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Posted at 9:05 AM ET, 01/31/2011

Obama is still behind the curve on Egypt

By Jennifer Rubin

As The Post reported yesterday:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called for "real democracy" in Egypt and praised the "great outpouring of desire" expressed by protesters there. But she did not call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, whom she acknowledged on Sunday has been an important ally.

There were two problems with that straddle. First, the protesters are looking to oust Mubarak. And second, the notion that Mubarak could usher in "real democracy" is unimaginable. The Obama team may be inching away from Egyptian president, but so slowly and so tentatively that it is at odds with the sea of protestors who want nothing to do with the Mubarak regime. The admnistration had better pick up the pace.

Clinton wound up looking timid, and our policy hopelessly muddled. There was this exchange on Meet the Press:

DAVID GREGORY: But I just want to pin you down on this, Secretary Clinton, do you think that the Mubarak regime has taken the necessary steps to retain power?

CLINTON: Oh, I think that there are many, many steps that have to be taken. And it's not a question of who retains power. That should not be the issue. It's how are we going to respond to the legitimate needs and grievances expressed by the Egyptian people and chart a new path? Clearly, the path that has been followed has not been one that has created that democratic future, that economic opportunity that people in the peaceful protests are seeking. So it's our very strong advice, which we have delivered--President Obama spoke with President Mubarak, I've spoken with my counterpart, Secretary Gates has spoken with his. This is an ongoing conversation that American officials have had for 30 years. Now is the time to move toward a national dialogue, to take concrete steps, to create the political space for peaceful protest and for the creation of peaceful oppositions that want to help work toward a better future. That is what we want to see.

GREGORY: Should Mubarak lose power? Would the United States offer him sanctuary?

CLINTON: You know, I, I believe strongly that we are only at the beginning of what is unfolding in Egypt. I'm not going to go into hypotheticals and speculation other than to say that President Mubarak and his government have been an important partner to the United States. I mean, let's not, you know, just focus on today. This is a government that made and kept a peace with Israel that was incredibly important, avoiding violence, turmoil, death in the region. But so much more has to be done, and that is what we are urging.

A brief digression: Even more inane was Tom Friedman, who asserted during the Meet the Press roundtable: "Israel should really reflect on what's going on in Egypt. It does not want to be the Hosni Mubarak of the peace process. Israel has never been stronger, militarily or economically. This is exactly the time it should be looking to forge and close a peace deal with the Palestinians, not because it's going to change the Arab world, but because it'll be a huge opportunity and stabilizer for that relationship." Israel has been Mubarak? Israel hasn't offered peace deal after peace deal? The mind reels.

But back to the secretary of state. She was a bit less muddled on Fox News Sunday:

CHRIS WALLACE: Secretary, all of your answer has been couched in terms of President Mubarak. Does that mean that the Obama administration still backs Mubarak as the legitimate president of Egypt?

CLINTON: Well, we have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy. And we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about. We also want to see an orderly transition. Right now, from everything we know, the army has taken up positions. They are responding very positively, thus far, to the peaceful protest. But, at the same time, we have a lot of report of looting and criminal activity that is not going to be particularly helpful to what we want to see happen. And that has to be dealt with. So, there are many, many steps along the journey that has been started by the Egyptian people themselves. We wish to support that.

WALLACE: Secretary, you talk about an orderly transition. How concerned are you that if Mubarak were to be suddenly thrown from power that the Islamic radicals could fill the void?

CLINTON: Chris, we want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought-out plan that will bring about a democratic, participatory government. And I also believe strongly that this is in Egypt's long-term interest. It's in the interest of the partnership that the United States has with Egypt.

Are U.S. diplomats being more candid with Mubarak privately and threatening to pull aid? If so, that effort is being undercut by the equivocating rhetoric in public. Why should he release his grip on power while Obama administration still recognizes him as the path (rather than the barrier) to democracy?

The reactive and confused behavior of the Obama team should not be surprising. Peter Feaver writes for Foreign Policy:

The harsh reality of events in the Middle East have all decisively proven that the assumptions that underpinned President Obama's Middle East policy initiatives were wrong. I have great sympathy for the administration as it tries to respond to events that are swirling out of control in the region. The foreign policy team seems to be quite uncertain how to proceed and with good reason: our ability to predict what will happen is probably even less than our ability to shape what will happen.

