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October 22, 2008: Where to Start?

October 22, 2008

Never, in the time I have been doing these postings, have I received such a barrage of messages — the vast majority anguished and supportive of my position — as was stimulated by my piece on Obama yesterday. Volatile is hardly the word for the situation.

Before I move on to other issues — and I will — there is a follow-up on this subject:


Jonathan Tobin, editor of The Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia has written a piece called “Who’s Obsessed About ‘Obsession’?” that echoes one of my themes from yesterday.

Tobin describes the distribution inside Sunday newspapers last month of a DVD of the documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War with the West.

“The documentary’s thesis is simple: Radical Islam is at war with the West, and its hatred of Jews and Western democracy isn’t based on misunderstandings but on a faith-based fanaticism that will brook no opposition. Its prime tactic is to educate Muslim youth into believing that such hatred is a divine imperative, so as to create new generations of jihadist suicide bombers.
“One might think that seven years after September 11 this insight would be self-evident, rather than controversial…

But though it does no more than state the obvious about the rise of Islamism, its tactics and its purpose, Obsession appears to have a message that many Americans neither wish to hear nor believe. Indeed, the free distribution of the film…has set off a firestorm of critics from both Islamist groups and liberal media figures.


“…The Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina refused the DVD insert because, as a statement from its publisher asserted, “it was divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose.” The Detroit Free Press and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also declined the DVD…

“These papers did not refute a single point in the film. But the raising of the issue of Islamist terror has, in their view, become not merely politically incorrect but inadmissible and, therefore, something that must be suppressed. That these publishers, who should be facilitating such a debate rather than squelching it, have acted in this manner is an ominous sign of the times.


“Were that not enough, the film also has run afoul of some supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. [The distribution of the DVDs in swing states] has led some paranoids to argue that the documentary’s message is a subliminal argument against their candidate…

“Others talk about the use of right-wing foundation money to distribute the DVD…

“The problem with this whole argument is that the film contains absolutely nothing about American politics or the election.

“While some on the left may consider raising awareness about the dangers of Islamism to be something only Republicans do, that is not a point Democrats ought to concede if they are as tough on terror as they claim to be….some Democrats are now so spooked by the topic of the Islamist threat, they think even mentioning the topic in a nonpolitical context is somehow part of a conspiracy against their hero.


“…how does it possibly help the candidacy of Obama, a man who has missed no opportunity all year to assert his support for Israel and his disdain for Islamist terrorists, to claim that giving a documentary about Islamism a wide audience is hurtful to his cause? Can it be that some of his supporters believe that, contrary to his campaign statements, their candidate doesn’t really share the concerns that the film raises? (Emphasis added)

“Seven years after 9/11, many Americans seem to have forgotten that indifference to the threat of radical Islamists led directly to that tragedy. Apparently, some prefer to ignore the grim truth and cling to the illusion that right-wingers are making up all the fuss about Islamism to scare everyone unnecessarily. (Emphasis added)

“As Sir Martin Gilbert, one of the greatest historians of our generation…points out in Obsession, 70 years ago, many in the West were similarly unwilling to face up to the danger of Nazism. Just as today many laugh at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they dismissed the murderous threats of Adolf Hitler as clownish bombast, and considered the brainwashing of a generation of German children by the Nazis unimportant. They denounced those who refused to be silent as prejudiced warmongers. Those truth-tellers were proved right, but too late to avert a world war, as well as genocide.

“Just like then, those who ignore similar evidence about radical Islam today ‘don’t connect the dots,’ Gilbert asserts.

“That is a mistake the next president, who will confront an Islamist threat that may well be augmented by a nuclear Iran sometime in the next four years, cannot afford to make.”



What does it take to wake American up?


On other subjects:

Tzipi Livni has requested, and received, of President Peres an additional two weeks to put together a coalition. She’s still on shaky ground, in spite of the fact that Labor has now come along — that’s still only 48 seats out of 61 required.

The Pensioners party was on board but is now upping the ante.

Shas is still holding out and declaring itself not pleased. I know that Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu visited Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and appealed to him to stay out of this coalition. And, in fact, a former Shas spokesman Itzik Sudri has joined Netanyahu’s team of advisors and will presumably be assisting in the attempt to keep Shas from joining Livni.

So maybe on this score there’s hope.


President Peres is scheduled to go to Cairo to meet with Mubarak tomorrow, at the Egyptian president’s invitation. The key issue, it is said, will be the Saudi Peace plan, which is really bad news. It calls for our complete withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, including from all of eastern Jerusalem.


Reports now are that there are at least 600 active tunnels between the Sinai and Gaza operating under the watchful eye of Hamas. Everyone is making money on this.

The Guardian describes one instance in which a tunnel, just 200 meters from an Egyptian watchtower, operates 24 hours a day.

Some of these tunnels are big enough to transport a cow.


And now for the first time there has been a tunnel discovered in Judea, not far outside of Hevron. About 150 meters long, and not completed, it was large enough to accommodate a person standing erect. There is speculation regarding the purpose of this tunnel — to permit the movement of weapons for purposes of terror attacks, or to permit movement of terrorists without being exposed.

The report on this, in the Post, was baffling and disturbing. The tunnel was discovered by PA security forces, which immediately reported it to the IDF. An Israeli Engineering Corps was then sent to destroy it

The tunnel, as approached by the Israelis, was empty. But it has been revealed that arms and hundreds of kilograms of explosives had been in the tunnel, but were confiscated by the PA before they notified the IDF.


The Jewish community of Hevron is deeply anxious about the anticipated deployment in Hevron of 700 PA troops, presumably trained to take on Hamas.

Plans are afoot as well for the PA to assume control of several cities in Judea and Samaria over the coming months. Defense Minister Barak is coordinating this with the Americans. All of this is designed, in theory, to “bolster the moderates” and provide momentum on the ground in lieu of a peace agreement. Great, huh?

It must be noted that, according to Herb Keinon and Yaakov Katz in the Post, “officers in the [IDF] Central Command stress that while Palestinian security forces are effectively restoring law and order in Jenin, they have yet to noticeably crack down on local terror elements.” Then, by all means, let’s give them control.




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