Monday, December 22, 2014

Liberals and Progressives Have Their Prayers Answered! Merry Christmas N Korea From Harry Reid!

Hamas will/can never change its stripes.  (See 1 below.)
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Iran escalates its threat against Israel and ultimately the world. (See 2 below.)
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Declining oil prices can cut two ways and may be a sign of deflation, as I have been suggesting.  (See 3 below.)
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Sad commentary on anti-Semitism in England. (See 4 and 4a below.)

Meanwhile UNRWA perpetuates Palestinian misery, assisted by U.S. tax money dispensed by our State department.  This has been going on for over 60 years and Israel has settled and absorbed, into their society, more in numbers without a dime from the U.S or any other foreign nation.  (See 4b  and 4c below.)
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From a good friend and fellow memo reader and a man who has served his country in a distinguished way rising to a generalship position after graduation from West Point.  (See 5 below.)
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Mindless liberals and progressives paraded recently shouting "we want dead cops."  Well their prayers have been answered and if New Yorkers, their Mayor and rabble rouser, Al Sharpton, feel better their Police Department should go on strike for two weeks and let the radicals take over the city.

In fact, I would be of the "radical" view police departments , where such attitudes prevail, should go on a sympathy strike as well

Yes, Obama has brought us together! And for what purpose?  To kill cops, it seems, because of  their alleged racial attitudes towards blacks. Hawaii is far from "The Maddening Crowd."

Certainly, if Obama had a son he would not look like those two dead cops! (See 6 and 6a below.)
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Finally, if memory serves me correctly, The House passed Cyber Legislation and sent it to The Senate where Harry Reid bottled it  with a message to saying: "Merry Christmas N Korea!"
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Dick
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1)


Analysis: Neither Israel nor Hamas wants an escalation, but the situation in Gaza is explosive
By YOSSI MELMAN
There is a feeling of Déjà vu in the air, of going back in time to the days that preceded Operation Protective Edge.



The war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge, lasted 50 days. Since then, the quiet has been kept for 114 days, with a few isolated exceptions that Israel let pass without incident. This is in addition to the navy's almost daily firing at fishing boats straying from the restricted area allowed to them in accordance with the cease-fire.

On Friday their was a blatant violation of the cease-fire: A 107mm. rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel. In response, the air force struck a Hamas training camp in southern Gaza. This marked the first IAF strike in Gaza since the summer war. Hamas warned that it would not accept any more strikes and would be forced to respond. There is a feeling of Déjà vu in the air, of going back in time to the days that preceded the war.

Then, as now, neither side is interested in an escalation, but they are liable to find themselves in a whirlwind that pulls them into a cycle of rocket fire, IAF strikes, more rocket fire, and so forth. According to all of the IDF's estimates, Hamas is not interested in a renewal of violence. The Netanyahu-Ya'alon government does not want to be dragged into another round either, especially not during a difficult election campaign, in which they are in danger of losing power.

Hamas's situation has badly deteriorated as compared to the group's standing before the war. The international isolation has gotten worse, despite an EU court's ruling last week to remove Hamas temporarily from its list of terrorist organizations. The court's decision was based on a legal technicality and EU states have already announced that they will work to put Hamas back on the list. Hamas's expectations that the war would break its international isolation have been disappointed.

Additionally, Egypt continues to see Hamas as a cruel enemy, accusing the group of directly and indirectly aiding the worsening terror in Sinai of Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis, the local al-Qaida affiliate, which has recently sworn allegiance to Islamic State. The security-Intel-operartions cooperation between Israel and Egypt in the fight against Hamas and terror in Sinai is unprecedented.

The rehabilitation of Gaza, which was also supposed to be one of Hamas's achievements from the war, is not progressing. Of the $4.5 billion that countries pledged after the war, only some two percent have been delivered thus far, about $100 million. Tens-of-thousands of refugees who had their homes destroyed, including hundreds of Hamas commanders, are spending the winter living in tents or UNRWA institutions. The defense establishment is transferring building materials, such as cement and metal, too slowly and in too small a quantity.

Hamas is suffering from economic suffocation, extremely decreased military abilities and a bigger crisis than it was facing prior to the war. In the IDF, they admit that the situation in Gaza is extremely explosive and that Hamas is at a crossroads. The group may again come to the conclusion that only through exchanging blows with Israel, even if it spirals out of control as it did this summer, can they get out of the trap they are in. Or, there is also a belief that, if the rehabilitation money will begin flowing more quickly, Hamas will not want to escalate the situation because it will have on its hands a population, whose support the group needs, that has something to lose.

Yossi Melman is an Israeli journalist and writer who specializes in security and intelligence affairs.  He is co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars.

Visit Yossi Melman's blog: www.israelspy.com
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2)
MEMRI Special Dispatch No.5906

Iranian Regime Escalates Threats To Annihilate Israel
http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8337.htm

As the November 24, 2014 deadline for the Joint Plan of Action between Iran
and the P5+1 approached, and as global oil prices have dropped sharply –
severely impacting the Iranian economy – Iranian officials, mostly from
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), have within a short span
of six weeks significantly ratcheted up their calls to annihilate Israel.
IRGC officials emphasized the missile capabilities of Iran and of the
Palestinian factions that it arms, saying that these will hasten Israel's
elimination.


One major motif in statements during this time by Iranian regime officials
is the arming of the West Bank
. At an Islamic conference in Tehran in late
November 2014, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei reiterated the promise he had
made several months previously, that the West Bank will be armed with
missiles, as Gaza had been armed, and that Israel's security would
deteriorate by the day. IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari predicted that
Israel would be eliminated thanks to the missile capabilities of the
resistance factions, and his deputy, Hossein Mohammad Salami, stated that
the West Bank would become hell for Israel, whose destruction is imminent.
Basij commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi said that Iran was determined to hold
victory prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.


Furthermore, Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary-general of the Tehran-based
Committee for Support for the Palestinian Intifada and an advisor to Majlis
speaker Ali Larijani, said that Iran was committed to implementing Iranian
regime founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's call to destroy Israel, and
called on Palestinians to launch an intifada as "the most peaceful way" to
regain their stolen lands. Members of the Majlis National Security and
Foreign Policy committee stressed that Leader Khamenei had ordered the West
Bank armed in order to hasten Israel's annihilation and that Iran intended
to follow those orders.


Also, Tasmimnews.com, which is affiliated with the IRGC, threatened, on
December 4, 2014, that in its next confrontation with Israel, Hizbullah will
use its Iranian missiles to attack five infrastructure and energy centers in
Haifa, including Haifa Port, the Petrochemical Industries, the Electric
Corporation, the Matam Scientific Industries Center, and the city's subway
system.[1]

This paper will review statements by Iranian officials announcing the coming
annihilation of Israel:

Leader Khamenei: "Young People... Write To Me Begging, 'Let Us Go Fight The
Zionist Regime'"


In a November 25, 2014 speech at the International Conference on Extremist
and Takfiri Groups in View of Muslim Scholars, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
stressed the importance of the Palestine issue: "Do not let the issue of
Palestine, Jerusalem, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque be forgotten... The Zionist
regime intends to occupy Jerusalem, occupy the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and weaken
the Palestinians as much as possible in light of the fact that they are
ignored by the Islamic world, every member of the public, and the Islamic
nations.

Khamenei's promise to arm the West Bank on his office's Facebook page
(Source: Facebook.com/www.Khamenei)


"We thank God that the Islamic Republic, its government, and its nation are
united on this matter. Iran's government and our exalted Imam [Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini] have said from outset that our policy is support for
Palestine and hostility towards the Zionist regime. This policy continues to
this day; we have not deviated from this line for 35 years, and our nation
stands with us with a strong will on this matter.

"Every so often, when young people turn to us but receive no response, they
write to me begging, 'Let us go fight the Zionist regime on the front
lines.' The [Iranian] nation yearns to fight the Zionists, and the Islamic
Republic has shown this... I have already said this, and this will indeed
come to pass. The West Bank must arm itself like Gaza and be prepared for
defense... The Zionist regime is much weaker than it once was."[2]

In a speech to Basij officials on November 27, 2014, Khamenei added:
"Security in Israel is destabilizing daily. [The Americans] must know that
Israel will not be safe, whether or not there is a nuclear deal."[3]

In early December 2014, Khamenei's office launched a media campaign titled
"We Love Fighting the Zionists." On December 1, 2014, it published a poster
showing young people holding signs saying "We Yearn to Fight Israel"
 and
quoting Khamenei's November 25 speech: "Every so often, when young people
turn to us and receive no reply, they write to me begging, 'Let us go fight
the Zionist regime on the front lines.' The [Iranian] nation yearns to fight
the Zionists, and the Islamic Republic has shown this."


The poster from Khamenei's website: Young Iranians Yearn to Fight Israel
(Source: Fars.khamenei.ir)

On December 2, 2014, Khamenei's office launched an Instagram account
(Instagram.com/ fightingthezionists) linked to Khamenei's official Instagram
account (Instagram.com/ Khamenei_ir), encouraging users to upload photos and
posters expressing their willingness to fight Israel (see below). As of
December 16, 2014, the account had 4,600 followers and featured 402 photos
and posters.


Khamenei's office encourages Instagram followers to upload photos to the
campaign (Source: Instagram.com/fightingthezionists)



Photos from the campaign. Young men hold signs saying "The Iranian nation
loves fighting Zionism" (Source: Instagram.com/fightingthezionists)

Khamenei Associate: "Today, Iran's Sword Is Stuck In The Throat Of Israel's
Accursed Regime"


In a November 12, 2014 speech in Qom, Mehdi Taeb, head of the Ammar Base
think tank and an advisor to Leader Khamenei, said: "Today, Iran's sword is
stuck in the throat of Israel's accursed regime, and according to the orders
of Islamic Republic founder Khomeini, this oppressive regime must be
eliminated from the world map... T
he Imam Khomeini saw the Basij [as a
force] that would destroy the Zionist regime, and today, by the grace of
God, Iran is besieging Israel with these popular forces."[4]

IRGC Commander: "All The Occupied Territories Are Within Range Of The
Rockets Of The Resistance – Which Spells The Fall Of The Zionist Regime"


On November 24, 2014, IRGC Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said: "Today, all
the occupied territories [i.e. Israel] are within range of the rockets of
the resistance – which spells the fall of the Zionist regime. Of course this
doesn't end here; the final liberation [of Palestine] will surely be
realized. Our war will bring about Palestine's victory."[5]

IRGC Deputy Commander: "Soon, There Will Be No Such Thing As The Zionist
Regime On Planet Earth"


In an interview with Iranian TV on November 30, 2014, IRGC Deputy Commander
Hossein Salami said: "Iran will allow no developments [in the region] that
benefit the Zionist regime, because this is not in line with the logic of
the [Islamic] Revolution... We will reach every oppressed person asking for
help, anywhere in the world... Did the Americans succeed in rescuing the
Zionist regime from defeat in the 2006 Lebanon war and the other wars? The
Palestinians in the West Bank have not abandoned their goals, and the day
will come when the West Bank becomes hell for the Zionist regime – and one
day we will see the sons of the West Bank shaking hands with the sons of
Gaza."[6]

On December 3, 2014, Salami told a student conference, "Today we are aware
of how the Zionist regime is slowly being erased from the world, and indeed,
soon, there will be no such thing as the Zionist regime on Planet Earth."[7]

IRGC Aerospace Force And Missile Unit Commander: Thanks To Iran, Tel Aviv Is
Under Fire From Gaza And Hizbullah Fighters


On November 29, 2014, IRGC Aerospace Force and Missile Unit commander Amir
Ali Hajizadeh said, "Thanks to Iran's support, Tel Aviv is currently under a
crisscross of fire from Gaza and Hizbullah fighters. The oppressive and
accursed Zionist regime cannot withstand the resistance front and is
destined to be defeated..."[8]

IRGC Qods Force Deputy Commander: Israel Is One Of The World's Most Unsafe
Places


In a December 5, 2014 speech in Mashhad, IRGC Qods Force Deputy Commander
Esmail Qaani said: "Israel is one of the world's most unsafe places.
America's chief mission is to preserve the security of the Zionist regime,
but Hizbullah can level that country with its missiles."[9]

IRGC Naval Official: Israel Will Be Destroyed In The Near Future
On November 27, 2014, IRGC Second Naval Zone Rear Adm. Ali Razmjou said,
"The Zionist regime moves closer to its collapse every day, and will be
shattered and eliminated from the world map in the near future, thanks to
the resistance of Basij and Hizbullah members throughout the world."[10]

