Friday, October 12, 2007

Syrian Civil Defense Services Placed on the Ready

From DEBKAfile October 12, 2007:

... Thursday night, Oct. 11, Syria placed its civil defense services on a state of preparedness and mobilized their reservists. Government and military hospitals across Syria have also been alerted.

....Thursday, Syrian defense minister Gen. Hassan Turkmani published a message to the armed forces calling for “readiness to withstand all aggression.” A day earlier, the Syrian chief of staff, Gen. Ali Habib, said at an officers’ passing-out parade: “Syria is capable of beating off any conspiracies” against the country.

All these measures and this rhetoric strongly indicate the Syrian regime is convinced that either an American or Israeli assault, or attacks by both against Syria and Iran are due shortly.

Syrian president Bashar Assad articulated this fear in an interview published by the Tunisian daily Al-Shorouk Thursday. He said: I am working on the premise that the Americans will attack Iran,” explaining that this was the answer he received when he asked the Iranians how they evaluated the situation.

... the only two Iranian personalities he would have talked to would be supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Assad went on to say to the Tunisian interviewer: ...“I cannot play games of anticipation ... I must be ready for any US or Israeli operation against Iran or Syria.”

1,000 rockets and mortars fired since Hamas takeover

From Ynet News, 10/10/07, by Hanan Greenberg:

IDF says number of rockets, mortars fired at Israel since Hamas uprising has increased dramatically; nearly 650 mortar, 250 rocket attacks since June 14

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired 1000 mortar rounds and rockets towards Israel since Hamas took power four months ago, Israeli security officials said Wednesday.

A military official told Ynet that "Hamas-sponsored terror groups are trying to maintain a constant level of terror activity against Israel.

"...despite the dangers involved.... It does not elicit a significant response from the IDF and allows Hamas to continue building up its forces in the Strip," the official continued.

.... These numbers only represent launches that have been identified and recorded, so the actual number of attacks is likely to be much higher.

Mortar attacks preferred
The mortar seems to be the weapon of choice for Palestinian terrorists. According to a July Ynet report, the IDF recorded 80 mortar attacks and 57 Qassam launchings in the first month after the Hamas takeover.

This trend has continued since then and has reached a rate of around 160 mortar rounds and 80 Qassams landing in Israel each month.

Although a number of Israelis have been injured in mortar attacks, Israel continues to view these attacks as low-profile terror activity.

Great Expectations

From Haaretz, 12/10/07, by Amos Harel and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents:

Avigdor Lieberman: Peace talks could bring about government's collapse
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Mideast envoy Tony Blair on Thursday that any attempt to address the core issues surrounding the establishment of a Palestinian state at an upcoming U.S-hosted peace summit would "bring about the collapse of the coalition and the government in Israel." These core issues include the permanent borders of the future Palestinian state, the question of jurisdiction over holy sites in Jerusalem, and the issue of Palestinian refugees around the world. Lieberman met with Blair in Jerusalem Thursday, and told him that any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "must include Israel's Arab citizens as well, when the basis for an agreement should be a land swap and a population transfer."

Lieberman also said that "the international community has to make a concerted effort to resolve the issues of Israel's security and the Palestinian economy."

Qureia warns failed Mideast summit may spark third intifada
Also Thursday, senior Fatah official and former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia warned that if the upcoming regional peace summit does not yield results, Palestinians are likely to respond with a third, more intensified uprising, Army Radio reported. "If the talks fail, we can expect a third and much more severe intifada," Qureia, who is also known as Abu Ala, was quoted as saying. Qureia currently heads the Palestinian negotiating team. He warned that there would likely be heavy bloodshed in the case of failed talks at the summit, which is scheduled to take place in November in Annapolis, Maryland. The Second Intifada began shortly after the Camp David accords in 2000.

Qureia also said that despite Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' statements Wednesday demanding a full Israeli withdrawal from all lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, Palestinians were prepared to amend the proposed borders of their future state. According to Qureia, Palestinians desire a state based on the 1967 borders, but are not opposed to territorial exchanges.

Military Intelligence assessment: Mideast peace summit likely to fail
In an assessment offered recently to the government leadership, Military Intelligence expressed doubts about the likelihood of success at the regional peace summit in Annapolis. According to the MI's assessment, the Palestinians would like to make immediate gains at the summit, but in return will postpone or fail to carry out their commitments, primarily countering terrorist activities. In its assessment, MI is also pessimistic about the ability of the Palestinian security forces to assume security control over the West Bank cities.

