Saturday, December 25, 2010

Iran and Nuclear Scientists

by IPT News

Tehran is recruiting nuclear scientists from all over the world to participate in its nuclear weapons program, a former Iranian diplomat says. A former Iranian consul in Norway, Mohamed Reza Heydari said in an interview published Thursday that he helped numerous North Koreans to enter the country while working for the foreign ministry at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran.

"Our mission was to coordinate with a team from the Ministry of Intelligence in checking the visas of the foreign diplomatic and trade delegates who visited Iran, with special attention to VIPs," Heydari told the London Telegraph. "We had instructions to forgo any visa and passport inspections for Palestinians belonging to Hamas and North Korean military and engineering staff who visit Iran on a regular basis."

The North Koreans entering Iran "were all technicians and military experts involved in two aspects of Iran's nuclear program. One was to enable Iran to achieve nuclear bomb capability, and the other to help increase the range of Iran's ballistic missiles," Heydari said.

He added that in all Iranian embassies abroad, foreign ministry officials "were always looking for local scientists and technicians who were experts in nuclear technology and offered them lucrative contracts to lure them into Iran."

Heydari, who spent close to 20 years in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, defected in January after the regime used violence to suppress protests on the Shi'ite Muslim holy day of Ashura in December 2009. Last February, Norway granted him asylum.

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IPT News

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Full Court Press For Pollard – Everyone In the Tent

by Dr. Aaron Lerner


The Prime Minister of the State of Israel, after over a quarter of a
century, will formally and officially request that the President of the
United State free Jonathan Pollard.

Numerous former U.S. government officials are also calling for President
Obama to release Pollard.

American political leaders are also appealing to President Obama to free
Jonathan Pollard.

There is a place for everyone in the “Free Jonathan Pollard Tent”.

The logic is overwhelmingly straightforward: the fact that Jonathan Pollard
has already been incarcerated for more than 25 years justifies his release
regardless of what one may think about either Pollard’s activities or the
legal proceedings he has undergone since his arrest.

What now?

Call the White House (202) 456-1111 (If busy call the switchboard at (202)
456-1414) fax (202) 456-2461.

Leave no stone unturned.

If you belong to an organization that hasn’t yet joined the call then now is
the time to ask that they do.

If you know someone whose voice might make a difference in convincing
President Obama to sign the papers freeing Pollard now is the time to try to
get them to speak out.

This is a message to literally each and every person reading this

You can make the difference.

Israel’s modern history is full of stories of critical outcomes that can be
traced back to the action of someone who knew someone who knew someone.

That’s how, for example, Israel was able to retain the Negev after the War
of Independence. An American woman who happened to know someone who
happened to know someone participating in a diplomatic team put in a
critical word at a critical moment.

You can indeed make the difference.

“It is not for you to finish the work…but neither are you free to desist
from it” (Pirkei Avot. 2:21)

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Dr. Aaron Lerner

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The Palestinians' Brilliant ''Peace' Strategy -- Drive a big Wedge Between the U.S. and Israel

by Leo Rennert

You've got to give credit to the diplomatic and political savvy of the Palestinian Authority and its Fatah leaders, now only left with rule in the West Bank, while Hamas holds sway in Gaza.

Not wishing to be outdone by Hamas in taking a hard line against Israel, PA President Mahmoud Abbas seized an opportunity, when President Obama took his turn at U.S. mediation last year, by insisting that, even before negotiations were resumed, Israel had to freeze all Jewish construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

With Obama siding so conspicuously with the Palestinian side, Abbas saw no need to engage at all, and instead left it to the Americans to arm-wrestle with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and pressure him to go along with unilateral concessions. In turn, this created a predictable rift between Washington and Israel, which was not about to give up the store without anything in return.

Letting Obama and Netanyahu sweat it out for nearly two years suited Abbas just fine.

But Obama's role of negotiating for the Palestinians finally hit a dead end, and the president acknowledged he had to try another tack -- a belated effort to actually get the Palestinian and the Israelis to do some serious negotiating on their own.

That posed a bit of a challenge to Abbas, but he rose to the occasion brilliantly. If he couldn't quite get Obama to do his bidding anymore, he will now try his divide-and-conquer tactics against the U.S. and Israel in a different way.

His chief negotiator and propagandist, Saeb Erekat, announced that the Palestinian Authority will ask the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning construction in Jewish "settlements" in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

This puts Obama in a bind. Every other member of the Security Council probably will go along with the Palestinians. So, what will Obama do -- veto such a resolution or abstain and let it pass?

If Obama is serious about his Plan B to get both Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table or to go along with U.S. shuttle diplomacy, he would have to veto the resolution to show that the U.S. no longer tilts the scales against Israel, but insists on negotiations by the two sides without any pre-conditions such as the upcoming PA-sponsored measure at the Security Council.

If, however, Obama still is intent on pursuing a losing vendetta against "settlements" as his overriding issue and agenda, then he will let it pass and sour any lingering belief among Israelis that he can be relied on as an honest broker.

Not an easy choice for Obama. But again, a perfect ploy for Abbas to remain on the sidelines without having to make any hard decisions of his own, while keeping Israel and the U.S. at loggerheads.

And this is but Abbas's first Security Council gambit. How Obama handles it is bound to be interpreted as a signal of whether he would -- or would not

-- veto a resolution endorsing Palestinians statehood along the 1967 lines

-- another current Abbas priority in lieu of real negotiations.

Either way, Abbas will have put Obama behind the eight ball and saved himself from having to make concessions that Hamas immediately would denounce as high treason -- a threat he's determined to avoid at all costs.

When it comes to political/diplomatic tactics, the Palestinians are in a class by themselves. Israel doesn't even come close. Neither does Obama.

Original URL:

Leo Rennert

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Victory in Seattle

by Rich Trzupek

A pro-Palestinian organization’s attempt to spread terrorist-enabling propaganda [1] throughout the streets of Seattle was stopped dead in its tracks yesterday, thanks to quick reaction from outraged citizens and timely intervention by vigilant organizations like the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign [2] had purchased ad space on twelve King County Metro Transit buses alleging Israeli war crimes in Gaza and featuring the tag line: “your tax dollars at work.” The group’s avowed goal is to end U.S. aid to Israel, declaring that [3]: “U.S. citizens have a right and a duty to ensure that our tax dollars go towards worthy causes, not to sustain immoral, illegal, internationally-condemned actions.” Symbolically, the ads were scheduled to start running on December 27, the second anniversary of the Gaza war.

With these ads, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign sought to mislead the public on the root causes of the Gaza war, repeating the tired canard that by daring to defend itself against Hamas rocket attacks Israel had somehow become an international outlaw. Rather than allowing Israel to be thrown under Seattle’s buses, the Freedom Center fought back by purchasing ad space on twenty-five Metro buses. These ads featured images of Israeli bus passengers killed by Palestinian suicide bombers during the Second Intifada and tossed the terrorist-enablers’ tag line back at them: “your tax dollars at work.” The United States sends half a billion taxpayer dollars to Palestine each year. The organization StandWithUs also submitted a parallel ad.

The Freedom Center’s mission is to defend free societies under attack, and particularly under attack from the radical left at home and their jihadist allies abroad. “This was a case of both,” observed Mr. Horowitz, founder and president of the Freedom Center. “The man behind this campaign is a Hamas enabler named Ed Mast. Seattle is notoriously a hotbed of support for Islamic Nazis. Their martyr is Rachel Corrie and their modus operandi is conducting hate campaigns against Jews and Americans masquerading as campaigns for Palestinian rights.”

An unconfirmed report forwarded to FPM indicated that King County attorneys advised Metro authorities not to accept the inflammatory ads from the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, but the transportation agency decided to run them anyway. Applicable code and the subsequent reaction of King County officials appear to support this scenario. Title 28, section 96.210 of King County Code [4] describes the county’s guidelines for accepting commercial advertisements. It reads as follows:

As part of its proprietary function as the provider of public transportation, the county seeks to generate revenue from the commercial use of transit vehicles, the tunnel and other passenger facilities to the extent such commercial activity is consistent with the security, safety, comfort and convenience of its passengers. Accordingly, all commercial activity is prohibited on transit property except as may be permitted by the county in a written permit, concession contract, license agreement, advertising agreement or other written agreement.

