The case of David Ignatius, cont’d

David Ignatius is the prominent Washington Post columnist who specializes in foreign affairs. He writes highly regarded espionage novels in his spare time. His column “John Kerry’s big blunder” leads the honor roll at RealClearPolitics this morning.

I find Ignatius to be a vile columnist and, if his humanity is reflected in his journalism, a vile human being. In the course of his column this morning, he can’t help himself. He cannot refrain from asserting:

Israel has undermined its own cause with statements that appear to be insensitive to Palestinian loss of life. One example is Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s claim that “the Israeli Defense Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize” for showing “unimaginable restraint,” at a time when photos and videos provide wrenching evidence of civilian casualties in the densely packed cities of Gaza.

I don’t find anything wrong with Dermer’s comment and Ignatius conveniently avoids arguing his point. Knowledge of the underlying facts seems to me to render Ignatius’s point a non sequitur. Nevertheless, he relies on the columnist’s privilege of bare assertion.

The Middle East brings out the worst in Ignatius. Let’s take another look back at Ignatius’s record, as I have done a few times before.

In 2012 Ignatius chatted up Turkey’s Prime Minister raving anti-Semitic Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan and produced an obsequious column. Over at NRO, in an understated and humane critique of Ignatius’s column, Elliott Abrams filled in the blanks. The context was beyond the scope of Abrams’s critique, but it is worth noting.

Ignatius is full of good feeling toward some of the world’s foremost terrorists, tyrants, and malefactors. In September 2003, for example, Ignatius got together for a little chat with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Ignatius’s subsequent column on the interview maddeningly refers to the Hezbollah war of extermination against Israel as “the horrifying dance of death between Israel and its enemies[.]”

He asked: “Are there terms under which Islamic militants might agree to halt their suicide bombings?” The answer was negative, which should suggest even to a moderately intelligent observer that Israel was not exactly engaged in a war of choice — contrary to Ignatius’s metaphor — with Nasrallah and his followers.

Ignatius had been invited to attend and speak at a Hezbollah jamboree. His speaking engagement led to his interview with Nasrallah. If you were invited to speak to a conference of genocidal murderers, what would you do? Ignatius appears not to have agonized much over that particular question.

In his column “Hezbollah’s success,” Ignatius resolved the question in favor of taking advantage of the opportunity to speak to Hezbollah. Invited to speak to the group in Beirut on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he “accepted — on the theory that it was a chance to learn about the group and that more information, even about alleged terrorists, is better than less.”

It isn’t clear to me why Ignatius referred to Hezbollah as “alleged terrorists.” Was it so that he could observe terminological neutrality between murderers and their victims? Because he has some doubt whether Hezbollah is a terrorist organization? Because identifying an organization as terrorist is uncomfortably judgmental? The rest of Ignatius’s column showed Hezbollah to be a cold-blooded advocate of terrorism — “‘martyrdom operations,’ as Hezbollah prefers to call them” — and Ignatius knows that the group practices what it preaches.

For a 2008 column, Ignatius got together for a chat in Damascus with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Paul Mirengoff picked apart Ignatius’s advocacy of Assad as America’s partner in a post that hasn’t made the transition to our redesigned site and that doesn’t seem to be accessible online at this point. Paul demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt at the time that the superficial sophistication of Ignatius’s promotion of Assad was in fact a form of naivete or wishful thinking. Recent events have only put an exclamation point on the stupidity of Ignatius’s wishful thinking.

Paul also characterized Assad as an “evil tyrant.” Paul’s judgment reflects a universe of discourse that is foreign to Ignatius, at least insofar as his view of the Arab or Islamic world is concerned. Ignatius did not pass judgment on Assad’s actions, but rather on Assad’s moods.

In 2003, Ignatius found Assad tense over the prospect of America’s looming war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. By contrast, in 2008, Ignatius found Assad relaxed and full of fun, no longer worried about the threat American involvement in the region might pose to his regime:

Assad spoke in English during the 30-minute interview Monday. He was accompanied only by his political and media adviser Bouthaina Shaaban. This time, in contrast to my interview with him in 2003, when Assad was often stiff and doctrinaire, he was loose and informal, breaking several times into laughter.