Political and defense sources who saw the MI assessment told Haaretz Wednesday that according to the intelligence analysts, Abbas will not be able to assert his control over the West Bank cities if security responsibility is passed on to his forces. Currently, the IDF operates in Palestinian urban centers to counter terrorism, while the Palestinians are assigned policing duties.

In its report, MI also expressed concerns about the pressure the PA is applying on the United States to push Israel for more gestures of goodwill prior to the summit. Among the requests Abbas' aides presented to U.S. officials is the release of more prisoners, the removal of road blocks, permission for the militants exiled following the Church of the Nativity siege in 2002 to return, the release of more Palestinian tax funds, and the reopening of Palestinians institutions in East Jerusalem - closed at the start of the Second Intifada in late 2000.

MI warns against "a bottomless barrel" of Israeli goodwill gestures, for which the PA will not respond in kind. According to the intelligence assessment, Abbas and his aides are not showing any signs of initiative and boldness in security matters, nor any practical ability to assume additional responsibility, even though Hamas continually challenges them.

In the Gaza Strip, MI notes, Fatah has lost all remnants of power there, as Hamas is increasingly entrenching its position. In recent closed sessions, senior general staff sources said that the chances Fatah will return and control the Gaza Strip in this decade are few and compared it to the likelihood that "Gorbachev will return to rule Russia."

Senior Fatah officials are concerned that Hamas is planning to carry out an intifada in the West Bank, which will target them through mass demonstrations and seek to topple their control there.

Yadlin: Conference must succeed [or else the PA leadership will lay the blame on Israel]
Chief of Military Intelligence Major General Amos Yadlin told the cabinet during a meeting this week that in the eyes of the PA leadership, the summit in the U.S. must succeed. If it does not, it will lay the blame on Israel.

Hamas, Yadlin added, considers the summit a negative development and will make great efforts to carry out major terrorist attacks as the summit approaches, in an effort to undermine it.

Two main scenarios are of concern to the IDF: A suicide bombing whose perpetrator will come into Israel from the West Bank; or an attempt to carry out a major attack against one of the crossing points on the border with the Gaza Strip. In late September, an attempt to carry out a suicide bombing initiated by a Nablus-based Hamas cell was foiled after the explosive belt was found in Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur.

Wednesday, the army and the Shin Bet began a major operation in Qalqilyah in an effort to break a Hamas network in the city. Several months ago, an explosives-laden van was sent by the group to Tel Aviv, but the attack was not carried out - possibly because of a technical failure.

Arab League wants a "Final Solution" now

From M&C News, Oct 11, 2007, Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

Cairo - Arab countries will need guarantees and a timetable for talks over a final solution to their conflict with Israel as a condition to their participation in an international peace conference to be sponsored by the United States, the Arab League chief said.

In an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur Wednesday evening, the Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa said Arab countries were opposed to open-ended talks with Israel.

'This was our mistake in the 1990s. We will not repeat it,' Musa said.

Arab participation in the conference is conditional on Israel giving certain guarantees, Musa explained. An example of such guarantees would be a moratorium on building settlements, he said.

'The Israelis swallow things and never give,' Musa said. He further added that nothing has been offered so far, hence Arab reluctance to sit at the negotiation table with Israel.

Musa ruled out participation of the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal just for the sake of a photo opportunity with his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A banana republic in the making

From JPost, October 11, 2007, by by Isi Leibler [posted here in full]:

Never have Israelis been as frustrated with their leaders as today. Yet the old guard not only retains the reins of power, but with unabashed hutzpa launches new policies that the vast majority of their constituents adamantly oppose.

There is a virtual consensus that the negotiations initiated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with the Palestinians will lead to nowhere. Even if Mahmoud Abbas had undergone a genuine transformation - which is doubtful - today he is utterly impotent and incapable of delivering anything. Indeed, if he survives, the most likely outcome is that he will reach an accommodation with Hamas and whatever weapons we provide or concessions we make will, as in the past, be turned against us.

Like our prime minister, all the current Israeli negotiators are failed and discredited politicians. During his tenure as premier, Ehud Barak created the foundations for the Second Lebanon War. President Shimon Peres still waxes eloquent about the failed Oslo Accords and exploits his presidential prerogative under the illusory cloak of promoting peace to create a climate for further appeasement and unilateral concessions.

