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Monday, September 29, 2008

"Time is on my side, Yes it is!"

Barry Rubin

September 28, 2008

So sang the Rolling Stones. But which side has time working in its favor? That's one of the Middle East's most intriguing and controversial questions.

Recently, Israeli leaders and well-wishers--sincere and hypocritical alike--have spoken in panicky terms that time isn't on Israel side and it's either peace in a few months or the Biblical flood.

Even U.S. government policy claims that agreement can and must be reached right away or else. Presidential candidate Barrack Obama has stated that Israel desperately needs peace and must make lots of concessions to get it real fast.

Well, it's nonsense. But first let's ask why has this idea become so big?

First, peace is good. Second, on the left, peace is considered both good and reachable if Israel gives up enough.

Somehow, no serious analysis is ever made on what the other side, the Palestinians and Syria, are, want, think, or do.

Given these beliefs, they sincerely believe that Israel should be scared, pushed, and subverted--for "its own good"--to give. In this context, no serious reevaluation is made of the well-intended but arguably disastrous peace process of the 1990s. Many of those on the moderate left and center have drawn proper conclusions from this experience.

Others in the center or even moderate right, however, who don't accept the further left's arguments, have come up with one of their own. They already accept, of course, that peace is good but how does one justify a high level of concessions? The answer is that those thinking this way must conclude that peace is both possible and urgently necessary.

And this brings us to former (oh, it feels so good to use that word) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and apparently, though possibly not, for acting Prime Minister Tzipi Livni.

For them, the argument that time is against Israel is the critical argument.

The response should be: on what is this claim based? After all, not only is it true but progress toward peace--as welcome as that would be--can worsen many of the factors they consider. Moreover, if too many concessions are made or a bad agreement is concluded than time really would be against Israel.

Perhaps the only specific point raised to show time is running out is the demographic one. Yet this is absurd. Egypt's birthrate, following a common pattern seen throughout the world, has fallen. The outflow of Palestinians to Jordan and other places is obvious. Palestinian population has been overestimated.

Beyond this, however, it makes no difference how many Palestinians there are in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Israel is not going to annex the land and make the Palestinians there voters. Numbers alone--as the conflict's history shows--don't count that much.

Whatever supposed factor pitting time against Israel--Europe's Islamicization, declining Western support, radical Islamist takeovers of Arab states or the Palestinian movement--will not be neutralized by Israeli concessions or a Palestinian state's creation. After all, once the situation changed against Israel, the issue would merely be reopened no matter what diplomatic agreement might have been reached earlier. The concept that immediate giveaways buy long-term immunity is absurd on its face.

Equally, underlying all this irrational analysis is a dogma beloved by foreign observers and journalists that quickly collapses on examination: Israel cannot continue with the status quo.

Why not? Israel faces far less pressure than in prior years. Security is far better than in the 1948-1990 period when Israel potentially faced full-scale war with the armies of surrounding Arab states every day. In the 1990s' peace process period, when at times terrorism reached far higher levels than today.

As for rocket attacks time is on Israel's side since it will have a defensive system within a few years. Completing the security fence will also enhance protection. Regarding Iranian nuclear weapons, an agreement with Fatah won't deter Tehran's--or Hizballah's and Hamas's--determination to sabotage it and passion for destroying Israel.

These radical forces would try to take over a Palestinian state and attack Israel from Gaza, Lebanon, and (West Bank) Palestine. Would the Palestinian government be able or even try to stop them? Might this bring Israeli military action and a new war? Once a Palestinian state was created would Israel's Arab minority be happy or inspired to escalate demands?

What about the cost to Israel of occupation? Well, before 1994 Israel paid the entire budget for the territories and was 100 percent responsible for security control. Today, its involvement in the Gaza Strip is zero and in the West Bank perhaps one-fifth what is was. Olmert's personal sleaziness takes a higher toll on Israeli morale than the remnants of occupation. Most Israelis don't want more than a tiny portion of the West Bank and know any presence there is due to security needs, not Greater Israel ambitions.

Meanwhile, Israel prospers and progresses. This year saw record tourism, near record-low unemployment, and fast economic growth. Israel's real problems are internal--improving education and social welfare--having nothing to do with the Palestinians.

Equally, Israel is doing well internationally. While a leftist and academic fringe has become completely hostile and popularity in public opinion polls has fallen in Europe (often not far below levels of anti-Americanism), the diplomatic picture is good. With friendly British, French, German, and Italian governments, the most hostile states in Europe are probably Belgium, Spain, and Sweden. Aside from the United States, Australia and Canada are extremely friendly; Israel has good relations with India and China, and okay relations with Russia.

Sadly, too, while it's always been argued that pushing for peace, withdrawing troops, and making big concessions promotes the love of Israel, unquestionably the opposite happens.

While Israel progresses on hi-tech, medicine, and science, the Arab world lags behind. Palestinians pay a high price for stagnation but choose intransigence any way. In fact, time is on Israel's side; it grows in strength while the other side has become more divided and, in most cases, increasingly unwilling to wage the conflict.

Some of the attitude of time-as-enemy arises from a general Western malaise of self-hatred and defeatism. In addition, Israel kept winning wars without gaining strategic serenity, neither total victory nor total peace. Yet a combination of military triumphs, diplomatic efforts, and redeployment from the territories has brought Israel's security to what is, in relative terms, a near all-time high. It may be far below what other nations are used to having, yet it is Israeli standards that count here.

