Saturday, July 23, 2011

Barack Obama’s Top Ten Insults Against Israel

by Nile Gardiner

Reprinted from

Last week Israel celebrated its 62nd year as a nation, but there was major cause for concern amid the festivities as the Israeli people faced the looming menace of a nuclear-armed Iran, as well as the prospect of a rapidly deteriorating relationship with Washington. The Israel-bashing of the Obama administration has become so bad that even leading Democrats are now speaking out against the White House. New York Senator Chuck Schumer blasted Barack Obama’s stance towards Israel in a radio interview last week, stating his “counter-productive” Israel policy “has to stop”.

At the same time a poll was released by Quinnipiac University which showed that US voters disapproved of the president’s Israel policy by a margin of 44 to 35 percent. According to the poll, “American voters say 57 – 13 percent that their sympathies lie with Israel and say 66 – 19 percent that the president of the United States should be a strong supporter of Israel.”

I recently compiled a list of Barack Obama’s top ten insults against Britain, America’s closest ally in the world. This is a sequel of sorts, a list of major insults by the Obama administration against America’s closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. As I wrote previously on Obama’s treatment of both Britain and Israel:

In the space of just over a year, Barack Obama has managed to significantly damage relations with America’s two closest friends, while currying favour with practically every monstrous dictatorship on the face of the earth. The doctrine of “smart power” has evolved into the shameless appeasement of America’s enemies at the expense of existing alliances. There is nothing clever about this approach – it will ultimately weaken US global power and strengthen the hand of America’s enemies, who have become significantly emboldened and empowered by Barack Obama’s na├»ve approach since he took office.

The Obama presidency is causing immense damage to America’s standing in the free world, while projecting an image of weakness in front of hostile regimes. Its treatment of both Israel and Britain is an insult and a disgrace, and a grim reflection of an unbelievably crass and insensitive foreign policy that significantly undermines the US national interest.

So here’s my top 10 list of Obama administration insults against Israel after just 15 months in power:

1. Obama’s humiliation of Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House

In March, the Israeli Prime Minister was humiliated by Barack Obama when he visited Washington. As The Telegraph reported, “Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family”, after being presented with a list of 13 demands. As I wrote at the time:

This is no way to treat America’s closest ally in the Middle East, and a true friend of the United States. I very much doubt that even third world tyrants would be received in such a rude fashion by the president. In fact, they would probably be warmly welcomed by the Obama White House as part of its “engagement” strategy, while the leaders of Britain and Israel are frequently met with arrogant disdain.

2. Engaging Iran when Tehran threatens a nuclear Holocaust against Israel

In contrast to its very public humiliation of close ally Israel, the Obama administration has gone out of its way to establish a better relationship with the genocidal regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , which continues to threaten Israel’s very existence. It has taken almost every opportunity to appease Tehran since it came to office, and has been extremely slow to respond to massive human rights violations by the Iranian regime, including the beating, rape and murder of pro-democracy protesters.

3. Drawing a parallel between Jewish suffering in the Holocaust with the current plight of the Palestinians

In his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, President Obama condemned Holocaust denial in the Middle East, but compared the murder of six million Jews during World War Two to the “occupation” of the Palestinian territories, in a disturbing example of moral equivalence:

“On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”

4. Obama’s attack on Israeli “occupation” in his speech to the United Nations

In his appalling speech to the UN General Assembly last September, President Obama dedicated five paragraphs to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, without once referring directly to Palestinian terrorism by name, but declaring to loud applause “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.” He also lambasted the Israeli “occupation”, and drew a connection between rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with living conditions in Gaza. The speech served as a ghastly PR exercise aimed at appeasing anti-Israel sentiment in the Middle East, while bashing the Israelis over the head.

5. Obama’s accusation that Israel is the cause of instability in the Middle East

As The Wall Street Journal noted, “the Obama Administration seems increasingly of the view that Israel is the primary cause of instability in the Middle East”, citing a recent press conference where he stated:

“It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out, one way or another we get pulled into them. And that ends up costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure.”

6. The Obama administration’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Syria

While actively appeasing Iran, the Obama administration has also sought to develop closer ties with the other main state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East, Syria, establishing diplomatic relations with Damascus in February. Syria remains a major backer of Hamas and Hizbollah, both responsible for a large number of terrorist attacks against Israel.

7. Hillary Clinton ’s 43-minute phone call berating Netanyahu

As The Telegraph reported, Hillary Clinton sought to dictate terms to Israel in the wake of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem:

“In a telephone call, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, ordered Mr. Netanyahu to reverse a decision to build 1,600 homes for Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem that sparked the diplomatic row. She also instructed him to issue a formal pledge that peace talks would focus on core issues such as the future of Jerusalem and the borders of a Palestinian state. In addition, the Israeli prime minister was urged to make a substantial confidence-building gesture to the Palestinians. Mrs. Clinton suggested this could take the form of prisoner releases, an easing of the blockade of Gaza and the transfer of greater territory in the West Bank to Palestinian control.

Last time I checked, Israel was still an independent country, and not a colonial dependency of the Obama White House. Yet that still hasn’t stopped the Secretary of State from acting like an imperial Viceroy.

8. David Axelrod ’s attack on Israeli settlements on “Meet the Press

It is extremely unusual for a White House official to launch an attack on a close US ally on live television, but this is exactly what the President’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod did in an interview in March with NBC’s Meet the Press, designed to cause maximum humiliation to Israel, where he stated in reference to new settlement construction in East Jerusalem:

“This was an affront, it was an insult but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to that region. For this announcement to come at that time was very destructive.”

