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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Israel joins NATO parliamentary assembly

Israel was voted in a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Tuesday, after previously only enjoying monitor status. The decision was made during the spring session of the organization being held this week in Ljubjana, Slovenia.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly is the inter-parliamentary organization of legislators from 14 member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, and is a forum for international parliamentary dialogue.
This is an important step on the way for Israel to join NATO as a full member.

But there is a fundamental question about this possibility. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
If a NATO-member Israel is attacked by Arab countries, according to a strict interpretation of this 1949 Treaty, Israel would not expect the aid of other NATO countries the same way that the European and North American members would - since it is not a part of Europe.

So while the possibility of Israel joining NATO is probably welcome and would help Israel's diplomatic efforts, it does not necessarily help Israel's defense in a fundamental way.

Also see NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's speech in Israel in February. In this speech he makes it clear that NATO is reaching out to Arab countries as well as Israel, and it seems that NATO is trying to remake itself to be more relevant in a post-Cold War world, to be more of a political player and less a defense pact:
This Alliance is no longer the static organisation of the Cold War. In fact, the very moment the Cold War ended, that old NATO ceased to exist. NATO today is an agent of political change. NATO enlargement has been a key factor in overcoming the division of Europe. NATO’s cooperative mechanisms, such as Partnership for Peace, have turned this Alliance into the hub of a network of continent-wide cooperation – cooperation that encompasses the most diverse countries, from Switzerland to Uzbekistan. And NATO’s military involvement in the Balkans has created the conditions for long-term stability and reconciliation in a troubled region.
[...] On that basis, last June, at NATO’s Istanbul Summit, we agreed, in close consultation with Israel and other partners in this process, to try to move our relationship to another level – in short, to move from dialogue to partnership. We want to further intensify our political dialogue; to promote greater interoperability between our military forces; and to encourage greater cooperation on defence reform, as well as in the critical fight against terrorism. These are all areas where we have a lot to offer to each other, and where working together is beneficial to us all.
[...]
I am happy to note that Israel has very recently stepped forward with a list of concrete proposals for enhancing our cooperation. These proposals cover many areas of common interest, such as the fight against terrorism or joint military exercises, where Israel’s expertise is very much valued. They underline your country’s desire for a strenghtened relation, and we are looking forward to working with Israel in the framework of an individual action programme.

NATO's outreach is certainly flexible enough to allow each partner to go its way, at its own rythm. So the stage is set for a more substantial cooperation between NATO and Israel. In doing so, we also want to make sure to keep everybody on board in this Dialogue and to take account of the overall even-handedness of the process at large.

In that context, further positive developments in the Peace Process, as we seem to witness them now, should allow our nascent partnership to achieve its full potential, both in terms of bilateral and regional cooperation.

The enhanced Mediterranean Dialogue will go a long way towards putting the relationship between NATO and its Middle Eastern partners on a new footing. At a certain stage if the current positive trend continues, Allies might also have to look into the possibility to extend this dialogue to others in the region. In that regard, you will remember that NATO Heads of States and Government in Istanbul did not exclude, at some stage to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority under our initiatives, subject of course to an approval by the North Atlantic Council.

If long-term stability for the region is our common goal, we have to build bridges to the wider region as well.

This is what we are trying to do with our Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Through the ICI, we have offered cooperation to countries of the broader region of the Middle East, starting with countries from the Gulf. Right after we launched this initiative at our Summit last June, we received a lot of positive feedback. And this was, quite frankly, no surprise. Because in the Gulf region as well, there is a growing awareness that we face common challenges, and that we need to meet them together. With Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar we have already moved to the stage where we are in the process of developing a programme of activities that will be open to them. And I am sure that other countries will follow this example.
So this is interesting and welcome news but not necessarily a clear pro-Israel vote on the part of Europe.

UPDATE: Capt. Diggs (who pointed this out to me) responds:

NATO's primary mission is to be the military arm of politics for the free world.
( "war is politics by other means", Karl Von Clausewitz )

Despite talk of politicizing NATO, it is highly unlikely. The US, as well as other members vehemently oppose this. And of course, without the US, there is no NATO.

My thoughts on the statements to arab nations is that this is some soothing diplomacy in the face of active courting by NATO, of Israel.
Israel has already worked with NATO in both war gaming and military exercises.
NATO eyes Israel as a strategic, not political, asset. They have the 6th most powerful military in the world, superb technology and innovation, and unfortunately, experience. They are also located at an extremely important geographical junction.
I would believe that NATO is eyeing the world through the lens of what is happening in the Muslim and arab world today. That being that confrontation is most likely with these arab/muslim countries.
NATO's countship of Israel despite the political heat from the arab world is quite telling.
As I said, Israel is not a political asset for NATO.

Article 5 of the NATO charter is the very foundation of NATO, and without it NATO becomes just another roundtable of jawboning politicians.

The clause statement concerning the "North Atlantic" has already been amended to include Greece and Turkey.

In short, there is no point to being a member of NATO except for the protection it offers militarily.

At least, IMO.

Elephants in the room

When you see pundits talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict or terror at large, there are very often a few elephants in the room that for some reason they pretend to ignore. Occasionally it is useful to point some of these elephants out.

  • "Disengagement" will be followed by increased terror. Every single military and intelligence analysis comes to this conclusion.
  • Israel will need to retain troops in Gaza after "disengagement" to try to stop Qassam rockets from hitting Israeli towns proper. So in the end, the process will keep just as many Israeli soldiers in the same area.
  • The maximal Palestinian concessions conceivable for a peace agreement is very far apart from the maximal Israeli concessions. Everyone assumes that in the end the Palestinians will accept a Barak-style plan, yet no Palestinian leader has ever said that this would be acceptable.
  • The terror suspects that get arrested in the US and Europe, whether they support Al Qaeda or Hamas, are usually successful professionals - doctors or professors. They live good lives in the West. They do not support terror because of "desperation" - they support terror ideologically.
  • Islam may be a religion, but from a geo-political perspective, it is also an ideology. The Islamic ideology includes the desire, and possibly the obligation, to literally take over the world - politically, militarily or otherwise. As such, it is a world threat. It is more accurate to compare Islam to Communism or Nazism than it is to compare it to Buddhism or Christianity.
Any other elephants out there?

Sharansky on Amnesty and disengagement (Time)

Once again, Natan Sharansky shows clarity and consistency.

Too bad these attributes are in such short supply.
AS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS A THING OR TWO ABOUT GULAGS, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL'S ACCUSATION THAT GUANTANAMO IS THE GULAG OF OUR TIMES?

The violation of human rights at Abu Ghraib was very serious, but it was only a few people. In Guantánamo, the human-rights violations were much more serious because they were part of the system.

BUT IS IT REALLY A GULAG?

I have very serious criticisms of Amnesty. There is no moral clarity. It doesn't differentiate between what I call fear societies and free societies. In the democratic world, there are violations of human rights, but they are revealed and dealt with. In a fear society, there are no violations of human rights because human rights just don't exist. All citizens are deprived of those rights. Amnesty International says it doesn't support or oppose any political system, so it ends up with reports that show a moral equivalence between, for example, Israel and the terrorist regimes that attack it.

HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THE WORLD'S VIEW OF ISRAEL'S HUMAN-RIGHTS RECORD?

Amnesty doesn't examine Hamas, only Israel. It ignores violations by terrorist organizations. We find the unfortunate situation that somehow there's no difference between terrorists targeting civilians and democratic countries targeting terrorists.

SO ISRAEL IS THE FOCUS OF HUMAN-RIGHTS ACTIVISTS BECAUSE IT HAS DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS THAT MAKE PROTEST POSSIBLE?

Look, violations by Israel are on the world's agenda, but Sudan's aren't. Human-rights organizations create an atmosphere in which dictatorial regimes dictate the human-rights agenda of the entire world.

IS WORLD PRESSURE THE REASON FOR SHARON'S DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM GAZA?

That's why he told me he decided on it. The withdrawal shouldn't be unilateral. It should be connected to changes by the Palestinians. It's an illusion to think that the pressure on us will stop.

DOESN'T THE GAZA WITHDRAWAL HELP PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS, THOUGH?

It's clear that with [Abbas], there's a better chance for progress than with [Yasser] Arafat. But only if he is under strong pressure toward democratic reforms. The disengagement is unilateral, so it means zero pressure for reform.

WHEN YOU RESIGNED FROM SHARON'S CABINET, YOU CALLED THE PLAN A "TRAGIC MISTAKE."

