Saturday, October 18, 2008

Op-Ed: Palestinian statehood not the answer

 

By Morton Klein

 

Only when the Palestinians demonstrate acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state will negotiations produce peace, not bloodshed.

 

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Though Israelis and Palestinians have been involved in ongoing negotiations since 1993, terrorism has increased and casualties have mounted. Nearly 2,000 Israelis have been killed and more than 10,000 maimed.

So why do some people persist in urging still more negotiations?

It's because they believe two things: The absence of a Palestinian state is the cause of the continuing conflict, and such negotiations can produce a Palestinian state and therefore peace.

Wrong on both counts. Under prevailing conditions, negotiations will not create a peaceful Palestinian state and in any event, Palestinian statehood is not the issue.

Palestinians were offered statehood in 1937 (the Peel Royal Commission), 1947 (the United Nations Partition Plan) and 2000 (the Clinton-Barak plan). The proposals were rejected.

Rather the issue was, and remains, Palestinian non-acceptance of Israel within any borders. Only this year, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a new P.A. emblem showing Israel covered with a Palestinian headdress labeled "Palestine" with a Kalashnikov rifle next to it. Abbas has stated publicly that Hamas and others do not have to recognize Israel.

After the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994, Yasser Arafat readied Palestinians for war and confrontation, not peace. After receiving the highest per capita international aid, the Palestinian Authority spent it on building the largest per capita militia in the world and hidden arsenals, not industrial parks and development projects.

Instead of educating Palestinian youth for peace, a cult of suicide bombing and "martyrdom" was inculcated and its practitioners glorified by P.A. leaders. Thousands of their pictures and posters were plastered throughout the Palestinian Authority calling them heroes.

Only recently, Abbas lowered Palestinian flags to half mast and declared three days of mourning when veteran PLO terrorist George Habash died. When Israel released this year perhaps the most vile of terrorists, Samir Kuntar -- a man who had crushed the life out of a small girl with a rock after murdering her father before her eyes -- Abbas personally sent congratulations to Kuntar's family and later met him on a visit to Beirut.

In the P.A.-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps, incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and glorification of terrorism as a religious and national duty is routine. To this day, P.A. maps and atlases pretend Israel does not exist; P.A.-salaried clerics call for murdering “the sons of monkeys and pigs”; TV and radio, popular songs and poetry extol the glories of suicide attacks; textbooks teach that Israel is a Nazi-like state; and streets, sports teams and schools are named in honor of suicide bombers.

In short, more than their own state, Palestinians want victory in the form of Israel's demise.

Nor is this only a matter of the Palestinian leadership, whether Fatah or Hamas, both of which call in their respective charters for the elimination of Israel and the use of terrorism. Rather this goal is something that is reflected repeatedly in Palestinian opinion.

A poll by An-Najah National University in May showed a clear majority of Palestinians rejecting statehood alongside Israel. Two months earlier, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 84 percent of Palestinians supported the terrorist attack on the Jerusalem yeshiva that killed eight Jewish students. The same poll showed that 64 percent of Palestinians support missile attacks on Israel.

Despite this evidence, many prefer to believe that Israeli occupation is the core issue and that creating a Palestinian state will produce peace by ending it. This, too, makes no sense. It is simply a flat-earth statement to describe Judea, Samaria and Gaza as occupied.

Article 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines foreign power as "occupier" "to the extent that such Power exercises the functions of government in such territory." Yet since 1993, Israel relinquished to the Palestinian Authority all of Gaza and about half of Judea and Samaria, along with administrative functions and 98 percent of the Palestinian population.

These territories are now ruled by Palestinian regimes, Israel's writ no longer runs there, nor does it any longer maintain law and order in the territories in question. By no stretch of the imagination can these territories be described as occupied. Such Israeli military incursions within them occur as a function of continuing terrorism and would end if the terrorism ended.

In short, occupation is not the issue and Palestinian statehood has never been the answer. Only when Palestinians demonstrate acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state will negotiations produce peace, not bloodshed.

