Saturday, September 12, 2009

Facts are Unimportant When They Contradict Our Preconceived Opinions

by Maurice Ostroff

Is non-payment of rent grounds for eviction? What if the tenant is a Palestinian living in East Jerusalem?

A Google search for Israel evictions yields 195,000 results, almost all condemning Israel because two families were evicted from homes in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on August 2, implying that this was done by the government solely for political reasons. All reports ignored the fact that the action was not initiated by the present Israel government and that it was not a plot hatched by the new government.

The saga began as long ago as 1972. The eviction resulted from a Supreme Court ruling in a protracted legal battle over ownership of properties in the area. The applicants claimed to own the property occupied by the Ghawi and Hanun families and sought to evict them on the grounds of rent delinquency. The defendants claimed the Jewish appellants had forged their ownership documents, but after examining all the evidence, the Supreme Court ruled that it was in fact the Arab documents which had been forged while the Jewish deeds were legitimate.

Even Israel's fiercest critics acknowledge the high judicial standard of the Israel Supreme Court, which is often accused of erring on the liberal side. It has frequently ruled against the government in favor of Arab residents and Palestinians and it authorized the demolition of Jewish settlements in Gaza. It also halted the destruction of a suicide bomber's house and its judgment in this matter too, can safely be regarded as based on the merits of the case.

Not only did the media reports distort the story by ignoring the above facts, they failed to mention that of the 28 families who occupied the premises, only two were evacuated for the valid reason of refusing to pay rent. While the Israeli court accepted the appellant's claim of ownership over the property, it nevertheless recognized the Palestinian residents' status as "protected tenants" who could not be ejected as long as they continued to pay the rent in terms of Israel's Protected Tenant Law. Most of the 28 families continued to do so and eviction orders were issued only against the two families that refused. All those journalists and politicians who immediately condemned Israel, ignored this essential fact.

Nor did the facts on the ground deter international politicos from grabbing this opportunity to shoot from the hip. A headline in The Telegraph summed up the knee-jerk international reaction. It screamed, "Israel provokes international anger over eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared, "Israel's Evictions in East Jerusalem Provocative."

Pakistan Times UN Special Correspondent reported, "UN envoy speaks out against Israel's 'unacceptable' evictions of Palestinians."

And the following aggressive statement from the British Consulate in Jerusalem, caps it all. "We are appalled by the evictions in East Jerusalem. Israel's claim that the imposition of extremist Jewish settlers into this ancient Arab neighborhood is a matter for the courts or the municipality is unacceptable. Their actions are incompatible with Israel's desire for peace. We urge Israel not to allow extremists to set the Agenda."

The Consulate's declaration that the judgments of the Israel courts are "unacceptable" is all the more troubling because in every country, except Israel, Britain urges obedience to local laws, even those it considers unreasonable like child marriage and slavery. In fact the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises expatriates to respect local laws and religions at all times. For example, it exhorts obedience to Saudi Arabian laws, including prohibition of public practice of any form of religion other than Islam and the death penalty for homosexuality.

Would the British consulate in Saudi Arabia dare to declare that any of these Saudi laws are "unacceptable"?

In view of the hysterical condemnation of the eviction of two families in Jerusalem for non-payment of rent, one must ask whether the politicos and journalists who so freely express strong opinions about Israel, are unconcerned about, or are plainly ignorant of evictions that are happening daily around the world. Do they not care about the more than 15,000 people who have been made homeless in recent forced evictions in Angola to make way for condominiums and shopping centers? Many of those affected claim they have documents signed by the municipal administrator giving them rights to the land. But according to the provincial government of Luanda, the families were occupying the area unlawfully and therefore will not be provided with alternative accommodation.

Do they not care about the Botswana Government's forced eviction of the Gana and Gwi tribes (better known as "Bushmen") from the ancestral lands they inhabited for more than 20,000 years and forced into grim resettlement camps they call "places of death"?

Are they too focused on demonizing Israel to pay some attention to the 52,000 hutments that have been bulldozed in Mumbai where, YUVA, the Youth for Unity & Voluntary Action, reports that millions of people have been thrown out of their houses at the peak of the winter season and are living around the demolished site without shelter, food, livelihood or basic amenities.



Maurice Ostroff

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



How the West's Enemies Are Saving It.


by Barry Rubin

When people are very pessimistic, I say to them: Don't worry our enemies will save us.

By that I mean that the enemies of peace, progress, and democracy—Islamists and radical Arab nationalists, terrorists and silly people in the West alike—are so intransigent, obviously lying, and dangerously wrong about society that they will convince and force most people to reject and combat them.

Even when thrown lifelines, even when confronted with naiveté, they reject concessions, turn up their nose at compromise, go too far, and make their nonsense so illogical and apparent, as to either teach the naïve in political and intellectual power or persuade others push them aside in order to survive.

Today offers some examples of this idea:

The presidency of Barack Obama and the relatively soft stands of European states have given Iran a great opportunity. Tehran could have made a show of flexibility, a strong pretense about being cooperative, and met with Obama. This would have forestalled a higher level of Western sanctions, while Iran could still work secretly on nuclear weapons.

After all, even after a virtual coup by the most hardline faction, the stolen election, the strong repression, the show trials of dissidents, and the appointment of a wanted terrorist as defense minister [that's a pretty amazing list, isn't it?], the West was still willing to deal with the regime.

Instead, Iran produced an "offer" to negotiate so minimal that even the Europeans rejected it. While this doesn't mean all is well—Russia and China will block and sabotage even moderate sanctions; the West Europeans will oppose really strong ones—at least Iran's last-minute effort to derail the process altogether will fail.

Imagine what the Iranian regime could have done if the ruling establishment had let someone less extreme than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad get elected, then claimed this showed what a moderate and democratic state they were running. A charm offensive could have defused the nuclear controversy and the sanctions would have fallen away. Iran would have been set loose and a few years from now could have finished its nuclear program in a relaxed manner.

