2010-04-21

Morning Report: 2010-04-21

Six years on, DiL continues its mission of reporting events in the Middle East and around the world.

US rules out military strike on Iran. Debka: 'US deputy defense secretary Michele Flournoy said Wednesday, April 21: "The US has ruled out a military strike against Iran's nuclear program any time soon." This is the first time a senior administration official has publicly admitted that America has dropped its military option against Iran. Instead, said Flournoy, the US is hoping that "negotiations and United Nations sanctions will prevent the Middle East nation from developing nuclear weapons." ...' The Debka article concludes that Israel's leaders are "divided" over whether to attack Iran over US objections.

“Would an airmen like me ever be ordered to fire on an Israeli – aircraft or personnel?” Jennifer Rubin at Commentary, citing Wired, reports that Admiral Mike Mullen couldn't give a straight answer to an airman's question about a possible US/Israeli conflict. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sidestepped a question of what would happen if Israel sought to fly over Iraqi airspace to attack Iran.
If Israel decided to attack Iran, the speculation went, those jet would need to fly through Iraqi airspace to reach their targets. That airspace is considered a “no-fly” zone by the American military. So might U.S. troops shoot down the Israeli jets, the airmen asked the chairman, if they breached that airspace?

Mullen tried to sidestep the question. “We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Israel. I’ve spent a lot of time with my counterpart in Israel. So we also have a very clear understanding of where we are. And beyond that, I just wouldn’t get into the speculation of what might happen and who might do what. I don’t think it serves a purpose, frankly,” he said. “I am hopeful that this will be resolved in a way where we never have to answer a question like that.” ...


The case for regime change in Iran. The Spirit of Man says that President Obama should not just read, but write and memorize, this article by Michael Rubin at Commentary:
The U.S. intelligence community has advised Obama that regime change in Iran is risky, and it is. It is not certain that a democratic or even constitutional order would emerge. Three decades of Islamist governance have shaped Iranian political culture, and the all-persuasive influence of the Revolutionary Guards will be hard to shake. Still, the CIA’s preference—which is to do nothing and let the chips fall where they may—is poor advice and poorer policy. The Obama administration instead should gear its interventions to maximize the probability of a democratic, constitutional, and nonthreatening Iran. This requires concentrating on measures that would strengthen so-called civil-society efforts and cripple the Revolutionary Guards.

A multifaceted approach can work. First, Obama should impose broad sanctions ...

Read the rest at the link. Rubin specifically advocates banning business with the Iranian Central Bank, strengthening support for pro-democracy groups, weakening the Revolutionary Guards, and a strong Persian-language media campaign.

Commentary. A belated happy Independence Day (Yom ha'Atzma'ut) to Israel. And good luck - you'll need it.

Wish I could say something more positive than that.

2010-04-20

Shuttle to fly Robonaut-2, Air Force to launch X-37B.

Robots in space! My commentary here.

Six Years

Geeez, has it been almost six years since I first started Dreams Into Lightning?

I feel like I should do something to celebrate.

Like, post or something.

2010-04-19

Barry Rubin (not Levin) Won't Be Al-Jazeera's Clown

Good on Barry Rubin.
Subject: AL JAZEERA ENGLISH RIZ KHAN INTERVIEW REQUEST

Good morning, Professor Levin [sic].

Would you be interested in appearing on The Riz Khan Show this coming Tuesday to debate the topic "Is the Is there [sic] a partner for peace in Israel?" and more generally, the topics of the upcoming Israeli elections [there are no upcoming elections. BR], the Obama Nuclear Summit and US-Israeli relations. Uri Davis, Israeli professor who is a on the Fatah Revolutionary Council, will be the other guest.

The Riz Khan show is an interactive half-hour interview program that airs live at 12:30pm NY time / 17:30 London time from studios in Washington, DC. It is the flagship show for evening prime time in South Asia and the Middle East….

Go to the link for Rubin's response.

2010-04-10

Anat Kam, Uri Blau: Israel's Fourth Estate and Fifth Column

Arutz Sheva reports on the indictment of Anat Kam, the Israeli journalist who stands accused of stealing classified documents during her tour as a soldier in the IDF and passing the secret material on to a reporter for the left-leaning Ha'Aretz.

Journalist Anat Kam, 23, is accused of stealing over 2,000 IDF classified documents, many hundreds of which are termed “secret” and “top secret.” The alleged crimes occurred when she served as a soldier clerking in the IDF military - specifically, in the office of the Commander of the Central District - between 2005-2007.

