Friday, December 6, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: The Bedouin Problem and the Only Possible Solution



by Mordechai Kedar
 

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)

At the end of November, 2013, Israel experienced a series of demonstrations throughout the Arab areas, some of which were violent, as part of the “Day of Rage” over the government’s decision to implement the “Prawer Plan” to solve the problems relating to land in the Negev. Arab spokesmen – all of whom are Israeli citizens - threw around slogans such as “third intifada”, “Land Day II” and “Bedouin revolt”, slogans that were meant to incite the Arab public, which represents a fifth of the citizens of the state. Politicians and leaders of the Islamic movement tried to stir up emotions against the state and its decision regarding the Bedouins settling on state lands in the Negev.

The impression is that the problem is about land, because the Bedouins, who live scattered over the area, have built houses on land that belongs to the state without permission or building permits, without general planning or infrastructure. Now the state wants to put matters in order, so questions arise such as how much each Bedouin should receive as part of the arrangement and how much monetary compensation he will get for the territory that he gives up, despite the fact that no Bedouin has or had any proof of ownership of the land that he claims is his. Until today, all of the Bedouins’ legal claims that have reached the courts have failed because of this, and now the state is interested in solving the matter of illegal Bedouin settlements through legal procedures.


However, the truth of the matter is that the problem is not only an issue of the land and the Bedouins’ illegal settlement on state lands, but is both wider and deeper. Wider – because there are still serious problems between the state and the Bedouins, and deeper – because all of these differences stem from the tremendous gaps between the Bedouin culture and a state culture.


Another problem related to the Bedouins is the problem of polygamy. Approximately four years ago (April 21, 2009), in The Marker, Haaretz’s economic supplement,  Meirav Arlozorov published information stating that at that time, 5,829 women were listed as single mothers in the Negev, who had 23,855  children between them. At that time, 155 women had 10 children each, and there were even two women with as many as 17 children each. Anyone can easily understand that these are not single mothers, but each woman is the second, third or fourth wife married, according to Islamic Shari’a, to one man, and living together with him in one household. If this was the situation four years ago, what is the situation today?


The current situation is made possible because of two factors, cultural and economic. The cultural factor is that within the traditional Bedouin culture, a man is expected to marry more than one woman in order to prove his manhood. A man who lives with one woman is thought to be weak and worthless. In addition, a man hopes to expand his family as much as possible so that it will have more economic, social and political weight in the system of Bedouin society. For example: the number of votes in elections to the local council will be greater, so all of the candidates will come to him to solicit his support.


The economic factor in polygamy is that the government welfare institution grants subsidies according to children’s benefits for each woman separately, regardless of whether she reports herself as married or single, so bringing children into the world is a productive business. This year (July, 26, 2013), in the Tzedek supplement of the Makor Rishon newspaper, Yehuda Yifrach publicized the fact that Bedouin families receive hundreds of millions of shekels per year from government welfare programs by means of fictional divorces in Shari’a court, awarding negligible alimony to the “divorcees” (who usually continue living with their husbands) so that the government welfare institution would be obligated to give them supplemental payments.


The entire story of polygamy in the Negev is very puzzling, since polygamy is against the law in Israel. Therefore the question immediately arises: why does the state not enforce this law on the Bedouins, and why does it finance polygamy among them by granting children’s benefits and income supplements? The answer is clear: the state understands that the issue is a cultural matter related to the Bedouin sector so it prefers to pay them, using resources that would have been available to other sectors, just to keep the Bedouins quiet, so they will not demonstrate and not block the roads.


Another matter connected to marriage is unions between relatives. Most couples in the Negev are relatives, and the result is that many children suffer from genetic diseases, some of which are severe and life-threatening. The high rate of infant mortality within the Bedouin sector stems in part from this reason. The state must allocate many resources to care for the children who suffer from genetic defects. Marriage between relatives is also a cultural matter related to tribal conventions.


Another cultural matter related to Bedouins is the matter of honor killing and blood feuds. In this matter as well, the state prefers to close an eye and not see the serious transgressions that are committed within the Bedouin sector, whether because of the difficulty in investigating them – no Bedouin would testify against another Bedouin – or because of the leniency with which the law enforcement agencies (police, state’s attorney, courts, prisons and the mechanism of pardons) relate to these acts of murder. The researcher Manar Hasan exposed this leniency in an important and painful article that was published in the book “Sex, Gender and Politics”, edited by D. Yizraeli.


Additional problematic matters with the Bedouin sector that have come to light in recent years are the culture of “protection money” in building sites and industrial areas, for example: Emek Sarah in Beersheba, and smuggling of drugs, guns, women and foreign workers from Sinai and Jordan.