The key here is whether or not ads that demonize Israel and its right to defend itself are “consistent with the security, safety, comfort and convenience” of Metro passengers. Until groups like the Freedom Center and StandWithUs attempted to run a counter-ad campaign, Metro authorities didn’t believe that the anti-Israeli ads threatened anyone’s security or safety and they were fully prepared to run them. But, once response groups started buying ad space and once over 2,000 people contacted King County to protest attacks that played into the hands of the jihadists, King County Executive Dow Constantine struck a very different tune [5]. In a press release published late yesterday on the King County website, Constantine said:

The escalation of this issue from one of 12 local bus placards to a widespread and often vitriolic international debate introduces new and significant security concerns that compel reassessment. Further work during the coming weeks will help determine what constitutionally-valid policy is best for the safety and well-being of the transit-riding public, our drivers and personnel, and the community at large.

The timing of Constantine’s change of heart is both reprehensible and dangerous. By initially accepting jihadist propaganda at face value, the King County Executive didn’t find anything about the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign’s ads that comprised a threat to the security, safety and well-being of its passengers. The “threat” was seemingly created only after a challenge was raised against the jihadist sympathizers. This clearly insinuates that it was the contribution of the Freedom Center and other Israel advocates which was responsible for debasing the debate to a level worth censoring — not, we should point out, the Palestinian apologists who initially leveled their outrageous charge against Israel. It is ridiculous to imply that organizations like the Freedom Center threatened the security of Metro passengers with their perfectly civil response to the anti-Israel ads. In terms of messaging, the Israel defense ads were no more incendiary or vitriolic than the anti-Israel ads themselves.

There is a lesson to be learned here: quick, decisive actions to counter attacks by jihadist sympathizers are both essential and effective in the continuing struggle to preserve freedom and defeat terrorism. It’s very clear that King County would have allowed the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign to spread their terrorist sympathies, but for the rapid response of the Freedom Center and other patriotic Americans. Still, continued vigilance is needed. This is an “interim policy” by King County, as it moves to define new guidelines for accepting non-commercial advertising. As Horowitz noted, the Seattle area is rife with leftist sympathizers and it’s vitally important to continue to hold them accountable for their actions and inactions. The left is, after all, driven by a commitment to an ideology that presupposes that every evil in the world can be laid at the feet of America and its allies.

Like their predecessors turned a blind eye to the mass murders carried out by Communists during the Cold War, the American left has demonstrated, once again, the great lengths that it will go to deceive the general public and catalyze human atrocities. The reason, As Horowitz explained, is that “they are secular Manichaeans who see the world as ruled by powers of darkness, which is us. America is the Great Satan and Israel the little Satan and any crimes committed by Palestinians can be laid at Israel’s and America’s door.”

The battle against the oppressive, intransigent forces of fundamental, radical jihad continues. Too many Americans aren’t willing to accept the fact that such a war is being fought, much less that it must be won. This skirmish in Seattle serves as a perfect lesson as to why eternal vigilance is necessary to win the war to secure global liberty and freedom. The enemies of freedom have been dealt a defeat in the northwest, but there can be little doubt that they will challenge the forces of liberty time and again, and very, very soon.

URLs in this post:

[1] attempt to spread terrorist-enabling propaganda:

[2] The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign:

[3] declaring that:

[4] King County Code:

[5] struck a very different tune:

Original URL:

Rich Trzupek

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Obama and Islam

by Robert Spencer and David Horowitz

No president in American history has taken a more admiring view of Islam than Barack Obama. Whether it is his repeated insistence that the attacks on Americans and the war that has been declared against the West have nothing do with Islam, or his flattering (and false) description of Islam as a religion “that teaches peace, justice, fairness and tolerance,” or his unprecedented revelation that he considers it “part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” Obama in his first two years of office has spurned no opportunity to speak well of the religion.

Considering the long history of Islamic extremism, the militancy of Islamic religious texts, and the justification that such texts provide for modern jihadist movements, the president’s fawning rhetoric may be confused for mere ignorance. But as David Horowitz and Robert Spencer forcefully argue in their new pamphlet, “Obama and Islam,” Obama’s Islamophilic outreach represents something far more disturbing than naïveté: a conscious effort to appease Islamic supremacism in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East, and an energetic willingness to pander to the Islamic world in general. The consequence, the authors show, is a dangerously ill-conceived foreign policy that has betrayed American values, undermined the national interest, abandoned staunch allies like Israel, and forsaken Muslims who are condemned to suffer under brutal Islamic regimes. Cheap flattery has rarely exacted such a high cost.

To read the pamphlet, click here. [1]

To order the pamphlet, click here [2].

URLs in this post:

[1] click here. :

[2] click here:

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Robert Spencer and David Horowitz

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Arab World: Hizbullah’s Throne of Bayonets

by Jonathan Spyer

It is obvious that given the true balance of power in Lebanon, the special tribunal investigating the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri is largely a virtual exercise. As Michael Young pointed out in a column in the Beirut Daily Star this week, tribunal prosecutor Daniel Bellemare is currently on his end of year vacation and left without submitting draft indictments. This means that indictments cannot be issued before mid-January at the earliest.

Once they are issued, they will not be made public, but rather will be subject to the perusal of a pre-trial judge, Daniel Fransen. This process is likely to take up to a further two months, meaning that the very earliest a trial could begin would be late March or April.

At that point, if Hizbullah members are indicted, the movement will declare its nonrecognition of the court, and in real world terms, that is likely to be that.

But if this is the case, and it is, why is the Iran/Syria/Hizbullah camp so clearly jittery and worried by the events surrounding the tribunal? Why the wishful thinking in the newspapers evident this week, when the pro-Hizbullah Al-Diyar published a statement by Saad Hariri apparently abandoning the tribunal, which turned out to be entirely fictional?

More importantly, why the stark and repeated threats from Hizbullah and Iranian officials regarding the consequences if the Tribunal is not abandoned?

Hizbullah this week reiterated its promise to “cut off the hand” of anyone trying to arrest members of the movement. Many analysts saw the recent visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lebanon as an act of preemptive intimidation. He was reminding Hizbullah’s opponents just how strong it is, and just how determined its backers.

Even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei descended this week from his lofty heights to issue a fatwa regarding the tribunal. “This tribunal is receiving orders from elsewhere,” he said in a meeting with the emir of Qatar, before pronouncing “any ruling it hands down” as “null and void.”

Hizbullah immediately hailed his words, interpreting them in the most unambiguous terms as supporting its war to the end on the tribunal. A Hizbullah MP, Walid Sucarieh, said that the statement was meant to “tell those who seek strife through the indictment: stay right there. We won’t stand idle while the fire is burning our homes.”

SO WHAT is the reason for the very obvious concern of the pro-Iranian axis regarding the tribunal, even though there is no way that its indictments or rulings can be enforced?

Firstly, it is important to differentiate in this regard between the stances of Syria on the one hand, and Iran and Hizbullah on the other.

The Iran-Syria alliance serves the purposes of both parties and is in no danger of fraying. This does not mean, however, that the interests of the parties are at all times identical.

Syria is currently engaged in a convoluted diplomatic process with Saudi Arabia to try to find a solution on the issue of the tribunal. The Syrians hope to make diplomatic gains by playing all sides against the middle, in their usual fashion.

The indications are that Syria itself has nothing to fear from the indictments, despite the near certainty that its officials were involved in the murder of Hariri, even if Hizbullah men were contracted to carry out the deed. Syria stands to pay no price. It looks likely to continue to be aligned with Iran, and courted by the West and the Arab states whatever the outcome of the tribunal issue.

But the serious project under way in Lebanon is not that of the Syrians.

Hizbullah is a long-term project undertaken by the Islamic Republic of Iran, with the intention of generating legitimacy and popularity for Teheran by engaging in a never-ending war with Israel.

For this purpose, Iran established Hizbullah, and has over time built it into a political-military juggernaut of a potency rarely seen in the Arabic-speaking world.

Hizbullah today is the de facto dominant force in Lebanon.

But to serve its purpose for its creator, it is not enough for Hizbullah merely to be powerful. A Hizbullah which dominates Lebanon through pure coercion cannot play the role intended for it by its patron. It must also appear legitimate.

That is to say, to perform its task for its Iranian masters, Hizbullah must appear to be simultaneously Shi’ite and pro-Iranian, but also authentically Arab. It must be seen as the sole force able to make Arab dreams of victory over Israel once more look feasible. The Hariri tribunal in no way offers a threat to the real power of Hizbullah.

