“An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.” –James Madison, Federalist No. 48
David Dolan is a Jersalem-based author and journalist who has lived and worked in Israel since 1980.
The following is reposted with permission.
Despite the fact that I have lived and worked as a journalist in Israel for over 30 years, I’ve thankfully never had a gun pointed at me in the Lord’s special land. I have dodged bullets a few times, had stones hurled onto my car, and had rockets and mortar shells land nearby, especially when I lived along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. I have also been in the vicinity of several major terror attacks, including one deadly atrocity just a couple blocks from my home.
I did have a rifle pointed at me on one occasion, but not on Israeli territory. The incident occurred just inside the Egyptian border with Israel. It was 1989, and I already knew from friends and media colleagues that the crossing point into the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula was rife with corrupt border guards who often demanded money from visitors entering Egypt, especially if they were Americans. One of them took my passport and hid it in a drawer, pretending 30 seconds later that I had not given it to him. I quickly realized he was expecting me to shelve out a bribe to get it back. Living for years in the troubled region, I refused to do so. When I said I would return to the Israeli guard post to protest his theft, another nearby Egyptian security guard raised his rifle and threatened to shoot me. Fortunately the commotion caught the attention of the Israelis some 60 feet away, who came to my rescue.
So the fact that Hosni Mubarak’s police and security forces are rife with corruption has been evident to me for many years. Does this mean I have been advocating the ouster of his autocratic regime? Not at all. This is because I’ve also long understood that the Arab people in general, especially the vast majority who are practicing Muslims, tend to be very proud folks, with the Muslims believing that they are the Almighty’s uniquely chosen sons and daughters, not Christians or Jews. This deeply-held belief contributes to the fact that the Arab masses have often proved to be very unruly, as some of my Arab friends freely admit.
In my opinion, the tendency toward unruliness is the main factor underlining the reality that Arab governments have always been autocratic to some extent, with most wielding iron fists over their citizens. The majority of people are also undereducated in most Arab countries, and often steeped in poverty. This is partly the fault of their dictatorial governments, but also of their Islamic religious systems and overly large family sizes. Therefore “democracy” as we know it in the West is not necessarily the best form of government for Arab societies, with our systems of one-person, one-vote likely to lead to far more oppressive Islamic fundamentalist regimes coming to power in most cases than the governments currently in office.
It took a long time for Israeli government officials to realize that Islamic fundamentalism was and is the main factor in the Arab world’s rejection of a Jewish-run state in the heart of the mostly Muslim Middle East. They largely ignored the fact that the leader of the pan-Arab war against Israel in the 1950s and 60s, Egyptian strongman Gamal Nasser, frequently quoted from the Koran when spouting his anti-Israel diatribes despite the fact that he was backed by the atheist Soviet Union and not religiously observant himself. Nasser was simply bowing to the reality that most of his Arab listeners were mosque-going Muslims who had a visceral hatred for Israel based mainly on their faith. It was no coincidence that the previous leader of the Arab world’s attempt to prevent a Jewish state from being formed, Haj Amin Husseini, was also the Muslim clerical chief in the Holy Land.
In a similar fashion, it took a long time for American and European government officials to acknowledge that Muslim fundamentalist groups were serious when they contended that Islam must and would prevail over the West in the struggle for world domination. The same was true for most academics and media pundits. I was not surprised when several of my American journalist colleagues working in Israel, particularly Tom Friedman of the New York Times and Bob Simon of CBS, criticized me for focusing on the new Palestinian Hamas movement in my first book, Holy War for the Promised Land, published by Thomas Nelson in early 1991. They especially questioned my prediction that the new Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimin in Arabic) would eventually surpass the PLO as the main local opponent of Israel. As I have noted before, my forecast that Hamas would become a major player in the ongoing conflict was not due to some supernatural ability to foresee the future, but because I understood that a literal reading of the Koran and of the Islamic ‘oral tradition’, the Hadith–which I pointed out was a central tenet of the Hamas movement–was the bedrock basis of the pan-Arab rejection of a Jewish state in their midst.
I also came under strong criticism for publicly questioning the wisdom of sending US and other Western forces to Iraq in 2003. It seemed to me, as it did to many of my Israeli government and security contacts, that overthrowing Saddam Hussein–as justified as that action obviously was–would only produce a political vacuum that Shiite fundamentalist Iran would eventually fill. I argued that as evil as the Iraqi dictator was, he was nevertheless an angel compared to the nuclear bomb-seeking devils running Iran.
