Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dirty Religious Politics in South Carolina

The CNN Political Ticker reports:

A holiday card that falsely claims to be from "the Romney family" and highlights Mitt Romney's Mormon faith was anonymously sent to Republican mailboxes across South Carolina earlier this week.

The source of the card is unknown.

Take a look at the card. The PDF is here. Any minimally-informed Mormon (and I am at least at that level) will tell you the card practically screams "an anti-Mormon printed me."

Just one example: It says "Paid for by the Boston Massachusetts Temple." Anyone familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows that statement makes no sense. Also, there's a quote in the card from Orson Pratt, a nineteenth-century Mormon leader. The quote happens to be a favorite of anti-Mormons and is of questionable accuracy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mitt Romney and "flip-flopping:" Quote of the Week

Or maybe of the year, for presidential campaign watchers:

Mitt Romney? Yes. Characterological cheerfulness, personal stability and a good brain would be handy to have around. He hasn't made himself wealthy by seeing the world through a romantic mist. He has a sophisticated understanding of the challenges we face in the global economy. I personally am not made anxious by his flip-flopping on big issues because everyone in politics gets to change his mind once. That is, you can be pro-life and then pro-choice but you can't go back to pro-life again, because if you do you'll look like a flake. The positions Mr. Romney espouses now are the positions he will stick with. He has no choice.
--Peggy Noonan

That's probably the best, most concise response to the "flip-flopper" charge that can be made.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Russia Sells Iran Advanced Air Defense System

Vladimir Putin continues to make clear that his regime is no friend to the United States. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Russia is to supply Iran with new S-300 air defense systems, Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said Wednesday, a sign of growing military cooperation between Moscow and Teheran.

The S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system is capable of shooting down aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missile warheads at ranges of over 90 miles and at altitudes of about 90,000 feet. Russian military officials boast that its capabilities outstrip the US Patriot missile system.

Earlier this year, Russia delivered 29 Tor-M1 to Iran under a $700 million contract signed in December 2005.

Najjar said S-300 missile was one of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, with a longer range than the Tor-M1 surface-to-air missiles.

"While Tor-M1 missiles can hit targets at low altitude, S-300 missile have an extraordinary performance against targets at high altitude," Najjar said.

Military experts said that the S-300 missile systems could inflict a significant damage to the US or Israeli forces if they were to attack Iran.

Now even Ken Jennings is involved in the Mitt Romney -Mike Huckabee Iowa range war?

My postings here are usually not tinged with religion, but both Ralph (the Kosher Hedgehog here) and I try to comment here on religious-political news and related issues; sometimes we need to explain religious beliefs in order to comment intelligently on the news. (What else can one expect from a blog written by a committed Mormon and a committed Orthodox Jew?)

I also write daily for Article VI Blog, which for the last 18 months or so has examined religion and politics in the 2008 presidential campaign. My co-blogger there is John Schroeder, an Evangelical Christian who writes Blogotional, an influential religious blog, or "Godblog." (Yes, I keep eclectic company in the blogosphere, and I love it. Both John and Ralph are very smart guys whose writing enriches makes me look good by association.)

Of course, with the rise of Mike Huckabee we have seen unexpected opportunities to comment on religion, politics, and the news. (That's a opaque way of saying that we never dreamed we'd see the stuff we've seen so far.)

Here's the latest example. I never watch the game show "Jeopardy," but I know that Ken Jennings of Jeopardy fame is a Mormon and a Democrat. (No, that's not really such an unusual combination.) I suspect Jennings would never vote for Mitt Romney.

So it's interesting to me that even Jennings has now joined in the religious food fight that has erupted from what John and I call the "Mormon Question." His op-ed in the New York Daily News is entitled "Politicians & pundits, please stop slandering my Mormon faith." His concluding paragraph:

I'm tired of being a punch line and a punching bag. If the only way to get Mormonism out of the arena is to get Romney out of the race, then I'm counting the days. This is one Mormon who would rather have a little civility and tolerance than one of our own in the White House.

Well, I don't think that's a fair trade. Is Jennings saying that it's better for people of faith to keep out of national politics if their candidacy brings out religious bigotry against their faith?

One problem is that many doctrinaire Evangelicals are not making Jennings' argument easier. At Article VI a leading Evangelical, Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, told us in an interview (yet to be transcribed and published) that he thinks many Evangelicals will say they're voting against Romney for non-religious reasons (e.g., Romney's so-called "flip-flopping") when the real reason for their vote is that Romney is a Mormon.

Joe's not just any old blogger. Evangelical Outpost is a major Evangelical blog. He announced his support for Huck last October and is now the Huckabee campaign's research director. He's also prominent in the campaign's outreach efforts to Evangelicals, and Joe's blog postings often drip with scorn for Romney and his people.

So what'll it be? Do we speak out against religious bigotry, or simply run and hide from it, as Jennings seems to suggest? Ralph, what do you think?

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Iraqi Christians Crowd Churches for Christmas Mass. But Where Did the Jews Go?

Here is a feel-good story for Christmas 2007. "In numbers unthinkable a year ago," Iraqi Christians crowded churches for Christmas Mass. Muslim clerics -- both Sunni and Shiite -- also attended the service in a sign of unity. [HT: Instapundit.]

Perhaps someday Jews will be able to worship in peace and safety in Baghdad as well. A 1947 census showed that about 118,000 Jews lived in Iraq, some 77,500 of whom lived in Baghdad. The millenia-old Baghdadi Jewish community had produced great merchant families such as the Sassoons and great rabbinic scholars such as Chacham [Sage] Yosef Chaim (1832-1909) (pictured above right), more commonly known by the name of his most famous treatise on Jewish law, the Ben Ish Chai. Today there are about 35 Jews in Baghdad, and virtually no Jews elsewhere in Iraq.

