Tuesday, 03 March 2009

OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama is a hard-left Chicago machine politician with no presidential qualifications, egged on by a hard-left Democratic leadership, whose entire adult life has consisted of spending other people's money.

How's that for a trifecta?

Did you ever believe for a minute that this combination would result in fiscal restraint?  Fiscal sanity?

While our wonderful "neutral" media remains giddy with delight, President Obama and his Democratic cohorts have:

-Graced us with an $800 billion dollar stimulus package that stimulated the stock market down another 1,000 points since it was implemented;

-Parlayed that into an additional $410 billion dollar spending package with almost 8,600 earmarks which Mr. Obama - who said no more earmarks - will ignore and sign;

-And now, a doubling of foreign aid. 

We are putting an impossibly crushing burden on our future generations.  But instead of simply playing his fiddle while the economy burns, this modern-day incarnation of Nero spends nonexistent money as if it were actually there.  

Read the specifics from David Patten of www.newsmax.com:

Obamas Foreign Aid Price Tag to Exceed $50 Billion

President Obamas 2010 budget seeks to double U.S. aid payments to other countries despite a $1.75 trillion deficit and the worst recession in over a quarter of a century.

Obamas landmark proposal heralds a massive increase in the size of government, and puts the United States on a path to double U.S. foreign assistance, according to the White House budget overview.

That would mean annual U.S. foreign assistance expenditures at over $50 billion a year, although its not clear yet how quickly Obama intends to attain that goal.

The president also plans to rapidly expand the size of the State Department, in accordance with his strategy of substituting soft diplomatic power for the hard power of U.S. military might.

Assuming the Democratic-controlled Congress goes along, the State Department budget next year will jump about 10 percent, to $51.7 billion.

The increased funding would help pay for additional Foreign Service officers to meet the challenges of todays world, Obamas budget document says. This is in accord with his stated objective during the campaign of substituting soft diplomatic power for the hard power of U.S. military might.

Some policy experts are warning, however, that expanding assistance abroad may be a tough sell in the current economic climate.

Theres going to have to be a strong case made that these investments have concrete, verifiable impact on peoples lives, Stephen Morrison, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Health Policy Center, tells The New York Times.

Complete details of Obamas foreign-policy budget wont be released until April, so exactly how much aid the administration plans to dole out, and which countries will get it, remains unknown. Information released so far indicates Obama does not intend to let the downturn in the economy affect his campaign promise to double U.S. assistance to other nations.

Israel ($2.4 billion in 2008) and Egypt ($1.7 billion), the two signatories to the Camp David Accords, receive by far the most U.S. foreign aid. Other major recipients include Pakistan, Jordan, Kenya, South Africa, and Mexico.

The White House overview says expanded foreign assistance will help the worlds weakest states reduce poverty, combat global health threats, develop markets, govern peacefully, and expand democracy worldwide.

Features of Obamas plan to grease the wheels of diplomacy include:

  • An estimated $8 billion increase in the annual outlay to the International Monetary Fund.

  • Full funding for scheduled payments to the World Bank, plus a portion of the outstanding arrears to reinforce the U.S. commitment to play a leadership in these institutions.

  • Increases non-military aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, to counter the resurgence of the Taliban.

  • Increased funding, at an unspecified amount, for global health programs, including AIDS and family planning.

  • Support for United Nations peace keeping activities, and a promise to meet financial commitments to the United Nations and other international organizations that support a wide range of U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic goals.

  • More funding for international programs on climate change, agriculture, and the Peace Corps.

  • There will also be additional counterterrorism and anti-nuclear proliferation funding.

    David Aaron Miller, public policy scholar for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, tells Newsmax hes worried that America needs a more realistic image of its own power.

    Weve seen what a decade of overreach can bring, he says. We have primary core interests. We need to define what they are, we need to protect them, but we cannot democratize the rest of the world.

    Miller, author of The Much Too Promised Land: Americas Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace, says America must pick its spots much more carefully, and invest money where theres a realistic hope of success.