9. Hillary Clinton’s call on Israel to show “respect”

As The Telegraph revealed, the Secretary of State lectured the Israelis at a dinner attended by the Israeli ambassador and the ambassadors of several Arab states in mid-April, urging Israel to “refrain from unilateral statements” that could “undermine trust or risk prejudicing the outcome of talks”. In Clinton’s words:

“Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu has embraced the vision of the two-state solution. But easing up on access and movement in the West Bank, in response to credible Palestinian security performance, is not sufficient to prove to the Palestinians that this embrace is sincere. We encourage Israel to continue building momentum toward a comprehensive peace by demonstrating respect for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians, stopping settlement activity and addressing the humanitarian needs in Gaza.”

10. Robert Gibbs ’ disparaging remarks about Israel

Not one to shy away from criticizing America’s friends when the opportunity arises, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs entered the fray in an interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace in March where he attacked the Israeli government for weakening “the trust that’s needed for both sides to come together and have honest discussions about peace in the Middle East.” In condescending terms he stated that Benjamin Netanyahu should start “coming to the table with constructive ideas for constructive and trustful dialogue about moving the peace process forward.”

Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.


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Iran Bails Out Syria

by Ryan Mauro

The Iranian regime is running to the rescue of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is struggling to contain a growing revolution against his rule. The protests continually reach new heights despite the killing of over 1,700 and imprisonment of 12,000. Now, Iran is offering Assad a massive $5.8 financial aid package in a desperate attempt to stabilize its ally.

Last Friday’s protests in Syria were the largest yet. For the first time, there were large demonstrations in the capital of Damascus, and not just its suburbs. Over one million Syrians came out into the streets, out of a nation of only 22 million. It is likely that the increased turnout was encouraged by the U.S. and French ambassadors’ visit to Hama the previous week, without the Assad regime’s permission, to show support for the protesters. They were met with cheers, flowers and olive branches. The Assad regime is very worried about Western support for its domestic opponents, and retaliated by staging attacks on the U.S. and French embassies. The regime is also stoking sectarian warfare to ensure the loyalty of the Allawite minority it comes from, and to frighten the Syrian people and the West about causing ethnic cleansing and a civil war.

A think tank tied to the Iranian regime says that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is willing to give a $5.8 billion package to Syria, including a three-month loan of $1.5 billion. The Iranians are also considering giving 290,000 barrels of oil per day to Syria for a month to help bolster the economy, and to help secure the border with Lebanon to stop refugees from fleeing with cash. This investment reflects how worried Iran is about losing Syria as an ally, as the overthrow of the Assad regime would upend its strategic position in the Middle East.

Iran rushed to aid Assad shortly after small protests turned into an uprising in March. Reports of Iranian and Hezbollah involvement first came out of Daraa, where the revolution gained steam. Citizens told stories of attackers speaking Farsi and talking with a southern Lebanese accent, as Hezbollah operatives would have. On March 21, a massive stockpile of Iranian weapons destined for Aleppo was intercepted in Turkey. The arms included “60 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles, 14 BKC/Bixi machine guns, nearly 8,000 rounds of BKC/AK-47 ammunition, 560 60-mm mortar shells, and 1,288 120-mm mortar shells.”

The Reform Party in Syria revealed in April that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had taken over a base in Homs Province to oversee the suppression of the revolution. The Syrian military allegedly began being supervised by the Iranians, resulting in Farid Ghadry of the Reform Party of Syria’s declaration that “In essence, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps now occupies Syria and has become its de facto ruler. Syria has become the 32nd province of Iran.”

The Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force also has a base in Damascus, where it has helped the regime arrest hundreds of its opponents by tracking opposition activity on the Internet. The Iranians have provided tools for repression, such as batons and riot gear, as well as sophisticated monitoring equipment used in putting down their own Green Revolution. One Iranian opposition group says in May, four planes transporting weapons and 65 Revolutionary Guards members arrived in the capital. They allegedly set up a base called the Ammar Operations Headquarters to work with the Assad regime.

One of the reasons for Iran’s involvement is the questionable loyalty of Assad’s mostly-Sunni military. There have been consistent reports of defections and in-fighting, though there has yet to be a serious split, as happened in Libya and Yemen. Most recently, over 200 soldiers defected in Abu Kamal in Deir ez-Zour Province, bringing several tanks with them. Other activists said that around 100 members of the Syrian air force’s intelligence branch had switched sides, as had the crew of four armored vehicles. The city erupted after four protesters will killed, including a 14-year old boy. The regime’s ongoing atrocities against children, such as the torture and murder of Hamza al-Khateeb, have served as a major source of fuel for the revolution.

Syrians who have fled to Turkey have also spoken of attacks in Jisr al-Shughour by soldiers that can’t speak Arabic and have full beards, which is uncommon in Syria. One resident said that some of the personnel confirmed they were Iranian. One soldier who fled to Turkey said that Iranians and members of Hezbollah are executing those who refuse to fire on their fellow countrymen. Citizens captured an agent of the regime and videotaped him confirming that Iranians are in Damascus and Aleppo, and that they are identifying and killing disloyal soldiers. Residents of Talbisseh also talked about bearded soldiers, and it’s been reported that Iraqis from the Iranian-backed militia of Moqtada al-Sadr have been dispatched to Syria.

Iran’s rescuing of Assad shows how critical Syria is to the balance of power in the region. If Iran feels the revolution in Syria is of the utmost importance, then so should the West.

