Sunday, 19 February 2012


Ken Berwitz

What an excellent commentary I just read! 

Written by Victor Sharpe of, the commentary discusses how reasonable it is for Kurdish people to have their own state, and how unreasonable it is for so-called "Palestinians" to have one.

Here is a taste of Mr. Sharpe's insightful analysis:

... let us return to the present day and to why the world clamors for a Palestinian Arab state but strangely turns its back upon Kurdish national independence and statehood.  The universally accepted principle of self-determination seems not to apply to the Kurds.

In an article in the New York Sun on 6 July 2004 titled "The Kurdish Statehood Exception," Hillel Halkin exposed the discrimination and double standards employed against Kurdish aspirations of statehood.  He wrote, "[T]he historic injustices done to them and their suffering over the years can be adequately redressed within the framework of a federal Iraq, in which they will have to make do -- subject to the consent of a central, Arab-dominated government in Baghdad -- with mere autonomy. Full Kurdish statehood is unthinkable. This, too, is considered to be self-evident."

The brutal fact in realpolitik, therefore, is that the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians have many friends in the oil-rich Arab world -- oil the world desperately needs for its economies.  The Kurds, like the Jews, have few friends, and the Kurds have little or no influence in the international corridors of power.

Mr. Halkin pointed out that "the Kurds have a far better case for statehood than do the Palestinians. They have their own unique language and culture, which the Palestinian Arabs do not have. They have had a sense of themselves as a distinct people for many centuries, which the Palestinian Arabs have not had. They have been betrayed repeatedly in the past 100 years by the international community and its promises, while the Palestinian Arabs have been betrayed only by their fellow Arabs."

During the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds were gassed and slaughtered in large numbers.  They suffered ethnic cleansing by the Turks and continue to be oppressed by the present Turkish government, whose foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, had the gall to suggest, at a meeting of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that Turkey supports the oppressed of the world.  He ignored his own government's oppression of the Kurds and predictably named the anti-Semitic thugdom in Gaza "oppressed."  On the basis of pure realpolitik, the legality and morality of the Kurds' cause is infinitely stronger than that of the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.

On the other hand, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds displayed great political and economic wisdom.  How different from the example of the Gazan Arabs who, when foolishly given full control over the Gaza Strip by Israel, chose not to build hospitals and schools, but instead bunkers and missile launchers.  To this they have added the imposition of sharia law, with its attendant denigration of women and non-Muslims.

The Kurdish experiment, in at least the territory's current quasi-independence, has shown the world a decent society where all its inhabitants, men and women, enjoy far greater freedoms than can be found anywhere else in the Arab and Muslim world -- and certainly anywhere else in Iraq, which is fast descending into ethnic chaos now that the U.S. military has left.

As an entirely practical matter, I can't say that I agree with Mr. Sharpe that there should not be a Palestinian Arab state (though I do agree that Palestinian Arabs have done little or nothing to deserve one). 

But, that disagreement notwithstanding, Mr. Sharpe makes excellent points - both in this small piece of the commentary and the rest of it as well. 

I urge you to read every word Mr. Sharpe has written.  However much you think you know or understand about the middle east, you will know and understand more when you are finished.


Ken Berwitz

It is hard to fathom that, just a few years ago, Israel had a relatively strong, positive relationship with Turkey.  But easy to understand the reason why.

Here is the latest evidence of just how far downward that relationship has plummeted, via excerpts from an article at Agence France Presse:

Turkey will never allow any third country, particularly Israel, to use intelligence obtained by a NATO radar system, its foreign minister said on Friday.

"We will never allow any third country to use any NATO facility. Our position will be even more clear if it is particularly Israel," Davutoglu told a joint news conference with visiting NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Ankara.

His remarks came after some media outlets reported that the United States and Israel have carried out a joint missile test by using intelligence gathered by a NATO radar system based in eastern Turkey.

Last year Ankara decided to host in a military facility base near Malatya in the southeast an early warning radar as part of NATO's defense architecture.

"It is a NATO system and we appreciate that Turkey has agreed to host one of the facilities," said Rasmussen.

"Data are shared within our alliance among the allies. It is a defence system to protect the populations of NATO allies," he added without mentioning Israel, which is not a NATO member.  

The article goes on to say that Israel's relationship with Turkey plunged into deep crisis after the "Palestinian flotilla" incident years ago, when Israeli soldiers boarded a Turkish ship attempting to run its (perfectly legal) blockade of Gaza, there was a battle, and something like 9 Turkish nationals were killed. 

But that is a pile of baloney.  While it is true that the incident was very damaging to Israeli-Turkish relations, they had already been deteroriating significantly, since Islamists came to power and quickly started to move the country away from secular westernism. 

Sadly, Turkey is not the country is was even a few short years ago.  And unless something pretty dramatic occurs, it is going to continue in that direction just as quickly. 

That is the real reason Turkey no longer has a positive, or even a good, relationship with Israel.

Too bad for Israel.  And too bad for Turkey as well. 


Ken Berwitz

Yesterday, after I blogged about the mudslinging coming from the Santorum campaign, commenter,"Zeke" opined that, though for different reasons, neither Romney nor Santorum are good candidates.  I responded by saying "I agree. And if gas is $4-5 a gallon this year, either can win."

With that in mind here is the beginning of the New York Times' lead story (page 1, top right) this morning:

WASHINGTON Rising gasoline prices, trumpeted in foot-tall numbers on street corners across the country, are causing concern among advisers to President Obama that a budding sense of economic optimism could be undermined just as he heads into the general election.

White House officials are preparing for Republicans to use consumer angst about the cost of oil and gas to condemn his energy programs and buttress their argument that his economic policies are not working.

In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker John A. Boehner instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger they find among their constituents when they return to their districts for the Presidents Day recess.

