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Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #1000 on: September 14, 2010, 10:40:54 AM »

"Now that we have been outplayed and out testosteroned by Iran and its nuke program, we strengthen the Arabs (Saudi's et al) vs. the Aryans (the Iranians)."

And it has always come back to haunt us.  Shah thrown out.  Mullahs take power and take hostages.  We give arms to Afghanistan.  Al Quaeda/Taliban use same arms against us.

We strengthen Saddam in war against Iran and he uses the same arms against us. 

Now like dopes we give jets to Saudis who at same time help fund Al Quaeda and probably ground zero mosque.  Perhaps they will be less belligernet against the Jews now they might see them as buffer against Iran.  The arms race in the Mid East is only just beginning.  And why would the Saudis not want to get nucs now?

As for Israel I don't see any way around it.  They use everything they have to destroy as much of Iran's military and nuc capability soon or wait to be driven from Israel or die. 
I still say the choice is a terrible one but one of survival - the enemy or themselves.  Even Bolten who has hinted he may run for President (he would be great - I think!) continues to stop short of saying military strikes.  He continues to say Israel needs to take action but never then says what action.

US Generals say using nucs is crazy.  Yes and no.  Waiting to die or be confronted with being driven from Israel or continue to hope for some other miracle are the only choices.

Power User
Posts: 42490

« Reply #1001 on: September 14, 2010, 11:49:36 AM »

I'd quibble with some of your interpretation on some points but haven't the time right now, but will agree with the general notion that "Every solution creates a problem."

Israel is already fcuked.  As I commented at the time, it made a historical error when it did not finish the job it started the last time it went into Lebanon.  Now, if they strike Iran, Iran/Hezbollah has so many new improved rockets (well over 50,000 I's thinking) in Lebanon, dug in under hospitals, schools and the like, that virtually the entirety of Israel, including its own reactor, are in reach. 
Power User
Posts: 9476

« Reply #1002 on: September 14, 2010, 02:18:32 PM »

CCP, I lean that way too, but...  All we can do is elect better leaders to see the best information and make the best decisions.  We also need to get better intelligence.  If not Bush, then Cheney would have been strong on this, but there was no word that any hawk in that administration was pushing for a full attack on Iran.  Like you said, even Bolton is not saying strike now.

Netanyahu is a strong leader and he isn't doing it. You and I might not trust Obama, but if he saw a low risk opportunity to end a rogue nuclear weapons program, who knows.  I think it was Strat that wrote about the aftermath of a strike in the gulf with the Straits mined and closed, a shutdown to the global economy that we are not ready for in addition to whatever battles or war would break out. 

Maybe the strategy has to be wait, gather intelligence and counterpunch.  If/when Iran strikes somewhere, then strike back instantly with devastation to their programs.  Can't be labeled the aggressors, you know.  Perhaps a discovery and capture of bin Laden in Iran planning more attacks would justify a dismantling by force of their weapons program.

I assume we sell rather than give arms to Saudi and have done that for decades. Saudi unfortunately is the balancing power in the region and other than Israel and Iraq the place most threatened by Iran. Their system fosters evil but I don't think their monarchy is our enemy or would threaten our interests.  Like Crafty said about Pakistan, the risk will be with who later gets control of those weapons.  In one part we don't want to be the world's policeman and in another we don't want these fair weathered friends like Saudi, China, Russia, India, Brazil, you name it, to be fully armed and ready to do the work in place of us.  We learned though that help won't come from Europe when we need reliable allies with defense capabilities.

I'm glad we don't also have Saddam to worry about in that neighborhood.  I remember learning that he wasn't an immediate threat because he was really 5-7 years away from nuclear weapons when the decision to go in was made; that was 9 years ago.

Ahmadinejad is a loud mouth provocateur with his holocaust denial talk for example but to the extent that they support war against our interests outside their borders through Hezbollah, Hamas and surrogates in Iraq, they should be met with war inside their borders, it seems to me.

Also too bad we are committed to a policy of worsening our dependence on foreign oil at a time when a responsible defense action can't be taken because it could lead to a closing the shipping lanes of oil out of the gulf.
Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #1003 on: September 15, 2010, 11:27:32 AM »


Good points.

Surely there are people who know a lot more and are a lot smarter than me who have not been ready to come out and advise (at least publically) an attack on Iran.

However, I definitely don't trust Obama.  His goals and interests are not with Israel or the Jews.  That is clear.  And Bush was very weak politically after Iraq.  I wonder if he would have been against a pre-emptive attack against Iran if it wasn't for other events, Iraq, Afghanistan, a collapse in the economy, total loss of political support, and avalanche of political weight for the opposing political party.  He was in NO position in any way shape or form to advocate any kind of strike against Iran.

The collapse of our power couldn't have come at any better time for Iran than it did.  Or any better time to get a veiled marxist into the white house with a Muslim middle name adding to the great luck of the Mullahs.

Netenyahu may be caving to US pressure.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1004 on: September 15, 2010, 02:00:45 PM »

However, I definitely don't trust Obama.  His goals and interests are not with Israel or the Jews.  That is clear. 

Netenyahu may be caving to US pressure.

As you have pointed out before CCP Israel's and America's interest may not always coincide.  To paraphrase I would hope that
Obama's "goals and interests are with America and all Americans". 

He has no obligation to support the "Jews" or for that matter Christians, Hindus, Muslims, or Buddhists. 
Our unwavering support for Israel has cost us dearly.  That said, Israel has  been a good friend; perhaps the only reliable friend we have ever had in the Middle East.
Still, while I understand your biased personal interest, I believe what is best for America should be the primary question on the table.  It may not coincide with Israel's
goals and interests.

Further, I don't think it unreasonable that Netenyahu listen very carefully to America's wishes.  As a loved, but errant minor child dependent upon his parent for substance,
Israel should understand, respect and carefully listen to our wishes.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1005 on: September 15, 2010, 02:05:27 PM »

Again you miss the point JDN. If Israel ceased to exist, the muslim world would be enraged about the occupied land of "al andulas". There has to be an element of pragmatism to America's foreign policy, but the has to be a moral core as well. Our support of Israel is morallly right.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1006 on: September 15, 2010, 02:33:18 PM »

I don't think I miss the point.  I respect CCP; but even he has made it quite clear on previous posts that Israel's interests and America's interests may differ.

Further, I'm not sure the Muslim's world's deep seated hatred towards Israel is quite the same as their desire to occupy "al andulas" or anyplace else for that matter.

Overall I too think our support for Israel is "morally right".  They have been a good friend.  But then so is our support for freedom throughout the world, our other allies,
protecting the downtrodden, righting injustice, erasing poverty, disease, etc. "morally right".  But we have limits.

As you pointed out, mixed with our strong moral core there has to be an element of pragmatism to America's foreign policy.  
In the end, What is best for America should be the ruling principle.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2010, 02:39:21 PM by JDN » Logged
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1007 on: September 15, 2010, 02:38:30 PM »

It's not in our interest to let Israel be destroyed.
Power User
Posts: 9476

« Reply #1008 on: September 15, 2010, 02:42:12 PM »

"As a loved, but errant minor child dependent upon his parent for substance"

JDN, Not so dependent anymore.  I think roughly 1% their GDP comes from US aid; this is not like Soviets propping up Cuba.  I would assume intelligence for security in the region flows both ways.  I'm no history expert, but I think the 'parent' was the U.N.  Either way you might say the kid grew up pretty well in spite of living in a bad neighborhood and having an absent, dysfunctional parent, if that is the metaphor.

"Israel should understand, respect and carefully listen to our wishes."  - respectfully, bullsh*t IMHO.  What other ally does that?  I see more a relationship of peers or equals.  We have recently spit on them. They can listen to us and ALL the signals around them and then do what makes sense for security and survival.

There is no way today they realistically count on unwavering or timely support from the U.S. and probably not since our first lady now Sec. State played kissy-face with Mrs. Arafat or even before that.  Obama will be President for 2 more years and annihilation of Israel, the stated goal of their enemies, can take place in minutes.
Regarding the posts while I typed, the GM translation is the Muslim claim on the Iberian Penninsula (Spain) and extremists have already bombed Madrid.  It IS in the best interests of the U.S. that we help prevent the annihilation of Israel or any other ally and most any other country or civilization.  The difference with Israel is that threat is stated, published, promised and repeated by some pretty bad and well-armed actors. Not some wild hypothetical.  The cultural, family, political and trade connections to the US are very real also JDN and should not be discarded or discounted.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1009 on: September 15, 2010, 02:58:10 PM »

Doug, perhaps the UN was the biological parent, but the US raised Israel like their own child. Our money, our support, our military, our sacrifice, and our UN veto has protected Israel like we have protected no other ally.

Peers or equals?  If your point is that Israel can do it alone; then fine.  Let them; but you know and I know they are lost without us.  In exchange, therefore I do expect them to understand our point, and respect and carefully listen to our wishes.  They don't have to comply, but then like the errant child, the parent may ask the child to go it alone for a while.  Love still and will always exist, but it needs to be two ways.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1010 on: September 15, 2010, 03:03:04 PM »

What exactly do you think Israel should do that it isn't?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1011 on: September 15, 2010, 03:08:13 PM »

Ironically, the same officials who are offering themselves to Israelis as "peace partners," are, at the same time, telling Palestinians -- in Arabic -- that Israel does not want peace. The tone in the Palestinian media remains as anti-Israel as ever.

In just the past week, Palestinian Authority officials have even escalated their rhetoric by issuing daily threats to withdraw from the US-sponsored direct talks that were launched in Washington last week.

In Arabic, Mahmoud Abbas and his top officials are telling Palestinians that they would never make "even one concession" to Israel during the peace talks. In Arabic, they are saying that they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state; will never relinquish the right of return of millions of refugees to Israel, and will never make any compromises on Jerusalem.

In Arabic, they are also telling the Palestinians that Israel is not serious about peace, and that there is no real partner for peace in Israel.

In English, however, the same officials are telling the Israelis that they are ready to display flexibility and make "sacrifices" for the sake of peace.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1012 on: September 15, 2010, 03:19:45 PM »

What exactly do you think Israel should do that it isn't?

Maybe hold off on the settlements?

Maybe treat the Palestinians in Israel a little better?  Equal?

Maybe in negotiations discuss mutual recognition of Israel as a democracy, but not only as a "Jewish State".

I'm really not sure...

We seem to have gotten off topic; I was pointing out that the American President's obligation is to place America's interests before Israel's interests.  
Hopefully they coincide.  

« Last Edit: September 16, 2010, 09:46:32 AM by JDN » Logged
Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #1013 on: September 16, 2010, 12:35:07 PM »

"I was pointing out that the American President's obligation is to place America's interests before Israel's interests."
"Hopefully they coincide."

Admittedly not clear to me.  Certainly Bamster doesn't think so.  I see no evidence he ever did.  Quite the contrary.

If Israel is not a Jewish state than frankly the Jews are again without a homeland.

My main point was that Israel is being threatened with annhilation.  And force is the only way to stop it.  Unless, as I have said, that by some miracle, events in Iran change.

There is no other logical solution at this point.  Iranian leadership is clear on their intentions.

American support for military action is not there.  Whether it is in our interests is an important side topic.  Is Israel going to wait to be the recipients of a first strike because of world opinion or defend themselves with preemptive action?  It appears the former.

Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1014 on: September 16, 2010, 04:35:35 PM »

I said; "I was pointing out that the American President's obligation is to place America's interests before Israel's interests."
"Hopefully they coincide."

CCP said, Admittedly not clear to me.

And that is the dilemma!  IF it is not in America's interest, but only Israel's immediate interest, why should America do anything?  Risk anything?
We have enough on our plate.  Sorry, I think that is the belief of most Americans.

As for the subject of Israel officially being recognized as a "Jewish State" by all citizens, that does not seem congruous with being a free democracy.
I've heard it said America is a Christian nation, but that is not true.  We tolerate all religions without discrimination or favoritism. 
That is one aspect of a true democracy in my opinion.  How would you feel being Jewish not having the same rights and privileges that I have as
a Christian here in America?  Would you give an oath to support a "Christian" nation?

Concerning settlements, I don't quite get that one either.  Appease world opinion; just don't build anymore.  A little good PR might help Israel.

As for Iran, I agree most Americans definitely would not support military action at this time.  But what is in America's interest is not a "side" topic;
it is the main topic.

Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #1015 on: September 16, 2010, 05:05:50 PM »

"I've heard it said America is a Christian nation, but that is not true.  We tolerate all religions without discrimination or favoritism."


True but Israel is not and is not intended to be like America.  Nor should it be. 

We are a gigantic nation that can absorb all kinds (although not without limit and recent decades call all of it into question).

Israel is intended to be a homeland for Jews.  Palestinians are multiplying at a rate as fast as any group in the world.  They would soon if not already outnumber Jews.

Do you think they would be so tolerant if they had some sort of majority power in Israel??
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1016 on: September 16, 2010, 08:54:08 PM »

I understand your point, but following your logic it just sounds a lot like whites, South Africa and Apartheid.  I suppose you could say the blacks in
South Africa were multiplying at a rate much faster than the ruling whites.  And they did outnumber the whites.  Like Israel, the whites
were much more productive and better educated; richer and more successful than the blacks.  You could say the whites "built the country from nothing" etc.
just like the Jews in Israel.

Still, I'm not sure keeping white rule would have been right...

I think Israel has a dilemma; they call themselves a democracy, but are they?  As you say, "Israel is intended to be a homeland for Jews."  Others are second class citizens.
That doesn't sound democratic.

