Tuesday, August 31, 2010

arabs want Israel gone

What the Arab world seems to appreciate is that America will never agree to what the Arab world most wants -- an Islamic state where a Jewish one now exists. This entirely reasonable conclusion is based on what has long been American policy -- not what the State Department wanted but what the American people supported. America has always liked the idea of Israel. The Arab world, for totally understandable reasons, has always hated it. Nothing has changed.
This week, Palestinians and Israelis will once again talk peace in Washington. But until both sides, particularly the Arab peoples, give up on what they really want, the clock will remain where it has been. (New York Daily News)

what would happen if Israel said the whole west bank was Israel

Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
Official Palestinian Authority TV continues to teach children that all of Israel is "occupied Palestine." A repeating message on the children's show The Best Home, currently broadcast three times a week during the month of Ramadan, is that all Israeli cities are "occupied" Palestinian cities. The PA TV host refers to cities in Israel alternately as "1948 occupied cities," "occupied cities" or "occupied territories."

absurd to compare Jihadists to Baruch Goldstein

Froma a colleague
I beg to disagree with the very premise of the comparisons
between suicide bombers (including 9/11) and Baruch Goldstein.

There is no reasonable analogy that can be made between the 9/11 bombers and
Baruch Goldstein (all Yemach Shemam). The major difference here (and the
one that matters the most when it comes to building the Cordoba Center) is
that Goldstein was universally condemned for acts of murder by the Jewish
community. The Jihadists who destroyed the WTC, as well as Jihadists around
the world, are lionized by their co-religionists, are supported by
governments which support terror, and have buildings and streets named after
them. I may have met one or two Jews who "understood" what may have set
Goldstein off, but I have yet to meet one who praised him for what he did.
I'm sure that if one looked hard enough, one could find a handful of Jews
who supported his actions wholeheartedly, but they are Batel B'Million.
Jihad, on the other hand, is part and parcel of Muslim life - and anyone who
claims that Jihad as preached by Imams and Islamist states refers to "inner
struggle" in 2010 needs to wake up and smell the Huka!

I can say "Yemach Shemo" regarding Baruch Goldstein without hesitation. Yet
Rauf cannot even utter a negative thing about Hamas and other terrorist
organizations. The fact that the Arabic version of his book, published in
Malaysia, was entitled, "A Call to Prayer, From the World Trade Center
Rubble". He surely sees the destruction of the WTC as a springboard for
Islamic triumphalism. Again, he has a right to build his mosque. Freedom
of religion here in the U.S. guarantees that. But freedom of speech also
guarantees us the right to express our thorough disgust if they choose to
build this mosquestrocity at the proposed site.

assault on Israel continues this month


Israel braces for difficult month
Political calendar filled with snags
As Israeli and Palestinian negotiators prepare for the first direct negotiations since 2008, the Jewish state is braced for one of the most difficult diplomatic months in its history.

One Israeli diplomat called next month "Black September," the same name Palestinians used to describe the bloody crackdown against them by Jordan's King Hussein in 1970, and also the name for the infamous Palestinian terrorist group that killed 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

The diplomatic calendar from an Israeli perspective for September is filled with political land mines.

To start, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to release a report on the Memorial Day flotilla incident in which nine pro-Palestinian activists aboard a Turkish aid ship seeking to break a blockade of Gaza were killed in a battle with Israeli commandos. Activists in Lebanon have said they are trying to launch another flotilla to challenge the Gaza sea embargo in the coming weeks.

Then the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council is expected to issue a follow-up on a report issued in 2009 by Judge Richard Goldstone regarding the Gaza war in late 2008 and early 2009. This report is expected to challenge the credibility of Israel's investigation of its internal affairs, thus potentially opening up Israel to more formal lawsuits in the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

On top of all of this, Turkey — whose foreign minister said Israel's raid on the aid flotilla last spring was his country's Sept. 11 — takes its spot as the rotating chairman of the United Nations Security Council.

At the International Atomic Energy Agency later in September, Arab states are expected to press their case for Israel to publicly acknowledge its undeclared nuclear arsenal.

The diplomatic situation for Israel coincides with the renewal of the peace process that ended in December 2008 when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Hamas rocket positions in Gaza.

President Obama will host a dinner Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah.

The direct talks are scheduled to start in earnest on Thursday. Mr. Abbas has said he will break off the talks if Mr. Netanyahu does not renew a freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank that is set to expire on Sept. 26.

Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, said one Israeli goal in the talks is to make sure Israel is diplomatically protected from efforts he said would be aimed at delegitimizing Israel's defense of its territory. Mr. Gold also served as a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Netanyahu in his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999.

"Israel must be certain that should it withdraw and then find the security situation deteriorating, requiring Israeli military action, that the U.N. does not bring Justice Goldstone out of retirement and launch a whole new series of investigations into how Israel defended itself," Mr. Gold said. "Hopefully, any new peace arrangements will include a parallel set of understandings to avert this situation."

P.J. Crowley, State Department spokesman, said in an interview Monday that "it has been extremely difficult to get the parties for a variety of reasons to where we are this week. But now that we are entering direct negotiations, something that we want, the Israelis want, the Palestinians want and other countries in the region want, everyone assumes a responsibility to avoid any actions that can create obstacles to progress. That is something we are telling the parties directly, everyone with a stake in this process has a responsibility to prevent obstacles to progress. The last thing we need right now is another Goldstone-like controversy."

A senior U.S. official said the Goldstone report issued by the U.N. Human Rights Council "set back the peace process by six to nine months."

This official noted that he does not expect Turkey to target Israel in the U.N. Security Council. "Turkey has taken some heat for its vote on Iran sanctions. I don't think Turkey wants to make that hole any deeper," the official said.

Robert Danin, a longtime foreign service officer who recently left his post as chief of staff to Tony Blair, the representative of what is known as the four-nation Quartet in the region, said efforts to challenge Israel in various diplomatic and international forums was "counterproductive." The Quartet is made up of the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

"These kinds of steps do not engender confidence," he said.

Israeli officials in the past two years have said that forms of political warfare being waged against the country, such as legal challenges in European courts against Israeli officials regarding the Gaza war, constitute some of the gravest threats to Israel.

In July, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, told reporters that efforts to delegitimize Israel diplomatically and legally posed a greater threat to the country than Iran and international terrorism.

Moshe Ya'alon, a former Israeli general and minister for strategic affairs, has made the issue of delegitimation a priority for Israel's national security council.

Some observers say Israel's participation in a credible peace process will help mitigate some of the diplomatic dangers.

"Being part of the negotiation process will help protect Israel from some of these efforts. It's hard for the most anti-Israel forces to credibly continue with their rhetoric when Israel is engaged in a credible peace process," said Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine.

Mr. Gold, however, is skeptical that a peace process will shield Israel at the United Nations.

"There is no correlation between advancing the peace process and the assault on Israel in the main bodies of the United Nations," he said. "In fact, just to set the record, three months and one day after the Oslo Accords were signed on Sept. 13, 1993, a whole new series of anti-Israel resolutions were launched in the U.N. General Assembly

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Horrible quotes by Ground Zero Imam

Jewish World Review August 24, 2010 / 14 Elul, 5770

A ‘moderate Muslim’ exposed

By Steven Emerson

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article
Share and bookmark this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has of non-Muslims, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leader of the effort to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, told an Australian audience in July 2005.

In a taped speech, Rauf made a number of comments that would make anyone who is not concerned about the mosque at the Ground Zero site rethink their support for the man tasked with heading the "bridge-building" center. Among them [click on the play button to hear each one]:

* "We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it."

(IPT fact check: A report by the British government said at most only 50,000 deaths could be attributed to the sanctions, which were brought on by the actions by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.)

* The United States has supported authoritarian regimes, Rauf said, and it's understandable that people in those nations would take action into their own hands. "Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It's hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?"

(IPT fact check: This is justifying acts of terrorism by blaming the United States for the oppression of Islamic regimes of their own citizens. This also ignores U.S. aid of Muslim citizens in nations such as Kosovo and Kuwait).

* Asked why Muslims commit suicide bombings, Rauf belittled the fanatical religious motivation of such attacks and said: "But what makes people, in my opinion, commit suicide for political reasons have their origins in politics and political objectives and worldly objectives rather than other worldly objectives. But the psychology of human beings and the brittleness of the human condition and how many of us have thought about taking our own lives, we may be jilted, had a bad relationship, you know, didn't get tenure at the university, failed an important course, there's a host of reason why people feel so depressed with themselves that they are willing to contemplate ending their own lives. And if you can access those individuals and deploy them for your own worldly objectives, this is exactly what has happened in much of the Muslim world. "

(IPT fact check: Here Rauf tries to negate that suicide bombings are driven by Islamic religious beliefs and trying to equate terrorist activity to someone who doesn't get tenure.)

* On Israel, Rauf said he does not favor the plan to establish a Palestinian state along with Israel. Instead, "The differences, perhaps, may lie on whether the solution lies in the two-state solution or in a one-state solution. I believe that you had someone here recently who spoke about having a one land and two people's solution to Israel. And I personally - my own personal analysis tells me that a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution. So if we address the underlying issue, if we figure out a way to create condominiums, to condominiamise Israel and Palestine so you have two peoples co-existing on one state, then we have a different paradigm which will allow us to move forward."

