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Monday, April 26, 2010

Thousands Across the Country Rally in Support of Israel

On Sunday in New York City, thousands of citizens rallied in support of Israel.
The rally was to highlight what many see as anti-Israel bias in the White House.


Among the groups in attendance was  Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, The Jewish Political Education Foundation, Jews United for Israel,  Artists 4 Israel, Z Street, The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, The Center For Defense of Democracies, the AISH Center, AMCHA; Coalition for Jewish Concerns,  and the Endowment for Middle East Truth.

Radio talk show host Steve Malzberg and columnist Rabbi Aryeh Spero served as the masters of ceremony. They introduced a number of speakers including Rabbi Yaakov Spivak of Monsey, NY, a longtime Jewish activist, radio talk show host and a Daily News columnist who said, "President Obama, we're here today to tell you something. In Warsaw, they told Jews where we could build, in Lodz they told Jews where we could build, in Paris they told Jews where we could build. You will never tell us where to build in Jerusalem. We are home and Israel is our country. You are not our landlord and we are neither a vassal state nor a banana republic."

In San Fransisco, meanwhile, an organization of LGTB gathered to celebrate freedom in Israel pointing out that in Israel, and in the IDF, you can "Ask and tell".


Off topic, but, what the hell is "Democracy Now " all about, really?
It isn't about democracy.
Someone needs to tell them that being for democracy is more than just hating America and Israel.


 They had the slimeball, Miguel D'escoto,  former President of the U.N, General Assembly, for an interview.
Among other things he attacked Israel as "Zionist", saying that the "worst thing the UN has done is not giving the Palestinian Arabs a state."


He called Ronald Reagan the "Greatest mass murderer in history".


What a freaking moron.


MFB




Monday, April 19, 2010

Obama Orders Planning for Military Strike on Iran's Nukes



CNN and other sources are reporting that President Obama has ordered the military and intelligence agencies to update contingency planning for a military option against Iran, should their leaders continue to refuse cooperation with world leaders calling on them to allow inspections and cease development of Nuclear Weapons.

The effort has been underway for several weeks and comes as there is growing concern across the administration's national security team that the president needs fresh options ready for his approval if he were to decide on a military strike, according to the official who is familiar with the effort.

Meanwhile, like Saddam Hussein, before his denoument, and his "Mother of All Battles" threat,  Ahmadinejad  is blustering and threatening civilized nations ""Iran's army is so mighty today that no enemy can have a foul thought of invading Iran's territory," the Iranian leader said in a speech, according to state media.

There have been growing signs of Iranian efforts to militarily protect their nuclear sites. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency notes that last year Iran established a separate air defense force, with the stated intention of defending nuclear sites with missiles and air defense radars.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Solemn Ceremony at Yad Vashem


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April 15, 2010
Shalom,
The time leading up to Holocaust Remembrance Day, which Jewish people around the world observed on Sunday, April 11, is always very emotional for me. I use it to study some of the individual stories of Jews who perished under horrific conditions in the Holocaust. I interview Holocaust survivors and marvel at the astounding strength it must have taken to rebuild their lives after suffering such incredible hardship. It pains me to think about how many individual life stories, and entire family trees, were lost in the gas chambers.

The stories I hear put faces on the six million—the unfathomable number of Jews killed during this terrible time in history. And every year I am haunted by the reality that the few Holocaust survivors that are still living today are growing old. Although I have been privileged to hear their heroic stories first hand, my children, unfortunately, will not.

I remember my teacher in middle school trying to teach the students how large the number six million is. Beginning at noon on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a digital clock was set at the entrance of our classrooms that began to count up to six million seconds. Each second that the clock ticked represented another Jewish life that was taken by the Nazis. It took the clock over two full months to reach six million.

I remember staring at the clock, wondering which second represented my family members that were murdered in the Holocaust. I would always thank God that one of those family members—my grandfather—miraculously escaped Nazi Germany by hiding in the forest for months on end with his three siblings and his pregnant mother.

Even as an adult, the systematic murder of six million people in just a little more than a decade is difficult to grasp. To reach six million casualties, the horrors of 9/11 would need to be repeated daily for years, God forbid. In 2009, the entire population of the state of Colorado did not come close to six million. There are not even six million Jews currently living in the U.S. Even harder to comprehend is how so much of the world could have stood by while six million Jews were being slaughtered. And I wonder if the same thing could happen today.