I am concerned that unless change and compromise takes place, like South Africa, time and world public opinion may grow against Israel.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1017 on: September 16, 2010, 09:11:54 PM »


Mexicans claim where you live and claim that you are using immigration laws to keep them from their homeland.  Do you want to be a minority in Aztlan? Are you the moral equivalent of a white south african?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1018 on: September 16, 2010, 09:21:17 PM »

La Raza as Palestinians

There are great similarities between the political and economic condition of the Palestinians in occupied Palestine and that of La Raza in the southwest United States. Fortunately, the struggle for equality by La Raza has not reached the level of violence that is now being experienced in the Holy Land and hopefully it never will. Some ominous signs, however, are manifesting themselves in Los Angeles County that may be a harbinger of things to come. Widespread areas in southern California have recently experienced ambushes, shootings and assassinations of police officers by young disaffected Raza youths who are routinely harassed by special police units like the now disbanded CRASH units of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The similarities are many. The primary one of course is the fact that both La Raza and the Palestinians have been displaced by invaders that have utilized military means to conquer and occupy our territories. The takeover of our respective lands by foreign elements occurred 100 years apart. For La Raza it happened in 1848 when Mexico lost the southwest at the end of the Mexican American War and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidlago. For the Palestinians it occurred in 1948 when the Zionist Jewish People's Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum and signed the "Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel" on the day in which the British Mandate over a Palestine expired. The effects of the occupation policies over time , 153 years for La Raza de Aztlan and 53 years for the Palestinians, have been eerily similar.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1019 on: September 16, 2010, 11:08:34 PM »
I surprised at you GM: you read and support this drivel?
You must be kidding?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1020 on: September 17, 2010, 08:12:44 AM »

I read lots of things, doesn't mean I support it. So, explain how your white south african smear against the israelis doesn't apply to you as well.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1021 on: September 17, 2010, 08:31:06 AM »

Land For Peace, American Style
By Rob Miller
" Never ask a friend to buy a horse you wouldn't buy yourself" - (Loose translation of an old Yiddish proverb)

Apply the principles urged on Israel to the United States, and you end up with a scenario something like this:

The new final settlement conference between the US, Mexico, and the Aztlánistas is scheduled for late June. The agreement promises a new chapter in the relationship between the countries -- and new hope for Mexican refugees yearning for self-determination and a state of their own.

For years, there have been ongoing hostilities, culminating in a rash of illegal immigration and ongoing terrorism on the border. While there are many troublesome issues, new attitudes on both sides of the conflict may mean that peace is finally at hand.

The new status quo will probably look very much like a proposition made by New Aztlán advocates like MEChA (and prominent American academics), tempered with the peace plan promoted by Mexican President Calderon. Other Latin American countries have endorsed the plan.

What the Aztlánistas want is final status on a state of their own with contiguous borders, New Aztlán, to consist of the American territories of California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The capital of the new regime will, of course, be traditionally Aztlánista Los Angeles.

All non-Mexican settlements and American settlers would be evacuated outside these borders to the original pre-1836 US borders, with some modifications, perhaps, to reflect demographics. Part of Northern California, for instance, could be traded for land in southern Nevada, eastern Louisiana, Colorado or Utah as part of a final agreement.

A key demand for the Mexicans and the Aztlánistas is justice for the descendants of the refugees and their descendants dating from the original American-Mexican conflict. They want a full right of return for these refugees and their descendants to Mexican lands still in the hands of the US.  The plan's supporters insist upon a right to settle in the US for those Mexicans dubbed "illegal aliens" who have been victimized by what both the Mexicans and the Aztlánistas denounce as the apartheid border wall and restrictive US immigration policies.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1022 on: September 17, 2010, 09:06:35 AM »

I read lots of things, doesn't mean I support it. So, explain how your white south african smear against the israelis doesn't apply to you as well.

 huh    -     You like this stuff huh?  By mistake I read trash once in a while too.   grin

We live in a democracy; freedom of choice and religion. 

In California the whites will soon be a minority; Latinos will be in control.  Fair enough; one citizen one vote.  And oh yeah, here in America all citizens are equal.  Even the anchor babies
including the illegal ones.   smiley  No quotas here based upon religion; Christians get in line to enter America just like all other religions for entry and to apply for citizenship. No favoritism.
All equal.....  Get my point?

I liked CCP's answer.  He accepted and called a spade a spade.  "Israel is intended to be a homeland for Jews."  Period.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1023 on: September 17, 2010, 09:27:47 AM »

California wasn't empty when the US got it through warfare. You are on occupied land. How is a white southern californian different morally from white south african in your wealthy gated community?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1024 on: September 17, 2010, 09:44:43 AM »

Look at the signs, JDN. They are talking about YOU.
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #1025 on: September 17, 2010, 09:52:23 AM »

California wasn't empty when the US got it through warfare. You are on occupied land. How is a white southern californian different morally from white south african in your wealthy gated community?

CA is not trying to keep out or deny votes to ANY group based upon religion, ethic origin, race, etc.  LA's mayor is Mexican American.  Our President is black, yet not too many years ago blacks couldn't even vote.
Most of my neighbors are Mexican.

As in South Africa, maybe it is time for Israeli leaders to embrace a pluralistic and humanistic vision for the state. Perhaps Israel should begin to imagine a state in which each person — Jewish or non-Jewish — is equal under the law irrespective of religion or race.

Or not, and simply continue to call "Israel an exclusive homeland for Jews."

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1026 on: September 17, 2010, 10:01:34 AM »

And if enough of the La Raza/MECHA/Atzlanistas decide that California needs to become "New Aztlan" and illegal occupiers such as your self need to be driven out, then what?
Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #1027 on: September 17, 2010, 10:26:36 AM »

"Israel is intended to be a homeland for Jews."  Period.

Absolutely.  Israel will cease to exist otherwise.  But let me make myself clear - I defend that position.

That is why there has been since 1948 a *two state* solution.

What Arab country would allow Jews to come in and multiply like freaken jack rabbits till they are the majority and then turn around and tell them what to do?

Lets stop using America as some sort of standard by which Israel should be compared against. 

But comparing Israel to S. Africa is also absurd.

And I think the comparison of La Raza to Palestinian has some parallels.  They are clearly a type of terrorist intimidation organization.  Question the Latinos and we will come after you in every way shape and form.  We wil call you bigots, we will post your name, ruin your life, mobilize illegals as well as illegals and on and on and on.
Just short of violence but every other tactic they can think of.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #1028 on: September 17, 2010, 10:32:03 AM »


    *  Radical Chicano student organization
    * Supports open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens, and U.S. recognition of Spanish as an official national language
    * Founded on a platform of racism and revanchism
    * Sees university as “agency” to fulfill political goals

Founded in 1969 at a conference at the University of California at Santa Barabara, MEChA is an acronym for El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (the Chicano Student Movement), an umbrella organization of radical Chicano student groups. Aztlán refers to the territory in the Southwestern United States -- including California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, as well as parts of Nevada, Utah, and Colorado -- that Mexico ceded to the United States in 1848 but which Mexican separatists consider part of a mythical Aztec homeland that rightfully belongs to them. One of MEChA's more notable co-founders was Lawrence Estrada, who is currently a tenured associate professor at Fairhaven College.

MEChA’s core philosophy is set forth in its founding manifestos, “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” and “El Plan de Santa Barbara.” In the former document, MEChA declares, “We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent [the United States],” and vows to repel the “brutal ‘gringo’ invasion of our territories.” MEChA further states: “Where we are a majority we will control; where we are a minority we will represent a pressure group; nationally, we represent one party: La Familia de Raza [the Family of Race].” MEChA’s mission finds additional expression it the organization’s slogan, “Por la Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada," which translates to “For the race, everything. Outside of the race, nothing.”

Although MEChA has claimed that the aforementioned documents no longer represent its beliefs, this defense is belied by the organization’s more recent documents. MEChA’s current constitution, for instance, instructs chapter leaders to “
  • rient all members by discussing and reading historical documents of our Movimiento including: El Plan de Santa Barbara, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán …” Accordingly, MEChA member groups, such the UC Berkeley chapter, cite these documents and explain that “MEChA understands that our founding documents are the fundamentals to MEChA.“

By supporting continued high levels of Mexican immigration to the United States, MEChA hopes to achieve, by sheer weight of numbers, the re-partition of the American Southwest. Toward this end, the organization endorses a host of pro-immigration policies. These include open borders, government benefits (including the right to vote and obtain drivers’ licenses) for non-citizens, amnesty for illegal aliens, dual citizenship, state recognition of Spanish as an official language, and racial set-asides in education and corporate hiring.

MEChA espouses what it calls an ideology of “Chicanismo,” wherein Chicano purity is held up as a supreme virtue while assimilation is denounced as a betrayal of ethnic heritage. Those Latinos who fail to adhere to MEChA’s ideological platform are condemned as “race traitors.” In 1995, the Voz Fronteriza, the University of California San Diego's official MEChA publication, published an editorial on the death of a Latino INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) agent. Describing him as a traitor to his race who deserved to die, the editors of the Voz concluded that "all the migra [a pejorative term for the INS] pigs should be killed, every single one."

As a student organization, MEChA has concentrated its political activism on American higher education. According to MEChA, the “university is a critical agency in the transformation of the Chicano community.” Historically, the organization has pursued two aims. On the belief that American universities engage in pro-capitalist political indoctrination, MEChA has sought to popularize its own belief about the evils of the capitalist system -- the ethic of capitalism is, in MEChA’s view, an “ethic of profit and competition, greed and intolerance” -- while at the same time promoting the “ancestral communalism” of the Mexican people.

Toward this purpose, MEChA has played a frontal role in the creation of Chicano Studies programs. A direct challenge to the traditional university curriculum, these programs are intended to “serve the interests of the Chicano people.” As a result, Chicano students are expected not merely to enroll in these programs but to “insure dominant influence of these programs.” In the words of MEChA’s national constitution, “Chicano and Chicana students of Aztlán must take upon themselves the responsibilities to promote Chicanismo within the community, politicizing our Raza with an emphasis on indigenous consciousness to continue the struggle for the self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlán.” Students also have a duty to “constantly remind” Chicano faculty and administrators “where their loyalty lies.”

Actively involved in political causes, MEChA originally protested against the Vietnam War and rallied on behalf of Chicano labor unions such as the United Farm Workers Union. In recent years, MEChA has become a leading campus advocacy group for illegal immigration -- supporting amnesty, welfare outlays, and taxpayer-funded education for illegal immigrants. Moreover, the organization has opposed the enforcement of immigration laws on the American border with Mexico. MEChA regards both of the main political parties in the U.S. as hostile to its interests, characterizing the two-party system as the “same animal with two heads that feed from the same trough.”

MEChA has today established itself as a potent force on campuses nationwide: the organization boasts upward of 300 chapters in universities across the U.S., some 100 them of in California alone. Chicano Studies programs and departments have proliferated in recent years, many being administered by faculty who were themselves former MEChA activists and who remain sympathetic to the organization’s politics. Despite its radical agenda, MEChA has been able to generate revenue through mandatory student activity fees. MEChA has also focused recruitment on public high schools, establishing high-school chapters and encouraging its young supporters to participate in protests and marches.

While MEChA’s radicalism has been largely rhetorical, the organization has occasionally resorted to violent measures. In 1993, when UCLA denied the group’s demand that the Chicano Studies Program be accorded departmental status, MEChA activists responded by rampaging through the campus and vandalizing the university’s faculty center, reportedly causing $500,000 worth of damage. In 1996, Mecha activists, who call themselves “Mechistas,” were videotaped assaulting demonstrators protesting illegal immigration.

MEChA also has a history of intolerance toward criticism. In 2002, MEChA members stole the press run of the California Patriot, the conservative newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley, for likening MEChA to a neo-Nazi movement. The loss of the newspapers was valued at $2,000. In May of 2006, MEChA activists destroyed 5,000 copies of the Campus Courier, a student newspaper at Pasadena City College, because of what they considered the paper’s inadequate coverage of a MEChA-sponsored event.

MEChA has in the past been associated with anti-Semitic sentiments and groups. A 1998 MEChA youth conference at California Polytechnic State University featured a printed program that introduced the school as “Cal Poly State Jewniversity.” The program also referred to New York as “Jew York.” When the Anti-Defamation League objected to the program, the university’s MEChA chapter issued a formal apology. MEChA has also been linked to La Voz de Aztlán (The Voice of Aztlan), a Chicano webzine that regularly publishes articles attacking Jews, Zionism, and Israel.

Several prominent politicians have emerged from MEChA’s ranks. Among them are Antonio Villaraigosa, who served as President of a MEChA chapter at UCLA. Cruz Bustamante, the lieutenant governor of California and a former gubernatorial candidate, was a member of MEChA as a student at California’s Fresno State College.
Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #1029 on: September 17, 2010, 11:10:45 AM »


They are not coming to become Americans and blend in.
They are coming to take over.
and this is why I am not for increasing legal immigration and not for amnesty in any way shape of form.
And I oppose the birth right thing.  It is being used against us.

The immigrants of today are not the same as those of our forefathers.

Same for the mosque thing.  They are not building the mosgue to celebrate our freedoms our country.  It is as Geller put it, " a giant middle finger to America".

Do not let this Iman's subtle voice and con game fool you.

Many people who come here are gaming our own system.

We are being duped.  Like Savage says, Bloomberg proves that even billionaires can be duped, can be fools.
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« Reply #1030 on: September 17, 2010, 05:00:02 PM »


This last two posts belong in the Mexico thread or the Immigration thread, not the Israel thread.  Please repost there and delete here.

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« Reply #1031 on: September 23, 2010, 08:49:16 PM »

In its next war against Hezbollah, the IDF's Northern Command would use the "Lebanon Corps" and five divisions - the 162nd, 36th, 98th, 366th and 319th, according to U.S. intelligence veteran Jeffrey White in research published last week by the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

According to White, if another Israel-Hezbollah war breaks out it will not resemble the war of the summer of 2006, but will cover much of Lebanon and Israel, and probably also Syria, and is likely to also draw in Iran, involve major military operations, cause significant casualties among combatants and civilians, and destroy infrastructure.
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« Reply #1032 on: September 24, 2010, 01:22:46 PM »

Mideast Strategic Perversity
At a time when Israel’s security environment is worsening, in no small part because of the Obama administration’s strategic weakness, Israel is being pushed hard by that same administration into making its security environment even worse.
September 21, 2010 - by P. David Hornik

Russia has decided to sell Syria P-800 Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles despite heavy Israeli and American protests.

