Friday, November 1, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: Blood Flows in the Rivers of the Garden of Eden


by Mordechai Kedar


Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)

Two of the four rivers of the Garden of Eden - according to the Book of Genesis - are located in Iraq. The Tigris and Euphrates flow from the mountains of Turkey, through Syria and into Iraq, they join in Shatt al-Arab and whatever remains of its waters then flows into the Gulf. Many canals, or arteries - (in Arabic, "artery" is "al-Iraq") - have been dug between the rivers, to provide irrigation for agriculture in the hot, dry desert. Without the rivers and the canals between them, Iraq would be a dry, arid desert. Anyone who wants to survive in the burning Iraqi desert must live as part of a cohesive armed and violent group, ready to do battle in order to defend his water source and his livelihood.

Over the generations, many groups have settled in Iraq, and today they constitute the population of the state. There are four ethnic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Persians, who are divided into more than seventy tribal groups, eight religions (Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians,  Sabeans, Mandeans, Yazidis and Baha'is) and innumerable sects (the Muslims are divided into Sunnis, Shi'ites, Salafis, Sufis and others, and the Christians are divided into Catholic sects: Chaldean, Syriac, Armenian, Roman and Byzantine; Orthodox sects: Aramean, Armenian, Ancient Oriental, Assyrian, Byzantine, Coptic (Egyptian refugees); Protestant sects: Assyrian National, in addition to Seventh Day Adventists and Subbotniks.

For our purposes it is important to note that many Muslim Iraqis regard members of other religions as believers in false religions, and the punishment for this is either having to live as a "protected people" ("ahl dhimma"), considered an appropriate solution for Jews and Christians, or having to choose between converting to Islam or being slaughtered as infidels.

The meager living conditions in the desert have resulted in a proliferation of tribal, sectarian ethnic groups, resulting in a split and polarized population, quarrelsome and violent, with a generations-long tradition of battles and blood feuds. This is the source of all of Iraq's misfortunes.

The British, who held the mandate for Iraq, crowned Faisal as king of Iraq in 1921, and his brother Abdullah as Emir of the Emirate of Transjordan, to give the sons of Sharif Hussein from the Hijaz "jobs", as a reward for his support in the First World War against the Ottoman Empire. The fact that Faisal spoke with a Saudi accent and the people of Arabic Iraq speak with an Iraqi accent did not matter the British. The Iraqis never accepted the royal house that the British had imposed on them, or the way that Britain determined the borders of the state according to British interests - principally concerning oil - and not according to the needs of its population.

Throughout the history of Iraq, there have been battles between its Arab government and the Kurdish region, and there has been continual tension between the Sunni minority and the Shi'ite majority. This was the inevitable outcome of Iraq's demographics. And this is why this country has been dominated by dictatorial groups these past nine years, each one harshly and cruelly oppressing anyone who did not belong to the group in power.

Due to the parochial nature of government, some sectors of the population remained loyal to their traditional group, because this granted its members a sort of defense against the government's fury, since consolidated traditional collectives are better able to defend themselves and negotiate with the central regime regarding the division of power.

To avoid being in continual conflict with the various groups, the central government found ways to appease the heads of the groups by means of economic franchises and government positions. By Western standards, such conduct is considered corrupt, while in the Middle East it is necessary, and is considered natural.

The two rulers who shaped Iraqi history in the second half of the twentieth century were Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr (1968-1979) and Saddam Hussein (1979-2003). Ideologically and organizationally, they both based their rule on Baathist ideas and on the party that was established to implement them, but in reality, their rule was based on a system of balances between harsh oppression and appeasement of potential adversaries, while creating rivalries in order to prevent the formation of coalitions against the central government.

An illegitimate state ruled by an illegitimate government must have an external enemy to unify the opposition to the government and bring them under its umbrella. Iraq found this enemy in Iran, and over the years conducted bloody wars against it: The first, in the years 1974-1975, and the second between 1980 and 1988. The first was against the Shah and the second was against the rule of the Ayatollahs.

With the aim of increasing Iraq's economic and political strengths at the expense of its neighbors, Saddam conquered and occupied Kuwait in 1990. Although he expected the world to condemn the invasion, he believed that it would ultimately be accepted as a fait accompli, but he was mistaken. In the five-week war that was waged in January-February of 1991, he was forced to withdraw from Kuwait because of the tremendous damage that was done to the army and civil infrastructure of the state. But the war and the regimen of sanctions that were imposed on Iraq did not bring about the fall of Saddam, because dictators know how to direct hardships onto their populations, while remaining unharmed for the most part themselves.

In the year 2003, an international coalition was formed headed by the United States, to attack Iraq. Saddam disappeared, and in 2004 was arrested and tried, and was hanged in 2006. But the tragedy of Iraq is that despite the country's population having been freed from dictatorial rule, civil and political mechanisms based on thought patterns, behaviors and conduct other than the traditional loyalty to the tribe, ethnic group, religious group and sect were not developed.


