Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Misplaced Rage

Pulitzer Prize winning WSJ journalist Bret Stephens
The news coming out of the Middle East is about as grim as could be. I do not remember a time where I have witnessed such barbarism since the Holocaust. Only this time it is not against the Jewish people. It is Muslim against Muslim in Iraq and in Syria. Images like the one of people kneeling before a shallow grave with guns pointed at their heads – about to be executed en masse have flooded the media. ISIS, an Islamist Fundementalist group has been carrying out these terror attacks against its own people and showing it to the world proudly as it has advanced in Iraq.

But yesterday this savagery was brought back home. Steven Joel Sotloff, a Jewish freelance reporter with dual American Israeli citizenship was beheaded by this group. He is the 2nd American to have suffered this fate. The entire civilized world is disgusted by this and has condemned it - the United States obviously being first in line.

ISIS is a religious fanatic group bent on ultimately making Islam rule the world via Sharia law (Muslim Halacha) in a type of government called a Caliphate. This is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph. The members of ISIS are true believers. In the immortal words of Malcom X they believe in achieving their goals by ‘any means necessary!’

That is what they believe God expects of them. And their tactics prove it. Their ‘Godly’ ends justify their frighteningly murderous means. They thus proudly record those beheadings and make them public. Their purpose is to strike fear in the hearts of man and to recruit people who might be motivated by what they see as ISIS’s adventurism. ISIS has in fact achieved that to some extent. There are Americans that have joined them. That makes the United States vulnerable to attack by their own citizens who will surely one day return newly indoctrinated with Islamist ideals - bearing American passports and making their re-entry into the US relatively simple.

I don’t think there is any greater danger to America right now than ISIS. If I were the President I would be enraged at what they have been doing. Enraged!

The President has actually expressed such rage recently. But not at ISIS. His rage is directed at Israel. That’s right you read that correctly. Why, you may ask, was he enraged with Israel? No one explains this better than Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal columnist, Bret Stephens. The President is upset with…
"Its actions and its treatment of his chief diplomat (Secretary of State John Kerry)."
Think about this. Enraged. Not "alarmed" or "concerned" or "irritated" or even "angered." Anger is a feeling. Rage is a frenzy. Anger passes. Rage feeds on itself. Anger is specific. Rage is obsessional, neurotic.
And Mr. Obama—No Drama Obama, the president who prides himself on his cool, a man whose emotional detachment is said to explain his intellectual strength—is enraged. With Israel. Which has just been hit by several thousand unguided rockets and 30-odd terror tunnels, a 50-day war, the forced closure of its one major airport, accusations of "genocide" by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, anti-Semitic protests throughout Europe, general condemnation across the world. This is the country that is the object of the president's rage.
I too am upset by this seeming double standard. Why is it Israel that gets far worse (by miles) treatment than other countries and groups with far worse behavior?

To be fair, I can understand why Israel may be more scrutinized than them. It is because Israel is considered ‘one of the good guys’. They are expected to be more enlightened and civilized. The world expects them to behave better than the terrorists of ISIS. Israel is held to a higher standard. And it should be. (In the case of the recent war with Gaza, that criticism is way off. Israel acted with a very high standard of morality - given the circumstances.)

The President has the extra added reason for being upset at Israel because of his unwavering strong support. Morally, militarily, and financially So when a President’s goal is peace and he sends his top envoy John Kerry there for weeks at a time trying to get the parties to compromise, I can’t really blame him for being upset at insulting remarks made about Kerry. Israeli leaders were wrong to so vocally criticize him. But in their defense, they knew the futility of Kerry’s Quixotic attempt to somehow broker a peace deal. He was tilting at windmills.  They were right for thinking it, but wrong for making their sentiments so public.

That said, I agree with Mr. Stevens. Especially in light of ISIS. His rage against Israel is misdirected to say the least. It is one thing to be insulted at some offhand comments by an Israeli official. I don’t blame him for that. But to express rage at that and at the same time seem so emotionally detached with respect to ISIS - with no strategy to defeat them… well there is something terribly wrong with that.

He seems more concerned about an insult form an ally than he is about the potential of another 9/11 from ISIS. That is a major failure of leadership. The most important job a President has is protecting his people. But while ‘Rome’ is about to burn, the President fiddles. Even liberal Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein  has expressed concern that he is overly cautious here (That’s putting it mildly).

I am normally supportive of the President and have defended him on numerous occasions against the canard that he is anti Israel or anti Semitic. He is clearly not. He is in fact very supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, as I said many times. But in this instance, I have to agree with Mr. Stephens. The following is how he ends his article and it is how I will end mine:
Mr. Obama might also read Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit's assessment of Mr. Kerry's diplomacy: "The Obama administration," he wrote in July, "proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends."
Both Haaretz and the New Republic are left-wing publications, sympathetic to Mr. Obama's intentions, if not his methods.
Still, the president is enraged. At Israel. What a guy.