Friday, July 6, 2012

Censorship at the U.N.


by Bruce Bawer

The United Nations never ceases to impress. As noted here recently, Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation appeared before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 28. Halvorssen offered a few frank, bracing words about the state of human rights in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, and expressly argued that Chavez’s government, which is seeking a seat on the council, has no right to such a seat. For good measure, Halvorssen pointed out how disgraceful it is that another tyrannical Latin American government, that of Cuba, currently sits on the council.

The result, as also noted here, was an explosion of righteous indignation on the part of some of the council’s least worthy members – China, Russia, and, especially, Cuba, whose representative was so quick to rise to his feet in outrage that he knocked his chair over. The message sent out by him, and by his Chinese and Russian friends, in response to Halvorssen’s dose of truth-telling was clear: it’s one thing to engage in vague, pretty talk about human rights, but it’s another thing to point fingers and name names.

Two days later, interestingly enough, the very same message was communicated to a group of teenage girls from Norway at the U.N. Headquarters in New York – or, at least, so it would appear from the available evidence. Here’s the story. The Norwegian Girls’ Choir was in New York as part of a music festival produced by something called the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, which, according to an article that appeared in the New York Times on June 30,has promoted cultural exchanges between American and international arts groups since its founding in 1973. This year the group, which often focuses on youth initiatives, has produced the inaugural Rhythms of One World festival, a series of choral performances featuring adult and children’s choirs from Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Luxembourg, Canada, Australia, Norway and the United States.”

As the Times reported, “The choirs performed individually at various halls in the city this week, and joined forces for an event on Thursday evening at Avery Fisher Hall, which celebrated the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945.” The Times described each act in some detail, and singled out the girls’ choir as a “highlight of the evening,” saying that they “sang with nuance and elegant dynamic contrast.” The Times article closed by noting that the festival would conclude that evening, Saturday, June 30, “with a performance at the United Nations General Assembly Hall.”

So it was that on Saturday afternoon, the girls’ choir was rehearsing lighting cues in the General Assembly hall. That’s when the trouble started. The girls were doing a piece by composer Maya Ratkje entitled “Ro-Uro,” which can be translated as “Peace-Unrest.” It’s an archetypal Norwegian statement about the beauty of peace and the evil of war. (You can see a video of a 2007 performance of it here.) The work, which lasts just under ten minutes, alternates throughout between harmony and discord; the girls are almost constantly on the move, one moment dancing happily arm-in-arm and making pretty music, the next moment dashing madly across the stage – and around the auditorium – as if in sheer terror, all the while shrieking out harsh dissonances.

It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d think was tailor-made for the U.N. But there’s one problem. Toward the end of the piece, the girls shout out the names of famous people who have abused their power, such as Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Quisling, Castro, and Mugabe.

When those notorious names began to echo in the hall during the rehearsal of the lighting cues, “they reacted strongly,” the piece’s director, Anne Karin Sundal-Ask, told NRK, the Norwegian national broadcasting company. The “they” in question were apparently the event’s arrangers, who at once requested a list of all the names mentioned in the piece. The Norwegians were totally cooperative, making it clear that they were prepared to hand over a list and to remove any names that might cause discomfort. “But even before the list was handed over,” said Sundal-Ask, “we were informed that we would not be permitted to perform this piece.” She was puzzled and disappointed, because the festival is, after all, about peace, and “that’s why it was so important to perform this particular work.” They came up with a replacement piece, and the show went fine, “but it wasn’t as important as the piece we wanted to perform.”

According to NRK, the choir members were told that the U.N. simply couldn’t allow them to perform “Ro-Uro” under its auspices. Some people, they were informed, might consider it offensive.

To her credit, Ratkje, the composer, was angry. “This is a totally innocent work. It is about war and peace, but it is anything but scandalous. What’s scandalous here is that it’s being censored.” She added: “I don’t understand it. I think it’s a very strange decision.”

Of course, no one with the slightest understanding of how things work at the U.N. could possibly be puzzled by the decision to pull the plug on “Ro-Uro.” I am not privy to the full list of names included in the current version of the piece, and watching the 2007 video linked above I can’t make out all the names that the girls reeled off at that performance. (Maybe you can make them out better than I can: the girls start shouting them out exactly eight minutes into the video.) But the inclusion of the names Castro and Mugabe alone is enough to explain everything. Yes, both of these men fully deserve to be included in a litany of the great despots of modern history. But Mugabe is also the current head of state of a member country of the U.N., and Castro is the still-living former head of state of another member country, and for this reason it simply cannot be permitted for a group of Norwegian girls to insult them from the stage of the General Assembly.

Then there’s Stalin. Russia may no longer be Communist, but he continues to be officially honored in that country as the hero – indeed, the savior – of the Great Patriotic War. It would be a mark of disrespect to that sovereign nation for the U.N. to allow a girls’ choir take his sacred name in vain.

Personally, I’m delighted by this story. No country worships at the altar of the U.N. more ardently than Norway does. Most Norwegians are nominally Lutheran, but it’s no exaggeration to say that the closest thing the country has to a real religion may be the United Nations. Seen through many Norwegian eyes, the U.N. is the ultimate Teflon organization: no matter how many scandals may have damaged its reputation elsewhere in the world, in Norway it continues, thanks to a constant flow of almost exclusively positive media coverage, to be looked upon as the holiest of holies, the Ground Zero of goodness, the organization that can do no wrong. Rest assured that every last one of the girls in that choir has, since infancy, been fed an image of the U.N. as the very embodiment of peace, love, virtue, and the milk of human kindness; they’ve been brought up to regard anybody with any position at the U.N. with the same kind of unquestioning admiration and trust – even reverence – with which the most naïve of Irish grandmothers, in more credulous times, used to regard the parish priest.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Norwegian composer and director of “Ro-Uro” should find it incomprehensible that the U.N. put the kibosh on their performance. I can only pray that this cancellation, which (yippee!) has actually made headlines in Norway, will open at least some Norwegians’ eyes to the reality of the U.N. The foolish, puerile fantasy has gone on long enough.