The reality is that the Palestinians--albeit living off large-scale, though poorly spent, global subsidies--for whom time is an enemy. They face bad conditions; Fatah's decline continues; the chance to have their own state slips away because their leadership pushes it away. Arab regimes face Islamist challenges that may be defeated but waste resources and stunt their progress. The chance for democracy, moderation, and stability has been lost for another generation.

Peace is preferable but much of what makes it so is that it must be a good peace, one that makes things better and is sustainable. Peace is possible only when the other side wants it. Today's peace process mania is like a cartoon character whose legs windmill in a blur but which never advances.

But Israel is in the stronger position and can, like the Rolling Stones, say to Palestinians and others that if they want to make things better for themselves:

"You're searching for good times, wait and see,
"You'll come running back to me."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

AP Blames Israel For Making Palestinians Want to Destroy It

Barry Rubin
September 26, 2008

In an article of September 20, Ali Daraghmeh, "Army says troops kill Palestinian with firebomb," there is a long discussion of the current state of the peace process.Let's be clear: virtually nobody in Israel who is not speaking as an official government spokesman believes that there is any chance that there will be a peace soon with the Palestinians.
The great majority of them place most or all the blame on the Palestinians.
In addition, most people in political life who would say publicly that there is a chance for peace have the opposite view in private conversations.
These two points, which hold true across the political spectrum except for the far left--doubts about the process and blame on the Palestinians--never appear in coverage. Never, ever.
Yet these are the two most important facts about the most over-covered issue in the world.
Articles lately will say that the deadline will probably not be met, but present that as sort of an accident or due to Israel's fault--the fall of the government.This article, like so many others, gives a lot of space to Palestinian viewpoints and none to Israeli viewpoints. In this case:"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, warned that time for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is quickly running out."
It then quotes a Mahmoud Abbas op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal blaming, "Israel's continued settlement expansion and land confiscation in the West Bank makes physical separation of our two peoples increasingly impossible."
Actually both settlement growth and land confiscation (pretty much exclusively for the separation fence and often reversed by Israeli courts) is pretty limited.Another really long article is dedicated to proving that Israel is destroying any chance for peace, basically serving as a Palestinian propaganda statement. This article, Steven Gutkin, "Palestinians despairing of independence effort, September 20, 2008, basically says that the nice Palestinians really want peace but Israel won't give it to them.
As a result, the frustrated Palestinians may have to resort to violence. Well who could blame them under these conditions, right?Here's the lead:"Prominent Palestinians are lighting a fire under Israel's feet by proposing a peace in which there would be no separate Palestine and Israel, but a single state with equal rights for all."So let's ask some questions.
The Palestinians use the phrase about lighting fires as a code word for terrorist violence, though the American reader will understand it here as sort of, urging Israel to move forward. Is a Palestinian demand for Israel to disappear and millions of Palestinians to be allowed to live there a peace proposal?
And does anyone take seriously the idea of equal rights for all, a phrase taken from the U.S. Supreme Court building?
In the next paragraph though we are told that it is not just a single state with equal rights for all but a "binational" state, which is sort of like creating the perfect conditions for daily violence and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Maybe, the article continues, this is "little more than a Palestinian pressure tactic fed by frustration over the failure of talks on a two-state solution, but it has set Israeli leaders on edge.
"My, my. Now why would it set them on edge, it seems so harmless, sort of like how things work in America?
Oh, right, it is a binational state that would include radical Islamists and radical nationalists who have been murdering Israelis for decades."Such a merger of Israel with the West Bank and Gaza Strip would quickly result in the Jews being outnumbered by the faster-growing Arab population.
For most Israelis it would result in a nightmare choice: Give the Arabs full voting rights and lose Israel's Jewish character, or deny them equality and be branded an apartheid state."
You think?
But even in the above paragraph which pretends to explain Israel's point of view a key point is left out: Palestinians have never abandoned their goal of replacing Israel with a Palestinian Arab Muslim state.
It isn't something new.
And the idea of using a "binational" state as an interim step in that direction has been around for 35 years.Instead, we are told that this "idea is gathering important Palestinian adherents," as if up until now they have been in favor of an end to the conflict, permanent peaceful coexistence, and the resettlement of Palestinians in a Palestine state. Note that their refusal to accept such things was critical in the collapse of the "peace process" in 2000 at and after Camp David and has been the continued cause of inability to achieve a diplomatic solution since.
The rest of this extremely long article repeats the false themes of Palestinians just yearning for peace but being forced, unwillingly, to demand Israel cease to exist.On another front, the AP finds room for a very long article by George Jahn, "Diplomats: Syria passes 1st test of nuclear probe," September 20.
The article uses a dozen paragraphs to clear Syria of any guilt for having been engaged in an effort to build a nuclear facility to produce materials for gaining atomic weapons.
Note that this is a leak, not an official report, and even then proves nothing.
It was immediately pointed out, for example, that the Syrians had been working on the site and might well have removed or buried the evidence.Now, however, hundreds of thousands of readers will say: Ah, so that attack on Syria was about nothing, then, and the Syrians were victims.Just like the Palestinians.And, it would be far more true to say, just like the people who read these stories.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Muslim Racist and Cultists Threats To Civilization

The Muslims, as if in a contest to see how riciculous they can appear to the civilized nations on the planet spew more of thier garbage:

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated the entire land of Palestine was holy and belonged solely to the Arabs, in a speech held on Friday in honor of the "al-Quds Day," .
Nasrallah claimed that Israel and the Jewish lobby ruled the world and influenced the US and its allies, and explained jihad was the only way to achieve results.
"Our lands will be liberated not by begging the US or the West, but with will, determination, resistance and sacrifices made by the region's peoples," he said.


