Friday, June 29, 2007


The other day Alan Dershowitz had an interesting and even-keeled comment in the Wall Street Journal (requires subs.) on the UCU-supported British academic boycott of Israel. I found this part heartening:
It is for these reasons that so many American academics, of all religious, ideological and political backgrounds, reacted so strongly to the threat of an academic boycott against Israel. As soon as it was reported, I helped to draft a simple petition in which signatories agreed to regard themselves as honorary Israeli academics for purposes of any boycott and "decline to participate in any activity from which Israeli academics are excluded."
Working with Prof. Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, and Ed Beck, the president of Scholars For Peace in the Middle East, we circulated the petition. I expected to gather several hundred signatures.
To my surprise, we have secured nearly 6,000 signatures, including those of 20 Nobel Prize winners, 14 university presidents as well as several heads of academic and professional societies. Three university presidents -- Lee Bollinger of Columbia, Robert Birgeneau of Berkeley and John Sexton of New York University -- have issued public statements declaring that if Israeli universities are boycotted, their American universities should be boycotted as well. Every day, I receive emails from other academics asking to be included as honorary Israeli academics for purposes of any boycott. We expect to reach at least 10,000 names on our petition.
It is fair to say, therefore, that the British boycott appears to be backfiring. British academics are on notice that if they try to isolate Israeli academics, it is they -- the British academics -- who will end up being isolated from some of the world's most prominent academics and scientists.
Also see here and here for similar moves.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

There he goes again

Although I have read my fair share of illustrations of Jimmy Carter's looniness, time and again I am surprised by his ability to surpass himself. The Associated Press reports:
Former President Jimmy Carter accused the U.S., Israel and the European Union on Tuesday of seeking to divide the Palestinian people by reopening aid to President Mahmoud Abbas' new government in the West Bank while denying the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Carter said the consensus of the U.S., Israel and the EU to start funneling aid to Abbas' new government in the West Bank but continue blocking Hamas in the Gaza Strip represented an "effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples."
"All efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two, but there's no effort from the outside to bring the two together," he said.
During his speech to Ireland's annual Forum on Human Rights, the 83-year-old former president said monitors from his Carter Center observed the 2006 election that Hamas won. He said the vote was "orderly and fair" and Hamas triumphed, in part, because it was "shrewd in selecting candidates," whereas a divided, corrupt Fatah ran multiple candidates for single seats.
Far from encouraging Hamas' move into parliamentary politics, Carter said the U.S. and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, sought to subvert the outcome by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military power.
"That action was criminal," he said in a news conference after his speech.
I am all in favour of democracy (and in this regard one may note that Abbas was also elected), but I fail to see how what Hamas has been doing these past few weeks could conceivably be considered democratic and worthy of international aid. Only someone with Carter's warped mind could think something so absurd. The Investor's Business Daily makes the argument cogently:
As the Gaza Strip flamed into Hamas gang warfare and the West Bank slid into another civil war, Carter — cozy in distant Ireland accepting another "human rights" award — found cause Tuesday to blame America first for all the violence.
Amid wine, cheese and good feeling, America's worst ex-president drew a bead on the West. The refusal by the U.S., Israel and the EU to support Hamas, an armed terror group that just launched a coup d'etat and civil war in full view of the world, was nothing but a "criminal" act at the root of the trouble there, Carter asserted.
"The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah," he said.
The statement was so malevolent and illogical as to border on insane. Carter wasn't honest enough to say he was rooting for terrorists who started a terrifying new war in the region and trashed what little democratic rule the Palestinians had. Instead, he tut-tutted the West for being insufficiently sensitive to the fact that Hamas thugs were democratically elected in 2006 in an "orderly and fair" vote.
When one party has started a civil war, democracy isn't exactly the issue anymore. Just being elected does not justify making warfare on your fellow citizens. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeatedly points out that those who are elected democratically have an obligation to govern democratically or they aren't democrats. Hamas has blown its right to democracy.
Carter also misstated and distorted technical aspects of democratic rule in the Palestinian Authority itself, further calling into question his intentions. Hamas' 42% plurality in the last parliamentary election gave the terror group a right to participate in government, but not absolute power.
Carter neglected to notice that President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestine's head of state, not only had a full democratic right to appoint Hamas members to his Cabinet, but he also had the right to dismiss them as he did Thursday. Carter's selective respect for the power-sharing aspect of Palestine's democracy stands out as significantly skewed toward Hamas.
Crazier still, Carter insisted Hamas was entitled to American aid because Fatah had been getting it. But he left out some details: Hamas is a terrorist organization that had broken six previous cease-fires, and its campaign platform vowed to destroy Israel. Hamas would gladly take Western cash to make good on that campaign promise to voters.
No one in the West is obligated to support an international terrorist organization just because it "won" an election. The proper response is to cut it off until it renounces violence.
For refusing to fund Hamas but propping up the slightly less unworthy Fatah, Carter charged the U.S. with trying to "divide the Palestinians into two peoples."
With such words, Carter can hardly be called a peacemaker. In fact, he should have been profoundly ashamed at his acceptance of his Nobel Prize. Ironically, his partner in peace, Yasser Arafat, got his stolen and desecrated by the very Hamas Carter defends. That ought to give him pause as he defends terrorists as democrats.
Meanwhile, in reaction to Carter's scandalous statements, this morning the Drudge Report linked to an editorial which appeared in the Jerusalem Post. Here is a juicy tidbit:
Carter pressured the Shah to make what he termed human rights concessions by releasing political prisoners and relaxing press censorship. Khomeini could never have succeeded without Carter. The Islamic Revolution would have been stillborn.
Gen. Robert Huyser, Carter's military liaison to Iran, once told me in tears: "The president could have publicly condemned Khomeini and even kidnapped him and then bartered for an exchange with the [American Embassy] hostages, but the president was indignant. 'One cannot do that to a holy man,' he said."
Ironically, I agree that the Shah could not be permitted to run an authoritarian regime indefinitely, but, as should be self-evident, Carter's blundering made the situation infinitely worse. Unfortunately his latest comments demonstrate yet again that, for Carter, old age has not brought wisdom.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Despite everything, we will miss you Tony

When Tony Blair announced his intention to step down, I had mixed feelings, much along the lines of Glenn Reynolds' succint remarks:
I was never a fan of Blair in general, and before 9/11 would have been delighted to see him go. I've never liked the soft totalitarianism that Labour has championed, and to a large degree implemented, in Britain: Cameras everywhere, political correctness, gun confiscation -- and yet a diminished ability to actually maintain public order.
On the other hand -- and it's a big other hand -- I did, along with many others, value Blair's clarity on the subject of Islamic terror, and his pro-American sentiments, which were the exception rather than the rule in Old Europe. Blair was a beacon in that regard, and we needed him. I'll miss that, but honestly we're short of clarity on this side of the Atlantic, too. And I suspect we'll wind up missing that even more than Tony Blair's.
In this regard, the MSM and popular culture on both sides of the Atlantic have utterly failed to illustrate and promote the moral clarity and intellectual honesty that are going to be necessary for the survival of the West. This is underlined by a recent comment the PM himself wrote recently for the Daily Telegraph (Australia):
I was stopped by someone the other week who said it was not surprising there was so much terrorism in the world when we invaded their countries (meaning Afghanistan and Iraq). No wonder Muslims felt angry.
I said to him: tell me exactly what they feel angry about. We remove two utterly brutal and dictatorial regimes; we replace them with a UN-supervised democratic process.
And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims.
Why aren't they angry about the people doing the killing? The odd thing about the conversation is I could tell it was the first time he'd heard this argument.