Friday, March 16, 2007

Hamas digs in for war in Gaza

From The Australian, March 16, 2007, by Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem ...

HAMAS is busily fortifying the Gaza Strip with the help of Iranian expertise and funding for what may be the fiercest fighting the embattled enclave has seen [....probably before the end of the year]

"They're digging bunkers and tunnels 20m underground equipped with airconditioning," retired Israeli intelligence officer Brigadier General Shalom Harari said this week. "That's something the Iranians taught them."

Since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza 18 months ago, hundreds of Hamas fighters have gone to Iran for intensive military training sometimes lasting months, according to Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin. Iranian experts have also reportedly reached Gaza.

Mr Diskin said on Tuesday that militants last year smuggled more than 30 tonnes of explosives into the Strip, mostly through tunnels from Egypt. According to an Israeli assessment, there are 120,000 automatic weapons in Palestinian hands in the 40km-long strip.

Mr Diskin told the Knesset foreign affairs and defence committee that Hamas had significantly upgraded its rocket arsenal. Some could now hit Israeli towns 20km away. Hamas had also acquired in recent months Russian missiles capable of penetrating heavily armoured tanks. Newly acquired anti-aircraft missiles would challenge Israel's domination of the skies over Gaza for the first time.

Brigadier General Harari said: "Hamas and Iran have formed a strategic alliance. Iran sees Hamas as part of a pincer aimed at Israel." The other arm of the pincer, in Lebanon, is Hezbollah.

Like Iran, Hezbollah belongs to the Shia branch of Islam. Though Hamas members are Sunni, they share Iran's fundamentalist ethos and its militancy towards Israel. Iran is also funding militant groups in the West Bank, which borders Israel's heartland. However, Israeli forces are still deployed in the West Bank and almost nightly arrests of militants have prevented Hamas from gaining traction.

Israel is closely monitoring developments in Gaza and has drawn up detailed plans for a large-scale incursion that it would like to press home before Hamas reaches Hezbollah's level of military sophistication. "Hamas wants quiet now so that it can continue its preparations," Brigadier General Harari said. "But their build-up will oblige an Israeli operation, probably before the end of the year."

A major clash with Hamas threatens to be far bloodier than the war with Hezbollah.
South Lebanon, where most of last summer's war was waged, is a thinly populated rural area. Its residents were warned by Israel through leaflets and radio broadcasts to flee before their villages were bombed or shelled. Gaza, by contrast, is one of the world's most densely populated areas, with few secure places to which civilians could flee. If Israeli forces wished to root out Hamas armories and rocket workshops, they would have to fight their way into built-up areas.
In all the years of skirmishing, Israeli troops have never engaged in significant house-to-house fighting in Gaza City or other urban locations.

Given the lacklustre showing of the Israeli Defence Force against Hezbollah last year, it is highly motivated to seek a decisive victory against Hamas. But international pressure could prove a restraining force if many civilians were killed.

Hamas has mined the approaches to Gaza's towns and is expected to mine streets and buildings inside the towns when fighting appears imminent. It is also believed to have dug tunnels under the Israeli border fence to infiltrate fighters behind the Israeli lines.

Israel has drawn up plans for an orderly evacuation of settlements bordering the Gaza Strip when and if fighting starts.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Quadrant lecture by Melanie Phillips

From The Quadrant lecture by Melanie Phillips, Quadrant dinner, Sydney, Australia, 1 March 2007 [very brief excerpt only - follow the link for the full transcript]....

Londonistan was a term of abuse coined by the French for a Britain that had allowed itself to become the European hub of al Qaeda. To me it’s also a state of mind, when people not only seek to appease but come to believe and absorb the ideas and assumptions of the enemy that intends to destroy them. It’s a state of mind that applies not just to Britain but throughout the west, where people refuse to face up to the reality of the jihad because they can’t bring themselves to accept what must follow. It’s so much easier to take refuge in alternative explanations, particularly ones that blame themselves for their own victimisation. And just as they embrace their enemies, so they turn against their allies......