In his speech, Hizbullah's leader stressed the holiness of Palestine and the suffering of the Palestinians, saying that "the Islamic nation has a historic commitment to Jerusalem, Palestine and the Palestinian people."

Earlier on Friday, a former Iranian president warned the West that its support for Israel would backfire as hundreds of thousands of people staged rallies in support of Muslim claims to Jerusalem.



Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is still considered influential in Iranian politics, said the US, Britain and France back Israel - and this is dangerous.

"They will put themselves in trouble, eventually," Rafsanjani said during a Friday prayer ceremony in Teheran marking "al-Quds Day".

Israel could "take tougher and more offensive action" than the United States against Iran and the Arab world, warned Rafsanjani, who is the head of a powerful clerical body that has the ability to appoint and dismiss the country's supreme leader.

State-run television also aired clips on Friday featuring hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York. The president, who is in the US for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, said Israel does not have support among ordinary people in the United States.

He also chided hundreds of demonstrators who protested him during his trip.

"It was a big failure for them," Ahmadinejad said.

The latest anti-Israel remarks made by Iranian leaders come as hundreds of thousands rallied in cities across the country to protest Israel's continued hold on Jerusalem, the city where Muslims believe Islam's Prophet Muhammad began his journey to heaven.

In the capital Teheran, demonstrators chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" to commemorate day of "al-Quds." Some protesters also burned American and Israeli flags.

Teheran's Jewish community also participated in the rally according to a statement by the Teheran Central Jewish Committee, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press.

State television reported similar large rallies in all other provincial capitals and smaller towns across the country.

Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran has observed the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan as "al-Quds Day," as a way of expressing support to the Palestinians and emphasizing the importance of Jerusalem to Muslims.

Rallies were also held in the Syrian capital of Damascus to mark "al-Quds."

More than 3,000 people gathered at the Yarmouk refugee camp carrying Palestinian flags and anti-Israeli banners. The rally was attended by several officials from Syria-based Palestinian factions such as Ahmed Jibril, the secretary-general of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General-Command.

"This day is a day of popular anger in the Arab and Islamic nations. It is directed toward all those who are colluding against Palestine and Jerusalem," Jibril said in an apparent reference to Arab nations that have relations with Israel. "Jerusalem is being destroyed and Judaized every day while Israeli flags fly in their capitals."

Another official, Ziad Nakhale of the Islamic Jihad group, said Jerusalem is holy for Muslims and "we call all Muslims around the world to liberate it."

Twelve-year-old Mohammed Kheir, who took part in the rally while wearing a camouflage uniform, said he will never forget Jerusalem.

"Palestine is ours and it is the most valuable thing for me. We will never forget it. This is what my father taught us," the boy said.


As MCain said "Bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran".
Here Here!

McCain Survives Debate


McCain was spry at times, and one could almost hear his supporters yelling, “Go get ‘im Granpa!”
But as David Gergen said, “He lost the debate because he needed more than a tie.”
He didn’t collapse or have a seizure, but he did a lot of smirking and sneering and inappropriate facial gestures that have become part of his baggage.
He couldn’t pronounce achmidinijad’s name.
He said he wouldn’t sit down with the President of Spain without preconditions, which actually is a step forward for him since last week he didn’t know the President of Spain’s name at all and he thought Spain was in Latin America.
McCain didn’t seem to have a clue about how to deal with the economic mess either.
Obama was gentlemanly as always, that is the kind of man he is, but he just seemed so much more knowledgeable and able than McCain.
It seemed incomprehensible after the debate that anyone would vote for McCain to be President, he obviously does not have the skills or intellect or intelligence to be a leader.
Perhaps the major flaw in McCain’s performance was his inability to look at Obama.
He appeared discomfited, angry, surly, brittle and old.
As he said, “I was not elected to be Miss congeniality in the Senate.”
I wonder why?

There may be some disagreement on the fringes of politics, some on the hard right thinking McCain won, and on the left thinking Obama totally thrashed McCain.
But it does seems honest to say, that on a debate which is McCain’s “area of expertise”, he survived, and little more.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Who Do They Like, Who Do They Hate


Barry Rubin
September 18, 2008

These two polls are very interesting especially when compared to each other, and are not so bad.

Contrary to what we think there are basically two models:

  1. Strong support for Israel as against the PA: US
  2. Relative evenhandedness: France, Germany, and UK.

We are not seeing results of high support for Palestinians versus Israel, even in a country like France, even after years of anti-Israel propaganda.

Note that there are no countries where support for the Palestinians is higher than that for Israel. In Germany there is greater support for Israel; in France and the UK more evenhanded.