The movement can defeat any combination of its domestic opponents, if it comes to a fight.

But if such a fight takes place, even though Hizbullah would win it, the ambiguity regarding its true nature would be gone. It would be revealed as a powerful, alien force, made possible by the money and guns of non- Arab Iran, and holding power purely by coercion. It is for this reason that Hizbullah has been so desperate to change the subject back to Israel in recent weeks.

In this way, it hopes to portray the part of its identity which the Arab world finds attractive – the “resistance” – as opposed to the part that threatens to be revealed by the tribunal indictments – the alien, Shi’ite, Iran-created force.

The latest events in Lebanon thus help to lay bare the contradictions of the Iranian project in the region. This means nothing in power terms. Hizbullah still dominates.

Its local opponents remain disarmed and helpless.

But it apparently matters enough to Iran and its local proxy to cause them to mobilize the heavyweights to stop the tribunal in its tracks.

So it remains likely that the special tribunal on Lebanon will be the proverbial mountain that gives birth to a mouse. But careful observation of the current events surrounding it show the inherent limitations of Shi’ite, non-Arab Iran’s ambition to emerge as the dominant force in the region. As former Russian president Boris Yeltsin once put it in a rare moment of clarity, “You can make a throne of bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long.”

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Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, Herzliya.

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Column One: Slouching Towards Teheran

by Caroline B. Glick

Two weeks ago, Iran scored a massive victory. Jordan, the West’s most stable and loyal ally in the Arab world, began slouching towards the Iranian Gomorrah.

On December 12, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman and extended a formal invitation from Ahmadinejad for him to pay a state visit to Iran. Abdullah accepted.

According to Iran’s ISNA news agency, Mashaei said that Abdullah’s visit will begin a new page in bilateral relations and that “the two countries hold massive potential to work together.”

Mashaei added, “If Islamic states stand united, no country will be threatened.”

Abdullah reportedly said that his country recognizes Iran’s nuclear rights and supports its access to peaceful nuclear technology.

Abdullah was one of the first world leaders to sound the alarm on Iran. In 2004, Abdullah warned of a “Shi’ite crescent” extending from Iran to Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon. His words were well reported at the time. But his warning went unheeded.

In the intervening six years, reality has surpassed Abdullah’s worst fears. Not only Lebanon and Syria have fallen under Iranian control. Iraq, Turkey, Qatar, Gaza and increasingly Oman, Yemen and Afghanistan are also either willing or unwilling members of the axis.

In the face of Iran’s expanding web of influence and the mullahs’ steady progress towards nuclear capability, Washington behaves as though there is no cause for concern. And the likes of Jordan are beside themselves.

In a WikiLeaks leaked cable from April 2009 written by US Ambassador to Jordan R. Stephen Beecroft, Jordan’s frustration and concern over the Obama administration’s incompetence in handling the Iranian threat was clear.

Beecroft wrote, “Jordan’s leaders are careful not to be seen as dictating toward the US, but their comments betray a powerful undercurrent of doubt that the United States knows how to deal effectively with Iran.”

On the one hand, Jordanian Sen. Zaid Rifai beseeched US to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations.

Rifai said, “Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won’t matter.”

But on the other hand, the Jordanians recognized that the Obama administration was committed to appeasing Iran and so tried to convince the Americans to ensure that their appeasement drive didn’t come at the Arabs’ expense.

Beecroft reported a clear warning from Abdullah.

Abdullah cautioned that if the Arabs believed that the US was appeasing Iran at their expense, “that engagement will set off a stampede of Arab states looking to get ahead of the curve and reach their own separate peace with Teheran.

“King Abdullah counseled Special Envoy George Mitchell in February [2009] that direct US engagement with Iran at this time would just deepen intra-Arab schisms and that more ‘countries without a backbone’ would defect to the Iranian camp.”

THAT WAS then. And since then, the Obama administration did nothing after Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad and his henchmen stole the presidential election. It did nothing as they repressed the tens of millions of Iranians who demonstrated against the election fraud. The Obama administration did nothing as Iran conducted repeated war games along the Straits of Hormuz, progressed in its nuclear program, deepened its military alliances with Turkey and Venezuela and escalated its proxy war against the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

The Americans said nothing as Iran prevented the pro-US faction that won the Iraqi election from forming a government. They did nothing as Iran forced the reinstallation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki despite his electoral defeat.

As Washington stood idly by in the face of Iran’s aggression, Jordan and the other US-allied Arab states watched as Obama harassed Israel, announced his plan to withdraw all US forces from Iraq next year, appointed a new ambassador to Syria and approved more military aid to the Iranian-controlled Lebanese army. And Abdullah and the other Arabs watch now as the US is poised to begin yet a new round of appeasement talks with Iran next month.

Unlike the previous failed rounds of talks, the next failed round of talks will take place in Turkey.

Iranian officials are already exulting that Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan will act as Iran’s protector in those talks, and so officially end any semblance of Iranian diplomatic isolation on the nuclear issue.

And so, just as Abdullah warned would happen, today he is leading Jordan into the ranks of “countries without a backbone,” and making a separate peace with Ahmadinejad.

Jordan is a weak country. Its minority Hashemite regime has failed to dominate its Palestinian majority. And since its inception by the British in 1946, Jordan has depended on Western powers and Israel for its survival.

In acting as he is, Abdullah is following in his father’s footsteps. The late King Hussein survived by watching the prevailing winds closely and always siding with the side he believed was strongest at any given time.

When Hussein believed that the West and Israel were weakening, he went with their enemies. He only rejoined the Western alliance after it defeated its foes, and so convinced him that it was stronger. Notable examples of this are his 1967 alliance with Egypt and Syria against Israel and his decision in 1990 to stand with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of Saddam’s conquest of Kuwait.

IT IS often erroneously claimed that siding with the metaphorical stronger horse is primarily an Arab practice. In truth, everyone does it.

Take France for instance.

In another diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks, the US Embassy in Paris reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy thinks that the Palestinians are stronger than Israel. The report claimed that in Sarkozy’s June 2009 meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he told the Israeli leader that he must surrender to all the Palestinian demands because in his view the Palestinians are stronger than Israel.

Before Sarkozy took office, he was considered a great supporter of Israel and a personal friend of Netanyahu’s. But since taking office, he has sided with the Palestinians against Israel. He has been friendly to Syria. Most recently, he agreed to sell 100 advanced anti-tank missiles to the Hizbullah controlled Lebanese military.

In light of his comment to Netanyahu it is clear that what motivates Sarkozy to act as he does is his analysis of the power balance between Israel and its enemies. Happily for Israel, Sarkozy is wrong. Israel is stronger than the Palestinians and has the capacity to defend itself effectively against its enemies.

Unhappily for Israel, Sarkozy’s analysis is probably based in large part on arguments he has heard from the Israeli Left under Kadima. Over the past several years, Kadima leaders have managed to convince the country’s best friends that Israel has no option other than surrender.

This is due to Kadima’s obsession with demography and its demented plan for extricating Israel from what it considers predetermined demographic doom.

According to the likes of Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, the fact that there are 6 million Jews and 4 million Arabs west of the Jordan River means that Israel has no option other than surrendering Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

As far as Livni and her leftist comrades are concerned, it makes no difference that such a move will not decrease the number of Arabs west of the Jordan.

It makes no difference to the Israeli Left that the Palestinian state they hope to build will – with their consent – bring in millions more Arabs as immigrants into the landmass west of the Jordan River and so quickly render Jews a minority, making war a foregone conclusion.

In short, through their asinine demographic argument – with which they surrender all Israeli claims to the capital city, and to strategically vital land to which Israel has valid legal and historical claims – Livni and her colleagues tell the likes of Sarkozy that not only is Israel weaker than the Palestinians. They tell these erstwhile friends that Israel is doomed to destruction and there is no reason for them to support it.

Based on these claims, Sarkozy’s decision to make a separate peace with Iran through its Palestinian, Syrian and Hizbullah proxies makes sense.

It is important to bear this in mind when one considers the reason that the campaign to delegitimize Israel is gaining momentum. Given the Israeli-fueled sense among key governments that Israel is a lost cause, as they see it, they have no reason to defend Israel from its detractors. From their perspective, their interests are better served by either standing on the sidelines or turning on Israel the weak horse.