All of these matters – illegal building on state lands, polygamy, marriage among relatives, murder, blood feuds, protection and smuggling – which are connected to the Bedouin sector, prove that rather than being a case of a few isolated incidents, the problem is that the Bedouin culture sees the law of the state as law that is not part of the Bedouin culture. In this, the Bedouins in Israel are no different from the Bedouins throughout the Arab world, who live parallel and separate lives from the rest of the state, and within another legal system – “customs and tradition” – which is based on the sense of “we are here and the state is there”. The group gives them power, because the state – for reasons of convenience – does not deal with each separate Bedouin, but with a consolidated and violent tribe that would not hesitate to take to violence if it feels that its interests are endangered.


Tribal culture is the basis for all of the problems that are connected with the Bedouins, not only in Israel but in the entire Middle East: in Libya, in Iraq, in Yemen, in Syria, in Algeria, in Egypt (Sinai) and in many other places, tribes struggle with the state in order to maintain their culture, their laws, their customs and their traditions, that are usually contrary to the laws of the state and its regulations. The tribe has its own leadership and its own legal system and in many matters it conducts itself as an entity that is independent and separate from the state. Among the Bedouins, the state is considered a hostile entity since it aims to enforce its laws on the tribe.


The situation among the Bedouins of the Negev is not different in principle from the situation of the Bedouins throughout the Middle East. Since the State of Israel was established more than 65 years ago it has not dealt correctly with the matter. Beginning in 1968 the State of Israel has been attempting to settle the Bedouins in towns that were built for them: Rahat, Tel Sheva, Kuseifa, Lakiyya, Hura, Aro’er and Segev Shalom. A significant part of the Bedouins indeed did move to these towns and changed their lifestyle considerably, but tribalism has also moved from the desert to the city: the neighborhoods in the city are usually settled according to the tribal code, and the people’s conduct and behavior still have traditional tribal characteristics: in one of the Bedouin towns in the Negev, a child was run over by a member of another tribe, and every child belonging to the driver’s tribe stopped walking to the neighborhood school, since they had each become a potential murder victim, in revenge for the child that had been run over. They demanded that the state build a special school for them, because the way to the school passes through the neighborhood of the child that was killed, and therefore they can no longer walk to the general school in the community.


Moving to the town does not solve the issue of polygamy, since in the cities as well, there are families in which one man lives with several wives according to Islamic Shari’a, despite its being a transgression of the laws of the state. And many Bedouins in the towns continue to earn their living from illegal occupations. The state hesitates to enforce its laws on the Bedouin sector, and this is obvious in the lack of enforcement of the planning and building laws. Local politics in Bedouin towns is based on the tribe, and inter-tribal conflicts make it difficult for the local authorities to function. In many cases, when a Bedouin town's council becomes dysfunctional due to endless conflicts between the tribes, the interior minister is forced to disband the municipal council, dismiss the mayor and appoint a committee and a mayor from outside to manage the town. 


In conclusion: the basis of the problem with the Bedouin sector is that it has been left behind on the platform as the train of the state has progressed into the twenty first century. Great parts of the Bedouin sector still live tribal lives, according to rules that are contrary to the laws of the state. The tribal lifestyle influences all areas of life – type of housing, education, occupation and family relations – and interferes with the state’s ability to solve the problems of its citizens in the Bedouin sector. The state has never tried to deal with the problem in a holistic way, but has rather tried to solve the problem of housing without regard to dealing with the other problems. This is where the difficulties in dealing with the problem of lands and housing stem from. In the absence of a state policy, the door is opened for the involvement of foreign bodies such as the Islamic movement, which exploits the confusion in the state’s institutions, and conducts a boom of illegal building on state lands in projects that include thousands of people who come from other areas into the Negev for one day for just this purpose. These projects are carried out openly with many advertisements before and afterwards, and the state doesn’t do a thing; it is paralyzed when confronted with the determination of the Islamic movement.


The solution


The thread that ties together all of the problems related to Bedouins is the Bedouin culture, which is based on the tribe. Tribal culture is a high barrier that separates the Bedouin public from life in a modern state that conducts itself according to the law of equality for all of its citizens. If the state desires to bring the Bedouins to a situation where they are normative citizens, it must not only take them out of the desert, it must take the desert out of them. The solution to the Bedouin problem in the Negev must not be limited to dealing with the matter of housing, since the problem of housing is only a small part of the tribal culture. If the state desires to solve the problem at its root it must take care of problems that are a result of tribal culture.


The treatment of the Bedouins must involve a holistic, inclusive approach, and relate to all areas of life: housing, occupation, education and family relations. Moreover, the state must relate to the Bedouin lawbreaker as it does to any other lawbreaker, and if he breaks the law, the state must not treat him leniently just because he was born to a large and powerful Bedouin tribe that can exert pressure on the enforcement agencies.