Bruce Bawer

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/bruce-bawer/censorship-at-the-u-n/

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

With Toxic Arafat Revelations, the PA is Looking to Embarrass Israel


by Elhanan Miller

The Palestinian political agenda is well-served by Al-Jazeera’s ‘was Arafat poisoned?’ investigation, but it won’t be enough to mobilize the street, experts say
The Al-Jazeera documentary claiming this week that Yasser Arafat was poisoned by a radioactive substance was helpfully timed for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Gradually losing legitimacy on the street and with limited political prospects, the PA is already moving to use the allegations to embarrass Israel and isolate it internationally. But Palestinian and Israeli experts doubt that the revived controversy will have any long-lasting impact.

A writer in the PA mouthpiece Al-Ayyam led the way in blaming Israel on Thursday: “Only time, and a serious investigation of the crime, will reveal the complete circumstances of this crime, which can be added to the list of heinous crimes perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people,” Talal Okal wrote in an editorial, also blaming Western and Arab leaders for colluding in the crime.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem called on the Arab League Wednesday to create an international investigation commission into Arafat’s death, modeled after the UN commission tasked with investigating the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Palestinian news outlets echoed that demand.

“The Palestinian Authority’s founding father was assassinated,” asserted PA spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudeineh, adding that President Mahmoud Abbas had allowed his body to be exhumed for further testing.

Quickly losing legitimacy on the street and with no political prospects in sight, the Palestinian Authority will use Al-Jazeera’s revelations to embarrass Israel and isolate it internationally

But for most Palestinians, no testing is needed to prove Israel’s involvement in Arafat’s demise.

“Israeli officials clearly stated that Arafat was an obstacle to peace that must be rid of,” Fatah spokesman Ahmad Assaf told The Times of Israel Thursday. “How does one get rid of a person except by killing him?”

Assaf said his movement would wait until the investigation is complete before issuing an official statement, but added that the fact that Israel besieged Araft’s compound in Ramallah for three years, “directing tank cannons at his window,” left little room for doubt about its intentions.

“Who would we blame (anyone) other than Israel?” asked Sameeh Hamoudeh, a political scientist at Ramallah’s Bir Zeit University. “It is clear that Arafat was killed. Medical science has no explanation for his cause of death.”

Hamoudeh told The Times of Israel that although Al-Jazeera did not time its report to serve the PA, Israel’s image will certainly be tarnished as a result.

In the climate of the Arab Spring, the Palestinian Authority has been under increasing pressure to deliver a political breakthrough. Previous attempts to achieve state status at the UN have gone nowhere, and that seems unlikely to change despite talk of another attempt to push for international endorsement of statehood at the General Assembly this fall.

A rare series of anti-PA demonstrations took place in Ramallah this week, condemning Abbas’ leadership for its security coordination with Israel and its helplessness on releasing prisoners held by Israel. The prisoner issue was, and remains, the top concern of many ordinary Palestinians.

Hamas is also vocal, organizing regular demonstrations in the West Bank against the PA’s political detention and harassment of its members.

“Who would we blame other than Israel?” asked Sameeh Hamoudeh, a political scientist at Ramallah’s Bir Zeit University. “It is clear that Arafat was killed. Medical science has no explanation for his cause of death.”

The most obvious solution to this predicament would be venting the pent-up anger towards Israel.

“The PA has been trying to create a popular mobilization against Israel,” Hillel Frisch, an expert on Palestinian politics at the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, told The Times of Israel. “But Palestinians aren’t mobilized, they’re divided.”

Frisch said that Fatah’s youth organization (Shabiba) is a shadow of what it was in the 1980s. Fatah’s battalion commanders, men in their thirties, have mostly been arrested and imprisoned by Israel. With Abbas still committed to non-violent opposition to Israel, the Palestinian leadership has very few cards up its sleeve. But experts say “the Arafat file” is too old to stir a new intifada.

“This will not have any significant effect because the story is already eight years old and the United States will prevent any serious investigation into the matter,” said Hamoudeh of Bir Zeit University.

“This is the only weapon at their disposal,” said Frisch. “But they’re not going to get anywhere with it. The dead don’t mobilize the living.”

Elhanan Miller

Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/pa-seeks-to-embarrass-israel-with-toxic-arafat-revelations/

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

One of Assad's Inner Circle Defects to Rebels


by Rick Moran

A good friend of Syrian President Bashar Assad who is considered part of his inner circle has defected to the opposition and fled to Turkey, according to Reuters:

In what would be the most high-profile defection from the inner circle of the Syrian leadership, Manaf Tlas, a friend of President Bashar al-Assad and a brigadier in his Republican Guard, was reported on Wednesday to have fled to Turkey.

Tlas, whose father Mustapha was defense minister under Assad's father for 30 years, could not be reached for comment but several sources among the Syrian rebels told Reuters he had quit Damascus and a news website close to Assad's security services quoted a Syrian official saying Tlas was now in Turkey.

Tlas is a rare representative of the Sunni Muslim majority in a political elite and officer corps dominated by Assad's fellow Alawites, and his break with his friend may reflect an erosion of support for the president among wealthy Sunnis, slow to join an uprising driven by their poorer co-religionists.

The Syriasteps website which quoted a "high-level security source" confirming his flight also quoted a security official playing it down: "His desertion means nothing," he said. "If Syrian intelligence had wanted to arrest him it would have."

But a source in the exiled opposition to Assad, who said a relative of Tlas had confirmed his defection to him, said: "It's a very important defection. His brigade is very attached to their general, so we can say the true defection has started."

That source said Tlas had fled Damascus on Tuesday and was in Turkey en route for Paris, where Western and Middle Eastern sponsors of the rebel cause are meeting as the "Friends of Syria" on Friday. The French capital is also the home of Tlas's sister, widow of a billionaire Saudi arms dealer.

I've mentioned before that high ranking officials of the regime would start jumping ship because as the prospect of Assad's ouster grows, so does the prospect of war crimes trials. Tlas's defection might shake things loose and begin an exodus, which is what happened when Gaddafi began to look like a loser.

Rick Moran

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/07/one_of_assads_inner_circle_defects_to_rebels.html

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

Obama Administration Stabs Israel in the Back


by Shoshana Bryen

And so a deal was done: give up Israel for Syria. As a veto-wielding member of the United Nations, the U.S. could have nixed the program, but instead only insisted that Syrian meeting be held in the morning and the Israel-bashing in the afternoon; Ms. Pillai will have time in between for lunch.

The Founders in their wisdom divided the powers of government; some to the Executive, some to the Legislative. The power of the purse went to Congress; diplomacy to the Executive.