.....There is a persistent refusal to accept that we are in the throes of a holy war waged upon the western world for more than 25 years without our even recognising it because it doesn’t fit our definition of war. It is a world war being fought in many disparate theatres with many proximate causes, but all with one single coherent aim: to defeat western civilisation, establish Islam as the dominant power in the world and restore the medieval Islamic caliphate.....

.....Many take refuge in excuses. It’s rage over Iraq. It’s Islamophobia. It’s poverty or discrimination. It’s segregation. But none of these stands up to scrutiny for a second. .....

.....People are rightly concerned not to tar all Muslims with the brush of Islamist conquest. Which is why I go out of my way in my book to say many Muslims in Britain and around the world are deeply opposed to the jihad; indeed Muslims are its most numerous victims. That’s why I use the term Islamism, to distinguish those who believe in Islamic conquest from those who merely draw upon Islam for spiritual sustenance. But at same time, it is false to deny that Islamism is the dominant force in the Muslim and Arab world, false to deny that it is radicalising millions of Muslims in the west, and false to deny the huge inroads it has made into western society through this pincer movement of terrorism and cultural pressure.

As I say, there certainly are moderate Muslims. But this immediately poses the question: what is a moderate? In Britain, it appears that only those Muslims who endorse the murder of fellow Britons are not moderate. Those who merely endorse the murder of Israelis or coalition forces in Iraq are deemed to be ‘moderate’ — because that is merely exercising ‘resistance’.

This is clearly absurd. But worse still, there is an alarming number of Muslims in Britain may abhor violence but whose views are not moderate by any reasonable definition. Opinion polls suggest that between 40 and 60% of British Muslims would like to live under sharia law in Britain; almost a quarter say the 7/7 bombings can be justified because of the war on terror; nearly half think 9/11 was a conspiracy between the US and Israel; 46% think the Jewish community is ‘in league with the Freemasons to control the media and police’; 37% think the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target ‘as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East’.

In further surveys, seven per cent of Muslims polled — equivalent to 112,000 British Muslims —thought suicide bombing in the UK was justified in some circumstances, rising to 16 per cent — or 256,000 —if a military target was involved. These are horrifying statistics. Clearly, the problem we have is not just ‘a few unrepresentative extremists’. It is much broader and deeper.
That’s why the head of the so-called ‘moderate’ Muslim Council of Britain, the main Muslim representative body, has said his aim is to encourage Britain to adopt sharia law and more Islamic ways. That’s why, after the transatlantic airline plot was uncovered, 38 British Muslim organisations along with various Muslim MPs and members of the House of Lords threatened that unless Britain changed its foreign policy, it would have more terror attacks. That’s why, the day after the soldier kidnap plot was uncovered, other so-called ‘moderate’ Muslim representatives demanded of the government that sharia law on marriage be adopted into English law and that assorted Muslim holidays should become British national holidays. That’s why the Muslim Council of Britain called last week for all schools to ban ‘un-Islamic activities’ like dance classes, teach contact sports in single-gender groups, to allow Muslim children to wear all-encompassing garments while swimming, and to limit certain school activities during Ramadan including science lessons dealing with sex, parents’ evenings, exams and immunisation programmes.

I see this situation not as ‘a few unrepresentative extremists’ but as a continuum of extremism which acts as a conveyor belt to terror. Even those who don’t support violence may endorse the kind of ideas which are the drivers of terror — ideas such as the belief that the west is a conspiracy to destroy Islam, that the Jews are the puppet-masters of the west, that Britain should be governed by sharia law, or other views hostile to British and western society......

.....What should be done? Simply, this. We all have to grasp that terrorism is not the biggest threat we face. The biggest threat is the ideology that drives it. It’s not enough to fight terror, vital though that is. The principal battleground is the world of ideas. The Islamists understand this. They understand that if they can hijack the human mind to the cause of hatred and lies, they have an army; and if they can further hijack the minds of their victims, they will win. They understand that psychological warfare – the fomenting of paranoia, resentment, hysteria and demoralisation — is their most effective weapon.

