Friday, June 24, 2011

The Netherlands to Abandon Multiculturalism

by Soeren Kern

The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.

A new integration bill (covering letter and 15-page action plan), which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads: "The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people. In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role. With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural society."

The letter continues: "A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually grows apart and eventually no one feels at home anymore in the Netherlands. The integration will not be tailored to different groups."

The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants to ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.

The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because, according to Donner, "it is not the government's job to integrate immigrants." The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress. More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013.

If necessary, the government will introduce extra measures to allow the removal of residence permits from immigrants who fail their integration course.

The measures are being imposed by the new center-right government of Conservatives (VVD) and Christian Democrats (CDA), with parliamentary support from the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV), whose leader, Geert Wilders, is currently on trial in Amsterdam for "inciting hatred" against Muslims.

As expected, Muslim organizations in Holland have been quick to criticize the proposals. The Moroccan-Dutch organization Samenwerkingsverband van Marokkaanse Nederlanders, which advises the government on integration matters, argues that Muslim immigrants need extra support to find a job. The umbrella Muslim group Contactorgaan Moslims en Overheid says that although it agrees that immigrants should be better integrated into Dutch society, it is opposed to a ban on burqas.

But polls show that a majority of Dutch voters support the government's skepticism about multiculturalism. According to a Maurice de Hond poll published by the center-right newspaper Trouw on June 19, 74 percent of Dutch voters say immigrants should conform to Dutch values. Moreover, 83 percent of those polled support a ban on burqas in public spaces.

The proper integration of the more than one million Muslims now living in Holland has been a major political issue ever since 2002, when Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was assassinated for his views on Muslim immigration, and since 2004, when Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was stabbed to death for producing a movie that criticized Islam.

Muslim immigration to the Netherlands can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when a blue collar labor shortage prompted the Dutch government to conclude recruitment agreements with countries like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. In the 1980s and 1990s, Muslims also arrived in the Netherlands as asylum seekers and refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia.

There are now an estimated 1.2 million Muslims in the Netherlands, which is equivalent to about 6 percent of the country's overall population. Moroccans and Turks comprise nearly two-thirds of all Muslims in the Netherlands. Most Muslims live in the four major cities of the country: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.

As their numbers grow, Muslim immigrants have become increasingly more assertive in carving out a role for Islam within Dutch society. For example, a documentary aired by the television program Netwerk in June 2009 reported that Dutch law was being systematically undermined by the growth of Sharia justice in the Netherlands.

In December 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report titled From Dawa to Jihad. Prepared by the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD, the report says that the Netherlands is home to up to 50,000 radical Muslims whose key ideological aim is to target the Western way of life and to confront Western political, economic, and cultural domination.

The report concludes that Dutch society is poorly equipped to resist the threat of radical Islam because of "a culture of permissiveness" that has become synonymous with "closing one's eyes" to multiple transgressions of the law.

As for Interior Minister Donner, he has undergone a late-in-life conversion on the issue of Muslim immigration. In September 2006, while serving as justice minister, Donner provoked an outcry after saying that he welcomed the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in the Netherlands if the majority wants it. He also said Holland should give Muslims more freedoms to behave according to their traditions.

After applauding Queen Beatrix for respecting Islam by not insisting that a Muslim leader shake hands with her during a visit to the Mobarak Mosque in The Hague, Donner said: "A tone that I do not like has crept into the political debate on integration. A tone of: 'Thou shalt assimilate. Thou shalt adopt our values in public. Be reasonable, do it our way.' That is not my approach."

Fast forward to 2011 and Donner now says his government "will distance itself from the relativism contained in the model of a multicultural society." Although society changes, he says, it must not be "interchangeable with any other form of society."

Soeren Kern


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

Obama’s Afghanistan Gamble

by Rick Moran

President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday evening that he was withdrawing 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and a total of 33,000 troops by the end of 2012. In short, the president has opted to leave the job in Afghanistan half finished because of political expediency and war weariness on the part of the American voter.

Saying, “[I]t is time to focus on nation building at home,” the president stated that the death of Osama bin Laden made the withdrawal possible and budget pressures in Congress made ending our commitment to Afghanistan’s security a necessity. There is also the matter of the president’s re-election that most analysts believe played a large role in the decision.

“We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely,” said Obama. It is a sentiment echoed on Capitol Hill by members of both parties, and political activists on the left and right. Some Republicans disagreed with the president, but even many GOP presidential candidates tread softly in their responses.

Obama’s decision — delivered in a 13 minute speech in the East Room of the White House — was in direct opposition to what the vast majority of his military commanders had recommended. What the president referred to as a “commitment” to “refocus on al Qaeda” and “reverse the Taliban’s momentum” has, by most objective standards, been only partially met. And by withdrawing combat forces while the security situation is still unstable in key parts of the country, the president is gambling that the Afghan army and police can step up and perform up to expectations – something they have failed to do up to this point.

Even though analysts expect that the initial drawdown will include mostly engineers and support personnel, commanders in Afghanistan and the Pentagon were recommending a much smaller withdrawal of forces. They fear that the hard-won gains of the last 2 years in southern Afghanistan, where US forces successfully pushed the Taliban out of several key areas, would be lost if too many combat troops were to leave.

The Taliban chooses the summer months to mount its offensives, and the extra troops provided by the surge were able to confront and defeat them, especially in the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand. Because the Taliban had been largely cleared from those areas, Afghanistan Commander General David Petreaus argued that withdrawing the surge troops so precipitously did not give the military time to consolidate the gains made on the battlefield. The fear now is that the Afghan army is simply not ready to take over security responsibilities in those areas cleared by the US military, inviting the Taliban to regroup and re-occupy them once the Americans have left.

Petreaus refused to endorse the president’s withdrawal plan, and outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates only reluctantly backed it. On the other side of the debate, Vice President Joe Biden emerged victorious as he and several key national security aides had been arguing since the decision to initiate the surge in Afghanistan in 2009 that a smaller force was needed. The argument between the two factions was over implementing a counterinsurgency strategy favored by Petreaus or a counterterrorism strategy advocated by the vice president. The president has now opted to back the Biden plan by withdrawing most American combat forces by 2014.

Jeffrey Dressler, a military analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, explained the military’s reluctance for the large withdrawal ordered by the president. “[T]he fact is that the conditions on the ground don’t merit any sort of withdrawal — it’s not time to be pulling out a substantive amount of troops,” he said. Dressler pointed out that while substantial progress had been made in the south, eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistani border was still a trouble spot, and withdrawing troops would not improve the situation.

Indeed, the president seemed to indicate that the focus of American efforts against al-Qaeda would now be concentrated in Pakistan. After lauding the Pakistanis for their counterterrorism efforts, the president said, “No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region.” The president said that he would hold the Pakistanis to their commitments to fight terrorists and would not tolerate “any safe-haven for those who aim to kill us.”

The president’s decision was made against the political backdrop of a re-election campaign and a battle in Congress over the deficit. His call to cut another $400 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years, in addition to the $78 billion already slashed by Secretary Gates, will be an easier pill to swallow if the $120 billion a year we are currently spending on the Afghanistan war alone were to be substantially reduced. The cost of the war in Afghanistan surpassed spending for the Iraq war for the first time in 2010 after money earmarked for Afghanistan skyrocketed when Obama took office.

But clearly, the overriding reason for the faster pace of withdrawal than that recommended by military commanders is due to the genuine war weariness of the American people, and the political calculation that bringing the troops home at an accelerated pace will help the president win votes in 2012. A Pew poll out this week showed that 56% of Americans favored bring the troops home “as soon as possible.” This reflects a 16-point rise in that number since June of 2010. A similar rise in support for a quick withdrawal was seen in a CBS poll from earlier this month where 64% of respondents were in favor of the troops leaving Afghanistan.

The president’s Republican rivals have responded cautiously, arguing that any withdrawal must be measured against the situation on the ground. But it is unlikely they will criticize the president too heavily for doing essentially what most of them have been arguing for these past months on the campaign trail.

There were scattered voices of opposition. Senator Lindsey Graham said, “We’ve undercut a strategy that was working. I think the 10,000 troops leaving this year is going to make this fighting season more difficult.” Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty broke with most of his fellow Oval Office aspirants, saying, “When America goes to war, America needs to win. We need to close out the war successfully.” Pawlenty urged the president to follow the advice of General Petreaus and “get those [Afghanistan] security forces built up where they can pick up the slack as we draw down.”