ALL THIS is not to say that the Left is purposely sinking the ship of state. It is simply a victim of its own success. The Left has convinced Europe and the Arabs that it is dedicated to appeasement and that like the US under Obama, Israel will not fight its enemies.

The Left believed that by convincing the Arabs and the Europeans that Israel is serious about appeasing its enemies, they would make an alliance with the Jewish state. And since Europe is stronger than Israel, and the Arabs are a threat to Israel, by winning their favor, the Left believed it would strengthen Israel.

What the Left failed to recognize is that Europe and the Arabs would rather cut a deal with Iran than defend themselves against it. A surrendering Israel is of no use to them. They only like Israel when it wins.

And now that weakness has pushed Jordan over the edge.

The lesson of all of this for Israel is clear. For 17 years, in the throes of the Left’s strategic blindness, Israel has spent its time emphasizing its weaknesses and its enemies’ strengths.

This practice must be reversed. Israel must now concentrate on its strengths and its enemies’ weaknesses.

For instance, Israel has a stronger claim to the disputed territories than the Palestinians.

And Israel is stronger than the Palestinians by every possible measuring rod.

Not only are the Palestinians militarily weak, they have nothing to offer anyone. Because the Palestinian national cause has far more to do with destroying Israel than building a Palestinian state, the Palestinian track record is one of destruction, not creation. And this destructive tendency expresses itself on every front.

Iran too is far less powerful than it looks.

From the Stuxnet worm to a faltering economy, from increased domestic sabotage to the continuing opposition bid to overthrow the regime, Iran’s soft underbelly is exposed. And it is getting softer all the time.

In contrast, Israel has a stable government. And its economic, technological and military power is constantly growing. Israel is a force to be reckoned with.

Jordan’s move into the Iranian camp is not inexorable. Nor is Lebanon’s or even Syria’s. True, much to the Left’s dismay, Israel lacks the option of joining the “countries without a backbone.”

But we have a better option. We are strong and we can get stronger. And our enemies have weaknesses and we can weaken them still further.

Original URL:

Caroline B. Glick

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

Abbas: No Room for Israelis in Palestinian State

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israelis in it.

“We have frankly said, and always will say, if there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.

He was commenting on unconfirmed reports that suggested that the PA leadership might agree to the presence of the IDF in the West Bank after the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“We are ready to go to peace on the basis of international legitimacy and the road map, which we have accepted, as well as the Arab peace initiative,” Abbas said. “But when a Palestinian state is established, it would have no Israeli presence in it.”

Abbas criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and accused him of placing obstacles on the road to peace. “He who prefers settlements over peace is responsible for the obstacles to peace,” he added. “If he really was interested in peace, he would have at least preferred peace to settlements.”

Abbas accused the Israeli government of “deception” with the purpose of blaming the Palestinians for the current impasse in the peace talks. He also criticized the US Administration for failing to put pressure on Israel to stop the construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem.

“The US Administration has tried to stop the settlements, but Netanyahu refused,” he said. “We know that there’s a clear American position, but these days we don’t hear it any more. We hope we will hear it in the future.”

Abbas said that the PA has presented in writing to the US its position regarding all the core issues in writing, but have still not heard Israel’s reply. “All the final-status issues must be solved according to international resolutions,” he said. “All these issues will be resolved at the negotiating table, and this includes the issue of the refugees, which Israel tried to get rid of, but to no avail.”

On Friday night, Abbas met in Bethlehem with members of the tiny Christian community in the Gaza Strip who received permission from Israel to travel to the West Bank for Christmas.

Abbas expressed hope that his Fatah faction and Hamas would be able to resolve their differences so that the Gaza Strip would be part of the future Palestinian state. He also voiced hope that he would be able to travel to the Gaza Strip in the near future.

Abbas also hailed South American countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador, which have recognized a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. He said that the Palestinians were now hoping that other countries, especially the EU, Russia, Canada, the US and Japan, would follow suit and declare their recognition of a Palestinian state.

“The whole world is now with us,” Abbas stated. “These countries have recognized us because they love peace and want to support peace.”

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Khaled Abu Toameh

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Venezuela: Emergency Powers Given to Chavez Endanger Human Rights

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Due to the Venezuelan flood emergency that resulted in more than 130,000 homeless nationwide, the Parliament gave President Hugo Chavez eighteen months of special ruling powers. When the newly elected new Assembly takes office on January 5, 2011, however, the weight of the opposition inside the National Assembly will increase. Many therefore think that the emergency powers are just a trick to undermine the will of the Venezuelan people, as Philip Crowley, the US Department of State Spokesman said outright, adding that Chavez "seems to have found new, ingenious way to justify autocratic powers."

The opposition paper El Universal reports that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) is also worried about the term for the special powers granted to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez for rulemaking and the areas covered by such powers. The Organization noted that failure to set the limits necessary for true control endangers human rights in Venezuela.

The IACHR, like the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, expressed "special concern" that the National Assembly could enable the executive branch to create norms that establish the sanctions that would apply when crimes are committed.

From the Press:

  • Pro-Chavez lawmaker: Enabling Law will have "sufficiently long term"
  • Venezuela's Chavez requests special ruling powers for 12 months
  • Venezuelan Governor: The enabling law makes a mockery of people
  • Hugo Chavez to rule by decree in nine areas
  • "Enabling law shows the authoritarian nature of the government," says opposition
  • Enabling law shores up the socialist production model
  • Opposition: The government wants "to concentrate more power because it's afraid of the people

December 17, 2010

Pro-Chavez lawmaker: Enabling Law will have "sufficiently long term"

Venezuela's National Assembly addressed on December 14 in a special session the request for special powers made by President Hugo Chavez to deal with the consequences of the serious climate crisis that has recently hit the country, said Venezuelan Congressman Mario Isea (ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, PSUV).

Isea added that the Enabling Law should have a sufficiently long term to allow the president to legislate during the current emergency situation. He said that people opposed to the enabling law are "opportunistic, electioneering and destabilizing, because nobody can deny Venezuela's emergency situation in areas such as housing, roads and other infrastructure works."

Venezuela's Chavez requests special ruling powers for 12 months

Vice President Elías Jaua announced that the draft Enabling Law submitted to the National Assembly will be effective for 12 months and will allow President Hugo Chavez to have special decree powers to address the emergency caused by heavy rains in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan Vice President said that after the expected approval of the draft Enabling Law, "the first decree-laws will be passed in 15 days."

"The President has requested (special decree powers) for 12 months to create a package of laws required to address a serious crisis, mainly the result of structural causes that still keep Venezuelan people trapped in poverty. Natural phenomena occurred in the last decade due to the global climate change have worsened this crisis," Jaua said.

Venezuelan Governor: The enabling law makes a mockery of people

In the context of Plan Arriba Miranda[1] (Miranda, Get Up!), governor Henrique Capriles Radonski delivered certificates for building materials free from debt and household equipment, furniture and fittings to the families hit by rainfalls in Panaquire parish of the town of Barlovento.

There, he said that the enabling law submitted for the prompt approval by the National Assembly (AN) is merely political.

"A chance should be given to the new deputies who represent the country's plurality, for them to debate and discuss important laws for Venezuelans, instead of laws of a political content. If the excuse for the approval by the National Assembly of an enabling law for the President of the Republic is the current emergency, this is simply a mockery of all our people, including those who on September 26 voted the deputies of the ruling party."

Capriles Radonsky thinks that the national government does not need special powers or laws to solve Venezuelans' problems. "Here what we need is will, funds and efficiency to overcome the emergency which, in addition, may not be treated in a sectarian manner and with a political-partisan vision."

Hugo Chavez to rule by decree in nine areas

[…] This is the fourth time President Chavez has requested special ruling powers since he took office in 1999. The bill was passed by a qualified majority with the votes of PSUV lawmakers and the rest of the political parties supporting the government.

Former pro-government party Patria Para Todos (Fatherland for All) cast a dissenting vote, while the parliamentary groups of two opposition parties that were formerly pro-government political groups Podemos (We can) and Frente Humanista y Ecológico (Humanist and Ecological Front) voted against the law.

Deputy Mario Isea (PSUV) said that the Enabling Law is "well grounded," adding that the housing problem facing Venezuela is due to "inequalities accumulated" throughout the years. Meanwhile, Ismael Garcia (Podemos) said that "the country does not need the National Assembly to pass a package of emergency laws. There are several laws (included in the Enabling Law) that are not aimed at addressing the emergency caused by rainfalls, but are tax measures."