For all the charges that fly back and forth the world about Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, and even accusations of genocide, millions of Arabs remain in Israel and Gaza--but where are the Jews of Iraq? Or the 75,000 Jews who lived in Egypt in 1948? Or the 500,000 Jews who lived in Morocco in 1948? (Only about 7000 remain there today in the most "philo-Semitic" Arab nation.) Or the 140,000 Jews of Algeria, the 105,000 of Tunisia, and the 31,000 of Libya? Why are there more than 40,000 Jews of Syrian descent in the U.S., but fewer than 100 Jews left in Syria, out of a 1948 population of 30,000? How did the Jewish population of Yemen (including Aden) drop from 63,000 in 1948 to about 200 today?

Thank God, those Jews from Arab lands were for the most part not murdered, but merely driven out of the lands where they had lived for centuries and even millenia--in the case of Iraq for some 2500 years.

One hears constantly about the Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. There is even a U.N. Agency, UNRWA, devoted exclusively to their welfare. UNRWA runs Palestinian Arab refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Gaza. Where are the Jewish refugee camps? One never hears anymore about Jewish refugees who fled Arab lands in 1948, although their numbers, some 944,000, exceeded UNRWA's figures for the 1948 Palestinian Arab refugees.

The answer, of course, is that the Jews who fled from Arab lands are no longer refugees. Without a UN agency and with little assistance from anyone other than the world Jewish community, they resettled in other nations, primarily Israel, the United States and France. Although in some cases they left behind prosperous businesses and family fortunes--Jews had been prominent bankers and merchants of their Arab homelands--whether rich or poor they left with almost nothing, but then they rebuilt their lives.

Please think about these facts the next time that you hear someone accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing. [For a related story, involving the arrival in Israel today of 40 Jewish refugees from non-Arab but very Islamic Iran, please go to Boker Tov Boulder.]

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Hedgehog

Once again, the words from my very favorite Christmas carol, "What Sweeter Music," by Robert Herrick (1591-1674). The most famous musical composition using these words is by John Rutter.

The lyric rewards effort and bears reading and re-reading, both silently and aloud:

What Sweeter Music

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter’s morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
‘Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.

Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who’s our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?

I wish a blessed Christmas to all.

Lowell Brown

Friday, December 21, 2007

Condi Rice Fires Back at Huckabee

I would not want to have Condi Rice angry at me. Although I was once a great fan of the former Stanford Dean and National Security Advisor, now the Secretary of State, her reversals of field on the Israeli-Palestinian issue have made me very uncomfortable of late. Fortunately, I keep a relatively low profile. I highly doubt that a summary of The Kosher Hedgehog's posts makes it to Condi's desk each morning.

Not so Mike Huckabee. He published an article in Foreign Affairs that characterized the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration as "go-it-alone" and exhibiting a "bunker mentality." That put old Huck squarely in Condi's gun sights and she let fire today, describing candidate Huckabee's opinion as "simply ludicrous."

So now we have a Republican Presidential candidate harshly criticizing the foreign policy of a sitting Republican President, and the Secretary of State of that Administration just as harshly attacking the candidate. Not great for party unity, one thinks, but perhaps only a foretaste of the divisiveness that would result should Mike Huckabee win the Republican nomination. For a completely different reason, a Giuliani nomination would probably have the same result--too many social conservatives are repelled by Rudy's soap-opera personal life. While Mitt Romney will never win over some doctrinaire Christian evangelicals, I think by and large he would be able to unify the party. Fred Thompson probably could do so as well, although I do not think he comes close to Romney in executive competency and energy.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lefty Wingnut "Joe Bashing" Goes Over the Edge

Former Democratic, and now Independent, Senator Joe Lieberman endorsed fellow Senator John McCain for President last week. "Fighting Joe" is now actively campaigning for Senator McCain in New Hampshire. The left-wing of the Democratic Party has not been amused. Liberal attacks on Joe Lieberman are nothing new, but as noted by The Jewish Daily Forward, the leftist fever swamp has gone way over the edge this time:
In other times, charges of Israeli plotting, Jewish disloyalty and Zionist control of Washington crept lamely into public discourse, only to be ignored or ridiculed by the mainstream. This week, claims of Jewish treachery were a mainstream thread in nearly every online discussion of the Lieberman-McCain brouhaha.

The claims appeared repeatedly, insistently, in the talkback sections of the most respectable news and opinion Web sites, from The Huffington Post and Think Progress to CNN, The Atlantic and AOL News. Saner discussants challenged them, for the most part, not contemptuously but respectfully, as though these were unremarkable, unobjectionable views.

Keep in mind that the Forward is hardly a neo-conservative mouthpiece. Founded as a New York Yiddish daily in 1897 by Abraham Cahan, its roots were in the Eastern European Jewish immigrant labor union and socialist movements, and in many ways it remains true to those political roots 110 years later. Still, there is something very ugly growing on the American political far left, and the Forward is to be praised for speaking out against it, even if that means taking some of its usual political allies to task.

Tancredo Tanks, Endorses Romney

The good news for Mitt Romney is that one of his rivals for the Republican Presidential nomination, U.S. Respresentative Tom Tancredo (R-Colo), has dropped out of the race. The bad news may be that he has endorsed Mitt Romney.

This blog, including both its Mormon (Lowell the Hedgehog) and Jewish (I, Ralph, the Kosher Hedgehog) components, had been an outspoken booster of Mitt Romney since he announced his candidacy. However, for even longer, the Hedgehog Blog has been a proponent of the sort of sane and reasonable immigration reform prosposed by President George W. Bush. Yes, we want to re-establish control of America's borders, but we have never been convinced by those who believe that we can forcibly deport the millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States. We also have advocated a guest worker program that would confer legal residency on its participants and could lead to American citizenship, as good for the American economy, good for the immigrants and good for our country as a whole.

The New Yorker recently published an article by Ryan Lizza, discussing Representative Tancredo's impact on the Republican Presidential race. Speaking of Mitt Romney, Lizza wrote:
[Romney] has quickly and easily adopted the negative code words of the anti-immigration movement—“sanctuary cities,” “amnesty”—and has tried to attach them to Giuliani and Huckabee. In doing so, he became the first top-tier candidate to seize the Tancredo mantle. My own sense, from talking to Huckabee, a Southern populist, and McCain, a border-state senator, is that they are genuinely appalled by Romney’s tactics, not only because of the damage to their campaigns but also because of the damage they believe he’s doing to the Party’s image.

