Friday, 14 August 2009


Ken Berwitz

Michael Oren, Israel's abassador to the United Nations, has written an eye-opening piece for the Wall Street Journal.  it describes the immense progress Palestinian Arabs are making in Judea and Samaria (the west bank), as they concentrate more on quality of life and less on annihilation of Israel:

August 13, 2009, 7:15 PM. ET


West Bank Success Story

The Palestinians are flourishing economically. Unless they live in Gaza.


Imagine an annual economic growth rate of 7%, declining unemployment, a thriving tourism industry, and a 24% hike in the average daily wage.  Where in todays gloomy global market could one find such gleaming forecasts  Singapore?  Brazil?  Guess again.  The West Bank.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the West Bank economy is flourishing. Devastated by the violence and corruption fomented by its former leadership, the West Bank has rebounded and today represents a most promising success story. Among the improvements of the last year cited by the IMF and other financial observers are an 18% increase in the local stock exchange, a 94% growth of tourism to Bethlehemgenerating 6,000 new jobsand an 82% rise in trade with Israel.

Since 2008, more than 2,000 new companies have been registered with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Where heavy fighting once raged, there are now state-of-the-art shopping malls.

Much of this revival is due to Palestinian initiative and to the responsible fiscal policies of West Bank leaderssuch as Prime Minister Salaam Fayyadmany of whom are American-educated. But few of these improvements could have happened without a vastly improved security environment.

More than 2,100 members of the Palestinian security forces, graduates of an innovative program led by U.S. Gen. Keith Dayton, are patrolling seven major West Bank cities. Another 500-man battalion will soon be deployed. Encouraged by the restoration of law and order, the local population is streaming to the new malls and movie theaters. Shipments of designer furniture are arriving from China and Indonesia, and car imports are up more than 40% since 2008.

Israel, too, has contributed to the West Bank's financial boom. Tony Blair recently stated that Israel had not been given sufficient credit for efforts such as removing dozens of checkpoints and road blocks, withdrawing Israeli troops from population centers, and facilitating transportation into both Israel and Jordan. Long prohibited by terrorist threats from entering the West Bank, Israeli Arabs are now allowed to shop in most Palestinian cities.

Further, several Israeli-Palestinian committees have achieved fruitful cooperation in the areas of construction and agriculture. Such measures have stimulated the Palestinian economy since 2008 resulting, for example, in a 200% increase in agricultural exports and a nearly 1,000% increase in the number of trucks importing produce into the West Bank from Israel.

The West Bank's economic improvements contrast with the lack of diplomatic progress on the creation of a Palestinian state. Negotiators focus on the "top down" issues, grappling with legal and territorial problems. But the West Bank's population is building sovereignty from the bottom-up, forging the law-enforcement, civil, and financial institutions that form the underpinnings of any modern polity. The seeds of what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called "economic peace" are, in fact, already blossoming in the commercial skyline of Ramallah.

The vitality of the West Bank also accentuates the backwardness and despair prevailing in Gaza. In place of economic initiatives that might relieve the nearly 40% unemployment in the Gaza Strip, the radical Hamas government has imposed draconian controls subject to Shariah law. Instead of investing in new shopping centers and restaurants, Hamas has spent millions of dollars restocking its supply of rockets and mortar shells. Rather than forge a framework for peace, Hamas has wrought war and brought economic hardship to civilians on both sides of the borders.

The people of Gaza will have to take notice of their West Bank counterparts and wonder why they, too, cannot enjoy the same economic benefits and opportunities. At the same time, Arab states that have pledged to assist the Palestinian economy in the past, but which have yet to fulfill those promises, may be persuaded of the prudence of investing in the West Bank. Israel, for its part, will continue to remove obstacles to Palestinian development. If the West Bank can serve as a model of prosperity, it may also become a prototype of peace.

Mr. Oren doesn't mention it, but I would submit that the security fence Israel built several years ago is integral to the successes you've just read about.  By putting it up, thus almost completely eliminating the suicide bombings which terrorized the country for so long, Israel was able to lessen its security measures, thus giving Palestinian Arabs concomitantly more freedom and latitude. 

