely, the Palestinian victims of Israel’s brutish hand.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on June 25, 2006 by Hamas gunmen inside Israel. He has been a pawn ever since: Hamas demands the release of over 1,400 murderers, terrorists and the like for Shalit’s return, a price that is clearly too dear for (even) Israel to pragmatically consider.

Shalit’s family should take a page from Hamas’ propaganda machine, which—along with those of Hezbollah and the PLO under the deceased Yasir Arafat—have been the world’s most effective propaganda worldwide since the end of the KGB (indeed, the KGB taught Arafat his most effective propaganda tools). The Shalits should charter a boat and sail into Gaza, with a similar horde of journalists and videographers, to demand the release of Gilad. They should call loudly to meet with Hamas, with the UN representatives in Gaza, as well as with all the various Gaza clan leaders. Whether ignored or imprisoned, they would inspire the world’s sympathy—no jail could long hold the pleading parents of young Gilad Shalit. Either way, a propaganda coup.

Well worthy of consideration, no?

Hamas parades mock Gilad Shalit before crowd of thousands in Gaza:

'Gaza-bound Iranian ship has hidden agenda' (Jerusalem Post)

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Green Christmas Gifts

What if President Bush had the opportunity to grant the free world a final Christmas gift: 10 cruise missiles for the world’s 10 worst dictators, terrorists and/or murderers?

I would imagine Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea’s maniacal Kim Jong-il, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (currently ensconced in Damascus), Sudan’s Omar Hasan al-Bashir, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah and even Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, along with assorted others, would all fit the bill snuggly.

Not that I’m suggesting he do so – G-d forbid, that would be oh so politically incorrect. Imagine the embarrassment! How our State Department would squirm under reprimand by Putin and Hu Jintao, et al.

The appalling impossibility of ethical preemption: Bush would never get credit for all the murder and tyranny that would not arise due to his generous gift. Only the blame, and he certainly has enough of that – a little more won’t hurt, I’m sure.

Indeed, the opportunity is precious. By cleaning up some toxic waste the world would not miss, Bush would take all the blame; we’ll call it misguided Texan chivalry or naïve impetuousness. President-elect Obama could then thoroughly denounce such dastardly actions: a new president and government in January could credibly relinquish responsibility for these modest indiscretions and refresh our pledges to keep every genocidal dictator and murdering terrorist leader safe and warm in bed at night. Don’t worry: the demands of our new UN-style multicultural morality and our ACLU-inspired legal equalities will still be met!

Good cop, bad cop: it may just work, and what perfect timing to have a go at it. No one would (or could) blame Barack Hussein Obama, the vote and hope of the Third World. With the above tumors excised, 2009 would be a very good year, as Sinatra sings.

Not that I’m recommending such an outrageous course of action, an overdue bit of quid pro quo. With O.J. behind bars and my need for a rebalancing of the scales of justice temporarily abated, I can pass off my satisfaction with this plan as fantasy, as I’m sure much of the thinking world would as well.

Still, imagine if Bush would indulge us a little more – one last time.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 Rules for the Future: An Obama Suggestive

  1. Cap tax-deductible CEO remuneration at a maximum of 30 times the salary of that public company’s lowest paid worker. Thereabove, salaries will not be tax deductible as an operating expense for an employer. In addition, no bonuses (in cash or shares) for top management of a public company will be tax deductible if the company suffered losses by the end of the relevant year.

  2. Limit the amount of airtime (on both public television and radio) eligible for advertiser tax deductions, to about 90 percent of the current level. Any advertising time above this level will not be tax deductible, reducing the cost-effectiveness of additional advertisements and helping to stem our country’s advertising epidemic.

    By way of both suggestions 1 and 2, companies can allocate resources exactly as they wish. However, the government will cease to incentivize obviously counterproductive decisions.

  3. Tax all raw materials, particularly oil and other energy products, according to a formula that factors in all of their indirect costs, including recycling, pollution and security impacts. The tax on oil, for example, will take into account global warming, other pollution, the use of the American military to provide a protective shield in the Middle East, and so on. Use the revenues from these taxes to tackle the country’s most urgent needs: reducing alternative energy costs, improving and extending incentive-based education, and reducing our national deficit.

  4. Re-define the tax code: tax all workers at a flat 8 percent, bumping the rate to 18 percent and 28 percent for earnings over $80,000 and over $250,000, respectively (including capital gains). Create a standardized national sales tax of 8.8%. Abolish the inheritance tax, loopholes and all.

    This simplified tax code will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by removing unnecessary accounting, audit, and tax collection fees, as well as reducing the costs of maintaining a large tax bureaucracy. In addition, it will ensure that all Americans, irrespective of income, contribute to the country and have a stake in its well-being.

  5. Eliminate pork—and this is not a halal or kosher issue. Ban all unrelated and irrelevant earmarks in any budget vote. Establish Congressional sub-committees to vote on minor expenditures individually, ensuring that every line item is voted on and not advanced circumstantially by inclusion in larger, otherwise unrelated bills.

  6. Implement a ‘Bare Bones’ universal healthcare program, fully covering only workers’ compensation and emergency healthcare, and including sensible co-pays for all other services. Allow private insurance plans to cover these additional and premium services as well. This “Bare Bones’ program (to be named in a more euphemistic manner) must be freely transferable from job to job and from state to state.

  7. Require all penitentiaries to have two “tracks” for inmates: ‘bones only’ and ‘full service.’ All inmates are guaranteed only the minimum, ‘bones only’ services, rights, and opportunities—a basic, “one star” jail experience. If inmates want better food, recreation, education and facilities they must work in some manner to earn those rights and help re-pay the penal system for these additional luxuries. No better way exists for rehabilitation than this kind of incentive-based, pay-as-you-go system. As an added bonus, local manufacturers will be allowed to set up cost-effective, low-wage satellite factories in (or attached to) low security prisons.

  8. Implement tort reform—finally. Allow judges and juries to charge a plaintiff (i.e., the initiator of a legal action) with all costs when they deem the action to be frivolous or based on avarice. Include a ‘three strikes’ approach to lawyers’ pursuit of frivolous lawsuits, after which one’s license to practice law is put on ice for a significant period.

  9. Require naturalized citizens to pledge an unequivocal, demonstrable and written commitment to integrate into our broad society, accept the primacy of our laws and our Bill of Rights and Constitution, and agree to learn a minimum functioning quotient of the English language. Similarly, define more pragmatically the invitation to citizenship for individuals born in the USA to two non-citizen parents, and as well as those with familial relationships, to reduce abuse.

  10. Include in the definition of “tolerance” the preventing of a vociferous minority from imposing its will on the majority; do not define our universal religion as political correctness and appeasing multiculturalism. Respect those “antediluvian” citizens who prefer to remain patriotic, religious, strong, independent, conservative, heterosexual and/or free.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Mumbai Media Machinations

Hypocrisy drips heavy from the broadcast towers of the Western media.

The tragedies in Mumbai set in stark relief the variation in media labels for those that kill Jews in Israel and those that kill innocents of other creeds in other places.

You will note that “militants” hardly exist in this horror, but “terrorists” abound. [1]

Will someone please stand up and explain to me the difference between a “militant” suicide bomber who incinerates a bus full of women and children in Jerusalem, and the Mumbai “terrorists?”