Assad’s easy demeanor suggested that he’s more firmly in charge now. The Bush administration’s attempt to isolate Syria has failed, even in the judgment of senior White House officials. That leaves Assad in the catbird seat, courted by European and Arab nations and conducting back-channel talks through Turkey with his erstwhile enemy Israel.

Asked, for example, about reports that Saudi Arabia is seeking to improve its relations with Damascus because it sees U.S. engagement with Syria ahead and fears that “the train may be leaving the station,” Assad laughed.

“Maybe it has already left the station,” he said. But he vows that he is ready to receive any emissaries. “I have no problem with the Saudis. We would like good relations with every country in this region.”

That Assad, what a card.

At the end of his column, Ignatius referred to the murder of Rafiq al-Hariri. Ignatius didn’t appear to have troubled Assad with any questions on that topic:

An international tribunal is scheduled to meet in The Hague to weigh Syria’s alleged role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. But in the meantime, Assad is receiving a stream of visiting diplomats. He looks like a ready partner for Obama’s diplomacy, but a cautious one — waiting to see what’s on offer before he shows more of his hand.

Knowledgeable observers believe that the trail of evidence from Hariri’s murder leads to Assad’s regime. See, for example, Joshua Hammer’s December 2008 Atlantic Monthly article on the investigation of Hariri’s murder.

Ignatius had no comment on Hariri’s murder or its meaning. Instead, he served up Assad as America’s willing Middle East partner — if only the Obama administration had the sagacity to accept Assad’s outstretched hand. It strikes me that there is something chilling about the case of David Ignatius.

Reporting live from Gaza, suppressed and deleted

Hamas threats don’t account for the relentless ignorance and stupidity of the coverage of the Gaza hostilities, but they account for some of it. Reporters and their media employers cooperate with Hamas not only in suppressing stories that do not serve Hamas’s purposes, but also by failing to report on the restrictive conditions under which they are working.

By email alert disseminated last night CAMERA alerts us to two examples deriving from Wall Street Journal reporters. This week Wall Street Journal reporters posted on Twitter statements and photos implicating Hamas, but then quickly deleted their tweets. CAMERA notes in the message: “Editors have not responded to repeated inquiries asking why and at whose request tweets are apparently being censored.”

The first deleted tweet, posted by Wall Street Journal Middle East correspondent Nick Casey on July 21 (below, noted here yesterday), referred in passing to Hamas’s use of the Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a shield against Israeli attack. The Algemeiner performed the service of running the photograph below with the informative caption: “Nick Casey, The Wall Street Journal’s Middle East Correspondent, posted a photo to Twitter of a Hamas spokesman being interviewed on camera at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital, which Hamas uses as a base. The photo has since been removed. Photo: Nick Casey / Twitter.”

wsj-hamas-300x300

Now why might that be?

A second deleted tweet, posted yesterday by the Journal’s Tamer El-Ghobashy, suggested
Hamas was likely responsible for a strike that hit the Shifa Hospital (screenshot below). El-Ghobasty observed: “Low level damage suggest [sic] Hamas misfire.” The tweet was later replaced by one in which El-Ghobasty refrained from mentioning Hamas.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.07.31 AM

Now why might that be?

CAMERA comments:

The Wall Street Journal’s credibility hinges on it being transparent about what information is being withheld from readers, and why. If information that casts Hamas in a negative light is being censored for the safety of journalists…then readers must be informed that they are only getting a partial story. If readers aren’t informed, or if such information is being deleted for any other reason, the newspaper does not deserve to be seen as credible.

CAMERA’s observation applies, of course, not just specifically to the Journal, but generally to the media reporting from Gaza. The Times of Israel reports on the phenomenon in the story “Hamas threatening journalists in Gaza who expose abuse of civilians.”

Khaled Abu Toameh may be the bravest journalist I have ever met. He puts what is going on here this way in his excellent Gatestone column, and he has the standing to make the point stick: “Journalists who are afraid to report the truth should not be covering a conflict like the Israeli-Arab one. They should go back to their editors and demand that they be reassigned to cover sports or the environment. As long as such journalists continue to operate in the region, Hamas will feel safe to bomb as many mosques as it wants and to kill as many Palestinians as it wants.”