But even this understates the case. The Palestinians are represented in this poll by the PA, which is perceived (rightly or wrongly) as moderate, nonviolence, and ready to make peace with Israel. Comparing Israel and the PA is going to end up being more even in result than comparing Israel to Fatah, the PLO, Hamas or talking about Israelis versus Palestinians.

After all, the argument would be that the PA are those Palestinians who want to live in peace with Israel so liking both means wanting the two sides to make peace and have a two-state solution. Presumably, most of those who liked the parties do not perceive a positive statement about the PA as anti-Israel.

Note also that in France, Germany and-to a lesser extent-the UK, support for Israel is not that far behind positive views of the US. After all, if the US can only get 47 percent in France is it so surprising Israel gets 41? And the same applies to Germany (51, 47); though the gap in the UK is a bit wider it is not that extreme.

The situation in Turkey is very bad since in recent years the support for the PA is based on the idea of Muslim solidarity. The high results for the US and USSR are also surprising. Clearly, the Islamic-oriented regime has had a big effect on popular thinking or, to put it differently, its election reflects shifts in public opinion.

So if the result isn't great it isn't terrible either, better than we would expect.

Poll 1

"Transatlantic Trends 2008, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and the Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy), asked respondents in various countries in June to rate their feelings toward countries, with 100 meaning very warm and favorable and 0 unfavorable.

U.S. respondents: US-83, Russia-48, Israel-62, PA-36, Iran-25
French respondents: US-47, Russia-41, Israel-41, PA-40, Iran-24
German respondents: US-51, Russia-49, Israel-47, PA-39, Iran-29
UK respondents: US-56, Russia-47, Israel-45, PA-45, Iran-33
Turkish respondents: US-14, Russia-18, Israel-8, PA-44, Iran-32 (Transatlantic Trends)"

Now look at Poll 2 (below). I have reorganized it for better understanding:

Negative views

Australia Jews 11
France: Muslims 38; Jews 20
Germany: Muslims 50; Jews 25
Spain: Muslims 52; Jews 46
Poland: Muslims 46; Jews 36
Russia: Jews 34
UK: Muslims 23; Jews 9
US: Muslims 23; Jews 7

Some points:

  • Australia, the US, and the UK are by far the most tolerant. Despite European "sweetness and light" and "multiculturalism", they are far more bigoted. Note that Americans are ridiculed as narrow-minded and intolerant by Europeans. The shoe is on the other foot.
  • Jews are always less unpopular than Muslims.
  • Spain, Poland, and Russia can be fairly described as anti-Semitic nations in terms of popular opinion. History is pretty consistent.
  • The level of anti-Semitism in France and Germany is quite high although not characteristic.
  • Who would have dared dream 20 years ago that one in five Germans would be anti-Semitic? I wonder what the figure would have been if a poll had been taken there-or in France for that matter--say, in 1900?
  • Muslims have legitimate concerns about high levels of hatred.

What is amazing in these findings is that anti-Semitism has risen in virtually all countries since 2005. Yet the level of violence has been much lower than during the previous five years, not to mention the Hamas takeover and growing radical Islamist anti-Semitism (a negative or a positive example?), improved Western diplomatic stances toward Israel, and Israel's tireless efforts to prove it wants peace, massive Jewish philanthropy to prove they are good citizens, and so on.

Theodor Herzl was right on everything-including the eternal nature of anti-Semitism and the inability of Jewish action to end it-except that Israel's existence would reduce it.

Poll 2

"Growing numbers of people in several major European countries say they have an unfavorable opinion of Jews and Muslims. A spring 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center's Pew Global Attitudes Project finds 46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably, with 34% of Russians and 36% of Poles echoing this view. Significant numbers of Germans (25%) and French (20%) also express negative opinions of Jews. Other figures reported include Great Britain (9%), Australia (11%), and the U.S. (7%).

Fully half of Spanish (52%) and German respondents (50%) rate Muslims unfavorably. Negative opinions about Muslims are found in Poland (46%), France (38%), Britain (23%) and the U.S. (23%)." (Pew)


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online.


The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya P.O. Box 167 Herzliya, 46150 Israel
Email: info@gloriacenter.org Phone: +972-9-960-2736 Fax: +972-9-956-8605

Monday, September 15, 2008

Method in Their Madness


Though this be madness, yet is their method in it. 

Hamlet

Method in Their Madness
Barry Rubin
September 15, 2008

One evening you're walking down a street. A robber jumps on you to steal your wallet. You fight back and after a protracted battle you injure him enough so that he flees the scene.

The next day newspapers report that you assaulted a poor innocent man to mug him. From pulpits, religious leaders denounce you as a bad moral example that should be punished. Politicians urge that the forces of the law be deployed against you. Your attempts to defend yourself are ignored and dismissed as lies and excuses. Most people never even hear your version.

And then after all that, someone explains: "You know the reason why people don't like you? It's the way you behave; after all you assaulted that poor man."

That, my friends, is another way for saying that your policy is the cause of your problems.

Of course, the parallel outlined above is too simple-deeds have been done, mistakes made, conflicts occurred--and yet it does convey something essential about the Middle East and the September 11 attacks, as well as being part of a much broader pattern of how much of the area deals with the United States, Israel, and the West in general.

