Friday, October 8, 2010

Obama’s Middle East Policy vs. Reality

by Jennifer Rubin

While the frantic bribe-athon by the Obama administration continues to try reimposing the settlement moratorium, building has already resumed, according to this report:

Bulldozers have been working furiously on the construction of 350 new housing units in various settlements.

As the end of the freeze approached, the settlements have made great efforts to launch a massive building campaign in response. The Yesha Council has expressed satisfaction at the large amount of construction that has taken place so far.

But there is more:

A long queue of Palestinian laborers lined up Tuesday at the entrance to the settlement of Talmon, west of Ramallah. The vehicles with white license plates parked at the side of the road, and Palestinian workers exited the vehicles.

The workers waited for the security officer to check their identity cards before entering the various construction sites spread out over the settlement that have sprung up since the end of the building freeze.

So in the real world, Palestinians get jobs and Israelis get homes. From the vague description in the report, it seems as though building, to borrow a phrase, is “up” and “in” and not “out.” (The footprint of existing settlements is not being expanded from what we can glean from this report.) My, might that be a way of proceeding from here on out? It took over 18 months for the Obami to get the parties back to direct negotiations, albeit momentarily. Perhaps after another few months they can finally go back to the 2004 Bush-Sharon understanding on settlements. That might be “smart” diplomacy.

Meanwhile, some of my colleagues are debating whether Bill Clinton is offering a sly parody of the Obami’s ”linkage” fetish:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would take away much of the motivation for terrorism around the world.

He described the long-running conflict as the key problem in the region and said resolving it would have a knock on effect that could result in Syria ending its support for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Iran turning back its controversial nuclear program.

No, I think he’s serious and the president shares the notion that if Abbas signs a piece of paper, all sorts of wonderful things will transpire. The idea that the cessation of terror and the defanging of the Iranian regime are preconditions for peace is alien to their thinking. But the upside-down view of the Middle East does explain why the non-peace talks are in disarray, the Iranian regime is gaining allies, and the Israelis will have to fend for themselves when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat. Unfortunately, there is no adult supervision of the Obama foreign policy.

Jennifer Rubin

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

Israel-Palestinian Talks: It’s the U.S. Election Stupid!

by Barry Rubin

The New York Times tries to figure out the answer to the question I asked: Why is President Barack Obama not only putting so much prestige into quickly resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict but doing so at a moment when the prospects for success look so minimal?

And on top of that:

Why is he asking Israel for a two-month, one-time, non-renewable freeze of construction on West Bank Jewish settlements?

Why is he offering Israel so much to do something that will lead to two months of talks after which the negotiations will certainly collapse?

Why is he offering the Palestinian Authority so much to stay in the talks for eight weeks and then walk out, no hard feelings?

The headline is, “Risks and Advantage in U.S. Effort in Mideast.” So what’s the possible advantage? A big breakthrough to peace in eight weeks?

What possible gain could be made by holding just four (count `em, four) short meetings and then ending the freeze and letting everyone walk away, keeping the goodies the administration has given them?

Naturally, the Times blames the problems only on Israel, or in the words of Mark Landler’s article, “With the negotiations deadlocked over the issue of Jewish settlements.” But they are also deadlocked over the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) evident desire to find some excuse to get out of negotiations that it stalled until the previous nine-month freeze was within hours of ending.

Somehow the reporters never seem to get the story about how the PA daily broadcasts, teaches, and sermonizes that all of Israel is part of Palestine. As in the repeatedly broadcast geography lesson on official PA television:

"The West Bank and Gaza have another section in Palestine which is the Palestinian coast that spreads along the [Mediterranean] sea, from....Ashkelon in the south, until Haifa, in the Carmel Mountains. Haifa is a well-known Palestinian port. [Haifa] enjoyed a high status among Arabs and Palestinians especially before it fell to the occupation [Israel] in 1948. To its north, we find Acre. East of Acre, we reach a city with history and importance, the city of Tiberias, near a famous lake, the Sea of Galilee. Jaffa, an ancient coastal city, is the bride of the sea, and Palestine's gateway to the world."

Still, that’s not what’s most important here. This article is about the mystery of why the Obama Administration is so obsessed about making progress (or, more accurately, to pretend to be making progress) in the next few weeks.

Landler continues:

“But even if [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] signs on, some analysts predict that the two sides will end up in the same cul-de-sac in two months. Mr. Abbas, several people said, has told associates that he feels that he has no choice but to keep pushing for a freeze, largely because the Obama administration made settlements the centerpiece of its first 10 months of Middle East diplomacy.”

At least we clear see how much of this is Obama’s fault for making settlements the critical issue. Yet after interviewing the usual suspects, the author never gets close to guessing at the administration’s motivation or strategy or goal.

Indeed, it accepts the administration’s framework. Perhaps the fact that the two sides don’t want to alienate Washington would lead them to keep talking? But the Times doesn’t see the brontosaurus, the blue whale (the word elephant is insufficient here) in the small one-bedroom apartment:

Why two months? Why two months? Why two months? (There’s not only a blue whale but also an echo in here.)

If I were telling this as a joke I would scream the punchline:


Nope, no domestic politics going on here! Yes, we know the big issue is jobs and the economy. On foreign policy, administration supporters will talk about making America popular again, withdrawing from Iraq, and standing firm in Afghanistan.

Yet the administration has made the Arab-Israeli conflict its principal international issue. What possible diplomatic success can it find to put on display? And how would it look if the “peace process” would collapse and it could be pointed out that Obama wrecked any chance by his emphasis on settlements and distancing from Israel?

Hmm, maybe it would be enough to keep Israel and the Palestinian Authority just to keep pretending there will be more negotiations for another 2.5 weeks?

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.

Israel, The Good Enemy

by Mudar Zahran


Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians has always been globally approached with standardized heavy criticism made to Israel. The main charges waved in Israel’s face have always been “the Disapropriate use of force” and “discrimination”.

Israel’s critics, either willingly or out of ignorance, choose to overlook the way many Arab countries mistreat Palestinians. Some Arab countries are almost never blamed for what they have been doing to the Palestinians for decades. Such selective recognition of facts by Israel’s critics is bizarre when weighed by truth instead of myths.

In December of 2008, Israel launched operation “cast lead” against Hamas which was launching rockets on Southern Israel on a daily basis. This operation has resulted in the death of more than 1,400 Palestinians, many said to be civilians; an absolute tragedy, nonetheless, those criticizing Israel fail to recognize that the number of causalities is small comparing to Gaza’s population of 1.5 million, considering the high density of Gaza’s population per square kilometre, the number suggests the Israeli forces were very cautious in carrying out their attacks, despite the fact that they were chasing a moving target, Hamas militants. If Israeli forces were targeting Palestinian civilians, the number of the dead would have reached tens of thousands.

On comparison; in 1976, Lebanese militiamen butchered 2,000 Palestinians; almost wiping out the entire population of Tell al-Zaatar refugee camp within days. This was revisited again in 1982 in Sabra and Shatelah massacre; where, in less than four days, Lebanese militiamen killed thousands of women and children who posed no threat as most Palestinian fighters had left then to Tunisia. Two years ago, al-Jazeera satellite network aired rare footage of Palestinians running to Israeli soldiers for refuge from the massacre.