Towns for Bedouins must be planned, with infrastructures for water, sewage, electricity and communications, and with public institutions, industrial areas, employment and social services. The state must invest all of the necessary resources in this effort so that the Bedouin towns in the Negev will be equal to any other city in the state of Israel. On the other hand, private building, scattered outside the communities, must be considered a severe transgression of the laws of the state, and these lawbreakers must be tried and punished. The state must behave toward its citizens in the Negev exactly as it does toward citizens in Tel Aviv or in Herzliya, because if it is not so, severe discrimination is created between the citizens of the state: the situation would exist where the citizen in Tel Aviv is forbidden to build illegally on state land, while a citizen in the Negev is permitted. 


The state must establish places of employment and industrial areas in the Bedouin towns in order to develop incentives and grant its Bedouin citizens the ability to make an honorable living in normative occupations. The institutions of higher education in the state must be open and accessible to any Bedouin, man or woman, who is interested and capable of learning in them. On the other hand, the state must enforce the law to its fullest severity on anyone who deals in smuggling, “protection” or any other illegal occupation.


The state must use the educational system to impart to the young generation of Bedouins the concepts of citizenship that will supersede tribal laws. A Bedouin girl must learn that according to state law, as well as Islamic law, she has the right to choose a life partner for herself, even if he is from another tribe, and that she can marry him with the condition that he not take another wife after her. The educational system must provide the youth of the Bedouin sector with
information and awareness regarding the genetic dangers associated with marriage between relatives, and that everyone – whether woman or man – has the right to learn, to progress in life and to develop a professional career.

The educational system must impart to the youth of this sector the obligation to obey the laws of the state and especially if they are contrary to the laws of the tribe. The prohibition against violence must be a guiding principle for every citizen, including the Bedouin. Education must relate to polygamy as something that is against the law and is therefore forbidden. The educational message must give to the new generation of Bedouin men the sense that their manliness does not stem from the number of wives that they have but from the way that each man relates to his only wife, and that the number of children is less important than their education and making sure that each child gets what any modern child should from his parents.


Educators in the Bedouin sector must act in accordance with the principle that their task is to impart to the young generation the desire and the ability to be a citizen with equal rights and obligations, that he is an autonomous person with the right to make decisions independently, and is not subservient to any group.


The state must enforce the law of National Insurance in such a way that it will not subsidize breaking the law, which forbids polygamy. The state must limit the children’s benefits according to each household, in such a way that every man can get benefits only for one wife to whom he is legally married, and her children. The state must stop the benefits to wives who were brought to the Negev from Mount Hebron, from Jordan, from Saudi Arabia or from the Gaza Strip, including Ismail Haniye’s sister. There is no reason that the state’s money should be spent on the citizens of foreign states.


The government’s policy towards the Bedouin sector must be consistent over the years, without regard to changes in government. Cultural change does not occur overnight and calls for a large and long-range investment. The state must allocate the necessary resources to bring this cultural change to the Bedouin sector in order to bring it into the twenty first century, otherwise this important sector will remain in the cultural desert of the Middle East.


===============

Dr. Kedar is available for lectures


Dr. Mordechai Kedar
(Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.



Translated from Hebrew by SallyZahav with permission from the author.


Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

Plundering Sold As Populism



by Arnold Ahlert


In a testament to the literal bankruptcy of socialism, a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) advocates for both a massive tax increase and a “one-off” worldwide tax of approximately 10 percent on anyone with more assets than debt. The former idea is a proven economic non-starter. The latter idea amounts to outright plundering.

Released in October, “Taxing Times” makes the case that ever-expanding government debt, coupled with rising levels of income inequality, leaves policy-makers with few other options for dealing with the fiscally irresponsible welfare states they themselves created. It is a level of fiscal irresponsibility that has pushed the average level of public debt to a “historic peak” of 110 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is 35 percent higher than it was in 2007.

Two “solutions” mentioned by the IMF are “repudiating public debt” which amounts to nothing less than sovereign defaults on government bonds, or “inflating it away,” which is what the massive creation of currency out of thin air, better known Quantitative Easing (QE) policy, courtesy of the Federal Reserve, is all about.

Yet the most outrageous part of the IMF’s proposal has been reduced to two sentences. “The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a ‘capital levy’–a one-off tax on private wealth–as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability. The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair).”

As despicable as the proposal itself is, amounting to nothing more than outright confiscation by an elitist cabal of government and bank officials, note the method these would-be gangsters would employ. “If it is implemented before avoidance is possible,” means they would be willing to appropriate billions of dollars of individual wealth in a globally coordinated effort–after secretly agreeing to do so.