And House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers bluntly accused the president of making the withdrawals because of politics. “It seems the President is trying to find a political solution with a military component to it, when it needs to be the other way around,” wrote Rogers.

In the end, the arguments made by Petreaus and his Afghan commanders were overridden by political and budgetary considerations. The notion that it is folly to base important military decisions on how politically popular the move might be, or how much money it will cost, has fallen on deaf ears in the White House.

It may very well be that the mission to change the nature of Afghanistan’s society and economy was doomed from the start, and that despite the heroic efforts of our military, the job of creating a functional nation out of the disparate collection of tribes and clans in Afghanistan proved to be a noble, but ultimately unsuccessful experiment in nation building. The more paramount objective has always been ensuring that Afghanistan sands do not becomes the fertile soil of militant jihadism. This mission was never doomed, but now we must hope that it has not been lost.

Rick Moran is Blog Editor of The American Thinker, and Chicago Editor of PJ Media. His personal blog is Right Wing Nuthouse.


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

The Flotilla of Fools off to Gaza

by Phyllis Chesler

The flotilla is coming, the flotilla is coming.

European and North American activists, journalists, and mercenaries have set sail—or are about to do so—on fifteen boats with passengers from twenty-two mainly Western countries to “break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.” Spurred on by the anti-Potemkin Village images of Palestinian Arabs living in wretched refugee hovels, fenced in by an allegedly “apartheid” Israeli wall, oppressed by “Nazi” Israeli soldiers for “racist” reasons (and not because the Palestinian leadership practices both Islamic gender and religious apartheid as well as terrorism)–the Good People are sailing to the rescue.

Bad enough that Israel is surrounded by twenty-two hostile Arab countries plus a genocidally anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli Iran, a country which has positioned soldiers in Lebanon, Gaza, and Syria.

Bad enough that the United Nations and the Palestinian leadership are planning to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state on sovereign Israeli land.

Bad enough that the Western mainstream media and university campuses have rendered the most virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism respectable and have intimidated students with endless replays of Gaza on the Hudson, Gaza on the Atlantic and Gaza on the Pacific—now, the flotilla is also coming. They say they plan to “non-violently” “provoke” Israel into a forbidden display of self-defense.

Boats are leaving or have already left from Ireland, the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Greece, Turkey, Canada, as well as the United States. Clearly, these Europeans do not believe that enough Jews died in the European Holocaust and/or do not want to see the descendents of Holocaust survivors continue to flourish in Israel. Perhaps some Europeans believe that their left anti-Israel politics will put them in good stead vis-à-vis the Islamists who are rapidly overwhelming Europe in a way that only Jean Raspail, the author of The Camp of the Saints foresaw and would appreciate.

The boat from the United States has been dubbed “The Audacity of Hope.” (Now where have we heard that title before?) On it are 36 passengers and four crew members, including some members of the Soros-funded Code Pink. Journalists from The Nation, CNN, NPR, CBS, The New York Times, Democracy Now, and the Palestinian News Agency Ma’an are “embedded” within the flotilla. “Embedded”? Isn’t that the word used to describe journalists who accompany troops in active battle?

Forgive me: I take words very seriously.

These self-styled activists and presumed anti-racists are slumming, partying, cruising for cheap thrills and even cheaper publicity. They yearn for cut-rate, no “burn” glory. They are ultimate conformists, careerists, “making their bones,” adding to their activist resumes by sticking it to the Jews. This is meant to prove that they are brave and principled.

In essence, they are engaged in a highly self-destructive form of political theatre: they are concretely manipulating symbols in the same way that Osama bin Laden did on 9/11. In the name of “caring,” these activists are surrendering to the most dangerous totalitarian and misogynist Islamist regime—but in the name of “freedom” and “justice.”

It is something that Orwell would appreciate.

The flotilla activists do not care about the facts on the ground, they refuse to understand that Gaza is filled with luxury hotels, office buildings, palatial villas, nightclubs, beach clubs, and well-stocked markets. They focus only on the artificially maintained poverty-stricken areas, and not on the true reasons for it: namely, that the Arab and the Palestinian leadership have spent more than 60 years milking the West of both its guilt and its money on behalf of this single falsely created refugee population.

Novelist and poet Alice Walker is also on board the “The Audacity of Hope.” She has been giving interviews and publishing op-ed pieces about her upcoming flotilla folly.

Ah, Alice. She and I go way back, and we have watched each other’s backs in significant ways over the years. Her current stance is painful, puzzling, unbalanced, and treacherous.

Walker has been in the forefront of the American civil rights, feminist, “womanist,” and ecological and animal rights movements; for many years, Walker was an activist against female genital mutilation—an African and African Muslim practice. She is best known and loved for her novel The Color Purple, which was made into a popular movie and Broadway play.

Tragically, but typically, Walker believes that Israelis are a more diabolical version of the white southern American racists who enslaved black Americans and then lynched, impoverished, exploited and segregated them. She imagines that the Palestinians are an even purer version of oppressed African-Americans. Most of all, she sees the Palestinians and herself as “non-violent” actors in this great drama.

Walker does not view Jews as the indigenous peoples of the Middle East or as equivalent to the “blacks” of Europe or as the most currently endangered infidel race in the Muslim Middle East. Walker refuses to acknowledge that Arabs and Muslims still practice (mainly African and skin color-based) slavery and real gender and religious apartheid. Instead, Walker scapegoats the Jews, specifically Israeli Jews, for the grave sins and crimes of blatant racism that are being committed by ethnic Arab Muslims in Muslim-majority countries such as Sudan, the Egyptian Sinai, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

Walker seems to have no idea that Muslims have a long, long history of slave-trading, sex slavery, imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, and barbaric misogyny. Indeed, she seems to understand nothing about the reign of terror that Hamas has brought to the women, gays, artists, and vulnerable living beings in Gaza.

Walker does not command the facts; she has been fatefully tainted by crude propaganda, which she believes with her whole heart.

For example, Walker claims that 1,400 Gazans died during Operation Cast Lead, yet she fails to point out that, by Hamas’ own admission, between 600 and 700 of these were armed Hamas militants.

She claims that over 300 children were killed during the war but fails to understand that many of these children actually participated in the Hamas war effort, serving as child soldiers, mortar spotters, and support personnel.

As two Israeli researchers have documented, of the victims younger than 18, the male–female ratio of those in the 11-and-younger group was nearly 1:1—in other words, totally random—however, the male-female ratio for 17- and 18-year-olds was more than 6 males to each and every female. Unless Israeli scientists have developed some kind of Y-chromosome-seeking missile that only targets post-pubescent males, the obvious conclusion is that many of these teenagers were fighters.

Unbelievably, Walker states: “I had never seen as much blatant terrorism as I witnessed in Gaza. Israeli-made; American-made. It is unfortunate that officials of Israel appear to know so little about what their government is doing in the terrorism department.”

Did Walker sleep through the Islamist attack against the World Trade Center in 1993? Has no one ever told her about 9/11 (New York City), 3/11 (Madrid), 7/7 (London) and 11/26 (Mumbai)? Has she completely forgotten that, for nearly fifty years, Palestinian terrorists have been hijacking passenger planes, bombing synagogues, and blowing up Israeli civilians in shopping malls, small stores, on buses, in hotels, at discotheques? Yes, Alice, even the children; especially the children.

Walker does not mention any of these events in her litany of terrorism, which she confines strictly to Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Walker gets it wrong every time. She writes:

“One of the things so painful to remember about the segregated south is that no matter what white people did to them black people were not allowed to fight back, not even with a word or a glance, hence the expression ‘reckless eye-balling’ which led many a black person to be beaten or killed. The idea that the people of Palestine are not even supposed to fight back, after everything that’s been done to them, is cruel and inhuman, since protecting one’s self and family and land and livelihood is an instinct we share with all creatures on the planet. To collectively punish them (by bombing and starvation) for electing their own government in a democratic election acknowledged by most observers to have been fair, is sadistic as well as internationally condemned as illegal.”

What she is really saying is that it is only the people of Israel who are not supposed to fight back when they are attacked. Apparently, she disagrees with her idol President (then Senator) Obama who, in 2008, told an Israeli audience in Sderot: “[I]f missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.”

Does Walker not understand that from 2001-2007 Hamas launched 2,496 Qassam rockets into southern Israel, traumatizing the children and the adults for the rest of their lives? These civilian residents hear a siren and have fifteen highly anxious seconds to get into a bomb shelter. The noise is torturous. So is the fear. Only after six long and terrible years did Israel finally feel compelled to launch Operation Cast Lead. In daring to defend themselves, the world cursed them. And maligned them. It took more than a year for the real facts to come to light: namely, that Turkey had sent mercenaries armed with deadly weapons on board the Marvi Marmara. The killers were neatly “embedded” with the so-called peace activists.

