Res Ipsa Loquitur…

Following are excerpts from an interview with Abbas Zaki, member of the Fatah Central Committee, which aired on the Al-Jazeera network on September 23, 2011.

Abbas Zaki: The settlement should be based upon the borders of June 4, 1967. When we say that the settlement should be based upon these borders, President [Abbas] understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go.

If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall – what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.


Who is nervous, upset, and angry now? Netanyahu, Lieberman, and Obama… All those scumbags. Why even get into this? We should be happy to see Israel upset.


If we say that we want to wipe Israel out… C’mon, it’s too difficult. It’s not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.



Facts About Muslim Americans (Americans Need to Know)

My very dear friend, Nader Hasan, is saying what Americans say they want to hear: be American and Muslim and proud of both, and no violence in the name of Islam, ever.

Nader’s vehicle is the Nawal Foundation. It stands for Muslim American patriotism, renunciation of any violence in the name of Islam, and dialogue with America to forge common patriotic ground. Please visit the website and the Facebook page. Americans need to support this foundation. It does precisely what a Muslim American organization needs to do.

Nader was interviewed by ABC’s Bob Woodruff last Friday. The interview is scheduled to appear this Sunday on Christiane Amanpour’s show at 10 am Eastern. Check it out.

And now here’s what you thought you knew, but didn’t, about Muslim Americans. It’s from the Gallup organization, perhaps the most sophisticated polling organization in the world. Gallup did extensive polling of American faith groups (Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic) on a wide range of issues. They published their results in Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future (August 2011). The results are revealing.

  • 93% of Muslim Americans says Muslims living in this country are loyal to the United States. Jews say so at 80%, No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic say so at 69%, and the rest in the mid to high 50s. This is remarkable because Muslims are more likely than other groups to be immigrants or first-generation Americans, i.e., without established roots in the country. It’s also remarkable because Jews — the putative antagonists of Muslims in Israel/Palestine — register such strong belief in the patriotism of Muslim Americans.
  • Muslim Americans are most likely by far (89%) to say individual attacks on civilians are “never justified” (compared to “sometimes” and “depends”). All other faith groups register in the 71-79% range. The specific phrase “suicide bombing” is not used here — but the results confirm that Muslim-Americans overwhelmingly say, “no way, never.”
  • Far more than any other faith group, Muslim Americans (78%) say military targeting and killing of civilians is “never justified.” (compared to “sometimes” and “depends”). All other faith groups register in the 33-56% range.
  • 81% of Muslims and 78% of Jews in America support a two-state-solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. (All faith groups register majority support for a two-state solution.)
  • Are Muslims more obligated to speak out against terrorism? Muslims are split, half and half. Most other faith groups are also split, except for No Religion/Atheist/Agnostic, which register 69% against more obligation to speak out. But all faith groups (except Muslims) say, by a substantial majority, that Muslims are not speaking out enough against terrorism. In other words, Muslims believe they are speaking out, but they’re not perceived as speaking out.
  • “It is possible,” says Gallup, “that Muslim-Americans organizations rely too heavily on websites and email lists to speak out against terrorism. … The websites where condemnations are posted are generally of most interest to U.S. Muslims and may not be seen by a wider audience.” Source: Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future (August 2011), p.37.
  • Are Americans prejudiced against Muslims? 60% of American Muslims say yes. Remarkably, 66% of American Jews say yes. Substantially fewer in any other faith group say yes. By far more Muslims (48%) say they have actually experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year. Distant seconds are Mormons (31%) and No Religion/Atheists/Agnostics (25%).
  • All faith groups register majority agreement with the proposition that they are respected when they practice their religion in public — but Muslims (35%) and Jews (24%) are much more likely than the other faith groups to disagree.
  • Muslim-Americans are the most respectful of other religions of any faith group.

What is most striking here is the opportunity. Muslim-Americans are in every sense good Americans, as we all best understand that term. But there has been too much silence and too little dialogue, too much hijacking of the narrative by extremists, and too much stereotyping.

When well over half the images of Muslims that Americans see in the media are of jihadist extremists, it’s no wonder many Americans harbor suspicions about Muslim American patriotism. But the jihadist extremists do not represent Islam. In fact, they are supported by a tiny fraction of Muslims worldwide, and an infinitesimal percentage among Muslim Americans. The jihadist extremists are a media phenomenon — nevertheless, to be sure, a dangerous phenomenon, but wildly unpopular among Muslims, and wildly exaggerated in their significance in Muslim communities.