We are missing a historic opportunity, with a new Palestinian President, to link all contacts to progress toward democracy. Instead, in some months, we will find ourselves in a situation of increased terror and a weakened Israeli society.

BUT ABBAS SAYS DEMOCRACY IS THE BASIS OF HIS POLICY. HE EVEN WANTS HAMAS TO RUN IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN JULY.

If the Palestinian Authority is not fighting Hamas as a terrorist organization, then Hamas keeps its weapons. He's giving more and more time to the terror groups to strengthen themselves, and he's not competing with them to create better welfare for his people.

SHOULD SHARON MAKE SOME KIND OF CONCESSION TO ABBAS TO STRENGTHEN HIS STANDING WITH HIS OWN PEOPLE?

Sharon is refusing to make concessions to [Abbas], but he's making a huge concession to Hamas by withdrawing from Gaza. It encourages Hamas and Hizballah and al-Qaeda. It will hamper everyone around the world who's fighting terror.

DO YOU THINK SHARON IS ANXIOUS ABOUT THE WITHDRAWAL?

I'm sure he is. But he knows how not to show it. He's a general who goes ahead with the implementation of his plan, regardless.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Another example of our moronic academia: Israel to blame for Palestinian men killing their wives

Thanks to Mark at Auterrific for uncovering this beaut:
Within a period of a month, five women, Shadia Jidawi from Tulkarem, Yusra Al ‘Azamy from Gaza, Faten Habash from Ramallah, Rudaina Shukirat (pregnant 8 months), and her sister, Amany Shukirat from Jabal Mukaber, were killed for challenging patriarchal norms.

Challenges to patriarchal norms, within the context of conflict and militarization, are often answered with threats of violence and in worst cases, murder. Women are invariably most vulnerable. In the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the increase of violent measures against the Palestinians by the Israeli Occupying Forces has not been matched by any increased accountability to international human rights and humanitarian law. This lack of accountability and justice seeps into the consciousness of Palestinian society where some Palestinian men transfer this entitlement to commit violence to their own families in order to reassert their authority and power. These men--no longer able to find or even reach employment because of the restrictions of movement, no longer able to even feed their own families--are forced to swallow their dignity and accept help from foreign development agencies and humanitarian aid agencies. Their use of violence becomes a coping mechanism that addresses their own inabilities to perform their traditional roles as providers for their families, that addresses their loss of dignity and “manhood,” and finally, their loss of control and authority over their women.

Within this context of the systematic breakdown of social institutions and because law is not enforced, women become the tools of the patriarchal elite to reclaim their power. Traditional roles and responsibilities are further entrenched. Girls are pulled out of schools and forced into early marriage. Development of institutions, systems, and legislation that could protect women comes to a standstill. The empowerment of women becomes a threat and a liability and women’s rights organizations are vilified and seen as trivial.

It is between the forces of patriarchy and militarism that the lives of these five women and all Palestinian women are positioned and it is only through addressing and understanding these forces that we, as women’s organizations, and civil society, can hope to change the lives and futures of Palestinian women and Palestinian society as a whole.

Translating this new-age gobbledygook into English, this professor at Wichita State University is claiming that any violence that Palestinian men use against Palestinian women is Israel's fault!
Such utter stupidity, such incredible vacuousness from a Ph.D (History of Consciousness) may not be unusual any more but it is still shocking. Part of me actually wants to see the quality of "scholarship" that is behind this abstract. Are "honor killings" in Egypt and Jordan also the Jews' fault, I wonder? Do Palestinians have no responsibility whatsoever for their crimes, even against their own people? Do "scholars" such as Dr. Gordon have the tiniest bit of actual research to back up these claims? If their students disagree, are they penalized? Has there been an uptick in Israeli violence towards women since the Intifada, and if there was, would these bogus scholars blame the Palestinians?

And perhaps most relevant, if these fake academics are so upset at the restrictions that Palestinians have in their movement, why are they not in the forefront to try to dismantle the UNRWA, which is the single organization most responsible for keeping the Palestinians in camps for decades rather than having them integrate into surrounding Arab societies where presumably the men wouldn't feel so emasculated anymore?

The answer to that last question would go a long way towards finding out how much Dr. Gordon truly cares about women's rights and how much she just hates Israel.

UPDATE: A great observation from Rachel Ann on Auterrific about this:

What the good professor is actually saying is that sometimes there is an excuse for spousal abuse.

UPDATE 2: It does not appear that there is any evidence that Dr. Gordon wrote this drivel. She links to the website of the WCLAC and her resume shows that she has great interest in the issue of feminism and Palestinians, and she calls for a boycott of all Israeli universities, but it is not clear at this time that she supports the stupidity quoted above.

I'm so vain

Yours truly gets mentioned twice in the latest roundup of the Jewish blogosphere, this week called Havale Havawlim #22, hosted by Mystical Paths.

The first question is, which will end up with more spelling variants - Chanukah/Hanuka/Xannucah or H[a|e|o|ah]v[a|ai|ay|ei|eigh][l|ll][e] H[a|ah|o]v[aw|a|e|ah|o][l|ll][i|y][m|mm]?

And the second question is, will my streak of consecutive mentions ever threaten Joe Dimaggio's consecutive game hit record?

Anyway, the honored article this week was this one. (I didn't even self-nominate - I dunno, it just doesn't feel right.) Callie has suggested that I write a book about the history of pre-Israel Palestine based solely on Palestine Post archives, and I have to admit that the idea is appealing. I doubt that I could find the time, but if members of any publishing house out there that stumbles onto this small are darkly lit corner of the blogosphere want to contact me, I won't hang up on them.

The rest of HH is quite good, reflecting the spiritual side of the two holy-looking bearded gentlemen who run Mystical Paths.

It's easy to lie when you're wearing a tie

The era of suicide bombing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be over and the culture of violence is changing in the region, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview aired on Sunday.

Abbas, who was in Washington last week to meet U.S. President George W. Bush, said Palestinian-Israeli violence was down 90 percent in the past four months and he was optimistic for the future.

Asked in an interview with ABC's 'This Week' whether the era of suicide bombing was over, he said: 'I believe it is over.'

'We have started to deal with the culture of violence, we stopped the culture of violence and the Palestinian people have started looking at it as something that should be condemned and it should stop.'

Reading this, one would be surprised that someone on Palestinian television called for genocide of all Jews two weeks ago!

More surprising news from the former culture of violence:
Three members of a Hamas cell were killed and two were wounded seriously Sunday evening when a car exploded in the Sagiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Palestinians said.

Israeli security officials said that Israel had nothing to do with the explosion and assessed that it had been caused by a device that exploded prematurely, Army Radio reported.

And yet more peaceful news:
A Hamas member was killed in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as he tried to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at nearby Israeli targets, the Israeli Army said.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Clueless Muslim letter-writer says we nothing to fear

I just ran across this from, presumably, a Muslim intellectual printed in a Boston newspaper:
To the editor:
About abusing the Qur'an. Very disturbing to any Muslim (which I am), Christian or Jew (Hindu or Buddhist).

But Christians and Jews, labeled in the Qur'an as the 'People of the Book,' don't have to fear the worst - that the Muslims will flush their holy book, the Bible or the Torah, down the toilet just to be mean. Muslims, not even the most hateful of the bunch would ever do that. I guarantee it. Why?

Because Muslims believe in the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Psalms of David, the Gospel of Jesus. Believing in one God, the Books of that one God (revelation), the Prophets of that God, the Angels, and the Day of Judgment, are the five articles of faith in Islam. So, no. The unimaginable, no matter how mean-spirited, barbaric, or ignorant the West (following the leadership of GW Bush) persists on being, we can all rest assured, the worst won't happen.

Mary Lahaj
M.S. Islamic Studies
Boxborough

Wow. Where to start?

First of all, Mary, the "worst" is not that a Bible will be desecrated by Muslims. The worst is that human beings will be slaughtered by Muslims. I wish you could guarantee that this wouldn't happen as easily as you can guarantee that no Muslim would possibly flush a Bible down the toilet.

And since Muslims are slaughtering other human beings daily, I can't imagine such a guarantee.

But Mary, you certainly haven't been following the news. Muslims have not only flushed Bibles down the toilet - they've flushed Korans too! And Saudis destroy thousands of (non-Wahhabi) Korans and Christian Bibles as well. They have also famously destroyed Hindu temples, churches and the Buddhist statues.

In fact, it is difficult to find anything that fanatic Muslims have not destroyed when given the chance - buildings, people, societies, peace, religious symbols, each other.

