Romney’s Travel Troubles Continue

Romney’s international travels gave Jon Stewart a lot of material (video above). Things weren’t as bad for Romney in Poland as they were in London and Israel. He did receive the endorsement of Lech Walesa, but Solidarity distanced themselves, criticizing Romney because he “supported attacks on trade unions and employees’ rights.” Romney was also greeted with chants for Obama and even ran into supporters of Ron Paul while in Poland.

The trip provided another example of Romney’s dishonesty. He denied making the controversial comments which he did make about Palestinian culture in Israel. Greg Sargent found that Romney made the same fallacious argument in his book, No Apology.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak undermined the Republican argument against Obama on Israel in this interview with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: You’ve studied U.S.-Israeli relations over many years. How would you describe the relationship today?

BARAK: I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, administrations of both sides of the political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israel, and I believe that reflects the profound feelings among the American people. But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.

BLITZER: More than any other president? LBJ, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush?

BARAK: Yeah, in terms of the support for our security, the cooperation of our intelligence, the sharing of thoughts in a very open way even when there are differences, which are not simple sometimes, I found their support for our defense very stable.

Steve Benen debunked another anti-Obama talking from the Romney campaign on Israel:

Beth Myers, a top Romney aide, also told reporters recently that it’s “pretty amazing” Obama hasn’t visited Israel.

The attack at least has the benefit of being partially accurate — Obama visited Israel as a candidate, but has not been back during his first term. If Republicans choose to find that outrageous, their complaints are grounded in fact.

The problem, however, is the selective nature of their disgust. George W. Bush didn’t visit Israel at any point during his first term, and neither did Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush didn’t travel to Israel during their respective terms in office at all.

Many journalists have questioned whether Romney’s gaffes will harm him in the campaign. Chris Cillizza downplayed the damage:

It’s hard to imagine that Romney did himself any favors in answering lingering questions about his foreign policy acumen during this trip.

On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that nothing — literally, nothing — other than the economy at home matters to undecided voters. And that goes double for foreign policy, which is a bottom-of-mind issue (is that a thing?) for most voters.

In a late May Washington Post-ABC News poll, 1 — yes, one — percent of people said that foreign policy was the most important issue of the 2012 campaign. One!

Of course this might be the case when voters think that either candidate is capable of handling foreign policy. This could change as voters see that Romney is as inept as George Bush.

 

Romney Continues To Show He Is Not Ready To Be President And Handle Foreign Policy

Foreign policy so far has not been a significant issue in the presidential campaign, but that might change now that Mitt Romney, to the delight of the White House, has shown that he is utterly unfit to represent the United States abroad or engage in diplomacy. His visit to Israel was as big a disaster as his visit to London where he was nicknamed Mitt the Twit. Haaretz described his speech with the headline “In Jerusalem speech, it was Romney’s voice but Netanyahu’s words.”

Romney’s staff picked the 150 guests carefully. Religious American immigrants dominated the crowd; secular Jews and native-born Israelis were few and far between. Those present included Jewish-American millionaires, settler leaders like the former chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements Israel Harel, and former Netanyahu aides such as Dore Gold, Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Yoaz Hendel.

Romney read his speech from two teleprompters that were placed opposite the stage, but compared to Obama, Romney seemed gray and uncharismatic. Even from this hand-picked, extremely friendly audience, he wasn’t able to extract thunderous applause.

The speech itself sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu’s bureau. So it’s no surprise that when the two met later for dinner, Netanyahu thanked him for his “support for Israel and Jerusalem.”

Imagine the reaction from the right if a Democrat spoke of following the lead of another country on major foreign policy decisions the way Romney did in Israel. Romney is to Netanyahu what Tony Blair was to George Bush. Newsweek was right to call Romney a wimp on this week’s cover.

Even worse, Romney antagonized the Palestinians, which is hardly in our interest if we want the United States to continue to attempt to negotiate peace in the middle east.

Speaking to roughly four dozen donors at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Mr. Romney suggested that cultural differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians were the reason the Israelis were so much more economically successful than the Palestinians, without mentioning the impact that deep trade restrictions imposed by the Israeli government have had on the Palestinian economy.

The Palestinian response:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called Mr. Romney’s remarks “racist.”

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” Mr. Erekat said. “It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people.”