Morton Klein

 

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

 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Syria establishes diplomatic ties with Lebanon.

 

By ALBERT AJI

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria formally recognized Lebanon for the first time Tuesday by establishing diplomatic relations with its neighbor - meeting a U.S. demand to do more for regional stability even as Damascus pursues indirect peace talks with Israel.

Lebanon and Syria have not had formal diplomatic ties since both gained independence from France in the 1940s and the move by President Bashar Assad ends six decades of non-recognition. Both countries announced plans to open embassies by the end of the year.

Lebanon's Western-backed prime minister, Fuad Saniora, praised the development as a "historic step on the road to confirming Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and its free decision-making."

"It is the situation which Lebanon and the Lebanese have long hoped for," he said.

Relations between the Arab nations have been lopsided since the 1970s, when Syria sent its army into Lebanon and retained control there for nearly 30 years. Ties unraveled when former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a 2005 car bombing that many Lebanese blame on Syria - a charge Syria denies.

Hariri's assassination triggered huge anti-Syrian street protests and Damascus caved to U.S.-led international pressure and withdrew its tens of thousands of troops from Lebanon a few months after the bombing.

But establishing diplomatic relations remained a pressing demand of the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon's parliament, which saw it as an important symbol of recognition of Lebanese sovereignty.

Some observers say Syria is more comfortable dealing with Lebanon now that its ally Hezbollah has gained veto power in a unity government that was formed in July. In May, Lebanon also installed a president sympathetic to Syria.

Just a few months later in August, Lebanon and Syria agreed to establish ties and demarcate their contentious border. That landmark agreement marked a final break in Syria's longtime dominance over its smaller neighbor.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack welcomed the change.

"It is a positive step toward Syria recognizing its full responsibilities in terms of implementing Security Council resolutions and other international agreements. Now, there are other aspects of this, and that includes fully defining the border between Syria and Lebanon. So there's still outstanding work to be done. And also behavior beyond just setting up these embassies and establishing diplomatic relations also matters."

The West is slowly moving away from a policy in recent years of isolating Syria - an ally of Iran and Hezbollah which has also provided a home for some radical Palestinian groups. Instead the West has tried to engage Syria more in Mideast issues.

Recognition of Lebanon could help Syrian aspirations to build trust with the West as it pursues indirect talks with Israel, mediated through Turkey.

The two nations have held four rounds of indirect talks so far and Assad recently said he is looking to have direct, face-to-face talks next year. The talks, however, have not made any significant headway, and Syria said last month that a fifth round of talks was postponed at the Jewish state's request.

Ibrahim al-Darraji, a professor of international law at Damascus University, said diplomatic relations with Lebanon "could potentially make it easier to coordinate" between two countries in future peace negotiations with Israel. "But the nonexistence of diplomatic relations was never an obstacle in the past," he added.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official welcomed any step likely to contribute to regional stability.

"We hope that this first step will lead in future to Syria honoring its other international obligations," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to make an official statement. "First and foremost ceasing its support for terror and its aid to Hezbollah."

ALBERT AJI

 

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

 

The convenient war against the Jews.

In the end, the global Jihad, and the West's fickle response to radical Islam's assault on its civilization, is about hating Jews. This truth, never wholly hidden from view, was exposed in all its ugliness in recent months with startling disclosures by former Italian president and Senator-for-life Francesco Cossiga.

In a letter to Italy's Corriere-della-Serra in August, Cossiga acknowledged that during the early 1970s, the then Italian prime-minister Aldo Moro signed an agreement with Yassir Arafat's PLO and affiliated organizations that enabled the Palestinians to field terrorists, operate bases and store weapons in Italy in exchange for immunity from attack for Italy and Italian interests worldwide. Cossiga also acknowledged that even when the Palestinians murdered Italians, the government still protected them. Indeed, he admitted for the first time that the largest terror attack ever to take place on Italian soil - the bombing of the Bologna train station in July 1980 which killed 85 people - was the work of PLO-affiliated terrorists from George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

At the time of the bombing, Cossiga was Italy's prime minister. Right after it occurred, he blamed the atrocity on neo-fascists. In his words at the time, "Unlike leftist terrorism, which strikes at the heart of the state through its representatives, black terrorism prefers the massacre because it promotes panic and impulsive reactions."