For 62 years the Jewish people have been blessed with a Jewish homeland in the biblical Promised Land. We have a flourishing army, a democratic government, and—most importantly—an awesome God on our side. I pray that this Holocaust Remembrance Day the world will take the lessons of the Holocaust to heart, and collectively call out to Iran's leaders and all others who threaten Israells existence—Never Again!

With blessings from Jerusalem,

Yael

Well, many Muslims, and particularly Iranian and Arabian Muslims would love to repeat the Holocaust in Israel.
They state this quite frequently.
I thank Yael for this excellent article.
MFB

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Palestinian Leaders Do It Again! Throw Away Opportunity Obama is Giving Them and Poke Him in the Eye



April 13, 2010


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With their unerring skill at erring, Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders are throwing away still another opportunity President Barack Obama is giving them. If Obama is the most pro-Palestinian president in history, his counterparts don't seem to appreciate it very much. It is the Palestinian leadership, not Israel, that will ultimately make Obama look like and be a failure in all of his peace process efforts.

Brief history:

--Last spring, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in his first visit to Washington made it clear he wasn't interested in a negotiated solution but just planned to wait for the West to force Israel to give him everything he wanted.

--In September, Abbas stood nearby as Obama said he wanted serious final negotiations within two months, then refused while Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was ready to talk right away.

--Shortly thereafter, Obama asked Abbas not to push the Goldstone report as a sponsor in the UN. Abbas agreed, then broke his word within 48 hours under internal pressure.

--At the end of last October, Obama's Administration made a deal in which Israel would stop all construction on West Bank settlements though it could continue in east Jerusalem. While Obama hoped this would get talks going, Abbas demanded an end to construction in Jerusalem, too, which he knew Israel would not accept. Indeed, he demanded it precisely because he knew Israel wouldn't accept it.

--Finally, Abbas agreed to indirect talks but was "saved" when suddenly the U.S. government accepted the PA's position on Jerusalem construction. Yet even that has not been enough to make the PA support Obama's policy despite the fact that it was so slanted in their favor.

Of course, the U.S. criticism of Israel and the crisis following the announcement of some future Jerusalem construction have been the main news. But that's because the Obama Administration is ready (sometimes it seems, eager) to criticize Israel but did ot ever criticize the PA during its own fifteen months in office. This last point--which I have repeatedly pointed out--has become so embarassingly obvious that finally the State Department made a small peep. [See note at end of article.]

So it is easy to miss the fact that by their behavior the Palestinian leadership has lost any possible material gain from the administration's attitude.

Now, here we are in the biggest crisis of U.S.-Israel relations in more than a quarter-century, arguably the biggest crisis in a half-century, since the Eisenhower Administration pressured Israel to withdraw from Sinai in 1957. Not only is the administration really angry at Israel, but it is considering a plan--though this might never happen--to try to impose a solution.

So what's the PA stance? To denounce the idea of an imposed solution! Such a plan according to press reports would give them a lot of what they want--1967 borders, a quick state, minimal conditions, all of pre-1967 Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem. Not bad, eh? But the Palestinians would have to make some concessions, like settling refugees in the state of Palestine rather than flooding Israel with Palestinian Arabs in an effort to paralyze and destroy its society.

On the PA's radio, chief negotiator Saib Arikat (choose your transliteration) said--what a delicious Freudian slip this is--that the Palestinians "don't want new ideas." His proposal is that the United States just recognizes Palestine as a state immediately and urges the UN to accept it as such, followed no doubt by huge international pressure for an immediate unconditional Israeli withdrawal from everywhere in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

This isn't going to happen, of course. But once again it signals U.S. officials, if they bothered to look, that they will get no cooperation, not even the tiniest concession, and the barest minimum of kind words from the PA. This also makes clear why a solution is impossible and why it would not solve all U.S. problems in the Middle East.

Because even if--this is just for the sake of explanation--the Obama Administration were to give the Palestinian leadership 99 percent of what it wants, it would still have to force it to concede 1 percent. Also it wojld forecolose--at least in theory--wiping Israel off the map.  That would lead to the political settlement being denounced by all Islamists, all militant Arab nationalists, and many Arab governments. 