She allegedly handed over many of the “top secret” and “secret” documents to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau. Blau, who was abroad when the investigation started, has refused thus far to return to Israel for investigation. It is suspected that many of the classified papers are still in his possession – despite an offer made to him that the returned documents would not be used to prosecute him or his source, Anat Kam.

Kam, who was secretly arrested during the investigation, has been indicted in the Tel Aviv District Court. She stands accused of collecting secret information, giving it to unauthorized individuals, and attempting to harm state security. ...

Debka has more.

In September 2009, the Shin Bet and Haaretz signed an agreement whereby Uri Blau promised to hand over all the documents in his possession, in return for which the Shin Bet agreed not to use them to initiate a criminal investigation against him or track his sources.

Two months later, in December 2009, Anat Kam was identified as the source of the leak and placed under house arrest. On January 14, she was indicted on charges of grave espionage.
It turned out later that the reporter Blau handed over only 50 secret documents. The rest he is suspected of keeping back.

In 2009, he left Israel and moved to London, apparently to avoid arrest and questioning about the missing documents.
In interviews with foreign journalists, Haaretz chief editor Dov Alfon said this week the newspaper will take care of all Blau's needs for as long as necessary. This Israeli daily is therefore protecting its reporter despite the breach of his agreement with the Shin Bet and is treating his case as the fundamental issue of a journalist's right to immunity and the immunity of his sources.

The Shin Bet chief warned that Blau has chosen a hazardous course by exposing himself to hostile agents as an intelligence target.

I'm thinking, if the Mossad don't get him first .....

UPDATE (2010-04-10): Arutz Sheva - Anat Kam studied under far-leftist professor Shlomo Sand.

In the interests of fairness, here is what Ha'Aretz has to say for itself:
1. Does Haaretz's insistence on protecting its reporter and his sources in the Anat Kam affair endanger state security?

Of course not. All the reports Uri Blau published in Haaretz based on his documents were submitted to the military censor and approved by her before publication, as required by law. In fact, in one case Haaretz's editors decided not to publish one of Blau's stories after it had gone to press, after senior defense officials changed their minds and requested that it not be released.

The state's security depends not only on upholding the censor's regulations, which Haaretz has done and continues to do, but also on upholding Israel's democratic values, including a free press. The agreement signed between Blau and the Shin Bet security service proves that the Shin Bet understands this as well.
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2. Does Blau possess classified documents and why doesn't he give them to the Shin Bet?

Blau left on vacation abroad with no classified documents in his possession. But like any investigative journalist, he has documents on which he bases his articles. These include, for example, the documents that led him to expose that Itay Ashkenazi, the chief of staff's son, was employed in companies that do business with the Israel Defense Forces - or documents he used for the report on Knesset Constitution Committee chairman David Rotem's involvement in the purchase of lands in Beit El with false papers. This is also the case with documents detailing money transfers to Ehud Barak Ltd., the company controlled by the defense minister's daughters.

Haaretz, therefore, believes that it cannot pass on all the documents Blau has to the defense establishment because its senior officials may use them to trace his sources. ....

Read the rest at the link.

US, Israel Deny Dimona Visa Story from Ma'ariv

JTA reports that the US and Israeli governments have denied a story published in Ma'ariv (Hebrew - see here) asserting that the US government has instituted a policy of denying visas to Israeli scientists with ties to Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona.

2010-04-09

Tom Campbell's Past Islamist Ties

The Investigative Project on Terrorism (HT: Cinnamon Stillwell) has an eye-opening report on Tom Campbell.
Campbell, who represented California's 15th Congressional District (an affluent area including Silicon Valley), clearly had close ties to Sami Al-Arian and Abdurahman Alamoudi, both of whom were later convicted on charges related to terrorism support. He joined Reps. David Bonior (D-MI) and John Conyers (D-MI) in fighting to bar the use of classified evidence in deportation cases. Campbell sought to reduce U.S. aid to Egypt and Israel and was a critic of U.S. sanctions in Iraq.

And Campbell also forged strong political relationships with Muslim Brotherhood-linked organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Islamist ideologues including Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and Omar Ahmad of CAIR attended and spoke at fundraisers for Campbell during his Senate campaign a decade ago.

