Monday, November 26, 2012

Nader Raids Reality

It's interesting how Ralph Nader, who began public life by presenting well-documented information about the auto industry, has taken to writing fiction.

A recent venomous, anti-Israel diatribe written by Nader may be found on his website and in several newspapers.  Here are a handful of the more outrageous fabrications, misrepresentations and distortions and comments on them.

Nader: "Out comes the well-worn playbook by Israel's militaristic government that has worked to silence Israeli politicians and citizens who want a two-state solution."

Reality check:  The leader of the Israeli government has come out publicly and firmly in favor of a two-state solution. Nader is arguing the Israel's government is trying to silence its own leader!

Nader: "This is an opportunity to use and test advanced weaponry from the U.S., compliments of U.S. taxpayers, and squelch ongoing peace efforts, small and large, by Palestinians, Israelis and international peace advocates."

Reality check: There are no effective "ongoing peace efforts," for the simple reason that the Palestinian Authority refuses to allow them. Since not even bothering to respond to an Israeli offer way back in 2008 to establish a Palestinian Arab state in the equivalent of the entirety of the disputed territories, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate.

Nader: "The playbook's first chapter is provocation to upset a tense but workable truce with Hamas, the elected government of Gaza."

Reality check: Mr. Nader might try asking the residents of Sderot whether they believe a "workable truce with Hamas" existed. This year alone, nearly 900 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians before the start of Operation Pillar of Defense! Thousands of rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza during the "truce."

Nader: "Hamas was encouraged at its creation years ago by both Israeli and U.S. backers to counter the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Bit of a blowback there."

Reality check: When Hamas was forming, there was a brief period during which it pledged itself to non-violence and there was some hope in Israel that it would become a reasonable entity. Period.

Nader: "Israeli government leaders are expert provocateurs when they wish to seize land, water or prisoners and upset any movement toward a peace that would create a viable Palestinian state back to the 1967 borders, which includes East Jerusalem."

Reality check: Israel long ago gave away the vast bulk of the territory which it found itself administering after the 1967 war. It has repeatedly given more territory to the Palestinian Authority and offered to give the Palestinian Arabs the equivalent of 100% of the disputed territory - despite the fact that Israel has at least as much of an historical, legal and moral right to that territory. Unfortunately, the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs have been unwilling to pay the necessary price: giving up on their dream of destroying Israel and living together in peace.

There were no "1967 borders," only temporary armistice lines. Indeed, at the insistence of the Arab countries, the armistice agreements contained the provision that the armistice lines had no political significance. One may reasonably consider negotiations based on those armistice lines to be a violation of the armistice agreements!

Nader: "When Israel came into being in 1948, it soon broke a UN truce and doubled its territory by taking the large area known as the Negev desert ,whose refugees ended up in the Gaza Strip."

Reality check: Israel was invaded by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia the day after it was reestablished in 1948. It greatly preferred peace, but was forced to defend itself in the Arabs' genocidal war. It ended up with more territory than called for in the UN Partition Plan, but the amount was far from double (a mathematical impossibility) and was a consequence of the Arab aggression.

Nader: "Now 1.6 million encircled and impoverished humans, blockaded and under siege by Israel, try to survive in an open-air prison little more than twice the size of the District of Columbia."

Reality check: Israel controls only its own boundary with Gaza and, as allowed under the Oslo Accords, sea access. Gaza also has a border with Egypt, which is now ruled by the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is also a branch. Not only is it physically impossible for Israel to "encircle" Gaza, but Israel transfers immense amounts of humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza. Astoundingly, this assistance continued even during the recent flare-up. One would be hard-pressed to find another example of a country providing assistance to the very people murdering its citizens!

Nader: "Israel's strategy of breaking cease-fires and truces over the years has been documented by Princeton University history professor emeritus, Arno J. Mayer, in his scholarly book Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso, 2008)."

Reality check: Nader isn't the only one who writes fiction. Note again the thousands of rockets launched by Hamas and other terror groups from Gaza during the so-called "cease-fire" before Israel finally defended itself recently.

Nader: "In late 2008, Israel broke a months-long truce with Hamas with an attack that took half a dozen lives. Modern Israeli missiles and crude Hamas rockets started flying to and fro."