Last month Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally asked Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to call off the sale. The U.S. is also described as putting up “stiff opposition” to it. Yet over the weekend, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced the sale in Washington during talks with U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates.

Both the U.S. and Israel fear that the Yakhont, a difficult-to-intercept missile that cruises just above sea level at twice the speed of sound, could threaten their naval vessels in the Mediterranean. They are also concerned that Syria could transfer the missiles to Hezbollah. In the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah hit an Israeli missile boat with a Chinese-made missile, killing four crew members. The missile had been smuggled into Lebanon through Syria.

That not even Israel’s superpower ally could dissuade Russia from taking this aggressive, dangerous step is unfortunately part of a pattern. Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz have noted in the Wall Street Journal that, even at a time when the major European states and Japan are cutting business ties with Iran, Russia (along with China) is stepping in to fill the void.
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« Reply #1033 on: September 25, 2010, 09:29:07 AM »

How serious is the P800 Yakhont threat? Does it have a destabilizing effect on the Middle East?
September 20, 2010 at 12:23 am tamir_eshel No comments

The launch vehicle unit carrying two Yakhont anti-ship missiles in container launchers. The missiles are carried in the recessed position and launched vertically from the erected canisters.
The expected arrival of the P800 Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile in Syria is considered the first serious attempt by Syria to directly challenge the Israel Navy since the 1973 war, when the Israeli Navy sunk five Syrian vessels in the first missile-boat engagement known as the ‘Battle of Latakia’. Four decades later, the P800 Yakhont is far superior than the Styx missiles that failed to protect the Syrian Navy in 1973.  Much like the Russian-Indian Brahmos, the earlier Moskit and Supersonic Alpha, Yakhont has the capability to strike its target at supersonic speed, flying at very low level, leaving the defender much shorter time to react. Yet, ship defenses have come a long way since the Electronic Warfare (EW) systems that saved the day and won the battle for the Israelis.

AEGIS systems, used on U.S. Navy and many NATO vessels, the European PAAMS, used by the Royal Navy, French and Italian navies and Israel’s new Barak 8 ship air defense system are designed to match such treats. So does Israel’s ‘Magic Wand’ system, employing the Stunner missile interceptor, capable to counter these potent missiles effectively if employed in surface/surface or ship/surface role. However, the majority of smaller naval vessels, still equipped with ‘point defense’ anti-missile systems were not designed to counter such high speed attacks, particularly when it comes in salvos of two or four missile.

Such elements are at risk within ranges of 300 km, by missiles fired from the Mediterranean Syrian naval bases at Tartus and Latakia. Yakhont typically cruises to the target area at high altitude, and then descends for a sea skimming attack from under the horizon. The distance at which it begins its descent can be programmed before launch, by determining the achievable range, which is between 120 (low level flight) – 300 km (high mid-course, low-level beyond the horizon to the target.

The potential coverage of P800 Yakhont missiles fired from coastal sites (Tartus) or land sites in Southern Syria cover Israel's Mediterranean Naval Bases.
While some navies could avoid this area, for Israel, the long range of the P800 means its naval vessels could be at risk, even at their main base in Haifa, a site already compromised by rockets fired from Lebanon during the 2006 war. Israel’s second naval base in Ashdod could be targeted from land-based sites in Southern Syria. Furthermore, when targeting Israeli naval patrols in international waters off the Lebanese coast, P800 can be vertically launched from inland sites in Syria or Lebanon, fired behind the Lebanon mountain ridge, avoiding detection from the sea, thus minimizing the early warning for the targeted vessels. Therefore, accelerated fielding of Barak-8 and Magic Wand systems should be a top priority for Israel. Another risk for Navies operating in the Persian Gulf presents a technology leak – by such a missile falling into Iranian hands, which could accelerate the introduction of such potent weapons in Tehran’s growing anti-shipping arsenal.

The operational concept of the Bastion P coastal defense system employs multiple mobile launchers each carrying two Yakhont missiles, capable of attacking targets at a distance of 250 km from the coast. Targeting is provided by helicopters or other airborne platforms, coastal radars or ships at sea. Each launch unit is operating independently, or coordinate its activity with another launch vehicle located up to 15 km away, targeting, command and control are provided by the central command vehicle and regional command post that can be located more than 25 km apart.

The current contract, estimated to be worth $300 million includes the delivery of two Bastion coastal defense systems, each includes 36 missiles. It is yet unclear if the Syrian navy will also opt to equip its naval platforms will with these new weapons. The Yakhont can be fitted with relatively small vessels, from corvette size and larger. The Bastion system is operated from mobile launchers on land, each launcher carries two ready to launch missiles. Another configuration is designed for airborne platforms. But even with these potent weapons in hand, the Syrians may not yet be ready to employ them effectively. Syria currently does not have the means to effectively target the missile beyond the horizon, lacking maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles or attack aircraft capable of carrying such missiles. Even their largest Petya class Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates do not have a flight deck for the Ka-28 (Helix) helicopters, operated by the Syrian Navy. The Syrians do not have the capability to detect, track and designate targets at those ranges since, being a small, defensive force, they did not have any weapon reaching out to these ranges. This is particularly true when the target is ‘silent’ and cannot be targeted by surface-based Electronic Support Measures (ESM).

Each mobile transporter-launcher carrying two Yakhont P800 missiles.
If the Syrians are seriously planning to extend their operational reach with the missile, one has to watch out for Syria to reach for UAVs, naval patrol aircraft (Be-200 or Il-38 from any CIS nation or other countries (decommissioning such aircraft could be an option). Such transfer of equipment could be unnoticed as it does not involves weapons transfer. They could also opt for upgrading the Su-24MK ‘Fencer D’ to take on maritime recce role. Even more serious is a combination of Su-27/Su-30 and P800s, which could provides the P800 with the stand-off targeting and attack capability against surface targets. The Russians are using their Onyx version of the weapon with their Su-33 carrier-based naval fighters. By knowing the P800 is within range, the Israeli Navy will definitely lose its dominant and unchallenged position in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly along the Lebanese coast, and therefore should take defensive measures – certainly be on guard, which it failed, during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when ISN Hanit was hit unexpectedly by a Hizbollan C-802 missile – having turned off its on-board defensive systems.

Of course, for deliberate ‘ambush’ attacks Syria could try deploying forward targeting using merchant or fishery vessels sailing in the Eastern Mediterranean  or submarines, provided by allies such as Iran (since Syria do not have any submarines now, after decommissioning their 3 Romeo subs about six years ago). But this is really a long, long shot that would cost Syria dearly.

Altogether, for the short term, the arrival of the P800 in the Mediterranean is a serious threat. Over time, as the Israel Navy gets its Barak-8 missiles and ‘Magic Wand’ deployed, the threat could be contained, given the Syrians will not deploy large numbers of these missiles on platforms and constellations that would maximize its capability to launch saturation attack against the IN leading vessels. Whatever the case may be, both sides, the Syrians and the Israelis need time to deploy and defend so the threat may be serious, at first sight, but viable solutions are already in sight.
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« Reply #1034 on: September 25, 2010, 02:04:31 PM »


This issue had crossed my radar screen.  Thanks for that report.
« Reply #1035 on: October 13, 2010, 04:53:44 PM »

I am a forgotten Jew.

My roots are nearly 2,600 years old, my ancestors made landmark contributions to world civilization, and my presence was felt from North Africa to the Fertile Crescent - but I barely exist today. You see, I am a Jew from the Arab world. No, that's not entirely accurate. I've fallen into a semantic trap. I predated the Arab conquest in just about every country in which I lived. When Arab invaders conquered North Africa, for example, I had already been present there for over six centuries.

Today, you cannot find a trace of me in most of this vast region.

Try seeking me out in Iraq.

Remember the Babylonian exile from ancient Judea, following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE? Remember the vibrant Jewish community that emerged there and produced the Babylonian Talmud?

Do you know that in the ninth century, under Muslim rule, we Jews in Iraq were forced to wear a distinctive yellow patch on our clothing - a precursor of the infamous Nazi yellow badge - and faced other discriminatory measures? Or that in the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, we faced onerous taxes, the destruction of several synagogues, and severe repression?

And I wonder if you have ever heard of the Farhud, the breakdown of law and order, in Baghdad in June 1941. As an AJC specialist, George Gruen, reported:

In a spasm of uncontrolled violence, between 170 and 180 Jews were killed, more than 900 were wounded, and 14,500 Jews sustained material losses through the looting or destruction of their stores and homes. Although the government eventually restored order... Jews were squeezed out of government employment, limited in schools, and subjected to imprisonment, heavy fines, or sequestration of their property on the flimsiest of charges of being connected to either or both of the two banned movements. Indeed, Communism and Zionism were frequently equated in the statutes. In Iraq the mere receipt of a letter from a Jew in Palestine [pre-1948] was sufficient to bring about arrest and loss of property.

At our peak, we were 135,000 Jews in 1948, and we were a vitally important factor in virtually every aspect of Iraqi society. To illustrate our role, here is what the Encyclopedia Judaica wrote about Iraqi Jewry: "During the 20th century, Jewish intellectuals, authors, and poets made an important contribution to the Arabic language and literature by writing books and numerous essays."

By 1950 other Iraqi Jews and I were faced with the revocation of citizenship, seizure of assets, and, most ominously, public hangings. A year earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Sa'id had told the British ambassador in Amman of a plan to expel the entire Jewish community and place us at Jordan's doorstep. The ambassador later recounted the episode in a memoir entitled From the Wings: Amman Memoirs, 1947-1951.

Miraculously, in 1951 about 100,000 of us got out, thanks to the extraordinary help of Israel, but with little more than the clothes on our backs. The Israelis dubbed the rescue Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.

Those of us who stayed lived in perpetual fear--fear of violence and more public hangings, as occurred on January 27, 1969, when nine Jews were hanged in the center of Baghdad on trumped-up charges, while hundreds of thousands of Iraqis wildly cheered the executions. The rest of us got out one way or another, including friends of mine who found safety in Iran when it was ruled by the Shah.

Now there are no Jews left to speak of, nor are there monuments, museums, or other reminders of our presence on Iraqi soil for twenty-six centuries.

Do the textbooks used in Iraqi schools today refer to our one-time presence, to our positive contribution to the evolution of Iraqi society and culture? Not a chance. Two-thousand-six-hundred years are erased, wiped out, as if they never happened. Can you put yourself in my shoes and feel the excruciating pain of loss and invisibility?

I am a forgotten Jew.

I was first settled in what is present-day Libya by the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy Lagos (323-282 BCE), according to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. My forefathers and foremothers lived continuously on this soil for over two millennia, our numbers bolstered by Berbers who converted to Judaism, Spanish and Portuguese Jews fleeing the Inquisition, and Italian Jews crossing the Mediterranean.

I was confronted with the anti-Jewish legislation of the occupying Italian Fascists. I endured the incarceration of 2,600 fellow Jews in an Axis-run camp in 1942. I survived the deportation of 200 fellow Jews to Italy the same year. I coped with forced labor in Libya during the war. I witnessed Muslim rioting in 1945 and 1948 that left nearly 150 Libyan Jews dead, hundreds injured, and thousands homeless.

I watched with uncertainty as Libya became an independent country in 1951. I wondered what would happen to those 6,000 of us still there, the remnant of the 39,000 Jews who had formed this once-proud community--that is, until the rioting sent people packing, many headed for the newly established State of Israel.

The good news was that there were constitutional protections for minority groups in the newly established Libyan nation. The bad news was that they were completely ignored.

Within ten years of my native country's independence, I could not vote, hold public office, serve in the army, obtain a passport, purchase new property, acquire majority ownership in any new business, or participate in the supervision of our community's affairs.

By June 1967 the die was cast. Those of us who had remained, hoping against hope that things would improve in a land to which we were deeply attached and which, at times, had been good to us, had no choice but to flee. The Six-Day War created an explosive atmosphere in the streets. Eighteen Jews were killed, and Jewish-owned homes and shops were burned to the ground.

I and 4,000 other Jews left however we could, most of us with no more than a suitcase and the equivalent of a few dollars.

I was never allowed to return. I never recovered the assets I had left behind in Libya, despite promises by the government. In effect, it was all stolen--the homes, furniture, shops, communal institutions, you name it. Still worse, I was never able to visit the grave sites of my relatives. That hurt especially deeply. In fact, I was told that, under Colonel Qaddhafi, who seized power in 1969, the Jewish cemeteries were bulldozed and the headstones used for road building.

I am a forgotten Jew.

My experience - the good and the bad--lives on in my memory, and I'll do my best to transmit it to my children and grandchildren, but how much can they absorb? How much can they identify with a culture that seems like a relic of a distant past that appears increasingly remote and intangible? True, a few books and articles on my history have been written, but - and here I'm being generous - they are far from best-sellers.

In any case, can these books compete with the systematic attempt by Libyan leaders to expunge any trace of my presence over two millennia? Can these books compete with a world that paid virtually no attention to the end of my existence?

Take a look at The New York Times index for 1967, and you'll see for yourself how the newspaper of record covered the tragic demise of an ancient community. I can save you the trouble of looking - just a few paltry lines were all the story got.

I am a forgotten Jew.

I am one of hundreds of thousands of Jews who once lived in countries like Iraq and Libya. All told, we numbered close to 900,000 in 1948. Today we are fewer than 5,000, mostly concentrated in two moderate countries - Morocco and Tunisia.

We were once vibrant communities in Aden, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and other nations, with roots dating back literally 2,000 years and more. Now we are next to none.

Why does no one speak of us and our story? Why does the world relentlessly, obsessively speak of the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars in the Middle East - who, not unimportantly, were displaced by wars launched by their own Arab brethren--but totally ignore the Jewish refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars?