But no!

Turn to Lebanon. The Syrians were riding high. A new government was going to be set up in Lebanon with their clients have both thirty percent of the cabinet seats and veto power over all government policies. But when the March 14 coalition, which won the recent elections, presented its own list of ministers, the Syrians and their Hizballah allies rejected it: not subservient enough. March 14, which has been giving ground steadily, was pushed so hard that it dug in its heels and rejected the Syrian demands. The negotiations will now have to start all over again.

Syria could have gotten back around 80 percent of its former total power over Lebanon in one day, but that wasn't enough for Damascus.

The same applies to U.S. attempts to engage Syria. The Obama Administration was eager for progress, but the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship would even give an inch to gain a yard. The talks have been frustrating for Washington. The Syrians weren't willing even to deescalate the terrorism in Iraq for a while.

Syria could have gotten out from under U.S. sanctions, reestablished normal relations with Washington, and have the Obama Administration turn a blind eye to its sponsorship of terrorism and subversion throughout the region.

But no!

The same applies to Hamas. It tried a little to pretend to moderate and already Western suckers were swallowing the bait, but it couldn't—and wouldn't –sustain the pretense very long. It couldn't resist going back to its super-hardline statements and actions.

But the Palestinian Authority (PA) offers an even clearer example. Imagine how much it could have obtained if it played along with the U.S. president's eagerness to help. A show of flexibility, an eagerness to negotiate, and an effort to get a Palestinian state on something approaching reasonable terms real fast probably would have brought success.

Atmost, there could have been a Palestinian state within 18 months on pretty favorable terms for the Palestinians. Or should one say, at most the PA could easily—and I mean easily—engineered a U.S.-Israel conflict unseen in the history of the Jewish state. But from the start PA leader Mahmoud Abbas made it clear that he was asking for everything and giving nothing. His best chance is already past.

And similar things can be said about various Arab countries regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict specifically and also getting in good with the president.generally. They could have rushed to make minor, meaingless gestures toward Israel in exchange for U.S. support on their broader demands.

Can I have a "But no!"?

One more, historic example: Remember Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein? In late 1990 or early 1991 he could have cut a very favorable deal which would have left his country with part of Kuwait, billions of dollars, and the Saudis trembling at his every command. Instead, he refused any deal, kept his army in Kuwait, and suffered a military defeat.

He did the same in the 2000-2003 period when he could have made some kind of bargain for stopping his nuclear program in exchange for all sorts of concessions. Instead, he did the opposite: he pretended to keep up the program even when he cut it back.

It is very important to understand why this kind of thing happens repeatedly and, though ultimately disastrous for Saddam, usually works out pretty well for the dictators or the leaders of powerful opposition movements.

First, all these forces really are radical and extremist. They don't want a deal; they want total victory, all the disputed land, total rule, complete dictatorship, the expulsion or extinction of their adversaries. And they can also rightly argue: these methods got me this far.

Second, they really believe their own propaganda. They think they can win and assume that those on the other side—whether Israel, the West, or other regimes they want to overthrow-- are weak and doomed. And, in turn, their enemies give them enough signals to this effect to make them continue to believe this is true.

Third, they are wedded to brutal methods. Terrorism is no accident; it is the tool of people who exult in deliberate violence against civilians. And in such political groups the gunmen and their values rise to the top.

Fourth, they are afraid of internal rivals and their own followers. They know that the people have been so conditioned by extremism as to reject moderates as traitors. This is obviously less true in Iranian but more true in Palestinian politics.

But the other part of this factor is even if a given leader, say from Hamas, wanted to follow a more moderate policy he knows that this would be used against him by rival leaders to destroy his power and maybe even kill him. They must continue to ride the tiger or be eaten. And the fact that they helped give birth to the tiger in the first place won't save them.

Finally, this is the region's political style, which to some extent mirrors Western history. Toughness counts; fear is better than popularity.

Many Western leaders and much of the Western intelligentsia are like someone sleeping through a burglary. But not only their friends are trying to wake them up, so are—however inadvertently—their enemies.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).


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


Four Left Wing Myths About Israel.


by Sultan Knish

Myth 1: "Israel was created because Europe felt guilty about the Holocaust."

This left wing myth has been widely repeated, most recently by Desmond Tutu. While blatantly false on a level that even the most serious anti-Israel historian can recognize, it persists because its function is to delegitimize as the product of post-war colonial guilt, rather than longstanding Israeli national aspirations.


Israel was not created in 1947. By 1947, Israel already was a functioning country with a language, culture, agriculture, universities, newspapers and military forces which proved capable of defending against the armies of several Arab nations. The only thing that happened after the Holocaust was a UN vote in 1947 was for a partition plan that was never implemented because the Arab world instead chose to try and destroy Israel. Israel however would have declared independence and fought for its own survival, with the same exact outcome, regardless of UN Resolution 181. This vote is often described as creating Israel, but it was more accurately an attempt to settle the borders of Israel that failed because of Arab genocidal hostility that expressed itself not only toward Israel, but toward the Jews living in Arab lands.

Nor did post-war European colonialism create Israel. Britain, which was the colonial power in the region, was against Israel's independence and abstained in the UN vote. The majority of votes for Resolution 181 came from non-European countries, primarily in Latin America and Eastern Europe, such as Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Peru and Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union. 7 European countries voted Yes, most of them Northern European states such as Sweden and Denmark, which experienced only a limited impact of the Holocaust. 12 Latin American countries voted Yes. Twice the number. And all of them countries that had their own national aspirations and had fought against colonialism.