Ryan Mauro


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Iraqi Kurds Inspired by Secession of South Sudan

by AK Group

"There is a lot of inspiration from southern Sudan," said Barham Salih, Iraqi Kurdish leader on the first day South Sudan has borned, on his twitter account

On the day the newest African nation was born, Barham Salih, an Iraqi Kurdish leader, used his iPad to tweet his feelings to the world: "Watching history in (the) making as South Sudan goes independent," he wrote."Moral of [the] story: Right to self-determination cannot be denied by genocide."

With the emergence of a new nation in Africa, and uprisings against autocracies across the Arab world, Kurds in Iraq's semi-autonomous north are speaking in louder voices about the possibility of increasing autonomy if, as some Kurds fear, Iraq's central government becomes more authoritarian.

"There is a lot of inspiration from southern Sudan," said Salih, prime minister of the regional Kurdish government in northern Iraq. "But more important is the deep concern that most of us feel about the direction of the politics of Baghdad as it goes towards centralization and authoritarianism."

South Sudan's independence came exactly six months after southerners voted almost unanimously to split with their former civil war enemies in the north. For decades, until a peace agreement was signed in 2005, southern rebels fought successive wars with the north, leaving the region in ruins, millions of people dead and a legacy of mutual mistrust

Iraq's central government and the Kurdish region, three of Iraq's 18 provinces, have unresolved issues over borders and oil rights. Northern Iraq has 45 billion barrels of crude reserves. Kurds are an ethnic group with a population of about 30 million, largely Muslim, living in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. After the first Gulf War in 1991, Western powers provided a safe haven for Iraq's Kurds, allowing them to use their natural resources to start building a modern state. Notions of Kurdish nationalism were reinforced by the 2003 invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein as much of Iraq tumbled into sectarian warfare that threatened its survival as a single state.

"For the first time in their modern history, the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, at least, are cautiously ascending," said author Michael Gunter, who has written on the evolution of Kurds in the two countries. From the streets of Syria's Qamishli, where Kurdish protesters call for freedom, to the Citadel in Arbil, where a Kurdish flag waves over Iraq's biggest boomtown, many Kurds see a promising future for pan-Kurdish nationalism. Exiled Syrian activists living in Iraqi Kurdistan are using social media tools such as Facebook, and collect donated money to support protesters at home.

"If this regime falls, it would be better for the Kurds. They will be free to work in their own regions," said Mahmoud Ya'aqub, 34, who administers Facebook groups in Erbil.

AK Group


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"Another Kind of Israel"

by Khaled Abu Toameh

As most Arab countries continue to impose severe travel restrictions on Palestinians, Israel authorities announced this week that tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank territories would be granted permits to visit Israel as tourists by the end of 2011.

This could of course have a positive impact on the Palestinian tourists' views toward Israel. For many years, these children have been taught that most Israelis are bloodthirsty murderers whose only goal in life is to get rid of the Palestinians.

That is basically why both Hamas and Fatah are opposed to such visits. The two parties do not want children participating in summer camps to visit Israel lest they are exposed to good things inside the Jewish state. Hamas and Fatah see these visits as part of efforts to achieve "normalization" between Israelis and Palestinians – something that the two Palestinian parties are strongly opposed to.

Just this week the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank issued a strong condemnation against a number of Palestinian journalists who had traveled to Turkey for a meeting with Israeli colleagues.

Some Palestinians pointed out that the Israeli announcement coincided with news that Egypt was continuing to impose strict travel restrictions on Palestinian travelers, including those seeking medical treatment. The Hamas government announced that it has been trying to persuade the Egyptian authorities to fulfill their promise to ease the restrictions, but so far to no avail.

Most of the Arab countries are off-limits to Palestinian tourists who fear for their lives from the repressive regimes.

Another good thing that Israel has also done is to allow Israeli Arab citizens to enter the West Bank freely. Thousands of Israeli Arab citizens have since been shopping in the West Bank and enjoying the comfort of luxury hotels and fancy restaurants.

It would also be a good idea if Israel permitted Palestinians from the West Bank and Israeli Arab citizens to visit the Gaza Strip without, of course, compromising its security. This would help the economy in the Gaza Strip and one hopes have a moderating effect on Palestinians living there. It is not as if anyone expects the residents of the Gaza Strip to wake up one morning and start signing the Israeli national anthem as a result of an improved economy. But at least in the short term, it would create hope for some of the people living there.

When the Israeli Ministry of Defense said that some 60,000 Palestinian tourists would be visiting Israel, almost as twice as many as last year, an official explained that the decision to increase the number of Palestinian tourists to Israel was the result of the improved security in the West Bank and Israel's desire to expose young Palestinians to "another kind of Israel, not only soldiers and settlers."

For many Palestinian children, this means that they would be able to go to a beach for the first time in their lives. It also means that they would be able to visit the Safari zoo in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.

The West Bank is a very small place with a limited number of tourist sites, especially ones that attract children. This is why there was a sigh of relief among a large number of Palestinians this week after they learned about the new Israeli measure.

One can hope that the day would come when the Palestinians would announce that Israeli Jewish tourists would be able to visit the West Bank or Gaza Strip and feel safe, as was the case in the good old days before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Egypt – Bound to Explode?

by Mordechai Kedar

Six months ago, on January 25th, thousands of Egyptians started to pour into al-Tahrir (Liberation, from the British occupation) Square in central Cairo. They demanded the downfall of Mubarak, who had occupied the presidential seat for almost thirty years, since October 1981. What the masses actually called for was the removal of the corrupt, fossilized regime of The Free Officers that took control of Egypt in July 1952, i.e. fifty-nine years ago; Mubarak was its last member. This government, which never stood for elections worthy of the name, was based on a large group of “fat cats” who ruthlessly controlled all areas of life and exploited every resource for their own gain. The people remained poor and neglected, and forty million Egyptians live in unplanned neighborhoods with no infrastructure for running water, sewage, electricity, communications, education and health.