This debate is a debate we want to have, Mr. Boehner told his conference on Wednesday, according to a Republican aide who was present. It was reported this week that well soon see $4-a-gallon gas prices. Maybe higher. Certainly, this summer will see the highest gas prices in years. Your constituents saw those reports, and theyll be talking about it.

Let's start with how the Times approaches this storyl  Don't you just love the spin? 

With all due respect to writer Michael D. Shear and the rest of the crew over there, this is not "consumer angst".  It is not an emotional issue at all.  It is a pocketbook issue - one that resonates every time a consumer (read that "voter") goes to the pump to fill up, or gets a heating bill, or buys goods that, due the oil-related costs increases, wind up costing more as well.

In short, it is an absolute political disaster for the Obama administration and absolute political dynamite for Republicans.

At this point, you may think I am going to compliment the Times for displaying uncharacteristic bluntness and honesty by making it today's lead story. 

But I cant do that.  Because a funny thing happened between when the Times' print edition was published, and now. 

I just went to the web site and guess what?  This story is no longer the lead.  It isn't even at, or near, the top of the page.  It is was buried as the third story in "other news" --- wait, hold the presses:  literally, while I have been writing this blog (7:43AM) it was moved again.  Now it is two-thirds down the page in "politics".

Do you think just possibly, maybe, someone at the Obama White House had a word with the folks at the New York Times?  And they caved?  We'll never know for sure...but you do the math.

Oh, one other thing:  The Times being The Times, further on in the article we have this:

For Mr. Obamas economic team, the increase in oil prices is an unwelcome reminder of how global events largely outside their control can hamper a recovery. For the third year in a row, a modest recovery faces head winds as winter turns to spring.

Yeah, sure guys.  It is all "global events largely outside their control".  It has nothing to do with President Obama's near-pathological refusal to allow the USA to exploit our vast oil resources, or more effectively utilize oil from our friendly next-door neighbor Canada (e.g. he has stopped ANWR drilling, offshore drilling - for us, anyway, the Keystone pipeline, etc.)

The Obama administration and the New York Times may think that, if this story is downplayed, people will not notice the soaring gas prices, or the administration's opposition to just about every way we might alleviate our dependency on foreign oil from countries that hate our guts...while getting rich off of our oil purchases.  

But this is one issue no amount of spin is going to overcome.  Not a chance.

And that is why, no matter whom the Republican nominee winds up being, he/she can win.


Ken Berwitz

This week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would allow gay marriages in New Jersey.

And if that were all I knew about Governor Christie's position on this issue I would be reaming him for the second time this week (I've already done so for the Whitney Houston half-flag decision).  But there is a good deal more to it.

Here are excerpts from MaryAnn Spoto's article in the Newark Star-Ledger.  Take a look and I think you'll see what I mean:

TRENTON Gov. Chris Christie Friday made good on his vow to swiftly veto a gay marriage bill that passed the Legislature this week, saying hed only agree to a measure that would strengthen New Jerseys civil union law.


In a six-page statement, Christie said there is no fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but gay couples in New Jersey have all the rights and benefits of married couples through civil unions.


Renewing his push for gay marriage to go to New Jersey voters in a referendum in Novembers general election, Christie said an ombudsman should be appointed to ensure the states civil union law is being followed.


"I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits," Christie said.


Gay rights activists and Democrats supporting the measure immediately denounced Christies veto, saying he was pandering to a national conservative audience and that his ombudsman proposal is an attempt to disguise it.


Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights advocacy group Garden State Equality, said Christie didnt veto the bill because hes against gays. He said the veto came "because the 2016 South Carolina Republican Presidential primary electorate is anti-gay." 

As you can see, Mr. Christie is not denying gay couples the same rights as married couples.  He is vetoing a bill that would call it marriage, and saying that use of this term for gay couples should be subject to a state referendum.

Regular readers certainly know that I have no problem at all with gay marriage.  They also know that I believe that the gay marriage "issue" is, to a significant extent, semantics-related; i.e. a great many people, even among those who find homosexuality immoral, blasphemous, repulsive, etc. etc. etc. would, albeit grudgingly, accept it under a different name.

Governor Christie's position, I would think, brings this home loud and clear.  He is not demanding that gay couples should be banned from cohabitating, or that they should be denied any of the rights of traditional one man-one woman marriage; he is saying that a state referendum should determine whether it should be identified by the term "marriage".

Christie's opponents have, predictably enough, already denounced his position as a blatant attempt to institutionalize gay marriage as a lesser relationship than one man-one woman marriage.  And maybe they're right - I don't know what is in Chris Christie's heart. 

But if he is ok with full rights for gay couples, and will abide by a state referendum that accepts using the term "marriage" to define it?  That's not half bad.  At the very least it is a helluva lot further than things have gotten in most other states. 

FYI, my favorite part of the excerpt is Steven Goldstein's claim that Christie - in February, 2012, after saying he would not run for President and tossing his support to Mitt Romney - is taking this position so he'll get more primary votes in the 2016 South Carolina primary. 

Yep, terrific point.  By the way, I have it on good authority that the Chicago Cubs will win the 2018 world series......

Zeke .... .... In France --- which historically has been majority Catholic, with a minority Protestant, some Jewish, and now Muslim -- a wedding is a purely civil ceremony (very nicely done, but a simple 'city hall' function with officials in French tricolor sashes) .... .... and most often followed by a religious ceremony that is entirely separate. ..... ..... ..... Since our clergy, justices of the peace, mayors, etc are empowered to perform weddings .... maybe have civil unions for EVERYONE -- followed by whatever ceremony the bridal couple desire. ..... The civil union would cover the legal bases, the following ceremony would reflect their faith (or absence of one). (02/19/12)

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