Furthermore, most Arab atrocities against Palestinians have included documented rape cases, even of children, while not a single rape case has been reported against Israeli forces in more than sixty years of operations.

Arab governments’ oppression of the Palestinians does not stop at bloodshed and wholesale slaughters, in fact the more troubling aspects of the way they treat Palestinians is in the systematic long-range exclusion and discrimination. In Arab countries where Palestinians make up a good percentage of the population; they are depraved [sic] of all basic necessities, starting with education, down to basic healthcare. Even at countries that have granted the Palestinians citizenships; the Palestinians stand helpless and banned from every potential to improve their livelihoods.

Israel, on the other hand, has always allowed Palestinians to work there and to get paid in Western standards, and even had allowed them generous access to healthcare. In fact, Israel has also welcomed Palestinians as visitors, patients and even as investors, this generosity was only limited when Hamas started bombing Israeli civilians with no signs of an end in sight.

The complexity Israel has with Palestinians revolves around security rather than ideological issues; Israel does not have an aim to enslave the Palestinians for life or purposely degrade their humanity. While many Arab countries have designed their systems to discriminate and humiliate the Palestinians, squeezing them into illiteracy and poverty while milking them for tax money.

This has become most visible recently with calls in some Arab countries to revoke citizenships of all Palestinians there and actually to force them to seek local guarantors to obtain residency, thus enslaving them for life.

This comes as a deeper shock for Palestinians when they see Israeli Arabs, with many of them describing themselves as “Palestinians in Israel”; those are full citizens of Israel with access to all privileges. Israeli Arabs are fully represented inside the Knesset while Palestinians, in their Arab homeland, are allowed only symbolic presence in parliaments, even at countries where they are the majority. And while some Arab countries selectively withdraw citizenships from Palestinians, many Arab Knesset members do not hesitate to speak against Israel with no fear of losing their citizenships or entitlements.

Still, while the world is most vocal about Israeli military operations, it fails to recognize that Israel has been dealing with non-stop unrest on its soil since the breakout of the Intifada in 1987. Has that Intifada taken place in any Arab country; it would have ended within the first couple of weeks with an Arab army killing more than ten thousands Palestinians, most being civilians. Examples of this are countless and in all Arab countries hosting Palestinians; yet the world seems to think this reality is too overrated to recognize.

Today, with peace negotiations up and running, some Arab governments seem to want to butcher the Palestinians again on the altar of dictatorship by worsening their living conditions and making their lives more miserable, just to secure a better negotiating position or merely a seat at the negotiations table. Not to mention that many of those actually would rather see the negotiations fail in order to keep more international aid money flowing to them for “hosting” the Palestinians.

Quoting a commentator on one of my articles; “the Palestinians, do obviously need a break from their sworn Arab friends”, and perhaps they can reconnect to them when they have learned a lesson or two from their Israeli “enemies”.

Meanwhile, the world will remain silent about the Palestinians’ suffering at the hands of some of their “brothers”, as it’s too occupied with Israel.

Mudar Zahran, Jordanian of a Palestinian heritage, is an academic who resides in the UK.

Mudar Zahran

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What about Jewish farmers?

by Orit Struck

Police protect Arab olive harvesters, but do almost nothing for Jewish farmers

The headlines informed us that the IDF, Civil Administration, and Israel Police are preparing for the olive harvesting season in Judea and Samaria. “This mission is of the highest priority,” and hence, in the midst of a period replete with terror attacks, major manpower and great operational effort will be dedicated in order to allow the harvest to go “to the last olive.”

The media also prepares and places itself at the service of the “harvest coalition” – dozens of subsidiaries of the New Israel Fund and European Union that shall accompany the harvesters in order to turn a simple, popular agricultural effort into a raging, media-covered global event. We can assume that Mitchell, Clinton, and maybe even Obama shall make time in their busy schedules to ensure that each one of the farmers known as “Palestinians” will get to enjoy the fruit of their labor.

On the other hand, in a sort of mirror image, Jewish farmers who work their land by law in the very same area suffer daily abuse at the hands of their Arab neighbors, who are backed and incited by the very same leftist human-farmer rights champions. The damages sustained by these Jewish farmers are estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels, and who could estimate the heartache of a farmer whose corps were damaged?

Yet the State of Israel’s law enforcement authorities do almost nothing to protect them, and the media barely covers them or their pain.

About three years ago, we undertook a comprehensive inquiry into the abuse against Jewish farmers. We reviewed dozens of police cases and interviewed dozens of farmers. We discovered a wide-ranging phenomenon of deliberate, frequent, and methodical attacks premised on nationalistic rather than criminal motives: Arson, trespassing, sabotaging equipment, and the deliberate damaging of corps.

We also discovered visible involvement of leftist organizations – the very same ones that preach to us about harming corps – in terms of incitement, organization, active participation, and legal backing given to the rioters and vandals. The olive trees of Jewish farmers prompt the exact opposite reaction, for some reason.

Part of terror war

We also discovered inaction and blatant indifference by the police, even in respect to issuing authorizations for property tax purposes. Many farmers were forced to sustain major damages after the police did not see fit to dispatch investigators. Apparently the police were left with no manpower after enlisting all of it to the cause of protecting the Arab farmers.

We reviewed dozens of police files and found them empty of any probe work. On the other hand, in the cases were an investigation was carried out and suspects were apprehended, they turned out to be Arabs with a wealth of nationalistic-terroristic experience.

Abusing Jewish farmers is part of the terror war, yet the police remain unimpressed. We found significant gaps in resources, modus operandi, and police motivation in respect to protecting Jewish farmers. The chance that suspects would be arrested is almost nil. In most cases, the police stay out of Arab villages, therefore turning them into safe havens for vandals.

Meanwhile, Arab farmers arrive at work accompanied by massive army and police protection. The forces include police officers skilled in carrying out arrests and are assisted by the police’s and even Shin Bet’s intelligence agents. And if this isn’t enough, the establishment would not hesitate to issue administrative orders against people it thinks may harm Arab olives – where did the holy principle of equality before the law disappear?

In the concluding chapter of our report we wrote: There is no need whatsoever to recommend ways to improve enforcement…it would be enough if authorities decided to adopt a policy of equal enforcement, and use all the means at their disposal when protecting Arab olive harvesters to also protect Jewish farmers. Three years have passed since. Had we enjoyed huge EU budgets, we would likely issue further reports on the matter, yet regrettably there is no need for that either: Nothing has changed.

About a month ago, we turned to the police again in the wake of five arson cases that caused grave damages and even threatened the lives of residents. In all these cases, despite evidence on the ground, nobody was arrested and police files remained empty. In one case, the police did not even issue a property tax authorization, forcing the farmer to sustain the damages.

In our letters, we demanded that police commanders’ preparations for the olive harvesting season also includes an effort to protect the Jewish farmers. The letters had not been answered yet.

Orit Struck manages the legal department in Hebron’s Jewish community and runs the human rights organization in Judea and Samaria.