And this greater freedom and latitude has allowed some Palestinian Arabs, who clearly have the capacity to be industrious and progressive when given the chance, to make the most of their opportunities.

How sad, how tragic, that it took so many years for this to happen.  But, as the old saying goes, better late than never.

And how sad that Gaza, still controlled by the terrorist group hamas, will experience none of this as long as its people are far more invested in killing Jews (and each other) than improving their own lives.

Look, realistically there are still many Palestinian Arabs on the west bank who are in full sympathy with hamas.  I have no illusions about their general attitudes toward Israel and its Jewish citizens - i.e. they want Israel vaporized and Jews dead.

But, if a peaceful status between the two can be sustained, and Palestinian Arabs' lives continue to improve because of it, I have to at least consider that, over time, those attitudes will change - not out of love for Israel or Jews, but out of preference for an improved quality of life.  In other words, self-interest.

We can hope, can't we?

Ken Berwitz free - 100% correct. Yes, a great many Palestinian Arabs remain committed to annihilating Israel and its Jews - almost certainly a majority of them.  And, yes, Palestinian Arabs get more aid money per capita, by far, than any other group - country, territory or otherwise - on the planet. (Israel gets a lot from the USA, but from nowhere else. By contrast, the West Bank and Gaza get shtupped with aid from all over the world.).  That said, however, it is refreshing to see that some of the aid money is finally being used to build infrastructure and improve quality of life. As I said in the blog, I have no illusions about how Palestinian Arabs feel about Israel and Jews. But this does give us a glimmer of hope. (08/14/09)

free` I hope also, but reading the latest declaration that came out of the latest convention and fatahs pledge to not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and affirming that armed struggle ie; terrorist attacks are ok, it is very little hope. With all the aid money palestinians have received they should be a flourishing country but they are more interested in killing Jews. (08/14/09)


Ken Berwitz

Damon Weaver is an 11 year old schoolboy from (I'm not making this name up) Pahokee, Florida.  In his young life he has become something of a media star, having interviewed a number of important people, including Vice President Joe Biden.

The one person he most wanted to interview was Barack Obama.  And yesterday he got his wish:  a sit-down with the President of the United States.

Terrific story, wouldn't you say?  Enough so that the Today Show did a feature on it this morning.  And during that feature, there was at least a minute of footage showing Damon Weaver dressed in a professional-looking suit and looking terrific - first in front of the White House, and then conducting his interview. 

But instead of being warmhearted and enjoyable, the feature was grating and exasperating.

How could that possibly be?  The reason is because, other than NBC's reporter, the one and only voice I heard during the entire segment was Barack Obama's.  Not Damon Weaver's.

How could the Today Show even call this a feature on young Mr. Weaver when all we heard was President Obama answering one of his questions.  (FYI, the question was about bullies.  It gave Mr. Obama, a 48 year old man, a chance to talk about how he copes with them.  When I was 11 years old, we called that whining).

In fact, Damon Weaver was so inconsequential to the Today Show that, as of noon today, his interview wasn't even available on its web page - though every other segment during that hour was (click here, try to find it).

I hope this rising journalistic star enjoyed conducting the interview.  I'll bet he did an excellent job.  I only wish I could have heard him say something.

I guess it makes sense, though.  After all, it's not like NBC gives us enough opportunities to hear Barack Obama's voice.



Ken Berwitz

It has to be one of those.  Sloppy or lying. 

Here is why, courtesy of excerpts from Rich Noyes' piece at

MSNBC Host's False Attack Leads to Threats Against Conservative


By Rich Noyes (Bio | Archive)
August 14, 2009 - 15:19 ET

On her MSNBC show last night, the left-wing Air America host Rachel Maddow took a swipe at the conservative Shirley & Banister Public Affairs firm, specifically President and CEO Craig Shirley. Maddow accused Shirley of being behind a grassroots Web site funded by the group, based on a research provided by the independent watchdog group Public Citizen, and she showed still images from an incendiary Obama=Hitler video thats posted on the Grassfires Web site.

But Maddow was wrong. The Public Citizen web page she cited is several years old. Shirley & Banister hasnt represented since 2004. And Diana Banister, a partner and Vice President at Shirley & Banister, told NewsBusters that Maddows false report has led to hate mail and even death threats to the public relations firm. (Lets see if the left-wing thuggery gets any attention from the MSM.)