 

In August, he claimed that it was the work of the PFLP and asserted that the bomb exploded inadvertently. That is, the Palestinians hadn't meant to kill non-Jews - so Italian authorities protected them.

On Friday, Cossiga expanded on his disclosures to Corriere-della-Serra in an interview with Yedi'ot Aharonot's Rome correspondent Menachem Ganz. Cossiga admitted that it wasn't just Israeli targets that Italy permitted the Palestinians to attack with impunity, but Jewish targets as well. Indeed, in at least one and probably two incidents, the Italians colluded with the Palestinians in their attacks against Jews. On October 9, 1982, six terrorists opened fire on worshippers leaving Rome's Great Synagogue. Dozens of Jews were wounded and two-year-old Stefano Tache was murdered. Hours before the attack the Italian police detail charged with securing the synagogue was withdrawn.

Then too, in December 1985, Palestinian terrorists opened fire on the El Al ticket counter at the Rome airport. Ten people were killed. Another seven people were murdered in a simultaneous attack against the El Al ticket counter at the Vienna airport. According to Cossiga, Italian intelligence agencies received prior warning of the attack but didn't bother to share the information with Israel.

Cossiga explained to Yedi'ot, "No Italian targets were hit. They attacked the Israeli airline at the airport. The murdered were all Israelis, Jews, and Americans."

 

Then there was the hijacking of the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro off the Egyptian coast in October 1985. Palestinian terrorists led by Abu Abbas commandeered the ship. They shot wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer and threw him overboard while he was still alive. The Egyptians freed the hijackers and sent them off on a flight to Libya. American jets forced a plane to land at a NATO base in Sicily. The Italians refused to permit the Americans to take the hijackers into custody and freed Abbas. The Italians cast the standoff as a victory against American bullies.  But it really amounted to a surrender to Palestinian murderers. As Cossiga explained, "Since the Arabs were capable of harming Italy more than the Americans, Italy surrendered to them."

 

COSSIGA ALLEGES that his country's agreement with the Palestinians has recently been expanded to include Hizbullah. After the Second Lebanon War, Italy agreed to command the UNIFIL force charged with preventing Hizbullah from reasserting control over southern Lebanon and blocking its re-armament efforts. Yet Cossiga asserts, "I can state with absolute certainty that. Italy has a deal with Hizbullah according to which UNIFIL forces turn a blind eye to Hizbullah's rearmament so long as no attacks are carried out against soldiers in the force."

 

Ganz notes ruefully that although Cossiga's statements provoked the Italian Jewish community to demand that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi investigate the government's collusion with Palestinian terrorists, no such investigation is likely to be forthcoming. Ganz explains that Berlusconi himself is not immune to the anti-Semitism that caused his predecessors to abstain from protecting Italy's Jewish citizens. When he addresses Italian Jews, Berlusconi often calls the Israeli government "your government," and so exposes his adherence to the view that Jews are not true citizens of any country other than Israel.

The anti-Semitic belief that all Jews are Zionists and therefore all Jews are fair game in the war against Israel - itself simply another round of the age-old war against the Jews - allows anti-Semites to obfuscate the fact that their anti-Israel rhetoric is simply warmed over Jew-hatred. People like Iranian leaders Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamena'ei, and Palestinian terrorists from the PLO and their progeny in Hamas and Hizbullah nearly always limit their threats to "Zionists," and so pretend that they aren't actually anti-Semites.

Their razor-thin deception is eagerly embraced by their fellow travelers in the West - from university professors like Juan Cole, Steven Walt and John Mearshimer, to policymakers like Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, to Western decision-makers and European heads of state, and an alarming number of American politicians.