Why it is ‘militants’ who blow up schools and study centers in Israel and execute its students, while ‘terrorists’ are those who attack hotels in India? (Terrorists Paralyze India’s Business Capital)

My powers of discernment are clearly lacking—will the media please clarify for me whether Israeli victims are different, are less innocent, than the victims in India? If “terrorists” are those who intentionally seek out the murder of civilians, is there something less ‘civil’ about Israelis riding a bus to work, or studying at a school, or eating at a street-side restaurant?

Even when some of the victims are Jews, whether in Israel or Mumbai, the distinction emerges. Why are terrorists called terrorists in India, Beslan, Madrid, London and Bali — and not in Israel?

Perhaps the difference has nothing to do with the victims, but concerns the perpetrators instead. Are the ‘terrorists’ less sincere or less passionate than the ‘militants’— or vice versa? And yet, strikingly, all of these perpetrators are extremist Muslim Jihadists.

Interestingly, now that the rampage in Mumbai is receding from the media’s spotlight, attributions of blame are emerging. The “terrorists” are no longer amorphous, anonymous murderers; shocking no-one, they are now being identified as Pakistani and/or Muslim militants.

I have not yet seen a cogent differentiation between what constitutes a “militant” and what constitutes a “terrorist.” Is it only I who remains confused? Or is it possible that this double standard thrives on sympathies, not fact; arises out of prejudice, not truth; that it is the product of agenda driven politics and less than honest journalism?

Hide the Jews

“Americans, Britons and Israelis are being targeted by the terrorists according to a proliferation of news reports (see also The Hunted)

You may (sadly) note that Jews are not anywhere noted as specifically “being targeted” in the news headlines. Yet it was the Jewish Chabad House — a religious center and community group set-up for all varieties of Jewish visitors — that was targeted. There are in fact more than 3300 such Chabad-Lubavitch institutions around the world. The center is apolitical with no formal association with Israel.

Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Bahai and Buddhist centers were not targeted.

The victims executed at the Chabad House were Jews, including Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. What did their Jewish-ness have to do with Kashmir, with India-Pakistan relations, or with Muslim separatist ambitions? Or even, for that matter, with the “liberation of Palestine?” Jews were the target, not the Israeli Consulate. [2]

The answer remains chilling: nothing. The fact is that the Jews are the only ethnic or religious group that is consistently targeted by terrorists worldwide, irrespective of where they live, how religious or irreligious they are, or how patriotic or apolitical they may be. Whether they are children or elderly, Jews remain the world’s most sought-after terrorist trophies because they happen to share the same invisible genetic source, the same historical inheritance.

Yet the media chooses to ignore what these brainwashed terrorists are making clear and evident in their every action — that it is the Jews who are the preferred target.[3] The Mumbai terrorists’ separation of Jews (or Americans or Britons, for that matter) from the rest of the hostages for execution is a grim reminder of the Holocaust, of the Entebbe hijacking, and the Munich Olympic massacre. And such reminders are not to be ignored.

The Importance of Getting It Right

The media’s coverage of these horrors need not be suffused with appeasement. Victims should not be confused with perpetrators: all the murders are all needless tragedies. All those who did the killing are equally indefensible. Only when the media (and Western societies in general) see—starkly—that difference, will we be able to successfully protect our freedom and our liberty.[4]

Obfuscating the truth may be politically correct or simply incompetent reporting, but it does little to explain the mindset of these killers or the intentions of their handlers. And until we understand this, the immovable intentions of these Islamic radicals, our answer to their challenge will remain tenuous and out of reach.


1. A particularly telling example comes from the UK’s Independent, perhaps the most anti-Israel major newspaper in the West.

2. In 2007, the FBI released its annual 2007 hate crime reports. Of the total 1,628 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 69.2% were Jewish and 8.7% were Muslim. There were at least 40 times more stories last year about Islamophobia than about anti-Semitism. Investigative Project on Terrorism "They're Winning" by Steve Emerson:

3. Indian Doctors Shocked at Hostages' Torture:

4."It's all very well for us to say Islam has nothing to do with extremism and terrorism. We can go on deluding ourselves these psychopaths do not represent us...""The great religion that preaches and celebrates universal brotherhood, equality of men and peace and justice for all has been hijacked by a demented, miniscule minority. And, as my friend says, only Muslims can solve this problem. Only Muslims can confront these anarchists in their midst...""Only they can get their faith freed from the clutches of extremism. This is no time to hide. It's time to stand up and speak out. For the terrorists will continue to speak on our behalf" unless we do speak up. "This is no time for silence. Enough is enough!" "No Time to Hide for Muslims" by Aijaz Zaka Syed:

Links to Related Articles:
"Mumbai and the Chabad Movement" by Lucette Lagnado (WSJ, Dec. 4, 2008)
"If this isn't terrorism, what is?" by Tom Gross (WSJ, Dec. 2, 2008)
"For most of the Mumbai siege, the BBC went out of its way to avoid reporting that the Jewish community center was one of the seven targets. At one point viewers were told that "an office building" had been targeted (referring to the Jewish center as such). Meanwhile - perhaps even more disgracefully - a New York Times report on the last day of the siege stated: "It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene."
Background: A Rich history now stained with blood" by Shalva Weil (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 30, 2008)

Breath of the Beast

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"The Jihadi as Nazi, from 9/11 to Mumbai" by Bradley Burston (Ha'aretz, Dec. 3, 2008)

Targeting Jews - Again by David A. Harris (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2008)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pirates’ Heaven

Off Somalia’s vast Indian Ocean coastline, a set of entrepreneurial Somalis have found gainful employment in one of the world’s most impoverished settings. The Horn of Africa is the setting for a latter day “Barbary Pirates,” where ragtag groups equipped with GPS devices, rocket-propelled grenades and assorted machine guns roam at will, boarding supertankers and cargo vessels at a rate of about two per week. As a result, some 15 dormant ships are now berthed in lawless yet booming Somali ports.

Perhaps oil-thirsty America can bid for some of those oil-filled supertankers on the cheap and quietly fill our strategic oil reserve. Call it pragmatic politics if you will – an attempt to counter-balance the oil-slicked Saudi and Iranian financing of Hamas, Hezbollah and Tablighi Jamaat, the group at the forefront of the Islamic missionary and revival movement.

I write in all seriousness. Media reports about the globe’s latest pirates’ haven outline the infuriating helplessness of international authorities. In 1805, the U.S. Marines decimated the slew of pirate havens along "the shores of Tripoli,” as the famous song goes. Why not take direction from a 200 year old success?

This is not a scenario that lends itself to Obama-like negotiation – let’s keep that delicacy for our irascible friends Putin, Ahmadinejad and Chavez, etc. Instead, a NATO Navy assemblage supplemented by our Asian allies could implement some effective 19th century policies. All suspicious boats in the Horn of Africa area will be boarded and searched for weapons; those offering resistance will be ignominiously sent to Davy Jones’ locker. Other boats found with weapons will preferably be destroyed, with pirates summarily turned over to the authorities in the semi-autonomous Puntland region – the only effective government in the country – for long term imprisonment. To ensure compliance – after all, it seems some local officials have been taking a cut of pirate ransoms – NATO members could tangle the prospect of recognition before the leaders of this breakaway territory. What’s more, the shipping and insurance industries relevant to the area could be taxed modestly to cover a prison fee, say $100 per month per prisoner. This sorely needed foreign exchange will ensure the Puntland authorities willing compliance in keeping the pirates under lock-and-key as a permanent disincentive to budding bandits.

It should not be long before these remaining entrepreneurs of the sea find alternative employment.