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Israel’s Strange “Peace Partners”

by P. David Hornik

No sooner did Israeli-Palestinian talks start up again, after an intermission of almost two years, than they got snagged again—this time by the Palestinians’ demand that Israel extend its settlement moratorium. The moratorium—a major, unprecedented concession by Israel—was instated from late November last year to late September this year. It garnered no reciprocal gesture whatsoever from the Palestinian Authority, where virulent anti-Israel incitement continued.

Instead, PA president Mahmoud Abbas finally entered talks with Israel toward the end of the ten-month West Bank building freeze, just in time to condition any further talks on its extension. This at a time when Palestinian building in the West Bank—including a whole new city, Rawabi—continues unfettered.

Various media reports give different accounts of how likely it is that the talks will resume, and the positions of the sides. The reports agree, though, that intensive U.S. efforts to rescue the talks continue—President Barack Obama having made an envisioned Israeli-Palestinian peace a central and even obsessive goal.

Of interest, then, is a newly released poll of Palestinian public opinion. It was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, whose director is the respected Palestinian pollster Dr. Khalil Shikaki.

Among the 1270 adult Palestinian interviewees in randomly selected places in the West Bank and Gaza, 66% wanted the Palestinian side to pull out of the talks. The survey was done just after Israel’s building freeze had expired, with small-scale construction resuming in a few settlements. As many have noted, though, previous Israeli-Palestinian talks from 1992 through early 2009 were never made conditional by the Palestinians on an end to settlement construction, which continued throughout that period.

In other words, two-thirds of the Palestinians don’t share President Obama’s enthusiasm for a negotiated agreement with Israel—to the point that they don’t even want negotiations to continue.

Last August 31 four Israeli civilians, including a nine-months-pregnant mother of six, were murdered in their car by Hamas terrorists near Hebron. The attack occurred just as the Israeli-Palestinian talks were set to resume and was viewed as a protest against them.

The poll found that 51% of the interviewees supported this attack and 44% opposed it. It was somewhat more popular in Hamas-run Gaza, where 61% approved of it, than in the West Bank, where a minority of “only” 44% did so. The attack’s popularity clearly was not harmed by the fact that 49% thought Hamas’s motivation was to derail the talks—a goal shared by a large majority of the interviewees in any case.

This does not mean, however, that Hamas itself is popular. Asked whom they would vote for if new presidential elections were held today, 57% chose Abbas and only 36% Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader in Gaza. As for legislative elections, 45% would vote for Abbas’s Fatah and only 26% for Hamas. In both cases the results are almost identical to results obtained in June.

That is, Hamas did not gain popularity from the terror attack. It’s the attack itself that is popular among the Palestinians.

In another notable finding, it turns out that if presidential elections were held between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, not only would participation in the elections increase considerably but Barghouti would trounce Haniyeh by 65%-30%. Barghouti, a Fatah figure, was one of the key leaders of the Second Intifada terror onslaught against Israel and is now serving a life sentence in Israel on five counts of murder (he was acquitted on 33 other charges of murder for lack of evidence). Clearly, this not only does not harm his popularity among the Palestinians but enhances it.

Also worthy of note is that, though Hamas-run Gaza is generally considered more dictatorial than the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, 65% of West Bankers said they cannot criticize their government without fear and just about the identical total—66%—of Gazans said the same about their government.

Seemingly, those who fervently espouse Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza as a formula for peace should take note of these appalling findings. Supporters of Israel should demand that the Obama administration explain how creating a dictatorship whose population strongly backs terror, and whose leaders are likely to be terrorists, is consistent with American values and interests.

P. David Hornik

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The Co-op Wars: Two More Wins!

by Jon Haber

After writing about South Africa for the last week or so, I can feel the tug of international pulling on my interests (especially with regard to the role BDS is playing as a counter to peace efforts in the region itself). But before jumping into the rest of the world, an update on two more victories in the co-op boycott wars.

Most newsworthy (given its size and given the effort BDS activists put into getting them to become the second co-op to boycott Israel) is the unanimous decision by the Sacramento Natural Food Co-op to give boycott the heave ho. But I was also intrigued to read this letter sent to boycott activists by the President of the New Seasons Market Co-op in Portland, Oregon:

"...As a neighborhood grocery store, our first priority is to meet the diverse needs of our customers. Unlike some other grocery chains we are careful not to be the “food police”. We believe that customers vote with their dollars and if a product doesn’t sell well for us, then we discontinue it based on its relative sales movement compared with the overall category sales movement. We are not participating in the boycott and are not meeting with proponents of the boycott. We will, as we have always done, continue to carry the products that meet the many diverse needs of our community.”

Meanwhile, the board of the Olympia Co-op has decided to double down on their boycott policy, refusing to rescind the boycott but agreeing to carry on dialog about this decision as a booby prize to aggrieved members (which now include a former board member camping out at the co-op until the decision is reversed).

Now I know that many (especially me) have been hard on Oly since they made their boycott decision last July, criticizing both the substance of the decision and the underhanded way in which that decision got made. But we should keep in mind that Olympia has played an important role in the bigger game of BDS within a category (in this case, the category of co-ops).

Usually, it takes a couple of years before a BDS project can make its way through a category of civic institution (such as colleges and churches). That’s why BDS was such a big campus phenomenon in 2002-2004 and a church one in 2004-2006 – it simply takes that long for opposition to form and for the real decision makers within these organizations to see past their rhetoric to discover the true, propaganda, war-like nature of a BDS effort masquerading as part of a peace movement.

The one thing that can accelerate this process is excess. Given the distance in time between 2002 when campus divestment projects began and 2009 when they were revived, there was no reason why a new generation of students (and new school administrators) might not have proven vulnerable to divestment lures yet again. But then came the Hampshire Hoax which put school administrations across the nation on notice that just shaking hands with the local BDS group could land you the international news as having your campus join the global BDS project.

In the case of co-ops, Olympia has (without any prodding from anti-boycott activists) served the same purpose as Hampshire, demonstrating to other co-ops what upset they can expect if they push through with a boycott vote (as opposed to the harmony they can equally see demonstrated at co-ops that have rejected boycott such as Davis and Port Townsend).

I have no idea if the locals who are putting so much effort into getting the Oly boycott reversed will eventually succeed (I hope they do). But even as that drama plays out, Sacramento shows that co-ops now understand that boycott does not fit in with the principles of the co-op movement, and New Seasons Market demonstrates that co-ops (like campus administrators) know BDS well enough to not bother giving boycott proposals the time of day.

Jon Haber

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Hezbollah: A Bigger Menace than Ever

by Max Boot

The New York Times has a chilling if not surprising report on how strong Hezbollah is getting. It has managed to more than rebuild its capacities since the 2006 war against Israel. As the Times notes: “According to Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, Hezbollah has increased its missile stocks to 40,000, compared with 13,000 during the 2006 war; Israeli defense officials do not dispute the estimate. (In 2006, Hezbollah fired about 4,000 missiles.)”

Meanwhile, across southern Lebanon, new apartment blocks, roads, and bunkers have gone up with Iranian money. Hezbollah’s rearmament shows how predictably toothless the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon is. As the Times notes:

Party supporters have constructed dozens of enormous houses along the strategic hills that face the Israeli border, in areas that used to be mostly farmland. The houses, Hezbollah officials say, will complicate a future Israeli advance and could give Hezbollah fighters cover during ground combat.

