… in perfect safety.
Salman Rushdie does it. As author of The Satanic Verses, which set Muslim mobs raging in the streets of Muslim lands, including those of western Europe, he had to be defended by British conservatives and patriots, because free speech has always to be defended. Many did it only reluctantly, since they didn’t share his leftist political views, or didn’t like his books, or both. But they did it.
Yet Rushdie – an immigrant from Pakistan – had before then judged Britain to be a severely intolerant, “racist” country, though, he conceded, the state of affairs was “not yet” like the Third Reich:
Britain is not Nazi Germany. … Auschwitz has not been rebuilt in the Home Counties. I find it odd, however, that those who use such absences as defences rarely perceive that their own statements indicate how serious things have become. If the defence for Britain is that mass extermination of racially impure persons has not yet begun, or that the principle of white supremacy has not yet been enshrined in the constitution, then something must have gone very wrong indeed.
When Salman Rushdie said this in 1982 in a BBC radio talk, he was as free as any man in Britain. Some years later, in 1989, he did indeed become the victim of intolerance, not British but Islamic, when the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa was issued in Iran condemning him to death for having written The Satanic Verses. From that moment on, the British authorities, at the expense of the tax-payers, provided Mr Rushdie as a matter of course with constant protection. He then got to know some members of the police force better than he had known any when, in that broadcast speech of his, he had said that the British police “offer threats instead of protection”; yet when he published the speech in a book of essays in 1991, he did not qualify the accusation – or any of his criticisms – by so much as a footnote.
That was all a long time ago. Has he grown any more just, any more perceptive of the truth, as he’s grown older?
The answer seems to be – not much.
Ron Radosh writes at PJ Media:
Leave it to Salman Rushdie to bring back the Left’s favorite stratagem: moral equivalence. During the Cold War, leftists used to say the following: “Sure, the Soviets are doing bad things, but so is the United States.” Those a bit more to the left would advance the argument, and say: “The Soviets do terrible things, but the U.S. is responsible, since its leaders view them, as Reagan did, as ‘the evil empire.’ Since we won’t accommodate their just demands, they have to respond to us with hostility.” Those even further to the left would push the analogy even further, arguing: “The Soviets may do some bad things, but at least they stand on the side of progressive change. The U.S., on the other hand, oppresses Third World peoples and supports right-wing reactionary regimes all over the world.”
A good example of the old moral equivalence was to equate the Gulag in the Soviet Union, in which hundreds of thousands were imprisoned, starved to death and executed in massive frame-ups, with McCarthyism in the United States. During the so-called McCarthy era, relatively few were imprisoned or lost their livelihoods, and many actually guilty of being actual Soviet agents portrayed themselves as innocents accused because of their political views. Yet the Left in America argued both were the same.
Now Salman Rushdie has a lot to be wary of. After the Iranian revolution, the late Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa along with a reward for anyone who murdered him. Because of his novel The Satanic Verses, Rushdie had to go into hiding in different safe houses for a number of years, while under the protection of the British government. Intellectuals and writers in the West rallied to his defense. Eventually, Rushdie came into the open, moved to the United States, and became a favorite in the celebrity world, as well as a best-selling novelist.
In his New York Times op-ed last week, Rushdie complained that … those who stand against abuses of power or dogma are viewed suspiciously.
But where? He gives examples from China, Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia – states not noted for tolerance.
Ron Radosh goes on:
His examples are correct, and telling. … .
But then, Rushdie writes the following, and it deserves letting you see his own words, because they are so preposterous:
“America isn’t immune from this trend. The young activists of the Occupy movement have been much maligned (though, after their highly effective relief work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, those criticisms have become a little muted). Out-of-step intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and the deceased Edward Said have often been dismissed as crazy extremists, “anti-American,” and in Mr. Said’s case even, absurdly, as apologists for Palestinian “terrorism.” (One may disagree with Mr. Chomsky’s critiques of America but it ought still to be possible to recognize the courage it takes to stand up and bellow them into the face of American power. One may not be pro-Palestinian, but one should be able to see that Mr. Said stood up against Yasser Arafat as eloquently as he criticized the United States.)”
Let us take up his two major points. Occupy Wall Street protestors were handled by the authorities with kid gloves. When they took over the park in New York City over a year ago, although it was privately owned, they were allowed to camp out, disrupt and close down local businesses, and engage in anti-social and horrendous behavior — from public defecation to rape of women — without consequences. Rushdie mentioned Occupy for one reason alone: to show his heart is on the Left so that he can get his comrades in that camp to listen to him about how Islamists persecute those they disdain.
It is his second point that is most ridiculous.
Rushdie acknowledges that Chomsky is “a crazy extremist”. But, Ron Radosh rightly says -
Chomsky does not have to show much courage to take on all U.S. administrations and to oppose them as oppressors and imperialists.
Or any at all.
Indeed, he has become an international intellectual superstar, applauded and heralded by the Left at home and all of our enemies abroad, who shower him with high lecture fees and give him a gigantic audience abroad and at home. He is continually on the lecture circuit, has the support of both student audiences and assorted Hollywood and music world celebrities, and writes best-selling books, for which he has no problem finding a publisher. Bellowing “into the face of American power” is hardly an offense that has landed him even in any white-collar prison, not to speak of a Gulag or Gitmo.
As for the late Edward Said, his critique of “Orientalism” became the favored paradigm to explain U.S. policy in the Middle East, and influenced scores of leftist professors of Middle Eastern politics. As for his supposed standing up to the late Yasser Arafat, anyone who recalls what Said’s complaint about Arafat really was will remember that he was angry that Arafat appeared to play the game of engaging in negotiation with his enemies, rather than reject such posturing and commit himself exclusively to armed struggle against Palestine’s supposed oppressors. His former friend Christopher Hitchens pointed out in his own memoir that Said’s “low point was an almost uncritical profile of Yasser Arafat that he contributed to Interview magazine in the late 1980s”.
One might also recall Said’s trip to the West Bank during the first intifada, when he and his young son joined the mob in throwing rocks at Israelis, something of which he was quite proud. To Said, any action taken by Palestinians, no matter how violent, was “resistance.” Again, Hitch well summed up what Said believed, which was that “if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.” And that is why Said eventually rejected Arafat. He thought that the PLO leader was heeding the agenda of the U.S., by his very action of negotiating with its leaders.
To equate those who are truly courageous — like the brave Chinese dissidents who risk their lives to speak up for democracy, or critics of radical Islam who speak up knowing what their future is likely to be if they live under the rule of Islamic regimes — with critics of U.S. policy who live in our democratic republic is more than preposterous. It is the opposite of moral courage. A man of words and letters, Salman Rushdie should by this time be able to know the difference.