I also pointed to the questionable contention that ‘democracy’ would be better for the Iraqi people than autocracy, noting that fairly free elections in Algeria in 1991 had been hijacked by Islamic parties who openly vowed to ditch such elections after using them to rise to power. Mirroring this in 2006, Hamas cynically used Palestinian elections, which were part of the Oslo peace process that they fiercely opposed, to come to power. It is simply a fact that a majority of voters in most Arab countries are observant Muslims. This reality will always lead to the triumph of anti-Western forces in uncontrolled Arab elections, period. It is also behind the escalating exodus of Arab Christians from Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian-controlled territories and elsewhere in the turbulent region.
Today, we see a growing chorus of American and other western leaders calling for Hosni Mubarak to leave office right away. The likelihood that his quick removal will only lead to the ultimate ascension to power of the fiercely anti-American and anti-Israel Muslim Brotherhood movement is largely ignored, or at least downplayed. Many acknowledge that the radical Islamic group is currently the only organized opposition political movement in Egypt. That being the case, the rush to dump Mubarak before other more secular parties can be functionally established is simply absurd, in my estimation. We are almost inviting the Caliphate-seeking Muslim Brothers to take over Egypt–a recipe that spells disaster for both Israel and the West.
Should the United States and other allies of Mubarak have pushed harder for real governmental reforms and more personal freedoms in Egypt? Without a doubt. However in their defense, most officials presumably understood that to do so in quick fashion was potentially opening a can of worms that would not in the end bring positive changes to the Egyptian people, but actually had the great potential to produce an even more oppressive, anti-Western regime, as may well be the ultimate outcome now.
We are told by the media that the marchers in Egypt have been acting spontaneously and are not organized by any one political party or force. Again, is it just a coincidence that the initial flood of anti-government demonstrators burst onto the streets on January 28 following Friday Muslim services held in mosques all over Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere? Yes, many of the protesters have been young, Facebook-using moderate Muslims, along with Western-leaning Coptic Christians and secular Egyptians, especially in the early days of the revolt. However, the vast majority today are clearly observant Muslims who despise Israel and resent the powerful USA based mainly on their faith. The same is true with most of the anti-government protestors in Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere.
Israeli official are also looking with increasing trepidation to the north of their country, where sworn enemies Iran and Syria have just succeeded in toppling the pro-Western Hariri government via their Hizbullah ally. This startling development has received very little media attention due to the crisis in Egypt. Is it not likely that this lack of attention is just as the evil regime ruling Iran wants it? The Iranians did not start the anti-Mubarak revolution, but they quickly jumped on board, and surely not with the goal of helping to promote Western-style democratic values in the Arab world’s largest country.
Will Egypt eventually break its peace treaty with Israel? I suspect that in the end, the American-funded and trained army will not allow this to take place. I noted in my latest book, Israel in Crisis, that Egypt is not listed in Psalm 83 as being among a host of regional Arab powers that will attempt to destroy Israel in the prophesied end days, while Jordan, Lebanon and Syria are mentioned, along with the Palestinians. While some are now saying that Egypt will participate in the Gog and Magog war prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39, I disagree. If the prophet had intended to pinpoint Egypt it would have been named as such, being a very distinct and powerful nation in ancient times. The listing of “Ethiopia” instead implies a power to the south of Egypt, which is probably today’s Islamic fundamentalist stronghold of Sudan, located in part of the territory where ancient Ethiopia stood.
Whatever the case, we can expect Islamic fundamentalist groups around the world to carry on with their intensifying jihad to topple pro-Western governments, with the ultimate goal being the destruction of Israel and the takeover of European countries and the United States. With that in mind, Western government officials need to tread very carefully as they help bring change to Egypt and the wider Middle East. And of course, everyone needs our prayers, especially the Arab and Iranian Christian minorities who are caught in the middle of the dramas swirling around them.
You can read more about David and his work on his web site, ddolan.com. If you’d like to receive David’s monthly updates, featuring commentary like what you’ve read above, you can subscribe by going to http://www.ddolan.com/subscribe.asp.
One president freed the American people to drive their economy forward and make up for lost ground. The other has shackled them with more government and more debt. The generation that benefited from Reagan’s leadership is not leaving its children the same bequest.
Not to mention Reagan did it with a Democratic majority in Congress.
There were two glimpses of the old Obama — when he slammed “subsidies” for oil companies, which of course do not get any subsidies, but have business deductions the way every other business does, he sounded every bit like the envious skinny Harvard man he once was. When he railed against tax breaks that he considered identical to government spending, that was outright socialism. That concept implies that all the income in the nation belongs to the state, and that if we let working people keep any of it, that is the same as a government expenditure. The opposite is true. The income belongs to the people, and they allow government to have some of it. But, of course, the servant has become the master now.