I truly hope that Mitt Romney does not see himself as the heir to Tancredo's mantle. In past posts on this blog, my blogging partner Lowell has convincingly demonstrated that Governor Romney has maintained a principled and consistent stance on immigration issues, contrary to charges of "flip flopping" on the issue. I truly would be interested in reading what further Lowell, who has written so much and so thoughtfully about the immigration issue, has to say about the Tancredo endorsement and where, if anywhere, Mitt Romney's immigration positions may differ from his own.

Romney-Huckabee Caption Contest

Just for fun, what would you suggest as "thought bubbles" for Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in this photograph?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

"If the Republican party nominates Huckabee, it will nominate a man who is both unqualified for the job and ideologically out of step with the party. The Republican party's main advantage over the Democratic party the last few decades has been the fact that Republicans were united by principle, while Democrats were a motley pastiche of special interest groups, each looking to tear a little piece off the government's bloated carcass in exchange for their support.

"If Huckabee's ascent turns out to be anything more than a personality fueled blip, it will signal trouble for the Republican party. It will mean the ideology that has defined the Republican party since the age of Reagan is no longer enough to hold the party together. If Huckabee gets the nomination, it will mean that base identity politics have officially supplanted conservative ideology as the Republicans' uniting principle."

Dean Barnett, writing in The Daily Standard.

Satan's Siege Plan

I came across this poem by Israeli poet Nathan Alterman (photo at left), translated from the original Hebrew, here. What do our readers think of Satan's plan, as imagined by this poet?

Then Satan said: “How will I overcome this one who is under siege?
He possesses bravery, ingenuity,weapons of war and resourcefulness.”

And he said: “I’ll not sap his strength,
Nor fill his heart with cowardice,
nor overwhelm him with discouragement
As in days gone by. I will only do this:
I will cast a shadow of dullness over his mind
until he forgets that justice is with him.”
This is what the Satan said and it was as if
the heavens trembled in fear
as they saw him rise to execute his plan.

The Christian reader should keep in mind that the Satan in Judaism is not a fallen angel who rebels and defies God. In Hebrew, the word "satan" means "accuser." The Satan in Judaism is in effect God's prosecuting attorney. He is (perhaps pardoxically to the Christian mindset) a devoted servant of God, whose purpose is to test each person, endowed as we all are with free moral choice, to see if that person will make the correct moral choice, and comply with God's will, as expressed through His ccommandments. To make the moral test meaningful, God has empowered Satan to tempt and entice human beings. In that role, the Satan resembles a heavenly FBI agent setting up a sting. When humans make the wrong choice, and sin, Satan becomes the prosecutor in the heavenly court. The best Biblical portrayal of the Satan in that role is found in the Book of Job.

Nathan Alterman (1910-1970) was an Israeli poet, journalist and translator. He was not a religious Jew, but rather a secular Zionist, who immigrated from Poland to what was then British Mandatory Palestine in 1925. An interesting question about the above poem is whether the poet's concept of Satan in the poem is closer to the Jewish conception, described above, or the Christian conception of Satan as "the Evil One?" Or is the poem consistent with both concepts?

As the readers know, this blog normally focuses not on religion or literature, but rather on politics. Compare Satan's siege plan with the quote from North Vietnamese General Giap on permanent display as "the thought of the year" in the upper left margin. I believe that the person who posted the poem as a comment at Cross-Currents, where I found it, was focusing on the long-term strategy of the Palestinians and their left-wing Jewish allies to transform Israel into a secular, multi-national state, rather than a Jewish state. Of course, should they succeed, it would only be a matter of a short time before Israel became an Arab Moslem authoritarian state. Amazingly, Alterman seems to have foreseen the process.

Dry Bones Tries Rejecting Negativity

Yaakov Kirschen of Dry Bones gives positive thinking a try. Yes, Maude, he is being sarcastic.

Mitt Romney's Human Side

This is a very condensed version of a fairly well-known story about Mitt Romney. It tells us something important about him, I think.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Iranian Hajj Pilgrims Chant "Death to Israel" and "Death to America"

The "Disavowal of Pagans" is a day and night of prayer and meditation held annually in the Desert of Arafat, near Mecca, as part of the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage that every devout Moslem has a duty to make at least once in his or her lifetime. This year the pilgrims include Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (shown at left visiting Medina, Islam's second holy city, who interestly enough came at the express invitation of the government of Saudi Arabia. According to the Iranian Isalmic Republic News Agency, a huge group of Iranian pilgrims chanted "God is Great," "There is no Deity but Allah," "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" in mass unison, as the ceremony got under way. What a spiritual high! [HT: LGF and Gateway Pundit.]

I Will Not Vote for Mike Huckabee for President

I have a feeling that this post may be controversial. So I will begin by saying that it solely reflects the opinion of The Kosher Hedgehog. Whether Lowell the Hedgehog concurs or disagrees he will have to say, perhaps in a comment or supplement to this post.

Mike Huckabee may be a heck of a nice guy. I might well enjoy having him as a friend. If I lived in Arkansas, I might even vote for him for re-election as Governor. However, I would never vote for him for the office of the Presidency of the United States. Indeed, in an election between him and Hillary Clinton, I would have to vote for Senator Clinton, despite all the dire consequences her election might entail. If the choice is between Huckabee and either Barack Obama or John Edwards, I would pray that Rudy Guiliani or John McCain or some decent alternative candidate for whom I could conscientiously vote runs as an independent.

I believe that a lot of voters will agree with me. Hugh Hewitt has suggested that if Mike Huckabee is the GOP nominee, the Democrats will win 44 states. That may be an overly optimistic assessment of Huckabee's chances in the general election, at least if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. However, Huckabee's non-electability is not the primary issue for me. I would be more concerned if he won.