Reality check: A concise summary of Operation Cast Lead may be found at , where it is pointed out "Israel's Operation Cast Lead comes after three years of suffering thousands of daily Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel's southern cities."

More specifically, from : "On June 17, 2008, after several months of indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Hamas agreed to a cease-fire (tahadiya). Almost immediately afterward, terrorists fired rockets into southern Israel. Despite what it called a “gross violation” of the truce, Israel refrained from military action.1 In fact, during the six months the arrangement was supposed to be observed, 329 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel."

Clearly, by Nader's standards, a cease-fire is an arrangement during which Israel ceases to defend its civilians as Hamas continues to fire at them.

Nader: "When the Gaza invasion-massacre ended, there were more than 1400 Palestinian fatalities, including around 300 children, and many thousands of injuries, a population surrounded by destruction and deprived by this illegal blockade-siege of medicines, food, water, electricity and the other necessities of life."

Fact check: Anti-Israel fanatics love to scream "massacre;" the reality is that even Hamas later tacitly acknowledged the vast majority of casualties were terrorists, despite the fact that Hamas deliberately operated out of civilian areas and used civilians as shields. The proportion of civilian casualties was amazingly low, far less than is typical in urban warfare, even when civilians are not being used as shields.

Nader: "The current hostilities started in two stages. The first was a back-and-forth that saw an emerging truce broken decisively on November 14 when Israel pridefully blew up a car containing Hamas military chief, Ahmad al-Jabari who actually was leading the negotiations via Egypt with Israel for a longer-range truce."

Reality check: For Nader, a truce is emerging as long as Israel refrains from defending itself even as its citizens are bombarded by rocket fire.

Nader: "Back to Israel's playbook, chapter two can be called the instant, mandatory resolutions by the puppet show in Congress and the automatic one-sided mantra by the White House. "Israel has a right to defend itself," said President Obama, from the occupied, besieged, defenseless Palestinians, whose lands, water, homes, businesses and freedom of movement are being taken relentlessly by the raiding Israeli government that is not content with possessing 78 percent of traditional Palestine."

Reality check: Another mathematical impossibility, since Jordan is in control of roughly 78 percent of the territory of the Palestine Mandate. And rather than taking from the Palestinian Arabs, Israel keeps trying to negotiate a peace that would leave the Palestinian Arabs with most of the disputed territory, even after the Palestinian Arabs refused to agree to an offer to give them the equivalent of all the disputed territory.

Nader: "Finally, chapter three of the playbook is to make sure that the Israeli government advocates dominate the U.S. media - the talk shows, the news slants, and the opinion columnists. This is becoming less easy in an internet age. Which might explain that, along with homes, water wells, rescue teams, an ambulance, and other civilian installations, the Israeli air force already has bombed the office building housing Palestinian television studios and hosting media from the western world, including Fox TV. That is one indelicate way to tell these western journalists to get out of Gaza so that the truth about the immense civilian suffering and war crimes can no longer be told by them."

Reality check: Those on the PRIMER list know how humorous this assertion is. For at least 22 journalists, the decision of whether to stay in Gaza or leave was not their own decision; Hamas would not let them leave. (See .)

Nader: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved peacefully, without violence. During quieter times, more than half the Israelis supported a two-state solution. A few years ago, 61 percent of Israelis, polled by a prominent university there, favored negotiations with Hamas. A majority of Jewish-Americans, though unorganized, favor a two-state solution."

Reality check: Unfortunately, the Palestinian Arab leadership has repeatedly refused to accept a two-state solution.

Nader: "So what is the alternative? A one-state solution with both Palestinians and Israelis having equal rights? Noura Erakat, who teaches at Georgetown University, framed the dilemma back in August when she quoted former prime minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying, after leaving his former post, "If, and as long as between the Jordan [River] and the [Mediterranean] Sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or nondemocratic.... If the Palestinians vote in elections it is a binational state, and if they don't vote it is an apartheid state." (,8599,1962232,00.html) His rival, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the same thing."

Reality check: De facto, there are already three political entities in the area: Israel, the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority-ruled territories. Roughly 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories are governed by either Hamas or the PA. It's not an ideal situation from Israel's perspective, but its existence until the Palestinian Arabs are willing to negotiate an alternative is a totally separate issue from the ethnic and democratic nature of Israel.

