Friday, February 27, 2015

PA's Paymaster

Published in the Jerusalem Post, Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sir, -- With regard to "Jerusalem hits back at claims it is causing collapse of PA" (February 23), I suggest that the government take the tax funds being withheld from the Palestinian Authority and use them to pay some of the PA's legal debts, specifically, those owed to the Israel Electric Corporation and the families of terror victims, to whom the PA now owes $655.5 million.

If it does that, no one could legitimately claim that Israel has been withholding funds from the PA since it would merely be acting as the PA's paymaster.

Alan Stein

CCSU, other universities should educate, not indoctrinate, students

CCSU, other universities should educate, not indoctrinate, students

By Jay Bergman

Jay Bergman is professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and serves on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars.

Published in New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) Friday, February 27, 2015

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's claim that President Obama does not love America, while perhaps inartfully phrased, is defensible. Surely the president's intention, stated publicly when he was running for president, "to fundamentally transform America," suggests a strong aversion to America as it now exists. Moreover, he has condemned the American people for "clinging to their guns and their religion," and, by citing "their antipathy to people who aren't like them," slyly insinuated that they are collectively racist. When asked if he believed in American Exceptionalism, he replied that he believed in it the way Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism and the British in British Exceptionalism. His wife, Michelle, famously opined that American was "a downright mean country" and that until her husband ran for president, she had no reason to be proud of it.

Still, President Obama has his defenders, and in a country that is more or less evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, this is to be expected. Indeed, the whole issue of the president's true feelings about America is one on which reasonable people may disagree.

But that was not the case among the faculty at Central Connecticut State University after Mayor Giuliani delivered his broadside. On the campus email list-serve, one professor vowed that she would refuse to attend any lecture the mayor might give here. Another, recently retired, pronounced him a racist. Yet another, while conceding that the mayor was not a racist, argued that his derogation of the president nevertheless harmed the generic struggle against racism - which seems to imply that President Obama should not be criticized for anything and that anyone who does so is morally deficient.

As it happens, Mayor Giuliani spoke at CCSU two years ago under the auspices of the Vance Foundation, which over the years has brought to campus speakers on both sides of the political spectrum, such as George McGovern and Jimmy Carter on the left and George H. W. Bush and Jeane Kirkpatrick on the right. Could Giuliani's statement about Obama cause the foundation to bring him here again? Judging from the comments above, it seems safe to predict that should it do so, the response from faculty would be volcanic. Some have even suggested that in the future the Vance Foundation should either sponsor speakers the faculty agrees with or should be barred from using the university as the venue for the lectures it pays for.

In November 2013, a committee selected by the Faculty Senate sent the foundation a list of seven nominees to speak at CCSU in 2014. One was Melissa Harris-Perry, who, in a recent interview on MSNBC with Attorney General Eric Holder, asked him to quack like a duck. Another, Alice Walker, has compared Israel to Nazi Germany. The late Maya Angelou, also on the list, praised the barbaric and oppressive regime of the Castro brothers in Cuba. Three of the remaining four were similarly situated on the far left of the political spectrum. The last, Valerie Strauss, opposes school vouchers benefitting students from poor families while sending her children to expensive private schools.

College faculties across America are overwhelmingly liberal, and their political contributions show this vividly. In 2012, 96 percent of donations from Ivy League faculty went to President Obama, the remaining 4 percent to Governor Romney. This imbalance is most apparent in humanities departments, where the temptation to indoctrinate students politically is especially pronounced; when President Bush was in office, students of mine regularly complained about professors denouncing him instead of teaching what they were contractually obligated to teach.

The CCSU administration and faculty loudly proclaim their devotion to "diversity." But their commitment is more rhetorical than real. What they really seek is the opposite: a faculty and student body that are racially and ethnically heterogeneous but that politically think the same things. I hope that the good people of Connecticut, who through their taxes largely subsidize higher education in the state, make clear to their elected representatives that instead of indoctrinating students, our universities should educate them, which means, in part, practicing genuine intellectual diversity.

At CCSU, a good start toward this objective would be allowing the Vance Foundation to sponsor speakers with whom the faculty will occasionally disagree.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Attendance at Netanyahu’s Mar. 3 speech sends a strong message to Iran

By June Neal

Published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger

Regarding the Jewish Ledger’s editorial of Feb. 11, “Netanyahu Should Pass On Speech Before Congress”: When Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress on March 17, one white-haired, 86-year-old man will take a seat in the audience: Elie Wiesel, the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose name is a metaphor for the conscience of the world. His presence will cast an aura of righteousness that should shame those members of Congress who chose to boycott the speech because of team loyalty over demonstrating respect for the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East. In an advertisement he is running in two major newspapers, Wiesel will cite “the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran” and ask our leaders: “Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”

People of good will want to believe that diplomacy can forestall a nuclear-armed Iran. But successful diplomacy requires both parties to be honest brokers. Iran is a criminal theocracy that has never moved from its stated goal of destruction of the United States, which it calls The Great Satan. And it is frightening that the only insurance policy we have against Iran’s surreptitious nuclear development is the International Atomic Energy Agency, an arm of the United Nations, with which Iran has played a shell game for years.

Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty but continued to enrich uranium beyond agreed levels. It has ignored United Nations Security Council resolutions.