“A Twitter Exchange For the Ages”

That’s what Mark Hemingway called it; who are we to argue? Via InstaPundit, here it is.

But first: the exchange stars Scott’s daughter Eliana, whom I have known since she was maybe six years old. Eliana is now doing tremendous work for National Review, and the only people prouder of her than me are her parents. Well, probably her sisters too. Anyway, here it is. It has to do with the story on the Michelle Nunn connection to Hamas that Eliana broke:

HamasNunn0098

Heh. Eliana is a member of the new generation of conservatives who are arriving at the barricades, maybe just in time.

An Immigration Trio

Jeff Sessions is mounting a heroic campaign to persuade Congress to block President Obama’s apparently imminent decree legalizing, in essence, five to six million illegal immigrants by granting them work permits. The Obama administration has been lawless in many ways, but this is stark illegality even by its standards. This is what the actual law says:

INA Sec. 274A– Unlawful Employment of Aliens

(a) Making employment of unauthorized aliens unlawful

(1) In general

It is unlawful for a person or other entity—

(A) to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien (as defined in subsection (h)(3) of this section) with respect to such employment, or

(B)(i) to hire for employment in the United States an individual without complying with the requirements of subsection (b) of this section…

President Obama proposes to nullify the law by executive degree. He has no constitutional power to do so. If the roof were not falling in on America in so many ways, this kind of usurpation would precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Senator Sessions has tirelessly made the legal and policy arguments against the administration’s promotion of illegal immigration, but today he stepped out of character, just for a moment, to note the political consequences of sneering at the will of voters on this topic:

A reader who has been a dogged critic of the illegal immigration celebrationists writes:

Glenn linked to the Volokh Conspiracy:

And even for America, the influx of millions of new citizens — both the potentially legalized current illegal immigrants and the many others who are likely to come in the wake of the legalization — can affect the society and the political system in considerable ways. It seems to me eminently sensible to be concerned about the illegal immigrants who may well change (in some measure) your country even if your ancestors were themselves…immigrants who changed the country as it once was.

There are two big questions:

(1) What’s in it for us?…..native-born, existing Americans?

ANSWER: Nothing. Actually, worse: grotesque giantism, crowdedness, ecological destruction as future population levels not too far in the future approach those of India and China not so long ago…plus unwanted and unnecessary demographic and cultural change. John O’Sullivan writes:

[M]ost of us faced up honestly to that question a long time ago when the electoral consequences of immigration seemed less immediately threatening than today. Our answers then included the following: Immigration was not necessary for the growth of the U.S. economy; its net economic advantages for native-born Americans were at best nugatory, at worst slightly negative; its fiscal costs outweighed any such advantages; it was reducing the wages and job opportunities of low-paid and poorer Americans, including minority Americans; it was weakening the social bonds of Tocquevillian America; and it was a carrier of multiculturalism which, as Samuel Huntington argued in “Who are We?”, was a kind of program for the deconstruction of America’s national identity.

(2) When did we vote for New Transformed America?

ANSWER: Never. In fact, we have been systematically lied to, misled and deceived by political and media elites acting in bad faith who want unlimited immigration. What we did vote for, a restrictive immigration and labor law regime, has been systematically subverted by an unholy alliance of scofflaw employers, unscrupulous cowardly politicians, crazed ideologues, race hustlers and a feckless MSM all conniving to effect a regime we were told would never come about–all while treating resistance as racism and displaying unbridled contempt for opposition to their connivance.

The current border crisis is only a microcosm of a much broader problem, but it is revealing:

“I don’t usually get into the political part of it,” explained Chris Cabrera, now a vice president in the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307, “but I find it odd that their whole thing is, ‘We are going to get amnesty when we get here. Where is my permiso? Where is my permission to go north so I can get my medical care and my schooling and all that? President Obama is going to take care of us and make sure we’re all OK.’