    We have a broken house in this country, and that house needs to be fixed, says Miller, who served as a Middle East peace negotiator during the Clinton administration. Barack Obama was not elected to be the war president and frankly he wasnt elected to be a peace president. At a time when were presiding over the worst economic and financial crisis in 70 years, a crisis that could have profound social implications as well, we just need to understand what we can do in the world, and what we cant.

  • The money does not exist.  And we have no idea what the nonexistent money will be spent on, thus what the USA will be funding with it.  But Obama is spending it anyway. 

    What a perfect activity -- if you're an unqualified man spending other people's money (in Obama's case, our children's grandchildren's and great grandchildren's money). 

    This is lunacy in action. 

    When are our media going to wake up and start talking about it?  Ever?


    LYING ABOUT LIMBAUGH

    Ken Berwitz

    Reading and listening to the mainstream media talk about Rush Limbaugh, it is hard to escape the conclusion that they hate his guts and/or are so terrified of him and/or are so envious of his unparalleled success as a radio talk show personality that they are willing to lie about what he says.  Right to our faces.

    Weeks ago, Limbaugh said that he hoped Barack Obama's economic policies would fail.  

    Why?  Because, in his view, Mr. Obama's policies would lurch us towards socialism and thus be catastrophic for the country.  Conversely, if Mr. Obama failed in this effort, the country would be much better off. 

    Put another way, Limbaugh wants the country to succeed, so he is against policies that, in his view, would cause the country not to succeed.  He wants those policies to fail.

    Now that's a pretty simple concept.  And, in case anyone missed his intent, Mr. Limbaugh restated it,, very clearly, at a Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) event this past week. 

    Knowing this, why do you suppose so many media types, up to and including the President's Grady Suttonish press secretary, are lying about what Limbaugh said?

    They're lying about it on the Today show.  They're lying about it on MSNBC and CNN.  They're lying about it all over the left wing blogosphere.  Obama's Press Secretary lied about it just yesterday, as seen in this excerpt from an article written by Sam Youngman at www.thehill.com (the bold print is mine):

    White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who last month blasted CNBC host Rick Santelli from the podium in the briefing room, challenged reporters on Monday to ask Republicans if they agree with Limbaugh's desire.

    "Do they want to see the president's economic agenda fail? You know, I bet there are a number of guests on television throughout the day and maybe into tomorrow who could let America know whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend."

    Gibbs said he thought "it would be charitable to say he doubled down on what he said in January in wishing and hoping for economic failure in this country."

    What a clumsy liar Gibbs is.  First he talks about Limbaugh wanting the President's economic agenda to fail - which, absent any context, is true.  But then he says that Limbaugh is "hoping for economic failure in this country".  That is a lie. 

    Limbaugh is hoping that Obama's agenda  fails because he believes the agenda will cause economic failure in this country.  Gibbs just plain lied. 

    And y'know what?  Gibbs, and Matthews, and the Today Show crew, and the left wing bloggers, etc. etc. etc. are going to get away with it.  Because no matter how popular and powerful Mr. Limbaugh may be, he can't overcome them all.

    At this point you may be wondering where journalistic integrity has gone (I assume you're not wondering where political integrity has gone, because to do so implies it was once there). 

    Me too.


    ANOTHER TAX CHEAT IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION?

    Ken Berwitz

    You have to start wondering if Mr. Obama is trying to set some kind of a record for putting tax delinquents into his administration. 

    Here, via the Chicago Tribune, is an excerpt from the Associated Press article about Ron Kirk that tells the story:

    Trade nominee Ron Kirk becomes 4th Obama pick with tax problems, owing $10,000 in back taxes

    Ron Kirk

    In this Dec. 19, 2008 file photo, Ron Kirk, President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Trade Representative-designate, speaks at a news conference in Chicago The Senate Finance Committee says President Kirk owes roughly $10,000 in back federal taxes and has agreed to pay them. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson, File) (Lawrence Jackson, AP / December 19, 2008)


    WASHINGTON (AP) Another Obama administration nominee has tax troubles. This time, it's Ron Kirk, the president's choice to be U.S. trade representative. Kirk owes an estimated $10,000 in back taxes from earlier in the decade and has agreed to pay them, the Senate Finance Committee said Monday.