Amazingly, the report makes no effort to hide that reality. “Financial wealth is mobile, and so, ultimately, are people. … There may be a case for taxing different forms of wealth differently according to their mobility … Substantial progress likely requires enhanced international cooperation to make it harder for the very well-off to evade taxation by placing funds elsewhere.”

While “enhanced international cooperation” sounds somewhat innocuous, it amounts to tossing the concepts of national sovereignty, the rule of law, and the democratic process on the ash heap of history. Moreover, is anyone supposed to believe that the very same elitists who hatched this scheme would leave their assets vulnerable for the taking?

Unfortunately outright plundering of peoples’ wealth is only part of the equation. As the IMF reveals, ”revenue-maximizing top income tax rates” would also be part of their gargantuan wealth redistribution plan. The report contends that the average revenue-maximizing tax rate for the primary Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries would be approximately 60 percent. Singling out the United States, the IMF notes that a top tax bracket of 70 percent, far above the already high 45 percent in local, state and federal taxes currently paid by wealthier Americans, would yield a maximum amount of revenue–even as the IMF admits their approach fails to consider the well-being of the individuals and/or businesses that would bear the brunt of their proposals. “A revenue-maximizing approach to taxing the rich effectively puts a weight of zero on their well-being–contentious, to say the least…,” the report states.

Writing in Forbes Magazine, Competitive Enterprise Institute Fellow Bill Frezza hones in on the combination of duplicity and myopia such thinking represents.

First, he explains that the IMF is well aware of the reality that even if 100 percent of the so-called One Percenters’ wealth were confiscated, governments would remain under-funded. Hence the 10 percent one-off on everyone with positive net worth. Even worse, by the IMF’s own admission, this plan would merely “restore debt sustainability.” That means those same governments would once again be free to run up even more debt, precipitating an even bigger crisis. And despite their empty assertion that it would never be repeated, another plundering–or worse–would undoubtedly be part of the mix.

Yet what really bothers Frezza is the notion that the only other alternative proposed by the IMF other than what he rightly characterizes as “wholesale robbery,” is default, either outright, or by Weimar Republic-like hyperinflation. “Structural reform proposals for the Ponzi-scheme entitlement programs that are bankrupting us are nowhere to be seen,” he explains.

What can be seen are the results of the first round of plundering that has already occurred. In Cyprus, where bank holders’ deposits were looted beginning last March by the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB)–collectively referred to as the “Troika”–the economy has endured its largest contraction since the mid-1970s. According to estimates by the Troika, the Cypriot economy is expected to shrink by a staggering 8.7 percent in 2013, and another 3.9 percent next year. They claim it will grow by a paltry 1.1 percent beginning in 2015, but it is worth remembering their miserable track record of predictions with regard to Greece, which remains mired in the sixth year of an outright depression that has produced a 25 percent unemployment rate, and an economy only three-quarters of its pre-crisis size.

“From New York to London, Paris and beyond, powerful economic players are deciding that with an ever-deteriorating global fiscal outlook, conventional levels and methods of taxation will no longer suffice,” writes Romain Hatchuel, managing partner of Square Advisors, LLC, a New York-based asset management firm, in the Wall Street Journal. ”That makes weapons of mass wealth destruction–such as the IMF’s one-off capital levy, Cyprus’s bank deposit confiscation, or outright sovereign defaults–likelier by the day.”

No doubt for much of the American left, the IMF’s idea of outright confiscation is irresistible, one they would undoubtedly justify as a viable solution for America’s ever-increasing income gap that has reached its worst level since 1928. Yet those would be the very same leftists who have applauded the Obama administration’s massive spending spree, in all its national debt-exploding glory, despite the reality that the average American has seen a 4.4 percent decline in wages since the recovery began in 2009. Even worse, they have heartily supported the Federal Reserve’s unconscionable QE policy that one of its own implementers characterized as “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”

Furthermore, any American who wants an up-to-date look at the ultimate destination of government-sponsored confiscatory policies can look at what is occurring in Venezuela. It is there Chavez successor President Nicolas Maduro has carried on his ”economic offensive” against “bourgeois parasites,” aka the private sector. Maduro has seized electronic stores and arrested “unscrupulous” businessmen who are “gouging” people with “unfair” prices on their wares. Lost in the manufactured populist rage is the reality that the nation’s inflation rate is currently 54 percent. Shortages in basic goods such as milk and toilet paper further epitomize the failure that 15 years of socialism has wrought on a nation with the biggest oil reserves in the world–and all of this is occurring before businesses currently being looted will somehow be expected to re-stock their inventory.

