Friday, December 24, 2010

To Bomb Iran or Not to Bomb Iran: That is the Question

by David Solway

In a recent column for Canada’s major newspaper, the National Post, entitled “The case against bombing Iran [1],” editor Jonathan Kay reports on the FDD (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) conference held in Washington D.C., which addressed the vexed question of Iran’s nuclear ambition and what should be done about it. Should Iran’s nuclear sites be bombed or not? Kay cites at length the so-called “Iran expert” Kenneth Pollack, author of The Persian Puzzle, who argues against a military strike, which he considers would be both rash and ultimately useless.

Pollack begins by referring to the Israeli air strike against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in 1981 which, he contends, only motivated Saddam “to redouble his efforts…going from a single track to six different tracks across the country.” According to this expert, what put a stop to Saddam’s nuclear intentions was not the vaporizing of Osirak but Desert Storm ten years later. “This,” says Kay, “was a sobering insight.” In Pollack’s estimation, it would appear that the Israeli demolition of Osirak was a strategic blunder of monumental proportions.

Oddly enough, the great Osirak failure did not prevent Israel from launching Operation Orchard, attacking Syria’s nuclear al-Kibar facility in 2007 and dealing a crippling blow to its North Korean-enabled nuclear program. It seems the Israelis are incapable of learning from experience or of profiting from the vast store of Pollack’s undeniable wisdom, but insist on pursuing a reckless and counter-productive policy of armed pre-emption.

And yet there is ample room for skepticism. Pollack, as we have seen, claims that a targeted country can always begin to rebuild its nuclear capacity, thus merely delaying the inevitable. But there are certain obvious considerations he makes no allowance for: once a site has been destroyed, the reconstruction lag gives time to reformulate policy, if necessary; circumstances may change for the better; and, if worse comes to worse, the operation can be repeated. Moreover, if Saddam had been allowed to have his nuclear way in 1981 and to spend the next decade advancing his nuclear option, it is moot whether Desert Storm would even have been possible in 1991. For by that time Saddam might conceivably have developed a ballistic deterrent that would have effectively disarmed the multi-nation coalition from moving against him.

Nor does Pollack consider the basic and indefeasible nature of the Iranian regime, its patently unhinged mullocracy, its frequent threats to wipe Israel off the map and its Twelver Shi’ite theology which awaits the arrival of the messiah or Mahdi, the Hidden Imam who comes to cleanse mankind with fire and the sword, and whose parousia can be hastened by unleashing violence on the world. Pollack should perhaps have consulted Kenneth Timmerman, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, who cites [2] Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s announcement that his government’s main mission was to “pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi.” Indeed, according to Reza Khalili, author of A Time To Betray [3] and a former CIA agent who penetrated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei “has private prayers with the Mahdi. It’s all crazy talk but they take it seriously.”

Is this, one may ask with all due diffidence, the sort of regime that should be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and to perfect solid-state delivery systems, like the Sajill-2 [4], that bring all of Europe within their range? Is this what our “experts” in their ineffable sagacity are prepared to accept? The bottom line is that if they are wrong, then many of us are dead—an outcome, I would suggest, that is scarcely worth the risk. For as Frank Gaffney, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy, has stated [5]: “If we think we can deter mullahs who are committed to an apocalyptic, messianic program, we’re kidding ourselves.” The Wikileaks data dump has shown that much of the Arab world would concur with this assessment, or why else would they have pleaded with the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear sites?

Pollack, who prides himself on being “a student of military history” and loftily declares that “I teach courses on it. I’ve spent my whole life on it,” also believes that a pre-emptive strike would alienate ordinary Iranians. “When people are bombed, they tend to rally around the flag,” he asserts. One may beg to differ, since it is precisely these ordinary people and Green Movement dissidents who are constantly in danger of being thrown into prison, tortured and murdered for opposing the designs of their brutal overlords. And after all, it is not Tehran or other civilian centers that would be bombed but army, air force and missile installations, prior to taking out the nuclear plants and laboratories. Under current conditions in Iran, it seems plausible to assume that such an intervention is just as likely to be welcomed as resented.

As for the belief that sanctions, an international campaign of delegitimation and “shaming Iran by listing off its numerous human rights violations” would suffice to dissuade the Iranian leadership from proceeding on their avowedly determined course, the evidence to date does not seem encouraging. The mullahs don’t shame easily, especially as they are convinced they are doing the divine will. They are exceedingly adept at feigning negotiations to stave off international pressure. And with the assistance of Turkey, China, Venezuela, Austria and other culprit nations, sanctions can, to a significant extent, be circumvented.

Such impractical recommendations demonstrate just how far from reality our self-proclaimed experts tend to live. Or, for that matter, how far from Iran. As Philip Weiss points out [6] in The Huffington Post, Pollack is an “Iran expert who’s never been there, doesn’t speak Persian, and has only dribs and drabs of Arabic.” He is, plainly, the kind of “Iran expert” who puts the farce in Farsi.

What we are witnessing here is a colossal bankruptcy of imagination coupled with an overweening arrogance and a pie-in-the-sky worldview. If Pollack and his professional kin are misguided, what they will see in the sky when they look up one day from their conference notes and briefing papers may not be pies. Perhaps it’s best not to promote oneself as some sort of “expert” or guru but to rely instead on cognitive depth, common sense and a reasonable alertness to the world as it is.

In summing up, Kay concedes that a punitive assault against Iran might be satisfying “on an emotional level” and “has the ring of moral clarity.” But, he continues, deferring to the forum’s chief pedagogue, Pollack “reminds us that all the moral clarity in the world doesn’t erase today’s military realities, nor the lessons of yesterday’s bombing campaigns.” Now what lessons might these be? one wonders, given the rather obvious objections to such timid and conventional thinking docketed above.

Is Pollock by some chance still stuck in Vietnam mode? But it was not the bombing campaign there that proved ineffective; the war was lost owing to poor planning, lack of will and domestic dissent. If he is thinking post-Vietnam, other factors should prevail. Operation Opera against Osirak is, as likely as not, what made Desert Storm feasible in the first place. Operation Orchard against Syria was a blessing to all, except Bashar Assad, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il. And Operation Allied Force against Serbia, a bombing campaign that lasted several months, certainly worked well enough.

Kay concludes that, “as things now stand,” military action against the Iranian program “would do more harm than good.” This is no doubt yet another “sobering insight”—although not one shared by more credible authorities such as Reza Khalili, Emmanuel Sivan [7], Kenneth Timmerman, Frank Gaffney, chair of the Congressional EMP Commission William Graham [8], Ronen Bergman, author of The Secret War with Iran [9], and Louis Rene Beres, professor of International Law at Purdue University and author of Force, Order and Justice [10]. These men do not give themselves airs as specialist virtuosos or policy wonks, but manifest variously as thoughtful, experienced and scholarly observers of a complex situation.

Beres condenses in two short sentences their collective position concerning the Iranian problem: “Tehran’s new nuclear status could coincide with an unshakable leadership belief in the Shi’ite apocalypse. Here, Israel would face… a ‘suicide state.’” And so might the rest of us. For a nuclear exchange in the Middle East may not stay in the Middle East and would clearly have incalculable repercussions.

