Saturday, November 29, 2008

Antecedents and follow-ups to Munbai.

 

by Raphael Israeli

 

The events of Munbai,  the “surprise” they  caused, the clumsy fashion they were treated, and  the almost glorifying attitude meted out to them by the world media, demonstrate, 7 years after September 11, that little was learned in the West from them while the pledges of Islamic terrorism to pursue its novel strategy  proved credible and feasible. For, after Madrid, London, Bali and other acts of mega-terrorism, the west still hesitates to  pronounce the M- word , and talks about “Militants” , who draw sympathy in the Islamic world, instead of condemning them as Muslim terrorists and try to rally moderate governments worldwide in support of the war against them. Moreover, instead of vigorously rejecting the Muslim notion of jihad, in the name of which all these horrors are done, the West has been indulging in the vain distinction between Islam and “Islamism”, ignoring the fact that they are one and the same faith and that jihad is the language of both.

 

Abu-‘Ubeid Qurashi, one of the aides of Osama Bin Laden, published after September 11 in the Arabic press and in the al-Qa’ida site on the Internet, a stunning article regarding his organization’s strategy in its unseemly confrontation with the US and western civilization in general. This article demonstrates that not only do those champions of evil do their home work adequately, and that they are equipped with the requisite patience, sophistication and methodical thinking, the fruits of which were seen in the deadly precision of their operation against the Twin Towers, but that  western democracies have something to learn in the war against terror. For it transpires that the Muslim terrorist organizations which have been waging war against  the West directly are inspired by al-Qa’ida  war doctrine, and it is not too early to try to comprehend their schemes.  Qurashi, who has obviously  studied the most recent  western research in matters of the future battlefields and war doctrines, has come up with conclusions that are alarming: first, that the era of massive wars has ended, because the three war models of previous generations have been eroded;  second, the fourth-generation wars of the 21st century will consist of asymmetrical  confrontations between well-armed and well-equipped armies, who have a turf, a way of life and material interests to defend, and therefore are clumsy -- against small groups armed with light weaponry only, who have no permanent bases and are on the move at all times. Thirdly, in these wars, the main target is not the armed forces, but civil society that has to be submitted to harassment and terror to the point of detaching it from the army that fights in its defense; and fourthly, that television is more important than armored divisions in the battlefield. The Twin Towers, the terrorist explosions in London and Bali, the Israeli confrontation with Hamas and Hizbullah on its borders,  and now Munbai, show how these doctrines can be rendered operational.

 

This war doctrine lies in the gray zone between war and peace. Namely  those who initiate this kind of war, e.g. by wanton terrorism, would not declare it openly, and would leave it to the defenders to announce war and thereby become the “aggressors”. The terrorists themselves would create atrocities that are sure to attract the attention of television so as to “strike fear in the heart of the enemy” (a Qur’anic prescription), and enable them to retreat to their bases, if they can, or sacrifice themselves in what the dismayed victims wrongly call “suicide bombings”, for there is no suicide there, only large scale killing of the enemy even if it involves  large scale self-sacrifice. But when the victim strikes back in self-defense, television can again be counted on to show the “abuses” of the “aggressor” and create sympathy for the cause of the terrorists, like in Afghanistan and Gaza.  On television, the huge armies which crush everything in their path will always look more threatening than the “poor”, “frustrated” “freedom fighters” who are “oppressed” and “persecuted” by far superior troops. Thus, the author could show that small groups of poorly equipped  Mujahideen have been able throughout the past two decades to defeat super- and lesser powers: the Soviets in Afghanistan, the US in Somalia, Russia in Chechnia and Israel in Lebanon and then in Gaza. According to this analysis, the three major components of modern warfare are: early warning, the ability to strike preventively, and deterrence -- exactly the elements that were paralyzed by al-Qa’ida on 11 September. As for the early warning, the writer claims that the terrorists have achieved a strategic surprise, in spite of American technology, on the scale of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, or of the Nazi attack against the Soviet Union in June 1940, the assault on the Cole in Aden in 2000, and the Suez crossing in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. On the basis of the above analysis, the terrorists were able to deliver a deadly blow on September 11, and levy on the Americans a very heavy economic and psychological price. The ability to deliver a preventive strike is linked, in the mind of Qurashi, to the issue of early warning, because when the latter fails, then a preventive strike becomes irrelevant. But even if it had worked, there would have been no one to strike against in retaliation, as the terrorists are small groups, hidden and mobile. And finally – deterrence totally collapses in the face of the asymmetry between an institutionalized state which  values life and a desire to live and prosper, and a group of Mujahideen who are indifferent to life, and indeed desirous to perish in the Path of Allah and attain the delights of Paradise. Thus, since nothing can deter them, they can always determine, against all odds, when, where, how,  what, and whom to strike, without fearing that anyone will retaliate against them[i].

