Posted on September 20, 2011 in Countdown

UN Bid Brings Out the Worst

With the UN bid for Palestinian state recognition and membership only a couple of days away, it is virtually impossible to avoid the subject, with all sorts of people raising all sorts of concerns, recommending all sorts of actions (we’re recommending some action too), and making the case for and against from so many different angles. But even in the midst of this chaos, one proposal stood out in its sheer absurdity:  some Republicans have introduced a resolution supporting Israel’s “right to annex the West Bank” if the Palestinians pursue UN membership. The clown leader is Joe Walsh (R-IL), but he has 30 co-sponsors. With an approval rating of 12%, maybe Congress feels it doesn’t have any credibility to squander in the first place, but as AAI President Jim Zogby noted recently, the US cannot afford to take yet another hit in Arab public opinion after having vetoed the settlements resolution in the midst of the Arab spring. Pandering at the expense of America’s standing in the region will continue to take a toll on American interests.

True Lies 

We all know compulsive exaggerators who stretch the truth in order to suit their personal interests or make their stories more interesting, but we don’t often come across people who literally have no problem blurting out complete falsehoods on a regular basis. Well, Michele Bachmann may be one of those people. No, we’re not talking about half-truths or errors of omission; we’re talking flat out falsehoods. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was particularly ticked off, putting together a montage of her biggest lies, and what a montage it was! CNN is not exactly an obscure outlet, so it will be interesting to see if she can remain competitive after this. Or maybe she’ll just blurt out some allegation about Anderson Cooper being an undercover Obama Campaign agent.

Democracy Too “Radical” for Michele Bachmann 

Well, speaking of Bachmann, last Friday, this friend of the oppressed lamented the Arab Spring as a “rise of radical elements” in the Middle East and North Africa. After complaining that “we saw President Mubarak fall while President Obama sat on his hands,” Bachmann went on to blame Obama for the outrageous suggestion that Israel should return to its “indefensible” pre-1967 borders. We know that Bachmann’s not too great with history, but she does know that America was born from a democratic revolution too, right?

Good Bombs, Bad Bombs 

Tomorrow, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will discuss the text of S. 1546, the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act. Sponsored by Sens. Lieberman (I-CT) and Collins (R-ME), the proposed bill includes a clause that designates an official at the Department of Homeland Security to “coordinate efforts to counter violent extremism in the United States, particularly the ideology that gives rise to Islamist terrorism.” Of course, the Senators offer no explanation for why the ideology that leads to one particular form of terrorism is more worthy of emphasis than others (it’s not like a bomb kills less people when it explodes in the name of some other cause), but we’ll let that one go since what’s important is that the Senators are serious in their efforts to keep America safe.

Training the Trainers? 

Last week, our friends at Wired magazine broke a story about flagrantly Islamophobic counter-terrorism training sanctioned by the FBI. The article, written by Spencer Akerman, detailed various disturbing Islamophobic elements of the training, revealing that agents were told things like “the prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader;’” that violent extremism is “mainstream” in Islam, and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.’”  Now is a good time to pinch yourself and make sure you’re not dreaming, because we’re really talking about FBI training here, not some obscure hate website (how safe do you feel?).  The Arab American and American Muslim communities have expressed concern about these trainings before, but at a recent meeting, the Washington field office FBI assistant director said “there may be people at the FBI that are Islamophobes, they’re entitled to their opinions… I don’t know of any personally but my job is to make sure it doesn’t affect their job.”  If things get any worse, perhaps the FBI’s next counterterrorism training will include “Derka Derka Mohammad Jihad.”

Like Shouting “Let’s Get Food” in a Debate Over What to Eat 

The Hill newspaper produced an urgent headline the other day: “The Hill Poll: U.S. stance on Israel important to voters.” Ok… Thanks for that. But, um, what do they want the US stance on Israel to be? Well, such questions would make the article too useful, so they chose not to dig quite that deep. Instead, we have the insight that “Overall, among likely voters, nearly 4 in 10 agreed that Obama is ‘not supportive enough’ of Israel, while 20 percent think he is ‘too supportive’ and a third said his support is ‘about right.’”  As we highlighted in previous Countdowns, and as became evident following the upset in New York’s 9th district, this mantra about Obama not being supportive of Israel is gaining traction. Don’t expect the anticipated UN veto to change many minds: facts can’t always hold up against misinformation.

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