The protests against Mubarak, which intensified daily, were exemplified by signs, carried by demonstrators, focusing on one word: Irhal (Go Away), directed at Mubarak, his wife and sons – including Gamal, his designated successor – and the ministers who served him for many long years. Mubarak always counted on the army to help him in such a situation, by shooting at protestors; indeed, every unit in the Egyptian army was tasked with restoring order in a given city or neighborhood (i.e. to diffuse any anti-government activity). However, the army did not meet Mubarak’s expectations and did not shoot at demonstrators as long as they did not endanger its forces and its installations. Nevertheless, hundreds of protestors were killed by the police and by gunmen of State Security and General Intelligence, some when they attacked police stations in order to steal weapons.

When the demonstrations intensified, it was Minister of Defense, Tantawi, who demanded in no uncertain terms that Mubarak step down from office; the military became “the people’s army” and not “the president’s army”, and gained the protesters’ trust. After Mubarak’s removal, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took power, suspended the constitution for half a year and appointed a temporary government headed by Essam Sharaf. The people’s success in ousting the Sphinx (Mubarak) brought high spirits to the country: people began cleaning the public areas near their homes, sensing that the country was theirs again, and the land was their land after it had been liberated from the dictator. Neighbors started to take an interest in each other’s lives because they felt united by their enormous success in getting rid of the tyrant. Initially, there were many reports that girls in the street, particularly at demonstrations in al-Tahrir Square, experienced much less sexual harassment, a daily occurrence prior to the revolution; the atmosphere during the uprising had become one of camaraderie, cooperation and responsibility. The dawn of a new era broke over Egypt in February and inspired the banks of the Nile with hopes – great hopes – of a flourishing spring, of success and prosperity.

Time has, however, passed and after six months, the situation in Egypt has only worsened, not improved. Unemployment, which stood at 25% during Mubarak’s rule, has risen dramatically. It is now estimated at 50% or higher, i.e. one of every two wage earners does not have a steady job. The rise in unemployment stems primarily from the disappearance of the tourism industry. Millions of tourists had arrived each year and provided good income for hotel, restaurant and nightclub workers; for taxi and bus drivers; for souvenir and clothing manufacturers; for operators of Nile cruises; for policemen who helped them cross busy streets; for show girls; for farmers who marketed their produce to hotels and restaurants where tourists ate to their hearts’ content. Since the outbreak of the revolution, there are hardly any tourists and those millions of Egyptians who directly and indirectly benefited from such visitors have been without income for six months. Since the unemployed consume less food, clothing and services, many other branches of the economy have suffered from the domino effect of the downturn in tourism. Only a very few of the tens of thousands of Egyptians who are now completing their academic studies will find work, whether in the private or government sectors, commensurate with their education. In this respect, favoritism was, and still is, the name of the game.

Hopes that the new government would clean up the corruption in the public sector have been dashed. Police officers suspected of fatally shooting protestors in January and February have not been suspended, interrogated or put on trial for their crimes. Even Mubarak, allegedly responsible for the shooting of demonstrators, is spending the last few months awaiting trial in a Sharm al-Sheikh hotel rather than in prison. Ministers and officials currently serving in the temporary government were part of Mubarak’s corrupt ruling apparatus for many long years. Military courts continue to try civilians for harming state security, defying the explicit demand of protestors, who feel that the chances of a civilian receiving a just trial in a military court are nil.

The question that has occupied Egyptians this past month is what should come first: should constitutional change precede elections, or should such change be the responsibility of the parliament to be chosen in the next elections. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces resolved the question by deciding to hold elections first; however, they continue to be postponed and are now tentatively scheduled for November. The dozens of new parties will not have sufficient time to organize, giving an advantage to the established parties including the Muslim Brotherhood; the split in that movement, however, has already given birth to five parties and it is unclear if all of them will ultimately run separately. There are constant media reports about American pressure on the government to hold only partially democratic elections in order to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood parties from having too much influence. This is enough to remind the public of the Mubarak period and to wonder what has changed.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is playing a critically important role. On the one hand, the army took a sympathetic approach towards the revolutionary youth and ousted Mubarak from power. On the other hand, the military undertook the difficult task of running the country during the transition; of restoring the public’s faith in the government corrupt bureaucracy, which has remained largely intact; of stabilizing the economy and of conducting democratic elections in which a president and two parliamentary houses – the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council – would be chosen to jointly establish a government. The public, primarily the young people of the revolution, have well understood this difficult task and have generally accepted the decisions of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces over the last few months.

However, this past month has seen a turning point: the army increasingly operates as a ruling body and less as an organization assisting the people in achieving their goals. The public is growing less and less enamored of the Council of Armed Forces and is already waving signs in al-Tahrir Square along the lines of: “Down With the Council of the Armed Forces”; “Council of Armed Forces – Your Credit Has Run Out; “The Revolution Continues”; “Stop Military Trials for Civilians Now”. The names assigned to recent Fridays express the public’s rage at the situation – “Friday of Rage” and “Friday of Warning” – with everyone understanding at whom the rage and warnings are directed.

The above developments have been clearly reflected in the behavior of one of the members of the Council of Armed Forces, General Mohsen Fangary. From the beginning of the revolution on January 25th, he supported the rights of citizens to express their opinions peacefully, and has been very popular among the masses. Two weeks ago, on July 12th, he appeared on local and international media and, in a frightening and intimidating tone, read a statement issued by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces while waving his finger threateningly:

“. . . The council will not relinquish its role during this critical period in Egypt’s history . . . Freedom of expression is guaranteed to all, but only within the boundaries of the law. Elections will be the first step, after which the constitution will be drafted. The special courts (i.e. military courts) will not be abolished. The army will not allow violent protests or the obstruction of economic activity; it will not permit the spreading of rumors and misinformation which could lead to disunity, disobedience and the dismantling of the homeland; it will give precedence to the interests of the public over those of individuals. The council will not allow anyone to seize power and will take the necessary measures against threats to the homeland.”