United Nations peacekeepers and the Lebanese Army now patrol the hilly, wooded border, and under the terms of the United Nations resolution that ended the war, Hezbollah was supposed to demilitarize the area between the Israeli border and the Litani River, a distance of about 18 miles.

But Hezbollah appears to have done just the opposite. Its operatives roam strategic towns, interrogating foreigners and outsiders. New residents have been recruited to the border, and Hezbollah officials say they have recruited scores of new fighters, by their own estimates either doubling or tripling their ranks.

Oh, and if that weren’t bad enough, there is also this: “Hezbollah’s role in the government has paved the way for tighter cooperation with Lebanese intelligence units, and Lebanese officials have reportedly arrested more than 100 people suspected of being Israeli spies in the past two years.”

There is no doubt that an element of Hezbollah bluster is at play here — the group seeks to deter an Israeli strike on its Iranian sponsors. But there is little doubt that Hezbollah is a bigger menace than ever — not only to Israel but also to any hopes of regional peace. That makes it all the more astonishing that the Obama administration is devoting so much energy to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Even if the probability of a successful outcome to those talks were high (and it’s not), it would do nothing to end the menace posed by Hamas or Hezbollah. Admittedly, there is no easy solution to these terrorist groups, but one would think that defeating them would be a bigger priority for the administration than beating an allied government over the head to get it to extend a moratorium on new housing construction, which should be the endpoint, rather than the beginning, of negotiations.

Max Boot

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Laws of War Evidently Don’t Apply to Israel

by Evelyn Gordon

The New York Times reported Monday on a U.S. soldier charged with killing Afghan civilians for fun. Yet much of the report was devoted to explaining why civilian killings by soldiers usually don’t result in indictments — like a 2008 case in which Marines allegedly fired indiscriminately at an Afghan road, killing 19 people and wounding 50. The case was closed because “the shootings began after a suicide bomber attacked the unit’s convoy,” and “the Marines said they had taken hostile gunfire after the explosion and had fired to defend themselves from perceived threats.” The Times explained:

It can be difficult to win a conviction, specialists in military law said, when defendants can make a plausible claim that they believed, in the confusion of the “fog of war,” that their lives were in danger and they needed to defend themselves.

“You often see cases of kids who just make dumb decisions,” said Gary Solis, who teaches the laws of war at Georgetown University. “But killings in the heat of the moment, they don’t usually try those guys. The guys you try are the ones who have an opportunity to consider what they are doing.”

Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale, added that it’s often hard to gather evidence in conflict zones.

In many cases, he said, months have passed by the time an accusation surfaces, and so units have rotated back from the tour of duty, records are poor, and it is difficult to find witnesses.

Moreover, in the Muslim world investigators are deeply reluctant, for cultural reasons, to exhume bodies and perform autopsies.

Astoundingly, even the lone human-rights advocate quoted agreed. “The large majority of civilian harm in both Iraq and Afghanistan takes place during legitimate military operations,” said Sarah Holewinksi, executive director of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict.

Clearly, all the above considerations also apply to Israel’s military operations in Lebanon and Gaza. Civilian deaths occurred in the heat of combat, when soldiers could plausibly have thought themselves endangered. Few witnesses will talk to Israeli investigators, yet testimony given to nongovernmental organizations is problematic as courtroom evidence, because attorneys and judges cannot question the witnesses themselves or form an impression of their credibility. And most victims are Muslims, who have religious objections to autopsies.

Yet when it comes to Israel, these factors are somehow dismissed as unimportant. That same day, the Times reported on an Israeli court’s conviction of two soldiers for crimes committed during last year’s Gaza war. Altogether, it noted, 48 cases have been opened. A third are “still in progress,” a few produced convictions, and the rest were closed, for the reasons cited above.

“But human rights groups say that the military’s criminal proceedings are insufficient” and that Israeli troops committed “atrocities that require outside investigation.”

The principle that the law applies equally to all is a cornerstone of modern Western civilization. Yet too many Westerners seem to reserve the protections granted by the laws of war for their own soldiers while denying them to Israel.

By so doing, they don’t just undermine Israel. They undermine their own civilization.

Evelyn Gordon

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Bolivia, Venezuela, Supply Uranium to Iran

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

With Iran is calling for the expansion of ties with Bolivia, the Iranian Minister of Industries and Mines, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, visited the Latin American country and expressed his wish to develop business relations. In a joint press release, Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, went further: he expressed his appreciation for Iranian resistance against the US; criticized the international community over the "double-standard policies" of Western states, and said his country will remain beside Iran and against the "unilateral" policies of the US.

The same concepts were repeated in a recent meeting that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad had with Morales in New York. Pointing to the friendly,brotherly relations between Iran and Bolivia, Ahmadinejad stressed that "today the ties between the two countries have their roots in the bottom of the two nations' and officials' hearts and are expanding intensively." During the meeting, Morales described Iran as a role model for the Latin American states, especially Bolivia, and said the two countries share common views on international issues.

These declarations of intent have not positively impressed Bolivia's Jewish community, worried by their country's increased ties with a regime that has made of Anti-Semitism one of its main platforms. Ricardo Udler, president of the Israelite Circle of Bolivia, expressed his concern for the new cooperation treaties between Bolivia and Iran: "Each time an Iranian official arrives in Bolivia," Udler said, "there are negative comments against the state of Israel; and soon after, the Bolivian authorities issue a communiqué against the Jewish State." Also, said Udler, "What worries me most is the transport of uranium. Although this was never confirmed officially by the state's authorities, there is information from international agencies that indicate that uranium from Bolivia and Venezuela is being shipped to Iran."

State minister Oscar Coca, when asked about uranium, said that the presence of uranium ore in the country had yet to be confirmed, and that certainly no uranium had been shipped to Iran. He insisted that the cooperation with Iranian government covered fields such as oil exploitation, construction of tractors and the likes.

However, an Israeli report of 2009 concludes that Bolivia, alongside Venezuela, is supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program. The three-page document about Iranian activities in Latin America was prepared for a visit to South America by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon before a conference of the Organization of American States in Honduras. "There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program," the Israeli Foreign Ministry document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It added, "Now we have evidence that also Bolivia supplies uranium to Iran." There was no immediate comment from officials in Venezuela or Bolivia on the report's allegations.

Iran is an odd partner for the socialist regimes in South America that doing business with the Ayatollahs. Ideologically, it proposes a theological state, the opposite of what Socialist societies are seeking. Technologically and scientifically, Iran is still, despite some breakthroughs in the nuclear field, a largely underdeveloped country: even though Iran is a major oil producer, it is unable to refine enough gasoline to meet its needs. Geographically, it belongs to a totally different region. So what are the advantages of developing commercial and strategic ties with a partner from so far away, and having so little to offer, when much better capabilities are available in America and in Europe? What have countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, in common with the Islamic Republic of Iran? Nothing, really, except a deep rooted enmity toward the US.