Why is the world left with the impression that there's only one refugee population from the Arab-Israeli conflict, or, more precisely, the Arab conflict with Israel, when, in fact, there are two refugee populations, and our numbers were somewhat larger than the Palestinians?

I've spent many sleepless nights trying to understand this injustice.

Should I blame myself?

Perhaps we Jews from Arab countries accepted our fate too passively. Perhaps we failed to seize the opportunity to tell our story. Look at the Jews of Europe. They turned to articles, books, poems, plays, paintings, and film to recount their story. They depicted the periods of joy and the periods of tragedy, and they did it in a way that captured the imagination of many non-Jews. Perhaps I was too fatalistic, too shell-shocked, too uncertain of my artistic or literary talents.

But that can't be the only reason for my unsought status as a forgotten Jew. It's not that I haven't tried to make at least some noise; I have. I've organized gatherings and petitions, arranged exhibitions, appealed to the United Nations, and met with officials from just about every Western government. But somehow it all seems to add up to less than the sum of its parts. No, that's still being too kind. The truth is, it has pretty much fallen on deaf ears.

You know that acronym - MEGO? It means "My eyes glazed over." That's the impression I often have when I've tried raising the subject of the Jews from Arab lands with diplomats, elected officials, and journalists - their eyes glaze over (TEGO).

No, I shouldn't be blaming myself, though I could always be doing more for the sake of history and justice.
There's actually a far more important explanatory factor.

We Jews from the Arab world picked up the pieces of our shattered lives after our hurried departures - in the wake of intimidation, violence, and discrimination - and moved on.

Most of us went to Israel, where we were welcomed. The years following our arrival weren't always easy - we started at the bottom and had to work our way up. We came with varying levels of education and little in the way of tangible assets. But we had something more to sustain us through the difficult process of adjustment and acculturation: our immeasurable pride as Jews, our deeply rooted faith, our cherished rabbis and customs, and our commitment to Israel's survival and well-being.

Some of us - somewhere between one-fourth and one-third of the total - chose to go elsewhere.

Jews from the French-speaking Arab countries gravitated toward France and Quebec. Jews from Libya created communities in Rome and Milan. Egyptian and Lebanese Jews were sprinkled throughout Europe and North America, and a few resettled in Brazil. Syrian Jews immigrated to the United States, especially New York, as well as to Mexico City and Panama City. And on it went.

Wherever we settled, we put our shoulder to the wheel and created new lives. We learned the local language if we didn't already know it, found jobs, sent our children to school, and, as soon as we could, built our own congregations to preserve the rites and rituals that were distinctive to our tradition.

I would never underestimate the difficulties or overlook those who, for reasons of age or ill health or poverty, couldn't make it, but, by and large, in a short time we have taken giant steps, whether in Israel or elsewhere.
I may be a forgotten Jew, but my voice will not remain silent. It cannot, for if it does, it becomes an accomplice to historical denial and revisionism.

I will speak out because I will not allow the Arab conflict with Israel to be defined unfairly through the prism of one refugee population only, the Palestinian.

I will speak out because what happened to me is now being done, with eerie familiarity, to another minority group in the region, the Christians, and once again I see the world averting its eyes, as if denial ever solved anything.

I will speak out because I refuse to be a forgotten Jew.


This article was adapted and updated from an essay originally written in 2003.
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« Reply #1036 on: October 14, 2010, 12:28:25 AM »


I thought that pretty awesome.  It is a point which I have sought to make from time to time, but lacking the education I have not been that effective.  This seems strong to me and I will be playing it forward.


The businessman and philanthropist shares his views on the economy at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry conference. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry held its first annual socioeconomic conference at the Avenue Convention Center near Ben-Gurion Airport yesterday.

In a special interview for the purpose of the conference, international businessman and leading philanthropist Warren Buffett shared with the participants his views on the global economy and the role governments play in maintaining prosperous economies.

Speaking about his decision to invest in Israel, Buffett said that what drew him to Israel was its brainpower.

“If you’re going to the Middle East to look for oil, you can skip Israel. If you’re looking for brains, look no further.

Israel has shown that it has a disproportionate amount of brains and energy,” Buffett said.
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« Reply #1037 on: October 14, 2010, 07:49:39 AM »

Syria, Hezbollah and Iran: An Alliance in Flux
October 14, 2010

By Reva Bhalla

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Beirut on Oct. 13 for his first official visit to Lebanon since becoming president in 2005. He is reportedly returning to the country after a stint there in the 1980s as a young Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officer tasked with training Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. A great deal of controversy is surrounding his return. Rumors are spreading of Sunni militants attempting to mar the visit by provoking Iran’s allies in Hezbollah into a fight (already the car of a pro-Hezbollah imam who has been defending Ahmadinejad has been blown up), while elaborate security preparations are being made for Ahmadinejad to visit Lebanon’s heavily militarized border with Israel.

Rather than getting caught up in the drama surrounding the Iranian president’s visit, we want to take the opportunity provided by all the media coverage to probe into a deeper topic, one that has been occupying the minds of Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah officials for some time. This topic is the durability of the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria alliance, which STRATFOR believes has been under great stress in recent months. More precisely, the question is: What are Syria’s current intentions toward Hezbollah?

The Origins of the Alliance

To address this topic, we need to review the origins of the trilateral pact, starting with the formation of an alliance in 1979 between secular Alawite-Baathist Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ideologically speaking, the Syrian Alawite elite represent an offshoot of Shiite Islam that the Sunnis consider apostate. They found some commonality with the Shiite clerical elite in Tehran, but there were also broader strategic motivations in play. At the time, Syria was on a quest to establish the country’s regional prowess, and it knew that the first steps toward this end had to be taken in Lebanon. From the Syrian point of view, Lebanon is not just a natural extension of Syria; it is the heartland of the Greater Syria province that existed during Ottoman times. Since the days of Phoenicia, what is modern-day Lebanon has been a vibrant trading hub, connecting routes from the east and south to the Mediterranean basin. For Syria to feel like it has any real worth in the region, it must dominate Lebanon.

A civil war that had broken out in Lebanon in 1975 (and lasted through 1990) afforded Syria such an opportunity. The main obstruction to Syria’s agenda at the time, besides Israel, was the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat, whose vision for a unified Palestine and whose operations in Lebanon ran counter to Syria’s bid for regional hegemony. The PLO, in fact, was one of the main reasons Syria intervened militarily in Lebanon in 1975 on behalf of its Maronite Christian allies. At the same time, Syria was looking for an ally to undermine the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, with whom the Syrian Baathists had a deep-seated rivalry. An alliance with Iran would grant Syria some much-needed individuality in a region dominated by the Arab powers Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Coming off the success of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and going into what would become a long and bloody war with Iraq, Iran was also looking for a venue to counter the Baathist regime in Baghdad. In addition, Iran was looking to undermine the Pan-Arab vision, establish a presence in the Levant and promote its own Islamic vision of government. In opposition to Israel, Hussein and Arafat, Iran and Syria thus uncovered the roots of an alliance, albeit one that was shifting uneasily between Syrian secularity and Iranian religiosity.

The adoption of Hezbollah by the two unlikely allies in 1982 was what helped bridge that gap. Hezbollah, an offshoot of Amal, the main Shiite political movement at the time, served multiple purposes for Damascus and Tehran. Syria found in Hezbollah a useful militant proxy to contain obstructions to Syrian influence in Lebanon and to compensate for its own military weakness in comparison to Israel. In the broader Syrian strategic vision, Hezbollah would develop into a bargaining chip for a future settlement with Israel once Syria could ensure that Lebanon was firmly within Syria’s grasp and was therefore unable to entertain a peace deal with Israel on its own.

The Iranians saw in Hezbollah the potential to export its Islamic Revolution into the Arab world, a strong binder for its still new and shaky alliance with Syria and a useful deterrent in dealing with adversaries like Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia. So, Iran and Syria set out to divide their responsibilities in managing this militant proxy. Iran was primarily in charge of bankrolling, training and enforcing the group’s ideological loyalty to Tehran with IRGC assistance. Syria was in charge of creating the conditions for Iran to nurture Hezbollah, mainly by permitting IRGC officers to set up training camps in the Bekaa Valley and by securing a line of supply for weapons to reach the group via Syria.

But the triumvirate did not get off to a very smooth start. In fact, Hezbollah and Syria clashed a number of times in the early 1980s, when Syria felt the group, under Iranian direction, went too far in provoking external intervention (and thus risked drawing Syria into conflict). If Hezbollah was to operate on Syrian territory (as Syria viewed it) in Lebanon, Syria wanted Hezbollah operating on its terms. It was not until 1987, when Syrian troops in Lebanon shot 23 Hezbollah members, that Hezbollah fully realized the importance of maintaining an entente with Syria. In the meantime, Hezbollah, caught between occasionally conflicting Syrian and Iranian agendas, saw that the path to the group’s survival lay in becoming a more autonomous political — as opposed to purely militant — actor in the Lebanese political arena.

A Syrian Setback

The Iran-Hezbollah-Syria alliance operated relatively smoothly through the 1990s as Hezbollah gradually built up its political arm and as Syria kept close watch on the group through its roughly 14,000 troops and thousands of intelligence agents who had remained in Lebanon since the end of the civil war. In 2000, with Iranian and Syrian help, Hezbollah succeeded in forcing Israel to withdraw from Lebanon’s southern Security Zone, an event that greatly boosted Hezbollah’s credentials as a Lebanese nationalist actor.

But fresh challenges to the pact came with the turn of the century. The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, in particular, was a defining moment for both Iran and Syria. The two allies felt enormously uncomfortable with having the world’s most powerful military on their borders, but they were also presented with an immediate opportunity to unseat their mutual archrival, Saddam Hussein. Iran and Syria also had different endgames in mind for a post-Hussein Iraq. Iran used its political, militant and intelligence links to consolidate influence in Iraq through the country’s Shiite majority. In contrast, Syria provided refuge to Iraq’s Sunni Baathists with the aim of extending its sphere of influence in the region through a secularist former-Baathist presence in Baghdad. The Syrians also planned to use those Sunni links later to bargain with the United States for a seat at the negotiating table, thereby affirming Syrian influence in the region.

But before Syria could gain much traction in its plans for Iraq, its agenda in Lebanon suffered a serious setback. On Feb. 14, 2005, a massive car bomb in Beirut killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, a powerful and vocal opponent of Syrian authority in Lebanon. The bombing is strongly believed to have been orchestrated by elements within the Syrian regime and executed by members of Hezbollah. While a major opponent of the Syrian regime was thereby eliminated, Syria did not anticipate that the death of al-Hariri would spark a revolution in Lebanon (which attracted the support of countries like France and the United States) and end up driving Syrian troops out of Lebanon. The vacuum that Syria left in Lebanon was rapidly filled by Iran (via Hezbollah), which had a pressing need to fortify Hezbollah as a proxy force as war tensions steadily built up in the region over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Though Syria knew it would only be a matter of time before it would return to Lebanon, it also had a strategic interest in demonstrating to the Israelis and the Americans the costs of Syria’s absence from Lebanon. The regime wanted to show that without a firm Syrian check on Hezbollah, disastrous events like the 2006 summer confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel could occur.

The Syrian Comeback

It has now been more than five and a half years since the al-Hariri assassination, and there is little question that Syria, once again, has reclaimed its hegemonic position in Lebanon. The Syrian intelligence apparatus pervades the country, and Lebanese politicians who dared to speak out against the Syrian regime are now asking for forgiveness. In perhaps the most glaring demonstration of the political tide shifting back toward Damascus, Saad al-Hariri, the son of the slain al-Hariri and Lebanon’s reluctant prime minister, announced in early June that Lebanon had “made a mistake” in making a “political accusation” against Syria for his father’s murder. The message was clear: Syria was back.

That message did not necessarily sit well with Hezbollah and Iran. Syria wants to keep Hezbollah in check, returning to the 1990s model when Syrian military and intelligence could still tightly control the group’s movements and supplies. Iran and Hezbollah have also watched as Syria has used its comeback in Lebanon to diversify its foreign policy portfolio over the past year. Saudi Arabia and Turkey, for example, have been cozying up to Damascus and have quietly bargained with the al Assad regime to place checks on Hezbollah as a way to undermine Iran’s key proxy in the Levant. As long as these regional powers recognize Syria’s authority in Lebanon, Syria is willing to use those relationships to exonerate itself from the al-Hariri assassination tribunal, rake much-needed investment into the Syrian economy and, most important, re-establish itself as a regional power. Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s decision to visit Beirut alongside Saudi King Abdullah was a deliberate signal to Hezbollah and Iran that Syria had options and was not afraid to display them.

This does not mean Syria is ready and willing to sell out its Hezbollah and Iranian allies. On the contrary, Syria derives leverage from maintaining these relationships and acting as the bridge between the Shiite revivalists and the Sunni powers. Syria has illustrated as much in its current mediation efforts among the various Iraqi factions that are torn between Iran on one side and the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on the other. But if we go back to reviewing the core reasons Syria agreed to an alliance with Iran and Hezbollah in the first place, it is easy to see why Hezbollah and Iran still have a lot of reason to be worried.

Syria’s priority in the early 1980s was to achieve suzerainty in Lebanon (done), eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq (done) and remove any key obstacles in Lebanon that could challenge Syria’s authority. In the 1970s, that obstacle was the PLO. Today, that obstacle is Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, who are competing for influence in Lebanon and no longer have a good read on Syrian intentions. Hezbollah relies heavily on Syria for its logistical support and knows that its communication systems, for example, are vulnerable to Syrian intelligence. Hezbollah has also grown nervous at the signs of Syria steadily ramping up support for competing militant groups — including the Amal Movement, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, al-Ahbash, the Nasserites, the Baath Party and the Mirada of Suleiman Franjiyye — to counter Hezbollah’s prowess.