That the IMF would remain either unconcerned or willfully oblivious as to what would eventually happen if individual bank accounts were looted–”before avoidance is possible,” no less–is impossible to imagine. That socialism inevitably evolves into outright gangsterism is not. As Ryan Bourne, head of economic research at the Centre for Policy Studies explains, IMF policies such as this one are based on “an ideological assumption that wealth is a collective resource, with governments the benevolent seekers of the common good, whose ability to provide services is undermined by an eroding tax base.” He further notes such policies “should be anathema to anyone valuing individual freedom, growth and long-term fiscal responsibility.”

Whether those who value individual freedom, growth and long-term fiscal responsibility can withstand the onslaught of those who value power and control engendered by dependency, entitlement and outright looting–sold as benevolent governance–remains to be seen.


Arnold Ahlert

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/arnold-ahlert/plundering-sold-as-populism/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

US Concerned al-Qaida may Establish Syrian Base



by Yoni Hirsch

New York Times report: Security community in the United States fears an al-Qaida base in Syria would threaten both Israel and Europe • New jihadi network appears to be spreading from Libya to Yemen • Obama administration's optimism unfounded.


Jihadi fighters in Syria
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Photo credit: AFP

The ongoing turmoil in the Middle East has created new opportunities for terror organizations and is raising concerns in the American security community that terrorists identified with al-Qaida will create a base in Syria, threatening both Israel and Europe, The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

According to the report, the new signs of a jihadi network, which spreads from Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, cast a shadow over the Obama administration's optimism that al-Qaida was weakening and the war on terror was in the final stretch. 

The heads of the intelligence committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), admitted on Sunday in an interview with CNN that the United States is not any safer from terror attacks than it was in 2011, when Osama bin Laden was assassinated. 

"To the extent that I am concerned about al-Qaida the brand, it's that it is clearly expanding its affiliates, both in number and in some cases in capability," chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told The New York Times. The report suggested that the American concern stems in part from an intercepted message from al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in which he had said that he saw in Syria the potential for a terror base.

Experts believe this will force the Obama administration to implement more active policies to counter the threat posed by extremist rebel groups. The problem with this is that harming rebel groups could sabotage attempts to depose President Bashar Assad. 

"We need to start talking to the Assad regime again" about counterterrorism and other issues of shared concern, Ryan C. Crocker, a veteran diplomat who has served in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan told The New York Times. "It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence."


Yoni Hirsch

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=13805

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama’s One-War Posture Invites Two



by Frank Gaffney, Jr.


The latest manifestation of Barack Obama’s serial national security fraud is on display at the moment in East Asia.  For much of his presidency, Mr. Obama has contended that the defense budget could be dramatically reduced because, henceforth, the United States would only need sufficient military capability to fight one war at a time.

Predictably, the sorts of geostrategic realities that have argued historically for a two-war capability are intruding on the President’s dangerously false representations.  The concept is simple:  By having the ability to fight and decisively win two nearly simultaneous conflicts in different parts of the world, you discourage any potential adversaries from thinking they can act with impunity once the United States has become engaged in one distant war.
Ronald Reagan called this sort of posture “peace through strength.”

Now, however, we confront a Middle East that is becoming more explosive by the day.  That is due, in part, to Mr. Obama’s earlier acts of malfeasance and fraud, including his woefully deficient nuclear deal with Iran – which is only beginning to reverberate throughout the region – and the destabilizing dynamics engendered by the ongoing Islamist uprising he has supported from Tunisia to Bahrain.

Meanwhile, China is acting increasingly aggressively towards its neighbors in the Western Pacific, most of whom have relied for decades on the sort of American protection that – thanks to the Obama military-wrecking operation – is no longer assured.  Beijing has obviously concluded that the United States has neither the muscle nor the will to interfere with Chinese bullying of our allies.  It may, by design or by miscalculation, precipitate actual hostilities with Japan over the contested Senkaku Islands controlled by the latter.

China’s latest lurch in that direction occurred last week when it declared an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) covering those islands.  The Obama administration has sent mixed signals in response, defiantly flying without the required advance notice unarmed B-52 bombers and other aircraft into the PRC’s new ADIC.  Yet, its FAA has directed U.S. commercial carriers to conform to Chinese requirements for filing flight plans. The latter guidance has, understandably, infuriated the Japanese who asserted their sovereignty by telling Japan’s airlines not to file such plans with Beijing, and who see in the American move yet another indication of our unreliability.

Those concerns are likely to be heightened, not allayed, by Mr. Obama’s dispatch of Vice President Joe Biden for consultations in Tokyo and Seoul and meetings with China’s president, Xi Jinping.  For one thing, Mr. Biden’s interlocutors are sure to have noticed that he is regarded with derision by his own countrymen.  It seems unlikely that reflexively xenophobic Chinese will respect him more.  For another, the message he seems likely to convey to China’s new leader – with whom the Vice President has spent considerable time in previous home-and-home visits – is one of accommodation, not resolve.