For example, the most outrageous lies and exaggerations are told in the Arabic-language world about Israel. This material then serves as a basis for explaining that Israel is hated, under constant terrorist attack, and targeted for genocide because of what it does.

But the question remains: does according to whom?

Or consider this question: What's the main lesson the Middle East has drawn from September 11? That terrorism is bad? Don't mess with America? Radical Islamism is dangerous and irrational?

Surely, some have done so. Yet probably the dominant idea is that the United States is responsible for the attack on itself. The less "sophisticated" idea, though common among the well-educated, is that the event was a direct conspiracy; the more "educated" notion is as a response to U.S. actions. And this latter concept itself comes in two versions: the more radical (you had it coming to you) and the more moderate (regrettable but necessary).

Just because the Middle East refuses to learn from the experience, however, doesn't mean we shouldn't.

First, we should understand that a sphere of dictatorship requires a surrounding universe of lies to protect it. Of course, (being a Western thinker requires I engage in self-criticism) that doesn't mean Western democracies are perfect by any means. But they do try hard, and their systems seek to correct themselves when they make mistakes because democracies have numerous independent people and institutions protected by freedom of speech who can challenge and correct each other, presenting different viewpoints.

In Arabic-speaking states, diversity means a choice between agreeing with the dictatorship or being even more extreme in misrepresenting reality.

Second, this situation is not just a matter of repression or regime misinformation to be corrected by either regime change from outside or massive apologies and concessions. There is a popular base of support for the system based on culture, history, and interpretation of religion which makes such ideas appeal to the masses.

As Tarek Heggy, the most incisive contemporary Arab intellectual, wrote in 1998, "Even the most outlandish statement, if repeated often enough, can...be accepted as true...in a society in which half the population is illiterate and the other half displays only a very modest standard of education...." This situation provides, "A fertile breeding ground for the most untenable, demagogical and unfounded assertions to take root and flourish."

The only solution is to set different goals and interpretations of the world through rethinking, reform, and education. Western glorifications of the Middle East's status quo-these are customs which must be preserved, how dare you criticize people's beliefs and offend their sensibilities?-will merely ensure another century of bloodshed, dictatorship, and poverty.

Third, just because you're nice and tolerant doesn't mean you're wrong. Otherwise, you'll never understand that just because it is the "other" doesn't mean it's wise. No amount of apology or concession will change those who hate you on the basis of ideology and need to hate you to preserve their political, ideological, and cultural system.

Or as former Syrian information minister (note the significance of his past job) Mahdi Daklallah explained recently regarding his regime's philosophy, "But who cares about the truth?" His words, claiming the United States planned the September 11 attacks, apply much better to the worldview in which he exists: "What is important, always, is the use of the events in order to carry out a strategy planned in advance...."

Fourth, politics happens. The Islamist upsurge is no more a mere reaction to what foreigners have done in the Middle East than was the French revolution (Austria did attack France), Russian Revolution (World War One undermined the Czarist regime), Nazi revolution (the Versailles treaty and indemnities punished Germany and angered its people), and so on.

The point in discussing the distortion of September 11 in the Arabic-speaking world is that the vast majority of issue discussions there are dominated by lies and nonsense. What is needed is to understand the intellectual preconceptions and social-political structures that create this situation.

Reform-minded Arab intellectuals have repeatedly made these points and been ignored, or vilified, for doing so. Shortly after the first anniversary of September 11, the Egyptian writer Abd al-Moneim Said explained the response "was to deny that the perpetrators were Arab and that the event had any connection with Arab society and culture." Wild conspiracy theories were spread precisely because to confront the tragedy's implications would require examining real problems "which Arab societies have been so assiduously avoiding." The more Middle Eastern terrorism spread globally, "the greater was the rush to look the other way." Five years later, that statement is all the more true.

We hear endlessly that the problem is the West doesn't understand the Middle East. The truth is the exact opposite: the Middle East doesn't understand the West and, by the same token, doesn't understand what it needs to do to get out of the hole it has dug for itself.


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of theMiddle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).


The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya P.O. Box 167    Herzliya, 46150   Israel
Email: info@gloriacenter.org   Phone: +972-9-960-2736   Fax: +972-9-956-8605