Jaua said that the Enabling Law, consisting of four articles, is based on the seriousness of the measures to be taken. "Almost 40% of the territory has been affected. A high percentage of roads have been destroyed; an important number of crops have been lost; 130,000 people were made homeless, the impact on the economy and on living conditions is serious."

Flores announced that the National Assembly declared itself in permanent session to approve the law on December 16. Special ruling powers under the Enabling Law address nine areas, namely infrastructure, transport, public services, housing and habitat, land use planning, comprehensive development and use of urban and rural lands, finance and taxes, people's security and legal security, defense, international cooperation and the nation's socio-economic system.

"Enabling Law shows the authoritarian nature of the government," says opposition

Opposition umbrella group Democratic Unified Panel (MUD) considers the passage in first session of the draft project of the enabling law a serious attack on democratic institutions. "Once again, the government shows its authoritarian, arbitrary and antidemocratic nature," Tomas Guanipa, an elected deputy for the state of Zulia of the opposition party Primero Justicia, said on behalf of the MUD.

"The emergency situation caused by rainfalls is only one the topics included in the enabling law. This law has been devised to transform the state, the society and the economy in many different areas and has nothing to do with the emergency," Guanipa said. According to him, the special ruling powers granted to President Hugo Chavez are intended to address structural problems of the Venezuelan society, "that have not been properly addressed since 1999, such as poverty."

Guanipa stressed that the proposal made by the Executive Office violated democratic principles "because it takes a number of issues out of the agenda to be discussed by the next National Assembly."

Enabling Law shores up the socialist production model

President Hugo Chavez may establish new legal frameworks in the economic sector through the Enabling Law. Although the special decree powers were granted due to rain emergency, the power to legislate is aimed at promoting the socialist production model.

The Venezuelan head of State may establish for 12 months a series of regulations in areas such as production, finance, taxes, housing and land use planning.

In January 2007, the National Assembly passed an enabling law for 18 months to draft socialist laws because in December 2007 a constitutional referendum intended to reform the Constitution would be held. The referendum took place and the government's proposal was rejected. However, Venezuelan authorities continued their plans to define a socialist model.

Although the National Assembly has provided a basis for the new model, the Executive Office considers that it requires further consolidation, since some aspects of the First Socialist Plan remain to be completed, particularly those related to areas such as taxes, finance and production.

The plan for 2007-2013 provides the reorganization of the tax system including the reform of current taxes (VAT and income tax) and the creation of new taxes.

New regulations are expected in the financial sector. In 2010, the National Assembly laid the groundwork for the socialist financial system but more regulations are expected to be included.

There are only a few aspects related to the housing sector in the First Socialist Plan. The Venezuelan Parliament is discussing a law to regulate housing construction. However, the Enabling Law will allow President Chavez to establish more controls to the construction of houses and regulate land use planning.

El Universal (Venezuela)

December 17, 2010

Opposition: The government wants "to concentrate more power because it's afraid of the people

[…] Members of Venezuela's conservative opposition have referred to the measure as "demagogy" and a "provocation". Congressman-elect, Julio Borges accused the government of wanting "to concentrate more power because it is afraid of the people," while Alfonso Marquina, from the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), has denounced the move as "immoral."

Some opposition politicians tried to claim the Enabling Law would be ineffective once the new parliament assumes power in January 2011, a claim that if true would render all laws passed by previous legislative bodies as nonbinding. The Enabling Law carries the same weight as any other legislation approved by Congress.

While National Assembly President Cilia Flores said the new powers would serve to ensure that Venezuelans recently made homeless by record-setting storms, "do not return to risky areas, but to decent homes," opposition spokespeople as well as national and international press have said the law is Chavez's way of circumventing the incoming National Assembly.

Unlike the current National Assembly, in the newly elected one, due to begin its term on January 5th, the opposition has more than one third (but less than a majority) of legislators. Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua said the Enabling Law was an urgent necessity given the seriousness of the situation caused by recent storms. "Over 40% of the territory has been affected," said Jaua.

"A high percentage of roads have been destroyed; an important number of crops have been lost; 130,000 people were made homeless, the impact on the economy and on living conditions is serious", he said.

Correo del Orinoco (Venezuela)

[1] A State of Venezuela

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Anna Mahjar-Barducci

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US, EU Support Violations of Human Rights as Palestinian Authority Escalates Repression, Brutality

by Khaled Abu Toameh

On a number of occasions over the past two years, Palestinians who protested in public against the policies of the Palestinian Authority have been assaulted and beaten by US-trained Palestinian policemen. Palestinian journalists and human rights activists who tried to document these assaults have also been beaten.

Abbas and Fayyad have not hesitated to use violence against their critics. Many of those who spent time in Palestinian prisons and detention centers in the West Bank say they were subjected there to various methods of torture.

One can understand why a radical movement like Hamas would want to crack down on freedoms in the Gaza Strip, but what one cannot understand is why the Palestinian Authority, which relies heavily on US and EU taxpayer money for its survival, is allowed to get away with human rights violations.

In the West Bank, the Western-funded government of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad has been waging a campaign aimed at silencing the opposition and intimidating journalists. The Palestinian Authority claims that the crackdown is necessary to thwart any attempt by Hamas to extend its control to the West Bank.

As a result of this campaign, hundreds -- some says thousands -- of Palestinians are being held without trial in Palestinian Authority prisons in the West Bank. Among the detainees are university students and lecturers, journalists and political activists suspected of being affiliated with Hamas and other Palestinian opposition groups.

Even Palestinian government employees are now complaining about the iron-fist policy of Abbas and Fayyad. In recent weeks, several employees said they received warnings from the Palestinian security services and senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah not to meet with "Jewish correspondents" or any other foreign journalist suspected of being "pro-Israel."

Only a quarter of the Palestinians living in the West Bank believe they can criticize the Palestinian Authority.

In the Gaza Street, the situation is even worse – less than a fifth of the Palestinians living there believe it is possible to criticize Hamas.

These feelings were revealed in a recent public opinion poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank.

The results show that a majority of Palestinians do not trust the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, especially when it comes to freedom of expression and human rights.

The war between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which reached its peak in 2007, when the Islamist movement managed to seize full control over the Gaza Strip, has been accompanied by a sharp increase in human rights violations by both parties.

The Palestinian government in the West Bank also controls the three major newspapers, Al-Quds, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda and Al-Ayyam. In that world, there is no room for any newspaper that does not serve as a mouthpiece for Abbas and Fayyad.

Consequently, Palestinians have to rely on media organizations in Israel, the Arab world and the West to learn, for example, about the severe power struggle between Abbas and former Fatah security commander Mohammed Dahlan, who has been accused of working to topple the Palestinian Authority.

Under Hamas, the situation is not any better. In the Gaza Strip, it is hard to find a Palestinian journalist or human rights activist who will agree to criticize Hamas in public. Hamas policemen and militias have also been employing an iron-fist policy to keep Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from speaking out.

Hamas prisons are full of detainees whose only crime is that they are --or were -- members of Fatah.

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Khaled Abu Toameh

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

To Bomb Iran or Not to Bomb Iran: That is the Question

by David Solway

In a recent column for Canada’s major newspaper, the National Post, entitled “The case against bombing Iran [1],” editor Jonathan Kay reports on the FDD (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) conference held in Washington D.C., which addressed the vexed question of Iran’s nuclear ambition and what should be done about it. Should Iran’s nuclear sites be bombed or not? Kay cites at length the so-called “Iran expert” Kenneth Pollack, author of The Persian Puzzle, who argues against a military strike, which he considers would be both rash and ultimately useless.

Pollack begins by referring to the Israeli air strike against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in 1981 which, he contends, only motivated Saddam “to redouble his efforts…going from a single track to six different tracks across the country.” According to this expert, what put a stop to Saddam’s nuclear intentions was not the vaporizing of Osirak but Desert Storm ten years later. “This,” says Kay, “was a sobering insight.” In Pollack’s estimation, it would appear that the Israeli demolition of Osirak was a strategic blunder of monumental proportions.

Oddly enough, the great Osirak failure did not prevent Israel from launching Operation Orchard, attacking Syria’s nuclear al-Kibar facility in 2007 and dealing a crippling blow to its North Korean-enabled nuclear program. It seems the Israelis are incapable of learning from experience or of profiting from the vast store of Pollack’s undeniable wisdom, but insist on pursuing a reckless and counter-productive policy of armed pre-emption.