Problem solved.

Now back to the cheap oil tankers?

“Pirates’ Delight” Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19, 2008)
“Pirates Exploit Confusion About International Law” Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19, 2008)
“Somali pirates turn villages into boomtowns” The Associated Press (Nov. 19, 2008)
Somali Islamists 'hunt pirates' BBC News (Nov. 21, 2008)
"How To Deal With Pirates" by Michael B. Oren Wall Street Journal (Nov.22-23, 2008)

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Thomas L. Friedman (of The New York Times) on Energy

Friedman writes eloquently of a seemingly radical yet eminently sensible and largely ignored concept that could potentialize the most important issues of our day:

- immediate energy conservation (oil)
- sizable development of alternative sources
- reduce oil funding to Jihadist/terrorism supporting countries
- directly reduce funding thereby for terrorist organizations
- reduction of our national debt and our negative balance of payments
- reduction of targeted taxes for all of America’s citizens
- ultimate reduction in the price of gasoline at the pump

Below Friedman’s recent article I provide a link to a related article I wrote some time ago on the same crucial solution for our time. Enjoy.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda by Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times: November 14, 2007

“Forcing the Oil Price Lower” by Leslie J. Sacks August 25, 2008

“The world is still flat” by Ben Naparstek The International Jerusalem Post: October 24-30, 2008, a review of Friedman’s latest book:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Leaving Chicago

A most interesting report from CBS2Chicago.com informs us that during the recent summer months (May 26th - September 1st, 2008), more Americans were shot and killed in Chicago (an estimate of 125) than in the whole of war-torn Iraq (65 U.S. soldiers). This astounding statistic begs the question:

When will we hear a strident call emerging from the bowels of the anti-war machine of Harry Reid and his Democrat minions for America to immediately withdraw from Obama's hometown of Chicago? We (of course) just can't abide the wasted lives, the unnecessary deaths – just as we cannot in Iraq.

Harry Reid, you showed your mettle with Iraq; now show us the way out of Chicago. Then, perhaps, we could review our continuing occupation of Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, New Orleans, St. Louis...

Let's withdraw while we can.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama "Heavy"

Obama "lite" was all about messianic change - equality, fraternity and perpetual hope for all of America's citizens and non-citizens.

Now - courtesy of the financial crisis - we are getting a large dose of Obama "heavy:" bigger government and increased taxes for the wealthy. A perfect ploy to rustle up votes amongst the masses. Could Obama have been (re-)skimming through Karl Marx on his sojourn from sunny Hawaii to Chicago's South Side?

Obama seems to sincerely want to improve the lot of America's poor and its middle class. In doing so, he will not be able to prevent spreading the government's largesse to those who prefer laziness or stasis to hard work and dynamism, who prefer handouts to sweating up the success ladder like the many immigrant minorities that pass by America's poor with remarkable speed. What's more, he cannot prevent illegal immigrants and incarcerated criminals from sharing in the booty as well.

Obama clearly thrives on the adulation of the crowd, the endless accolades of the majority. Eva Peron did, as does Chavez - this seems to be the essential commonality among populist power brokers, particularly those of the left.

Obama believes, it seems, that America's capitalistic pot is static in size and structure. Tax the wealthy, spread those riches amongst the poor and voila, equality is born again. And the magician gets roses strewn in his every path for his magnificent sleight of hand.

Except that much of this fungible cash, these gifts from the god(s), will be used for TVs, for consumer items and ephemeral pleasures. They will ultimately end up in the coffers of many Chinese exporters and Asian factories, with governments who compete aggressively with us and - in the case of the Chinese - who wish us ill.

Moreover, the wealthy will transfer much of their remaining wealth to lower tax havens and countries (most of the rest of the world by now); they will be less able or motivated to open factories, invest in new projects and build American enterprises. Jobs will be lost rather than gained; salaries too will be compromised. It is a law of simple economic gravity - reduce the economic pot at the top end and this reduction will flow downwards, in a very democratic fashion.

And so the opportunities of advancement, of increased wages, bonuses and jobs for the poor and the middle classes will be substantially reduced, replaced by big government handouts, given even to those 40% of Americans who do not pay income taxes. [By contrast, it is often thought - in non-socialist circles, at least - that the most effective way to engineer responsible and participatory citizenship of all America's peoples would be to tax these 40 percent by a token amount, from 5 to 7.5%. Increased pensions, unemployment and medical insurance could be the state's side of the quid pro quo.]

Initially, Obama's popularity will soar: most people, like politicians, are short-term actors: they evaluate based only on their next week or month, not their next year or decade. And yet America's culture of entrepreneurship, her hard won individuality and success will suffer. We will become more like Old and Eastern Europe just as they both race to become like the America of old - a place where small government facilitated big individuals, where the welfare state was supplanted by democratic opportunity and capitalistic inventiveness. This was the New World where hard work could win anybody a stake in the American dream.

Obama knows better than anyone how to appeal to the masses, how to promise nirvana, how to spin an enticing web of popularity. He is a political master, a genius in grassroots motivation and organizational base building. He is the ultimate populist.

I fear though, that in spite of his inordinate intelligence, he does not yet get "Economics 101." I fear he denies the inevitable and harsh differences between all of us, including - perhaps most dangerously - the difference between America and those countries and dictators who would love to see the end of our freedoms and the demise of our greatness.

I fear we will become more like Old Europe - passive, socialist, recessive and cowardly. Ironically, large swaths of Old Europe and Eastern Europe are now trying to be more like us. They are reducing taxes, controlling big government, inspiring hard work and entrepreneurship. The Eastern Europeans in particular have learnt well history's harsh lessons of socialism, curtailment of freedoms and economic decay.

They get it; Obama does not.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Hunter to Hunted

As Saturday Night Live and Tina Fey have most humorously confirmed, Sarah Palin looked out every morning from her Alaskan home and could see Russia. What they failed to conversely postulate was that Obama likely looked out every morning of his remarkably well planned career and instead saw the White House, clearly illuminated and in perfect focus. Saturday Night Live has thus elucidated for the American voter a simple choice; and one they did not quite intend.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Modern Solution for Ancient Lands – Regeneration of the Biblical Dead Sea

Amid the constant turmoil and angst boiling over in Israel and the West Bank, at the center of the Middle East, lies the Dead Sea. [3] This salt-laden desert sea is rapidly diminishing in size as its source, the Jordan River, dries up: the Syrians (via the Yarmuk, a source for the Jordan), Israelis and Jordanians all draw an ever-increasing amount of water from this biblical tributary. [1]

We think of the Dead Sea as a tourist haven for spa treatments and beauty products, as a relief for psoriasis sufferers; we know about its amazing buoyancy and the factories mining its esoteric salts (its salt concentration is about 33%, compared to 3% in the Mediterranean).

What we don’t know is that this area of dangerously diminishing returns may very well provide a synergistic solution to the region’s major political, economic and environmental problems. A number of large-scale infrastructure projects - including the construction of a canal and nuclear power and desalinization plants - have the potential to transform this “dead” area into a source of life and an inspiration to all mankind. Though daunting, big problems generally require big solutions.