National Journal summed up Romney’s failures:

For any man who would be president there are unwritten rules of foreign diplomacy. Mitt Romney seems to have internalized some, while others apparently slipped out of the briefing book on his flight across the Atlantic to debut as a potential leader of the free world…

In Israel, Romney ignored the unwritten rule not to become overly embroiled in local controversies and disputes. He was on safe ground publicly recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself by denying Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. However, in calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel and hinting that his administration would move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv (a move rejected by Republican and Democratic administrations going back decades), Romney signaled that under his leadership the United States would decisively take Israel’s side in its dispute with the Palestinians, and abandon its venerable role of mediator in the conflict. He then added insult to injury by suggesting that the Israeli economy had outpaced the economy of the Palestinian territories because of the power of Israel’s “culture” and the “hand of providence.” Interjecting God and cultural superiority into an ethnic-religious conflict is never a good idea. Doing so while ignoring the obvious fact that one economy in the equation is free, and the other is under military occupation, was baffling…

Romney’s close affinity for Israel’s right-of-center Likud Party, his tough line on Russia and Afghanistan, and his unwillingness to propose solutions to climate change all sound familiar to many Europeans. “Notwithstanding their widespread disappointment in President Obama, Europeans are nervous about Romney precisely because his positions remind them of George W. Bush,” said Simon Serfaty, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

It is not a good sign for Romney that he is being compared to both George Bush and Sarah Palin.

Things Still Not Going Well For “Mitt the Twitt” After Leaving London

Things just continue to go badly for Mitt Romney, even after leaving London, the site of multiple gaffes. He’s  flip-flopped on his decision not to allow the press at his fund raiser in Israel but still will leave many questioning whether he plans to tell the big donors something different from what he says in public. CNN reports that “The reporters, however, will be escorted out before Romney takes questions from the audience during the event on Monday.”

Romney was also forced to backtrack on a view expressed by an aide on Iran which Romney didn’t want expressed in public:

A top Mitt Romney foreign policy aide on Sunday said the GOP presidential candidate would back an Israeli military strike on Iran to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,” said Romney adviser on Middle East affairs Dan Senor in a briefing with reporters, according to media reports.

Any doubts as to what he will tell Israeli donors once the media is escorted out?

Meanwhile the Israelis aren’t happy about Romney trying to drag them into partisan disputes:

The high profile battle surrounding the state of ties between the allies has inserted Israel into the campaign as never before. But Israeli officials and analysts are anxious about that spotlight, and would prefer to be more of an afterthought. That’s because an election debate over Israel could damage long term ties between they countries by risking the Jewish state’s long cultivated bipartisan support in Washington.

“We don’t want to be part of the issue,” says an Israeli diplomat, who was not authorized to speak. “We have very strong bi-partisan support and we want to keep it that way. We want there to be strong relations with the US. Not with blue or red.”

Further in the article:

Republicans and the Israeli right see common cause “on three issues: the Land of Israel, religion, and family values,” says Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster. “There’s a natural connection to the Israeli left to the Democrats, and vice versa: That’s based on share values of democracy, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and protection of minorities.”

But that risks upsetting a key strategy by pro-Israel allies in the US of cultivating support among both Democrats and Republicans in order to ensure that there’s continuity of US support for Israel regardless of who controls the White House or the Congress.

“It was very easy to stay out of this when American presidential candidates didn’t come to Israel three or four months before the election,” says one American Jewish official active in boosting bilateral ties. “If it looks like you look like you are backing one, and the other gets elected, you are in trouble.”

Romney hoped that his foreign trip might improve his reputation and make him look presidential, as a foreign trip did for Obama in 2008. Instead his constant gaffes only underscore how unprepared Mitt Romney is to be president, despite running for the job for several years. Romney’s often bizarre behavior is bound to result in more adverse media coverage, such as in the  Newsweek cover story (cover above). The story actually suggests that Romney might be something other than a wimp:

In some respects, he’s more weenie than wimp—socially inept; at times awkwardy ingratiating, at other times mocking those “below” him, but almost always getting the situation a little wrong, and never in a sympathetic way. The evidence resonates across too many years to deny. What kind of teenager beats up on the misfit, sissy kid, pinning him down and violently cutting his hair with a pair of school scissors—the incident from Romney’s youth that The Washington Post famously reported (and Romney famously didn’t really deny) back in May? The behavior extends, through more sedate means, into adulthood. The Salt Lake Olympics remains his greatest triumph, for which he wins deserved praise. But to many of those in the know, Romney placed a heavy asterisk next to his name by attacking the men he replaced on the Olympic Committee, smearing them in his book, even after a court threw out all the corruption charges against them.