Now this is a sobering insight indeed.

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[1] The case against bombing Iran:

[2] cites:

[3] A Time To Betray:

[4] Sajill-2:

[5] stated:

[6] points out:

[7] Emmanuel Sivan:

[8] William Graham:

[9] The Secret War with Iran:

[10] Force, Order and Justice:

Original URL:

David Solway

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The Faces of Iran’s Imprisoned Journalists

by Lisa Daftari

“Around 70 journalists are now in the prisons of the Islamic Republic and many others, like me, are free on bail, lacking any security. We are afraid that anything that we write may be used as evidence of ‘propaganda against the system’ or ‘conspiracy against national security.’ My colleagues and I try to write as little as possible.” (Open letter from formerly imprisoned journalist Zhila Bani Yaghoob to the Head of Iran’s Judiciary Committee.)

In light of Iran’s recent political turmoil and continued disregard for non-proliferation provisions, a deep curiosity over Iran’s people and modern society has developed in the international community. The Iranian government has been arresting reporters for communicating with foreign media, writing about human rights violations, or speaking out against the government. The growing trend in the imprisonment of journalists has led to a parallel trend in journalists escaping the country and never coming back.

Last week, a new report showed that ongoing crackdowns in Iran and other countries have driven the number of jailed journalists worldwide to a 14-year high. Currently, 145 journalists are being held internationally, with Iran and China having the highest at 34 journalists each, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, although my sources in Iran tell me that number is about double. Taking into account the dramatic population margins between Iran and China, Iran still maintains the highest number proportionally.

Following a long history of imprisoning journalists as a means of manipulating news coverage, the Iranian government has dramatically intensified the practice since the outbreak of demonstrations in the aftermath of the presidential election in June of 2009. The government closed newspapers, blocked websites and arrested bloggers, photographers and journalists working on all platforms as the most secure method of censorship.

Underground websites, blogs and social networking sites became the new front of a political standoff between the people and the state, but the government quickly made it clear that dissidents would be suppressed. Some were arrested at the time of the protests and others were targeted at home or at work. Among the arrested were dozens of citizen journalists with active Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facing more serious prison sentences were journalists who were seen as political activists or mouthpieces of foreign or reformist interests. The statistics speak for themselves in describing the numbers and the zero tolerance against those communicating information, but the individuals are seldom talked about.

I recently came across the biography of a woman who is currently at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison serving a seven-year sentence for her work as a journalist and political activist. Hengameh Shahidi, 36, left her daughter behind in London to travel to Iran for the election. As a member of presidential-candidate Mehdi Karroubi’s National Trust Party, Shahidi came to act as an advisor on women’s issues for his campaign.

Shahidi suffers from a heart condition that requires medication and physician’s guidance. She and her family requested that she be given the proper medical attention, particularly given that her condition has worsened while in prison, according to sources close to the Shahidi family. In late October, she was released on medical leave but was brought back to the prison after two weeks. Soon after, she began a hunger strike leading to her hospitalization. She now suffers from rheumatism, lower back pain, intestinal problems, and a severe drop in blood pressure.

Weeks after the election, Shahidi was arrested in the midst of protests and was held without charge. Following interrogation and alleged beatings and threats of execution, she was released on bail in November and within a month was sentenced to six years for “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security” and one year for “propaganda against the system,” according to Amnesty International who has documented the details of her case.

Shahidi had been a prolific journalist in Iran. After what close friends call a “messy divorce,” she moved with her daughter to London where she was studying to earn a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Her imprisonment has been contested by several human rights organizations, and “Free Hengameh Shahidi” groups on Facebook are demanding her release. A petition online with 325 signatories was directed toward Iran’s judiciary committee but fell on deaf ears. Most recently, [1] was launched by the Marze Por Gohar, Iranians for a Secular Republic political organization who have stated that they will gift the website to Shahidi to continue her journalistic work once she is released, as her previous site was disabled by the regime. Their campaign altered the traditional “Free Hengameh Shahidi” into “We will free Hengameh Shahidi,” as to not make any futile requests from the Iranian government, the group said.

There are many nameless journalists like Shahidi who are silently withering away in Iran’s prisons for simply doing their jobs. Just last week Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, head of Iran’s Journalists’ Association and the former editor of several reformist daily papers was sentenced to 16 months in jail for mocking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and undermining the Islamic Republic. Shamsolvaezin had been jailed for two months for his criticism of the regime in the aftermath of the election. This month the government went after Iran’s central reformist newspaper Shargh (West). The paper’s financial sponsor, three editors and a writer were all arrested in what the regime cited as “security-related crimes,” according to Tehran’s prosecutor.

I called one of my sources in Iran, a secularist journalist, who, for obvious reasons, most importantly for her security, did not want her name mentioned. When I asked her about Shahidi, she put the case into perspective.

“Hengameh Shahidi is a reformist. She wants to see reform within the regime and this is her fate. Now you can imagine our predicaments as secularists.”

This journalist brings up a valid argument about relativity in the regime’s method of operating. Before the election, the government had long targeted the anti-establishment secularists and radicals demanding regime change. Now their attention has turned toward a new threat, those seeking reform.

URLs in this post:


Original URL:

Lisa Daftari

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Progressives are Running the Universities

by Ricardo Duchesne

This article is reprinted from University Affairs [1].

The November 2010 issue of University Affairs welcomes its readers with a rather eye-catching, if predictable, cover story, “Racism in the academy [2],” by Harriet Eisenkraft, in which up to 20 academics from across the Canadian university landscape are interviewed and cited in support of the sweeping allegation that “many non-Caucasian scholars still feel excluded or denied opportunities” in our universities. After five decades of official multiculturalism and three decades of mandated employment equity, Peter Li, a professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, says that racism is still a pervasive (not a “random” or incidental) feature; “regularized and embedded in the social process” of Canadian academic hiring, promotion, governance, research, and in the curriculum.

Dr. Li is hardly a lone voice. Malinda Smith, a political science professor at the University of Alberta, maintains that, for all the programs and the offices created in the name of equity and diversity, attention to issues affecting minority scholars are still “perpetually deferred.” The article states that every new report on systematic racism has had the unfortunate effect of producing a “backlash.” According to Audrey Kobayashi, a professor of geography at Queen’s University, one of the effects of the backlash “is to prevent progressive people from acting progressively” in the universities.

These are her words; I am not trying to be amusing. How can the most leftist institution in Canada be accused of curtailing the efforts of progressives to fight against “structural racism”? This is exactly the point: the preponderance of progressives in the faculties of arts across Canada is the very ground sustaining and encouraging these outlandish claims. In case we need to be reminded again, “studies in both nations [Canada and the United states] confirm that the humanities and social sciences are dominated by scholars with left-wing opinions and values” (as Christine Overall, cross-appointed with the department of philosophy and women’s studies at Queen’s, had acknowledged in an article, “Lefty Profs [3],” published two years ago in University Affairs).