I'm not even sure if the Egyptian and Jordanian media would applaud Obama. The latest Palestinian poll (Palestinian Public Opinion Poll no. 40, Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah National University, pril 8-10, 2010) asked:

"Do you accept the creation of a Palestinian state on the area of the 1967 borders as a final solution for the Palestinian problem?"

Of those polled, 44.7 percent (and this is after 17 years of supposed moderate policies by the PLO following the Oslo agreement) said "no." While 51.7 percent said "yes," remember that they were almost certainly assuming the Palestinians would get the precise pre-1967 borders plus the right to move to Israel for almost anyone who wanted to do so.

And so if Obama were to implement any conceivable negotiated solution--even an extremely pro-Palestinian one by Western standards--he'd be labelled as the man who sold out the Palestinians and go down in history as a betrayer and Zionist imperialist. I'd bet money on being able to collect a considerably large set of clippings denouncing him as worse--more "anti-Muslim" and "anti-Arab"--than George W. Bush! And if you think that isn't likely then, forgive me for saying so, you don't really understand how Middle East politics work.

The United States would not be portrayed as a hero because it created Palestine but a villain because it robbed the Arabs of getting everything some day. Terrorism against American targets would go up, as it would argued that the Americans had forever destroyed the chance of wiping Israel off the map. Of course, terrorism against any Palestinian leaders who agreed to such terms would also break out. Abbas's knowing this is one of the reasons he will say "no" to everything.

And don't ever forget that little detail: If Palestine is proclaimed a state, presumably Hamas is the legal government of about half of it, despite the fact that it is a terrorist, antisemitic, genocide-seeking client of Iran which won't even accept the agreement that makes Palestine a state. Here's one example of the ridiculous situation that would prevail: If the Hamas government wanted to import long-range missiles from Iran and Israel tried to stop it by intercepting them with its navy, would the UN then be able to accuse Israel of an act of aggression against a sovereign state?

Again, nothing is going to happen, not because of Israel but because the PA will torpedo any U.S. effort to solve the issue no matter how bad the terms seem for Israel. Meanwhile U.S. policymakers will pretend this isn't happening, that the United States isn't constantly being insulted by the PA.

Unless you understand the above, the whole story of the Arab-Israeli and Israel-Palestinian conflict makes no sense.

Question 1: During the four years of the Obama Administration's term in office, will his officials ever publicly criticize the PA for anything it does, including honoring terrorists who killed Americans? Prediction: No it won't.

Question 2:  During the four years of the Obama Administration's term in office, will the Palestinians make any material gain due to his being so supportive of them? Prediction: No they won't because the extremist goals and intransigence of their leadership will prevent thus.

Note: At last the State Department issues a very mild criticism of the PA, after ignoring for almost two weeks the issue in question. On April 8, it made the 
following statement:

"Regarding the Middle East, we are disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Remarks by the Palestinian ministry of information denying Jewish heritage in and links to Jerusalem undermine the trust and confidence needed for substantive and productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians either by official statements or by the dedication of public places hurts peace efforts and must end. We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement. "

But this isolated statement seems to have been made for form's sake and when compared to the administration's outrage at Israel looks quite limited. I predict we won't be hearing about any follow-up to these issues.

What makes this particularly ridiculous is that the PA named a square in honor of a terrorist who murdered both Israelis and Americans--for more on this issue see 
HERE--during Vice-President Joe Biden's visit yet there was no talk about the United States being insulted nor was there any major crisis with the PA declared by the U.S. government. Indeed, well after the affair happened, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was insisting that the deed had been done by Hamas, an absurd error which--to my knowledge--has never been formally corrected by her office.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hamas vs Fatah Rift Causes Power Plant Shutdown in Gaza

GAZA CITY– The  power plant in the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip was shut down on Friday because fuel supplies ran out, with Palestinians blaming Israel, which they do, always.
They don’t mention that they have been bombing Israel on a daily basis.
.
In reality the shut-down was caused by a dispute over funding among the Palestinians, the Hamas rival, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, has stopped fuel purchases.
The industrial diesel needed to run the power plant -- which supplies about 25 percent of Gaza's energy -- comes through an Israeli-controlled fuel terminal, with Israel setting import quotas.
The imports have declined since November when the European Commission transferred responsibility for buying the fuel to the Palestinian Authority, after its aid program expired.
The Israeli army said the Palestinians had stopped buying fuel in recent days after Hamas failed to pay its share of the costs.
"There is no Israeli involvement; if they buy fuel we will let it in as we do on a daily basis," said Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the Israeli military liaison to Gaza.