And what kind of presidential candidate whines about a few attacks and demands an apology when the going starts to get rough? And tries to sound tough by accusing the president who killed the world’s most-wanted villain of appeasement? That’s what they call overcompensation, and it’s a dead giveaway; it’s the “tell.” This guy is nervous—terrified—about looking weak. And ironically, being terrified of looking weak makes him look weaker still…

But if Romney is elected? Be nervous. A Republican president sure of his manhood had nothing to prove. Reagan was happy with a jolly little shoot-up in Grenada, and eventually he settled down to the serious work of arms control, consummating historic treaties with Mikhail Gorbachev. But a weenie Republican—look out. He has something to prove, needs to reassert that “natural” advantage. That spells trouble more often than not.

Mitt Romney: Is he a wimp or a weenie? We report, you decide.

Romney Trying To Avoid Embarrassment In Israel By Closing Fund Raiser To The Press

Mitt Romney, according to one aide, “was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries [the United States and the UK] than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.” That visit didn’t work out too well. Watching Romney’s odd behavior, in addition to his tax returns we should be demanding medical records and a psychiatric evaluation. Romney is trying to avoid a similar fiasco during his visit to Israel by keeping the press out of his fund raiser:

Romney’s campaign announced Saturday that it would block the news media from covering the event, which will be held at the King David Hotel. The campaign’s decision to close the fundraiser to the press violates the ground rules it negotiated with news organizations in April, when Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination and began opening some of his finance events to the news media.

Under the agreement, a pool of wire, print and television reporters can cover every Romney fundraiser held in public venues, including hotels and country clubs. The campaign does not allow media coverage of fundraisers held in private residences.

Besides preventing coverage of further gaffes, there are also a couple of other reasons why he might not want the press in. Pathological liar Mitt Romney has said he will not criticize Obama and American foreign policy on foreign soil but he might have shook the etch-a-sketch on that pledge. The Washington Post suggests another reason:

Romney has a history of delivering different messages to his donors when reporters are not present to hear them. At a closed-press fundraiser in Florida this spring, reporters from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, without Romney’s knowledge, overheard the candidate outline new tax policy proposals and suggest that he might dramatically downsize the Department of Education and eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Another embarrassment did come up for Romney regarding Israel. Romney has often claimed to be close friends with Bibi Netanyahu but  Netanyahu doesn’t seem to agree when interviewed by Vanity Fair:

“Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend, he’s an old friend,” Mitt Romney, with whom Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, told aipac in March. (Romney, Netanyahu suggests, may have overstated the tie. “I remember him for sure, but I don’t think we had any particular connections,” he tells me. “I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”)

Romney might be better off keeping as much of his campaign closed to the press as possible. After the British labeled him “Mitt the Twit,” I can just imagine some of Yiddish words which people in Israel might be using to describe Romney.

Ron Paul Aide on Charges of Racism and Anti-Semitism

There have been many articles and blog posts over the past week over the racist and anti-Semitic articles in Ron Paul’s old newsletter. So far this has primarily been a repeat of material which was widely discussed four years ago, especially after Paul’s denials of knowledge of the articles were debunked. (Besides, even if it was true that others were posting these articles under Paul’s name and Paul really was unaware, this still would raise questions as to Paul’s ability to run the federal government). The New York Times also raised the old issue of Paul’s support from extremists today. One new aspect to this story was raised today when former Paul aide Eric Dondero wrote a post which “defends” Paul from charges of racism and homophobia in a manner which really appears designed to harm Paul.

Dondero is a former Paul aide who split with Paul over the Iraq War. The two are at opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to Paul’s isolationism, with Dondero being a strong supporter of military action in Iraq. I’ve seen a number of claims on line that Paul fired Dondero, which Dondero has denied in comments previously posted on this blog. Regardless, it has been clear that Dondero has had poor relations with Paul which may or may not have a bearing on the accuracy of the statements in his post. Here is an extended portion, with more in the entire post which can be found here:

Is Ron Paul a “racist.” In short, No. I worked for the man for 12 years, pretty consistently. I never heard a racist word expressed towards Blacks or Jews come out of his mouth. Not once. And understand, I was his close personal assistant. It’s safe to say that I was with him on the campaign trail more than any other individual, whether it be traveling to Fairbanks, Alaska or Boston, Massachusetts in the presidential race, or across the congressional district to San Antonio or Corpus Christi, Texas.