 

It is harrowing to reflect on how applicable this doctrine is in our daily lives, starting with the Middle East, but going to the periphery of the Islamic world, in places like Australia and Canada.  For example, the Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is linked to al-Qa’ida, not only ideologically, has had some successes, but has also exported this doctrine to the Muslim terrorist movements in the Palestinian Territories, such as the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Moreover, “secular” organizations such as the Tanzim and the Aqsa Brigades have been converted to these tactics, once Arafat’s call for martyrdom, with himself at the helm, had become the favorite form of struggle against Israel. There is, however, a way to  counter every deed or doctrine, with a view of reducing its effect, thereby immunizing western society from its deadly threat and eliminating the terror it imposes on all civilized people. For example, if the terrorists intend to  detach Western societies from their armed forces, an area where they have been partly successful by inculcating doubts into the publics by supporting protest movements from within, perhaps it is time for these societies to realize that they have been unwittingly used by their enemies to attain their ends: to dismantle national unity, to incite publics against their governments and to play into the hands of the terrorist subversive doctrine. If television is a declared means to discredit Western societies and their systems of defense,  the media should not be allowed to the battlefield  until the end of hostilities.  Perhaps it is better for governments to be accused of obstructing the media than to let them document the asymmetry between  the established strong defenders of freedom and the weaker terrorists in the field.

 

If terrorism has adopted the recourse of fighting by using Islamikaze "martyrdom", because there is arguably nothing to be done against “suicide-bombers”, each of whom can terrorize and paralyze an entire public,  then it is necessary to demonstrate, like President Bush, that we are facing not a war against individuals who are desirous of death, and whom we cannot bring to justice when they succeed in their task, but against those who train them, dispatch them, arm them, indoctrinate them, support them and finance them. And that as long as we keep them on the run, they will be less able to concoct and carry out their dark and cruel schemes against the West.  That Islamists pursue their campaign of intimidation against the West  is not new, but what does seem surprisingly new, compared with the legendary  fighting spirit of the British, is the seeming capitulation of European capitals to their tormentors, and the baffling incomprehension they exhibit of the Islamist phenomenon which has repeatedly declared itself so clearly inimical to them. Just consider the spirit of dhimmitude which has inundated the entire West due to its much-cultivated dependence on Muslim oil and the  humiliating consequences thereof. This state of mind, which dictates caution, surreptitious maneuvering in order to survive, and a self-humiliating sycophancy toward the Muslim rulers in the hope of gaining their favor, has been inherited from many centuries of Islamic rule on vast swaths of Christendom, from Sicily to the Iberian Peninsula, from the Balkans to the gates of Vienna. This aggressive Islam which attempted, but failed, to Islamize Europe in the past, had also subjected large Christian communities to the dhimmi regime  in the Near East that was conquered by the emerging new faith of Islam: like the Copts in Egypt, the Assyrians in Iraq, the Maronites in Lebanon,  and countless other Christian communities which first became subjugated majorities and then systematically persecuted minorities in their own countries. This  amounted, after many centuries of oppression and contempt by the rule of Islam, to a self-diminution of the dhimmis -- a loss of their pride  and confidence in themselves that they did not stand up to the standards set for them by their rulers, and a total distortion of their self-image and the image of their oppressors. So much so, that many Christians and Jews, years after being liberated from dhimmitude, continued to think and act as dhimmis, namely to hold themselves grateful to their Muslim masters, who beat, humiliated, and mistreated them. Any observer of the international arena today would have noticed how Western and Israeli policy-makers sycophantly  submit to Muslim demands even when they are not compelled to.[ii]

 

What is more, the spirit of dhimmitude has been adopted, or taken over, by many Western societies today which, for reasons hard to understand or explain, pretend not to hear or comprehend Muslim threats. Instead,  Western societies evince "understanding" in the face of those threats, and seem to be marching foolishly toward spiritual and cultural capitulation and enslavement. Take, for example, the regime of self-defense and of intruding into the privacy of the air-passengers, which has been imposed in airports all over the world in the past three decades due to Muslim terrorism. Instead of prosecuting it and eliminating it at its roots, the West surrendered to it and adopted, at considerable financial, human and moral cost, measures to live with it in what has amounted to submission to a mammoth collective punishment of innocents.[iii]  Even more ominous is the wholehearted and  even enthusiastic support of Europeans to Muslim fundamentalists on their own turf, when they rushed to sustain Bosnians and Kosovars  and other Albanian Muslims in Macedonia, that have been supported, financed and trained by revolutionary Iran; and when many Muslim volunteers from Chechnia to North Africa and the Middle East were recruited to fight  a jihad for their cause. Again foolishly,  the West let  Muslim jihad  take root on the continent  while emphasizing the  Serbian  ethnic cleansing (abhorrent in itself), thus causing the severance of Christian continuity between  Russia and Central Europe to the Aegean Sea, by creating and sustaining a continuous string of revived Muslim presence from former Yugoslavia  to Turkey, hoping thereby to extend the Turkish model of "Islamic  moderation" and salvaging the European borders from a Muslim onslaught.  As it turned out Kosovo  was totally subtracted  from Serbia under UN auspices, while in Turkey a Muslim fundamentalist party took over government  in 2002[iv].

