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Imagine what hypocrites would do without Israel to condemn

June 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–Sometimes one wonders what the media, the pundits, the leftists, the Presbyterians, and most of Europe would all do if they did have not the Jews to examine and excoriate.  Certainly it’s a collective straight line away from their own inexhaustible layers of racial hypocrisies, inquisitions, crusades, slave-trading, and discarding-all-principles-for-oil that comes with their parlor anti-Semitism.

Since BP (then the Anglo-Persian Oil Company) first raped that land, now called Iran, for oil in 1908, there has been a love-hate liaison with the Arabs that has manipulated the American consumer, cost the lives of the thousands of American soldiers in several business war adventures [Kuwait-Iraq-Saudi Arabia], while conveniently stonewalling our finest ally in the region, Israel, as the scapegoat for any and troubles.

For us, world history has been an oil leak, from betrayal to BP. 

The current, essentially unchecked gushing of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, and the attendant destruction now wrought upon the waters, coast, wildlife, environment—not to mention the hard-working people, economy, and the future of a significant portion of the United States—remains a toxic allegory of this entire duplicity.

Millions of words of analysis and somber reflection, if not steaming chastisement, fill the pages and testimonies of the world’s press and legislative records about Israel’s bungled incident with the cynically presented “peace” flotilla.  Not a lot of parallel consideration has been given to Egypt’s quiet cooperation with Israel’s arms blockade of the Hamas-locked Gaza, or to the fact that Turkey’s sudden and overwrought concern for the Palestinians does not seem to extend to their refugee camps in Lebanon, or to the fact that Jordan massacred manifold times more Palestinians in 1970 deliberately than Israel ever has in defense of its borders, or that the United Kingdom (whose academic centers practically offer anti-Semitism as a curriculum item) invented white colonialism.

Moreover, while it is invigorating that South Africa is hosting the World Cup, it is also beyond any realm of pretense for that nation to join in the knee-jerk labeling of Israel as an “apartheid” state.  Such a libelous claim was again obviated when one of fourteen Arab members of the Israeli Parliament, Azmi Bishara, who was on board the raided flotilla but then addressed her fellow legislators in Jerusalem two days later (I’m not saying she wasn’t heckled).  Try that same scenario in Teheran, Cairo, Damascus, or even Istanbul.

The Israeli people, feisty, democratic, weary, filled with self-awareness, though unwilling to ever give up their remarkable country, are undergoing a thorough and painful period of introspection in the wake of recent events and the larger question of this 43-year occupation of territory that followed the 1967 war forced upon them.  Jews all over the world join with them in contemplation and reflection, hope and prayer.

We are not doing it because the chorus of anti-Semitism is getting louder and uglier.  We are not going to suddenly capitulate on anything, however.  For us, world history has been an oil leak, from betrayal to BP.  So you see, it’s just that we are not going to be marched to the gas chambers ever again.

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Rabbi Kamin is based in San Diego.  This article also appeared on examiner.com

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Napolitano meets with Arab ministers on aviation security

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Press Release)—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday visited Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), at the invitation of UAE Minister of the Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, to meet with her counterparts from the Middle East region and officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to discuss ways to bolster global aviation security.

“The attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25 demonstrated that international terrorist threats must be countered with a coordinated, global response,” said Secretary Napolitano. “My meetings today with partners from nations throughout the Middle East underscore our shared commitment to strengthening global aviation security to better protect the traveling public.”

In Abu Dhabi, Secretary Napolitano addressed UAE ministers and representatives from numerous Middle Eastern countries who attended the conference, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, and met with officials from ICAO—stressing the need for collaborative international action to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.

Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening information sharing with international partners about terrorists and other dangerous individuals and emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation on technological development and deployment; stronger aviation security measures and standards; and coordinated international technical assistance.

This meeting marked the fifth in a series of major international summits—coordinated with ICAO—intended to build consensus around the world to strengthen global aviation security.  These meetings have resulted in joint declarations on aviation security with partners in Africa, the Asia/Pacific region, the Western Hemisphere, and Europe. 

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Preceding provided by U.S. Department of Homeland Security

While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, Secretary Napolitano is committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect the integrity of the global aviation network. Since April, TSA has utilized new enhanced threat and risk-based security protocols—tailored to reflect the most current information available to the U.S. government—for all air carriers with international flights to the United States to strengthen the safety and security of all passengers.