It is well known that progressives have been able for decades now to exercise their control through domination of hiring committees and the imposition of politically correct speech codes designed to exterminate dissent. Dr. Li is not some isolated figure fighting for racial justice; he belongs to a department dedicated to teaching students [4] to “think critically about the world around them” and “committed to link the aims of the discipline with the mission of the University of Saskatchewan”. Saskatchewan, like many universities in Canada, officially calls itself a “progressive university” committed to “employment equity” for women and visible minorities.

Of the 15 full-time faculty members [5] teaching in Dr. Li’s department, eight are females, and three of the males, together with Dr. Li, are visible minorities of Asian origin. What is more, most of these members have research interests that touch on race, ethnicity, multiculturalism and social inequality. Among the many socialistic colleges, programs, and departments housed in Saskatchewan are: “Discrimination and Harassment Prevention,” “Family Medicine,” “Indian Teacher Education Program,” “Native Studies,” “Women’s and Gender Studies”.

A similar set of facts can be adduced for all the academics cited in this article. Jeffrey Reitz, who claims that white people tend to trivialize the experiences of minorities as unimportant, is director of ethnic and immigration studies at the University of Toronto, housed in a department in which the research and teaching areas are singularly left-oriented in character: “health and mental health,” “networks and community,” “gender and family,” “crime and socio-legal studies,” “immigration and ethnic relations,” “stratification, work, and labour markets.” Constance Backhouse, who wants universities to “take the lead” in dismantling the “mythology” that Canada is a “race-less” society, belongs to the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa [6], wherein the “Message from the Dean” states categorically and imperially that research and teaching are expected to be pursued “in a progressive atmosphere where issues of social justice are at the forefront of student and faculty concerns”.

This influence of progressives over our universities may explain why few of the specialists cite any solid evidence to substantiate their claims. Working within an audience of true believers, they have grown accustomed to soft-ball questions and easy endorsements. Pretty much all the “evidence” cited is anecdotal, based on “feelings”, and in no way the foundation for making a “systemic racism” allegation. The one meagre fact offered is that “about 14 percent of faculty positions are held by visible minorities, whereas 24 percent of all PhD-holders in Canada are visible minorities.” It does not take statistical expertise to realize that this claim is devoid of any meaning unless one offers a system-wide, representative set of statistical indicators on all the positions held by all ethnic groups, on all the PhD-holders, on all the academic openings in the last few decades (rather than merely looking at the ethnicity of academics who were employed decades ago), on all the number of actual applicants for jobs, and on all the respective qualifications of the applicants.

The universities of Canada have worked like a gold mine for progressives. Many of the professors cited in the article have multiple research grants, contracts with government departments, awards for research and teaching, are fellows of the Royal Academy and, in at least one case, is a member of the Order of Canada. I could go on for pages citing their academic honours. University Affairs might have done its readers a greater service publishing an article entitled “The Racism Industry in Academia.”

One would think that after decades of widespread employment equity and the creation of entire departments and programs dedicated to the grievances and resentments of minorities and women, these academics would have some achievements to call for. Then again, why give up on what has been a most remunerative profession? Can these specialists do anything else? They don’t care much for Western high culture. Their research and teaching interests stand in direct opposition to the Greek discovery of rational argumentation, the Roman legacy in jurisprudence, the invention of polyphonic music in medieval France, the invention of linear perspective painting in Renaissance Italy, the invention of the novel in modern Europe, the calibration of uncertainty in Europe (1565-1657), the rise of Galilean and Newtonian science, and indeed the invention of Liberalism and Democracy.

What really matters for progressives is not equality of opportunity as a right but equality as a fact and equality as a result. This is why they have started advocating a way of thinking about merit consistent with “equity and diversity.” Grace-Edward Galabuzi, associate professor in politics at Ryerson, thinks that “When you have a critical mass of PhDs in a whole range of disciplines, the issue of whether you have to choose between [race] representation or quality [is] moot.” Tom Patch says “excellence in the academy requires equity and diversity.” The goal, it seems to me, is to enforce some racial or sexual balance rather than to encourage intellectual openness and variety. Professor Backhouse even says that those administrators who fail to make progress on diversity should be condemned as “not meritorious.” Excellence requires agreement with her agenda.

Anthony Lising, a professor of education at Stanford University, says that non-whites are better at integrating knowledge and political activism than whites — from which observation he suggests that they are rather excellent scholars. Others advise that the curriculum should place less emphasis on European culture, find new ways to adjudicate qualifications by advertising jobs in “community” papers and relying on “personal contacts” for hiring purposes. Dr Kobayashi wants nothing less than a campus-wide strategy commanding every faculty to offer an anti-racism course or a full program so that all students can learn about white racial attitudes.

Looking at the courses offered in Canadian universities, one wonders if the attempt to teach Western high culture is itself now seen as offensive. It is difficult to think of ethnic and gender courses as requiring any mental discipline internal to themselves apart from the foregone ideological conclusions for which they were created in the first place.

White academics welcome this blanket indictment against the “unearned privileges of white faculty” – to use the heading of a letter published in the subsequent issue of UA (December 2010), by Susan Gingell, professor of English at Saskatchewan. There were two letters published in this issue in response to Eisenkraft’s article; by Gingell, in which she suggests that whites are failing to recognize their “racialized privileges,” and by Baljit Singh (quoted in the article) in which he compliments Eisenkraft’s “balanced story.” Never mind that not a single contrarian view was mentioned in this article. In the “comments to this article” in the UA website, there are four comments currently listed [7] (Dec. 5, 2010), each of which agrees with the accusations.

White progressives firmly believe that these impressionistic and anecdotal allegations are legitimate. Peggy Berkowitz, the editor of UA, calls them “serious” and praises Eisenkraft’s attentive journalistic habits. Not a few academic minorities – all too human as they are – have welcomed this state of affairs.

Indeed, racism has become a catch-all explanation for many of their everyday difficulties: the struggle to achieve good grades, publish articles, handle students who are skeptical of leftist policies, or just plain coping with bad affairs and unfriendly people. Whites and progressives don’t mind castigating the “structural racism” of the institutions they inhabit and operate daily. The culprit is not any one of them in particular, but the “structures” of Western culture, the family, capitalism, white masculinity, and the classics. The generations paying the price for an education based heavily on a “Studies” curriculum – Mothering Studies, Environment Studies, Peace Studies, Asian Studies – are the students coming out with a BA believing that truth is only a reflection of one’s own ethnicity and sexual orientation.

URLs in this post:

[1] University Affairs:

[2] Racism in the academy:

[3] Lefty Profs:

[4] department dedicated to teaching students:

[5] 15 full-time faculty members:

[6] faculty of law at the University of Ottawa:

[7] currently listed:

Original URL:

Ricardo Duchesne is a professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John campus.

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

Blacklisting the Iranian Opposition

by Ryan Mauro

On November 3, the State Department branded the Iranian Baluchi militant group Jundullah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. At the same time, the State Department is in a legal fight to keep an opposition group called the Mujahideen-e-Khalq on the list. This follows an earlier decision by the Treasury Department to designate the Free Life Party of Kurdistan a terrorist group. The Obama Administration apparently feels it is worth blacklisting Iranian opposition groups that have used violence in order to increase the chances of a successful “engagement” with the regime.