Israel supplies about 70 percent of Gaza's power and Egypt provides five percent, with the remainder from the closed power plant.
Obviously, since Hamas is not bombing Egypt, and Gaza shares a  border with Egypt, and Palestinians are Arabs, like Egyptians, it would seem that Hamas would blame Egypt for their lack of oil.
So, you may ask, why doesn’t Egypt supply more energy  to Gaza?
Because they consider Hamas to be a terror group.
Which they are.
Egypt wants nothing to do with their Arab neighbor Hamas, which runs Gaza like a dictatorship.

Israel should terminate supplies to Gaza immediately until Hamas ceases bombing Israel.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Middle East's Biggest Con-Game: Claiming Israel is the Cause of the Region's Problems


Although it is barely covered in the media, Hamas terrorists fire missiles from Gaza into Israeli civilian centers almost daily.
A Qassam launched from northern Gaza Thursday evening exploded within the Ashkelon Beach Regional Council area  The 'Color Red' rocket alert sounded before the Qassam hit. 
 The last rocket to hit Israel's southern region was fired on Monday, Passover eve. 
According to a report published Thursday by the Shin Bet there has been a significant rise in the number of attacks on Israel emanating from Gaza. 
The report said 36 attacks in the Gaza area included 25 rockets, five mortar shells, five shooting attacks and one anti-tank missile attack. In March, 35 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel and six mortar shells, compared to five rockets and five shells in February. 
Earlier Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in a phone conversation that the Islamist group must stop the "unconscionable firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel." 
With this as a backdrop read this article by Professor Barry Rubin:
MB




April 7, 2010


A former senior Canadian diplomat, Robert Fowler, made the main foreign policy speech to the Liberal Party convention there. He voiced the most common myth about the contemporary Middle East. In fact, it is a myth now returning to favor in the United States after many years in the shadows. (The last thing that killed it was the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait which indicated there were a few other problems in the region.)

Regarding Fowler, let me quote from the Ottawa Citizen editorial about the speech:

"Fowler singled out Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, as the primary source of instability in the region. Meanwhile, a country like Iran -- a totalitarian theocracy bent on obtaining nuclear weapons, which it has already threatened to use -- didn't get a mention. Is that Fowler's idea of an "even-handed" approach to the Middle East?

"By externalizing blame for Arab-Muslim dysfunction--pinning it on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and on Israeli intransigence in particular-- Fowler is playing into the hands of all the Muslim dictators, autocrats and mullahs who use the "Zionist" threat to win popular legitimacy and to justify their refusal to embrace modernization, democratization and economic reform.

"As eminent Middle East scholar Barry Rubin has put it, attributing the Arab world's problems, including the rise of Islamic extremism, to Israel serves only to prevent "the kind of reappraisal necessary to fix the internal factors at the root of the problems and catastrophes" that have crippled virtually every single Arab country."
By the way, Fowler also blamed the expansion of Islamism into sub-Saharan Africa on Israel and dropped dark hints that Canadian foreign policy was currently so pro-Israel because Canadian Jews--who Fowler implies are somehow interlopers in any position of authority in the country--have too much power in the government. Funny how nobody would dare talk about any other religious, racial, or national-origin group that way. Indeed, if the name of any other such community were substituted in a similar speech, the speaker's career would be over.

Returning to the quote above, I admit I liked the "eminent." But the editorial makes the point well. The Arab-Israeli conflict is far less important to the region than it was in the past, it is one of many issues, and it is used as an excuse by regimes who want to change the subject and by Islamist revolutionaries who want to manipulate it to help them seize state power.

Again, though, it is only one of many issues and a rather minor source of instability. Let me try to explain it this way. In the United States, for example, health care, abortion, and the economy are very hot issues that stir passions.

First, though, they are so hot and passionate because they relate to daily problems that come very close to people's lives. It's the equivalent of the famous Clinton campaign slogan: "It's the economy, stupid." In the Arabic-speaking world, the hottest issues are those that also affect people's daily existence. These are also the main issues that revolutionary Islamists try to use as the centerpiece of their campaign to overthrow the regimes.