This deception is par for the course of anti-Semitism. Throughout history anti-Semites have used Jew-hatred as a way to rally their troops. By attacking Jews as the collective enemy, tyrants have given their people a convenient, weak culprit to attack to deflect criticism away from their own failures or to hide real enemies from pacifistic publics uninterested in fighting. Anti-Semitism appeals to people's basest instinct. But people don't like to acknowledge how much they hate Jews, and Jews have always preferred to deny that they are hated.

So, anti-Semitic leaders have disguised their appeal to base instinct by pretending that they are actually appealing to sublime aspirations. In the case of the Nazis for instance, Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels appealed to Germanic pride and love for the Fatherland. Today, the Left appeals to people's aspirations for peace and justice. It is only by permitting and indeed enabling Jews to die and the Jewish state to be destroyed that "peace" can be secured and the Palestinians can receive "justice."

THIS STRATEGY appeals to European - and to greater and lesser degrees American - policymakers for two reasons. First, as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner made clear in an interview with Ha'aretz on Friday, while the West understands that Islamic Jihadists seek the destruction of Europe and the US, they believe - in part, because their own anti-Semitism leads them to exaggerate Jewish power - that they will get away with coddling the Arabs and Iran because Israel will protect them.

Referring to Iran's nuclear weapons program, Kouchner said that no one is particularly worried about Iran's nuclear threat because everyone believes that Israel will attack Iran for them. In his words, "I honestly don't believe that [a nuclear arsenal] will give any immunity to Iran. First, you [Israel] will hit them before [they acquire nuclear weapons]. Because Israel has always said that it will not wait for the bomb to be ready. I think that they [the Iranians] know. Everybody knows."

 

What is ironic about this view is that it exposes the inversion of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Five years ago, former Malaysian prime-minister Mahathir Mohamed told an approving audience of Islamic heads of state, "The Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them."

 

But the West's belief that Israel will protect it from Iran shows that the opposite is true. The West is absolutely certain that Israel is its proxy, and that Jews will fight and die protecting it from the forces of global terror and Jihad.

THE SECOND reason the Western champions of "peace" have opted to sell Israel and the Jews out to the Jihadists is because as anti-Semites, Western "anti-Zionists" fear Jewish power and therefore want us to be weak. So it is that for the past 40 years, European governments and the US State Department have bankrolled anti-Zionist groups in Israel like "Peace Now", "B'tselem" and "Four Mothers". So it is that they have blamed Israel for Palestinian terrorism. And even when Israel succumbs to all their demands for territorial withdrawals, they always manage to demand still more.

In the same interview with Ha'aretz for instance, Kouchner on the one hand praised Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for their willingness to surrender Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians, but argued that this is still not enough. Israel must also accept the free immigration of the hostile descendants of the Arabs who left Israel in 1948. That is, Israel must also agree to its own destruction in order to pave the way for "peace." In his words, "The main problem is the refugees and Jerusalem, but more the refugees. Olmert and Livni do not have the perception of this."

 

Kouchner for one is certain that Livni will come around to recognizing the need to allow hostile foreign-born Arabs to move here. "I think she will change. This is always the case for people that are in charge for politics and for life," he claimed.

 

Kouchner soothed the reporters' fears of national destruction by claiming that he's probably not talking about more than 100,000 hostile Arabs immigrants. But that's today.

If Livni does form a government and comes around to this view, leave it to the West to explain that placing "arbitrary" limits on Arab immigration is a human rights abuse, and that Israel's Zionist racism is compelling the Arabs and Iran to kill Jews and Westerners around the world.

AND THIS brings us to perhaps the greatest irony of the West's collusion with the Arabs and Iran in their war against the Jews. The logical outcome of the twin delusions of anti-Semitism - that Jews are all powerful and that the Jews must be cut down to size - is the destruction of Israel. And if that happens, the West will find itself in jaws of the Islamic Jihadists they have been feeding the Jews to for four decades.

