January 06, 2009
We have always been in this together...
Militant Islam Threatens Us All:
Hamas rockets have the same terror goal as Hitler's blitz.
By: BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
JANUARY 7, 2009
Imagine a siren that gives you 30 seconds to find shelter before a Kassam rocket falls from the sky and explodes, spraying its lethal shrapnel in all directions. Now imagine this happens day after day, month after month, year after year.
If you can imagine that, you can begin to understand the terror to which hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been subjected. Three years ago Israel withdrew from every square inch of Gaza. And since that withdrawal, our civilians have been targeted by more than 6,000 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza. In the face of this relentless bombardment, Israel has acted with a restraint that other countries, faced with a similar threat, would find hard to fathom. Israel's government has finally decided to respond.
For this action to succeed, we must first have moral clarity. There is no moral equivalence between Israel, a democracy which seeks peace and targets the terrorists, and Hamas, an Iranian-backed terror organization that seeks Israel's destruction and targets the innocent.
In launching precision strikes against Hamas rocket launchers, headquarters, weapons depots, smuggling tunnels and training camps, Israel is trying to minimize civilian casualties. But Hamas deliberately attacks Israeli civilians and deliberately hides behind Palestinian civilians - a double war crime. Responsible governments do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties, but they do not grant immunity to terrorists who use civilians as human shields.
The international community may occasionally condemn Hamas for putting Palestinian civilians in harm's way, but if it ultimately holds Israel responsible for the casualties that ensue, then Hamas and other terror organizations will employ this abominable tactic again and again.
The charge that Israel is using disproportionate force is equally baseless. Does proportionality demand that Israel fire 6,000 rockets indiscriminately back at Gaza? Does it demand an equal number of casualties on both sides? Using that logic, one would conclude that the United States employed disproportionate force against the Germans because 20 times as many Germans as Americans died in World War II.
In that same war, Britain responded to the firing of thousands of rockets on its population with the wholesale bombing of German cities. Israel's measured response to rocket fire on its cities has come in the form of surgical strikes. To further root out Hamas terrorists in a way that minimizes Palestinian civilian casualties, Israel's army is now engaged in a ground operation that places its soldiers in great peril. Carpet-bombing of Palestinian cities is not an option that any Israeli leader will entertain.
The goal of this mission should be clear: To end the current round of missile attacks and to remove the threat of such attacks in the future. The only cease-fire or diplomatic initiative that should be accepted is one that achieves this dual objective.
If our enemies assumed that the Israeli public would be divided on the eve of an election, they were wrong. When it comes to exercising our most basic right of self-defense, there is no opposition and no coalition. We stand united against Hamas because we know that only by defeating Hamas can we provide security for our people and hope for a future peace.
We fight to defend ourselves, but in so doing we are also fighting a fanatical ideology that seeks to reverse the course of history and throw the civilized world back into a new dark age. The struggle between militant Islam and modernity - whether fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, India or Gaza - will decide our common future. It is a battle we cannot afford to lose.
Mr. Netanyahu, Israel's ninth prime minister, is the chairman of the Likud Party and its candidate for prime minister.
Copyright 2009 - The Wall Street Journal
Sigh, will it ever end?
How the U.N. Perpetuates the 'Refugee' Problem:
Nowhere on earth do terrorists get so much help from the Free World.
By: NATAN SHARANSKY
JANUARY 6, 2009
Israel's assault on Hamas is just the latest in a long chain of military clashes, the scripts of which are always the same. On one side, there is the Israeli army. Technologically and militarily superior, its soldiers are motivated by a powerful commitment to their country's security. On the other, there are Palestinian terrorists whose aim is to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible by unleashing missiles and suicide bombers on civilian centers. Then, when Israel retaliates, they appeal to the world with gruesome images of Palestinian suffering as part of a global campaign to prevent Israel from defending itself.
Sooner or later, the tactics of the Palestinian terrorists work. The voices of protest in response to Palestinian suffering grow louder until international pressure stays Israel's hand.
Inevitably, some of these protests come from Israelis. Last week, before the tanks had begun rolling into Gaza, the journalist Tom Segev put it bluntly in a column he wrote in Ha'aretz. "A child in Sderot is the same as a child in Gaza," he wrote, "and anyone who harms either is evil."