Nader: "Awareness of this pathway is leading some extremist Israeli politicians who call Palestinians 'vermin' and 'rats' to think about the day when they can, with suitable provocations, drive the Palestinians into the desert."

Reality check: Unfortunately, what Nader recognizes as extreme among Israeli politicians is mainstream in Palestinian Arab politics; indeed, this points to the heart of the conflict.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dinner With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran

This op-ed by PRIMER Board Member Jay Bergman was published in the Litchfield County Times on Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

On Oct. 24 The Central Recorder, the student newspaper at CCSU, reported that when the U.N. General Assembly convened in New York in late September, Professor Ghassan El-Eid of the CCSU Political Science Department brought 12 CCSU students to attend a dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. In the article Mr. Ahmadinejad was described by students as "very smart," "not as radical as the western media portray him," "inclusive," "kind to everyone who asked a question," and someone who "really wants everyone to get along, be respected, and learn."

Professor El Eid is quoted as characterizing Mr. Ahmadinejad as "a pretty rational leader," whose views may be "controversial" but who is "very careful to support his arguments with facts."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semitic bigot who has denied the Holocaust while repeatedly making clear his intention to carry out a second one:

* "Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust (Dec. 14, 2005)."

*"Israel must be wiped off the map (Oct. 26, 2005)."

*"The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan (Feb. 28, 2007)."

*"I warn you to abandon the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached the end of the line. It has lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers' days are numbered. ... Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end (Jan. 30, 2008)."

*"They [the Western powers] launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews (Sept. 18, 2009)."

*No "Zionists" were killed in the World Trade Center, because "one day earlier they were told not to go to their workplace (Aug. 7, 2010)."

*"The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor (Aug. 17, 2012)."

On Feb. 4, 2012, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed "jurisprudential justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel. In that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm."

The government of Iran savagely persecutes Bahai's and Christians. It tortures and executes homosexuals. It has killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has harassed, arrested, tried and barred from travel Iranian women's rights activists. In 1983 it approved and funded the bombing of U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon, killing 241 Marines. And in 2009 it ruthlessly suppressed the Green Revolution, in which millions of Iranians demanded the freedoms Americans enjoy.

It is appalling that CCSU students were used as props in a public relations campaign to legitimize one of the most murderous regimes in the world today. I seriously doubt that any professor at CCSU, or at any other college or university in America, would arrange a dinner for students with a kleagle of the Ku Klux Klan. And yet dining with a genocidal anti-Semite who wants to kill six million Jews is perfectly acceptable.

Jay Bergman is a professor of history at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

Dismissive Behavior-Perspective is Critical to Understanding Another’s Point of View

GS Don Morris, P.H.D.

Social media is used by so many around the world. Allow me a disclaimer from the top: I am not not social media savvy nor do I use it much. I do recognize it as a communication tool that seems to influence individuals’ points of view. These last couple of months I have increased my FB participation, basically in the form of reading others’ posts. From time to time I engaged in some political banter and not always with positive results. Certainly so many feel so “free” to express themselves and that brings me to the topic of this post.

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. Attempting to honor multiple peoples’ plea for civility I noticed how quickly after the election my Democratic “friends” moved to position themselves as the moral authority when it came to any attempted discussion regarding the results. The civil and polite term I use is dismissive. When one cared enough to write a position different from their point of view their words or regrettably, they, themselves were dismissed from either being one who practiced veracity or one who simply held a contrary point of view. This was and is to this day followed up with a stern reprimand or disingenuous statement about the said position. In other words, the post and/or the person were dismissed. Yet, these same individuals demanded both in language and tone of their language that we must now move away from our long held beliefs and values and move towards their point of view-of course, employing, “for the sake of the country”. After all, they now had a mandate.

Let us examine some numbers to see if the preceding is accurate. I can only use the numbers available to me as of the writing of this post so please focus upon the main concept. Here are the popular vote totals for both parties:

R=48% plus         46%(2008 vote)
D=51%         53%(2008 vote)
3,258,999-vote difference

Now follows my interpretation. It appears that Mr. Obama won by slightly less than 3% of the vote; I’ll not squabble over new data. It is true that the Republicans increased their share of the popular vote compared to 2008 and the Democrat decreased their popular vote share compared to 2008. Terms like “resounding” used to mean enormous, huge, or colossal. You might imagine when I realize that over 120,500,000 votes were cast and the difference was 3.2 million votes I had difficulty accepting the adjectives describing the outcome. We can discuss this but please to suggest that the American people have endorsed, authorized or indicated ratification of his policies is to accept the concept of “majority rules.” It is more accurate to suggest that a little over half of the nation supports the President and just under half of the nation does not support his policies. Careful, if you dismiss this point of view does this mean no discussion or bi-partisan cooperation is possible?