The U.S. armed the Afghans and helped them drive out the Soviets, rescued Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from the psychopathic sadist Saddam Hussein, bombed Christian Serbs to rescue Muslim Kosovars and Bosnians, liberated Shiite Iraqis from Hussein, liberated Afghans from the brutal Taliban, poured billions of dollars of aid to terrorist Palestinian regimes, used our jets to help the Muslims in Libya free themselves from the psychotic Gaddafi, and supported in word and coin the jihadist, America-hating, anti-Semitic Muslim Brothers in Egypt so that Muslims can enjoy “freedom and democracy.” And that’s not all. We have incessantly protested our respect for the wonderful Islamic faith, censored our official communications and training programs to remove any references to jihadism or the Islamic theology that justifies holy war, euphemized jihadist attacks like the Fort Hood murders as “workplace violence,” invited imams to pray in the White House, filled our schools with curricula praising Islam and its contributions to civilization, scolded and prosecuted writers or cartoonists who exercise their First Amendment right to criticize Islam, abandoned “profiling” as a technique for identifying possible terrorists trying to board a plane or enter the country, hired as advisors to the FBI, the Pentagon, and the CIA Muslim apologists who recycle blatant lies and distortions – we have done all this liberating of Muslims and flattering of them and their faith, and they still don’t like us, and they still want to kill us.
We’ve taken this list of What America Has Done For Muslims from an article by Bruce Thornton. He compiled it to refute the oft-repeated fallacy that Muslim violence is an understandable (even condonable) reaction to “Western bad behavior”, such as – in Muslim eyes – “colonialism, imperialism, greed for oil, support for Israel, disrespect of Islam and Mohammed, the War on Terror that has demonized Muslims”. He doesn’t indicate approval of any of the actions he lists, but refers to them only to show that accusations of American ill-treatment of Muslims are untrue; that in fact America has treated Muslims tremendously well.
Far too well. That is the point we want to stress. More than that, we say America should not have done any of those things. (With the exception of destroying Saddam Hussein; a worthwhile achievement not because Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were “rescued” from him, but because the destruction of a monstrous tyrant is not a thing to be regretted.)
By going to the aid of the Kosovar terrorists against the Serbs, and the Afghans against the Soviets and the Taliban; by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the terrorist Palestinian regimes; by inviting Muslims to give policy advice in government departments; by defending them against criticism and praising them in the schools, America has not only flattered Muslims, but boosted their arrogance, endorsed their claim that they are owed much by the West in general and America in particular. Worse, America’s willingness to expend blood and treasure in their causes has positively encouraged them to carry on with their own “bad behavior” since that is what has brought them such rewards. If they are intensifying their jihad against the non-Muslim world – and they are – it is very largely because the are finding it profitable to do so. Some jihadists might be jailed; a few might even be executed; but for the most part Islam is being treated like the maiden needing to be rescued by the brave knight who will slay any dragon threatening her.
Islam is the self-declared enemy of the West, of America and what America stands for: liberty, tolerance, equality before the law.
Until Islam is treated as the enemy and not as a victim needing rescue and largesse, it will continue to kill and maim Americans, disrupt their lives, deprive them of their nearest and dearest, and constitute an ever intensifying menace.
But will America stop playing Lady Bountiful and St. George to its mortal enemy, and act like the great power it is? Will the present Islam-loving administration be got rid of and sane pro-American leadership take over? Will America win this war?
Ever since May 1, 1950, the Palestinian Arabs have been kept in a state of welfare dependency by the United Nations. On that day the UN created a special sub-organization called the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, its acronym the unpronounceable UNRWA. It was established specially to provide for the Palestinians, not for any other of the millions of refugees scattered through the Third World. It gave them monthly food rations and schooling. By far the greater part of its funding came from Western nations, one third from the US.* The Soviet Union contributed nothing.
Israel contributed to UNRWA, though dispensing with its services, preferring to assume responsibility for the integration of all the Arabs who remained within its borders.
The UNRWA schools taught hatred of the United States, Israel and Jews in general. In 1968 these school were taken over in all but name by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO. UNRWA accepted the stipulation of the PLO Covenant that it was a “national duty to bring up Palestinians in an Arab revolutionary manner”, and “all means of information and education” must be used to forge a national consciousness and prepare the young Palestinian to die in the armed struggle for his homeland.
Students could find themselves refused graduation certificates if they did not join a militant “fedayeen” group. For instance: an UNRWA vocational training school at Siblin, near Sidon in Lebanon, awarded qualifications only to members of Arafat’s own fedayeen group, Fatah. One room in the school was reserved as an office for Arafat. His portrait hung on the wall above a swastika. On the upper storey were the classrooms, and there teaching materials were stored; among them quantities of PLO propaganda, and – in 1982 – poems praising the assassins of Anwar Sadat – the Egyptian leader who had gone to Jerusalem to make a peace agreement with the Israelis.The lower story was used as an arms store. Katyusha rockets, rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades, mines, and Kalashnikov sub-machine guns were stacked – under the students. There were also stores of military uniforms and manuals. Most of the arms were made in the USSR, but some were from Sweden, and there was also some NATO equipment. Posters and maps on the walls of the classrooms showed the final solution of the Palestinian problem – the abolition of Israel.
For the most part, UNRWA education of the young was an education in active aggression. This was the case even in the ordinary UNRWA schools, where general school curricula were followed, but all subjects were used as vehicles of propaganda.
To sum up, the UNRWA schools have been raising generations of jihadis, dedicated to the destruction of Israel by terrorist means.
They have been teaching, urging, encouraging, assisting violence – until early this month, when their own headquarters in Gaza were attacked.
This is from the Independent, April 5, 2013 – a British newspaper plainly sympathetic to the Palestinians, and to Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs them in Gaza:
The United Nations has suspended significant operations in Gaza after demonstrators protesting against cuts to the agency’s programmes in the Palestinian enclave breached the organisation’s headquarters.
There have been several demonstrations against cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)’s aid work – specifically cash hand outs to Gazans – in recent weeks but the protests escalated on Thursday when several people stormed its main compound in Gaza city.
In response, UNRWA said it would close its relief and distribution centres until it receives guarantees from Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, of greater security.
Robert Turner, UNRWA’s director of operations in Gaza, said that the agency, “respect[ed] people’s right to peaceful demonstration but what happened today was completely unacceptable: the situation could very easily have resulted in serious injuries to UNRWA staff and to the demonstrators. This escalation, apparently pre-planned, was unwarranted and unprecedented. These demonstrations affect our ability to provide much needed service to the Palestine refugees in Gaza and – because they also targeted the Gaza headquarters building – our operations in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.”
UNRWA’s work is vital in Gaza. The organisation provides assistance … to more than 800,000 people in the isolated territory, which is subject to tough controls imposed by both Israel and Egypt. However, UNRWA has also protested that it has a funding deficit of $67m and that without more money it will be forced to scale back its activities.
The agency receives money from a number of western donors, including the US and the European Union, and often there is a shortfall between what is pledged and what is subsequently paid. It is believed that there is a shortage in both UNRWA’s general fund, and its emergency project funding, which competes with other disaster appeals. …
Gaza’s population – between 1.5 and 1.7 million – is growing exponentially and is expected to top two million within seven years. More than a million people are classified as refugees.