Millions of Egyptians listened with great concern to this threatening announcement, which made it clear to them – from no less than the thundering voice of the popular General Fangary – that the period of hugs and flowers had ended, that the army intends to stay in power for more than half a year, and perhaps for a much longer period. General Fangary, with his menacing finger and booming voice, let the audience know that what had been will no longer be and that he would not permit the Woodstock atmosphere in al-Tahrir Square to evolve into anti-army protests.

Egypt is now at the height of a hot summer; the overall atmosphere, as well as the air temperature have risen. In less than two weeks, at the beginning of August, the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims grow close to Allah, will commence. During the course of the day, the stomach is empty of food, but the soul is filled with thoughts; given the disappointment at the bitter reality in which the country finds itself, it won’t take more than a tiny clash between the military and protesters to inflame the atmosphere and ignite the fumes gathering in the Egyptian street. When there is not enough money to buy food for all thirty evenings of Ramadan or to buy presents for the women and children, the Egyptian points an accusing finger at the regime, currently headed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

In the next few weeks or months, the Arab Spring is liable to turn into the Egyptian Summer – hot, steamy, violent and repulsive – in which the cat will be let out of the bag and the youth of Al Tahrir Square will realize that they have replaced one group of officers with another, that instead of Mubarak, they have Tantawi or Fangary, all cut from the same cloth. If conflict erupts, Heaven forefend, it will take place between the revolutionary youth and the army, which, this time, might fire massively at them.

The army may in the interim throw protesters some bones, such as a show trial for Mubarak (if he lives), his wife and sons, and the public might even get to see them swinging from a rope in al-Tahrir Square; aside from momentary joy, however, this will not calm the street. The standing of the Israeli embassy and the peace agreement with Israel might also be impacted, because the army may employ such a stratagem to douse the flames.

In the event of major clashes between the army and the population, many Egyptians are liable to try and reach Israel via Sinai and the open border. Israel must prepare for such a scenario so that it is not caught by surprise when thousands of Egyptians arrive daily, fleeing the cruelty of their army.

Mordechai Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Translated by Nachama Kanner

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CAIR Regularly Slams America on Iranian TV

by David J. Rusin

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) uses Press TV, the biased English-language channel run by the Iranian government, as a platform to peddle its favored meme of "Islamophobia" in the U.S. One clip spotlighted last month by the Investigative Project (IPT) features CAIR communications director Ibrahim Hooper lamenting "a cottage industry of Muslim bashers," "Islamophobic groups," and "right-wing politicians and commentators pushing anti-Muslim sentiment in our society." However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Of the Press TV segments posted on CAIR's YouTube page since July 1, 2010 — roughly a year ago — 28 include interviews of CAIR officials conducted by the network's journalists. More often than not, those CAIR figures promoted the notion that life in America is a nightmare for Muslims. A few choice quotes from the Press TV clips, in reverse chronological order:

  • Cyrus McGoldrick, CAIR-NY: "Muslims have become an acceptable target for a lot of America, of the bigotry and hate that, I think, a lot of people already hold in their hearts."

  • Ibrahim Hooper: "American Muslims pretty well assume now if they go to a mosque, they're going to be either under surveillance or going to be in the hearing radius of some agent provocateur."

  • Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director: "The ones who are training the government … about Islam and the Muslim community in the counterterrorism area are the ones who see Islam as the enemy and the Muslim community as the enemy in the United States."

  • Ibrahim Hooper: "It should be the FBI's role to stop terror attacks and terror plots. It shouldn't be their role to manufacture terror plots. … We've seen too many cases where the FBI actually instigates the alleged plot."

  • Corey Saylor, CAIR legislative director: "What's really disconcerting is how brazen certain elements of our country have become in attacking Muslims."

Remarks of a similar tone can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

CAIR's YouTube page does not even contain the complete set of its officials' appearances on Press TV. The IPT-highlighted Hooper interview is not there. Also missing is a 2010 panel discussion during which he stated, "The same arguments that are used to target the American Muslim community and the European Muslim community are those types of arguments that were used by the Nazis in pre-war Germany." Surely more clips await discovery and dissection.

The trend of CAIR spewing Islamist propaganda on the Iranian regime's media mouthpiece is downright shameful — "the equivalent of Ted Kennedy going on Soviet TV to bash American capitalists during the Cold War," in the words of one blogger. Of course, if CAIR's leaders were capable of shame, they would not be working for CAIR in the first place.

David J. Rusin


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Israel's Premier Opportunist

by Caroline Glick

Saying that Israel faces daunting challenges today and that those challenges will multiply and grow in the near future should not be construed as a partisan or ideological statement. Rather, it is a statement of fact.

It is also a fact that the greatest dangers facing Israel stem from President Barack Obama's rapid withdrawal of the US from its position as the predominant power in the Middle East on the one hand, and from Iran's rise as a nuclear power and regional power on the other.

These power shifts along with the Muslim Brotherhood's rising power in Egypt; Turkey's Islamist government's regional ambitions; the rise of jihadist forces throughout the Persian Gulf; and the growing instability of the Syrian and Jordanian regimes, together constitute a threat environment unmatched in Israel's history.