As Feaver notes, the assumptions underlying Obama's foreign policy were all wrong:

The key to any progress anywhere was near-term progress on Israel-Palestine.

Near-term progress on Israel-Palestine was possible because the chief impediment was Israeli intransigence which was itself due to a failure of the Bush Administration to lean on Israel.

Since Obama was willing to administer much tougher love to Israel and since Israel's concerns could be shown to be exaggerated, the Israeli "impediment" could be quickly lifted and progress quickly achieved.

Bush's preoccupation with democracy was naïve and thoroughly discredited by Iraq and so nothing was likely to happen on that front in the region, perhaps for a generation but for sure until Obama had made progress on the Israel-Palestine issue.

And let's not forget the most egregious mistake: failing to recognize the nature of the Iranian regime and confront the aggression of its proxies in the region.

Is it any wonder the Obama team is now struggling to keep up with events in Egypt?

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 31, 2011; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Comments

What Mr. Feaver writes makes a lot of sense, the immorality and unbelievably, the still greater idiocy of the Obama policy in the Middle East is not subject to reasonable dispute. Still, what now? Threaten to cut aid to Mubarak? Fine. Agree to continue aid to a Egyptian government led by El Baradai, Obama's fellow Noble Laureate and Islamic Brotherhood/Mullah lackey? We can be sure the prospect appeals to Barry at many levels.

Bottom line: This is not June 2009, where there was no upside to, in effect, endorsing the extant regime. The outcome here, whatever it is, will be meaningfully if not dramatically worse for the U.S. than the status quo. Some caution is not necessarily out of place.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Secretary of State Clinton also stated rather fatuously that no one wants discord or violence in Egypt. Is she naive? Of course there are any number of extremists and terrorist organizations that would love to see Egypt collapse into chaos and violence and by the way are trying right now to make that happen.
But worse, none of the so called experts in the Obama administration seem to have a clue as to what they are dealing with in the Arab world. When even supposedly moderate and educated Arabs speak of democracy in English, they mean in Arabic a kleptocracy controlled by and voted for by them and their friends. When even supposedly moderate and educated Arabs talk in English of freedom of expression, again, they mean in Arabic freedom of speech and assembly only for them and their supporters. And when even supposedly moderate and educated Arabs speak of peace and coexistance in English, they always mean in Arabic destroying Israel.
It is amazing that the Obama administration is pursuing and supporting what seems to be the best case scenario with a representative and democratic government replacing the Mubarak regime. When in terms of history and reality, the Hizballa takeover of Lebanon and the bloody Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip would seem to argue otherwise.
Mubarak is a Middle Eastern satrap as are most of the kings, presidents for life, dictators, and sheiks out here but his regime is pretty mild compared let's say to Assad's in Syria or Qaddafi in Libya.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 31, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer Romney, you're making my head spin today after I just gave you qualififed praise for your earlier post. Could you at least stay in one place for one whole day?

What you cite here:

"Are U.S. diplomats being more candid with Mubarak privately and threatening to pull aid? If so, that effort is being undercut by the equivocating rhetoric in public. Why should he release his grip on power while Obama administration still recognizes him as the path (rather than the barrier) to democracy?"

Is directly the opposite conclusion of what Feaver writes here:

"The foreign policy team seems to be quite uncertain how to proceed and with good reason: our ability to predict what will happen is probably even less than our ability to shape what will happen."

Feaver is saying that we DON'T have much influence over the outcome of events, not that we DO!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

beniy:

You DO realize that you are opposing everything Jennifer says on this, don't you?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"And let's not forget the most egregious mistake: failing to recognize the nature of the Iranian regime and confront the aggression of its proxies in the region.

Is it any wonder the Obama team is now struggling to keep up with events in Egypt?"


Jennifer, you really need someone to explain the Arab/Islamic world to you. What you write is not only inconsistent it makes no sense on any level.

You say that we should be supporting freedom movements around the Islamic world at the same time you want us to go to war simultaneously with a third Islamic nation, Iran.

Yet somehow, in a magical way, you expect that the new regimes arising from these popular revolutions will be MORE pro-American and LESS fundamentalist in nature!