How that shakes out matters to the U.S. and our democratic allies.

The democracy of Israel, for example, had a good week with Congress. The Senate adopted, by unanimous consent (and 69 sponsors), a bill increasing coordination in the fields of missile defense, homeland security, energy, intelligence and cyber-security. It also called for enhancing Israel's qualitative military edge (QME), a difficult-to-measure state of affairs, but a concept that friends of Israel appreciate. The House already passed its version of the same legislation.

The practicality of the bill is striking: do things, share things, develop things, produce things, and protect things. These are security enhancements that can only be done with an ally. Congress wants to do them with Israel.

President Obama, on the other hand, has been doing diplomacy, which by its nature skirts the concrete. Many administrations, including this one, believe speech is action. Diplomats fear they won't get credit for damage avoided, so they often choose to produce no outcome all – just another meeting set for later – and never end the "process." Playing for compromise – or even a respectable loss – can be satisfactory. Talking can replace doing. That may work for the United States, a big country with room to maneuver when it makes mistakes, but Israel lives much closer to the edge. Diplomatic trouble can quickly become economic, political or military trouble.

The UN Security Council has not managed to have a discussion about Syria since April, but the President has finally figured out how to have the Council "briefed" on the subject by Navi Pillai – a renowned Israel-basher. The French wanted to discuss Syria. The Russians were willing only if the US-French-British adventure in Libya was on the docket. Rotating member Pakistan wanted to hang Israel. And so a deal was done – give up Israel for Syria – protecting the French, skirting the Russians, and accommodating our friends the Pakistanis. As a veto-wielding member, the U.S. could have nixed the program, but instead insisted only that the Syrian meeting be held in the morning and the Israel-bashing in the afternoon; Ms. Pillai will have time in between for lunch.

Read the unparalleled Anne Bayevsky for the details.

France, by the way, was the only European country to agree that the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem should be listed as a Palestinian UNESCO Heritage Site. The US is not a member of the World Heritage Committee. Our delegate campaigned against the vote, but lost. We are accustomed to losing in the UN, and it seems not to bother us much as it should for a country that covers nearly a quarter of the U.N.'s payroll with a blank check, no questions asked (or, more accurately, no answers given).

In the UN Human Rights Council, our representative Eileen Donahoe again remonstrated the Council for its "biased and disproportionate focus on Israel, as exemplified by this standing agenda item."

The "standing agenda item" is Item 7, "Human Rights Situation in Palestine and other Occupied Arab territories." It mandates that every discussion in the Council have a component devoted to (castigating) Israel. Ms. Donahoe objects – but she knows (her boss, the President, knows) she will lose every time because she is sitting with the likes of Congo, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Qatar, Cuba, the PRC and Malaysia. Players rotate (terms on the Council are three years), but the number of countries with unspeakable human rights records far exceeds the number of democratic countries, and the number of countries that vote en bloc (Arab/Muslim/African) far exceeds the number voting independently. The Council will always contain a preponderance of authoritarian countries whose governments engage in human rights abuses and have nothing to lose by castigating Israel.

President Obama stated that the U.S. would engage the Syrian uprising in the context of UN-sponsored discussion and UN-sponsored plans. Over last weekend, the UN-sponsored Syria Action Group convened in Geneva. Neither the Syrian government nor the opposition attended. The final communiqué told both how to behave; both rejected the tutorial. The U.S. and Russia also have also publicly disagreed about the implications of the document.

We talk; they run out the clock.

Ditto Iran. The third P5+1 meeting with Iran was held last month in Moscow. The talks ended with the Iranians intractably proclaiming their "non-negotiable demands" and the West offering another round of "technical expert talks." As the talks failed, a new and heavier round of sanctions was slated to begin on 1 July. But as the date rolled around, the Obama administration gave waivers to 20 of Iran's biggest trading partners to allow them to continue to purchase Iranian oil.

More talk not followed by action – not even action required by U.S. legislation.

Granting that Congress gave the Executive Branch the waiver option, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen nonetheless criticized the administration for letting China off the hook. "The administration likes to pat itself on the back for supposedly being strong on Iran sanctions. But… (it) granted a free pass to Iran's biggest enabler, China." She pledged that "Congress will once again fill the leadership vacuum created by the administration, and work to strengthen sanctions against the regime in Tehran."

There are ways Congress can "fill the leadership vacuum" produced by the administration's determination to talk its way through the world's problems – even when large parts of the world prove immune to its charms. The most useful would be for Congress to continue to establish practical measures of cooperation with Israel, working with Israel as a partner in addressing the security threats faced by democratic countries large and small -- and, with the power of the purse the Constitution grants it, take the suggestion of Ambassador John Bolton: only "to pay for what we get, and get what we pay for" in funding the UN.

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was previously Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA and author of JINSA Reports from 1995-2011.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3148/obama-administration-stabs-israel

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

Egypt's Sex-Slave Marriage


by Raymond Ibrahim

"When I want a sex-slave," [I] should be able to go "to the market and pick out whichever female I desire and marry her." — Sheikh Huwaini

Egypt's "first sex-slave marriage" took place mere days after the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi was made president.

Last Monday, on the Egyptian TV show Al Haqiqa ("the Truth"), journalist Wael al-Ibrashi showed a video-clip of a man, Abd al-Rauf Awn, "marrying" his slave. Before making the woman, who has a non-Egyptian accent, repeat after him the Koran's Surat al-Ikhlas, instead of saying the usual "I marry myself to you," the woman said "I enslave myself to you," kissing him in front of an applauding audience.

Then, even though she was wearing a hijab, her owner-husband declared that she is forbidden from such trappings and commanded her to be stripped of them, so as "not to break Allah's laws." She took her veil and abaya off, revealing, by Muslim standards, a seductive red dress (all the other women present were veiled). The man claps for her and the video-clip (which can be seen here) ends.

The man, Abd al-Rauf Awn, who identified himself as an Islamic scholar who studied at Al Azhar and an expert at Islamic jurisprudence, then appeared on the show, giving several Islamic explanations to justify his marriage, from Islam's prophet Muhammad's "sunna," or practice, of "marrying" enslaved captive women, to Koran 4:3, which declares: "Marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four… or what your right hands possess."

Though the term malk al-yamin literally means "that which is owned by your right hand," for all practical purposes, and to avoid euphemisms, according to Islamic doctrine and history, she is simply a sex-slave. Linguistic evidence even suggests that she is seen not as a human but as a possession.