One of the first decisions the Obama Administration made upon coming into office was to name [1] the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) as a terrorist group. The Obama Administration argued that PJAK was connected to another Kurdish terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). However, PJAK is a separate entity and though both participated in a Kurdish Congress, there is no public proof of links between the two such as shared leadership or training camps.

Kenneth Timmerman, President of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, visited PJAK in Iraq and found [2] that they are stationed in a different part of the Qandil mountain ranges than the PKK. He writes that although some members used to be with PKK until its military branch dissolved and admiration is expressed for Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, they remain separate groups. PJAK’s objective is not an independent Kurdistan, but a democratic Iran that does not oppress any minorities. The group has also not carried out terrorist attacks, using violence only against [3] elements of the Iranian regime, especially its security forces like the Revolutionary Guards.

On November 3, the State Department added [4] Jundullah, a Baluchi militant group to the list. The group, like PJAK, frequently has armed clashes with the regime’s security forces and is a major concern for the government. As one confidential cable [5] from June 2009 released by WikiLeaks revealed, Iranian sources have told the U.S. that Baluchi violence has grown so much that “the Iranian security forces may be losing effective control over growing areas in the countryside.”

The State Department justifies Jundullah’s designation because the group “uses a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.” The State Department then lists three major attacks carried out by the Jundullah, such as on mosques, without mentioning that they targeted groups of Revolutionary Guards personnel including high-level officials. Though Jundullah’s attacks do cause civilian casualties, they are targeted at regime elements and are not aimed at massacring innocents like a terrorist group would.

Recently, the group also kidnapped an Iranian nuclear scientist who confessed [6] to having worked for three years at a secret uranium enrichment site with the explicit purpose of making a nuclear bomb. On December 15, Jundullah suicide bombed [7] a Shiite mosque killing 41 people. The regime and virtually every single news media report described it as a deliberate massacre of civilians, although Jundullah said it was aimed at the Revolutionary Guards.

The U.S. officially condemned the attack, but Michael Ledeen reports [8] that “the terrorist attack was not aimed against ‘women and children,’ but against the symbols and enforcers of the Shi’ite regime: Revolutionary Guards, Basij, and Quds Force fighters. More than sixty were killed, and a large number wounded.”

The Iranian government reacts to Jundullah’s attacks by characterizing them as being linked to Al-Qaeda. This is then followed by an accusation that the U.S. is covertly supporting Jundullah and therefore, the U.S. is also supporting Al-Qaeda. The Long War Journal states [9] that there are two groups under the name of Jundullah, and the regime “deliberately conflates the two groups and accuses the U.S. of backing the al-Qaeda-allied group.”

The intelligence analysis group STRATFOR called [10] the listing “a major gesture toward Iran.” The Iranian regime has consistently accused the U.S. of supporting Jundullah, especially in the wake of a 2007 ABC News report [11] alleging such. A “senior U.S. government official” explained that financial aid to Jundullah was part of an arrangement for the group to help track Al-Qaeda. This does not necessarily mean Jundullah is pro-American, though, as the group reacted to its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by saying, [12] “The United States has always supported criminals and murderers, like Sharon and Zionists, and supports also criminals (in the Iranian regime) to advance its interests.”

At the same time, the State Department is in a legal battle with a third opposition group called the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), which began under the Bush Administration. Recently, the European Union parliament passed [13] a resolution officially asking the United States to remove the MEK from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organization. The MEK was removed from the United Kingdom’s own list in 2008 and the European Union’s list last year after a protracted but successful legal fight.

On July 16, the MEK scored a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia when the judge ruled [14] that the State Department had to review the group’s designation and offer it a chance to see the evidence against it and defend itself. It was decided that the MEK’s due process had been violated. The State Department said [15] that classified intelligence bolstered its accusations against the MEK, but the court noted [16] that “Some of the reports included in the Secretary’s analysis on their face express reservations about the accuracy of the information contained therein.”

The MEK’s battle may become part of the 2012 presidential race. Potential candidate John Bolton has called for their de-listing and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has publicly agreed. [17]

“I have studied terrorism for over 35 years. I have investigated terrorism and I have seen first hand, in my city, the devastation that terrorism can bring about. This is not a terrorist organization,” Giuliani said. He called on the rest of Congress to support a House resolution supporting the MEK’s de-listing that already had the support of 83 bi-partisan members of Congress.

The credibility of the MEK as an opposition group is hotly debated [18] among proponents of regime change in Iran, with some arguing that it has popular support and others saying that supporting the group would cause a backlash amongst Iranians. Whatever the case may be, the MEK’s past legal battles have resulted in verdicts that do not fit the definition of a terrorist group.

The blacklisting of PJAK and Jundullah and the resistance to delisting the MEK are overtures to the Iranian regime by the Obama Administration but it also sends a message to Iranians: Anyone that reacts to the Iranian regime’s violence with violence of their own will be branded a terrorist.

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[3] only against:

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[5] cable:

[6] confessed:

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[13] passed:

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[18] hotly debated:

Original URL:

Ryan Mauro

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NY Times Perpetuates the Big Lie -- ''Settlements are the Problem''

by Leo Rennert

In the Dec. 23 edition of the New York Times, Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner has a lengthy, front-page article that perpetuates the paper's ideological bent to blame Israeli settlements as the prime villains spoiling chances for an Israeli-Palestinian peace ("West Bank Settlement Boom Sows New Obstacles to Peace Deal").

Sprinkling alarming tones throughout his piece, Bronner reports that thousands of new housing units have been going up in West Bank settlements since Israel recently ended a temporary construction moratorium.

"This means that if negotiations ever get back on track, there will be thousands more Israeli settlers who will have to relocate into Israel," he writes. "The international community considers all settlement building to be illegitimate and illegal."

It's a well-trod line at the NY Times of pinning the blame on Israel -- while shielding the Palestinians from having to meet Israel half-way. But it's also a baseless slap at the Jewish state.

For one thing, Bronner fails to mention that settlements occupy less than 2 percent of the West Bank and that Israel repeatedly has offered to withdraw from the vast majority of settlements since the founding of the state in exchange for a genuine peace deal.

To wit:

-- There would be no West Bank settlements had the Arabs accepted the UN's two-state partition resolution in 1947.

--.The new settlement construction that so preoccupies Bronner would be non-existent had Yasser Arafat not rejected a generous Palestinian statehood deal advanced by Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton in 2000-2001. It envisaged a Palestinian state in nearly the entire West Bank.

--Ditto again if Mahmoud Abbas had not rejected an even more generous two-state agreement offered by Ehud Olmert as recently as 2008.

All this Palestinian rejectionism fails to make any appearance in Bronner's piece. Yet, it is exactly this rejectionism which points to the real obstacle blocking any progress in the peace process -- insistence by the Palestinian side and the Arab world that Israel accept a phony peace, a suicidal peace -- either by leaving the Middle East, as Hamas insists, or by agreeing to a "right of return" of millions of Palestinians to Israel -- a demographic knock-out punch of the Jewish state, as Mahmoud Abbas demands.