Basij Commander: We Are Determined To Hold Victory Prayers At Al-Aqsa Mosque
At a November 26, 2014 Basij conference, Basij Commander Mohammad Reza Naqdi
said, "The cowardly enemy should know that the Iranian nation will not
reconcile with America and the Zionist regime... [IRGC Qods Force Commander
Qassem] Soleimani is the general of Islam on the front lines of the jihad to
liberate Jerusalem... The Iranian nation and the Basij members are
determined to hold victory and liberation prayers led by the Imam [Khamenei]
at Al-Aqsa Mosque."[11]

IRGC Aerospace Force Deputy Commander: Hizbullah And Palestinian Resistance
Can Strike Anywhere In Israel


IRGC Aerospace Force Deputy Commander Majid Mousavi told the Fars news
agency in a November 12, 2014 interview: "The policy of the Islamic Republic
[of Iran] regarding support for the resistance forces and the resistance
front is to provide them with the ability to build and produce the products
by themselves... With regard to the ranges of missiles, [the resistance
organizations] can now use their missiles to strike all targets in the
occupied territories [Israel], both in the south and the north. According to
statements, these organizations have classified capabilities for widespread
missile operations up to the level of Fateh missiles [with a range of
250-300 km]..."[12]

Fars: With Iran Equipping It With Missiles, The Resistance Can "Wreak Havoc
On [Israel's] Navy... And Huge Gas Reserves"


An article titled "The Illusion Of Israel's Natural Gas Will Be Buried In
The Mediterranean," published by Fars on November 29, 2014, stated: "In
recent years, the Zionist regime has discovered natural gas resources in the
Mediterranean, particularly the Tamar gas field, which is 80 km from Haifa
port, and the Leviathan, which is five kilometers underwater... [They] will
be suitable targets for Hizbullah's Fateh naval missiles... These fields
begin from the area of Ras Al-Naqoura [Rosh HaNikra in Israel] which is
close to the Lebanon border, and end at Ashkelon beach, on the northern
border of the Gaza strip... In addition to these two gas fields, there are
smaller fields – Mary B and Dalit.

"If, eight years ago [during the 2006 Lebanon war], Hizbullah managed to
strike Israel's modern and advanced [Sa'ar] missile boats in the
Mediterranean only with short-range cruise missiles, by means of equipping
the resistance with Khalij-e Fars and Hormuz missiles (both of which are
from the family of the Fateh missile) it will be able to wreak havoc on
[Israel's] navy, anti-tank defense systems, and huge gas reserves."[13]

Committee For Support Of The Palestinian Intifada Secretary-General:
Israel's Destruction Is Important, No Matter The Method


In a November 25, 2014 conference in Tehran, "The Need to Arm the West
Bank," Hossein Sheikholeslam, secretary-general of the Tehran-based
Committee for Support for the Palestinian Intifada and an advisor to Majlis
speaker Ali Larijani, said: "What the Islamic Republic of Iran wanted in the
region has happened, and will continue [to happen] in the future as well. In
this context, destroying the Zionist regime is one of our demands. The issue
of Israel's destruction is important, no matter the method. We will
obviously implement the strategy of the Imam Khomeini and the Leader
[Khamenei] on the issue of destroying the Zionists. The region will not be
quiet so long as Israel exists in it...

"Intifada means giving one's life to obtain rights. Now, the Palestinians,
who are the owners of this land, stand strong with all their might to chase
away the occupiers. The intifada is the most logical and peaceful way to
realize the rights of Palestinians, and one which will eventually bring
about the destruction of the Zionists."[14]

Majlis National Security And Foreign Policy Committee Members: Arming The
West Bank Is One Of Our Goals; Israel Is At Risk Of Annihilation

On November 28, 2014, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee
member Javad Karimi Qodosi said: "After 60 years in which the heads of
Zionism invested tremendous efforts around the world, especially in America
and Britain, the oppressive Zionist regime sees itself at risk of certain
and total destruction. The proof of this is the struggle by the forces in
Gaza and the residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, who are waging a
bloody battle against the Zionist regime as part of their efforts to launch
a new intifada against it... The meaning of the declaration of the
establishment of a Jewish state in Jerusalem [referring to the proposed law
on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People] is Israel's
annihilation.

"The current events in occupied Palestine will cause massive upheavals in
the region in the near future, and these upheavals will prepare the ground
for the Zionist regime's certain and complete destruction."[15]

On November 28, 2014, the committee's deputy chair, Mansour Haghighatpour
said: "One of our goals is to arm the West Bank, because it is the best
measure for fighting the Zionist regime."[16]

Tasnim: Hizbullah Will Attack Five Strategic Infrastructure And Energy
Centers In Haifa

On December 4, 2014, Tasnimnews.com, which is affiliated with the IRGC,
published an article titled "Israel's Five Critical Lifelines in Haifa Are
Within Range of Hizbullah's Missiles" that gave details and aerial
photographs of Haifa's major industries and the damage that missile strikes
against them could cause.[17] The article stated: "Israel has five important
and sensitive centers in the port city of Haifa near the Lebanese border,
which constitute a critical lifeline for this regime... Most of the Israeli
government and economic centers are located in the two major cities of Haifa
and Tel Aviv. Haifa is more important with regard to [Israel's] economy and
infrastructure, which is why it is called 'Israel's economic heart'...

"If we note that Hizbullah officials, including Hassan Nasrallah and Naim
Qassem, have said that Hizbullah possesses accurate Iranian missiles, it is
possible that in the next war, the Islamic resistance in Lebanon will target
these centers in the first phase...

"Haifa Port: Israel's Economic Heart
"Haifa port is a commercial port, and every year millions of dollars of
goods are exported via it to other countries, and goods are imported via it
into the occupied territories [Israel].


"Aerial photo shows Haifa port and international airport

"Petrochemical [Industries]

"The regime occupying Jerusalem has large petrochemical industries at Haifa
port, which produce various petrochemical products... for [Israel's]
domestic use and for export, including large quantities of ammonia. Next to
the petrochemical industries there are also large storage facilities for the
products...


"Aerial photo of the Haifa Petrochemical complex and its storage facilities

"An ammonia leak from the Haifa port storage facilities will do great damage
to the Zionists, because it would threaten all the Zionists living in Haifa.
The Zionists were recently forced to evacuate residents from seven cities
near these facilities due to a minor leak of this poisonous gas from one
warehouse.

"The Jaffa Electric Company [name of the Israel Electric Corporation
1921-1923] Provides Power For All Of The Occupied Territories [Israel]

"The Israelis have a central electric company and the regime government
controls 99.85% of its shares. The company's main control center is in
Haifa, and it is responsible for 17 power plants in five locations in the
occupied territories [Israel].


"Main electric company center on the Mediterranean coast


"Main building for the Jaffa Company

"MATAM [Scientific Industries Center] – Israel's Virtual Heart

"The MATAM complex is a small city within Haifa, and is considered the
[Zionist] regime's leading science and technology park. This technological
city, which creates Internet content, includes buildings and official
representations of various world-famous companies. Phillips, Microsoft,
Yahoo, Google, and IBM are the world's most important hardware and software
computer and telecommunications giants – and all of them have offices in the
MATAM complex...


"MATAM complex

"Haifa Subway – Israel's Train Traffic Center

"The Haifa train is extremely important because it transports thousands of
passengers as well as goods throughout Israel every day.


"Haifa train station

"Haifa's central train station is located near the port, and so far has been
struck by only one Lebanese Hizbullah missile, which killed several
Zionists."


"Eliminate Israel from the World Map" cake at an IRGC and Basij conference
in Tehran (Source: Mashregh News, Iran, September 2, 2014)



Endnotes:

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series Report No. 1135, Iranian IRGC
Missile Unit Commanders: We've Developed 2,000-km Range Missiles And
Equipped Hizbullah With 300-km Range Missiles; Fars News Agency: Israel's
Illusions About Its Natural Gas Fields Will Be Buried In The Mediterranean,
December 4, 2014.


[2] Farsi.khamenei.ir, November 25, 2014.


[3] Farsi.khamenei.ir, November 27, 2014.


[4] Snn.ir, November 12, 2014.


[5] Fars (Iran), November 24, 2014.


[6] Yjc.ir, November 30, 2014.


[7] Tasnimnews.com (Iran), December 3, 2014.


[8] Yjc.ir, November 29, 2014.


[9] Fars (Iran), December 5, 2014.


[10] IRNA (Iran), November 27, 2014.


[11] Javan (Iran), November 26, 2014.


[12] Fars (Iran), November 12, 2014.


[13] Fars (Iran), November 29, 2014.


[14] Fars (Iran), November 25, 2014.


[15] Namayande.com, November 28, 2014.


[16] Fars (Iran), November 27, 2014.
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3)

David Stockman: Energy Crunch Will Morph Into a Replay of the Housing Crash


By John Morgan



The spiraling energy meltdown is the new housing crash, according to David Stockman, White House budget chief in the Reagan White House.

Just as the 2007-09 housing plunge did not put a dime into consumers' pockets — even though average home prices tanked by about 30 percent, from $230,000 to $165,000 — the energy crunch likewise is not going to add to consumer wallets, Stockman asserts.

At the peak of the mortgage boom, he notes, the U.S. savings rate had actually vanished, falling to about 2.5 percent of personal income from pre-Greenspan rates of 10 percent to 12.5 percent.

"Stated differently, the mortgage credit boom exploded uncontrollably in the run-up to the financial crisis because free-market pricing of debt and savings had been totally distorted and falsified by the monetary central planners at the Fed," Stockman writes on his Contra Corner blog.

"Drastic mispricing of savings and mortgage debt in this instance touched off a cascade of distortions in spending and investment that did immense harm to the main street economy because they induced unsustainable economic bubbles to accompany the financial ones."

Now Stockman predicts it will be deja vu all over again for Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and her minions at the Fed.

"Substitute the term 'E&P [exploration and production] expense' in the shale patch for 'housing' investment and employment in the sand states, and you have tomorrow's graphs — that is, the plunging chart points which are latent even now in the crude oil price bust. But the full story of the housing bust also reminds that the long caravans of pick-up trucks which will soon be streaming out of the Bakken in North Dakota will represent only the first round impact."

According to Stockman, the Fed-driven energy distortion crossed national borders, and into the willing hands of other central banks, as the "Fed exported bubble finance to the entire world.". .

"Between 2000 and 2014, China's credit outstanding soared from $1 trillion to $25 trillion. Consequently, its credit-swollen GDP expanded from $1 trillion to $9 trillion in a comparative heartbeat; and its crude oil consumption soared from 2 million barrels per day to 8 million."

Stockman sees more shoes to drop, as the "lunatic junk bond yields" stemming from billions of dollars in bad loans to the energy industry start to unravel.

"But there is something else even more significant. The global oil price collapse now unfolding is not putting a single dime into the pockets of American households — the CNBC talking heads to the contrary notwithstanding. What is happening is the vast flood of mispriced debt and capital, which flowed into the energy sector owning to the Fed's lunatic ZIRP [zero interest rate policy] and QE [quantitative easing] policies, is now rapidly deflating," he explains.

"That will reduce bubble spending and investment, not add to economic growth. It's the housing bust all over again."

Not everyone agrees that lower gas prices are bad for the U.S. consumer – at least for now.

The Energy Information Administration, a unit of the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates the average American will receive a $554 windfall from lower gas prices in 2015

Nomura analyst Robert Drbul tells MarketWatch, "Declining gas prices can increase discretionary spending power and are particularly significant to companies that target customers in the lower-income brackets."

Drbul estimates that every 10 cent decline in gas prices could translate into an additional $14 billion of disposable income for U.S. consumers annually.

Related Stories:
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4)BBC chief: Anti-Semitism makes me question Jews’ future in UK

Danny Cohen: ‘I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as in the last 12 months’

By Times of Israel staff December 21, 2014, 

Danny Cohen, director of BBC Television (photo credit: Courtesy)
The director of BBC Television said rising anti-Semitism has made him question the long-term future for Jews in the UK.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, Danny Cohen said the past year had been the most difficult for him as a Jew living in the United Kingdom.


I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually. Because you feel it. I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before actually,” he said.


Cohen went on: “And you’ve seen the number of attacks rise. You’ve seen murders in France. You’ve seen murders in Belgium. It’s been pretty grim actually. And having lived all my life in the UK, I’ve never felt as I do now about anti-Semitism in Europe.”
Cohen, who grew up and went to school in London — including to a Jewish elementary school — is a TV whiz kid. Still only 40, he was previously the controller of BBC1 TV, the youngest appointee to that post, before taking over a director of BBC Television last year.