On the surface, there are political parties, elections are held, there seems to be an operational parliament and a functional government, but when one examines in depth how these modern mechanisms work, one discovers that all of them, in one way or another, present the usual frameworks and conduct the usual battles, but by means of the modern tools that liberation from Saddam have provided. But the worst thing is that the system - mainly since the withdrawal of American forces at the end of 2011 - does not have one single balancing power that can impose its agenda on all the conflicting forces. And the result is that the government is non-functional, parts of the country - principally the Kurdish part - behave as independent states, Sunni jihad organizations blow up car bombs in Shi'ite neighborhoods, and in response, Shi'ite jihad gangs blow up truck bombs in the markets of Sunni cities.

The social disorder, political chaos and power vacuum make Iraq vulnerable to the influence of foreign powers and two of Iraq's neighbors are up to their necks in the bloody affairs in the Land of the Two Rivers: Saudi Arabia finances, arms and trains the Sunni militias, while Iran is the money, weapons and training behind the Shi'ite militias. In the wide canals of the Tigris and Euphrates, two of the rivers that irrigated the Garden of Eden with their waters, Iraqi blood flows today, making it seem, ironically, more like Hell.

In every single month of 2013, several hundred people have been killed in terror attacks in Iraq. The security forces are infiltrated with agents of organizations that are enemies of the state and therefore they have limited ability to fight effectively against the bombing attacks and the terrorists. Many politicians' hands are stained with the blood of their rivals, but their violent dedication to their group is what got them elected in the first place, "democratically", of course. And since the Shi'ites are a majority in Iraq, a Shi'ite coalition rules there, under Iranian auspices, while marginalizing the Sunni minority politically, economically and socially.

Sunni political activists are arrested and disappear into torture dungeons no less horrifying than Saddam Hussein's, but inside these dungeons the tables have been turned: then, Saddam's Sunni jailers tortured Shi'ites, and today it's the Shi'ite jailers of Nuri al-Malaki, the Shi'ite prime minister, who are torturing the Sunnis. Several Sunni leaders who were identified in the past with the Ba'ath party and who are today in prison, might yet be executed by hanging.

Meanwhile, Syria, Iraq's neighbor to the west, has joined the list of states involved in the "Arab turmoil" that began in Tunisia in December of 2010, and Tunisia is also becoming embroiled in the bloodbath. Sunni, Wahhabi Saudi Arabia supports the Salafi Sunni jihadist organizations operating in Iraq against the Shi'ite regime with funds, arms and fighters, and in Syria against the Alawite dictator under the influence of al-Qaeda, even if they do not have the name of that specific group on their lips.

The Americans watch what is going on in Iraq astonished and helpless. On one hand, Obama brags that he took the American army out of Iraq, but on the other hand he sees how Iraqi "democracy" is turning into torture dungeons with blood in the streets and ever increasing Iranian influence, and he has no desire to strengthen such an Iraqi regime.

On the other hand, if the regime in Iraq is weak, then militias such as al-Qaeda and The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria might take over parts of the state, especially the region of al-Anbar in the west, which is settled by Sunni tribes, and turn this area into a new Afghanistan, along with with the Dir a-Zur region in eastern Syria after the state has disintegrated.

It is against this background that Nuri al-Malaki, prime minister of Iraq, is visiting Washington. He is coming to tell Obama about the things that Iraqi governments - and especially his - have achieved in recent years: an improvement in oil production and resulting rise in income; a decline in poverty and unemployment rates; resettling the refugees who had fled from the state during the past decade; better quality of nutrition for children and adults together with a decline in infant mortality; an improvement in the quality of drinking water; more children enrolled in organized education;  an improvement in the status of women and allowing women the opportunity to be elected to parliament; almost total eradication of malaria; holding democratic elections for parliament and local government.

In order to maintain these achievements and progress onward to additional achievements, al-Malaki needs American weapons that will enable him to fight effectively against the forces threatening to turn Iraq into a Sunni Jihadistan under Saudi Arabia's influence. The problem is that if American weapons are transferred to a Shi'ite government, it might help the Shi'ites turn Iraq into a Shi'ite Jihadistan, operating under Iranian influence.

Al-Malaki is principally interested in Predator drones that will enable the regime to attack Sunni jihad operatives without endangering pilots. These drones have proven themselves in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan. But what would happen if al-Malaki allows his friends in Iran to examine these drones so that they can develop weapons to counter them? How would the Americans be able to use these weapons against Iran if and when they decide to do so in the future? And what would happen if the Iranians share these secrets with their friends, the Russians and the Chinese?

The strategic cooperation agreement that was signed between Iraq and the United States just before the American withdrawal provides the background for these discussions, because the United States is obligated to provide for the stability of the regime in Iraq even if its behavior is not perfect and it doesn't reflect the democratic values of the United States and its regional interests. Al-Malaki will need to exercise all of his persuasive powers to get an agreement from the United States - which is tired of wars and involvement in the crises of the Middle East - to take meaningful steps that might again lead to United States into involvement in the Iraqi swamp.