 

Standing up to the menace of world Islam,  in unison by all Western and other non-Muslim  cultures,  has then become the key to successful struggle against it. For even Muslim regimes who cooperate with the West, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, have a problem of legitimacy in their own countries, and their populace usually takes the pro-Jihadi stance against the policy of their governments. Even in the cases where legitimacy was addressed through democratic elections, like in Pakistan and Turkey, large parts of the population remain anti-American and resent Western involvement in their countries. That means that clearer borders have to be traced between those who give shelter to terrorists, even if half-heartedly, and those who defend themselves against them.

 

 



[i] .Al- Quds al-'Arabi  (London), February 9, 2002, in  Memri 344,  February 10,  2002.

[ii] . See Bat Ye'or's classic  books  on this theme:  Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide  (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison 2002); The Decline of Eastern Christianity  Under Islam,( Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 1996); and Eurabia, (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 2005).

 

[iii] . Ibid.

[iv] . R. Israeli, “From Bosnia to Kosovo: the Re-Islamization of the Balkans”, Ariel Center for Policy Research, No. 109, November 2000, pp. 1-33.

 

 

Raphael Israeli

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Friday, November 28, 2008

In Defence of the Six Day War.

by Mustafa Latif-Aramesh

Preemption is within the law.

 

It isn’t enough to read a United Nations General Assembly resolution and to conclude that Israel is an aggressor. It also isn’t enough to read an article on Wikipedia. What a person must do is look under every stone and realise the dirt that lies beneath. The Six Day War, a war which unarguably set the agenda of Israel’s future borders, isoften used as example of Israel breaking international law, but this is truly a farce.

Customary international law (that is, the law set by what states do in lawful practice) stated, before the UN Charter, that there was a doctrine of self-defence which could be summarised thus: a state must comply with two conditions - 1) necessity, to the degree that the threat was “overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation”; and 2) proportionality, which “must be limited by that necessity, and kept clearly within it.”

The UN Charter was then developed and Article 51 stated that nothing “shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs....” The key point that has caused debate in the law forum is whether or not this means that a state can exercise preemptive self-defence. One view is that the “right” that the article is talking about can only be used once an attack has happened. However, so-called counter-restrictionists say that, because of the aforementioned laws set in customary international law and the absence there of a clause that says “only if an armed attack occurs,” it means preemption is within the law. This is also the most logical view to take. If the first interpretation of Article 51 is taken seriously, then Israel would be destroyed. We have seen the consequences of not preempting in 1973, when 2,000 Israelis died as a result of Arab aggression.

Keeping in mind the conditions of a defensive war, we can clearly see that Israel complies. The "necessity" condition can be seen in light of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s actions and speeches, which fueled even more raids in Israel proper. President Nasser and his allies began their threats; one stated that civilian towns should be turned into “dust” and another asserted that that no “Jewish survivors” would be left. Nasser and his allies, of course, didn’t just talk, they acted. Egypt then gave clear justification for acts of war (casus beli) when they blocked the Straits of Tiran, which violated the Laws of the Sea. A peace-keeping UN force was stationed in the Sinai; Nasser ordered them out, and Syria and Egypt massed their troops on the borders of Israel.

All of these actions, Nasser knew, “meant war” and one of his commanders stated “this is a declaration of war.” Thus, Israel complied with “necessity”; Israel did not want its citizens to be killed and Egypt's provocative actions were clear signs of war. Israel then preempted with “proportionality,” only striking the air force which could wipe its “Zionist existence.” The war then spread to fronts outside the Israel-Egyptian one.

Israel sent several messages to Jordan saying it had no desire to fight with that state, even though the Old City of Jerusalem was under Jordanian occupation. Hostilities were then started by the Arab Legion; Israel could then act within its right of Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Anti-Israelis would then point to United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which states the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” But this is in reference to a offensive war. As the former International Court of Justice Judge Stephen Schwebel notes, there is a difference “between aggressive conquest and defensive conquest, between the taking of territory legally held and the taking of territory illegally held.” If one were to believe that 242 referred to Israel, it would contradict not only international law (the principal ex iniuria non oritur ius) but security interests, because it would assert that before “secure recognised boundaries” are set, a state may have back all the land which it could use for another attack.

Conclusively, Israel acted within international law and the land that it has seized from Jordan (namely, the West Bank) was won in a defensive war. No other country has better title to it, and the occupation will not end as long as it is essential to the security of Israel and until a peace deal has been signed.

Mustafa Latif-Aramesh is an Afghani who says he is "surprisingly, pro-Israeli."

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Islamophobia.

by Isi Leibler

The interfaith conference of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia which took place under the auspices of the United Nations received wide acclamation. President Shimon Peres went to the lengths of telling the Assembly that he wished that "King Abdullah's voice would become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people". The World Jewish Congress published a full page advertisement in The New York Times praising the monarch who leads one of the most oppressive and anti-Semitic regimes in the world.

To their credit, the Saudis were upfront about Israel, stressing that Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were present by virtue of their UN membership and not by Saudi invitation, and that the King would not engage in any contact with them. And, despite his somewhat servile remarks in praise of Abdullah, Peres was strongly criticized by the Saudi foreign minister.

As a reward for groveling to King Abdullah, the World Jewish Congress was invited to the conference after the Saudis had the chutzpa to brazenly inform them that major Jewish organizations - including the American Jewish Committee, the Presidents Conference, and the Anti Defamation League - were "too political" and would thus be excluded! It was shameful and unprecedented for a reputable Jewish organization to participate at an interfaith conference at which outsiders like the Saudis were able to veto who represents the Jewish people.