Cohen made the comments as one of the international television and comedy professionals participating in a two-day conference at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on the ability of comedy to drive forward social change.




Five months ago Hamas rained down rockets on Israeli cities and attempted to use a tunnel network to infiltrate into the Jewish state and kidnap and kill as many Jews as they could. But predictably most of the world’s attention was focused on Israeli counter-attacks to suppress the missile fire and take out the tunnels and it came under severe criticism, even from its American ally, for the toll of civilian deaths that were caused by Hamas using the population of Gaza as human shields. But those who deplored the 50-day war as a tragedy for the Palestinian people now need to ask themselves whether they are really interested in watching another such round of fighting in the future. The same international community that blasted Israel for having the temerity to defend itself now needs to address the fact that the aid that is pouring into the strip for the purpose of rebuilding homes destroyed in the fighting, is actually being used to rebuild the terror tunnels. If they don’t, they’ll have no right to criticize Israel when it is once again forced to act to defend itself.

As the Times of Israel writes, the Israel media is reporting that:
Some of the cement and other materials being delivered to the coastal Palestinian territory, as part of an international rebuilding effort, has been diverted to the tunnels.
The story goes on to detail some things that can’t come as a surprise. Even as it rebuilds its terror tunnels, Hamas is replenishing its supply of missiles and rockets. Given that the group has just kissed and made up with Iran, the flow of money and munitions into the strip by one means or another is bound to increase.

Though expected, this does increase Hamas’s leverage over the Palestinian Authority, which isn’t interested in making peace with Israel but will certainly never do so while it remains under threat from its erstwhile unity partner. Though many in Israel and elsewhere assumed Hamas would emerge weakened from a war in which Gaza was flattened and little material damage was done to the Jewish state, it is more popular than ever (especially in the West Bank which did not suffer much from the terror group’s murderous policies) and may soon be as much of a threat to Israel as it was before the fighting started. Indeed, if, as reports indicate, Hamas is working on ways to defeat Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system succeed, the danger will be far worse the next time the terrorists decide they wish to try their luck.

That is a daunting prospect for Israelis and poses difficult questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu who is now criticized for his handling of the war even if most of his critics would not have supported a bloody campaign to evict Hamas from Gaza and thus eliminate the threat for the future.

But it should also pose serious questions for those countries like the United States and its European allies that were so quick to bash Israel for its efforts to silence the missile fire and demolish the tunnels.

This week, both American and European diplomats wasted their time negotiating over the text of a United Nations Security Council resolution that would recognize Palestinian independence proposed by the PA. The proposal was a non-starter that in the end even the Obama administration had to oppose, but the talk about Palestinian independence ignored the fact that there is already an independent Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza that is using its autonomy to continue its never-ending war to destroy Israel.

By acquiescing to a situation in which a criminal terrorist group not only continues to rule over a captive population and threaten war against a neighboring sovereign state but also standing by silently as Hamas creates the conditions for another terror war, the West is demonstrating its moral bankruptcy on the Middle East. Those who talk about helping the Palestinians cannot ignore the fact that what Hamas is doing is preparing to set in motion a chain of events that will lead to more bloodshed and suffering. By their silence and, even worse, refusal to halt the flow of material that is being used by Hamas to prepare for another war, they are morally responsible for every drop of Arab or Israeli blood that will be shed


And from The JerusalemPost:


 
The IDF said it detected rocket experiments in the Gaza Strip on Monday. During the experiments, Hamas fired rockets from Gaza towards the Mediterranean Sea.

Hamas fires rockets into the sea every few days, as part of its weapons program. The launches are used by Hamas arms designers to experiment with various projectile models.

The experiments naturally have attracted the attention of the Israel Navy.

“They are doing experiments and checking their rockets. This is a part of their domestic weapons production. We did not doubt, at the end of the war, that their focus would be on building more weapons. We monitor every such launch, noting the quality of the rocket and its range,” a senior navy source told The Jerusalem Post after the summer conflict with Hamas.



.4b) How the State Department Annually Perpetuates Palestinian Misery
by Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander H. Joffe
The National Interest


Originally published under the title "America's Palestine Refugee Policy Is Insane."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry surveys the West Bank last year.
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By any measurement, Western policy towards United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the internationally funded agency for Palestinian "refugees," meets that definition. One example is the newly released 2015 State Department Framework for Cooperation Between UNRWA and the U.S.
This exercise in repetition occurred in the wake of a war that again exposed UNRWA's unsavory and illegal activities, from being "shocked" that its schools were used to store Hamas' rockets and rote condemnations of Israel, to its employees cheering the murder of Israelis. The framework nevertheless represents the American commitment to prolong the existence of UNRWA, established almost exactly 65 years ago.
The bulk of the document deals with UNRWA management. For example, there are the "15 objectives of the Medium Term Strategy" and the "Development of Strategic Response Plans for each of UNRWA's five fields of operation through a consultative process." The document also speaks of the "Continued implementation of ongoing management reforms, particularly in the areas of results-based management, resource mobilization, human resources, transition to and management of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) data management system, and internal communications."

This exercise in repetition occurred in the wake of a war that again exposed UNRWA's unsavory and illegal activities.
These reflect the professionalization of UNRWA from a temporary relief organization into a multifaceted international organization dealing with Palestinian "basic education, health, relief and social services, microcredit, camp improvement and infrastructure and other assistance," and "human development of Palestinian refugees by improving living conditions, economic potential, livelihoods, access, and human rights." In other words, all the things that a Palestinian state should be doing for its citizens at home and outside its borders.
They also take for granted that UNRWA will not only continue to exist through at least 2021 (the end of the next five year planning cycle,) but will also grow in both scope and size, then and beyond. There is no talk about limiting UNRWA's operations, or turning responsibilities over to the Palestinian Authority or to countries that host Palestinian "refugees." In fact, the only talk about an end to UNRWA is the boilerplate statement that "The goal of U.S. support to UNRWA is to ensure that Palestinian refugees live in dignity with an enhanced human development potential until a comprehensive and just solution is secured." Left unsaid is the fact that only the United Nations General Assembly can dissolve UNRWA, and that body's definition of a "comprehensive and just solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict is unlikely to be realized anytime soon, if ever.
The Framework does make a sideways nod to the reality that the 2014 Gaza War generated some bad publicity for UNRWA, during the course of which American legislators demanded investigations into how Hamas weapons found their way into UNRWA schools. For the State Department the matter is pressing particularly given that Section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (amended) states that "No contributions by the United States shall be made to (UNRWA) except on the condition that (UNRWA) take all possible measures to assure than no part of the United States contribution shall be used to furnish assistance to any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerilla-type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism."
Thus the new Framework states:
The United States and UNRWA share concerns about the threat of terrorism, including within the context of the United Nation's firm commitment to counter terrorism and the conditions on U.S. contributions to UNRWA under section 301(c). To this end, UNRWA is committed to taking all possible measures to ensure that funding provided by the United States to support UNRWA is not used to provide assistance to, or otherwise support, terrorists or terrorist organizations.
The United States and UNRWA intend to continue to work together throughout 2015 to enhance collaboration and communication on issues related to conformance with conditions on U.S. contributions to UNRWA as detailed in section 301(c). The United States supports UNRWA's policy to take all possible measures to ensure that staff members understand and fulfill their obligations, under Agency Rules and Regulations, to refrain from prohibited outside activities.
This constitutes an UNRWA commitment to update its human resources manuals, nothing more. There is no mention of UNRWA's refusal to use U.S. or Israeli terror watch lists to ensure any commitment to combat terrorism.

Then-UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd, seen here presenting Saudi Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz with UNRWA's Distinguished Donor Award, told a U.S. congressional hearing in 2006 that running checks against terrorist watch lists would be too difficult because "Arab last names sound so familiar."
The unreality is compounded by the still more ludicrous statement that the U.S. "notes with appreciation efforts taken by UNRWA during the course of 2014 to strengthen the Agency's neutrality compliance, including but not limited to the development of social media guidelines for official UNRWA communications…"
Whether the UNRWA spokesman crying on camera while being interviewed constitutes "neutrality compliance" is unclear, as is the celebration of the recent Jerusalem murders of rabbis on the Facebook pages of UNRWA teachers. Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect UNRWA employees, the vast majority of whom are Palestinian, to express neutrality. But if that is the case, then the Framework's endorsement of "UNRWA's human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance education program" may also be questioned, or at least its implementation.
But a deeper look at the document and the background of the American commitment to UNRWA suggests another vast disconnect. The framework states "All U.S. foreign assistance programs are required to demonstrate performance and accountability, and clearly link programming and funding directly to U.S. policy goals." How prolonging the Palestinian "refugee" issue through the permanent institutionalizing of UNRWA serves U.S. policy goals is mystifying.
Beyond that, UNRWA officials at the top continue to defend the Palestinian "right of return," in speeches as well as onofficial web pages, not to mention its pervasive promotion in UNRWA schools. How does promoting the Palestinian ideology that they are entitled to return to places once occupied by parents, grandparents and great-grandparents which are now in Israel, and in the process transform Israel into a Jewish minority state, serve U.S. policy, much less the cause of peace?
The new U.S.-UNRWA Framework is foreign policy by inertia. In 2013 that inertia cost $294,023,401, the amount of the U.S. contribution to UNRWA (in addition to $356,700,000 in aid to the Palestinian Authority). U.S. support to UNRWA kept Palestinians in stasis, promoted Palestinian rejectionism, and did not advance the cause of peace, or U.S. policy.
Asaf Romirowsky is an adjunct fellow at the Middle East Forum. Alexander Joffe is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow of the Middle East Forum. They are co-authors of the book Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief.


4c)  Israeli Settlements, American Pressure, and Peace
by Steven J. Rosen
JCPA Strategic Perspectives

Executive Summary

  • President Obama apparently believed that pressuring Israel to halt construction of homes in Jewish neighborhoods in parts of Jerusalem formerly controlled by Jordan would advance peace. In reality, the opposite ensued. As a result, he was the first president since the Madrid conference in 1991 to have had no sustained high-level, direct negotiations between the parties. Never before were peace negotiations held up by putting the wish for a settlement freeze first. Mahmoud Abbas participated in 18 years of direct negotiations with seven Israeli governments, all without the settlements freeze that he now insists is an absolute precondition to begin even low-level talks.

  • Obama's failure to distinguish construction in east Jerusalem from settlement activity in the West Bank put him at odds with the Israeli consensus. No major party in Israel, and no significant part of the Jewish public, is willing to count the Jewish neighborhoods that fall within the juridical boundaries of Jerusalem as "settlements" to be "frozen." Moreover, the concept of agreed settlement blocs laid the basis for a compromise between the Israeli and American governments. In his letter of April 14, 2004, President George W. Bush acknowledged that, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

  • The Sharon government reached an understanding with the Bush administration to ban outward geographic expansion of established settlements, while reserving the right to continue expansion inside the "construction line" of existing houses. The New York Timesreported on August 21, 2004, "The Bush administration... now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward." Almost all the construction that the Netanyahu administration has allowed is either in Jerusalem or in the settlement blocs, the two categories that Israel had thought were protected by understandings with the Americans. From the Israeli point of view, then, Obama violated an Executive Agreement that Sharon had negotiated with President Bush.

  • Elliott Abrams, who negotiated the Bush administration's compromises on the natural growth of settlements, wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "There were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation...the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza....There was a bargained-for exchange." Israelis were bitterly disappointed by the Obama administration's refusal to acknowledge agreements with a prior U.S. government that the Israelis considered vital and binding. Sharon aide Weissglas said, "If decision-makers in Israel...discover, heaven forbid, that an American pledge is only valid as long as the president in question is in office, nobody will want such pledges."

  • Stalled peace negotiations in the Obama years cannot be blamed on Netanyahu's policies of accelerating settlement construction. He has in fact slowed it down. What has undermined peace negotiations, rather, is Obama's policy on the settlements – and the unrealistic expectations that policy has nourished.