The crisis in Syria will also be part of the dialogue with Obama. Al-Malaki represents the Iranian position, and his presence in the Second Geneva Conference, if it is held, might tip the scales in favor of Asad. On one hand, Obama is not enthusiastic about the participation of the Iraqi-Iranian duo in the conference, because he sees Iran as the dominant part of the problem, but not necessarily part of the the solution. On the other hand, everyone knows that there is no point to the resolutions that will be taken in the conference if this pair of states does not honor them and acts against them.

The underlying question about the events in Iraq is whether the blood will stop flowing in the Tigris and the Euphrates, in Syria and in Iraq, and if the waters of the two rivers will again nourish the Garden of Eden as they once did?




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

Dr. Kedar is available for lectures


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 SallyZahav with permission from the author.


Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

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 author.

Washington’s Will Is Done: Bloody Terrorists Freed



by P. David Hornik



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Just after midnight on Wednesday, Israel Hayom reports, 26 Palestinian security prisoners were set free by Israel. Twenty-one were sent to the West Bank, five to Gaza.

All of these prisoners were convicted either of murder or attempted murder. They constitute the second of four groups of 26 prisoners who are being released periodically during the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. For Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, freeing them was an iron-clad condition for entering the talks at all. Israel acceded to it under heavy U.S. pressure, spearheaded by Secretary of State John Kerry.

“…Palestinians in Ramallah and Gaza,” Israel Hayom informs us,
celebrated the release of the prisoners. The 21 prisoners returning to the West Bank attended an official reception at the Mukataa in Ramallah, where…Abbas greeted them personally.
“We welcome our brothers the heroes coming from behind the bars to a world of freedom and liberty,” Abbas was quoted as saying.
None of the American diplomatic personnel in Israel attended this reception. That may not seem worth pointing out. Wouldn’t it be a diplomatic slap to Israel? And wouldn’t it contradict American values to attend a celebratory reception for terrorist killers?

Indeed, it would. But why, then, did it not unacceptably contradict American values to pressure Israel to free them in the first place?

Indeed, these 26 are a nasty lot. Here are just a few examples from a partial list compiled by Israel National News:
Awad Masalkha took part in the murder of Yigal Vaknin…and also murdered another Jew, David Reuven…, an Iraqi-born father of three who ran a mini-market…. In 1991, Awad and other terrorists entered the mini-market, attacked Reuven, tied him up and beat him to death. He was 59….
Ahmed Damuni murdered reservist soldier Amnon Pomerantzin 1990. Pomerantz was on his way to reserve service in Gaza when he entered the Al Burej neighborhood by mistake. He was pummeled with rocks, murdered, and his body was burned inside his car. He was 46. He was survived by his wife and three children.
Haza Yusef and Abdullah Bani-Hassan murdered Yosef Eliyahu and Leah Elmakayes…, two teachers, in 1985. The teachers were preparing a field trip for their pupils in the Gilboa area, when they were accosted by the terrorists. Eliyahu, 35, married and a father of five, was shot at close range, and Elmakayis, 19, was strangled to death. She had been a National Service volunteer. She left behind her parents and three siblings.
The peace talks, by the way, are reportedly going nowhere. The ordinary, humble, logical person might remark—that’s not surprising, is it, considering that one side regards such people as heroes?

And not only that, but well-compensated heroes. “Palestinian media,” Israel Hayom adds,
reported Tuesday that every prisoner who was released will receive a special grant from the PA, according to the length of his prison sentence. The grants—some of which are expected to amount to tens of thousands of dollars—will join a monthly stipend the PA plans to allot the prisoners, ranging between 2,500 and 4,500 shekels ($710-$1,280) a month.
Whether Israel should be giving in to the Palestinian-U.S. advocacy for these terrorists is bitterly debated in Israel. On Monday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said:
Ordering the Palestinian prisoners’ release has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make as prime minister…. I am sure that any prime minister who has ever had to make a similar decision in the past has agonized over it as well, given the injustice of seeing these heinous murderers freed before they have finished serving their sentences in full….
My heart goes out to the bereaved families. This decision was a necessary evil, dictated by the reality we live in. We must navigate a complex international arena that presents us with multiple challenges. It mandates that we consider various factors and do what is best for the State of Israel.
A translation might be:
It is very difficult getting along with the current U.S. administration, but nevertheless we remain dependent on America. At present the main issue facing the State of Israel is the Iranian nuclear threat. I have had to play along with the Palestinian game in the hope of achieving maximum understanding with Washington on a matter that poses a far more strategic, indeed an existential danger.
Just how difficult it has been to get along with the Obama administration on the Iranian issue was evident this week in Kerry’s thinly veiled reference to Netanyahu’s “fear tactics.”