(IPT fact check: A one-state solution is a euphemism for the destruction of Israel, because Palestinian Muslims will quickly outnumber the Jewish resident of Israel. Such a position is advocated by radical groups, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.)

* "And when we observe terrorism," he said, "whether it was done by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or by al Qaida or whoever is behind the bombings in London or those in Madrid, we can see that they were target political objectives.

(IPT fact check: Rauf again seems to justify terrorist acts by equating hitting civilians with political objectives.)

Rauf, who is on a trip to the Middle East sponsored by the State Department, gave the speech on July 12, 2005, at the University of South Australia.

1. Feisal Abdul Rauf -- the imam behind plans to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks -- was quoted Monday as making comments in 2005 in which he says that the “United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda.”

The audio recording, taken from a July 2005 speech that Rauf gave at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, was posted in snippets Monday by conservative blogger and commentator Pamela Geller on her AtlasShrugs.com blog.

On the audiotape, which begins mid-sentence, Rauf can be heard saying: "We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” He then continues, “You may remember that the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/newly_released_ground_zero_imam_tUWczuKcOs9ERhZ9PO3fZM#ixzz0xYgcZPuu

13 challenges facing Israel

Dangers of the Ground Zero Mosque

Taiba at Ground Zero?
August 20, 2010 - Rael Jean Isaac
In the furor over the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, the chief argument
against it has been all but overlooked: it will be a huge security risk.
Indeed “risk” is the wrong word: it is virtually guaranteed to become a
potent engine for future attacks against this country.

How can we know this? From experience. Just as the experience of
RomneyCare in Massachusetts (a sharp rise in health care costs) foretells
that ObamaCare will have the same result because of the close
similarities between the two, so the Taiba mosque and Arab-German
cultural center in Frankfurt (closed down last week by German
authorities) foretells what the Cordoba mosque and cultural center will
bring to New York.

The Taiba mosque (then called al-Quds) was the hang-out of Mohammed Atta
and several other 9/11 hijackers. Although it is unprepossessing (a small
run-down building in a poor neighborhood—no $100 million iconic structure
like the one proposed for New York), it became a magnet drawing
enthusiasts for jihad from around the world. Die Zeit editor Josef Joffe
writes in The Wall Street Journal: “Why so? Manfred Murck, the deputy
chief of Germany’s domestic security agency explains: ‘Because it has the
aura of the 9/11 assassins.’ Devotees of the 9/11 killers have come from
all over on a tour of jihadism that starts in Hamburg, then proceeds to
Madrid, then to London, where dozens were murdered in the tube in 2005.
‘Hey I prayed where Mohamed Atta did…’”

Not surprising, it also drew Islamic zealots not content with celebrating
jihad but determined on acting it out. Moroccans, Bosnians, Saudis,
Egyptians, Moslems from Chechnya and Pakistan--and most worrying to the
German authorities--German converts to Islam prayed and plotted together
and then set off to on their “mission from God.” In March 2009 11
would-be Hamburg jihadists went to Pakistan for terrorist training.
Precisely because of its Nazi past, Germany is reluctant to take action
against religious institutions. But the situation was getting out of
hand. Time quotes Christoph Ahlhaus, Hamburg’s Interior Minister, “Behind
the scenes, an alleged cultural organization has shamelessly exploited
the freedoms of our constitutional democracy to promote the cause of the
’holy war;’…[Hamburg] must not serve as the incubator for Islamists
willing to use violence.”

If the mere “aura” of Mohamed Atta has proved so powerful in Hamburg, can
you imagine what a magnet a mosque at the site of their greatest triumph
over the infidels would be? In the imagination of the jihadists it will
be almost as good as a mosque in the actual footprint of the towers, for
the Burlington Coat factory site on which it will go up was badly damaged
when landing gear and fuselage from one of the planes that tore into the
World Trade Center crashed through the roof. It would indeed be, as real
estate investor and key figure in developing the mosque Sharif El-Gamal,
puts it “an iconic building that will have people come and visit from
around the world”—unfortunately it will be the same kind of jihadi
pilgrims that flocked to the Taiba mosque and cultural center.

It is because the mosque’s Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, El Gamal and the
potential Middle East funders understand this all too well that the
prospect of an alternative site—on the surface an easy way to put the
controversy to rest--is so unappealing to them. And that’s why those
behind the mosque might reluctantly accept New York Governor Patterson’s
offer of an alternative site on state-owned land only if, despite the
political and media elites, public pressure should become overwhelming.

At any other site Imam Rauf would be unlikely to raise anything like the
$100 million he can plausibly promise to obtain in the space of a year
for what the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs aptly says
“will be widely understood in the Moslem world as a battlefield monument
in the name of Islam.” It took Rauf’s father (who died in 2004) decades
to raise the $25 million for the mosque he established in 1991 on East
96th Street in Manhattan. Stephen Schwartz has pointed out that this
mosque, of which the current Rauf is a long-time trustee, also has a less
than stellar history: shortly after 9/11 its imam Mohammed Gamei’a left
the U.S. for Egypt where he told an Egyptian website: “The Jews were
behind these ugly acts [9/11] while we, the Arabs, were innocent.” His
successor at the 96th Street mosque, Imam Abu-Namous has been cagier,
saying he could not rule out possible perpetrators “whether Muslim,
Christian or Jewish.”(http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/rauf-radicals)

While New York’s mayor Bloomberg calls opposition to the mosque a
disgrace to the memory of the firefighters who died on 9/11(!), Abd
Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director general of Al-Arabiya TV, underscores the
folly of such rhetoric. In the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat he writes
that the mosque “will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a
monument to those who committed the crime.” Says Al-Rashed: “I do not
think that the majority of Muslims want to build a monument of a place of
worship that tomorrow may become a source of pride for the terrorists and
their Muslim followers…”

The views of the mosque’s imam (or imams) will clearly have a major
impact on the character of the mosque. In the case of the Taiba mosque,
one of the imams was Mamoun Darkazanli, dubbed “the hate preacher.” Joffe
writes that German investigators call him the “elder statesman of jihad”
and bin Laden’s man in Germany. Spain, which believes he helped the
Madrid train bombers of 2004, asked for his extradition but although the
Germans arrested him on a Spanish warrant, the German constitutional
court released him on the grounds that extradition would violate his
rights as a German citizen.

The smooth-talking Imam Rauf is very far in style from Darkazanli. He is
much more like Tariq Ramadan, the urbane and articulate Swiss born
academic whose role as an alleged “moderate” has made him a fixture of
the “commentariat” on Islam on European television and even secured him
an invitation from the British Prime Minister to serve on the
government’s task force on preventing extremism. (Rauf’s supposed
moderation has won him a State Department gig as roving ambassador to the
Middle East, particularly convenient now since it gives him an
all-expenses paid opportunity to spot and tap likely funders for his
mosque.) But as French journalist Caroline Fourest documents extensively
in her book Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan (now
translated into English) Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of
the Moslem Brotherhood, says one thing to his Islamic followers, another
to his Western audience. (The U.S. banned Ramadan from coming to the U.S.
in 2004 under the provisions of the Patriot Act that allows the U.S. to
keep out anyone suspected of supporting terror—the Obama administration
recently lifted the ban.)

Rauf is very much in this slippery tradition. But, as in the case of
Tariq Ramadan, it doesn’t require massive research to recognize that he
is an Islamic extremist, not, as he portrays himself, a bridge-building
interfaith pioneer in the Muslim community. The project with which he is
most closely associated is the “Shariah Index Project” which measures how
closely each country approaches the ideal of complete conformity to
Sharia law in governance and society and distributes literature promoting
sharia compliance. (Christine Brim on bigpeace.com, on the basis of
copious since-deleted pages on Rauf’s website which she provides for
readers deduces that a number of floors of the proposed mosque building
are to be devoted to the Shariah project, making it what she calls “the
base for a project to institutionalize Shariah in America.”

In 2007 Rauf attended the conference of Hizb-ut-Tahir (Islamic Party of
Liberation) in Indonesia, an outfit banned in eight countries (including
Germany), whose goal is to unify all Muslim countries in an Islamic
caliphate under Islamic law and from there proselytize the world.

Rauf wrote a book, which in English carries the comforting title What’s
Right with Islam is What’s Right with America. But it was published in
Malaysia under the very different title A Call to Prayer from the World
Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa [Proselytizing] in the Heart of America
Post 9-11.

Taiba at Ground Zero?

Only days after 9/11 Rauf was interviewed by Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes.
Rauf declared “U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime.” Challenged
to explain how, Rauf replied “Because we have been accessory to a lot of
innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most most direct
sense, Obama bin Laden is made in the USA.” (For our government and media
it is apparently enough for a Moslem to say 9/11 was a crime for him to
earn the sobriquet of “moderate”—it doesn’t matter if he says “the Jews”
or “the U.S.” was the real culprit.)