It was even more outrageous that the Jews who did participate in the event failed to challenge the behavior of the Saudi regime or even relate to the vicious anti-Semitism which dominates Saudi society. After all, it was Wahhabi preachers from Saudi Arabia who initially provided the inspiration for al Qaeda, until the latter turned on the Saudi leaders, accusing them of corruption and collusion with the US and Western world. To this day, Saudi money is utilized to promote global jihad.

This interfaith activity must also be viewed in the context of the global campaign launched by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the umbrella body representing 57 Moslem states, to criminalize any criticism of Islam - including Shar'ia law.

The members of the OIC include the most tyrannical and repressive states in the world. Many deny human rights to their own citizens and brutally persecute non-Islamic religious minorities, denying them freedom of worship. Even purportedly moderate Islamic countries such as Egypt endorse domestic campaigns inciting their citizens to hatred of non-Islamic minorities, concentrating in particular on promoting the crudest forms of anti-Semitism.

Some of these countries, like Saudi Arabia, also seek to globally extend the application of Shar'ia law, which incorporates barbaric practices such as stoning adulterous women to death, decapitating blasphemers, homosexuals and apostates, and cutting off limbs as punishment for petty theft.

The OIC bitterly complains that Islamophobia in Western countries is rampant and escalating. Yet taking into account that global terrorism today emanates overwhelmingly from Islamic fundamentalists - including those born and bred in the societies hosting them - it is surely a tribute to Western communities that they continue to peacefully co-exist with their Moslem minorities.

Without detracting from the obligation to combat hatred against Moslems and all minorities, the reality is that despite protestations to the contrary from liberals, Moslems residing in Europe face far less institutionalized discrimination than what other migrant groups, including Jews, underwent in the past. Moreover, they are not targeted by terrorists - in contrast to European Jews, their mosques and schools do not require round the clock security guards.

It is also astonishing that some Moslem organizations have the impudence to demand an end to security profiling, though over 95 percent of global terrorist acts originate from radical jihadists. Profiling is undertaken exclusively as a pragmatic means to maximize security and is not related to racist bias. If red-headed individuals committed the bulk of terrorist acts it would surely not be unreasonable to profile redheads for security screening. It is even more bizarre that demands to ban profiling are frequently supported by liberals, including paradoxically, Jews who themselves represent the prime targets for acts of terror.

The OIC campaign has made considerable inroads, with the UN Secretary General recently boasting that "in confronting the Danish cartoons [caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad] and the Dutch film FITNA, we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be breached." In other words, violence, murder and blackmail have succeeded in forcing impotent Western governments to appease radical Islamist forces, even at the price of compromising hitherto sacrosanct commitments to freedom of expression.

Resolutions calling for criminal prosecution of anyone criticizing Islam or Islamic practices have already been formally adopted by the inappropriately named UN Human Rights Council and subsequently by the UN General Assembly. The discredited UN Human Rights Council, which concentrates the bulk of its efforts on delegitimizing Israel, has now formally endorsed a resolution prohibiting any discussion during its proceedings that could be deemed to be critical of Islam, Moslem practice or Shar'ia law. Yet this same body has shamelessly avoided condemning human rights violations including the genocidal killings by the barbaric Islamic Sudanese government at Darfur.

The current priority for the Human Rights Council is to ensure that the forthcoming Durban II conference is transformed into a launching pad for resurrecting the previous Durban anti-Semitic hate fest demonizing Israel.

The structure of the Durban 2 Preparatory Committee says it all. The chairman is a former Libyan ambassador who described Israel as "the most tyrannical regime in the world," and he is backed by an Iranian deputy chairman. The Committee held one of its most important meetings on Yom Kippur to ensure that Israelis and Jews would not participate. In its recently released Final Document for Discussions, undisguised bias is reflected in the language employed. It refers to "Israeli apartheid," the "racist Israeli Law of Return", Palestinians as "victims of Israeli racism," and so on.

This abominable body is simultaneously proclaiming that "the most serious manifestations of the defamation of religion are the increase in Islamophobia and the worsening situation of Moslem minorities throughout the world."

It is incomprehensible why it took until now for Israel to recognize that Durban 2 is controlled by our most venomous enemies and is intended to serve as a global platform for promoting anti-Semitism and Israel bashing. Had we from the outset supported the Canadian decision to boycott this bogus conference, the Americans and many other democratic nations might also have resolved to distance themselves from these hate mongers.

To offset these challenges, Israel must seek to create alliances with democratic nations and NGOs. Likewise, where possible, Diaspora Jewish organizations should seek out moderate Moslem groups with whom to promote genuine interfaith relationships. But such activity must be transparent. Those who accept as a precondition to dialogue the exclusion of Israeli participants or restrictions on discussion relating to Israel are harming the Jewish cause, providing respectability to extremists and marginalizing moderate Moslems.

Without diminishing our ongoing efforts to outlaw hate crimes or incitement against all minorities, including Moslems, we must resist OIC attempts to pressure Western countries into criminalizing criticism of religion which, aside from being an unprecedented restriction of freedom of expression, would also deny us the opportunity of exposing Islamic extremism.