Walker believes that “the people on the Mavi Marmara were attacked and that the people who were killed were massacred. We know that the Israeli forces confiscated virtually all of the footage of what transpired from the passengers on the boat. Then they sent out their own video, framing the fuzzy images in ways that support their narrative of having been attacked by the people on the boat!”

But there is nothing “fuzzy” about the photo of one the flotilla “activists” standing over a bloodied Israeli solder with a knife in his hand. According to one IDF soldier’s account:

“They had metal clubs, knives, slingshots, glass bottles…At one point there was also live fire….I was among the last to descend, and I saw that the group was dispersed, everyone in his own corner surrounded by three or four men. I saw a soldier on the floor with two men beating him. I peeled them off of him and they came at me and began beating me with the clubs….”[They were] about 30 men; they simply came for war. We came to straighten things out, to speak to those who went downstairs, but each of us who descended was simply attacked.”

Walker reverses reality to suit her purpose. Actually, she parts company with reality entirely.

Why exactly do the Palestinians even need a flotilla? What kind of blockade are we really talking about? Israel allows over a thousand truckloads of goods into Gaza every week. The Israelis check ships for weapons and then send everything else into Gaza overland. Egypt now controls the Rafah crossing. The Muslim Brotherhood has been sending warriors and weapons steadily into Gaza. What is the real, humanitarian point of this flotilla?

Alice Walker believes she is following Mahatma Gandhi in what she is doing. It chills my heart, but perhaps that is precisely what she is doing. In 1938, in an open letter to the Jews, Gandhi wrote:

“[S]uffering voluntarily undergone will bring [the Jews] an inner strength and joy…the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews…But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the God-fearing, death has no terror.”

In 1946, after this joyous suffering had indeed befallen European Jewry, Gandhi wrote, “Hitler…killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs… It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany… As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”

This is the maddening and dangerous desire of the flotilla goers. They believe—no, they feel—that if the Israeli Jews all killed themselves (see Gandhi, above) or were all murdered (read what Ahmadinejad has said and what nearly every Arab Muslim leader and civilian has also said), that our deaths would usher in an era of peace on earth and celestial justice.

Warring Arab tribes, fratricidal Muslim sects, Third World racists and misogynist barbarians would all lie down together and cease their animal and human sacrifice. Is this what you believe, Alice?

Phyllis Chesler


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

The Collapse of Zionist Leadership

by Isi Leibler

The Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization will be meeting in Jerusalem next week. Of late, the media have been conveying the message that many Diaspora Jews, especially youngsters, are becoming alienated from the Jewish state. It is sometimes even implied that more Jews are engaged in castigating than defending Israel.

This is certainly a wild exaggeration. Despite the combined impact of postmodernism and the hostile anti-Israeli environment, the majority of activists, including young people, remain faithful to the Jewish state, which represents the core of their Jewish identity.

However, it's true that established Jewish leaders in many communities display a penchant to downplay pro-Israel advocacy and assume a low profile. This trend was boosted as the liberal media began highlighting and lauding as heroes Jews who demonize the Jewish state. This in turn emboldened them to demand recognition as legitimate members of the mainstream Jewish community.

Regrettably the response of many confused communal leaders was to prattle on about the virtues of enlarging the "Jewish tent" to include organizations like J Street, which inaccurately portray themselves as "pro-Israel, pro-peace" while shamelessly lobbying foreign governments to exert pressure on Israel. They failed to appreciate the incongruity of integrating into their ranks groups whose prime objective is to undermine Israel.

THIS CHAOTIC arena led to what can only be described as bizarre behavior unprecedented in Jewish communal life: "rabbis" claiming to promote "tikkun olam" by actively supporting and engaging with avowed enemies of the Jewish people; debates conducted within federations as to whether Jewish philanthropic funding should be directed to organizations promoting anti-Israel plays and films; the New York Jewish Federation bestowing $1 million of charitable funds on the fervently anti-Israel George Soros-sponsored group Jewish Funds for Justice; individual Hillel directors treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a dispute between two morally equivalent parties, on occasion even favoring the Palestinians; and student activists in the UK, Canada and the United States being urged by Jewish establishment bodies to assume low profiles and avoid confronting anti- Israel demonstrations.

What typifies this insanity was a recent "very difficult decision" undertaken following a fervent debate at Brandeis University's Hillel as to whether to exclude from the "big tent" Jewish Voices for Peace - an organization shamelessly calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. The problem was resolved by endorsing a recommendation by Martin Raffel (senior vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs), who ruled that supporting boycotts of goods produced in the West Bank should be considered a legitimate (!) Jewish activity. However, as Jewish Voices for Peace also opposed an independent Jewish state, he felt that this "crossed a red line," and the decision was made to exclude them! It is incomprehensible why preponderantly Zionist contributors to these philanthropic organizations tolerate such abuse of funds.

THE PRINCIPAL reason for the emergence of such troubling developments seems to emanate from inadequate leadership. During the early years of the state, Labor Zionist governments invested major resources toward nurturing links with Diaspora Jewish leaders.

No aspiring Jewish communal leader would conceivably contemplate criticizing policies which could have life-or-death implications for Israelis.

However, recent government leaders, including prime ministers, have neglected Diaspora Jewish leadership, and instead fawned over wealthy Jews, from whom they solicit support for their political and personal enterprises.

Historically, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO) were the principal parties responsible for promoting the Zionist cause within Diaspora Jewish communities. In fact, their program of Kibbush Hakehilot - the Zionist "conquest of Jewish communities" - succeeded to such an extent that support for the Jewish state from "Zionist" and Jewish communal leaders became virtually indistinguishable.

Alas, that activity eroded in the 1980s, as JAFI was largely reduced to a bloated bureaucracratic instrumentality occupied with activities that could equally be conducted by other state instrumentalities.

Nobody disputes that JAFI still operates important Zionist educational projects like Birthright and Masa.

The seminars on delegitimization which they will be conducting at their forthcoming board meeting are a commendable academic exercise, but are duplicated by virtually every major Jewish organization engaged in public affairs, and the participants are not necessarily likely to be indulging in Israel advocacy. However, beyond such projects, JAFI has abysmally failed to fulfill its principal obligation - promoting the centrality of Israel in Jewish communal life throughout the world.

Despite great expectations, the chairman of JAFI, Natan Sharansky, a hero of the Jewish people and the symbol for renascent Zionism, has until now proven a major disappointment. He is perceived as having capitulated to the demands of wealthy (primarily American) board members determined to dilute core Zionist projects and transform JAFI into a replica of the American Jewish fundraising federation system.

Many Zionists were deeply frustrated with Sharansky's decision to substitute JAFI's traditional primary goal of aliya (which was already operated by Nefesh B'Nefesh) and concentrate almost exclusively on the vague objective of "promoting Jewish identity," which surely does not conflict with aliya, and which everyone supports. Ironically the aliya department was disbanded precisely when Western countries began to emerge as a major new potential source of immigrants.

The WZO, whose funding has been drastically curtailed and which is now totally separated from JAFI, is justly regarded as an utterly impotent body with marginal impact on the Jewish world. It continues convening global meetings and congresses in which nobody takes the slightest interest. Other than the Australian, British and South African Zionist federations, which carry on with minimal support from the parent body, its Diaspora offshoots have disintegrated.

TODAY, WE desperately need a global Jewish pro-Israel caucus which could emerge from a reformed JAFI. But it should not depend on existing personnel tainted with failure, or primarily on wealthy donors. It must incorporate a wide cross-section of Diaspora and Israeli Jewish activists engaged in public communal life and encompassing all sides of the political spectrum and religious streams within Judaism. The sole proviso for entry should be a genuine commitment to promoting Israel as the center of the Jewish people.

The principal objective of a reformed JAFI must be the reconstruction of an unashamedly pro-Israel Jewish leadership in Diaspora communities, including within the American federations, Hillel and rabbinical bodies. It should endeavor to ensure that only those willing to publicly support the right of Israel to defend itself will be elected to communal leadership roles.

Such an action group should speak out when establishment communal leaders remain silent in the face of anti-Israel activity. Importantly, it should promote Zionist education and ensure that every Jewish high school allocates at least a few hours a week to teaching about modern Israel, so that when students arrive on campus they are sufficiently informed to respond to the anti-Israel onslaughts.