As an attorney, you should understand the Latin phrase that apllies to your reasoning,
res ipsa loquitur.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer sez: "Israel has been Mubarak? Israel hasn't offered peace deal after peace deal? The mind reels." Then she trots out the opinions of some Israel Firster writing in Foreign Policy trashing Obama and his Mideast policy....no doubt first drafted the day after Obama made his Cairo speech.

Stephen Walt, also writing in Foreign Policy, has the amazingly easy task of refuting Rubin's Orwellian history of Israel's "peace efforts" and Feaver's anti-Obama propaganda, in one paragraph after possibly not having read either comments. He does so as follows:

"Second, the above caveat notwithstanding, the documents (i.e., Palestine Papers) put to death the idea that Israel has no Palestinian "partner for peace." On the contrary, they reveal a PA leadership that is desperate for peace -- sometimes to the point of being craven -- and getting no help at all from the Israelis and precious little from the United States. They keep offering various concessions and trying different formulas, and get bupkus in return. Indeed, even when they might think they've obtained something of value -- such as Condi Rice's pledge that the 1967 borders will be the baseline for negotiations and territorial swaps -- they find that the next set of U.S. negotiators take it away with scarcely a backward glance."

So much for Israel's desire for peace and a peace partner although it still sells with the American public who are denied access to facts by the main stream media. Is there anything Israel-Firsters won't write, do, or say to avoid facing the truth at some point in their lives?

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 31, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

beniy:
You DO realize that you are opposing everything Jennifer says on this, don't you?
Posted by: johnmarshall5446

The 8 million pound elephant in this room is the concept of preemption. The two pillars of preemption are (1)That we can control the future(2)That others have no free will,Both are illusions that are inherent in "Mental" illness. (Read The Laws of War and Peace by Grotius)
NeoConservatism is the political philosophy of premption which was derived from its Marxist/Trotskyite roots.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The facts do speak for themselves, and the truth is that there is not one single representative, democratic, and widely based Arab government anywhere. The only reason that Iraq and Afghanistan even look like this is the presence of American troops and the huge American bankroll.
And as to whether I agree or disagree with Jennifer, johnmarshall5446, the fact is that the Obama administration is playing a dangerous game by demanding the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. If as seems almost certain the Obama experts are wrong in their assessments, the dangers and threats posed by a fundamentalist, Sharia fueled, anti West, and anti Israel Muslim Brotherhood regime in Cairo will dwarf even the dangers posed by the insane Achmadinijehads in Teheran.
More so than ever, the inexperienced and largely incompetent Obama regime should be careful what they wish for in Egypt, they might just get it, but not quite the way they expected.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 31, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Beniyyar:

We helped create an Islamist regime in Iran. After we leave,it is certainly a possibility that Iraq will be Islamist also. Ditto/Afghanistan. Why not Egypt?
Let's keep "influencing" events.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

beniy:

Hey I agree with you about the danger. I just think that you're hatred of Obama is coloring your interpretation of events. For instance what you write here;

"the fact is that the Obama administration is playing a dangerous game by demanding the overthrow of the Mubarak regime"

is directly contradictory to what Jennifer wrote above here:

"But she did not call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, whom she acknowledged on Sunday has been an important ally."

and here:

"The Obama team may be inching away from Egyptian president, but so slowly and so tentatively that it is at odds with the sea of protestors who want nothing to do with the Mubarak regime. The admnistration had better pick up the pace."

As a rough guess, I would say our relative powerlessness in this situation has us unnerved at the national leadership level, and causes the forming of new and discordant alliances and enmities. (Jennifer and John Bolton are poles apart on this for instance.)

So you and I temporarily agree about the danger in Egypt, but not about Obama's role. What other seismic shifts result remain to be discovered!


Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

John and Beniy,

What about Wiki?

":This is very much due to the Wikileaks documents that clearly show all Muslim leaders except for a few (IRAN) working with Israel to crush the Palestinians. Even the PLO worked to crush their own people! Darn! Obviously, the ‘Arab Street’ is fired up and will set on fire all the institutions and operations run by these guys."

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

http://egyptinternetprotest.blogspot.com/

Posted by: dseigler2 | January 31, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I disagree that the Obama administration should be publicly advising Mubarak to leave, just as I don't want them to be supporting him publicly. They are afraid of committing Jimmy Carter's mistake with the Shah and they are right. Much as I dislike Hillary Clinton, what she is saying is prudent. Support the people of Egypt and quietly work behind the scenes to improve the chances of a quiet transition.