The current irony in all this is that the New York Times has lost one of its most kindred spirits in the game of blaming "settlements" as the overriding obstacle to a peace deal -- none other than President Obama himself. After obsessing on "settlements" for nearly two years, Obama has concluded that he was headed into a dead-end and that there are other, more transcendent, issues and disagreements that need to be tackled. Accordingly, he reset his negotiating strategy, leaving the Times without its most prominent partner in turning Jewish "settlers" into scapegoats.

Original URL:

Leo Rennert

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

The Spanish Ham Lawsuit and Other Muslim Problems Hitting Iberia

by Soeren Kern

A high school teacher in southern Spain is being sued for child abuse by the parents of a Muslim student who claims that the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in class. The case is one of a growing list of recent controversies that illustrate the increasing assertiveness of Muslims in Spain at a time when Spaniards are slowly waking up to the integration challenges posed by uncontrolled immigration from Muslim countries.

Although Spanish legal scholars are divided over whether the lawsuit has real merit, nearly everyone agrees that the case has potentially major implications for free speech in Spain. They also agree that the constant threat of lawsuits will force Spanish school teachers to carefully consider their choice of words in the future.

The latest dust-up occurred at the Instituto Menéndez Tolosa, a secondary school in the town of La Línea de la Concepción in the southern region of Andalusia, where José Reyes Fernández, a geography teacher, was giving a lecture about the different types of climates in Spain. During the class, Reyes mentioned that the climate in Andalusia offers the perfect temperature conditions for curing Spanish ham (Jamón Ibérico), a world-famous delicacy.

At this point, a Muslim student in the class interrupted Reyes and, according to local newspaper reports, argued that any talk of pork products is offensive to his religion. Reyes responded by saying that he was only giving an example and that he does not take into consideration different religious beliefs when teaching geography.

The Muslim student informed his parents, who then proceeded to file a lawsuit against Reyes, accusing him of "abuse with xenophobic motivations." Article 525 of the Spanish Penal Code makes it a crime to "offend the feelings of the members of a religious confession."

The Spanish ham controversy follows several other recent imbroglios involving Spain's Muslim community, which now numbers around 1.5 million (compared to only 100,000 in 1990), and exposes the growing uncertainty in Spain over how to deal with Muslim mass immigration.

In September 2010, for example, a discotheque in southern Spain was forced to change its name and architectural design after Islamists threatened to initiate "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if it did not. La Meca was a popular discotheque in the southern Spanish resort town of Águilas (Murcia) in the 1980s and 1990s. After being closed for more than a decade, the club reopened in August 2010 under new management, but using the original name, La Meca. The mega-nightclub, which has been visited by more than 100,000 patrons since its reopening, features a large turquoise-colored mosque-style dome, a minaret-like tower, as well as traditional Arabic architecture common in southern Spain.

But soon after its reopening, Muslims began to complain that the nightclub is offensive and insulting to their religion; a group of Muslim radicals posted a video on the Internet calling for a boycott of Spanish goods and jihad against those who "blaspheme the name of Allah." Spain's intelligence agency, the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), warned La Meca's owners that the discotheque was being directly targeted by Islamic extremists.

In mid-September, the nightclub owners held a hastily-arranged press conference during which they – under the watchful supervision of local Muslim leaders – announced that the venue's name would be changed to La Isla (the island) "to avoid further problems and to ensure that patrons keep coming." They also confirmed plans to modify controversial features of the club's architecture, namely a minaret-like tower that will be converted into a lighthouse-like tower.

Other Islam-related controversies abound in Spain. In December 2010, for example, Spanish police raided an apartment in the northern city of Logroño to free a 25-year-old Pakistani woman who was forced to marry her cousin and was then held captive by her family and sexually assaulted for more than a month. She was freed after two passersby found a note the woman had dropped from the window of an eighth floor apartment where she was being held. Police arrested ten Pakistanis, including the woman's husband as well as her parents, on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault.

In an interview with the Madrid-based newspaper, El País, Huma Jamshed, President of the Association of Pakistani Women in Spain, says there are many such cases in Spain, although most of them do not end up with arrests. "It is difficult to understand. You have to know Pakistani culture, which is completely different from Spanish culture. This is a matter of interests. The families marry off their children to relatives in Pakistan to get the [immigration] papers here, and this is a guarantee of a future for them. Marriages between cousins are normal in Pakistan and women do not feel obliged. The problems begin when they come to Spain and are educated; they begin to work and know their rights, because then it becomes an abuse and they feel forced."

Meanwhile, the Catalan town of Lleida, where 29,000 Muslims make up more than 20 percent of the town's population, became the first municipality in Spain to ban the burqa head covering in all public spaces. Women found violating the ban, which entered into effect on December 9, will be fined up to €600 ($750). One day earlier, the Catalonian Supreme Court turned down an appeal from Watani, a local Muslim association, which had argued that the ban constitutes religious discrimination.

Also in December, an imam in Tarragona, a city in northeastern Spain, was sentenced to one year in prison for forcing a 31-year-old Moroccan woman to wear a hijab head covering. The local prosecutor had asked the judge to jail the imam and three others for five years for harassment" after the imam had threatened to burn down the woman's house for being an "infidel," but the Socialist mayor tried to get the case dismissed to prevent "a social conflict."

In November 2010, the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, two enclaves in northern Africa, officially recognized the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice, as a public holiday. By doing so, Ceuta and Melilla became the first Spanish municipalities officially to mark an Islamic holiday since Spain was liberated from Muslim captivity in 1492.

More than 10,000 lambs were slaughtered in conformity with Sharia rituals during the one-day festival on November 17. According to local media reports, many of the animals were imported illegally from Morocco because Muslim immigrants prefer to sacrifice lambs with long tails, lacking on lambs grown on the Iberian Peninsula.

Meanwhile, jihadists are now calling for a "crusade" to recover Ceuta and Melilla for Islam. They say they were provoked by an August 2010 border crisis between Spain and Morocco and that involves the two cities.

In October 2010, the Islamic Association of Málaga, in southern Spain, demanded that Television Española (TVE), the state-owned national public television broadcaster, stop showing a Spanish-language television series called El Clon. In an angry letter addressed to TVE Director General Santiago González, the authors express their "most energetic revulsion" against a show they describe as "not only anti-Muslim, but also attacking the basic principles of coexistence and integration guaranteed by all democratic societies." The authors accuse TVE of violating the Spanish Constitution for airing a program that criticizes certain aspects of Islam, such as forced marriages and the lack of women's rights in Muslim countries.

In September 2010, radical Muslims threatened to attack the Barcelona metro system on the day the city celebrates its annual September 24 holiday, Festes de la Mercè., which had its origins in a medieval Roman Catholic religious order established to liberate Christians from Muslim captivity at a time when the Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic occupation (711-1492).

In April 2010, a 16-year-old schoolgirl was banned from a school in Madrid after refusing to remove her hijab, a face covering, in violation of the school dress code.

In December 2009, nine Salafists in Catalonia kidnapped a woman, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman escaped and fled to a local police station just before she was to be executed by the Islamists.

In November 2009, a Muslim lawyer was ejected from Spain's high court in Madrid, where she was defending a client, because the lawyer refused to remove her headscarf.