Cutting a 112 mile-long canal north from the Red Sea - starting at Israel’s and Jordan’s southernmost ports - to the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, has long been cast as a fanciful project, considered either too expensive or too fraught with insurmountable political barriers. Yet it is in reality eminently practical, feasible and cost effective, and there is plenty of private and governmental financing around if the will of decision-makers in both Jordan and Israel can be joined. [2] [5]

Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, formalized the idea of a hydropower canal connecting the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea in his 1920 book The Old New Land (Altneuland), writing already then that the 1300 foot drop would generate critical hydroelectric power. [4]

The Red Sea canal is a decades-old idea that has been recently reinvigorated by one of the world’s richest people, Israeli real estate mogul Yitzhak Tshuva, the current owner of New York’s Plaza Hotel. He describes a strip of blue water flowing 100 miles through the desert, alongside high speed trains, with waterfalls surrounded by parks and luxury hotels, bringing Israelis and Arabs together in a thriving free-trade zone. If built, this “Valley of Peace” will be the most dramatic single change ever made to the landscape of the Holy Land, employing hundreds of thousands on both sides of the border, in the bargain. [7]

The introduction of substantial quantities of (albeit salt) water into this arid area would allow additional water to percolate slowly down into its depleted aquifers, losing much of its salinity in the process. Ground water resources for the West Bank, Jordan and Israel would be crucially replenished, as well as substantial quantities of fresh water for agriculture, a source of much argument and bickering between the parties. What’s more, the diminishing Dead Sea would refill, sustaining its healing powers and its natural bounty.

The height difference between the Red and the Dead Seas could be utilized hydrostatically to further desalinate the incoming seawater as well as creating enough hydroelectric power not only to drive all the pumping stations needed for the project, but also to supply electricity to the surrounding urban and industrial areas.

As an essential complement to this project, nuclear power plants should be built as a joint-venture between Jordan and Israel, including multiple concrete and steel shells sufficiently hardened to withstand any missiles, rockets or targeted bombs. The technology exists to build just such a safe and impermeable facility, which could draw on ample supplies of saltwater for its cooling requirements.

Based far from major population centers, modern nuclear power could safely supply enough electricity to cover much of the power needs of Jordan, the West Bank, and Israel, thereby ensuring the region’s strong and permanent commitment to this project’s enduring success. With such a powerful asset on hand, mutual self-interest would cut through politics and promote the safety, security and longevity of the project. No-one apart from renegade terrorists would attempt to kill the goose that lays these golden eggs. And Israel and Jordan are both well capable of cooperatively securing the area.

Finally, huge desalinization plants for fresh water should be built on the shores of the then-full Dead Sea, drawing on cheap excess electricity (especially at night) from the nuclear power plants. The primary water resources of the region - namely The Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk and Jordan Rivers - are mostly depleted, and the area is desperately short of water for its growing urban populations, its industries and its agriculture. Fish ponds, recreational areas, luxury hotels and artificial lakes would be developed. With shared Israeli technology, the desert could bloom again, uplifting the whole region and improving dramatically the standard of living for all its peoples, ushering in peace, stability and an economic miracle as all parties develop an irrefutable stake in and support for the success of this project. [8]

This is the glue that will bind these warring and antagonistic parties. This is the stuff our dreams should be made of: water, electricity and tourism will replace suicide bombers and hate-filled propaganda. French President Nicolas Sarkozy lauded this so called “Peace Canal” idea during his recent trip to Israel, as did Saudi Prince bin-Talal. King Abdullah, the leader of Jordan, already supports a different version of the plan. [6]

With peace and common interests thereby initiated, tourism would thrive, from Jordan’s unrivaled ruins of Petra to Bethlehem on the West Bank, from Jerusalem’s Via Dolorosa to the church at Capernaum, where Jesus preached and fed his disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. A new renaissance would be ushered in as tens of million of tourists who annually visit the Eiffel Tower and the Coliseum drift eastwards across the Mediterranean to this unique and biblical land, the historical crossroads of the world’s major religions and its divided cultures, and the center, seemingly, of its current problems.

And now also, clearly, at the core of its potential solution.


[1] In the 1930s the inflow of fresh water from the Jordan River (about 1300 million cubic meters per year) equaled the rate of evaporation. Today the inflow is less than a third of that due to upstream diversion.
Dead Sea Canal.

The Friends of the Earth Middle East talk of the Jordan River as becoming “little more than an open sewage channel.” In what seems to be a particular exaggeration they claim only 5% of the Jordan’s flow reaches the Dead
Sea. Red Sea Canal plan "threat"

The Dead Sea’s water level has dropped some 82 feet over the past century, reducing its surface area considerably at the same time. Sink holes have started to appear in the area.
Diverting Red Sea to Save Dead Sea Could Create Environmental Crisis.

[2] Earlier this year, the World Bank finished a series of public hearings on a Red Sea Canal plan. The say the cost would be U.S. $5 billion, but are concerned with two threats: first, earthquakes may flood the valley with seawater, thus polluting the groundwater as well; and second, mixing of the Dead and Red Sea waters may produce unknown results. They are projected to be starting a U.S. $15 million feasibility study this month.
Red Sea Canal plan "threat"

Diverting Red Sea to Save Dead Sea Could Create Environmental Crisis
William Allen proposed in 1855 a canal-waterway that would connect the three bodies of water bordering the Holy Land, namely the Mediterranean, the Dead and the Red Seas. He believed at the time that it would be cheaper than the projected Suez Canal.
The Red Sea and the Mediterranean Dead Sea Canals Project

[3] A million years ago or so a major earthquake created the Syrian-African Rift Valley stretching through the Red Sea on into Africa and its lakes in Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. The Dead Sea sank deep into the valley and was deprived of its natural outflow to the sea.
Dead Sea Canal

[4] The 1300-foot drop would also be suitable for reverse osmosis desalination, a process that uses the force of the drop to push seawater through an artificial membrane creating even more fresh water.
Dead Sea Canal

[5] Others have postulated a canal between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Galilee, whereby the “potential difference” in height between these two seas would be converted to energy by means of a hydroelectric station. The energy this produced would be further used to desalinate the seawater.
Building the Wrong Canal

[6] Jordan is mulling over a cheaper alternative to the Red Sea – Dead Sea Canal. They are considering building a desalination plant in Aqaba, on the Red Sea shore and pumping the water through pipes to Amman, the capital.
An Alternative to the Red-Dead Canal. Furthermore, if the canal were to be realized they prefer it to be located on their side of the border with Israel, which is sure to be a “political football.” Jordan mulling cheaper alternative to Red Sea-Dead Sea canal

[7] Tshuva said he and other leading Israel financiers could foot the entire bill for the canal, desalination plants and hydroelectric installations (he does not talk of nuclear power plants). He talked of a cost of some $3.3 billion, which by some counts seems too conservative. The total project, according to Tshuva, could create as many as 200,000 hotel rooms and a million much needed jobs. Israeli billionaire pushes for Red Sea-Dead Sea canal


[8] An alternative to the Red-Dead Sea Canal has been proposed. Called the “Peace Canal”, this is an international project for conveying water from Turkey via Syria and the Golan Heights, providing fresh water solutions for Syria, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The plan would bring 2-3 billion cubic meters of water per annum, more than that which Israel and the PNA currently use every year. The energy generated by the fall in height down to the northern Jordan River (that feeds into the Sea of Galilee) would be used to transport the water along the 450-mile route. The overflow not needed by the participants would be used to refill the Dead Sea. Apart from reviving the Jordan River, the Israelis would restock the mountain and coastal aquifers underlying both Israel and the PNA. The battle over water resources is one of the main impediments to resolving the Middle East conflict and may now potentially be a primary solution. The economic benefits will also reduce the chances of another failed peace agreement, bringing the intractable Syrians on board as well.
Israeli Paper Reports Israel-Syria "Peace Canal" Proposal on Water Issue.