Even stripping the sex-slave of her hijab, the way Awn did, has precedent. According to Islamic jurisprudence, whereas the free (Muslim) woman is mandated to wear a hijab, sex-slaves are mandated only to be covered from the navel to the knees—with everything else exposed. Awn even explained how Caliph Omar, one of the first "righteous caliphs," would strip sex-slaves of their garments, whenever he saw them overly dressed in the marketplace.

Awn further went on to declare that he believes the idea of sex slave marriage is ideal for today's Egyptian society. He bases this on ijtihad, a recognized form of jurisprudence, whereby a Muslim scholar comes up with a new idea—one that is still rooted in the Koran and example of Muhammad—that fits the circumstances of contemporary society. He argued that, when it comes to marriage, "we Muslims have overly complicated things," so that men are often forced to be single throughout their prime, finally getting married between the ages of 30-40, when they will have a stable career and enough money to open a household. Similarly, many Egyptian women do not want to wear the hijab in public. The solution, according to Awn, is to reinstitute sex-slavery—allowing men to marry and copulate much earlier in life, and women who want to dress freely to do so, as technically they are sex-slaves and mandated to go about loosely attired.

The other guest on the show, Dr. Abdullah al-Naggar, a professor in Islamic jurisprudence at Al Azhar, fiercely attacked Awn for reviving this practice, calling on him and his slave-wife to "repent," to stop dishonoring Islam, and arguing that "there is no longer sex-slavery"—to which Awn responded by sarcastically asking, "Who said sex-slavery is over? What—because the UN said so?"

In many ways, this exchange between Awn, who advocates sex-slave marriage, and the Al Azhar professor symbolizes the clash between today's "Islamists" and "moderate Muslims." For a long time, Al Azhar has been engaged in the delicate balancing act of affirming Islam while still advocating modernity according to Western standards, whereas the Islamists—from the Muslim Brotherhood to the Salafis—bred with contempt and disrespect for the West, are only too eager to revive Islamic practices that defy Western standards.

While this may be the first sex slave marriage to take place in Egypt's recent history, it is certainly not the first call to revive the practice. Earlier, Egyptian Sheikh Huwaini, lamenting that the "good old days" of Islam were over, declared that, in an ideal Muslim society, "when I want a sex-slave," he should be able to go "to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her." Likewise, a Kuwaiti female politician earlier advocated for reviving the institute of sex-slavery, suggesting that Muslims should bring female captives of war—specifically Russian women from the Chechnya war—and sell them to Muslim men in the markets of Kuwait.

And so the "Arab Spring" continues to blossom.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3149/egypt-sex-slave-marriage

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

Public Relations and the Art of War


by Ronn Torossian

My PR agency has been active in political and issues-based work. The state of Israel is, for me, a personal and professional passion, and with love I will say that Israel does a horrible job when it comes to PR. The simple message that Israel is a tiny, democratic country surrounded by murderous despots doesn’t get through— not to governments, the media, or the public.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said it so clearly on May 24, 2011, in his address to the joint session of Congress: “Of 300 million Arabs in the Middle East, the only ones who are truly free and live in a democratic country are the Arabs who live in Israel. Israel is not what is wrong about the Middle East, Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”

It doesn’t really matter what you personally think about Israel. My point is that the state of Israel should be forcefully communicating sympathetic messages to the world but isn’t. Case in point: many people don’t understand the difference in size between all of the Arab states and the Jewish state. The total area of the state of Israel is 7,951.6 square miles and is surrounded by Arab nations—Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—and the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt alone covers an area of 386,659 square miles. Israel has a population of about 7.5 million people, and the Arab nations surrounding her total 300-plus million people.

Everyone can relate to concepts about distance and size, such as the fact that Israel is the size of New Jersey and is completely surrounded by much larger countries with huge swaths of land and bigger populations who would like to see the tiny country destroyed. Still, the media worldwide writes of the “Jewish settlements” and “West Bank” as key conflicts between the Arabs and Israel. Leaving aside the perspective of just how tiny these areas actually are, or that Israel won them in a defensive war, is like blaming a flea for a pit bull’s aggressive behavior. The state of Israel is in real danger, partially because of its flawed public relations and communications work. In contrast, terrorist organizations Hamas, Hezbollah, and certain Arab nations have hired PR agencies to lobby for them in the press and on the world stage. Terror groups have engaged reporters and journalists, share meals with them, drink with them, and win their favor.

In 2009, Fenton Communications, a New York City–based PR firm, signed two contracts with the Arab state of Qatar to develop an 18-month campaign to essentially delegitimize Israel by orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel doesn’t use PR agencies in the United States. It doesn’t even pay for its diplomatic employees to use cell phones after hours or on weekends because of archaic and bureaucratic rules—a necessity in today’s 24/7 media world.

Israel’s PR does a poor job of framing the debate—its spokespeople are ineffective and have a poor grasp of the English language. (Israel regularly sends diplomats to countries where the diplomat doesn’t speak the native language.) There is a lot that can be done to fight and influence. It’s a question of shaping concepts and of speaking in terms and metaphors that the world understands.

Look at what happens when private investors legally buy property in eastern Jerusalem and legally build homes for Jews. An Internet search reveals that the media see such construction as evidence of Jewish “occupation” and a primary reason why there will never be peace in the Middle East. Even an American named Irving Moskowitz is condemned for buying land legally in Jerusalem – Is that not racist and Anti-Semitism?

Why not create messaging about how a Jewish person can legally build a home and live anywhere in the world—except Israel? A Jew can buy and build in Harlem or East Los Angeles, Paris, or Moscow, but not in Jerusalem. They can buy real estate and coexist elsewhere—why not there? That is the message they should be sending.

A justified cause is not enough to be right these days, either in politics or in business. Anyway, being right does not help you frame the debate nor does it keep you from being constantly on the defense. It’s not enough to simply convey a message—you need people to listen. Preparation for war includes a PR battle plan because PR is a crucial element of any war today.

Ronn Torossian

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/ronn-torossian/public-relations-and-the-art-of-war/

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

Muslim Witch Hunts


by Daniel Greenfield

In response to Congressman Peter King’s hearings on Islamic radicalization, Muslim Brotherhood stooge Suhail Khan authored an article denouncing the hearings as a “witch hunt.” He was echoed by Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR who also branded the hearings a “witch hunt.”