Meanwhile, Iran is seeing one of the key prongs in its deterrent strategy — Hezbollah — grow increasingly vulnerable at a time when Iran is pressed to demonstrate to the United States and Israel that the costs of an attack on its nuclear installation are not worth incurring. The Iranian competition with Syria does not end in Lebanon, either. In Iraq, Syria is far more interested in establishing a secularist government with a former Baathist presence than it is in seeing Baghdad develop into a Shiite satellite for the Iranians.

For now, Syria is adroitly playing both sides of the geopolitical divide in the region, taking care to blend its reassurances toward the alliance and its primary negotiating partners in Saudi Arabia with threats of the destabilization that could erupt should Syria’s demands go ignored. Syria, for example, has made clear that in return for recognition of its authority in Lebanon it will prevent Hezbollah from laying siege on Beirut, whether they are ordered to do so by Tehran as part of an Iranian negotiating ploy with the Americans or whether they act on their own in retaliation against the al-Hariri tribunal proceedings. At the same time, Syrian officials will shuttle regularly between Lebanon and Iran to reaffirm their standing in the triumvirate. Behind this thick veneer of unity, however, a great deal of apprehension and distrust is building among the allies.

The core fear residing in Hezbollah and Iran has to do with Syrian intentions moving forward. In particular, Hezbollah would like to know if, in Syria’s eyes, the group is rapidly devolving from strategic patron to bargaining chip with every ounce of confidence that Syria gains in Lebanon. The answer to that question, however, lies not in Syria but in Israel and the United States. Israeli, U.S. and Saudi policymakers have grown weary of Syria’s mercantilist negotiating style in which Syrian officials will extract as much as possible from their negotiating partners while delivering very little in return.

At the same time, Syria cannot afford to take any big steps toward militant proxies like Hezbollah unless it receives firm assurances from Israel in backchannel peace talks that continue to stagnate. But Syria is also sensing an opportunity at its door: The United States is desperate to complete its exit strategy from Iraq and, like Israel, is looking for useful levers to undermine Iranian clout in the region. One such lever is Syria, which is why the mere idea of Israel and Syria talking peace right now should give Iran and Hezbollah ample food for thought.

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« Reply #1038 on: October 14, 2010, 02:06:43 PM »

Contrast and compare. Western civilization and islamic savagery.
« Reply #1039 on: October 20, 2010, 01:03:51 PM »

I thought the article was very strong too. The Jewish Refugee from Arab Lands are not widely known about.

Photo by: Associated Press
'Palestinian web landscape dominated by radicalism'
New research focuses on search engines, social media sites, YouTube, Twitter, and other sources used to gauge views of general population.
A study of Palestinian social media commissioned by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) highlights what it calls the "serious risks to Israeli security" that may occur should the US push too hard for a peace agreement.

The results were compiled from postings on various sites including Twitter, Youtube and other social media sources, and showcase a cross-section of views. These reflect, according to the study, the opinions of the Palestinian people, or at least, those who are computer literate.


The study, "Palestinian Pulse," was conducted by Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz, both employed by the FDD, and utilized ConStrat, a company that deploys military-grade technology on behalf of the US Central Command. Schanzer and Dubowitz said the following in an article on The National Interest:

"While polls are often designed to elicit specific responses, social media is largely free of outside manipulation. Most Palestinians write under pseudonyms, enabling them to discuss controversial issues without fear of retribution."

The overriding conclusion drawn from the 102 page report of the results was that "although the Palestinian web landscape is not devoid of users with moderate to liberal views, it is dominated by radicalism."

Some of the study's conclusions were not altogether surprising, including that Hamas shows little desire for peace with Israel, that Fatah is in internal disarray, and that the conflict between Hamas and Fatah shows little sign of being resolved.

The authors went on to make recommendations following an analysis of the material collected.

Firstly, said the authors, "the US cannot afford to discount the potential impact of deepening Palestinian radicalism and rejectionism. If the online environment is even a relatively accurate indicator of Palestinian public sentiment, the Obama administration should consider the serious risks to Israeli security from an overly aggressive and premature push for a comprehensive peace agreement."

Further, the US government should keep a close eye on the Palestinian online presence, as this could yield more accurate results than the often-disputed opinion polls, they said.
« Reply #1040 on: October 21, 2010, 09:21:26 AM »

Under Islam
By Aryeh Tepper
In the two decades following the establishment of the state of Israel, approximately 850,000 Jews were forcibly driven out of Arab lands. Their expulsion marked the beginning of the end of 2,500 years of Jewish life in North Africa, the greater Middle East, and the Persian Gulf. Until recently, their story has been largely unrecognized and untold in the English-speaking world. That is the task undertaken by the British historian Martin Gilbert, known for his multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill and many works on Jewish history, in his new book, In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands.

Ambitious to a fault, Gilbert begins his saga a full millennium before the birth of Muhammad in the late 6th century C.E., and by the end of his first 100 pages has covered the first centuries of Islam, the age of the Crusaders, and the spread of the Ottoman empire. The remaining two-thirds of the book are devoted to the past 100 years. Here he traces the competition between the Jewish and Arab national movements during World Wars I and II, the various reactions to the 1947 UN partition resolution and the creation of Israel, Jewish life in Muslim lands since 1948, and the integration of Jews from Muslim lands into Western countries and, of course, Israel.
What saves Gilbert's narrative from a deadly superficiality, if not always from monotony, is his tight focus. Throughout, he poses one question to his material: was the Jewish minority protected, or persecuted? When Muslim rulers treated their Jews as a "protected people," the Jews, he shows, repaid the favor by contributing immensely to Muslim culture and society. When the Jews were persecuted, not only they but the society they lived in suffered. By proceeding in this fashion, Gilbert succeeds in exploding the myth, manufactured by Islamic ideologues and peddled by left-wing apologists, to the effect that pre-modern Jews always lived harmoniously with their Muslim hosts. Sometimes this was the case; often it was not.

Another virtue of Gilbert's panoramic treatment is that it helps the reader to see patterns missed by more detailed studies. Take the much-written-about case of Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of the more poisonous figures to have emerged in the 20th century's plethora of world-class thugs, gangsters, despots, and tyrants. From the beginning of his career, this "Grand Mufti of Jerusalem" was closely associated with the radical Muslim Brotherhood. In 1929 he orchestrated the Arab-Muslim pogroms in which the ancient Jewish community of Hebron was massacred. In 1937, moving on to Baghdad, he helped stir up the passions that ultimately issued in a two-day anti-Jewish pogrom.  While in Iraq he also initiated contacts with Nazi Germany, and in 1941, now living in Berlin, he created a Muslim SS division to abet Hitler's war in Bosnia.

Gilbert's bird's-eye conspectus of Husseini's career prompts a number of questions. One has to do with the relatively recent emergence of the terrorist group Hamas on the Palestinian political scene.  Hamas is a branch of the same Muslim Brotherhood to which Husseini adhered, and it is worth recalling that, during the 20's and 30's, Palestinian opposition to Zionism was indeed deeply Islamic in character. From this larger perspective, might the rise of Hamas be more correctly seen as a re-emergence, and the previous dominance of the Palestinian movement by the PLO—another extremist organization but a secular nationalist one—as but a passing interval in an essentially Islamist continuum?

Another question pertains specifically to Iraq. Gilbert describes how deeply Nazi agitation had penetrated Iraqi society in the 1930's, even before Haj Amin al-Husseini's arrival.  The mufti's soft spot for Nazi-style anti-Semitism only added to the mix. Post-World War II Iraq was known for state brutality, and one can't help wondering about the Nazi contribution to it. In one particularly grotesque case from 1969—ten years before Saddam founded his sadistic regime—nine Iraqi Jews were hanged on trumped-up charges; a national holiday was declared and a million people went to see the bodies—as Gilbert writes, "dancing, chanting, and even picnicking." How can one account for this sort of frenzied mass barbarism, unparalleled in the rest of the Arab-Islamic world? Gilbert notes that even the Egyptian government, an ardent enemy of Israel, felt compelled to protest.

Academic historians will surely find much to criticize in Gilbert's book. Although the work is copiously footnoted, his favorite source appears to be the Encyclopaedia Judaica, not your standard scholarly fare. But academic criticism has blinded itself to the crucial role that general histories play in educating the public, a role even more necessary in an age when too many historians conceive their mission as the "deconstruction" of overarching narratives. In Ishmael's House is a clear account of an important story, and whatever its deficiencies, Gilbert is to be thanked for writing it.

A final word should be added regarding the cultural significance of the work.  In his chapter on the absorption of Jews from Muslim lands into Israeli society, Gilbert quotes a Jewish Israeli public figure who proudly declares, "I am an Arab. . . . My language is Arabic, I'm a Jew but I'm Arabic." An Arabic Jew? Many Western Jews, accustomed to the capsule phrase "Arab-Israeli conflict," are likely to find such a conjunction strange, if not unintelligible. But, with exceptions, most Western Jews haven't been exposed to eastern Jewish cultures. By contrast, to many who come from the Arab world, or whose parents came from the Arab world, Arab culture is as integral to their identity as Yiddish is to the identity of Ashkenazim. If Martin Gilbert's book increases awareness of the Arab dimension of Jewish identity, it will not only have enhanced historical understanding but have contributed significantly to Jewish cultural life.

You can find this online at:
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« Reply #1041 on: October 25, 2010, 09:59:41 AM »

This may be the indication that Iran will not be militarily challenged:

Hawkish Israeli minister drafts nuclear Iran plan 25 Oct 2010 07:59:58 GMT
Source: Reuters
 * Most hawkish Israeli minister wants "day after" plan

* PM Netanyahu officially committed to preventive action

* Retaliatory rockets, diplomatic fallout on Israeli minds

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Hardline Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has commissioned a report on how to prepare for a nuclear-armed Iran as doubt mounts about the efficacy of preventive action, an Israeli source said on Monday.

Publicly, Israel has pledged to deny the Iranians the means to make a bomb but its previous, centrist government also discreetly drew up "day after" contingency plans should Tehran's uranium enrichment pass the military threshold.

At the time, rightist opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu called for Israel to consider preemptive strikes against its arch-foe's nuclear sites. Now prime minister, Netanyahu has reined in such rhetoric while not ruling out the use of force.

In a sign the government is examining a full range of options, Lieberman, the most hawkish member of Netanyahu's coalition, has ordered ministry strategists to draft a paper on "what to do if we wake up and discover the Iranians have a nuclear weapon", said the senior Israeli political source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Foreign Ministry planners are also preparing a report on possible responses should the Palestinians unilaterally declare a state taking in all of the occupied West Bank, where continued Israeli settlement has bogged down U.S.-sponsored peace efforts.

Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal. Its aircraft bombed Iraq's atomic reactor in 1981 and launched a similar sortie against Syria in 2007.

But many independent experts believe Israeli forces could not take on Iran alone. The Iranians have dug in, dispersed and prepared to defend many of their nuclear facilities.

Even were its warplanes to manage a successful sneak attack, Israel would almost certainly suffer retaliatory Iranian missile salvoes worse than the short-range rocket attacks of Lebanese and Palestinian guerrillas in the 2006 and 2009 border wars.

There would be a wider diplomatic reckoning: World powers are in no rush to see another regional conflagration, especially while sanctions are still being pursued against an Iranian nuclear programme which Tehran says is peaceful.

The planning department of Israel's Foreign Ministry is one of several units guiding government strategy. Chief among these are the National Security Council and an inner cabinet made up of Netanyahu and six other top ministers, including Lieberman. Netanyahu's office declined comment on the Lieberman initiative. A senior Israeli official said: "The government's position is that all attempts have to be made to prevent Iran from going nuclear."

The Israelis have voiced cautious confidence in sanctions. But they also believe Tehran could have a nuclear warhead as soon as 2012-2014, an assessment shared by some in the West.

Israeli defence officials have placed a priority on improving the national missile shield and bolstering a network of civilian bomb shelters -- a posture that may herald resilience in the face of an eventual nuclear-armed Iran or a bracing for reprisals should Israel strike Iran first. (Editing by Noah Barkin)
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« Reply #1042 on: October 27, 2010, 12:51:31 PM »

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, already struggling to stave off a collapse of Middle East peace talks, is increasingly alarmed by unrest in Lebanon, whose own fragile peace is being threatened by militant opponents of a politically charged investigation into the killing in 2005 of a former Lebanese leader.

With an international tribunal expected to hand down indictments in the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in the coming months, the Hezbollah militia is maneuvering furiously to halt the investigation, or failing that, to unseat Lebanon’s government, which backs it.

The White House sent a senior diplomat to Beirut last week to reassure Lebanon’s president, Michel Suleiman, of President Obama’s support for the investigation and his country’s stability. The visit by the diplomat, Jeffrey D. Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, came on top of a telephone call to Mr. Suleiman by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“The president felt very strongly that we need to reconfirm our commitment to Lebanon’s independence, Lebanon’s sovereignty and Lebanon’s stability,” Mr. Feltman said in an interview. “There are people inside Lebanon who are arguing that it faces a choice of justice versus stability. That’s an artificial choice.”

The administration’s worries go beyond Lebanon itself, and help explain why it, and not the stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, has been the major preoccupation of American foreign policy officials for the last few weeks.

The diplomatic activity follows a splashy tour of Lebanon by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who got an ecstatic reception from members of Hezbollah, the Shiite movement financed and equipped by Iran. American officials were particularly struck by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s trip to a small town a few miles north of the Israeli border, where he called for the “Zionists to be wiped out.”

Lebanon has long been a proxy state for battles between adversaries in the Middle East, and Iran’s attempts to build influence there are not new. But at a time when the United States is trying to revive peace talks, administration officials concluded that Iran’s latest muscle-flexing could not go unanswered.

“You don’t want the perception of a vacuum,” Mr. Feltman said. “You don’t want the perception that Ahmadinejad is the only game in town.”