“Whether it’s the adults or the young kids, one thing we consistently hear is, ‘Obama will take care of us,’” Cabrera said.

Meanwhile, if you live in Baltimore, there is nowhere to go for asylum.

Michelle Nunn’s charity and Hamas

Democrats are hoping partially to offset the Senate seats they will lose in November by picking up a seat in Georgia. Their vehicle is Michelle Nunn, daughter of popular former Senator Sam Nunn.

Nunn is trailing Republican David Perdue in most polls. However, she is running close enough to provide some hope for her beleaguered Party.

Since 2007, Nunn has served as the CEO of Points of Light, a charitable organization founded by George H. W. Bush to encourage volunteerism across the country. Noble in concept, Points of Light — like so many originally high-minded ideas and organizations — has been infected by a left-wing political agenda.

Thus, Eliana Johnson reports that under Nunn’s leadership Points of Light has given money to some organizations that have less to do with fostering volunteerism than with fostering pet leftist causes. These include the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, which seeks to promote a global network of, yes, lesbian and gay bands.

Less innocently, they also include a group with ties to terrorists.

According to the IRS Form 990s that Points of Light filed in 2008 and 2011, the organization gave a grant of over $33,000 to Islamic Relief USA, a charity that says it strives to alleviate “hunger, illiteracy, and diseases worldwide.” Islamic Relief USA is part of a global network of charities that operate under the umbrella of Islamic Relief Worldwide. . . .

Islamic Relief Worldwide has ties to Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization. In June, Israel banned the charity from operating in the country because, according to Israeli officials, it was funneling cash to Hamas. In 2006, Israelis arrested Islamic Relief Worldwide’s Gaza coordinator, Ayaz Ali. They said he was working to “transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations.”

Ali admitted to cooperating with local Hamas operatives while working in Jordan and, on his computer, Israeli officials found photographs of “swastikas superimposed on IDF symbols,” and of Nazi officials, Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Not surprisingly, then, Islamic Relief Worldwide’s ties to terrorists extend beyond Hamas:

According to a former Israeli intelligence official. . .Islamic Relief Worldwide’s country director in Palestine, Muneed Abugazaleh, met in April 2012 with Dr. Omar Shalah, a leader of the terror group Islamic Jihad and of the Riyad al-Saleheen Charitable Society, which is affiliated with the group. He is also the brother of Ramadan Shalah, the leader of Islamic Jihad.

The Nunn campaign is concerned, as it should be, about the political implications of Points of Light’s financial contribution to Islamic Relief, USA. Eliana reports that an internal campaign strategy memo that was posted online (inadvertently, I assume) cites the contribution as a vulnerability.

One would hope so. Apart from being Sam Nunn’s daughter, Michelle Nunn’s tenure as CEO of Points of Light is just about her only credential for political office.

Nor has candidate Nunn been willing to take a stand on certain key issues, including Obamacare. For this, she has been criticized by the likes of Mika Brzezinski, Chuck Todd, and Stuart Rothenberg.

The fact that Points of Light, Nunn’s only substantive calling card, has funneled money to an organization with ties to Hamas should certainly tarnish her reputation and harm her campaign, which probably has little margin for error.

Hamas hits Shifa Hospital (with playground update)

Applying the theses explicit and implicit in my “14 Israel-Gaza notes,” I’m going with the IDF statement that Hamas is responsible for today’s attack on Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital. The best account I can find at the moment is the Algemeiner’s, at which Dave Bender reports as follows:

he Israeli army said it was not operating in the vicinity of Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza on Monday, where an explosion reportedly killed and wounded dozens of Palestinians.

“A short while ago Al-Shifa Hospital and Al-Shati Refugee Camp were struck by failed rocket attacks launched by Gaza terrorists,” the army said in a statement sent to reporters.

The failed attempt to fire the projectile apparently hit a car near the center, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News, causing the casualties.

The station said that a “Hamas Fajr-5 rocket aimed at central Israel, which was fired from a playground outside the Shifa hospital and exploded on the site causing casualties, had at least a 100 kg (220 lbs) warhead,” according to The Times of Israel.