It may seem like “fear tactics” to those who split their time between Washington and Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. To Israelis, the “fear” induced by batches of freed terrorists and Iranian genocidal threats is quite real. At some points in Israeli history deferring to America has turned out to be more dangerous and costly than not doing so. This may be one of them.


P. David Hornik

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/davidhornik/washingtons-will-is-done-bloody-terrorists-freed/

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

Thinking about Goals for the next Round in Gaza



by Dr. Aaron Lerner


What with Hamas at odds with Egypt and its Iranian benefactor as it faces domestic challenges as well, it may not necessarily serve Israel's interests to launch an operation that could very well galvanize support for this radical terror semi-state.

It would, however, be a terrible mistake to only start to seriously think about the goals of such an operation when circumstances require decisions within hours.

Ever since the retreat from the Gaza Strip the goal of each Israeli operation has been limited to restoring "quiet for quiet".

To be clear, restoration of "quiet for quiet" does not require significantly reducing the offensive capabilities of the Palestinians, nor does it require that the Palestinians halt their programs to enhance their military capabilities.

"Quiet for quiet" only means that the Palestinians stop shooting (or limit the extent of their shooting) and we stop shooting (or limit ourselves to minor tit-for-tat responses).

"Quiet for quiet" is a very popular goal for policymakers both because of its simplicity and low requirements for success. It also lets the leadership of both sides claim some form of victory as both the Israelis and the Palestinians can argue that the restoration of "quiet for quiet" is proof that their strength has deterred the enemy.

The downside is that "quiet for quiet" facilitates the ongoing enhancement of the military capabilities of the Palestinians in Gaza.

In the first round after the retreat from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians were equipped with crude rockets with small payloads and short ranges launched using methods that were subject to relatively easy monitoring.

Today, with almost all the smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egyptian Sinai closed and relations with Iran seriously impaired, a burgeoning Gazan domestic military industry is producing rockets that can reach Tel Aviv from concealed launch sites. At the same time huge resources have been devoted to establishing a network of attack tunnels against Israel along with a massive network of tunnels, bunkers and underground launching pads in the Gaza Strip.

What we face today is not what we will face tomorrow.

And what we will face in another year or two or three will dwarf the challenge we face today.

Of course, at the same time we are also enhancing both our defensive and offensive technologies.

I am not suggesting that we rush to conclusions.

Just that we take a hard look at where we are today and where we can reasonably expect to find ourselves in the coming years.

My guess is that the very painful conclusion may be that the goal for the next round is to destroy the monster that has developed since the retreat and create circumstances and conditions that prevent a repeat of this situation.

This is not something that can be seriously discussed as the decision makers are already huddled over tactical operations maps.

It is something that requires many months of thinking – preferably including simulations with a "red team" of the best and brightest playing out the Arab sides.

We can ill afford to trap ourselves into being limited to only kicking the can down the road.


Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il


Source: http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=62207

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

Washington Must Strike Iran, Not Bargain With It



by Prof. Efraim Inbar



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BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 217
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Iran is buying time until it has a nuclear break-out capability. A nuclear Iran will bring about nuclear proliferation, threaten energy prices, pose a threat to regional and global security, and further undermine America’s international position. The US must act militarily to stop Iran and restore its credibility in the eyes of its skeptical Middle Eastern allies.

The Iranians have once again been successful in pushing the West into prolonged negotiations over their nuclear program. They have done so almost for two decades, and in the meantime have expanded their uranium enrichment program, worked on weaponization, and built long-range missiles. This indicates without a doubt that they are after a nuclear bomb. The belief and hope that Iran has changed is pathetic. It is obviously interested in removing the economic sanctions imposed on it by the international community, but what Iran is really after is not an agreement, as its gullible interlocutors tend to believe, but rather time. Iran needs time, probably months, to present the world with a fait accompli: a nuclear break-out capability, i.e. the infrastructure to assemble a nuclear arsenal within weeks.

Unfortunately, much of the world, including the US, is going along with the Iranian procrastination, failing to realize that Iran is a strategic problem of no comparable regional and global significance. No other issue in the Middle East or elsewhere around the globe can have as negative an impact on world affairs: nuclear proliferation, the prices of a strategic commodity like oil, international terrorism, and the global stature of the US.

Regional Nuclear Proliferation

Allowing Iran to go nuclear or acquire break-out capability will bring about nuclear proliferation at least in the immediate region. States such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey are unlikely to stay behind, which will bring about a nuclear multi-polar Middle East – a strategic nightmare in this volatile region. A nuclear Iran is very different from a nuclear North Korea, whose geopolitical environment already includes two nuclear states – China and Russia – to keep it in check. A nuclear Iran will unquestionably bring about the demise of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a stabilizing factor on the international scene.