A vision in a California olive grove of Mideast peace

May 16, 2010 1 comment
 

Clockwise from left: Oren Blonder of the Peres Peace Center; Thom Curry of Temecula OliveOil Company, Bonnie Stewart of the Hansen Institute for World Peace; Catherine Demuth-Pepe of the Temecula Olive Oil Company and Sam N. Husseini of the Palestinian consulting company Lion Heart confer in groves in Aguanga.

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

AGUANGA, California—The olive groves in this rural Riverside County community about 20 miles east of Temecula may become one of the growing grounds for Middle Eastern peace if Israeli, Palestinian and American visionaries are successful in promulgating the idea that entrepreneurship and business cooperation between the Middle Eastern neighbors can lead to enduring peaceful relations.

Two entrepreneurial families who own the Temecula Olive Oil Company recently hosted a delegation from San Diego State University’s College of Business Administration; the private Fred J. Hansen Foundation which has provided some funding for the project; and the Peres Peace Center in Israel.  The two-man delegation from the Middle East included Sam N.  Husseini, a Palestinian entrepreneur, and Oren Blonder, an Israeli staff member at the Peres Peace Center who oversees cooperative agricultural projects between Israelis and Palestinians.

Sanford Ehrlich, who heads the Entrepreneurial Management Center within SDSU’s College of Business Administration, and Bonnie Stewart, executive director of the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace, which has become part of that center, have been working for years with the Peres Peace Center and the Palestinian Center for Research and Development to foster a new Palestinian-Israeli industry that would blend olives from both areas into a single peace product.  They call their multinational organization “Entrepreneurs for Peace.”

The organization plans to award 20 scholarships for Middle Eastern MBA students, agribusiness graduate students and young entrepreneurs – 10 from Israel and 10 from the Palestinian areas – to study together August 13-22 at a special institute sponsored by San Diego State University.  While class work will occur on the SDSU campus, at least one of the field trips will be to the Temecula Olive Oil company’s 26-acre farm here and to that company’s retail store in Old Town Temecula or in Old Town San Diego. Application forms now are online at http://emc.sdsu.edu.

The Temecula Olive Oil Company is a partnership of two married couples: Thom and Nancy Curry, and Catherine Demuth-Pepe and Ernie Pepe.  Thom Curry, who oversees the agricultural aspects of the company, serves on the California Olive Oil Council and is one of the judges on that body’s panel giving awards for the oil’s taste.  But besides as a food ingredient, olive oil and its byproducts have many other uses that can quicken the heart of an entrepreneur.

“We produce olive oils the way they have done it for thousands of years,” Thom Curry told the visitors on Friday, May 7.  “The olives are ground into a paste with seeds and everything.  It goes into a mixer, where it is mixed up a little bit, and then it goes into a centrifuge.  It spins about 5,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) and that spins the solids out.  Then you separate the oil from the water when you spin it at 8,000 rpm.  You can do all that continuously and you get oil out the other end, a very efficient process.”

Curry said that the Temecula Olive Oil Company’s operation differs from those occurring over the last several thousand years in that it manufactured its own olive press out of stainless steel, rather than stone. Stainless steel doesn’t absorb oil, and can be easily cleaned.  Thus a problem affecting other presses is eliminated: the tendency for the absorbed oil to turn rancid and to spoil the taste of the newly pressed olive oil.

During the tour and over a lunch of pizza, which guests garnished with different flavors of Temecula Olive Oils  including garlic, citrus and an herbal flavored Rotture di Oro, Curry engaged his guests in a discussion about what else can be done with the oil, water, and solids from pits.

Husseini mentioned that he has seen machines that compress the pits and other solid materials from the olive oil pressing into logs “that burn for hours.”   Blonder said he has witnessed operations in which the byproducts are dried out in a furnace and used for cattle feed.  “It is a pretty neat process, but it is expensive.  The machinery that is involved is a big investment.”

Curry said that water and oil can be separated from the olive oil paste.  “We use the oil for bio-diesel; we run our tractors and I run my truck on it.  The water we get is rather acidic—and there has been some research done on this in Italy and some at UC Davis – where if you spray it in the vineyards, it will act as a weed killer.  It also solidifies the soil a little bit and it increases your yields in the vineyard.   But you have to rotate though; you can’t constantly spray in the same place all the time.”

Husseini said that the olive oil coming from the northern portion of the Palestinian area, near Jenin, are said to contain the highest ratio of anti-oxidants of any fruit or vegetable.

Dr. Gail K. Naughton, a cellular biologist who serves as dean of the SDSU’s College of Business Administration, commented that olive water imbued with anti-oxidants can be sold in the anti-aging market to combat wrinkles.