Post-Holocaust guilt was not the reason Resolution 181 passed. Less than a third of the 33 votes came from countries where the Holocaust had taken place. The reasons were varied and different. Some Latin American countries identified with Israel's national aspirations and some sought economic ties. Truman was influenced by the desire for Jewish votes in an upcoming election. The Soviet Union wanted to sabotage Britain's colonial program. The motives of different countries were varied and complex. Iran for example voted against the resolution and yet became the second country to recognize the new State of Israel.

Left wing activists may insist that Resolution 181 was a racist act, but in fact half the countries who voted for it were non-white, and most of the countries who voted for it were non-European. Therefore the myth that Israel was created after the Holocaust by guilty Europeans, a myth that has been bandied about by everyone from Desmond Tutu to Wallace Shawn to Barack Obama is just that, a myth. Israel would have existed regardless of the Holocaust or UN Resolution 181, which was voted for primarily by non-European countries in any case. Those who repeat the myth are therefore demonstrating either extreme ignorance or extreme deceptiveness.


Myth 2: "European Nations Gave the Jews a Land Already Inhabited by a People."

This is one of the more common myths that seeks to strike at the legitimacy of the creation of the modern state of Israel, and treats the Jews as a foreign body within the land. This is a continuation of the anti-semitic stereotypes of the Jews as eternal wanderers and eternal foreigners.

The fact of the matter is that Jews had an ongoing presence in the land going back thousands of years, that was only interrupted by massacres and expulsions, after which the Jews population would once again attempt to reestablish itself. Greek, Roman, Arab and Ottoman colonialism expelled Jewish populations and attempted to replace them with their own populations in order to gain a foothold in the land. Unlike them however the Jews remained the land's indigenous population.

Throughout history Jews struggled to achieve independence with armed revolts from Roman and Byzantine rule. The last such revolt took place somewhat more than a thousand years before the creation of the modern State of Israel, rather than two thousand as most people believe. Jewish attempts to revive the State of Israel were repeatedly and brutally suppressed, in at least one case by outright genocide. Nor was that the only genocide that Jews in Israel experienced.

Nevertheless attempts at a fledgling Jewish state continued even after the Crusader genocide of the Jewish population in the 1500's with an attempt to create a Jewish autonomous territory under Selim I by Don Yosef Nassi, as Lord of Tiberias. Further negotiations for the creation of a Jewish state continued in the 18th and 19th centuries. After Ottoman obstinacy made it clear that statehood was hopeless, Jewish freedom fighters in the form of the NILI group and the Jewish Legion aided in the British conquest of the region hoping to receive their own state.

While indeed much of the population of Israel came from outside the land, that was because thousands of years of massacres and warfare had depopulated the area. When Western observers visited Israel in the 19th century, they found that the land was barren and had a low population, both Jewish and Arab. In fact Israel was so sparsely populated, that its entire population in 1850, a mere 350,000 people, could fit into modern day Tel Aviv with room to spare. This is all the more striking when you consider that we are talking about a territory several times the size of modern day Israel.

Alphonse de Lamartine visited Israel in 1835 and wrote; "Outside the gates of Jerusalem we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound, we found the same void, the same silence ... as we should have expected before the entombed gates of Pompeii or Herculaneam a complete eternal silence reigns in the town, on the highways, in the country ... the tomb of a whole people". 30 years Mark Twain wrote, "There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent – not for thirty miles in either direction. ...One may ride ten miles (16 km) hereabouts and not see ten human beings."

In 1857 the British Consul James Finn wrote a book called Byeways in Palestine that chronicled his journeys across the region. In his introduction he wrote rather prophetically, "These notices will show that the land is one of remarkable fertility wherever cultivated, even in a slight degree—witness the vast wheat-plains of the south; and is one of extreme beauty—witness the green hill-country of the north; although such qualities are by no means confined to those districts... Thus it is not necessary, it is not just, that believers in the Bible, in order to hold fast their confidence in its predictions for the future, should rush into the extreme of pronouncing the Holy Land to be cursed in its present capabilities. It is verily and indeed cursed in its government and in its want of population; but still the soil is that of “a land which the Lord thy God careth for.” There is a deep meaning in the words, “The earth is the Lord’s,” when applied to that peculiar country; for it is a reserved property, an estate in abeyance, and not even in a subordinate sense can it be the fief of the men whom it eats up. (Numb. xiii. 32, and Ezek. xxxvi. 13, 14.) I have seen enough to convince me that astonishing will be the amount p. viiiof its produce, and the rapidity also, when the obstacles now existing are removed."

Finn repeated this theme when writing to the Earl of Clarendon, "the country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population." That population would and did have to come from abroad.

Two generations later in 1920, after the British conquest, the Arab population had hardly doubled. Yet in only a generation after that it had reached 1.3 million, primarily from Arab immigrants to Israel from Egypt attracted by growing Jewish industry. Those immigrants would in turn make up the bulk of the "Palestinian cause" with prominent Palestinian Arabs such as Yasser Arafat and Edward Said stemming from Cairo. Then there was the Lebanon born original chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Ahmed Shukairy.

Cairo, unlike Jerusalem, had been a booming center under the Ottoman Empire, with a bulging population. From the 1880's to the 1930's, Cairo's population tripled. The resulting stresses vastly overpopulated the area leading to the extreme slum conditions that European visitors would often describe. And part of that excess population came Israel's way.

While Jewish immigration to Israel was visible, Arab immigration was invisible, requiring only that a Syrian or Egyptian get on a donkey and ride in the right direction. But the rising role of Israel produced both Arab and Jewish immigration to the land, for economic and political reasons.

Those same critics of Israel did not and do not object to Arab immigration, even though it was part of a colonizing process that displaced the native Jewish population. Instead they show their double standard by objecting only to Jewish immigration. Ironically enough today it is the Arab migration to Europe that occupies the countries of many of those same critics as the newfound populations begin taking over countries that "already have a people."

