Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bali Bombers Executed, But Bashir Still At Large

Three of the terrorists involved in plotting the 2002 Bali bombing were executed today in Indonesia, by firing squad no less. It was a fitting end for Mukhlas, Amrozi, and Imam Samudra who took part in the murder of 202 people, including 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians (some of them Muslims), all for the "crime" of being in or around a Bali nightclub.

However, it's unfortunate that radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was not among the executed. He's the "spiritual leader" of Indonesian terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah and he was a mentor (and in effect, accomplice) to the Bali bombers. Yet all he did he was spend 26 months for conspiracy in an Indonesian jail.

Sure enough, he later blamed the attack on "a conspiracy between America, Australia and the Jews."

And here's what Bashir had to say about the executions:
Their fighting spirit in defending Islam should be followed...We will win the fight in this world or die as martyrs. Even if they are murdered they will die as Islamic martyrs.
Why this guy is still breathing is beyond me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson: The Day After

The indispensible Victor Davis Hanson writes eloquently about "The Day After." Definitely worth the read.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Bret Stephens: From 9/11 to 11/4

Bret Stephens at the Wall Street Journal expresses my thoughts exactly in "From 9/11 to 11/4: How Soon We Forget."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Putting the McCain/Khalidi Allegation to Rest

In reaction to the plethora of information regarding Obama's relationship with Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, Obama supporters have seized on a piece by Seth Colter Walls at the Huffington Post alleging that McCain too is tainted by "guilt-by-association" because in 1998 the International Republican Institute (IRI), whose board he chaired at the time, gave a $500,000 grant to the now-defunct Center for Palestinian Research and Studies" (CPRS) and Khalidi was one of its seven founding trustees. And the Obama campaign has done likewise.

But according to CNS News (emphasis added):
The IRI, a body with a stated goal of promoting democracy worldwide, issued a statement Wednesday reacting to the claims. It confirmed giving grants to the CPRS during the 1990s for polling to measure support for the peace process and political groups in the self-rule areas.

"At that time no other organization could credibly conduct polling in the West Bank/Gaza," IRI said.

The institute said it did not at the time conduct background checks of grantees' founders, although it "did on a number of occasions vet CPRS as an organization, including, as was our custom, with the Israeli government, and we were given no cause for concern."

"We do not recall any contact between Mr. Khalidi and IRI, and there is no evidence that Mr. Khalidi benefited in any way from IRI's grants."

CNN's Political Ticker "Fact Check" on the matter examines the same information and lamely concludes that "There was a relationship in the 1990s between the IRI, chaired by McCain, and the CPRS, co-founded by Khalidi, which received IRI funding." In the same piece, McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb sets the record straight: "John McCain has never met Rashid Khalidi, while Barack Obama has acknowledged a close friendship with him."

That should put this alleged connection to rest, but Obama supporters continue to tout this story. Whether they choose to accept the facts in the case or not, the idea that a fleeting "six degrees of separation" connection of this sort can be compared to the 10-plus-year friendship (and history of financial back-scratching) between Obama and Khalidi is absurd. There's simply no comparison.

Furthermore, accusing those who point out Obama's long list of unsavory friends and colleagues of practicing "guilt-by-association" is a red herring. As columnist Thomas Sowell recently pointed out, these are not associations; they are alliances. And Obama, he added, "time and again...allied himself with people who openly expressed their hatred of America."

Seeking to shed light on Obama's murky background and vague, and often contradictory, proclamations via his political alliances is entirely appropriate. Unless, of course, he and his supporters have something to hide.

Update (11/4): Some have pointed to R. Bruce McColm, who was president of the International Republican Institute (IRI) during the time the grant was given to CPRS, and his take (at Harper's Magazine) on McCain's involvement. Nowhere does he imply that McCain and Khalidi met and although McColm states that "it always my understanding that Khalidi was directly involved in the research," he does not say the same for McCain.

However, McColm's contention that "it was Khalidi’s academic background and his known coolness to the PLO" that attracted IRI's support" rings true in light of the doublespeak Khalidi is known for (i.e. saying one thing in Arabic and another in English) and the naivete among politicians of both parties towards dealing with so-called "moderate" Palestinian representatives (Mahmoud Abbas being the latest). If McCain and the IRI were taken in by Khalidi, they certainly wouldn't be the first.

Finally, McColm claims Khalidi was "never was a spokesman for the PLO," which is preposterous in light of the abundant evidence to the contrary. Indeed, Middle East studies historian Martin Kramer notes McColm's denial in the course of proving just the opposite.

All that aside, the fact remains: there's no comparison between McCain's fleeting encounter with Khalidi and Obama's ten-plus-year friendship. It's apples and oranges.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Obama's Middle East Studies Mentors

My latest Campus Watch column, which is posted today at The American Thinker, takes a look at Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi and his relationship with presidential hopeful Barack Obama:
When voters go to the polls on November 4th, they will choose not only a new presidential administration, but also the candidate's circles of influence. In the case of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, this includes Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said professor of Arab studies and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

Much of the scrutiny surrounding Obama's long list of objectionable and radical alliances has focused on Khalidi, and with good reason. Despite Khalidi's claims to the contrary, facts indicate that he was a spokesman for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when it was listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.
Continue reading "Obama's Middle East Studies Mentors"

Update: Martin Kramer has updated his Khalidi/PLO post several times. Click here for the latest. On a related note, here's (oddly enough, considering the Obama/Khalidi tape controversy) his praise for the Los Angeles Times.

Update II: Former Khalidi student Barry Weiss has some interesting insights at the Wall Street Journal.