It’s time to join common ground. The very real threat represented by jihadist extremists is best marginalized by Muslims and non-Muslims uniting in vocal opposition to their poison. And that is best accomplished by Muslims and non-Muslims talking to each other with mutual respect. And that is what my friend Nader Hasan’s Nawal Foundation is all about. It’s the driving issue, the supreme opportunity, of the 21st century.

UPDATE: Nawal Foundation founder Nader Hasan’s interview with ABC’s Bob Woodruff.

On Hamas Flotilla Nonsense

Kudos to Greece. It momentarily stopped the latest Gaza flotilla nonsense, for now.  That is responsible and real.

Greece announced a ban last week on vessels headed to Gaza and arrested the captain of an American ship for leaving port without permission over the weekend.

The “Gaza flotilla” has always been a publicity stunt – never about “humanitarian aid.” The murderous Hamas gets pretty much whatever it wants through the sieve of the Egyptian border, and elsewhere. And by the way, the Gazan population is better off than it has been for decades, thanks to the influx of all manner of aid – including through Israeli borders.

But Hamas won’t miss an opportunity to make Israel look bad. And so while its minions lob missiles into Israel hoping they kill Jews, it also orchestrates “flotillas” for “freedom” – ostensibly to “break the blockade” that “prevents humanitarian aid getting to Gaza.” And that is how profoundly stupid Hamas believes we are. And by the way, we are.

Hasna El Maroudi, 26, can be described as a “Dutch pro-Palestinian activist/journalist of Moroccan descent.” She had planned to join other activists aboard a Dutch ship to Gaza, until she learned that she would be going on a secret Hamas-organized mission, and cancelled her participation.

Read the rest.

The two-state solution – the solution – turns on marginalizing Hamas. Hamas-orchestrated flotilla stunts empower Hamas and push a Palestinian state further and further away.


Conservatives have rightly applauded President Obama for the successful operation that finally ended the murderous ambitions of Osama bin Laden. How could we not? Any American with any misgiving about Osama’s status as Public Enemy #1 probably needs to find a more arid residential zone.

But there’s “rightly applauded” — and there’s “Rightly applauded, with carping.” President Obama’s speech announcing the successful operation, according to some commentators, was entirely too self-aggrandizing, taking too much personal credit, making fat with the first-person singular.

Victor Davis Hanson at National Review Online, in a well-written carp about Senator and candidate Obama’s (then) opposition to all the policies that made the final operation against Osama possible, catalogued all of the president’s first-person references:

“Tonight, I can report … And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta … I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden … I met repeatedly with my national security team … I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action. … Today, at my direction … I’ve made clear … Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear … Tonight, I called President Zardari … and my team has also spoken. … These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief . … Finally, let me say to the families … I know that it has, at times, frayed…”

Other commentators take it a step further and contrast President Obama’s speech with President Bush’s speech upon the capture of Saddam Hussein. The speech was a gem. “All Iraqis who take the side of freedom have taken the winning side. The goals of our coalition are the same as your goals — sovereignty for your country, dignity for your great culture, and for every Iraqi citizen, the opportunity for a better life.” The president was gracious in his praise of others, sparing in the first-person singular.

But the contrast is unfair.

Republicans and Democrats have different things to prove to the American people. As to their military bona fides, their commitment to American security, their willingness to take controversial measures to save American lives, Democrats have much to prove — and naturally trumpet every initiative assisting that proof.

The corollary, the great maxim of world politics: liberals can do great conservative things, and conservatives can do great liberal things. Conservative Likudnik Menachim Begin could give away half of what was then Israel in exchange for peace with Egypt. No Labor prime minister could have done that. Labor prime minister Tony Blair could make a case for cleaning out the Middle Eastern cesspools of tyranny and oppression. No Tory prime minister could have done that.

That is why American wars have historically been prosecuted by Democrats. (Who can forget vice-presidential candidate Bob Dole’s snarling reference to “Democrat wars” in the 1976 vice presidential debate?) George W. Bush was a 21st-century Republican exception because of the shock of 9-11 and the seriousness with which America finally took its enemy. But Bush had no bona fides to prove. He could well afford to be (indeed, was well-advised to be) gracious and self-effacing at the moments of triumph.