In April 2009, Spain marked the 400th anniversary of King Philip III's expulsion of the Moriscos -- the descendants of the Muslim population who converted to Christianity under threat of exile in 1502 -- from Spain in 1609. The Spanish Socialist Party called on Spain to apologize to the Muslim world for the expulsion, which Muslims claim was the world's first genocide. Muslim leaders say Spain could right the wrong by offering Spanish citizenship to the Muslim descendants of the Moriscos, as an "apology and acknowledgement of mistakes" made during the Spanish Inquisition.

In February 2009, the Islamic Commission of Spain, the group that represents Spain's Muslims, complained to the Spanish government that there are only 11 cemeteries for the 1.5 million Muslims in Spain. The group says the lack of burial plots in Spain for Muslims makes it impossible for them to bury their dead according to Sharia law. Muslim leaders also called on the Spanish government to provide mosques for Muslim worshippers.

In October 2007, Amr Moussa, the Egyptian Secretary-General of the Arab League, asked the Spanish government to allow Muslims to worship in the cathedral of Córdoba, which had been a mosque during the medieval Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus. Muslims now hope to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba, once the heart of Al-Andalus, as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. Funds for the project to turn "Córdoba into the Mecca of the West" are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt.

In Granada, a city in southern Spain that was the last Muslim stronghold of Al-Andalus to capitulate to the Roman Catholic kings in 1492, there are now parallel societies; some Muslims want traditional Sharia law to be applied there instead of Spanish law. They are also demanding Muslim education and special Muslim schools for their children. They also want an equal share in the money made with ticket sales for the fabled Alhambra palace, which they regard as part of the cultural heritage of their Muslim ancestors.

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Soeren Kern

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An Israeli Apology May Just Deepen the Rift with Turkey

by Jonathan Schanzer

Nearly seven months after the military operation on the high seas to block a Turkish vessel from reaching the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may now issue an apology. His advisers support him. So does the White House. But if he follows through, Netanyahu will likely exacerbate a deepening diplomatic crisis with Turkey.

When IDF commandos intercepted the Mavi Marmara on May 31, weapons-wielding passengers attacked them as soon as they boarded. The clashes resulted in nine deaths – all Turks. The Turkish government soon demanded an apology. The Israelis insisted that the boat was full of violent Islamists who sought nothing more than an opportunity to do battle. The Israelis, in retrospect, were vindicated. The videos proved their case. Moreover, the flotilla turned out to be sponsored by a group with ties to Hamas and al-Qaida.

Today, however, multiple Middle East media reports indicate that the Israelis could soon apologize to Turkey for the incident. They might even pay reparations to the families of those killed to the tune of $100,000.

Not surprisingly, the move has its critics. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman opposes the deal. Defense Minister Ehud Barak doesn’t like it either. Neither do senior IDF officers.

So, who exactly supports this? According to a senior Israeli diplomat, Netanyahu and his advisers do, despite some well-placed quotes to the contrary. The prime minister has been floating this story in the media as a trial balloon to assess how the Turkish and Israeli people will respond.

After witnessing an outpouring of sympathy from the Turkish people during this month’s Carmel fire (during which, to the surprise of many, Turkey sent two fire-fighting planes), Netanyahu and his inner circle believe that while the Turkish government now champions Hamas, the people of Turkey stand with Israel. He reportedly thinks an apology might win the hearts of Turks and simultaneously get Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) to somehow ease their anti-Israel rhetoric.

BUT THIS is not Netanyahu’s brainchild. During meetings last week in Geneva between Turkish and Israeli officials that were designed to ease tensions, it was the Turks that demanded an apology and reparations.

The carrot Turkey is dangling is a return to normalization by the summer 2011 elections. And the White House thinks this is a good idea, to boot.

Netanyahu is now close to taking the bait.

If he does apologize, it could lead to a deepening crisis in Israel-Turkey relations. Indeed, an apology would likely ensure an AKP victory in those elections. Moderate Turks will mistakenly believe that Ankara is finally mending fences with Israel, a key regional ally. Islamist Turks will mistakenly believe that Erdogan brought the Israelis to their knees, reinforcing the façade that Turkey could become a dominant regional power under the banner of Islamism. If the AKP remains atop Turkey’s government, rapprochement is an impossibility. Erdogan’s cozy ties to Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia keep getting cozier. And there’s no room for Israel in that equation.

The AKP has steadily and methodically pried Turkey from its decades-old alliance since first coming to power in 2002. While the early years could be described as a “drift” away from Israel, the foreign policy in recent years has been openly hostile. From a public spat in January 2009 in Davos during which Erdogan insulted President Shimon Peres on the world stage, to a recent Rambo-style movie that depicts a Turkish team of special forces that mows down Israelis involved in the flotilla raid, the message is clear. There is little the Israelis can do to tempt Turkey’s Islamist leaders out of the Iranian orbit.

Netanyahu’s gambit is a weak one, at best. But if he insists on it, his best bet is to wait until after the June 2011 elections, a point when the AKP will have little to gain from an apology. In a best-case scenario, the AKP could be politically weakened.

But if he acts before the election, Netanyahu could aid the Islamist party and if this happens, he will have only himself to blame.

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Jonathan Schanzer, a former intelligence analyst at the US Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Is It Not Torture When the Prisoner is a Jew?

by Phyllis Chesler

Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger and Jonathan Pollard

Weinberger's revenge

Why is this man still in jail? Why was this man forced to spend seven years in solitary? Why is he still confined, languishing, festering in jail for a total of twenty five years?

Solitary confinement is the most barbaric of punishments. Few people can withstand this form of torture without becoming very ill, both physically and mentally.

Am I talking about the Soviet Gulag? Or about some hell-hole in Afghanistan or Iran?

Last year, The New Yorker ran a piece about solitary confinement. The article concludes that this punishment amounts to torture, that it can even induce “acute psychosis with hallucinations.” The article describes the cases of two political prisoners or prisoners-of-war: AP’s Middle East correspondent, Terry Anderson, who was put into solitary by Hezbollah in Lebanon for six years. Anderson “felt himself disintegrating”; his mind went blank; he had hallucinations; he started to become “neurotically possessive about his little space”; he felt his brain was “grinding down.” He also describes Senator John McCain who said that “solitary confinement crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more than any other form of mistreatment. And he said that even though he had his arms broken and was subjected to other forms of torture.”

Clearly, the New Yorker’s man, Atul Gawande, opposes this practice.

He does mention the cases of two unnamed inmates: one was convicted of felony-murder and spent five years in isolation. After a few months he began talking to himself, pacing back and forth, having panic attacks, and hallucinating. After a year he was hearing voices on the television who were talking to him. In another case, Gawande describes another American man in solitary whose initial crime was armed robbery and aggravated battery but who then “misbehaved” at a medium security prison for which he was was put in solitary or in isolation for almost fourteen years. This man stopped showering and began throwing his feces around his cell. He became psychotic.

Even he was released after he served his sentence of fifteen years.

Gawande does not mention the man I have in mind, a man whose living head is on a pike in the public square for all to see—a message, a warning to us all—a man who killed no one.

I am talking about Jonathan Pollard.