By the way, the comment of lazarus40 is a perfect example of the hostility on the left toward Israel. They should be ignored, as they mostly are.

Posted by: mtkennedy | January 31, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

And furthermore,

"The Wikileaks documents clearly show how US bribes kept a whole bunch of despots on our side and this money was spent mainly for one purpose: to please Israeli Jews. Not Israeli Palestinians. The PLO was bribed and Abbas should probably flee to Israel since his utter craven betrayals were revealed in stark clarity by al Jazeera this week, too"

What is this all about,if anything?

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer,You're right that the Obama Middle East policy has been confused and harmful, based more on leftist ideology and a desire to distinguish Obama from Bush than on a rational calculation of American interests. While not quite as inane as a Tom Friedman meme, it's been close.

However, the administration does seem to realize what's at stake in Egypt. A Muslim Brotherhood takeover would be an historic defeat for American interests in the region that would have enormous economic, political and military costs. I don't blame them for temporizing because the best course is unclear.

Throwing in with the mob, as Carter did in 1979, would be a blunder. The Muslim Brotherhood would quickly seize power and liquidate its opponents. Rather, we must support the concept of a gradual transition to democracy while encouraging the army behind the scenes to boot Mubarak out and to take the lead in developing a civil society.

Democratic institutions such as political parties and free political discourse must be developed expeditiously without giving an opening to the anti=democratic Muslim Brotherhood and their cat's-paw Muhammed elBaradei. This will be tricky if not impossible. The only chance is for the army to take the lead and to win popular support by running off Mubarak.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

@mtkennedy: "By the way, the comment of lazarus40 is a perfect example of the hostility on the left toward Israel. They should be ignored, as they mostly are."

Hostility to Israel is to be pro peace in the Mideast. The place is a boiling cauldron. Why? Because some Asiactic people converted to Judism, migrated to Europe, then decided to run the Semitic people living in Palestine from their homes, steal everything they had, and found a religious state. If there were no Israel the only sounds being heard in the Middle East would be oil wells pumping and camels belching which would sound much better than the whining and threats from AIPAC and their co-conspirators.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 31, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

That Israel and generally Jews in the Mandate have been doing cartwheels to achieve peace with the Arbas for over 90 years is a fact self-evident to any minimally well informed even slightly objective observer. That Walt and so many others do not possess one or more of these characteristics does not vitiate this fact, however those who shares Walt's prejudices may wish it otherwise.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The population of Iran is - or at least before Obama functionally sided with the Mullahs was - the most pro-American of that in any large Muslim country. The regime by contrast is not only an open and very aggressive enemy of the U.S. but generally an expansionist and violent actor in the region, a danger to all its neighbors and generally the most destabilizing state in the world. It also happens to be a fanatical, throughly corrupt cleptocracy, which impovrreshes and oppresses its people with remarkable brutality. The notion that such a regime would accept anything from the U.S. other than a complete and humiliating surrender is pure fantasy. Obama's eagerness to offer such while siding with the regime against the people is therefore particularly illustrative of supine stupidity of his policy.

In Egypt the Mubarak regime has alway and increasingly been a highly problematic ally and there can be no question that, as a general proposition greater freedom and economic opportunity for the Egyptian people are highly desirable things. Specifically and in practice, however, such freedom and opportunity are obviously nowhere on the horizon from any plausible successor regime in Egypt while (much) greater hostility to the U.S. is an absolute certainty. The viability of Mubarak is obviously finished. In general we have a mess and caution is in order.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Cavelier,

Are the WikiLeak Documents saying that everyone over there was being bribed by us to crush Palestine including Abbas himself?
Just asking?

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

cavalier wrote:

"The population of Iran is - or at least before Obama functionally sided with the Mullahs was - the most pro-American of that in any large Muslim country. The regime by contrast is not only an open and very aggressive enemy of the U.S. but generally an expansionist and violent actor in the region, a danger to all its neighbors and generally the most destabilizing state in the world"

Let's assume for the sake of argument that what you wrote is correct on the pro-American thing. Exactly how long after we either invaded or dropped a sufficient number of bombs on Iran would you expect that sentiment to continue?