Yes! "Even" Arabs have issues like jobs, housing, standard of living, freedom, whether they are satisfied with their society (which is one place religion comes in as very important).

Second, to attribute to any one issue such an overwhelming importance is silly. There are in the Arabic-speaking world, too, the equivalents of "single-issue voters" but they focus on a variety of single issues.

Third, but if there is a single most important issue it is this: should an ethnic (Arab or local) nationalism or Islam be the prime factor in governance and the organization of society? That didn't exist as an issue from the 1950s through the 1980s, a time when the conflict with Israel was closer to center-stage (but still didn't fill the whole stage).

I would say that an issue that has led to massive terrorism from Morocco through Iraq, a bloody civil war in Algeria, a serious civil war in Egypt, a civil war among Palestinians, a bloody civil war and continued strife in Lebanon, and a bloody civil war in Iraq, a revolution in (non-Arab) Iran, and an Iran-Iraq war with about one million casualties-and that's not the whole list-is a bigger cause of instability in the region.

Imagine that the Arabic-speaking world is faced with an onslaught from a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, insurgents in Iraq, Hizballah in Lebanon, Muslim Brotherhood groups, and even Hamas among the Palestinians, but people are really mainly worried about Israel? This is irrational. And even leaving a margin for religious and nationalist passions plus manipulation by regimes and Islamists, the gap between socio-economic and nationalist-versus-Islamist issues on the one hand and Israel on the other is still huge.

Why do people in the West still keep accepting this myth? Well, for one thing, it is a propaganda line and it is what they hear from the Arab elite members that the Western elite talks with:

If only the Palestine issue were settled we'd have....stability, freedom, pro-Western sentiments, and a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and so on.

But this is a rationale for the regime's policies and failures as well as for not doing things the West wants. The point is that after about a half-century, those who have been paying attention should see through this con-game.

Finally, the strongest argument that can be made for this view is that a settlement of the conflict would undercut the support for revolutionary Islamism. This makes sense if you don't know much but it's still flat wrong. Here's why briefly:

--The compromises necessary to make a peace agreement would open the Palestinian Authority and others to claims that they are traitors, spurring on Islamist activity and enlarging their base of support. The issue of peace is being used by the Muslim Brotherhoods in Egypt and Jordan as effectively as they used the conflict when it was still in a state of war for their countries.

--Consequently, the remaining regimes-notably Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon in particular-don't want to make peace, while the Palestinian Authority is in the same situation. Jordan and Egypt keep the peace as limited as possible. All of these places not only face Islamist enemies but hardliners within their own establishment who would seize on any sign of peacemaking as treason. Moreover, why should the regimes give up the great propaganda opportunities offered by the continued conflict, especially since they don't hve to fight any wars or even spend any money.

--The Islamists would then merely launch the second stage of the campaign for the elimination of Israel. A "peace agreement" would not be the dawn of permanent peace but merely initiate a new stage of conflict.

So the idea that all the region's problems spring from Israel's policies (or even Israel's existence) is simply bogus. It is easy to show that this is so, which is why those who maintain that fiction never even engage with the arguments to the contrary discussed here.

PS: In response to this article I received antisemitic hatemail arguing that Israel is responsible for all Islamism and attacks on the United States. When high-ranking diplomats from Western countries start sounding almost indistinguishable from antisemitic crackpots it's a cause for some concern.



*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. 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). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Weatherman and the Wind




April 4, 2010

Bob Dylan wrote that "you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." With great respect to Dylan, however, if you are truly looking to ascertain the direction of the winds in a particular place and time, it doesn't do any harm to listen to what the most experienced local weatherman is saying and to watch what he's doing.

The small and dispersed Druse sect has over time developed the most sensitive instruments in these parts for knowing in which direction the winds of political power are blowing. This ability derives from necessity. The Druse strategy for survival has been to spot which trend, leader, country or movement is on the way up, and to ally with it in good time. This explains, for example, the long alliance between the Druse of the Galilee and the Zionist Jews.

It also explains one of the most curious political turnabouts in the last half decade: namely, the transformation of Lebanese Druse leader Walid Jumblatt from a stalwart of the pro-democracy, pro-Western March 14 movement into a supplicant of Damascus.