And a discredited Haim Ramon, defiantly appointed deputy prime minister by his mate Ehud Olmert, blatantly proposes radical concessions to an impotent PA "with the authority but without the approval" of the prime minister. All this proceeds while Kassam missiles continue being launched from Gaza and we make empty threats.

Beyond the release of hardened terrorists, there was no transparency concerning the parameters of these concessions. However, the terms were leaked to the Israeli public through the Arab media. In response, Prime Minister Olmert assured the nation that the Knesset would have the final say. But in the interim, the world becomes acclimatized to Israel accepting a total retreat to '67 armistice lines - perhaps with minor modifications - and relinquishing control of the Old City and sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Judaism's most sacred site.

Whereas the Arab "right of return" is left for future negotiations, Israel would make a "declaratory" statement accepting responsibility for having created the refugee problem, thus giving credence to the false Arab narrative and sanctioning all the Arab lies concerning this issue since 1948.

Highlighting the "Alice in Wonderland" nature of these proposed concessions, Abbas, whose survival is dependent on an IDF presence, insists that Ramon did not go far enough and demands a return of all "occupied Jerusalem" to the 1967 lines.

Let there be no misunderstanding. Even if the dysfunctional Knesset vetoes these bizarre proposals, Prime Minister Olmert and his collaborators will have created horrific precedents that will unquestionably haunt his successors in future negotiations. And the international community, including our allies, will assume that a "flexible" Israel will forfeit vital assets that would never have been approved by the people.

Those who launched the Oslo Accords fervently vowed that we would never concede anything remotely comparable to these proposals, which even exceed the madness that prevailed at Taba during the dying days of the chaotic Barak administration.

Indeed, Israel's basic democratic structure must be questioned if negotiations involving the forfeiture of such vital Israeli assets can proceed despite the opposition of the people and without even convening a meaningful cabinet or Knesset debate.

Avigdor Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beiteinu party purports to represent the hard-Right of the political spectrum, must be desperate to retain his ministerial position because beyond threatening to resign he does nothing to prevent these unconscionable activities.

Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai of Shas, representing a hawkish constituency, also threatens to bolt the government but remains glued to his ministerial office while a return to the '67 borders is being negotiated. The Pensioners' Party head Rafi Eitam expresses outrage at Ramon's proposals for Jerusalem, but does not even threaten to resign. Likewise, dissatisfied Kadima parliamentarians insist that their party would never endorse the proposed concessions to the Palestinians, but refuse to act.

Even more perplexing - despite the fact that issues with existential implications for our future are at stake - is that opposition Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu seems to have been struck dumb.

On the other hand, those in the Israel national camp also have a long track record of self-undermining by promoting extremist policies. Despite having a highly persuasive case, they are often incapable of articulating their position in a sophisticated manner. Again and again they adopted a "you are either with us or against us" attitude which alienated potential allies among moderate centrists who under normal circumstances would at least have supported them part of the way.

The voices from the Right now being heard are often shrill and counterproductive. Moshe Feiglin in Likud promotes views that belong to the political fringe, not to a purportedly centrist party. The national religious camp sends mixed messages. Whereas their leader, Zevulun Orlev, is moderate, since the Gaza withdrawal extremist elements continue to capture media headlines as they reject the state and identify with anti-Zionist haredim. Highly vocal religious activists also often fail to appreciate that while they are commendably motivated by religion, basing the case for Israel exclusively on the Bible is not going to generate support from secular Israelis.
If the national camp is to force the government to jettison its recent initiatives - which could make the Oslo disaster pale - it is imperative that they now set aside their differences and create a united front with moderate centrists.

It is also important to recognize that maintaining the status quo, is not necessarily a cop-out. It may in fact represent the most favorable option for Israel. Today we look back nostalgically to Yitzhak Shamir's term of office, which concentrated on remaining steadfast until such a time as the Palestinians, if ever, came to the realization that their interests would be better served by making peace rather than endorsing terror. We came close to achieving this after the first Gulf War, when Arafat reached his nadir. But alas, the "peaceniks" resurrected him with the Oslo Accords and opened the White House doors to him.

We were at a similar point when former IDF chief Moshe Ya'alon had largely neutralized terror and Palestinians were beginning to question the merits of terrorism. But then a dybbuk entered prime minister Ariel Sharon's head and he launched the disastrous unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Today, with the Palestinians in utter disarray, Ehud Olmert is in the process of replicating the same disaster with even greater danger to our future.