Since Mike Huckabee first surged in the polls in Iowa, his record as Governor of Arkansas, policy positions and public statements have received closer scrutiny. The more that I have learned about him, the more convinced I have become that he is not prepared to assume the responsibilities of the office of President of the United States.

National security is the overarching issue for me in the 2008 Presidential election. On that issue, I would prefer Mitt Romney (my clear first choice), Rudy Guiliani or John McCain to any of the Democratic candidates. I canot say the same for Mike Huckabee, if he were running against Senator Clinton.

While I have no respect for Clintonism, and know well that left-wing policies and higher taxes would be the inevitable consequences of the election of Hillary Clinton as President, especially if the Democrats retain control of both houses of Congress, I am confident that a Hillary Clinton Administration would adequately defend our nation against external threats and at least would govern responsibly at home. The two-term record of President Bill Clinton gives me that confidence.

Regarding national security, although Bill and Hillary would probably deny it under oath, I fully believe had either of them been President on 9/11/2001, the U.S. would have invaded Afghanistan and at least strongly confronted the Saddam Hussein regime to stop the Iraqi WMD development program that everyone then believed existed. Prior to the George W. Bush Presidency, the Clintons were quite close in political outlook on both domestic matters and foreign affairs to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is likely that under a Hillary Clinton Presidency a U.S.-British coalition would have emerged against Saddam Hussein very similar to what actually occurred.

Mike Huckabee is not alone on my list of unacceptable GOP candidates. Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul are on it as well. With wonderful choices for the GOP such as Romney, Giuliani and McCain, I deeply hope that my dilemma will remain purely theoretical.

Sorry, Chuck.

Update, 7:00 p.m., 12/18/2007:

If you listened to Hugh Hewitt's radio program today, you heard Hugh up his estimate of the number of States that Mike Huckabee would lose in the general election, as the GOP Presidential nominee, to 50. Hugh then got carried away and said that he might even lose 55 or 60 States, but I suspect that at that point he was speaking tongue in cheek.

Hugh also finally took note on the air of my photo comparison of Mike Huckabee and President Charles Logan on "24." [See "The Next President of the United States--Huck Norris," Hedgehog Blog, November 30, 2007.]

Hugh's biggest fear is that in the event the Democrats win the White House in 2008, that Democratic President may have the opportunity to appoint as many as 5 left-wing Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. He therefore justifiably worries about the electoral prospects of Governor Huckabee. Interestingly enough, for all of his reservations, he pledged to back Mike Huckabee in the general election if he receives the GOP nomination, vowing to "go Thelma and Louise with the rest of the GOP, pedal to the metal, right off the cliff."

I won't be along for the ride, however. For my part, despite Hugh's absolutely legitimate concern over the fate of the Supreme Court, my own concern over Mike Huckabee's ability to handle a national security crisis is so strong that I would vote for Senator Clinton over Governor Huckabee.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mitt Romney on "Meet The Press"

I blog in some depth on Mitt Romney's Meet the Press appearance here at Article VI Blog. I guess I'm vain enough to hope you'll be interested in the links and commentary there.

Friday, December 14, 2007

First (Matzah) Blood: The Huckster ‘Apologizes’

My friend Steve Finefrock, who is also a friend of The Hedgehog Blog, has kindly granted permission for the publication of this guest post.

FROM THE PHONE BOOTH: The Smallest Space in Hollywood

Eugene McCarthy slayeth the President!

So thought the media, and they felt certain he was on a yellow-brick road to the Emerald City, or the White House at least. Instead, the yellow-streak became known to be in his spine, and soon Bobby Kennedy entered the race, Clean Gene having proved LBJ was not invincible. Of course, it was all on a pretense: McCarthy had fooled New Hampshire voters in 1968, as JFK had done in 1960. He was a quick hors d’ouevre, not a main meal. The entrée was to come later, as Nixon trumped Humphrey.

Now cometh Huckabee, aka The Huckster, or Huck [as in Tom Sawyer’s chum], rising fast and giving some heartburn to public and private remonstrations. He likely will win the Iowa cauci [plural for caucus], maybe even place second in New Hampshire. Oh, what shall we do?

Advice of counsel from Silent Cal Coolidge: Sometimes you don’t do something, just stand there. True enough in ’68, that Eugene ‘beat’ LBJ [actually, got fewer votes, but won the Expectation Game], and true enough that Huck may truck right into first place in Iowa vote mine rich with evangelicals. But tarry not, while taking Cal’s Advice. Keep up the pressure, sure: but know that Huck ain’t got the stuff. His first stumble of note has been dismissed by even one close Romney advisor, who asserts that they are letting it slide.

Fair enough – fair is fine, if divinely inspired, e.g., it leads to the proper result. Taking a Silent Cal strategery will work for Romney, who’s overlooking Huck’s comment on the Mormons’ supposed belief that the devil is Jesus’ brother. He’s apologized to Romney as an aside, but his apology is yet to get the same play as drawing first-blood in the religious electoral war. He’s failed to abide by his beloved Golden Rule: Would he take well to a slam on Baptists of equal idiocy? Plainly, do-unto-others is suitable guide for healthcare, as he claims the Compassion Card. But not when fighting a Mormon opponent. He gives unto the left on health, but attacks a fellow GOPster for religious belief, while advocating do-unto-others. Very selective vision, Huck.

My estimation over a year ago on dismissing Romney was due to this very vulnerability, expecting it to be exploited by the DEMOCRATS! Oh, not obviously – they’re too sleazy for that, and the media is too sloppy to play detective and find the dems’ below-the-radar strategy and tactics, constructed to make people whisper: That Romney, isn’t his religion kinda weird?

But the first-blood in this battle came from a small-calibre Rambo from Hope: Huck hacked one of his own, in a snide aside to the NY Times, proving he ain’t ready for prime time, or even daytime TV. A slip like this shows he’s either not thinkin’, or not carin’ about being president.

