Jonathan Schanzer: Status Update
A war is brewing on Capitol Hill. And while wars tend to create refugees, this one may result in fewer of them.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is trying to get a handle on the real number of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East -- a move that could result in a change of status for millions of Palestinians. His proposed language for the 2013 foreign appropriations bill would require the U.S. government to confirm just how many Palestinians currently served by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) -- the body tasked with providing assistance, protection, and advocacy for Palestinian refugees -- are actually refugees. The bill, slated for markup on May 22, would challenge the status of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Palestinian refugees -- a great many of whom claim to be refugees despite the fact that they were never personally displaced in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.
How have these numbers swelled, particularly as the Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes in 1948 and 1967 grew old and died? This question lies at the crux of the Kirk amendment. And the answer is UNRWA.
The knock on UNRWA is that it exists to perpetuate the refugee problem, not solve it. It was UNRWA that bestowed refugee status upon "descendants of refugees," regardless of how much time had elapsed. As a result, the Palestinian refugee population has grown seven-fold since the start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As one study projects, if descendants maintain their current status, the number of "refugees" in 2020 will be 6.4 million -- despite the fact that few of the actual, displaced Palestinians will still be alive. In 2050, that number will reach 14.7 million.
UNRWA, which calls for a "just and durable" solution to the refugee problem, has unquestionably been a silent partner to the Palestinian leadership. The agency's administration fully understands that if Israel accepted the PLO's demand, it would be demographic suicide. As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself has admitted, asking the Jewish state to repatriate 5 million Palestinians "would mean the end of Israel."
FP: I already commented on this: when pigs fly. There is no way in the world that the Palestinians, the UN and the world will ever agree to count the refugees, because this will pull the carpet from under the main and only objective of the Arabs: the destruction of Israel. That’s the reason they were never counted to date and everybody relies on UNRWA self-serving statistics.
But there is an even stronger reason for denying a count and it is not just the descendants of those who left their homes. It is a kown fact that when the UNRWA was created and started registering refugees, a large number of families from various Arab countries who had no involvement in the conflict flocked to the camps to take advantage of UNRWA support, and they also had many descendants.
The State Department is scrambling to deny it, but the reality is that Israel has been excluded from the NATO summit in Chicago because President Hussein Obama's best friend forever, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wanted it that way.
Administration officials first condescendingly insisted that critics had a “misconception” about how NATO worked. There just wasn’t enough time and space to invite members from “all those partnerships and alliance[s].” Then it turned out that there was room for members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. The Initiative, though undoubtedly valuable, is unlikely to be as critical to NATO’s core focus on the Mediterranean than the Mediterranean Dialogue of which Israel is a part.
So last week the standard for attendance shifted. The new bar was participation in the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Quote-unquote from NATO’s Secretary-General Rasmussen: “Israel has not been invited to attend the summit because Israel is neither a participant in ISAF, nor in KFOR.”
But that still won’t work. Summit participant Jordan is a formal ISAF partner but provides exactly nothing worth listing to the mission. Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Qatar are also in Chicago, even though none are in ISAF or KFOR.
Just imagine what it will be like if God forbid Obama is reelected. Not only will Israel be excluded from NATO, but NATO might even be used to attack Israel.
FP: Doesn’t this picture validate my claim that Obama has realigned the US with Islam? As to what will happen if he is reelected, as I already argued, the only unifying theme of the Muslims is hatred of Israel, and without electoral constraints doing Israel harm will be his first priority. The agreement with Iran, if it materializes, indicates that he is desperate to prevent Israel from a defensive attack before the election.
Iran is pressuring Azerbaijan to cut ties with Israel and Western nations as tensions mount over the Persian Gulf state's nuclear program, an aide to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev's said.
"Iran is telling us to sever our relationships with Israel and the West," which is unacceptable to Azerbaijan, Ali Hasanov, head of the social and political department of the presidential office, told reporters in the capital, Baku today. Azeris won't join Western-led efforts that target Iran, he said.