Israeli Settlement Activity – "The Third Rail"

American's steadfast support for Israel, expressed in poll after poll since 1949, stands on a solid foundation of common values and interests. The principal pillars of this unique relationship are a common Judeo-Christian heritage; a natural affinity of free-market democracies; mutual strategic interests including the struggle against terror and extremism; and a sense of shared destiny.
Like any relationship, the America-Israel alliance is sometimes beset by frictions. In recent years, principal among these is American unhappiness over Israeli settlement activity, the "third rail" of the U.S.-Israel relationship, spanning the terms of eight U.S. presidents since 1967. For those seeking to drive a wedge between the United States and Israel, the settlement issue has been the ideal pressure point. During the George H. W. Bush administration, tensions over settlements strained ties so severely that direct communication between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel ground to a halt.
But no president has gone as far as Barack Obama in placing the settlement issue squarely in the forefront of relations between the two countries. On May 27, 2009, just weeks after Benjamin Netanyahu's inauguration as prime minister, and before working to find common ground with Israel's new leader on areas of mutual interest, the Obama administration launched a high-profile public campaign to confront him on this most divisive and contentious issue. Standing in front of cameras with the Egyptian foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threw down the gauntlet to Netanyahu, announcing that President Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions."[1]

On at least thirteen subsequent public occasions, Obama and his top officials have added ever more sharply expressed objections to the building policies of the Israeli government, often doing so in the presence of the Israeli prime minister himself. In his marquis speech to the Muslim world delivered in Cairo on June 4, 2009, Obama said, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."[2] Vice President Joe Biden made equally sharp remarks on March 9, 2010, excoriating Netanyahu for planning-board approval of new housing units in east Jerusalem. Secretary Clinton was the most pointed of all: "The president was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements....And we intend to press that point."

At a White House meeting on July 13, 2009, Obama was asked by American Jewish leaders if it was not a mistake to let so much "daylight" show between the United States and Israel. Obama shot back, "We had no daylight for eight years [under George W. Bush], but no progress either."[3]

Obama apparently believed that pressuring Israel to halt construction of homes in Jewish neighborhoods in parts of Jerusalem formerly controlled by Jordan would advance peace. In reality, the opposite ensued. Though Obama came to office determined to accelerate Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, he is about to complete a four-year term as the first president since the Madrid conference in 1991 to have had no sustained high-level, direct negotiations between the parties. A largely ceremonial meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas took place in September 2010, followed by five lower-level, indirect meetings in Amman from October 2011 through January 2012. But the Palestinians came to these minor meetings grudgingly, and there has been no real bargaining between Israelis and Palestinians during the Obama years.

No president until Obama encouraged the Palestinians to believe that a "freeze on natural growth" of settlements could be made a precondition for peace talks. While the United States has never supported Israeli construction beyond the "Green Line," and many administrations have stated that such construction complicates the peace process, never before were peace negotiations held up by putting the wish for a settlement freeze first. It is a matter of record that Mahmoud Abbas participated in 18 years of direct negotiations with seven Israeli governments, all without the settlements freeze that he now insists is an absolute precondition to begin even low-level talks.

Obama's strategy of confrontation over settlements, in other words, has backfired. The Palestinian issue has now regressed to the pre-Madrid situation before 1991: Palestinians once again refuse to meet with Israelis, and speak of abandoning the two-state solution and returning to armed struggle.

By comparison, during the term of George W. Bush, who, Obama believes, did so little for Israeli-Palestinian peace, Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for talks that Abbas himself characterized as among the most productive ever held. Between the November 2007 Annapolis Conference convened by Bush, and the end of 2008, there were 288 negotiation sessions by 12 teams representing Olmert and Abbas, all while limited construction of Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and the settlement blocs continued.

Madrid, Oslo I, Oslo II, the Hebron Protocol, the Wye River Memorandum, Camp David, Taba, the disengagement from Gaza, and the Olmert offer to Abbas – all these events over the course of two decades were made possible by a continuing agreement to disagree about Israeli construction of Jewish homes in Jewish neighborhoods outside the pre-1967 line in east Jerusalem.
Obama would have served his mission better had he taken the opposite approach to the relationship between settlements and peace. Getting to negotiations, and producing an agreement on borders, would eliminate the settlement issue forever. Once the border between the two states is agreed, all communities on the Israeli side will be recognized as under the sovereignty of Israel, and no Israeli communities are likely to remain inside what will be recognized as sovereign Palestine. Indeed, Mahmoud Abbas has himself acknowledged that settlements are not the main barrier to an agreement. When he negotiated with Ehud Olmert in 2008, Abbas said, "The built-up area of all the settlements was [only] 1.1 percent [of the West Bank territory], so when I offered them 1.9 [percent of the disputed territory in a 'land swap'], it was more than enough" to permit an agreement.[4]

By now, it should be obvious even to those who cheered Obama on as he confronted Netanyahu that the strategy of public confrontation over settlements has been counterproductive. Abbas himself told Newsweek in April 2011, "It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze. I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it."[5] Even Obama's Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell now concedes that it was a mistake to allow the Palestinians to think that a freeze on settlements could be a precondition.[6]

But there were other mistakes in Obama's approach, about which less has been said. The maximalist terms that Obama sought to impose made a solution less likely. Had he framed the settlement issue in terms that distinguished between vital Israeli interests and areas where compromise was possible, he might have been able to secure changes in Israeli policy. Instead, he framed the choice in all-or-nothing language, hardening past American policy on several issues of critical importance to Israel. Because these less-noticed changes compounded Obama's missteps and planted the seeds for future trouble, they merit a closer look than they have received until now.

Jerusalem

Obama's failure to distinguish construction in east Jerusalem from settlement activity in the West Bank put him at odds with the Israeli consensus from the start. Few in Israel conflate large, established Jewish neighborhoods in Israel's capital with "non-consensus" settlements on remote West Bank hilltops. "East Jerusalem" Jewish neighborhoods like Ramot, Ramat Shlomo, Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Ze'ev, East Talpiot, Har Homa and Gilo, many now forty years old, are seen as much a part of Israel as Tel Aviv. More than 40 percent of the Jews who live in Jerusalem (195,500 out of 480,000 in 2008) live beyond the pre-1967 line in what Palestinians consider "occupied territory." No major party in Israel, and no significant part of the Jewish public, is willing to count the Jewish neighborhoods that fall within the juridical boundaries of Jerusalem that were recorded in the "Basic Law–Jerusalem" in 1980, as "settlements" to be "frozen," regardless of whether they are on land that was under Jordanian rule before 1967 or not. These Jewish neighborhoods are considered an integral part of the sovereign State of Israel. Even among Israelis who are willing to relinquish Arab populated areas of Jerusalem to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement (perhaps half of the Israeli public), there is almost no support for sacrificing or impeding the Jewish communities inside the city limits.

In Resolution 478, the UN Security Council ruled that the "Basic Law—Jerusalem" is "Null and void…a violation of international law."[8] Yet in the decades before Obama took office, U.S. officials did not object strenuously to construction of Israeli homes in east Jerusalem. They understood that such construction was a vital Israeli interest, and one supported across the Israeli political spectrum. Although the U.S. also did not formally recognize Israel's sovereignty over the area, America did grant a degree of tacit recognition to a distinction between east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The State Department, for instance, did not lump Israeli communities within Jerusalem into its "settlements" statistics.

But Barack Obama moved the marker.

Obama would have been wise to take the advice of his own Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, who said, "For the Israelis, what they're building in is in part of Israel....The Israelis are not going to stop...construction in East Jerusalem....Our view is, let's get into negotiations...and come up with a solution...including Jerusalem....We could spend the next 14 years arguing over disputed legal issues or we can try to get a negotiation to resolve them in a manner that meets the aspirations of both societies."[9]

Settlement Blocs


Another Obama policy shift moved the settlement issue out of the realistic zone of compromise: his rejection of the Bush policy of treating the "settlement blocs" differently from the "non-consensus" settlements deeper in the West Bank interior. The special status of the blocs arose from the Camp David peace talks in July 2000, at which Yasser Arafat accepted President Clinton's proposal that certain bedroom suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, comprising only 5 percent of the land of the West Bank but including about 80 percent of the settlers, would come under Israeli sovereignty. In exchange, Israel would "swap" land from its own pre-1967 territory. Israel would relinquish settlements outside the blocs, but retain the settlement blocs themselves.

The understandings reached at Camp David had no legal standing after the negotiations collapsed in 2001, but the concept of agreed settlement blocs laid the basis for a compromise between the succeeding Israeli and American governments. In an exchange of letters on April 14, 2004, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged "responsibilities facing the State of Israel" under the Roadmap, including "limitations on the growth of settlements." President George W. Bush acknowledged in response that, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949....It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities."[10]

Israel understood this Executive Agreement to mean that the U.S. would treat settlements in the blocs that would remain part of sovereign Israel in a future negotiation differently from settlements outside the blocs agreed upon at Camp David. The government of Israel believed it had a commitment from the United States to accept that a "freeze on natural growth" would notapply to construction inside these blocs, provided that it remained within the territorial limits set forth at Camp David. Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert, stated this publicly in April 2008. "It was clear from day one to Abbas, Rice, and Bush that construction would continue in population concentrations – the areas mentioned in Bush's 2004 letter. I say this again today: Beitar Illit will be built, Gush Etzion will be built; there will be construction in Pisgat Ze'ev and in the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. It's clear that these areas will remain under Israeli control in any future settlement."[11]

Here again, Obama moved the marker. Although his administration accepted the validity of Bush's position in the April 14, 2004, letter, it did not take the letter to mean that construction in the settlement blocs should be considered differently.[12] In the many statements issued by Obama administration officials condemning Israeli construction in settlements, no distinction was made between these blocs and the non-consensus settlements in the West Bank interior. In fact, most of the construction to which the Obama team objected took place either in Jerusalem or in these blocs. This is for the simple reason that almost all the construction that the Netanyahu administration has allowed is in these two categories that Israel had thought to be protected by understandings and American exceptions. From the Israeli point of view, then, Obama violated an Executive Agreement that Sharon had negotiated with President Bush.

The Bush-Sharon Settlements Compromise

This brings us to a third principle that Israel thought it had agreed on with the U.S., only to find it undone by the Obama administration. The Sharon government reached an understanding with the Bush administration to ban outward geographic expansion of established settlements, while reserving the right to continue what then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres dubbed "verticalgrowth," meaning upward or infill expansion inside the "construction line" of existing houses. The purpose was to prevent outward horizontal expansion that might give the Palestinians the impression of "creeping annexation," while accommodating the needs of Israeli communities to add a room or build between existing houses.

The Bush-Sharon understanding was recorded in a letter from Sharon's top aide, Dov Weissglas, to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in June 2003. Weissglas reiterated that there were "understandings reached between Israel and the U.S. regarding settlements....No new towns will be built, and construction will be frozen in the existing towns, except for building within the existing building lines, as opposed to the municipal border."[13] Prime Minister Sharon implied such an agreement in his speech at the Herzliya Conference on December 18, 2003: "Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements."[14]

A few months later, on April 18, 2004, Sharon's aide Dov Weissglas asserted, in another letter to Rice, "the following understanding, which had been reached between us: Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in Judea and Samaria. An Israeli team, in conjunction with Ambassador Kurtzer, will review aerial photos of settlements and will jointly define the construction line of each of the settlements."[15]

The government of Israel acted swiftly to enforce the distinction. On August 5, 2004, a settler newspaper reported that, "The Defense Ministry has completed a large-scale project to mark the existing built-up borders of all the Jewish communities and towns in Judea and Samaria – andno further construction will be allowed beyond themYediot Aharonot reports today that aerial photos will be sent to the United States, which will monitor every building aberration. Though the towns will be allowed to appeal the decision, every building beyond the marked borders could be subject to immediate demolition. The above program is in accordance with the commitment Prime Minister Sharon gave U.S. President George Bush three months ago."[16]

Despite the Bush administration's reluctance publicly to acknowledge these settlements understandings, there were several public indications that it had. The New York Times reported on August 21, 2004, "The Bush administration...has modified its policy and signaled approval of growth in at least some Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, American and Israeli officials say....The administration now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward...according to the officials."[17] The next month, the Washington Post cited remarks Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage made in an interview with Egyptian television: "If you have settlements that already exist and you put more people into them but don't expand the physical...area – that might be one thing. But if the physical area expands and encroaches, and it takes more of Palestinian land, well, this is another." The Post also quoted a senior administration official who said, "It makes no difference if the Israelis add another house within a block of existing homes."[18]

The Bush-Sharon understandings about settlements were reported again by the New York Times,[19] and the Guardian,[20] and were partly confirmed by former ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.[21]

But on June 7, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denied that the Obama administration was bound by any such understanding. "That was an understanding that was entered into, so far as we are told, orally. That was never made a part of the official record of the negotiations, as it was passed on to our administration....Nobody in a position of authority at the time that the Obama administration came into office said anything about it. And in fact, there is also a record that President Bush contradicted even that oral agreement."[22] White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe went further, and said flatly, "There is no understanding."