The very name Rauf has given his plan for the mosque “The Cordoba
Initiative” tells a Muslim audience his true attitudes. The Cordoba
cathedral was converted to a mosque after the Moslem conquest of Spain in
711 and the city of Cordoba, in which it stands, was at the heart of the
great cultural center of Andalusia (Al-Andalus to Moslems), which
Islamists aspire to reclaim.

And while Rauf has assembled a gaggle of rabbis in support of his
project, he dodges when asked directly if he condemns Hamas terrorism:
“the issue of terrorism is a very complex question.”

Whatever one may say about Rauf’s “right” to his beliefs, he is deceitful
when he says the mosque “sends the opposite statement to what happened on
9/11.” Moreover he is clearly not the person to block or discourage those
who would use his mosque at Ground Zero as a rallying place for Islamic

Once a radical mosque is in operation, it becomes extremely difficult to
close it down. German authorities have shut down the Taiba mosque
temporarily but the courts may decide otherwise. Radical Muslim leaders
are adept at casting themselves as victims. Last year the Taiba
association (Time reports) claimed it was the “victim of a big media
campaign, a bad secret-service plot and a concocted political farce.”

In The Nation Katha Politt writes that Cordoba House “will be a showplace
of moderate Islam, an Islam for the pluralist West—the very thing wise
heads in the United States and Europe agree is essential to integrate
Muslim immigrants and prevent them from becoming fundamentalists and even
terrorists.” Once the mosque at Ground Zero turns out to be Wahhabi
Central, it will be too late. The Nation, the ACLU and assorted useful
idiots can be counted upon even then to believe the assurances of Imam
Rauf and his like against the evidence of their lying eyes.

All of which means the time to stop the mosque at Ground Zero is now.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Rael Jean Isaac is co-author (with
Erich Isaac) of The Coercive Utopians.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Israel, be VERY careful

Many possible Israeli concessions would be suicidal
By George F. Will
Sunday, August 22, 2010; A11
JERUSALEM 'Twas a famous victory for diplomacy when, in 1991 in Madrid, Israelis and Palestinians, orchestrated by the United States, at last engaged in direct negotiations. Almost a generation later, U.S. policy has succeeded in prodding the Palestinians away from their recent insistence on "proximity talks" -- in which they have talked to the Israelis through American intermediaries -- and to direct negotiations. But negotiations about what?
Idle talk about a "binational state" has long since died. Even disregarding the recent fates of multinational states -- e.g., the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, the former Czechoslovakia -- binationalism is impossible if Israel is to be a Jewish state for the Jewish people. No significant Israeli constituency disagrees with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: "The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel's borders."
Rhetoric about a "two-state solution" is de rigueur. It also is delusional, given two recent, searing experiences.
The only place for a Palestinian state is the West Bank, which Israel has occupied -- legally under international law -- since repelling the 1967 aggression launched from there. The West Bank remains an unallocated portion of the Palestine Mandate, the disposition of which is to be settled by negotiations. But with constructive -- because illusion-shattering -- bluntness, Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, puts aside diplomatic ambiguity:
"There is no Israeli leadership that appears either willing or capable of removing 100,000 Israelis from their West Bank homes -- the minimum required to make way for a viable Palestinian state even with Israel's annexation of its three main settlement blocs. (Those blocs effectively function as the suburbs of Jerusalem.) The evacuation of a mere 8,100 Israelis from Gaza in 2005 required 55,000 IDF [Israel Defense Forces] troops -- the largest Israeli military operation since the 1973 Yom Kippur War -- and was profoundly traumatic."
Twenty-one Israeli settlements were dismantled; even the bodies of Israelis buried in Gaza were removed. After a deeply flawed 2006 election encouraged by the United States, there was in 2007 essentially a coup in Gaza by the terrorist organization Hamas. So now Israel has on its western border, 44 miles from Tel Aviv, an entity dedicated to Israel's destruction, collaborative with Iran and possessing a huge arsenal of rockets.
Rocket attacks from Gaza increased dramatically after Israel withdrew. The number of U.N. resolutions deploring this? Zero.
The closest precedent for that bombardment was the Nazi rocket attacks on London, which were answered by the destruction of Hamburg, Dresden and other German cities. When Israel struck back at Hamas, the "international community" was theatrically appalled.
A senior cabinet member -- Moshe Yaalon, strategic affairs minister and possible future prime minister -- says "our withdrawals strengthened jihadist Islam," adding, "We have the second Islamic republic in the Middle East -- the first in Iran, the second in Gaza: Hamastan."
Israel's withdrawals include the one that strengthened the Iranian client on Israel's northern border, in southern Lebanon. Since the 2006 war provoked by Hezbollah's incessant rocketing of northern Israel, Hezbollah has rearmed and possesses as many as 60,000 rockets. Today, Netanyahu says, Israel's problem is less the Israel-Lebanon border than it is the Lebanon-Syria border: Hezbollah has received from Syria -- which gets them from Iran -- Scud missiles capable of striking Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A leader of Hezbollah says, "If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."
Because upward of a million immigrants have come from the former Soviet Union, today one-sixth of Israelis speak Russian. Israel has Russian-language newspapers and television. Russian Israelis are largely responsible for Avigdor Lieberman being foreign minister. Yoram Peri, professor of Israel studies at the University of Maryland, says these immigrants "don't understand how a state that can be crossed in half an hour by car would be willing to even talk about relinquishing territories to its seemingly perpetual enemies." These immigrants know that Russia's strategic depth -- space -- defeated Napoleon and Hitler.
Netanyahu, who is not the most conservative member of the coalition government he heads, endorses a two-state solution but says that any West Bank Palestinian state must be demilitarized and prevented from making agreements with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. To prevent the importation of missiles and other arms, Israel would need, Netanyahu says, a military presence on the West Bank's eastern border with Jordan. Otherwise, there will be a third Islamic republic, and a second one contiguous to Israel.
So, again: Negotiations about what?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ayers, Dohrn helped organize flotilla group
By: Barbara Hollingsworth
Local Opinion Editor
06/02/10 5:51 PM EDT

Former Weather Underground leaders William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, as well as Code Pink founder Jodie Evans, helped organize the Free Gaza Movement, which launched the six-ship flotilla from Turkey to Israel that ended in a violent clash with Israeli Defense Forces, BigGovernment.com reported.

In January, the trio were spotted in Egypt attempting to stir up crowds on the streets with 1,400 other left-wing activists after the Egyptian government refused to allow Free Gaza Movement members to enter the Gaza Strip. About 100 marchers were eventually allowed to cross the border, where they were met by former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

BigGovernment quotes author Philip Weiss, who wrote that he witnessed Ayers and Dohrn arguing with fellow activists over whether to accept Egypt’s offer to allow a small number of them into Gaza:

“Dohrn said that the principle of ‘All or none’ was a miserable one for activist politics. You always took what you could get and kept fighting for more. A European man in a red keffiyeh screamed at her that she was serving the fascisti. Her partner Bill Ayers gently confronted him and asked him why he was so out of control. Between getting on and off the bus, Dohrn, who wore a flower in her hair, said that she didn’t like the absolutist certainty of the people on the other side of the police barricades, and having been in the Weather Underground, she knew something about absolutist feeling.”

As political theater, an argument between the aging flower child/domestic terrorist and a fellow traveler over who knew more about “absolutist feelings” would be hard to top.

This wasn’t the first time that the Free Gaza Movement, whose board of directors include well-known leftists Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein, sent vessels to Gaza to deliberately provoke a reaction from Israel.

“On August 23, 2008, two FG boats – one of them a 66-foot yacht named The Dignity – sailed from Cyprus to Gaza, where they docked and symbolically ‘broke’ the Israeli ‘siege’ when their passengers disembarked. The Israeli navy, seeking not to ignite international disapproval by intercepting the boats, made no attempt to stop them. The passengers, who were greeted by crowds of thousands in Gaza, claimed to be the first people to freely enter Gaza in 41 years,” according to David Horowitz.

“Two months later The Dignity made its second trip from Cyprus to Gaza, this time carrying 26 FG activists and some medical supplies. The yacht arrived at a Gaza port on October 29, 2008 – again with no resistance from the Israeli navy… FG made another voyage to Gaza in November 2008, when its members accused Israel of conducting ‘chemical warfare on Palestinian fishermen.’”

“On December 29, 2008, The Dignity, bound for Gaza, was loaded with 3.5 tons of Cypriot-donated medical supplies and 16 radical activists, including former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney. At the time, a major Israeli military offensive was taking place in Gaza, in retaliation for Hamas’ relentless rocket attacks against southern Israeli cities….Because of the tense situation, on this occasion the Israelis diverted The Dignity before it could arrive in Gaza.”