Analysts said that the United States was right to reassert its commitment to Lebanon, but that it may be acting too late. Rising prices for weapons suggest that militias other than Hezbollah are rearming, increasing the threat of a civil war.

There are limits to what the administration can do to stabilize a country as divided as Lebanon. The United States has given the Lebanese armed forces $670 million in military aid since 2006. But last August, several members of Congress put a hold on further funds after a skirmish between Lebanese and Israeli soldiers raised suspicions that parts of the Lebanese Army were in league with Hezbollah.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s jubilant reception in Lebanon has only added to the resistance on Capitol Hill. Representative Eliot L. Engel, a Democrat from New York who sponsored a bill imposing sanctions on Syria, said he would consider voting to block aid because of fears that it could end up helping Hezbollah.

“We need to be careful about what we do there, so we’re not strengthening the hand of a terrorist group like Hezbollah and its allies,” Mr. Engel said in an interview. “We just don’t want to use our monies to enhance policies that are bad for Americans and bad for the people of Lebanon.”

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon was sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council in 2007 to investigate the car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others in February 2005. Lebanon’s coalition government, now led by Mr. Hariri’s son, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, has pledged to contribute 49 percent of the tribunal’s expenses and enforce its judgments.

The Netherlands-based tribunal has been at work since March 2009, but has said little about when it plans to hand down indictments.

A raft of reports in Lebanon’s news media said an announcement could come as early as December, though some reports now suggest that the tribunal may not act until the first quarter of next year.

In either case, a sense that the investigation is entering its final stages has contributed to a feverish political environment.

The trouble is, those indicted may include members of Hezbollah, and the group, which holds seats in the Lebanese cabinet, is demanding that Prime Minister Hariri disavow the investigation. Syria, also under suspicion for having a role in Rafik Hariri’s assassination, has taken up calls to discredit the tribunal.

Syrian officials, who had once backed Saad Hariri’s government, are now sharply critical of him and his March 14 alliance, a coalition that grew out of the “Cedar Revolution,” which pushed Syrian troops out of the country. Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper that is closely allied with Hezbollah and Syria, declared recently that “taking authority away from Hariri would teach him how to keep it.”

Saudi Arabia has tried to mediate, without much success. American officials say they believe that the tribunal will be able to complete its investigation. But their concern is that indictments will draw protesters onto the streets, inflaming tensions between Shiite and Sunni factions. Unrest could also lead to fresh skirmishes between Lebanese and Israeli forces along the border between the countries.

That would imperil a peace effort that is already on life support. Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s chief negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, has been in Washington for the last few days, officials said, floating various ideas on ways to revive the talks. But there is no indication of an imminent breakthrough.

Syria’s increasingly disruptive role is also raising questions about the Obama administration’s 18-month effort to engage that country. Some analysts said it was time for the administration to rethink that effort.

“This is the moment when we need a straight answer out of Syria,” said Andrew Tabler, an expert on Syria and Lebanon at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “They just seem unwilling or unable to deliver it.”

« Reply #1043 on: November 01, 2010, 08:46:30 PM »

I'm lacking the words to comment on this.--

UNESCO and the cradle of Jewish history
11/02/2010 01:34
If not for the Israeli security presence, Rachel’s Tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and Joseph’s Tomb would be off limits to Jews today.

UNESCO, the United Nations body in charge of preserving historical sites, went too far this time.

There is a lot of chutzpah in this post-modernist era of “deconstruction” and “revision.” Warmly cherished religious faiths and customs are reduced to “false consciousness.” Nations with their own unique ethnicity and proud traditions become “imagined communities.”

Foundational histories are reduced to nothing more than subjective “narratives.”

But even in this radically relativistic intellectual atmosphere, the latest UNESCO decision stands out. For this was a particularly blatant attempt to erase Jewish ties to the land of Israel.

In its biannual session which ended last week, UNESCO adopted proposals initiated by Arab member states to dub two Jewish historical sites “Palestinian.” In a 44-1 vote, with 12 abstentions, the UNESCO board declared the “Haram al-Ibrahm/the Cave of the Patriarchs and Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb” to be “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories” and asserted “that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law.”

The move is seen in some quarters as a response to Israel’s decision in February to include the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb on a list of national heritage sites that would receive additional funding for refurbishing and for the development of educational tours.

While February’s decision was described by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a way of “reconnecting” Israelis to their history, the UNESCO decision was denounced by the prime minister as an “absurd” attempt to “detach the people of Israel from its heritage.”

He asked: “If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel, some 4,000 years ago, are not part of the Jewish heritage then what is?” Particularly absurd was the decision regarding Rachel’s Tomb. As scholars such as Nadav Shragai and Prof.

Yehoshua Porath have pointed out, it was only in 2000 that the Palestinians “discovered” its historical importance.

On Yom Kippur of that year, as the second intifada was being launched, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, a Palestinian daily, published an article that blatantly departed from Muslim tradition, which corresponds with Jewish tradition, to claim that “the tomb is false and was originally a Muslim mosque.” Until then, all official Palestinian Authority references to the site had recognized it as Rachel’s Tomb. (A similar tactic was used after the 1929 Arab riots, to transform the Western Wall into the al-Buraq wall, supposedly the place where Muhammed’s winged horse al-Buraq was tied after his night-flight from Mecca.) ZIONISM IS particularly susceptible to these types of attacks. As a movement, Zionists simultaneously rebelled against tradition – particularly the Jewish religion – and exile, while incorporating concepts from Judaism that emphasized Jews’ ties to the land of Israel.

Zionism strove for normalization of the Jewish people as “a nation among the nations.” But it also co-opted the idea of “chosenness” by aspiring to create a model nation – hevrat mofet. Bitter disputes in contemporary Israel over settlements and the proper balance between Israel’s Jewish and democratic dimensions have their roots in this “split” Jewish identity.

Nonetheless, whether one is for or against Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, or for or against emphasizing Israel’s “Jewishness” at the expense of its “democratic” nature, it is an undeniable fact that the geographical area referred to as the West Bank and that includes Hebron and Bethlehem was the cradle of Jewish history.

No amount of historical revisionism or UNESCO declarations will erase this fact.

Nor is there a doubt that Israel has done a better job at maintaining equitable access to religious sites for all faiths. In contrast, Jordan denied Israel the “free access to the Holy Places [including the Kotel] and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives” stipulated in the April 1949 Armistice.

The Palestinian Authority’s track record is no better. If not for the Israeli security presence, Rachel’s Tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs, and Joseph’s Tomb would be off limits to Jews today.

Whatever future territorial agreements are reached with the Palestinians, it would be an intolerable and untenable injustice if Jews were prevented from visiting sites with such profound historical, cultural and religious import.
« Reply #1044 on: November 01, 2010, 09:28:39 PM »

Why Israel is a rogue state [Gabriel Latner]
The Cambridge Union Society held a debate on the motion that "Israel is a rogue state" on October 21st.
The Balfour Street blog describes what happened:
In the end, the proposition was defeated, but the event didn't proceed without an unusual twist. It seems one of the members of the side in favor of the proposition, a student who was apparently selected at random (or not at random), decided to argue the point from a decidedly pro-Israel perspective.

The debater, Gabriel Latner, gave a copy of his speech to Mondoweiss with the request that it not be edited. I am reproducing it here, only by adding paragraph spacing and slight grammatical corrections where it seemed appropriate. The square bracket comments were his, written afterwards.
This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening – to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the 'Aye' door. I face a singular challenge – most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds.

This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do – simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel. It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international 'laws' to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death. It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalised stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is, that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state' rogue'. If it did, Canada, the US, and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain's treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigour.

More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox. I'm going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight, to vote for the proposition. By the end of my speech – I will have presented 5 pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is, if not a 'rogue state' than at least 'rogueish'.

Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is 'bad'. I will not be arguing that it doesn't deserve to exist. I won't be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is 'rogue'.

The word 'rogue' has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The OED defines rogue as 'Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time ', while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition 'behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way '. These definitions, and others, centre on the idea of anomaly – the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.

The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051% . In comparison the chance of a UK lotto ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% - more than twice as likely. Israel's Jewishness is a statistical abberation.

The second argument concerns Israel's humanitarianism, in particular,Israel's response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis – for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that – but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. [I actually hoped that Mr Massih would be able speak about this - he's actually somewhat of an expert on the Crisis in Darfur, in fact it's his expertise that has called him away to represent the former Dictator of Sudan while he is being investigated by the ICC.] There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt – where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border. Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion – they are treated as the refugees that they are – and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees Citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.

But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets. Compare that to the US's reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst – and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.

My Third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns -- it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands – they're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP- an organisation of 'freedom fighters' that, under Abed Rabbo's leadership, engaged in such freedom promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man, and talk about peace. And the world applauds. You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA – the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel can do the exact same thing – and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue – behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.

Another part of dictionary definition is behaviour or activity 'occuring at an unexpected place or time'. When you compare Israel to its regional neighbours, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is. And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbours. At no point in history, has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East- except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions, and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded ant-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence. In fact, it beats America.

Israel's protection of its citizens' civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as 'Free' 'Partly Free' or 'Not Free'. In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a 'free' country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in say, Lebanon- a country designated 'partly free', where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well. [I'm hoping Ms Booth will speak about this, given her experience working as a 'journalist' for Iran,] Iran is a country given the rating of 'not free', putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran, [as Ms Booth I hoped would have said in her speech], there is a special 'Press Court' which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offences as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the 'foundations of the Islamic republic' , using 'suspicious (i.e. western) sources', or insulting islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. [I don't know if Ms Booth was affected by that] I guess we can't really expect more from a theocracy. Which is what most countries in the Middle East are. Theocracies and Autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of every country in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.

I have one final argument – the last nail in the opposition's coffin- and its sitting right across the aisle. Mr Ran Gidor's presence here is the all evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr Gidor is a political counsellor attached to Israel's embassy in London. He's the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them to the UN. He knows what he's doing. And he's here tonight. And it's incredible. Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off,to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That's remarkable. Do you think for a minute, that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was 'This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world', that Britain would allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never. And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. But Israel has sent Mr Ran Gidor to argue tonight against [a 'journalist' come reality TV star, and myself,] a 19 year old law student who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.

Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now- because it forgot rule number one. You never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It's the same reason you won't see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.

That's five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel. But I have a minute or two left. And here's an argument for all of you – Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed OSIRAK – Sadam Hussein's nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel. Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq. That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom loving peoples. But it hasn't. But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something; while you're here, Khomeini's Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you're honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity act in a way that is the not the norm, and you'd better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a Nuclear Iran. [Except Ms Booth]
This kid is going places.
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #1045 on: November 01, 2010, 09:47:26 PM »

One of the reasons I like Israel. The willingness to do what must be done.
« Reply #1046 on: November 07, 2010, 03:03:33 PM »

Editor's Notes: Danny Seaman’s farewell voyage
The departing head of the Government Press Office lets it all out.
Winding up a torrid decade as director of the Government Press Office, Danny Seaman has plainly decided to give vent to years of pent-up frustration.

In this interview, during which he spoke for more than an hour and a half in rapid-fire English, he loosed off passionate criticism in all directions: At a misguided government bureaucracy that threatens to doom the GPO into irrelevancy. At the failure of some in officialdom to back him when he defended Israel against what he considered dire media misrepresentation. At Israel’s surrender of many of its own historical claims and rights. At some local journalists who bolster the delegitimization of Israel. At the Palestinian manipulation of the foreign press. And, most of all, at parts of the foreign press itself, which he depicts variously as unconscionably ignorant, disinclined to appreciate fundamental truths about Israel’s best features, incompetent and sometimes downright immoral.

Is the departing Seaman a heroic advocate for Israel who is being shamefully and counter-productively treated by his foolish, short-sighted, lily-livered bosses? Or should someone so candid and opinionated never have been entrusted with the ultra-delicate task of liaising with the international media?

By the end of this interview, which I have condensed of necessity and edited to clarify Seaman’s central arguments, his verbal onslaught may have divided readers as to whether he was a rare asset or crippling liability in a job he evidently loved. But very few, I suspect, will be unmoved. Excerpts:

How long were you in the job?

About 10 years. Before then I had worked in several positions in the GPO. Going way back, I was in the same paratroop company as [Ambassador to the US] Mike Oren... I was head of the GPO’s foreign press department when the [second intifada] broke out in September 2000. There was no real director of the GPO and I was promoted to that position.

What was the main responsibility?

Handling the foreign press.

Assisting with all their technical needs. Giving the government’s message. Getting them contacts. Showing them around the country.

I was ready to leave two years ago, with the creation of the new Ministry of Public Diplomacy. There were certain things that I had wanted to do [and haven’t been able to]. I wanted to take the GPO into the 21st century.

The demise of the GPO began immediately after its peak. The peak was around the first papal visit [by John Paul II] 10 years ago. The GPO assisted the large number of media people here, creating a press center that became an international standard. Bureaucratic envy set in. Some ministries didn’t like the fact that the GPO was getting all the credit, all the prestige. Working with the media is perceived to be very prestigious...

The GPO was weak politically; it was always an outsider.

[Officialdom] usually didn’t know where to place us: Are we on the side of the government or are we on the side of the journalists? So the GPO lost out over the years.

There were things that I thought were necessary to do. For example, today, new media allows us to go back to one of our original duties at the GPO, which was to be sort of journalists. In the past we used to have a GPO correspondent sitting in meetings, and then providing information to different media organizations. There was a lull in that during the ’90s and the first part of this century, but today with new technologies we could do exactly what Israel needs, which is to bypass the mainstream media, and sometimes the bias that exists there, the blocking of Israel’s message.

Another of the most essential things, fundamental in reestablishing the relationship between the State of Israel and the foreign media, is the day-to-day contact between the government, via the GPO, and the foreign media. [In past years], we had this through [the presence of both the GPO and many foreign journalists in offices in the same building, central Jerusalem’s] Beit Agron.