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Complete rejection of Walt is an absolute prerequisite for a minimally reasonably discussion of the issues. As a general and final point the Palestinians have, in fact been horribly abused by their "leaders" and by the Arab world in general, they have had the aid donated for the benefit of the general population stolen (almost always the case with such aid) and their mind poisoned by those self-same leaders. In fact, in no small measure thanks to Israel, the Palestinian economy is booming and a politically viable state is theirs for the taking if they as a polity, plausibly forego the desire to eliminate Israel and exterminate Jews.

Practically this may be too much to expect when people living in free and prosperous societies and without and without any of the handicaps imposed on them, encourage and indulge their worst possible instincts.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It is fascinating that even these most fascinating events occurring right now in Egypt--so predictable, and yet leaving everyone so flummoxed--cannot for long distract people's attention from the Israelis and Palestinians. Yet more evidence of the Zionists' uncanny ability to control events.

Posted by: adam62 | January 31, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Cavalier, great posts! The exploitation of the Palestinians as a permanent victim class is best exemplified by the "refugee camps" that house the great-grandchildren of people displaced 63 years ago by the 1948 war. Instead of becoming citizens of the surrounding states where they were born, these "refugees" are segregated in squalid camps where their grievances and revanchist fantasies are nurtured. The "right to return" -- perhaps the only irreconcilable issue between the Israelis and Palestinians -- is thus kept alive as a barrier to peace.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I made this post at The Corner, and it seems to fit here too. JR appears to be one fo the few commentators on the same page as I am.

The question is how America should protect its interests, without abandoning its values. A Muslim Brotherhood theocratic regime would obviously be bad for American interests, and not comport with our values, so that caution towards unconditionally supporting the protestors is understandable. A Muslim Brotherhood regime would be one vote, one time. Judging by the protestors I heard over the weekend, A great portion of the Egyptian population subscribes to a conspiracy the about the Jews controlling the United States and America oppressing Egypt at the beck of their Jewish taskmasters. The idea of such deluded people having control of Egypt would not be good for American interests and our government should work behind the scenes to make sure this does not happen, and publically make clear the dire consequences for Egypt should the Muslim Brotherhood gain control.

That understandable caution doesn’t justify our supporting Mubarak over a genuine popular uprising against an oppressive dictator. The rebellion is happening regardless of American action or inaction. So it’s a false dichotomy to posit that America must either support Mubarak, or support the inevitability of the Muslim Brotherhood seizing control. There’s the third option of America lending support to reformist elements in Egypt, which may eventually form part of a Government amenable to liberal democratic reforms in Egypt. Such a Government would likely contain an Islamic religious party such as the Muslim Brotherhood, but this faction could be balanced by the more reformist factions. (This is similar to the genius of the Founding Fathers in Federalist #10)

What’s missing from the Obama Administration and, sadly, from many conservative circles (and more predictably from the Left), is the recognition that American interests are best served by promoting American values. For all of his many failures, George Bush’s greatest achievement POTUS was understanding this nexus between American power projections, interests and values. Reagan understood it during the Cold War, as did FDR and Churchill during WWII. Obama is floundering because he has renounced both American power and the universality of freedom and democracy. I hope it’s not too late.

PS. Why does the Washington Post allow blatantly Anti-Semetic posts like the "Khazar" canard popularized by Neo-Nazis that Lazarus40 posted above?

Posted by: *JRapp | January 31, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Over the weekend the Obami broke into dad's kool-aid stash and are now remixing his firesign theatre--waiting for the electrician (or someone like him), we're all bozos on this bus, and everything you know is wrong.

Posted by: aardunza | January 31, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

*JRapp sez: "PS. Why does the Washington Post allow blatantly Anti-Semetic posts like the "Khazar" canard popularized by Neo-Nazis that Lazarus40 posted above?"

Yes, why do they? Doesn't the WaPo know that history has been erased and replaced by new zionist history. Don't pay any attention to Israeli historians such as S. Sand, nor Arthur Koestler, nor Wikipedia, nor facts on the ground.

From Wikipedia: "One component of Sand's argument is that the people who were the original Jews living in Israel, contrary to what is official, accepted history, were not exiled following the Bar Kokhba revolt. He has suggested that much of the present day world Jewish population are individuals, and groups, who converted to Judaism at later periods. Additionally, he suggests that the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. Sand writes that "Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God."[7] Sand argues that most of the Jews were not exiled by the Romans, and were permitted to remain in the country. He puts the number of those exiled at tens of thousands at most. He further argues that many of the Jews converted to Islam following the Arab conquest, and were assimilated among the conquerors. He concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews."