Mr. Segev is correct when he says that the suffering of children on either side is intolerable - this is why the pictures from Gaza make us shudder. But he is wrong to draw a moral equivalence between the two sides. In this, he lends a hand to the Palestinians' most shameful military tactic: pimping the suffering of their civilians as a weapon of war.
Palestinian children are dying today not because of Israeli brutality, but because their own leaders have chosen to use their children as human shields, and their pain as a battering ram against Western sensibilities.
Of course, it is easy to blame Hamas. It is they, after all, who deliberately put their weapons caches in mosques, their rocket launchers in schoolyards, and their command centers in hospitals - all with the explicit goal of maximizing the tragedy of an Israeli response.
Yet Hamas is not the only Palestinian group at fault. In 2005, shortly after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, I met with the chief of staff to the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. My question to him: Now that we have uprooted thousands of Jews and empowered Gazans to be masters of their own fate, can we hope that within a year's time there will be fewer refugees in the camps? "Absolutely not," he said. "The refugees will be relocated only in the context of the final status [agreement]. How can we move them if we do not know where they will live? Maybe they will live in Israel."
In withdrawing from Gaza, Israel made painful concessions for peace by forcibly removing Jews from their homes. And yet even the Palestinian Authority, the most moderate among Palestinian political groups, would not consider easing their own people's plight in the wake of Israel's compromise. This is because the suffering of the refugees is essential to their broader political struggle.
How does the West respond to the obvious exploitation of Palestinian refugees? Soon after my meeting with Mr. Abbas's chief of staff, I met with the ambassador of one of the West's most enlightened countries. I asked: Why are the Palestinians not willing to help their own refugees? "I can understand them," he answered. "After all, they don't want the refugee problem to be taken off the agenda."
This reflexive "understanding" for the Palestinian leaders' abuse of their own people is the heart of the problem. For decades, the international community has actively assisted in building the terrorists' unique system of control - over where Palestinians live and in what conditions, and over what they think - by allowing terrorists to turn the refugee camps into the center of the Palestinian war machine. Instead of working to relieve the refugees' misery, the United Nations has dedicated an entire agency, UNRWA, to perpetuating it. For the rest of the world's refugees, the U.N. works tirelessly to improve their conditions, to relocate them, and to help them rebuild their lives as quickly as possible. With the Palestinians, the U.N. does exactly the opposite, granting refugee status to the great-grandchildren of people displaced in 1948, doing nothing to dismantle the camps, and acting as facilitators for the terrorists' goal of grinding an entire civilian population under their thumb. Nowhere on earth do terrorists get so much help from the Free World.
It is not only the refugee camps that the West has helped sustain. For years, Hamas in Gaza - like Hezbollah in Lebanon, and like the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat - has been amassing huge stockpiles of weaponry, most of it under the noses of Western observers who are meant to prevent the import of such weapons. It's as if we are telling the terrorists: Go on, build your armies, prepare for war. We understand.
The same can be said about the use of children as human shields. Where was the West when Palestinian leaders were actively transforming their children's classrooms into indoctrination centers for martyrdom?
And so, invariably, the script is played out: Hamas fires its missiles, Israel responds with military force in Gaza, children are killed, their pictures are played countless times on televisions in the West, articles are published saying both sides are evil, and Israel is pressured to stop.
Whether this war will bring about lasting change, or just provide another breather before the next battle, depends to a very large degree on the Free World. A successful Israeli campaign - in which Hamas is eliminated as the controlling force in Gaza - will bring an unprecedented opportunity for Western leaders to change the rules of the game when it comes to Palestinian civilians. It's time for the West to recognize the human rights of Palestinians - not only when they are suffering in war.
Mr. Sharansky, former deputy prime minister of Israel, is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center and the author, most recently, of "Defending Identity" (PublicAffairs, 2008).
Copyright 2009 - The Wall Street Journal
A lesson as we move forward together...
Conservatives Can Unite Around the Constitution:
The coalition that supported Reagan is as viable as ever.