No, Mary, I'm not staying up nights worrying about Muslims destroying Bibles. If that was the worst that they did, the world would be a better place. For a Muslim (MS no less) to call the West "mean-spirited, barbaric, or ignorant", without mentioning a word about the depravity of a Muslim world that makes heroes out of the 9/11 hijackers, makes one wonder about the quality of your education.

Daughter of Ziyon updates her blog

The beautiful and talented Daughter of Ziyon has finally updated her blog with the provocative entry: "Stupid oblivious girls."

Israeli unemployment at 5-year low

Very good news, showing better than anything that the intifada didn't do the damage that the Arabs hoped.
Unemployment in Israel in the first quarter of 2005 has fallen to its lowest level in five years, before the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000. The unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 9.1% in the first quarter, down from 9.8% in the preceding quarter and 10.9% in the first quarter of 2004, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported today.

Cancer treatment in Israel saves Arkansas boy

A Cabot family is back home tonight after more than three months in Jerusalem. 14-year-old Dakota Hawkins and his family went there so he could be treated for a rare blood cancer.

After hospitals in the U.S. exhausted treatment options, the Hawkins found out about a procedure in the Middle East not approved by the FDA. Two weeks ago we told you Dakota was suffering complications, but doctors finally decided he was strong enough to make the trip home.

Dakota underwent cell transplants that fought the leukemia. His mom and brother were the donors. And the results, they say, can only be called a miracle. Today Dakota is cancer free.

But friends and family wouldn't rest until they saw Dakota themselves. They waited at Little Rock National Airport Thursday evening. His cousin, Bethany Cameron says, "I don't want to let go when I see them, I’m just so excited.” “It feels like part of our hearts has been missing. It's been the longest three and a half months in our lives,” adds Dakota’s aunt, Donna Cameron. Dakota's cancer treatment came with no guarantee, so the reunion is an emotional one.[...]

Dakota will continue to see doctors and may need to return to Israel for one more cell transplant. The family also expressed disappointment the treatment that saved Dakota’s life is not approved by the FDA. It took hundreds of thousands of dollars for the family to travel to Jerusalem and get the procedure done. They are thankful to the community in Cabot who helped raise that money.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Barry Rubin: Peace is hopeless if the aim of the Palestinians is total victory

It is interesting that this was published in the Lebanon Daily Star. (hat tip to JihadWatch)

Although he is not too explicit about this, the broad implication is that Palestinian leaders would prefer that their people remain pawns and weapons against Israel than for them to live in peace alongside Israel. Which is not much of a "leadership," is it?
The central question of the Arab-Israeli - or at least the Israeli-Palestinian - conflict is whether it is a "normal" struggle over territory or an existential battle set by religion, identit, and other factors much less susceptible to resolution through compromise.

Many observers, drawing analogies from other issues without properly examining the specifics of the Arab-Israel case, conclude that it is a normal conflict and, consequently, can be easily settled if only the right formula is found. In fact, though, for much of the Palestinian side the question has remained one of total victory, in which only Israel's extinction and replacement by a Palestinian Arab, and perhaps Islamic, state extending between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is the acceptable solution.

This is not to say that all Palestinians think this way. Indeed, one could well argue that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his closest allies understand how impossible and dangerous this kind of thinking is for the Palestinians themselves. This does not mean, however, that they can change this thinking in the face of militants, gunmen, Fatah hard-liners, propagandists, opportunists, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other forces. To challenge this basic self-definition of the movement too openly or decisively would be political suicide as well as being dangerous to their personal security.

Only the continued priority that the movement places on total victory, no matter how long it takes, rather than on getting a state and easing immediate Palestinian suffering can explain the course of events. The ultimate failure of the peace process in the 1990s was due to this orientation. In 2000, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat turned down both the opening and later best offer of Israel and the United States as even a framework for a negotiation in which he would have no doubt received more.

The basic rejection of agreeing to end the conflict in return for an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem was due to the view that a long struggle would bring about Israel's collapse and total Palestinian victory. The same can be said of the demand for a "right of return" for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants, which would provide a tremendous opportunity to subvert Israel from within. In private conversations, and now openly with the revival of the call for a "one-state" solution, we encounter the Palestinian refusal to accept a peace in which their state lives alongside Israel.

The methodology of terrorism, the continuing demonization of Israel on a daily basis by the Palestinian Authority and its media, the insistence, even in 2005, of officially mourning Israel's original creation, and many other practices, reflect this world view. A more subtle aspect is putting the priority on violence and agitation rather than on building the infrastructure of a future state. In pursuit of total victory - or at least keeping the door open for its pursuit - the Palestinian movement has squandered international goodwill and the huge financial aid it received in the 1990s.

In making peace, then, the problem is not the precise delineation of borders or the status of every square centimeter of East Jerusalem, but this basic conceptual issue. How can there be compromise if Palestinians are daily taught that Israel is doomed and that they will ultimately win? Why else would it not be obvious to the Palestinians that their interest lay in making a post-occupation Gaza Strip into a showcase that would bolster a comprehensive solution as the next step?

This situation is in large part the legacy of Arafat, who never sought to transform the Palestinian struggle into a normal movement for a state. Even in the 1990s he refused to foreclose a permanent "revolution until victory." He made hardly a single speech designed to move his people toward a compromise peace.

Now, ironically, the rise of Hamas to the point of seizing control over the Palestinian movement toward statehood - or at least having veto power over its diplomatic positions - is based on the foundation that Fatah has built. The nationalist leadership told the people for years that Israel would collapse, that Palestinians had a right to all the land, that violence was the only tactic that worked, and that compromise was treason. For decades, including the last one, Palestinians were told that the measure of legitimacy was with those who killed the most Israelis and took the most intransigent line.

This is not to ignore the many other factors involved in creating this situation, from Israel's own positions in negotiations to the corruption of Fatah. But the point is that this history has been funneled through a hegemonic Palestinian conception of the conflict that has not fundamentally changed.

If the Palestinian people were really offered a bold alternative by a credible leadership, they could be convinced to take a different road. But this has not happened. Now, Hamas and a new generation of Fatah militants threaten to lead the movement openly back to where it was in the 1970s. Such an outcome would be a tragedy of monumental proportions on top of what already is one of the greatest political tragedies of the last century, guaranteeing additional decades of futile struggle.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. His latest book, "The Long Road to Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East," will be published by Wiley in September. This commentary first appeared at bitterlemons.org, an online newsletter that publishes contending views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

AUT reverses boycott; Palestinian teachers show how "peaceful" they are

Rare good sense from British academics....and more of the usual idiocy from Palestinian academics.
British Lecturers overturned their decision to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities in a vote on Thursday.

Britain's 40,000-member Association of University Teachers voted last month to boycott the academic institutions for actions that it said undermined Palestinian rights and academic freedom.

It also referred a motion to its executive committee to boycott the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The association said last week it would reconsider the boycott.

Meanwhile, Palestinian professor Sari Nusseibeh, who last week urged an end to the boycott, has been under attack by many Palestinians who have been calling for his dismissal from his job as president of Al-Quds University.

Several Palestinian political and academic groups issued statements strongly condemning Nusseibeh, accusing him of normalizing ties with Israel and acting against the interests of the Palestinian people. (Normalizing ties is a crime, after all.)

Leaflets distributed in some areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip branded the widely respected Nusseibeh a "traitor" and "collaborator." (I see they stopped just short of calling him a "Jew.")

Nusseibeh, along with Menahem Magidor, president of Hebrew University, made the statement in a joint declaration in London at an international gathering of scholars debating human rights.

The two criticized the British boycott against the University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University, describing it as "wrong and unjustified." They said "problems should be resolved through dialogue, not through sanctions."

"Our position is based upon the belief that it is through cooperation based on mutual respect, rather than boycotts or discrimination, that our common goals can be achieved," they said in their statement.

"Our disaffection with, and condemnation of, acts of academic boycotts is predicated on the principles of academic freedom, human rights and equality between nations and among individuals."

The Palestinian Union of University Teachers and Employees published a statement on the front page of the Palestinian Authority's daily Al-Ayyam in which it accused Nusseibeh of "normalizing relations with the Sharon government" despite the prime minister's policy of "bullying the Palestinians and stealing their land."

"This constitutes a strong blow to the Palestinian national consensus against normalization with Israel," the statement added.

Umm, if there is a Palestinian consensus against peace, doesn't that indicate a much bigger problem?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Israeli researchers: Empathetic people understand sarcasm. Yeah, right.