In the profoundly challenging times now confronting the Jewish people, action to bring about such changes should be considered an absolute priority.

Representing the vast majority of committed Jews, a group dedicated to these objectives would have a dramatic impact on the quality of Jewish communal life, and help restore bonds between the Diaspora and Israel.

Isi Leibler


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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ban the Burqa

by Pamela Geller

Back in November, I reported on a burqa'ed Muslima in Australia, Carnita Matthews, who was charged with making a false complaint that used the Muslim victimhood card in her defense. "All cops are racist," she charged -- what race? Covered from head to toe in a burqa, with just a slit through which to see, the Muslima claimed that a police officer had tried to tear off her burqa.

It didn't happen. Matthews was charged with making a false complaint to police. And the judge, Magistrate Robert Rabbidge, saw through her claim right away, describing her lie as "deliberate, malicious and ruthless." Rabbidge added: "There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she knew that the complaint she was making was false."

Matthews, predictably, played the race card, saying: "You look at me and see me wearing this and you couldn't handle it. All cops are racist."

Her lawyer claimed that Matthews had been a victim of mistaken identity. Because who really knows who was under that burqa? Only Allah can say for sure. But Rabbidge would have none of it. Matthews is the one who lodged the complaint against an officer, and signed a statement to that effect. Police prosecutor sergeant Lisa McEvoy said: "Her signature on that affidavit coupled with the signature on her driver's licence is exactly the same."

Matthews was found guilty, and was sentenced to six months in prison. Yet despite the indisputable evidence against her, the burqa'ed civilizational jihadist appealed -- and this past week, she won, all the while remaining inside her cloth coffin. A new judge, Clive Jeffreys, bought her claim of mistaken identity, and said that because she was wearing a burqa, there was no certainty that Carnita Matthews was the same woman who falsely accused the police officer. Jeffreys contradicted Rabbidge, saying: "I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she made the complaint. Even if I was satisfied that she made the complaint, I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was knowingly false."

The Muslims expressed their gratitude for this in their usual way: it was an ugly scene. Australia's reported: "More than a dozen Muslim supporters linked arms and began chanting 'Allah Akbar' as they stormed out of Downing Centre Court with Mrs Matthews concealed behind them. Tempers rose and they began jostling with police after several members of the group attacked cameramen." Matthews' dhimmi lawyer Stephen Hopper explained: "They are obviously happy with the result and are expressing it in a way that is culturally appropriate to them."

Attacking cameramen: "culturally appropriate" for Muslims.

By the way, the full face veil is not in fact a religious mandate in Islam. The bottom line is that Muhammad said Muslim men should shroud their chattel head to toe, but not cover their face and hands. Thus it is clear that any woman who covers her face entirely is making a political statement, not a religious one.

And that political statement should be illegal. The Elizabeth Smart case should be the catalyst for such legislation; at a time when her face was plastered on posters everywhere, Smart's captor covered her up in a burqa and escaped detection for nine months. We have seen the weaponizing of the veil: in 2007, Afghan authorities caught a woman who had hidden a bomb under her burqa and was about to carry out a suicide jihad mission. We have seen the use of the veil to commit crimes, escape detection, and even to kidnap and rape young girls and keep them hidden. Many terrorists, criminals, and fugitives have taken advantage of our spinelessness in facing the enemy. Burqas are frequently worn to conceal explosive vests.

In a horrific incident in May 2008, a hero was killed in the line of duty: Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, a Philadelphia police officer and father of three children, was shot dead by three bank robbers. His dying words were "tell my wife I'll miss her." He was 39 years old. The killers wore what the local press at the time called "Muslim garb" -- that is, burqas. Their faces were concealed. No one could even tell if they were men or women.

Put Carnita Matthews in jail. And ban the burqa.

Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs website and former associate publisher of the New York Observer. She is the author of The Post-American Presidency.


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President 'Words Matter' Obama's Doubletalk on Israel

by Thomas Lifson

Rick Richman nails President Obama's "confusing" (a word he uses to be polite) and contradictory positions on Israel at Jewish Current Issues.

President Obamaspeaks about "the President's speech" as a basis for new negotiations, which speech does it mean?

Yesterday a said one thing in his May 19 State Department address, which was aimed at the Palestinians and their European supporters, and then said something different on May 22 to AIPAC.

So when the administration "Senior Administration Official" gave a confusing answer on background. Later that day, the Spokesperson of the State Department was asked to clarify, and gave an equally confusing answer (I am using the word "confusing" in an attempt to be diplomatic). See if you can figure out what the administration position is.

This is far from the first time President Obama has taken multiple sides of an issue related to Isarel and the Palestinians:

When Obama spoke to AIPAC in 2008, his let-me-be-clear pledge of an undivided Jerusalem lasted 24 hours, and then produced four increasingly confused explanations.

Last year, the administration made oral promises to Israel in an attempt to obtain a 60 or 90 day extension of Israel's construction moratorium; when Israel asked that the promises be put in writing, some of them disappeared -- and the rest turned out to be different from what Israel originally was told.

Obama began his administration by reneging on the six-year old informal understanding about what a settlement construction freeze meant (previously it meant no establishment of new settlements or expansion of the borders of existing ones; Obama changed it to mean every new apartment anywhere over the Green Line, including in the eastern portion of Jerusalem). His secretary of state responded to Israeli objections by saying the old understanding was "unenforceable."

On Obama's watch the situation in the Middle East has gotten worse, and his promises about "smart diplomacy" are now eminently mockworthy. As Richman puts it:

Is it any wonder that neither Israel nor the Palestinians have any confidence in the promises of this administration, or the words of its "words matter" president?

Thomas Lifson


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Palestinians Busy Fighting Each Other: Not Ready For Statehood

by Khaled Abu Toameh

As the world focuses its attention on the Palestinian Authority's plan to ask the United Nations in September to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, the Palestinian political scene is in disarray as a result of power struggles, personal and political rivalries and divisions.

Everyone seems to be against everyone in the Palestinian territories. Fatah against Fatah, Fatah against Hamas, Hamas in Gaza against Hamas in Syria, Mahmoud Abbas versus Mohammed Dahlan and many other senior Fatah figures, Hamas and some in Fatah against Salam Fayyad, Islamic Jihad versus everyone and everyone versus the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.

Ironically, it is their shared hostility toward Israel that keeps the rivalries and internecine fighting from erupting into a full-fledged civil war.

The ongoing power struggles and disputes in the Palestinian arena raise serious questions as to whether the Palestinians are ready for statehood.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is spearheading the effort to acquire a Palestinian state through the UN, and not at the negotiating table with Israel, is facing increased opposition from within the Palestinian Authority and his ruling Fatah faction.

The main charge against Abbas is that he and a handful of his top aides are making crucial and historic decisions without consulting others.

At least five senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials have come out against Abbas's statehood bid.

But there is no doubt that the biggest challenge to Abbas these days is coming not from Hamas, but from his own Fatah faction.

Abbas's recent decision to expel Dahlan from Fatah is threatening to divide the faction into two separate parties. Dahlan is enormously popular among many Fatah cadres in the Gaza Strip, where there is great anger over Abbas's decision.

Many Fatah leaders are now threatening to quit the faction in protest against the dismissal of Dahlan. Even those who are not known as Dahlan supporters have come out against the decision because of the way it was taken.

They point out that the removal of Dahlan was carried out illegally and without the approval of Fatah institutions. They also note that as a member of the Palestinian parliament, Dahlan enjoys parliamentary immunity – a fact that Abbas preferred to ignore when he decided to remove him.

Another Fatah leader who is now challenging Abbas is Marwan Barghouti, who has been in Israeli prison for the past nine years after being convicted of organizing armed attacks against Israelis. Barghouti's wife this week published a letter she sent to Abbas in which she accused the Palestinian president and his top aides of turning their backs on her husband.

On the other hand, the Fatah-Hamas "reconciliation" accord, which was announced on May 4, seems to be going nowhere. The two rival parties were supposed to announce the establishment of a unity government this week. But the announcement was postponed indefinitely because of Hamas's refusal to accept Salam Fayyad as prime minister of the new government. It also seems that not everyone in Fatah is happy about the idea of having Fayyad as prime minister.

Hamas, meanwhile, is also witnessing a power struggle between its leaders in the Gaza Strip and those sitting in Syria, especially in regard to the reconciliation pact with Fatah and the fate of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held by Hamas for five years.

Two weeks ago, Palestinians were shocked when they learned that militiamen belonging to Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front-General Command opened fire at a demonstration in a refugee camp in Syria, killing 14 people and wounding many others.