    The committee said the taxes arise from Kirk's handling of speaking fees he donated to a scholarship fund that he set up at his alma mater, and for his deduction of the full cost of season tickets to the
    Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team.

    Kirk also agreed to make changes in his accounting of charitable deductions, including reducing the claimed value of a donated television from $3,000 to $1,500.

    The former Dallas mayor is the fourth nominee by President Barack Obama to run into tax problems.

    A third of the Senate voted against Tim Geithner's confirmation as treasury secretary after it was disclosed that he had to pay more than $34,000 in back taxes and interest on income he made while working for the International Monetary Fund.

    Former Senate Majority Leader
    Tom Daschle then withdrew as a nominee to become Health and Human Services after it was disclosed that he failed to pay $128,000 in taxes. Nancy Killefer, Obama's pick for chief performance officer, also bowed out amid tax problems.

    White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said Kirk was working to clear up "a few minor issues" uncovered by the Senate committee. LaBolt expressed confidence that Kirk would be confirmed by the Senate.

    Finance Committee Chairman
    Max Baucus, D-Mont., called Kirk "the right person for this job" and said in a statement he will try to have the nomination move through his panel quickly.

    Kirk agreed to file an amended tax return this week, according to Baucus' office.

    Sen. Charles Grassley of
    Iowa, the top Republican on the committee, said through an aide that he is reserving judgment until the vetting process on Kirk is complete. Kirk is scheduled to testify at a confirmation hearing next Monday.

    Kirk, who was Dallas mayor from 1995 to 2001, is a partner in the Dallas office of the Vinson & Elkins LLP law firm. He received $556,740 from the firm last year and a total of $460,265 from serving on the boards of PetSmart, Dean Foods and
    Brinker International, a restaurant company, according to financial disclosure reports released by the Obama administration.

    His tax problems arise out of speaking fees that he routinely paid directly to Austin College to support a scholarship fund but did not list on his tax returns, according to the Finance Committee report.

    The panel said Kirk should have listed the fees as income and claimed them as charitable donations.

    I have to admit that, if this is all there is, I don't consider Mr. Kirk much of a tax cheat at all.  Given how much he earns, the amount owed is very small and the explanation is at least plausible.

    But I don't know if this is all there is.  And, since one after the next, President Obama is picking people who glom onto money they shouldn't have, whether it is from tax cheating (Geithner, Daschle, Killefer and now Kirk) or apparent payoffs for legislative activity (Richardson, Carrion, etc.), you have to wonder, don't you?

    Besides, how are we supposed to feel as Mr. Obama and his merry congressional Democrats rack up over a trillion dollars in new spending - a crushing burden on the American taxpayer - while the Obama administration either hires or tries to hire people who can't seem to find a way to pay their taxes?  They better hope we don't take these folks as role models.

    By the way, my wife and I had the Today Show on this morning and its entire coverage of this newest tax-cheat story was to mention that Mr. Kirk owed back taxes and state that he promised to pay what he owed - as if that promise settled the issue.

    Tell me this:  If it were the Bush administration, would the fourth tax-cheat guy get "Well, he did it but he promises to pay it back.  And in other news...." treatment?

    Yeah, right.


    FILIBLUSTER

    Ken Berwitz

    John Hinderaker of www.powerlineblog.com, does a terrific job of exposing the fraudulent two-sidedness of media regarding the filibuster.

    Here, it is, without further commentary, other than that I've put the conclusion in bold print:

    That Was Then, This Is Now: The Filibuster

    Several years ago, we had fun at the expense of our home-town newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, for its flip-flops on the filibuster. In 1993, with a Democratic President and Democratic majorities in Congress, the Strib denounced the Republicans' use of the filibuster in intemperate terms:

    Down the drain goes President Clinton's economic stimulus package, washed away in the putrid flood of verbiage known as a filibuster. Call it a power game. Call it politics as usual. Call it reprehensible.

    Of course, once Republicans took control of Congress and the shoe was on the other foot, the Strib's tune changed. Now, the filibuster was a bulwark of democracy, and the paper editorialized, with equal virulence but without acknowledging its change of position, against efforts to change the Senate's rules.