Isi Leibler
Copyright
- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

Zionism and the Arab Peace Initiative: What is to be done?

 

By Ami Isseroff

 

The Arab Peace Initiative is being touted as a wonder working panacea for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is at the center of a campaign by the Palestinian Authority and by various US peace activists and Palestinian sympathizers.

The good news about this plan is that for the first time in history, the states of the Arab League indicated a willingness to have "normal" relations with Israel. This was a tremendous psychological breakthrough, especially considering that the plan originated with the royal house of Saudi Arabia. Consider these remarks by King ibn Saud in 1937:

'Our hatred for the Jews dates from God's condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus Christ), and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa (Jesus).

''We Arabs have been the traditional friends of Great Britain for many years, and I, Bin Sa'ud, in particular have been your Government's firm friend all my life, what madness then is this which is leading on our Government to destroy this friendship of centuries, all for the sake of an accursed and stiffnecked race which has always bitten the hand of everyone who has helped it since the world began.

.Some Israeli officials have expressed cautious support for the plan recently, but in the past, attempts to make concrete progress with this plan have ended in nothing, indicating the major weaknesses of the plan. Israeli officials who wanted to discuss the plan were told by Arab representatives that there is nothing to discuss. Israel must accept the plan first, even without understanding it, and then there could be talks: Unconditional surrender. Moreover, there is no guarantee that even after Israel completes all that is required of the plan, it will be granted recognition by any Arab state. This was made abundantly clear at a press conference by Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia with Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League. According to the statement, as released by the Saudi Press Agency:

ON THE ARAB SUMMIT NOT HAVING FIXED A DATE FOR THE PEACE INITIATIVE, PRINCE SAUD SAID THE ARAB LEADERS HAVE DECLARED A CLEAR-CUT INITIATIVE.

HE SAID THE ARAB STATES WILL SIGN A PEACE AGREEMENT WITH ISRAEL WHEN IT CONCLUDES ITS NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PARTIES WHOSE LANDS IT IS OCCUPYING, ADDING THAT THERE IS NO FIXED DATE FOR SUCH A DEVELOPMENT...

In those circumstances, Israel would have to "leave it." In return for peace, the plan states for example for the following:

II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.

. Resolution 194 states that all refugees willing to live in peace with their neighbors should be able to return. There is no evidence that the Arab Palestinian refugees in Lebanon or those in the Gaza strip are willing to leave in peace with anybody, leave alone Jews. According to the Arab interpretation of the resolution however, the resolution confers on every Arab Palestinian refugee, their descendants, their foreign spouses and anyone who claims to have been a refugee or descendant thereof, the right to "return" to "Palestine" even if they never lived in Palestine. The Palestinian Arab refugees are the only class of refugees in the world to which the UN grants refugee status to children of refugees, or to refugees who were enemy belligerents and their descendants who remain so.

Return of refugees would destroy Israel as a Jewish state, since there are potentially an unlimited number of claimants to refugee status, and since in the best case, it would introduced a highly belligerent population into the state, bent on its destruction.

No place in the Arab Peace Plan does it state that the Arabs countries would undertake to recognize Israel as a
Jewish state or to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination, or even to admit that there is such a thing as a Jewish people.

The behavior of the Arab states at the Annapolis peace conference was a lot closer to Ibn Saud's original conception of the Jews than to the supposed spirit of the Arab peace initiative. Israeli delegates had to use the service entrance to the conference building, an affront in which the "pro-Israel" US administration acquiesced, and Arabs refused to shake hands with Israelis. An Arab Human Rights charter that is gaining the approval of Arab countries, states in its preamble that it "rejects all forms of Zionism and Racism." The charter was originally supported by the UN's Louise Arbour, but she has had second thoughts.

In the best case, the Arab Peace Initiative is meant as a mind changer in the Arab world. By thinking out of the box, the Saudis seek to regain leadership of the Arab world. If they can get peace in the Middle East and retrieve the Golan Heights for Syria, they become the "go to" country in the Middle East for all the Arabs, and for the United States as well. With the Israeli-Palestinian issue off the table, they can present a united front in dealing with Iran and the challenge posed by Shia Islam. The Saudis, on the face of it, have a genuine interest in the success of the peace initiative, as do the Egyptians and the Jordanians, client states of the United States who have signed peace treaties with Israel. But the initiative is designed intentionally to be ambiguous. Other Arab states can accept it as a means of carrying on the fight against the "Zionist Entity" by other means. It is also useful as a weapon in the "peace wars." In this conflict, whoever can show that they are in favor of peace, wins an advantage, even if their proposals are hollow. The principle involved is to make a plan that looks quite a lot like a peace plan, but is certainly going to be rejected by the other side, so that the other side will be embarrassed and shown up as an "obstacle to peace."