The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson caught on to this original idea, declaring the hearings, “Peter King’s Modern Day Witch Hunt.” Bob Herbert at the New York Times joined him in branding the hearings a “witch hunt.” At USA Today, an op-ed weighed in on “The Danger of a Muslim Witch Hunt.”

Democratic pols also got in on the act. Congressman Keith Ellison declared the hearings a “witch hunt” and Congresswoman Judy Chu complained that a “witch hunt for Muslim radicals will do little to make our nation safer.”

Wherever you turned, from CNN to Jon Stewart, the consensus of Muslim terrorists and their media collaborators was that investigating Islamism was just like hunting for witches. Except that terrorists exist and witches don’t—a minor fact that was lost on the progressive camp which often mistakes its own talking points for magic spells that alter the nature of reality.

The United States doesn’t hunt witches. It’s the Muslim world that has an unfortunate propensity for engaging in witch hunts.

While the progressive media complex was whipping itself into a frenzy denouncing any investigation of Saudi mosques and organizations as a witch hunt—the Saudis were conducting actual witch hunts. While Congressman King was trying to fight the War on Terror— they were declaring a War on Sorcery.

In Washington D.C. witch hunts might be a metaphor, but in Riyadh, they’re a top priority. While the Saudis operate a revolving door for Islamic terrorists, including the ones we send over to them for rehabilitation, they take important things like witchcraft seriously. A Saudi Al-Qaeda terrorist can expect to spend a little time at a plush rehabilitation facility before being set free to head off to the next conflict zone. But Saudi witches and sorcerers mercilessly have their heads chopped off in car parks.

A Saudi witch hunt is not a committee hearing; it is an actual unit of the Islamic religious police which is tasked with fighting witches and sorcerers, who according to the authorities, in the absence of the Jews, are responsible for most of the problems in the land. While American liberals insist that Islam is as modern as microprocessors and as moderate as vanilla ice cream, in the holy land of Islam, Sharia thugs are storming the dens of palm-readers, faith-healers and old women with too many cats around the premises in a 7th century witch hunt conducted with 21st century technology.

Muslim witch hunts aren’t only limited to Saudi Arabia. In Iran, Ahmadinejad’s allies have been accused of being sorcerers. In Pakistan, witch hunts end the old fashioned away, with a bonfire. One woman, accused of burning the Koran in a magical ritual, had her fingers cut off, her eyes poked out and gasoline poured all over her body. “She burnt the Koran, so we burnt her,” was the explanation.

In the Maldives, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed called for the passage of an Anti-Sorcery Act. The Maldives already has its own witch hunts and in 1993 arrested a witch for giving magic scrolls to a presidential candidate to help him win an election—a novel form of electoral fraud. It doesn’t however mandate the death penalty for witches, which is what the Sheikh is calling for, in line with Sharia law. “Sorcery has become a social plague in the Maldives which needs to be cured,” he said. And Islam has a reliable way of curing things by chopping their heads off.

Black magic is also a serious problem in the United Arab Emirates. In non-Muslim countries airport security personnel screen for Muslim terrorists carrying explosives and weapons; but in Muslim countries, the local equivalent of the TSA searches for magic wands and potions. Vigilant security personnel at Abu Dhabi International Airport caught one such would-be Harry Potter trying to enter the UAE.

“The airport staff suspected the passenger, so they inspected his luggage and found books that contained spells, mostly in unknown languages, and some suspicious tools which seem to be used for black magic,” said Colonel Rashid Bursheed, the head of the organized crime section at the Criminal Investigations Department.

It might be nice to live in a country where the chief threat in airports comes from the Wizard of Oz, rather than a fellow named Mohammed with incendiary underwear, but unfortunately that would require the United States to switch to operating under Islamic law. But in the meantime, Colonel Rashid Bursheed has asked all citizens to report anyone casting spells to the authorities.

In Qatar, home of Al-Jazeera, the police are also on the lookout for rogue magicians. The same goes for Oman, where dedicated enforcers keep watch for magic amulets, bones or love potions. While the police forces of the Muslim world are not terribly good at combating terrorism, they spring into action when someone claims that a witch cast a spell on his goats. Most of those arrested are usually foreigners; many of them are Africans, which is not surprising in the racist tribal heartland of Islam.

What happens to Harry Potter when he’s caught depends on how Islamic the country is. The more committed a country is to Sharia law, the more likely it is that poor Harry will spend years in prison or even lose his head. A magic potion that might only be punishable by seven years in a dungeon in a liberal place like Dubai might make a man lose his head in properly Islamic Saudi Arabia.

In Washington D.C., witch hunts end with a banging gavel marking the end of a committee meeting. In Saudi Arabia, they end at the point of a sword. Just ask Ali Hussain Sibat, a Lebanese TV psychic, who predicted the future and offered magic potions on the side, who was charged with witchcraft when he made a pilgrimage to Mecca and is awaiting his own turn for the mercy of the executioner’s sword.

In response to the Sibat case, the Boston Globe called it a “A 21st-century witch trial” and “a reminder of why this nation’s Founders sought to separate religious and secular laws.” And yet despite that, the Globe and other liberal newspapers ridicule any attempt at restricting the spread of Islamic Sharia law and investigating Islam as a “witch hunt.” Yet in a terrible irony, investigating Islam may be the only way to prevent actual witch hunts from one day taking place in this country.

Daniel Greenfield

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/daniel-greenfield/muslim-witch-hunts/

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

The Unoccupied Territories


by Dror Eydar

The biggest news story of the week, perhaps of the year, slipped under the media radar yesterday: Edna Adato of Israel Hayom revealed the main points of a report drafted by the Committee to Examine the State of Construction in Judea and Samaria, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levi. The report touches upon the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and makes sense of the matter. One can say that the government received permission to toss attorney Talia Sasson's report on settlement outposts into the dustbin of history.

Levi’s report concludes that Israel has the right to settle Jews in Judea and Samaria, and that it is incorrect to say that building settlements is illegal according to international law: "According to international law Israelis have the legal right to settle in all of Judea and Samaria, and at the very least in territories under Israeli control based on agreements with the Palestinian Authority; and therefore the creation of settlements in and of itself is not an illegal act."