Sharon's representative Dov Weissglas countered that in April 2004 he had negotiated a "verbal understanding" with Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, and that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice subsequently approved the deal. "I do not recall that we had any kind of written formulation," except his own letters back to Rice stating that the agreements existed.[23]

Elliott Abrams, who negotiated the Bush administration's compromises on the natural growth of settlements, agreed with Weissglas in the Wall Street Journal. "There were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation...the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza....There was a bargained-for exchange. Mr. Sharon was determined to...confront his former allies on Israel's right by abandoning the 'Greater Israel' position....He asked for our support and got it, including the agreement that we would not demand a total settlement freeze."[24]

Israelis were bitterly disappointed by the Obama administration's refusal to acknowledge agreements with a prior U.S. government that the Israelis considered vital and binding. Sharon aide Weissglas said, "Final-status peace treaties...will require many American guarantees and obligations, especially in respect to long-term security arrangements. Without these, it is doubtful whether an agreement can be reached. Yet if decision-makers in Israel...discover, heaven forbid, that an American pledge is only valid as long as the president in question is in office, nobody will want such pledges."[25]

Obama, however, was not persuaded by Israel's remonstrations. His administration's priority was to convince the Palestinians and the Muslim world that he was prepared to put pressure on Israel to achieve peace.

The Failure of the Settlement Freeze

Led by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, the Obama peace team was seized with the idea of a settlement "freeze" as a confidence-building measure to lure the reluctant Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Mitchell had been associated with the freeze concept since the Mideast peace commission he headed in 2001 concluded that "Israel should freeze all settlement activity, including the 'natural growth' of existing settlements." The Bush administration signed on to the freeze idea in 2003, when it joined with the EU, Russia, and the Secretary General of the UN to promulgate the "Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict." The Roadmap requires, in Phase I, that, "Consistent with the Mitchell Report, the Government of Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)."[26] But, as explained above, the U.S. and Israel had worked out detailed understandings during the Bush administration just how the Roadmap was to be applied on the ground.

In an effort to placate Obama, in November 2009 Netanyahu announced a ten-month freeze on construction permits for new residences and the start of any new residential construction in the settlements. "We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond....I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians." George Mitchell said, "We did get a 10-month...moratorium on new housing construction starts on the West Bank, which was less than what we asked for, less than what the Palestinians wanted, but was more than any government of Israel had ever done on that subject, and it was a significant action which I believe the Palestinians should have responded to by getting into negotiations earlier."[27]

For nine of the ten months of the freeze, Netanyahu's concession did not have the intended effect. For all but the last month, Mahmoud Abbas refused to resume negotiations even with the freeze, saying it fell short of the total freeze in Jerusalem that President Obama had promised him. "At first, President Obama stated in Cairo that Israel must stop all construction activities in the settlements. Could we demand less than that?" Mitchell later said, "The real loss was that we didn't get a full ten months. We didn't get nine months or eight months. We got one month – less than a month, and it was not enough time to gain traction and get the parties invested in continuing the process."[28]

The administration expressed disappointment that Abbas exploited the president's firm position on settlements and made it into a precondition. Secretary of State Clinton said that the demand for an absolute settlement freeze as a precondition for talks was unprecedented. Settlements have "always been an issue within the negotiations....There's never been a precondition."[29] Mitchell later said, "It was not a precondition. The mistake was to not make that as clear as we could have. The president's position was...not stated as preconditions, although, unfortunately, they were then adopted as preconditions."[30] Abbas had negotiated with seven previous Israeli prime ministers – Shamir, Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu (in his first term), Barak, Sharon, and Olmert, without the precondition that he now demands of Netanyahu. As Mitchell said on September 22, 2009, "We do not believe in preconditions. We do not impose them. And we urge others not to impose preconditions."[31] A Middle East Quartet Statement of March 19, 2010 called for "the resumption without preconditions of direct bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues, as previously agreed by the parties."[32]

The administration was confounded by Abbas' refusal to use Netanyahu's concession as an opening to peace talks. Later, after leaving office, Mitchell observed that, "I personally negotiated with the Israeli leaders to bring about a ten-month halt in new housing construction activity. The Palestinians opposed it on the grounds, in their words, that it was worse than useless. So they refused to enter into the negotiations until nine months of the ten had elapsed. Once they entered, they then said it was indispensable. What had been worse than useless a few months before then became indispensable and they said they would not remain in the talks unless that indispensable element were extended."[33]

Still, the Obama administration declined to admonish Abbas in public for refusing to negotiate, as it had repeatedly admonished Netanyahu for construction activity in settlements. In refusing to meet with Israel, Abbas violated one of the most important commitments his predecessor Yasir Arafat made at the start of the Oslo process, which included this pledge to then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on September 9, 1993: "The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides, and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations."[34] Abbas also violated the pledge that he himself made two years earlier at the Annapolis conference, witnessed by foreign ministers of 47 countries on November 27, 2007: "We agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements. We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations."[35]

Yet his violation of these solemn commitments earned Abbas no reprimand from the Obama team.

Before Obama, Settlement Construction Did Not Impede Peace Negotiations

What is most remarkable about the Obama diplomacy is its apparent obliviousness to the history of the relationship between settlements and peace in previous negotiations, of which the Obama team is seemingly unaware. President Bill Clinton did not ask Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to freeze all housing construction in settlements, including Jerusalem, in order to get the Oslo process started. Had he made such a demand, Rabin would have refused. Rabin told the Knesset, "I explained to the president of the United States that I wouldn't forbid Jews from building privately in the area of Judea and Samaria....I am sorry that within united Jerusalem construction is not more massive."[36]

In 1993, the same year as the famous handshake on the White House lawn, the Rabin government completed the construction of more than 6,000 units in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of east Jerusalem, out of a total of 13,000 units that were in various stages of completion in areas of the city that had been outside Israeli lines before 1967.

Nonetheless, Arafat sat down with Rabin, even while Israel's construction in Jerusalem continued unabated. On September 13, 1993, the Oslo peace accord was signed – by the same Mahmoud Abbas who refuses to sit down today. A year later, Rabin, who built homes for Jews in east Jerusalem, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Altogether, Rabin's government completed 30,000 dwelling units in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem in the four years prior to the prime minister's assassination. Even the January 9, 1995, announcement of a plan to build 15,000 additional apartments in east Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1967 borders (especially Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov, Gilo, and Har Homa) did not stop negotiations, which resulted in the Oslo II accord of September 28, 1995.

And what was the Clinton administration's reaction toward Rabin's construction of Jewish homes in east Jerusalem? Mild annoyance. On January 3, 1995, in response to the Rabin government's announcement of expanded construction, the State Department spokesman said, "The parties themselves...have to judge whether it presents any kind of a problem in their own dialogue. The important thing is to continue to meet." The spokesman added on January 10, 1995, "We admit that settlements are a problem, but we...enjoin the parties to deal with these issues in their negotiations."

Clinton's Middle East peace advisor, Martin Indyk, told the U.S. Senate the following month that Rabin's government had recently "given approval for something like 4,000 to 5,000 new housing units to go up in settlements around the Jerusalem area." Clinton, he added, had decided to stay out of it. "To take action now...would be very explosive in the negotiations, and frankly, would put us out of business as a facilitator of those negotiations." Had Clinton taken Obama's approach, it might well have exploded the negotiations and brought the Oslo process to a halt.

This is far from the only example of instances in which construction in Jerusalem did nothing to impede diplomatic progress. Two years after Oslo II, in January 1997, Abbas and Arafat sat down with another Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, to sign the Hebron Protocol, which provided for the withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces from 80 percent of the very sensitive area of Hebron in the West Bank. Arafat and Abbas had no illusions that Netanyahu intended to freeze Israeli construction in east Jerusalem. In fact, Netanyahu had announced that he would proceed with the building of Har Homa, a controversial Israeli suburb conceived by Rabin. Nor, another 18 months later, did the Palestinians' fierce objections to Har Homa prevent them from joining the Wye Plantation negotiations in October 1998. These talks led to an agreement known as the Wye River Memorandum, in which Netanyahu, under considerable pressure from Clinton, agreed to pull the Israel Defense Forces out of an additional 13 percent of the West Bank. This move was fiercely opposed by Netanyahu's right flank, and in January 1999 it led to his downfall when the hard-liners in his coalition defected.

Had Clinton demanded that Netanyahu freeze construction in Jerusalem, and had Arafat made a freeze a precondition for negotiations, neither the Hebron nor Wye agreements would have been signed.

The Labor government that was elected in the wake of Netanyahu's ouster in 1999 continued the pattern of building in Jerusalem while moving forward in negotiations with the Palestinians. At the Camp David summit (July 11-25, 2000), then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak crossed Israel's known "red lines," offering the Palestinians most of the West Bank and a capital in Jerusalem, along with land swaps. Yet even as he was taking these unprecedented steps, Barak was accelerating the construction of Har Homa and other Jerusalem communities. While the talks accelerated, Barak also moved ahead with the Ras al-Amud neighborhood on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. President Clinton said he "would have preferred that this decision was not taken." But Clinton added that the United States "cannot prevent Israel from building in Har Homa." Haim Ramon, Rabin's minister for Jerusalem affairs, said: "I would like to make it clear that the government has no intention of stopping the building at Har Homa."

Here again, had Clinton taken Obama's position and issued an ultimatum demanding that all construction in Jerusalem stop, and had Arafat made that American demand a precondition to begin negotiations, neither the Camp David summit of 2000 nor the Taba talks in January 2001 could have occurred.

The next Israeli government, headed by retired general Ariel Sharon, did not seek any breakthroughs in negotiations with the Palestinians, but did order Israel's most dramatic territorial concession since 1967: the withdrawal of all Israeli soldiers from every square inch of Gaza, along with the abandonment of 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank. In the "unilateral disengagement" of August-December 2005, Sharon pulled 8,000 Israeli settlers from their homes against fierce opposition from his right flank.

Four months after the disengagement from Gaza, Sharon fell into a coma. After his deputy, Ehud Olmert, took office, the new prime minister sought a resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians. Following the Annapolis summit in November 2007, Abbas, who had taken over as president of the Palestinian Authority and head of the PLO after Arafat's death in November 2004, agreed to begin intensive negotiations with Olmert. While Abbas expressed his unhappiness with continued Israeli construction in east Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, he did not make cancelation of these projects a precondition for talks. Nor did Abbas cut off negotiations in April 2008 when Olmert told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, "It was clear from day one to Abbas...that construction would continue in population concentrations –the areas mentioned in Bush's 2004 letter....Beitar Illit will be built, Gush Etzion will be built; there will be construction in Pisgat Zeev and in the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem...areas [that] will remain under Israeli control in any future settlement."[37]

These negotiations yielded significant results: on September 16, 2008, Olmert offered Abbas 93 percent of the West Bank, the partition of Jerusalem, and a land swap. The chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat boasted to a Jordanian newspaper that Abbas had achieved considerable progress with the Olmert government between the November 2007 Annapolis talks and the end of 2008 in 288 negotiation sessions by 12 committees – all while Israeli construction continued.
Paradoxical as it may seem to those who supported Obama's decision to confront Netanyahu about settlements, the historical record reveals that limited Israeli construction in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs can be reconciled with peace negotiations.

Netanyahu is building fewer houses at a slower pace and in fewer and less contested places than many of those who preceded him. In an April 8, 2012, interview with Fareed Zakaria, Ehud Barak said,
This government of Netanyahu is not the most aggressive in building....I was the prime minister 12 years ago. I negotiated a very generous proposal with previous Chairman Arafat, together with President Clinton....During that time, we were building four times the pace of construction that Israel executed now. I was the defense minister in Ehud Olmert's government five years ago when he proposed an extremely generous proposal to Abu Mazen [Abbas]. We were building about twice the pace that we are building now....We are listening very carefully to the needs of our citizens, on the one hand, and to the needs of the Palestinian future state, as well as the demands from the world. And we are not going over any hill or valley and establishing new settlements....Those settlements which are going to remain part of Israel, even in the final status agreement, namely the settlement blocs, should be built and developed as any other part of Israel.[38]
Stalled peace negotiations in the Obama years cannot be blamed on Netanyahu's policies of accelerating settlement construction. He has in fact slowed it down. What has undermined peace negotiations, rather, is Obama's policy on the settlements – and the unrealistic expectations that policy has nourished.