In this process, Bolivia also fails to develop some of its most important mineral resources --- especially lithium. Half the world's reserves of lithium are buried in the Salar de Uyuni plain. What lies beneath the surface there could turn Bolivia --one of South America's poorest countries -- into the Saudi Arabia of the 21st century. As rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are vastly superior to nickel-based batteries, lithium is the oil of green technology.

The Salar de Uyuni is the latest and greatest discovery in the "Lithium Triangle": 16,000 square miles straddling northern Argentina, Chile, and southern Bolivia, where an estimated 75-90% of the world's lithium deposits are located. So far, Chile's Salar de Atacama has been the largest source and the best exploited—particularly by the Chinese, who imported 4,300 tons of it in 2008. But Bolivia cannot exploit its lithium without foreign investment and expertise, and its main competitors have the jump on it. Chile and Argentina already account for more than half the world's 27,400 metric tons of annual lithium production.

So far, the Morales government's way of working has been to sign accords or memoranda of understanding with everyone who comes along -- yet no sign of development can be seen on the ground. In four years of the Morales government, only a sum of approximately $300,000 has been spent – not even 1% of the new presidential plane that has just been bought.

International investors are also worried by the nationalistic stance taken by the Morales government, in particular the provision that the Bolivian state should maintain at least 60% of the ownership of any enterprise to be created. So while Morales is fiddling around with dismal economic deals with the Ayatollah's regime, a real opportunity is being passed up to change the economy of Bolivia for the good.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

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

Saudi Arabia's Accelerating Social Unrest

by Irfan Al-Alawi

Social unrest has begun bursting out in Saudi Arabia since September 23. For the last five years, that date has been celebrated as Saudi National Day. Although discontent among women, non-adherents of the official Wahhabi sect, the Shia minority, and foreign workers is often predicted -- and even described -- in the kingdom, seldom does it result in significant incidents. This year, that week, including and following the holiday produced a new, and strikingly broad, wave of dissent.

Irfan Al-Alawi

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

Free Speech on Trial in the Netherlands Geert Wilders vs. Judges Who Say They Already "Know Enough"

by Soeren Kern

The hate speech trial of Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders began in Amsterdam on October 4. Prosecutors say Wilders incited hatred against Muslims when he made remarks describing Islam as fascist and compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf. Wilders argues that he has a right to freedom of speech and that his remarks were within the bounds of the law. If convicted of any of the five charges against him, Wilders faces a hefty fine and/or up to one year in prison. He could also be barred from seeking re-election for public office.

The Wilders trial, which is expected to last about a month, represents a landmark case that likely will establish the limits of free speech in a country where the politically correct elite routinely seek to silence public discussion about the escalating problem of Muslim immigration.

At the start of his trial, Wilders, whose popularity and influence in the Netherlands are at an all time high, said he speaks for more than one million Dutch voters, and he vowed not retract a word. "I am on trial, but on trial with me is the freedom of expression of many Dutch citizens," he told the Amsterdam district court. "I can assure you, I will continue proclaiming it.

"I have said what I have said and I will not take one word back," Wilders continued, "but that does not mean I have said everything attributed to me." Wilders, who has a round-the-clock police guard because of death threats, then invoked his right to remain silent and refused to answer judges' questions.

Presiding Judge Jan Moors responded by telling Wilders that the court "reads newspapers and watches television" and that Wilders has been blamed by others for being "good in taking a stand and then avoiding a discussion." By choosing not to testify, he said, "it seems you are doing that today as well."

Wilders objected, saying the remark showed that Moors had a negative view of him as the kind of person who picks a fight and then runs away. Wilders then challenged the impartiality of the three-judge panel because of what Moors said. "I thought I had a right to a fair trial, including the right to remain silent," Wilders said. "It is scandalous that the judge passes comment on that. A fair trial is not possible with judges like that."

The trial was temporarily suspended after Wilders' lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, asked the court to replace the judges hearing the case because they may be biased against Wilders. A separate review panel was then convened to consider the request for the removal of the judges.

Judge Frans Bauduin, who presided over the review panel, rejected Wilders' argument that the judges are prejudiced. Bauduin said Moors' remark was "unfortunately formulated," he said, but that it was standard procedure for a court to question suspects about why they choose to remain silent. "The words used by the presiding judge in that last sentence were chosen unfortunately. They have given the requestor a wrong impression…However, there are no weighty indications that the judges have given the impression of being prejudiced." Bauduin then ordered the trial to continue with the current judges.

Wilders is being prosecuted after complaints following an August 2007 essay titled "Enough is Enough: Outlaw the Koran, published by the Dutch newspaper De Volksrant, in which Wilders called the Koran "fascist" and compared it to the book Mein Kampf. Wilders also wrote: "I've had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate;" adding "I've had enough of the Koran in the Netherlands: Forbid that fascist book." A year later, he released the documentary film "Fitna," in which he calls on Muslims to rip out "hate-preaching" verses from the Koran.

In a February 2008 interview with Britain's leftwing Guardian newspaper, Wilders said: "Islam is something we cannot afford any more in the Netherlands. I want the fascist Koran banned. We need to stop the Islamization of the Netherlands. That means no more mosques, no more Islamic schools, no more imams." He added that Islam was "the ideology of a retarded culture," and said that "not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost all terrorists are Muslims."

In February 2009, the British government led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown banned Wilders from entering Britain on grounds of Islamophobia. That ban was lifted in October 2009 after a British court ruled that the entry ban was illegal.

The attempt to bring Wilders to trial was initially dismissed after the Public Prosecutor (OM) originally said that Wilders was protected by the right to free speech. But an appeals court overruled him and ordered that Wilders be charged. The case against Wilders was initiated by the extreme left anti-racism group called Netherlands Admits Color.

Some of the most prominent legal scholars in the Netherlands have spoken out against the case, arguing that "this prosecution does not befit a civilized country." Adding to speculation that the proceedings against Wilders are pre-cooked, the Amsterdam court is refusing to allow Wilders to call four legal scholars as witnesses because the judges say they have already "learned enough" about the case from other sources.

The trial comes at a moment when Wilders is close to seeing many of his policy goals realized. On September 30, Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) agreed to support a new minority government made up of the Liberals (VVD) and the Christian Democrats (CDA). Following inconclusive elections in June, the new government is expected to take office in October with a tiny majority (76 seats in the 150-seat parliament). It will be led by Mark Rutte, the VVD leader, as prime minister.

In return for the support of Wilders' 24 seats in parliament, his political allies have promised to ban the burqa, turn away more asylum-seekers and cut immigration from non-Western countries in half. Under the pact, radical religious leaders could be barred from entering the country; immigrants convicted of crimes would be expelled more rapidly, and those who failed an integration exam would lose their residence permits.

The coalition government also plans to pursue more Euroskeptic policies, and invest in Dutch relations with Israel. "This is an historic event for the Netherlands," Wilders said after reaching the coalition agreement. "We will be able to rebuild our country, preserve our national identity and offer our children a better future. We want to stop the Islamization of the Netherlands."

Wilders, who is viewed by many people as a martyr for liberty and free speech, is also resonating with voters in other European countries. Speaking to the members of a new German political movement called "Die Freiheit" (The Freedom) in Berlin on October 2, Wilders argued that Islam is the new communism, and he paraphrased Karl Marx to declare that Islam is now the specter haunting Europe.