Alongside these conventional threats, Israel is the target of a sustained, escalating political campaign to delegitimize its right to exist and its right to defend itself by the Palestinians and the international Left. This campaign threatens Israel's economy and prepares the ground for violent aggression against Israel by conditioning the West to believe that Israel deserves to be attacked.

Given the magnitude, multiplicity and complexity of the threats Israel faces, it would be reasonable to expect our leading politicians from all parties to place patriotism above partisanship and at least on the issues that are beyond dispute to work together to defend the country.

And it would seem reasonable to assume that the issues beyond dispute are Israel's right to exist and defend itself as well as its need to deter or defeat its enemies.

Throughout most of the state's 63 year history, opposition leaders have joined forces with the government to defend the country in times of trouble. Most recently, while serving as head of the opposition during Ehud Olmert's tenure as prime minister, in 2006 Binyamin Netanyahu traveled to Europe at Olmert's request and defended Israel's war against Hezbollah.

During the course of hostilities, Netanyahu never criticized Olmert's poor war leadership in public. He did not publicly criticize then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni's scandalously incompetent handling of the cease-fire negotiations at the UN Security Council. Instead, Netanyahu communicated his criticism to Olmert behind closed doors. As he saw it, public criticism would diminish Olmert's ability to win the war.

Shortly after Netanyahu took office in March 2009, the UN released its libelous Goldstone Report in which Olmert and his government were falsely accused of committing war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Although Netanyahu himself was not mentioned or accused of anything, he led a staunch campaign to discredit the report.

Netanyahu didn't act as he did because he wanted to help Kadima. He acted as he did because he realized that it was Israel, not Olmert and Livni, that was under attack. As prime minister and as opposition leader, it is his job to defend Israel from attack even when the most direct beneficiaries of his actions are his political rivals.

NETANYAHU'S DECENT behavior didn't make him a hero. His behavior is the minimum we can and should expect from our elected officials, whether they are in the government or the opposition. We should be able to reasonably expect that those who seek public office with the declared intention of serving as national leaders will always put the national interest above their partisan interests when the two conflict.

Unfortunately, this fundamental, eminently reasonable expectation is being trampled by opposition leader Tzipi Livni today. Since taking the helm of the opposition, Livni has never been willing to recognize that foreign attacks on Netanyahu are quite often attacks on Israel.

Rather than acknowledge that attacks on the legitimacy of the democratically elected government of her country are attacks on her country, Livni has viewed every attack on Netanyahu as an opportunity to weaken his government.

In this vein, Livni has consistently sided with Obama, the Palestinians and the international Left against Netanyahu, and blamed Netanyahu for their attacks on Israel. For instance, when during his visit to the US in May, Netanyahu rejected Obama's hostile call for Israel to retreat to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, Livni defended Obama as a friend of Israel and accused Netanyahu of harming Israel's ties to the US.

Indeed, Livni called for Netanyahu to resign.

Livni ignored Obama's shocking renunciation of pledges his predecessor made to the Sharon government regarding Israel's right to defensible borders and US rejection of the Palestinians' demands for unlimited immigration to Israel and for Israel to vacate all the Israeli towns and villages built beyond the 1949 armistice lines.

Livni ignored the fact she herself demanded that the Palestinians renounce the so-called "right of return," and blamed Netanyahu for all the unpleasantness. As she put it, "A prime minister that harms the relationship with the US over something unsubstantial is harming Israel's security and deterrence."

As for the Palestinians, as far as Livni is concerned, they can do no wrong while Netanyahu is in office. Although the Palestinian negotiations department documents that were leaked earlier this year to The Guardian show Livni arguing that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, since Netanyahu took office, she has abandoned this position in favor of blanket support for the Palestinians against Netanyahu.

In Livni's world, the fact that the Palestinians have refused to hold negotiations with Israel for two years is an opportunity to attack Netanyahu.

The fact that her friends in Fatah just signed a unity deal with Hamas is insignificant. As for their bid to ditch the peace process and ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state without peace with Israel - that too is an opportunity to attack Netanyahu.

Last month, Netanyahu told an interviewer that the conflict with the Palestinians is not about territory but about their rejection of Israel's right to exist. He asserted that as a consequence, it will be impossible to resolve the conflict until they change their view of Israel.

As is her wont, Livni treated her opponent's observation about an unpleasant reality as equivalent to creating that reality. Attacking Netanyahu from the Knesset podium she hissed, "Who are you to tell the citizens of Israel that they and their children, and later their children's children, will continue to live by their swords forever? Who are you to bury the chances of a deal and of normal life here, after just a few hours in the room meant for negotiations you didn't conduct?"

THEN THERE is Livni's ardent support for far-Left organizations in Israel and abroad that work actively to undermine Israel's legitimacy. Take J Street. It took less than a year for J Street to demonstrate that its claim that it is pro-Israel is a sham. J Street lobbied the US Congress not to impose sanctions on Iran. It lobbied the Obama administration to allow an anti-Israel resolution to pass at the UN Security Council. It has included advocates of the boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign against Israel at its annual conference. It supports several of the most anti- Israel members of Congress.

Due to J Street's hostility, the government has rightly shunned it. But Livni has embraced it - mainly in a bid to make Netanyahu look petty.

In so doing, she has given legitimacy to a deeply hostile organization whose goals are far outside the mainstream of both Israeli public opinion and American public opinion.

Then there is her outspoken support for anti- Zionist Israeli and foreign organizations that participate in the international Left's campaign to delegitimize Israel. Many of these groups worked with the Goldstone Commission and others to criminalize Kadima's leadership - including Livni - as war criminals.