And if there’s any doubt that this was a political set-up instead of a humanitarian mission, the fact that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez promised to join a future convoy should dispel any doubts.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/ayers-dohrn-helped-organize-flotilla-group-95435639.html#ixzz0x43aF0qg

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From prof. Richard Rubenstein

Over the years, a
number of Muslim religious leaders, whom I regarded as "moderate," who were willing
to enter into dialogue with Jews and Christians at inter-religious
conferences. In no case was there one who did not look forward to the
eventual demise of the State of Israel and the reincorporation of its
territory into dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam. Example, two distinguished Muslim authorities, Professor Ismail
al-Faruqi (1921-1986) and Sheikh M. A. Zaki Badawi (1922-2006). Badawi, a
graduate of al-Azhar University in Cairo with a doctorate in Modern Muslim
Thought from the University of London, served as the principal of London's
Muslim College. In its obituary, the Guardian newspaper called him
"Britain's most influential Muslim."[i] He was also an Honorary Knight
Commander of the Order of the British Empire. One
evening, Zaki Badawi interrupted our train of conversation by unexpectedly
bringing up the subject of Israel. "They'll really have to go, you know," he
informed me. His wife, an English convert to Islam, added, "Like the
Crusades." He was unwilling to specify where they would go, save "back where
they came from." There was no point in arguing with him or ponting out the
genocidal subtext of his response. Other Muslim scholars had told me the
same thing, but none had his standing or authority. While Badawi lived he
was the Muslim representative who appeared with the Archbishop of Canterbury
Rowan Williams and the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sachs on ceremonial
occasions. Zaki Badawi was too skilled a diplomat publicly to advocate a
position on the Middle East with long-term genocidal consequences.

If I were a Muslim, I would claim that this land is, as stated in the
charter of Hamas, an irrevocable, sacred trust (waqf) granted by Allah for
all eternity to those who believe in him. (Avalon Project of the Yale Law
School, 'Hamas Covenant 1988,' Chapter 11,
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp .) " I am not Muslim. I
believe the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine is a zero-sum game. Any
concession Jews make will be treated with contempt as evidence of weakness
and serve as a goad to further demands until there is nothing left.

there is no such thing as an impartial international community, especially
where Jews are concerned. There are only states with different interests
which sometimes conflict. Unfortunately, all too many Jews do not
understand that when one is faced with a mortal foe who promises your
community annihilation-as all too many Muslims have done from the birth of
the State of Israel until today- then we owe such foes absolutely nothing,
because they have repeatedly announced in advance that they owe us nothing
and they will use your conscience, which restrains your action, as part of
their weapon against you.

Nevertheless, I don't believe in gratuitously destroying, but I most
certainly believe in doing whatever is necessary to make sure that Israel
has a relatively secure future. I would also add that one of the things
that Jews fail to understand - as Ben Gurion's understood about
mamlachtiyut, about sovereignty - when a people becomes an independent
nation, they entered into a situation in which war is always possible. If
an adversary cannot get what it wants through negotiation, it may attempt to
do so through war. Moreover, there are many ways of fighting a war. When
the Muslim world uses propaganda to defame Jews, it is fighting a war. When
it uses anti-Semitism to attack world Jewry, it is fighting a war. Its
logic is clear. It knows that world Jewry, more or less, supports the State
of Israel. Even if they don't agree politically, they still support it
financially. So, in order to destroy the State of Israel, they will do
their best to weaken, and perhaps, destroy world Jewry, and that's as plain
to me as can be. Unfortunately, Jews don't understand this, because they
have had no experience with sovereignty and politics for 2,000 years.

No such thing as a moderate Muslim scholar

Over the years, a
number of Muslim religious leaders, regarded as "moderate," who were willing
to enter into dialogue with Jews and Christians at inter-religious
conferences. In no case was there one who did not look forward to the
eventual demise of the State of Israel and the reincorporation of its
territory into dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam. Example, two distinguished Muslim authorities, Professor Ismail
al-Faruqi (1921-1986) and Sheikh M. A. Zaki Badawi (1922-2006). Badawi, a
graduate of al-Azhar University in Cairo with a doctorate in Modern Muslim
Thought from the University of London, served as the principal of London's
Muslim College. In its obituary, the Guardian newspaper called him
"Britain's most influential Muslim."[i] He was also an Honorary Knight
Commander of the Order of the British Empire. One
evening, Zaki Badawi interrupted our train of conversation by unexpectedly
bringing up the subject of Israel. "They'll really have to go, you know," he
informed me. His wife, an English convert to Islam, added, "Like the
Crusades." He was unwilling to specify where they would go, save "back where
they came from." There was no point in arguing with him or ponting out the
genocidal subtext of his response. Other Muslim scholars had told me the
same thing, but none had his standing or authority. While Badawi lived he
was the Muslim representative who appeared with the Archbishop of Canterbury
Rowan Williams and the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sachs on ceremonial
occasions. Zaki Badawi was too skilled a diplomat publicly to advocate a
position on the Middle East with long-term genocidal consequences.

It is not about what Israel does, its about her right to exist

Israel Through European Eyes

Every few months, Israel is publicly pilloried in the international media and on university campuses around the world for some alleged violation of human rights, real or imagined. Last month it was over an Israeli raid on a Turkish ship trying to run the blockade on Gaza, which left nine dead after the ship resisted seizure. A few months from now it will be over something else: Perhaps it will be over Israeli action against the Islamic terror state in Gaza, or against the Hizballah army in South Lebanon and its ever-growing mountain of missiles. Perhaps it will be over an Israeli strike on the Iranian or Syrian nuclear programs. Perhaps it will be over the destruction of an Iranian weapons ship at sea. Perhaps it will be over the revelation of an Israeli covert operation in an Arab country or in Europe or elsewhere. Perhaps it will be over an incident in an Israeli jail or at a roadblock in the West Bank. Perhaps it will be over the visit of an Israeli public figure to the Temple Mount, or the purchase and occupancy by Jews of a building in East Jerusalem. Perhaps it will be over something else.

But whatever the ostensible subject, and regardless of whether Israel’s political leaders and soldiers and spokesmen do their work as they should, we know for certain that the consequence of this future incident, a few months from now, will be another campaign of vilification in the media and on the campuses and in the corridors of power—a smear campaign of a kind that no other nation on earth is subjected to on a regular basis. We know we will again see our nation treated not as a democracy doing its duty to defend its people and its freedom, but as some kind of a scourge. We’ll again see everything that’s precious to us, and everything we consider just, trampled before our eyes. We’ll again have to experience the shame of having former friends turn their backs on us, and of seeing Jewish students running to dissociate themselves from Israel, even from Judaism, in a vain effort to retain the favor of digusted peers. And we’ll again feel the bite of the rising anti-Semitic tide, returned after its post-World War II hiatus.

All this has happened repeatedly, and we know it will happen again. Indeed, these outbursts have grown more vicious and effective with each passing year for a generation now. And there’s every reason to think this humiliating trend will continue, with next year worse than this one.

As to the reactions of Jews and other friends of Israel to these smear campaigns—as far as I can tell, the reactions haven’t really changed in the last generation either: My friends on the political left always seem to think that a change of Israeli policy could prevent these campaigns of vilification, or at least lessen their reach. My friends on the political right always seem to say that what we need is “better PR”.

No doubt, Israel could always stand to have better policies and better public relations. But my own view is that neither of these otherwise sensible reactions can help improve things, because neither really gets to the heart of what’s been happening to Israel’s legitimacy. Israel’s policies have fluctuated radically over the past 30 or 40 years, being sometimes better, sometimes worse. And the adroitness with which Israel presents its case in the media and through diplomatic channels has, likewise, been sometimes better, sometimes worse. Yet the international efforts to smear Israel, to corner Israel, to delegitimize Israel and drive it from the family of nations, have proceeded and advanced and grown ever more potent despite the many upturns and downturns in Israeli policy and Israeli PR.

Nothing could make this more evident than the Jewish withdrawal from Gaza and the subsequent establishment there of an independent and belligerent Islamic republic 40 miles from downtown Tel Aviv. Israelis and friends of Israel can reasonably be divided on the question of whether this withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, or the parallel withdrawal from the security zone in South Lebanon in 2000, was really in Israel’s interests, and whether the Jewish state is today better off because of them. But one thing about which we can all agree, I think, is that these withdrawals did nothing to stem the tide of hatred and vilification being poured on Israel’s head internationally. Whatever it is that is driving the trend toward the progressive delegitimization of Israel, it is a trend operating more or less without reference to any particular Israeli policy on any given issue.

To put this in slightly different terms, it’s not the maintenance of a security zone in South Lebanon, or Israeli control of the Gaza Strip, or a raid on a Turkish blockade runner’s boat that is reponsible for what is happening to Israel’s position on the world stage. These specific instances of Israeli policy are, for our opponents, nothing but symbols of something deeper and more hateful that they see revealed time and again when they look upon the state of Israel and its deeds. And until we understand what this deeper issue with Israel is, I believe we’ll remain powerless to understand the progressive growth of the hatred toward us—and powerless to fight it.

The rest of this letter will be devoted to trying to get at what that underlying objection to Israel is. This won’t be your usual op-ed piece on the subject because I don’t think the answers we want are accessible by looking at surface phenomena. I think we have to go much deeper. After I try to do that, I’ll say a few words about what I see as the only possible course of action if we are interested in ultimately reversing this trend.