Posted on The Absurd Report: http://www.theabsurdreport.com/2008/modern-solution-for-ancient-lands-%E2%80%93-regeneration-of-the-biblical-dead-sea-by-leslie-j-sacks/

Posted on NeoConservative Christian Right: http://nccr.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!5F8571F504717D9D!2083.entry

Posted on Theta Healing DNA: http://thetahealingdna.com/2008/10/10/modern-solution-for-ancient-lands-%E2%80%93-regeneration-of-the-biblical-dead-sea-by-leslie-j-sacks/

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama and Palin – A Match (Almost) Made in Heaven

Barack Obama is perfectly suited in the running for president. He has the ability to both energize and grow the grassroots base, to motivate voters with his superb eloquence and confidence. As a result, he has broken for all time the racial glass ceiling on viable presidential candidates, an accomplishment for which America should be grateful. He will, based on many current polls, quite likely succeed in his quest for the presidency.

On the other hand, Obama, according to a good portion of the country, is not yet experienced enough, and does not yet have the depth of judgment, to be president. Either way, perhaps the best argument for a McCain presidency is the (consummately American) end of divided government. Given the Democrats’ control of both houses of Congress, a Republican president will provide a semblance of proportional representation and help ensure the checks and balances that are so central to our vigorous democracy.

Interestingly, Sarah Palin--the focus of much of Obama’s current defensive attention--is an unusual case for America’s feminists. Ms. Palin has singlehandedly, in a matter of weeks, made the feminist movement largely defunct. Before then, much of the feminist movement was rooted in the left-wing: pro-abortion and anti-Republican, often animated by an anti-male, anti-religious fervor.

Palin is the opposite: simple, patriotic, both gun-toting and feminine (horrors!). She is from a small town, an outdoorswoman, with a union-card holding husband. She is committed to religion, family values and independence. She is certainly not the Dolce Gabbana-pants wearing, urbane intellectual from Greenwich Village or San Francisco, steeped in all-is-relative Harvard political correctness.

And yet, she has captured the media’s imagination and broken the (other) glass ceiling more effectively than any other woman to date. She has done so from primitive Alaska, small town Wasilla, with a family of five, happily married with conservative values – in short, she is an anathema to traditional feminists. That is why they hate and despise her. She stands for everything they are not and yet she has achieved everything they could not. And they will never forgive her for making them irrelevant, passé, an odd historical footnote.

Women have arrived – they are equal, they can and may indeed be Vice-President, lipstick and all. And who knows, maybe one day (God willing!) even president.

Posted on SlantRight.com: http://www.slantright.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1398

Posted on The Absurd Report: http://www.theabsurdreport.com/2008/obama-and-palin-%E2%80%93-a-match-almost-made-in-heaven-by-leslie-j-sacks/

Monday, August 25, 2008

Forcing the Oil Price Lower

As even American consumers are learning, oil is money; less well known is how this money feeds Saudi Arabia and its worldwide network of Madrasses, those fundamentalist schools propagating Islamic Radicalism. Oil money also underpins the Iranian regime and its active support of terrorism via Hamas and Hezbollah.

Paying five dollars per gallon versus four dollars per gallon channels an extra $100 billion of disposable income to these radical Islamist regimes, keeping them awash in even more petro-dollars for their many nefarious schemes.

Why don’t we pay ourselves that extra dollar, that extra 100 billion?

If we add a $1 tax for every gallon dispensed in the USA, then, counter-intuitively, the ultimate price of gas would in fact be forced to drop: First, the U.S. government would have an extra $150 billion with which to increase alternative energy funding, expand safe and environmentally-friendly oil and gas exploration, as well as nuclear and hydroelectric power stations; all crucial contributors to our vital energy independence. This windfall could further fund Social Security and Medicare and reduce income taxes and our national debt, thus endearing this revolutionary tax to Democrat and Republican consumers alike. Even with a $1 tax hike we would still be paying a third less per gallon than all of Europe. It’s the fairest of all taxes as one pays only for what one uses.

Alternatively, and perhaps more palatably for the American consumer, this gas tax could directly reduce sales or property taxes. Thus we would tax that which is detrimental to the environment and our society and give relief where it counts.

Second - and most importantly - this tax would discourage and depress domestic oil consumption substantially. The shock and size of the tax would likely produce a modest glut of oil worldwide, reducing the price of oil in world markets. This consequential fall in the price of oil would critically reduce by tens (and possibly hundreds) of billions of dollars the blood monies flowing to terrorist-supporting states; American coffers, on the other hand, would be filled instead. Ironically, then, some or all of the tax would effectively be paid by Iran and Saudi Arabia, by Venezuela and the OPEC cartel. The American consumer will thus be actively financing freedom instead of terror.

There has been little public discussion of this eminently rational project, truly an honest and elegant solution to arguably our nation’s most pressing concern. The myriad negative externalities associated with oil consumption, terror financing, higher military spending, environmental degradation, among others, should realistically be factored into the price of a gallon of gasoline. While difficult, it should not be impossible to sell this concept to the American public if the consumer understands that when the cost of terror is applied to the price of oil in the form of a transparent tax, billions of dollars will be removed from terror states and to be reinvested in our economy, our country and our energy independence. We will thereby reduce the ability of our enemies to blackmail us, to influence Washington and peddle their agendas worldwide. Call it a “redemption tax.”

Madrassas and terror organizations will run short of funds. Decreasing gasoline consumption with a concomitant increase in alternative energy production will further depress the price of oil, perhaps back to $3/gallon where we started, or even lower.

When gasoline is burnt it emits pollutants. Higher gas taxes as part of a broader carbon tax are the most direct and honest policy to address our environmental concerns. Moreover, the tax would reduce road congestion, gridlock and the inordinate waste of time most of us spend on the highways, quite possibly now costing us another 50 billion dollars or more in decreased productivity. Substantial reductions in road rage and frustration therapy would, I’m sure, be much appreciated by our psychological fraternity.

Consumption taxes are always better than income taxes; the latter discourage savings and investment. This direct tax, by common consensus, would be more favorable to economic growth, encouraging the search for gasoline substitutes and fuel-efficient cars, and more research and development spending on alternative fuels.

Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, has called for higher gas taxes, noting, in one of his more lucid moments, “It’s a national security issue.” The gas tax is an efficient economic policy that is also an effective foreign policy. It will give America more clout as falling gas prices will tilt power and influence back toward the world’s democracies and away from the oil producing autocracies. Higher gas taxes may not be attractive. However, the alternatives are certainly far worse.

Finally we need to set a fixed floor price for gas - perhaps at say $100 per barrel - that guarantees to all gas as well as alternative fuel investors, researchers and developers that this minimum floor price can be relied upon to ensure energy competitiveness over the long term. Any drop in the oil price below that floor level can be taxed to make up the difference, the revenue thus generated perhaps being allocated to reducing our exploding national debt. Many venture capitalists and developers of new oil fields and alternative energy are reticent to invest what it takes to bring vast new energy resources to fruition for fear that a collapsing oil price will destroy their viability. The floor cap does away with all these impediments and guarantees price stability (on the downside) for all levels in the energy cycle.