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Things We're Not Told

Barry Rubin

September 5, 2008

In the olden days, when night watchmen patrolled the streets of towns, they had a standard chant: "Ten o'clock and all is well!" Sleep soundly; nothing's wrong.
Each week, when I start to write this column I hope to be able to do the equivalent. I could just write one sentence: "This week, the stories are fairly and accurately reported so there's nothing to write about."
Unfortunately, for your reading time, my workload, and the state of the world, each week there is indeed something to write about. Alas, such is true this week.
Increasingly, print media coverage comes from Associated Press and Reuters as newspapers close down costly foreign bureaus. This should be good news since these two wire services are supposed to be fair, objective, and balanced--even bland--in their presentation of events. At times in the past they have been biased against Israel, though not all the time by any means and also aware that it was not right to slant their coverage. Like Adam and Eve, driven from the Garden of Eden, they knew their nakedness and were ashamed.
Nowadays, however, both shame and restraint are gone. Many articles--again not all--are extraordinarily biased. For this to happen requires several things:
· The reporters know they will not be punished for doing so, either by verbal criticism, a slowing of their career rise, or firing.
· Editors know the same.
· High-ranking executives do not fear the complaints of their media subscribers.
· And all have redefined the purpose of journalism from fairness and accuracy to political advocacy.
Of course, they will say that this is all nonsense and they do a very good job, thank you very much. The problem, however, is that it is so ridiculously easy to show this isn't true that it is hard to believe that the evidence will not persuade at least those outside these organizations that the case is proven.
One of the most common patterns, presented repeatedly in my columns on AP, is the presentation of the Palestinian but not the Israeli side.
A second is to give Israelis who oppose their country's policy and support Palestinian positions more space than the Israeli government and mainstream view.
A third is to blame Israel for problems but not the Palestinians, or at least not the Palestinian Authority or Fatah. It is permissible to criticize Hamas.
Among the most frequent abuses is to say what the Palestinians want but not what Israel needs; to stress alleged Israeli failures to meet commitments but not even to mention--even as issues raised--Palestinian failures.
Consider Mark Lavie, "Palestinians reject Israel's offer on interim peace plan," September 1, 2008. It is true that the lead attributes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's rejection of Israel's idea for an interim peace agreement as "insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that virtually ruled out an accord by a January target date." Yet this is more than made up for by the space given for Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to explain his side's position:
"We want an agreement to end the [Israeli] occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."
What does Israel want? We don't know. We could be told: a permanent end to the conflict, incitement, and terrorism along with security guarantees for a starter. One might add border modifications or other things. But I literally cannot remember ever seeing such a passage.
We are told:
"Officials in Olmert's office said Israel has proposed giving the Palestinians all of Gaza, 93 percent of the West Bank along with Israeli land equivalent to 5.5 percent of the West Bank, as well as a land corridor through Israel to link the two territories. The Palestinians have said that offer is unacceptable."
But we are not told what the Palestinians offered Israel.
There is, however, room for two paragraphs of Palestinian complaints:
"....The Palestinians complain bitterly about continued Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, despite an Israeli pledge to halt the building as part of a 2003 peace plan that still serves as the framework for negotiations. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo called settlement construction "the most critical issue that threatens the whole peace process now."
"The Palestinians accuse Israel of swallowing up West Bank land that they claim for their state. Israel counters that it is not expanding settlements; rather, it is building inside settlement blocs it plans to keep in a final peace accord."
Does Israel have complaints? Do Israelis accuse the Palestinians of doing anything?
The rest is silence.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle- East (Wiley).

Things We're Not Told

Barry Rubin
September 5, 2008
In the olden days, when night watchmen patrolled the streets of towns, they had a standard chant: "Ten o'clock and all is well!" Sleep soundly; nothing's wrong.
Each week, when I start to write this column I hope to be able to do the equivalent. I could just write one sentence: "This week, the stories are fairly and accurately reported so there's nothing to write about."
Unfortunately, for your reading time, my workload, and the state of the world, each week there is indeed something to write about. Alas, such is true this week.
Increasingly, print media coverage comes from Associated Press and Reuters as newspapers close down costly foreign bureaus. This should be good news since these two wire services are supposed to be fair, objective, and balanced--even bland--in their presentation of events. At times in the past they have been biased against Israel, though not all the time by any means and also aware that it was not right to slant their coverage. Like Adam and Eve, driven from the Garden of Eden, they knew their nakedness and were ashamed.
Nowadays, however, both shame and restraint are gone. Many articles--again not all--are extraordinarily biased. For this to happen requires several things:
· The reporters know they will not be punished for doing so, either by verbal criticism, a slowing of their career rise, or firing.
· Editors know the same.
· High-ranking executives do not fear the complaints of their media subscribers.
· And all have redefined the purpose of journalism from fairness and accuracy to political advocacy.
Of course, they will say that this is all nonsense and they do a very good job, thank you very much. The problem, however, is that it is so ridiculously easy to show this isn't true that it is hard to believe that the evidence will not persuade at least those outside these organizations that the case is proven.
One of the most common patterns, presented repeatedly in my columns on AP, is the presentation of the Palestinian but not the Israeli side.
A second is to give Israelis who oppose their country's policy and support Palestinian positions more space than the Israeli government and mainstream view.
A third is to blame Israel for problems but not the Palestinians, or at least not the Palestinian Authority or Fatah. It is permissible to criticize Hamas.
Among the most frequent abuses is to say what the Palestinians want but not what Israel needs; to stress alleged Israeli failures to meet commitments but not even to mention--even as issues raised--Palestinian failures.
Consider Mark Lavie, "Palestinians reject Israel's offer on interim peace plan," September 1, 2008. It is true that the lead attributes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's rejection of Israel's idea for an interim peace agreement as "insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that virtually ruled out an accord by a January target date." Yet this is more than made up for by the space given for Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to explain his side's position:
"We want an agreement to end the [Israeli] occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."
What does Israel want? We don't know. We could be told: a permanent end to the conflict, incitement, and terrorism along with security guarantees for a starter. One might add border modifications or other things. But I literally cannot remember ever seeing such a passage.
We are told:
"Officials in Olmert's office said Israel has proposed giving the Palestinians all of Gaza, 93 percent of the West Bank along with Israeli land equivalent to 5.5 percent of the West Bank, as well as a land corridor through Israel to link the two territories. The Palestinians have said that offer is unacceptable."
But we are not told what the Palestinians offered Israel.
There is, however, room for two paragraphs of Palestinian complaints:
"....The Palestinians complain bitterly about continued Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, despite an Israeli pledge to halt the building as part of a 2003 peace plan that still serves as the framework for negotiations. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo called settlement construction "the most critical issue that threatens the whole peace process now."
"The Palestinians accuse Israel of swallowing up West Bank land that they claim for their state. Israel counters that it is not expanding settlements; rather, it is building inside settlement blocs it plans to keep in a final peace accord."
Does Israel have complaints? Do Israelis accuse the Palestinians of doing anything?
The rest is silence.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle- East (Wiley).