And yet there is ample room for skepticism. Pollack, as we have seen, claims that a targeted country can always begin to rebuild its nuclear capacity, thus merely delaying the inevitable. But there are certain obvious considerations he makes no allowance for: once a site has been destroyed, the reconstruction lag gives time to reformulate policy, if necessary; circumstances may change for the better; and, if worse comes to worse, the operation can be repeated. Moreover, if Saddam had been allowed to have his nuclear way in 1981 and to spend the next decade advancing his nuclear option, it is moot whether Desert Storm would even have been possible in 1991. For by that time Saddam might conceivably have developed a ballistic deterrent that would have effectively disarmed the multi-nation coalition from moving against him.

Nor does Pollack consider the basic and indefeasible nature of the Iranian regime, its patently unhinged mullocracy, its frequent threats to wipe Israel off the map and its Twelver Shi’ite theology which awaits the arrival of the messiah or Mahdi, the Hidden Imam who comes to cleanse mankind with fire and the sword, and whose parousia can be hastened by unleashing violence on the world. Pollack should perhaps have consulted Kenneth Timmerman, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, who cites [2] Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s announcement that his government’s main mission was to “pave the path for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi.” Indeed, according to Reza Khalili, author of A Time To Betray [3] and a former CIA agent who penetrated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei “has private prayers with the Mahdi. It’s all crazy talk but they take it seriously.”

Is this, one may ask with all due diffidence, the sort of regime that should be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons and to perfect solid-state delivery systems, like the Sajill-2 [4], that bring all of Europe within their range? Is this what our “experts” in their ineffable sagacity are prepared to accept? The bottom line is that if they are wrong, then many of us are dead—an outcome, I would suggest, that is scarcely worth the risk. For as Frank Gaffney, former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for International Security Policy, has stated [5]: “If we think we can deter mullahs who are committed to an apocalyptic, messianic program, we’re kidding ourselves.” The Wikileaks data dump has shown that much of the Arab world would concur with this assessment, or why else would they have pleaded with the United States to attack Iran’s nuclear sites?

Pollack, who prides himself on being “a student of military history” and loftily declares that “I teach courses on it. I’ve spent my whole life on it,” also believes that a pre-emptive strike would alienate ordinary Iranians. “When people are bombed, they tend to rally around the flag,” he asserts. One may beg to differ, since it is precisely these ordinary people and Green Movement dissidents who are constantly in danger of being thrown into prison, tortured and murdered for opposing the designs of their brutal overlords. And after all, it is not Tehran or other civilian centers that would be bombed but army, air force and missile installations, prior to taking out the nuclear plants and laboratories. Under current conditions in Iran, it seems plausible to assume that such an intervention is just as likely to be welcomed as resented.

As for the belief that sanctions, an international campaign of delegitimation and “shaming Iran by listing off its numerous human rights violations” would suffice to dissuade the Iranian leadership from proceeding on their avowedly determined course, the evidence to date does not seem encouraging. The mullahs don’t shame easily, especially as they are convinced they are doing the divine will. They are exceedingly adept at feigning negotiations to stave off international pressure. And with the assistance of Turkey, China, Venezuela, Austria and other culprit nations, sanctions can, to a significant extent, be circumvented.

Such impractical recommendations demonstrate just how far from reality our self-proclaimed experts tend to live. Or, for that matter, how far from Iran. As Philip Weiss points out [6] in The Huffington Post, Pollack is an “Iran expert who’s never been there, doesn’t speak Persian, and has only dribs and drabs of Arabic.” He is, plainly, the kind of “Iran expert” who puts the farce in Farsi.

What we are witnessing here is a colossal bankruptcy of imagination coupled with an overweening arrogance and a pie-in-the-sky worldview. If Pollack and his professional kin are misguided, what they will see in the sky when they look up one day from their conference notes and briefing papers may not be pies. Perhaps it’s best not to promote oneself as some sort of “expert” or guru but to rely instead on cognitive depth, common sense and a reasonable alertness to the world as it is.

In summing up, Kay concedes that a punitive assault against Iran might be satisfying “on an emotional level” and “has the ring of moral clarity.” But, he continues, deferring to the forum’s chief pedagogue, Pollack “reminds us that all the moral clarity in the world doesn’t erase today’s military realities, nor the lessons of yesterday’s bombing campaigns.” Now what lessons might these be? one wonders, given the rather obvious objections to such timid and conventional thinking docketed above.

Is Pollock by some chance still stuck in Vietnam mode? But it was not the bombing campaign there that proved ineffective; the war was lost owing to poor planning, lack of will and domestic dissent. If he is thinking post-Vietnam, other factors should prevail. Operation Opera against Osirak is, as likely as not, what made Desert Storm feasible in the first place. Operation Orchard against Syria was a blessing to all, except Bashar Assad, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong-il. And Operation Allied Force against Serbia, a bombing campaign that lasted several months, certainly worked well enough.

Kay concludes that, “as things now stand,” military action against the Iranian program “would do more harm than good.” This is no doubt yet another “sobering insight”—although not one shared by more credible authorities such as Reza Khalili, Emmanuel Sivan [7], Kenneth Timmerman, Frank Gaffney, chair of the Congressional EMP Commission William Graham [8], Ronen Bergman, author of The Secret War with Iran [9], and Louis Rene Beres, professor of International Law at Purdue University and author of Force, Order and Justice [10]. These men do not give themselves airs as specialist virtuosos or policy wonks, but manifest variously as thoughtful, experienced and scholarly observers of a complex situation.

Beres condenses in two short sentences their collective position concerning the Iranian problem: “Tehran’s new nuclear status could coincide with an unshakable leadership belief in the Shi’ite apocalypse. Here, Israel would face… a ‘suicide state.’” And so might the rest of us. For a nuclear exchange in the Middle East may not stay in the Middle East and would clearly have incalculable repercussions.

Now this is a sobering insight indeed.

URLs in this post:

[1] The case against bombing Iran:

[2] cites:

[3] A Time To Betray:

[4] Sajill-2:

[5] stated:

[6] points out:

[7] Emmanuel Sivan:

[8] William Graham:

[9] The Secret War with Iran:

[10] Force, Order and Justice:

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David Solway

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The Faces of Iran’s Imprisoned Journalists

by Lisa Daftari

“Around 70 journalists are now in the prisons of the Islamic Republic and many others, like me, are free on bail, lacking any security. We are afraid that anything that we write may be used as evidence of ‘propaganda against the system’ or ‘conspiracy against national security.’ My colleagues and I try to write as little as possible.” (Open letter from formerly imprisoned journalist Zhila Bani Yaghoob to the Head of Iran’s Judiciary Committee.)

In light of Iran’s recent political turmoil and continued disregard for non-proliferation provisions, a deep curiosity over Iran’s people and modern society has developed in the international community. The Iranian government has been arresting reporters for communicating with foreign media, writing about human rights violations, or speaking out against the government. The growing trend in the imprisonment of journalists has led to a parallel trend in journalists escaping the country and never coming back.

Last week, a new report showed that ongoing crackdowns in Iran and other countries have driven the number of jailed journalists worldwide to a 14-year high. Currently, 145 journalists are being held internationally, with Iran and China having the highest at 34 journalists each, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, although my sources in Iran tell me that number is about double. Taking into account the dramatic population margins between Iran and China, Iran still maintains the highest number proportionally.

Following a long history of imprisoning journalists as a means of manipulating news coverage, the Iranian government has dramatically intensified the practice since the outbreak of demonstrations in the aftermath of the presidential election in June of 2009. The government closed newspapers, blocked websites and arrested bloggers, photographers and journalists working on all platforms as the most secure method of censorship.

Underground websites, blogs and social networking sites became the new front of a political standoff between the people and the state, but the government quickly made it clear that dissidents would be suppressed. Some were arrested at the time of the protests and others were targeted at home or at work. Among the arrested were dozens of citizen journalists with active Facebook and Twitter accounts. Facing more serious prison sentences were journalists who were seen as political activists or mouthpieces of foreign or reformist interests. The statistics speak for themselves in describing the numbers and the zero tolerance against those communicating information, but the individuals are seldom talked about.