During his Berlin speech, which was aimed at establishing a trans-national European movement against Muslim immigration, Wilders said: "I am standing trial … because of my opinions on Islam … and because the Dutch establishment – most of them non-Muslims – wants to silence me. I have been dragged to court because in my country freedom can no longer be fully enjoyed … In Europe, the national state, and increasingly the EU, prescribes how citizens – including democratically elected politicians such as myself – should think and what we are allowed to say."

Wilders also argued that Islam is bent on dominating the West, deliberately flooding Europe with migrants. "We must realize that Islam expands in two ways. Historically, Islam expanded either by military conquest or by using the weapon of hijra, immigration. Muhammad conquered Medina through immigration. Hijra is also what we are experiencing today. The Islamization of Europe continues all the time. But the West has no strategy for dealing with the Islamic ideology: Our elites say that we must adapt to them, rather than the other way around."

"We should not accept the unacceptable as inevitable without trying to turn the tide." Wilders concluded. "It is our duty as politicians to preserve our nations for our children."

Soeren Kern

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

J Street Co-Founder Daniel Levy: Israel’s Creation “An Act That Was Wrong”

by Omri Ceren

Quite the few days that J Street had last week, what with all the admitting they’re foot soldiers in Soros’s anti-Israel army after lying about it for years and then trying to get ahead of the story by lying about it some more. Most of the criticism has focused on co-founder Jeremy Ben-Ami, who did not exactly fall on his sword and instead tried to hamfistedly change the subject. But it’s probably unfair to blame him for all of J Street’s failings, from rigging polls to being more anti-Israel than the Saudis to expressing fake confusion about Hamas’s intentions.

Per Eli Lake’s first story, Ben-Ami seems to have been the one who did most of the “misleading” about J Street’s fundraising, from furtively squirreling away Soros’s cash to opaquely raising 50% of the group’s 2008 money from a single foreign source.

But per Lake’s second article, when it came time to shuttle Goldstone around DC and peddle his endlessly inaccurate and venomously biased libels around the Hill, J Street delegated the task to one of the adults in the organization. It was J Street co-founder, advisory board member, and international socialite Daniel Levy “who accompanied the judge to several of the [10-12] parleys” with Congress. It was also Levy’s New America Foundation that hosted a high-caliber lunch for Goldstone with “a group of analysts and Middle East wonks.”

The Goldstone tour wasn’t the first time that Levy willingly served as a channel for de facto Hamas propaganda. He’s been a tireless advocate of pro-Hamas diplomacy, and sees the Iranian proxy as an integral part of Palestinian civil society. A few years ago Noah Pollak took him out to the woodshed for historical revisionism that seemed jarringly anti-Israel and borderline anti-Zionist.

If sometimes it seems like Levy doesn’t really think that the modern Jewish State deserves defending, it’s because he kind of doesn’t really think that the modern Jewish State deserves defending. You can be confident on that point because he said so himself – quite definitively – at last May’s Fifth Al Jazeera Forum. Levy was on a panel with Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor-in-chief Abdel Bari Atwan, NAF Strategic Program Director Steve Clemons, surreal Hamas apologist and one-stater Allister Sparks, and accused terrorist Basheer Nafi.

Mere Rhetoric has obtained a transcript of Levy’s remarks. They conclude with him asserting that it’s “natural” for Gazans to want to attack Israelis on account of the ostensibly unbearable situation in the Strip or something, and with him nonetheless urging Palestinians to hold off on their genocidal campaigns because those aren’t very strategic or disciplined.

But the most ideologically pointed part was just before those musings. Levy quite explicitly revealed that he thinks that Israel’s creation was a “an act that was wrong.” Quote unquote. For good measure he added that “there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice” in Israel’s founding. Gamely, he also implied that had he been a diplomat in 1948, he would have been so overwrought at the incineration of six million Jewish souls that he would have deemed the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty in the ancestral Jewish homeland “excused.” Generous!

I’ve put the full quote, in all of its prevaricating nuance, at the bottom. Begin reading it for the risible claims of Hamas pragmatism, and stay around for the spectacle of a “pro-Israel” activist dismissing the moral basis for Israel as misguided and historically fleeting. In the middle, don’t miss how the only flavor of Zionism he’s willing to support is a kind that exists only in his mind.

In fairness, you can’t blame him for the “natural” violence stuff too much. There aren’t a lot of places you can argumentatively go after something as blunt as “an act that was wrong.” Once you’ve embraced the anti-Israel version of Middle East history – where the revival of the Jewish State was an ethically injudicious colonialist overreaction to the Holocaust rather than a centuries-old legally-codified international movement – you can’t then forcefully insist that Jews have an ethical right to live securely in the Holy Land. Because those two things mean the opposite of each other.

No wonder J Street wants to redefine “pro-Israel” to justify their rhetorically creepy “we beat up Israelis for their own good, and it hurts us more than it hurts them” campaign. The group’s directors are beholden to major anti-Israel donors. They have political skin in anti-Israel diplomatic gambits. And their personal feelings about the Jewish State leave them no room for speaking out in defense of Israel’s ethical legitimacy, legal basis, or strategic importance. So they end up shilling for Hamas in Congress. At least that’s consistent.

Anyway, to preempt the inevitable claim that Levy was taken out of context, here’s the extended quote:

One can be a utilitarian two-stater, in other words think that the practical pragmatic way forward is two states. This is my understanding of the current Hamas position. One can be an ideological two-stater, someone who believes in exclusively the Palestinian self-determination and in Zionism; I don’t believe that it’s impossible to have a progressive Zionism. Or one can be a one-stater. But in either of those outcomes we’re going to live next door to each other or in a one state disposition. And that means wrapping one’s head around the humanity of both sides. I believe the way Jewish history was in 1948 excused – for me, it was good enough for me – an act that was wrong. I don’t expect Palestinians to think that. I have no reason – there’s no reason a Palestinian should think there was justice in the creation of Israel.

* Ralph Alswang / Center for American Progress Action Fund [Flickr]

* J Street owns up to Soros funding [Kampeas / JTA]
* Journos Slam Liberal ‘Pro-Israel’ Group for Lying About Soros Money [Goodman / NewsBusters]
* J Street’s Half-Truths and Non-Truths About Its Funding [Good / Atlantic]
* J-Street President Answers Soros Funding Charges “Guilty With an Explanation.” [Yid With Lid]
* New J-Street Poll Is Rigged In Particularly Stupid, Obnoxious Ways [Mere Rhetoric]
* Of Course: “Pro-Israel” J-Street Is More Anti-Israel Than Israel’s Sworn Enemies, Equates Israeli Self-Defense With Hamas Violence [Mere Rhetoric]
* JStreet Tools Proudly Declare Their Inability To Distinguish Between Reality And What They’d Like Reality To Be [Mere Rhetoric]
* Soros revealed as funder of liberal Jewish-American lobby [Lake / WashTimes]
* Israel lobby aided Hill visits for U.N. report author [Lake / WashTimes]
* Goldstone’s Daughter: Israel Should Thank My Dad For Legitimizing The UN’s Vicious Anti-Israel Smear Campaign [Mere Rhetoric]
* Blair ‘will fail unless he talks to Hamas’ [Shipman / Telegraph]
* Levy: Fallout of the Fatah-Hamas Breakdown [Levy / FP Marc Lynch]
* Rewriting History [Pollak / NRO]
* Keynotes and Sessions [Fifth Al Jazeera Forum]
* Allister in Wonderland—Part 1 [It's Almost Supernatural]
* Basheer M. Nafi, Co-Editor and Accused Terrorist [Pipes]
* Israel Publishes Gaza Travel Guidebook For Pro-Hamas Freedom Flotilla [Mere Rhetoric]
* Representative Joe Sestak ‘Regrets’ Signing J Street’s ‘Gaza 54’ Letter [NY Mag]

Omri Ceren

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

Messaging System

by Lee Smith

Iran maintains an information-warfare front—it’s called Hezbollah

A Facebook group about Hassan Nasrallah.