The children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original refugees, and who knows how many generations still to come, must be supported as victims, their status as dependents preserved. Originally, the idea of keeping them in a state of beggary – as a reproach to the conscience of the Israelis and the West – came from the heads of the Arab states. The UN embraced it. And no nation questions it, not even the United States.
UNRWA has a difficult relationship with Hamas, despite providing a lifeline for as much as half the population in Gaza. There have been rows about what is taught in UNRWA-sponsored schools [!?], and last month UNRWA cancelled the running of the annual Gaza marathon after Hamas refused to allow women to compete.
UNRWA has apparently discovered, after 63 years of working with Muslims, that they discriminate against women.
UNRWA officials are in high dudgeon. Just think of it – their headquarters attacked quite violently, so that people may have been hurt!
Hamas is now sorry for offending them.
Hamas yesterday urged UNRWA to reconsider its decision to suspend its work. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, said the group condemned any violence against UNRWA but said the decision to close the food centres was “unjustified”.
“People have the right to protest against UNRWA’s cuts, but at the same time we condemn any violence against the organisation. When the administration of UNRWA asked the Palestinian security services to intervene, they stopped the chaos. We ask UNRWA to reconsider its decision and [reiterate] the importance of UNRWA’s role in helping Palestinian refugees,” he added.
Will UNRWA forgive Hamas? Will the teaching of terrorism resume – perhaps a little more militantly?
Our guess is, it will.
PS. The UN must be destroyed.
* From 1948 to 1950, the US donated half the money for the relief aid of the refugees. Thirty-one years later, in the year 1981 – a year which fairly indicates the proportion of the burden shared by some United Nations members through UNRWA – the US contributed $462 million, 32%; the European Union 13%. So nearly half came from America and Western Europe. Britain gave another $10 million in addition to its contribution through the EU. Sweden and Japan gave about the same. Western Germany gave an additional $5 million. The only Arab states that contributed sums in the millions were: Saudi Arabia, $6 million; Kuwait – the richest country in the world then, reckoned by per capita income – $1 million; Libya, 4.25 million; Iraq, $3.5 million. Proportionately, in comparison with these oil-rich countries, impecunious Israel was far more generous giving just under half a million. Turkey and Nigeria gave $200,000 each; Syria, $168, 000; the United Arab Emirates, $800,000; Yemen $2,000. The Holy See gave $12,500. The only Communist countries that donated anything at all were Rumania, $3,300; Yugoslavia, $25,000; China, $3,500. Now, another thirty-two years on, there is no end in sight to the dependency of the Palestinian “refugees”. Will they never be allowed – or compelled – to grow up?
In Islam, to be raped is to commit a crime punishable by death. Similarly, if a nation is subjected to an act of war by an Islamic state, the victim nation must be forced to apologize and pay the aggressor compensation.
The West’s idea of justice is different. Or has been until very recently.
This is from Front Page, by Andrew C. McCarthy:
To keep the tepid support of his country’s essential but icy ally, Israel’s prime minister would have to do what he’d spent nearly three years steadfastly refusing to do. Netanyahu would have to apologize to a state sponsor of terrorism that openly, notoriously, and enthusiastically supports Hamas.
ThHe would have to apologize to Turkey — to its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama’s close friend and confidant.
He would have to apologize for military action taken in his country’s righteous defense against violent jihadists with close connections to Erdogan’s ruling party and, seamlessly, to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as al-Qaeda. …
The violent jihadists in question were from the grotesquely named “Humanitarian Relief Foundation” or IHH (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı). The IHH is an Islamic “charity” based and basted in the Islamic supremacism of Erdogan’s Turkey. It is part of the Union of Good (sometimes referred to as the “Union for Good”), a jihadist umbrella enterprise that was designated by the United States government, during the Bush administration, as an international terrorist organization. Under the direction of a top Muslim Brotherhood honcho, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Union of Good’s main purpose is to transfer funds to Hamas, another designated terrorist organization. Besides being the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, Hamas Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradaw boasts Turkey, our NATO “ally,” as its chief benefactor.
In late May 2010, IHH terrorists attempted to break Israel’s lawful naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The blockade is necessary to stem the flow of weapons to Hamas, Gaza’s rulers having responded to Israel’s painful peace offering — its withdrawal in 2005 from territory it had captured in a war of Arab aggression — by stepping up their terror campaign against the Jewish state. In seeking to break the blockade, an act of war, the IHH was willfully abetted by the Turkish government.
Israeli officials had pleaded with their Turkish counterparts to prevent the terrorists from embarking on their “peace flotilla.” Members of Erdogan’s government and party not only turned a deaf ear; they sold the jihadists the offending vessel, the Mavi Marmara. They allowed the jihadists — armed with flares, night-vision goggles, 150 bulletproof vests, 200 gas masks, several dozen slingshots, 200 knives, 20 axes, 50 wooden clubs, 100 assorted iron bars, etc. — to board the ship without inspection. When the inevitable high-seas confrontation occurred, the Israeli Defense Forces tried to subdue the terrorists with paintball guns. The IDF resorted to lethal force only after being premeditatedly and savagely attacked — with several of its sailors seriously wounded. In that response, nine of the terrorists were killed.
Squeezed by Obama, Netanyahu would have to apologize for the killing of those terrorists.
More often than not these last five years, Israel’s prime minister has felt President Obama’s heel on the back of his neck. In stark contrast, Turkey’s prime minister has enjoyed Obama’s warm embrace. In Ankara, Erdogan hosts the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah as foreign dignitaries. He accuses Israel of turning Gaza into a “concentration camp.” Only days before Netanyahu’s coerced apology, Erdogan — whose history of anti-Semitism is infamous — publicly pronounced that Zionism is a “crime against humanity.”
This heinous accusation, “crime against humanity,” has become something of a verbal tic with Erdogan. He cavalierly applies it to Israel’s self-defense from thousands of jihadist rockets fired into its territory, and to the suggestion by European governments that the millions of Muslims who’ve immigrated to the West ought to assimilate into their new societies.
Nevertheless, Obama openly regards Erdogan as one of his most trusted partners on the world stage. …
With Obama on the phone egging him on, Netanyahu abased himself. Not only did he apologize to Turkey, he further capitulated to Erdogan’s demand that Israel pay compensation to the Mavi Marmara “victims.” After the apology, Erdogan briefed his Hamas confederates and announced he would be visiting them in Gaza next month. Predictably, he has since announced that Netanyahu’s humiliating act of contrition will not be sufficient to restore diplomatic relations between the two nations. Just as predictably, other Islamic states are now preparing demands for apologies and compensation for sundry exercises of Israeli self-defense against jihadist terror.
There has been no shortage of speculation about why Israel caved. Perhaps it was anxiety over Iranian nukes and Syrian tumult — the hope that rapprochement with Turkey would give Washington more maneuvering room to protect Israel’s interests. Perhaps there were financial considerations, including billions potentially to be made in the exportation of natural gas. None of these explanations is very satisfying.