But President Obama, being a Democrat who did in fact vocally embrace an ideological “humanist”/pacifist line in opposition to tribunals, renditions, Guantanamo, preventive detention, Predator-drone attacks, the Iraq War, wiretaps, and intercepts, yes, he had something to prove to Americans. And, wow, did he. One number: 180. And for gravy, on his own, without the advice or consent of Congress, he launched a military assault on Libya, with a NATO directive to kill the Qaddafi family. Now this is a president who timely figured out “whose ass to kick.”

The left isn’t calling him Hitler, as they did with the frankly kinder, gentler Bush, and the right is obliged to harrumph and say, okay, um, yes, well done. Most excellent 2012 plan.

So was there a bit of gloating, a tad too much self-aggrandizement in the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death? Yes, but that’s because a liberal was doing a great conservative thing.

Remember the shocker of the early 70s — President Nixon’s outreach to the Communist enemy China, still then governed tyrannically by the butcher Mao? The conservative Nixon was doing a great liberal thing. He was pretty proud of it.

Here’s how he announced it on July 15, 1971 — and if ever a thing spoke for itself, side-by-side with President Obama’s Osama speech, this Nixon speech surely does:

I have requested this television time tonight to announce a major development in our efforts to build a lasting peace in the world.

As I have pointed out on a number of occasions over the past three years, there can be no stable and enduring peace without the participation of the People’s Republic of China and its 750 million people.

That is why I have undertaken initiatives in several areas to open the door for more normal relations between our two countries.

In pursuance of that goal, I sent Dr. Kissinger, my Assistant for National Security Affairs, to Peking during his recent world trip for the purpose of having talks with Premier Chou En-lai.

The announcement I shall now read is being issued simultaneously in Peking and in the United States:


Premier Chou En-lai and Dr. Henry Kissinger, President Nixon’s Assistant for National Security Affairs, held talks in Peking from July 9 to 11, 1971.

Knowing of President Nixon’s expressed desire to visit the People’s Republic of China, Premier Chou En-lai, on behalf of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, has extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit China at an appropriate date before May 1972. President Nixon has accepted the invitation with pleasure.

The meeting between the leaders of China and the United States is to seek the normalization of relations between the two countries and also to exchange views on questions of concern to the two sides.


In anticipation of the inevitable speculation which will follow this announcement, I want to put our policy in the clearest possible context.

Our action in seeking a new relationship with the People’s Republic of China will not be at the expense of our old friends.

It is not directed against any other nation. We seek friendly relations with all nations. Any nation can be our friend without being any other nation’s enemy.

I have taken this action because of my profound conviction that all nations will gain from a reduction of tensions and a better relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.

It is in this spirit that I will undertake what I deeply hope will become a journey for peace, not just for our generation but for future generations on this earth we share together.

Of course, there are huge teams behind the “I” of presidential politics — but the “I” is nowhere more conspicuous than when presidents do things that should please their most virulent opposition.

On the blizzard of Osama bin Laden death narratives

Surpassing strange, the conflicting narratives of Osama’s demise — strange, but strangely comforting in an odd way. If the awesome United States government can’t even control the core narrative of its signature military success — can’t even keep the conflicting narratives down to two or three — then we are destined always to be ruled by men and women of middling incompetence who cannot properly be suspected of sinister designs.

In other words, embarrassing reality rules out intelligent conspiracy. Much like someone forgot to script the aftermath of Bush’s ill-fated “Mission Accomplished” banner, someone forgot to script the aftermath of Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” announcement. These are not nefarious people, these well-paid federal strategists who got excited about the death of Osama bin Laden and forgot to nail down what actually happened.

Was it a kill or capture mission? Was Osama armed or not? Did he resist or not? Did he use a woman as a human shield or not? We’ve heard it all.

The bungling of the narrative matters at many levels. This was a mission many months in the planning, and it was executed, so far as we know, supremely well. With all that planning, was no thought given to confirming what actually happened and being able to report what actually happened accurately? Was this really a mission planned with stupendous Navy SEAL excellence up to — and not a moment after — the death of Osama bin Laden?

Divided government? Were the Navy SEALS in charge of getting Osama bin Laden, and the clowns in charge of everything that happened thereafter? Is it really possible that our highest levels of federal government still haven’t grasped the importance of aftermath planning? Doh! [Head bonk.]

As I said, take some comfort in incompetence. It means, at a minimum, really scary smart people are not designing sinister manipulations of the American people. The folks in power are pretty much just like us.