(Emphasis added. –R)
“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.” –James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1792
“It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.” –Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, 1776
Michael C. Burgess, the Congressional representative for our little sliver of Texas, has responded to the letter I sent him a week and a half ago expressing my displeasure with the TSA’s new imaging and
groping “enhanced” pat-down policies. His response is below, in its entirety. I have added emphasis in the fourth paragraph not present in the original.
Dear Mr. Turner:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern regarding the security policies of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
As you are aware, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently purchased full body scanners that show the outline of the naked human body and allow TSA to detect high-density bomb-making materials. In response to a large number of complaints from both travelers and employees in the airline industry, DHS instituted a new policy that allows travelers to “opt out” of the digital image scanning. This “opt out” procedure allows for the traveler to step aside and receive a full-body pat-down to check for hidden substances or items on the persons. As a result, TSA and DHS implemented a new “pat-down” procedure that serves as an alternative procedure for those travelers who wish to refuse the full-body scan.
Over the past few weeks, I have received hundreds of phone calls from concerned constituents, and seen news reports of people who are outraged by TSA’s invasive full-body scans and “pat-down” procedures that are now used in the name of national security. After recently flying myself and witnessing how invasive these procedures are, as well as the potential for abuse, I am outraged that TSA chose to implement the new rules without consulting with Congress. TSA is charged with protecting our airplanes from the kind of terrorism we saw in the terror attacks on 9/11, but this should not result in an abuse of power and the exploitation of Americans.
Further disconcerting is the fact that Congress voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the TSA’s use of full-body scanners as a primary screening method. H.R. 2200, the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act, contained an amendment to prohibit the TSA’s use of full-body scanners as a primary screening method. House Amendment 172 passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 310 to 118, but TSA has ignored this, and plans to deploy over 1,000 machines in use at airports across the country by the end of next year. Although this legislation is awaiting further action in the Senate, the sense of Congress is clear – these invasive methods are not the best use of TSA resources.
In light of our serious concerns regarding the agency’s use of invasive tactics, I joined several of my colleagues in Congress to request that the House Homeland Security Committee conduct a hearing on the new TSA procedures.
It is unfortunate terrorism from abroad has brought us to this point. Rest assured, I am committed to securing our nations’ airlines and preventing another terrorist attack, as well as to protecting your Constitutional rights. Representing an area with several major airports, I have tried to help protect, control, and monitor changes made for better security, without infringing on the very freedoms for which we are fighting. I will continue to support legislation that will strengthen our borders, protect our ports, and help prepare the nation in case of a terror attack.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website (www.house.gov/burgess) or contact me with any future concerns.
Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Member of Congress
“History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.” –Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781
Below is the letter I sent to our Congressional representative, Michael C. Burgess. I totally ripped it off from my friend Tom, tweaking it slightly. You are welcome to copy either of ours if you feel similarly about the TSA’s new search policies.
To The Honorable Michael C. Burgess
As Congress comes back into session, I encourage you to use your position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to change the policy enacted concerning the Transportation Safety Administration’s use of millimeter wave technology in the screening of passengers. These devices represent an unnecessary invasion of privacy as part of security procedures, and aren’t making anyone safer.
While I appreciate the need to try to make airports more secure, these scanners show images of a patron’s naked body to the TSA in order to do it. Worse, if you decide to opt out of the scanners for personal privacy reasons, or for concern over radiation exposure, you’re subject to a very intimate patdown that allows the TSA to touch the genital regions of a patron, out of nothing short of retaliation.
This is patently unacceptable. The choices you have to make if you take your family traveling is that you can have their genitals leered at by TSA officers (one such example of bad behavior includes a pilot’s 18 year old daughter: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-safety-security/1147497-tso-saying-heads-up-got-cutie-you.html ) or you can have them fondled. Or you can refuse both, and, even if volunteering to go through the normal metal detector, be escorted from the airport: http://johnnyedge.blogspot.com/2010/11/these-events-took-place-roughly-between.html.
Which would you choose?
The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution, which you have sworn to uphold and defend against powers foreign and domestic, says that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
A boarding pass is not probable cause to have my person searched in such a fashion.
This is a bridge too far. A functioning travel network is crucial to a free society, and to have to show one’s genitals to the TSA, or allow them to be groped, in order to travel is the sort of unnecessary restriction on one’s liberty, and in exchange for no increase in security (these devices, and these patdowns, do not show hidden packages that could be contained in body cavities, which is the next logical step in the progression of the terrorists) and only serve to inconvenience the travelers.
Please enact legislation to stop the retaliatory patdowns and remove these intrusions into our personal privacy.
“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” –American writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988)