They are not satisfying at all. None of them is sufficient reason for Netanyahu to apologize to the despicable aggressor Erdogan. Netanyahu should not have done it no matter what the threat or what the bribe. His apology was a submission to a lie. Making it, he abased and betrayed his people.
For Andrew McCarthy, however, that is not the worst thing about the disgusting affair. It is even “beside the point”.
For Americans, what matters is not what this episode says about shifts in Israeli policy. It is the sea-change in U.S. counterterrorism that most concerns us. …
The Obama administration is actively engaged in the financial support of Hamas — sluicing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Gaza, fully aware that it is under Hamas’s totalitarian control. In this, too, Obama is in concord with Erdogan, whose regime has similarly backed Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars — news that comes to us courtesy of Turkey’s grateful friends at the Union of Good.
Until 2009, U.S. policy was straightforward: Hamas was a terrorist organization and America would not deal with it unless and until it acknowledged Israel’s right to exist and convincingly renounced violence. All that has changed, though.
Under Obama’s governance, Islamic-supremacists are bankrolled even as they act on their pledge to destroy Israel. Israel, in turn, is expected to apologize.
Our military’s killing of Osama bin Laden, complemented by the controversial drone campaign, has given President Obama cover. The occasional terrorist is taken out, the administration beats its chest, and few notice that al-Qaeda is resurgent, that the administration spends far more time appeasing Islamists than killing terrorists, and that Hamas has won.
Hamas has won. Erdogan has won. IHH has won. Islam has won. Obama has won.
Netanyahu has handed victory to the enemies of his nation and of America, and trampled on human dignity, truth, and justice.
To befriend a creep like Erdogan, and make Americans pay billions to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is moral perversion. Obama is a moral pervert.
And Netanyahu – what is he?
What is a person who lets a pervert have his way with him in return for cash or an IOU?
Ed Driscoll interviewed Monica Crowley, whose book What the (Bleep) Just Happened Again was recently published. You can find the whole interview on video and in transcript here at PJ Media.
Monica Crowley’s opinions of Obama and his policies are very close to our own. So we are posting some extracts from the transcript, letting her speak for us, while we nod in the background – only interjecting a few words.
On transforming America:
I really believe that Obama’s objective from the beginning — and it’s not just him, it has been the objective of the far left for a very long time — … is to change the very nature of America. America, the gift that the Founding Fathers gave to us … a nation that was exceptional because it was based on an idea. And the idea, instead of being based on the ambitions of men … was centered on the concept of limited government and individual freedom.
And those two things are deeply interrelated. You can’t really have tremendous individual freedom when you have a big government. The idea of the last few decades has been to try to transform that fundamental Americanness, that great American idea that has given us tremendous prosperity and tremendous power, [and made] America into a great nation [and] a good nation. … The far left has been on this mission to strip away both … the limited government part and the individual liberty part.
And for many years they had success in putting up these big, huge entitlement pillars, dependency pillars, pillars that would change the way the government related to the individual; big redistributionist pillars like Social Security and like Medicare, like Medicaid. But they were never able to sort of put the whole thing together and do a dramatic socialist overhaul of the country until they found their perfect marriage of man and mission in Barack Obama.
And so from the beginning, and from day one of his first term, Obama and the far left set out to change the very nature of America, to change our character. And by that I mean strip away the self-reliance that underpins limited government and individual freedom. Strip that away and replace it with massive dependency; dependency on government.
So over the last four years, what they have done, and they have largely succeeded, is change the balance between the government sector and the private sector, change the relationship between the government and the individual, and created and expanded this massive dependency society. …
Obama and the far left have had enormous success in changing the character of this country. …
On the state of the GOP today:
I think over the next four years, certainly, we are going to see — we’re going to see federalism come to the fore. We’re going to see that Tenth Amendment rise.
And the reason is … Republicans now control thirty out of fifty governorships. We control the vast majority of state houses across the country. And it’s been a very interesting phenomenon to watch, because those offices are closer to the people than the presidency and then Washington, Congress, the Senate, and so on.
So when people have a choice, when they think that their vote will actually matter to their direct lives, meaning governor, state houses, they’re going more conservative. They’re going toward conservative governors, not even just Republican governors, but conservative governors, in most states. …
And so what I think you’re going to see is a real tension — and we already see this tension now, but I think it’s going to increase — between Washington, the federal government, and the states. And we’re going to see the states, as they’re starting to do now, on gun control, on immigration, … on a whole range of issues, you’re going to see the states pushing back and asserting their rights on behalf of the people that put them into office.
Taking on the federal government is a really tough thing, especially now, because it’s so big and it’s so powerful under Obama. But I think you’re going to see an increase in states going forward with their own agendas and pushing back on Washington. …
On foreign policy:
I actually believe [Obama] wants Iran to get a nuclear weapon. He has done nothing to stop Iran. Those sanctions that his administration put into place are toothless. The Iranians have found every way to get around them.
He has done nothing but stall. And the Iranians have used that time to go ahead and a) slaughter their own people in the streets when they revolted in 2009; and b) try to acquire a nuclear weapon. And they are getting there with every passing hour … This president has done nothing to stop them, on purpose.
I would also say on the Arab Spring, this is a man who wants to see the rise of the Islamists. He wants to see the rise of the Islamists across the board, and that is why he threw over a long time ally of the United States, Husni Mubarak in Egypt. That is why he paved the way for Muammar Gaddafi, who yes, was a longstanding terrorist, but over recent years Gaddafi was trying to reach out to the United States and providing us with crucial intelligence on the movements of Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood across Northern Africa. And now we see what a problem that is. This president then went to facilitate his overthrow as well.
Why hasn’t he moved in Syria, where you have, what, upwards of maybe 40,000 people slaughtered under the Assad regime? Well, it’s because he’s been waiting for the Muslim Brotherhood to be poised and ready to take control there as well.
This is a man who knows exactly what he is doing. It is incredibly dangerous. It is completely antithetical to American interests. And now here we are. And we see it with China. He hasn’t taken on China. China continues to be a currency manipulator, getting very aggressive along the Pacific Rim, with very close allies of ours, like Japan and South Korea. Obama hasn’t lifted a finger. North Koreans just tested another nuclear weapon. No consequences from the United States. …
Yes. Obama wants victory for Islam in the world as much as he wants victory for socialism in America. A big step towards Islamic victory would be the defeat, and so the destruction, of Israel. He has to seem to be somewhat supportive of Israel, somewhat even-handed in the – totally defunct – “peace process” ostensibly still taking place between Israel and the Palestinians. But meanwhile he lets Iran build a nuclear arsenal because the quick and reliable way to destroy Israel would be by nuclear attack.
This president came into office with a far left ideology of wanting to take down America a notch or two or ten abroad, because we are not worthy. America’s full of sin from the past, and we have had our way around the world, and now it’s time we pay the price.