Israeli scientists locate sarcasm in the brain

Don't you just hate it when you delivery a zinging putdown line to some annoying person, and it goes right past them?

Well, it turns out that they're not necessarily dense, or ignoring you. Israeli researcher have discovered that the ability to comprehend sarcasm depends upon a carefully orchestrated sequence of complex cognitive skills based in specific parts of the brain.

The research details an 'anatomy of sarcasm' that explains how the mind puts sharp-tongued words into context. The findings appear in the May issue of Neuropsychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). The findings could provide vital clues to the best way of helping people with autism and Asperger's syndrome, as well as those with some forms of brain damage, to improve their communication skills.

Simone Shamay-Tsoory, PhD, and colleagues at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and the University of Haifa who conducted the research explain that for sarcasm to score, listeners must grasp the speaker's intentions in the context of the situation. This calls for sophisticated social thinking and 'theory of mind,' or whether we understand that everyone thinks different thoughts. As an example of what happens when 'theory of mind' is limited or missing, autistic children have problems interpreting irony, the more general category of social communication into which sarcasm falls.

'To detect sarcasm, irony and jokes, and to better understand what people mean when they talk, we must have empathy,' said Shamay-Tsoory.

Suuuuuuuuuuure.

52 Palestinian child terrorists caught this year so far

A 15-year-old Palestinian was arrested at the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus on Tuesday afternoon after he was discovered carrying two pipe bombs inside a black bag.

On Sunday, a 14-year-old Palestinian wearing a belt with two pipe bombs strapped to it was arrested, also at the Hawara checkpoint.

Security officials noted that since the beginning of the year, 52 Palestinian minors were caught wearing explosives belts or attempting to smuggle weapons through checkpoints in the West Bank.

Even Amnesty International seems to have noticed this, although for some reason they missed 49 of the attacks. And, of course in the end of the same article (not quoted here), in an amazing display of cognitive dissonance, they have to make it "evenhanded" by blaming Israel for arresting kids and without sources, they claim Israel tortures them.
Amnesty International reiterates its calls to Palestinian armed groups to put an immediate end to the use of children in armed activities.

"Palestinian armed groups must not use children under any circumstances to carry out armed attacks or to transport weapons or other material", Amnesty International said.

On 22 May 2005 a 15-year-old Palestinian child carrying explosive was arrested by the Israeli army at the Huwara military checkpoint, at the entrance to the West Bank town of Nablus.

This is the third such incident this year in which Palestinian children have been arrested at Israeli military checkpoints while carrying explosives or munitions. On 3 February a 17-year-old was arrested at the same checkpoint while carrying explosives and bullets, and on 27 April two 15-year-olds also carrying explosives and bullets were arrested at a military checkpoint at the entrance of the West Bank town of Jenin.

Several Palestinian armed groups, including the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of the ruling Fatah party, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), have used children to transport explosives and munitions, thereby endangering their lives. In some cases these groups have sent children to carry out suicide attacks.

On 1 November 2004 a 16-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank town of Nablus carried out a suicide bombing which killed three Israeli civilians in a Tel Aviv market. He was the youngest Palestinian to carry out such an attack. The PFLP claimed responsibility for the attack. The boy's family condemned those who used their child for the attack.

Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly shown total disregard for the most fundamental human rights, notably the right to life, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and by using Palestinian children in armed attacks. Children are susceptible to recruitment by manipulation or may be driven to join armed groups for a variety of reasons, including a desire to avenge relatives or friends killed by the Israeli army.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The missing Hawranites

South of Damascus, in what is now southwest Syria, is the area known as Hawran. (It is a Biblical name.) Although there is not much that can be found about them nowadays, it seems that the people who lived there had been there for many centuries, at least since the Crusades. They had interesting architecture (buildings made out of lava) and a very fertile, although treeless, land.

There was a major famine in the early 1930s that made life difficult for Hawranis. Guess where they went? (July 5, 1934)



And they were not alone: (November 22, 1933)




11/23/33:

8/1/34

Monday, May 23, 2005

My email to Condoleeza Rice

Subject: Democracy versus Freedom

Dear Madame Secretary:

I read with interest your comments about the importance of democratic institutions to be developed in Palestinian areas before true peace can occur.

I am afraid that I've been seeing too many people in the administration substitute "democracy" for "freedom." Democracy is not a panacea; after all, Hitler was elected democratically. What needs to be stressed, as Natan Sharansky has been saying and writing, is that the existence of a free society is a necessary precondition to true democracy.

It is apparent that terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah would do quite well in democratic elections, but their being voted in does not make them less terroristic by one bit. Unless true freedoms have a chance to take hold in Arab societies, unless women and minorities can walk around without fear, unless the culture of hate disappears and is replaced by a culture of life - only then can elections be meaningful and fruitful. Until then, I am afraid that elections would just be a smokescreen for more terror with a dignified veneer.

Thank you.

Email to the State Department:
http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html

Article about Rice's speech:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3089434,00.html

May 24, 1936 Palestine Post: Response to Arab riots

Note the "peaceful" protests of the Arabs to the existence of Jews owning land in Palestine. Notice how even then, the Jews stress how they want to live in peace.

Another point mentioned is that Arabs at the time were moving to Palestine "in the thousands" as a result of Jewish hard work in making the land a paradise. And they were specifically moving to the most Jewish areas. A significant percentage, perhaps most, of today's "Palestinians" are descended from these thousands who did not live in Palestine before the 1920s.


Today's Hamas "Death to America" chant

Some 2,500 Palestinian Hamas members, unmollified by a now-retracted magazine allegation that US soldiers desecrated a copy of the Koran, streamed out of mosques in the West Bank city of Nablus Friday chanting, 'Death to America, death to Israel.'


They sound like reasonable people who can be trusted if they are elected in the democratic process.

Orange Alert!

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was forced to issue an official apology to the Indian Embassy, after Knesset security personnel prevented Indian legislators clad in orange from entering the Knesset.

The incident occurred yesterday, when members of India's largest opposition faction, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), visited the Knesset while wearing orange scarves. Orange is their party's official color - but the Knesset guards were not impressed. Apparently told to prevent the color orange from being brought into the Knesset because of its association with the anti-expulsion protest campaign, the guards immediately informed the visitors that they could enter - but without their scarves. The scarves were returned to the lawmakers at the conclusion of their visit.

'I found it to be ridiculous not to allow a piece of cloth,' one of the Indian delegation members told Army Radio. 'Those are messages of intolerance. Today it's cloth, and soon it could be ideas that are barred.'


I wonder when the government will apologize to Jews who are not allowed to practice free speech and wear orange - Jews who elected this government to begin with?


I try very hard to run this blog with Jewish unity in mind, and I try not to dwell on inter-Israeli politics and disputes. But when a government that prides itself on the freedoms given its citizens, and on being the only democracy in the Middle East, acts in ways that are the antithesis of freedom and democracy, it is proper to mention it.

No matter what your position on disengagement is, what the government is doing now to curb peaceful protests and free speech is completely against what Israel stands for. For more details, go to disengagement.org.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

January 22, 1939 - The more things change... (updated)

I have long held that there is a common denominator in the Arab side of the Israel-Arab conflict: the fact that Arabs do not want Jews to own land in the Middle East.

It is not that they don't want any Jews there, because historically there have been Jews in Arab lands. It is simply that they cannot abide Jews owning land in the area, no matter how legally it is acquired. I believe this is because the Arab Muslim psyche is so heavily invested in the idea that Jews are weak dhimmis, as they acted this way for centuries, and this was some sort of validation of the supremacy of Islam. But for whatever reason, land is the single factor that can explain every Arab action vis a vis Israel since the beginning of modern Zionism. It explains 1948, it explains 1973, it explains Camp David (where Sadat said that he'd rather have war than lose a single grain of sand of the Sinai), it explains the Intifada, the infamous "stages" plan of Arafat, and it explains the entire existence of the Palestinian people as the pawns they became and remain. It also explains the existence of Hamas and Hezbollah.

This fact must be recognized and addressed before any real peace can occur. And, frankly, this would require a complete turnaround of a century of Arab opinion and incitement, something that will not occur any time soon.



Read between the lines: At this point in time, Jews only lived on land they legally bought.

Every single "demand" of the Arabs mean the same thing: Jews should not own land in then-Palestine.

And the doubletalk at the end of the article is well-known to anyone who follows the news: Only when Jews no longer own land will Palestine have "tranquility" again. As in today, those the Arabs declare to be enemies don't actually have to do anything to cause problems - they just have to exist, and when Arabs riot as they did in the early 1930s, it is the fault of the Jews for owning land.