Craig Shirley and Diana Banister are demanding a retraction and apology from Maddow. They have sent a letter to Maddow that reads, in part:

Shirley & Banister Public Affairs has had no affiliation with or any of its affiliates since 2004.   We DO NOT represent them in any way.

Your apparent source for this information is Public Citizen, a left-wing website, not a "watchdog" group.  One phone call from a producer or researcher to our office would have set the record straight.  However, your lack of research and your statements prove you are not interested in facts.

If a retraction is not forthcoming today we will pursue legal action against you, MSNBC, NBC Universal and General Electric.

Maddows MSNBC page promises her show is a smart look at politics and the days top stories. Its mind over chatter! So much for smart -- more like lazy and hateful.

A programming note for masochists: the accuracy-impaired Ms. Maddow will be one of the panelists on NBCs Meet the Press on Sunday.

Gee, does this make Rachel Maddow one of olbermann's "worst people in the world"? 

Don't go betting the ranch on it...............


Ken Berwitz

I was under the impression that the New York Times hired Paul Krugman to seriously discuss the topics of the day.  Little did I realize that they wanted, or at any rate, got, comedic writing instead.

Case in point:  here is an excerpt from Krugman's article in today's New York Times.  It talks about Senator Grassley's comment about Senator Kennedy's brain tumor, and President Obama's interest in bipartisanship:

Last week, Mr. Grassley claimed that his colleague Ted Kennedys brain tumor wouldnt have been treated properly in other countries because they prefer to spend money on people who can contribute more to the economy. This week, he told an audience that you have every right to fear, that we should not have a government-run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.

Again, thats what a supposedly centrist Republican, a member of the Gang of Six trying to devise a bipartisan health plan, sounds like.

So much, then, for Mr. Obamas dream of moving beyond divisive politics. The truth is that the factors that made politics so ugly in the Clinton years the paranoia of a significant minority of Americans and the cynical willingness of leading Republicans to cater to that paranoia are as strong as ever. In fact, the situation may be even worse than it was in the 1990s because the collapse of the Bush administration has left the G.O.P. with no real leaders other than Rush Limbaugh.

The question now is how Mr. Obama will deal with the death of his postpartisan dream.

Are you finished laughing about Barack Obama's "postpartisan dream"?    Not yet?  Ok, I understand. 

Tell me:  when Nancy Pelosi explained the fact that Republicans were not allowed to work on any part of the so-called "stimulus package", and did not write even one word of the 1,000 page plus final legislation, by smirking and saying "We won", do you recall Mr. Obama stepping in and insisting that both parties work on it together?  Me neither. 

Barack Obama's "postpartisan dream" ended at approximately 12:01 PM on January 20th.

Now that we've taken care of the overtly comical part, let's look at the more nuanced part.  Krugman attacks Senator Charles Grassley for saying  "you have every right to fear..." that we "should not have a government-run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma". 

Er, Paul, you left out a bit of what Mr. Grassley said.  Like for example this part:

"If you've got a government-run health-care program and you have crowding out, and then you go to a Canadian-style plan and everyone starts studying what England does ... when you couple this with all of other fears people have and what they do in England, then you get the idea that somebody is going to decide Grandma has lived too long"

So, in reality, Senator Grassley's reference was based on the belief that we would wind up with Canadian or English health care (a speculation but a very logical one).   And how do they treat the elderly?  Well, I suggest you read this BBC report, or watch this this video from MP Daniel Hannan and find out. 

The dirty little secret Mr. Krugman seems to either not know or want to keep hidden, is that elderly care in the UK is godawful.  And, yes, the elderly really do get the short end of the stick there.  Putting his head in the sand and ignoring this as a means of bowing down to Saint Barack doesn't change that reality.

Bottom line:  While there are certainly two sides to this argument, Charles Grassley does have a legitimate point.  And Paul Krugman is a smart guy who sometimes writes like a clown.