The West's subversion of the Israeli elite has fomented a situation where many Israeli leaders have embraced their anti-Semitic views of Israel.  Leaders like Livni and Olmert, and the media and academia in Israel, have largely accepted the notion that Israel is to blame for the global Jihad.  Today these leaders uphold Jewish weakness as an ideal. The longer these Western-supported elites remain in power, the larger the chance that Israel won't attack Iran and that Israel will allow itself to be destroyed in the interest of pursuing "peace" with Palestinian terrorists.

And if Israel is destroyed, the West won't be able to depend on us Jews to fight and die for them anymore. They will be all alone.

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

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lawful Islamism's Greatest Attack Yet.

 

The OIC Resolution Against Defaming Religion

by Supna Zaidi

Have you seen the little old lady who passes out Jehovah's Witness literature in your neighborhood? Some people stop and show interest. Others roll their eyes, and keep walking. But, would you ever expect anyone to threaten her? Call her a racist, and try to get her arrested?

Islamists would. And that is exactly what happened to two English Christian ministers who had the nerve to proselytize on a street corner in a predominantly Muslim immigrant area in the UK in 2007.

Such freedom of speech violations won't be an anomaly if the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has a permanent delegation to the United Nations, succeeds in passing a UN resolution against "Defamation of Religion" Noboby in a western country will be able to discuss the socio-political consequences of Muslim immigration, for fear of being labeled "Islamophobic" and slapped with a fine, or even jail time.

Islamists are increasingly using lawful Islamism, or non-violent and legal strategies to spread Sharia, (Islamic law) in the West, encroaching on non-Muslim life everyday. Other examples include:

  1. Sharia Finance;
  2. Islam in public schools;
  3. Violations of basic hygiene policy by Muslim medical staff;
  4. Workplace violations in the name of religious freedom;
  5. Censorship of literature.

Under the banner of "religious freedom," Islamists attack the very fabric of democracy in favor of Islam in the public sphere. The above examples are not examples of pluralism, but a violation of the separation of church and state doctrine meant to keep people of all faiths, or no faith, equal under the law. Liberals have forgotten that secularism is not a free-for-all, but has boundaries in order to remain meaningful.

Freedom of speech has already been attacked repeatedly. Islamists tried to censor criticism of Islamist terrorism when the Muhammad cartoons were published in Jyllens-Posten in 2005. Strangely enough, the "cartoon intifada" arose 5 months after their original printing, but only weeks before the UNHCR was due to consider the OIC's resolution on "Combating Defamation of Religion."

Such a coincidence caused the National Secular Society to state in its Memorandum (Section E, point 2) to the UK Parliament that,

the Danish cartoon crisis was manufactured… to exploit sensitivities around racial discrimination and to promote (or even exaggerate) the notion of "Islamophobia" in order to restrict possibilities for open discussion or criticism of Islam….measures calling for legislation banning "defamation of religion" - …. aims to remove religion, especially Islam, from public scrutiny and public debate.

If any religion is to be integrated into the daily social, economic and political life of a nation, it must open the door for evaluation of its goals and application. Otherwise, OIC nations will be able to govern unilaterally without respect to international law. Consider the following precedent.

Saudi Arabia ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2000, with reservations, stating, "In case of contradiction between any term of the Convention and the norms of Islamic law, the Kingdom is not under obligation to observe the contradictory terms of the Convention."

Thus, Saudi Arabia confirms that it will only offer lip service to human rights by signing documents like the CEDAW charter. It will not actually improve the status of women, because it is a theocracy, and every move a woman makes is governed by Islamic law. CEDAW can do nothing for them. Moreover, if the Defamation of Religion resolution is passed, all human rights activists will feel even greater censorship, since protests from abroad will be construed as racism.

Consider the "Qatif girl" case. A Saudi girl was gang-raped in 2005 and blamed for it, since she was in the presence of unrelated men when it happened. Her attorney lost his license for challenging the Saudi courts. Only after generating global media pressure did the situation change in her favor. The king pardoned her and the attorney got his license reinstated. In a post- Defamation of Religion world, the attorney would have been trapped, unable to help the girl and disbarred if he dared to challenge Saudi Islamic law.