But we haven’t even understood that this is where the real battleground is. The liberal west, which worships at the shrine of reason and makes such a fetish of the power of intellect, will not acknowledge that ideas can kill – and we flinch from what we would have to do to address this. As a result Britain, Europe, America and Israel have all left the battleground of ideas totally undefended, allowing the unhindered advance of falsehood and hatred. Worse still, our intelligentsia and media often act as an Islamists’ fifth column.

It is only if we act against the ideology that is spreading such falsehood and hatred, and stop its advance under the umbrella of minority rights, that we have any chance of defending the free world. That means – while showing respect to Muslims who derive only spiritual sustenance from their faith – resisting the Islamism which uses religion to attack western values, life and liberty, reasserting western values and resisting any attempt to subvert them. It also means facing down in public the lies spread about the west. Only if we stop deluding ourselves and take such action necessary for our survival will we stop sleepwalking to defeat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sick Europe

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 13, 2007, Michael Freund [my emphasis added - SL]....

Even for a continent with such a dishonorable record of appeasement, Europe has been outdoing itself. For the first time in more than two years European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana will pay a visit this week to President Bashar Assad at one of his numerous palaces, marking a resumption of high-level EU contact with the Dictator of Damascus.

And what exactly has Mr. Assad done to deserve this diplomatic prize? Let's see. His track record includes the murder of political opponents, allowing foreign fighters to traverse Syria and join the insurgency in Iraq and playing host to terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
The Assad regime is believed to have orchestrated the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri; it has funneled arms and financial support to a cast of nasty characters including Hizbullah, and it has openly threatened to wage war against the Jewish state.

Syria's government also continues to suppress the most basic and fundamental rights of its citizens, and it has been steadily building up a military arsenal bristling with chemical warheads.
So how exactly have Europe's guardians of civilization decided to respond to Assad and his appalling record of behavior? By rewarding him, of course.

It doesn't seem to matter one whit to Solana that he will be sipping tea and exchanging pleasantries in Damascus with a man who has arguably done more than any other head of state to sow chaos in the Middle East over the past 24 months. And if that weren't enough, the EU diplomat will likely fawn all over his host, pleading with him to play a "more constructive role" in the region, as if such blather is likely to convince an autocrat like Assad to stop causing trouble.
I don't know about you, but I've had it. I am sick and tired of Europe's haughty hypocrisy, its maddening myopia and its duplicitous double-standards when it comes to the war on terror and the Middle East.

IT'S TIME we stopped deluding ourselves into thinking that Europe can be counted on to stand by Israel and the United States in times of crisis, and start realizing just how unprincipled and unscrupulous European foreign policy has become.

Take, for example, the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out last month, "The European Union - led by Germany, France and Italy - has long been Iran's largest trading partner," with the EU accounting for more than one-third of Iran's total imports.

Even after the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed in 2003 that Iran had been conducting a secret nuclear program for 18 years aimed at enriching uranium, Europe went ahead and expanded its trade with the mullahs. The Continent's exports to Teheran rose 29% between 2003 and 2005 to nearly 13 billion euros.

So while publicly they wring their hands about the Iranians possibly obtaining a nuclear weapon, the Europeans are busy earning a fast buck by doing business with them, in the process pumping a steadily-increasing stream of revenue into the Iranian treasury's coffers. The fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems intent on using these funds to replicate the results of the European Holocaust of six decades ago does not appear to enter into the equation.

AT THE same time we are witness to an increasing array of insults, invective and verbal abuse hurled at the Jewish state by prominent Europeans. Earlier this month, on a visit to Jerusalem, German Bishop Gregor Maria Franz Hanke had the gall to compare Israel to the Nazis, and likened Ramallah to the Warsaw Ghetto. This from a man whose nation systematically murdered millions of innocent Jews.

Then there is the brouhaha over the Eurovision song contest, where organizers have said they may bar Israel's entry in the May competition because it expresses opposition to being incinerated by Iranian nuclear weapons. Does the fact that Jews wish to live sit heavily on the collective European conscience?