The committee also concludes: "From the viewpoint of international law, statutes regarding the 'occupation' are inapplicable due to the special legal and historical circumstances regarding the decades-long Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria."

Since the 1970s, senior jurists in Israel and abroad have argued that Israel is completely within its rights to settle its citizens in Judea and Samaria. Among them are the President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Judge Stephen Schwebel; Prof. Elihu Lauterpacht of Cambridge University; and Prof. Eugene Rostow, the former Deacon at Yale's school of law, all of whom, along with others, have voiced their clear opinions in regards to Israel's just claim over Judea and Samaria within the historical and legal circumstances.

Since the Six-Day War, however, Israel has refrained from declaring the permanent status of the territories it won, excluding Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Into this vacuum Chief Justice Aharon Barak and others inserted the legal paradigm of "Belligerent Occupation," according to which military governance draws its authority from the rules of international law in territories that were won in war. The significance is that Israel is deemed, allegedly, to be a foreign occupier, and it doesn't have the right to apply its sovereignty over, or to move its civilian population into, those territories.

Some of the measures which hostile legal bodies have taken against the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria stemmed from this perception. These measures, which aimed at strangling the settlement enterprise, received justification from the State Prosecutor's Office due to its adoption of the Belligerent Occupation paradigm, despite the current government's many objections.

If the territories aren't occupied, the Left has argued over the years, they must be annexed, including the populations there. But the reality isn't a polar one, it is complex. The current report recognizes an intermediate reality: At hand is a disputed territory; two entities hold it; none of the sides is considered an "occupier." There is disagreement regarding ownership, which needs to be clarified through different means, but there is no definition of "occupation" in the international legal sense of the word.

A perception of Belligerent Occupation occurs when one country conquers the territories of another country. In our case, the last sovereign power was the British Mandate, which received its legitimacy from the League of Nations to create a national home for the Jews in the Land of Israel.

The Jordanian occupation was never recognized (aside from Britain and Pakistan), and Israel never conquered "Jordanian territory." Moreover, Jordan renounced its sovereignty over these territories toward the late 1980s.

Another dramatic point in the report is its stance on communities which were built without a government decision ("Unauthorized"). The report concludes that because their creation and development occurred with the knowledge, encouragement and agreement of the most senior government echelons, "this conduct must be considered to be 'authorization.'"

Therefore, "the act of eviction from these communities is impractical and a different solution must be found, such as compensation or alternative land offers. For this reason the committee has suggested to the state that it refrain from carrying out demolition orders in these communities, which it is in essence responsible for creating."

If the government adopts the report's conclusions, it means that the folks working with Mike Blass over at the State Prosecutor's Office will no longer be able to deny, in the state's name, the existence of these communities and won't be able to advance their destruction through dry legal claims.

The government has taken a great step in the right direction on this matter, much to the chagrin of the enemies of the settlement enterprise, and to the joy of its supporters, comprising most of the Jewish population in Israel.

Now a world war will ensue against the report and against Levi.

All the old arguments and slandering tactics will be dusted off and put to use; left-wing organizations will enlist the help of their friends from across the globe, and the alienated juridical elite will fight against the most natural thing to us as a people: the return to our homeland, the cradle of our nationhood.

There is no need to become over-excited; this is exactly what this government was elected for. It is the will of most of the people, and it is also a historical decree.

Dror Eydar

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=2185

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

Double Standards for Jewish and Arab Building - Part IV


by Gil Bringer

This is the final part of a series showing how "reverse discrimination" is applied in Israel, regarding building plans for Jews vs. Arabs. The article was originally published in the "Tzedek" supplement of the Hebrew weekly newspaper Makor Rishon.

Read Part I
here.
Read Part II here.
Read Part III here.
Restitution for a Fine

That any town would hire a supervisor of building who himself violates the building code is almost as absurd as hiring a counselor for a couples workshop who beats his wife. But when it comes to illegal building in the Arab sector, it seems that this matter simply does not interest the authorities. There are thousands of illegal structures and unplanned buildings in almost every local Arab authority and this testifies to the fact that the story of Husisi is perhaps amusing, but definitely not unique. Clearly, not all supervisors are law-breakers, but they're just not interested at all in putting an end to the phenomenon of illegal building. It doesn't interest the local authorities and certainly not the supervisors. Therefore there is no reason to engage the services of any particular supervisor - because no building will be demolished anyway.

The latest report of the national ombudsman revealed an interesting phenomenon that again testifies to the systematic failure of enforcement of the law regarding illegal building. Within the area of the Arabe Council, the following practice has been going on for years: Residents who have broken the laws of building and planning, and who have been fined by the court for violating the law, would then appeal to the committee of municipal tax reductions, and would get a reduction in their tax for the same amount of the fine that was imposed by the court. Needless to say that the reductions were given automatically to those who broke the building laws, without being expected to meet any criteria. A discount in exchange for a fine, with no need for explanations and no need for convincing. This is your right - fined? Get a discount. As if it's obvious that there's no way a person should be fined just for building a structure illegally.

And in keeping with the practice of the committee of municipal tax reductions in Arabe, the council would pay from its own funds the fines that the court imposed on those residents in its domain who broke the building laws. And so, instead of enforcing the law against transgressors, the council actively compensated the transgressors, reimbursing them if they had been fined for committing a misdemeanor. This is how the council has become an active accessory in the commission of building offenses, and actually finances these transgressions of the planning and building laws in its domain.

The Mask of Falsehood

It may be difficult for some to connect the dots between the various phenomena, however there is also someone who sees the whole picture - all of the phenomena regarding the planning and building laws in Arab communities in Israel as well as the connections between them.

Attorney Betzalel Smotrich from the NGO "Regavim" sees Kesari's ruling and the under-enforcement of the building code in the Arab sector as one issue. "There is a clear connection" he says, "between the participation of the authorities themselves in the residents' transgressions and the disregard of the governmental authorities and the wanton policy of planning which, oddly enough, has received legal backing. In recent years, dozens of leftist and Arab organizations have succeeded in instilling a false narrative into the Israeli consciousness, according to which the Arabs are unfortunates who want nothing more than a roof over their heads, and the state authorities are the "evil" ones, who systematically deprive Arab Israelis of their right to decent housing, thus violating numerous Israeli and international laws.