True enough that Romney is too stiff, Giuliani sometimes tentative, Thompson still more laid-back than suitable – but that’s how you play when the stakes are high. No wild-&-crazy-guy occupants allowed in the Oval Office. A casual, cutesy comment, when being ‘courted’ by the Paper of Record makes the lesser player careless. Oh, wow, the Times is interviewing li’l ole me! Then the beans spill.

Some famous coach informed one of his scoring footballers, who’d just gone wacko in the endzone: Act like you’ve been there before! Be cool, act with style, pretend you’re experienced at this experience, even if you ain’t. Huck ain’t ever been courted so generously before, and he’s also never sat on the national throne of press adoration; it soon shall become a hot seat. That endzone shall be his endgame.

Huck ain’t been there before. His slinking slam on Mormonism is akin to the long-debunked, yet surviving libel against Jews, contrived by the Czar’s secret police: that Jews make their holiday matzah bread with the blood of Gentile children, tortuously slain for the occasion. The so-called “Protocol of the Elders of Zion” is a favorite of Arabists and Islamists, even the source of an Al Jazeera mini-series. Huck has given a faint echo of that mentality. A shame, in itself, and a shame for the hopes of conservatives.

For I’d thought the slam on Mitt would come from Hillary, or Barack, or the DLC, or DNC – secretly slithering in slime, of course, but still the reason Mitt was vulnerable, once he was the nominee. Now, that slinky slam has come instead from a Baptist, a preacher, a man claiming concern and compassion for those who are at a disadvantage. The shame is his, and the worry is ours, IF HE’S NOMINATED.

Which won’t happen, no more than Gene’s clean scheme [not so clean when examined, over two decades later by a political science scholar] made him the nominee. Gene was a blip, a brief tasty treat, but not serious protein. “Where’s the beef?” applied then as much as years later in politics, and also today: Where’s the beef of this would-be Rambo, drawing first-blood with a motzah-libel we’d expect of Arabists, and liberals.

For the record, Huck drew first-blood, as if he’d inquiringly endorsed the debunked Elders of Zion. Before Xmas. Well before the Passion of the Christ in spring. Well before a nominee becomes apparent.

Had he promptly apologized as fervently as his original statement, and in as large a venue as the NY Times offers, he might be tenable. But he'll become the GOP’s Gene, with not-so-clean hands of blood-libel utterances. We expect a president to be better informed on issues of great weight, of grand gravitas – Huck is still drifting down the Mississippi, steering his directionless raft with the currents.

Not presidential timber. Balsa wood in a forest full of oak and teak and other hardier woods. He bent when he should have stood up, played the “isn’t it true” game that many see thru, and all should recognize as a gimmick. If he’s the ‘new’ candidate who’s eschewing the old politics, what’s with the timid question? If he believes it, he’s ignorant. If he knows better about the facts, he’s a liar. Very old wine in not-so-new a skin.

In either case, it was stupid. Therefore, he’s not to be let out after dark, or out of Arkansas. Enjoy the ride, Gene of Arkansas – it will be your only turn in the spotlight. The bitchiest part is the withdrawal – eyeballs and adrenaline are the toughest drugs for ultimate recovery. After six months of wetkisses from David Broder, the dogs of journalism will turn your comfy womb into a hellhole. Welcome to prime time, Huck. You’re not on the Mississippi any more.

Fears are arising by the right: What do we do if Huck’s our nominee? Ain’t gonna happen – small potatoes, no beef, all hat and no cattle. Good lookin’ hat, but it’s stained with the matzah blood of politically slain Mormons. Well, if not slain, at least slandered.

Huck, we hardly knew ye. How’s the weather in Arkansas? Have a little chicken soup with matzah balls – can’t hurt, might help the pain of paying for your violation of the Golden Rule.

For more on this, see Article VI Blog.

Political Quote of the Week

Peggy Noonan today, on the no-longer-inevitable nomination of Hillary Clinton:

It appears not to be working. Might it be that they don't miss Bill as much as everyone thought? That they don't actually want Bill back in the White House?

Maybe. But maybe it's this. Maybe they'd love to have him back in the White House. Maybe they just don't want him to bring her. Maybe they miss the Cuckoo's Nest and they'd love having Jack Nicholson's McMurphy running through the halls. Maybe they just don't miss Nurse Ratched. Does she have to come?

Nurse Ratched. Hilarious.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

And You Thought "JFK" and "Nixon" were Bad? Oliver Stone to Film Ahmadinejad Documentary

Speaking of dupes of Iran, American film director Oliver Stone has received the go-ahead from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to film a documentary about the Iranian President. Filming is slated to commence in February 2008.

Given Stone's loose grasp on reality, so evident in his prior "historical" work, such as "JFK" and "Nixon," one wonders whether a biopic might be more the ticket for Stone's newest project. May we suggest Sean Penn to play Ahmadinejad? After all, Penn is fresh back from his recent visit with Venezuela's Hugo ("I coulda been a dictator") Chavez, whom Penn praised on the David Letterman Show as a leader who has "done incredible things for the 80% of the people who are very poor there." (Despite this celebrity endorsement, over 50% of Venezuelan voters shortly thereafter refused to make Chavez President for life.) And we all know what good friends Chavez and Ahmadinejad are. (See photo far left.)

In light of the writer's strike, Oliver Stone may require some plot help. I have the high concept, and it's very consistent with Stone's fastidious adherence to truth. The film will portray how George W. Bush stole the 2000 U.S. Presidential election from Ahmadinejad, by fixing the Florida vote. An intrepid reporter (who absolutely must be played by Keith Olbermann) discovers the conspiracy when he notices that the returns from the heavily Jewish precincts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties do not reflect the popularity of their favorite son Mahmoud.

Iran's Supreme Leader Fires Hezbollah's Military Chief

If you had any illusions about who really runs Hezbollah, this story should dispel them. The London-based pan-Arabic daily newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Thursday that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah (photo left) has been removed as head of Hezbollah's military wing. His replacement by his deputy, Sheikh Naim Qasim, was ordered by none other than Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei (photo right). The story in the Saudi-owned newspaper was cited by YNet, the Jerusalem Post and in Lebanon's Daily Star. The latter news outlet also carries a denial by Hezbollah of the report of Nasrallah's removal, which to my mind only increases the reliability of the al-Sharq al-Awsat story.