The Palestinians have this advantage, through the American Colony Hotel [in east Jerusalem, where many visiting foreign journalists stay]. They have direct relations with the media, and are cultivating that relationship. Well, the government of Israel had that for years through the GPO at Beit Agron. It was a day-to-day press center. Media organizations had offices there, and so did the government, Foreign Ministry, the IDF. Army Radio was there.

When JCS [Jerusalem Capital Studios] opened up [and became the new home for many foreign TV bureaus and other foreign journalists], our relationship with the foreign media started deteriorating.

Beit Agron stopped being the center. We started losing the connection with the foreign press.

For over four years now, I’ve been saying we have to move the GPO out to Malha, because that’s where most of the foreign media are going out to, to reestablish that daily contact with them. In the past, you could sit, talk and schmooze with them, have coffee. I can’t emphasize strongly enough how important that personal contact with the journalists is.

But then you get involved in the bureaucracy. “Oh, you’re gonna move? It’s gonna be costly.”

In my talks with Oren [Helman, the former Binyamin Netanyahu adviser who is formally succeeding Seaman next week], in preparation for his taking over, I indicated to him that either we move our offices to Malha or we shut down the GPO. Because otherwise we can’t serve our purpose.

Journalists here don’t have to be in contact with government officials. They can come to Israel and walk around freely. But having a press card makes it easier for them. And that’s our advantage at the GPO – the fact that we issue the press cards. That’s sometimes the only contact that some journalists are going to have with officials in Israel.

And that’s the point where, while one person is preparing the card, another person can sit there, create a relationship with the journalist, see what they're doing, suggest ideas for the stories.

When Sderot [was under heavy rocket attack] we had a lot of journalists coming in, and we had a display in the office of the missiles that had landed there. It became a conversation point. A lot of journalists, based on what they saw [in our office], decided to go to Sderot as part of the broader story.

They hadn’t thought of doing so before.

On the Internet today, meanwhile, there’s no limit to what can be done. Everybody [in Israeli officialdom], from Olmert’s government to this government, understands this. But it just doesn’t happen. For the life of me I don’t know why. Well I do, but I’m a civil servant, so I can't express my criticism in a way that would...

You say you were ready to leave two years ago. But now the Ministry of Public Diplomacy didn’t want you to stay on?

Nobody owed me anything. It wasn’t my position for life. But it was never explained to me, which is the only thing I’m disappointed about.

They could have come up and said, “We don’t like what you’re doing.” They would rather have someone else? That’s their prerogative. But here in Israel people don’t know how to conduct themselves in an honorable way. So they go through this whole charade of having a professional [tender to fill the job]. That process was done legitimately, I have no qualms about that.

You were required to reapply for your existing job?


And you chose not to?

No, I applied, knowing very well that I wouldn’t get it.

Look, it doesn’t matter. I’m a little disappointed, because there were a lot of things I wanted to do. I’m handing over the office in the best possible way I can. The GPO is important to Israel. Overall, for our relationship with the media, for Israel’s public relations apparatus, it is tremendously important.

It’s good to have new people coming in. I also believe in the Ministry of Public Diplomacy, and Yuli Edelstein, and what he’s doing. If they identify these areas which have not been developed by the State of Israel, areas that the usual hasbara doesn’t move in to, there’s a lot that can be done.

The whole Masbirim campaign is a very good idea, even though it is ridiculed by certain circles. Ordinary people have a greater ability to convince people internationally than a government does.

By interacting with ordinary people they meet on holiday?

Yes! Or by doing it through the Internet. There’s a lot of misinformation going around.

Unfortunately, the Israeli media is to a large degree responsible for a political indoctrination that represents only a small percentage of the Israeli public’s opinion.

The Israeli media is the original skewer of the conception of Israel, and the foreign media then plays into that?

Absolutely. An example: During the war in Lebanon [in 2006], I was up North, among the journalists. In the evenings I saw the interaction between Israeli media and the foreign media. Some of the Israeli journalists were sitting there and making the most atrocious statements about the State of Israel. They had been p***ed off about a lot of things, unhappy with the way [the war was] being conducted. In some cases there was a political tone to what they were saying. That’s good and legitimate for the internal debate. But somebody from the outside doesn’t understand the basis for this or that argument. Yet [the Israeli journalists] are more than happy to convey their opinions to somebody from the outside, not understanding how somebody from outside perceives this. They’re legitimizing the delegitimization of the State of Israel.

This is perhaps the greatest threat that we have been facing over the past decade: It’s no longer a case of Israel versus the Palestinians. It’s a deliberate, concerted effort to delegitimize Israel’s existence. [Our enemies] tried to beat us on the battlefield. They tried defeating us on the low-intensity battlefield. When they lost on these two levels, they suddenly understood that the only way to fight us today is to delegitimize our right to exist...

Part of my problem with the foreign press – and I’ve been accused of being combative and feisty in fighting them – is that you have journalists coming in here not having the faintest idea of what is going on.

They live off what they get from their colleagues; they meet certain people who come from the same social-economic background; they live off of one newspaper, Haaretz. They don’t make an effort. When you have a conversation with them, you find that they have a complete lack of knowledge of the elementary issues.

This didn’t used to be the case.

Journalists from the ’70s, ’80s, who were here during the beginning of the ’90s, were very knowledgeable, very experienced. This is a different generation.

The narrative has shifted. They’ll adopt the Palestinian narrative. That has become the bon ton. They’ll talk about “the Palestinian right of return.” There is no such thing. They talk about what the Palestinians call “Israel’s violations of Oslo.” What exactly are they talking about? They have no knowledge about the facts.

Today, if you bring in, say, an expert on international law [to hold a briefing for foreign journalists], they delegitimize the person based on what they perceive to be his political opinions. This is unacceptable, especially for a journalist. We the people, in a democratic society, rely on them to provide us with the information for us to make an educated decision on a particular issue. In this case, many journalists are failing in their duty. The media outfits that employ them are giving them automatic backing. And when the media doesn’t exercise its checks and balances, they’re failing in their job.

This began with the year 2000.

People call it “the Oslo war” – the Palestinian violence which erupted at that point. I’ve been working for Israeli public relations for 27 years, and there were certain “truths” that we were told: That if we adopt UN resolutions, there’ll be peace. If we recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination, there’ll be peace. If we remove settlements, there’ll be peace. And over the past 25 years, there’s been a progression in the Israeli position: Israel recognized the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; relinquished territory; removed settlements.

Regarding Lebanon, Israel fulfilled all the UN resolutions.

Yet the end result was not the peace that we were promised. In no way am I criticizing the efforts for peace. Peace is a strategic necessity for the State of Israel. But here, in this case, these “truths” that we were promised never came about. On the contrary, it only increased violence, increased extremism. Yet there was a failure by a lot of the media to be intellectually honest, to say “maybe we need to reevaluate,” to say “maybe we shouldn’t always be taking the Palestinians’ side because they’re the underdog.”

So in the year 2000, with the violence, with the bombs exploding here, [the foreign media’s] political positions couldn’t be [justified]. Yet every time there was a bomb here, directed against civilians, instead of an automatic expression of disgust at an assault on civilians, there were always conditions: “Well, we have to understand why [the bombers are acting].” Why do we have to understand it? But morally, you can’t make that “logic” [stand up], so they went to this other “logic,” and that was the numbers: “Look how many Palestinians were killed. If there are 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis, therefore the Palestinians must be victims.”

It’s nonsense. It’s morally repugnant. It’s intellectually unacceptable to make that kind of equation.

But the media repeated this. Not only in one-to-one discussions.

Reuters, AP, AFP would end their articles saying, In the recent violence, 4,000 Palestinians died compared to 1,000 Israelis. They were doing this deliberately, to create the impression that the one side that is suffering more must be justified. They were using small journalistic techniques to create an impression that put Israel in a negative light.

I noticed it most during the Lebanon War. Israel being singled out for criticism. The terminology used for Israel: Israel is always aggressive.

Israel is always active. Other things just “happen.” Missiles “rain down” on Israel. But where Israel is concerned, and I’m quoting from some media reports, they even adopt Nazi terminology: “Israel's blitzkrieg.”

Always using negatives and very aggressive terms.

By contrast, the suffering Israel endures is always caused by some obscure [force]. It’s never quite clear what’s happening, and who is responsible. The number of ways that Israel is depicted negatively is, astoundingly, much greater than with Hizbullah. Hizbullah is a terrorist organization! It is considered so by every country in the world, including the United Nations. [Yet I found foreign media] to be taking their word, their narrative as fact.

And the same in Gaza in 2008?

It became second nature, so it’s only natural that Gaza was just an extension. For too many in the media today, it becomes a feeding frenzy. For the war in Gaza about 400 additional reporters showed up here. They seem to have no knowledge of what is going on. They don’t understand what they’re seeing.

They don’t understand urban warfare. They’ll see some phosphorus or they’ll see some smoke, and they’ll immediately adapt [what they’re told about it] without understanding from the military perspective why it’s being done. [In Gaza, they were fed] misinformation, and they gave credibility to sources who time and time again have been disproved, sources who are very credible in the Western world, such as doctors.

In the Western world doctors are given a very particular [credibility].

But that same attitude was given to Palestinian doctors, and more than once they deliberately misled and lied to the journalists. And instead of the journalists saying, “Ok, once, twice. The third time they’re not going to be lying to me anymore,” they keep turning to these sources.

Some journalists did the job they were supposed to be doing, and went to objective experts and asked them about false claims [that Israel was using illegal weaponry, or had weaponry that purportedly melted the skin, or that Israeli weaponry was causing] these kinds of injuries. [One specific reporter] did the legitimate thing. He went and he asked an expert. And he was told, “What you’re talking about is science fiction.

These weapons don’t exist.” So, in this case, the story should have been over. But no, he reports [the false allegation and the firm dismissal], giving legitimacy to the actual accusation.

You want to compare that to something? Go back to the old blood libel.

Imagine the Jews are being accused now of using blood to make matza.

Some of the foreign media would “go to the experts,” maybe one of these cooking shows on television, who’d dismiss the idea, of course.

But the very report itself would give legitimacy to this absurd kind of accusation. Some people watching would say, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire, so there must be some truth to it.” [The foreign media] would not do this to any other country.

They tried pulling some of this stuff with the United States in Iraq, but very quickly ceased doing it.

With Israel they continue to allow it...

Journalists kept accusing Israel of using illegal phosphorus weapons.

It’s not illegal! And Israel used them legally. Many countries do. But when they’re caught in an argument that is proven to be wrong, the journalists don’t issue a correction, saying, “We’re sorry.” No, they then say, “Oh, it may not be illegal, but it’s immoral.” Immoral? Isn’t war immoral? We didn’t start this war.

Lebanon is the prime example of everything we’ve been unfairly accused of. Israel had fulfilled UN resolutions.

Israel was not occupying a centimeter of Lebanese territory.

Israel was attacked. Not only were its soldiers abducted, but journalists ignore the fact that there was an allout assault on Israel’s northern communities on that first day.

Yet despite all that, after a few days, you have it for the first time: “Disproportionate use of force.”

Ever since the enemies of Israel understood that it could not be defeated militarily, because of its strength, their goal has been denying us the right to use that strength. And here, unfortunately, the media sometimes are politically cooperating with this, and other times are being duped into it.

They don’t understand that they are being used by those elements who are abusing freedom of the press, abusing freedom of speech, abusing all these civil rights in Western society. We represent Western civilization in this area. These extremists who are assaulting Israel, it’s a prelude to what can be expected in Western societies. If it’s not stopped on Israel’s borders, the rest of Western civilization will end up facing the same kind of thing.

« Reply #1047 on: November 07, 2010, 03:04:46 PM »

Is some of your critique not the political opposition of somebody who tried to run as a Likud candidate for the Knesset?

I have never hidden my political beliefs. I do my job first. My political opinions have no bearing on the way I conduct myself in the professional aspects of the job.

Yes, I wanted to run for politics, for the Likud. I’m from a family connected to the IZL [Irgun], from a Revisionist family, an admirer of Jabotinsky and his teachings. I don’t hide these things. I'm very proud of them.

But I was brought up to respect people whatever their views, their political opinions...

Coming back to what I said about [inexperienced] journalists coming to Gaza. They are unqualified to report on modern warfare. The Palestinians are very good at manipulating images for show, for the journalists.

[None of the reporters] will actually find out what really happened.

They’ll get “verification” of an indication from a colleague who hasn’t verified it either. Even if they tried to do their job and they tried to verify, their editor would be shouting back, “I’m getting these pictures. They're coming in on X news media. Why are you not reporting about this?!” That’s why [during Operation Cast Lead] I thought the presence of journalists would not contribute to the exposure of what was actually happening there on the battlefield. The contrary.

You’re saying that when conflict erupts between Israel and Palestinians, the international press are lousy, incapable of doing their job. In effect, it’s better that they not cover it?

I don’t say they should not cover it.

But their presence on location does not contribute to the general knowledge of what is actually happening there.

So how are people supposed to understand what’s happening there?

Some of the tragedy is not only the journalists’ doing, it’s the realities themselves. If good old-fashioned journalism were at work, looking, trying to verify, getting other sources – it can’t be done. I feel sorry for a lot of the journalists today, those who really want to do a professional job.

The Palestinians are not stupid.

They have 20-30 years of experience of telling the journalists how high to jump. They know what makes modern media tick.

[With inexperienced journalists going into the West Bank], you’re taking somebody who doesn’t know the history. They’re moving from Israeli society, where we do everything to maintain normalcy.

You’ll have a suicide bombing in the morning, and by late afternoon there’s no indication of it any more. With the Palestinians, the moment you cross over, at the roadblock, people automatically have a negative reaction to the figures of authority. I get complaints [from journalists] saying there’s no human contact [between soldiers and Palestinians at checkpoints].

I try to explain to them there’s no human contact because when there was human contact, some [terrorists] saw that as an Achilles’ Heel and attacked the Israeli soldiers [at the checkpoints]. We’re trying to protect our lives. It’s the same with the security barrier. We protect our lives.