If it hadn't been for Livni, last week the Knesset would have approved by a much wider margin an anti-boycott law that enjoyed support from across the political spectrum. Instead, it passed with the support of right-wing lawmakers alone.

The original anti-boycott bill was co-sponsored by Likud MK Ze'ev Elkin and Kadima MK Dalia Itzik. Several Kadima MKs were vocal advocates of legislation punishing those waging economic war against Israel.

For instance, Kadima MK Otniel Schneller said, "Those who oppose the bill with phony democratic claims are legitimizing the international trend of boycotting Israeli academia, culture and economics, thereby damaging the legitimacy of Israeli democracy and Jewish morals."

But Livni would have none of it.

Last week, Livni forbade Kadima MKs to support the legislation in any form, and then led the charge in attacking it with those very same "phony democratic claims."

By acting as she did, she didn't merely hurt the government. She hurt the country. Now everyone from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, to B'Tselem, to the International Solidarity Movement will cite Livni's position as proof that there is nothing wrong with waging economic warfare against Israel. They will quote her to claim it is reasonable to single Israel out from the rest of the nations of the world for delegitimization and divestment.

Livni insists that Kadima is not a leftist party and that she is not a leftist even as her positions are identical to those of the post-Zionist Meretz party.

Livni's political rationale is clear. She knows that despite her protestations, no one other than her media supporters believes that Kadima is a centrist party. As a consequence, her only chance of forming a government is by capturing the entire leftist vote.

Although many Kadima MKs object to her positions and criticize her for being too radical, they realize they have no choice but to go along. If they want to remain in Kadima and in politics, they must appeal to Kadima's voters - who are all on the Left.

This is why Livni's rival for party leadership Shaul Mofaz has adopted a peace plan that is even more radical than Livni's plan to give Fatah everything it wants. Mofaz's plan is to recognize and seek to negotiate a settlement with Hamas.

Mofaz is no dove. But his only option for beating Livni in the Kadima leadership primary is to outflank her on the Left.
Livni has always been an opportunist. When Netanyahu brought her into the Knesset in 1999, she was a super hawk. When in 2004, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon adopted the far Left's strategy of wholesale territorial surrender, Livni moved from junior minister to senior minister in less than two years by adopting the positions of the far Left.

Today, as she attacks Netanyahu for advancing positions that most Israelis agree with, she does so not because she believes Netanyahu is wrong. After all, she advanced many of the same positions when she was foreign minister. She attacks him because she wants to bring down his government so that she can have another shot at getting elected to replace him. That her behavior's affects Israel's ability to withstand political and military aggression is clearly of no concern to her.

It is hard to quantify the damage Livni's opportunistic attacks on the government have already caused the country. As we move into an uncertain future, it is disconcerting to consider the damage Livni will cause with her shameless exploitation of Israel's vulnerabilities for her own political gain.

Caroline Glick

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.


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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Holiday Island of Isla de Margarita, Venezuela, Hosts Hezbollah Militants

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

The holiday island of Isla de Margarita, situated in the Caribbean Sea, has one of the most beautiful beaches of Venezuela and breathtaking scenery. It is here, on the island of exquisite hotels and a glamorous nightlife, that the US military's Southern Command has reported the presence of Hezbollah's support and logistics cells -- one of the most important centers of "terrorist gathering" and "money laundering activities" for Hezbollah.

Brother of Venezuelan diplomat in Syria set training operation in Isla de Margarita

Ambassador Roger Noriega, formerly head of the Organization of American States [OAS], during a recent Hearing of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Committee on Homeland Security, testified that a key operative in the Hezbollah network in Latin America is the Lebanese-born Ghazi Atef Salameh Nassereddine Abu Ali, Venezuela's No. 2 diplomat in Syria.

Nasreddine, who was black-listed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in June 2008 for his fundraising and logistical support to Hezbollah, is managing, along with his brothers, a network that "raises and launders money and recruits and trains operatives to expand Hezbollah's influence in Venezuela and throughout Latin America." This network also has a presence in Isla Margarita. Ambassador Noriega stated that the Venezuelan diplomat's younger brother, Oday Nassereddine, has established a powerbase in Venezuela by setting up training operations on Isla de Margarita.

Hezbollah militants infiltrate into the U.S.

The book, Threat Closer to Home by Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan, reveals that the "hub of the hub" of Islamist terror in the America is Isla de Margarita. "The island has long been home to a large Lebanese expatriate population, and Hezbollah has had a foothold there for decades," the authors write. Lebanese expatriates in Isla de Margarita were involved in 1992 in helping Hezbollah militants to establish a terrorist cell in Charlotte, North Carolina, by infiltrating them into the U.S.. Other terrorist might have been smuggled into the U.S. as well, however, without having been discovered by the American authorities.

The book further explains that the banks of the island, declared as a free-trade zone by the Venezuelan government, are integral to a network of financial institution in the Caribbean region that facilitate "drug trafficking, money laundering, and terrorist fund-raising." The two authors explain that Isla de Margarita is home to several "quasi-legal front businesses that funnel money overseas to terrorists, as well as to outright illegal enterprises whose profits similarly get steered to Middle eastern terror".

The island has also a false-documents industry that provides fake passports, identity cards and travel documents to terrorists. It is hence the perfect "transit center for terrorists and terror sympathizers, a way station for trips within the region and overseas to the Middle East." The island is also used as a stop-off to the Tri-border area -- where Brazil Argentina and Paraguay converge -- where Hezbollah and Hamas are operating. Ambassador Noriega in his testimony reports that during the spring of 2011, two Iranian Hezbollah operatives were conducting terror training on Venezuela's Margarita Island for persons brought there from other countries in the Latin America.