The Daily Star report adds these tidbits:

The Saudi-owned daily said that the alleged decision was taken in light of a report presented by a team from the intelligence apparatus of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards that had visited Lebanon to assess the status of Hizbullah's military and its capabilities.

The newspaper quoted what it said was a Revolutionary Guards officer in the Bekaa Valley as saying that Nasrallah and Qassem were "at odds" about a number of "crucial issues related to the party's military wing ... which led Khamenei's office to interfere in order to reorganize Hizbullah's command structure."

The unidentified source said Hizbullah's annual budget of $400 million was raised to over $1 billion in the past 18 months to compensate for losses during the 2006 war. According to the Saudi daily, Khamenei assigned a team comprising major officers of the Revolutionary Guards to restructure the party's military branch in light of the team's recommendations.

Please keep in mind that former Senator John Edwards, currently seeking the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, recently condemned Hillary Clinton in a debate for her Senate vote in favor of a declaration that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are a terrorist organization. Edwards described the Revolutionary Guards as a "military unit." One supposes in light of the ties of Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards that Hezbollah also is just a "military unit," not a terrorist organization.

In any event, anyone who tries to tell you that Hezbollah is a Lebanese nationalist group, as opposed to a puppet of Iran and Syria, is either a liar or a dupe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Palestinian Authority Requests $5.8 Billion in Aid Through 2010

Anne Lieberman at Boker Tov Boulder adds up the tote for the post-Oslo Palestinianthon. In passing she notes how PA leader Muhammed Dahlan recently admitted that of some $10 Billion Dollars of international aid received by the Palestinians since the 1993 Olso Accords, about $5 Billion Dollars has untraceably disappeared. Caroline Glick, quoted by Ms. Lieberman, has written:

"Since its establishment in 1994, the PA has received more aid per capita than any other group of people in the world has ever received - more than the victims of genocide in Sudan or Rwanda, more that the victims of the tsunami in Asia, more than the Iraqis or the Afghans - more than anyone."

For more observations on the Palestinian Authority aid request, check out Jewish Current Issues and this post by Barry Rubin at Global Research in International Affairs. Where are Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer on this story of distorted U.S. foreign aid priorities? [HT: Jewish Current Issues. Photo Credit:]


Huckabee's Candidacy: Divine Providence Is Behind It!

Watch this clip and then decide how you feel about Mike Huckabee as a candidate:

I don't know about you, but I am alternatively revulsed, angry, and sad as I watch this man divide the GOP by mixing religion and politics in the most blatant and self-serving manner.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Muslim Clerics Celebrate Chanukah in Kiryat Shemona, Israel

Our far-flung Hedgehog correspondent in Tzfat (Safed) and Kiryat Shemona, Linda Stern, directed my attention to this story from, about how Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles arranged for moderate Muslim clerics from Indonesia to visit Israel. They celebrated Chanukah with Rav Tzefaniya Drori, the Rosh Yeshiva (Dean) of the Yeshiva Hesder of Kiryat Shemona. (In the photo, Rav Drori shows his visitors a vial of olive oil for lighting the Chanukah menorah.) They also visited Sederot, in the south of Israel, the everyday favorite missile target of Hamas.

Considering that some 16 months ago, in July and August 2006, a less-moderate Islamic group, Hezbollah, was raining rockets down on Kiryat Shemona and other northern Israeli cities and towns, and that another less-moderate Islamic group, Hamas, is still launching rockets almost daily at Sederot, a photo of the Muslim clerics dancing with Yeshiva students to celebrate Chanukah is encouraging. Anyone who would like to help out the yeshiva, can contact Linda by e-mail at

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Saturday, December 08, 2007


Our occasional guest columnist focuses on calls from the lefty wingnuts to revise U.S. policy towards Iran in light of the recent NIE on the Iranian nuclear program:
If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then sanity must be continuing to do something that actually working. Like sanctions on Iran.

The issue arises with the publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), "Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities." The NIE concludes that Iran ended its nuclear weapons program in the autumn of 2003.

The "Bush lied" crowd is hugging the NIE to its breast. For example, writes: "President Bush has been moving closer to war with Iran. But a stunning new intelligence report shows that Iran shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and Bush has known for months. It's Iraq all over again. . . . Just like he did with Iraq, Bush is ignoring the intelligence and recklessly pushing towards war. We can't afford to let Bush and Cheney start another disastrous war."

However, there are other bits in the NIE that the anti-war folks are not embracing—in fact, they’re positively ignoring the following:
The NIE has "high confidence that until fall 2003, Iranian military entities were working under government direction to develop nuclear weapons."

While the NIE has "high confidence" that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, it has only "moderate confidence" that it didn’t resume the program, and "we do not know whether [Iran] currently intends to develop nuclear weapons."

The NIE "cannot rule out that Iran has acquired from abroad—or will acquire in the future—a nuclear weapon or enough fissile material for a weapon."

The NIE has "high confidence that Iran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to produce nuclear weapons if it decides to do so."

And, most significantly, the conclusion that Iran halted its work on nuclear weapons "primarily in response to international pressure."
The illiberal Left also ignores the fact that Israel disagrees with the NIE judgment that Iran is not currently trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Defense Minister Ehud Barak reacted to the report by saying, "Iran did stop its nuclear program for a time in 2003, but in our assessment, it resumed its work at a certain point. . . . The U.S. assessment does not jibe with ours." There may be some reason to prefer the U.S. National Intelligence Council’s opinion over Israel’s, but it isn’t obvious what that would be.