Effects on the Global Oil Economy

A nuclear Iran will affect the global political energy economy. Iran’s location along the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea – the “energy ellipse” where about 75 percent of the oil reserves are situated – gives it a handle on the price of oil, a strategic commodity. The oil-producing states in the region will inevitably have to consider the desires of an intimidating, nuclear Iran. Iraq is already an Iranian satellite, and Azerbaijan and other Central Asian countries may follow suite. A nuclear Iran might also become more aggressive and take over the eastern province of Saudi Arabia that is mostly populated by Shiites and holds most of the Kingdom’s oil. While it is true that Iran and other oil-producing states cannot desist from selling oil, Tehran will be able to decide to whom to sell and at what price.

Increased Terror and Military Threats

A nuclear Iran will be emboldened to be more active as a sponsor of international terror. Its terrorist infrastructure is global, with active and dormant cells in Latin American, North America, Europe, Asia, and of course the Middle East. Iranian tentacles have been observed activating terrorist activities all over the world.

An Iran in possession of long-range missiles armed with nuclear bombs could pose a real threat to many countries within a range of over 2,500 kilometers. This radius includes Eastern Europe, the whole Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian sub-continent. Iran is working assiduously to extend the range of its missiles to hit North America as well. Hoping for deterrence to be fully effective in the Iranian case is an irresponsible response.

Undermining America’s International Standing

Finally, Iran is the supreme test of American credibility in world affairs. After saying so many times that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, allowing the radical regime of the mullahs to acquire a nuclear bomb or develop a nuclear break-out capability will be a devastating blow to American prestige. Today the US is probably at its lowest ebb in the region. Friends and foes alike are bewildered by the policies of the Obama administration, seeing an extremely weak president who seems to be clueless about Middle East international politics. The American willingness to allow Iran enrichment capabilities and readiness to strike a bargain with Tehran is mind-boggling in this part of the world.

The Need for a Military Strike

At this stage, after several years of confused and misguided American behavior, the only thing that can salvage US influence in the region is an American military strike on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Without exception, Middle Eastern leaders have a power politics prism to international affairs, and have little patience towards the liberal-inspired speeches of President Obama, who has become a laughingstock among Middle Easterners. Therefore, the only thing that can win their respect is a muscular response on Washington’s part. This is what America’s allies in the region need and want. They understand, much better than Washington, the current regional realities and dangers of a nuclear Iran.

A military strike is also needed to prevent a nuclear Iran from destabilizing international order. If Washington wants to prevent nuclear proliferation, preserve stability in the energy sector, minimize the risks of international terror, and reduce the nuclear threat from a fanatic regime, it must live up to its obligations as a superpower and the leader of the free world. Going along with the delaying tactics of Iran is dangerous and irresponsible.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family


Prof. Efraim Inbar

Source: http://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/washington-must-strike-iran-bargain/

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

Israel and the UN Human Rights Council Circus



by Joseph Klein


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Israel decided to end its year and a half boycott of the three-ring circus known as the United Nations Human Rights Council. Responding to significant diplomatic pressure from the United States and Germany, Israel sent representatives to a Council session on October 29th to participate in a review of Israel’s human rights record. The review was conducted in accordance with a process known as the Universal Periodic Review, in which each of the 193 member states of the United Nations has its human rights record assessed by the Council approximately every four years. Israel submitted a detailed 78-page report as part of this process, describing specific actions Israel has taken to fulfill its human rights obligations and responding to a number of recommendations by other member states.

The problem for Israel is that the Human Rights Council, which is dominated by Islamist states and their allies, stacks the deck against Israel, which has been subject to far more condemnations by the Human Rights Council than Iran, Sudan, Syria and other serial human rights violators combined. The Obama administration’s decision to join the Human Rights Council, said to be for the purpose of influencing this body from within, has not changed the Council’s anti-Israel bias.

Israel is the only country listed on the Human Rights Council’s permanent agenda.  Moreover, it is the only country subjected to an investigatory mandate that examines the actions of only one side to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Israel – and presumes the Jewish state to be guilty, while giving Hamas, Hezbollah and their state sponsors a free pass.

Moreover, Israel is still prevented from actually joining the Human Rights Council itself because it is denied full membership in any regional group of nations, from which the Council members are selected. Geographically, Israel should be a part of the Asian Nations Group, as are its Arab neighbors, but Arab nations who are members of that group have blocked Israel from joining. As a consolation prize, Israel has been relegated to limited membership in a group known as “Western Nations and Others” (WEOG), which bars Israel from group membership privileges in any UN activities outside of New York. Thus, unless the WEOG changes its policies, which Israel has requested, it cannot represent the WEOG or any other regional group on the Human Rights Council which persistently judges its conduct.