What crime did he commit? Did he spy against America for the Soviets or for the Chinese communists? Did he do so for money, sex, or for ideological reasons? American Navy Seaman, Michael Walker, operated a Soviet spy ring; he was arrested in 1980, pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 25 years and released after 15.

CIA Agent David Barnett sold the Soviets the names of thirty American undercover agents. He was arrested in the mid-1980s, sentenced to only 18 years, and paroled after only ten years. In 2001, John Walker Lindh, who joined the Taliban and received training as a terrorist in Pakistan, was captured and sentenced to 21 years. Kedar Helmy, an Egyptian-born American, transmitted classified materials to Egypt used in a joint weapons program with Iraq to vastly increase the range of ballistic missiles, including Scud missiles, which were later fired on U.S. troops during the Persian Gulf War.” In 2010, Chinese-American engineer Dongfan “Greg” Chung operated as a spy for China against America for thirty years. He received a 15 year sentence.

What is “different” about Pollard? Unlike Walker, Barnett, Lindh, Helmy, and Chung, Pollard is the only Jew. The others are Christians or Muslims or atheists.

What else is different? Pollard is the only one who shared secrets with an American ally with whom America was not and is not now at war. Pollard shared information with Israel.

What else is “different” about Pollard? There is one more thing. Like the Rosenbergs, Pollard was the proving grounds, the scapegoat, for another man, also a Jew, but a Jew who did not like being mistreated as a Jew, as a Jew who wanted to prove how tough the was or how hard he was ready to be on another Jew and on the Jewish state.

The Rosenbergs (who were guilty) had their Jewish judge who chose to have them electrocuted. Pollard, poor Pollard, had Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger whose paternal grandparents were Jews and whose father was a Jewish lawyer. When Caspar was a boy, he was taunted for supposedly being Jewish. His mother was a Christian and he was raised as a Christian. When he visited Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, he said loudly: “I am not a Jew.” He said this in response to the guard who told him that “he, too, would have been murdered in the Holocaust.”

Weinberger submitted a 40 page affidavit in which he insisted that Pollard should be harshly sentenced. In later years, he said that “the Pollard matter was comparatively minor.” Weinberger is now dead and no doubt roasting in Hell. One wonders: What did he have over CIA head George Tenet (who threatened to resign when President Clinton suggested pardoning Pollard)? What did Weinberger have over President Bush’s Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom went along with Weinberger’s revenge?

Where are all the anti-torture activists on Pollard? How can it be that our most prominent American political prisoner has never made it onto their honor roll of causes with which to browbeat America?

Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally asked President Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard, at long last. I stand with him in this matter.

Update: Based on a recent article by Leo Rennert which critique’s yesterdays’ coverage of the Pollard case, “ it is now clear that Pollard, in failing health, has been the victim of a CIA cover-up of a massive intelligence failure, with the agency blaming Pollard for the damage caused by a real “mole” inside the CIA who passed to Moscow the names of more than a dozen U.S. informants in the Soviet Union — namely Aldrich Ames, the head of CIA’s Soviet-Eastern Europe division, who fingered Pollard to keep the CIA from discovering his own treachery.. The CIA did not discover Ames’ role until well after Pollard was behind bars and it still isn’t willing to acknowledge its mistake in blaming Pollard for Ames’s crimes.”

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Phyllis Chesler

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Israeli Anti-Polygamy Activists Run into Islamic Opposition

by David E. Miller

A women’s group campaigning to stop polygamous marriages among Israeli Beduin is running into strong resistance from Islamic groups and even some politicians.

The organizers of the "No Excuse for Polygamy" campaign, launched at the end of November, have been called infidels in newspaper editorials and accused of serving the Zionist agenda by limiting the Arab birth rate. Last Friday’s sermon in a mosque in the Beduin town of Rahat warned worshipers to protect their wives and daughters from the woman's movements.

Even heads of Negev regional councils representing Beduin towns have publicly denounced the anti-polygamy campaign.

Safa Shehadeh, director of Ma'an – the Forum for Arab Beduin Women's Organizations of the Negev, one of the groups behind the anti-polygamy campaign, said she expected traditionalists to push back. But the reaction has been more aggressive than she had expected.

"There were no personal threats against us," Shehadeh told The Media Line, "but some of the articles published by members of the Islamic Movement and municipal leaders included tacit threats."

In Islam, a man may marry up to four wives on condition that he provides for them equally. But in most Arab societies the phenomenon is frowned upon and in Israel polygamy is illegal, punishable by up to five years in prison. Nevertheless, the custom is deeply rooted in the culture of the Beduin Arabs who traditionally were tent-dwelling nomads but who have gradually been settled in permanent towns like Rahat.

Husbands will have their polygamous marriages sanctified religiously but not in the government marriage registrar. Indeed, many second, third and fourth wives are officially listed as single parents, entitling them to allowances.

Since polygamous marriages aren’t recognized by the government, no official statistics exist. But the Research and Information Center of Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, estimates that somewhere between 20% and 36% of Beduin households in the southern Negev region, where most of Beduin live, are polygamous.

The Working Group for Equality in Personal Status Issues (WGEPSI), which organized the campaign against multiple marriages, believes the number is at the high end of that range. It blames a lack of education and an undeclared Israeli policy of legal non-intervention as the main causes.

Primarily a media campaign using posters with women's testimonials, the "No Excuse for Polygamy" initiative also holds meetings and seminars aimed at educating single women about the price of polygamy. The campaign defending polygamy has been more visceral.

A menacing red and black advertisement published in Al-Hadath, a newspaper published in Rahat, urged women who had failed to get married by age 30 to find a husband to share.

"What is the solution for 7,513 unmarried women in the Negev over the age of 30?" the advertisement rhetorically asked. "Polygamy -- a shariah-sanctioned solution!" it said, answering its own question by defending the practice as approved under Islamic law.

Heba Yazbak, WGEPSI's activities coordinator, said she was heartened by the counter-measures. "This proves that our campaign has really destabilized them," she told The Media Line. "Many men in the southern branch of the Islamic Movement are married to more than one woman, so they have a personal stake in this."

Yazbak noted that the counter-campaign calls itself the Committee for Women's Equality in the Negev, a name similar to her own organization. It also copied the logo and poster design of the original anti-polygamy campaign. "It seems that our campaign threatens everyone," she said.

Sheikh Hammad Abu-Da'abes, head of the Islamic Movement's southern branch, said the women's movements had no answer to the growing problem of spinsterhood in a fast-urbanizing Beduin society.

Some 200,000 Beduin live in Israel, mostly in the Negev desert. With an annual growth rate of 5.5%, Israeli Beduins are one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

"Women are the greatest beneficiaries of polygamy," Abu-Da'abes told the Israeli-Arab weekly Kul Al-Arab. "Spinsterhood has reached 25% in Arab society, and when we fight polygamy we shut the door in the face of many women who wish to marry half a man due to their inability to marry a full man."

For that reason, Abu-Da'abes criticized Arab men who take foreign women in addition to their Arab wives, saying he would like to issue an Islamic legal opinion, known as a fatwa, against mixed marriages.