Lastly, the OIC resolution must fail because it is patently hypocritical. While professing great sensitivity toward religion, OIC members ironically regularly fail to show any respect for other faiths:

·         Saudi Arabia continues to use bigoted textbooks, and export them to American Islamic schools despite promises to change.

·         Iran sponsored a Holocaust cartoon contest in retaliation for the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in 2005. Yet, Jews had nothing to do with the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

·         Pakistan's blasphemy laws attack Christians as a pretext for personal disputes.

The Defamation of Religion resolution is a free pass for Islamists to continue denigrating other religions and minorities through lawful Islamism. It ties the hands of any politician that questions the spread of Islamism in the West, and prevents critical evaluation of the treatment of women and minorities in Muslim societies.

Liberal and conservative citizens of the West must work together to prevent this resolution from passing in the UN.

Supna Zaidi is editor-in-chief of Muslim World Today

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

 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Vanity of “Counting Islamists”

Refuting Daniel Pipes' column on this issue, JP, 8 October, 2008, p. 15.

 

By Raphael Israeli

 

On  Thursday night, the 6th of March, 2008, a lone Muslim gunman from East Jerusalem, who was employed by Israel and enjoyed the services  offered by   its  city government ,  surreptitiously made his way into a yeshiva ( Jewish religious school) in the heart of the Jewish neighborhood, and opened gun fire on unsuspecting teenage students who were rehearsing the end of the month portion of the Torah  and Talmud that they were routinely studying and debating. Eight of them lost their lives, many others were wounded more or less seriously, until a passing-by reserve soldier, who had incidentally graduated from the same institution a few years earlier, was alerted by the  shooting, rushed to the reading hall of the library where the carnage was unfolding and  put an end to the massacre. That rampage was not the initiative of a lunatic and lone hatred-filled man, or the idea of a hallucinating misguided fanatic, exactly as the perpetrators of September 11 (2001)  in New York and July 7 (2005) in London,  even if locally grown, were the satanic messengers of  worldwide Muslim organizations bent on  murder and destruction. Until, his rampage, he would have been considered a "moderate Muslim", since he was well-behaved and never espoused violence. Where do we categorize him if one day he is moderate, the other he is Islamist?

 

            The next day,  the well- to- do family of the killed murderer erected a huge tent at the entrance to their house, to accommodate the Muslim well-wishers who began streaming by the hundreds to  greet the bereaved family, not to present condolences, for his feat of  hitting their enemy at its heart, thereby attaining the hallowed status of shahid (martyr)[1]. To boot, the  mourners hoisted the flags of Hizbullah and Hamas on the tent, all under the open eye of the Israeli forces of order and the liberal  attitude of non-interference with the lives of the Arab Muslims in Israel's capital city. Soon the Hamas took "credit" for that senseless massacre, driving any sensible human being to wonder why a young man of 21, about to wed a wife within three months, would take that harrowing step and  destroy his own life and his future. It could not be economic want, personal despair, momentary madness or a family rift. It was simply hatred, inspired by the relentless Muslim "education"  in order to  despise the "unbelievers", demonize them and dehumanize them to the point of making their lives cheap and unworthy of respect. But it must be more than that, for that horrific act, like the many other acts of terror and killings that we witness in the Muslim world, or emanating from it,  day in day out, does not explain in full the intensity, the unbearable ease and the persistence of this unending and revolting  manifestations of contempt and abuse of human life. No one would categorize  the visitors of that mourners' shade as "islamists", exactly as no one dubbed as such  all the columnists in "moderate" Egypt, or the kids in Gaza who jubilated after September 11.