Waiting For Something

Barry Rubin
September 7, 2008
If I had to nominate the funniest cartoon I've ever seen, it was a very simple one showing a driver in a car at a "T" junction. He was staring desperately at three signs that read: No Left Turn; No Right Turn; No U-Turn.
The Middle East isn't quite like that, but the current moment--though surely temporarily--seems somewhat akin to that drawing.
It isn't as if there weren't lots of action, but that the action is merely like the above-mentioned driver revving his engine and honking his horn. I wouldn't go so far as to invoke William Shakespeare's line from "Macbeth": "Full of sound, and fury, signifying nothing." But the current moment's antics surely don't signify progress.
The Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel-Syria peace negotiations are going nowhere; the French plan to charm Syria into moderation is going nowhere; the Western attempt to lightly press (not push) Iran into abandoning its nuclear campaign is...well, you get the picture.
And then we await upcoming changes in Israeli politics (who will be prime minister and when will be elections), in American politics (who will be the next president in January), in Palestinian politics (how long will PA head Mahmoud Abbas's term last, a year or less?), in Egyptian politics (when will Egyptian President Husni Mubarak name a successor or die), and in Iranian politics (who will be elected president next June).
Contrary to conventional wisdom, it's important to understand that the impasses within the Middle East are not determined by those events, which have their own deeper, internal causes. One would think from many sources that if only President George Bush tried harder or Israel had a more stable government that there would be an Israel-Palestinian peace treaty next week. Comforting and hopeful, perhaps, but stupid.
Come to think of it, the most interesting aspect of Middle East politics today is not so much what actually happens but whether leaders will understand what is going on and devise policies that have some relationship to reality.
What's really important? While terrorist attacks make the headlines, the real historical news is being made by the quiet, daily battles for hearts, minds, and institutions between Arab regimes and Islamist oppositions. The future is being written in the internal maneuverings in which the hard-hardliners in Hamas have kicked out the relatively less-hard hardliners in the Gaza Strip. It is being assembled by the PA's total immobility regarding economic or social development and reducing corruption.
The trend is being set as the West convinces Iran and Syria that they can get away with anything, specifically continuing radical policies not only without cost but even with apparent diplomatic gains. It won't be much longer, they are saying in Tehran and Damascus, until the West gives way entirely. Syria gets Lebanon and no investigation of its terrorist assassinations there; Iran gets nuclear weapons; while Europe and America accept this new status quo.
In search of having a list of great achievements for U.S. policy under the Bush Administration, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, who is being good this week. Nothing has changed substantially except Qadhafi was intimidated by a moment of perceived U.S. power, which has now passed. Given Qadhafi's proverbial restlessness, imaginative brain, and likely view that America is not so strong, this era of good feelings might not last very long.
In Iraq, every turnover of a province or statistical downturn of terrorist attacks is a signal of relative success for recent U.S. policy there. Yet this development, as good as it is, surely isn't a one-way street. Sunni tribes may not stay bought; tremendous factionalism within the Shia majority could blow up the situation. Trying to handle the repeatedly postponed issue of who controls the city of Kirkuk could lead to Arab-Kurdish conflict.
Again, though, the story is being written in the details. A new Iraq could be emerging whose main allies are the United States and Iran, a result of the Sunni Arab world's terrible mishandling of the Iraq issue, treating the Iraqi regime as a virtual pariah state.
The misunderstanding of all of this relates to what a high-ranking State Department official used to privately call "the sword in the stone" thesis. (It's such a powerful concept that even this person nowadays has fallen under its spell). Only the true king, went some variants on the legend of King Arthur, could pull the sword Excalibur from the rock. The Arab-Israeli conflict, or more generally the unstable Middle East, becomes the diplomatic equivalent. Solve it, and your name will live for all time. Oh, and you get a Nobel Peace Prize for your mantelpiece.
And so many believe that if only there was some brilliant ruler with the right ideas, everything in the Middle East could be solved. Unfortunately, this idea is usually embraced by naïve politicians with the wrong ideas. Senator Barrack Obama is currently on that list, and French President Francois Sarkozy has apparently nominated himself.
In the Middle East, the same thing takes the form of a great resistance fighter, with Salah al-Din the role model. At this point, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad raise their hands and shout, "Me! Me!"
Note well that in the West this idea is associated with being nice to the extremists through concessions and confidence-building, while in the Middle East it is associated with being tough and violent, smiting the infidels hip and thigh. That contrast alone should tell you something.
What is needed is not some super new plan, a surfeit of charm, or the great leader but rather a great change in Middle East ideologies and societies. Not only is that process a difficult one, but it isn't even starting. To cite one example, in 2008, Palestinian moderation and realism is no greater than it was in 1988 and arguably worse than it was in 1998. To note another, there are more radical Islamists than ever. If anything, things are headed in the wrong direction and a lot of the mainstream ideas about in the West would make things worse.
Sort of makes nothing happening sound better.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Reign in "militant" Islam Now!