    The deputy editor of the Strib's editorial page tried to engage with us, first by denying any contradiction in the paper's positions, and then, when that claim proved hopeless, by admitting that the Strib had "inadvertently" reversed its position on the filibuster and owed its readers an explanation. The explanation, however, never came.

    Why this walk down memory lane? Because the New York Times has just done something similar. Patterico has the details. Note that the Times, unlike the Star Tribune, was at least honest enough to admit that it had reversed its position for partisan reasons:

    On March 29, 2005, the NY Times ran an editorial defending the filibuster, and lamenting its own editorial short-sightedness during the Clinton years:

    The Senate, of all places, should be sensitive to the fact that this large and diverse country has never believed in government by an unrestrained majority rule. Its composition is a repudiation of the very idea that the largest number of votes always wins out. *** While the filibuster has not traditionally been used to stop judicial confirmations, it seems to us this is a matter in which it's most important that a large minority of senators has a limited right of veto. ...

    A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the "nuclear option" in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton's early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it's obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it. We hope acknowledging our own error may remind some wavering Republican senators that someday they, too, will be on the other side and in need of all the protections the Senate rules can provide.

    Fat chance! Today the Times ran two op-eds denouncing the "segregationist's tool," the filibuster. This is an excerpt from Jean Edward Smith's "Filibusters: The Senate's Self-Inflicted Wound":

    In the entire 19th century, including the struggle against slavery, fewer than two dozen filibusters were mounted. In F.D.R.'s time, the device was employed exclusively by Southerners to block passage of federal anti-lynching legislation. ... The number more than doubled under Lyndon Johnson, but the primary issue continued to be civil rights. Except for exhibitionists, buffoons and white southerners determined to salvage racial segregation, the filibuster was considered off limits.

    I guess that tells us all we need to know about today's Republicans. Of course, nothing similar will be said when the Democrats are again in the minority in the Senate.

    David R. RePass offered a more measured condemnation of the once-championed filibuster:

    It is up to Mr. Reid. He can do away with the supermajority requirement for virtually all significant measures and return majority rule to the Senate.

    So the Times, like the Star Tribune, is in favor of the filibuster when the Democrats are in the minority in the Senate, but opposed to it when the Republicans are in the minority. That's an easily understandable position. It would be nice if these papers, and hundreds of others like them, would come out and say--just one time before they sink beneath the waters of Chapter 11--that they are shills for the Democratic Party, and their editorials are paraphrases of faxes they get from the Democratic National Committee. Would that really be so painful? After all, it's not as though they're fooling anyone.


    THE OBAMA RECESSION

    Ken Berwitz

    I've talked a lot about what Barack Obama is doing to our economy and how facilely he blames the consequences of his actions on former President Bush.  In fact, I've put up the exact numbers that you are about to see below.

    But today's editorial in The Wall Street Journal explains things far better than I can.  So here it is:

    The Obama Economy

    As the Dow keeps dropping, the President is running out of people to blame.

    As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.

    Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.

    [Review & Outlook]

    The Democrats who now run Washington don't want to hear this, because they benefit from blaming all bad economic news on President Bush. And Mr. Obama has inherited an unusual recession deepened by credit problems, both of which will take time to climb out of. But it's also true that the economy has fallen far enough, and long enough, that much of the excess that led to recession is being worked off. Already 15 months old, the current recession will soon match the average length -- and average job loss -- of the last three postwar downturns. What goes down will come up -- unless destructive policies interfere with the sources of potential recovery.

    And those sources have been forming for some time. The price of oil and other commodities have fallen by two-thirds since their 2008 summer peak, which has the effect of a major tax cut. The world is awash in liquidity, thanks to monetary ease by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. Monetary policy operates with a lag, but last year's easing will eventually stir economic activity.

    Housing prices have fallen 27% from their Case-Shiller peak, or some two-thirds of the way back to their historical trend. While still high, credit spreads are far from their peaks during the panic, and corporate borrowers are again able to tap the credit markets. As equities were signaling with their late 2008 rally and January top, growth should under normal circumstances begin to appear in the second half of this year.