...Notice that according to this view, it is not Israel that is the answer to Auschwitz, but the European Union: A united Europe will make it impossible for Germany, or any other European nation, to rise up and persecute others once again. In this sense, it is European Union that stands as the guarantor of the future peace of the Jews, and indeed, of all humanity.

So here you have two competing paradigms concerning the meaning of Auschwitz. In a sense, they’re each looking at the same facts: Both paradigms take it as a given that millions were murdered in Auschwitz by the Germans and their collaborators, that the deeds done there were utterly evil, and that Jews and others who died there were the helpless victims of this evil. But at this point, agreement ends. From here, precisely as Kuhn suggests, individuals looking at the same facts through different paradigms see utterly different things:

Paradigm A: Auschwitz represents the unspeakable horror of Jewish women and men standing empty-handed and naked, watching their children die for want of a rifle with which to protect them.

Paradigm B: Auschwitz represents the unspeakable horror of German soldiers using force against others, backed by nothing but their own government’s views as to their national rights and interests.

It’s important to see that these two views, which at first don’t even seem to be talking about the same thing, are actually describing points of view that are almost perfectly irreconcilable. In the one, it’s the agency of the murderers that is seen as the source of the evil; in the other, the powerlessness of the victims—a seemingly subtle difference in perspective that opens up into a chasm when we turn these competing paradigms in another direction and look at Israel through their eyes.

Here are the same two paradigms, now with their attention turned to Israel and what it represents:

Paradigm A: Israel represents Jewish women and men standing rifle in hand, watching over their own children and all other Jewish children and protecting them. Israel is the opposite of Auschwitz.

Paradigm B: Israel represents the unspeakable horror of Jewish soldiers using force against others, backed by nothing but their own government’s views as to their national rights and interests. Israel is Auschwitz.

In both paradigms, the fact of Israel takes on an extraordinary significance because of the identity of the Jews as the victims of the Shoah. For Israel’s founders, the fact that the survivors of the death camps and their children could be given weapons and permitted to train as soldiers under a Jewish flag seemed a decisive movement of the world toward what was just and right. It could in no sense make up for what had happened. But it was just nonetheless, granting the survivors precisely that empowerment that, had it come a few years earlier, would have saved their loved ones from death and worse. In this sense, Israel is the opposite of Auschwitz...
And this, I think, gives us the answer to the question with which we started. We want to know how it can be that at some very fundamental level, the facts don’t seem to matter any more: How it can be that even where Israel is undoubtedly in the right—not to mention the inevitable cases in which Israeli leaders or soldiers have performed poorly—the country can be pilloried in campaigns of vilification that bite deeper and hit harder with every passing year. How it can be that after the destruction of the Israeli security zone in South Lebanon, and after Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the hatred of Israel only grows more full-throated? The answer is that while hatred for Israel may, at a given moment, be focused quite sincerely on certain facts about the security zone or the Gaza Strip or the Turkish blockade runners, the trajectory of international disgust or hatred for Israel is just not driven by any of these facts. It is driven by the rapid advance of a new paradigm that understands Israel, and especially the independent Israeli use of force to defend itself, as illegitimate down to its foundations. If you believe that Israel is, in some important sense, a variant on Nazism, then you just aren’t going to be very impressed by “improvements” in Israeli policies or PR. An improved Auschwitz is still Auschwitz.

Perhaps you are asking yourself the following: If this is right, and the comparison between Israel and the most odious political movement in European history is hard-wired into the new paradigm of international politics that is quickly advancing upon us, then isn’t it the case that people who subscribe to this paradigm are going to be coming to the conclusion that Israel has no right to exist and should be dismantled?

To which I say: Of course this comparison leads to the conclusion that Israel has no right to exist and should be dismantled. And why not? If Germany and France have no right to exist as independent states, why should Israel? And if everyone is prepared to remain dry-eyed on the day the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are finally gone, why should anyone feel differently about Israel? On the contrary, while Jews and their friends continue to speak in dread of “Israel’s destruction,” this phrase is no longer feared among new-paradigmers of various stripes—some of whom are already permitting themselves to fantasize in public about political arrangements that will permit the Jewish state to cease to exist.[12]


Israel continues to be threatened militarily, first and foremost by Iran. But if Israel falls, it will not be by way of Iranian missiles. It will be by way of words, as the Soviet Union fell. Jews and non-Jews will simply cease to understand why such a state should exist—and then one day, with awesome speed, the independent Jewish state will be no more.

Those who are concerned to defend Israel on the battlefield are well aware that this involves a never-ending reassessment of the sources of danger and the means needed to meet new threats as they arise. On the battlefield of ideas, the state of Israel is today in danger as never before. But the danger isn’t coming from Israel’s traditional enemies and it can’t be fought using the traditional means. You can’t fight a paradigm with facts—because pretty much any facts you’ve got are either dismissed as irrelevant or absorbed into the new paradigm and reinterpreted in a way that only reinforces it. You can only fight a paradigm with a competing paradigm. And the paradigm that gave birth to Israel and which held it firm, both domestically and internationally, is today in tatters.

What can be done? A good start would be to read Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions—or to read it again if you read it in college. If you’re used to academic books, it’s an easy read. And if not, it’s a bit of an effort, but worth it. No book will give you a clearer insight into what’s happening to Israel today in the international arena, on the campuses, and even, to some extent, in Israel’s universities.

After that, we have to begin talking about what it takes to establish a new paradigm, or to rebuild an old one that has collapsed. There’s much to be said about this, and it’s not for now. But I’ll leave you with just this thought as a start on it: Paradigm shifts aren’t like an election campaign or a struggle over some aspect of policy, much less a short-term media battle like the one over the Turkish flotilla, which can be resolved one way or another in matter of weeks or months, if not days. Paradigm shifts are unusual in the lives of individuals. And when they happen, they often take years to work themselves out. For this reason, clashes between political paradigms tend to play themselves out over a generation or more. By the same token, the relevant media in which these clashes are played out aren’t the newspapers or television or the internet. By the time we’re reading the newspapers or watching CNN, we’ve already got our paradigm in place—just like the reporters we’re watching, who just keep reporting from within their own set paradigm, over and over again. When it comes to shifts of political paradigm, these take place principally through books, which expose people to an idea at length and in depth; and in schools, where such books are studied and discussed, especially universities. If we are interested in the reconstruction of the paradigm that has served as the foundation for Israel’s existence, that’s where the work is going to have to be done.

Please send your responses to yoram.hazony@shalem.org.il. I’ll be posting selected responses on my website, about which more soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Has U.S. Policy on Israel Changed Since the July 6 Obama-Netanyahu Summit?

Has U.S. Policy on Israel Changed

Since the July 6 Obama-Netanyahu Summit?

Zalman Shoval

* President Obama came into office with strong preconceptions about foreign policy and especially about the Arab-Israeli conflict. In Obama's view, the parameters of a future peace settlement were already clear. All that was necessary was to convince the Arab world that America was not in Israel's pocket.

* To prove it was not following Israel's lead, the Obama administration decided to force Israel to halt any construction over the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice Line), including within Jerusalem neighborhoods, taking a relatively peripheral issue and making it a decisive element in U.S.-Israel relations. There had been no settlement freeze in the Oslo Agreements, and the U.S. and Israel had reached bilateral understandings during the last decade that allowed Israel to address the needs of its citizens in the settlements without taking additional land in the process.

* The main result of the administration's new policy was to encourage the Palestinians to take more hard-line positions. Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas began to insist on preconditions for direct negotiations which never existed before. Palestinian leaders hoped that the Obama administration would lay its own plan on the table, which they expected would be closer to their positions than to those of Israel, and asked themselves: Why should we negotiate with Israel if the Obama administration might impose a peace settlement anyway?

* On Iran, the Obama administration felt that progress on the peace process would set the stage for an effective regional coalition against Tehran. The Israeli approach was the exact opposite, stressing that if Iran's nuclear program were neutralized, then that would set the stage for a real peace process, since that would weaken the most radicalized elements in the Arab world who sought to actively undermine any prospects for peace, especially Hamas, Hizbullah, and Syria.

* The Obama administration now appears to have concluded that the tactics it employed against the Netanyahu government were self-defeating. But it is premature to establish that it has revised its overall strategic outlook.

Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used to say, "What you see from here, you don't see from there" - meaning that there is a difference between how you understand the Middle East before you are in a position of power and how you perceive it when you are in office. Apparently, this truism also could be applied to the Obama administration.

President Obama came into office with strong preconceptions about foreign policy and especially about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Generally, he sought to be a transformative president in all areas: he wanted to transform America internally as well as America's relations with the world, even if it meant that in doing so he would create tensions with its traditional allies, like Britain and Israel. In his address in Cairo on June 4, 2009, he spoke about the need for "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world."

As with every new administration, Obama wanted to distinguish himself from his predecessor. He was going to stop what was, in his mind, the "imperial policy" of George W. Bush, based on global confrontation and unilateralism. His alternative was based on diplomatic engagement, even with America's worst enemies. The U.S. was going to rely more heavily on the UN and on operating multilaterally. This was more than just a shift in policy to define the Obama presidency differently from that of Bush. Obama's approach was part of his ideological world view through which he and his senior advisors hoped to redesign America's global strategy.