This remains true despite the recent sortie into Syria reportedly crippling a nuclear threat. One daring success does not an effective government make.

The time is surely overdue for Yisrael Beiteinu, the Pensioners Party, Shas, and dissatisfied Kadima MKs to bring down this dysfunctional government that they repeatedly condemn. To stand by while the head of the government continues making unilateral concessions without reciprocity, in defiance of the will of the people, makes a mockery of our democratic system and provides credence to allegations that we are truly on the road to becoming a banana republic.

The writer is a veteran international Jewish leader and chairs the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs.

Celebrity Idiots play Bigshot

From The New Republic Online 8/10/07, by Eric Reeves:

Last week, Jimmy Carter toured Sudan as part of a group of international celebrities who are calling themselves "the Elders." Founded by Nelson Mandela, the Elders aim--in the modest words of one member, British billionaire Richard Branson--to address "problems in the world that need a group of people who are maybe...beyond politics, beyond ego, and who have got great wisdom."

Great wisdom?

Let's just say the group is off to a rocky start. That's because Carter took the opportunity of his visit to Sudan to criticize the United States for labeling the killing and destruction in Darfur genocide. "There is a legal definition of genocide and Darfur does not meet that legal standard," Carter lectured. "The atrocities were horrible but I don't think it qualifies to be called genocide." He also said, "If you read the law'll see very clearly that it's not genocide and to call it genocide falsely just to exaggerate a horrible situation--I don't think it helps."

.... there is a legal definition of genocide, embodied in the 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.... The "atrocities" Carter refers to have included, over the past four and a half years, the deliberate, ethnically targeted destruction of not only African tribal populations, but their villages, homes, food- and seed-stocks, agricultural implements, and water sources. People die now in Darfur primarily because of this antecedent violence, directed against not only lives but livelihoods. Here, the Genocide Convention is explicit: You can commit genocide not only by "[k]illing members of [a] group" but also by "[d]eliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." The destruction in Darfur clearly meets that test.

.... children, as well as women, are continually abducted by the Janjaweed. This, too, is a genocidal act under the convention, which prohibits "[f]orcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

None of this should be controversial at this late date. Numerous human rights organizations have, over the past four years, collected unambiguous evidence of genocide. The examples could fill books. ....Musa Hilal, the most powerful Janjaweed leader, declared his objective in simple terms back in 2004: "Change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes."

As for the complicity of the Sudanese government officials whom Carter clearly imagines he can charm with his criticism of the genocide label: The air attacks mounted by Khartoum, often in conjunction with Arab Janjaweed ground forces, have been directed exclusively at African villages, primarily those of the Fur, Massalit, and Zaghawa--the perceived civilian base of support for Darfur's rebels. The hand-in-glove operations of Khartoum's regular military forces and the Janjaweed have been authoritatively documented by Human Rights Watch.

In short, it seems doubtful that Carter has read the textbooks he claims to have read, or the vast body of human rights literature on Darfur--or even the Genocide Convention itself. If he had done any of these things, he would not speak so ignorantly.

But Carter isn't just wrong on the facts. His prescriptive point--that it is unhelpful to label Darfur a genocide--is foolish as well. No doubt Carter's statement was the quid in some ghastly quid pro quo he hopes to arrange with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. But Sudan's leaders are realists, and our only hope of changing their behavior is to credibly threaten them. The calculus is simple: If they believe the west--the United States, Europe, human-rights activists--now see the Darfur conflict as a chaotic civil war, not a genocide, they will feel less threatened. Which means they are more likely to dig in their heels on the diplomatic front--refusing to negotiate a political solution to the crisis--while waiting for the final cleansing of Darfur to run its course. The upshot is that Carter, a man who is so fond of lecturing others about the need for diplomacy, has managed to make a diplomatic solution to Darfur's bloodletting less likely. Great wisdom, indeed.

Eric Reeves is a professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and has written extensively on Sudan.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The rise and rise of Hizb ut-Tahrir

From GLORIA, October 9, 2007, by Jonathan Spyer [my emphasis added - SL]:

...Hizb ut-Tahrir (the "party of liberation") is ... growing in strength and visibility in the West Bank, especially in the areas of Jerusalem and Hebron. So what does the Hizb's emergence as a political factor mean, and what implications may it have (if any) for the future direction of events between Israelis and Palestinians?

Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in Jordanian-ruled Jerusalem in 1952 by a sharia court judge, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani. The party inscribes on its banner the goal of the restoration of the caliphate - the Islamic government established after the death of Muhammad in 632, and abolished by Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

The party wants the imposition of sharia law - eventually worldwide - and is in favour of the destruction of Israel. However, it sees this as the job of the conventional forces of the restored Islamic caliphate. The party has thus not employed the methods of terror attacks against Israelis, as favoured by other, more prominent Palestinian Islamist currents, such as Hamas and Islamic jihad.

Hizb ut-Tahrir has grown from its beginnings in Jordanian Jerusalem into an international force, with branches in 45 countries in the world. It has achieved particular notoriety in central and southeast Asian countries, in particular in Uzbekistan and Indonesia.

It has also come to prominence in western European countries - particularly in Britain, where a branch was established in 1986. A number of the best-known British participants in Islamist terrorism attended meetings of the group or one of its offshoots at certain stages of their trajectories. These include Omar Khan Sharif, who tried to bomb the Mikes Place bar in Tel Aviv in 2003, and the "shoe bomber", Richard Reid.

In the Arabic-speaking world, Hizb ut-Tahrir was long regarded as an obscure, eccentric current. Some analysts saw its failure to place the Palestinian issue at the centre of its concerns as contributing to its marginality. This is now changing. In the West Bank in the last months, Hizb ut-Tahrir has held a series of successful events, which mark its entry onto the stage as a significant player in Palestinian politics.

In early August, the party organised a number of mass rallies in the West Bank, including a gathering of 10,000 people in the town of Al-Bireh, and similar-sized rallies in Hebron and Ramallah. These took place under the slogan "The caliphate is the rising force", and coincided with similar gatherings held by branches around the world....

.... the emergence of the movement raises a question over the optimistic scenario recently raised in some quarters, according to which once Islamist movements such as Hamas are tested in office and fail, previous, predominantly secular patterns of politics will re-emerge.

It may well be that a deep, and profoundly significant "Islamisation" of the politics of the Arab world is taking place, the implications of which are only beginning to be glimpsed. Looking around the region, the wall-to-wall dominance of Islamist groups in opposition politics appears to attest to such a process.....

.... Such a shift, if it takes place, would have severe implications for hopes of a consensual peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and for wider regional stability..... interested parties among both Israelis and Palestinians will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the West Bank in the period to come.

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.

Trojan camel

From The Washington Times Editorial, published October 8, 2007, by Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen [emphasis added - SL]

...Borse Dubai... proposed acquisition of 20 percent of Nasdaq last week ...

...the arrival of the world's first Islamic stock exchange exerting unprecedented Islamic influence in the heart of the U.S. and Western economies ... should raise our alarm.

...Islamic, or Shariah-based finance, is the 1920s invention of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. He ordered the Muslim Brothers to create an independent Islamic financial system to supercede the Western economy, facilitating the spread of Islam worldwide. He set the theories and practices and his contemporaries and successors developed Shariah-based terminology for "Islamic economics," finance and banking.

Attempts by Muslim Brotherhood members in the early 1930s to establish Islamic banking in India failed. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser shut down the second attempt in 1964, after only one year, later arresting and expelling the Muslim Brothers for attempts to kill him.

Saudi Arabia welcomed them and adopted their ideas. In 1969...the Saudis convened the Conference for the Islamic Organizations (OIC) to unify the "struggle for Islam," and have been its major sponsor ever since. The 56 OIC members include Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Based in Jeddah, "pending the liberation of Jerusalem," the OIC mandates and coordinates actions to "support the Palestinian people, assist them in recovering their rights and liberating their occupied territories." The OIC's first international undertaking was the 1975 establishment of the Islamic Development Bank "in accordance with the principles of the Shariah," marking the beginning of the fast-growing, petrodollar-based Islamic financing market.

From 1975 to 2005, the bank approved more than $46 billion in funding to Muslim countries. Since 2000, it has transferred hundreds of millions of dollars raised especially to support the Palestinian intifada and suicide bombers' families — and has channeled United Nations funds to Hamas.

Yet the bank received U.N. observer status in 2007.

Overseeing Shariah finance are
  • the 1991-Bahrain-registered and -based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), which laid the groundwork for the global Islamic financial network and
  • the "de facto Islamic Central Bank"— the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), established in 2002 in Kuala Lumpur "to absorb the 11 September shock and reinforce the stability of Islamic finance."