[Visiting journalists] don’t see it that way. They experience what it is like to be a Palestinian to a certain degree. When they come to our side, you have to start with the historical explanations. It’s very hard, because the life we have here seems very similar to their lives at home. They don’t understand the day-to-day things that we go through.

What are you going to do now?

I don’t know. I never sat and thought, what is my next goal going to be? I did the job the way I believed it should be done. I didn’t get a big salary. I was always paid as a head of a department, not as the head of the GPO, which is substantially different. So nobody can accuse me of reaping the [financial] benefits of this position.

More than once, people said to me, are you sure you want to do this? Maybe you shouldn’t. For example when I started taking a position on the issue of al-Dura...

That Israel was not responsible for the killing of 12-year-old Mohammad al-Dura [at Netzarim junction] in Gaza [on September 30, 2000] at the start of the second intifada, and that it had been foolish to apologize?

First, and second that I was critical of the conduct of France 2 [the TV station that broadcast the allegation of IDF responsibility for al-Dura’s death]. After literally hundreds of hours [of examination], I was absolutely convinced that the Israeli attitude of “better we not say anything” [about the incident] was not only wrong, was not only a mistake, but that it was a violation of our responsibility as civil servants. We have a responsibility to present Israel and we were failing...

Israel didn’t kill al-Dura and needed to have said so?

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And more than this. This incident was used in order to begin [the second intifada]. It served the politics of many people – Israelis and foreigners – to accuse Ariel Sharon of igniting the violence of the year 2000, [rather than] that Arafat had premeditated this. But the real violence did not erupt immediately after Sharon went to the Temple Mount [on September 28]. The real violence erupted when the blood libel erupted – that we killed the child. It was irresponsible to put these images out, because they were not clarified.

What was the basis of the accusation [that the IDF killed al-Dura]? A correspondent who was not physically on location. There was no visual evidence to back up the [charge].

There was no footage of Israeli soldiers shooting, no footage of the boy being shot, no footage of the boy dying. There was nothing to verify this.

This goes to what I was saying about the media immediately getting caught up in a news frenzy. CNN originally did the professional thing and said, “Wait a minute, I need more verification before I put out this story.” [But] once it had a life of its own, they had to report it also. And the next day, you had journalists reporting on this deception as if it were fact... Fundamental journalistic principles were not applied.

I wanted the truth. If Israel was responsible, I would be the first person to admit it. So, if they had made a mistake in this, why are journalists incapable of criticizing their colleague? When I raise these questions with journalists, they don’t offer a counter-argument.

No, they immediately resort to “Oh, you’re a right-wing extremist, these are conspiracy theories...”

Perhaps because the State of Israel didn’t really back you up?

The State of Israel did back me up... There’s no doubt about it today.

France 2 failed. This should not have been reported in the way that it was.

Would that be the most egregious example, in your eyes, of journalism failing to report the story accurately?

That was the most famous thing.

There was another famous incident I was involved with, involving Al- Jazeera, and our suspension of [some of our] services to them.

[In July 2008] they celebrated [the release in a prisoner exchange of] Samir Kuntar, [the brutal killer of four Israelis, including a four-year-old girl, in Nahariya in 1979] in their offices in Lebanon. Officially. On air. An official celebration by the organization.

Here, we required that they look into [the incident] themselves. It wasn’t an apology that I was looking for. It was whether Al-Jazeera, which wants to be treated as a professional media organization, addressed something that was clearly a professional failure.

And in this case I have a lot of respect for the way they addressed it, how they tried to correct it and make sure that kind of thing wouldn’t happen again. A lot of Western media organizations can learn from that.

By the way, I was criticized by the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.

For protesting Al-Jazeera’s celebration of the release of Samir Kuntar?

Yes. According to them I was damaging the very sensitive negotiations going on between Al-Jazeera and the Foreign Ministry [over this incident] at that time, negotiations that existed apparently only in the minds of the people in the Foreign Ministry...

Sometimes you have to stand up [on matters of principle]. That’s what I’ve tried to convey to the system here. It started back with al-Dura. If we are wronged, we’re within our rights to stand up and say this is wrong. We should be the first ones standing up and saying that.

Yes, you have to be nice to the journalists. But if they do not conduct themselves professionally, they have to understand that we’re no different from any other country in the world.

Journalists are not above the law.

In the year 2000, there was a foreign journalist who went to hotels throughout Israel and would refuse to pay. He would show his press card and then would refuse to pay his bill, saying, “I’m a foreign journalist.” At one point he made a point of saying he was an American, and that his taxes subsidize this country. This was a top journalist. Unfortunately, the hotels decided they didn’t want to make a big issue out of it.

A leading American journalist went around Israel, stayed at hotels, didn’t pay his bills and nobody made a fuss about it?

Yes. Then you had cases, such as during the disengagement from Gaza or the war in Gaza, where media organizations hired Israelis, rented rooms, hired services, and then just disappeared without paying.


There’s nothing we can do at the Government Press Office. You can file a complaint but there’s no legal thing that I can do.

I can make journalists’ lives more difficult. There are certain guidelines that allow me to do that. Such as with the case of [Swedish newspaper] Aftonbladet, and their despicable anti- Semitic... I don’t use that word lightly, by the way, because I came from a family where my father converted; half my family are Christian. I don’t use that word lightly. But in this case, Aftonbladet’s report on the IDF [purportedly] abducting Palestinians and using their body organs. We didn’t prevent Aftonbladet from working here. We just took our time. To this day, the correspondents from Aftonbladet do not get a press card immediately.

We can take up to 90 days and we can take longer...

There’s been continuous frustration over the past 10 years in the GPO – constantly fighting for budgets, for our place among the government bureaucracies, always having the personal sword over my head, always facing threats: “If you do this, you’re going to get fired. If you take this position, you’re going to be fired.” It didn’t matter that I could prove to them why I had to “take this position.”

When the [second intifada] violence erupted, in many ways the foreign media became a tool being used against the State of Israel. We have clear evidence that shows Marwan Barghouti’s and Yasser Arafat’s involvement with [Palestinian journalists] who were employed by the foreign press [and whose status and capacity to work in Israel, with attendant concerns about security risks, was an issue that Seaman dealt with extensively, including in court battles and face-offs with various Israeli politicians].

It developed over years, beginning back in the late ’80s. [Some of these Palestinian journalists] started off at the Palestinian Information Office [in east Jerusalem], which was shut down by [prime minister Yitzhak] Shamir during the first intifada. They were shut down because it was clear that they were serving to incite people on the ground. So they left and started being employed by the foreign press.

Then foreign journalists started giving cameras to Palestinians because they were getting good pictures. It evolved over the years.

With the advent of the Palestinian Authority, Arafat adapted the same measures [he had used in] Beirut.

Some of these [foreign] media organizations knew. And not only were they sympathetic, they had people who were connected to the PLO who were assigned here as journalists because it gave them that access.

Until the year 2000 it was fine, but the moment all hell broke loose, some of these people saw it as their jobs – and I’m talking about the foreigners right now – to help the Palestinian cause. And the Palestinians involved saw it as their job and they were getting clear instructions.

Instructions to do what?

To kill certain stories or promote other stories [in the foreign press].

There was an attempted suicide bombing one day in Jerusalem. A border policeman of Ethiopian descent was injured. Earlier that day, the Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs was caught illegally in Jerusalem and he was being held at the Russian Compound. We know that the Palestinian producers at the major media offices here coordinated among themselves to shift the story [that day] from [focusing on the] suicide attack to the fact that this Palestinian dignitary was being held by the Israelis. They deliberately misled on certain stories. They coordinated with the Palestinian Authority.

A lot of these [Palestinian] people first got jobs in the Palestinian media under Arafat, and then they started applying for jobs [with the foreign media based in Israel]. We started finding out that a lot of these people had been released from Israeli jails. Arafat was giving them jobs as journalists.

Are you disappointed that when you tried to take a more robust official line, in opposing some of the reporting that you feel has been unfair in the foreign media, that you haven’t had support from the Prime Minister’s Office, from the Ministry of Public Diplomacy?

From the Ministry of Public Diplomacy I did have support. When I approached the minister regarding the images from Reuters [which had cropped out of its photos weapons held by “activists” confronting Israeli soldiers] from the Mavi Marmara, Yuli Edelstein immediately put his name to [a complaint] and within 24 hours we got a [positive] response [from Reuters].

I understand at times the restraint that people in the Foreign Ministry want to show. There’s room for it at times. I’m not picking fights. [But] I believe that we should be standing up for things that we know are wrong, and not [let] journalists think they can get away with everything and that there’s no response from the Israeli side...

The same, by the way, goes for our decision not to allow journalists into Gaza for the war [Operation Cast Lead]. A decision was made. And then [various officials] started saying, “Oh, maybe we shouldn’t.” There were real reasons for this decision.

And it was upheld, but that was because the Ministry of Defense held firm. And prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Broadly speaking, you’re saying Israel doesn’t have the official courage of its convictions?

Sometimes no, it doesn’t. It’s not everybody in the Foreign Ministry. It’s certainly not the Foreign Ministry today. But for a long time those voices within the Foreign Ministry were stronger than the ones who said, “Yes, we have to stand up to it.”

This goes back to the whole issue of Israel’s hasbara failures since the Oslo Accords. We pulled the rug out from under our arguments. The moment in the Oslo process when we didn’t completely stand up for our narrative, we gave legitimacy to the Palestinian claims. [We gave up on] our positions, our claims, our rights!

As regards the Old City, east Jerusalem...?

Every place! My grandfather came here from Afghanistan, not because of Tel Aviv and not because of Haifa, but because of our ancestral right to the Land of Israel. And without our right to the Land of Israel we have no right to the State of Israel; we are no more than the colonialist occupiers which they claim we are. For many years, we used this claim of our right to Eretz Yisrael, not as a political statement, but as a case of genuine historical reasoning. You can’t say that it’s a right-wing argument. It has nothing to do with my positions or my being a right-winger. It’s a fact.

What is Judaism? Where is the birth of the Jewish people if not in Judea and Samaria? Now that’s not to say that we can’t compromise. Zionism has been a movement of compromise. But if we deny these [historical] rights, we’re undermining our own credibility and our own rights. This is part of the failure that has happened here.

Unfortunately, people with those kinds of positions had a stronger voice in the Foreign Ministry for many years. Other people were afraid to speak up. Over the years, I paid a hefty price for sticking to things that I believed were right to do. And everything that I stood up against, whether it was Aftonbladet, Al-Jazeera, the al-Dura case, I was eventually proven right.

And yet you still lost your job.

I didn’t lose my job. I was criticized for [my positions]... I paid a price with a negative portrayal, with a negative image – that I was a right-winger, an extremist, that people weren’t getting their press cards for political reasons – that has no basis in reality. Yet this became the prevalent attitude.

I’m controversial. Why? Because I stand up to defend Israel? Because I criticize the media where they fail? Nobody ever argued with me over the issues. They defamed me. And the reality is, it just doesn’t hold.
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Posts: 2004

« Reply #1048 on: November 11, 2010, 09:30:38 AM »

Settlement fatigue

Four decades is enough. If Israel wants peace, it must stop building in the occupied territories.

November 11, 2010

Why, after all these years, are we still writing about settlements?

This tiresome controversy has been raging ever since Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (along with the Golan Heights and the Sinai peninsula) in the 1967 Middle East War. The first settlement was built in the Golan a month later. That's four decades ago. Four decades during which the international community has been demanding that Israel step back to the pre-1967 lines, four decades during which Palestinians have called for an end to Israeli efforts to redraw the political map. It's been 35 years since the first Los Angeles Times editorial on the subject called the settlements an "obstacle to peace."

At the time that editorial was written in 1975, there were fewer than 5,000 settlers in the West Bank. Today there are nearly 300,000. That doesn't count those living in the Golan Heights or the 190,000 Israelis who have moved into traditionally Arab East Jerusalem.

In the early years, Israel offered a range of justifications — historical, archaeological and religious as well as military — for these fortified, walled-in communities that were beginning to dot the West Bank landscape. In the 1970s, the group Gush Emunim emerged on the scene, arguing that God gave the Jewish people the biblical regions of Judea and Samaria, and that they must not be returned.

But those days supposedly ended in the 1990s, when Israel officially declared its support for a two-state solution.

So why, after another decade and a half, are settlements still in the headlines? Why were new housing starts so cavalierly issued early this year on the very day Vice President Biden visited Israel? Why was it announced in September that a 10-month partial moratorium on building in the West Bank would not be extended, even as peace talks were being restarted? Why did we learn Tuesday that 1,300 more Jewish housing units would be built in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and that 800 new units had been approved in the West Bank settlement of Ariel?

Most of the world agrees that the settlements are illegal under international law. Even the United States, Israel's most loyal ally, has been clear that, as President Obama put it Tuesday, settlements are "never helpful" and "break trust."

If Israel were serious about negotiating a peace deal, wouldn't it stop building? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that a segment of the Israeli political establishment simply refuses to accept the new reality — and that segment, mostly made up of right-wing and religious political parties, is crucial to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's delicate coalition government. Truthfully, the settler movement's political power extends beyond the right wing; that's why settlements have grown steadily regardless of what government was in power, including those of Labor Party Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.

This page continues to believe, as it did in 1975, that settlements are an obstacle to peace. There's plenty of blame to go around, to be sure, for the absence of a final deal, but on this issue, the Israelis are squarely in the wrong. As long as they continue building in the occupied territories, the world will continue to question the depth of their commitment to peace.
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Posts: 15533

« Reply #1049 on: November 11, 2010, 12:12:39 PM »

Israel's first dedication has to be to it's survival. The "palestinians" have no interest in peace, otherwise they wouldn't endlessly teach their children the joys of jihad and martyrdom. Nothing short of Israel's destruction will satisfy them.
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