Settlements and the UN Security Council

For those who seek to drive a wedge in the U.S.-Israel relationship over the settlement issue, the UN Security Council is the ideal venue, a place where the Palestinians have many friends and the Israelis have few. Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, described the Security Council thirty years ago in a way that makes plain how little has changed: "What takes place in the Security Council more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem-solving....Israel is cast as villain...in [a] melodrama...that features...many attackers and a great deal of verbal violence....The goal is isolation and humiliation of the victim....The attackers, encountering no obstacles, grow bolder, while other nations become progressively more reluctant to associate themselves with the accused, out of fear that they themselves will become a target of bloc hostility."[39] The Arabs have long sought to use the Security Council in order to impose their own terms on final status arbitrations between Israelis and Palestinians, to defy an American president to veto an anti-Israel resolution, and to rivet attention on a high-visibility issue where Israel has the least sympathy and American-Israeli differences are deepest.

Consider the case of a one-sided Arab draft resolution condemning Israel. If a president abstains to allow it to pass, or even votes for it, he contributes to Israel's global isolation and delegitimization. He may even create a basis for sanctions against an American ally. But if he blocks the resolution by using the American veto, he is accused of inconsistency with his own principles and capitulation to the pro-Israel lobby. Either way, by maneuvering the president into a tight spot, the Security Council tactic offers Arabs an opportunity to amplify American resentment of Israel's policies.

The proponents of these resolutions at the Security Council further sharpen the dilemma by adopting the American administration's own rhetoric. When Abbas brought the issue to the UN in January 2011, he said, "We drafted it using the same words that Secretary Clinton is using and so we don't see why the U.S. would veto it."[40]

In reality, all draft resolutions condemning Israeli settlements that have been promulgated by supporters of the Palestinians in the Security Council contain language that no administration since 1980 has supported. Without exception, all such drafts assert that Israeli communities in Jerusalem and the West Bank are "illegal." This is not U.S. policy. For example, a resolution introduced in January 2011 by supporters of the Palestinians claimed that "all Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal" because of "the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem."[41]

This is not the declared policy of the United States. Successive U.S. administrations have deplored settlement activity as an obstacle to peace, but no American president – except Jimmy Carter – has taken the view that building Jewish homes in Jerusalem constitutes a violation of the Geneva conventions.[42] If an American president were to take the position that all Israeli construction outside the former 1967 line is illegal, it would have the effect of criminalizing the Jewish communities of the eastern sector of Jerusalem, where 40 percent of the Jews in that city live, as well as the settlement blocs proposed by President Clinton and acknowledged by President Bush to be part of Israel. In other words, such a move would amount to an act of legal aggression against Israel by its foremost ally.

President Jimmy Carter was the exception. Referring to Israeli settlements in April 1980, Carter said: "We do not think they are legal." As his secretary of state explained, "Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the territories," including Jerusalem. The relevant article states: "The Occupying Power shall not...transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."[43] But many American experts doubt that this can be applied properly to the Israeli case.[44] Obligations under the Geneva Convention apply to territory occupied by one state but legally recognized as the property of another state. The West Bank and east Jerusalem were under Jordanian control before 1967, but they were not legally recognized (even by Jordan) as the sovereign territory of Jordan prior to coming under Israeli control in 1967. They are, therefore, properly understood as "disputed" rather than "occupied" territories, so the Convention does not apply.

President Ronald Reagan rejected Carter's position and maintained that the settlements were "ill-advised" and "unnecessarily provocative," but they were "not illegal."[45] All American presidents since have followed Reagan's approach, and none has repeated Carter's formulation that settlements are "illegal." President Obama, for example, has said that settlements "undermine efforts to achieve peace," but he, too, has avoided calling them "illegal."[46] So the drafts branding Israeli settlements as illegal do not reflect established U.S. policy.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike have consistently and resolutely urged presidents to exercise the veto to defend Israel from one-sided resolutions at the Security Council – even in the controversial matter of settlements. For example, on June 21, 2010, 87 senators sent a bipartisan letter to Obama: "We ask you to stand firm in the future at the United Nations Security Council and to use your veto power, if necessary, to prevent any...biased or one-sided resolutions from passing." As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama called on the Bush administration to veto resolutions that singled out Israel for blame.[47]
In the forty years since Richard Nixon's first veto in Israel's defense on September 10, 1972, every American president has used the veto to block anti-Israel resolutions. Richard Nixon vetoed two; Gerald Ford four; Ronald Reagan eighteen (!); George H.W. Bush four; Bill Clinton three; George W. Bush nine; and Barack Obama one. In April 1980, even Jimmy Carter mustered the courage to veto such a resolution, on the grounds that it was inimical to the Camp David Accords he had brokered.

In all, eight American presidents have recorded 42 vetoes in Israel's defense at the UN Security Council. Most often, the stated or implied reason to explain the need for a veto was lack of balance. In about half of the 42 veto statements, the American representative acknowledged that the United States shared concerns about a given Israeli action but objected either to the wording of the resolution or to the appropriateness of bringing the issue before the Security Council.

The actual number of anti-Israel resolutions and Presidential Statements that have been prevented from coming to a vote at all due to the credible threat of an American veto is probably far higher than these 42 recorded votes. Céline Nahory, an expert on the Security Council, says such instances "must add up to many hundreds...in closed-door informal consultations [where] the Council largely conducts its business."[48]

The record is similar on the subset of draft resolutions that have dealt specifically with the settlements question. No president since Carter has permitted anti-Israel UN Security Council resolutions on settlements to pass. Ronald Reagan vetoed two: on August 2, 1983 (while Menachem Begin was Israeli prime minister) and on January 30, 1986 (during Shimon Peres' term). Bill Clinton vetoed three draft resolutions condemning Israeli settlements, one while Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister (draft Resolution S/1995/394 vetoed on May 17, 1995),[49] and two during Benjamin Netanyahu's first term (draft Resolution S/1997/199, sponsored by the United Kingdom and France, vetoed on March 7, 1997,[50] and draft Resolution S/1997/241, vetoed on March 21, 1997).[51]

Most recently, on February 18, 2011, President Obama vetoed draft resolution S/2011/24 condemning Israeli settlements.[52] U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice presented the U.S. reasoning: "Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should...not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity....[But] every potential action must be measured against one overriding standard: will it move the parties closer to negotiations and an agreement? Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides. It could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations and, if and when they did resume, to return to the Security Council whenever they reach an impasse....While we agree with our fellow Council members...about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians."[53]

In addition to these six vetoes, successive U.S. administrations since Carter have defeated by "silent veto" many other anti-settlement initiatives at the Security Council that did not reach the voting stage because fervent American opposition dissuaded their proponents from pressing the issue.

The Carter administration was the only U.S. government to vote in favor of a UN Security Council Resolution declaring Israeli settlements to be "illegal": Resolution 465 on March 1, 1980.[54] Carter subsequently disavowed his ambassador's vote for this resolution, saying that his instruction had not been properly communicated and that the U.S. should have abstained. An abstention still would have permitted the resolution to pass. In addition to voting for Resolution 465, Carter did abstain on (and thereby permitted to pass) two other resolutions against Israeli settlements containing similar language: Resolutions 446 on March 22, 1979,[55] and 452 on July 20, 1979.[56]

Resolution 465 said that "the Fourth Geneva Convention...is applicable to the Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem." It added that "all measures taken by Israel to change the...demographic composition...or status of the...territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem...have no legal validity and that Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population...in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention." New York Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, who had served as UN ambassador five years earlier, said, "As a direct result of [Carter Administration] policy, the Security Council was allowed to degenerate to the condition of the General Assembly."

Presidents since Carter have had greater clarity about the hazards of moving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking into a venue that is profoundly hostile to Israel. But each incoming American president must grapple anew with this Hobson's choice: settlements, on the one hand, and abandoning an ally, on the other. It is a problem certain to arise again.

Goading the President to Confront Israel


The background chorus calling on the president to put more pressure on Israel serves as another enduring feature of American diplomacy in the Middle East. Books, newspapers, magazines, and lecture halls are filled with experts reciting a familiar catechism: Israel is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and only a president determined to defy the fearsome Israel lobby can bring Israel to heel. Europeans, Arab governments, State Department Arabists, and even some Jewish pro-pressure organizations reinforce this message.

Some presidents, like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, instinctively resist these entreaties (though even they succumbed to the pressure at times). Other presidents, like Barack Obama, are receptive to the pressure argument from the beginning. And of all the items on the menu of Mideast diplomacy, the issue of settlements is the one most loudly invoked by the pressure chorus.

The pressure theory met its first full-scale test in the first two years of Obama's term. In the end, the president obtained a result opposite to the one that he was promised. Contrary to what was confidently predicted, we are now further from substantive peace negotiations than at any time since 1991. A scientist observing such dismal results in a test tube would conclude that his hypothesis was faulty. But political science being what it is, most of the Mideast pressurists cling to the opposite conclusion. They continue to insist that settlements are the main obstacle to peace negotiations, and that to accelerate peacemaking a president should begin by confronting Israel on the issue.

There is an alternative that might yield far better results: First, before a prime minister of Israel and a president of the United States turn to the vexing issue of settlements, they should establish a relationship of cooperation and trust on a wider set of issues. Later, during the inevitable dialogue about settlements, they can draw on this reservoir of goodwill. Second, this dialogue should be conducted in private, protected from the fierce winds of public controversy, while the two sides explore the boundaries of the attainable.

Each side, moreover, must take into account the vital interests of the other. The president must acknowledge that the maximalist demand for a total freeze on construction inside the capital of Israel in neighborhoods where 40 percent of Jewish residents of Jerusalem make their homes is asking too much. Such a demand is bound to lead to an impasse.

The prime minister, meanwhile, must understand that unrestricted expansion of West Bank settlements will put a severe strain on relations with the United States and Europe and ignite a diplomatic firestorm. It is in Israel's vital interest to find a sustainable set of limitations that Israeli society can accept, that make it possible at the same time to meet Israel's international needs.
The art of diplomacy on settlements involves a two-fold task: to craft a sophisticated set of limitations on which both sides can agree, and to reconcile what the United States needs to manage the international diplomatic environment, with the boundaries that Israelis can accept.

For eighteen years, from the Madrid conference to 2008, presidents and prime ministers found workable solutions to the settlements issue that allowed peace negotiations to progress. If there is to be renewed diplomatic progress between Israelis and Palestinians, the United States will have to find collaborative solutions with Israel instead of relying on confrontation. The diplomacy of pressure leads only to a dead end.
Steven J. Rosen is Director of the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum. He served as Associate Director of the National Security Strategies Program at the RAND Corporation, followed by 23 years with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) where he was Director of Foreign Policy Issues. This publication draws on previous work by the author published in Commentary andForeign Policy.