In Australia and elsewhere, Muslim immigrants has already begun laying out a new history, claiming that the land belonged to them all along. In France, the riots have been described as a French Intifada. Both processes demonstrate how ethnic and national groups can create a mythology of ownership from square one in countries where they never had much of a presence. That same mythology is behind the claim that the Palestine territory administered by the Romans was actually some sort of unique Arab nationality whose rights have been denied.

Europeans did not "give" Israel a land already inhabited by the Arabs. The Arabs were simply one of the regional populations, and were in the majority because they had conquered and displaced local populations. And while there are numerous oppressed indigenous populations in the Middle East, including the Assyrians, the Kurds, the Copts, the Gypsies of the Middle East (the Dom), the Azeri and the Zoroastrians. Arab Muslims are not on that list except in the minds of Western liberals. Instead Arab Muslims rule all but two countries in the Middle East and 99 percent of the region. 11 million square kilometers to Israel's 20,000.



Myth 3. "The Creation of Israel Denied the National Rights of the Palestinian People"

Palestine is a region, not an Arab nationality. It is not an Arab word, but a corruption of a word meaning Philistine. At no time has there been a Palestinian Arab kingdom, state or political entity, until it was created by Israel as part of a treaty with Arafat. Palestinian nationhood is a fraud that none of the Arab powers who endorse it believe, as they themselves proved when they annexed or ruled the land that would become the so-called "Occupied Territories", once Israel recaptured it in the Six Day War in 1967. Over two decades, no Palestinian state was ever created when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were in the hands of Egypt and Jordan. Only after two major military defeats caused the Arab powers to abandon future wars with Israel, did they decide to endorse that particular bit of mythology.

Furthermore it was the Arab powers who rejected the 1947 UN Partition plan that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab. It was the Arab side that rejected the plan and chose war, and then urged Arabs in Israel to leave so that they would be out of harm's way when the Jews were driven into the sea, thereby creating the refugee camps. If anyone denied the "National Rights of the Palestinian People", it was the Arab powers. But then the national rights card has always been a fraud, as can be demonstrated when the PLO's founding chairman, Ahmed Shukairy, proclaimed in the UN in 1956, "It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria". The PLO did not call for a state until after the Yom Kippur War in 1973 made it clear that brute force alone would not allow the regional Arab powers to seize Israel by force.

Since 1992 when the PLO received an autonomous territory, it has made no serious effort to actually run a country. Instead virtually all of its resources have been poured into its militias which it has used to carry out terrorism against Israel, and its propaganda corps which tours the world complaining about Israel. That is because none of the so-called Palestinian leaders have any interest in actually creating a state, as Clinton finally discovered to his shame and humiliation when Yasir Arafat turned down his grand 99 percent peace plan. If the Egyptian and Jordanian Arabs camped out in Israel's backyard actually wanted to exercise their "National Rights", they could have done so over the past 17 years. Instead all they've done is try to kill Israelis on behalf of their Arab and Persian backers. After billions of dollars in international aid, the only thing that works in the Palestinian Authority are the AK-47's.

Time and time again there were repeated opportunities to create a Palestinian state. Whether it was in 1947 by accepting UN Resolution 181, or in 1948 through 1967 at the hands of the Arab powers, or in 1992 through 2009 in cooperation with Israel and the US-- there were nearly four decades in which a Palestinian state could have been created. Compare that to the mere 25 years of the so-called Occupation from 1967 to 1992 by comparison. The reason there is no "Palestinian State" is because no one actually wants one. Palestinian Nationalism has as much substance as any piece of wartime propaganda. Its one and only goal is to rally Arabs, Muslims and fellow travelers to complete the goal that was frustrated in 1947-- the destruction of Israel.


Myth 4. "Israel is an Artificial Entity and Racist Jewish State."

The same "European Imperialist Colonialists" whom left wing historians and activists pretend to despise, even though they themselves are nothing more than another generation of the same, turned most of the Middle East into Arab Muslim states, creating artificial countries such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the latter ruled by a failed Saudi royal family, named after historical nations. Yet somehow none of the historians and activists object to any of these countries, they object only to Israel. Somehow condemning the Kurds, Assyrian Christians, Copts and the region's numerous other minorities to be ruled by intolerant Arab rulers is perfectly acceptable in their book.

The myth of Arab Muslim victimhood is cheap propaganda stemming from the failed Arab attempt to destroy Israel and drive its Jewish population "into the sea." It is funded by the wells of oil money flowing from wealthy Arab Muslim dictatorships such as Saudi Arabia, and perpetuated by leftist activists repeating an Anti-Israel Soviet line, which is itself an outdated relic from the Communist support of Arab Nationalist dictatorships in Egypt, Syria and Iraq.

Israel offers more freedom to its citizens and non-citizens than every Arab state in the region. That is why African migrants try to make their way through Egypt to get to Israel. Israel hosts believers from many of the persecuted religions in the region, most notably the Bahai. It has given shelter to a wide variety of peoples from around the world, even down to the Vietnamese boat people. All of them get along, except for Arab Muslims, whose anger is driven by their belief that only they should be able to rule in Israel, as in every other part of the Middle East.


If leftist activists really wish to agitate on behalf of oppressed and displaced peoples in the Middle East, perhaps instead of following the despicable example of Human Rights Watch in panhandling for Saudi money with which to slander Israel, they should take a look at the situation in trendy fashionable Dubai, a country where most of the population consists of guest workers who are treated as slaves and who die by the thousands. Or perhaps to Iran, where a Persian Muslim minority rules over an Azeri majority, and suppresses their culture, langauge and national aspirations. And then there is the matter of an independent Kurdish state and the rights of the Kurdish people to reclaim Kirkuk, after Saddam's ethnic cleansing. There is the plight of the Copts in Egypt, who are denied basic human rights.