The Arab League has no binding authority over its member states. They have offered no mechanism for implementing the plan. Their stated position is that Israel must first fulfill all the conditions and then the individual states will (or will not) grant recognition to Israel, depending on whether they believe Israel has implemented the conditions, on the weather in Riyadh and the moods of Muammar Kaddafi, dictator of Libya. The Arab League is Arab, and not Muslim, a distinction that seems to escape many people. Therefore, the statement that the plan would bring Israel recognition by 57 Muslim states, which appears in many newspapers, is nonsensical. Iran, for example, is a Muslim country, but it is NOT a member of the Arab League. It frequently is in opposition to the Arab League. Iran controls Hamas, Hezbollah the Islamic Jihad and probably the Popular Resistance Committees, all groups opposed to any sort of two state solution and to the very existence of Israel. It is not likely they will be joining in the Arab peace plan any time soon.

The Palestinian Authority placed advertisements in Israeli newspapers to "explain" the plan to Israelis, as if we didn't understand what it means and does not mean. A juicy canard in the London Times claimed that US President elect Barack Obama supports the Arab Peace Plan and wants to force it on Israel, but this was quickly denied by Dennis Ross.

U.S. pressure on Israel is never good for Israel, and pressure to accept the Arab peace plan "as is" would be contrary to the interests of the United States and certainly contrary to the interests of Israel, which is not interested in committing suicide. Curiously, M.J. Rosenberg, who places himself in the Zionist camp, has "advised" President-elect Obama that the first thing he has to do is adopt the Arab Peace initiative and ram it down Israel's throat. Suppose Israel would propose a plan whereby all the Arab states sign peace treaties with Israel first, and then Israel will negotiate withdrawal from occupied territories? Would M.J. Rosenberg consider that a plan that should be adopted by the United States? Suppose the Israeli plan added that each oil rich Arab state must accept millions of Christian immigrants as citizens, as well as paying compensation to all the Jewish refugees from Arab countries?

The United States doesn't have to have a policy about a peace initiative that is addressed to Israel. It is never a good idea to volunteer. Israel, however, must have a policy about the Arab peace initiative. Those tempted to "just say no" should think again. There might be an opportunity to change hearts and minds here - a long shot. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's peace initiative was incredible as well, but it turned out to be fairly real, though defective in implementation. Even on the supposition that the Arab peace initiative is a total fraud, it has achieved such prominence that it cannot be ignored. Peace with our Arab neighbors has always been a number one goal of Zionism and the hope for peace must not be abandoned. Without peace, there is no long term future for Israel in the Middle East. Perhaps Israel should accept the spirit of the initiative and ask for clarifications. In that spirit, the editors of the Jerusalem Post, acknowledging the deficiencies of the Arab initiative, wrote:

Still, most of us, though disappointed that an offer which falls so short of Israel's minimal needs comes so late, will find themselves agreeing with President Shimon Peres: This is an overture worth exploring.

After so much bloodshed and suffering on both sides, we implore the Arab and Muslim world: Let us not make propaganda. Let us not wait another 60 years. Let us make peace.

Or perhaps, instead of these vague pronouncements, Israel should daily offer peace, loud and clear.Each day, the Israel Foreign Ministry should call upon the Arabs to clarify the conditions of the initiative, to set a date for a peace conference that will allow the exploration of the initiative, rather than vaguely calling for exploration. We should not let this issue alone for a day. The world must see our dedication to peace. Muammar Ghaddafi and Bashar Assad are all invited to recognize the right of self determination of the Jewish people and our right to a Jewish state, as we have, in the various agreements, recognized the right of the Palestinian Arabs to their Arab state. If the Arabs are sincere they will answer the call. Muammar and Bashar and Abdullah are all invited to break bread and to shake hands and we shall go forward to a bright future together. Perhaps it will happen. The entire Middle East will beat their swords into plowshares and their Qassam rockets into mailing tubes, fulfilling the vision of the prophets of old. But what if the Arab states are not sincere? What if they are not willing to shake hands with Jews or to accept the legitimacy of Zionism? What if the lion is not yet ready to lie down with the lamb? In that case, we will have called their bluff in a way that even M. J. Rosenberg can understand.

Ami Isseroff

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Tehran Is The Obstacle To U.S.-Iran Talks.

by Michael Rubin

Barack Obama's election has sparked enthusiasm in Washington about the prospects for renewed engagement between the United States and Iran. On November 20, 2008, a group of former diplomats, bloggers, and academics released a statement that declared: "We are not forced to choose between a coercive strategy that has clearly failed and a military option that has very little chance of success. There is another way, one far more likely to succeed: Open the door to direct, unconditional and comprehensive negotiations at the senior diplomatic level." Unfortunately, as has become too common in Washington, these officials privilege advocacy over analysis.

It is a myth that the United States has boycotted diplomacy with the Islamic republic. Indeed, the past three decades are littered with failed diplomacy. Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran to disrupt attempts by the Carter administration to normalize relations. While the Iran-Contra Affair is remembered in Washington for the Reagan administration's misguided attempt to bypass Congress, its origin lies in national security adviser Robert McFarlane's desire to open doors to the Iranians. George H.W. Bush signaled a readiness to negotiate with Iran on August 4, 1989, the day after Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani took office, only to have Iranian authorities slam it shut.