So I would argue, and I argue in this book, that his whole philosophy is all being carried out and it’s all deliberate and it’s all on purpose. There is no incompetence. There’s no naivete. It’s being carried out exactly as he’d like to see it. …
On the collusion of the media:
The philosophy of the Obama administration is we will do what we want, Constitution be damned. And we know that nobody’s really going to cover the bad stuff, because they’re all out to protect us. They’re with us ideologically. They’re never going to allow the first black president to get into any real trouble. They will protect us. So therefore, we will get away with everything.
And they have. And like I said, with a few exceptions of certain news outlets that have covered Fast and Furious, it really hasn’t gotten covered. And they believe that when the bad stuff happens, whether it’s Fast and Furious or Benghazi or any of the range of unconstitutional maneuvers this president has done, that they can just wait it out, because it doesn’t get covered. So they wait it out, they stonewall, they don’t give any explanations. They continue to smile, and the story blows over. …
These scandals [the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal, and the scandal of the Benghazi murders] under Barack Obama actually have an American body count. Watergate, nobody died. So you tell me which one is the more serious. They have covered up these scandals. They go as high as Eric Holder, possibly the President of the United States, and still, no sense of curiosity from the mainstream media. It’s astonishing. And they ought to be ashamed. …
On how badly Obama is wrecking America:
Assuming he does leave in 2017… I think the extent of the damage we don’t even know yet. I think we have a sense of the extent of the damage, but we really have no idea [of]the destruction that he has wrought and is wreaking on this country.
This is a man who spoke in 2008 about his dream of the fundamental transformation of the nation — his words, not mine — the fundamental transformation. He also talked about remaking America — again, his words, not mine.
And he would invoke the phrase “a more perfect union.” And you know, part of his genius [or Alinskyite training - ed] four years ago was, in allowing those statements to kind of float out there on their own, and allowing the American people to hear those statements and assign to them their own meaning, what they thought he meant by those phrases.
What I argue in the book is, don’t pay attention to what you think he meant. Pay attention to what he meant by it. Now we have four years of evidence as to what he meant by the fundamental transformation of the nation. And that is he intends to change us and is changing us, very quickly, into a European-style socialist state.
The result of that is, as we see in Western Europe, after decades of socialism, we see stubbornly and permanently high unemployment. We see sovereign debt crises that are imploding nations, if not the entire continent of Europe. We see immigration policies out of control, where these nations have lost their very identities, because they have been overrun by all kinds of different ethnicities, including radical Muslims that have taken over a lot of these countries, or at least exerting a lot of influence there.
So you see the results that are absolutely devastating in Western Europe. No economic growth. We see that now here. We have seen it. All of those results of decades of socialism building up in Western Europe, that is imploding all of those once-great nations. We see it happening here on a much more accelerated scale, because this economy is so much bigger, this country is so much bigger than any country in Western Europe.
So it’s happening a lot faster here. And when he leaves office, I do think that this country — the tentacles of redistributionism that he has wrapped around every major pillar of this economy, from the industrial base, to the financial sector, to the energy sector to the healthcare sector, those tentacles will be wrapped so tightly after eight years, that it will be almost impossible to unwind without great, enormous economic pain and dislocation. I think that’s where we’re heading. …
The laws of economics will kick in, and everything will come to a screeching halt.
Inflation, interest rates going up, higher taxes, no jobs. You’re seeing it happening across Western Europe. The debt crisis will kick in and it will be brutal, and it will affect every single person.
You can’t spend the last four or five years — actually longer than that, with the easy money policy from the Fed — you can’t spend all this time pumping trillions of dollars down into the system and not expect inflation to kick in big time. That is actually — massive inflation is actually a tax that affects the middle and lower classes more than anybody else. That is coming. …
We have had brave Republicans like Paul Ryan put out budget after budget and plan after plan saying, guys, this is foreseen. We can see this coming. And here’s how we fix it before the crisis hits. But people don’t want to hear it. People vote them out. People — people take the courageous folks and throw them out on their ears. And they don’t listen until they have to. And by that point, the pain so intense that it is going to be an absolute nightmare.
Can it be repaired? Yeah. But I fear, I really worry, that we’re going to have to hit rock bottom before we even get to that point. I hope that’s not the case. But I fear that it may be.
John Kerry, newly appointed Secretary of State, starts off badly.
In an article at Commentary, Rick Richman explains:
The State Department said yesterday it is seeking release of $495.7 million in U.S. funds for the Palestinian Authority designated for 2012, and another $200 million designated so far for 2013 – all of which is currently subject to a congressional hold imposed after the PA sought UN recognition as a “state” and began yet another “reconciliation” with Hamas. At yesterday’s State Department press conference, spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked to “give us a sense of where things are with Congress” on this issue and responded that the administration is working with Congress to get the money released to the PA, because:
“[W]e think it’s very, very important that they remain effective in supporting the needs of the Palestinian people … So we’re continuing to work through this. I would simply say that the Secretary feels extremely strongly that it is time now to get this support to the Palestinian Authority.”
Ms. Nuland said Secretary Kerry has been raising this issue “in every conversation he’s had with his colleagues” in Congress. But if it is very, very important to get the money to the PA, and if Secretary Kerry feels extremely strongly that now is the time, the people he should be talking to are not in Congress. They are in the PA.
The PA can get the money released by assuring the U.S. that they will (1) not take further steps to change the legal status of the disputed territories outside negotiations with Israel (since the Palestinians promised in the Oslo agreement not to take “any [such] step”); and (2) not reconcile with an organization [Hamas] designated by the U.S. government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT), and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) — particularly when the PA promised in the Road Map to dismantle the FTO/SDT/SDGT, which has now waged two rocket wars against Israel and refuses to endorse any of the Quartet requirements for the “peace process.”
If it is not important to the PA to provide such assurances, it is hard to see why it is important for the U.S. to provide more money (much less nearly $700 million), nor why anyone would feel that now is the time to do it. On the contrary, this would seem to be the appropriate time to communicate that violating promises – and refusing to promise to abide by them in the future — has consequences. The administration should be telling the PA it feels extremely strongly that it is very, very important to provide the assurances now. Instead, it is pressing Congress to waive them.
In his first week in office, the new secretary of state has just sent a strong message that he believes the PA’s refusal to confirm its two central promises should draw no penalty. He thinks the problem is not the PA, but the Congress.
Heckuva job, John.
The Western powers have been conniving with the Arab states for 65 years to keep the Palestinians (Arab refugees displaced by wars of aggression the Arab states launched against Israel) in a state of dependency. The Arab states keep them as refugees, refusing to integrate them, so that their condition might be a permanent reproach to the conscience of Israel and the West. Not to their own conscience. They don’t have such a nuisance of a thing. And the Western powers have let them do it, played along, salving that conscience of theirs not by insisting that some of the 21 Arab states assimilate them, but by giving the refugees charity, so making a beggar nation of them. And the Palestinians have made themselves into a nation of terrorists – not against their fellow Arabs who are responsible for their abject condition, but against Israel.
John Kerry, it transpires, wants them to continue in this deplorable way. Living on handouts. Lobbing rockets at Israel. From schools, hospitals, houses, so retaliation will hurt children, the sick, and helpless families.