In the wake of all these disputes and power struggles, it is hard to see how Mahmoud Abbas would be able to proceed with his plan to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in September. It is also impossible to move forward with the peace process while the Palestinians are busy fighting each other.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Canadian Human Rights Commission Goes After Free Speech

by Adam Daifallah

One of the greatest protections Americans have against Islamists, and the threat they pose, are the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Never take them for granted, for most countries, even some Western allies, do not benefit from such a bulwark against illiberal forces.

In Canada, for instance, freedom of speech is not constitutionally guaranteed to the same degree it is in America. And those wishing for a glimpse into how forces sympathetic to Islamism will try to influence (read: stifle) public debate about the Muslim faith should be aware of recent Canadian experiences.

The weapon of choice for those attempting to muzzle Muslim critics in public fora isn't guns, but rather the bureaucratic mechanisms of the state – more specifically, entities known as "human rights commissions." And their victims are free speech and media commentators like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant.

But be careful. The name is a misnomer. These organizations have little to do with protecting "human rights" at all. They are quasi-judicial, politically-correct bodies that have the authority to pursue anyone if a complaint is made based on one of the "prohibited grounds of discrimination" listed in the enabling legislation -- race, ethnic origin, age and sex, for example. The law goes on to state specific examples of illegal discrimination, such as communicating anything that "is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt."

Standard rules of procedure and due process are not followed, and just about any complaint is admissible for consideration – as long as the feeling of being wronged is there.

The list of cases that have been heard by the commission's tribunals is baffling – as are their rulings, which almost always come down on the side of the plaintiff. (To cite just one egregious example, a British Columbia human rights tribunal ruled in favor of a McDonalds employee who refused to wash her hands.)

Those who originally conceived of the human rights commissions never intended for them to be used to limit speech.

They have strayed far from their original purpose, which was to protect minorities from discrimination in situations like job hiring and renting an apartment.

Two well-known Canadian journalists have found themselves in the crosshairs of these commissions – for discussing Islam. Ezra Levant, a conservative commentator who now hosts his own national TV show, had the temerity in February 2006 to republish the infamous series of Danish cartoons of Muhammad in the pages of his now-defunct magazine, the Western Standard.

Levant thought he was simply reporting on an issue that was making news. That was his job. But a complaint was filed at the Alberta Human Rights Commission by activist Syed Soharwardy, who claimed the Danish drawings were offensive towards Islam and Muslims. In his grievance, Soharwardy alleged he and his family had been subject to "violence, hate and discrimination" because the cartoons were republished. Amid an outcry from people of all political and religious beliefs (including Muslims), Soharwardy eventually withdrew his action. But it wasn't until after Levant spent tens of thousands of dollars, and wasted countless hours, defending himself against this assault.

The next target was Mark Steyn, one of Canada's best known leaders of thought. Steyn published an article in Macleans, a newsweekly, called 'The future belongs to Islam,' which was an excerpt of his best-selling book America Alone. The Canadian Islamic Congress filed a complaint to the British Columbia, Ontario, and Canadian Human Rights Commissions, accusing Steyn and Macleans of spreading "hatred and Islamophobia" in the book excerpt and 21 other articles published over a two year period.

The Ontario and Canadian commissions rightly declined to hear the case, although the latter issued what amounted to a guilty verdict without trial in its statement, noting that it "strongly condemns the Islamophobic portrayal of Muslims" in the magazine. The British Columbia commission heard the case and ruled in favor of the defendants.

The persecution of these commentators, as ridiculous as they were, has served a useful purpose. Before these sagas, most people had never heard of these commissions – and many of those who had weren't aware of the dangerously far-reaching powers. It brought together people of different political stripes – many on the left were just as outraged as those on the right. And it put into sharp relief the extent to which radical Islam will go to silence critics.

Keith Martin, a Canadian member of parliament (he has since retired) from the Liberal party, proposed to change the legislation that creates the national commission to remove the section that enables press persecution.

"In an open and liberal democracy, we have a right to be protected from hate speech, but we do not have a right to not be offended," Martin said. The proposed legislation didn't become law before the last election, but hopefully someone will reintroduce it in the Canadian parliament.

It is important for all those devoted to free speech and pluralism to be aware of the Canadian experience. Human rights commissions, or various incarnations thereof, exist in America, so watch out.

Adam Daifallah


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‘Land Swaps’ and the 1967 Lines

by Dore Gold

When President Barak Obama first made his controversial reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on May 19, 2011, he introduced one main caveat that stuck out: the idea that there would be "mutually agreed swaps" of land between the two sides. He added that both sides were entitled to "secure and recognized borders." But the inclusion of land swaps also raised many questions.

Several months after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six Day War, the U.N. Security Council defined the territorial terms of a future peace settlement in Resolution 242, which over the decades became the cornerstone for all Arab-Israeli diplomacy. At the time, the Soviets had tried to brand Israel as the aggressor in the war and force on it a full withdrawal, but Resolution 242 made clear that Israel was not expected to withdraw from all the territories that came into its possession, meaning that Israel was not required to withdraw from 100 percent of the West Bank.

Given this background, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear in his last Knesset address in October 1995 that Israel would never withdraw to the 1967 lines. He stressed that Israel would have to retain control of the Jordan Valley, the great eastern, geographic barrier which provided for its security for decades since the Six Day War. He didn't say a word about land swaps. For neither Resolution 242 nor any subsequent signed agreements with the Palestinians stipulated that Israel would have to pay for any West Bank land it would retain by handing over its own sovereign land in exchange.

So where did the idea of land swaps come from? During the mid-1990s there were multiple backchannel efforts to see if it was possible to reach a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinians argued that when Israel signed a peace agreement with Egypt, it agreed to withdraw from 100 percent of the Sinai Peninsula. So they asked how could PLO chairman Yasser Arafat be given less than what Egyptian president Anwar Sadat received.

As a result, Israeli academics involved in these backchannel talks accepted the principle that the Palestinians would obtain 100 percent of the territory, just like the Egyptians, despite the language of Resolution 242, and they proposed giving Israeli land to the Palestinians as compensation for any West Bank land retained by Israel. This idea appeared in the 1995 Beilin-Abu Mazen paper, which was neither signed nor embraced by the Israeli or the Palestinian leaderships. Indeed, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) subsequently denied in May 1999 that any agreement of this sort existed.

There is a huge difference between Egypt and the Palestinians. Egypt was the first Arab state to make peace, and in recognition of that fact, Prime Minister Menachem Begin gave Sadat all of Sinai. Moreover, the Israeli-Egyptian border had been a recognized international boundary since the time of the Ottoman Empire. The pre-1967 Israeli boundary with the West Bank was not a real international boundary; it was only an armistice line demarcating where Arab armies had been stopped when they invaded the nascent state of Israel in 1948.

In July 2000 at the Camp David Summit, the Clinton administration raised the land swap idea that had been proposed by Israeli academics, but neither Camp David nor the subsequent negotiating effort at Taba succeeded. Israel's foreign minister at the time, Shlomo Ben-Ami, admitted in an interview in Haaretz on September 14, 2001: “I'm not sure that the whole idea of a land swap is feasible.” In short, when the idea was actually tested in high-stakes negotiations, the land swap idea proved to be far more difficult to implement as the basis for a final agreement.

After the collapse of the Camp David talks, President Clinton tried to summarize Israeli and Palestinian positions and put forward a U.S. proposal that still featured the land swap. But to his credit, Clinton also stipulated: “These are my ideas. If they are not accepted, they are off the table, they go with me when I leave office.” The Clinton team informed the incoming Bush administration about this point. Notably, land swaps were not part of the 2003 Roadmap for Peace or in the April 14, 2004 letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

It was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who resurrected the land swap idea in 2008 as part of newly proposed Israeli concessions that went even further than Israel's positions at Camp David and Taba. It came up in these years in other Israeli-Palestinian contacts, as well. But Mahmoud Abbas was only willing to talk about a land swap based on 1.9 percent of the territory, which related to the size of the areas of Jewish settlement, but which did not even touch on Israel's security needs. So the land swap idea still proved to be unworkable.

Writing in Haaretz on May 29, 2011, Prof. Gideon Biger, from Tel Aviv University's department of geography, warned that Israel cannot agree to a land swap greater than the equivalent of 2.5 percent of the territories since Israel does not have vast areas of empty land which can be transferred. Any land swap of greater size would involve areas of vital Israeli civilian and military infrastructure.