We need to plan ahead. To phase in the gas tax would be the softer political approach but would dilute the “shock value” which ultimately will cause the price at the pump to drop by more than the tax increase itself. Instead of us subsidizing world terrorism and its associated anti-American hate-fest, this tax will indirectly ensure our energy independence, a brighter economic future, and ultimately the strengthening of our freedoms. Instead of economic collapse driven by ever increasing gas prices (as predicted by our salivating enemies, including Osama bin Laden), we will be initiating our rebirth as a great and independent nation and a light unto the world.

Posted on SlantRight.com

Time to Change our Oil Policy by Bernard Munk

Raise the Gas Tax - N. Gregory Mankiw (WSJ)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lest We Forget - Bush as the Consummate Democrat!

Long before Bush Junior was the apple of the Republican Party’s eye, for Bill Clinton and his supporters Saddam Hussein was a priority. They waxed eloquent over both the moral turpitude of this nefarious dictator as well as the international community’s obligation to end his rule and diffuse his threats.

Clinton stated unequivocally in early November 1998 that “Iraqis deserve and desire freedom.” He then signed the Iraq Liberation Act authorizing Saddam’s overthrow. This initiative was supported unanimously in the Senate and by a similarly noteworthy majority of 360 to 38 in the House.

On December 16th, 1998, Clinton--a man liberals revered almost as much as they hate Bush (after all, “Bush lied and our soldiers died”)--presented a powerful plea to the world and the American people. Confirming a four day bombing campaign over Iraq, Clinton argued:

Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to threaten his neighbors or the world with nuclear arms, poison gas, or biological weapons. . . . Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: he has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. . . . I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.

Vice President Al Gore stated during an interview with CNN’s Larry King:

You allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons. How many people is he going to kill with such weapons? . . . We are not going to allow him to succeed

Nor did Democratic opposition to Saddam’s Iraq stop at the White House door. A significant group of U.S. Senators including notable Democrat Carl Levin, Tom Daschle and John Kerry wrote to Clinton pressuring him to “respond effectively” to the “threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its WMD programs.”

The subsequent 4-day Operation Desert Fox failed to dissuade Saddam from his WMD program. Meanwhile, Saddam sized the opportunity to renew his crackdown on any opposition within Iraq. The U.N.’s Oil-for-Food program was also an ongoing failure: Iraqis continued to starve while Saddam built ever more palaces. Saddam skimmed off over 20 billion dollars from the program, much of which found its way into the pockets of his French, German and Russian suppliers. (Small wonder these countries were loathe to confront Saddam in the run-up to the current Iraq War.)

In the mid 1990’s then Joint Chiefs of Staff head Colin Powell developed a plan for a ground invasion of Iraq. In early 1999, the Clinton administration studied a variety of plans to overthrow Saddam’s regime. Saddam’s refusal to re-admit the U.N. weapons inspectors provoked U.N. Resolution 1284, which demanded a new inspection regime and set the U.N. (and, by practical implication, the US and Great Britain) on a collision course with Saddam.

It is often overlooked that when Bush took office in January 2001 the United States had already been at war with Iraq for over 10 years, since the first Gulf War. The United Nations had already approved the military and diplomatic framework to locate and destroy WMD remaining in Iraq, to prevent Saddam from secretly developing further WMD and to protect the Kurds in the North and the Shias in the South from his genocidal dictatorship.

By this time Saddam had killed (by conservative estimates) more than one million of his citizens, brutalizing many more in the process; by using chemical weapons during the horrific Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, he helped cause the death of even more Iranians. He also used chemical weapons against Iraq’s Kurdish population to obliterate any remaining resistance in the north. In the south, Saddam dealt with a restive (and majority) Shia population by diverting tributaries in the estuaries and marshlands of the unique Shatt Al-Arab delta system, devastating the economic life and traditions of the Shia who had lived there for centuries.

Despite Saddam’s well-known crimes, the tipping point for most of America’s political class was September 11, 2001. In an interview with Dan Rather two days after 9/11, Hillary Clinton presented a determined stance:

“Every nation has to be either for us, or against us. Those who harbor terrorists, or who finance them, are going to pay a price.”

When Bush, strangely slow in rising to the challenge, later repeated Hillary Clinton’s words and sentiments, he was castigated by the world as a warmonger.

Along with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, Saddam’s Iraq had been clearly identified as a Class-A supporter of terrorism. The Clinton administration had often cited Saddam’s ties to terrorist groups, including Hamas, the PLO, Black September, Arafat’s personal guard (Force 17) and Islamic Jihad. For many years, Saddam had provided a substantial reward for every family of a Palestinian suicide bomber. The CIA confirmed in late 2002 (in their report “Iraqi Support for Terrorism”) that:

“Iraq continues to be a safe haven, transit point, or operational node for groups and individuals who direct violence against the United States. Saddam’s intelligence service supported financially Ansar al-Islam whose members were being trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.” (New Yorker, March 2002)

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of al-Qaeda’s top operators found safe harbor in Iraq.

One must remember that over the prior two decades Saddam had not only invaded Iran, but had also occupied the oil rich country of Kuwait, devastating its financial and cultural institutions (not to mention its citizens). Saddam’s reign of terror was the most effective killing machine the Middle East has ever known.

United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had already detailed Saddam’s extensive biological weapons program in 1995. Thereafter Iraq claimed to have destroyed its substantial stockpile. Yet this was never independently confirmed. The French, German, British and Japanese intelligence services all believed in the high likelihood of remaining WMD stockpiles and mothballed programs that could be re-instigated at will.

We now know these fears were exaggerated, in part by Saddam’s own extensive evasions and bravado, in part by activist Iraqi exiles and opposition leaders. Bush’s inference, it reasonably seems, reflected a consensus of local and international assessments on Iraqi WMD, including numerous Senators and spokespeople from the Democratic Party.

In September of 2002, Democrat Charles Schumer convincingly stated:

“Hussein’s vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, and his present and potential future support for terrorist acts and organizations . . . make him a terrible danger to the people of the United States.”

Hillary Clinton too waxed eloquent:

“My position is very clear. The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s WMD’s.”

So did John Edwards:

“Every day [Saddam] gets closer to his long-term goal of nuclear capability.”

And even the irascible Howard Dean:

“There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the U.S. and our allies.”

A majority of democratic Senators (including John Kerry) and 81 democratic Congressmen authorized Bush “to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

Joseph Biden (Democrat) summarized the Party’s consensus at the time when he said,

“Saddam is in material breach. . . . The legitimacy of the Security Council is at stake, (and if) the Security Council does not call for the use of force, I think we have little option but to act with a larger group of willing nations, if possible, and alone if we must.”

Later claims of Bush’s trickery and lies ignore the fact-based position Bush took in reinforcing prior Clintonian affirmations on the subject of Saddam’s threat and the necessity of his removal. In a House debate from October 2002, Nancy Pelosi categorically stated:

“Yes… (Saddam) has chemical weapons. He has biological weapons. He is trying to get nuclear weapons.”

There was really very little that the “warmongers” Bush or Cheney could add.

To remind the Democrats of their pronouncements on the subject of Saddam Hussein would be, to use Al Gore’s inimitable sound bite, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Operation Iraqi Freedom started on March 21, 2003. The WMD stockpiles were nowhere to be found. However, David Kay, the director of the Iraqi Survey Group, confirmed finding dozens of WMD–related program activities and significant amounts of equipment previously concealed from UNSCOM inspectors. There are some who to this day believe some stockpiles were moved to Syria prior to the outbreak of hostilities.