By: PETER BERKOWITZ
After their dismal performance in November, conservatives are taking stock. As they debate the causes that have driven them into the political wilderness and as they contemplate paths out, they should also take heart. After all, election 2008 shows that our constitutional order is working as designed.
The Constitution presupposes a responsive electorate, and respond the electorate did to the vivid memory of a spendthrift and feckless Republican Congress; to a stalwart but frequently ineffectual Republican president; and to a Republican presidential candidate who - for all his mastery of foreign affairs, extensive Washington experience, and honorable public service - proved incapable of crafting a coherent and compelling message.
Indeed, while sorting out their errors and considering their options, conservatives of all stripes would be well advised to concentrate their attention on the constitutional order and the principles that undergird it, because maintaining them should be their paramount political priority.
A constitutional conservatism puts liberty first and teaches the indispensableness of moderation in securing, preserving and extending its blessings. The constitution it seeks to conserve carefully defines government's proper responsibilities while providing it with the incentives and tools to perform them effectively; draws legitimacy from democratic consent while protecting individual rights from invasion by popular majorities; assumes the primacy of self-interest but also the capacity on occasion to rise above it through the exercise of virtue; reflects, and at the same time refines, popular will through a complex scheme of representation; and disperses and blends power among three distinct branches of government as well as among federal and state governments the better to check and balance it. The Constitution and the nation that has prospered under it for 220 years demonstrate that conserving and enlarging freedom and democracy depends on weaving together rival interests and competing goods.
Unfortunately, contrary to the Constitution's lesson in moderation, the two biggest blocs in the conservative coalition are tempted to conclude that what is needed now is greater purity in conservative ranks. Down that path lies disaster.
Some social conservatives point to the ballot initiatives this year in Arizona, California, and Florida that rejected same-sex marriage as evidence that the country is and remains socially conservative, and that any deviation from the social conservative agenda is politically suicidal. They overlook that whereas in California's 2000 ballot initiative 61% of voters rejected same-sex marriage, in 2008 only 52% of voters in the nation's most populous state opposed the proposition. Indeed, most trend lines suggest that the public is steadily growing more accepting of same-sex marriage, with national polls indicating that opposition to it, also among conservatives, is weakest among young voters.
Meanwhile, more than a few libertarian-leaning conservatives are disgusted by Republican profligacy. They remain uncomfortable with or downright opposed to the Bush administration's support in 2004 for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and its continuation of the Clinton administration's moratorium on government funding of embryonic stem-cell research.
In addition, many are still angry about the Republican-led intervention by the federal government in the 2005 controversy over whether Terri Schiavo's husband could lawfully remove the feeding tubes that were keeping his comatose wife alive. These libertarian conservatives entertain dreams of a coalition that jettisons social conservatives and joins forces with moderates and independents of libertarian persuasion.
But the purists in both camps ignore simple electoral math. Slice and dice citizens' opinions and voting patterns in the 50 states as you like, neither social conservatives nor libertarian conservatives can get to 50% plus one without the aid of the other.
Yet they, and the national security hawks who are also crucial to conservative electoral hopes, do not merely form a coalition of convenience. Theirs can and should be a coalition of principle, and a constitutional conservatism provides the surest ones.
The principles are familiar: individual freedom and individual responsibility, limited but energetic government, economic opportunity, and strong national defense. They are embedded in the Constitution and flow out of the political ideas from which it was fashioned. They were central to Frank Meyer's celebrated fusion of traditionalist and libertarian conservatism in the 1960s. And they inspired Ronald Reagan's consolidation of conservatism in the 1980s.
Short-term clashes over priorities and policies are bound to persist. But championing these principles is the best means over the long term for conserving the political conditions hospitable to traditional morality, religious faith, and the communities that nourish them. And it is also the best means over the long term for conserving the political conditions that promote free markets, and the economic growth and expanded opportunity free markets bring.
Moreover, a constitutional conservatism provides a framework for developing a distinctive agenda for today's challenges to which social conservatives and libertarian conservatives can both, in good conscience, subscribe. Leading that agenda should be:
- An economic program, health-care reform, energy policy, and protection for the environment grounded in market-based solutions.
- A foreign policy that recognizes America's vital national security interest in advancing liberty abroad but realistically calibrates undertakings to the nation's limited knowledge and restricted resources.