Naugton, who was the founder of Advanced Tissue Sciences and inventor of some of its products, including skin grown in a test tube for burn victims, noted that a small bottle of anti-wrinkling oil sells for between $25 and $30 at stores. 

Curry said that olive water represents only a tiny portion of byproducts – perhaps 2 percent.  “We were actually talking with someone about this, and one of the ways to affect that (and increase the yield of olive water)  is if you pit the olives before you crush them, you won’t have pits being extracted into that water…. We have looked into buying the pitter.”   However, one of the problems is that when crushed without pits, “everything squirts out – the pits give it more texture.”

Naughton said the anti-oxidant content of olive water can be easily tested by laboratories, adding that the development of the byproduct into an anti-aging cream developed after people noticed that olive workers in Spain, who should look very weathered, somehow managed to have smooth skin.  “They were washing with the water,” she said.  Today, “you can see the little tiny bottles of it on-line.”

Catherine Demeth-Pepe, who oversees Temecula Olive Oil Company’s retail outlets, said, “we do have some ladies who come in for our citrus oil and they use it as a body oil.  We sell it for $17.99 for a large-sized bottle.  You can’t go to Estée Lauder for that!”

One of the women in the group laughingly shook some of the citrus olive oil that had been served with the pizza onto her hand and spread it onto her arms.  “Ooooh, wonderful!” she exclaimed, prompting general merriment.

Curry said that another possible use for olive oil is ice cream, explaining “ice cream is an emulsification product so you need the fat.  Even using the traditional olive oil, you can make ice cream out of that – with sea salt.”

And, commented, another guest, “It has no cholesterol.”

“Actually,” said Curry, “a lot of studies show that it can lower your bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.”

Marvin Spira, a consultant to food industries and to SDSU, pantomimed drinking an  entire bottle of the olive oil to bring his cholesterol down.

Ehrlich said that he had been in Israel last summer and “I was sitting next to a biochemist who says that he takes two tablespoons of olive oil a day, and his cholesterol is at a theoretical zero. …  He said he puts it on his yogurt in the morning.”

The afternoon of brainstorming about possible entrepreneurial products illustrated the excitement that can be generated among creative people with common interests, even those who come from countries that are traditionally adversaries or even enemies.

Husseini acknowledged in an interview with San Diego Jewish World that the Husseinis are one of the well-known extended families who have played a part in Jerusalem history for centuries.  However, he cautioned, just because someone is named Husseini does not mean he is closely related to other Husseinis.  “It’s like the name ‘Cohen’,” among Jews, he explained.  While Cohens may trace their family branches to a common root, they do not automatically consider each other cousins.

Husseini said he is proud that his own family has a reputation for humanitarianism.  He said his father, Dr. Najah Husseini,  retired a few years ago as an orthopedic surgeon with Hadassah Hospital.  “He was a very prominent doctor there, very kind to his patients.  He loves his work, and even today, though he is retired from the hospital, he works a lot over the West Bank.  And, he added, “my mother is a genius: she builds houses.”

Husseini asked me, “Did you ever see the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding?   That is my family.  Everybody tells each other what to do, interferes with each other’s business, and I love that!”

In his own career, Husseini, 38, created Ivycon International, an Italian company specializing in software solutions, especially for high performance automobiles.   He subsequently was invited by USAID in Jerusalem to become a fellow of the Aspen Institute and the first meeting he attended, in Jordan, was eye opening.

At that meeting, “Palestinians, Israelis, Saudis, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Kuwaitis, Qataris, and other people from the Middle East came together.  These were not politicians, they were CEOs, general managers and directors of big organizations, and we came together and we talked about leadership.  They gave you a bunch of essays to read and then you have to discuss them as a group.  It was one of the most profound experiences that I have ever gone through.  Initially believing that as a Palestinian I was the odd man out, I found out that the Israelis also believe everyone hates them, and so do the Lebanese, and the Saudis.  So there was this leadership in the room and we got that  monkey on the table and we discussed it, and we realized that each of us is weak as one entity but we are very strong when we are united.  So the Aspen Institute changed my life by making me think outside the box more than I was doing.”

The Aspen Institute urges its participants to try to change the world for the better, not in a small way, but in a major way.   “They don’t demand it, but you feel an obligation to be part of this elite group to do so.   So I went back to Jerusalem and I am thinking to myself what can I do to really have an impact?  And I thought to myself, I can do something on the Palestinian side myself, but wouldn’t it be better to do a joint project?  So I go to the Peres Center – the Peres Center didn’t come to me – and I meet Oren there and I explain to him my vision of what I would like to do, and it seems that I hit it right on the nail because that is what they wanted to do.”