Iran is behind a "serious anti-Azerbaijan" campaign, trying to create a rift between the oil-rich former Soviet republic and its allies before the Eurovision Song Contest that starts tomorrow in Baku, Hasanov said.
FP: If the West were not in decline, would Iran do this? If they do this without nuclear weapons and under sanctions, imagine what will they do with them and without sanctions.
John M. Ellis and Charles L. Geshekter: UC problem: When academics are advocates (MUST READ)
Political advocacy corrupts academic institutions. Why? Because the mind-set of a genuine academic teacher is in every important respect the opposite of a political activist's. Academic teachers want to promote independent thought and analytical skills; political activists want conformity. The one fosters intellectual curiosity and encourages opposing viewpoints; the latter seeks to shut it down.
The visible signs of activism at work are shocking. Why should the mission statement of the sociology department at UC Santa Cruz claim that a "just, free and equal society" may require "fundamental social change"? Sociology classes should help students understand how societies work, but at Santa Cruz, the mission seems to be enlisting students in activism.
Or consider the course description for UC Merced's History 131, which proposes that students study "the way in which the U.S. has aggressively expanded its role on the world stage."
It is a fact that the importance of the United States on the world stage has steadily increased since its founding. It's certainly worth investigating how that happened, and the question of aggressive intent would be one factor to consider against others. But that cannot happen when the only important question has been preempted in the course description.
The catalog description of UC Santa Barbara's Feminist Studies 230 reads like a parody, offering the "experiences of women of color, both within the U.S. and globally, with interlocking systems of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia/transphobia, ableism and colonialism."
These tendentious descriptions are reflected in what many students say about their UC education. "Ten weeks of anti-capitalist, anti-globalization rhetoric," said one UC Santa Barbara sociology student about his class.
Even in science classes, the political bias seems unavoidable. A student in Berkeley's Computer Science 61AC wrote, "How does a statement like 'Nothing Saddam has done could be any worse than what George Bush has done' find its way into a computer science lecture?"
UC administrators protest that these are isolated examples, but research shows they are not. A recent study found that at UC Berkeley and UCLA, 49% of students reported that they had had a course on a controversial subject where the readings were completely one-sided. This is a deeply and dangerously politicized system.
As the cost of a college education skyrockets, quality sinks. Numerous studies show that an alarming proportion of recent college graduates have not learned to reason, to write, or to read complex material, and know little about American history and our political and socioeconomic institutions.
That happens when radical activism replaces academic knowledge in campus classrooms. The politicized university is an intellectually bankrupt one.
FP: Just as I’ve been arguing. Students pay increasingly more for what has increasingly been the opposite of education: closing the mind instead of developing it.
DENNIS OVERBYE: American Physics Dreams Deferred
"While it's great to support other missions," said Adam Riess of Johns Hopkins and the Space Telescope Science Institute, who shared that Nobel last year, "it would be disappointing to see the U.S. lose or outsource its own leading role in one of the hottest areas of research."
For Dr. Riess and his colleagues, this turn of events is another example of a worrying trend in which American scientists, facing budget deficits and political gridlock, have had to pull back from or delay promising projects while teams based in Europe hunt down the long-sought Higgs boson or rocket scientists in China plan a Moon landing in 2025.
Michael Turner, a cosmologist at the University of Chicago, called dark energy "an example of how the U.S. seems to misplay its science hand these days."
"We predicted and discovered dark energy," he said. "We have the biggest dark-energy community and the best ground game; we have been designing a space mission since 1998; and now the Europeans will fly it with our minor participation. Something is wrong with this picture."
You thought I made up that headline, didn't you? Well, I didn't.
How moronic and paranoid can they get?
FP: The problem is not their paranoia. It is Israel self-dhimmifying. This signals weakness and is not going to get it Arab respect, but contempt. It will also lead the West to interpret it as admission of Arab sovereignty over the Temple Mount, just as Oslo was interpreted as admission of the Arab Nakba lie and Israel’s guilt.
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