Drug trafficking

Isla de Margarita is also a place of interest for Hezbollah thanks to drug trafficking: the terrorist movement is financing itself and its weapons through narco-terrorism. The book Gangrillas by Mendez Beddow and Sam Thibodeaux reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has alerted ghost planes flying several routes between Isla Margarita, Central America, Europe and Western Africa. "These flights carry illegal drugs from the opium producing nations, and from the cocaine countries," the authors state..

Hamas in the Isla de Margarita

The Venezuelan island is reported also to be not only the center of Hezbollah illegal activities, but also a center for Hamas to funnel funds to its terrorist organization. Besides the Tri-border area, however, other free trade zones in Latin America, such as Iquique in Chile and Maicao in Colombia, are reported to be centers for Hezbollah's and Hamas's activities.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci


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

Glenn Beck Stirs Crowd at Christians United For Israel

by Fern Sidman

Receiving rousing ovations and thunderous applause, former Fox News television personality Glenn Beck told an audience of over 5,000 gathered at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) national summit in Washington that if the pernicious trends in global anti-Semitism culminate in another genocide, “then count me as a Jew, and come for me first.” Mr. Beck delivered these remarks as part of his keynote address at the “Night to Honor Israel” gala banquet at CUFI’s sixth annual convocation on Tuesday evening, July 19th.

Having just returned from a trip to Israel where he addressed the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs at the invitation of Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, Mr. Beck opened his speech by announcing his donation of $10,000 to the “CUFI On Campus” student organization that battles anti-Israel propaganda on hundreds of college and university campuses across America. Referencing his emotional trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, he stated his oft-repeated belief that the inherent rights of the U.S. Constitution and those delineated in the Declaration of Independence were mandatory requirements for the prevention of massive human rights violations. “The founding fathers had the answer 150 years before Hitler showed up,” he said, but reminded his audience that for two millennia, the Jewish people were not accorded those rights in the countries in which they resided.

Until the modern state of Israel was established in 1948, he said, the Jews “have had no home base” and added that “this is why the nation of Israel is vital.” Recalling the painful history of the Jewish nation, he intoned, “They have been smeared. They have been maligned. But to our shame as human beings most of all, they have been forgotten in times of need.” Speaking directly to the Jewish people he said, “No one can protect your rights better than you. To rely on others is to ensure economic slavery at best, and death camps at worst.”

Spotlighting the existential siege that the Jewish State finds herself under by the looming Iranian nuclear threat and the forces of radical Islam in the Middle East and throughout the world, Mr. Beck concluded his address by issuing stern warnings to the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people. He said that “times have changed,” and that the Jews would no longer stand alone in any potential confrontation.

“This is still America 2011. We are not the Christians of the Crusades. We are Christians United For Israel,” he declared.

Reiterating Mr. Beck’s sentiments was Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel, who also delivered an impassioned address. ”Mr. Ahmadinejad: Do not threaten the people of Israel and the people of America,” he said. Citing those miscreants throughout history who have sought to eradicate the Jewish people, he noted, “Look at Pharoah of Egypt and Haman of Persia in the story of Purim and you will have some idea of G-d’s punishment for you.”

Quoting Winston Churchill, who said, “Courage is the first of qualities; courage is everything,” Pastor Hagee exhorted his acolytes to “dare to be yourself in the face of adversity; to have the courage to admit the truth.” Acting on his words, Pastor Hagee then declared, “President Obama is not pro-Israel and he has broadcast that around the world. President Obama has told Israel not to build homes in Jerusalem. He has no right or authority to tell the Jewish people what to do.”

Advising the president to vent his rancor at those nations that are adversarial to the United States, he said, “Go tell Iran, China and Russia what to do. Israel is not a vassal state of the United States. It is free to determine their borders and their destiny. They are free to retaliate against anyone who attacks them.”

Speaking of the “toothless sanctions” that have been imposed on Iran, Hagee proffered his belief that “Iran will become nuclear,” and if attacked, “the liberal media would blame Israel for starting a war with Iran.”

Taking on those who have attempted to revise the Jewish narrative with statements geared toward separating the Jewish people from their religious and historical connection to the land of Israel, Pastor Hagee said, “We are still one nation under G-d, and it was G-d who gave the land of Israel to Abraham and it belongs to the Jewish people forever. The Jewish people are not occupying this land; they own this land.”

Addressing former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who achieved notoriety in June of 2010 when she told an interviewer that “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine” and to “go home to Germany, Poland and the United States,” Pastor Hagee said, “Helen, the Jews are not going anywhere. They are home.”

Also addressing the assemblage was Michael Oren , the Israeli ambassador to the United States who spoke of the meritorious deeds of such righteous gentiles as Major-General Orde Charles Wingate , a British army officer and creator of special Jewish military units in British mandated Palestine in the 1930s and in World War II . Ambassador Oren said that as a devoutly religious Christian, Wingate became an ardent supporter of Zionism, seeing it as his religious duty to help the Jewish community in Palestine form an independent Jewish state.

Also lauding the multifarious accomplishments of the late Washington state senator, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Oren said, “As a child Senator Jackson was taught to respect Jews in the Christian home he grew up in” and credited him with sponsoring legislation aimed at freeing Jews from the former Soviet Union. In 1974, while in the Senate, Jackson co-sponsored what has come to be known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which Charles Vanik sponsored in the House. The amendment was intended to help refugees, specifically Jews, to emigrate from the former USSR. He recalled that celebrated Soviet prisoners of conscience, such as Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky, who currently holds the position of chairman of the Jewish Agency in Israel, praised Jackson as a “defender of Israel; a torch bearer of faith.”

Fern Sidman


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