This lie has been repeated so many times in the past few decades that many good people in various walks of life have become convinced that it is true. Once this lie has been accepted, enforcement of the laws of planning and building is no longer a high priority of law and order; it has rather become a moral injustice; having minimal planning requirements as a condition for a building permit is not taken for granted, as it would be in any normal place in the world; rather it is a "continuation of the long-standing discrimination and violation of the right for housing", so collection of the municipal tax becomes not a basic obligation but a cynical attempt to profit at the expense of those who ask for nothing more than a roof over their heads.

Meir Deutsch, Field Coordinator of the NGO Regavim, is not surprised that the police consistently refuse to safeguard actions aimed at enforcing the law. "No one wants to be the bad guy on YouTube clips, the Arab-hater who throws children into the street in the chill of night. It's no wonder that the reports of the national ombudsman, which point up how the Arab authorities are involved in violations of the law and trample all norms of good governance, sit gathering dust on the shelves of some archive. The authorities as well, ignore the situation: they are afraid that people may say that they have something against Arabs, and will accuse them of racism and humiliate them in court. This is the root of the problem, and until it is cut out we will not be able to change the situation. The time has come to tear off the mask of falsehood from the face of Arab society in Israel and to apply the same laws as apply to any other citizen of Israel."

Police Action

Almost everyone that I spoke to complained about the way the police does its work. Even when the other authorities are already acting and earnestly trying to enforce the law to inject a bit of logic into the madness - there is almost no cooperation from the police. A document here, and another document there, from this or that governmental body, and again the same line - "waiting for police backup". And the police, for their part, are really in no hurry to participate in these rare government initiatives.

The truth is that it's fairly clear. The moment that they got used to the reality of non-enforcement - every demolition order, even the most minor one, disables an entire police district. But if we're complaining about the ineffectiveness of the police, we must note also one of the few cases where the police actually did act. This time it took an impressive stand and prevented construction in the early stages.

Ilan Miles had been trying for a long time to set up a farmer's market in the area of Egoz Shopping area, which is located near Nimrod's Castle in the North. In 2009, after about ten years of wandering in the halls of bureaucracy, equipped with all the necessary approvals, Miles requested finally to begin working at the site. But one month after starting the work on preparing the ground, Miles was invited to a meeting with Kamal Munder, who is responsible for the Druze Waqf in the area, for an "introductory meeting" in the Nabi-Hazori site, which is located 70 meters from the area intended for the farmers' market. At this meeting Munder explained to Miles that the idea of setting up a farmers' market is excellent, but he (Miles) is not the one who must set it up, but the Waqf. "If you will not give up your plan", Munder clarified, "The spirit of the Waqf will harm you". It is almost needless to say, but nevertheless for the sake of completing the picture, we must note that instead of the legal structure that Miles was going to build, the structure in Nabi-Hazori was built illegally, and these transgressions of the law were never addressed by the police. But why demolish a structure just when they got to the moment when the police decided to enter into the picture?

After the Druze contractor who had worked with Miles cancelled the contract with him because of threats that he got (not from the spirit of the Waqf, but from the local residents), Miles decided to continue the work using a Jewish contractor that he hired for that purpose. The Druze in the area did not back down, and when the work was renewed, dozens of them gathered, accompanied by local sheikhs, and threatened Miles and the police officers who stood near him that they would burn their vehicles and slaughter 2,000 soldiers whose blood would be spilled all over the place". The police officers who were present were ineffective, and were unable to calm down the commotion. But the police, who until now had been powerless, suddenly became very assertive. Miles was requested to come to a meeting with the commander of the Golan police station. At this meeting the commander told him that because of "intelligence information", Ilan is requested to stop the work. Ilan honored the request and invested his time for the next several months in trying to come to an understanding with the Druze sheikhs. Only after he understood that their only goal was to take over the project without offering any compensation, he decided to assert his rights according to the law. Miles served a complaint at the police station and requested that they would allow him to continue building at the site. In 2010 Miles understood that his appeals to the police would go unanswered and he appealed to the Minister of Interior, and told him that he intends to continue the work. The Minister of the Interior read the letter and decided to call a professional meeting on the subject. The department heads, the head of the Council, heads of the Druze committee and more were invited to this meeting. And all of this was to try to see how it would be possible to come to an agreement that would allow Miles to build, legally, the farmers' market that was intended to serve the local residents. When they did not come to an agreement Miles announced to the police, three weeks ahead of time, that he intended to come to the site and continue the work. A few hours before he was supposed to begin, Miles received a police order that forbade him to continue the work, for his own and his workers protection and to keep the public order. "The work may be continued at a later date", the announcement read, "that will be weighed and suited to the situation". As of today the area that was intended for the farmers' market stands empty. But the illegal buildings that were built in Nabi-Hazori still stand. One law, but two different systems of enforcement. Kesari's message sinks in.

Gil Bringer is an attorney who serves as the legal consultant to the Jewish Home faction in the Knesset and co-editor of the "Tzedek" legal supplement to the Makor Rishon Hebrew weekly newspaper. Among other things, he deals with the areas of overlap between law and politics, Zionism and good governance. He can be contacted at gil.bringer@gmail.com

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Source: "Tzedek" ["Justice"] Supplement of the Makor Rishon weekly Hebrew newspaper

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

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: Jordan and Radical Islam


by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Ever since December 2010, when the phenomenon known as the "Arab Spring" began in Tunisia, there has been one motto that passes, like a leitmotif through each Arab domain: "The people want to overthrow the regime". This motto is on all the posters used in the demonstrations, on the walls of buildings, on flyers that are handed out in the streets; the spokesmen of the various opposition groups and the demonstrating throngs cried it out hoarsely and repeated it again and again, as an unvarying mantra. This slogan may have been the most obvious rhetorical feature of public discourse in the Arab world during the past year and a half, because it signified the events that led to the collapse of the regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and apparently in Syria as well. The intensity and strength of the use of this slogan was an indication of the height of the flames singing the feet of the seats of government in these states.


Jordan has managed until now to remain untouched by these problems, and King Abdullah II knew how to navigate matters of the kingdom in a way that such that the waves of the revolution that were washing the rest of the Arab world did not yet wash over his kingdom. In an article that we published here four months ago, we dealt with the problem that the Jordanian monarchy has with the Palestinian majority in Jordan. Within the past few weeks - mainly since the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco - a different sort of problem is now becoming apparent: the problem of radical political Islam.