I recently came across the biography of a woman who is currently at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison serving a seven-year sentence for her work as a journalist and political activist. Hengameh Shahidi, 36, left her daughter behind in London to travel to Iran for the election. As a member of presidential-candidate Mehdi Karroubi’s National Trust Party, Shahidi came to act as an advisor on women’s issues for his campaign.

Shahidi suffers from a heart condition that requires medication and physician’s guidance. She and her family requested that she be given the proper medical attention, particularly given that her condition has worsened while in prison, according to sources close to the Shahidi family. In late October, she was released on medical leave but was brought back to the prison after two weeks. Soon after, she began a hunger strike leading to her hospitalization. She now suffers from rheumatism, lower back pain, intestinal problems, and a severe drop in blood pressure.

Weeks after the election, Shahidi was arrested in the midst of protests and was held without charge. Following interrogation and alleged beatings and threats of execution, she was released on bail in November and within a month was sentenced to six years for “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security” and one year for “propaganda against the system,” according to Amnesty International who has documented the details of her case.

Shahidi had been a prolific journalist in Iran. After what close friends call a “messy divorce,” she moved with her daughter to London where she was studying to earn a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Her imprisonment has been contested by several human rights organizations, and “Free Hengameh Shahidi” groups on Facebook are demanding her release. A petition online with 325 signatories was directed toward Iran’s judiciary committee but fell on deaf ears. Most recently, [1] was launched by the Marze Por Gohar, Iranians for a Secular Republic political organization who have stated that they will gift the website to Shahidi to continue her journalistic work once she is released, as her previous site was disabled by the regime. Their campaign altered the traditional “Free Hengameh Shahidi” into “We will free Hengameh Shahidi,” as to not make any futile requests from the Iranian government, the group said.

There are many nameless journalists like Shahidi who are silently withering away in Iran’s prisons for simply doing their jobs. Just last week Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, head of Iran’s Journalists’ Association and the former editor of several reformist daily papers was sentenced to 16 months in jail for mocking President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and undermining the Islamic Republic. Shamsolvaezin had been jailed for two months for his criticism of the regime in the aftermath of the election. This month the government went after Iran’s central reformist newspaper Shargh (West). The paper’s financial sponsor, three editors and a writer were all arrested in what the regime cited as “security-related crimes,” according to Tehran’s prosecutor.

I called one of my sources in Iran, a secularist journalist, who, for obvious reasons, most importantly for her security, did not want her name mentioned. When I asked her about Shahidi, she put the case into perspective.

“Hengameh Shahidi is a reformist. She wants to see reform within the regime and this is her fate. Now you can imagine our predicaments as secularists.”

This journalist brings up a valid argument about relativity in the regime’s method of operating. Before the election, the government had long targeted the anti-establishment secularists and radicals demanding regime change. Now their attention has turned toward a new threat, those seeking reform.

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Lisa Daftari

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Progressives are Running the Universities

by Ricardo Duchesne

This article is reprinted from University Affairs [1].

The November 2010 issue of University Affairs welcomes its readers with a rather eye-catching, if predictable, cover story, “Racism in the academy [2],” by Harriet Eisenkraft, in which up to 20 academics from across the Canadian university landscape are interviewed and cited in support of the sweeping allegation that “many non-Caucasian scholars still feel excluded or denied opportunities” in our universities. After five decades of official multiculturalism and three decades of mandated employment equity, Peter Li, a professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan, says that racism is still a pervasive (not a “random” or incidental) feature; “regularized and embedded in the social process” of Canadian academic hiring, promotion, governance, research, and in the curriculum.

Dr. Li is hardly a lone voice. Malinda Smith, a political science professor at the University of Alberta, maintains that, for all the programs and the offices created in the name of equity and diversity, attention to issues affecting minority scholars are still “perpetually deferred.” The article states that every new report on systematic racism has had the unfortunate effect of producing a “backlash.” According to Audrey Kobayashi, a professor of geography at Queen’s University, one of the effects of the backlash “is to prevent progressive people from acting progressively” in the universities.

These are her words; I am not trying to be amusing. How can the most leftist institution in Canada be accused of curtailing the efforts of progressives to fight against “structural racism”? This is exactly the point: the preponderance of progressives in the faculties of arts across Canada is the very ground sustaining and encouraging these outlandish claims. In case we need to be reminded again, “studies in both nations [Canada and the United states] confirm that the humanities and social sciences are dominated by scholars with left-wing opinions and values” (as Christine Overall, cross-appointed with the department of philosophy and women’s studies at Queen’s, had acknowledged in an article, “Lefty Profs [3],” published two years ago in University Affairs).

It is well known that progressives have been able for decades now to exercise their control through domination of hiring committees and the imposition of politically correct speech codes designed to exterminate dissent. Dr. Li is not some isolated figure fighting for racial justice; he belongs to a department dedicated to teaching students [4] to “think critically about the world around them” and “committed to link the aims of the discipline with the mission of the University of Saskatchewan”. Saskatchewan, like many universities in Canada, officially calls itself a “progressive university” committed to “employment equity” for women and visible minorities.

Of the 15 full-time faculty members [5] teaching in Dr. Li’s department, eight are females, and three of the males, together with Dr. Li, are visible minorities of Asian origin. What is more, most of these members have research interests that touch on race, ethnicity, multiculturalism and social inequality. Among the many socialistic colleges, programs, and departments housed in Saskatchewan are: “Discrimination and Harassment Prevention,” “Family Medicine,” “Indian Teacher Education Program,” “Native Studies,” “Women’s and Gender Studies”.

A similar set of facts can be adduced for all the academics cited in this article. Jeffrey Reitz, who claims that white people tend to trivialize the experiences of minorities as unimportant, is director of ethnic and immigration studies at the University of Toronto, housed in a department in which the research and teaching areas are singularly left-oriented in character: “health and mental health,” “networks and community,” “gender and family,” “crime and socio-legal studies,” “immigration and ethnic relations,” “stratification, work, and labour markets.” Constance Backhouse, who wants universities to “take the lead” in dismantling the “mythology” that Canada is a “race-less” society, belongs to the faculty of law at the University of Ottawa [6], wherein the “Message from the Dean” states categorically and imperially that research and teaching are expected to be pursued “in a progressive atmosphere where issues of social justice are at the forefront of student and faculty concerns”.

This influence of progressives over our universities may explain why few of the specialists cite any solid evidence to substantiate their claims. Working within an audience of true believers, they have grown accustomed to soft-ball questions and easy endorsements. Pretty much all the “evidence” cited is anecdotal, based on “feelings”, and in no way the foundation for making a “systemic racism” allegation. The one meagre fact offered is that “about 14 percent of faculty positions are held by visible minorities, whereas 24 percent of all PhD-holders in Canada are visible minorities.” It does not take statistical expertise to realize that this claim is devoid of any meaning unless one offers a system-wide, representative set of statistical indicators on all the positions held by all ethnic groups, on all the PhD-holders, on all the academic openings in the last few decades (rather than merely looking at the ethnicity of academics who were employed decades ago), on all the number of actual applicants for jobs, and on all the respective qualifications of the applicants.

The universities of Canada have worked like a gold mine for progressives. Many of the professors cited in the article have multiple research grants, contracts with government departments, awards for research and teaching, are fellows of the Royal Academy and, in at least one case, is a member of the Order of Canada. I could go on for pages citing their academic honours. University Affairs might have done its readers a greater service publishing an article entitled “The Racism Industry in Academia.”

One would think that after decades of widespread employment equity and the creation of entire departments and programs dedicated to the grievances and resentments of minorities and women, these academics would have some achievements to call for. Then again, why give up on what has been a most remunerative profession? Can these specialists do anything else? They don’t care much for Western high culture. Their research and teaching interests stand in direct opposition to the Greek discovery of rational argumentation, the Roman legacy in jurisprudence, the invention of polyphonic music in medieval France, the invention of linear perspective painting in Renaissance Italy, the invention of the novel in modern Europe, the calibration of uncertainty in Europe (1565-1657), the rise of Galilean and Newtonian science, and indeed the invention of Liberalism and Democracy.