It's quite evident, the Palestinian Arabs are Semitic descendents of ancient Jewish Israelis and they are being held prisoner by Asian/European converts. The world turned upside down.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 31, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The question is how America should protect its interests, without abandoning its values.

Because America's values are conflicted and its interests are conflicted,your statement exposes the morass of "conflict of interests"we are drowning in. Examples:

The Pauls/Tea party vs the NeoCons
The Social Democrats/Left Liberals vs Obama
The Tea Party vs the Fed
FDR's 2ND Bill of Rights vs Ryan's Roadmap
The Tea Party vs the Republican Party
Old School Conservatives/Buckley vs the Neocons

To assume that American values/interests are monolithic,just makes an ass out of you,not me.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

*JRapp sez: "PS. Why does the Washington Post allow blatantly Anti-Semetic posts like the "Khazar" canard popularized by Neo-Nazis that Lazarus40 posted above?"

Yes, why do they? Doesn't the WaPo know that history has been erased and replaced by new zionist history. Don't pay any attention to Israeli historians such as S. Sand, nor Arthur Koestler, nor Wikipedia, nor facts on the ground.

From Wikipedia: "One component of Sand's argument is that the people who were the original Jews living in Israel, contrary to what is official, accepted history, were not exiled following the Bar Kokhba revolt. He has suggested that much of the present day world Jewish population are individuals, and groups, who converted to Judaism at later periods. Additionally, he suggests that the story of the exile was a myth promoted by early Christians to recruit Jews to the new faith. Sand writes that "Christians wanted later generations of Jews to believe that their ancestors had been exiled as a punishment from God."[7] Sand argues that most of the Jews were not exiled by the Romans, and were permitted to remain in the country. He puts the number of those exiled at tens of thousands at most. He further argues that many of the Jews converted to Islam following the Arab conquest, and were assimilated among the conquerors. He concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were Jews."

It's quite evident, the Palestinian Arabs are Semitic descendents of ancient Jewish Israelis and they are being held prisoner by Asian/European converts. The world turned upside down.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 31, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I honestly should not even have to respond to such bigoted hateful nonsense, and I hope that by responding I don't in any small way validate lazarus' statement in any small measure, b/c its completly illegitimate to anyone living outside the confines of CrazyTown. You can present any crank’s statement and pretend that it’s equally valid to other arguments, even if its contrary to anything resembling evidence, but that doesn’t make it any less crazy or you any less a bigot. The Jewish people in Israel are descendants of the ancient Jews. The history of the Jewish Diaspora from the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, to the Jewish migrations to North Africa, Spain and Europe, to the expulsions during the Middle Ages from Muslim Andalusia and Western Europe that led to the Jewish presence in Eastern Europe, to the return of Jews to Israel during the 19th and 20th C. If the Washington Post wants to play host to the same sort of crackpot Jew hating “Khazar” nonsense that appears on White Supremacist cites, then that’s its own business I suppose, but I expected better of the Post.

Posted by: *JRapp | January 31, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

JRapp, the WaPo doesn't endorse all the crackpot notions posted here. They're responsible only for their own crackpot notions. Just because they don't censor the "Khazar" BS doesn't mean they endorse it.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

yeah, but the WashPo CAN moderate comments. I had one comment blocked that named a neighborhood in North Jerusalem.

Besides, the "race" of a Jew does not matter. The point of Israel as a Jewish state is precisely to provide a homeland for all Jews, because Jews have a history of not being able to rely on host countries to be tolerant.

So what if there are Jews who are descended from the Khazars, a Jewish nation between 700-1000AD, geographically wedged between the Byzantines and the early conquests of Islam? Are their descendants any less Jewish than the Falasha from Ethiopia, who have almost entirely emigrated to Israel?

Back to Egypt. Spokesmen for the Muslim Brotherhood are already proclaiming that America is their enemy (UK's Telegraph).

I have no idea why the western media thinks this is a revolution in favor of freedom and democracy. A small minority thought they could duplicate the results of Tunisia. Instead, the Egyptian economy is now approaching collapse. I actually hope the MB gets the blame for that. It is unfortunate that the overwhelming majority of 80+ million Egyptians are being abused by maybe 100,000 'protestors'.