    So what has happened in the last two months? The economy has received no great new outside shock. Exchange rates and other prices have been stable, and there are no security crises of note. The reality of a sharp recession has been known and built into stock prices since last year's fourth quarter.

    What is new is the unveiling of Mr. Obama's agenda and his approach to governance. Every new President has a finite stock of capital -- financial and political -- to deploy, and amid recession Mr. Obama has more than most. But one negative revelation has been the way he has chosen to spend his scarce resources on income transfers rather than growth promotion. Most of his "stimulus" spending was devoted to social programs, rather than public works, and nearly all of the tax cuts were devoted to income maintenance rather than to improving incentives to work or invest.

    His Treasury has been making a similar mistake with its financial bailout plans. The banking system needs to work through its losses, and one necessary use of public capital is to assist in burning down those bad assets as fast as possible. Yet most of Team Obama's ministrations so far have gone toward triage and life support, rather than repair and recovery.

    AIG yesterday received its fourth "rescue," including $70 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program cash, without any clear business direction. (See here.) Citigroup's restructuring last week added not a dollar of new capital, and also no clear direction. Perhaps the imminent Treasury "stress tests" will clear the decks, but until they do the banks are all living in fear of becoming the next AIG. All of this squanders public money that could better go toward burning down bank debt.

    The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise. The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy. Health-care stocks have dived on fears of new government mandates and price controls. Private lenders to students have been told they're no longer wanted. Anyone who uses carbon energy has been warned to expect a huge tax increase from cap and trade. And every risk-taker and investor now knows that another tax increase will slam the economy in 2011, unless Mr. Obama lets Speaker Nancy Pelosi impose one even earlier.

    Meanwhile, Congress demands more bank lending even as it assails lenders and threatens to let judges rewrite mortgage contracts. The powers in Congress -- unrebuked by Mr. Obama -- are ridiculing and punishing the very capitalists who are essential to a sustainable recovery. The result has been a capital strike, and the return of the fear from last year that we could face a far deeper downturn. This is no way to nurture a wounded economy back to health.

    Listening to Mr. Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, on the weekend, we couldn't help but wonder if they appreciate any of this. They seem preoccupied with going to the barricades against Republicans who wield little power, or picking a fight with Rush Limbaugh, as if this is the kind of economic leadership Americans want.

    Perhaps they're reading the polls and figure they have two or three years before voters stop blaming Republicans and Mr. Bush for the economy. Even if that's right in the long run, in the meantime their assault on business and investors is delaying a recovery and ensuring that the expansion will be weaker than it should be when it finally does arrive.

    My only dispute is the editorial's title.  I think that, at this point it is fair to call this the Obama recession. 

    Yes, he inherited a recession (and we have discussed, at length, the sub-prime practices which put us into it along with who is to blame for those practices).  But the markets - financial, job and international - are now reacting to the legislation that Barack Obama and his vastly Democratic congress quickly put into place. 

    If people saw this legislation as stanching, or reversing, the recession Mr. Obama inherited, would the markets be plummeting right now?  You know the answer as well as I do.

    Nope, this economy now belongs to Barack Obama.  It is his, not President Bush's, because he made it his.

    And we voters deserve this too.  We elected a man without any experience that would prepare him for the presidency, and handed him a congress willing to sign on for every spending excess it can think of.  Shame on us.

    We have two years to live with this, then we can try to start rectifying this horrible mistake.  I wonder if we will.  I wonder if, by then, it will be too late to matter.


    CUTTING OFF AN EDUCATIONAL ESCAPE ROUTE

    Ken Berwitz

    Suppose there were inner city schools that did not teach children, and had not done so for as long as anyone could remember. 

    Now suppose you had a way for at least some motivated students to escape the schools that doomed them right out of the starting gate.  You'd be thrilled, wouldn't you?

    Well, Barack Obama isn't thrilled.  And, with his merry cohorts in the Democratic-controlled congress, he is destroying the escape route.

    Why?  Because the voucher system that rescues these children is a problem for the teachers' unions...and the teachers' unions are far more interested in whatever they can grab for themselves than the future of children who could be rescued.