Chairing the [2002] meeting, then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Mahathir stated: "A universal Islamic banking system is a jihad worth pursuing to abolish this slavery [to the West]."

According to Saleh Kamel, president of the Saudi Dallah Al-Baraka Group and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), more than 400 Islamic financial institutions currently operate in 75 countries. They now hold more than $800 billion in assets — growing at a rate of 15 percent annually.

All investments with Islamic financial institutions are subject to the minimum zakat (Islamic charitable wealth tax). On April 30, the OIC, the organization that initiated global Muslim riots after the Danish cartoon publications, established the clerical International Commission for Zakat, replacing more than 20,000 organizations that previously collected the money.

Islamic clerics' "expert committee" in Malaysia now supervises and distributes those funds. The new committee will shortly distribute to Muslim charities roughly $2 billion collected during Ramadan.

But not all charities are equal. In 1999, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi decreed: "Declaring holy war [and] fighting for such purposes is the way of Allah for which zakat must be spent." If past zakat distribution is any indication, all Muslim jihadist-terror organizations (including Palestinian Hamas, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and the many al Qaeda offspring) will benefit.

Shortly after September 11, Osama bin Laden called upon Muslims "to concentrate on hitting the U.S. economy through all possible means. Look for the key pillars of the U.S. economy. Strike the key pillars of the enemy again and again and they will fall as one."

Most Arab and Muslim states publicly denounced bin Laden. But

  • the impending Nasdaq acquisition,
  • the purchases of over 52 percent of the London Stock Exchange and
  • 47.6 percent of OMX (Nordic exchange) and
  • the vigorous expansion of Shariah financing

apparently follow the Muslim Brotherhood-bin Laden script.

President Bush on Sept. 25 at the United Nations called on all nations to open their markets. Surely, he did not mean opening the markets to domination by Shariah.

Rachel Ehrenfeld is director of the American Center of Democracy and a board member at the Committee for the Present Danger. Alyssa A. Lappen is a senior fellow at the American Center of Democracy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Flogging a Dead Horse: Still Trying to Destroy Israel

The Centre for Muslim States and Societies, School of Social and Cultural Studies at The University of WA, and Australian Friends of Palestine (WA) co-sponsored a lecture at the University of WA on Monday 8th October, entitled “What Future for Israel/Palestine? Future Scenarios and Solutions” by Dr Ghada Karmi (UK).

Ghada Karmi is an honorary research fellow and an assistant lecturer at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter (UK). She is a Palestinian born in Jerusalem, but spent most of her life in Britain, where she studied medicine and initially practised as a physician. The promotional material for the lecture suggested that she “will be exploring the origins of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and describe the current situation. The lecture will also review the various solutions on offer, and propose the one-state solution as the only just, durable and realistic way out of the present impasse.” Regretfully, the speaker’s academic position and pseudo-civilised demeanour turned out to be mere fig leafs for a very shallow presentation, including gross distortions of fact, that was aimed at the destruction of Israel.

The lecture was prefaced by remarks from a local leader of the Friends of Palestine who explained that their organisation was committed to fighting the Palestinian cause through constant repitition of their “story” in the media … He also offered the audience kaeffiyahs and T-shirts for sale…

The speaker was introduced by Sameena Yasmin, Associate Professor, Political Science and International Relations at the School of Social and Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies at The University of WA.

The speaker commence her talk by referring to the creation of Israel as a “nakba” (catastrophe) and the Israel-Arab conflict as so prominent on the global stage because of “powerful and vociferous” pro-Israeli forces around the world. She suggested that if the Palestinian Arabs were fighting Chadians or others, instead of Jews, then most of the world wouldn’t really care, but because their “protagonists” (she meant “antagonists”) are Jews, their plight is well known, even in Australia.

In terms of explaining the cause of the conflict, Dr Karmi referred to a “couple of Rabbis” who allegedly travelled to Palestine at the behest of the Zionist Congress at the turn of the century to guage the suitability of that place as the object of Zionist efforts to re-establish a Jewish homeland there. They purportedly reported that “the bride is beautiful, but already married to another man…” This original sin more than 100 years ago, she suggested, is the root cause of all the problems and strife experienced by the Palestinian Arabs since. Not a single word about the possibilty that the Arabs had any responsibilty or in any way contributed to the region’s problems, implying that the whole Arab world is a mere helpless observer of the suffering of their brothers.