But instead the left continues to pander to the irrational bigoted demands of the region's Arab Muslim majority to suppress the region's only non-Muslim state, in favor of yet another Arab Muslim country. That blatant disregard for the rights of anyone who is not an Arab Muslim is precisely the reason why the Jews of Israel had to fight for national independence. It is likely why the Kurds in Iraq will have to fight for independence as well.

The cult of orientalism insists that only Arab Muslims have national rights in the Middle East. Israel serves to deny that, and to instead proclaim the national rights of the indigenous population of Israel, a country and a people that predate Arab colonialism, and will outlive it as well.



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


Friday, September 11, 2009

Disarming America: - The Obama Administration in the Shadow of 9-11.


by  Dr. Joel Fishman

A well-known modern French historian once stated: "History may be divided into three movements: what moves rapidly, what moves slowly and what appears not to move at all."  Events are the building blocks of fast-moving history, but the study of slow-moving history over long spans of time can be remarkably valuable in monitoring the development of institutional attitudes.  The 9/11 Commission, which adopted this approach, stated that in "any study of the U.S. government some of the most important characters are institutions."  Accordingly, we should carefully consider the impact of President Obama`s ideas and attitudes both on individuals and governmental institutions, because over the long-term these factors ultimately shape policy.

A country`s view of its place in the world is a matter of major significance, because it is the first premise of its foreign policy.   Since Barack Obama has made a point of publicly repudiating the policies of his predecessor, George W. Bush, it is particularly important to understand the new assumptions and ideas behind President Obama`s new policies. 

How does the Obama administration`s view of America`s place in the world differ from that of its predecessor?  Our answer to this question should not draw too sharp a distinction between domestic and foreign policy, because the two are linked. For example, candidate Obama repeatedly asserted that America`s intervention abroad and its foreign aid program had misdirected national resources.

During the election campaign, candidate Obama conveyed several basic messages. The Bush administration had failed miserably both in foreign and domestic policy.  It was wrong for America to act as a super-power and it should not have waged an unjust aggressive war in Iraq.  According to Obama, it would have been better to deal with America`s domestic needs, which include social justice.  Although he did not spell it out, his audience clearly understood what he meant. America`s leaders, in his view, should give more attention to engaging its adversaries in dialogue and make greater use of persuasion and consensus building.

The defining moment at the start of the twenty-first century was 9/11. The manner in which Bush and Obama view this catastrophe reveals their different perspectives.  The Bush administration stated that it was necessary to protect the American homeland from external threats and declared a war against terror.  Although the 9/11 Commission Report, published in July 2004, covered the subject at considerable length, the Bush administration formally took notice of the deep hatred which the Islamic world felt for the modern West and for America in particular.  In addition to its decision to defend democracy at home, the Bush administration decided that America must defeat terrorism abroad -- sometimes by using preemptive measures-- and bring about a process of transformation in the Arab world.  It also resolved to spread democracy where possible.   While this policy and its implementation had definite shortcomings, many believed that it effectively contributed to America`s security.
While the new administration may have discretely continued some of the policies and practices, which it publicly condemned, President Obama`s public repudiation of President Bush`s policies became central to his program.  The Obama administration, considered the consequences of 9/11 to be a type of inconvenience which did not fit in with its ideology.  Thus, it recently declared an end to the war on terror, without any evidence that America`s enemies consider this war to be over.  To the surprise of many, it also recommended that Americans commemorate the anniversary of 911 with acts of community work, which is a form of penitence.  The view of the new administration is that the current commemorations represent an asset for the Republicans and therefore must be changed.

The basis for the response of the Bush administration to the challenge of Islamic terror is the strong belief that America is an exceptional country, the product of a successful experiment dating back to the eighteenth century, and that America enjoys God`s grace.  Furthermore, American exceptionalism means that America has a special mission in the world -- to lead and spread democracy. While this ideal may be imperfectly attained, it is valid just the same. Similarly, according to the vision of American exceptionalism, America is a land where hope, opportunity, and justice are accessible to all citizens on an equal basis. John Fonte of the Hudson Institute wrote that Americans "… combined strong religious and patriotic beliefs with dynamic, restless entrepreneurial energy that emphasized equality of individual opportunity and eschewed hierarchical and ascriptive group affiliations." This widely shared outlook has found expression in America`s great sense of self -confidence, courage, and, ruthlessness -- when needed.

President Obama`s view of America`s place in the world represents the antithesis to the American tradition and clearly draws on the teachings of his spiritual guide, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  It denies the ideal of exceptionalism both at home and abroad.  Instead, it fosters attitudes of shame, self-hatred, and inaction.  Examples of this outlook may be found in a series of groveling apologies accepting guilt for supposed American misdeeds and "crimes." Obama has apologized for: America`s responsibility for the current economic crisis, its failure to recognize Europe`s leading role in the world, dictating solutions to others (except in the case of Israel), the "legacies of slavery and segregation, past treatment of native Americans," Guantanamo, the mistakes of the CIA, and, indirectly, the bombings of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Such apologies are costly because they place the United States in the same category as real criminal states.  It is in the context of this new value system that one must understand the harmful consequences of Attorney General Holder`s investigation of CIA interrogation practices.  The result of his endeavor will be a demoralization which could undermine the ability of America`s defense agencies to protect the lives of its citizens. A gratuitous acceptance of guilt not only destroys self-esteem but also brings about a paralysis of national will. 

The next logical question is: what is the real meaning of this misguided assault on national pride?  Although one cannot foresee the outcome at this point, it is possible to know where it leads.  Over time, the new policy will create the objective conditions of confusion and disorder which will facilitate the seizure of dictatorial power and the opportunity to implement a program of revolutionary change.  During the First World War, Lenin explained this in brutal simplicity, "A revolutionary class in a reactionary war cannot but desire the defeat of its government….Revolutionary action in wartime against one`s own government undoubtedly and incontrovertibly means not only desiring its defeat, but really facilitating such defeat…." (Defeat of One`s Own Government in the Imperialist War, August, 1915, as cited by Stefan T. Possony).
During the late 1950s, the KGB refined and repackaged this approach.  Its new division, Section D for "Disinformation and Decomposition," developed the sophisticated, gradual but less obvious tactic of "decomposition," a program for bringing defeat from within.  Its goal was "by all conceivable means to undermine the faith of Western peoples in their own institutions and governments."  In his study of the radicals of the sixties, The Riotmakers, Eugene Methvin described the propagandist`s goal:

To undermine his [the citizen`s] faith in the values of his culture and the justice of his society and government, and thus to destroy his allegiance to the established order [italics in original].  In the last analysis, all that holds a government or a society together is the conviction, usually partly subliminal and wholly unspoken, that it is a just order, or at least the best attainable at present, and certainly preferably to anarchy and violent upheaval. The propagandist who undermines this conviction prepares the way for revolutionary change…." (Riotmakers, 243).

It is clear that the Obama administration`s statements and policies belong to the category of "decomposition."  They are part of a gradual conditioning process whose purpose is to erode Americans` faith in their own government and to curry favor abroad.  Despite the occasional exceptions and contradictions, the key to understanding the new administration`s intentions may be found in the examination of "slow-moving history` which includes the propagation of negative views of America and its place in the world.

By rejecting the principle of American exceptionalism, the Obama   administration has made a radical departure from the past. A fundamental disrespect for historical precedents, tradition, and factual accuracy characterizes Obama`s radical political method.  The practical problem is that this new policy leaves the country vulnerable to domestic and foreign terror, a danger which remains constant and unabated.  Given the facts stated above, one must ask if the Obama administration, for its own reasons, has decided to leave the United States vulnerable to another strategic surprise and possible defeat.

Dr. Joel Fishman is a Fellow of a research center in Jerusalem.

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


Having one's enemy and eating it too.


by Caroline B. Glick

Surveying today's myopic Middle East on the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks

There has been much talk in recent months about the prospect of Syria bolting the Iranian axis and becoming magically transformed into an ally of the West. Although Syria's President-for-life Bashar Assad's daily demonstrations of fealty to his murderous friends has exposed this talk as nothing more than fantasy, it continues to dominate the international discourse on Syria.

In the meantime, Syria's ongoing real transformation from a more or less functioning state into an impoverished wasteland has been ignored.

Today Syria faces the greatest economic catastrophe in its history. The crisis is causing massive malnutrition and displacement for hundreds of thousands of Syrians. These Syrians - some 250,000 mainly Kurdish farmers - have been forced off their farms over the past two years because their lands were reclaimed by the desert.

Today shantytowns have sprung up around major cities like Damascus. They are filled with internally displaced refugees. Due to a cataclysmic combination of irrational agricultural policies embraced by the Baa'thist Assad dynasty for the past 45 years which have eroded the soil, and massive digging of some 420 thousand unauthorized wells which have dried out the ground water aquifiers, Syria's regime has done everything in its power to dry up the country. The effects of these demented policies have been exacerbated in recent years by Turkey's diversion of Syria's main water source, the Euphrates River, through the construction of dams upstream, and by two years of unrelenting drought. Today, much of Syria's previously fertile farmland has become wasteland. Former farmers are now destitute day laborers with few prospects for economic recovery.

Imagine if in his country's moment of peril, instead of clinging to his alliance with Iran, Hizbullah, al Qaida, and Hamas, Assad were to turn to Israel to help him out of this crisis?

Israel is a world leader in water desalination and recycling. The largest desalination plant in the world is located in Ashkelon. Israeli technology and engineers could help Syria rebuild its water supply.

Israel could also help Syria use whatever water it still has, or is able to produce through desalination and recycling more wisely through drip irrigation - which was invented in Israel. Israel today supplies fifty percent of the international market for drip irrigation. In places like Syria and southern Iraq which are now being dried out by the Turkish dams, irrigation is primitive — often involving nothing more than water trucks pumping water out of the Euphrates and driving it over to fields that are often less than a kilometer away.

Then there are Syria's dwindling oil reserves. No doubt, Israeli engineers and seismologists would be able to increase the efficiency and productivity of existing wells and so increase their output. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that Israeli scientists and engineers could even discover new untapped oil reserves.

But of course, Syria isn't interested in Israel's help. Syria wants to have its enemy and eat it too. As Assad has made clear repeatedly, what he wants is to receive the Golan Heights - and through it Israel's fresh water supply - for nothing. He wants Israel to surrender the Golan Heights, plus some Israeli land Syria illegally occupied between 1948 and1967, in exchange for a meaningless piece of paper. In this demand, Assad is supported by none other than Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan whose country is drying Syria out. It is Erdogan after all, who mediated talks aimed at convincing then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to give up the Golan Heights for nothing and it is Erdogan today who is encouraging the Obama administration to pressure Israel to surrender its water to Syria for nothing.

Beyond demanding that Israel give him the Golan Heights, Assad is happy associating with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hassan Nasrallah, Khaled Mashal and various and sundry al Qaida leaders who move freely through his territory. Hanging out with these murderers affords him the opportunity to feel like a real man - a master of the universe who can kill Israelis, Iraqis and Americans and terrorize the Lebanese into submission.

As for his problems at home — Assad imprisons any Syrian engineer with the temerity to point out that by exporting cotton Syria is effectively exporting water. Assad doesn't fear that his regime will collapse under the weight of five decades of Ba'athist economic imbecility. He is banking on the US and Europe saving him from the consequences of his own incompetence through economic handouts; by turning a blind eye to his continued economic exploitation of Lebanon; and perhaps by coercing Israel into surrendering the Golan Heights.

The same of course can be said of the Palestinians. Actually, the case of the Palestinians is even more extraordinary. From 1967 through 1987 — when through their violent uprising they decided to cut their economy off from Israel's — Palestinian economic growth in Gaza, Judea and Samaria rose by double digits every year. Indeed, while linked to Israel's, the Palestinian economy was the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. But since 1994 when the PLO took over, although the Palestinians have become the largest per capita foreign aid recipients in recorded history, the Palestinian economy has contracted on a per capita basis.

The one sure-fire path to economic growth and prosperity is for the Palestinians to reintegrate their economy with Israel's. But to do this, they must first end their involvement in terrorism and open their economy to free market forces and the transparency and rule of law and protection for property rights that form the foundations of those forces. The very notion of doing so however, is considered so radical that supposedly moderate, pro-peace and free market friendly Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad rejected the economic peace plan put forward by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu out of hand. After all how can the Palestinians accept free market forces when it means that - horror of horrors - Jews might buy and sell land and other resources?

The Palestinians and the Syrians are not alone. From Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Indonesia, the Arab and Muslim world has preferred poverty and economic backwardness to the prosperity that would come from engaging Israel. They prefer their staunch rejection of Israel and hatred of Jews and the economic stagnation this involves to the prosperity and political freedom and stability that would come from an acceptance of Israel.

As American economic and technology guru George Gilder puts it in his new Book, "The Israel Test" , "The test of a culture is what it accomplishes in advancing the human cause - what it creates rather than what it claims."

Gilder's book is a unique and necessary contribution to the current international debate about the Middle East. Rather than concentrate solely on Arab claims from Israel as most writers do, Gilder turns his attention to what the nations of the region create. Specifically, he shows that only Israel creates wealth through creativity and innovation and that today Israel is contributing more to the human cause through its scientific, technological and financial advances than any other country in the world except the US.

The Israel Test describes in riveting detail both the massive contributions of mainly Diaspora Jews to the US victories in World War II and the Cold War and to the scientific revolutions of the 20th century that set the foundations for the computer age, and the massive contributions of Israeli Jews to the digital revolution that defines and shapes our economic realities today.

But before Gilder begins to describe these great Jewish contributions to the global economy and the general wellbeing of people around the world, he asserts that the future of the world will be determined by its treatment of Israel. As he puts it, "The central issue in international politics, dividing the world into two fractious armies, is the tiny state of Israel."

In his view, "Israel defines a line of demarcation," between those who pass and those who fail what he refers to as "the Israel test."

Gilder poses the test to his readers by asking them a few questions: "What is your attitude toward people who excel you in the creation of wealth or in other accomplishment? Do you aspire to their excellence, or do you seethe at it? Do you admire and celebrate exceptional achievement or do you impugn it

and seek to tear it down?" By his telling, the future of civilization will be determined by how the nations of the world - and particularly, how the American people - answer these questions.

Gilder's book is valuable on its own accord. I personally learned an enormous amount about Israel's pioneering role in the information economy. Beyond that, it provides a stunning rebuttal to the central arguments of the other major book that has been written about Israel and the Arabs in the US in recent years.

Steve Walt and John Mearshimer's The Israel Lobby has two central arguments. First they argue that Israel has little value as an ally to the US. Second, they assert that given Israel's worthlessness to the US, the only reasonable explanation of why Americans overwhelmingly support Israel is that they have been manipulated by a conspiracy of Jewish organizations and Jewish-owned and controlled media and financial outlets. In their view, the nefarious Jewish-controlled forces have bamboozled the American people into believing that Israel is important to them and even a kindred nation to the US.

Gilder blows both arguments out of the water without even directly engaging them or noting Israel's singular contributions to US intelligence and military prowess. Instead, he demonstrates that Israel is an indispensable motor for the US economy, which in turn is the principal driver of US power globally. Much of Silicon Valley's economic prowess is founded on technologies made in Israel. Everything from the microchip to the cellphone has either been made in Israel or by Israelis in Silicon Valley.

It is Gilder's own admiration for Israel's exceptional achievements that puts paid Walt and Mearshimer's second argument. There is something distinctively American in his enthusiasm for Israel's innovative genius. From America's earliest beginnings, the American character has been imbued with an admiration for achievement. As a nation, Americans have always passed Gilder's "Israel test".

Taken together with the other reasons for American support for Israel — particularly religious affinity for the people of the Bible — Gilder's book shows that the American and Israeli people are indeed natural friends and allies bound together by their exceptionalism which motivates them to strive for excellence and progress to the benefit of all mankind.

Today Americans commemorate the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Those attacks were the greatest confrontation to date between American exceptionalism and Islamist nihilism. On this day, Gilder's book serves as a reminder of what makes the US and its exceptional ally Israel worth defending at all costs. "The Israel Test" also teaches us that so long as we keep faith with ourselves, we will not be alone in our fight against barbarism and hatred, and inevitably, we will emerge the victors in this bitter fight.


Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

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


Eurabian safari


by Thomas Landen


It is hot in Brussels. Ramadan has begun. The faithful in the predominantly Muslim borough of Molenbeek are not allowed to eat or drink from sunrise until sunset. Non-Muslim policemen, patrolling the streets of Molenbeek in their sweltering cars, are not allowed to eat or drink either. As every year during Ramadan, that they have been told by their superior, Philippe Moureaux, the Socialist mayor of Molenbeek, they have to respect Muslim sensitivities and not to "provoke" Muslims by violating Islamic Ramadan restrictions in public. In effect, Islamic or Sharia law is already applied — for everyone — in the Muslim areas of Brussels.

Barely two miles from Molenbeek lies Brussels' European district. One of its huge glass and concrete buildings is the European Parliament where the elected representatives from the 27 members states of the European Union (EU) convene. The 736 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) have just returned from their summer break. They are mostly unaware of life in Molenbeek. Most of them never go to that part of the city. It is probably a sensible decision, because Molenbeek is known to be unsafe for non-Muslims. Nevertheless, it is a shame that Europe's politicians are unaware of day-to-day life just around the corner. It means that most of the 736 MEPs, who make up the second largest democratically elected assembly in the world (after India), do not know what life really is like in an ever growing section of Europe's urban areas. A walking tour of Molenbeek should be compulsory for every MEP.

Some friends in Brussels organize one-hour trips through Molenbeek. They go in an inconspicuous car, driven by a local who knows the escape routes, and with a bodyguard. Otherwise the risk would be too great. These trips are called "safaris." Similar "Eurabia Safaris" are organized in other European cities. One of the highlights — though absolutely not the most dangerous one — of the safari in Rosengaard, the Muslim section of the Swedish city of Malmö, is a short stop, to give the visitor the opportunity to take a quick snapshot, in front of Malmö's "Jihadskörkortsteori" (Jihad Driving School).

The Sharia areas of Europe are expanding rapidly across Western Europe. While currently still restricted to what the French officially call the ZUS (zones urbaines sensibles — sensitive urban areas) these areas are growing fast. Even today, eight million of the sixty million inhabitants of France already live in one of the country's 751 ZUS.

The month of Ramadan is traditionally the most dangerous time of the year in Europe's sensitive areas. After sunset, the Ramadan ban on eating, drinking and engaging in sexual activities expires until the following sunrise. Ramadan is a period of nightly feasts for Muslims. Young Muslims are extremely touchy. These feasts easily spill over into nightly spasms of mayhem, vandalism, and violence. Europe's Ramadan riots often go on for days or weeks, during which hundreds of cars, shops and public buildings are set on fire.

In Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, the police step up patrols during Ramadan in order to crack down on illegal nightly activities. In Europe, however, the police have been given orders to adopt an extra-low profile not to "provoke" Muslim populations. In countries such as Britain, police officers have had to attend "Ramadan awareness" courses. They have even been ordered, "for reasons of religious sensitivity," to avoid the execution of arrest warrants for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Europe is a tinder box.

The most widely reported Ramadan riots so far, which were even covered by the American press, took place in France in 2005. Since the 2005 riots, the French authorities have asked the media not to report about waves of violent unrest in the ZUS — a request which the media seem to have followed. During the 2005 Ramadan riots, several sociologists suggested that polygamy was one of the reasons for the large-scale rioting in Muslim communities among youths who lack a father figure. This theory seemed to have impressed France's political leaders. Gérard Larcher, then France's employment minister and currently the president of the French Senate, explained to the Financial Times (Nov. 15, 2005) that multiple marriages among immigrants lead to anti-social behavior, such as criminal activity. Bernard Accoyer, a leading parliamentarian of France's governing UMP and currently the president of the French National Assembly (France's Congress), said that children from large polygamous families have problems integrating into mainstream society.

As the Financial Times warned, however, at the time, "Mr Larcher's comments could further fuel the debate and are likely to outrage Muslim and anti-racism groups." Apparently, the French government was of the same opinion; it did not follow-up the words of Messrs. Larcher and Accoyer with a clampdown on polygamy. Having multiple wives is illegal under French law, but is allowed under Islamic Sharia law. It is estimated that 30,000 French Muslims have more than one wife and that more than 250,000 people live in polygamous families.

The tolerance of polygamous Sharia marriages is not restricted to France. In Norway, the Islamic Cultural Center Norway (ICCN), an immigrant organization subsidized by the Norwegian state, advises Muslims to take several wives because polygamy "is advantageous and ought to be practised where conditions lend themselves to such practice." In Britain legislators adopt an equally liberal approach towards polygamy for Muslim men, allowing tax breaks for their second, third and fourth wives. Last February, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative Peer of Muslim origin, warned that the growing numbers of Muslim men marrying up to four wives in Britain, is becoming a threat to community cohesion. In the Netherlands, the authorities officially register polygamous marriages by non-Dutch citizens from Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and other Muslim countries. The Amsterdam municipal authorities admitted that they have even registered Dutch citizens (of Islamic origin) with multiple wives. Belgium, too, recognizes polygamous Islamic marriages. Only last month, the welfare department of the city of Antwerp announced that 45 welfare recipients have two or more spouses.

Polygamous immigrants abuse the social security system by collecting state benefits for several wives. In France, residence is only granted to polygamous families if the two wives do not live at the same address, which means that these families claim double social housing, family allowances and other social benefits.

The recognition of polygamous marriages of Muslims in countries where polygamy used to be illegal — and still is illegal for non-Muslims — indicates that Sharia law is already accepted in these countries. They have implicitly accepted a system of "legal apartheid" with different legal systems for Muslims and non-Muslims. The decision to avoid arresting Muslims during Ramadan "for reasons of religious sensitivity," thereby treating Muslims and non-Muslims differently, confirms this existence of a dual legal system. It is difficult to see, however, how such a dual legal system can continue to exist on the same territory. Ultimately, one of the legal systems is likely to prevail. The decision of the Molenbeek mayor that non-Muslim police officers have to respect the Ramadan prescriptions indicates what the next step will be if Europe's authorities fail to impose the existing laws of the land on Islamic immigrants: the imposition of Sharia law on everyone, non-Muslims as well as Muslims. While Europe's Muslims hold their Ramadan, this is something worth pondering for Europe's non-Muslims.

Thomas Landen is a journalist. He writes for the Brussels Journal, "the Voice of Conservatism in Europe", and for Hudson Institute, among others. He comments frequently on resurgent Islam's activities in western European countries.

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