 

                        In these outbursts of hatred by Muslim youth there is also an element of contempt and abuse of other faiths,  as when in the case cited above that same Muslim murderer indiscriminately shot and ripped to pieces Torah and Talmud  books, which the students were consulting, and which they left stained with their blood when they fell to the bullets of the assassin. And save for a few human and courageous voices of reason in Kuwait, the mood in the Arab/ Muslim world was not one of consternation,  sorrow, shame or embarrassment, but when it was manifested, as in Gaza and among other Muslim circles, it was one of jubilation  at the sight  of  the "feat" that their great "hero" had "achieved" in that religious school at the heart of the enemy. It was as if a Jew, or a Christian, burst into a madrasa at the heart of the Muslim world and massacred students bent on their study. Can anyone in a civilized country imagine any sign of jubilation at that carnage? The rest of the Muslim world was busy with its own domestic massacres where people in countless thousands are eliminated on a daily basis in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq,  and many other unreported places where human lives do not count. Expectedly, when the killings, intentional or incidental, are committed by non-Muslims, as in Iraq or Israel, they are invariably dubbed as "aggression" or "murder" against Muslims, which in every case reaches the scope of a "massacre" or a "holocaust". But the many more Muslims who are slaughtered by other Muslims and whose deaths cannot be directly blamed on the West, are simply disregarded and discounted,  and no grief seems to accompany them or any account taken of them.

 

                        It is often claimed that this strict interpretation of Islam with its abuses, is only the lot of "fanatic", "radical", "fundamentalist", or "Islamist" Muslims, usually quantified as some 15% of the 1.5 billion world Muslims, as if that were a different faith embracing different  principles than those followed by the rank-and-file Muslims. In fact, we are talking about the same one creed which upholds Shari'a law to various degrees, but those who do not follow it to the letter, as in any other religion, are not adepts of an alternative "moderate Islam", the one that is sometimes dubbed "religion of peace", to distinguish from the faith of aggressive "extremists". The truth of the matter is that no such Islam exists,  for  those moderates have yet to produce an alternative doctrine and worldview that could rival official Islam and posit a creed and a set of rules which can attract Muslims to relinquish the Shari'a and embrace another way. If they did, they would no longer be Muslims in the eyes of established Islam.

           

            IT makes therefore no sense to categorize Islam into moderate and extremist, one has just to spell out the principles of Islam which is are universal, including the element of violent Jihad inherent in them and only distinguish between the active militants who stick out their necks and the masses of their sympathizers and supporters, the silent majority who would jubilate when a mass murder occurs, but would not dare to lend it an active hand. The articulation of that silent majority can follow ups and downs according to the basic attitudes of the media or of Islamic leaders. Rare are the occasions when any Muslim institution, state or cleric has condemned violence on moral grounds, save when it is directed against other Muslims, or when we are told that it "does not serve Muslim interests". Against Jews and Israel, against the "arrogance" of the US,  including Sep. 11, it is universally  approved and celebrated by that Muslim  silent majority,  even by those who would not dare commit it themselves. In that regard, none is moderate, except the few who denounce it from the safety of their western shelters.

 

Raphael Israeli

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

 

 



[1] . For a discussion of martyrs and their motivations, see Raphael Israeli, Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology (Frank Cass, London, 2003)

Inflating the Cost of Oil -- A New Factor in State Sponsorship of Terrorism?

 

By Lenny Ben-David

 

Producing oil in some Arab states is almost as effortless as it was for Jed Clampett of Beverly Hills fame. In Saudi Arabia the “lifting cost,” or the cost to bring a barrel of oil to the surface, is $2.00. Yes, two dollars per barrel.

Lifting cost for other countries is not that much higher than in Saudi Arabia. In 2006, the average cost in Africa was $4 per barrel, in the U.S. $6.83, in Canada $8.30.

There are also “finding costs” for exploration and development of oil fields – about $5.26 per barrel in the Middle East to as much as $63.71 for U.S. offshore oil. Add to that taxes, transportation and refining costs. Nevertheless, the markup on the black gold is remarkable. As of this writing, the price of crude oil dropped to some $90 per barrel. In July, oil prices hit $147.