Nevertheless, Israel decided to swallow its revulsion at the Council’s modus operandi and participate in the Universal Periodic Review session. It candidly admitted its imperfections, but defended its overall human rights record. Israeli ambassador Eviator Manor also pointed out to the Council that “Israel has been regularly subject to significant, and often politically motivated, scrutiny over the years, disproportional to the worldwide human rights situation. The promotion of human rights is a just yet complex task in every society – especially in a democratic, multicultural society that constantly confronts terrorism…”

As if on cue, Arab states, Turkey, Cuba, Venezuela and Russia, which have appalling human rights records that they refuse to acknowledge, heaped criticism on Israel in a blatant demonstration of the double standard that the Human Rights Council has come to embody.

Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi dismissed Israel’s decision to participate in the Council’s review of its record as having “no value,” while ducking any accountability for the miserable human rights record of Palestinian militia and government officials.

“We reaffirm that Israel’s policy of aggression and racism is an infringement on the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Qatar’s Geneva envoy, Almuhannad al-Hammadi. Qatar should look in the mirror and reflect on its own sorry human rights record. It is in no position to judge Israel.

For example, Qatar has a migrant population of 1.5 million people, mostly from India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, who are discriminated against on a daily basis. Some have been forced to work for no pay. As the Guardian reported in September 2013:
Qatar, one of the richest countries on the planet, will be hosting the World Cup in 2022. But much of the Gulf state’s expansion is being built by some of the poorest migrant workers in the world. In the worst cases, employees are not being paid and work in conditions of forced labour. Each month dozens of young Nepalese migrant workers are returning home in coffins.
Concurrent with the Human Rights Council’s review of Israel’s human rights record under the Universal Periodic Review process, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights Richard Falk submitted his latest report to the UN General Assembly. Falk’s mandate comes from the very same Human Rights Council now sitting in judgment of Israel.

Falk’s latest submission was typical of his one-sided reports during his six year mandate, which lay all the blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israel’s shoulders. In remarks to UN correspondents discussing his latest report, he said that from a political and moral perspective Israel has practiced “systematic discrimination” that would “qualify as an instance of apartheid.” When asked about Hamas’s building of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, which was done to enable the carrying out of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, Falk first claimed that he didn’t know much about the tunnels and then proceeded to defend the tunnels as “an obvious response” to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. After lumping the terror tunnels into the category of reasonable resistance, Falk defended Hamas as having made “a concerted effort to adopt a political course of action.” He claimed that Hamas has made “offer after offer of peaceful co-existence with Israel” to last for as long as 50 years.

“Resistance” is the code word used by jihadist groups like Hamas and their supporters, meant to justify their violence and distinguish it from terrorism. Falk himself illustrated this perverse logic in an Al Jazeera article last December, when he compared the Palestinian terrorists to resistance fighters against the Nazis during World War II:
It gives perspective to imagine the situation being reversed as it was during the Nazi occupation of France or the Netherlands during World War II. Resistance fighters were uniformly perceived in the liberal West as unconditional heroes, and no critical attention was given as to whether the tactics used unduly imperiled innocent civilian lives. Those who lost their lives in such a resistance were honoured as martyrs…Hamas leaders have made similar arguments on several occasions, in effect asking what are Palestinians supposed to do in the exercise of resistance given their circumstances, which have persisted for so long, given the failures of traditional diplomacy and the UN to secure their rights under international law.
Contrary to Falk’s characterization of Hamas’s aspirations for peaceful co-existence with Israel, Hamas’s own leaders have laid bare their true agenda. Peace for them means Israel’s destruction as a Jewish state. “Palestinians have the right to resist Israeli occupation and will one day return to property they lost in 1948,” Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, said at a rally in 2011 to commemorate what the Palestinians refer to as the day of nakba (catastrophe). “Palestinians mark the occasion this year with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine,” he proclaimed.

Israel is expected by Falk and the Human Rights Council that he represents to take the persistent terrorist threats it faces lying down. In the world inhabited by the hypocrites who denounce Israel while abusing the human rights of their own residents, Israel is expected to look the other way while the “resistance fighters” build their tunnels of terror and launch their rockets against Israeli civilians. Fortunately, while Israel was willing to play along with the meaningless Universal Period Review, it shows no inclination to drop its guard or to back away from defending its citizens with whatever means it deems necessary. Hopefully, this will remain true no matter what the UN Human Rights Council may think.


Joseph Klein

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/joseph-klein/israel-judged-by-un-human-rights-council-circus/

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

Article In Egyptian Weekly: Events In The Arab World - A Realization Of The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion



by MEMRI


Gamal Salem, a columnist for the Islamic Egyptian weekly 'Aqidati, claimed in an article that the Jews are currently implementing The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion by sparking civil and sectarian wars in Arab countries, including in Egypt. He added that there is a connection between the U.S.'s "Creative Chaos" policy in the Arab world and the Protocols. The following are excerpts from the article:[1]

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"Not many of us took notice when, in 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared the American administration's intention to spread democracy in the Arab world, to generate 'Creative Chaos' and to establish the so-called new Middle East, while quoting Freemason texts. Previously, in 1983, the U.S. Congress unanimously approved a plan formulated by the British-born orientalist Bernard Lewis – A Jew with an American citizenship and Zionist leanings – which was called the 'Blood Borders' [program], and was meant to divide and fragment Arab and Islamic countries into mini-states on a religious, partisan, and sectarian basis.


