March 8 2013
Secretary of State John Kerry’s early days in his new Foggy Bottom office have been marred by an attempt to confer an “International Women of Courage” award on a woman who is also apparently an international woman of anti-Semitism.
Samira Ibrahim was scheduled to receive the award today for “women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.” First lady Michelle Obama is to attend the ceremony.
Just one problem: Ms. Ibrahim is apparently a vicious anti-Semite and 9/11 fan. Samuel Tadros reported in the Weekly Standard:
On Twitter, Ibrahim is quite blunt regarding her views. On July 18 of last year, after five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed a suicide bombing attack, Ibrahim jubilantly tweeted: “An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is a very sweet day with a lot of very sweet news.”
Ibrahim frequently uses Twitter to air her anti-Semitic views. Last August 4, commenting on demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, she described the ruling Al Saud family as “dirtier than the Jews.” Seventeen days later she tweeted in reference to Adolf Hitler: “I have discovered with the passage of days, that no act contrary to morality, no crime against society, takes place, except with the Jews having a hand in it. Hitler.”
Ibrahim holds other repellent views as well. As a mob was attacking the United States embassy in Cairo on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, pulling down the American flag and raising the flag of Al Qaeda, Ibrahim wrote on twitter: “Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning.” Possibly fearing the consequences of her tweet, she deleted it a couple of hours later, but not before a screen shot was saved by an Egyptian activist.
I can't help pointing out the obvious: flattering self-references to Hitler are rare enough to be noteworthy.
In something of an understatement, Tadros writes that the decision to honor Ms. Ibrahim “reflects poorly on the State Department.” Ibrahim is claiming that her account was hacked, and the State Department is holding off on the award, pending further investigation. Of course, it might have been wise to investigate further before Ms. Ibrahim was announced as a recipient of the award.
Makes you glad these folks are in charge of foreign policy, no?
The Ibrahim fiasco is but a micro indication of a State Department adrift. It didn’t start yesterday when John Kerry took over at State. The Benghazi attacks, which happened on Secretary Hillary Clinton’s watch, are still shrouded in mystery. We don’t yet fully know why the U.S. response was inadequate and dishonest. Barry Rubin, one of the best Middle East commentators, has just written a sobering piece on our disastrous foreign policy. Nobody in the Middle East, Rubin says, takes the U.S. seriously anymore.
I urge you to read the entire piece, which has a country-by-country run down of our policy in the Middle East. Chillingly, Rubin writes:
On the eve of President Obama’s first visit to Israel as chief executive, I have just returned from briefing a high-ranking official of country x about the Middle East. We kept coming back to a vital theme: the incredibly shrinking power of the United States. Try to explain American behavior to neutral, open-minded third parties for whom U.S. policy activities have become just plain bizarre! …
Once upon a time there were two superpowers, the United States and USSR, in the Cold War. Then there was one superpower, the United States. Now there are none.
Don’t worry though: I'm sure China is on the case. Like nature, foreign affairs abhor a vacuum.
Nor was Kerry’s recent trip to the Middle East a roaring success. During his sojourn in Egypt, Secretary Kerry gave Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi—a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose goal is to free blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the man behind the 1993 World Trade Center attacks, and who shares Ms. Ibrahim’s view of Jews--$250 million of American taxpayer money.
Egypt is a country the U.S. can’t afford to write off, even if its president holds repellent views. But it would be encouraging if Secretary Kerry had a clearer understanding of how foreign aid money is to be used.
The purpose of aid money is to help our friends and to get concessions from those who are less friendly but persuadable. Kerry seems to think it is to help a Muslim Brotherhood-run government attain economic success. Charles Krauthammer, who supports aid for Egypt, sets him straight:
Kerry’s major objective was getting Morsi to apply for a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Considering that some of this $4.8 billion ultimately comes from us, there’s a certain comic circularity to this demand. What kind of concession is it when a foreign government is coerced into . . . taking yet more of our money?
We have no particular stake in Egypt’s economy. Our stake is in its politics. Yes, we would like to see a strong economy. But in a country ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood?
Our interest is in a non-Islamist, nonrepressive, nonsectarian Egypt, ruled as democratically as possible. Why should we want a vibrant economy that maintains the Brotherhood in power? Our concern is Egypt’s policies, foreign and domestic.
If we’re going to give foreign aid, it should be for political concessions — on unfettered speech, on an opposition free of repression, on alterations to the Islamist constitution, on open and fair elections.
Meanwhile, the International Women of Courage awards ceremony goes forward today—just without Ms. Ibrahim. What a mess the U.S. State Department appears to be.
Commentary also has a good piece on the Ibrahim debacle.