The assassinated Syrian general was in charge of securing the al Kibar reactor. He failed and was taken out. Who did it?
Obama has failed to convince many voters he has principles that he will not forsake. When one looks at the black community it finds a high crime rate, a high born out of wedlock rate, a high drop out of school rate and a high incidence of gang involvement and drug dealing.
Obama talks about responsibility but he talks about a lot of things and then reverses himself on many of them. If Obama truly was serious about helping his own race move beyond where they are he would acknowledge part of the solution starts with education and the rebuilding of a strong family unit.
Obama is opposed to better education because he is unwilling to disavow his liberal connections to and support from various teacher unions. Teacher unions refuse to acknowledge they are part of the problem. They would rather hold onto a bankrupt system than change. If Obama is for true change, as he says he is, he should start by changing his views of solving our broken education system , making it more competitive and embrace vouchers rather than proposing we throw more government money at a failure that does not offer a worthy product which, by any empirical standard fails, its end user customers.
Obama's speechifying has not convinced many he is sincere and when it comes to having specific values he comes across as another opportunist politician. (See 1 below.)
Iran's threat against Israel should be taken seriously by the world community. It is not.
Therefore, Israel will probably be compelled to act alone. If Israel attacks with conventional weapons it is highly unlikely such will be successful and the manpower and material cost could be high. Going nuclear is the only effective response but Israel, no matter who is leading the country, will not embrace that tactic initially. Therefore, Israel may be forced to go nuclear as a consequence of a subsequent Iranian retaliation.
You would think France, Germany, Great Britain and the U.S., fearing the above, would rather take it upon themselves to choke Iran through blockades and other meaningful sanctions. Their indifference should be deemed a chilling signal to Israel it is on its own. (See 2 below.)
Gwynne Dyer lays out the case why Israelis will re-elect Netanyahu who will continue the game of telling D.C. what it wants to hear and doing what he can to avoid establishing a Palestinian State. Consequently, Israel will be deferring the question of remaining a democracy or becoming an non-Jewish state.
Would the world remain indifferent if Israel threatened to wipe out the Palestinians as a solution to the inability to create a two state solution? Of course not. The world is only indifferent to Iran's threats against Israel. So what is the solution? Two Palestinians territories forming a disconnected state? Not likely. One Palestinian State connected by some gerrymandered road system or linkage? A more betable probability.
But why create a Palestinian State inhabited and ruled by those bent on destroying you because they prefer hate to peace? Therein lies the problem. Until that little issue is solved all proposals lead back to square one and the Gordian Knot. The Palestinians know demographics and delay favors them. (See 3 below.)
Is Mofaz raising the threat of Iran being near nuclear capability to enhance his chances at leading Kadima or is his assessment accurate? (See 4 below.)
1) The Race Issue Isn't Going Away
By JUAN WILLIAMS
With polls showing the presidential contest between John McCain and Barack Obama getting closer, a question is now looming larger and larger. Is skin color going to be the deciding factor?
Just last week, Sen. Obama warned voters that Sen. McCain's campaign will exploit the race issue by telling voters that "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills." A few weeks earlier, he said they will attack his lack of experience but also added, "And did I mention he's black?"
[The Race issue Isn't Going Away]
The McCain campaign did not counter the first punch, but after last week's jab -- fearing that Mr. Obama was getting away with calling his candidate a racist -- campaign manager Rick Davis responded to the dollar-bill attack by saying, "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."
Mr. Obama's campaign concedes it has no clear example of a Republican attack that expressly cites Mr. Obama's name or race. Yet in the last few days some Obama supporters were at it again, suggesting that a McCain ad attacking Mr. Obama as little more than a "celebrity," by featuring young white women such as Britney Spears, is an appeal to white anxiety about black men and white women.
The race issue is clearly not going away. And the key reason -- to be blunt -- is because there is no telling how many white voters are lying to pollsters when they say they plan to vote for a black man to be president. Still, it is possible to look elsewhere in the polling numbers to see where white voters acknowledge their racial feelings and get a truer measure of racism.
In a Wall Street Journal poll last month, 8% of white voters said outright that race is the most important factor when it comes to looking at these two candidates -- a three percentage point increase since Mr. Obama claimed the Democratic nomination. An added 15% of white voters admit the candidates' race is a factor for them. Race is even more important to black voters: 20% say it is the top factor influencing their view of the candidates, and another 14% admit it is among the key factors that will determine their vote. All this contributes to the idea that the presidential contest will boil down to black guy versus white guy.
Consider also a recent Washington Post poll. Thirty percent of all voters admitted to racial prejudice, and more than a half of white voters categorized Mr. Obama as "risky" (two-thirds judged Mr. McCain the "safe" choice). Yet about 90% of whites said they would be "comfortable" with a black president. And about a third of white voters acknowledged they would not be "entirely comfortable" with an African-American president. Why the contradictory responses? My guess is that some whites are not telling the truth about their racial attitudes.