Even if Joe Biden could find it in himself to demand that China rescind its ADIZ declaration and, while he’s at it, insist that his Communist hosts renounce their outrageous claims to sovereignty over most of the South and East China Seas, the message would be as incredible as the messenger.  In the absence of the actual capacity to project American power in East Asia, China will seek to fill the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of the United States from the dominant force in that region to a middling, unreliable and wasting one.

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has long warned that, “Weakness is provocative.”  Consequently, we are sure to confront not just further encroachment by China on the territory and natural resources of its neighbors.  We will also witness Chinese bullying that may well translate into shooting wars.

China is going to great lengths to ensure that, if it comes to that, a United States that is still militarily superior by most measures will suffer greatly at its hands – and probably thereby be deterred.  For example, Beijing is introducing precision-guided, conventionally armed ballistic missiles designed to destroy aircraft carriers at sea, together with anti-satellite weapons intended to give the PRC space control.

In addition, high-speed torpedoes with the capability to circumvent our countermeasures and advanced stealth fighters will pose a formidable threat to whatever forces we may still be able to muster.  And, as Chinese media recently boasted, nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missiles are now poised to kill between 5-12 million Americans through attacks on Western U.S. cities and radioactive fallout downwind stretching as far as Chicago.

As in the Middle East, the perception among friends and foes alike of American disengagement and unilateral disarmament will probably translate into the proliferation of nuclear weapons in nations from Saudi Arabia to Japan.  Such a development would, of course, complicate the plans of aggressors, like Iran and China.  But it will also contribute to the growing volatility of some of the world’s most explosive tinderboxes and, in the case of the Saudis, result in the migration of nuclear arms to jihadists.

President Obama has contributed materially to the heightened danger the Free World now faces with his abandoning of the Reagan philosophy of peace through strength.  His underfunded one-war capability leaves us exceedingly vulnerable to the ambitions of our enemies.  And, tragically, the next war – or two – may, like so many in the past, have been preventable, if only we had not relied on hope rather than strength to keep the peace.


Frank Gaffney, Jr.

Source: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2013/12/02/obamas-one-war-posture-invites-two/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Common Core Standards: Throwing Gasoline on a Fire



by Bruce Deitrick Price


Common Core was sold to the public as a way to improve public schools.  Arguably, it's the opposite.


First of all, the people in charge have been in charge for 85 years.  They have proved themselves to be architects of mediocrity and decline, nothing else. 


Second, Common Core locks in place bad ideas that have plagued us for decades.  Sight-words in reading, Reform Math curricula in arithmetic, Constructivism in the teaching of knowledge, and many other failed theories and methods beloved by left-wing professors.


Third, Common Core Standards give federal bureaucrats more power.  Communities will have less flexibility.  It's everything a totalitarian government wants. 


The essential flaw in Common Core was stated in 2010 by Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a Democrat.  According to the Virginian-Pilot: "Kaine argued that the federal rules for standards were focused on 'strategies and approaches, not content outcomes.'"  Precisely.  The so-called experts love tweaking theory, not making sure that children learn.


Sixty years ago, the Education Establishment smugly bragged, "We don't teach history.  We teach children."  That's the switch Gov. Kaine is talking about.


For thousands of years, schools were concerned with one thing: teaching content.  John Dewey and the Education Establishment adopted the opposite approach.  Content is the unwanted guest at the funeral.  To hide the shift away from sound practice, public schools are adrift in a fog of propaganda and sophistry.

For example, Common Core contains one of the biggest flip-flops in the history of education.  A few years ago, teachers were told to teach each child differently.  Now the Common Core dogma says every teacher must teach the same things in the same way, across the country.  


For a second example, Common Core is full of weird techniques.  One dictates that children must read more dull instructional texts, not literature.  But it's stories that draw children into reading.  (Look at what adults read for fun.)


A third example is called Close Reading.  The idea is that children, many of whom can hardly read, will spend days rereading short, difficult passages.  This gimmick covers up the fact that many children cannot read easy passages fluently.


A new book, Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon, by attorney Robin Eubanks, "details extensive evidence ... that education became an invisible and purposeful means of restructuring the West, especially the US, away from individualism and capitalism towards a more collectivist orientation in the future. A goal that guides the actual Common Core implementation[.]"


The fraudulence of Common Core was revealed four years ago, when the corestandards.org website first appeared.  


Consider students in second-grade arithmetic.  What would be a reasonable standard that everyone understands?  Try this: "Children can count to 100.  They can add and subtract two-digit numbers."  Only 13 words.  Parents can quickly evaluate how their children are doing.  Perfect.