Read more at: http://www.investigativeproject.org/1874/from-radical-islamist-ally-to-superhawk

Go to the link for details on Campbell's past ties with Sami al-Arian and Mazen Al-Najjar. Abdulrahman Alamoudi, later convicted on charges of terrorism support, called Campbell a "tested friend" in 2000.

To be clear, Campbell has since distanced himself from Alamoudi and has expressed regret for his decision to keep Alamoudi's campaign donation. Similarly, Campbell now states that he favors the death penalty for terrorists and supports Israel's right to defend itself. But it's a cause for concern that he has "gotten religion" so recently on Middle East affairs.

UPDATE: Dan at GayPatriot weighs in on Tom Campbell.
While I highly doubt Campbell himself is anti-Semitic, he has a very troublesome record on Israel and associates with many Jew-hating individuals. Campbell can show that he is not a member of this crowd by putting forward a platform on Israel more consistent with a conservative national security policy in the wake of 9/11 and popular support for the Jewish State.

I still need review all the items on the list I have received [citing Campbell's "Troublesome Record on Israel"], but those points I have confirmed trouble me to no end.

In a subsequent post, Dan emphasizes that he does not regard Campbell as anti-Semitic, but is concerned about the man's associations.

2010-04-04

At NYT, not all anti-Semitisms are created equal.

Noah Pollak at Commentary has an illustrative case of what it takes to get a story on anti-Semitism into the pages of the New York Times.
Here’s a pop quiz that I’m sure nobody will have a hard time passing: Which of the following two stories made it into the New York Times?

1. One of the top leaders of Hamas, Mahmoud Zahar, a man who has been written about on hundreds of occasions in the Times, responded to the dedication of a synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem by delivering a viciously anti-Semitic rant in which he promised the annihilation of Israel and said that the Jews “killed and murdered your prophets” and “have always dealt in loan-sharking” and are “destined to be destroyed.”

2. A Vatican preacher compared condemnation of the Church over its sex-abuse scandal to the persecution of Jews, remarks from which Church officials immediately distanced themselves.

No prizes for guessing which one got front-page coverage, and which got none at all. Why?
The reason, I think, is because the Times is a left-wing paper and adheres to one of the central tenets of enlightened progressivism: people who can be identified as Third World, or who are not members of the Judeo-Christian/European world, must not be held to the same standards to which white, First World people are held. This double-standard — it is the racism of the enlightened — pervades the treatment of different cultures and religions in the strongholds of Western liberalism, that is, in the media, academia, and the “human rights” community.

Please go read the rest of the article at the link. I'm quoting it here because it makes a point that, sadly, can't be stressed often enough. Organized liberalism often ignores its legitimate ideals and instead pursues a blind veneration of anything 'exotic' and unsullied by the corrupting taint of Western culture.

I could tell you about the Passover Seder I attended where the host invited everyone to name a country or place that needed improvement in human rights; she started the ball rolling by declaring, "America!" I could tell you about that, but why? You've probably heard something similar yourself.

Of course America isn't perfect, and of course there is room for our nation to become more just, more humane, more wise. But isn't it patriotism of the worst kind - or more correctly, nationalism - to care only about improving one's own country?

I can't resist bringing in this 1945 essay on nationalism from George Orwell. Here are a few passages that jumped out at me:
In England, if one simply considers the number of people involved, it is probable that the dominant form of nationalism is old-fashioned British jingoism. It is certain that this is still widespread, and much more so than most observers would have believed a dozen years ago. However, in this essay I am concerned chiefly with the reactions of the intelligentsia, among whom jingoism and even patriotism of the old kind are almost dead, though they now seem to be reviving among a minority. Among the intelligentsia, it hardly needs saying that the dominant form of nationalism is Communism -- using this word in a very loose sense, to include not merely Communist Party members, but "fellow travellers" and russophiles generally. A Communist, for my purpose here, is one who looks upon the USSR as his Fatherland and feels it his duty t justify Russian policy and advance Russian interests at all costs. Obviously such people abound in England today, and their direct and indirect influence is very great. But many other forms of nationalism also flourish, and it is by noticing the points of resemblance between different and even seemingly opposed currents of thought that one can best get the matter into perspective. ...