Ken Berwitz

Earlier today I lamented the fact that Gaza is controlled by terrorists, terrorized by shari'a law and, collectively, would rather live with nonstop violence in utter squalor and hopelessness, than in peace with a decent quality of life.

Here, from the BBC, is today's example of what I'm talking about:

Deadly gun battle in Gaza mosque

At least 13 people have been killed and at least 85 injured in a fierce gun battle in Gaza, emergency services say.

Eyewitnesses say hundreds of Hamas fighters and policemen surrounded a mosque where followers of a radical Islamist cleric were holed up.

Hamas fired rocket-propelled grenades at the mosque and stormed the leader's house in Rafah, near the Egypt border.

It is thought that at least 100 supporters of the al-Qaeda-linked group, Jund Ansar Allah, were inside.

At least one Hamas fighter was killed by a grenade fired from the mosque but most of those killed were supporters of the cleric. One child was also killed.

The entire neighbourhood was sealed off as the shooting continued after dark - in what was one of the most violent incidents in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip since an Israeli offensive in December and January.

It was not immediately clear if the mosque's imam, Abdul-Latif Moussa, was captured during the fighting.

Fighting pledge

Earlier, during Friday prayers, hundreds of worshippers at Ibn-Taymiyah mosque declared Gaza an "Islamic emirate".

Abdul-Latif Moussa and armed supporters swore to fight to the death rather than hand over authority of the mosque to Hamas.

During his own Friday sermon, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, dismissed Mr Moussa's comments.

"These declarations [of an Islamic emirate] are aimed towards incitement against the Gaza Strip and an attempt at recruiting an international alliance against the Gaza Strip.

"And we warn those who are behind these Israeli Zionist declarations: the Gaza Strip only contains its people."

Jund Ansar Allah (Army of the Helpers of God) gained some prominence two months ago when it staged a failed attack on a border crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The group is very critical of Hamas, which seized Gaza in 2007, accusing the Islamist group of not being Islamist enough.

Hamas has cracked down on al-Qaeda-inspired groups in the past, the BBC's Middle East correspondent Katya Adler says.

Hamas is concerned they may attract more extremist members, and has forbidden anyone except what it describes as Hamas security personnel from carrying weapons in Gaza, our correspondent says.

These are the people that the world demands Israel make peace with.



Ken Berwitz

I just watched Barack Obama finish his opening statement at the so-called "town hall meeting" in Montana.

The audience, almost to a person, gave him a rip-roaring, standing ovation.

I have seen numerout other town halls, throughout the country, where people were vehemently against what he is selling.  But in Montana - REPUBLICAN Montana - the audience is going wild over it.

This has all the aroma of a stacked-deck audience.  100% of it. 

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.  But I find it almost impossible to think otherwise.

One other thing:  The first person he called on for a question blew him a softball question, which he is now knocking out of the park with part of his health care stump speech.  Now, if there were a way to be even more than 100% certain this is a stacked deck, I would be there.

I predict there will be several "skeptical" questions too.  And that they will be a) politely stated and b) raise points that can easily be handled and refusted by President Obama too.

Stacked is stacked.

As I was finished and ready to put this blog up, Mr. Obama picked a second person.  And got another softball - this one about medicare - which he is getting applauded for answering so well.

How phony can it get?


UPDATE:  The third person asking a question has, in my opinion, inexorably proved that the audience is stacked. 


He started by stating he was a proud member of the NRA to nothing more than scattered applause.  Do you believe that, in a randomly selected Montana audience, that declaration would be so underappreciated?  I dont.


He then stated there was no money to fund Obamacare and asked where the money would be coming from.  This too was greeted with nothing more than scattered applause.  Do you believe that in a randomly selected Montana audience that comment would generate only marginal agreement?  I don't.


And then, when President Obama answered the question by saying taxes should be raised so that we take from some and give it to others, there was spontaneous, raucus applause.  Do you believe that people in Montana, a majority-Republican state, would be thrilled with taking still more tax money from the most productive people and handing it to less productive people?  


Yeah, right.


Oh, and while I was typing this, the fourth questioner was someone who assured President Obama she got her new job just because of his stimulus package.  And the fifth questioner told Mr. Obama he supported his health care reform.


You would have to be a human potato to believe this audience is random.  

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