Given the inherent uncertainty in such intelligence reports, the Iranian mullocracy’s undeniable interest in obtaining nuclear weapons, its unwavering support for Islamist terrorism, its declared hostility to the U.S., and its stated desire for the destruction of Israel, Iran remains extraordinarily dangerous. This means that changing Iran’s government remains a crucial national and international interest. To the extent Iran has backed away from seeking nuclear weapons, military options may be put aside for the time being in favor of giving economic and political sanctions, as well as supporting liberal democrats within Iran, more time to work.

The "No war with Iran" people would be more credible if they admitted that Iran’s current government is a threat to civilization and its values; and that, if military confrontation is repugnant, undermining the mullahs non-militarily becomes even more important. Instead, as Andrew Lachman, president of Democrats for Israel, Los Angeles, has noted ("Progressives should join Jews on Iran strategy," Los Angeles Jewish Journal, November 9, 2007), "instead of supporting sanctions or diplomacy, many of these progressives have instead decided to turn the argument into a wholesale opposition to any action against Iran without acknowledging the real threats . . . ."

If the anti-war Left wants credibility on Iran, it must come out in favor of sanctions and democratization. But I’m not aware of any prominent anti-war organization or activist who has done so.

There is a risk that some will use the NIE to justify not merely holding in abeyance a military strike against Iran, but even weakening the sanctions that in all likelihood led to the good news in the NIE. That would be irrational. To neutralize the threat of war, keep up the pressure until liberal democracy begins to blossom in Iran.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mitt Romney's "Faith in America" Speech

[With the author's permission, we republish here in its entirety this December 6, 2007 post from Article VI Blog. In the photo at left you can see David Nerenberg at the far right, wearing a yarmulke and prayer shawl. More about David in the post below.]

I just got back from College Station. Here's what I came up with on the plane ride home.


This was not a good day for Mike Huckabee and others who may hope to use religious faith as a weapon in the 2008 campaign. Right after the speech I was wandering around the front of the Bush Library auditorium and witnessed the following exchange between a wire reporter and a senior Romney aide.

The Romney aide was looking at his Blackberry and said, "The response is amazing. I can't believe who I am getting e-mails from."

Reporter (with a twinkle in his eye): "Is there one from the Huckabee campaign?"

Romney aide (laughing): "No, but what would they be saying right now?"

Reporter: "Damn!"

They both laughed. Both knew Romney had accomplished something important this morning.

The Key Statements

For those interested in The Question, and in the issues we cover here [at Article VI Blog], I think the following are the most important killer paragraphs of Mitt Romney's speech today. I cannot excerpt these sentences and still do justice to them. They appear together in one section of the address:

As a young man, Lincoln described what he called America's "political religion" - the commitment to defend the rule of law and the Constitution. When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office, that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A President must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States.

There are some for whom these commitments are not enough. They would prefer it if I would simply distance myself from my religion, say that it is more tradition than my personal conviction, or disavow one or another of its precepts. That I will not do. I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers - I will be true to them and to my beliefs.

Some believe that such a confession of faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it. But I think they underestimate the American people. Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.

There is one fundamental question about which I am often asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. My church's beliefs about Christ may not all be the same as those of other faiths. Each religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These are not bases for criticism but rather a test for tolerance. Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree.

There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes President he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths.

Those last two sentences were the first applause lines of the speech.

Some Observations from The Scene

This was a day full of gems, and there were too many to share in one post. Here are just a few, from the perspective of this Romney supporter and Mormon observer of this discussion over the last 18 months:

This speech, as John has already noted, was really a presidential address in tone. Mitt Romney was speaking to the country the way a president does: calling the nation to higher ground, reminding us all what the nation is all about so far as religion, government, and our culture are concerned.

After the speech we ran into Carl Cameron of Fox News. We introduced ourselves, and Cameron asked me: "So what did you think?" I said, "I think he sounded presidential." "You're right," Cameron responded, as he walked away. "You're exactly right." We'll see if he reports it that way.

No one who is prejudiced against Romney because of his faith could honestly listen to or read Romney's speech without a prick of conscience.

No one who is concerned about Romney's faith, either because of unfamiliarity or deep doctrinal differences with it, could listen to or read Romney's speech without being favorably impressed.

No one who was undecided, prior to the speech, about which candidate to support could listen to or read Romney's speech without being moved Romney's direction at least a little.

(A side note: Romney wrote this speech himself. He writes all his speeches himself. That alone is amazing. If you want to know what Romney himself thinks and feels, you can simply read his speeches.)

As I noted in our earlier post today, I had a chance to see Romney interact with a room full of supporters shortly before he spoke. It was clear that he was enthused about the speech and eager to give it. I had wondered about that, and whether he would be visibly affected by the pressure. Not so. He was charged up.

So what does all this mean? Without the benefit of time, it's hard to say. We need to see how the speech will be spun, and I am on an airplane as I write this, sealed off from the likes of CNN and Fox News and the Internet. Some will carp about Romney describing radical islamists in harsh terms. Others will object to his mention of Brigham Young in the same breath as Ann Hutchinson and Roger Williams. Still others will complain about his quotation from the King James version of the Bible, which is the one Mormons use. (I'm not kidding.)

But the people with those objections are not the people Romney hoped to persuade that his faith does not matter; they will probably never be persuaded.

No, the undecided, the open-minded and the open-hearted are the people to whom Mitt Romney was speaking, and I think they will hear his words and feel them.

I'm talking about people like David Nerenberg, a Romney backer who spoke to the group of supporters just before Romney entered the room. David, who is Jewish, said, "If Mitt Romney is not enough of a Christian to be President, then where does that leave me?"

Then David told us he had a yarmulke that his great-great grandfather had brought with him from Germany in 1848, and a prayer shawl another grandfather had brought from Belarus in 1920. He said, "When I enter the sanctuary [that's what he called the auditorium at the Bush Library], I will be wearing that yarmulke and that prayer shawl." David reminded everyone that "this is an important day for America."

David Nerenberg is a successful and prominent businessman in Washington State. An hour later, as I sat in the Library auditorium during the event and watched David, adorned with the sacred symbols of his faith and heritage and celebrating Governor Romney's speech, I was so very proud to be a part of this moment in history.