But here are actual Common Core Math Standards for second grade (read as much as you can stand):

In Grade 2, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) extending understanding of base-ten notation; (2) building fluency with addition and subtraction; (3) using standard units of measure; and (4) describing and analyzing shapes.
1. Students extend their understanding of the base-ten system. This includes ideas of counting in fives, tens, and multiples of hundreds, tens, and ones, as well as number relationships involving these units, including comparing. Students understand multi-digit numbers (up to 1000) written in base-ten notation, recognizing that the digits in each place represent amounts of thousands, hundreds, tens, or ones (e.g., 853 is 8 hundreds + 5 tens + 3 ones).
2. Students use their understanding of addition to develop fluency with addition and subtraction within 100. They solve problems within 1000 by applying their understanding of models for addition and subtraction, and they develop, discuss, and use efficient, accurate, and generalizable methods to compute sums and differences of whole numbers in base-ten notation, using their understanding of place value and the properties of operations. They select and accurately apply methods that are appropriate for the context and the numbers involved to mentally calculate sums and differences for numbers with only tens or only hundreds.
3. Students recognize the need for standard units of measure (centimeter and inch) and they use rulers and other measurement tools with the understanding that linear measure involves an iteration of units. They recognize that the smaller the unit, the more iterations they need to cover a given length.
4. Students describe and analyze shapes by examining their sides and angles. Students investigate, describe, and reason about decomposing and combining shapes to make other shapes. Through building, drawing, and analyzing two- and three-dimensional shapes, students develop a foundation for understanding area, volume, congruence, similarity, and symmetry in later grades.

That's only the "Introduction" for second grade.  There's much more.  Is anyone impressed by such logorrhea?  What parent can declare, "Oh yes, my child can do that"?


It's difficult to imagine an intelligent person reading this jargon and still supporting Common Core.  Rhetoric like this screams: "Welcome, suckers." 


Virtually all the Standards suffer from 1) murkiness, as in the verbiage above; or from 2) unreality, as in the sort of Standard that glibly announces that every child will be college-ready, career-ready, and a lifelong reader.  Most children will be none of the above.


Finally, what does all this blah-blah-blah accomplish?  It makes all previous textbooks obsolete.  Cha-ching!  Education as social engineering, education as cash cow.  Which is more offensive?  You don't have to decide.  You have both on steroids.


Imagine the tedious, incoherent textbooks that will be based on those so-called Standards.  Imagine the tests that students will have to endure to show that they have unscrambled the scrambled.  Imagine all the teachers in the country going back to school to learn how to teach this malarkey.  Imagine the Department of Education coming after private schools and homeschoolers, forcing them to use this stuff.  Every bit of it, as seen in the long quote above, violates the first rule of education, which says: start with the simple, gain mastery, move gradually to the complex.  First, count to 10, then to 25.  Elementary school kids don't need to know number theory or that numbers are base-10, which suggests base-8, etc.  Even to mention this is disruptive and sadistic.


Indeed, wallow all day in this recent headline: "Principals say Common Core tests make little kids vomit, pee their pants." Sadists rule.


In short, Common Core is a Pandora's box.  Not tested, not voted on by the community, all of it expensive and destructive.  Common Core is like ObamaCare: too much regulation, too much government power. 


What do you get when you throw gasoline on a fire?  You get more fire, more smoke.  Less house. 


And you get this: "One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, 'This is too hard,' and 'I can't do this,' throughout his test booklet."  Tell that kid to thank Obama and Arne Duncan.


QED: every state should withdraw from Common Core.



Bruce Deitrick Price analyzes educational theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/common_core_standards_throwing_gasoline_on_a_fire.html

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Why Israel Is More Secure in 2014 than in 2013



by Barry Rubin



Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad run with homemade rockets to put in place before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City.

Masked Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad run with homemade rockets to put in place before later firing them into Israel on the outskirts of Gaza City.

Articles in the Israeli media based on analysis of security in 2014 present a surprisingly optimistic assessment, though not from a U.S. perspective and still with some warnings.
 
Most of the work is by Ron Ben Yishai, and it poses a very different, and, I think, more accurate view than in the rest of the world.
 
Direct conventional threats to Israel decreased dramatically due to internal conflicts and conflict among hostile states.
 
Second, while there are a greater number of terror groups, they are more diffuse and divided (especially along Sunni-Shi’a lines). As Ben Yishai points out, “Sinai and Syria have at the moment–and will likely have next year too–good, existential reasons to try not to get entangled in a wide-scale conflict with Israel.”
 
As for Syria, it isn’t going to make big problems for Israel, as it has enough problems of its own already.
 