SoccerDad brings this up to date:

The PA passed legislation in 1998 making Israeli ownership of Palestinian real estate a "harm to national security" that constitutes a "crime of high treason" punishable by death. 33 The murders of five Palestinian land dealers who sold property to Israelis indicated that the Palestinian Authority was not simply using rhetoric.

And an even more egregious example happened quite recently:

The Greek Orthodox church in the holy land, already mired in financial and political scandal, has been accused of secretly selling off a prime Arab area of Jerusalem's old city to Jewish settlers.

The Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, has ordered an investigation of the sale of land and buildings in Omar Ibn al-Hitab square, next to the Jaffa Gate, a sensitive area because its future is uncertain in any negotiated settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Qureia said he suspected the deal was part of a broader strategy by Jewish groups to buy up property and force Arabs out, "all with the goal of making Jerusalem Jewish".

"It is dangerous and a clear indication of the Israeli plan that targets the holy city," he said.


Notice that no one is accusing Jews of buying the land illegally...just the fact that Jews want to buy land in Jerusalem is enough to drive Arabs crazy.

How can anyone think that a true peace is possible when Arabs clearly do not accept the idea of Jews owning or buying the tiniest bit of land in the area?

Fanatic factoids

A Google News search on the term "Jewish fanatics" brings up:

3 stories from Al-Jazeera.info;
1 story from AlJazeera.com;
1 story from a Cuban website;
1 story from the Times of London (Headline: "Jewish fanatics flood into Gaza to resist withdrawal");
and one quote of an Israeli general saying "I do not rule out the possibility that some Jewish fanatics might open fire on other Jews during the evacuation!"

Judaism's holiest shrine is not the Western Wall

  • "Earlier Sunday, Mrs. Bush placed a note in the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine..." (Guardian)
  • " The stamp depicts the pontiff's stop at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site..." (CBC)
  • "Laura Bush placed a note in the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest shrine..." (ABC News/AP)
  • "Laura Bush spent a few moments of silence in the women's section at Judaism's holiest shrine..."(Times of India)
  • Mrs Bush headed to the Western Wall, Jerusalem’s holiest shrine. (Ireland OnLine)
  • The Wailing Wall, the last remnant of the Second Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, is the holiest site in Judaism and backs onto the mosque compound, which is the third most sacred spot in Islam. (IOL - South Africa/AFP)
  • Laura Bush spent a few moments of silence in the women's section at Judaism's holiest shrine, the Western Wall...(ABC Australia/AFP)
The holiest site in Judaism is the site of the Kodesh K'dashim, the "Holy of Holies," where the Aron (Ark) stood in the two Temples. This is on part of the Temple Mount. It is so holy that many rabbis say that Jews cannot visit there, and others allow visits only to specific areas and under certain circumstances.

It is not a hard concept to understand, but for some reason most of the media doesn't seem to get it, or want to get it. Probably because it could open up a can of worms - in an era where Muslims kill each other over a false report of a single desecration of a printed book, of which many hundreds of millions have been printed, the very existence of the Dome of the Rock is a daily desecration of Judaism's holiest site. And when it is admitted that the Temple Mount isthe holiest site on the planet, then people will start wondering how the Muslims decided it became their third-holiest site. And these questions may show other uncomfortable truths about Islam, and where exactly Islam got the idea of the Temple Mount being the third holiest site to begin with. (I do not believe all the statements in the link I just posted about the Muslim claim that Jerusalem is its third holiest site only started in the 1930s; I found a Palestine Post article from 1939 that states the holy status of Jerusalem to Islam matter-of-factly, but even so, the pictures speak for themselves that the Muslim world did not place too much importance on Jerusalem before the Jews came.)

So in general, it is easier for the world media to pretend that the Western Wall (or "so-called Western Wall", as Al-Jazeera.com terms it) is Judaism's holiest site, because the truth just is too messy to think about.

(To their credit, the London Telegraph and the BBC more accurately portrayed the Temple Mount as Judaism's holiest site.)

Has the Elder reached the big time?

This blog has been mentioned (in passing) yet again in this weeks Hevel Havelim and it is getting to my head so much that I'm starting to refer to myself in third person. What can I say...all is vanity.

As it is, the article referenced has already become by far the most read and discussed thing I have written, with links from Israellycool, a Little Green Footballs message, and Zibbiboisgood. (Of course, while getting 85 unique visitors in one day may be a big deal for me, it is background noise for the more popular blogs. )

But I would be remiss if I didn't thank my visitors, thank SoccerDad for suggesting that I self-nominate, and ask RACHack my usual HH host question: shouldn't הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים be pronounced "Havel Havalim"? I expect a proper scholarly answer!

I also fully expect to fade back into semi-obscurity by the time the next issue comes out.

Friday, May 20, 2005

PA promised to stop incitement in February

This Jerusalem Post article, published in March, says:

The Palestinian Authority has decided to impose restrictions on preachers who deliver Friday sermons in West Bank and Gaza Strip mosques, a senior PA security official told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

Under the new restrictions, preachers would not be able to deliver sermons that have not been authorized by the PA, he said.

This will be the first time that since the establishment of the PA that preachers will be unable to deliver their own Friday sermons. The move is seen as an attempt by the PA leadership to stop incitement against Israel and the US in mosques.

"From now on, the preachers will be given speeches prepared in advance by the PA authorities," the official said. "Anyone who does not abide by the text will be fired."

Guess who's speech they were pretending to respond to?

The PA's decision to impose censorship on preachers follows protests from Israeli and the US officials over a recent sermon in the Gaza Strip, in which the khatib, or preacher, called for the liberation of all of Palestine.

On February 4, Ibrahim Mudiris, a prominent PA preacher, said in a sermon broadcast live on the PA-owned television station and translated by The Middle East Media Research Institute: "We do not love any land more than the land of Palestine. Had the Jews not expelled us from it with their planes, their tanks, their weapons, their treachery around us, we would never leave you, O Palestine.

"We tell you, Palestine, we shall return to you, by Allah's will. We shall return to every village, every town and every grain of earth which was quenched by the blood of our grandparents and the sweat of our fathers and mothers. We shall return, we shall return. Our willingness to return to the 1967 borders does not mean that we have given up on the land of Palestine."

Yup, the same guy that called for the genocide of Jews in last Friday's televised sermon.

Somehow, AP and the other "reporters" in the media didn't notice this blatant lie by the PA. But they could easily publish that the PA promised again to stop it.

Barbara Sofer: 57 reasons I love Israel

1. At Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo the loudspeaker announces "Afternoon prayers (minha) are now being held near the lions."

2. The Biblical Zoo is kosher for Pessah. The primates eat matza, but the parrots get rice.

3. The nation mourns when a distinguished songwriter dies.

4. The prime minister invites not only survivors, but their soldier grandchildren to the March of the Living at Auschwitz

5. Thousands of free loan societies flourish. You can borrow wedding dresses and pacifiers.

6. Fourteen years after Operation Solomon, the first plane's pilot still volunteers to teach Ethiopian youth.

7. When the tsunami struck, we sent medical assistance the same day.

8. We also added flights to bring home our backpacking children.

9. The president of the US touts the book of Israel's former minister of Diaspora Affairs.

10. The president of Israel spends Shabbat in a development town, and the first lady does the cooking.

11. A week before Yom Kippur, forecasters speculate on the weather for the fast.

12. Strangers still invite you for a home-cooked Shabbat meal.

13. We entertain at home, but so many Israelis travel abroad that duty free shops advertise on municipal billboards.

14. Before Shabbat a siren marks our country hitting the brakes.

15. Municipal decorating contests feature succot, not trees.

16. Jewish soccer players for Bnei Sakhnin compete against Arab players for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

17. Volunteers pass out sandwiches at the hospitals, not for the patients, but for their families.

18. Childbirth and burial are free. Even the homeless have health insurance.

19. We have a Museum of Psalms, but at every bus stop someone is reading them, keeping the tradition alive.

20. Mrs. World is a Jewish Mother from Tel Aviv.

21. Stem cell research isn't controversial here

22. Fifty years after draining the swamps, we invented a one-pound aerial surveillance vehicle called the Mosquito.

23. Fifty years after we drained the swamps, we're considering bringing them back.

24. Desalinization is finally happening.

25. Per capita, Israel has the highest number of publications in science and Talmud.

26. Sufferers from Jerusalem Syndrome think they're King David or John the Baptist. Could be worse.

27. Disputes with Europeans notwithstanding, we've invented a urine test for mad cows.

28. You can hold an outdoor wedding all summer.

29. Designers create European fashions in real women's sizes.

30. Corner grocers know what type of hallah every family in their neighborhood eats on Shabbat.

31. At the corner grocery, you can often hear a discussion of the Torah portion.

32. We charge our food at the corner grocery, but Israelis invented the check-out technology for America's largest supermarkets

33. Everyone feels compelled to tell a parent to put a hat on the baby in a country where we wear scarves, snoods, spodiks and streimels; wimples, fedoras, berets, tarbushes, homburgs, mods, kippot and keffiyot.