A key part of this strategy was emphasizing the prevention of nuclear proliferation in the world. In September 2009, Obama was the first president to chair a meeting of the UN Security Council which dealt with this very issue. Yet he is now learning how severe the problem is becoming. For example, not only Iran is making great strides in seeking nuclear weapons, but also Syria has not given up on this same quest, with the aid of North Korea. If the Iranian race for nuclear weapons will not be halted, it is now clear that the other states of the Middle East will aspire to obtain a nuclear military capability.

Obama and the Palestinian Issue

Unlike Clinton and Bush, Obama was determined to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issue right from the start of his administration. He raised it in his major speeches in Ankara, Cairo, and in his first address to the UN General Assembly. In Obama's view, the parameters of a future peace settlement were already clear. All that was necessary was to convince the Arab world that America was not in Israel's pocket. He still made references to Bush-era diplomatic initiatives, like the 2003 Roadmap and the 2007 Annapolis Conference. But he refused to acknowledge the 2004 U.S. letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, even though it had won bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. The first active step that the Obama administration decided to take to prove that it was not following Israel's lead on these issues was to force Israel to halt any construction over the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice Line), including within Jerusalem neighborhoods.

These new demands created difficulties within the Israeli and U.S. political systems. But they mainly involved taking a relatively peripheral issue and making it a decisive element in U.S.-Israel relations. It should be remembered that there was no settlement freeze in the Oslo Agreements and, nonetheless, they were signed by the PLO. The Quartet Roadmap of 2003 did include a freeze on natural growth of settlements, but the U.S. and Israel nonetheless reached bilateral understandings that allowed Israel to address the needs of its citizens in the settlements without taking additional land in the process.

The entire U.S.-Israel discussion about settlements in the past focused on the West Bank (and the Gaza Strip before 2005, when Israel pulled out). The U.S. did not insist on a settlement freeze in Jerusalem. Now it was demanding that Israel halt construction of Jewish homes not only in the West Bank, but in the eastern parts of Jerusalem as well. The freeze that the U.S. was demanding represented a sharp break from the past.

The main result of the administration's new policy was to encourage the Palestinian side to take more hard-line positions than in the past both with respect to Israel and the U.S. The Palestinian Authority head, Mahmoud Abbas, began to insist on preconditions for direct negotiations which never existed before. Nor did Obama obtain credit in the wider Arab world for his new policy. Pragmatic Arab leaders wanted a forceful American policy against Iran, which was their primary preoccupation. They were not ready to make gestures to Israel themselves. For example, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was not prepared to provide Obama with a quid pro quo from the Arab world in the event that Israel agreed to a settlement freeze. Worse still, the enemies of the U.S. in the Arab world viewed the new policy coming out of Washington as an indication of weakness.

The main purpose of Palestinian diplomacy, under these conditions, was to spark a U.S.-Israel crisis by entering into proximity talks with the Netanyahu government and have them end in failure. As a result, the Palestinian leaders hoped that the Obama administration would lay its own plan on the table, which they expected, not without reason, would be closer to their positions than to those of Israel. The Palestinians asked themselves: Why should we negotiate with Israel if the Obama administration might impose a peace settlement anyway?

As U.S. policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict failed to produce positive results, leading commentators began to question whether the stress the administration placed on resolving the conflict was misplaced. Aaron David Miller, who was involved in the peace process for two decades in the State Department, questioned in Foreign Policy if this was still a core issue.1 Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and formerly head of policy planning in the State Department, also argued, "it is easy to exaggerate how central the Israel-Palestinian issue is."2

Why, nonetheless, has the Obama administration stressed the Palestinian issue so much? The answer appears to be a combination of Obama's own ideological proclivities and his own reading of the U.S. national interest. Thus, in April 2010, he declared that conflicts like the one in the Middle East end up "costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure." He appeared to be making a link between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and America's war against radical Islamic groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While this harsh statement may have reflected the inner thinking of the administration, it eventually concluded that these tactics didn't work. There were internal political pressures in the U.S. to soften the tone on Israel, especially with the November 2010 mid-term elections coming up.

Obama and Iran

To many observers, it seems that the Obama administration's policy is really changing on the subject of Iran. On June 9, 2010, at long last, the U.S. reached a consensus in the UN Security Council and pushed through the adoption of new sanctions in UN Security Council Resolution 1929. On July 1, President Obama signed a bill imposing tough new U.S. sanctions against Iran that targeted exports of gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Tehran. It also banned U.S. banks from doing business with foreign banks providing services to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

Obama's diplomatic contacts also appeared to yield real results. Shortly after Resolution 1929 was adopted, the EU adopted new measures against Iran on July 26. Norway, Canada, Australia, and Japan all announced new steps against Iran, as well. The U.S. and Israel previously had real differences on Iran as the Israeli government was skeptical about engagement. It felt that new Western sanctions should have been put in place already in September 2009. Still, the Netanyahu government greeted the new U.S.-led actions positively.

One of the great U.S.-Israel differences was far more strategic. The Obama administration felt that progress on the peace process would set the stage for an effective regional coalition against Iran. The Israeli approach was the exact opposite: in Jerusalem, government officials often stressed that if Iran's nuclear program were neutralized, then that would set the stage for a real peace process, since that would weaken the most radicalized elements in the Arab world who sought to actively undermine any prospects for peace, especially Hamas, Hizbullah, and Syria. However, the U.S. and Israel never resolved their differences over regional strategic priorities.

Has the U.S. Administration Changed?

Speaking to a group of rabbis on May 13, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel frankly admitted that the White House had "screwed up the messaging" on Israel.3 In another statement expressing regret about administration policy towards Israel, President Obama himself admitted he got "some toes blown off" making missteps in sensitive U.S.-Israel relations, when speaking with Jewish Democratic members of Congress at a closed-door meeting.4

There have been some indications that the administration had learned some lessons from its almost obsessive focus on settlements. On July 7, a day after his summit meeting with Netanyahu at the White House, Obama gave an interview to Yonit Levy of Israel Channel 2 television, who tried to bring up the settlement issue:5

Question: Will you, by the way, extend - request that Israel extends that settlement freeze after September?

President Obama: You know, what I want is for us to get into direct talks. As I said yesterday, I think that if you have direct talks between Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), Netanyahu, their teams, that builds trust. And trust then allows for both sides to not be so jumpy or paranoid about every single move that's being made, whether it's related to Jerusalem or any of the other issues that have to be dealt with, because people feel as if there's a forum in which conflicts can get resolved.

Obama did not say that if the Israeli government refused to extend its ten-month settlement freeze, the U.S. would react harshly. He seemed to chastise the Palestinians for becoming paranoid "about every single move that's being made." His priority was to get to direct talks. But that did not mean that the administration's policy on construction in the settlements had changed. He also did not signal whether he was pulling back on his insistence on a freeze in construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of the eastern part of Jerusalem.

In short, the U.S. and Israel still have significant differences over the peace process and the issue of Iran. The Obama administration appears to have learned that the tactics it employed against the Netanyahu government were self-defeating. But it is premature to establish that it has revised its overall strategic outlook. President Obama's prioritization of an American effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to continue because he believes that it can transform the difficult relationship between America and the Islamic world that became sharper after 9/11. This approach by the administration is not a question of tactics, but rather a matter of world view. And it is likely to accompany the U.S.-Israel relationship in the months and perhaps years ahead.

* * *


1. Aaron David Miller, "The False Religion of Mideast Peace," Foreign Policy, May-June 2010, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/19/the_false_religion_of_mideast_peace

2. Richard N. Haass, "The Palestine Peace Distraction," Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704448304575196312204524930.html

3. Herb Keinon, "Emanuel to Rabbis: U.S. ‘Screwed Up'," Jerusalem Post, May 16, 2010, http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=175654

4. S.A. Miller, "Obama: Israel My 'Land Mine'," New York Post, May 19, 2010,


5. "Interview of the President by Yonit Levi, Israeli TV," White House, July 7, 2010, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/interview-president-yonit-levi-israeli-tv

* * *

Zalman Shoval, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel's Ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000. A veteran member of Israel's Knesset (1970-1981, 1988-1990), Ambassador Shoval was a senior aide to the late Moshe Dayan during his tenure as foreign minister in the Begin government, including during the first Camp David conference.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

why doesn't the left protest violent Islamic extremism?

Pilar Rahola (above) is a Spanish politician, journalist and activist and
member of the far left. Her articles are published in Spain and throughout
some of the most important newspapers in Latin America. She writes:

Why don't we see demonstrations against Islamic dictatorships in London,
Paris, Barcelona?

Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women
who live without any legal protection?

Why aren't there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs
where there is conflict with Islam?

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of Islamic
dictatorship in Sudan?

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed
against Israel?

Why is there no outcry by the European left against Islamic fanaticism?

Why don't they defend Israel's right to exist?