Kay claimed with conviction that “the world is far safer with the….removal of Saddam.” He furthermore concluded that Saddam and his cohorts were willing to sell WMD know-how to the highest bidder once sanctions were removed and that Saddam viewed WMD as the key to his future power.

Those who are bitter about Bush’s decision to remove Saddam do not generally concern themselves with the likely consequences of leaving this brutal dictator in place. All other options had, to that point, failed. One just has to imagine what Saddam’s resources would have become with today’s runaway oil prices. Bush may ultimately have had little alternative than to go to war, considering the groundswell of pressure all around him, including a majority of the Democratic Party.

George Bush said to Bob Woodward in 2004: “My job is to secure America.” President Clinton had stated with appropriate insight six years earlier:

Let’s imagine the future. What if [Saddam] refuses to comply, and we fail to act,...Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, I guarantee you, he’ll use the arsenal.

It does seem, in conclusion then, that George Bush was merely extending the Clintonian philosophy. And if Bush was not in power, in September 2001, then indeed, most likely, it is reasonable to assume the leading Democrat in power would have gone to war, a war that may or may not have been prosecuted more efficiently. But war it would have been.

Published on The Absurd Report: http://www.theabsurdreport.com/2008/lest-we-forget-bush-as-the-consummate-democrat-by-leslie-j-sacks/

New Yorker article The Great Terror: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/03/25/020325fa_FACT1?printable=true

Friday, August 8, 2008

Incredulous U.N.

The Human Rights Council at the United Nations has now banned any criticism regarding Sharia Law and human rights in the Islamic World. According to President Doru Romulus Costea - and following the efforts of delegates from Egypt, Pakistan and Iran - the Council will no longer tolerate criticism of either Sharia or specific fatwas in the name of human rights.

In many parts of the Islamic world, it is becomingly increasing clear not only that the Quran (the written record of the original oral transmissions of Muhammad’s life teachings) and the Hadith (the later delineations of those teachings) are considered sacrosanct in their perfection, but also the various implementations of these teachings, known as Sharia Law. No evolution or refinements are required. No matter that nearly every multitudinous Muslim sect or group has a differing interpretation of this God-given Sharia Law. Nor that the stoning to death of women, beheading of men, and all the 6th century niceties of feudal Arabia are still part and parcel of the immovable Islamic tradition. Never mind that Sunni will decimate Shia--and vice versa--over differences of interpretations far more modest than those between (modern) Catholics and Protestants, between Hindus and Buddhists. Islamic sect can war on Islamic sect, Arab can criticize Arab.

Because Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and all other religions are imperfect, they are fair game for any and all attacks. Since Israel, Zionism, America and the Western World were created and developed outside the Islamic World and its divine perfection, they are likewise subject to criticism.

Now, not only has the Islamic God forbidden outside criticism of the Sharia Law, but the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) is its enjoined messenger on earth.

Of course, observers of the HRC should not be surprised. The ostensibly prestigious body has become a revolving door for countries with an ambivalent (or even well nigh invisible) relationship with freedom and democracy. In the two years following its replacement of the equally dictatorship-friendly Human Rights Commission, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia have all been elected to the Council. As a majority of the Council’s resolutions are concerned with Israel, it would effectively cease functioning were it not for its compulsive focus on the Jewish state.

Due to this resolution the Council - and thus, perversely, the UN - is endorsing a worldview in which human interpretation and understanding has been placed beyond the pale of critical thinking and investigation as long as it’s part of Sharia Law or the Islamic tradition. Perhaps we should rename the United Nations and call it the “Nations of Islam - United in Unique and Ineffable Perfection.” Sounds appropriate.

Published on Family Security Matters: http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/authors/id.91/author_detail.asp

Published on Stand Up America: http://www.standupamericausa.com/?p=1599

Published on Muslims Against Sharia: http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/2008/08/incredulous-un-bans-criticism-of-islam.html

Published on The Absurd Report: http://www.theabsurdreport.com/2008/incredulous-un-by-leslie-j-sacks/

Published on Europe News: http://europenews.dk/en/node/13092

Wall Street Journal Article "Sounds of Silence": http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121382874218086413.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

Posted on Keep Tony Blair blog: http://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2008/08/31/islams-war-on-freedom-free-speech-un-hi-jacked/

Posted on Chabad Talk: http://www.chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?t=9622

Discussed on LorMarie.com: http://lormarie.com/2008/08/19/disturbing-emaili-hope-its-fake/

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of Good and Evil – Solzhenitsyn on Appeasement

Solzhenitsyn died last Sunday at age 89, the Russian historian who singlehandedly documented the fascist excess of Russian communism and totalitarianism, a dictatorship of terror that caused the deaths of 60 million innocents. His book The Gulag Archipelago (1973) finally buried the West’s infatuation with things socialist, with politics Karl Marxian.

With clairvoyant intuition that would ring today with deafening silence amongst contemporary peaceniks, those “peace at any price” absolutists, those “good and evil are always relative” appeasers, Solzhenitsyn prophetically warned in his acceptance speech for the 1970 Nobel literature prize:

“The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles,” [1]

The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, August 5, 2008 Review & Outlook, pg. A18) pays homage to this great writer, who saw absolute evil triumph when good and evil are indelibly melded, who understood that the West blinds itself to such evil in its zealous discarding of moral criteria. Solzhenitsyn warned of

"an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses," and a "tilt of freedom in the direction of evil . . . evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature." [2]

Unlike our own armchair liberals who wax eloquent on freedom and redemption from their San Francisco penthouse verandas, martini in one hand and The New York Times in the other, Solzhenitsyn’s extended internship in the Siberian prison camps (so eloquently elucidated in his 1968 novel Cancer Ward), exhumed the devastating reality of evil and the undeniable need to confront it.

Solzhenitsyn is a writer for all times, for all the world, whose understanding of man’s proclivity for evil necessitates our readoption of moral courage and a national clarity of vision, particularly in these times of terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121789190811311707.html?mod=opinion_main_review_and_outlooks


The Wall Street Journal Article:

"Solzhenitsyn, Optimist" - The Wall Street Journal:

Published on The Absurd Report: http://www.theabsurdreport.com/2008/of-good-and-evil-solzhenitsyn-on-appeasement-by-leslie-j-sacks/

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Obama - The Talk of the Town

Barack Obama - the toast of the intelligentsia from Malibu to Hollywood.

I used to find his oratory impressive and commanding, his message of hope persuasive and compelling.

Now I find my attention to his rhetoric wanes with every repetitive exhortation for change. Independents seeking political satisfaction come away frustrated with what they see as "Obama Lite:" the supposed anti-politician pandering to the voters, short on details, flexible on principles.

Why this metamorphosis? Has Obama really gone from being a scintillating intellectual powerhouse to a manipulative rabble-rouser? From being the Messianic harbinger of inspired change to a purveyor of Machiavellian politics as usual, intent on winning at all costs?

With a few Athenian exceptions, human societies have normally been led by controlling minorities that define directions and policies for the whole. One generally finds good and just people on the one hand or authoritarians and extremists on the other, all passionately and actively dictating positive or negative pathways for the passive majority to follow.

Either way the majority at the center gets swayed, whether by persuasion or by fear. Either way those leaders with the requisite charisma to inspire crowds, with enough power to motivate individuals, move the populace to their side, interjecting their beliefs along the way. Whether Kennedy or Hitler, Moses or Mao Tse Tung, Lincoln or Stalin, the psychology of conformity, of adoration, often remains the same.