So the Western conscience will be wrung again.
How long can this state of affairs continue? How many generations must be sacrificed to Arab hatred, revenge, and spite, with the generous support of the Western powers acting out of well-meaning stupidity?
The Arab reply is: “Until Israel ceases to exist.”
Obama and his three new appointees, John Kerry at State, Chuck Hagel at Defense, and John Brennan heading the CIA, will do all they can to weaken Israel. While pretending that they are Israel’s friends, acting in Israel’s own best interests – if only those dumb Israelis could see it.
We wait to see if our prediction is right. We’d be more than happy to be proved wrong.
Here is Bret Stephens delivering a captivating speech.
The video runs for over 40 minutes, and deserves to be watched for every moment of it.
Jillian Becker comments on just one point:
“It is a cruel misunderstanding of youth to imagine that the heart of man’s desire is to be free. The heart of man’s desire is to obey.”
Bret Stephens quotes this aperçu from Thomas Mann’s huge novel The Magic Mountain. It is spoken by one of the characters, and Stephens believes it to be true.
Yes, many people – even most perhaps – like to be told what to do. They seek leaders, authorities who can and will instruct and direct them, and take responsibility for what then happens; who will give them purposes and causes and reasons, a meaning for their existence.
But it is also true that there is in human nature a perpetual, irrepressible longing for freedom, for self-determination; an impulse to shake off shackles and restrictions, to spread wings and fly.
The contradictions within human nature contend with each other in The Magic Mountain. It is the great novel of the twentieth century, and I endorse what Stephens says about its relevance to our time. A monumental achievement, it is one of the rare works of fiction to which the word “profound” can be – must be – applied.
The story is set in and around a Swiss alpine sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis.
The most important themes Thomas Mann deals with are raised in a debate, carried on day after day through many seasons, between two men who have come to the mountain to be cured of the disease: an Italian rationalist named Settembrini and a Jewish Jesuit (sic) named Naphta. They argue in the presence of the protagonist of the novel, a young man who comes in good health to visit a cousin undergoing the cure at the sanatorium, but stays too long and becomes infected. Settembrini and Naphta vie with each other to win him over, each to his own vision. Their argument is a dialogue of reason with faith, of humanism with nihilism, of science with mysticism, of candor with dissimulation, of restraint with voluptuousness, of classical skepticism with romantic passion, of Life with Death. The statement Stephens quotes is made by Naphta. Youth “feels its deepest pleasure in obedience”, he opines. He means obedience not to the benign orders of a just elder, but to a sinister force: “The order for the day is terror.” Finally, their altercations and rivalry lead them to a duel with pistols. Settembrini, unwilling to kill, fires into the air, upon which Naphta is convulsed with fury and turns his gun on himself. It is the completely logical, only possible, denouement.
Naphta is not, of course, the author’s mouthpiece, though Mann provides him with powerful arguments. Settembrini’s case, though a far better one, is not allowed to be indisputably right in every respect – idealism and reality never being in perfect harmony.
The book ends with the outbreak of the First World War. The reader is brought to ponder the idea that that vast slaughter was an outcome of a deep Settembrini-Naphta conflict in the heart of European man. A failure of reason and an infection of incurable depravity prepared a feast for Death.
A final note: Thomas Mann based Naphta on Georg Lukács, the Hungarian Communist, literary critic, theatre director, and Commissar for Education and Culture in the short-lived red republic set up in Hungary in 1919. In my own slight satirical novel L: A Novel History, I based my anti-hero Louis Zander also on Georg Lukács. My fascination with him was aroused in the first place by the character of Naphta. This post is linked to the Facebook page of L: A Novel History, where much more about the book may be found.
The Washington Times reports:
Essam al-Erian, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, called on Egyptian Jews to leave Israel to the Palestinians and return to their own homeland.
“Their presence in Palestine contributes to the Zionist occupation of Arab lands, and every Egyptian has the right to live in his country — nobody can deny that,” Erian said …
“Egyptian Jews should refuse to live under a brutal, bloody and racist occupation stained with war crimes against humanity,” Erian said.
How do such people say such things with a straight face? Are they cynical beyond all shame, or are they utterly without a sense of irony?
From the Jewish Virtual Library, a Division of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise:
Between June and November 1948, bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter of Cairo killed more than 70 Jews and wounded nearly 200. In 1956, the Egyptian government used the Sinai Campaign as a pretext for expelling almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscating their property. Approximately 1,000 more Jews were sent to prisons and detention camps. On November 23, 1956, a proclamation signed by the Minister of Religious Affairs, and read aloud in mosques throughout Egypt, declared that “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state,” and promised that they would be soon expelled. Thousands of Jews were ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government.
From the Historical Society of Jews from Egypt:
Egyptian Jews being expelled from Egypt in 1956 under the direction of President Gamal Abd El Nasser … had to sign a pledge of NEVER TO RETURN, leaving behind their possessions, amounting to billions of dollars. All their assets have been placed under sequestration and confiscated by the government of which no restitutions have been made. The policy of sequestration and confiscation was in effect from 1948-1967. During the war of 1967 many Jews were mistreated and placed in jails for no reason other than they are of the Jewish faith. Egypt has yet to apologize. Today, with a handful of Jews left in all of Egypt, our request to salvage and rescue our heritage and religious articles has been denied by Egypt stating it all has been placed under the auspices of the department of Antiquities, and therefore may not leave Egypt.
From The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
Why was the story of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries suppressed? How did it become a forgotten exodus? …
Although they exceed the numbers of the Palestinian refugees, the Jews who fled are a forgotten case. Whereas the former are at the very heart of the peace process with a huge UN bureaucratic machinery dedicated to keeping them in the camps, the nine hundred thousand Jews who were forced out of Arab countries have not been refugees for many years. Most of them, about 650,000, went to Israel because it was the only country that would admit them. Most of them resided in tents that after several years were replaced by wooden cabins, and stayed in what were actually refugee camps for up to twelve years. They never received any aid or even attention from the UN Relief And Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or any other international agency. Although their plight was raised almost every year at the UN by Israeli representatives, there was never any other reference to their case at the world body. …
Arab statements in the UN General Assembly and the New York Times reports prove that the intention to expel these Jewish populations preceded the establishment of Israel and the plight of the Palestinian refugees. …
What, then, happened to the nine hundred thousand Jews of the Arab countries?
In a few years, Jewish communities that had existed in the Middle East for more than 2,500 years were brutally expelled or had to run for their lives. … Following the Partition Resolution of November 1947, and in some countries even earlier during World War II, Middle Eastern Jews were the targets of official and popular incitement, state-legislated discrimination, and pogroms – again, all this before the massive flight of the Arabs from Palestine. …
In a new book Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel Through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner* by Lela Gilbert (an intelligently pro-Israel enthusiast), stories of the Jews’ expulsion from Egypt are related by individuals who were robbed of all their possessions and expelled from the country.