Saudi Arabia produces some 9,600,000 barrels of oil a day. Do the math: at $90 per barrel, the oil sheikhs and princes earn almost $900,000,000 (spelling it out, that’s nine hundred million dollars) a day. Iran’s Ahmadinejad and his Ayatollah masters produce 4,000,000 barrels a day, earning $360 million dollars. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela milks his black cash cow to the tune of $215 million dollars a day. Putin’s Russia – not a member of the Organization of Oil Producing States (OPEC), but cooperating with the cartel – produced about the same as Saudi Arabia -- 9,700,000 barrels per day – or close to $900,000,000 a day.

 

Pipelines and shipping routes may emerge as the new targets for international terrorists.

With the American deployment of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan easily costing $1 billion a day, it is no surprise to see why a wealthy and resurgent Russia feels that it can challenge the West today in Georgia, the eastern Mediterranean, the Arctic floor and in its support for Iran.

If that’s not a big enough reason for the United States to cut down on fuel imports, here’s another one. Cutting the cost of oil could directly bring down the Ahmadinejad regime.

The vast riches now flowing into the oil producers coffers are certainly lining the pockets of local leaders and oligarchs. But in some cases, the oil producers are undertaking ambitious and costly development programs and acquisition of new weaponry. Currently the income from oil usually exceeds the expenditures, but each country has a “break-even” point. If the oil income drops, the economic stability of the regime starts to rock.

A recent interview by a senior official in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) illustrates that point. Saudi Arabia requires crude prices to remain above $49 a barrel to avoid a fiscal deficit, Mohsin Khan, director of Middle East and Central Asia branch at the IMF, explained. Saudi Arabia depends on oil and gas sales for 90 percent of its export income, he said. “Saudi Arabia’s break-even price is the highest among the Gulf Co-operation Council countries because they are spending on a lot of projects right now, and oil money is used to fund these projects,” Khan said.

Other Arab countries in the Gulf have much lower break-even points, according to the IMF official: “The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will have a fiscal balance at an oil price of $23; if it goes below they would run a deficit. For Qatar, the break-even price is $24 a barrel,” Khan said. Kuwait’s break-even price is $33 a barrel.

Iran’s break-even point, however, is significantly higher. “Iran’s break-even price is $90 a barrel,” Khan said. “If prices dip below $90 a barrel, and we have seen it touch $89, then they would have to tighten their public expenditure policy, and probably cut subsidies, which would be an issue for the government there – the public would not be content,” he said.

Short and simple: if the price of oil drops below $90 per barrel, the Iranian regime is in fiscal trouble.

This week some November futures dropped to $83, the lowest in a year.

If Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait feel threatened by Ahmadinejad it is in their existential interest to bring down the price of oil into the $60-80 dollar range. How? Also short and simple: increase production. These Arab oil producers are heavy investors in the U.S. economy. They are also suffering by the shocks hitting the U.S. markets, and they should be interested in restoring health to the economy.

OPEC, however, facing the downturn in western economies, is considering cutting oil production to keep the price high.

In today’s possible return of the Cold War, Iran, Russia and Venezuela are all interested in chipping away at the United States’ economic stability and have no interest in letting the price of oil drop below their “break-even” points. Just how far will these countries press on the oil supply pressure points to keep the price high?

Forty percent of the world’s petroleum travels through the 180 km-long Straits of Hormuz, effectively controlled by Iran. Every time Ahmadinejad or his commanders rattle their sabers or threaten to mine the straits, the price of oil rockets skyward. Bad news and even rumors make the price jump. A report this week – later proven false -- that a U.S. military aircraft heading to Afghanistan was forced to land in Iran after violating the country's airspace caused prices to jump above $93 a barrel.

Meanwhile, a pipeline through the UAE that would bypass the Straits of Hormuz won’t be ready for at least a year, and one wonders if it won’t be the target of terrorists to keep it from opening. A recent terrorist explosion in Turkey damaged the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline and shut it down for a month. During the Russian blitz of Georgia last month British Petroleum closed the BTC out of fear of serious damage.

Pipelines and shipping routes may emerge as the new targets for international terrorists. They are relatively easy targets, and the skittish oil markets will react in ways that further hurt Western economies. It comes down to the well-known question: Cui bono? Who gains?

Lenny Ben-David

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

 

 

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