I don’t know a better word to describe the state of world affairs. It defies rational understanding.
Consider this: According to a New York Times report yesterday, relayed by Reuters: while the US has been pushing for tougher sanctions against Iran, over the last ten years, the US government has given $107 billion in “contract payments, grants, and other benefits” to US companies operating abroad and foreign companies doing business in Iran, much of it in the critical energy sector.
According to the Times, despite threats of punishment for companies doing business with Iran, these companies go about their business either dealing directly with Iran or via subsidiaries, and receive US government contracts anyway. Forty-nine such companies were identified out of 79 companies that had been originally doing business with Iran. If I understand this correctly, this means over 60% of those warned by the US continued as usual. These companies included: “Global energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, Brazilian state energy conglomerate Petrobras, US aviation and aerospace company Honeywell, Japanese carmaker Mazda, and South Korean engineering group Daelim Industrial.”
“Many of those companies are enmeshed in the most vital elements of Iran’s economy,” the Times said.
“More than two-thirds of the government money went to companies doing business in Iran’s energy industry – a huge source of revenue for the Iranian government and a stronghold of the increasingly powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which oversees Teheran’s nuclear and missile programs.”
The State Department had no immediate comment.
But it must be asked why there wasn’t follow-through on threats. Are there any cases in which the US truly needs specific companies (as alternatives are not available) even if they continue to trade with Iran? It’s difficult not to come to a conclusion that in most cases, if not all, it’s not a matter of the necessity of doing business with these companies, so much as convenience or honoring ties of one sort or another no matter what. One might suspect that it was simply easier to shrug and then turn a blind eye.
It goes without saying that this is not how to stop Iran. Something is very very wrong.
And this is sheer craziness: According to the JPost, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted by the Saudi paper Al Wattan on Sunday as saying that al Aksa Mosque, the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb “were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites.”
Al Aksa Mosque certainly was and is Islamic. No one claims otherwise. However, the Mount on which it stands — which is likely what Erdogan was actually referring to — most certainly is Jewish, as the site of our two Temples. These are the two Temples for which a wealth of evidence, textual and archeological, exists but which the Muslims pretend were never there.
As to the Cave of the Patriarchs (the Machpelah) and Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel), hey, they were documented in the Torah many centuries before there were Muslims.
It gets wearisome, but these Islamic historical distortions don’t let up.
Convert to Islam and Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn, originally of California, goes by the name Azzam al-Amrik. Today, according to the Washington Times, a 25 minute video he made was posted on several militant Islamic websites. In it, he praised Maj. Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood terrorist:
“Brother Nidal is the ideal role model for every repentant Muslim in the armies of the unbelievers and apostate regimes.
“You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that military bases are the only high-value targets in America and the West. On the contrary, there are countless other strategic places, institutions and installations which, by striking, the Muslim can do major damage.
“Nidal Hasan is a pioneer, a trailblazer and a role model who has opened a door, lit a path and shown the way forward for every Muslim who finds himself among the unbelievers.”
He recommended targeting mass transportation systems and also wreaking havoc “by killing or capturing people in government, industry and the media.
“I am calling on every honest and vigilant Muslim in the countries of the Zionist-Crusader alliance in general and America, Britain and Israel in particular to prepare to play his due role in responding to and repelling the aggression of the enemies of Islam.”
While just up on the Internet and doing its damage now, this video was made some days ago, at least. According to an AP report, Pakistan intelligence says Gadahn has been arrested in Karachi. He is wanted by the FBI for treason and there is a $ million reward on his head.
Abdullah Barghouti is serving 67 life sentences for murdering 66 Israelis and being an accomplice in the murder of others. He was in Nazareth District Court today because the State is seeking an extension of his solitary confinement. But while he was there, he took advantage of the opportunity to speak to reporters.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, he told them, is blocking the prisoner exchange for Shalit. Nothing crazy about that, and I bless Netanyahu for holding out. He is balking at the release of three high-end prisoners whom Hamas is demanding: Abdullah Barghouti, Marwan Barghouti (serving five life sentences) and Ahmad Sa’adat (the former secretary-general of the PFLP, who masterminded the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi).
If freed, said Abdullah, he “will continue to fight for Palestine, so long as the occupation continues.”
This should not be forgotten.
Also quite sane are the Republican Senators who sent a letter to Obama demanding that he cancel the appointment of Robert Ford, the new US ambassador to Syria:
“Engagement of hostile regimes in pursuit of US interests is not necessarily bad policy, if it is part of a realistic strategy with measurable goals. But engagement for engagement’s sake is not productive. However well-justified the engagement is, the US pays a price for lending even a modicum of international legitimacy to a regime like Syria’s.
“We believe the Syrian government would like to be fully part of the legitimate international community without significantly changing [its human rights policies] or other security policies.”
They also wrote a letter to Secretary of State Clinton:
“[Appointment of an ambassador] must be aimed at achieving tangible Syrian concessions in response.