34. Israeli teens like to party, but they won all the top prizes in the international robotic firefighting contest.

35. Our first Nobel Prize laureate chemists are both really doctors.

36. We invented both the chat room and the silent prayer.

37. Israelis take kids everywhere. "Please wait for the strollers to be unloaded" is a standard announcement on El Al.

38. Even the fanciest cars fly blue and white flags.

39. Fabulous boutique kosher wineries are arising on the sites of ancient wine presses.

40. Globalization means a Russian-born Israeli nurse coming in first for her age group in the "run up" the Empire State building.

41. A Beduin kiosk in the middle of the desert stocks kosher-for-Pessah snacks.

42. Our ATM machines speak many languages.

43. Everyone knows where the secret intelligence offices are.

44. Combat soldiers aren't embarrassed to phone their moms.

45. Kindergarteners stand for memorial sirens, and know what they mean.

46. You can find someone to fix small appliances and alter clothing.

47. People mark their birthdays by the Jewish holidays they're closest to.

48. We're still egalitarian: When you go for a blood test, a Knesset member or Supreme Court justice might be in line with you.

49. In Jerusalem, the person offering tefillin shares space with the person selling red strings.

50. Take-out food is called "take-away" in Hebrew, and you can get kosher kubeh, sushi and tiramisu.

51. On Saturday night the radio summarizes news for all those who don't listen on Shabbat.

52. A popular TV contest this year sought someone to explain the case for Israel. A popular movie was Ushpizin, the ancient Aramaic for "sukka visitors."

53. A municipal pool in Tel Aviv is crowded at 4:30 am.

54. Throughout four years of war, we refused to give up essentials like outdoor book fairs.

55. After four years of war, we still feel safest here.

56. "Shalom" means hello or goodbye, and it can be a first name or a last name, but it's primarily our elusive dream.

57. In this ancient land, there's always something new to love.

Analysis: Al-Qaeda in Gaza

I'm a little cynical....
A new Muslim terrorist group linked to al-Qaida has started operating in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority security officials told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Jundallah, or 'Allah's Brigades,' consists mostly of scores of former Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, the officials disclosed. They said Jundallah gunmen launched their first attack on IDF soldiers near Rafah earlier this week.

The IDF said four soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack.

Jundallah is a radical Muslim group that has close ties with al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, said one official. 'We know for sure that the group is especially active in the southern Gaza Strip,' he added.

Another official said that, according to intelligence gathered by the PA security forces, Jundallah consists largely of Hamas and Islamic Jihad dissidents who were unhappy with their groups' ostensible pragmatism.

'They believe that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have become too moderate,' the official said, referring to the two groups' agreement to temporarily suspend terror attacks on Israel.
Call me crazy, but historically, every time any Muslim terrorist group shows the slightest wisp of pretense of being a little bit less murderous, a more murderous group emerges. This can be explained in two ways:
  1. Either the terrorists are truly upset at the fact that they can't murder at quite the same rate they like to murder, or
  2. The more "moderate" terror groups gain something by the existence of a more "extreme" group.
What can Hamas gain from the existence of a proported al-Qaeda group in Gaza? The answer is simple - just look what the PA gains by the existence of Hamas:

  • Hamas now will look more "moderate" to the world and in comparison increases its chances of being accepted politically by Europe.
  • Any time an agreement with Israel is breached, Hamas can claim, "Hey, it wasn't us peaceful terrorists - it was the evil Al-Qaeda guys!"
It is a way for them to continue terror campaigns unabated while fooling the gullible Western press into thinking that they have become more "pragmatic."

It is a page out of Yassir Arafat's playbook, and why not? It worked beautifully for him and for Abbas.

It is of course entirely possible that Al-Qaeda has interest in making a token effort fighting Jews to regain some "street-cred" in the Arab world; after all, nothing makes you more popular than killing Jews in that part of the world. But I am tending to think that this is not a rival group but a partner.

See this for a different take.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Council on Foreign Relations: Muslim focus group shows Jews own America!

The CFR conducted focus groups to find out about the Muslim world's attitude towards America to see if it could be improved. Among the findings - no surprise here - are the ridiculous ideas that the focus group members had about Jews in America.

By the way, these findings were consistent even among those considered well- educated.

Conspiracy Thinking and Anti-Semitic Stereotypes Feed Anti-Americanism
Unfamiliarity with American politics, combined with hostility to U.S. policy as they saw it, left many focus group participants open to conspiratorial images of U.S. policymaking toward Israel and the Muslim world. The most prominent of these flowed from stereotypes about Jewish influence in America, which were pervasive among the focus group participants in all three countries despite their high levels of education. Many saw the United States and Israel as synonymous. When they gave their associations with the United States, “Zionism” was often near the top of the list. When they were asked what proportion of Americans are Jewish, wildly inaccurate estimates were common, anywhere from 10 percent up to 85 percent. (The real number is 2 percent.)
Americans are mostly Jews. (older Indonesian man)
The real Americans are the Indians, but those who immigrated to the U.S. are Jewish. (older Moroccan woman)
Even those with more realistic ideas of Jews’ numbers vastly exaggerated their influence:
About 10 percent [of Americans] are [Jews] but in the parliament 80 percent of them are Jews. (young Indonesian man)
Jews control 90 percent of the American media. (older Egyptian man)
(In fact, only 6 percent of members of the House of Representatives and only 10 percent of senators are Jewish. Just one of America’s five leading newspapers is controlled by a Jewish family.)
These anti-Semitic myths promote conspiracy theories involving America and suspicion of U.S. activities in the Muslim world. Several participants mentioned “theories” that the September 11 attacks were masterminded not by al-Qaeda, but by Jews:
They said that bin Laden hit the twin towers, why him? Maybe the Jews did it. (young Egyptian man)
Bin Laden is an Arabic name invented by the U.S. and Jews and used in connection with the killings and terrorist acts in order to worsen the image of Arabs and of Islam. (older Moroccan woman)23
23 These canards flow from a broadcast on al-Manar, the Hezbollah television station in Lebanon, on September 17, 2001, which falsely stated that four thousand Jews did not show up for work at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Since some participants believe Jews run America and hate Muslims, they think this explains why U.S. policy is hostile to Islam and supportive of Israel.
The government [in the United States is] Jewish. All Jews hate Muslims [and] they want to destroy Islam. (young Egyptian woman)
The U.S. arms Israel, because the U.S. is mostly Jews. (older Indonesian man)
Others saw Jews behind American initiatives for democracy and reform in Muslim lands. A young Indonesian man said, “Sometimes behind democratization is Zionism.” Such myths pose obvious problems for efforts to explain U.S. policies in the Muslim world.

AP spins PA anti-semitism

I find this AP story very interesting.

When the PA TV station broadcast its anti-semitic vitriol, the AP didn't think it was worth reporting. When the PA promises to stop such broadcasts, only then is this newsworthy.

In other words, AP only wants to emphasize the PA making "positive" (if hollow) steps towards "peace", but it only emphasizes Israel's actions as "adding to tensions" and "straining the cease-fire." I have yet to see a story about a mortar attack by Palestinians being looked at as something that "endangers the cease fire" - it is always Israel's reactions. And conversely, any empty words by a Palestinian spokesperson is regarded as an encouraging sign, as in this article.

Taking its strongest stand yet against anti-Semitic incitement, the Palestinian Authority has decided to ban incendiary sermons from state-run TV, just days after a televised Gaza mosque preacher likened Jews to the AIDS virus.

( "We will also act vigorously against incitement and violence and hatred, whatever their form or forum may be. We will take measures to ensure that there is no incitement - from Palestinian institutions. We must also reactivate and invigorate the U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli Anti-Incitement Committee. We will continue our work to establish the rule of law and to consolidate government authority in accountable Palestinian institutions. We seek to build the kind of democratic state that will be a qualitative addition to the international community." - Mahmoud Abbas, July 2003.)