CREDIT: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is going [1] to Lebanon next week, where he intends to throw a stone at Israel across the border. While this set piece of information warfare, or propaganda, may seem more Japanese than Persian in its stark simplicity, it is best to think of it as a metaphor for Tehran’s regional strategy. For the last 30 years the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has been throwing the same stone at Israel, a stone called Hezbollah.

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s general secretary, is credited by many Arabs and Westerners, including his adversaries, as among the greatest of all modern Arab statesmen and warriors, a man of probity and honor. Unlike other Arab leaders, he makes his threats against the Jewish state come true, sometimes even before the very eyes of his captivated audience, as when Hezbollah struck an Israeli boat in the first week of its summer 2006 war with Israel. “Look at the warship that has attacked Beirut, while it burns and sinks before your very eyes,” Nasrallah said [2] on live television, as though he were directing a movie. This was one of his most famous information operations, but the fact is that everything Hezbollah does is part of its information-warfare strategy.

The Hezbollah T-shirts and lighters sold to tourists are Hezbollah media, and the coloring books that indoctrinate children into Nasrallah’s cult of personality are as much a part of Hezbollah’s information war as the party’s Al-Manar [3] TV station. Even Hezbollah’s military operations are part of its larger information-warfare strategy. Kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing missiles on civilian population centers are real military actions, but sinking a single ship is of little strategic value against a state with an army, lots of other boats, and even nuclear submarines. As an asymmetrical warrior, Nasrallah understands that even his most capable guerrilla units are no match for Israel, so he wages war against what he correctly perceives as the Jewish state’s center of gravity—public opinion. Hezbollah’s information operations are among the most sophisticated in the history of modern warfare because the Party of God is itself an information operation, designed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

What makes the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah seem complex is the fact that the Party of God is an information operation directed at several audiences at once. For instance, when Nasrallah says that Israel is like a spider’s web, flimsy and on the verge of being swept away by the winds of history, he is speaking not only to the Israelis. He is also addressing a Lebanese and a regional Sunni Arab audience and even an Iranian audience. And yet even with all the smoke and mirrors, the multiple audiences, and Nasrallah’s reputation, there is nothing ambiguous about the fact that Hezbollah is a projection of Iranian military power on the Eastern Mediterranean. There is nothing Lebanese about Hezbollah except the corporal host; its mind belongs to the Revolutionary Guard.

“During the 2006 war, we captured a number of Hezbollah documents, dealing with everything from religious ideology to military doctrine, the lion’s share of the important texts was clearly written by and for the IRGC and then translated into Arabic,” Shmuel Bar, a former Israeli intelligence officer, told me. “In human influence operations, Hezbollah’s modus operandi is the same as Iran’s.”

Bar, the founder of IntuView [4], an Israeli tech firm that does automated meaning-extraction from terrorist-related documents, likens it to how the Soviets produced material for their Arab clients, from Syria to Palestinian organizations. “We couldn’t understand the Arabic used to explain how to utilize a certain weapon, so we translated the Arabic into Russian, then went to our Russian linguists, who explained what it meant. The Iranians have done the same with Hezbollah. These documents were not authored by Hezbollah but translated from Farsi and prepared by the Iranians.”

The difference is that the Palestinians were notoriously difficult to control, with Yasser Arafat often playing the Soviets against his various Arab backers. “But unlike the Palestinian organizations of the 1970s and 1980s, which jockeyed back and forth between Syrian, Libyan, and Iraqi patrons,” Bar said, “Hassan Nasrallah cannot wake up one day and decide that he has chosen to side with someone else. Hezbollah is a surrogate; it has no existence without Iran.”

This interpretation of course runs counter to the standard account [5], which sees Hezbollah as a strictly Lebanese entity—a militia that may receive support from Iran, as well as Syria, but has steadily integrated itself into the fabric of Lebanese politics and society. Known as the Lebanonization thesis, this idea is itself a Hezbollah information operation, one whose target audience consists of the Western intelligentsia and, more dangerously, policymakers like the White House’s counterterrorism czar, John Brennan, who would like to find a way to engage Hezbollah but need a cover story [6] that whitewashes Tehran’s real role. In this account, Hezbollah owes its existence less to Iran than to the Israeli occupation that brought it to life.

poster welcoming Ahmadinjead to LebanonA Hezbollah poster prepared for the arrival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Lebanon next week. The text reads “Welcome” in Arabic and Farsi.

“The popular view of Hezbollah’s origins sees it as a reaction to Israel’s 1982 invasion, which presumably radicalized the Shi’a,” said Tony Badran, a Hezbollah specialist at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies [7] (and a Tablet Magazine contributor [8]). It’s not just left-wing academics hostile to Israel and war correspondents [9] stage-managed by Hezbollah’s media handlers who believe that Israel’s 18-year occupation, from 1982 to 2000, gave rise to the party. Even Israel’s current defense minister, Ehud Barak, argues [10] that, “It was our presence [in southern Lebanon] that created Hizbullah”—a rationalization for his decision as prime minister to withdraw from Lebanon that dovetails perfectly with this Hezbollah info op.

In reality, Hezbollah’s conception pre-dates the Israeli invasion, Badran said. “Hezbollah is the result of an inter-factional [11] struggle between two strands of the Iranian regime, who fought bitterly between 1979 and 1981. The faction that prevailed, the Islamic Republic Party, dubbed itself the Party of God and created its namesake in Lebanon, which was a critical theater for projecting power, including against its domestic enemies in Iran.”

There were also Iran’s Arab enemies, especially Saudi Arabia, and hence one of the audiences for Hezbollah is the Arab political arena, both the ruling regimes and the masses, which the Iranians hoped to set against each other. By continuing the fight to liberate Jerusalem, Tehran had picked up the banner of Arab nationalism that the Sunni Arab regimes had tossed by the wayside. Here was another reason for the Arab masses to despise their cruel and now obviously cowardly rulers—and admire a Shia and Persian power they might otherwise fear and detest: As the Arabs got weaker, Iran got stronger, even in the eyes of the Arabs.