- A commitment to homeland security that is as passionate about security as it is about law, and which is prepared to responsibly fashion the inevitable, painful trade-offs.
- A focus on reducing the number of abortions and increasing the number of adoptions.
- Efforts to keep the question of same-sex marriage out of the federal courts and subject to consideration by each state's democratic process.
- Measures to combat illegal immigration that are emphatically pro-border security and pro-immigrant.
- A case for school choice as an option that enhances individual freedom while giving low-income, inner-city parents opportunities to place their children in classrooms where they can obtain a decent education.
- A demand that public universities abolish speech codes and vigorously protect liberty of thought and discussion on campus.
- The appointment of judges who understand that their function is to interpret the Constitution and not make policy, and, therefore, where the Constitution is most vague, recognize the strongest obligation to defer to the results of the democratic process.
Mr. Berkowitz is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. An expanded version of this article is forthcoming in Policy Review.
Copyright 2009 - The Wall Street Journal
Setting priorities for 2009...
With Joe Canadian Gone, It’s Time for Joe Conservative’s New Year’s Resolutions
By: Graham Sproule
Posted: December 31, 2008
We’ve heard a lot about patriotism and putting "Country First" this past year. No doubt many remember the famous Molson commercial featuring "Joe Canadian" where he stands up and rants about what it is and is not to be a Canadian. What was particularly crowd pleasing about the rant was that he shattered common stereotypes that Americans hold about Canadians. For all his jingoistic bravado, "Joe Canadian" soon became another casualty of the "brain drain" and went to live in the very country he ranted against. The Canadian era of pop-culture patriotism that is not built upon any real principles has come to pass. Now is the time for a truly patriotic Canadian whom we’ll call "Joe Conservative." As we enter 2009, Joe Conservative also needs to move past the common stereotypes that the Canadian media perpetuates about him with glee. He must demonstrate true patriotism by championing conservatism. Now rather than spending all his time ranting on talk-radio shows, here are some patriotic acts that Joe Conservative can perform on behalf of his country:
10) File a human rights complaint against the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for so blatantly discriminating against your Canadian national origin. After all, freedom of the press has been a part of Canadian nationhood long before the CHRT was created.
9) In keeping with illustrious traditions of our nation’s "most hallowed honour," write a letter to Rideau Hall nominating Louis Riel, Naomi Klein, and Paul Bernardo for the Order of Canada. All of them more than meet the current norms of what it means to bring Canadians together.
8) Read that good conservative book you been meaning to read for some time now. Some good ones are "Rescuing Canada’s Right," "Mulroney’s Memoirs," "Standing on Guard for Thee," "America Alone," and "Liberal Fascism."
7) Get involved in a political party with a conservative or conservative-leaning philosophy by joining that party’s local EDA board in your riding, such as the Conservative Party of Canada, the Conservative Party of BC, the Saskatchewan Party, the Ontario PC's, and so forth.
6) Network by adding fellow conservatives on Facebook to your friends list every week and determine which online forums will help you expand your conservative network.
5) Donate some money to a conservative or libertarian organization such as The Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, The Reagan-Goldwater Society, The United Commonwealth Society, The Institute for Liberal Studies, The Red Ensign Society of Canada, The Institute for Canadian Values, The Blue Tory Club, The National Citizens Coalition, or The Canadian Coalition for Democracies.
4) Patronize businesses that you know will contribute money to conservative causes, and become as involved with local charities in your community as your time and money will afford.
3) Remember to wear a pin, wear a red shirt on Fridays, or send a message to our soldiers in Kandahar thanking them for the sacrifice they are making on behalf of our country and let them know that we don’t take them or their families for granted.
2) Go to www.canadians4democracy.ca and sign the petition against "The Coalition." Forward the petition to your friends, and get as many neighbours as possible to sign it. Also, register your e-mail address on www.rallyforcanada.ca
1) Write your MP, the Finance Minister, and the Prime Minister, and tell them that the budget should be balanced by cutting the size of the federal budget. Let them know that, as a voter, you know that the last thing Canada’s economy needs is more "stimulus packages" or "bailouts."
Copyright 2009 - Graham Sproule