He has frequently hired blacks for his office staff, starting as early as 1988 for the Libertarian campaign. He has also hired many Hispanics, including his current District staffer Dianna Gilbert-Kile.

One caveat: He is what I would describe as “out of touch,” with both Hispanic and Black culture. Ron is far from being the hippest guy around. He is completely clueless when it comes to Hispanic and Black culture, particularly Mexican-American culture. And he is most certainly intolerant of Spanish and those who speak strictly Spanish in his presence, (as are a number of Americans, nothing out of the ordinary here.)

Is Ron Paul an Anti-Semite? Absolutely No. As a Jew, (half on my mother’s side), I can categorically say that I never heard anything out of his mouth, in hundreds of speeches I listened too over the years, or in my personal presence that could be called, “Anti-Semite.” No slurs. No derogatory remarks.

He is however, most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.

Again, American Jews, Ron Paul has no problem with. In fact, there were a few Jews in our congressional district, and Ron befriended them with the specific intent of winning their support for our campaign. (One synagogue in Victoria, and tiny one in Wharton headed by a well-known Jewish lawyer).

On the incident that’s being talked about in some blog media about the campaign manager directing me to a press conference of our opponent Lefty Morris in Victoria to push back on Anti-Jewish charges from the Morris campaign, yes, that did happen. The Victoria Advocate described the press conference very accurately. Yes, I was asked (not forced), to attend the conference dressed in a Jewish yarlmuke, and other Jewish adornments.

There was another incident when Ron finally agreed to a meeting with Houston Jewish Young Republicans at the Freeport office. He berated them, and even shouted at one point, over their un-flinching support for Israel. So, much so, that the 6 of them walked out of the office. I was left chasing them down the hallway apologizing for my boss.

Is Ron Paul a homo-phobe? Well, yes and no. He is not all bigoted towards homosexuals. He supports their rights to do whatever they please in their private lives. He is however, personally uncomfortable around homosexuals, no different from a lot of older folks of his era.

There were two incidents that I will cite, for the record. One that involved me directly, and another that involved another congressional staffer or two.

(I am revealing this for the very first time, and I’m sure Jim Peron will be quite surprised to learn this.)

In 1988, Ron had a hardcore Libertarian supporter, Jim Peron, Owner of Laissez Faire Books in San Francisco. Jim set up a magnificent 3-day campaign swing for us in the SF Bay Area. Jim was what you would call very openly Gay. But Ron thought the world of him. For 3 days we had a great time trouncing from one campaign event to another with Jim’s Gay lover. The atmosphere was simply jovial between the four of us. (As an aside we also met former Cong. Pete McCloskey during this campaign trip.) We used Jim’s home/office as a “base.” Ron pulled me aside the first time we went there, and specifically instructed me to find an excuse to excuse him to a local fast food restaurant so that he could use the bathroom. He told me very clearly, that although he liked Jim, he did not wish to use his bathroom facilities. I chided him a bit, but he sternly reacted, as he often did to me, Eric, just do what I say. Perhaps “sternly” is an understatement. Ron looked at me directly, and with a very angry look in his eye, and shouted under his breath: “Just do what I say NOW.”

The second incident involved one or two other staffers many years later at the BBQ in Surfside Beach. I was not in direct presence of the incident. But another top staffer, and I believe one of our secretaries, was witnessed to it. This top staffer adores Ron, but was extremely insulted by his behavior, I would even say flabbergasted to the point of considering resigning from his staff over it.

“Bobby,” a well-known and rather flamboyant and well-liked gay man in Freeport came to the BBQ. Let me stress Ron likes Bobby personally, and Bobby was a hardcore campaign supporter. But after his speech, at the Surfside pavilion Bobby came up to Ron with his hand extended, and according to my fellow staffer, Ron literally swatted his hand away.

Again, let me stress. I would not categorize that as “homo-phobic,” but rather just unsettled by being around gays personally. Ron, like many folks his age, very much supports toleration, but chooses not to be around gays on a personal level. It’s a personal choice. And though, it may seem offensive to some, he has every right in my mind to feel and act that way.

Clearly this is a “defense” of Paul which will not be of any help to him.