Yazbak dismissed Abu-Da'abes’ argument, saying polygamy causes poverty and dissolves the family structure. She asserted that Israel’s policy of non-intervention was part of a larger strategy to keep Arab society in Israel impoverished.
"Israeli law is not applied in the Negev," she said. "This is a marginalized and neglected part of the country."

Shehadeh of Ma'an said the opposition to the women’s campaign won’t sway her from fighting polygamy.

"They tried to question our legitimacy, our credibility and our patriotism, but this is a human rights issue,” she said. “We don't even go into the religious question of whether it's permissible or not."

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David E. Miller

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Successful Test as Trophy System Takes Out Rocket

by Maayana Miskin

The Trophy tank protection system was successfully tested this week, when it shot down an anti-tank missile during an exercise in the Golan.

The system was developed by weaponry manufacturer RAFAEL. It is an active protection system, which does not boost the tank's armor, but rather destroys incoming missiles and rockets. Details of how the system destroys incoming weapons have been kept deliberately vague.

A second version, dubbed Trophy Light, is designed for use on light and medium armored vehicles.

The system, known in Israel as Windbreaker (Me'il Ruach), will soon be put into use in the Gaza region. The IDF plans to install the system in several tanks.

Gaza terrorists have used more advanced weapons in past months than they did previously, and recently fired a long-range Coronet missile at an IDF tank, causing damage but no injuries.

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Maayana Miskin

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EU's European Commission to Provide PA with 11m. Euros

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The European Union's European Commission decided on Wednesday to provide an initial package worth 11 million Euros to the PA.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission Catherine Ashton stated: “This decision is a sign of the strong political and financial commitment of the European Union to the Palestinian Authority and to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's leadership in building a democratic and viable Palestinian state."

"Palestinian statehood is critical for any peaceful, workable and lasting solution to the conflict,” Ashton added.

In announcing the package, Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle said: “By today's decision the Commission wants to give a signal to the Palestinian people that they can count on our continued support in 2011 as in the past.”

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Khaled Abu Toameh

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Why America Needs Nuclear Arms

by John Griffing

For the last half-century, doves in both major political parties have pursued disarmament without reciprocity. America survived this disarmament in spite of the existence of strategic adversaries like China and the former Soviet Union, but only because America still posed a credible threat to these nations.

America finessed its large arsenal of warheads into the ultimate strategic weapon. After all, no nation knew exactly how many deliverable warheads America possessed, and every nation was sure that given proper provocation, America would consider a nuclear strike. This "calculated ambiguity," as it was termed by defense insiders, enabled America to take the world into an age of unprecedented stability. President Obama, admittedly uncomfortable with the idea of America as a superpower, would like to end this tradition, taking the nuclear option off the table by means of drastic reduction of nuclear weapons stockpiles below the practical point. The question is, why? The answer is bigger than Obama or any one man.

Those governing from the shadows desire that America be no better, no more powerful, and no more influential than any other country. For America to need the world, for interdependence and the designs of global government to come to fruition, American might must be dismantled. This ideology necessitates not only military rebalancing, but significant economic leveling.

New START would accomplish the goal of American decline, rendering America no more than a whining paper tiger.

Reductions make no sense. There are currently three thousand targets the U.S. must be ready to destroy. The list grew by 20 percent in the aftermath of START II. With new threats posed by rogue states and terrorist organizations, the potential for nuclear confrontation has increased exponentially. The U.S. should stop talking reductions and start talking modernization.

At present, deliverable U.S. warheads number slightly more than 5,000 -- sufficient to fulfill strategic obligations. But New START would reduce deliverable warheads to slightly more than 1,000, requiring the U.S. to step down from its position as global peacekeeper. The U.S. cannot be a superpower when its arsenal is insufficient to defend its territory and the territory of its allies from nuclear attack.

There is no better illustration of this backwards military methodology than the provisions addressing non-offensive U.S. missile defense technology. New START contains requirements that the U.S. cease attempts to defend its territory from intercontinental attack, a domain where the U.S. has been quite successful, because defensive technologies eliminate the effectiveness of the Russian arsenal. Translation: Russia wants the U.S. to abandon missile defense so that its missiles can kill Americans without difficulty.

America should not agree to this insane demand.

Rather than "mutually assured destruction," why not share in a mutually assured peace? American missile defense technology already has an 80-percent success rate, potentially rendering nuclear weapons obsolete.

Russia's absurd proposal demonstrates Russian weakness, yet Obama is capitulating to Russian demands as if Russia were in the driver's seat. But Russia is attempting a transparent bluff with New START, and sometimes calling a bluff requires a willingness to walk out. At Reykjavik, Ronald Reagan's unwillingness to compromise SDI was later acknowledged by Russian officials as the turning point in the Cold War that eventually led to Soviet collapse.[i] Why reverse course now?

It is within this paradigm that Americans should seek to understand the utility of nuclear weapons and their proper place in the strategic schema. Many Americans want to believe in the existence of universal values embodied in a universal phobia of nuclear weapons. But American values are not universal.

The Communist Chinese, for example, do not value human life in the same way Americans mourn one soldier fallen. If America ever ceased to be useful as a source of trade and investment, and instead became a burden -- the source of endless debt, perhaps -- then China would have no qualms about eliminating the American irritant.

No true American could support a policy that leaves America utterly defenseless against would-be aggressors. That President Obama would seek to reduce U.S. nuclear stockpiles at a time of such demonstrated hostility is an indication of his real loyalties.

Russia, tainted by nearly a century of Communist godlessness, will have no logical reason to allow America to continue ordering the world along American lines without corresponding American nuclear stare-down capability. Why should nations that loathe America tolerate us if we are not strong? Good will? The Judeo-Christian ethic?

No, Ronald Reagan understood: the only real peace is peace through strength. In a world of constant conflict and tumult, the only real security comes from the ability to demolish potential adversaries -- an ability which must be known by all.

Although its general nuclear posture is in disarray, Russia is ahead of the United States in nuclear modernization. Russia builds more deadly weapons. China perfects its strategic advantage, building fleets of U.S.-inspired nuclear submarines fitted with functioning SLBMs. America may even have witnessed the test-firing of such a missile recently, as Obama twiddled his thumbs and decided on a "muted response."

What does America do? America meekly resigns itself to even smaller arsenals and even fewer strategic options. America reverses modernization efforts like the MX-Peacekeeper missile, forcing its citizenry to depend on the aging and, for many years, untested Minuteman-III. Obama has openly proposed that the U.S. "de-MIRV" its missiles, despite the fact that multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles stand as America's main asset in targeting multiple locales simultaneously. Surrendering this capability would leave Russia as the sole nation with MIRVs. Russia could target multiple American cities, and America would be limited to a slap on the wrist in response.

In this single proposition is evidence of Obama's delusional mindset. Like many radical leftists in the eighties, Obama is of the mind that America can survive without a nuclear triad, that America can unilaterally disarm and nothing will come of it. Like the old Queen song "Hammer to Fall," the sentence "just surrender and it won't hurt at all" seems to be the core of Obama's nuclear philosophy.

But the world does not operate on postmodern American fantasies. The world operates on fear. The world operates on strength.

Will America remain strong?

[i] Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World, (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 10-11.

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John Griffing

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