    John Hinderaker at www.powerlineblog.com explains:

    Obama Sells Out African-American Children

    A little-noted provision of the Democrats' budget bill would kill a scholarship program in the District of Columbia that allows some children to escape from the District's awful public schools and attend private schools, like the Obama girls. In today's Wall Street Journal, William McGurn profiles Sarah and James Parker, who attend Sidwell Friends with Sasha and Malia Obama:

    Unlike the Obama girls, they could not afford the school without the $7,500 voucher they receive from the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program. Unfortunately, a spending bill the Senate takes up this week includes a poison pill that would kill this program -- and with it perhaps the Parker children's hopes for a Sidwell diploma. ...

    Deborah Parker says such a move would be devastating for her kids. ...

    That's the reality that the Parkers and 1,700 other low-income students face if Sen. Durbin and his allies get their way. And it points to perhaps the most odious of double standards in American life today: the way some of our loudest champions of public education vote to keep other people's children -- mostly inner-city blacks and Latinos -- trapped in schools where they'd never let their own kids set foot.

    That is, indeed, one of the great scandals of American politics. But with the Democrats in the saddle in Washington, the teachers' unions expect the escape hatch of school choice to be slammed shut, so it will be.

    In today's press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about McGurn's article and Obama's opposition to school choice. He was not able to muster a coherent response:

    QUESTION: On education, there's a provision in the omnibus spending bill that would sunset the D.C. voucher plan. And I'm wondering -- there's been a lot of publicity about this brother and sister pair at Sidwell who use their voucher money to -- to pay for tuition at the same school the president chose to send his children. I'm wondering if you could restate the president's opposition to the D.C. voucher plan and why he's...
    (CROSSTALK)
    GIBBS: Yes, I -- I would -- let me go -- I've not read the article today, if there was one. I think the...
    QUESTION: Well, it's just about two kids who use their voucher money to go to Sidwell. I mean...
    GIBBS: Right. I mean, I think -- right.
    QUESTION: I mean -- I mean, and they would -- in other words, if they cut the voucher program, they couldn't go there.
    GIBBS: Why are you even providing me the opportunity to be the middleman? I mean, again...
    QUESTION: Well, could you just restate the president's position?
    GIBBS: Well, I think the president has concerns about -- concerns about taking large amounts of funding out of the system to -- to address this, that the president obviously believes -- and I think you'll hear him talk about and has talked about -- the need for reform in our educational system, but -- but has not agreed with the program in the past. I'll see if there's anything to update on that.

    Of course, it's hard to answer a question when you can't tell the truth. Gibbs couldn't very well say that President Obama and the Democratic Party are in the bag for the teachers' unions and don't much care what happens to inner-city kids. Could he?

    Ironic, isn't it?  Decades ago White Governors in the deep south were screwing Black students by keeping them out of good schools.  Who would have thought that in 2009 the key perpetrator would be a Black President?

    Well, look at the bright side.  While it's true that the children will be condemned to schools that do not teach them, at least the teachers' unions are happy.  And there are a lot more unionized teachers than parents of students who could benefit from the DC scholarship program. 

    All those votes..........


    ISRAEL HATE WEEK

    Ken Berwitz

    I post this message from the web site www.aish.com,  so that readers will know about the overt anti-semitism which has become endemic throughout universities in the USA and Canada. 
    See More


    Universities Aflame
    by Natalie Menaged
    Jewish students gear up to battle Israel Apartheid Week, an annual hate-inspired phenomenon that is spreading at an alarming rate.

    March 1-8 marks the fifth annual hate-fest known as Israel Apartheid Week. Originating as a singularly disturbing display in Toronto in 2005, anti-Israel propagandists are expected to hold events and demonstrations in nearly 50 cities around the world this year. According to IAW organizers, these events will liken democratic Israel to apartheid South Africa, allege that Israel committed a massacre during its recent defensive incursion into Gaza, and call for sanctions against and divestment from Israel.

    If past IAW events, and the hostile activity against Israel since Operation Cast Lead are any indication, we can also expect open displays of explicit anti-Semitism, physical harassment of Jews, and vigorous attempt to curb freedom of expression among Israel supporters.