And that’s also true of Lebanon: “Experts estimate [that Hizballah will] think twice before entering a conflict with the IDF. Hassan Nasrallah is maintaining his powers so that he can attack Israel if Iran’s nuclear facilities are attacked and in order to continue aiding the Assad regime in Syria. This aid– at Khamenei’s explicit order– put Nasrallah in a complicated situation against the other factions in Lebanon and weakened him.”
 
Hizballah “hardly strengthened its military capabilities in the past year… at the cost of hundreds of casualties” and it “has not received a lot of strategic weapons from Syria or Iran.” If Hizballah pushes Israel, it is estimated that it will suffer a very serious defeat.
 
Gaza and Hamas might pose a more serious problem. There is an effort by Hamas to build tunnels to launch rockets. But remember that here, out of self-interest, Egypt is cooperating to stop this, which takes us to our third point.
 
Third is Egypt. Israel and Egypt need each other to coordinate fighting Islamist terrorism in Sinai. And as for trust in the U.S. policy, Egypt is like a U.S. client that just got an Obamacare insurance cancellation in the mail. Egypt needs Russia, too.
 
“Not all of these positive opportunities and others will be realized in the coming year, but even if some of them yield a positive result–it’s good enough.” Remember that, again, this is in no way due to U.S. policy.
 
Fourth, the Sunni bloc has been split by Egyptian anger toward Turkey (Turkey’s support for the overthrown Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt recently kicking out the Turkish ambassador) and Saudis who suspect Turkey may be playing up to Iran (as well as distrust because they are Turks).
 
Fifth is the set of interests shared between Israel and Saudi Arabia, given Iran’s regional status and the threat hanging over them of Iranian hegemony as well as of radical political Islamism.
 
Sixth, it will weaken focus on the Palestinian issue and increase the divide between Hamas and Fatah, with Iran becoming Hamas’s main patron.
 
“In general, Hamas is in a lousy situation and is trying to draw closer to Iran again in order to renew the financial aid.” But this also infuriates Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
 
Hamas has “been boosting [its] activity in Gaza and creating something we haven’t seen so far: Cells in the West Bank too. Yet intelligence experts note that the immediate level of danger is not high” and this is making Hamas and Fatah competitors. Remember the first and second intifada was based on Hamas-Fatah unity.
 
As for the Palestinian Authority, it too has a problem. It likes thinking about concessions–prisoner releases–but won’t make any concessions. Thus, they may be drawn out, but talks will ultimately fail.
 
Seventh, of course, the fact that the Iranian bomb also threatens Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states is consistent, although it should not be overestimated.
 
And yet, here, too, there are several potential short-term advantages (no thanks to Obama and Kerry) for Israel–not that there would be any direct cooperation between Israel and the Gulf States.
 
First, by ending sanctions and making billions of dollars for Iran and Western companies, this at least delays Iranian nuclear weapons in the short-term.
 
“This is where the good news ends. The bad news is led by the estimate that Iran will likely not be willing, as part of the permanent agreement in six months, to completely abandon the abilities allowing the future production of a nuclear weapon. Simply put, Ali Khamenei’s Iran aspires to remain a threshold country even if it pays a heavy price for it.”
 
Iran is going to get nuclear arms any way, as the West will not oppose Tehran and will not support an Israeli attack on Iran. Of course, despite any deal and short-term delay in Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, this will embolden Iran in the long-run. This is very serious.
 
But I would also suggest that this deal will fall apart sooner. Iran will never implement it, and once this becomes clear, it will only be a question of what the U.S. administration decides to do as a result.
 
Also, I would suggest that Iran never intended to use nuclear weapons but rather wished to have them as defensive weapons against Israel, so it could use them to pursue regional aggression by conventional means.
 
Iran’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons is a move to guarantee the regime’s survival, a sort of insurance policy. Iranians may still agree to a settlement, pulling them several years away from the bomb.
 
Thus, ultimately, the plans are doing more harm to the United States than to Israel. The United States has empowered Russia and rebuilt the Russia-Egypt alliance after 50 years. It has also smashed the U.S.-Egypt and U.S.-Saudi alliance, deepened suspicion between Arabs and Turks, and empowered an Iran that will betray them. In addition, Syria may eventually be turned over to Iran.
 
“This agenda terrifies Arab rulers from Saudi Arabia to Egypt ….especially in light of Washington’s helplessness and unreliable policy. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are giving Egypt $100 million a month to buy food and so that it will not have to depend on Washington.”
 
The goal of U.S. voters and politicians is to think there is a brilliant success in the Middle East, while, in fact, it is a disastrous failure. And this is much like the pattern prevailing elsewhere with the Obama administration policies.
 

Barry Rubin

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/2013/12/why-israel-is-more-secure-in-2014-than-in-2013/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.