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David Halperin: Don’t Bet On American Jews Becoming Republicans Over Israel

There has been speculation (mainly among conservatives) for years over the possibility of getting Jewish voters to vote Republican by taking a hard line in support of Israel. David Halperin provides some of the reasons why this will never happen and debunks the Republican claims (which few believe)  of a lack of support for Israel from Barack Obama.

There are many reasons why Republicans have no chance of winning Jewish support. Perhaps the most important is that Jewish voters are not going to support a fundamentalist Christian theocratic political party.

Glenn Beck On The State of Religion in America

News Hounds promises to watch Fox so we don’t have to, and I was certainly not going to spend the evening while on vacation July 1 watching a discussion on the “state of religion in America.” Here is a portion of their report of the show:

On July 1st Beck had a discussion about the “state of religion in America” with “an incredible panel of religious leaders and experts” who are straight out of the American religious fringe – in other words, those “Christians” who feel that it is their sacred duty to rid the country of Satanic things like gays and abortions. They, like Beck, want to bring prayer back into the public schools. It goes without saying that there were no Jews or mainline Protestants represented. The only Catholic was a rabid conservative and not your average parish priest who, while being anti-abortion/gay marriage, might be just a tad too librul on immigration issues. Along with David Barton and John Hagee were the following: Ralph Reed, who was paid by lobbyist Jack Abramoff to fight casinos competing with Abramoff’s clients (there’s a plot line on “Big Love” that seems to draw on this); Jim Garlow, who is head of Gingrich’s “Renewing American Leadership;” Richard Lee who has edited a “Patriot’s Bible;” Robert George, a Catholic professor at Princeton (Woodrow Wilson scholar LOL), who is the founder of the homophobic National Organization for Marriage (Which advocates one man one woman for as many times as ya want!); and Steven Broden who hates the IRS and Darwin.

These “BFF’s” of Jesus talked about the same old, same old meme that evil librul America needs to get right with Jesus crap that is the bread and butter (certainly “bread” as $ for these types.) Are we surprised that Barton talked about the Christianity of the Founders? While he did note that there were Jewish “Founding Fathers” (The gender inclusive “Founders” is not popular with Glenn’s posse), he didn’t note that there is criticism that the Founders had very little respect for Jews. Are we surprised that “social justice” is connected to Marxism? Barton claimed that he had stats saying that when “social spending” goes up, church attendance goes down. (So, Dave, you keep people poor to keep them in the pews?) George spoke of the Catholic tradition of social justice, but then qualified it by noting that it has been “corrupted” to support a welfare state. He advanced the right wing meme that the Nazis were socialists. Hagee, who is on heterosexual marriage #2 said that the problem with too many Christian churches is that they are too soft on sin and that God gave Israel a property deed.

Supporting Israeli Survival While Opposing Israeli Actions

The Israeli raid on relief supplies going to Gaza was certainly a bad move, both on humanitarian grounds and in terms of public relations. It is a shame that so many people are framing the events in Israel and Gaza as being for or against Israel. It is It is possible to understand why Israel has gone to extreme measures,seeing its survival at stake, and to support Israel’s survival, while still opposing some of Israel’s actions.

Supporting Israel”s safety and continued existence is like supporting the United States in defending ourselves against terrorism while also opposing the Iraq War. During the war the question wasn’t one of being for or against the United States (even if many right wingers tried to frame it this way).

Just as American liberals opposed George Bush’s acts in the so-called “war on terror” while still supporting the United States, many American liberals also support Israel while opposing many of its actions, especially when led by those on the far right such as Benjamin Netanyahu.

While written before the current incident, Ezra Klein had an excellent post earlier in the month on The Conflict Between Zionism and Liberalism which was motivated by a response to Peter Beinart’s recent essay in The New York Review of Books. Klein wrote:

This disagreement often falls across generational lines. As Beinart says, young Jews do not remember Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria massing forces in the run-up to the Six-Day War. They do not remember a coalition of Arab forces streaming across the Sinai on Yom Kippur in order to catch the Jewish state by surprise. Their understanding of Israel was not forged watching the weak and threatened state improbably repel the attacks of potent adversaries.

The absence of such definitional memories has contributed to a new analysis of the Israeli situation. Today, Israel is far, far, far more militarily powerful than any of its assailants. None of the region’s armies would dare face the Jewish state on the battlefield, and in the event that they tried, they would be slaughtered. Further stacking the deck is America’s steadfast support of Israel. Any serious threat would trigger an immediate defense by the most powerful army the world has ever known. In effect, Israel’s not only the strongest power in the region, but it has the Justice League on speed dial.