A recent New York Times poll found that only 31% of white voters said they had a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama. That compares to 83% of blacks with a favorable opinion. This is a huge, polarizing differential.
But polling can be tricky. In May, a Pew poll asked voters about Mr. Obama but did not give them the option of saying they are undecided. In that poll, whites split on the candidate, 45% saying they had a favorable opinion, 46% unfavorable. When white voters had the option of being undecided, as they did in the Times poll, 37% of whites said they had an unfavorable opinion of him, but 26% said they were undecided.
To win this campaign, Mr. Obama needs to assure undecided white voters that he shares their values and is worthy of their trust. To do that he has to minimize attention to different racial attitudes toward his candidacy as well as racially polarizing issues, and appeal to the common experiences that bind Americans regardless of color.
Mr. Obama has shown an unprecedented ability to cross the racial divide in American politics. He did particularly well in managing caucus states, such as Iowa, where highly energized supporters, especially idealistic young white supporters, minimized the impact of negative racial attitudes with passionate participation.
But the white Democratic caucus voters in Iowa, where there are relatively few racial issues, are decidedly more liberal than white voters nationally. In primary states from New Hampshire to Texas and California, Mr. Obama lost when one of two things happened. Either working-class white voters did not participate in polls, or some white voters lied and told pollsters they planned to vote for him before casting their votes for another candidate.
There are going to be more of those wobbly white voters in November. The size of the white vote in a general election race dwarfs the white vote in the Democratic primary. Based on the 2004 presidential contest, whites make up about 77% of voters and blacks 11%.
In the Democratic primaries there were states, especially in the South, where blacks made up nearly half of the electorate. But in the general election there are no states where blacks make up so large a percentage. Even in Southern states such as Georgia and North Carolina, where blacks made up about a quarter of the vote in the last presidential election, it will be an upset if Mr. Obama manages to win. Those states have a history of Republican dominance in presidential contests. Even an energized black vote is unlikely to make Mr. Obama a winner anywhere in the South, although some Democrats hold out hope for Virginia.
In 2004, John Kerry had a 46% favorable rating among white voters, barely better than Barack Obama's. But Mr. Kerry lost. Mr. Obama needs to do better with whites. But the white voters' view of him is still clearly unsettled.
Polls show white voters struggling to identify with him as a fellow American who, to quote Bill Clinton, is able to "feel your pain." When the New York Times poll asked whether Mr. Obama cares about "the needs and problems of people like yourself," 70% of whites answered "a lot" or "some." But 28% of whites said Mr. Obama cared about them "not much" or "not at all." Compare that with the 72% of black voters who said Mr. Obama cared about them "a lot." The same Times poll had Mr. Obama leading Mr. McCain by six percentage points, 45-39, but trailing by nine points among white voters, 37-46.
After Jesse Jackson's vicious comments about Mr. Obama, some political strategists suggested that a split with Mr. Jackson and his racially divisive politics could help Mr. Obama with white voters. But polls have yet to reveal this.
Could a Jackson-Obama split cause black voters to lose enthusiasm for him -- dividing their loyalties between the two most prominent black political voices of this era? Opinion surveys do not indicate this is likely. Polling done by Gallup just before Mr. Jackson's outburst indicated that 29% of black Americans chose Mr. Obama as the "individual or leader in the U.S. to speak for you on issues of race." Mr. Jackson came in third with only 4% support (behind Al Sharpton, who had 6%). Last year, a Pew poll focusing on racial attitudes found 76% of blacks judged Mr. Obama a "good influence," a full eight points higher than Mr. Jackson.
Jodie Allen, a senior editor at Pew, wrote recently that a poll Pew conducted last November showed clearly that "the black community is at least as traditional in its views as the larger American public." Blacks in the Pew poll were just as likely as whites to take a hard line opposing crime (as long as black neighborhoods are not unfairly targeted), to condemn the shocking number of children born out of wedlock and express disgust with the violence and misogyny in rap music.
Mr. Obama needs to hammer home these conservative social values to capture undecided white voters. He might lose Mr. Jackson's vote. But he won't lose many black votes, and he will win the undecided white votes he needs to become America's first African-American president
2) Time for the World to Stand Against Iran
By Bob Feferman
I recently returned from a trip to Israel. During my stay there, I was reminded of a lesson from my days as a political science major. It is the aphorism, "Where you stand depends upon where you sit".