Furthermore, in the summaries of the past negotiations with Prime Minister Olmert, the Palestinians noted that they would be demanding land swaps of "comparable value" – meaning, they would not accept some remote sand dunes in exchange for high quality land near the center of Israel. In short, given the limitations on the quantity and quality of territory that Israel could conceivably offer, the land swap idea was emerging as impractical.

In Jerusalem, the old pre-1967 armistice line placed the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives, and the Old City as a whole on the Arab side of the border. From 1948 to 1967, Jews were denied access to their holy sites; some 55 synagogues and study halls were systematically destroyed, while the Old City was ethnically cleansed of all its Jewish residents. If land swaps have to be "mutually agreed" does that give the Palestinians a veto over Israeli claims beyond the 1967 line in the Old City, like the Western Wall?

The land swap question points to a deeper dilemma in U.S.-Israel relations. What is the standing of ideas from failed negotiations in the past that appear in the diplomatic record? President Obama told AIPAC on May 22 that the 1967 lines with land swaps “has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.” Just because an idea was discussed in the past, does that make it part of the diplomatic agenda in the future, even if the idea was never part of any legally binding, signed agreements?

In October 1986, President Ronald Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, and made a radical proposal that both superpowers eliminate all of their ballistic missiles, in order to focus their energies on developing missile defenses alone. The idea didn't work, Reagan's proposal was not accepted, and the arms control negotiations took a totally different direction. But what if today Russian president Dmitry Medvedev asked President Obama to implement Reagan’s proposals? Would the U.S. have any obligation to diplomatic ideas that did not lead to a finalized treaty?

Fortunately, there are other points in President Obama's recent remarks about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that can take the parties away from the 1967 lines and assuage the Israeli side. At AIPAC, the president spoke about "the new demographic realities on the ground" which appears to take into account the large settlement blocs that Israel will eventually incorporate. Using the language of Resolution 242, Obama referred to "secure and recognized borders," and importantly added: "Israel must be able to defend itself—by itself—against any threat."

However, for Israelis, mentioning the 1967 lines without these qualifications brings back memories of an Israel that was 8 miles wide, and a time when its vulnerability turned it into a repeated target of hegemonial powers of the Middle East, that made its destruction their principle cause. Sure, Israel won the Six Day War from the 1967 lines, but it had to resort to a preemptive strike as four armies converged on its borders. No Israeli would like to live with such a short fuse again. The alternative to the 1967 lines are defensible borders, which must emerge if a viable peace is to be reached.

Dore Gold a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thomas Friedman's Partition Plan

by Eli E. Hertz

On June 18, 2011 the New York Times published an OP-ED by its Columnist Thomas Friedman, named "What to Do With Lemons," suggesting to "update Resolution 181" and take it to "the more prestigious Security Counsel." Friedman's writing is so biased that it casts off Arab's aggression and terrorism to be irrelevant to the search for peace. By twisting history as he does, Friedman's 'solutions' can only produce incitement, aggression and hostility.

Historical Facts: In 1947 the British put the future of western Palestine into the hands of the United Nations, the successor organization to the League of Nations which had established the "Mandate for Palestine." A UN Commission recommended partitioning what was left of the original Mandate - western Palestine - into two new states, one Jewish and one Arab.

What resulted was Resolution 181 [known as the 1947 Partition Plan], a non-binding recommendation to partition Palestine, whose implementation hinged on acceptance by both parties - Arabs and Jews.

The resolution recognized the need for immediate Jewish statehood (and a parallel Arab state), but the 'blueprint' for peace became a moot issue when the Arabs refused to accept it. Subsequently, de facto [In Latin: realities] on the ground in the wake of Arab aggression (and Israel's survival) became the basis for UN efforts to bring peace. Resolution 181 then lost its validity and relevance.

Aware of Arabs' past aggression, Resolution 181, in paragraph C, calls on the Security Council to:

"Determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the Charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution." [italics by author]

The ones who sought to alter by force the settlement envisioned in Resolution 181 were the Arabs who threatened bloodshed if the United Nations was to adopt the Resolution:

"The [British] Government of Palestine fear that strife in Palestine will be greatly intensified when the Mandate is terminated, and that the international status of the United Nations Commission will mean little or nothing to the Arabs in Palestine, to whom the killing of Jews now transcends all other considerations. Thus, the Commission will be faced with the problem of how to avert certain bloodshed on a very much wider scale than prevails at present. … The Arabs have made it quite clear and have told the Palestine government that they do not propose to co-operate or to assist the Commission, and that, far from it, they propose to attack and impede its work in every possible way. We have no reason to suppose that they do not mean what they say." [italics by author]

The UN Palestine Commission's February 16, 1948 report (A/AC.21/9) to the Security Council noted that Arab-led hostilities were an effort:

"To prevent the implementation of the [General] Assembly's plan of partition, and to thwart its objectives by threats and acts of violence, including armed incursions into Palestinian territory" [Which shows that Palestinian territory referred to Jewish Palestine territory].

By the time armistice agreements were reached in 1949 between Israel and its immediate Arab neighbors (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Trans-Jordan) with the assistance of UN Mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche, Resolution 181 had become irrelevant, and the armistice agreements addressed new realities created by the war. Over subsequent years, the UN simply abandoned the recommendations of Resolution 181, as its ideas were drained of all relevance by events. Moreover, the Arabs continued to reject 181 after the war when they themselves controlled the West Bank (1948-1967) which Jordan invaded in the course of the war and annexed illegally.

The attempt by Thomas Friedman to 'roll back the clock' and resuscitate Resolution 181 more than six decades after the Arabs rejected it 'as if nothing had happened' are a baseless ploy designed to use Resolution 181 as leverage to bring about a greater Israeli withdrawal from parts of western Palestine and to gain a broader base from which to continue to attack Israel with even less defendable borders.

The metaphor of Israel having her back to the sea reflected the image crafted by Arab political and religious leaders' rhetoric and incitement.

There were 6,000 Israeli dead as a result of that war, in a population of 600,000. One percent of the Jewish population was gone. In American terms, the equivalent to more than 3 million American civilians and soldiers killed over an 18-month period. Both Palestinians and their Arab brethren in neighboring countries rendered the plan null and void by their own subsequent aggressive actions.

Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, wrote about this 'novelty of resurrection' calling it 'revival of the dead.'

Just a reminder Mr. Freidman: The resolution did not partition anything - It only recommended to partition. Resolution 181 had been tossed into the waste bin of history, along with the Partition Plans that preceded it.

For overview of UN Resolution 181 please Click Here

Eli E. Hertz


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Weakening Washington's Middle East Influence

by Lee Smith

Trailing the wave of revolutions that began sweeping through the Arabic-speaking Middle East this January, I recently traveled in the region, visiting some of the capitals where what we have come to call the "Arab Spring" has hit.

In Cairo, I kept company with the handful of Egyptian political activists from the social media generation who were skeptical of a revolution that had already started to show its populist roots. In Manama, I met with members of the mainstream opposition movement who contended that, contrary to their government's claims, the Shiites of Bahrain wanted nothing to do with Tehran: In the 1970 U.N. poll about the emirate's future, Bahrainis expressed the wish to remain part of an independent Arab state under the ruling al-Khalifa family but demanded their political rights—and still do. And from Beirut, I watched another uprising kick off over the anti-Lebanon mountain range in Damascus as many Lebanese quietly hoped that the revolution there would do away with the Assad regime while fearing the repercussions could not help but come back on them.

By deserting Egypt's president Mubarak (left, in the White House, August 18, 2009), President Obama condemned the peace process to failure, for it was lost on no one in the region that the man who kept the peace with Israel for more than thirty years was trashed when the pride of the U.S. president won out over U.S. national interests.

After a month in North Africa, the Levant, and the Persian Gulf countries, I am still unsure what these uprisings have in common, if anything. The regimes that suffered these blows are themselves different from place to place, for all authoritarian regimes are authoritarian in their own way—Husni Mubarak was no Saddam Hussein, nor even a Bashar al-Assad.

Perhaps our eagerness to see the upheavals as one wider movement is less a representation of reality than a reflection of how the Middle East is understood by large segments of the American intelligentsia—a habit of mind that of late was most powerfully expressed by President Barack Obama. It was during the June 2009 Cairo speech,[1] after all, where Obama transgressed the borders according to which Washington maintained and advanced its interests, describing the region in terms of Muslims, a Muslim world that is by definition borderless, transnational, and not specific to the particular circumstances of history, geography, and politics that give nation-states their character. Obama's Muslim world is amorphous, more like a sentiment than a physical fact, something perhaps similar in nature to the "Arab Spring."