Posted by: K2K2 | January 31, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I believe the peaceful protesters are mostly middle-class, secular, and pro-constitutional democracy. But in a nation where illiterates out-number university graduates by three-to-one and a recent Pew poll revealed broad popular support for Sharia and terrorism, the Muslim brotherhood is awaiting its main chance -- the day they knew would eventually come.

Mubarak is yesterday's man. The Egyptian army and its allies, including us, need to come up with a viable strategy to stop the Brotherhood.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii

Democracy in the NE is the mortal enemy of America and Israel, Thank you George,for empowering the hordes of Islamic fanatics.

Posted by: rcaruth | January 31, 2011 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Yyes Beniyyar, the facts do speak for thmselves, so you might pay attention to what they are:

Obama is NOT demanding the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. Obama is merely making mealy mouthed platitudes about listening to the grievances of the Egyptian people, to insitute some reforms and invoke a tansition towarsd democracy.

The problem with you Isreali firsters is that you lose all perspective when the anything relating to Israel is even mentioned in the media.

If as seems almost certain the Obama experts are wrong in their assessments, the dangers and threats posed by a fundamentalist, Sharia fueled, anti West, and anti Israel Muslim Brotherhood regime in Cairo will dwarf even the dangers posed by the insane Achmadinijehads in Teheran.
More so than ever, the inexperienced and largely incompetent Obama regime should be careful what they wish for in Egypt, they might just get it, but not quite the way they expected.

Posted by: Beniyyar | January 31, 2011 10:29 AM

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I go out to buy a car, and when I come back I see we're debating Israel again! (sigh)

Neither Israel nor the US is going to make this decision. It's going to be the Egyptian military, and how they come down.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 12:16 PM
“That Israel and generally Jews in the Mandate have been doing cartwheels to achieve peace with the Arbas for over 90 years is a fact self-evident to any minimally well informed even slightly objective observer.”

Very funny cavalier4.

That would explain why Israel continues to reject the Arab Peace Initiative, signed by 22 Arab States, that would recognize Israel and normalize relations.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Complain all you like John,

"I go out to buy a car, and when I come back I see we're debating Israel again! (sigh)"

But the State Department and every taling head on cable news is talking about Israel.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I guess if you start from the position that Pres. Obama's handling of the Middle east was confused and muddled you can get to that point from the above article but alas nothing in the artcile itself on it's own gets you there. If you started from a different point you probably arrived at a different conclusion. Not sure Ms Rubin gets the point of writing the article in the first place. It's supposed to form the basis for an argument and lead to a conclusion. This artcle can be interpeted to mean anything to anyone.

I know she wants us talk as if Mubarak was already gone and so anything less then that in the rhetoric sounds equivicating. Suppose he survives? Suppose he plays a role in any new gov't? Suppose his people play a major role in the new gov't? Then what? Opps...we didn't really mean throw you under the bus?

Posted by: kchses1 | January 31, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 3:08 PM

"But in a nation where illiterates out-number university graduates by three-to-one and a recent Pew poll revealed broad popular support for Sharia and terrorism, the Muslim brotherhood is awaiting its main chance -- the day they knew would eventually come."

You're still rtunnnig around with your hair on fine I see eonii.

Do you have a link to this pew poll? I would be curious to see if they mention "popular suport for terrorism", or whether you just used poetic license to link terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The Egyptian army and its allies, including us, need to come up with a viable strategy to stop the Brotherhood."

For the 100th time, it's none of our business. If the Egyptians vote for the MB is a democratic elections, then we have no choice but to accept it.

I was watching Tony Blair appearing on Sky in Britain yesterday and he sounded just like you eonii - speaking like a colonialist who was deciding what kind of democracy WE would allow Egypt to have. Wake up eonii, we don't have a say in it - and in spite fo your contemtp for the intelligence of Egyptians, they are not going to fall for any side show manufactured in Washington.

Robert Fisk repored from Egypt yesterday that he was sitting with a group fo Egyptians sitting on a tank alongside the troops. When he told them the Mubarak had appointed Suleiman as VP, they apparently all laughed. And that's what they will do when the US starts trying to interefere.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

shingo:

I woudn't dream of having a Mideast debate without you. LOL

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

@johnmarshall

To say that the population of Iran is the most pro-American of any major Muslim country is, unfortunately to say far too little. Be that as it may the evidence is fairly abundant - if somewhat opaque - that this is indeed the case.