However, Husseini had been thinking along the lines of joint projects for water recycling, or bio-diesel generation from algae, whereas Blonder was pushing the concept of encouraging entrepreneurship, explaining “Sam, this project is to generate companies and creating employment.”

Agreeing with the concept, Husseini formed the  Lion Heart consulting company in Jerusalem as a vehicle for this work.

With relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel so tense—particularly as the proximity talks are occurring under U.S. sponsorship—does Husseini ever worry about his safety as he promotes regional cooperation?

He responded:  “My wife told me, ‘Sam, I don’t want you to get involved with politics.’  I said, ‘I am not.  I am involved with leadership.’ She says, ‘you are involved with the Peres Center and that is a political entity.’   I will be very frank with you. There is a part of me that is worried.  Yes there is.  But I am also worried that nobody does something and that worries me even more. So I am inspired by the Aspen Institute to do something and I want to do something.  I really want to do something.  I am worried because of the Peres Center affiliation but my joy is overcoming my fear.”

And whereas Husseini cooperates with the Peres Center—in reaching out to other Palestinians—he does not always agree with the Peres Center’s philosophy. 

“Israelis and Palestinians are not different,” he said.  “The same characteristics  good and bad that exist with Israelis exist with the Palestinians.  Me and my friend Oren (Blonder), we argue all the time, and we argue how to solve the situation.  We argue on a positive note.  He believes that we should have a two-state solution and I really highly respect that. My opinion is that we should have a one-state solution.  I just cannot believe that we can divide the people up, the sons of Abraham. We have so much in common and we have one piece of land that is so tiny.  I just don’t believe we can divide it up. … The country is so tiny and I just believe we need to be united.  It is a crazy dream and I am going to try to live everyday with this dream until something happens.”

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Harrison is editor of

San Diego Jewish World
 

 

Sixty-two years later, Arabs still reject independent Israel

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — Today, May 14,  is the sixty-second anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel—which had been voted into existence by the Security Council of the United Nations.  We have no apologies; we are elated; we regret that the two-state solution legislated by the UN at that time has been systemically obviated by Arab truculence and warmongering ever since.

Palestine is one of the greatest default realities to confront the Jewish people, most particularly Israel (which is not 100% Jewish and less than 20% religiously observant), but, as of this printing, Palestine never was, has never been, and does not presently have great prospects of becoming an actual nation.  Palestine is a historic region of the Middle East, a geographic term like, say, “America,” but at no time in history, from scripture till today, was it a nation-state with any kind of civil structure, federal hierarchy, or until the United Nations mandated the creation of Israel in 1947, even a requirement to exist.

Within the region of Palestine, two national entities have existed.  The first was the Kingdom of Judea, founded by David in 1000 BCE, as recorded in both Jewish and Christian Testaments.  Judea fell at the hands of the Roman Empire in the year 70 CE.  In the ensuing 1900 years, no interest was expressed in the region of Palestine by the Arab-Islamic world while millions of Jews, dispersed globally, prayed for a return to Jerusalem.  Palestine was colonized, overrun, and generally left to rot by successive invaders and conquerors.

Jews continued to read and chant about places such as Hebron and Jericho in the Hebrew Scripture, let alone Jerusalem—the centerpiece of Jewish aspirations and history.  Jerusalem, now suddenly sought as the capital of a Palestinian state, is not referred to even once in the Holy Quran.

The second of the only two polities ever created therein is the State of Israel, voted into existence with a 33-13 margin by the UN Security Council in November 1947, following the European genocide of its Jews, and legally recognized as independent on May 14, 1948. 

Meanwhile, there are scores of Arab realms that have existed (though unlike Israel, not one is a democracy) without all of these complications, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, which border Israel, and have either launched wars or served as safe-havens for terrorists over the past 60 years. 

The map reveals other outlying Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other sheikdoms that systematize our gasoline prices, even as 2% of their populations live in oil-lubricated mega-wealth while the rest starve in the desert sun.  The Palestine political saga, as exploited by many Arab leaders, is a great diversion for these poor masses.

It should be noted that the very name “Palestine” was given to Judea by the Romans as a pejorative slap at the Jews; the Romans called it “Philestina” to afflict the Jews with the tag of their arch-enemy, the Philistines.  The section of the Talmud, the greatest wisdom anthology of the Jews that was written in the land is called “the Palestinian Talmud,” and the world-renowned Israeli daily, The Jerusalem Post, was known as The Palestine Post for the first half of the twentieth century. 