When you sit in Tel Aviv and admire the beautiful seashore, you also read the local newspapers and have to imagine the unimaginable. This city could one day be the target of an Iranian Shahab-3 missile carrying a nuclear warhead. Then you instinctively understand what every Israeli already knows: An indifferent world may soon force Israel to defend its right to exist with a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. That's why the world must finally take a stand and impose tough sanctions against Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Over the past five years, representatives of the European Union have tried to negotiate a reasonable solution to the standoff with Iran over its nuclear program. More recently, the negotiating team has expanded to include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. Iran has consistently refused to cooperate. It has turned down the most recent generous offer of incentives, and it continues to enrich uranium in total defiance of three United Nations Security Council resolutions. Yet, the world's response to Iranian defiance has been weak and ineffective.
As each day passes, it becomes more obvious that Iran's real intention is to develop nuclear weapons. Why does Iran need nuclear weapons? Iranian leaders have given us the answer- they seek the destruction of Israel- yet the world has chosen to ignore it.
Unfortunately, some analysts naively believe that Iran's threats to Israel are a recent innovation of the current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The truth is that the goal of the destruction of Israel has long been a fundamental pillar of Iran's foreign policy. Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, said in a sermon on Iranian television on December 15, 2000, "Iran's position, which was first expressed by the Imam Khomeini and stated several times by those responsible, is that the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region."
However, there is no doubt that Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has taken this madness to a new level. His repeated calls to "wipe Israel off the map" were also accompanied by a government sponsored conference titled "A World Without Zionism" (October, 2005). His most recent outrage was calling Israel "a stinking corpse" on the occasion of its 60th birthday.
Israelis cannot ignore these threats and for good reason. They know that Iran backs its threatening words with deeds. This became evident during the summer of 2006. Following the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, proceeded to fire 4,000 rockets into the cities of northern Israel. These rockets, which were supplied by Iran, sent a clear message to every Israeli: When Iranian leaders speak of the destruction of Israel, they need to be taken for their word.
That explains why Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned that the international community must not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. To reinforce these warnings, the Israeli Air Force recently held a massive air exercise over the Mediterranean with 100 warplanes. The message was clear: If the international community does not effectively deal with Iran, then Israel will do it alone.
For Israelis, the Iranian nuclear threat is seen through the experience of the Nazi Holocaust. This outlook was relayed in a rare interview on the CBS program "60 Minutes", (April 27). Then commander of Israel's Air Force, General Eliezer Shkedy, the son of Holocaust survivors, shared his views on the Iranian threat in light of the Holocaust with reporter Bob Simon.
"They are talking about destroying and wiping us from the earth...We should remember. We cannot forget. We should trust only ourselves."
Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, the international community has turned a blind eye to Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and its repeated threats to destroy Israel. With the exception of the United States, business as usual has been the guiding principle of most nations. The lure of profits from Iranian oil and natural gas has blinded the world to the immorality of doing business with the world's leading state sponsor of terror. Iran's defiance of three United Nations Security Council resolutions to continue its pursuit of nuclear weapons demands a radical change in policy.
It is time for the United Nations to live up to the reason for its creation: preserving world peace. Whereas the current United Nations sanctions on Iran are weak and ineffective, strong economic sanctions can force Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program without a shot being fired. After all, Iran is highly dependent upon the outside world to develop its oil and natural gas fields and even to refine its oil into gasoline.
If Russia and China prevent effective action in the Security Council, then sanctions can be implemented outside of the U.N. by the European Union together with the United States.
In addition, the American people must demand that their state's public pension funds divest from investments in foreign companies doing business in Iran.
Israel must not be put into a situation where it has to act unilaterally. If Israel is forced to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities, oil prices will skyrocket and economies will falter. If that happens, then the blame must be placed squarely on an indifferent world.
The world's leading state sponsor of terror must not be allowed to acquire the ultimate weapon of terror. If the world continues to ignore this threat, then it must understand that Israel has no alternative but to defend its right to exist, and the lesson of the Holocaust, Never Again, may be implemented very soon.
3) The politics of indecision in Israel
Gwynne Dyer | Arab News
I am proud to be a citizen of a country where the prime minister can be investigated like an ordinary citizen, said Ehud Olmert on July 30, announcing that he would resign as prime minister in September to defend himself against corruption allegations. He should be even prouder: Three of Israel’s last four prime ministers were under investigation for corruption when they left office.
To be fair, it was a stroke, not the corruption charges he was facing, that finally drove Ariel Sharon from office, and Benjamin Netanyahu subsequently beat the charges against him after being forced out as prime minister. Politics in Israel is a blood sport, and only the strong survive. Not one of the country’s last five prime ministers has managed to serve out a full term of office.
What happens next is hard to predict. Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, and Shaul Mofaz, former army chief of staff and now transportation minister, are the leading candidates to succeed Olmert as leader of the Kadima party, but even if the succession struggle does not split Kadima and wreck the ruling coalition, an election is probably no further away than the spring of 2009. The likely winner of that election is Bibi Netanyahu, who is once again the leader of the right-wing Likud party.
