Freedom House, which publishes an annual report measuring freedom around the world, rating nations based on political rights and civil liberties, has recently issued its 2015 report.
According to this report, there is only one free nation in the Middle East region. It so happens that it is the one nation that seems to trouble our American president the most – Israel.
Freedom House rates on a scale of 1 – 7, "1" being the most free and "7" the least. Israel is rated 1.5, receiving a grade of 1 on political rights and 2 on civil liberties. more >>
Israeli elections are over and the big story is Benjamin Netanyahu's stunning come-from-behind win to secure his fourth term as prime minister. Exit polls showed Netanyahu's center-right Likud party just one seat ahead of the main challenger, the Zionist Union, and pundits and pollsters were forecasting his imminent demise all the way to the end. At last count, however, he and the Likud gained a decisive victory with 29 parliamentary seats compared to Zionist Union's 24. The Joint Arab List, a slate of Arab-Israeli candidates, came in third.
But as Netanyahu begins the difficult task of building a governing coalition, he remains haunted, both now and for years to come, by remarks that he made during the final days of his campaign. In most nations, campaign chatter is chalked up to politicking and gamesmanship; but Israel is not like most nations. Seen by some as evidence of God's faithfulness and by others as the source of all that is wrong in the world, Israel lives in a media spotlight that is truly unique.
Thus, it was not surprising when Foggy Bottom, Brussels, and the glittering halls of Amnesty International erupted in a mighty uproar after Netanyahu declared that, under his leadership, there would be no Palestinian state. Many observers saw it as a reversal of his now-famous 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University in which he accepted the idea of a two-state solution. more >>
The foreign policy clerisy in this country was loud in its denunciation of Arkansas freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R) when he circulated a Round Robin letter with the signatures of 47 GOP senators. Sen. Cotton's letter simply states the obvious truth that no "executive agreement" with Iran can be guaranteed past the expiration of Mr. Obama's constitutionally limited term of office.
Election returns from Israel show that Sen. Cotton was right. Israeli voters appreciated the strong support given to a realistic policy toward Iran and its dangerous drive for nuclear weapons. Israeli voters have to take seriously the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon. Mr. Obama's feckless Sec. of State, John Kerry, is paving Iran's pathway to a nuclear weapon.
Many of the same chin pulling graybeards who tut-tutted over the Cotton letter also protested Prime Minister Netanyahu's acceptance of Speaker Boehner's invitation to address Congress. They and their Democratic Party-aligned flacks and hacks objected that it was "a violation of protocol" for the Prime Minister to speak to Americans and the world from the rostrum of the House of Representatives. more >>
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won re-election on Wednesday with his ruling Likud Party, and promised to promptly form a new government to address the challenges facing his nation.
"Our country's everyday reality doesn't give us the luxury for delay," Netanyahu said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
"The citizens of Israel rightfully expect that we will act quickly and responsibly to establish a leadership that will work for them in areas of defense, the economy and society just as we promised in this campaign — and just like we will now set ourselves toward doing," he added. more >>
The recently displaced archbishop of Mosul, Iraq was speaking with particular candor when I met him last fall in the Middle East.
He said, "People in the West say 'they don't know.' How can you not know? You either support ISIS or you must have turned off all the satellites. I am sorry to say this, but my pain is big."
Like so many Christians in Iraq and Syria who watched ISIS kidnap their leaders, burn their churches, sell their children, and threaten all others with conversion or beheading; the archbishop wonders how it is that these maniacs so easily took his home city this summer? more >>
Actor Michael Douglas penned an op-ed on Sunday, speaking out about an experience dealing with anti-Semitism his son faced and how religious bias may be obliterated by speaking and building bridges across religions.
"Speaking up is the responsibility of our political leaders," Douglas wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "Speaking up is the responsibility of our religious leaders, and Pope Francis has used his powerful voice to make his position and that of the Catholic Church clear, saying: 'It's a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic. His roots are Jewish. Let anti-Semitism be banished from the heart of life and of every man and every woman.'"
Douglas also cited Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan for helping build relations between Jewish and Catholic communities. He noted that the challenge is to "stand up to hatred of the Jewish people." But different religious factions have to come together in order to do so. Christians and Jews are not enemies but are born from the same Abrahamic traditions, as his own father, Kirk Douglas, once stated. more >>