Ironically, given the tendency today to associate diplomacy with the Democrats, it was the Clinton administration that was least open to engagement with Iran. Twice in 1995 and again in 1997, Clinton issued executive orders to limit trade with and investment in Iran. In 1996, he made the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act a pillar of his policy. Nevertheless, toward the end of his term, Clinton authorized Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to meet her Iranian counterpart. Elaborate preparations were made at the United Nations, but the Iranian foreign minister stood Albright up.

Despite the demonization of George W. Bush, the current president has been more open to diplomacy with the Islamic republic than any president since Carter. In 2001 and 2002, U.S. and Iranian diplomats met to discuss Afghanistan and, the next year, Iranian UN Ambassador Mohammad Javad-Zarif met senior U.S. officials Zalmay Khalilzad and Ryan Crocker in Geneva.

Indeed, Bush has found himself besieged from all sides. Proponents of diplomacy condemn Bush for the moral clarity inherent in the January 2002 "axis of evil" speech and argue that the president's State of the Union statements sidetracked diplomacy. Some say Bush missed a Grand Bargain opportunity in 2003, but, as even pro-engagement officials acknowledge, this is a myth that resulted from wrongly ascribing Iranian authorship to an attention-seeking Swiss diplomat's wish. Meanwhile, those with less tolerance for Iran's support of terrorism, its violent opposition to the Middle East peace process, and its nuclear-weapons ambitions condemn Bush for pursuing a policy of rapprochement they say is at odds with his rhetoric.

This gap between rhetoric and reality is the defining feature of Bush's approach toward Iran. On May 31, 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said U.S. diplomats would meet with their Iranian counterparts if Tehran suspended uranium enrichment. Two years later, she directed a senior U.S. official to sit down with his Iranian counterpart and offer a generous incentive package, even though Iran remained defiant. Meanwhile, Crocker, now the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, has met his Iranian counterpart more than a half-dozen times.

Alas, engagement is no magic formula. First, it takes two to tango. What Carter, Bush the elder, Clinton, and Bush the younger learned -- but their domestic critics have not -- is that the impediment to engagement lies not in Washington but in Tehran. The day after Rice offered Iran an end to its isolation, Ahmadinejad dismissed Rice's offer as "a propaganda move." When Undersecretary of State William Burns sat down with his Iranian counterpart in Geneva in July 2008, Mohammad Ja'afi Assadi, commander of Iranian Republican Guards Corps ground forces, quipped that Washington's desperation showed that "America has no other choice but to leave the Middle East region beaten and humiliated." On October 12, 2008, Vice President Mehdi Kalhor said: "As U.S. forces have not left the Middle East region and continue their support for the Zionist regime, talks between Iran and U.S. are off the agenda."

Why not drop preconditions and engage -- as the National Iranian American Council, the Islamic republic's de facto lobby in Washington, recommends? There are several reasons. First, the demand for a cessation of Iran's uranium-enrichment program is not Washington's, but the UN Security Council's. To waive it would not only reaffirm the worst U.S. unilateralism and precondition the outcome of negotiations, but also obviate the possibility that any future UN resolution would mean anything to Tehran.

Second, embracing Tehran now would enable President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to claim, ahead of elections in his country, that his strategy succeeded where his predecessors' failed.

And, lastly, as Obama will learn when he assumes office, Iranian officials often approach diplomacy insincerely. As Abdollah Ramezanzadeh explained in June, looking back on nuclear developments during the Khatami administration: "We had one overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the activities."

If all diplomacy required were Washington's good intentions, the world would be a magical place. It is ironic that some U.S. diplomats trust the Islamic republic more than many Iranians themselves do.

Michael Rubin, editor of the Middle East Quarterly and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was lead drafter for the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

THE REAL, SECRET CAUSE OF THE CRASH.

by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator

 

ROOT CAUSE

Saudi Arabia and Iran, together with Venezuela, abetted by the Big Oil multi-national companies, sought to drive oil prices sky-high. The goal of the Saudis, Iran and Venezuela was not only to make more money, but to damage the Western economy that is dependent on oil energy.

The inability of the sub-prime borrowers to continue making their payments on their mortgages, was caused by them losing their jobs as a result of an economy that was fatally weakened by exorbitant oil prices.

The convoluted way that banks sold these mortgages made it easier for the system to crash. But, a strong economy would have withstood the bursting of the mortgage bubble - the same way it withstood the bursting of the "Dot.Com" bubble.

But, when the whole economy had been successfully weakened by the multi-nationals, Saudis, Iran and Venezuela, it was like tinder waiting to ignite. True, they will now also suffer, but they don’t care - at least they got to "stick it to the West" - in addition to the trillions they bled out of the world’s economies.

 

VULNERABILITY

A crash is not unlike a landslide or an avalanche of snow. In each, there is a subsurface weakness already in place. Then a pebble, a step that loosens a rock and what starts out small builds momentum with thousands of tons hurling down at incredible speed, destroying everything in its path. So, what were the not-so-small pebbles which started America’s economic slide followed by world markets.

I vote for the oil giants whose greed and collusion started the pebble rolling. Granted, other greedy industries poured their own oil on the sub-surface so it wouldn’t take much to start a critical mass sliding faster and faster downhill.