What really matters for progressives is not equality of opportunity as a right but equality as a fact and equality as a result. This is why they have started advocating a way of thinking about merit consistent with “equity and diversity.” Grace-Edward Galabuzi, associate professor in politics at Ryerson, thinks that “When you have a critical mass of PhDs in a whole range of disciplines, the issue of whether you have to choose between [race] representation or quality [is] moot.” Tom Patch says “excellence in the academy requires equity and diversity.” The goal, it seems to me, is to enforce some racial or sexual balance rather than to encourage intellectual openness and variety. Professor Backhouse even says that those administrators who fail to make progress on diversity should be condemned as “not meritorious.” Excellence requires agreement with her agenda.

Anthony Lising, a professor of education at Stanford University, says that non-whites are better at integrating knowledge and political activism than whites — from which observation he suggests that they are rather excellent scholars. Others advise that the curriculum should place less emphasis on European culture, find new ways to adjudicate qualifications by advertising jobs in “community” papers and relying on “personal contacts” for hiring purposes. Dr Kobayashi wants nothing less than a campus-wide strategy commanding every faculty to offer an anti-racism course or a full program so that all students can learn about white racial attitudes.

Looking at the courses offered in Canadian universities, one wonders if the attempt to teach Western high culture is itself now seen as offensive. It is difficult to think of ethnic and gender courses as requiring any mental discipline internal to themselves apart from the foregone ideological conclusions for which they were created in the first place.

White academics welcome this blanket indictment against the “unearned privileges of white faculty” – to use the heading of a letter published in the subsequent issue of UA (December 2010), by Susan Gingell, professor of English at Saskatchewan. There were two letters published in this issue in response to Eisenkraft’s article; by Gingell, in which she suggests that whites are failing to recognize their “racialized privileges,” and by Baljit Singh (quoted in the article) in which he compliments Eisenkraft’s “balanced story.” Never mind that not a single contrarian view was mentioned in this article. In the “comments to this article” in the UA website, there are four comments currently listed [7] (Dec. 5, 2010), each of which agrees with the accusations.

White progressives firmly believe that these impressionistic and anecdotal allegations are legitimate. Peggy Berkowitz, the editor of UA, calls them “serious” and praises Eisenkraft’s attentive journalistic habits. Not a few academic minorities – all too human as they are – have welcomed this state of affairs.

Indeed, racism has become a catch-all explanation for many of their everyday difficulties: the struggle to achieve good grades, publish articles, handle students who are skeptical of leftist policies, or just plain coping with bad affairs and unfriendly people. Whites and progressives don’t mind castigating the “structural racism” of the institutions they inhabit and operate daily. The culprit is not any one of them in particular, but the “structures” of Western culture, the family, capitalism, white masculinity, and the classics. The generations paying the price for an education based heavily on a “Studies” curriculum – Mothering Studies, Environment Studies, Peace Studies, Asian Studies – are the students coming out with a BA believing that truth is only a reflection of one’s own ethnicity and sexual orientation.

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[1] University Affairs:

[2] Racism in the academy:

[3] Lefty Profs:

[4] department dedicated to teaching students:

[5] 15 full-time faculty members:

[6] faculty of law at the University of Ottawa:

[7] currently listed:

Original URL:

Ricardo Duchesne is a professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick, Saint John campus.

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Blacklisting the Iranian Opposition

by Ryan Mauro

On November 3, the State Department branded the Iranian Baluchi militant group Jundullah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. At the same time, the State Department is in a legal fight to keep an opposition group called the Mujahideen-e-Khalq on the list. This follows an earlier decision by the Treasury Department to designate the Free Life Party of Kurdistan a terrorist group. The Obama Administration apparently feels it is worth blacklisting Iranian opposition groups that have used violence in order to increase the chances of a successful “engagement” with the regime.

One of the first decisions the Obama Administration made upon coming into office was to name [1] the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) as a terrorist group. The Obama Administration argued that PJAK was connected to another Kurdish terrorist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). However, PJAK is a separate entity and though both participated in a Kurdish Congress, there is no public proof of links between the two such as shared leadership or training camps.

Kenneth Timmerman, President of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, visited PJAK in Iraq and found [2] that they are stationed in a different part of the Qandil mountain ranges than the PKK. He writes that although some members used to be with PKK until its military branch dissolved and admiration is expressed for Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned PKK leader, they remain separate groups. PJAK’s objective is not an independent Kurdistan, but a democratic Iran that does not oppress any minorities. The group has also not carried out terrorist attacks, using violence only against [3] elements of the Iranian regime, especially its security forces like the Revolutionary Guards.

On November 3, the State Department added [4] Jundullah, a Baluchi militant group to the list. The group, like PJAK, frequently has armed clashes with the regime’s security forces and is a major concern for the government. As one confidential cable [5] from June 2009 released by WikiLeaks revealed, Iranian sources have told the U.S. that Baluchi violence has grown so much that “the Iranian security forces may be losing effective control over growing areas in the countryside.”

The State Department justifies Jundullah’s designation because the group “uses a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.” The State Department then lists three major attacks carried out by the Jundullah, such as on mosques, without mentioning that they targeted groups of Revolutionary Guards personnel including high-level officials. Though Jundullah’s attacks do cause civilian casualties, they are targeted at regime elements and are not aimed at massacring innocents like a terrorist group would.

Recently, the group also kidnapped an Iranian nuclear scientist who confessed [6] to having worked for three years at a secret uranium enrichment site with the explicit purpose of making a nuclear bomb. On December 15, Jundullah suicide bombed [7] a Shiite mosque killing 41 people. The regime and virtually every single news media report described it as a deliberate massacre of civilians, although Jundullah said it was aimed at the Revolutionary Guards.

The U.S. officially condemned the attack, but Michael Ledeen reports [8] that “the terrorist attack was not aimed against ‘women and children,’ but against the symbols and enforcers of the Shi’ite regime: Revolutionary Guards, Basij, and Quds Force fighters. More than sixty were killed, and a large number wounded.”

The Iranian government reacts to Jundullah’s attacks by characterizing them as being linked to Al-Qaeda. This is then followed by an accusation that the U.S. is covertly supporting Jundullah and therefore, the U.S. is also supporting Al-Qaeda. The Long War Journal states [9] that there are two groups under the name of Jundullah, and the regime “deliberately conflates the two groups and accuses the U.S. of backing the al-Qaeda-allied group.”

The intelligence analysis group STRATFOR called [10] the listing “a major gesture toward Iran.” The Iranian regime has consistently accused the U.S. of supporting Jundullah, especially in the wake of a 2007 ABC News report [11] alleging such. A “senior U.S. government official” explained that financial aid to Jundullah was part of an arrangement for the group to help track Al-Qaeda. This does not necessarily mean Jundullah is pro-American, though, as the group reacted to its designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by saying, [12] “The United States has always supported criminals and murderers, like Sharon and Zionists, and supports also criminals (in the Iranian regime) to advance its interests.”

At the same time, the State Department is in a legal battle with a third opposition group called the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), which began under the Bush Administration. Recently, the European Union parliament passed [13] a resolution officially asking the United States to remove the MEK from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organization. The MEK was removed from the United Kingdom’s own list in 2008 and the European Union’s list last year after a protracted but successful legal fight.

On July 16, the MEK scored a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia when the judge ruled [14] that the State Department had to review the group’s designation and offer it a chance to see the evidence against it and defend itself. It was decided that the MEK’s due process had been violated. The State Department said [15] that classified intelligence bolstered its accusations against the MEK, but the court noted [16] that “Some of the reports included in the Secretary’s analysis on their face express reservations about the accuracy of the information contained therein.”

The MEK’s battle may become part of the 2012 presidential race. Potential candidate John Bolton has called for their de-listing and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has publicly agreed. [17]

“I have studied terrorism for over 35 years. I have investigated terrorism and I have seen first hand, in my city, the devastation that terrorism can bring about. This is not a terrorist organization,” Giuliani said. He called on the rest of Congress to support a House resolution supporting the MEK’s de-listing that already had the support of 83 bi-partisan members of Congress.

The credibility of the MEK as an opposition group is hotly debated [18] among proponents of regime change in Iran, with some arguing that it has popular support and others saying that supporting the group would cause a backlash amongst Iranians. Whatever the case may be, the MEK’s past legal battles have resulted in verdicts that do not fit the definition of a terrorist group.

The blacklisting of PJAK and Jundullah and the resistance to delisting the MEK are overtures to the Iranian regime by the Obama Administration but it also sends a message to Iranians: Anyone that reacts to the Iranian regime’s violence with violence of their own will be branded a terrorist.

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Ryan Mauro

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