“Levana Zamir [now living in Tel Aviv] … explains that she, her parents and her six brothers were … part of an affluent community … Then the “catastrophe” struck.
“On May 14, 1948,” Levana recalls, “we were sleeping. All of a sudden, exactly at midnight, people were knocking very, very hard on our door. We woke up and I saw ten Egyptian officers in their black uniforms. I wasn’t afraid because my parents were there and my mother was smiling to comfort me. But the soldiers opened everything. They went through everything. They were searching for something, but we never knew what. The next day I went to school (Levana attended a Catholic elementary school). The headmaster of the nuns came to me and said, ‘They took your uncle to prison!’
“My uncle lived in a big villa. He, my father and another brother owned one of the largest printing businesses in Cairo. I rushed home and asked my mother, ‘Is it true? Is he a criminal?’ My mother told me, ‘He’s not a criminal. It’s only because we are Jews’.
“So then it was even more a trauma for me. I thought to myself, I am also a Jew! I too could go to prison!”
Eighteen months later, when her uncle was released from prison like many others — on the condition of permanent expulsion — Levana and her family fled Egypt, leaving behind their sequestrated assets and possessions.
Today, Joseph Abdel Wahed lives in California … He recalls:
“I was 12 years old in May 1948,” Joseph says, “living in Heliopolis (a Cairo suburb). I remember the words of Azzam Pasha, the head of the newly formed Arab League, talking about the founding of Israel. He said, ‘This will be a war of extermination that will be likened to the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades!’ The very next day, the Egyptian army (and four other Arab armies) headed towards the new state of Israel to ‘throw the Jews into the sea.’ It was supposed to be a slam dunk, but they lost.
“By then everything had begun to unravel and our previously secure lives in Egypt had fallen apart. The Jewish section of Cairo, the Haret el Yahud, was bombed every year until 1949 …
Many were killed by the bombs. Jewish establisments were attacked, and individuals assaulted.
“The authorities sometimes played a part in these assaults, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which began in the late 1920s under the leadership of Hassan el Banna. In 1967, about 400 Egyptian Jews, including my uncle and other relatives were thrown in concentration camps. …
And one more:
Another man whose family fled Egypt, Yossi Ben Aharon, now lives in Jerusalem. A career Israeli diplomat, Ben Aharon served as Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office under Premier Yitzhak Shamir and represented the Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for nearly a decade in the United States. In a recent interview, Ben Aharon made it abundantly clear that the explosive violence against Jews in the Arab world following May 14, 1948 was no coincidence. He has collected a number of statements of lethal intent made by Arab leaders, calling for the death and destruction of Jews in their Arab homelands in case of the UN Partition of Palestine. …
Ben Aharon explains, “Immediately after the UN approved the Partition resolution on November 29, 1947, Arabs attacked the Jews throughout the Middle East, including Palestine. Yet, since 1949, the Arab states, together with Palestinian organizations, have mounted an intensive propaganda campaign, based on a rewriting of history, in an attempt to shift responsibility for the Palestinian refugee issue on to Israel. They describe the events of 1948 – and the estimated 762,000 Arab refugees – as an ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Israel. The facts of history point to the opposite: ethnic cleansing was perpetrated by Arab governments against their Jews, as witnessed by the fact that 850,000 Jews were forced to leave the Arab countries, while more than 4 million Arabs continue to live in geographic Palestine, including more than a million in Israel. Now, sixty years after the events, the time has come for the historical facts to be recognized and for justice to be done.
“Jews who were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world did not get one penny from the UN, while the Palestinians have received over $50 billion (including funds from the European Union) since 1950. They still are receiving financial assistance.”
Lela Gilbert gives much the same figures as most authoritative sources, according to which the number of Jews living in Egypt at the start of 1948 was estimated between 85,000 and 100,000, and today there are fewer than 50.
She also writes about the fate of the Coptic Christians since the so-called “Arab Spring” was sprung in Egypt.
A massacre took place on Sunday, January 30  at 3 PM in the village of Sharona near Maghagha, Minya province. Two Islamists groups, aided by the Muslim neighbors, descended on the roof of houses owned by Copts, killing eleven Copts, including children, and seriously injuring four others. The two families were staying in their homes with their doors locked when suddenly the Islamists descended on them, killing eleven and leaving for dead four other family members. In addition, they looted everything that was in the two Coptic houses, including money, furniture and electrical equipment. They also looted livestock and grain.”
There have been many more murderous attacks on Christians in Egypt since then. In particular, Lela Gilbert records this appalling event:
In September, 2011, thousands of Muslims were incited by a Salafi imam during Friday prayers to attack a nearby church. The church has constructed a dome on its 70-year-old building … with legal permission from Aswan’s governor. But the iman was offended, and the mob he stirred up ransacked and torched the church … The following month[October 9, 2011], when protestors (most of them Copts) gathered on Cairo’s Maspero District to complain of ongoing attacks against Copts, including the recent destruction of churches, they were ferociously assaulted by the Egyptian military. … At least 27 protestors were killed. The military has refused to take responsibility for the deaths, even though videos of the day’s atrocities circulated widely on the Internet – including a gruesome scene in which military vehicles mowed down and crushed protestors – along with volumes of eyewitness testimony.
See our post More acts of religion, October 15, 2011, which is about this massacre. It is accompanied by this picture:
Our account of the protest, its causes, and the killings ends with these words:
The “Arab Spring” is the same old everlasting Muslim season of misery and death.
In the light of all that, it doesn’t take dyed-in-the-wool skeptics (like us) to work out that Essam al-Erian’s invitation to Jews of Egyptian origin now living in Israel to return “to their homeland” is an invitation to come and be killed.
Postscript: A new report brings no surprise. “The Islamic Jihad has called on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Essam el-Erian to resign from his role as adviser to Morsi and to apologize to the Egyptian people for his statement asking Egyptian Jews to leave Israel and reclaim their properties. … Reaction to El-Erian’s statements was furious. ‘We shall fight them vigorously if they return,’ said Mohamed Abou Samra, the leading figure in the Islamic Jihad movement. “Islamic Shariah says they deserve to be killed. … Their return will be over our dead bodies. We will continue fighting the Jews until the liberation of Palestine or Doomsday.”
*Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel Through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner by Lela Gilbert, Encounter Books, New York, 2012
Pat Condell’s latest video. Unmissable.
This is from the Times of Israel, by David Shamah:
One of the results of the recent Operation Pillar of Defense operation against Gaza rocket-launching terrorists was the enhanced reputation of Israeli hi-tech, thanks to the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system. People in Israel – and around the world – looked on in awe as Israeli anti-missile missiles plucked attacking rockets out of the sky, effectively vaporizing them before they could fall, whole or in parts, over populated areas.
Israel, of course, has kept mum over the details of the technology that goes into Iron Dome which defends against low-altitude short-range missiles that are fired from Gaza and Lebanon, as well as its other missile defense systems, including David’s Sling and the Arrow (defense systems against medium- and long-range missile threats, respectively).