Narrowing it down, I believe it was the multi-nationals, in collusion with the crude oil sources who maneuvered to raise the per barrel price of oil so both could generate a usurious cash flow. If a little profit was good, a lot would be better. So, who were the oil titans would colluded to make it happen.

People to question are the CEOs of each of the major multi-nationals. The questions would come from a Grand Jury and not the lackadaisical Congress, many of whom were on the receiving end of donor funds from the oil industry - both domestic and foreign.

So, who really hustled the American people with staged usurious prices that generated the avalanche globally.

First, it was the CEOs of the multi-national oil corporations.

Next, it was the deals cut with Saudi Aristocracy and the major suppliers of crude oil - that includes OPEC, Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

Then, question the political leaders who are virtual partners when benefit accrue in raw crude and refined products such as gasoline, heating oil, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, etc. Here I would certainly question the Bush dynasty, James Baker III, Dick Cheney and include the institutions they worked in - like the Carlyle Groups, Haliburton, ‘et al’.

That only scratches the surface because many in Congress and the surrounding bureaucracies - like the Cabinet, etc.

Oil literally was the lubricant of what made business go round in most industries.

In the time of Nixon and Kissinger crude oil was being lifted at less than $2.00 per barrel. Then the Shah of Iran was urged to raise prices by Henry Kissinger. When that rise in prices was not objected to, America and the world stepped up on a greased slippery slope. The game plan was to allow Iran to generate more expendable income so the U.S. military-industrial complex could manufacture and sell weapons’ systems to the Shah. Behind that idea was to use Iran as America’s cop-on-the-block to watch over the safety of the Gulf oil states.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In fact, it was such a good idea that every oil maggot jumped aboard the money machine. Price per barrel rose astronomically with all refined products reaching staggering costs to the consumers - all over the world. Trillions were transferred to oil nations while the oil companies posting hundreds of billions in profits.

The robber barons had us by our private parts and we could do nothing about it. When people could no longer afford housing and life’s stuff, we all started to drown. What the robber barons did to us was legal but, I am certain the world’s population would have voted for summary executions if they could grasp the details of the on-going and continual manipulation. The oil swindle was merely the start of the avalanche which bulldozed other tippy industries who had their own greedy CEOs: Banks, Builders, the entire interlocked financial industries across the planet. The pigs had their day but, even as they started to fall, they managed to embezzle even more money from their victims in hopeless bail-out schemes. This included bonuses and golden parachutes for the greedy executives all from the out-of-control bail-out money.

So, what will the embezzlers do now to save themselves?

Well, they could take the world through a major inflationary or devaluation period so all our money becomes worthless and all bank and government debt is paid back in newly printed currency, worth very little.

We could do as some Third World countries have done and merely scrap out the old currency and issue new currency of little value. That should be followed by riots and martial law. Thus, a once civilization spirals down to perhaps a barter system which could work for some, assuming you have anything others want and you want what they have - food, fuel, water, resources.

Emanuel A. Winston

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Monday, November 24, 2008

'Hamas is staging Gaza blackouts'

By Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah accused Hamas on Tuesday of staging the latest blackouts in the Gaza Strip in a bid to win sympathy and incite the Palestinian public against Israel and the PA.

The officials said that contrary to Hamas's claim, there is no shortage of basic goods, medicine and fuel in the Gaza Strip, largely thanks to the many underground tunnels along the border with Egypt.

This is not the first time that Palestinians have accused Hamas of staging Gaza blackouts under the pretext that Israel had cut off fuel supplies to the district's power grid.

Earlier this year, Palestinian journalists in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post that scenes of Palestinian children and women holding lit candles in the dark had been staged by Hamas and some Arab satellite TV stations.

"There's no shortage of fuel in the Gaza Strip and the Electricity Company is continuing to function normally," said a PA official. "Our people in the Gaza Strip have told us that the blackouts are all staged as part of the Hamas propaganda."

Another PA official noted that Hamas's lies reached their peak last January when its legislators held a meeting in a darkened hall of the Palestinian Legislative Council - while light could be seen coming in through the curtained windows.

The official accused Al-Jazeera of serving as a platform for Hamas's propaganda machine by airing staged footage of children and women during candlelight protests in the streets of Gaza City.

"There's enough fuel in the Gaza Strip," he said. "Even when Israel reduces the fuel supplies, Hamas continues to smuggle tens of thousands of liters through the underground tunnels."

The Fatah-controlled Pal-Press Web site on Thursday quoted a senior official in the Gaza Electricity Company as saying that Hamas has been stealing fuel supplies intended for the power grid.

The official, who asked not to be identified, also denied claims by Hamas and Al-Jazeera about power outages in large parts of the Gaza Strip. He noted that 70% of the Gaza Strip's electricity came from Israel and Egypt, while the remaining 30% were being supplied by the local company.

"Hamas has seized more than 220,000 liters of fuel that was intended for generators belonging to our company," he revealed. "There's no shortage of fuel and as such there is no reason for a crisis."

The official also disclosed that Hamas militiamen had been forcing the company to cut off power supplies to some areas in the Gaza Strip so as to create the impression that the outage was due to a lack of fuel caused by the ongoing closure of the border crossings.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.




 

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