Information Minister Nabil Shaath, whose ministry is in charge of Palestinian TV, said Wednesday he would no longer permit the broadcast of sermons that incite against other faiths. Shaath harshly criticized cleric Ibrahim Mdaires, who, in a sermon Friday, also accused Jews of inflating the dimensions of the Holocaust.

(He also called for the genocide of all Jews, a minor point that AP decides is not newsworthy.)

Other Palestinian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they expected the Gaza cleric to be banned from delivering sermons.

Several months ago, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pledged to lower the incitement level on Palestinian television and radio. Palestine Liberation Organization fighting songs, for example, have been taken off the air.

(The incitement has been very high for the past few weeks, not just this broadcast. The broadcasts for the "naqba" were especially sick, and nowhere does PA TV acknowledge Israel's right to exist in maps.)

But action has been gradual, and Israel continues to protest that the Authority is not doing enough to counter anti-Jewish themes and displays.

An official Palestinian website had carried a notorious anti-Semitic tract, the 'Protocols of the
Learned Elders of Zion,' until Wednesday - removing it only after a Jewish group protested. The 19th-century forgery purports to spell out a Jewish plot to take control of world finance.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Suicide attacks declared un-Islamic. (Well, only those against Muslims.)

I'm very glad that they cleared this up once and for all.
Fatwa declares suicide attacks un-Islamic

58 Ulema’s decree does not apply to Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq; minister hails edict

LAHORE: A group of 58 religious scholars representing all schools of thought have issued a Fatwa (edict) stating that Islam strictly forbids suicide attacks on Muslims and those committing such acts at places of worship and public congregations cease to be Muslims.

However, the Ulema led by chairman Tanzimul Madaris Pakistan and chairman Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Mufti Munibur Rehman, clarified that the Fatwa applies only to conditions in Pakistan and those running freedom movements in places like Palestine, Iraq and Kashmir are out of its scope.

The Fatwa was pronounced at a hurriedly-called press conference at Jamia Islamia Lahore on Tuesday afternoon. Head of Jamia Islamia Mufti Muhammad Khan Qadri, MMA MNA Maulana Abdul Maalik and some other clerics were also present on the occasion. Invitations for the press conference were issued by PID just one hour before the press conference.

The Fatwa holds that killing of innocent human beings is Haram (forbidden) in Islam and carries death penalty, Qisas and compensation, etc. Killing a fellow Muslim without Islamic and legal reasons is even a bigger crime, it said.

The Fatwa said killing any non-Muslim citizen or foreigner visiting the country is also forbidden in Islam since those people are under protection of the Pakistan government. The Ulema said they had issued the Fatwa in the perspective of Pakistan’s situation where, during the past few years, suicide attacks were carried out at places of worship and some elements had been propagating that the bombers were brainwashed by religious organisations into carrying out such attacks that would lead them to paradise. Such propaganda, the Ulema said, was bringing a bad name to Islam that different clerics were involved in provoking religious or sectarian killings.

Now that we know that killing innocent Jews and Hindus is OK, I'm sure that Islam will no longer have a bad name!

UPDATE: AbbaGav points out that Zarqawi has added some nuance of his own, all in the name of Islam.

Official PA web site links to Protocols of Elders of Zion; show picture of Jewish prayerbook dripping blood

There is nothing surprising about this. But once again one marvels at the sickness of these creatures who engage in lying and bigotry as a daily pastime, yet they whine loudly at any perceived "affront" to their people or "history".


This is apparently from the PA website. The book shown is a Jewish prayerbook, which means that it appears that the official PA government website shows a desecrated Jewish holy book.

Wonder when the riots will begin?


TEL AVIV - Top American-Jewish group the Anti-Defamation League demanded on Wednesday that Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas remove a link on a Palestinian government Web site to an anti-Semitic forgery that details a false Jewish plan to take over the world .

An Arabic translation of “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” can be found in a section titled “The History of Zionism” on the Arabic version of the Web site of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information.

UPDATE: It has been taken down:
One of the most infamous anti-Semitic forgeries was removed from a Palestinian internet site Wednesday after a Jewish group complained about it.

The "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," a 19th-century forgery purporting to spell out the Jewish plot to take control of the finances of the world, appeared on the State Information Service Web site, affiliated with the Palestinian Authority. The link to the document was found on a page with a list of legitimate historical sources about Zionism.

The Uzbek Dilemma (Tech Central Station)

This guy is good. He spells out the fundamental tension between wanting democratic states and wanting states that aren't Islamist, and how the US needs to choose one way or the other.

As I've said before, democracy isn't the magic formula that makes nations behave in a civilized manner - freedom is. Having elections in a society that doesn't accept Western-style freedoms means that the elections are not truly free. Sharansky gets it, but it is not clear that Bush does, yet.

This is an excerpt, the article is worth reading in full.
Herein lies the brutal choice that the Bush administration currently faces in Uzbekistan, and which it will have to face in other regions throughout the Muslim world in the coming months and years. It is a choice between two principles that, taken together, constitute the foundation of Bush's policy toward the Muslim world. First, the administration is committed to fighting Islamic terrorists and militants. Second, it is committed to promoting popular democratic government in the Muslim world.

For over two years now the Bush administration has insisted that there was no conflict between these two principles. Indeed, the essence of Bush's policy toward the Islamic world has been that the way to end terrorism was by making Muslim societies more democratic, and thus more responsive to popular sentiment. Yet if Muslim popular sentiment turns out to be violent anti-American and virulently pro-terrorist, then what?

Given this unattractive choice, there are only two solutions. The Bush administration can continue to insist on more democracy, even if this ultimately means the Talibanization of the entire Muslim world, and the dissemination of virulent anti-Americanism from one end of the region to the other. Or else the administration can do a complete about-face on democracy: discourage the spread of popular government in Islamic societies, and be prepared to back authoritarian governments that are willing to use brutal means to check popular uprisings whenever these uprisings, however popular, threaten to overturn pro-American governments and to replace them with hostile anti-American Taliban-like regimes.

Of course, there is always a third alternative, which is simply to pretend that there is a third alternative, when in fact there isn't. Regrettably, this is the course that the Bush administration appears to be following at the moment. How long it can continue to be guided by the this noble delusion, before dismal reality shatters it beyond repair -- that is the sixty four thousand dollar question. Tragically, it may be that the Bush administration is too committed to its delusions to make the choices that we must make if we are to survive. If so, the blame will lie as much in those liberal critics of Bush who have chosen to focus on trifling and petty issues, such as "Did he lie," instead of concentrating on the one thing needful, namely, how to meet the challenge posed by an enemy who has made it clear, over and over, that he does not like us, and will never like us, and that he will use any opportunity given to it to embarrass us, to attack us, and to kill us.

If America, and the West, has slept, it has been because its pundits and wise men, both on the left and on the right, have made no serious effort to wake it up, preoccupied as they have been, by and large, with tweaking each other's noses and scoring debating points. They have permitted the United States to pursue a policy that could be entertained only by an intelligentsia that has lost touch with the springs of the human heart, out of a sincere, noble, but profoundly misguided attempt to convert into friends those who have no desire to share even the same planet with us.

Lee Harris is the author of Civilization and Its Enemies.

Another Fatwa question for the Imam

Q: Salaam aleikum. When a Muslim soldier on a mission to kill the hated Jewish virus gets killed by his own bomb going off prematurely, does he still get his 70 virgins in Heaven?

A: Of course. Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.

GAZA - A Hamas terrorist who was killed overnight in the southern Gaza town of Rafah died from bomb shrapnel and not from gunfire, Palestinian sources said, contradicting earlier reports that said soldiers had shot the man.

According to the sources, the killed Palestinian is 22-year-old Ahmed Marchum. Eyewitnesses said Marchum stood at the edge of the Rafah refugee camp when a blast was heard, apparently an explosive device that went off, followed by shooting from the direction of IDF forces.

A Hamas source said Marchum was on a “Jihad mission” at the time of the incident."

It's the thought that counts.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My email to mainstream media

I just emailed this to MSNBC, CNN, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the NYT, Reuters, AP and the Washington Post:

To the editor:

I am astonished that the story that can be found in http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP90805 has not been picked up by a single mainstream media outlet. Here we have the TV station run by the Palestinian Authority, whose head was appointed by Mahmoud Abbas himself, broadcasting the most vile Jew-hatred and anti-Americanism, the most extreme kind of Muslim fundamentalism, and we are proposing sending these people millions of our tax dollars? Here the PA is explicitly breaking its agreement to halt incitement against Israel, and not a word of it in the media, when Israel gets headlines by suggesting it will build some houses.