Notes

[1] "Press Availability with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit," U.S. Department of State, May 27, 2009.
[2] "Text: Obama's Speech in Cairo," New York Times, June 4, 2009.
[3] Ron Kampeas, "At White House, U.S. Jews Offer Little Resistance to Obama Policy on Settlements," JTA-Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 13, 2009.
[4] Bernard Avishai, "A Plan for Peace that Still Could Be," New York Times Magazine, February 7, 2011.
[5] "The Wrath of Abbas," Daily Beast, August 24, 2011.
[6] "This Week Transcript: George Mitchell and King Abdullah II," This Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC News, May 22, 2011.
[7] "Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, July 30, 1980.
[8] http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/RESOLUTION/GEN/NR0/399/71/IMG/NR039971.pdf?OpenElement
[9] Steven J. Rosen, "Interesting George Mitchell Interview," Middle East Forum, January 7, 2010.
[10] "Exchange of Letters between PM Sharon and President Bush," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 14, 2004.
[11] Glenn Kessler, "Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with U.S.," Washington Post, April 24, 2008.
[12] Ron Kampeas, "Democrats Launch Major Pro-Obama Pushback among Jews," JTA, June 7, 2011.
[13] Settlement Report, May-June 2004, Foundation for Middle East Peace; and Arutz Sheva, August 5, 2004.
[14] Steven J. Rosen, "Obama and a Settlements Freeze", Middle East Forum, January 28, 2009.
[15] "Letter from Dov Weissglas, Chief of the PM's Bureau, to National Security Adviser, Dr. Condoleezza Rice," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 18, 2004. This aerial photo standard came to be called the "Google Earth test."
[16] "New Decree: No Expansion Allowed in Judea and Samaria," Arutz Sheva, August 5, 2004.
[17] Steven R. Weisman, "U.S. Now Said to Support Growth for Some West Bank Settlements",New York Times, August 21, 2004.
[18] Glenn Kessler, "U.S., Israel Discuss Internal Growth in West Bank Settlements," Washington Post, October 30, 2004.
[19] Weisman, "U.S. Now Said to Support Growth."
[20] Conal Urquhart, "Secret US Deal Wrecks Road Map for Peace," Guardian, August 27, 2004.
[21] Glenn Kessler, "Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with U.S.," The Washington Post, April 24, 2008.
[22] "Clinton Denies Bush Agreement With Israel on Settlements"; interview with ABC News.
[23] Kessler, "Israelis Claim Secret Agreement with U.S."
[24] Elliott Abrams, "Hillary Is Wrong about the Settlements," Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2009.
[25] Dov Weissglas, "Agreements Must Be Honored: Dov Weissglas Slams Obama Administration's Denial of Israeli Agreement with Bush," Ynetnews.com, February 7, 2009.
[26] http://www.un.org/media/main/roadmap122002.html.
[27] Steve Clemons, "Is Peace Possible," S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, January 12, 2012.
[28] Ibid.
[29] "Remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu," U.S. Department of State, October 31, 2009.
[30] "This Week Transcript: George Mitchell and King Abdullah II."
[31] "Press Briefing by UN Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, on the President's Trilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority," The White House—Office of the Press Secretary, September 22, 2009.
[32] "Middle East Quartet Statement," March 19, 2010, Moscow.
[33] "Exchange of Letters between Rabin and Arafat," September 9, 1993.
[34] Ibid.
[35] "Annapolis Agreement: Full Text," Guardian, November 27, 2007.
[36] Steven J. Rosen, "Obama's Foolish Settlements Ultimatum," Foreign Policy, April 1, 2010.
[37] Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, "Olmert: Israel Not Under Syrian Nuclear Threat,"Ynet News, April 20, 2008.
[38] "Israeli Defense Minister on Settlements," CNN, April 10, 2012.
[39] Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, "U.N. 'Mugging' Fails," New York Times, March 31, 1983.
[40] Associated Press and Haaretz Service, "Palestinian Draft Condemning Israeli Settlements Designed to Win U.S. Support," Ha'aretz.
[41] "Full Text: UN Security Council Draft Resolution," Ma'an News Agency, June 6, 2012.
[42] Glenn Kessler, "Old Legal Opinion Raises New Questions," Washington Post, June 17, 2009.
[43] "Statements on American Policy toward Settlements by U.S. Government Officials – 1968-2009," Foundation for Middle East Peace.
[44] Nicholas Rostow, "Are the Settlements Illegal?" American Interest, March/April 2010.
[45] "Statements on American Policy toward Settlements."
[46] "Remarks by the President on a New Beginning," The White House–Office of the Press Secretary (Cairo, Egypt), June 4, 2009.
[47] http://www.buzzvines.com/node/3787.
[48] Steven J. Rosen, "Will Obama Use His UN Veto?" Commentary, September 2010.
[49] "Botswana, Honduras, Indonesia, Nigeria, Oman and Rwanda: Draft Resolution," United Nations Security Council, S/1995/394, May 17, 1995.
[50] "France, Portugal, Sweden and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:Draft Resolution," United Nations Security Council, S/1997/199, March 7, 1997.
[51] "Egypt and Qatar: Draft Resolution," United Nations Security Council, S/1997/241, March 21, 1997.
[52] United Nations Security Council, S/2011/24, February 18, 2011.
[53] "Explanation of Vote by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Resolution on the Situation in the Middle East, Including the Question of Palestine, in the Security Council Chamber", United States Mission to the United Nations, February 18, 2011.
[54] Security Council Resolution 465 (1980), United National Security Council, S/RES/465, March 1980.
[55] Security Council Resolution 446, United Nations Security Council, S/RES/446, March 22, 1979.
[56] Security Council Resolution 452, United Nations Security Council, S/RES/452, July 20, 1979.
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5) Making Harding Look Good 
The Obama administration has tarnished nearly every major federal agency.
By Victor Davis Hanson
Many have described the Obama departure from the 70-year-old bipartisan postwar foreign policy of the United States as reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s failed 1977–81 tenure. There is certainly the same messianic sense of self, the same naïveté, and the same boasts of changing the nature of America, as each of these presidents was defining himself as against supposedly unpopular predecessors. But the proper Obama comparison is not Carter, but rather Warren G. Harding. By that I mean not that Obama’s scandals have matched Harding’s, but rather that by any fair standard they have now far exceeded them and done far more lasting damage — and without Obama’s offering achievements commensurate with those that occasionally characterized Harding’s brief, failed presidency.

The lasting legacy of Obama will be that he has largely discredited the idea of big government, of which he was so passionate an advocate. Almost every major agency of the federal government, many of them with a hallowed tradition of bipartisan competence, have now been rendered either dysfunctional or politicized — or both — largely because of politically drivenappointments of unqualified people, or ideological agendas that were incompatible with the agency’s mission.

The list of scandals is quite staggering. In aggregate, it makes Harding’s Teapot Dome mess seem minor in comparison.
There is now no Border Patrol, at least as Americans have understood the agency whose job was enforcing federal immigration statutes. It died as an enforcement bureau sometime in 2013, not long after the reelection of Barack Obama, in a way that it could not have before the election. Instead, in Orwellian fashion, at a time of plague and terrorism abroad, it is now the Border-Crossing Enabling Service, whose chief task is facilitating the illegal entry of thousands from Latin America and Mexico, largely to further the political agenda of the Obama administration, contrary to the law, the will of Congress, and the wishes of the majority of the American people. Mention the phrase “immigration law” or “Border Patrol,” and Americans sigh that neither any longer exists. Yet such a perversion of the mission of a federal agency for political purposes has become thematic of this administration. Perhaps the end of border enforcement is emblemized best by Obama’s own uncle and late aunt, who in open defiance broke federal immigration law and did so with impunity, resided illegally in the United States, broke various state laws, and ended up either on public assistance or mired in the U.S. judicial system.
No one quite knows how to deal with the deadly threat of the Ebola virus. We can assume, however, that the Obama administration’s policy will be predicated foremost on some sort of predetermined ideological concern. Unlike many European countries, the United States still allows foreign nationals from countries with pandemics of Ebola to enter the country freely. What the administration has so far told us about Ebola — that a case here was unlikely, and then, after it happened, that probably only a handful of people had been exposed — was almost immediately proven false.

If this seems a harsh judgment, consider the policy of restricting flights to and from foreign countries because of national-security concerns. During the controversial Gaza War, the FAA ordered U.S. airlines to suspend flights to Ben Gurion Airport — the best protected airport in the world — supposedly because of a rocket that exploded in the general proximity of the facility. Hamas claimed the step as a psychological victory and proof of the efficacy of its strategy of targeting Israeli civilian centers, and as further evidence of growing U.S. anger at Israeli war conduct. In contrast, the FAA has not shut down flights to and from African countries in which Ebola has reached pandemic status. Which threat — a deadly virus or a stray rocket — posed the greatest danger to the American public? Perhaps if infected Liberian nationals send their child to Sidwell Friends, radical changes in FAA policy will follow; or, in contrast, if Israel had been gripped by an Ebola pandemic, then Americans might have been allowed to fly in and out of Ben Gurion.
The combination of Lois Lerner’s taking the Fifth Amendment and Barack Obama’s characterizing the IRS’s partisan targeting of conservatives as involving not a “smidgen” of corruption sum up the current status of the tax agency. So far no one has been held accountable for the corruption. Most Americans now assume that any high-profile political activity or contribution deemed inimical to the Obama administration will earn an audit or at least additional IRS scrutiny — a Machiavellian gambit that has discouraged contributions to conservative candidates. The agency that relies on voluntary tax compliance now holds taxpayers to standards of transparency, record-keeping, and honesty that it cannot itself meet. That too will be a lasting legacy of the Obama administration.
Eric Holder has politicized the Justice Department in a way not seen since the scandals of Nixon appointee John Mitchell. Holder’s prior ethical lapses – notably, as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, the disreputable eleventh-hour pardon for fugitive (and Democratic contributor) Marc Rich — were well known. But in less than six years, he has managed to trump them. Holder was held in contempt by Congress for withholding subpoenaed documents about the Fast and Furious scandal, and he editorialized on pending criminal cases, such as the Trayvon Martin and the Ferguson cases. He arbitrarily chose not to enforce existing laws, whether elements of Obamacare or immigration statutes. He was forced to pay back the government for using a Gulfstream to junket to the Belmont Stakes with family and friends. He sought to try terrorists in civilian courts, and he demonized the idea of Guantanamo, which earlier, when it was politically expedient, he had praised. He caricatured his critics and made race essential rather than incidental to his tenure (e.g., “my people,” “nation of cowards,” and the false charges of racism against critics of the administration) in a way that would have gotten anyone else fired. Had any other attorney general monitored reporters’ communications as Holder did those of AP reporters, and, even more so, James Rosen, he would also have been summarily dismissed. Even the media will not be able to prevent Holder’s legacy from being seen as one of the Justice Department’s no longer enforcing the law without prejudice, but instead choosing haphazard compliance in order to advance partisan ideas of social justice.

The Secret Service used to be unimpeachable. Not now. Agents have been caught patronizing prostitutes while on assignment in Latin America. They have allowed an armed former felon to enter an elevator with the president. They had no clue that gunshots may well have hit the White House. They allowed an unhinged and armed intruder to not just enter the White House grounds, but make his way into the White House itself — and the agency then tried to cover up its laxity. Its reputation is now in shreds. One day a confused White House expresses full confidence in the Secret Service’s incompetent director, and the next gladly accepts her resignation.
Then there is the unfortunate alphabet soup of scandals. The GSA junketeering is now the stuff of caricature, but the sad thing about the agency’s fraud was the utter contempt for the taxpayers shown by its vacationing grandees, who are supposedly watchdogs of the public infrastructure. Former VA director Eric Shinseki, appointed largely for his banner opposition to the Iraq war, proved inept. The VA has shown itself to be not just incompetent but lethally so: It has allowed dozens of veterans to die for lack of adequate treatment. Like other Obama administration agencies such as the IRS and the Secret Service, the VA sought to cover up its near-criminal negligence. No one knows quite what the NSA is doing or should be doing, but most agree that it should not be tapping the private cell phones of allied foreign leaders. Nor should the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, lie before Congress that the government does not track the communications of ordinary Americans.

Obama recently scapegoated the intelligence agencies for his own laxity in addressing the Islamic State in its early ascendance. True, his appointees may well be incompetent, but if so, it is in a way that reflects the president’s own politically driven narratives. Thus Clapper assured us that Qaddafi would not fall and that the Muslim Brotherhood was largely secular. John Brennan, head of the CIA, once offered a rant about the innocuous nature of jihad that was delusional, as was his characterization of the radical Islamic agenda of forming a worldwide caliphate “absurd.” Would that Brennan had been as up on the circumstances of the arrest of would-be underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab as he is on the nuances of jihad. Do we even remember now how the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, helped usher in the euphemisms that became the stuff of ridicule (from overseas contingency operations and man-caused disasters to workplace violence). Under her directorship, we were told that right-wingers and returning veterans were greater threats to our security than radical Islamists.

The State Department has been even more tarnished. No one was held to account for serial untruths about the Benghazi killings, even though no one now defends the yarn of a video causing spontaneous riots or denies that the consulate was sorely unprotected. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assiduously peddled demonstrable falsehoods, massaging the truth to fit within reelection parameters. The president bragged about pulling troops out of Iraq when it was convenient for his reelection campaign, and then blamed others when that foolish move proved one of the most disastrous decisions in the last decade. Add in reset with Russia, leading from behind in Libya, constant contextualizing of American sins, and pseudo red lines, step-over lines, and deadlines, and you see that our foreign policy has become a serious embarrassment abroad. Indeed, Obama suffers from the paradox of the Cretan Liar (who assured everyone he spoke with that all Cretans lie): He seeks to bask in adulation abroad as U.S. head of state even as he tells his worshipers that the U.S. is culpable and by implication thus does not deserve such adulation.