Near the end of his address, Romney tied together his themes:

In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, and person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion - rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith.

Soaring and worthy words from a man who may well be the next President of the United States. Amen and amen.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Edwards Calls Iranian Revolutionary Guard a "Military Unit," Not a Terrorist Group!

During Monday's Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate, John Edwards sharply attacked Senator Hillary Clinton for her Senate vote in favor of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. Edwards claimed that attaching the label of "terrorist group" to a "military unit" (his words) amounted to a declaration of war against Iran.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard certainly is a military unit, among other things. It also functions as a religious and political police force, brutally suppressing political opposition to the mullahs' authoritarian regime.

And neither of those functions excludes another role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard--as a terrorist organization. A photo of some of its handiwork appears above. As noted on this website, Argentina has indicted leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for the planning and execution of the July 18, 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, which took the lives of 85 persons and injured some 200 others. Less than a month ago, on November 7, Interpol added the names of those Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders to its most wanted list.

Does Edwards view the bombing of the Jewish Community Center to have been a legitimate military operation? If this "military unit" isn't a terrorist organization, what further outrage would it have to commit to become one? Mr. Edwards, I will not forget and I will not forgive your remarks.

Mike Huckabee's Willie Horton

If you don't think Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would use this story in the general election if Huckabee is nominated, then you should think again.

Byron York has more: The Story Mike Huckabee Dreads.

Monday, December 03, 2007

If Moslems Want More Respect, They Might Try Respecting Others

David Warren, writing for the Ottawa Citizen, in a column posted at Real Clear Politics, suggests that the West has been far too tolerant of bullying by Islamic militants clamoring for respect for Islam and its Prophet. He points to the case of Gillian Gibbons, jailed for 15 days in the Sudan for allowing the students in her Khartoum classroom to name a teddy bear "Mohammad," at the request of one of her students, whose name was "Mohammad," incidentally the most common male first name in the Islamic world.

He also points to the example of Bangladesh author Taslima Nasreem. The government of West Bengal has banned her memoir, because it contained several remarks deemed offensive to Moslems, in deference to that Indian province's Moslem minority. The government of the national capital territory of Delhi has demanded, and she has agreed, to delete several pages from her book for the same reason.

Lastly he points out the example of the treatment of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (photo above left) by the Saudi Arabian delegation at the recent Annapolis summit:

The royal Saudi delegates not only did not politely applaud, as is the genteel custom, after the Israeli delegate spoke. They had declined to put in their earphones, to hear the translation while that delegate spoke. From a party to actual peace negotiations, comes this rude gesture to announce that nothing a representative of Israel could say would be worth hearing.
After the conference, the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, whose national affiliation is compounded by the fact she is a woman, made an unprecedented public complaint. She said that none of the Arab foreign ministers would shake her hand; that she was treated as a pariah. Or as Frans Timmermans put it -- a Dutch government minister who was in attendance -- they "shun her like she is Count Dracula's younger sister."

Actually the rudeness of the Saudis was not limited to Ms. Livni, and the United States State Department joined them as an enabler. As Caroline Glick reports in the Jerusalem Post, "Evident everywhere, the discrimination against Israel received its starkest expression at the main assembly of the Annapolis conference on Tuesday. There, in accordance with Saudi demands, the Americans prohibited Israeli representatives from entering the hall through the same door as the Arabs."

Can you imagine the U.S. treating a Soviet delegation in this manner, even at the height of the Cold War?

The editor of the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz, reports that when Israeli journalists tried to join other members of the international press pool in covering the arrival of the Saudi delegation at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., before the conference, they were escorted off the premises. "Israeli camera crews then filmed the Arab leaders driving in from outside the embassy security barrier, in the rain, while other media crews filmed the notables from the covered comfort of the embassy's entrance."

David Warren asks, "Why do we treat Arab foreign ministers diplomatically, who are themselves incapable of diplomacy? Why do we confer dignities upon Saudi royalty who will confer no dignity upon our friends?"

I frankly have come to expect such rudeness from the Saudis. I commend Ms. Livni for publicly protesting her treatment. However, I criticize both her and Prime Minister Olmert for acquiescing to the Saudi's insulting behavior. I do not know who angers me more, the U.S. State Department for accommodating the outrageous demand by the Saudis that the Israeli delegation enter by a separate doorway to the conference hall, or the Israeli delegation, for agreeing to go along with the insult, instead of refusing to participate in the conference until the Saudis retracted their insolent demand.

We also have the wonderful hypocrisy exhibited--almost without comment by the Western press--by the Palestinian's lead negotiator, Saeed Erekat, who remarked in an interview with Palestinian Radio that the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying, "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined," Erekat told Radio Palestine.

That is quite interesting, considering that the as yet non-existent "State of Palestine" has since 1969 been a member of the 57-nation Organisastion of the Islamic Conference. Article VIII of the charter of that organization forthrightly sets forth the criteria for membership: "Every Muslim State is eligible to join the Islamic Conference on submitting an application expressing its desire and preparedness to adopt this Charter." (Emphasis added.) Mr. Erekat would apparently have us believe that no nation on earth qualifies under these criteria, since "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined." Somehow 57 nations made the grade, in many of which sharia, Islamic religious law, is the governing code of law. Mr. Erekat also apparently is strangely unfamiliar with the laws and culture of Saudi Arabia, which does not allow the open practice within its borders of any religion other than Islam.

Let me provide a positive example of an Islamic organization promoting tolerance and respect for others. CAIR, a group that I do not normally praise, on its website has posted a column by Ibrahim Hooper, entitled "What Would Muhammad Do?" Mr. Hooper concludes with this observation concerning the Gillian Gibbons case, discussed at the top of this post:
The complaint brought against Gillian Gibbons was an inappropriate use of Sudan’s legal system to deal with what was in essence a disagreement between parents and a teacher. Ms. Gibbons should never have been charged. She should be released immediately.

I respect and commend CAIR for posting Mr. Hooper's column. You see, when one extends respect, one gets respect.