It is difficult to invoke or discuss the term “Palestine” without inciting debate, heat, or blood.  Sadly, what are so often left behind in the haze and anguish are facts and realities that blind and endanger people.  My own parents were born in the British Mandate of Palestine—the League of Nations-authorized colony that prevailed there from the close of World War I until the British walked away in 1948 and left the Israelis to fend-off a massive Arab invasion that also canceled the original two-state solution.

And yet:  None of the above erases the several million human beings, who are now effectively the Palestinians (even though the Gazans were once Egyptians and the people in the West Bank were once Jordanians) and who are now deserving of a place on this earth that is free of the righteousness, the manipulation, the cynicism of their own leaders and of those in the Jewish people brave enough to know that there is no future jailed in the past.

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Rabbi Kamin is based in San Diego

Obama using Israel as a scapegoat for his own failed policies

April 26, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–There was no particular courage required to excoriate the government of Israel when its housing minister announced the construction of so many new home units in the Jerusalem area exactly when Vice President Joe Biden was arriving in the country to discuss peace talks.  Many in the Israeli establishment and editorial community were just as mystified by the timing—even the arrogance.

But no courage whatsoever is required for one nation to tell its primary ally and devotee in the Middle East what to do generally within that ally’s municipal sovereignty (especially with respect to its capital city)—let alone try to micro-manage that ally’s business.  Timing is one thing, protocol is another.  No courage here—just temerity. 

Every American president before Obama, Republican and Democrat, has celebrated our extraordinarily special relationship with this brave and spirited little country.

Israel is boldly democratic, to a fault, and at the expense of its own functionality.  It is home to some 120 nationalities and it turns 62 this week without a single US soldier, sailor, or airman ever dying on its soil in a wartime action.  This is not Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam, Korea, or Afghanistan–or Lebanon, where hundreds of American Marines were killed in a 1983 suicide bombing.

President Obama has practically broken his back extending invitations to, declarations of support for, and generally winking at President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan—known to have been elected by fraud, most highly questionable in the categories of democracy and gratitude.  For the better part of a decade, young Americans have been dying in the deserts and mountains of this fractious and bellicose nation of innumerable tribal conflagrations.
President Obama has visited Afghanistan—which is great and surely cheers our brave soldiers there.  He has not chosen to set foot yet in Israel, a republic that both mirrors and fawns over America, even while protecting US interests via its military, scientific, biotechnological, and strategic commitments and successes.

The United States recognized the State of Israel within moments of its independence on May 14, 1948.  President Harry Truman was clear-eyed and declarative.   Every American president since, Republican and Democrat, has celebrated our extraordinarily special relationship with this brave and spirited little country that still fights daily against terrorism and now the announced threat of Iranian nuclear annihilation.

The government of Israel formally recognized the existence of the Palestinian nation on September 13, 1993: I was there at the White House when this happened and witnessed the fateful handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman Yasser Arafat.  It is not the fault of Israel that what is now left, sadly, of the Palestinian nation is an unrecognizable bloody stand-off between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. 

But to now equate America’s entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the tragic loss of US lives in those places, to Israel’s dangerous equation with the Palestinians is facile at best and libelous at worst.  In fact, even as the frustrations and failures of American policy in the Muslim world (including the just-now published government admission that we are not succeeding with Iran) grow, some Americans are simply dumping blame on our friendship with Israel.

This is a blood libel and we Americans have better principles than that.

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Kamin is a freelance writer and author.  His Nothing Like Sunshine: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination was recently published.

Why would U.S. want Afghan pilots trained in Lebanon or Syria?

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C — The U.S. Department of the Army put out a request for information on “Afghanistan National Army Air Corps English and Pilot Training.”

The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is conducting market research by seeking sources with innovative business solutions to (1) train and certify up to 67 Afghani student pilots to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English level 4 in the English language; and (2) provide basic rotary wing or fixed wing Commercial Pilot Training to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) standards.

It is desired that the English language and basic pilot training take place within South West Asia. PEO STRI requests information on sources available to perform training in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Yemen or other locations in Southwest Asia with the capability to provide requested training.