This problem is not new, because radical Islamist groups have existed in Jordan for many years, however the monarchy knew how to put them in their place using a combination of the carrot and the stick: prison and torture on one hand, while allowing political and public activities on the other. But the political activity of the Jordanian opposition was always placed within the administrative frameworks of the state, meaning the monarchy made sure that their influence remained marginal. The principal framework is the law of elections, which undergoes basic and frequent changes, in order to make sure that the results of the "democratic" elections will create a feeling of openness, pluralism and legitimacy, but at the same time will preserve the status quo and prevent too great a change to the balance of political power.

Elections in Jordan have always been a source of tension between the regime and the political bodies for three main reasons: a) the natural public expectation that as a result of the elections an effective parliament will result, that will have genuine authorities, but this has never happened, because the laws of parliament can not contradict the decisions of the king and certainly can not remove him from his throne; b) the elections are supposed to reflect the attitudes of the population and its cross section of political opinion and social and cultural attitudes, and this doesn't happen either; c) parliament represents mainly the traditional trends and interests of the Bedouin tribes which are a minority among the population, and marginalizes other groups, including those with modern viewpoints.

Approximately two weeks ago parliament passed a new law dealing with elections that raised the number of representatives from 120 to 140 and determined that every voter would be able to choose two representatives: one from his local area and one from a national list, which is limited to only 17 seats. This significance of this apportionment is that local tribes will continue to have more political weight and the general, national ideological lists will have less weight. The increase in the number of seats intended for women from 12 to 15 arouses much criticism from all directions: the modernists and women's organizations want more seats, while the Islamists want a smaller number of seats allocated to women. The election law has not yet been enacted because the king has still not approved it, and apparently will not approve it because of public opposition.

However this hasn't succeeded in silencing the opposition: last Friday huge demonstrations were held in several of the cities of Jordan, demanding constitutional changes that would reflect the will of the street to allow the election of a parliament with real authorities and to establish a fair and effective government. These demonstrations streamed into the streets after Friday prayers, apparently under the influence of the sermons delivered by the clerics. We saw this phenomenon in Egypt in January of 2011, and in Syria during March and April of 2011: The mosque and Friday sermons serve as the match that ignites the barrel of gunpowder filled with the rage of the public and the will of the people to radically change the corrupt and illegitimate regime. The miserable economic situation in Jordan adds fuel to the fire, and strengthens the feeling of marginalization felt by not a few sectors.

Zaki Bani Irshid, the general supervisor of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan, said during a demonstration: "The time has come for us too in Jordan to be happy like the Egyptian people are happy", while Ali Abu al-Sukkar, head of the Shura Council, the council of the "Islamic Action Front", that represents the Muslim Brotherhood, said openly and brazenly to the media: "Just as the will of the Egyptian people was victorious, thus the will of the Jordanian people will be victorious and the aspirations to see real reforms will be realized. Today, the voice of the Jordanian citizen echoes throughout all districts, as he emphasized that he will not be put off, nor will he accept partial solutions, trickery or manipulation regarding the public's expectations to see real improvement in governmental systems."

The message expressed through these words is that just as in Egypt the public succeeded to overthrow Mubarak and to set up a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood at the head of the pyramid of power, thus it must be in Jordan. There can not be a clearer or sharper message than this. The interesting thing about this demonstration is that leftist groups also took part in it, and this too is reminiscent of Egypt, because in the first phase of the demonstrations in Egypt, all of the groups who opposed Mubarak were united.

Slogans that were heard in the demonstrations were also interesting: people called the parliament (majlis al-nuab - House of Representatives) the pejorative "majlis al-doab" House of the Worms, and there were signs saying: "Start the Countdown", "Victory to the Will of the People", "Congratulations to Egypt", "Where is the Corrupt One? the Reforms Will Sweep You Away". "The Cost of Living is not Reasonable", "The Prices are on Fire and the Citizen is Worried". The king, recognizing the danger inherent in Friday demonstrations, with slogans and signs of this sort, froze the election law and sent it back to the House of Representatives to increase the number of seats for the national lists at the expense of the locals, and thus "threw a bone" to the demonstrators.

Security forces that accompanied the demonstration were not armed, however their presence in full uniform was conspicuous. The message that they sent was that as long as the demonstrations stay within the accepted norms they will be permitted to continue. Against this background it is important to note that for a long time in Jordan there has been sharp criticism against the cruelty with which the security forces act towards groups of radical Islamists, who call themselves "Salafia Jihadia", and whose goal it is to fight with the force of jihad, to return Muslim society to the good times, pure values and proper rulers that it had in the seventh century.

A 16-year-old youth, Layth al-Kalaulah, who apparently participated in the demonstration against the regime last weekend, was caught by an arm of the security force and underwent investigation under torture that included putting out burning cigarettes on his body. He is a resident of the city al-Salt, in the Jordan Valley, where there is activity of the Salafia Jihadia, and apparently the young man was a member of this group. This is not the first case that Jordanian security forces are accused of torture: In recent years the UN and a number of human rights organizations published reports on the use of systematic torture in Jordanian prisons on those who opposed the regime. Confessions were extracted from them illegally, and those responsible for the torture are not usually brought to justice.

It must also be noted that in Egypt a grievous event happened a number of months before the demonstrations broke out in January 2011, in which a youth in Alexandria was tortured to death, and this caused a stream of thousands of demonstrators to crowd into the streets. In the opinion of observers, this event strengthened the negative feeling of the population towards the regime, because photographs of the youth "before" and "after" were circulated in the various media and reached the masses. In Syria too, in the beginning of the events in March 2011, photographs of children and youths who had been tortured by the regime were distributed via the social networks, and these photographs poured oil on the fire of the demonstrations.

Al Jazeera, which broadcast live coverage of the demonstrations in Jordan last Friday, finished the report with this sentence: "The people want to reform the regime", which is clearly a variation of the sentence "The people want to topple the regime". In this way, almost overtly, Al Jazeera exploits the internal tensions in Jordan and tries to ignite the domestic front in this state as well, after the great success that this Qatari channel has already scored in setting afire the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya Yemen and Syria. The king will need great wisdom to be able to stand up against the rising waves of opposition, from within as well as from the direction of Al Jazeera, the jihadi channel of the Emirate of Qatar, whose rulers suffer from severe megalomania.

===============

Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

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

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