Some "editors" on Wikipedia once referred to IsraelAmerica as a "hate Site" since we, or rather, I referred to some Arab Criminals and organizations in what they, the editors, felt was an unkind way.
I invite readers to visit
The Religion Of Peace Website to view the number of atrocities committed by Muslims against young Muslim women throughout the Muslim world with alarming frequency.
Muslims cannot be allowed to continue to practice their barbaric ways.
It has long been recognized that while freedom of religion is important, that freedom needs to be halted when it impinges upon innocent people's human rights.
The atavistic behaviour of Muslims is the reason why civilized nations occupy Iraq and Afganistan.
Another throwback to Ronald Reagan may be elected to the American presidency because of fears that Democrats are unaware of the threat and criminal behaviour of, NOT All, but a large and militant number of Muslims.
Obama has the brains and education and heart to be the first real leader in that office, but if he is unaware of islamic criminality, and here I mean mainly, the disgusting brutality towards women and girls, I will oppose his candidacy.
I believe that Muslim persecution of females may well be the single most reprehensioble violation of human rights on the planet today.
How many millions of women have been forced to cover themselves from head to foot, in sweltering desert heat, to protect their males property rights?
How many have been murdered for choosing freedom over subservience?
How many have been stoned to death and buried alive?
The religion of peace site also explains how islam is making inroads and causing serious dysfunction in civilized countries as well.
I am not about hate or bigotry in any form.
I despise it.
But the vicuous behaviour of Muslims must be stopped, forcibly, and immediately.
Read this story from the
http://irishtimes.com/
It is typical of the type of story we rarely hear or see in print.
Maybe its not as important as the John Edwards story, which covered Cable news, almost non-stop, for 24 hrs.



Three teenagers buried alive in Pakistan 'honour killing'
SAEED SHAH in Islamabad

PAKISTAN: THREE TEENAGE girls have been buried alive by their tribe in a remote part of Pakistan to punish them for attempting to choose their own husbands, in an "honour" killing case.
After news of the deaths emerged, male politicians from their province Balochistan defended the killings in parliament, claiming the practice was part of "our tribal custom".
The girls, thought to have been aged between 16 and 18, were kidnapped by a group of men from their Umrani tribe.
They were driven to a rural area and then injured by being shot. Then, while still alive, they were dragged bleeding to a pit, where they were covered with earth and stones, according to the findings of Human Rights Watch, the international campaigning group.
Officials, speaking off the record, confirmed the killings.
However, six weeks after the deaths, no one has been arrested, amid claims of a cover-up. According to several accounts, Balochistan government vehicles were used to abduct the girls, and the killing was overseen by a tribal chief who is the brother of a provincial minister from the ruling Pakistan People's party.
Some reports said that two older relatives of the girls tried to intervene, but they too were shot and buried alive. "This is a heinous criminal offence," said Ali Dayan Hasan, of Human Rights Watch. "We have corroborated it and cross-corroborated it, but the second the police admit that it happened, it would trigger an investigation." Mr Hasan said that, with a presidential election on September 6th, one in which Balochistan's provincial parliament would be strongly relied on to deliver votes, action that would antagonise the region's politicians was highly unlikely.
In Pakistan's national parliament, an MP from Balochistan Israrullah Zehri said on Friday that "this action was carried out according to tribal traditions", a view backed up by some other male lawmakers, who attacked a woman senator who had raised the case.
"These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them," Mr Zehri added over the weekend.
The killings happened in the Naseerabad district of Balochistan. Although so-called honour killings are not unusual, burying the victims alive is brutal even by tribal standards.
"It is very common for women in these cases to be deprived of an honourable burial. This is to make sure others learn the lesson," said Samar Minallah, a human rights activist based in Islamabad.
Sarang Mastoi, a local journalist with Pakistan channel KTN, said that the villagers were scared to talk openly, but he had been taken by some to see the burial site.
Under tribal - not religious - tradition, marriages are carefully arranged by elders. Marrying without permission is considered an affront to the honour of the tribe. Sadiq Umrani, a provincial minister, has admitted that the girls were buried alive but denied the involvement of his brother.
(Guardian service)
© 2008 The Irish Times
This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times



Shame on Muslims, and those who remain silent about these crimes.
Reportedly, School teacher Tammy Gibbons, after serving fifteen days in prison in Sudan for not forbidding the children in her class from naming a teddy bear "Mohahmed", was released.
Did you know that in Sudan a woman can be sentenced to being whipped in public for being a victim of rape?
There must be some comfort in that for rapists.
Both John McCain and his vp pick Gov. Palin favor passage of a law to force victims of rape to give birth to the rapist's chlid, even if doctors determine that the mother will die during child birth.
My guess is that they both believe that victims of rape were asking for it.
Or as McCain once joked, "If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it."

The Chomsky Hoax

The Chomsky Hoax
Exposing the Dishonesty of Noam Chomsky