In other words, what seems like Hezbollah’s war with Israel is in reality the Iranian Republican Guard’s 30-year war against almost everyone else. The Zionist entity in this contrived scenario is a little like the Washington Generals to Hezbollah’s Harlem Globetrotters—except that here it’s the eternal rival who sets the tempo and the Globetrotters who can’t get a break. Nasrallah boasts [12] that he understands his Israeli enemy well, that he has made a study of their society and mores. But the fact that he says he reads biographies of all of Israel’s military and political leaders is just an index of how much time he has on his hands, hiding underground since the end of the 2006 war in fear of an Israeli assassination attempt. Hezbollah is never going to tip the balance of power against Israel, but that was never Iran’s main project. Understanding the political terrain of their real target audiences, the Republican Guard sought to create an effect that was best elicited by making war against the Jewish state.

Lebanon was fertile ground for such an info op, where any arms taken up against Israel are considered sacred. The Palestinians set the precedent in the 1970s by using Lebanon to wage war against the Zionists, so Iran could do the same, through Hezbollah. And yet now the Lebanese are confounded that Hezbollah calls anyone who doesn’t stand entirely behind the resistance and all of its actions an Israeli agent. But this turn of events is the logical outcome of the information war that Iran has been waging against Lebanon, with Lebanese connivance, for three decades.

Consider that it took most Lebanese some five years to recognize that the organization that pioneered the car-bombing during the 1980s might have had a hand in assassinating [13] former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri with a massive car bomb. Few Lebanese believed that the resistance would ever turn their arms against fellow Lebanese before Hezbollah killed their Sunni and Druze neighbors in the streets of Beirut in May 2008. Those arms were pure, the Lebanese thought, because they had been directed at Israel—even as few asked what it means to “resist” an enemy whose enmity you have brought upon yourself with acts of terror. Iran can destroy Lebanon anytime it likes, either by getting Israel to retaliate massively, or directly through Hezbollah.

If Hezbollah engineers the coup against the Lebanese government that many dread [14]—there is speculation that this is why Ahmadinejad is coming to Lebanon—and finally takes total control of the country, the most significant audience for this info op is domestic—not Lebanese but Iranian. The Iranian foreign legion that runs Lebanon has no problems slaughtering their Lebanese countrymen in the streets of Beirut, and the Iranian people should understand that the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s supreme leader, and its president will do at least as much in the streets of Tehran to hold on to power.

[1] going:

[2] said:,7340,L-3275792,00.html

[3] Al-Manar:

[4] IntuView:

[5] standard account:

[6] cover story:

[7] Foundation for Defense of Democracies:

[8] contributor:

[9] war correspondents:

[10] argues:

[11] inter-factional:

[12] boasts:

[13] assassinating:

[14] many dread:

Lee Smith

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

Avoiding a Huge Mistake

by Rick Richman

Some have surmised that President Obama’s request for a 60-day extension of Israel’s settlement moratorium — combined with a promise not to request any further extensions — is simply a transparent attempt to avoid an embarrassing collapse of the peace process a month before U.S. elections. But Leslie Susser reports that Benjamin Netanyahu has a “major strategic concern” regarding the request:

According to confidants, [Netanyahu] fears that as soon as any new 60-day freeze ends, the Americans will put a “take it or leave it peace plan” of their own on the table. With the U.S. midterm elections over, Obama might feel able to publicly present parameters for a peace deal that Netanyahu would find impossible to accept.

Israel might then find itself totally isolated and under intolerable international pressure. That is a scenario Netanyahu hopes the current negotiations with the Americans will help him avoid.

The continuing failure of the Obama administration to endorse the 2004 Bush letter — a document negotiated at great length, line by line, between the U.S. and Israel, and then endorsed by both houses of Congress in a concurrent resolution, and then relied upon by Israel both in approving and proceeding with the Gaza withdrawal – is obviously one of the causes for Netanyahu’s concern. The proposed Obama letter lacks assurances to Israel of the “defensible borders” to which both the Bush and Clinton administrations committed the United States (as well as the other commitments memorialized in the Bush letter).

Susser writes that the U.S. might have to “sweeten the pot” to secure the approval of the seven-member Israeli “Septet,” the 19-member Israeli Security Cabinet, and the full 29-member Cabinet, all of which currently oppose the proposed deal. What is necessary, however, is not simply a “sweetened pot” but an acknowledgment of obligations the U.S. has already incurred.

And there is an even more fundamental point involved: a peace agreement that does not involve defensible borders will be one that repositions the parties for another war. As Elliott Abrams wrote in August, the 1967 lines will not produce peace, and those who back away from the idea of defensible borders are “making a huge mistake.”

Rick Richman

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

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Youtube Shuts Down MEMRI's Channel, Jihadi Channels Stay Up Truth is the New Hate Speech

by Pam Geller


MEMRI is the most vital source of news from the Middle East. Hands down. They translate programs, newscasts, etc., coming out of the Muslim world. Unfamiliar with MEMRI? Go here.

Shutting down MEMRI is the equivalent of shutting down Edward R. Murrow back in the day. The implications of such action are unquantifiable.

They want to eliminate all information that is damaging about Islam. The TRUTH that is. Everybody needs to be silenced and listen to the MSM Dawa and their praise of Islam. (Hat tip Armaros)

I will be sending MEMRI a donation to fight this leftist/Islamic totalitarianism. May I ask you to do the same? I know times are tough in Omerica, but we must support those who are doing the heavy lifting in this fight of our lives, our children's lives .......... the life of our very civilization. I cannot overstate the importance of MEMRI. The Islamic machine is getting bigger, bolder, brasher with the indispensable aid of the debased left.

If not for MEMRI, I would not know who Wafa Sultan is or the proper way to beat the wife. But these are just two of thousands of critical examples.

This is shocking. Jonathan Narvey of The Propagandist has this:

With YouTube's suspension of The Middle East Media Research Institute's (MEMRI) video channel, a critical resource for those looking to understand Middle East politics and the global jihadist threat is now gone. Will they bring it back?

MEMRI's methods are simple: take publicly available videos of things like speeches by dictators like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, statements by terrorist spokespeople or even samples of children's programming inciting violence in Egypt. And they translate these statements from Arabic or Farsi into English, with basic context (Name of the speaker, date and location. Just the facts, ma'am).

What sort of things are you likely to see in MEMRI videos, exactly? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for death to America and Israel. A Yemeni cleric explaining how Jews are like pigs and monkeys. Instructions about how to beat your wife from an Islamist television host. With MEMRI providing the context, these videos become compelling evidence that the Islamist war on civilization is not merely some bizarre imaginary concoction from Dick Cheney's brain.

The need for this kind of service is obvious. The jihadi threat to both Muslim nations and the outside world is very real. Seeing precisely what these people are saying, as opposed to what is being reported that they are saying by second-hand sources, is invaluable for understanding the mindset and intentions of the ones making the statements.

Has YouTube caved into Islamists who are using the platform as a propaganda and recruiting channel? That's the most likely conclusion.

Without accurate translations of primary sources, those opposed to the jihadi agenda are less equipped to carry out their own work.

Will YouTube switch it back on?

For now, MEMRI has an alternative channel set up at

Check it out while you can.

Pam Geller

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