“Does the recent trilateral meeting among Syrian President Assad, the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad less than two weeks after you announced the nomination of Ambassador Ford give you reason to doubt the wisdom of this step at this time?”
Wow! How refreshing. These guys — Senators Jon Kyl (AZ), Pat Roberts (KS), Christopher Bond (MO), Tom Coburn (OK), John Barrasso (WY) and Mike Johanns (NE) — get it and talk straight. Unfortunately neither Obama nor Clinton is likely to listen.
It’s a couple of weeks old, but Michael Freund’s article on the resounding failure of US diplomatic efforts with regard to Syria is still enlightening and worth a read:
Israel Apartheid Week is still going on (because it’s actually two weeks long). And — yes, this is insanity — Balad Party chairman MK Jamal Zahalka is out on a speaking tour of campuses participating.
Free speech is one thing, but this is something else. As MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) said: “I call on the Knesset Speaker and the Knesset Ethics Committee to consider an appropriate response to MKs such as Zahalka. It cannot be that an MK who earns his salary from Israeli taxpayers goes out and lectures against the country and its existence.”
Do those who criticize us have the remotest idea what sort of freedoms exist for Arabs in our society?
This morning Arabs threw stones at a bus in Tekoa, thankfully injuring no one, but damaging the bus.
More seriously, a Palestinian Arab was caught at a checkpoint — not identified by name — outside of Shechem (Nablus) with three pipe bombs.
I’m very much afraid we’re going to see more of this. Let’s hear it for giving the Palestinian Arabs a “better life” by removing checkpoints. (I mock, but wait, we’re going to hear it yet, as part of the “negotiations.”)
And speaking of negotiations: The PLO has voted to go ahead with the “proximity talks.” Oh joy. Mitchell met today with Netanyahu and will again tomorrow.
But this really IS insanity, because the Palestinian Arabs have said they will walk away after four months if the borders for their state have not been established. And under no circumstances will they advance to direct talks unless there really is a complete building freeze everywhere past the Green Line.
So this is a recipe for failure. Is Obama a masochist, willing to set himself up for this? Or an egoist, still convinced that he can make the impossible happen? Or simply out to get us?
Netanyahu is going to be walking a tight line, as the PA seeks to put the onus on him (see below), even as he must not concede what must not be conceded. There is no way in the world that he would or could give the PA the borders it seeks — especially as he has just made the point that we’re not leaving the Jordan Valley. Nor, I believe, is he inclined to, or politically in a position to, freeze all building including in Jerusalem and all starts currently in progress in Judea and Samaria.
According to Haaretz, which acquired a copy, the US has sent a document to the PA that says:
“We expect both parties to act seriously and in good faith. If one side, in our judgment, is not living up to our expectations, we will make our concerns clear and we will act accordingly to overcome that obstacle.”
“Our” expectations?? The US is calling the shots?
Continues the letter, “[The US will be] sharing messages between the parties and offering our own ideas and bridging proposals.
“Our core [goal] remains a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian State with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967.”
Needless to say, the Palestinian Arabs are delighted, and, in fact, this was a factor in their decision to agree to indirect talks.
In light of this letter, it’s even easier to see what the projected PA scenario is — they have begun by stating in advance what Israeli “intransigence” will kill the talks.
This is the very pertinent comment of Aaron Lerner of IMRA today, in preface to this news:
“It isn’t going to be easy.
“But it is definitely doable.
“But we can’t make it through the assault that is being orchestrated with our hands tied behind our backs.
“The Arabs (and the Israelis who are confident that if we would just give the Arabs what they want there would be utopian peace) are going to slam both our positions and just as important the leadership representing these
positions at every opportunity.
“And what about us?
“Will Mahmoud Abbas continue to be off limits?
“Will the involvement of the PA in incitement be ignored?
“Will we, for example, continue to find ourselves dealing with condemnation for police activity on the Temple Mount instead of taking the offensive and slamming Arab violence on the Temple Mount at every possible forum?”
Please, contact Prime Minister Netanyahu. Using your own words, briefly, tell him you’re behind him as the plot is laid against him in the course of the “proximity talks.” Urge him to stay strong for Israel’s sake and to be very forthright and vocal in criticizing PA failures that make peace impossible.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)
There is lots more insanity out there, of course, but I think this is all we can take for one day.
I end with an announcement:
On Tuesday, March 9, Friends of the IDF will be holding a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City honoring IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi.
Those opposed to the IDF are planning a demonstration outside the hotel.
A counter demonstration is now being planned to show support for the IDF. It is imperative that many show. Please try to attend if you’re in the area, and pass this information to others, post it wherever you can.
March 9, Tuesday, from 5 PM to 7 PM. On Park Avenue between W.50th and W.51st Streets. (You may have seen an earlier announcement with a different location, but this is updated information.)