How is it possible that Syria, a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-supporting countries, is considered an acceptable place to train Afghan pilots? Or Lebanon, which has Hezbollah as a member of the governing cabinet in Beirut? Hezbollah is a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations, and until September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Didn’t Kyrgyzstan just have a coup inspired/financed by Russia? Wouldn’t training pro-Western Afghan pilots in Pakistan send those people from the frying pan into the fire? Isn’t Yemen home to some of the most virulently anti-American, anti-Western al Qaeda operatives and preachers, including Anwar al-Awlakiwho was talking to U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan before he killed 13 Americans at Ft. Hood?
 
Aside from the fact that some of the countries listed are not in South West Asia, as the request for information requires, not one is remotely democratic. OK, we’ll give Jordan a few points and some to Iraq, but that’s it. 
 
What would possess the United States Army to expose Afghani pilots, who are supposed to secure a functional and consensual state in Afghanistan, to countries where the governments are almost uniformly totalitarian, functionally repressive, less than hospitable to reform or dissent, and have women in positions of legal inferiority? Saudi Arabia is the financier of a particularly repressive, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic form of Islam exported around the world.
 
We did not expect to see Israel on the list, although Israel certainly is capable of training pilots to the European Joint Aviation Authority standards, and a few months in Israel would impart some Western governmental, judicial and social norms, including religious and political tolerance.
 
But if not Israel, why not Britain or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal? Why not Denmark or Colombia or Mali or Uruguay? Why not India or Indonesia or Taiwan or Japan?
 
The list is clearly weighted toward the part of the world to which President Obama wishes to show American comity. Unfortunately, it is also a part of the world in which neither American policies nor American values are particularly welcome items on the agenda. The list and the thinking behind it are political mistakes that should be corrected. Certainly, they should be corrected before we give the Afghanis the idea that the norms of Syria and Lebanon are ones we want them to adopt.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

Campbell describes himself as a supporter of Israel

February 10, 2010 3 comments

By Bruce Kesler

ENCINITAS, California – In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell is being accused of being anti-Israel by his Republican opponents, who cite his votes in the House of Representatives to reduce aid to Israel and his early advocacy of a Palestinian state. 

In a direct email exchange with this writer, Campbell answered a series of questions intended to probe his overall views on the Middle East.

1. Would Campbell have voted for, against, or abstained in the Senate vote on the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (S. 2799)?

Yes, I would have voted in favor. Note that I’m already on record to support Israeli military action, if it comes to that, directed at destroying Iran’s nuclear capability. This Act is an attempt to increase the pressure so that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. It’s worth trying, but my patience has already run out with all forms of sanctions.

2. Would Campbell vote in favor, against, or abstain in the vote on the full $3-billion security assistance aid to Israel in President Obama’s proposed budget?

I have always voted for the military aid portion of assistance to Israel. Like the Netanyahu government, in the past and now, I favor lowering the amount of American economic assistance to countries more able to take care of themselves, so that US foreign economic assistance can go to the neediest countries.

3. Would Campbell vote in favor, against, or abstain in the repeated votes in favor of the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there?

I always favored the United States paying Israel the respect we pay other nations, of recognizing the capital city of their own choosing, and placing our embassy there.

4.A. Would Campbell require an act of Congress under the War Powers Act in order to send emergency arms and supplies to Israel if attacked?

The War Powers Act is triggered only by the presence of US troops in “hostilities.” Nothing in sending arms and supplies to Israel would trigger the Act. So, no, I would not require an act of congress to send emergency arms and supplies to Israel if attacked.

4.B. Would Campbell vote in favor, against, or abstain in his vote for such an act of Congress?

I would vote in favor. My vote in favor of going to war when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait was as much a vote to defend Israel as to defend Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. All three nations were attacked.

5. Does Campbell support, criticize, or have no public position about the Goldstone Report?

I have not read the Goldstone Report, and would need to do so before offering an informed opinion.

6. Does Campbell believe, not believe, or stand undecided on whether the “Israel lobby” has excess influence on US foreign policy?

 All Americans have the right to petition Congress and the President, and those Americans who wish to do so on behalf of a stronger American-Israeli relationship should  not be criticized for doing so. The influence of those Americans is not “excess influence.”

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Okay, politicians are politicians, and often say what they think the electorate wants to hear.  Campbell’s record of speaking his mind, however, has not followed that tacky pattern.  One may agree with him, or not.  It is most important  to remove Senator Barbara Boxer. 

Carly Fiorina, Campbell’s well-self-funded primary opponent, can directly speak to current issues and differences without selectively tossing mud-covered rocks.  That is jackelish. That only aids Boxer, and does not further Republicans or Fiorina, or Israel.

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Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California