When it came to solutions, the speaker opined that two parties are needed in a settlement, and that “Israel is not interested” in settling the conflict. This gross distortion of the actual facts put an end to any hope I may have harboured in hearing a rational, intelligent address on the subject. It is on record, and common knowledge that Israel has accepted, but Arabs have categorically rejected every opportunity to form a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Note the following:

  • In 1937, the Peel Commission proposed the partition of what was left of Palestine (after Transjordan had been formed from 80% of the mandate) and the creation of a Jewish state on a tiny section of the territory around Haifa. The Zionists accepted the plan; the Arabs rejected it.
  • In 1947, the UN would have created an Arab state even larger than the 1949 Armistice line, as part of its partition plan. Zionists accepted, Arabs attacked.
  • At the Rhodes Armistice talks and Lausanne Conference in 1949, Israel offered to return captured land as part of a formal peace agreement. Arab rulers refused.
  • From 1948 to 1967, Israel did not control the West Bank. The Palestinians could have demanded an independent state from the Jordanians, but did not.
  • The 1979 Egypt-Israel peace negotiations offered the Palestinians autonomy, which would almost certainly have led to full independence.
    The Oslo process that began in 1993 was leading toward the creation of a Palestinian state before the Palestinians violated their commitments and scuttled the agreements.
  • In 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to create a Palestinian state, but Yasser Arafat rejected the deal.
  • Today, Hamas continues to reject Israel’s legitimacy and aims to destroy her.

This purportedly academic speaker went on to justify Palestinian violence as legitimate “resistance” and in a (very) thinly-veiled threat of terrorism to her Australian audience, suggested that the violent resistance is now “coming out of the region” to threaten all of us…

In reviewing possible solutions to the conflict, the speaker rejected the globally-accepted two-state solution as non-viable and warned against an alleged conspiracy to ultimately annex the West Bank to Jordan and Gaza to Egypt. Which finally brought her to her punch line: a one-state solution for all residents of the region. She explained that she envisaged a secular, democratic state, but recognised that others may have “other ideas…”

In the Q&A after the talk, the speaker was asked by a member of the audience whether she wasn’t concerned that once in power, the Arabs would take revenge on the Jews of the region for their decades of alleged crimes against them. Dr Karmi simply shrugged off this possibilty by suggesting that only a “tiny minority” would do that, and in any case, most Jews hated their “brown-skinned Arab neighbours” so they would probably “go back to Europe, and this would solve the problem…”

I prefaced my question to the speaker by explaining that her one-state solution would lead to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, creating a Jewish minority in an Arab state.

What I would have added, if I’d had the time, is that this the grim realities of the challenges to be faced in replacing Israel with a new Palestinian-Arab-ruled state include:
• a stagnant class structure,
• unproductive economic habits,
• an uncurious and increasingly reactionary culture,
• deeply cruel relationships between the sexes and toward gays,
• no notion of an independent judiciary,
• inciting hatred of Jews, USA and the West, and
• a primitive religious mentality that bestows prestige and the promise of sexual rewards in paradise for suicide bombers
…. and no real challenge to any of these actualities is raised in her “solution” which promotes the propaganda and libels of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other irredentist and murderous Palestinian factions.

I also reminded the speaker, and audience,

  • that there had been a minority of almost a million Jews in the 22 Arab nations, 60 years ago,
  • that today a mere handful remain, having been expelled, and that Jews can’t even visit many Arab nations as tourists
  • that, in addition to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Jordan were all created by Britain and France from lands conquered from the Turkish Empire in World War 1
  • that Jordan was in fact created from 80% of the British Mandate of Palestine, and
  • that the remining 20% was intended to be partitioned into a Jewish and an Arab state.

Which brought me to my question, which, by this time, I had to put over the top of some heckling from a few members of the audience and a “wind-up” from the leader of the Friends of Palestine. I asked: “if all these so-called artificially-created nations, together with some 170 other nations around the world, have a right to self-determination, then why is the one and only Jewish state not entitled to self determination; and why is she prepared to co-exist with Jews ONLY when they are a subjugated minority in an Arab state?"

Her answer was that Jews “may be entitled to a state, not in Israel, but in some other, uninhabited place, if they can get away with it….”.

Steve Lieblich