The old-style contemptuous attitude towards "natives" has been much weakened in England, and various pseudo-scientific theories emphasizing the superiority of the white race have been abandoned. Among the intelligentsia, colour feeling only occurs in the transposed form, that is, as a belief in the innate superiority of the coloured races. This is now increasingly common among English intellectuals, probably resulting more often from masochism and sexual frustration than from contact with the Oriental and Negro nationalist movements. Even among those who do not feel strongly on the colour question, snobbery and imitation have a powerful influence. Almost any English intellectual would be scandalized by the claim that the white races are superior to the coloured, whereas the opposite claim would seem to him unexceptionable even if he disagreed with it. Nationalistic attachment to the coloured races is usually mixed up with the belief that their sex lives are superior, and there is a large underground mythology about the sexual prowess of Negroes. ...

Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell ore when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g. el Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help getting a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated, and wanted to feel that the final victory would be due to Russia, or perhaps America, and not to Britain. In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong. As a result, "enlightened" opinion is quite largely a mirror-image of Conservative policy. Anglophobia is always liable to reversal, hence that fairly common spectacle, the pacifist of one war who is a bellicist in the next.

There is little evidence about this at present, because the Nazi persecutions have made it necessary for any thinking person to side with the Jews against their oppressors. Anyone educated enough to have heard the word "antisemitism" claims as a matter of course to be free of it, and anti-Jewish remarks are carefully eliminated from all classes of literature. Actually antisemitism appears to be widespread, even among intellectuals, and the general conspiracy of silence probably helps exacerbate it. People of Left opinions are not immune to it ...

In our day, of course, this carries over to opinions about the State of Israel and its foreign policies. (But then, I'm an American Zionist - the most "violent and malignant" kind, according to GO - so I would say that!)

2010-04-01

Trident Test Fire: Fact or Fiction?

Did the US test-fire a nuclear-capable Trident from Saudi waters? Depends who you listen to; Debka says 'A US defense spokesman denied the Trident's launch, Wednesday, April 1, but Saudi security sources stand by the report' but Stratfor (subscription service) says the report is false. However, whether or not the launch actually occurred, the message seems to be that the US is extending the umbrella of nuclear deterrence to the Persian Gulf.

Morning Report: 2010-04-01

Dreams Into Lightning is pleased to announce that reports of the Site Owner's death have been greatly exaggerated; it's probably a conspiracy by the Mainstream Media. In any case, here is a snapshot of some of the events we're following this morning.

The answer is, nobody knows. The Belmont Club has the latest analysis on the economy. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has a new commission new commission to study wasteful commissions.

Report: US fires Trident from Saudi waters. Debka: 'The US test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic Trident missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads from Saudi territory during a joint military exercise last week, a Western military official reported late Wednesday, March 31. Debkafile's military sources report this was the first time in Middle East military history that a nuclear-capable missile was fired from the oil kingdom toward the Persian Gulf and Iranian shores. It came in response to Saudi and Gulf Arab concerns over America's failure to halt Iran's evolving nuclear weapon program. ...' Arutz Sheva reports that the US had denied the missile test.

Third terror attack in Russia. Arutz Sheva: 'Two people were killed and a third was critically wounded Thursday morning in the third suicide bombing attack in less than a week in the southern Russian republic of Dagestan, located in the northern Caucasus, close to Chechnya. ...'

California Republicans eye Boxer's seat. California's Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, will be challenged by one of three Republicans this fall. It's between former HP chair Carly Fiorina, former Congressman Tom Campbell, and state assemblyman Chuck DeVore. The AP's Kevin Freking reports that the gay marriage issue may play a significant role in this campaign; Campbell, alone of the three candidates, supports same-sex marriage. 'A business professor who holds a doctorate in economics, Campbell is the kind of middle-of-the-road Republican who would be likely to give Boxer a tough challenge as she seeks a fourth term in the Senate. But his opposition to Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that enshrined a ban on gay marriage in the California Constitution, has made him a target of the social conservatives who dominate the ranks of the state GOP.' Fiorina and DeVore are profiled here on Fox; the Bay Area Reporter has an article on Campbell. The BAR says of Campbell:
His neck-and-neck tie with Fiorina is all the more remarkable considering Campbell supports marriage equality and was a vocal opponent against Proposition 8, the measure voters passed in 2008 that overturned the California Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Should he be nominated by GOP voters in the June 8 primary, it would mark the first time that Republicans have backed a pro-same-sex marriage candidate who is truly competitive in a statewide race.


Commentary. I'd like to write more, but I've got to go; I have a little two-and-a-half-year-old girl who is fascinated by the Hebrew alphabet and wants me to show her the letters. My 14-year-old is in New York with his mom's family. Happy Passover if you're celebrating, and enjoy those maccaroons.