Birds of Many Feathers

It has been argued that the recent events were driven by economic motives, insofar as all these revolts pitted the have-nots against the haves; and yet the particular circumstances vary greatly. There is little comparison, for instance, between the grand prize up for grabs in Libya's civil war (control of the country's oil) and the fairer employment, and educational and housing opportunities sought by the Bahraini opposition. Furthermore, the blanket charge of corruption against economic elites across the region obscures the genuine reforms that won the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes high marks from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The onetime, popular notion that all these opposition groups are united in their calls for democracy is starting to fade in light of the evidence. It seems, for instance, that the Libyan rebels comprise a large component of violent Islamists,[2] some of whom fought against U.S. forces in Iraq. There is concern that parts of the Syrian revolution are also spearheaded by Islamists, and there is little doubt that the fall of Egyptian president Mubarak will give more power to the Muslim Brotherhood. And even the very model of the Arab democracy activist, that young, middle-class, social-media-mad Egyptian, has begun to look different than when he first took to Tahrir Square on January 25. In their demands for retribution and revenge against the scions of the late regime, the Egyptian activists seem less inspired by the rule of law, due process, and other features of liberal democratic reform for which they petitioned and protested, than by the tradition of modern Egyptian populism,[3] from Saad Zaghloul to Gamal Abdel Nasser.

As for the revolutionaries themselves, there is no consistent profile from country to country or little to suggest that their different resumes make them necessarily sympathetic to each other's goals. To be sure, the Tunisian activists found common cause with their Egyptian counterparts, explaining to them how to use the social media to get people to take to the street. As Lebanese journalist Hazem al-Amin told me in Beirut, "The first time the Tunisians tried, they failed. That was back in 2008, and this time they were prepared."[4] And yet Muhammad Bouazizi—the iconic figure of the "Arab Spring" whose self-immolation triggered the Tunisian revolution—seems to have had little in common with the Libyan rebels, who unlike every other opposition movement, took up arms against the ruling order almost immediately.

The sectarian divisions between the opposition movements are also noteworthy. While the moderate mainstream of Bahrain's Shiite opposition has earned the admiration and support of Hezbollah, the Syrian uprising's Sunni current has cursed this same terrorist organization, sponsored by Damascus's Alawite regime, from the outset of their demonstrations.

The ostensible sources underlying the revolutionary eruptions are equally myriad. Many point to social media, like Facebook and Twitter, which served as a billboard and meeting place for opposition movements. And yet some argue that it was the Mubarak regime's ill-considered decision to shut down the Internet and mobile phone service that really filled the streets of Cairo. As Egyptian political analyst Amr Bargisi told me as we walked through Tahrir Square in early spring, "If your mother can't reach you on the phone, she is going to send your brother down to look for you."

Others point to broadcast media, especially al-Jazeera. However, even as this instrument of Qatari foreign policy assiduously covered the uprising against Mubarak, a Qatari adversary, it was virtually mute when turmoil first started brewing in Syria, an ally. Given Riyadh's fears that the revolutionary wave might eventually crash on Saudi Arabia, al-Arabiya, the majority Saudi-owned satellite network, has been only a little bit better on the Syrian protests and all but ignored the opposition to the government of Bahrain, a Saudi ally.

Many Shiites in the region are of the opinion that it was the 2003 invasion of Iraq that inspired the "Arab Spring." For some, the end of a Baathist regime that had persecuted Shiites marked an almost millenarian turning-point for the Middle East. In Beirut, independent, anti-Hezbollah, Shiite activist Lokman Slim told me that "the toppling of Saddam's statue made many things seem possible that seemed impossible before." Others in Lebanon claimed it was their own 2005 Cedar Revolution that led the way—even as the March 14 pro-democracy movement has suffered a major setback with Hezbollah's de-facto takeover of the government this January.[5]

And yet others pointed to Hezbollah's Iranian sponsor as inspiration. "The 1979 Islamic Revolution first proved to people that they could change their own rulers," one young Shiite activist told me in Bahrain.[6]

An "Arab Spring"?

If success has many fathers, it will be some time yet before anyone knows whether the "Arab Spring" was a success or instead turns out to be a series of failures. In fact, it is not even clear what has really changed. Consider that Tunisia and Egypt, the two countries where the rulers were actually brought down, merely witnessed direct military takeovers of what were already military security regimes.

Hence the various and often conflicting narratives surrounding events seem to suggest that the "Arab Spring" is a misnomer. The belief that there is some deeper trend underlying the recent wave of political upheaval in the region, something uniquely Arab tying them all together, is of a piece with the discredited pan-Arab notion that the three hundred million inhabitants of the Arabic-speaking Middle East constitute a unified Arab nation.

To most Americans, the reality of Arab disunity was laid bare most recently when Shiites and Sunnis slaughtered each other in post-Saddam Iraq—a reality reinforced, paradoxically, by the "Arab Spring." If the tendency is to see this string of uprisings as a pan-Arab enterprise linking Arab publics across borders, then the uprisings have further underscored the fractious character of the region. In effect, the "Arab Spring" is a series of civil wars, sectarian and tribal conflicts, and divisions not only between the political elites and the people but also within certain regimes themselves.

In other words, as of yet there has been no fundamental shift in Arab political culture. Where some have argued that the Arab publics have been empowered with their newfound voice, the truth is that Arab officials have long had to reckon with the power of the masses, especially when manipulated by talented demagogues like Nasser, lest they wind up butchered by the mob in the streets of their capitals, as was Iraqi prime minister Nuri Said in July 1958.[7]

Moreover, the additional power of the street and its ability to bring down rulers will come at the expense of actual democratic reform. For one thing, the regimes will ignore calls to reform, from both their own populations and Washington, in the conviction that reform is simply another word for the weakness that brought down Mubarak. For another, the activists themselves may find democracy less conducive to their ends than populism. As the young Egyptian activists have shown, they can wield more power from the pulpits of Tahrir than by participating in parliament.

Obama's Strategic Blunder

But if little has so far changed in the region, it is a very different matter for U.S. policymakers. Even though the dust is far from settling in the Middle East, in Washington the picture is already starting to become clear. The U.S. position in the region, an area of vital interest since the end of World War II, has been weakened. The erosion has taken place gradually over time and is a factor of many forces not attributable to any single episode or administration, but one can nonetheless identify a defining moment—Obama's Cairo speech.

For more than half a century, Washington had been accustomed to dealing with the Middle East, its allies and adversaries alike, in terms of nation-states, discreet political units with their own interests and internal makeup. U.S. policymakers were less concerned with the desires and aspirations of Arab peoples than with those of their authoritarian regimes. If to many Arabs this seemed cruel and hypocritical coming from one of the world's oldest democracies, the fact is that the most salient feature of the modern international system is that states deal with states whether those governing institutions are elected by their free citizens or imposed by powerful ruling cliques. To deal instead with opposition forces is by definition an act of subversion, or more spectacularly, war. And yet as it turns out, despite all the repression suffered at the hands of their authoritarian regimes, the Arab masses would have their voices heard by the Americans on 9/11.

In retrospect, it is clear that the attacks themselves were less significant than how this monumental episode of anti-U.S. violence was received around the region. It is interesting to speculate how the Bush administration might have responded had the 9/11attacks been condemned, and terrorism and extremism in all its varieties isolated and targeted both by the Arab regimes and the Arab masses. But because the bloodshed of innocent civilians was justified and celebrated, from North Africa and the Levant to the Persian Gulf and Pakistan, it was difficult for U.S. policymakers not to conclude that the furies were endemic in the region and needed to be addressed as such.

The Bush administration saw the issue as a political pathology, one that could be solved by importing democracy to the region, beginning with Iraq, which would be a beacon unto its neighbors. The Obama administration, partly to correct for a predecessor deemed wildly unpopular at home and abroad, took another view and tended to see popular Arab anger at the United States as the product of legitimate grievance. Hence it believed that by pressuring Israel to accommodate Arab demands, it would win the approbation of the Arab and Muslim masses.

The practical effect of both administrations was to set political precedents that reflected a sea-change in U.S. political-strategic thinking, namely that the Arab states were no longer Washington's primary interlocutors but rather its regional problem. The solution was to go over the heads of Arab rulers and make Washington's case directly to the Arab peoples. There was, however, a big difference between the two presidents: Bush made war against an Arab adversary while Obama undermined a U.S. ally.