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian

And finally, the million dollar question:Why is the left in Europe and
around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United
States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The
two most solid democracies, which have suffered the bloodiest attacks of
terrorism, and the left doesn't care.

And then, to the concept of freedom. In every pro Palestinian European forum
I hear the left yelling with fervor: "We want freedom for the people!"

Not true. They are never concerned with freedom for the people of Syria or
Yemen or Iran or Sudan, or other such nations. And they are never pr
eoccupied when Hammas destroys freedom for the Palestinians. They are only
concerned with using the concept of Palestinian freedom as a weapon against
Israeli freedom. The resulting consequence of these ideological pathologies
is the manipulation of the press.

The international press does major damage when reporting on the question of
the Israeli-Palestinian issue. On this topic they don't inform, they

When reporting about Israel the majority of journalists forget the reporter
code of ethics. And so, any Israeli act of self-defense becomes a massacre,
and any confrontation, genocide. So many stupid things have been written
about Israel, that there aren't any accusations left to level against her.

At the same time, this press never discusses Syrian and Iranian interference
in propagating violence against Israel; the indoctrination of children and
the corruption of the Palestinians. And when reporting about victims, every
Palestinian casualty is reported as tragedy and every Israeli victim is
camouflaged, hidden or reported about with disdain.

And let me add on the topic of the Spanish left. Many are the examples that
illustrate the anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli sentiments that define the
Spanish left. For example, one of the leftist parties in-Spain has just
expelled one of its members for creating a pro-Israel website. I quote from
the expulsion document: "Our friends are the people of Iran, Libya and
Venezuela, oppressed by imperialism, and not a Nazi state like Israel."

In another example, the socialist mayor of Campozuelos changed Shoah Day,
commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, with Palestinian Nabka Day,
which mourns the establishment of the State of Israel, thus showing contempt
for the six million European Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

Or in my native city of Barcelona, the city council decided to commemorate
the 60th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel, by having a
week of solidarity wit h the Palestinian people. Thus, they invited Leila
Khaled, a noted terrorist from the 70's and current leader of the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization so described
by the European Union, which promotes the use of bombs against Israel.

This politically correct way of thinking has even polluted the speeches of
president Zapatero. His foreign policy falls within the lunatic left, and on
issues of the Middle East he is unequivocally pro Arab. I can assure you
that in private, Zapatero places on Israel the blame for the conflict in the
Middle East, and the policies of foreign minister Moratinos reflect this.
The fact that Zapatero chose to wear a kafiah in the midst of the Lebanon
conflict is no coincidence; it's a symbol.

Spain has suffered the worst terrorist attack in Europe and it is in the
crosshairs of every Islamic terrorist organization. As I wrote before, they
kill us with cell phones hooked to satellites connected to the Middle Ages.
An yet the Spanish left is the most anti Israeli in the world.

And then it says it is anti Israeli because of solidarity. This is the
madness I want to denounce in this conference.


I am not Jewish. Ideologically I am left and by profession a journalist. Why
am I not anti Israeli like my colleagues? Because as a non-Jew I have the
historical responsibility to fight against Jewish hatred and currently
against the hatred for their historic homeland, Israel. To fight against
anti-Semitism is not the duty of the Jews, it is the duty of the non-Jews.

As a journalist it is my duty to search for the truth beyond prejudice, lies
and manipulations. The truth about Israel is not told. As a person from the
left who loves progress, I am obligated to defend liberty, culture, civic
education for children, coexistence and the laws that the Tablets of the
Covenant ma de into universal principles.

Principles that Islamic fundamentalism systematically destroys. That is to
say that as a non-Jew, journalist and lefty I have a triple moral duty with
Israel, because if Israel is destroyed, liberty, modernity and culture will
be destroyed too.

The struggle of Israel, even if the world doesn't want to accept it, is the
struggle of the world.

Friday, August 13, 2010

record tourism

Tourism to Israel Reaches All-Time High - Ron Friedman (Jerusalem Post)
Israel's Tourism Ministry announced Monday that 280,000 people visited Israel in July, 11% higher than last July and an all-time record for the month.
1.9 million tourists arrived between January and July, an increase of 34% over the same period last year, and 10% more than in 2008 - a record year for tourism.
According to a survey, 34% of tourists in 2009 were Jewish and 58% were Christian. 52% were repeat visitors.

still firing rockets

120 Rockets and Mortars Fired at Israel from Gaza in First Six Months of 2010 - Talia Wissner-Levy
Rockets from Gaza continue to be fired at Israel. Since the beginning of 2010 until the end of July, 120 rockets and mortars were launched at Israel by Palestinians from Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)

fake graves for land stealing

•Jerusalem Muslim Cemetery Hoax
Around 300 Muslim gravestones destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in a Jerusalem cemetery earlier this week were set up in the last few months in a bid to snatch government land, the Jerusalem Municipality charged on Thursday. "The municipality and the (Israel Lands) Authority destroyed around 300 dummy gravestones which were set up illegally in Independence Park on public land. The court approved the removal of all the dummy gravestones which were laid in the last seven months," the municipality said in a statement. "This is a fraudulent set-up, one of the biggest in recent years, whose aim is to illegally take over state land." Underneath the tombstones excavators found only "plastic bottles, cigarette packets and parts of a sprinkler system," the statement said. It accused "Islamic elements" of trying to pull off a huge scam. (AFP)
•French Minister Calls Israeli Boycott a "Crime"

Addicted to pity

•Palestinian Refugees: Frozen in Time, Addicted to Pity - Robert Fulford
Palestinian refugees are a special case. For many reasons, various populations across the planet are displaced; only the Palestinians cling to their "refugee" status decade after decade. Members of other history-battered groups choose to make a new life. Palestinians have a different approach: Sit down, wait, stay angry till the world provides for you.
British historian Andrew Roberts has argued, correctly, that Arab governments "are rich enough to have economically solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago." Why haven't they done so? They much prefer to let Palestinians remain poor. Every wretched, ill-fed and ill-housed [and un-educated] Palestinian can be used as a living rebuke to Israel.
The Arab countries love the Palestinians. They just don't want them moving permanently into their neighborhoods. The Arab League advises Arab states to deny citizenship to Palestinians. The Palestinians deserve pity, of course, but pity for what their fellow Arabs have done to them. (National Post-Canada)

9-11 mosque Iran's idea?


An Iranian Connection to the Cordoba House Ground Zero Mosque?

Why has the Cordoba website just removed a photograph of Iranian Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the High Council for Human Rights in Iran? The unanswered questions keep mounting.

A Cordoba-Iranian connection? What exactly is “Islamicity”?

More questions have arisen about the attempt to build a mosque adjacent to Ground Zero, as part of the so-called Cordoba Initiative. In particular, why has the Cordoba website just removed a photograph of Iranian Mohammad Javad Larijani, secretary-general of the High Council for Human Rights in Iran? Is the move an attempted cover-up of their Iranian connections?

Two weeks ago the Cordoba Initiative website featured a photograph of the project’s chairman, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, and Iranian Mohammad Javad Larijani at an event that the Initiative sponsored in Malaysia in 2008. This week, the photograph, which appears below, has disappeared.

Larijani was the Iranian representative who defended Iran’s abysmal human rights record before the UN Human Rights Council in February and June of this year. Among other things, Larijani told the Council: “Torture is one thing and punishment is another thing. … This is a conceptual dispute. Some forms of these punishments should not be considered torture according to our law.” By which he meant flogging, amputation, stoning, and the criminalization of homosexuality, which are all part of Iranian legal standards. Larijani added: “Iran [has a] firm commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights. … The Islamic Republic of Iran … is a democracy,” which would be news to the pro-democracy activists murdered or confined to Iranian prisons since last year’s fraudulent elections.

The Iranian connection to the launch of Cordoba House may go beyond a relationship between Rauf and Larijani. The Cordoba Initiative lists one of its three major partners as the UN’s Alliance of Civilizations. The Alliance has its roots in the Iranian-driven “Dialogue Among Civilizations,” the brainchild of former Iranian President Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Mohammad Khatami. Khatami is now a member of the High-level Group which “guides the work of the Alliance.” His personal presidential qualifications include the pursuit of nuclear weapons, a major crackdown on Iranian media, and rounding up and imprisoning Jews on trumped-up charges of spying. Alliance reports claim Israel lies at the heart of problems associated with “cross-cultural relations,” since the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and “Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories … are primary causes of resentment and anger in the Muslim world toward Western nations.”

In addition, a Weekly Standard article in July suggested that the idea of building an Islamic memorial in lower Manhattan may have originated back in 2003 with two Iranian brothers: M. Jafar “Amir” Mahallati, who served as ambassador of the Iranian Islamic Republic to the United Nations from 1987 to 1989, and M. Hossein Mahallati.

Also pictured at the same Cordoba-sponsored meeting is U.S. representative to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Sada Cumber. The meeting was part of the Initiative’s so-called “Shariah Index Project,” a plan to rank and measure the “Islamicity” of a state or “how well … nations comply in practice with this Islamic legal benchmark of an Islamic State.”