My criticism of the policy on Iran is based on precisely the proposition that destroying Iran's nuclear program - no one has even hinted or conceived so absurd a proposition as an invasion - is intensely undesirable for multiple excellent reason. Even so it is less undesirable than an imperialist Iran armed with a nuclear weapon. The Green Movement presented us with the possibility of avoiding either of these outcomes. An in internal overthrow of the government would have been highly desirable and in supporting such an overthrow by an oppressed populace of a vicious tyrannical regime we would have been upholding our must fundamental values even as we sought to advance crucial security interests.

To be sure, while explicit and forceful American support would by no means guaranteed the success of the Green Movement it would have increased the likelyhood of such success and placed us firmly in the right.

Posted by: cavalier4 | January 31, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

cavalier4,

"My criticism of the policy on Iran is based on precisely the proposition that destroying Iran's nuclear program - no one has even hinted or conceived so absurd a proposition as an invasion - is intensely undesirable for multiple excellent reason. Even so it is less undesirable than an imperialist Iran armed with a nuclear weapon."

I suppose the fat that there's no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program, or the fact that Israeli intelligence has just stated that Iran is not working ion a nuke, is beside the point?

"The Green Movement presented us with the possibility of avoiding either of these outcomes"

The leader of the Green movement supports Iran's nuclear program, so how does that factor into your analysis?

"To be sure, while explicit and forceful American support would by no means guaranteed the success of the Green Movement it would have increased the likelyhood of such success and placed us firmly in the right. "

To be sure, you clearly don't have a clue. Any US support for the Green Movement would have been the kiss of death. Any perceived US involvement in Iran is guaranteed to undermine the credibility of the recipient.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 31, 2011 6:04 PM | Report abuse

cavalier:

We know that the Green Movement was in fact not able to overthrow the thugs. So in what way could we have turned the tables absent military force?

For the sake of this argument I am conceding your position that the people of Iran are or were pro-American. Military action against the nation, even though arguably in our strategic interests, would definitely have changed that sentiment.

We simply cannot go to war, even limited war, with every country in the Middle East with an Islamic population, and have any expectation of being seen as "the good guys" or as the solution rather than the problem.

Jennifer cannot understand that, but I believe you may be more reasonable.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

"But in a nation where illiterates out-number university graduates by three-to-one and a recent Pew poll revealed broad popular support for Sharia and terrorism, the Muslim brotherhood is awaiting its main chance -- the day they knew would eventually come."

You're still rtunnnig around with your hair on fine I see eonii.

Do you have a link to this pew poll? I would be curious to see if they mention "popular suport for terrorism", or whether you just used poetic license to link terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood.
--------------------
Shingo, here's the link.
http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/

As you can see, 20% of Egyptians have a favorable view of al Qaeda, 30% of Hezbollah, and 49% of Hamas in neighboring Gaza. 48% of Egyptian Muslims say Islam plays a large role in politics and 95% of those say that's a good thing. Of the 49% who say Islam plays a small role in politics, 80% say that's a bad thing. 85% want Islam to play a large role in politics. 54% of Egyptians favor gender segregation in the workplace, 82% favor stoning adulterers, 77% favor cutting off the hands of thieves, and 84% support the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion. Not exactly fertile ground for a Jeffersonian democracy. The pro-democracy marchers may get trampled by the ignorant masses led by the highly organized and disciplined Muslim Brotherhood.

I saw today where the Coptic Christians are terrified of the MB and their Pope has reached out to offer support to Mubarak. Persecution of the 10+% of the population who are Christians seems likely if MB takes power.

My hair's not on fire, as you put it, but I am being realistic about the horrific consequences of an Islamist takeover of the largest, most influential Arab country.

Posted by: eoniii | January 31, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen this anywhere else, but I would have to say that any timetable for withdrawal from either Iraq or Afghanistan is now completely dead.

Under the present circumstances, I doubt either government could last a month without US troops, add this to the issues for the 2012 election.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | January 31, 2011 8:07 PM | Report abuse

I made a tribute video to show solidarity with the protesters in Egypt: It's called : "Bless The Rains Down In Africa"...take a look and let me know what you think:

http://www.doubledutchpolitics.com/

Posted by: RyanC1384 | February 1, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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