I marvel at other data interpretations-keeping the House in the hands of the Republicans (change occurred in 2010) and this “change” didn’t work (no explanation provided individuals making said pronouncement) and in 2012 the Congress remains basically the same, some interpret this as we are all in agreement, legislators should return and get back to business. Business as defined by whom and by what criteria-are these two questions not useful to discuss?? What is the meaning beneath this arcane statement? What can we all agree to? How about addressing the coming financial cliff, might everyone involved put in the time, effort and perseverance it will take to resolve this before January 1?

Remember school elections-did you participate in any? Can you imagine how you might respond when you know 100 students were eligible to participate in the class president election and after the election you discovered that the “other kid” received over 100 votes and you received 30 of the votes.  Clearly you lost but does the math add up? Might you want an explanation?

Hopefully you can at least understand why some of us had a reaction that went something like this: “How in the world can that be? In Ms. James math class last week we learned this was not possible.” You are therefore not surprised when we hear the following, you might expect we would be a bit suspicious:

Obama Won %108 of Registered Voters in Ohio County


Energy is also a major concern for our nation especially as we attempt to increase jobs in this country.  So when we hear: Obama administration seeks to drastically limit oil shale development on western lands

You can imagine we might suggest that this is not a prudent energy move right now.

Even though you may think it is not necessary to prove your identity when you vote for the President of the USA and yet you willingly show your picture id when you go to the airport to travel to …  or to cash a check, you can imagine our interests were peaked when we read Crooked Politics: Obama Lost in Every State With Photo ID Law

Wait, you get to practice your non-dismissive civil behavior right now. When this entire voter picture id issue came up boy did it cause a stir? Any of us who dared to suggest that this is fair and consistent with public policy in so many of our daily lives, we were dismissed as racists, bigots and other unseemly names. I noted that by using this word tactic you wanted to close down my point of view and even ascribe negative characteristics to it and to me. Why the fear in having a dialogue about this sensitive issue?

Certainly human rights are important for all peoples-yes? This is true more now than ever before.  The Middle East is awash with thousands of women being either raped, murdered, attacked or denied basic rights; one of our greatest enemies, Iran, continues to move rapidly toward acquiring nuclear bombs; thousands of people are slaughtered in northern Africa; Europe’s economy is on the brink of collapse, we hope Germany will fund those going bankrupt; our economy is stagnate at all time lows; recession is predicted for 2013; 23 million Americans are out of work and you know the other horrific economic data points. Can you imagine our upset when instead of focusing on these issues; a “war on women” became a major theme of this election? Imagine our surprise when we heard As Andrew Stiles of The Washington Free Beacon reported on May 24, "of the five senators who participated in Wednesday’s press conference—Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.), Patty Murray (D., Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) And Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.)—Three pay their female staff members significantly less than male staffers." Perhaps any thoughtful, caring person might then ask critical questions about who has “women’s’ backs.

As a father of a highly successful daughter involved in a major business in the USA I have always been concerned about her rights, her opportunities and together with her mother we did our best to ensure she had every possibility made available to her-she however did the work and on her own efforts has made her way. Has it been easy-ask her. Is life meant to be easy, ah, a question for another post. My point is this, as important as this topic is to individuals, to use it as a wedge issue (a Democrat introduced this phrase ) intentionally to alienate a gender is … For the sake of civility I shall not complete the sentence. We had and still have major economic and security concerns. We have a dysfunctional legislative group and our international reputation has changed-I know, I live in the Middle East and hear it, read it and see it every day. By the way it is not what you may think or believe.  It seems that both sides operate from different perspectives. It does the nation no good to berate and negate one another’s positions. This human situation requires leadership that operates with an ability to listen and hear what the two parties say. This nation deserves individuals willing to put country first.  Rather than dismissing this final statement how about sitting down for a coffee and beginning a new narrative-one void of political sound bites?