Then there are the departed Cabinet secretaries. No one really knew exactly what Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was doing other than that she abruptly departed the administration and was quickly mired in all sorts of post-tenure financial scandals. Ditto EPA Director Lisa Jackson, who mysteriously drifted out of office once it was learned that she had created a false e-mail identity to pound her own drum. No one has ever explained why NASA Administrator Charles Bolden believed that the primary mission of the space agency should be Muslim outreach, and everyone still is puzzled about why the nation that reached the moon first is now dependent on Vladimir Putin for sending its astronauts into space. Kathleen Sebelius left the Department of Health and Human Services under a cloud of suspicions, after serially misleading the public about Obamacare. Her chief defense is that she was merely parroting the untruths of the President of the United States (you can keep your health plan and your doctors, and premiums and deductibles will go down, along with the deficit). Does anyone remember Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, now infamous for his quirky ideas about wanting gasoline prices to rise to European levels (e.g., $9 a gallon), and for hoping to shut down coal-fired electricity generation — along with approving crony-capitalist loans to the green lobbyists who gave us a subsidized and bankrupt Solyndra.

Obama has set the standard that the purpose of government is to facilitate his version of social change, regardless of protocols, laws, or traditions. And the result is a scandal-ridden administration that exceeds that of Warren G. Harding — one that has now convinced the public that their government agencies are not lawful, competent, or to be trusted.
 NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.
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6) The Brooklyn Slaughter and the End of Gotcha

We are way past playing games of gotcha. 

The Brooklyn police slaughter is just another example of how black racial hostility is now an everyday fact of life. Part of the national fabric.
So much so that no one even bothers to hide it. Not anymore. A few recent cases illuminate the bigger picture:
In Portland, Oregon, a sales clerk for Nordstrom tells his Facebook friends black people should kill one white cop for every white cop who kills a black person.

In Philadelphia, a paramedic said the same thing but took it one step further: He posted a picture of two black people holding a gun to the head of a white police officer.

Chris Rock tells NPR he instructed HBO to fill his audience only with black people.

Shrug. Shrug. Shrug.

In black churches across the country, Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- the black minister who made a career out of preaching racial resentment for 20 years to the future President of the United States at his Chicago church -- is received like a rock star. A messiah. A hero.
And he’s very, very busy -- saying the same thing that pretended to surprise our future president in 2008.

Wright’s former parishioner goes to the United Nations to confess (the rest of) our sins about race. At home he talks about “the justice gap” that results in black people going to prison at a rate that is astronomically out of proportion because of troubled “police-community relations.”
Which is defined as too many white cops catching too many black people breaking the law.

The attorney general chimed in with his own "We Shall Overcome" moment. He reminded us how police stopped him driving a car. It is hard to tell what he disliked more: Being pulled over, or not having the chauffeur to which was entitled since birth.

Shrug. Shrug. Shrug.

Congressman John Conyers tells his colleagues that white people and black people commit the same amount of crime, but the only reason black people are caught 6, 8, 10, 50 times more is because white police pick on black people.

Reporters bob their heads.

How many recent examples do you want? Pick a number between one and 10,000. That’s a start.

In Philadelphia, family court judge Wayne Bennett had a message for Thomas Sowell and me after Sowell wrote several articles about my book White Girl Bleed a Lot: The return of racial violence to America. Bennett said he would explain to us why white people are victims of black violence: After 400 years of slavery, white people deserve it, he said.

Judge Bennett is not an outlier like Farrakhan and here’s why: They are both mainstream.

On CNN, an entire panel on a news program raised their hands in surrender and chanted the new mantra of racial antipathy: 'Hands up. Don’t shoot.' When the blonde-haired descendent of a president of the United States joins in repeating a lie that encourages racial hostility, that is a sure-fire sign how deeply ingrained it is.

On NPR, a black graduate of Yale Law School tells the most popular podcast in America how she and another Yale law grad have fun cutting in line at movie theaters, then laughing at the white people too afraid to confront them.

A few minutes later, an African novelist details how she learned to become an American by becoming instantly and constantly angry at white people. Again in the Ivy League.

Every black newspaper and web site in America is full of one fairy tale after another of white privilege, white violence, white hatred. Open season on black people, anyone?

Meanwhile in the real world, in places like Baltimore, black mayors tell black police departments not to arrest black people. Then they say crime is down. And in the court room, black juries are loathe to convict black defendants. They call it a Bronx jury.

We can call it black privilege.

The mayor of New York brags about giving his son The Talk: White racism is everywhere. White racism is permanent. White racism explains everything. He counsels his son to care for his life when dealing with what an NAACP leader calls the police: Klan members without sheets.

Shrug.

None of this is news to a cop. Many experience racial hostility every day: In Chicago, black people point their fingers as if to shoot and taunt them with these letters: CCK. Chicago Cop Killer.
Around the rest of the country, cops know the words by heart to the anthem for the new racial hostility: F* the Police. They hear it all the time.
They do not act surprised. Or shocked.

After Brooklyn, neither should we.


6a)   Gangbangers Unbound


Rafael Ramos and Wenjin Liu died because of the campaign to vilify police. Even as the events of Ferguson begin to fade, the campaign it helped engender rolls on, with new reports of demonstrations and protests appearing almost daily. Last week Carol Jackson, a federal judge, restricted police tactics against protestors.  (This is kind of odd in and of itself. The last thing people want to hear about during the holidays is some hood getting his comeuppance. The same can be said about Sen. Feinstein’s “torture report” -- waterboarding is not likely to play well during the sleigh bell season. Is the left beginning to lose its customary excellent timing?)

What remains to be said -- and what has been widely overlooked -- is what lies behind this campaign, what exact role Ferguson -- and Staten Island, and Cleveland, all the way back to Sanford, Florida -- play in the agenda of the American left.


That there is an agenda is not in question. Presidents, attorneys general, sports and entertainment celebrities, and the media sphere as a whole do not get involved in small local disturbances for no reason. Stepping back, we can see a consistent thread of deliberately aggravated racial incidents throughout the Obama presidency, from the Gates incident through the Trayvon Martin controversy on to Ferguson. All featured intervention from Obama, and most from Eric Holder as well. You can search all you like among previous presidencies for comparable actions, but you will do so in vain.

To understand what’s happening here, we need to go back to the collapse of the civil rights movement in the late 60s. In exchange for control of the newly-ratified black vote, Democrats dramatically expanded government welfare both through ADC and Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” programs. As has often been pointed out, this led to the deterioration of the urban black family, with young single black women with children “marrying” Uncle Sam in preference to their hapless male opposite numbers, unwilling to complete their educations and unable to obtain decent employment. The result was generations of young black men deprived of any sexual or social purpose. These lost generations comprised a kind of bonus to the left, with black male drifters viewed as an urban proletariat that could be exploited for revolutionary purposes. (There has never been an actual “proletariat” in the European sense in the U.S.  The history of the American left can be viewed as a search for one, first among American workers in the late 19th century, then among foreign-born immigrant workers in the ensuing decades, devolving at last to rogue urban minority males.)

But instead of diligently studying their Lenin and Gramsci and doing what community activists told them, young blacks preferred loafing, dressing in outré styles, involving themselves in petty crime and sexual escapades, and boasting about both. There’s nothing new about this -- it has recurred throughout modern history. In Renaissance England and Italy, it involved the sons of the nouveau riche middle class, who in their satin and lace passed their time in drinking bouts and crime sprees in which quickness with the dirk or rapier (the 9mm of the era) played a large role. The only difference is that today it’s the government rather than merchant prince fathers paying the bills.

This new class of gangsters was a large factor in the crime explosion that racked the country from 1965 to 1995. Soaring crime rates were sharply curtailed by a return to traditional sentencing and crime control methods that had been put in abeyance thirty years previously. As a matter of course, this involved putting many black males into some type of controlled setting, ranging from juvenile detention to prison to parole. This led to cries of victimization on racial grounds from the elite and the media, along with claims that the United States had the largest prison population in either “history” or “the world”. Both claims are asinine -- the bulk of these “victims” are under parole and not behind bars.

This contention has set the agenda for the past twenty years of the racial debate. Measures taken to control crime are presented as ipso facto evidence of “systemic” or “institutional” racism. Both Obama and Holder, along with the vast majority of their contemporaries in both government and media, are true believers in this ideological construct.

This can be clearly seen in both serious racial incidents exploited by the administration, the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings. (The Cleveland and Staten Island cases, both of which involve truly egregious police activity -- it’s impossible to watch the Cleveland video without feeling sick disgust -- feature minority officers as major players and are thus unsuitable for racial exploitation). Both have been boosted to iconic status in hopes of sparking a mass response. Both adhere to near-identical narrative templates: Martin and Moore were simply making their way down public thoroughfares minding their own business when they were set upon by whites in positions of authority and mowed down due not to wrongdoing but simply the inherent viciousness and bigotry of the Caucasian race.

In the Martin case, this involved a cheerful, bright-eyed twelve-year-old waylaid and assassinated while trudging through a storm by an obese, Jewish-sounding wannabe cop. With Brown, it was an authority-crazed white cop confronting a skylarking “gentle giant”.

Both narratives disintegrated upon examination. Not only was George Zimmermann not Jewish (depriving the media of the opportunity of exploiting latent black anti-Semitism), he was of mixed black and Hispanic ancestry. Trayvon Martin was no whimsical early teen but a muscular eighteen-year-old obsessed by mixed martial arts.

The media did succeed in burying elements of the story, Martin’s criminal history in particular. Sundance, a blogger for Conservative Treehouse, solved a burglary in Sanford by means of Internet search engines alone, demonstrating not only that Martin had committed the crime, but that the local “school police force” (which is all you need to know about the Florida educational system) had suppressed the evidence.  (This was a factor in the resignation of Charles Hurley, chief of the “school police.”) By the time that Martin encountered Zimmermann, he was an experienced professional criminal.


Similarly, media reports swept aside the fact that Michael Brown had ransacked a local convenience store, attacked a clerk, and then waltzed off with his loot, a handful of cigarillos. It was this, and not rampant white bigotry, that led Darren Wilson to confront him.

Both media and the authorities must be aware of these facts -- plenty of effort was put into suppressing the first; the second is available to be seen on You Tube. This being the case, it follows that leftists in government are not concerned with the welfare of urban blacks in general, but one particular class of blacks, distinct and separate from all others -- black criminals.

Activists, both in government and media, desire to decriminalize black lawlessness. They wish to put black criminals beyond the reach of the law. They seek gangbangers unbound.

When this occurs, the left will once again have its black proletariat to manipulate as it sees fit. 

We’ve had a taste of the potential outcome in the response to the Ferguson grand jury announcement, with mobs clogging highways at various spots around the country. Since the 1960s, black riots have generally been limited to mass tantrums which burn their own neighborhoods, and destroy their own businesses. This is what occurred in Ferguson. But the next step will be to take the violence and destruction to white neighborhoods. This will come once the police are disarmed, with officers fleeing or hiding in their vehicles, overcome by thoughts of George Zimmermann and Darren Wilson. Throw in a few Jay Nixons unable to bring themselves to order the National Guard into action (reportedly on the advice of one Barack Obama), and you have a formula for the type of social cataclysm the left has been yearning after for a century or more.

Except for one thing: the United States does not have roots in peasant culture. In such cultures, attacks by outside forces -- Cossacks, dragoons, bandits -- are met with flight and whimpering of the “if the czar/doge/elector only knew, he’d surely do something” variety.

But the United States derives from the English yeomanry culture. Yeomen are not peasants. They are independent smallholders jealous of their rights and protective of their property. When pressed, yeomen tend to strike back, as a number of English monarchs learned to their dismay.
While diluted by the peasant cultures of southern and eastern Europe and more recently by Mexican and Central American immigrants, this yeomanry cultural mindset remains dominant in the United States. The sheer opportunity available here leads to generational progress, which breeds entrepreneurship.  Historically, the culture is expressed in times of emergency by the committee of vigilance. When law enforcement becomes corrupt or incapable, leading citizens and businessmen band together to form their own law enforcement organizations comprised of law-abiding citizen volunteers. The justice meted out by these groups is usually swifter and harsher than that of the conventional criminal justice establishment. They invariably step aside when a working legal structure is re-established. This pattern can be found in San Francisco in 1856 and 1877, in Montana in 1864, in New Orleans in 1901, and in Athens, Tennessee as recently as 1946. 

This is the American method. It’s misunderstood by the left, but what ability have they ever shown to truly understand anything? It may well turn out that American democracy can adapt itself even to most extreme products.

Of course, a price will be paid by urban American blacks. But when has the left ever cared about them?