Reporter Nir Devori of Channel 2 and analyst Ehud Yaari confirmed the carnage was most likely the result of a failed Fajr rocket launch — aimed at central Israel.

Palestinian reports are claiming at least seven dead and dozens wounded in a “failed rocket launch” by Hamas from the vicinity of the medical compound, according to Israeli Channel 1 reporter Yoram Cohen.‏

The Algemeiner performs the service of running the suggestive photograph below with the caption: “Nick Casey, The Wall Street Journal’s Middle East Correspondent, posted a photo to Twitter of a Hamas spokesman being interviewed on camera at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital, which Hamas uses as a base. The photo has since been removed. Photo: Nick Casey / Twitter.”

wsj-hamas-300x300

UPDATE: Let’s also credit Islamic Jihad terrorists with hitting the playground at a Gaza refugee camp today, as announced by the IDF and reported here by the Times of Israel.

Inversion Therapy for Liberals

Liberal Idiot copyAs we note here frequently—like yesterday, on the minimum wage—when it comes to economics liberals suffer from a severe case of cranial-rectal inversion.

Liberalism’s latest trip to a tight dark place is over the issue of —irony alert— “inversions,” whereby American corporations buy foreign companies and “relocate” their headquarters to a foreign nation to lower their corporate income taxes.  Kind of like what rich northeasterners do when they retire and move to Florida (no personal income tax), or as any number of American companies have done by moving to Texas (lower taxes and less nonsense of every other kind).

The reason for inversions is simple: the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world, by a full ten points over the next highest.  To be sure, by taking advantage of the many wrinkles in the tax code carved out for favored industries or government purposes (like “green” energy—yeah, it’s green, but a different kind of “green” than you thought), many American corporations have a net tax bill that is far lower than the “rack rate” of 35 percent, but that just shows the corruption and special dealing that riddles our tax code, and is a screaming advertisement for genuine tax reform.

On the other hand, as Walter Galvin explains this morning in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. not only has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, but is also the only country that taxes corporations on their worldwide profits—not just what is earned inside the U.S.  This means that many corporations pay foreign tax and then U.S. tax.  If you then receive a dividend and pay income tax on it, it will mean the profit has been taxed three times, with governments getting a larger total portion than the shareholders.  And this, Democrats say, is not enough.  Even Hillary Clinton in 2007 and 2008 made careful noises (careful not to rile the Democratic Party base) that the corporate tax rate should be cut.

Naturally today’s Democrats disdain even to discuss the idea.  Instead, Obama and other liberals are charging that American businesses that invert are “unpatriotic,” with Obama claiming without any self-awareness that “You don’t get to pick which rules you play by.”  Because picking your own rules is his job!

More than 20 years ago I got to watch a highly amusing demonstration of liberal economic illiteracy at work.  California back in the 1980s imposed its sales tax on capital equipment purchases, which most states sensibly exempted for the simple reason that it drove away large capital investment.  A 6 percent sales tax on a $1 billion high tech chip plant adds substantially to the cost of a new plant, so many companies would locate outside of California.

I watched the head of tax compliance for a major Silicon Valley company that was deciding whether to build a new $1 billion plant in California or New Mexico attempt to explain the facts of life to the Senate Finance Committee in Sacramento in the following way.

Tax person: Senator—you are not going to collect an equipment sales tax from us.  There are two ways you aren’t going to collect this tax.  You aren’t going to collect it if we build our plant in New Mexico.  And you aren’t going to collect it if we build here in California.

Chairman of the Committee: But we need the revenue!

Tax person: Let me explain again. . .

The committee chairman (in whose district the new plant would have been built, incidentally) never did get it.  The plant was built in New Mexico.  California eventually got it, and exempted capital equipment from the sales tax.

Even if Congress were to be so foolish as to prohibit the current “inversion” strategy, nothing prevents American corporations from relocating overseas for real.  I’m sure most Apple executives ands engineers would find Switzerland a pleasant place to live and work.

Oh, and this news item: Record number of Americans renouncing their citizenship for tax reasons.  Maybe someone can send flashlights for liberals to extract themselves from their rectal-cranial inversions.