That is not to say that the Jewish state is not under threat. Conventional attacks pose no danger, but one terrorist group with one nuclear weapon and one good plan could do horrible damage to the small, dense country. That threat, however, is fundamentally a danger born of the Arab world’s hatred of Israel. It follows, then, that hastening the peace that will begin to ease that hatred makes Israel safer. Exacerbating the tensions that feed it, conversely, only makes the threat more severe.

And to many of us, it looks like Israel is making the threat more severe. Its decision to pummel the city of Gaza from the air in a misguided attempt to punish Hamas. The ascension of Avigdor Lieberman and the return of Benjamin Netanyahu. Neither an overwhelming assault certain to kill many Arab civilians or a political movement that seeks to disenfranchise Israeli Arabs — whose respected position in Israeli politics has long been a point of pride for Jews — seems likely to begin the long process required to get back to the place where peace is conceivable…

But Israel has to walk with care. Previous generations might have believed in “Israel, right or wrong.” Their replacements may not be as willing to sacrifice moral perspective in service of tribal allegiance. And much more importantly than that, every day that relations with the Arab world don’t improve — or, more to the point, continue to worsen — is another day that Israel remains under threat. For those of us who worry about the state’s safety and believe the primary threat is terrorism combined with more potent weaponry, the continuation of current trends is a terrifying thought.

The Israeli right wing has to learn how their actions are counterproductive to the long term security of their country–much like the actions of the American right wing are counterproductive to our long term security.

Noam Chomsky Denied Entry Into Israel

Israel has denied Noam Chomsky entry into the country to speak at Bir Zeit University.

Professor Noam Chomsky, an American linguist and left-wing activist, was denied entry into Israel on Sunday, for reasons that were not immediately clear.

Chomsky, who was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Jerusalem, told the Right to Enter activist group by telephone that inspectors had stamped the words “denied entry” onto his passport when he tried to cross from Jordan over Allenby Bridge.

When he asked an Israeli inspector why he had not received permission, he was told that an explanation would be sent in writing to the American embassy.

While I often disagree with Chomsky’s views I do find his work worth reading, and exposure to a wide variety of views should be part of the function of a university. The Israeli government shows a poor understanding of this concept in making this decision, as well as undermining Americans who support Israel out of a support for a democratic nation in the middle east. While Chomsky has been very critical of Israel, those who disagree with him would be wiser to respond to his arguments than to deny him entry into the country.

Update: Not surprisingly some among the authoritarian right do not understand the belief  of liberals in defending freedom of speech–even when coming from those we disagree with. Donald Douglas writes that “some folks on the left — unsurprisingly — are outraged. See for example, Steve Clemons, Ron Chusid, Taylor Marsh, and Village Voice.”

I do not feel threatened by people such as Chomsky expressing views I disagree with. I do see governments who prevent people from speaking their opinion to be a danger. I also do not agree with Douglas equating censoring Chomsky with defending its  sovereignty. As I noted in the original post, a far better response would be to defend their position and dispute Chomsky’s views.  (I also find it unusual to be linked to Taylor Marsh since the 2008 Democratic race).

There Are Crazier People In The World Than Glenn Beck

I’ve had many posts regarding the delusions and misinformation commonly spread by the right wing in the United States. Dealing with disputes involving domestic politics often ignores the fact that there are even crazier people in the world than Glenn Beck who we disagree with even more with regards to reality. For example, there is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Two days before his official trip to Afghanistan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a “big lie” intended to pave the way for the invasion of a war-torn nation, according to Iranian state media.

Ahmadinejad, known for his harsh rhetoric toward the West and Israel, said the attack on U.S. soil was a “scenario and a sophisticated intelligence measure,” Iran’s state-run Press TV reported Saturday.

The assault was a “big lie intended to serve as a pretext for fighting terrorism and setting the grounds for sending troops to Afghanistan,” Press TV reported Ahmadinejad as saying.

It’s not the first time Ahmadinejad has denied a historical tragedy. In the past, he has denied the existence of the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of some 6 million Jews during World War II, and suggested Israel should be “wiped off the map.”

“Today,” he said Saturday, “with blessings from the Almighty, the capitalist system, founded by the Zionists, has also reached an end,” Press TV quoted Ahmadinejad.