"When you take these two things together, you understand that Rice finished what Lewis had started. Evidence of this is [the fact] that she cited one of the texts of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion... in explaining to the world how Arab and Islamic countries would pass from the tyrannical stage to the democratic stage via 'Creative Chaos' – a term taken from Freemasonry and infidel faiths.


"When we connect this with the so-called 'Arab Spring revolutions,' and with what Oscar Levy wrote in the preface to his book The Protocols of Zion  – 'we Jews are the masters and corrupters of the world, we set off its civil wars and we are its hangmen'[2] - ...we find that [the Protocols] are being implemented full force in our Arab and Islamic world. [This because] you can't find areas that are ablaze [and do not] have Muslims being slaughtered, oppressed and banished from their land, and all this in front of the eyes of the world, which does not even remain silent but [actually] supports these racist actions against Muslims.


"There is more to this matter. It continues with sparking fitna [civil strife] and wars among Muslims, whether by sparking sectarian schism [between Sunnis and Shi'ites] until it becomes sectarian war, or by striving to start religious wars between Muslims and members of other faiths. Oh people, the plot continues and is realized while we [remain] unconscious and do not know what is best for us... [Allah] the Almighty said: 'Hence, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain all of mankind. And whoever saves one soul – it is as if he had saved all of mankind' [Koran 5:32]." 




[1] 'Aqidati (Egypt), June 18, 2013.
[2] In actual fact, a sentence similar to this appears in one of the prefaces to an English translations of The Protocols of the Elders of ZionThe preface cites a letter purportedly written in 1920 by German-Jewish writer Dr. Oscar Levy to one George Pitt-Rivers, which includes the sentence: "[W]e are today nothing else but the world's seducers, its destroyers, its incendiaries, its executioners." The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, trans. Victor Marsden (Escondido: The Book Tree, 1999), p. 58.


MEMRI

Source:

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Britain: "A World Capital for Islamic Finance"



by Soeren Kern


"I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world." — David Cameron, Prime Minister, Great Britain.
But critics say that British ambitions to attract investments from Muslim countries, companies and individuals are spurring the gradual establishment of a parallel financial system based on Islamic Sharia law. The Treasury also said some sukuk Islamic bond issues may require the government to restrict its dealings with Israeli-owned companies in order to attract Muslim money.

The London Stock Exchange will be launching a new Islamic bond index in an effort to establish the City of London as one of the world's leading centers of Islamic finance.

Britain also plans to become the first non-Muslim country to issue sovereign Islamic bonds, known as sukuk, beginning as early as 2014.

The plans are all part of the British government's strategy to acquire as big a slice as possible of the fast-growing global market of Islamic finance, which operates according to Islamic Sharia law and is growing 50% faster than the conventional banking sector.

Although it is still a fraction of the global investment market -- Sharia-compliant assets are estimated to make up only around 1% of the world's financial assets -- Islamic finance is expected to be worth £1.3 trillion (€1.5 trillion; $2 trillion) by 2014, a 150% increase from its value in 2006, according to the World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, published in May 2013 by the consultancy Ernst & Young.

But critics say that Britain's ambitions to attract investments from Muslim countries, companies and individuals are spurring the gradual establishment of a parallel global financial system based on Islamic Sharia law.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plans during a keynote speech at the ninth World Islamic Economic Forum, which was held in London from October 29-31, the first time the event has ever been held outside the Muslim world.

"Already London is the biggest center for Islamic finance outside the Islamic world," Cameron told the audience of more than 1,800 international political and business leaders from over 115 countries.

"And today our ambition is to go further still. Because I don't just want London to be a great capital of Islamic finance in the Western world, I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world."

UK Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the World Islamic Economic Forum in London on October 29, 2013. (Image source: 10 Downing St. Facebook page)

Cameron said the new Islamic bond index on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) would help stimulate fixed-income investments from Muslim investors -- especially investors from oil-rich Persian Gulf countries -- by helping them identify which listed companies adhere to Islamic principles.

Investors who practice Islamic finance -- which is said to be structured to conform to a strict code of ethics based on the Koran and Sharia law -- refuse to invest in companies that are linked to alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork. Islamic finance also forbids collecting or paying interest and requires that deals be based on tangible assets.

Unlike conventional bonds, sukuk are described as investments rather than loans, with the initial payment made from an Islamic investor in the form of a tangible asset such as land. The lender of a sukuk earns money as profit from rent, as in real estate, rather than traditional interest.

Cameron says the British Treasury will issue £200 million (€235 million; $320 million) worth of sukuk as early as 2014. The objective is to enable the government to borrow from Muslim investors. The Treasury plans to issue fixed returns based on the profit made by a given asset, thereby allowing Muslims to invest without breaking Islamic laws forbidding interest-bearing bonds.