As the Ledger’s editorial correctly states, “Every single day Iran’s centrifuges are spinning.” So, why ask Netanyahu to cancel his speech? His call to action is needed now, before this bad pact is signed. And how would it be enforced when the agency charged with its oversight can’t do its job? According to the IAEA’s own November 20, 2014 report, Section H: “The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” And Section L: “…the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Just days later, the IAEA Director, General Yukiya Amano, told CNN: “The IAEA has been addressing this issue of Iran nuclear issues for more than 10 years but we still cannot give the assurance that all of the activities in Iran are for peaceful purposes. We have two problems: one is that Iran is not fully cooperating with the Agency to clarify the information that may have military aspects. Another problem is that Iran is not allowing us to implement a more powerful verification tool that is called an ‘Additional Protocol.’ Agreement was not reached.”

I urge all our senators and our representatives to attend Mr. Netanyahu’s speech. In doing so, they will send a strong message to Iran and to all who seek our destruction: this is a matter of conscience, not politics, and the security of the United States of America is paramount. In this we stand together.

June Neal
Delray Beach, Fla.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Israel and U.S. beacons of civilization

Israel and U.S. beacons of civilization

Published as an op-ed in the Connecticut Post.

Andy Piascik's "logic" ("Getting serious about terrorism," Feb. 19) may appeal to those who agree with him that America is the source of all evil in the world. Fortunately, most people have more sense and realize that, for all their faults, both the United States and Israel, its only true friend in the Middle East, are beacons of sanity, civilization, democracy and hope in the world.

With respect to what Piascik incorrectly calls "occupied Palestine," it's interesting to contrast its situation today with its situation between 1948 and 1967.

During that period, Gaza was occupied by Egypt while Judea and Samaria were occupied by Jordan, which had renamed it the "West Bank." There was no movement of goods or people between those territories and Israel, because the Arabs refused to allow any. The exceptions which proved the rule were the terror attacks launched from those territories against Israelis.

Today, Gaza is totally controlled by its own government, run by the terror group Hamas, which has launched thousands upon thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Despite this, and despite the continuing Arab boycott, Israel transfers massive amounts of humanitarian goods to the people in Gaza and routinely brings Gazans to Israeli hospitals for medical care.

In Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority has for two decades governed approximately 95 percent of the Arabs in those areas, but has several times turned down offers to establish an independent state in almost all that territory, along with all of Gaza.

Thanks to Israel, many of the Arabs living there have well-paying jobs either in Israel and in businesses within Jewish communities in the disputed territories.

In both Gaza and Judea and Samaria, the Arabs are taking advantage of many colleges, universities and hospitals which didn't exist in 1967 but were built during the period Israel administered the territory.

One important aspect which hasn't changed is the existence of "refugee camps."

I use quotes because very few of their residents are refugees; rather, the overwhelming majority are descendants - children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren - of refugees.

They have been forced to remain in these camps simply to be used as pawns, as human weapons in the genocidal campaign against the world's only Jewish state. When Israel administered the territory, it made an attempt to improve the lives of the people living in those camps; it tried to move them from the camps to real homes in real cities and towns but pulled back from those plans in the face of irrational but massive criticism.

One of the first steps we need to take if we are really serious about fighting terrorism is to insist the United Nations disband UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which has done so much to expand the "refugee" population, and start closing those "refugee camps," which would more accurately be called "terrorist training camps."

It's almost beyond comprehension that the Palestinian Authority has governed so much of the disputed territories for two decades yet has not allowed a single one of those camps under its jurisdiction to be closed.

Beyond comprehension, but telling: the agenda of the Palestinian Authority, whether first under the leadership of Yasser Arafat - the godfather of modern terrorism - or as currently under the leadership of the so-called "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, has never been about improving the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs or about establishing a Palestinian state; rather, it is about disestablishing of the one functioning democracy in the Middle East, Israel.

Alan Stein
Netanya, Israel
The writer is founder of the Massachusetts chapter of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting (PRIMER) and president emeritus of the Connecticut chapter.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Our Representatives in Congress Must Listen to Israel's Prime Minister's Message

Iran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons is the most dangerous problem facing the world today. Its importance far transcends partisan politics.

We beseech you to remind our Senators and Congresspersons of that fact.

Keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the extremists in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran is far more important than who wins Israel's elections in a few weeks and even more important than who wins America's next election. It is the most important responsibility of our leaders, both in the Executive Branch and Congress.

The prime minister of Israel has been invited to address a joint session of Congress March 3. He will be interrupting his election campaign to speak; this issue is that important.

Our representatives in Congress must listen to his message.

Iran's nuclear weapons program is not only an existential threat to the world's only Jewish state, but is a dangerous threat to our own safety. The ICBMs being developed by Iran aren't needed to deliver a bomb to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv; they are being developed so that Iran will be able to threaten New York, Washington and Boston.

Please join us and do your part as patriotic Americans, supporters of our ancestral but threatened homeland and citizens of the world by reminding our leaders of their responsibility, that we expect them to uphold their responsibility, to be present when the Israeli prime minister addresses Congress, to listen carefully and to do everything in their power to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Ayatollah Khamenei and the terror groups he finances, trains and arms.