    The university campuses have long been a front line for this propaganda war, but in the past month anti-Israel and anti-Semitic occurrences on campus have reached unprecedented heights. In the last eight weeks, there has been significant anti-Israel activity at more than 200 college campuses in the United States. This includes many schools with large Jewish populations, as well as universities where we have never seen such activity before.

    Here are a just a few alarming incidents:

    • At schools including Cornell University, Columbia University, University of Texas, University of southern California, Georgetown University, American University, Syracuse University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Cincinnati, University of North Carolina and many others, there have been graphic displays, die-ins and vigils, alleging Israeli massacres and genocide, replete with mock coffins, black flags, dirtied Israeli flags, and confrontational organizers.

    • The Student Government at UCLA passed a very lop-sided resolution condemning Israel; similar resolutions were attempted but thwarted at several other California schools, while many Canadian universities passed motions condemning Israel.

    • Last week, Hampshire College made headlines when it divested from several companies doing business in Israel after a vigorous boycott campaign by the Students for Justice in Palestine there. Hampshire has since denied that the move was meant to specifically target companies doing business with Israel, but the anti-Israel movement has claimed the decision as a significant victory for boycott attempts against Israel.

    • There have been reports of physical assaults against Jewish students and fraternity houses at the University of British Columbia, Emory University, and York University.

    • At San Jose State university, the Israeli consul general was literally booed off the stage during a Q&A session, virtually shut down by protestors. A similar incident occurred at Ohio State University.

    • At UC Berkeley, the student government has launched a recall vote against an openly pro-Israel Student Senator, despite his not having violated any Student Government rules - and has tried to sanction the Jewish Student Union there for supporting him.

    • Anti-Israel demonstrations have occurred for the first time in years at schools like Arizona State University, Michigan State University, Louisiana State University and Alabama State University.

    • At New York University, a student group called Take Back NYU seized control of the Kimmel Center cafeteria and staged a 40-hour protest, demanding greater transparency of university investments, scholarships for students to study in Gaza, and donations of supplies to the Islamic University in Gaza, started by Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

    • Lack of protection for Jewish students remains an issue at York University. While continuing to remain silent on the recent entrapment of Jewish students inside a Hillel building by anti-Semitic protestors, York University has now informed Hillel and Hasbara Fellowships at York that they will be fined and suspended from campus for holding a pro-Israel rally, despite any clear violation of university rules.

    • CUPE, Ontario's largest trade union, passed a motion to boycott Israeli universities and academics.

    Large Israel Apartheid Week events are slated to take place next week on university campuses in Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, and smaller versions are set to occur at many other schools across North America.

    If you are a student or concerned community member, we urge you to take action via the following steps:

    1. Answer the lies head on -- go to protests and speakers, hand out accurate information, and speak up!

    2. Launch a strategic initiative to engage important people on campus, including the media, the administration, student leaders, professors, coalition allies.

    3. Organize demonstrations of solidarity with Israel, such as rallies and educational campaigns.

    4. We can't stop anti-Semitism, but we can send a message of our own. What is your plan to get the pro-Israel message out there? Choose from an array of programs and campaigns offered by Hasbara Fellowships.

    5. Most importantly, if you are on a campus with anti-Israel activity, contact us (director@israelactivism.com) to help you through it!

    The premise is that Israel, with almost 1.5 million Arab citizens who enjoy full rights (they are legal citizens, they can vote, they can own property, they can serve in the government, they can go to the universities, there are many neighborhoods with mixed Jewish and Arab populations, etc.) , is "apartheid".  The claim is being made by people who openly support Palestinian Arabs as they demand that not one Jew live among them.

    It is as sick as it is pathetic.  To take such a position requres two things:  a closed mind and a major component of Jew-hatred.

    This kind of anti-Semitism exists because, despite what some people think, there are only a tiny number of Jews in universities and, numerically, they can never compete with these hate-filled, often woefully ignorant forces.

    And it continues unchecked because university administrations want it hushed up to preserve their reputations, and media are too lazy, incompetent or complicit to talk about it.

    If you didn't know before, you do now.  What actions, if any, this knowledge leads you toward is your call.


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