The main flaw with Obama's Cairo speech is not simply that it contravenes the norms of political and diplomatic practice or that the belief in the existence of a unified Muslim world ignores the reality of 1,400 years of Muslim sectarianism; nor is it that the leader of a secular republic should avoid categorizing the world's inhabitants by their religious beliefs. No, the biggest problem is that Obama played into the strategic communications campaign of Washington's chief regional adversary, the Islamic Republic of Iran. For it is Tehran that insists that for all their divisions (Sunnis versus Shiites, Sufis versus Salafis, Arabs versus Persians, Africans versus Asians, etc.), there truly is one factor uniting all the world's Muslims: resistance to the United States and its regional allies, Israel as well as the Sunni states such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

But while Washington's relations with these states and others constituted the cornerstone of U.S. Middle East policy, by describing the region as an amorphous body of believers (an umma of sorts), Obama strayed into a minefield without a map—or no map other than the one that confirmed the Iranian view of the Middle East.

Adding Insult to Injury

If Tehran loses its one Arab ally in Damascus, the score may be somewhat evened. But so far, only pro-U.S. regimes have fallen, in Egypt and Tunisia, and the Iranians have already benefited from a number of subsequent U.S. errors.

To begin, in Libya the White House has entered into a conflict whose outcome may be important to the Europeans but would have had very little effect on U.S. interests—unless Washington decided to intervene. Now that it has, the danger is that Washington may be bound to its European allies in a stalemate or forced to sacrifice prestige by eating its words and acknowledging Qaddafi's restored legitimacy to rule. A testament to the administration's confusion is the description of its support of armed Libyan rebels as a humanitarian intervention while other peaceful opposition movements such as Syria's have failed to win any support from Washington. Hillary Clinton excused this difference by the Libyan regime's firing on its subjects from airplanes. The secretary of state obviously did not mean to imply that so long as the Syrians eschewed the use of fixed-wing aircraft they were safe from U.S. intervention, but that is how Damascus understood it and so used tanks against Syrian civilians.

The Libyan adventure is not about humanitarian causes. Rather, as some analysts have explained, Obama and key aides saw Libya as an opportunity for the administration to fold U.S. power into a multilateral dispensation.[8] If the commander in chief believes that unilateralism, or unbridled U.S. power, which Bush was wrongly faulted for, is a danger both to the world and to the United States itself, the fact remains that the White House has intentionally hobbled U.S. power and prestige to put them at the service of European interests.

As for events in Bahrain, the White House failed to keep a tight rein on two key U.S. allies—the governments of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. By turning a blind eye to the entry of a 4,000-strong, Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council force that has helped the Bahraini security forces terrorize the local Shiite population, Washington has paved the way for the Iranians to lend comfort and perhaps eventually material support to their coreligionists. Even before the Bahrain uprising, Washington had shown its inability to manage the Saudis, who crossed U.S. interests in Iraq and Lebanon by cozying up to Damascus, temporary alliances that strengthened Tehran's hand in both Baghdad and Beirut. There was little chance Riyadh was inclined to heed Washington's counsel regarding Manama since the Saudis are still fuming over Obama's treatment of Mubarak.[9]

The key issue then is Egypt, arguably the cornerstone of the U.S. position in the Middle East for more than thirty years. The peace treaty with Israel was not only a corollary of Cairo's shift from the Soviet camp to Washington's side but also neutralized the largest and most influential of Arab states and made a full-scale regional war with Israel many times less likely. Since then, Egypt has served as a sort of U.S. trophy, an example of what other Arab states could have—money, arms, and prestige—if they simply made peace with Israel. And it was that treaty that turned Washington from a great power into a power broker—U.S. support for Israel proved to the Arabs that if they wanted anything from Jerusalem, they would have to come through Washington to get it.

If Obama seemed to understand the centrality of Cairo, the sticking point, according to reports at the time, was the president's sense of personal honor. How, he asked aides, could he not support the aspirations of the Arab and Muslim masses that he himself had promoted and praised in his Cairo speech before the very same audience that was now out in the streets demanding Mubarak's ouster?[10]

Hubris and Its Costs

The conflict between national duty and personal gratification is one of the perennial trials scoring political life since the beginning of recorded history. The Hebrew Bible and the Greek and Latin epics document that there can be no marriage between the two, no compromise; for the essential test of the statesman, failing which he cannot be one, is to come down on the side of the national interest. As Obama could not choose between Dido and Rome, he dithered, making a series of mistakes that showed that the administration was caught unaware—by a popular insurrection whose pattern fit perfectly with the essential message of the Cairo speech.

For what allegiance did Egyptians owe their president when Obama had approached them directly in terms of their political loyalty to the umma? What the regime actually stood for, or the fact that the protestors greeted the army like brothers when it actually was the most corrupt institution in all Egypt, as well as Mubarak's real flaws and successes—including an economy that had grown steadily at 7 percent for more than half a decade—were all irrelevant. The Egyptians were part of something larger—the "Arab Spring." Would Obama side with the activists—as the American press blithely ignored or suppressed the anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment during the protests—or would he stand with an ally that undergirds the U.S. position in the Middle East?

For Tehran, there was no contradiction to smooth out. The mullahs could congratulate the Egyptian and Tunisian peoples on their great successes in tossing out their rulers even as they ruthlessly repressed their own opposition movement and helped Assad put down his own. The administration knew neither its own interests nor policy. Mubarak's naming a vice president and his promise to step down after the autumn elections was precisely what U.S. policymakers had sought from the Egyptian leader for nearly a decade. Had the administration pocketed that as a victory, the situation would have looked very different. Instead, the president seemed to make a fetish of consistency; Mubarak, Obama announced, had to go.[11]

Nor, for that matter, is there anything obviously consistent about demanding that U.S. ally Mubarak step down while tacitly supporting Assad, whose security services were responsible for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq as well as of U.S. allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. Having warned Damascus to refrain from violence against protestors, Obama drew a moral equivalence between the regime and its unarmed opposition by admonishing demonstrators to avoid shedding blood.[12] The reason the administration has shown Assad so much favor is no secret: Obama needs Damascus to sign a peace treaty with Israel, with which he means to win the affection of the Arab masses.

The rather inconvenient truth is that an Arab-Israeli peace process no longer exists. To be sure, as animals for slaughter survive the deathblow standing on all fours for moments before succumbing, many Washington policymakers on both sides of the aisle continue to insist on the centrality of finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But there will be no takers on the Arab side. It was lost on no one in the region that the man who kept the peace with Israel for more than thirty years at some personal risk to himself was trashed by Washington when the pride of the U.S. president won out over U.S. national interests. In other words, the administration is not yet aware that the centerpiece of its regional strategy, Arab-Israeli conflict diplomacy, is no longer relevant.

Egypt's future is unclear, but there is little consolation in the fact that the Egyptian army seems not to want another war with Israel or to lose $2 billion a year in U.S. aid.[13] The decisions made by the rulers of modern Egypt, from King Farouk to Nasser, have often been driven by domestic, regional, and international dynamics beyond their control. Even as there is no longer a contest between superpowers played out in the Middle East, the regional competition is as heated as ever, given Iranian and Turkish ambitions. Cairo's permitting two Iranian ships to pass through the Suez Canal for the first time since the Iranian revolution is a taste of things to come, for the Egyptians will continue to test Washington's resolve and mettle. For thirty years, thanks to Mubarak, war between Egypt and Israel, two U.S. allies was unimaginable. So far, all Washington has reaped from the uprisings in the Middle East, the "Arab Spring," is the whirlwind.

[1] The New York Times, June 4, 2009.
[2] See, for example, Christopher Boucek, "Dangerous Fallout from Libya's Implosion," The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C., Mar. 9, 2011.
[3] Microsoft Network News, Apr. 8, 2011.
[4] Interview, Mar. 20, 2011.
[5] The Guardian (London), Jan. 25, 2011.
[6] Interview, Mar. 23, 2011.
[7] BBC, "On This Day, July 14, 1958," accessed Apr. 25, 2011.
[8] Stanley Kurtz, "Samantha Power's Power," National Review Online, Apr. 5, 2011.
[9] Jackson Diehl, "Amid the Mideast Protests, Where Is Saudi Arabia?" Feb. 25, 2011; Yahoo News, Apr. 18, 2011.
[10] The New York Times, Feb. 12, 2011.
[11] The Washington Post, Feb. 2, 2011.
[12] Michael Doran, "The Heirs of Nasser," Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011.
[13] Reuters, Jan. 29, 2011.

Lee Smith is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard and the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations (Doubleday, 2010).

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

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