In July of last year, Cordoba chief Rauf was interviewed by a reporter for Abu Dhabi Media about the Shariah Index Project. He told The National, “Determining Islamic principles had been the easy part.” Easy, but not available for examination to the residents of New York City or to the loved ones of 9/11 victims. Despite multiple references to the Initiative’s publication more than a year ago of a book “on the concept of measuring a nation’s ‘Islamicity,’” a request for a copy of the book made directly to the New York-based Cordoba Initiative resulted in a denial of the book’s existence.

The unanswered questions keep mounting.

Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute, Director of the Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College, and the Editor of www.EYEontheUN.org. She is the author or editor of 12 books and numerous articles in the field of human rights, and a frequent contributor to newspapers in the U.S., Europe, Israel and Canada.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No thanks Avrum Burg-stay away

Avrum Burg Planning Political Comeback

Avrum Burg, previous head of the Jewish Agency, former Knesset member, former Speaker of the Knesset, founding member of the far-left Peace Now, and presently a director of the New Israel Fund, has announced his planned comeback to Israeli politics . He has previously called upon all Jews worldwide to sever their ties with the State of Israel, and stated publicly that he does not believe in G-d (despite the kippah on his head), that Israel is not a democracy and that the State should be divided in two: a Palestinian state, next to a "state of all its citizens" with an Arab majority.

After leaving Israeli politics in 2004, Burg acquired French citizenship in 2007 and called on all eligible Israelis to obtain foreign passports.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arab dangerous public opinion

Can You Handle The Truth?: Poll Shows The Shocking Reality of Arab Public Opinion
By Barry Rubin*

August 10, 2010


We depend on your contributions. To make a tax-deductible donation through PayPal or credit card, click the Donate button in the upper-right hand corner of this page. To donate via check, make it out to "American Friends of IDC," with "for GLORIA Center" in the memo line. Mail to: American Friends of IDC, 116 East 16th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10003.
This is one of those stories about the Middle East that is totally amazing but not the least bit surprising. What, you ask, do I mean? From the standpoint of the way the region is portrayed in the West this information is incredible but if you understand the area it is exactly what you'd expect.

I'm referring here to the recent 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll conducted by Zogby International and the University of Maryland for the Brookings Institution. Note that this poll was only done in relatively moderate countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates,

Here are some of the main findings:

--Arab views "hopeful" about the Obama Administration policy in the Middle East declined from 51 to 16 percent between 2009 and 2010, while those "discouraged" rose from 15 to 63 percent. Why? Because while the Obama Administration tried to flatter Arabs and Muslims, go all-out to support the Palestinians, distanced themselves from Israel, and took other steps it was not deemed sufficient.

Nothing the United States did would persuade the audience because of such factors as: different ideologies and ambitions, clashes of interest, the filter of government and Islamist propaganda, and excessively high demands. While the populations are "discouraged" with the administration largely due to their radicalism, the regimes are unhappy with it because they feel the U.S. government isn't strong enough in opposing such enemies as revolutionary Islamism and Iran.

Still, unless U.S. policy comes to resemble that of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, many or most Arabs will continue to be bitter and angry. Obama's levels of support among Arabs are not that different from those of his predecessor.

--What about perceptions of threat? Same story. Those thinking Israel is a huge threat is at 88 percent (down slightly from 95 percent in 2008) showing that overall hostility just doesn't go away. Do you think that any conceivable Israeli policy would change this fact?

Note that while it is would not be surprising if Arabs see Israel as an enemy generally or as being mean to the Palestinians, for Jordanians, Saudis, and Egyptians to describe Israel as the greatest threat to their own countries shows something beyond rational calculation is involved. The prevalent idea is that Israel wants to take over the Middle East or wipe out Islam or destroy the Arabs. This makes a lasting compromise, comprehensive, and friendly peace rather unlikely.

--What about the United States? Here, too, Obama's efforts have failed. The idea that the United States is the other main threat to Arab countries and societies declined from 88 percent under George W. Bush at the end of his term to "only" 77 percent under Obama in 2010. Given the dramatic change in personality and policy this amounts to nothing.

--As for Iran being a threat, this view among the Arabs polled grew from 7 percent in 2008 to a "whopping" 13 in 2009 and then down to 10 percent in 2010. In other words, the Arab masses believe the United States is about eight times more of a threat than Iran. Indeed, if you add in those nine percent of the Arabs polled who view the United Kingdom as the real danger, 86 percent see Washington or London as the greatest threat to themselves. Again, the ruling elites have a different view but no wonder they are so cautious about opposing Iran or lining up with the United States.

--Asked which foreign leader they most admire, almost 70 percent name an Islamist or a supporter of that movement's forces: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan (20), Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (13), Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (12), Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah (9), Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (7), Usama bin Ladin (6), and the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (2).

No relatively moderate Arab leader has any significant international following. And note that two non-Arab Middle Easterners (Erdogan and Ahmadinejad) score so high, showing a decline in Arab nationalism that would have been unthinkable during the 1950-2000 era.

Unfortunately, these and other findings reflect the realities of the Arabic-speaking world: the hegemony of radicalism among the masses, passionate hatred for Israel and the West, and lack of sympathy for democracy or liberalism. And the overall trend is to make things even worse, since there is so much positive feeling toward revolutionary Islamism rather than even militant Arab nationalism.

Presumably, of course, Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and others would have expressed support for their own regimes, so this poll should not necessarily be read as implying support for revolution at home. Yet it certainly--like other such polls--indicates backing for terrorism, extremism, and anti-Westernism in regional terms.

The idea that appeasement, concessions, and flattery will make a big shift has been proven wrong in fact and practice, though no doubt the mythology that Obama has transformed America's position in the region will persist among the very elites and "experts" who should know better. Indeed, this is precisely the way the poll was spun on its being released. The clear effort is to portray the problem as one of U.S. policy even under Obama being too friendly toward Israel, as if no other issue in the region existed.

If Arabs are so passionate in their belief that the United States and UK are a threat to their countries, support in large numbers the Islamist transformation of large parts of the region, think Israel is so profoundly dangerous, and are friendly toward an adventurous, expansionist Iranian regime, can someone possibly be so naive to think that bashing Israel or creating a non-Islamist Palestinian state is going to defuse that deeply and passionately held world view?

Yet this is precisely how the poll was spun by the Brookings Institution: as showing the United States wasn't doing enough to distance itself from Israel. Forget about Islamism versus nationalism, poverty, inequality for women, corruption, repression, the war in Iraq, Iran's nuclear weapons' drive, nearly universal dictatorship, Kurds and Berbers, the growing gap between the Arabic-speaking world and the West or even the faster-progressing states of Latin America and Asia, terroristic violence, and every other issue in the region. We are constantly told that the only thing of any importance is the Palestinian issue.

What are the Arabic-speaking world's real problems?

--A failure of Arab statist dictatorships and Arab nationalist ideology which promised so much and delivered so little. The results include repression, corruption, and far lower living standards (except in low-population, high oil-production Gulf states) than might exist otherwise.

--A stifling traditional culture that clashes with modernity without finding some hybrid solution. This gives rise to the attractive slogan that "Islam is the solution" which promotes an effort to turn the clock back parallel to what happened in past Western societies (the Counter-Reformation, the post-1815 anti-democratic reaction, fascism) and Japan (the revival of feudal military ideology that led to Pearl Harbor).

--The regimes' effort to use violence, scapegoating of the West and Israel, elements of Islamist ideology, and intransigence to win mass support. (Though when one sees the poll figures this is understandable.)

--Internal group conflicts among Sunni, Shia, and Kurds, among other group and regional quarrels.

--The failure to achieve fully integrated states which are sabotaged by pan-Arab and pan-Islamic doctrines.

This is only a partial list. Yet one thing is clear: whether by force or appeasement, seeking popularity or advertising for their own way of life, Western countries cannot solve these problems. The only solution is internal and it will take decades at best. What the West can do is to defend itself, help the most relatively moderate forces (both governments and mass opposition movements as in Lebanon and Iran), and stand up for its own values.

The worst thing it can do is to practice appeasement, a policy that seems to prove the radicals right about Western cowardice and admitted sinfulness, thus inspiring them to more aggression and a stronger popular base of support. Apology and retreat appears to confirm the dysfunctional revolutionary ideologies and favor the revolutionary forces. In the face of the radical advance and Western retreat, demoralized moderates rush to get good surrender terms or join the mob.

Transformation to something better can only come when Arabs and Iranians conclude that the revolutionary road doesn't work and is wrong. Teaching them that it does work and that they are right to pursue it will lengthen the period of change and cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

As long as there is a huge gap between the actual Middle East and the fantasy Middle East so dear to many Western academics, journalists, and diplomats, the region will remain incomprehensible and Western policies will not engage with reality.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the M

Thursday, August 5, 2010

they weren't there then

Israeli Sense of Humor at UN

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly which made the world community smile. A representative from Israel began: "Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath!' He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had

vanished. A Palestinian had stolen them."

The Palestinian representative jumped up furiously and shouted: "What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren't there then."

The Israeli representative smiled and said, "And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech."