Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Letter to Gaza


by Nonie Darwish


I recently received an email accusing me of hating Arabs and my father. This email is typical of Arab media accusations of my views regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since most Arabs have no chance to read my book, Now They Call Me Infidel, Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror, which explains in detail my position, I will answer the email in this article. First, below is the translation of the Arabic language email which I received without a signature:


Salam to you,

With all of our pride in your father we pray that Allah will bless him with entering paradise, which is the wish of every person after this short prideful meaningless life. I want to ask you, has your father become your enemy after his death? We in the city of Gaza take pride in your father and I live on a street by the name of Shahid Moustafa Hafez which also has a school by the name of Shahid Moustafa Hafez. We never forgot his sacrifice, so how could you become an enemy to the tortured Palestinian people who are still suffering at the hands of Arab Zionists? I ask Allah to give you health and strength.

Awaiting your response and thank you in advance.


Here is my response:


Dear Gaza resident,

Your email touched me as sincere even though your accusations are wrong. I am not the enemy of Arabs and I assure you that I love my original culture and people. What makes me different is that I do not only love Arabs, but I also love the Jewish people. I am speaking my conscience.  I respect their right to live in peace in their tiny homeland, Israel. I understand how that could be puzzling and unbelievable to many Arabs, to love both Jews and Arabs.


We Arabs have suffered from an unnatural and consistent indoctrination into Islamic supremacy and Jew hatred for over 1400 years. Thus it has become unfathomable to the Arab mind to comprehend loving both Arabs and Jews and wishing both well. Our culture has deprived us for many centuries from loving all of humanity as equals, through intense religious indoctrination resulting in self-imposed isolation and non-integration with other cultures. This isolation and jihad against non-Muslims has become increasingly difficult to maintain. Muslims everywhere are trying desperately to save face, reform Islam's image and deny the undeniable. But they also want to have their cake and eat it too. While they are telling the world Islam is a religion of peace, they still want to continue with the jihad against non-Muslim countries. While one leader says, let's kill all the Jews and take over Rome, another says to Western media that Islam is a religion of peace and we are deeply offended by the anti-Islam rhetoric. To play this sick game, Muslim culture must live a dysfunctional double life where everyone is deceived, including Muslims.


Thus to do the kind of jihad that Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Assad, Nasser, Saudi jihadists etc, do and which is dictated by Sharia, Muslims find it hard to be honest. Thus, Muslims must claim victimhood in order to justify jihad. The entire Muslim world is using your people, the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, to justify their jihad against not only Israel, but also all non-Muslim countries. That includes Iran, which supports Hamas and Hezbollah.


Your people in Gaza should have realized this game a long time ago, but you refuse to see and be open about who is your true oppressor. Arab and Muslim media is using and abusing your people in order to justify their Islamic jihad around the world. That is why they never want to resolve your problem and want you to suffer and live in constant terror against Israel.


Under Islamic law, non-Muslim countries are never equal to Muslim countries and actually their sovereignty as a non-Muslim nation must always be challenged by Islamic jihad. Islamic law codified jihad as a permanent war with non-Muslims to establish the religion. Muslims thus have to use Taquiyya, lies, to legitimize their aggression on Israel and the West. That is why Muslim countries can never abandon the constant hate propaganda, lies and misinformation about Israel and the West. If that ends, their jihad ends. The UN must be constantly bombarded by complaints from Arab countries against Israel. The Arab street must be constantly bombarded with ridiculous accusations and Zionist conspiracies. Lately on Syrian TV a Syrian intellectual accused Israel of stealing human organs in Haiti while they were helping them after the earthquake. This is not something new; it started in the 7th century, when the prophet Mohammed accused the Jews of treason to justify killing and expelling them and taking over their wealth. To explain this away, he stated that Jews are worthy of this treatment since they are the descendants of apes pigs and enemies of Allah. Muslims still use the same dynamic and the world still falls for it every time.


The Arab mind was trained to never venture outside of the box of Islamic superiority, and that prevented us from treating the rest of humanity as equals. It is alien to Muslim preachers today to preach love to all of humanity and wishing non-Muslims the same human rights as Muslims. I have never heard that from a Muslim preacher. Only after 9/11 and in the West today, do we see some Muslim preachers trying to preach some Western values and engage in interfaith dialogue, in order to rehabilitate the image of Islam in the West and attract more converts.


I often get mail from secular Muslims who ask me: I can understand that you chose to leave Islam, but how can you support the Jews? I get mail like this because, in the Muslim mindset, loving, accepting and feeling good about Jews or Christians and thinking of them as equals, is unthinkable and an act of treason to Islam itself and even worse. It is as though the whole religion of Islam is dedicated to hating and killing Jews.

After centuries of this kind of education, the Muslim world produced a dysfunctional society, unable to relate to the rest of the world. While wanting to convince the world they are a religion of peace, do not be afraid of Islam, they are still hell-bent on conquering the world for Islam. That is Islam's dilemma today.


What I, and a few others, are trying to do is to bring the truth to both Muslims and non-Muslims to finally face this sick game. We want to encourage Arabs to look at Jews and others as human beings and not as enemies to conquer. What kind of God will tell his followers to kill more than half of humanity if they don't submit to Islam? The Muslim world today is a disaster waiting to happen. Ahmadinejad, who is not an Arab, wants to continue the Islamic jihad against Jews by destroying Israel. I have news to especially the Left in Europe and America: Islamic jihad will not end with Israel; you will be next.


To my email writer: in your letter to me, I have noticed that your outlook on life is pessimistic describing it as short and meaningless pride. Your views are prevalent in Muslim culture and I have heard it thousands of times when I lived in the Middle East. I remember even when we laughed and giggled as young girls, we were immediately silenced as being improper and that Allah somehow does not like us to laughing for no reason or in public. Even a heartfelt laugh to a Muslim was not going to get you friends, but critics. Your message to me and to Muslims is that life on earth will not get us happiness and the only escape from such misery is the everlasting happiness in the pleasures of Allah's paradise after dying in jihad. But why take the Jews with us? They want to live and enjoy life and to make the earth, right here, a better place.


Our rejection of life is not a coincidence: since jihad does not value life, then it must value death. The first casualty of the jihad principle is peace and that is why I never learned peace as a value in Gaza. I have never heard a peaceful song in Arabic. To think of peace with the Jews is equal to treason to Islam. Rejection of peace has detrimental consequences to the healthy functioning of the Arab personality, family, society and the whole region. It is not a coincidence that Saudis reject under the law any celebration of Valentine's Day, reject celebrating love between a man and a woman, teaching peace and compassion to their children towards the others. Just look at our Islamic law books and see the most cruel and unusual punishments ever created in any culture on earth. Only a culture that demands war and terror can promote such cruelty.


As to your question about hating my father, again I want to assure you that I adore and respect my father more than all of the people of Gaza. Actually I love him and wish him heaven not because he killed Jews, but because he was a good human being who was respected by many including the Israeli soldiers who killed him. He was known even to Israel as a cut above his peers and had integrity and honor.  My father was the victim of the blood-thirsty culture of death all around him. He is one of the many thousands and even millions of victims of the jihad ideology, practiced over the last 1400 years.

Dear Gaza resident, yes, I cannot blame the Jewish people, or the government of Israel, for what you call the 'misery' of the Palestinians. I can only blame Arab and Islamic culture which used and abused you and which you allowed. I believe that this is an Arab self-inflicted crisis that has nothing to do with Israel.



Arab education has never told us the truth about the Israeli people and the story from their side and what Jerusalem means to them. We were told that Jerusalem was a Muslim city simply because Mohammed dreamt one night that he went to the farthest mosque but he never mentioned Jerusalem. The Koran never mentioned Jerusalem, which is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible as the heart and soul of the Jewish people. We as Muslims never respected other religions holy cites and always claimed them to Islam; even Spain and India are being claimed as Muslim land. It was the tradition of Muslim conquerors to convert churches and temples to mosques and that is exactly what happened to the Jewish Temple Mount when 100 years after the prophet Mohammed died, Muslim conquerors built the mosque right on top of it. Just imagine if Jews or Christians had built a temple on top of the Kaaba in Mecca. This is how Islam has treated the Jews. It is time for Muslims to seek redemption and forgiveness and to extend the hand of reconciliation and peace to the Jewish people.


Nonie Darwish

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


The Times Makes It Official: Obama Has Shifted U.S. Policy Against Israel


by Jonathan Tobin


If there were any lingering doubts in the minds of Democrats who care about Israel that the president they helped elect has fundamentally altered American foreign policy to the Jewish state’s disadvantage, they are now gone. The New York Times officially proclaimed the administration’s changed attitude in a front-page story this morning that ought to send chills down the spine of anyone who believed Barack Obama when he pledged in 2008 that he would be a loyal friend of Israel.


In the view of the paper’s Washington correspondents, the moment that signaled what had already been apparent to anyone who was paying attention was the president’s declaration at a Tuesday news conference that resolving the Middle East conflict was “a vital national security interest of the United States.” Mr. Obama went on to state that the conflict is “costing us significantly in terms of blood and treasure,” thus attempting to draw a link between Israel’s attempts to defend itself with the safety of American troops who are fighting Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. By claiming the Arab-Israeli conflict to be a “vital national security interest” that must be resolved, the “frustrated” Obama is making it clear that he will push hard to impose a solution on the parties.


The significance of this false argument is that it not only seeks to wrongly put the onus on Israel for the lack of a peace agreement but that it also now attempts to paint any Israeli refusal to accede to Obama’s demands as a betrayal in which a selfish Israel is stabbing America in the back. The response from Obama to this will be, the Times predicts, “tougher policies toward Israel,” since it is, in this view, ignoring America’s interests and even costing American lives.


The problem with this policy is that the basic premise behind it is false. Islamists may hate Israel, but that is not why they are fighting the United States. They are fighting America because they rightly see the West and its culture, values, and belief in democracy as antithetical to their own beliefs and a threat to its survival and growth as they seek to impose their medieval system everywhere they can. Americans are not dying because Israelis want to live in Jerusalem or even the West Bank or even because there is an Israel. If Israel were to disappear tomorrow, that catastrophe would certainly be cheered in the Arab and Islamic world, but it would not end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, cause Iran to stop its nuclear program, or put al-Qaeda out of business. In fact, a defeat for a country allied with the United States would strengthen Iran and al-Qaeda.


But undeterred by the facts and the experience of a generation of failed peace plans that have always foundered not on Israeli intransigence but rather on the absolute refusal of any Palestinian leader to put his signature on a document that will legitimize a Jewish state within any borders, Obama is pushing ahead. In the view of unnamed administration officials who have helpfully explained Obama’s policies to the Times, it is now only a matter of time before the president puts forward his own peace plan. And as the debate on health care illustrated, Obama will attempt to shove his diktat down the throats of the Israelis, whether the vast majority of Americans who support Israel like it or not.


As the Times notes, there is a great irony to Obama’s blazing anger at the Israelis and the urgency with which he views the issue. It comes at a time when the overwhelming majority of Israelis have “become disillusioned with the whole idea of resolving the conflict. Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government has long been skeptical about the benefits of a peace deal with the Palestinians. But skepticism has taken root in the Israeli public as well, particularly after Israel saw little benefit from its traumatic withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.” In other words, after countless concessions made to the Arabs at Oslo, and in subsequent accords and after offers from Israel of a state comprising Gaza, the West Bank, and parts of Jerusalem were refused by the Palestinians in 2000 and 2008, most Israelis have finally figured out that the other side doesn’t want to end the conflict. And they are baffled as to why Obama and his advisers haven’t come to the same all too obvious conclusion.


But with the Obama administration now so passionately committed to hammering Israel even as it apparently neglects to take action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, the question remains what will be the response of pro-Israel Democrats. As Obama draws closer to all-out diplomatic war on Israel’s government, the obligation for principled Democrats to speak up in open opposition to these policies cannot be avoided. While many Democrats have sought to confuse the issue or avoid conflict with the president, stories such as the one on the front page of the Times this morning make it clear that sooner or later, pro-Israel Democrats are going to have to decide whether partisan loyalties will trump their support for the Jewish state’s survival.



Jonathan Tobin

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


Refuting the 'Linkage Theory'


by  Yoram Ettinger


Linking anti-Iran efforts to Palestinian issue radicalizes Arab expectations



In the wake of the Washington Nuclear Summit, it is incumbent upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to refute the notion that a linkage exists, supposedly, between the campaign to deny Iran nuclear capabilities on one hand and the Palestinian issue on the other hand.


Some Israeli politicians and commentators accord legitimacy to the “Linkage Theory.” They contend that further Israeli concessions on the Palestinian front would facilitate President Obama’s efforts to establish an anti-Iran coalition and to toughen his policy on Iran.


President Obama’s advisors promote the linkage/conditionality between progress on the Iranian and the Palestinian fronts. They consider such a linkage – and the April 12, 2010 Nuclear Summit – effective instruments to intensify psychological pressure on Netanyahu to depart sharply from his world view and to be transformed into a locomotive of Palestinian aspirations.


However, the “Linkage Theory” is detached from the Middle East context, plays into Iran’s hands, radicalizes Arab expectations, policy and terrorism, undermines US national security concerns and erodes the prospects of peace.


The idea that Israel’s policy-making could transform the cohesive worldview of President Obama inflates dramatically the significance of Israel and the Palestinian issue. It undermines the depth of Obama’s ideological conviction. Thus, no additional Israeli concession would change Obama’s position on Iran from engagement to confrontation. No extra Israeli gesture would change Obama’s position that the US is a power-in-retreat, devoid of moral, economic and military exceptionalism, adopting multilateral and not unilateral initiatives.


Even a Meretz-led Israeli government would not stir Obama and his advisors away from their conviction that “Islam has always been part of America’s story,” that there is no global Islamic terrorism, that "Jihad means to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal," that terrorism is a challenge for law enforcement authorities more than for the military and that Mary Robinson – who led the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-US 2001 “Durbin Conference” – is worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which she received on August 12, 2009.


Even a Kadima-led Israeli government could not budge Obama and his advisors from their assessments that Israel does not constitute a unique ally (and possibly a burden), that the US has been too attentive to Israel and insufficiently sensitive to Arab concerns, that Israel is part of the ostensibly exploiting West and the Arabs belong to the supposedly exploited Third World, that Israel’s moral foundation is the Holocaust and not a 4,000 year history and that the prescription for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict includes a withdrawal to the 1949 ceasefire lines, repartitioning of Jerusalem, uprooting of Jewish communities in the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, partial return of the 1948 Arab refugees and exchange of land.


Iran’s mega-goal

Obama’s advisors claim that, supposedly, a linkage exists between the effort to prevent Iran’s nuclearization and the resolution of the Palestinian issue. They assume that, supposedly, the Palestinian issue is the strategic crown-jewel of the Arabs. They believe that, supposedly, there is a need to establish a coalition with Arab regimes in order to stop Iran. Therefore, they conclude that it is, supposedly, incumbent to advance the resolution of the Palestinian issue in order to get the Arabs on board of the anti-Iran coalition. Really?!


Iran’s nuclear drive aims at attaining a mega-goal, which has guided Iran since the 7th century - domination of the Persian Gulf. The role of nuclear capability would be to deter and harm mega-obstacles to the mega-goal: The USA and NATO, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The tenacious pursuit of their nuclear effort is independent of Israel – which is not an actor in the Persian Gulf arena – and of the Palestinian issue. Is it possible that a less than 100 year old (Arab-Israeli) conflict be a root cause of a 1,400 year old goal?


In order to demolish Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, the US does not require a coalition with Arab regimes, as was evidenced in the 1991 US-Iraq War. President Bush 41st invested many resources to establish such a coalition, but the Arab military forces did not contribute anything to the war effort. Saddam Hussein was not defeated by a diplomatic coalition, but by the US armed forces.


Moreover, the Arabs have demonstrated – as recently as the March 26, 2010 Arab League-organized “Jerusalem Conference” - that they do not consider the Palestinian issue a strategic crown jewel, but a low priority issue and a potential force of domestic subversion. A number of Arab leaders abstained, signaling that inter-Arab squabbles supersede Arab concern for Jerusalem and for the Palestinians.


The cold shoulder directed at Mahmoud Abbas, and the refusal by some to attend his speech, reflect the inferior role played by the Palestinian issue in Arab circles. Saudi, Kuwaiti and other Gulf leaders demonstrated that they neither forget nor forgive the PLO/PA’s systematic treachery, culminated by its key role in Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and plunder of Kuwait. In addition, they are aware that the “Linkage Theory” subordinates the battle against Iran – which constitutes a clear and present lethal danger - to the highly complicated long-term Palestinian issue.


The “Linkage Theory” – which aims at escalating psychological pressure on Israel – is detached from reality, subordinates the anti-Iran campaign to the volatile Palestinian issue, rewards Iran with additional time to develop its nuclear capabilities, enhances the domestic posture of Iran’s rogue regime and denies the Free World the preventive military option, while dooming the globe to experience the devastation of the retaliatory option.


Will Prime Minister Netanyahu advance the aforementioned messages, refuting the self-destruct “Linkage Theory,” or will he join the politically-correct “Linkage Choir,” in order to avoid a clash with President Obama



Yoram Ettinger

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


A Shocking Secret in Plain Sight: U.S. Policy Sabotages U.S. Policy ot quite free

By Barry Rubin

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff made a fairly good speech in the Security Council. But it contained the following
remarkable section:

"The Palestinian Authority is, in effect, a lifeline to more than half a million people in Gaza, making sure that PA salaries are paid and social welfare payments are made on time. The PA plans to devote roughly half of its $3.9 billion budget to Gaza in 2010."

Now it isn't my job to correct factual mistakes made by U.S. government officials in their speeches. Is half the money the Palestinian Authority (PA) spends, which largely comes from Western donors, going to Gaza where—whatever humanitarian intentions exist—it shores up the Hamas regime? No, that would be around $2 billion. The correct figure in total PA aid for the last year is $500 million.

Still, doing this is the equivalent of sending massive economic assistance to the Taliban government in Afghanistan on the rationale that it is helping poor Afghans. And that this were done while the Taliban was making possible the September 11 attacks on the United States. Essentially, the United States and Europe are (indirectly) subsidizing an Iranian client state.

Oh yes, and it also means that in per capita terms the Hamas domain is one of the largest recipients of Western aid on a per capita basis in the world. Even when corrected to a half-billion dollars that means that Gaza Strip residents get more Western aid per capita than Israel. Israel's aid all comes from the United States. Most of the money is tied to buying weapons from U.S. companies. In comparison, the money going into Gaza has no strings attached. Of course, it goes to individuals but bolsters the local economy and a lot of it ends up in the pockets of Hamas and its institutions.

In theory, the PA is spending the money to bolster its influence in the Gaza Strip and to retain its popularity there. But it has no power in the area at all and its operations have been either closed down or taken over. The situation is sort of parallel to the Free French under Charles de Gaulle during World War Two receiving U.S. and British money which it then sent in as aid to collaborationist or German-ruled France. The spending brings no political benefit whatsoever for those paying it.

But aside from that point there is another, equally startling one: U.S. policy is supposedly intended to show that Palestinians are better off in the relatively peaceful, friendly to the West, ready to live alongside Israel [I know the problems with this but bear with me] Fatah-ruled West Bank than in the terrorist-ruled, Iran-allied Gaza Strip. But if U.S. and other Western aid shores up the Hamas regime then U.S. policy is…sabotaging U.S. policy.

Of course, U.S. policy should be to overthrow the Hamas regime, not for Israel's sake, not even given the fact that its existence furthers Iran's efforts to transform the Middle East and expel U.S. influence through promoting anti-Western Islamist revolutions. The best argument, given the current administration's world view, is that this should be done because the existence of a Hamas regime makes it impossible to achieve Israel-Palestinian peace.

Could anything be more obvious? All those advocates of linking (wrongly) the conflict to every other problem in the region (and world) should be working day and night to get rid of Hamas' regime so they can make peace. The more vital is Israel-Palestinian peace, the more urgent is the task of overthrowing Hamas.

Would Egypt be unhappy at such a policy? On the contrary, it is blockading the Gaza Strip every bit as much as Israel. It fears the spread of revolutionary Islamism to its own people. Would the Saudis and Jordanians and the majority in Lebanon and many other Arabs be unhappy to see Hamas brought down and the PA return to Gaza? Not at all. Even the PA, though it won't lift a finger to retake that territory, would certainly like to have it back.

In Europe, one sees trends toward "engaging" with Hamas, a terrorist, antisemitic, and genocidal group under the euphemism of respecting elections. Here's how the Dutch Labour party puts it in its official position:

"The EU should accept the outcome of the Palestinian elections and can retain contact with each Palestinian faction that comes to power through democratic means."

"The Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah should reconcile with each other. Without unity between both groups peace in the region is not possible."

There are two fallacies here being repeated also in the United Kingdom, in the EU's own thinktank, and elsewhere:

--Hamas came to power through elections? That's false. Hamas did come in first place in the elections, then formed a coalition government with Fatah, but then staged a violent coup to seize power completely. Thus, the Hamas government in power in the Gaza Strip today came to power through a military strike, not elections. Indeed, it overthrew the election result. Since then, it has virtually outlawed the main opposition party, Fatah, and arrested its activists. How is this different from any other coup against a democratic system to install a dictatorship elsewhere in the world?

--Unity between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas is a precondition for peace? This is absurd since such a combination could never make peace: Hamas doesn't want it and the PA would be paralyzed and made more radical by such a coalition. A Hamas-Fatah coalition is a formula for a new Palestinian-Israel war and the alliance of the Palestinian entity with Iran and Syria.

So Western policy should be to use overt, covert, diplomatic, and economic means to overthrow Hamas. It is better to do this now before the Hamas regime comes under Iran's nuclear umbrella. Of course, one would estimate that Tehran would never go to nuclear war to save Hamas from overthrow, but the threat--and possibility--would be there and any chance of changing the situation would probably be gone.

I know that Western policymakers are not going to adopt an active strategy of overthrowing Hamas or supporting Israel in doing so. Nevertheless, only by understanding this tremendous error can the broader picture in the region and regarding Western, and especially U.S., policy be understood. To put it charitably, short-run humanitarian concern is overcoming both strategic considerations and longer-run humanitarian concern. To put it more realistically, a combination of fear, sloth, ignorance, and avoiding problems is the explanation for this strategic failure.

Yet this one aspect of dangerously mistaken policy renders Western strategy in the region ridiculous and impotent.

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.

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


Not quite free


by Gerald Steinberg

European democracies are spending tens of millions of euros to manipulate Israeli society and politics

Sixty-two years after the rebirth of sovereignty following 2,000 years of exile and powerlessness, the Jewish state is still struggling for real independence. Beyond the genocidal threats from the Iranian leadership and its proxies, European democracies are spending tens of millions of euros, pounds and krona to manipulate Israeli society and politics. This largely hidden European money that funds so-called “civil society” organizations, like B’Tselem, Yesh Din, Ir Amim, the Public Committee Against Torture, Peace Now and dozens more, is undermining Jewish sovereignty and the right to determine our own future.

With such large sums at their disposal, self-appointed leaders of these foreign government-funded nongovernmental organizations (appropriately known as GONGOs) often have greater influence than elected officials. They often set the political agenda, promote their goals in the Knesset and UN and dominate media discussions on Israel.

For example, under the civil society fa├žade, and using European taxpayer money, as well as donations from the New Israel Fund, B’Tselem’s offices in London and Washington lobby intensely in support of the blood libels in the Goldstone Report. In parallel, the self-styled Coalition of Women for Peace promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions and to hurt Israeli firms. And a handful of individuals in Breaking the Silence (BTS), were invited to travel (all expenses paid) throughout Europe to tell the journalists, “intellectuals” and left-wing politicians that Israel, and not Hamas or Hizbullah, is the real “war criminal.” BTS films were also shown as part of Israel Apartheid Week activities across campuses last month.

IN THIS form of European neocolonialism, these groups push the policies selected by their patrons, while central topics for Israelis are given short shrift. As a result, few reports by “human rights” groups deal with Gilad Schalit, women victims of Arab honor killings or other issues missing from Europe’s agenda.

This funding not only allows GONGOs to manipulate the perception of Israel abroad, but also manipulates the Israeli discourse. In the High Court, many of the cases related to core issues of war and peace, human rights and security are brought by GONGOs that receive the bulk of their funding from European governments. With huge resources, these organizations hire lawyers and run massive media campaigns. In this way, groups like B’Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel enjoy the unfair advantages of “repeat players” in the legal system.

A number of Israeli government lawyers received fellowships from these narrow ideological groups during their training. And some influential journalists are also closely tied to NGOs funded by the NIF and European governments. It would not be surprising to find the influence of these NGOs in the ideological education of Anat Kamm, who claimed to be exposing IDF “war crimes” when she copied secret military documents and funneled them to a journalist.

Yet, despite the power that these groups exert, neither Israelis nor Europeans know who makes the decisions to disperse this money used to promote the Palestinian narrative, demonize Israelis as war criminals and manipulate public debate. Unnamed officials in Brussels, London, Stockholm, Oslo, The Hague, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and elsewhere in Europe control relatively large sums with no public accounting.

Every year, the European Union announces major grants under the banner of “Partnerships for Peace,” the “European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights” and other programs, but the crucial details are often hidden from public view. In the individual countries, programs and budgets designed to provide humanitarian assistance are diverted to radical NGOs that promote the same anti-Israel agendas.

The standard explanation is that this European funding reflects support for peace and opposing “occupation.” The US, particularly under Barack Obama, has similar goals, but does not seek to impose them by manipulating Israeli society and politics under the table, or by using Israeli groups to lobby for Goldstone. In refusing to reveal any significant aspects of its decision-making process, the EU is also violating its own transparency rules.

TO REGAIN Israel’s lost independence, the first step is to provide the public this information. To this end, a group of Knesset members from a number of parties has introduced legislation that would require funding transparency – particularly regarding monies from foreign governments.

But secrecy is also power, and the NGO officials at the receiving end have mounted a disinformation campaign precisely to prevent such transparency. The legislative draft is portrayed hysterically as “the single most dangerous threat to Israeli civil society since its inception.”

The NGOs fear that if they highlight foreign government funding when engaged in political activities, this might discredit them in the eyes of Israeli society.

This is exactly the public debate that is central to independence and sovereignty, and contrasts sharply with decisions made by anonymous European officials secretly doling out taxpayer funds. NGO officials also claim that the proposed law is unnecessary, and that there is already transparency under existing regulations. If this were the case, they would not be taking out large advertisements and sending floods of panicked e-mails.

After 62 years of independence, there is still much room for improvement. Some aspects will take many years, but others, such as ending the inordinate and secret influence of foreign government on core Israeli decisions, are within our grasp.

Gerald Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University.

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


Friday, April 16, 2010

When Will He Ever Learn.


by  Marty Peretz


I don't know whether I should have ended the headline above with a question mark or an exclamation point. The first of my options would suggest that the president might actually learn from his palpable mistakes. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, to tell you the truth, I felt that would be playing with my readers. My alternative would hint—more than hint, I suppose—at my utter exasperation with Obama's foreign policy. I don't really want to go there. Still, are you not really exasperated with him and with it? Or are you one of those who care only about domestic affairs? And where, in any case, are those idealistic young liberals who wanted American to have no truck with monstrous tyrants?

Now, to be sure, the extent of Bashar Assad's monstrousness doesn't exceed that of Dr. Ahmadinejad, what with his clerical tyranny that has all but demolished Iran's civil society, his nuclear designs, and his open genocidal threats to the state of the Jewish people. Still, Assad is monstrous enough, running a minority personal polity that has nullified the diversity of Syrian society, smothering whatever chance Lebanon had to be Lebanon, and turning himself into an errand boy of the mullahs by spreading imported advanced weapons southward throughout the Levant and elsewhere as far as the Persian peacock aims to strut.

Anyway, Obama saw in Assad an ally of sorts, imagining that he would shed his alliance with Iran, an alliance which made him the lynchpin of Shi'a Tehran's ambitions among the Sunni Arabs. Obama even had the audacity to think he could lure Assad away from Shi'a designs where his patron and sponsor, the monarch of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Holy Mosques, had failed utterly. It's instructive to remember that the ophthalmologist's clan and the minority sect to which he belongs, the Alawites, are Shi'a of sorts. This is his lifeline of legitimacy as a Muslim.

Not grasping these tell-tale signs, Obama still thought he might lure Assad to the anti-terror cause. Apparently, no purport or pretense is too much for our president. He designated a career diplomat, Robert Ford, as ambassador to Damascus, an appointment that was scheduled for approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday with the usual assurances of the tyrant's conversion to peace. Of course, these promises included Assad's peaceful intentions towards Israel. How Obama inveigled my friend Senator John Kerry, chairman of the aforementioned committee and a no-nonsense skeptic, to front for this half-assed diplomacy is anybody's guess.

Well, an article by Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel in this morning's Ha'aretz, "Syria is shipping Scud missiles to Hezbollah," explains why the White House decided to "suspend" its plans to send Mr. Ford's name to the Senate. It's Ha'aretz's article that I saw. But the initial reports came from a Washington report Al-Rai Al-Aam, a Kuwaiti newspaper. Although it is not known which types of missiles were sent to Hezbollah, ones it already possesses can reach almost all of Israel. Scud C and Scud D missiles can reach Eilat, the southernmost tip of the Jewish state. The report added that the Syrian air force trained Hezbollah in the use of Scud missiles and advanced anti-aircraft missilery on Syrian soil.

The Jerusalem Post carries a report on the same transfers of Scuds. Its headline is grim: "[Ehud] Barak warns of Lebanon escalation." A dispatch in the Wall Street Journal reveals that the Israel Defense Forces came close to attacking a convoy carrying Scuds from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It was "cancelled" at the last moment, says the WSJ. I would say that it was postponed. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was delegated by Security Council Resolution 1701 to prevent these breaches. Well, it doesn't. Is that why UNIFIL is the model for monitoring the envisioned settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

And, thinking about the utter collapse of American policy in so many areas of the world, I wonder why there is so little oversight and even so little questioning of the diplomatic apparatus by the Senate.


Marty Peretz

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The La-La Land Diplomacy of Obama.


by Farid Ghadry

Reports have surfaced to the effect that the Obama administration insists on appointing Amb. Robert Ford as its envoy to Syria even after learning Assad has clandestinely shipped SCUD missiles to Hezbollah whose intent is to threaten all of Israel directly.

In insisting on appointing the US envoy, no one bothered to ask the question: How will Assad read this?

We can assure you as Syrians who understand Assad better than any one on the Obama Middle East team can that he will see this as proof that his policies of spreading terror are succeeding and no reason exists to change direction, especially that there is no price to pay at all. In Assad's world of real politics, his primary goal is to survive and to spread "resistance" across the Arab world. Obama's diplomacy will not help Assad make any concessions and someone must explain to Obama that Assad is not in the business of being nice or conciliatory. If one simply reads the history of this family, one will realize that their success and their strength emanate from always taking as much and never give anything back. To Assad, Obama is a dream US president because he can always dictate how much he can take and never even bother to calculate what he has to pay for it.

Further, Robert Ford, as good a diplomat as he is, will not reverse the SCUD shipments.

We urge the US Congress to stand firm on withholding the appointment of Amb. Robert Ford. Its side effects are not in the best interests of the US as Assad employs this abandonment of reason on Obama's part to consolidate his powers, to terrorize his neighbors, and to continue spreading violence.

We cannot stop Assad and his machine of terror by being weak or nice. Assad is not some teenager gone astray who, if engulfed with love and attention, will start behaving.

Furthermore, one must, under the circumstances, consider that the appointment of a US envoy to Syria is intentional to strengthen Assad so that he can threaten Israel directly and bring its legitimate, democratic government down. Considering how Obama has been behaving lately when it comes to Israel and his history of accommodating Israel's enemies by surrounding himself with their venomous wisdom, this theory is a legitimate one to take into consideration.

Time to stop Assad's terror. Enough concessions and enough weakness.


Farid Ghadry

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Terra Incognita: From Nataf to J'lem.


by Seth J. Frantzman

It's hypocritical that Jewish Sheikh Jarrah protesters retire to homes built on former Arab land.


On January 22 the weekly leftist and Arab protesters in Sheikh Jarrah were joined by a number of Israeli Jewish notables, including former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and one-time education minister Yossi Sarid.

They were protesting against Jewish settlers moving into Jewish houses whose residents had been forced to flee in 1948, when they ended up on the Jordanian side of the border.

On March 7, Burg explained his feelings in an op-ed, "Once justice dwelled here. Now the settlers do, murderers of the nation's soul... We shall not be silent when Ahmed and Aysha are sleeping in the street outside their home." For him the protesters were the "people of integrity." Jews must "leave Sheikh Jarrah now!"

Another celebrity activist in the struggle in Sheikh Jarrah is Sahar Vardi, daughter of Dr. Amiel Vardi of the Hebrew University. Sahar, who refused to do her army service, claimed in an interview that it is "unconscionable for me to live in my home in the German Colony and study whatever I like" when Arabs are being evicted from homes in east Jerusalem.

In late March another Sheikh Jarrah Jewish activist named Michael Solsberry was arrested at his home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev.

There is a common stream that runs through those who are active against the occupation. Many are from leading families, come from a wealthy background and live in the most expensive neighborhoods. Nothing in itself is wrong with this, except when one considers what they demand of others. While they claim to be at the forefront of human rights, their activism obscures a darker truth. They believe it is acceptable to live where they want without being protested against, but deny that others might live in certain areas they deem to be off limits.

A recent suit aimed at preventing Jews from living in Arab parts of Jaffa was aided by attorney Gil Gan-Mor of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel. The supposed logic behind ACRI's opposing the Jews who want to live there is that they are members of Be'emuna, a religious Zionist organization.

The same ACRI supported Adel and Inan Kaadan in their quest to move into the Jewish village of Katzir. ACRI went to the Supreme Court and received a ruling from then court president Aharon Barak that "being a democratic Jewish state, as the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom asserts, Israel must act in accordance with the principle of equality."

 Consider Meretz's motto for the 2008 city council elections in Jerusalem: "Put an end to the haredization of the city." Pepe Alalu, Meretz's city councilman has been at the forefront in the "struggle" against the supposed haredi takeover of neighborhoods such as Kiryat Hayovel, a struggle that has seen the tearing down of an eruv (a border around a community that permits religious Jews to carry items on Shabbat) erected by religious Jews.

Ironically, Alalu would be first to speak out against a slogan demanding the "end to the Arabization of Gilo and Pisgat Ze'ev."

NOW LET us return to the story of Burg, Vardi and Solsberry. Burg resides in the beautiful, quiet communal settlement of Nataf in the Jerusalem foothills. Founded in 1982, it features large villas overlooking the Green Line. In 2006 it had 387 residents. It was built on land acquired from Arabs from neighboring Abu Ghosh. Nataf had once been the home of an Arab effendi and had 16 Muslim residents in 1922 and 40 in 1945.

A photo of Burg in The New York Times in 2008 shows him in his peaceful home adorned with maps and vases.

Vardi, according to an interview in Haaretz in March, resides in the German Colony, a leafy neighborhood in Jerusalem that once housed German Christians. Solsberry lives in Pisgat Ze'ev, a Jewish community in Jerusalem established beyond the Green Line.

Yossi Sarid, who also took part in the Sheikh Jarrah protests, resides in Margaliot, a moshav in the North that was the Shi'ite village of Hunin before 1948.

For all the Jewish activists in Sheikh Jarrah, it seems the height of hypocrisy that they can retire to their homes, built on former Arab villages or even in "illegal settlements" at the end of their protest against Jews who they decry for settling in former Jewish homes in an Arab neighborhood. For ACRI and Alalu, there is one equal right for Arabs wishing to reside in Jewish areas and another for religious Jews wishing to reside in Arab areas or among secular Jews.

The double standards employed by these organizations, politicians and activists are not unique to Israel. In places like Arizona, Vermont and Montana, it has often been common for people to move into a "pristine" area and then complain when other "developers" wish to build new homes that might ruin their view of what the land "should" look like.

Israel is increasingly divided between those who have settled in pristine places and those who would like to live the dream for themselves. It has some secular people who wish to live in peace and yet would deny others their lifestyle. It also has Arabs who want their communities 100% Arab, yet wish to have equal rights to live in Jewish areas.

Seth J. Frantzman is a PhD researcher at Hebrew University.

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Let Them Meet Steel.


by  Michael J. Totten

As Noah pointed out yesterday, Syria is now being credibly accused of shipping Scud missiles with a range of more than 430 miles to Hezbollah, placing Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Dimona nuclear power plant inside the kill zone. Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been forced under duress to visit Damascus and make amends with his father's assassins, as has Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, effectively terminating whatever independence Lebanon scratched out for itself in 2005. At the same time, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad contemptuously taunts the president of the United States, whom he clearly perceives as a pushover. "American officials bigger than you," he said of President Obama's attempts to talk him out of developing nuclear weapons, "more bullying than you, couldn't do a damn thing, let alone you."

Yet the Obama administration still seems to think engagement with Syria and the suggestion of possible sanctions against Iran may keep the Middle East from boiling over.

President George W. Bush lost a lot of credibility when the civil war and insurgency in Iraq made a hash of his policy there. It was eventually obvious to just about everyone that something different needed to happen, and fast. Replacing the top brass in the field with General David Petraeus and his like-minded war critics just barely saved Iraq and American interests from total disaster. The president himself never fully recovered.

If Obama's squishy policies are misguided, as I think they are, it's less obvious. The Middle East isn't on fire as it was circa 2005. But it should be apparent that, at some point, all the pressure that's building up will have to go somewhere. When and how is anyone's guess, but there's little chance it's just going to dissipate or be slowly released during peace talks.

The Iranian-led resistance bloc is becoming better armed and more belligerent by the month. And the next round of conflict could tear up as many as six regions at the same time if everyone pulls out the stops. A missile war sparked between Hezbollah and Israel, for instance, could easily spread to Gaza, Syria, Iran, and even Iraq.

Even if it's only half as bad as all that, we should still brace ourselves for more mayhem and bloodshed than we saw during the recent wars in Gaza and Lebanon. Israelis may show a lot less restraint if skyscrapers in Tel Aviv are exploding. Iran might even fire off some of its own if the leadership thinks Israel lacks the resources or strength to fight on too many fronts. The United States could be drawn in kicking and screaming, but resistance-bloc leaders have every reason to believe it won't happen, that the U.S. is more likely to zip flex cuffs on Jerusalem.

I'm speculating, of course. The future is forever unknowable, and none of this is inevitable. An unexpected event — such as the overthrow of Ali Khamenei in Tehran — could change everything. A real-world conflict would take on a life of its own anyway that no one could predict or control.

What is clear, however, is that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are hurtling ever closer to the brink. They're acting as though they're figuratively following Vladimir Lenin's advice: "Probe with a bayonet. If you meet steel, stop. If you meet mush, then push."

I doubt most residents of South Lebanon believe in their bones that they won the war against Israel in 2006. I've been down there several times since. Entire neighborhoods were utterly pulverized. Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, though, has touted his own "divine victory" so many times he may have convinced himself. Even if he knows he lost the last round, he has dug in with a much more formidable arsenal for the next one. As scholar Jonathan Spyer wrote not long ago, Hezbollah is "in a state of rude health. It is brushing aside local foes, marching through the institutions, as tactically agile as it is strategically deluded."

It is also utterly unhinged ideologically. Let's not forget what Christopher Hitchens saw at a rally last year in the suburbs south of Beirut commemorating its slain commander Imad Mugniyeh. "A huge poster of a nuclear mushroom cloud surmounts the scene," he wrote, "with the inscription OH ZIONISTS, IF YOU WANT THIS TYPE OF WAR THEN SO BE IT!"

The Israelis may well decide they'd rather fight a bad war now than a worse one later. Their enemies can afford to lose wars because Israel isn't out to destroy their countries. No Israeli believes Syria or Iran shouldn't exist. Israel, meanwhile, can barely afford to lose small wars. And the resistance bloc is boldly threatening and preparing for one of the most ambitious and destructive wars yet.

There's only so much President Obama can do about this, but he's lucky, even so, in a small way. The Middle East isn't burning right now as it was during the Bush years. He can change course without having to pay a butcher's bill first if he starts thinking seriously about deterrence as well as engagement. Let the resistance bloc see glints of steel once in a while instead of just mush — and not only for the sake of the people who live there. Our own national interests are at stake, and so is his political hide. Iran's leaders would savor few things more than a second Democratic president's scalp.


Michael J. Totten

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