Indeed, the main thing that has kept Ehud Olmert in office for the past two years, despite the disastrous miscalculation of his 2006 war against Lebanon, has been the fear on the center and left of Israeli politics that the only alternative was a return to power by Netanyahu. And that, in turn, is a reflection of the great division that paralyses Israeli politics: between those who think the “demographic danger” requires major compromises on territory, and those who do not.
The demographic danger is that Israeli Jews will end up as a minority within the territory ruled by Israel. It is almost a reality already: The 600,000 Jews who lived in Israel when it was founded in 1948 have grown to six million, but despite the huge number of Palestinians who fled to surrounding countries in the various wars, a higher birth rate means that there will soon also be six million Arabs living in territory under Israeli control. And then there will be seven million, and then eight million... Only a little over a million Palestinian Arabs still live within Israel’s 1948 borders and actually have Israeli citizenship, but the rest are not far away, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have been under Israeli control for more than 40 years. If Israel does not find a way of turning those territories into a separate Palestinian state, then sooner or later they will shift from supporting the “two-state solution” to demanding the one-state solution.
All of Palestine was a single colony under British rule. The partition of 1948, though mandated by the United Nations, was never enforced, and the real division of Palestine, accomplished by war, had very different borders: The Palestinians ended up with about one-sixth of the territory, not half. Then all the rest of former Palestine was conquered by Israel in 1967 — and although the Israelis never describe what happened as the reunification of Palestine, they promptly began building Jewish settlements all over the captured territories.
So in a sense, the single political space of the old British mandate of Palestine has been recreated, although only Israeli citizens can vote for the government that decides what happens there. Since the Oslo Accords of 1992, there has been a “Palestinian Authority” that exercises some control over some of the occupied territories, but it is not an independent state. Moreover, for the past year there have been two rival Palestinian “governments” in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
Olmert was absolutely clear: If this single political space persists, and the Palestinians become the majority population within it, they will stop asking for their own state. They will just demand the vote — and Israel will have to choose between granting them their demand and ceasing to be a Jewish state, or rejecting it and ceasing to be a democracy.
That dilemma has been implicit ever since the Israeli conquests of 1967. It is now explicit and imminent. In fact, it is already the position of the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip. So Olmert wanted to make a deal that gave the Palestinians their own state, in order to preserve an Israel that was both Jewish and democratic.
He never even came close, partly because the Palestinians are now deeply ambivalent about the two-state solution, but mainly because the Israeli electorate has never been able to choose between the two options. Too many Israelis want to hang onto the territories and preserve a Jewish democracy, and do not accept that those goals are incompatible. Benjamin Netanyahu was their standard-bearer in the late 1990s, deliberately sabotaging the Oslo Accords when he was prime minister, and he still is today.
Olmert, for all his faults, backed the two-state option. Netanyahu does not, although he says whatever is necessary to placate Washington, and he will probably be back in power within a year. The long paralysis in Israeli politics will continue.
4) Mofaz: Iran on way to major nuclear breakthrough
Minister Mofaz says effort to curb Iranian nuke program is 'race against time and time is winning,' calls for new UN sanctions; Kadima leadership candidate also tells Washington audience talks with Syria must continue
Iran is heading toward a major breakthrough in its nuclear program, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said on Friday.
"As soon as 2010 (Iran) will have the option to reach (uranium production) at military levels," he told an audience in Washington. However, Mofaz said he supported diplomacy and spoke of other options as "last resort".
US, Israel discuss diplomatic push on Iran / Reuters
Transportation Minister Mofaz voices displeasure at recent American engagement with Tehran, urges Bush administration to stand firm on demanding Islamic republic abandon nuclear projects with bomb-making potential
"It is a race against time and time is winning," Mofaz said.
Mofaz said another UN Security Council resolution with new sanctions will be needed this year if Iran does not meet the deadline for responding this weekend.
"We must insist on Iran meeting the timetable set," Mofaz said in his remarks at the Washington Institute. "The red line should be that there is no uranium enrichment on Iranian soil."
Mofaz: Peace push with Syria should go on
Mofaz also said that Israel's peace efforts with Syria should continue, without preconditions, after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert steps down.
"My opinion and my goal will be to continue to speak to the Syrians without preconditions," Mofaz said in a speech.
"The way is - peace for peace," Mofaz added. "I will do my best to achieve peace with our neighbors ... our first priority should be the Palestinians but there are some problems, some obstacles," he said.
Mofaz, the former IDF chief of staff and defense minister, further reiterated his commitment to peace by referring to his family.
"As a father who has three children in the military, I want peace for them," he said.
Syria has demanded the return of the Golan Heights before serious talks can take place. Mofaz has come out against any plan by Olmert to return the Golan. Olmert says he had made no such undertaking to the Syrians.
At this time Mofaz is considered one of the two top Kadima leadership candidates, along with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Should he win the upcoming Kadima primaries, he may be able to form an alternative government and become Israel's next prime minister.