Jumblatt, hereditary Druse warlord and leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in Lebanon, met in Damascus this week with Bashar Assad, hereditary Syrian president. Assad is the son of the man who murdered Jumblatt's father Kamal, a towering figure in modern Lebanese politics.

The meeting was the first between the two since 2004, when the agitation to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon began. Jumblatt had apparently been trying for the meeting for some time, with Assad enjoying keeping him dangling, as a local vizier might with a courtier - or a cat with a mouse.

The Syrian news agency SANA reported that the two discussed the "historic and brotherly ties" between Syria and Lebanon, and the importance of enhancing them. Jumblatt, according to SANA, had particular praise for Assad's efforts to safeguard Lebanon's "security and stability." The two also agreed regarding the importance of the role played by the "resistance" (i.e. Hizbullah) in confronting the "schemes" of Israel.

Jumblatt's company on the trip to Damascus was of note. According to the An-Nahar newspaper, he was escorted not by officials of his own party, but rather by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Hizbullah officials Wafiq Safa and Hussein Khalil. The Shi'ite Islamist group played the key role in mediating between Jumblatt and Assad.

ALL THIS represents an interesting journey for Jumblatt - both in the geographical and in the wider sense. It was he, after all, who previously referred to the Syrian president variously as a "snake," a "tyrant," "the one who killed my father" and a "monkey." With regard to Hizbullah, Jumblatt, in January 2008, called the movement "savage people, not an opposition... declaring war whenever they want, and kidnapping soldiers whenever they want." He accused Syria of responsibility for a wave of murders of pro-Western political figures following the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon in 2005.

Regarding Hizbullah's desire for veto power in the coalition, Jumblatt said bluntly that "they can take it by force, over our dead bodies, but I will not give up veto power for the sake of Hizbullah, their allies and the Syrian regime."

Nor did the matter stop at words alone. In the fighting in May 2008, which brought Lebanon to the brink of civil war, it was Jumblatt's Druse fighters who put up the most impressive resistance to Hizbullah. In the Druse heartland of the Chouf mountains, up to 40 Hizbullah fighters were killed during the clashes.

So what has happened? What has transformed the formerly defiant Jumblatt into the humble, awkwardly apologizing figure emerging from the meeting in Damascus?

The answer is not complex. The Druse weatherman has taken a glance at the sensitive and vital weather vane maintained by his community, and has noticed that it is currently pointing toward Damascus and Teheran.

JUMBLATT TURNED away from Syria and toward the West in 2004, shortly after the US invasion of Iraq. For a moment, at that time, Iran and Syria were cowed. Their subject peoples shifted their hopes and their allegiances accordingly. But that moment looks rather remote now. Through a combination of cunning and murderous ruthlessness, Damascus and Teheran have rebuilt their power in Lebanon, in Iraq, among the Palestinians and beyond.

The change started at the top. The current administration in Washington has made clear from the outset that it seeks accommodation with its regional enemies, rather than confrontation with them. This has made its regional enemies happy and dismayed its friends.

Saudi gestures of rapprochement toward Syria last year showed that Riyadh had concluded there was no advantage to be gained from a policy of attempting to block Syrian ambitions. The Saudi-backed March 14 movement, which failed to develop its own "hard power" in Lebanon to match that of Hizbullah, was in effect left helpless - despite its election "victory" in June 2009.

As a result, the Druse chieftain Jumblatt took a long and sober look at his situation. His first concern, of course, is far from the slogans about regional democracy, or Arab nationalism, which he has uttered in the past as part of his alignment with this or that power interest. Jumblatt's concern is protecting the Druse, and keeping them on their lands. As the May 2008 fighting demonstrated, the Druse in the Chouf face an enemy backed to the hilt by Iran and Syria, while they themselves now have neither reliable ally nor armorer. Without supply lines, with local partners unwilling to fight or incapable of it and with the "international community" indifferent, Jumblatt has made his calculation - and gone to Damascus.

That the most sensitive instrument for the reading of regional trends is currently indicating that Iran and Syria are the people with whom it is worth being friends should be of concern to anyone who cares about the future of the Middle East. It is perhaps the strongest indication yet of where the current Western policy of punishing allies and rewarding enemies is likely to lead. 

 *Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Herzliya, Israel

The Chomsky Hoax

The Chomsky Hoax
Exposing the Dishonesty of Noam Chomsky