But a rapt audience at Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Center this week [last week of December, 2012] got to hear some of the details of how Iron Dome was able to repel some 90 percent of the terrorist rockets fired at Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense that it was activated against, directly from one of the people most responsible for the design, development, execution, and implementation of Iron Dome. And while Natan Barak, CEO of mPrest Systems, could not reveal any of the system’s “top secrets,” he presented some interesting details about Iron Dome, the heart of which was developed by his company, and some hints of what future Iron Dome upgrades will look like. …
mPrest started life as in 1996 as mPrest Technologies, and was supposed to develop solutions for wireless technology. That company was a victim of the dot-com boom, and folded in 2002; at that point Barak, along with his partners Eli Arlazoroff, Reuven Gamzon and Alexander Arlievsky (all of whom are still at the company), reformed it the following year as mPrest Systems, and began developing what would eventually become the command and control brain of Iron Dome. After trying to raise money to advance development, Barak and his partners decided in 2010 they would be better off selling out to Rafael (Israel Military Industries), which owns 50% of mPrest’s shares. …
“The defense establishment was in a bit of a panic after the thousands of rockets that hit the country after the Second Lebanon War in 2006. It was decided that a reliable missile defense system was needed to meet the missile threat, which everyone knew would be repeated in time.” …
A full Iron Dome system consists of mPrest’s Battle Management & Weapon Control (BMC) system – and specifically its C4I Rocket Interception product – where personnel monitor and troubleshoot the automated missile response system; a detection and radar tracking system, built by Israel Aircraft Industries; and, of course, the Tamir interceptor missile itself, built by Rafael (Tamir is a Hebrew acronym for “anti-missile missile”). The system is designed to counter short-range rockets and 155 mm artillery shells with a range of up to 70 kilometers, and can be operated in all weather conditions, any time of day or night. …
Barak couldn’t give too much away about the mechanics of Iron Dome, but its general mode of operation is known: The system detects a launch as a missile makes its way to an area that is within the protection umbrella of an Iron Dome installation. The “incoming” is detected by the highly sophisticated radar system, and the information on the missile’s trajectory, direction, and location are transferred to the command and control system, which then decides what to do. … The command system issues an order to fire a Tamir only if a key target, such as a residential or industrial area, or a sensitive installation, appears to be at risk. Once fired, the Tamir locks in on the incoming rocket, and knocks it out of the sky at the maximum height possible, destroying it with methods that ensure that a minimum of debris will survive to fall to the ground. …
Videos show an array of dozens of rockets being fired at the same time by Hamas terrorists, and on several occasions during Pillar of Defense terrorists fired multiple arrays of these rockets … in an apparent effort to overwhelm the Iron Dome command and control system.
That’s why … mPrest came up with “hundreds of scenarios in which Iron Dome would be pitted against rockets fired by terrorists.” Those scenarios included a seemingly endless combination of numbers of rockets and arrays used by the terrorists, with the best – from a defensive and economic viewpoint – strategy for Iron Dome to use to ensure that the incoming attack did as little damage as possible. …
The biggest challenge, [Barak] said, was the instant response time needed to shoot down an incoming rocket. “Although we in Tel Aviv were of course concerned during Pillar of Defense when Hamas directed its firepower at us, the truth is that the problem is not here, but in places like Sderot, where within 15 seconds residents have to take cover. It’s an almost impossible task … and as a result we have had to make Iron Dome as flexible as possible, enabling commanders in the field to make adjustments to the response capabilities of the system as quickly as the terrorists change their strategy.”
mPrest’s command and control system, he said, is the only one in the world that is “truly generic, as opposed to other systems that have to be programmed specifically and reprogrammed to meet changing needs. With Iron Dome, we have taken the programming power away from the programmer and put it into the hands of the field crew, where it should be in order to mount a proper defense.” Once set up, though, the system is completely automatic, said Barak. “Even in instances of multiple attacks in an area within an Iron Dome defense perimeter, “the system will target only the rockets that are set to fall in an area that will cause damage or injury, and it will ignore the rest.”
Besides making things easier for the IDF, the flexibility and generic nature of the command and control system will make it easier to sell abroad, which the company has already begun doing. The system is perfect for defense systems, including of course, air, shore, and perimeter monitoring, But it’s also for civilian uses as well; mPrest’s innovations are a major part of the system used by vehicle tracking system Ituran, for example.
The IDF learned a lot about Iron Dome’s capabilities and limitations during Pillar of Defense, and so did mPrest, which is busy integrating those lessons for the next generation of Iron Dome. In fact, the war gave that next generation a major push forward …
“The defense establishment has no doubt that Iron Dome, and the other defense missile systems we are helping out with, including David’s Sling and the Arrow, are going to be crucial to the country’s defenses in the coming years,” said Barak. “We’re ready, although I really hope that our services won’t be needed.”
And this is from the National Post, by Matt Gurney:
Bad news for Hamas: Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence gets better every day.
So said a senior engineer with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Israeli company that developed Iron Dome. Iron Dome is a missile defence system that can intercept short-range missiles, rockets and even artillery shells, at close range and with only seconds of warning. Originally deployed in early 2011, the system came in for widespread global recognition during the week-long conflict between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas last month.
During the fighting, Hamas and other extremist groups bombarded Israel with hundreds of rockets. And Iron Dome blasted most of them out of the sky. …
After a few days of fighting, Israel changed its tactical doctrine: Iron Dome used to fire two interceptors at every rocket, in case the first missed. They quickly realized that was a waste. The system was good enough that if it wasn’t possible on the first shot, the second wouldn’t get it, either. …
Every day of the conflict, military officers gave his company all of the data collected by Iron Dome computers and military radars for the last 24 hours. Rafael engineers would then work through the night, tweaking the software that controls Iron Dome. They’d turn the new software over to the military officers at the next meeting, then start looking over a fresh 24 hour’s worth of data.
It was exhausting for the relative handful of software engineers. But it worked. “The improvements were measurable,” the engineer told me. “It wasn’t dramatic. But we did a little bit better every day. The more rockets they fired at us, the better we got at shooting them down. By the end of the week, Iron Dome was better than it had been at the start. And it was pretty good, then, too.”
Soon … the system’s reliability will be limited only by the mechanical reliability of its various component parts. As long as the equipment works, they expect to hit their target every time. …
Iron Dome has already proven its worth. “It gave our politicians something they don’t usually have,” he said. “Options. We didn’t have to invade Gaza. We made them look powerless just by protecting ourselves. … All the interceptors we fired cost less than one day of ground fighting in Gaza.”
That’s good news for Israel and its neighbours. The whole region is always one lucky shot by Hamas away from a major war — the rockets usually do no damage, but if they did hit something valuable, Israel would be compelled to respond with massive force. Iron Dome makes such tragedies less likely.
Hamas might not like to admit it, but Iron Dome saves Palestinian lives, too.
Note: Iron Dome was invented and developed in Israel, but the US has invested about $900 million in the system, and now calls for the sharing of technology and co-production.