The middle majority inevitably seeks answers to the unanswerable, to the incomprehensible, to their particularly insecure future. It desires hope and faith with which to fill the void, and in its fear and angst this majority latches on to any and all guarantees that posit positive change, that promise the actualization of their fantasies. It is here in this fertile ground that Obama feels most comfortable, working his genius, hugely negative about the recent past, spreading his limitless optimism for the future.

Our election zeitgeist is one of political immaturity and immediate gratification, one of self-indulgence and needy egocentricity. The limitations imposed by reality, by likely sacrifice and realpolitik, by needed compromise and tough planning for the unknown - these are all anathema to the majority. They all fade into irrelevance besides the soaring rhetoric of promised change, change that Obama assures us he will usher in, come November, at the start of his "Golden Era."

Do we, as the emperor's newly blessed children, follow the allure of Obama's sweet candy floss, his endless toffee apple; or do we visit the ever unpopular dentist? Do we as adults confront our enemies and balance the budget? Do we plan and make the necessary sacrifices, accepting pain now, as Joseph did in biblical Egypt, to survive the future's likely seven lean years?

"Bush's Third Term" - The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121495450490321133.html

Published on The Absurd Report: http://www.theabsurdreport.com/2008/obama-the-talk-of-the-town-by-leslie-j-sacks/

Friday, July 18, 2008

Appeasement Politics - Again

Negotiating with terrorists and with authoritarian regimes is often in the news these days. Opinions fly fast and wide about the relative merits of sitting down with this or that unsavory character.

Yet we have only to glance at the latest news to receive a litany of reality checks.

Robert Mugabe came to power using the gun some 28 years ago. After a brief period of stability and growth, he has set about destroying Zimbabwe, a country that used to be called the "bread basket" of Africa. He has devastated the economy by recklessly expropriating land and has emasculated the opposition by beating, killing or jailing many of his opponents. With increasing violence, Mugabe has stamped his authoritarian rule throughout the country. The West has recently opened its blind eye whilst the U.N., his trading partners (i.e. China), and Africa tread cautiously. For the latter, it appears as though Mugabe's credentials as a freedom fighter warrant unlimited loyalty, as though his decade's long violence and mayhem will one day transition to tolerance and peace. What is that memorable saying about a leopard and its spots?

As the one-man run-off presidential election held June 27 makes perfectly clear, Mugabe has reconfirmed his disinterest in democracy, freedom and the will of the people. Never mind that Mugabe's opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, won the first round ballot. According to Mugabe, "We fought for this country, and a lot of blood was shed. We are not going to give up our country because of a mere X. How can a ballpoint [pen] fight with a gun?" [1]

It seems years of accommodation, understanding and negotiation by the West have only hardened the geriatric Mugabe's determination to forcefully hold onto power, to break the back of any and all opposition. Could not the West have foreseen this outcome; were there not enough signs along the way?

In Lebanon, Hizballah has only tightened its stranglehold on the Lebanese government. Its unqualified veto power gives it total control over policy and change whilst shrewdly sidestepping responsibility, as the minority party, for the government's future mistakes. We have known and still know that Hizballah is an unabashed terrorist group with political, educational, and financial wings.

Just a few weeks ago, in a bloody confrontation with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Hizballah took control of the capital, Beirut. In 2006, they provoked a war with Israel through kidnappings and assorted border provocations. They have a more effective fighting force than the Lebanese army and are reported to have 40,000 rockets aimed at Israel. Furthermore, they are responsible for the deaths of more Americans than any other terrorist group apart from Al Qaeda. And yet Condoleezza Rice has stated that she welcomes the new power-sharing arrangement in Lebanon [2] as if it was reached democratically and peacefully. Apparently, we in the West now (tacitly) allow violent blackmail on a countrywide basis and support terrorist groups in power. Is there no end to our "pragmatism," is there always a deal with the devil worthy of our imprimatur? Even though we surely know that the "pragmatism" of these militants has been and will remain worthless? Is our fear of confrontation, our dislike of going it alone and our need for peace at any cost so deep that we hope where there is no justification for hope? Do we endlessly put off the day of reckoning (ignoring the cost of our freedom, the ultimate price of our peace) at the expense of oppressed peoples everywhere, at the expense of honesty and truth?

In the Middle Ages the church sold "indulgences" to their wealthier sinners who would thereby ensure their key to heaven by greasing the proverbial palm of the local parish. Do we open our myopic eyes a little more and confront the real enemies of our civilization rather than devoting ourselves exclusively, as many in the left are wont to do, to Kyoto and global warming, to whales and moose, to distractions from ensuring our survival?

So now we must negotiate with Iran's President Ahmadinejad, a man who has often stated that he has no interest in Israel's survival, peace with America, or in reaching any accommodation with his internal opposition? Are there no limits to our appeasements, to our self-flagellation, to our ability to fool ourselves?

Many in the world support these anti-Western rogue regimes, terrorist groups, fundamentalists and tin pot dictators. They do so not necessarily because they objectively find an accurate melding of their own views and wishes with those of these bombastic extremists. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to see America cut down to size, its power and dominance reduced, its government (mostly Republican) and its companies (mostly multi-national) humiliated. It's mostly a case of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." So—as revealed by the (often ornate) signs of protestors from San Francisco to Stuttgart to Seoul--Bush and Hitler are two sides of the same coin. Chavez, to whom most would not trust a second hand Prius at the valet, is now a poster boy for a myriad of causes and receives a standing ovation from the UN General Assembly after an anti-American speech so vitriolic it put Geobbels to shame. And Ahmadinejad, whose rants and insipid insights we would normally attribute to the world of insane asylums, becomes worthy of our understanding, our liberal largess and our Third World sympathies. In the interest of "dialogue," the venerable Council of Foreign Relations has Ahmadinejad over to the Upper East Side for a chat; not to be outdone, Columbia University soon invites him across town.

Being anti-American gets one a free pass, it seems, whether in the lofty towers of the United Nations or from the erudite professorships of our most acclaimed universities.

Without America as whipping boy, the elite's most politically correct scapegoat—without Shakespeare's modern day Shylock—most of these terrorist groups and dictatorships would likely dissipate and implode from a paucity of outside support and attention, their raison d'être dissolved, the transparency of their own viciousness and incompetence exposed. [3]

We seem to have a bizarre predilection for tolerating tyrants at home as well, passionately banning mangers in the park at Christmas time, cartoons of Mohammed, and cost effective and practical yet politically incorrect profiling at airports.

We seem to insist on repeating the mistakes of the past as though history can be rewritten by our fanciful optimism and our dangerous penchant for negotiating even when there is nothing left to negotiate.

The West is war weary and confrontation averse. Most of us prefer to sweeten with gifts those who wish us ill, to mollify tyrants with our endless words of conciliation. Is there ultimately no politically viable path between endless war and interminable accommodation?

[1] (Wall Street Journal 6/17/08 World Watch p. 13)
[2] (Wall Street Journal 6/17/08 World Watch p. 13)
[3] See Jean Francois Ravel's book on the subject entitled "Anti-Americanism" Encounter Books Sept. 25, 2004

"Mugabe Vows to Hold Power" by Roger Bate (Wall Street Journal 6/19/08 Opinion p. 15):

Military occupation mars Hezbollah reputation:

Original item available at: http://www.investigativeproject.org/article/724

Posted on Unity Coalition for Israel: http://www.israelunitycoalition.org/news/article.php?id=3049