UPDATE (May 11, 2011): Over at The Dividist blog, they don’t necessarily concur with my point, but they get it — with two pretty perfect quotes (that I wish I’d used):

The Dividist thinks that Kendrick is grasping for Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,” or the more succinct Bernard Ingham English version, “Cock-up before conspiracy.

Holocaust Remembrance Day and Osama bin Laden

I passed a momentous day in silence. Monday was Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew). It was also the day America celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden.

Both are fitting reminders that there is such a thing as evil, that human beings can still do horrific things to other human beings, that a true conscience can never rest.

It was a day foremost of sadness. Sadness that we are still here. Sadness that we are still a species who wantonly kill our own, who slaughter for politics and power.

Genocide on the scale of the Holocaust may be truly past — but the genocidal impulse is shamefully alive in the human breast.

The death of Osama bin Laden is closure. Nothing more, nothing less. The man orchestrated a great evil. He did so, moreover, with perverted distortion of a great religion. He proudly killed innocents, and he sought to kill the humanity of Islam, to conscript the religion into a program of hatred, hostility and murder.

He failed to convert Islam into Islamism — but we still fight because his ideology of murderous hatred did not die with him. The horror of 9-11 now becomes an ever so slightly more bearable thing because its mastermind is dead. But evil is not dead.

If evil could die, it would have died when the light shone on the death camps after World War II. It did not.

That is why we must always remember.

UPDATE (May 9, 2011): To the proposition that evil did not die with the death of Osama bin Laden, Charles Krauthammer fittingly adds that “Evil does not die of natural causes.”

Arab Spring, Democracy Fall?

Way back then, when the world was neatly divided between Cold War capitalists and communists, the Middle East was a minor battleground in that narrative. It mattered most whether the autocracies signaled allegiance to the capitalists or the communists. It mattered little whether their regimes acknowledged rudimentary human rights.

Given the unanimity of Arab police states, it was easy to conclude, mistakenly as it develops, that Arabs were somehow naturally disposed to police states, that democracy was alien to their sensibility. “Islam” somehow had something to do with this — it being, allegedly, a religion grounded in conquest and imposition of some misdirected notion of rigid Sharia law (though most of the regimes were secular).

But listen to this statesman at his best:

Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This “cultural condescension,” as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would “never work.” Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, “most uncertain at best” — he made that claim in 1957. …

It should be clear to all that Islam — the faith of one-fifth of humanity — is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries — in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.

More than half of all the Muslims in the world live in freedom under democratically constituted governments. They succeed in democratic societies, not in spite of their faith, but because of it. A religion that demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of self-government.

That was George W. Bush in November 2003, in remarks on the 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy. At the time, there was the Bush administration’s abiding faith, but little direct evidence, to contradict the “cultural condescension.” How times have changed.

It turns out that Arabs are no more disposed to police states than any other people. We’re witnessing that common Arab distaste for dictatorship in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Yemen, with perhaps more to come.

But here’s the kicker: in not a single one of these countries is democracy, as we understand that term, yet a given, even assuming the overthrow of tyranny that has already happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. We just don’t know. We know there are brave citizens in each of these countries committed to the rule of law, religious and speech freedom, the end of secret police repressions, and democratic reforms. We just don’t yet know whether they will prevail.

People power doesn’t always win. In 1956, Hungary people power was brutally crushed by Red Army tanks. In 1989, Chinese people power was brutally crushed in Tiananmen Square. Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution was brutally crushed by the Basij. Sometimes the bad guys win decisively.

Sometimes, even when the Bad Guy gets deposed, other very bad guys sometimes win the day — as with the French and Russian Revolutions. If, as Brent Scowcroft has suggested, the Arab Spring uprisings are about a “yearning for dignity,” then perhaps dignity is served by something short of democratic freedoms. The brutality of the dignity-yearning French Jacobins and the Russian Bolsheviks is instructive. Their ideological heirs may yet prevail in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

Our Western eyes are best riveted on core democratic values, whether or not they look “Western” in the execution. Democracy, by definition, reflects the attitudes of the people, and if those popular Arab attitudes are, as they appear to be, overwhelmingly hostile to America, Israel, Jews, Christians, basic women’s rights, basic gay rights, and basic religious freedoms, then the new regimes may look disturbing in some ways. President Bush spoke in 2003 to this reality as well:

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop — as did our own. We’ve taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice — and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military — so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions — for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty — the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people.

It behooves us, as we watch the unfolding of the Arab Spring, to stay focused on, and encourage with every tool at our disposal, these “essential principles common to every successful society.”