The double standard is long-standing but here, in wake of the Newsweek debacle, it is worse - it is as if everyone expects Muslims to act this way and it is not "news" that Muslims call for the genocide of Jews on TV. But recent history has shown that when these things are exposed in the Western media the incitement stops - for example, when MEMRI translated the Saudi Arabian newspaper publishing a blood-libel against Jews.

So the fact that this has not been covered yet is not only a failing of the mainstream media to report real news, it borders on irresponsibility - this time a crime of omission, not commission as in the Newsweek story.

The fact is that, as opposed to the impression one would get from reading the news, incitement against Israel and Jews on Palestinian broadcasts is now worse than it was under Arafat, yet Abbas is invariably referred to as a "moderate" leader - without any evidence beyond the fact that he wears a suit.

This is news. Please report it.

Thank you.
-------------------
As of noon today, a Google News search does not come up with a single story about this outside MEMRI, IMRI, and PMW.

Three thoughts on the Koran Kerfuffle

How much should religion be respected?

As a hopefully religious person myself, I can sympathize with those who are offended by the desecration of their religious symbols. I would not purposefully do anything to disrespect any religion, and I think it is reasonable to expect others to do the same.

But three things strike me about the discredited Newsweek story saying that US soldiers flushed the Koran down the toilet, causing deadly riots in Afghanistan.

One is that the level of respect that Muslims demand of the Koran cross the line from reasonable requests into bigotry. Check out what US policy really is in Guantanamo on how to handle a Koran:

The three-page memorandum, dated Jan. 19, 2003, says that only Muslim chaplains and Muslim interpreters can handle the holy book, and only after putting on clean gloves in full view of detainees.

The detailed rules require U.S. Muslim personnel to use both hands when touching the Koran to signal "respect and reverence," and specify that the right hand be the primary one used to manipulate any part of the book "due to cultural associations with the left hand." The Koran should be treated like a "fragile piece of delicate art," it says.

The memo, written a year after the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo from Afghanistan, reflects what U.S. officials said was a specific policy on handling the Koran, one of the most sensitive issues to Muslims. The Pentagon does not have a similar policy regarding any other major religious book and takes "extra precautions" on the Muslim holy book, officials said.

The Pentagon memo, among other directives, barred military police from touching the Koran. If a copy of the book was to be moved from a cell, the memo said, it must be placed on a "clean, dry detainee towel" and then wrapped without turning it over at any time. Muslim chaplains must then ensure that it is not placed in any offensive area while transported.

Sorry, but while these rules may make sense in a Muslim country, they seem way excessive for detainees. It would be more reasonable to ban the Koran altogether from Guantanamo than to force the US to act with such dhimmitude. And beyond that is the explicit bigotry that no non-Muslim can even touch a Koran - what is that about? Would Islamic law say that my hands be cut off if I pick one up in a bookstore of library? It appears to me that Muslims are using Western sensitivities to assert their own superiority over the West, when things like this are demanded.

The second thing that is glaringly missing from this story is how much Newsweek is being blamed, and how little Afghani Muslims are being blamed, for the deaths in the riots. It appears that personal responsibility does not apply to the Arab world, and this is hardly the first time this has happened. It echoes the many news stories blaming Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount for the outbreak of the intifada - do Muslims and Arabs not have any ability to choose right and wrong for themselves? Are they animals who only act by instinct, and therefore the blame goes to the person who got them angry? The willingness to overlook actual acts of terror and murder by the left-leaning media and indeed the rest of the world is, in my opinion, one of the leading factors in the spread of terror itself.

The third point that is the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of the Muslim world, the absolute lack of symmetry between how they expect and demand to be treated and how they treat other religions. Is there any other religion that has such a varied history of desecrating other religion's holy places and symbols more than Islam? Look at the Buddha statues, the many Hindu temples destroyed, the destruction of Joseph's Tomb and Second Temple artifacts, the Church of the Nativity - the list is endless.

It seems to me that a religion that has no concept of how to respect other religions is in no way, shape or form in a position to "demand" that their own religion be respected to such an absurd extent.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The historical Palestinians: A very simple test

I don't think that anyone can seriously doubt that today there are a people who could accurately be described as "Palestinian."

But there is an incredible hue and cry whenever people say, accurately, that there were no such people that could be distinguished from the rest of the Arab world until relatively recently.

There is a very simple test that can prove which claim is more accurate, whether the Palestinian people have existed as such historically or not. The test is to look at newspaper archives from before the establishment of Israel and see how they used the word "Palestinian."

Unfortunately, there are not too many free newspaper archives on the Internet that go back that far. One of the best is the Palestine Post, in which Tel Aviv University has done an incredible job of showing articles from the time before Israel was founded in context (ads, too) and one can learn far more from reading these articles about how day to day life was in British Palestine than from any books.

Here is a sampling of articles that show up when doing a search for "Palestinian":






As is clear, at least in Palestine, the word "Palestinian" usually referred to Jews, not Arabs.

But perhaps you would argue that the Palestine Post (now the Jerusalem Post) is a biased source. Despite the fact that the above articles also quote British sources as using the word "Palestinian" to refer to Jews, but we can also look at other sources.

The Washington Post has its archives online as well, although you have to pay to see the full article. But even the abstracts can show interesting results:

Products of Palestinian Art Will Be Shown at Jewish Center; Novel 10-Bay Exhibit of Sculptured and Other Work by the Late Boris Schatz Will Open Tomorrow at 1529 Sixteenth Street.
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Apr 3, 1938. pg. TT5, 1 pgs

Abstract (Document Summary)
Products of the new Palestine art will be displayed in a novel ten-day exhibit, opening at the Jewish Community Center, 1529 Sixteenth street, tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. A number of pieces of sculpture work m relief, bronze, hand-hammered brass, ivory carvings and others of the late Boris Schnatz, founder of the new school of modern Palestinian art, will be exhibited by his son and daughter, ...





Or check this article out, perhaps for a better picture:
Palestinians in France
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Feb 29, 1940. pg. 5, 1 pgs

Abstract (Document Summary)

Somewhere in France, Feb. 28. -- Their past differences forgotten in the common effort, a force of 700 Palestinian soldiers, about three-quarters of them Jews and the rest Arabs, arrived at a French port today to join the British expeditionary force.


Even though this article includes Arabs as being Palestinian, it is the exception that proves the rule: there is nothing inherently Arab about Palestinians, and more often than not, Palestinians when referred to as such were Jews.

So how were the Arabs who lived in the area referred to? Usually just "Arabs", sometimes "Bedouins", and sometimes even "Arab nationalists:"

British Troops To Palestine.
The Washington Post (1877-1954). Washington, D.C.: Sep 6, 1936. pg. B6, 1 pgs

Abstract (Document Summary)

The seriousness at the Palestinian situation is at last being recognized by the British government. No longer are the authorities at London taking the complacent view that the fires lit in the Holy Land by Arab Nationalists some months ago, when they ordered a general strike in protest against further Jewish immigration, would soon burn themselves out.

Note that nowhere are these Arabs referred to as "Palestinians."

This is just scratching the surface. Reading old newspaper archives is fascinating and fun, and little details emerge that show that things were just as messy then as they are now, along with the occasional ad in the Jewish-oriented Palestine Post that may strike you as strange:



So don't take my word for it. Do the research and you will find out that when people claim that there have never been a historic Palestinian people separate from other Arabs, they know what they are talking about.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a similar summary archive service. Check out this article:
PALESTINIAN COUPLE ENROLLS AT FORDHAM
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Nov 1, 1947. pg. 5, 1 pgs

Abstract (Document Summary)

Fordham University enrolled yesterday as students a young Palestinian Jew and his wife who hope to make American culture and its techniques play a more dynamic role in the culture of their homeland.

But the New York Times for the most part seems to have been very specific in referring to Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs, usually not "Palestinians."

The first time I am able to find a reference to Palestinian Arabs as Palestinians by default in the NYT is arguably this article from 1959 , a somewhat better reference is here although it can be argued that Jordanian Palestinians are of course Arab by default. The first I am able to find the word used unequivocally to mean Palestinian Arabs is here:
U.A.R. Plans to Draft A 'Palestinian Army'Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Nov 3, 1963. pg. 5, 1 pgs

So while the word Palestinian as referring to Arabs who lived in the area does seem to predate the 1964 establishment of the PLO, it is not by much - and it seems pretty clear that the impetus towards the establishment of the PLO came from Egypt and other Arab states, not from the Palestinian Arabs themselves.