In light of all this, it is time for Israel and the US to stop giving so much weight to European political preaching and diplomatic pontificating. With their record of cozying up to dictators and pursuing commercial deals at the expense of Western strategic interests, European leaders have lost the moral right to tell us how best to run our affairs.

Instead of courting people such as Solana and his ilk, Israel and the US should publicly and aggressively call the European leadership to task for its shameful stance on various key issues.
Just because a relationship goes by the name "alliance" does not necessarily make it so. Europe has a long way to go before being worthy of such a description.

AND WHEN the EU starts bossing us around, as it inevitably will, telling us to accommodate the Palestinian Authority or negotiate with the ayatollahs, we should politely but firmly say: "Shut up, Europe!"

In the mid-19th century, Czar Nicholas I of Russia coined the phrase "the sick man of Europe" to describe the decline of Ottoman Turkey. I would suggest adapting that expression to reflect the reality of the Continent today.

The sick man is Europe, and it is time we started treating it as such.

EU hesitation on Iran

THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 14, 2007, by Staff...

Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman (read his JPost blog) lashed out at European leaders on Wednesday for refusing to impose economic sanctions on Iran.

"There are European leaders who think they can sacrifice Israel for the sake of their economic interests," Lieberman declared at a meeting with American Jewish Council delegates.
Speaking to the AJC delegates, the strategic affairs minister compared the current situation to the state of affairs in Europe "on the eve of World War II."

....Lieberman said it was the responsibility of the international community to stop the Iranian nuclear program, but that neither Israel nor its friends should become "hysterical."

The strategic affairs minister said that the government of Israel was "doing more than any other country to confront the Iranian nuclear threat....We can face the country even if we're left to face them one-on-one," ...adding, however, "I think it would be much better for the world if the international community were to step in."

Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this report.

Professor Raphi Israeli

From ICJS, Monday March 12, 2007, by Ronit Fran Ralph ...

Professor Raphi Israeli spoke at an ICJS function last Sunday night at Beth Weizmann. We had about 360+ people in a packed out hall. All people who didn't book (probably 30-40 people) had to be turned away.......

Reverend Dr Mark Durie gave a detailed and concise presentation of the Dhimma pact as it was in traditional form, and how it is now slowly being re-instated stealthily around the globe.
In essence, reduced to a single question, he asked: Why do non-muslims have to do the PR for Muslims? Are Jews expected to say that Christianity is a wonderful religion? Are Christians expected to say to the world that Judaism is a wonderful religion? Why then do people such as George Bush, Mary Robinson and countless others have to go on-record telling us that Islam is the religion of peace, Islam has made enormous contributions to our society etc etc.
Mark explains this in terms of an ancient religious / cultural requirement within Islam for non-muslims to acknowledge the superiority of Islam. This is part of the Dhimma pact which provides protection for non-muslims from Islamic Jihad.

To read another article by Mark Durie see Isa the Muslim Jesus

Prof Israeli spoke about how Islamic individuals were encouraged after WWII to provide manpower for a severely depleted workforce. They came largely from the French, Dutch and African colonies. He explained how the situation evolved from individuals to whole communities, eventually resulting in the importation of Imams to deal with their religious needs.
However, the Imams taught (quite correctly within the structure of Islam) that all institutions of society have to be based on the Sharia, and anyone who thinks he can improve on the Sharia is considered a blasphemer. This is the core of a clash.

Then Prof Raphi Israeli spoke about the theoretical foundations of democracies - that sovereignty is with the people. Also he dealt with the pragmatic manifestations of democracy - a parliament, an opposition, a smooth transition from one administration to the next after an election. And he made a convincing case that all of these structures are foreign to Islam, where the Koran is the only source of authority. Fundamentally anyone who claims that "man" (forgive the genderist term) is a source of authority is a blasphemer.

This dovetailed well with what Prof Israeli said at a private function on Friday night, that the whole concept of "democratisation" is phoney. It would be like "pregnantisation" - the notion that you become pregnant gradually. A country is either democratic or not. Conditions conducive to democracy can be put in place, but that does not constitute democracy or democratisation.

Download an MP3 of Professor Raphi Israeli lecture, complete with the introduction by Dr Durie, here.