The Treasury also said some sukuk bond issues may require the British government to restrict its dealings with Israeli-owned companies in order to attract Muslim money.

Although Britain has already established itself as the leading secondary market for sukuk -- the LSE has listed 49 sukuk bonds worth $34 billion during the past five years -- such bonds have rarely been issued from local firms and never from the government.

"For years people have been talking about creating an Islamic bond, or sukuk, outside the Islamic world. But it's never quite happened," Cameron said. "Changing that is a question of pragmatism and political will. And here in Britain we've got both."

According to Cameron, this "pragmatism and political will" is being influenced by the fact that Islamic finance is "already fundamental" to the success of the British economy. Indeed, it is.

Britain is already the leading Western center for Islamic financial and related professional services. It is a leading provider of Sharia-compliant finance, with reported assets of $19 billion, according to Islamic Finance 2013, a new report published by The City UK, a financial sector lobby group.

Britain is home to 22 Islamic banks, of which six are fully Sharia-compliant. This is substantially more than in any other Western country or offshore center and is more than double the number in the United States.

In addition, 25 law firms are now supplying services in Islamic finance, which is increasingly being used for major infrastructure projects in London.

Islamic investment has financed London's Shard skyscraper -- the tallest building in the European Union -- and the 2012 Olympic Village. Middle Eastern investors own Harrods, London's most famous luxury department store, and the Manchester City football team.

Muslims also invested in projects such as the massive London Gateway port, the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and Arsenal Football Club's Emirates Stadium.

Qualifications in Islamic finance are being offered by four professional institutes and at least 16 universities and business schools.

London is also a leader in Islamic retail banking services, with institutions offering a range of Islamic banking products, such as mortgages and car loans.

The growing demand for Islamic retail banking services is being propelled by the demographic transformation taking place in Britain. The Muslim population of Britain will top 3.3 million sometime before the end of 2013 to reach around 5.2% of the overall population of 63 million, according to figures extrapolated from a recent study on the growth of the Muslim population in Europe.

This demographic earthquake -- which is being attributed to large-scale immigration, coupled with high Muslim birth rates and growing numbers of British converts -- is transforming the country's business landscape.

More than one-third of all small- and medium-sized companies in London are believed to be Muslim-owned, and British Muslims contribute at least £30 billion to the economy, according to a new report published by the Muslim Council of Britain.

The demographic changes are also contributing to the establishment of parallel Islamic financial and legal systems in British public life.

In 2012, the British government began offering Muslim workers a Sharia-compliant pension fund in the public sector. A new government agency, the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST), will give Muslims who do not already have a company pension the option of investing in the HSBC Life Amanah Pension Fund, a Sharia-compliant pension scheme. The initial target market comprises some 200,000 Muslims in Britain.

In June 2011, Pointon York, an independent financial services company based in Leicestershire in central England, announced that it will begin offering four Sharia-compliant Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPP) products that comply with Islamic law.

Pointon York was the first specialist SIPP provider to receive Sharia-compliant accreditation by the Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which has pioneered Islamic retail banking in the United Kingdom. The IBB will supervise the entire life-cycle of Pointon York's pension funds to ensure full compliance with Sharia legal principles.

Muslim families in Britain can already acquire Sharia-compliant baby bonds under the British government's Child Trust Fund scheme. In 2008, Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) authorized the establishment of the country's first Islamic insurance company as well as the country's first Sharia MasterCard, called the Cordoba Gold MasterCard.

In addition, takaful, a type of Islamic insurance, reached a new high in 2012, with premiums estimated to have reached around $30 billion, according to The City UK, the financial services lobby group.

PM Cameron told the economic forum that Britain has also taken steps to ensure that Muslims are not discriminated against by implementing measures ending "double taxation" on Islamic mortgages and introducing alternative forms of student and start-up loans to comply with a ban on interest payments. "Never again should a Muslim in Britain feel unable to go to university because they cannot get a student loan simply because of their religion," he said.

But some are saying that Britain should go even farther in aligning its financial system with Sharia law. In an interview with the newspaper London24, Jodie Ginsberg of Demos Finance, a financial services research firm, said: "David Cameron is right to throw Britain's doors open to the Muslim world to showcase our trading wares. But we should also use this forum as an opportunity to consider how the principles of Islamic finance itself, not just the money generated in the Muslim world, might be applied in the UK. Islamic finance is one of the few models successfully to have weathered the 2008 credit crunch and its aftermath."

Speaking on a stage that included Jordanian King Abdullah and the Sultan of Brunei, Cameron dismissed criticism of increasing foreign ownership in Britain: "I know some people look at foreign companies investing in our businesses, financing our infrastructure or taking over our football clubs and ask, shouldn't we do something to stop it? Well, let me tell you, the answer is no."


Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.
Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4042/britain-islamic-finance

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