The Spectacle Blog
But today Bloomberg did a hell of a thing. He defied the Obama Administration's ban on air travel to Israel by taking an El Al flight to Tel Aviv.
The former New York City Mayor said, "The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately."
Bloomberg has his moments. This reminds me of when he visited Jerusalem in 2003 and rode a bus that had been attacked by a suicide bomber.
John Kerry has made a surprise visit to Jerusalem to negotiate a cease-fire between Gaza and Israel, but since the conflict thus far has served only to unify Gazans and Israelis alike in mutual dislike, a more creative solution will be needed.
There is a certain appeal to this image of Kerry flying in unannounced to Israel's airport—which was recently closed to Americans for safety reasons—perhaps with a red, white, and blue cape fluttering in the breeze created by passing missiles. It is not terribly realistic, though. Both Israelis and Gazans view Egypt and the Obama administration—the powers that negotiated the ceasefire in 2012—with suspicion, and that will make a repeat deal challenging.
Besides that, neither side would gain much from a return to the tense, non-violent hostility of a month ago. For Israel, it would be a matter of time before war began again. And besides that, explained Jerusalem Post reporter Gil Hoffman, Israelis are almost unanimously behind the ground invasion:
This morning the head of the IRS, Commissioner John Koskinen, returned to Capitol Hill to testify on the ongoing investigation into the role the IRS played in targeting conservative and tea party groups. This comes after testimony that Lois Lerner, according to the head of the National Archives, broke the law.
The last time Koskinen appeared before the committee, things got testy and many Republican lawmakers questioned his credibility as a truthful witness. The commissioner testified that Lerner’s hard drive had been destroyed after her computer crash. This is despite the fact that Lerner’s emails were sent to and from her BlackBerry, which leaves the possibility that her phone could be searched.
Gay and transgender characters don't feature often enough in major Hollywood films, according to a bizarre claim from the activist organization GLAAD. I say that the claim is bizarre because their gripe is that "only" 17 out of 102 big studio films from 2013 featured gay characters. GLAAD regularly bean counts the number of homosexuals in film in their Studio Responsibility Index. "Only" seems a bit of an odd choice of words, though, when 3.8% of Americans identify as LGBT. If anything, gays are disproportionately represented in movies. This should hardly be surprising, given the distinctly liberal complexion of the entertainment industry.
I did not know about this until this morning, but over the weekend there were a couple of incidents where pro-Palestinian hooligans accosted pro-Israel demonstrators. One of the incidents involved a same-sex couple carrying an Israeli flag combined with a rainbow flag. They were confronted and told by Palestinian supporters, “Jews back to Birkenau” and “Drop dead, you Zionazi whores,” and then assaulted before Boston Police came to their rescue. The day before about a dozen pro-Israel activists were swarmed by another group of pro-Palestinian hooligans in front of the Israeli consulate. Assault and battery charges have been laid against one member of that mob.
The legend that is John F. Kennedy today, the martyred youthful president who is perpetually popular in polls rating the “greatness” of presidents, has left out a number of facts.
But one of those facts has resurfaced with the news that former congressman Ron Paul, father of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul—the latter a 2016 presidential possibility—has written a column sympathizing with Vladimir Putin’s Russians.
For those unfamiliar with the Kennedy story, essentially it is this. JFK’s father was Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. Joe Kennedy, whose own father Pat was a bartender, was an up-by-his-bootstraps Harvard grad, a wealthy banker and wheeler-dealer who accrued the Kennedy fortune from not only banking but (pre-regulated) Wall Street, Hollywood, and—famously—bootlegging in the days of Prohibition.
The cause of religious liberty galvanizes Americans of faith, yet America's foreign policy has ignored religion to the point of harming her interests and moderate allies in the Middle East.
"America is really, by virtue of its foreign policy, distanced from our natural allies," Andrew Doran, one of the founders of the group In Defense of Christians, told TAS. "They've actually been marginalized over the last several years [by our] commitment to procedural democracy."
Doran described meeting a Christian man in Lebanon who, having never visited America, asked why Americans do not act when Christians face persecution in the Middle East. Doran told him most Americans do not know that any Christians live in the Middle East.
"He was dumbfounded," Doran said. "You can tell that any sense of solidarity with the broader Christian world is gone, and they suddenly feel very alone."
Feature of the Day: Myths and Misreporting About Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
A longtime reader sent me a Toronto Star article by Tarek Fatah titled "Muslim Double Standards Abound". Here's a sample:
As I write, Muslims around the world have taken to the streets and social media to protest Israel's Operation Protective Edge, that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 200 Palestinians.
Undoubtedly the death of 200 Arabs, many of them civilian women and children, is tragic and worthy of condemnation.
However, just next door to Israel almost 200,000 Arabs have been killed by fellow Arabs in Syria, but that tragedy has triggered no public demonstrations of anger in Islamic capitals, let alone in Toronto.
I should mention that I knew Tarek in the mid to late 1990's when I was active with the NDP. We served together on the party's resolution committee. Both of us would eventually leave the NDP.
You can read the whole thing here.