Saturday, May 28, 2005

Mideast fantasies

Extracts from Jerusalem Post
May. 23, 2005 20:14 Updated May. 23, 2005 20:37


The Middle East poses the biggest threat to world peace and stability. One element that makes matters worse is the inability of so many politicians, diplomats, academics and journalists to understand the region...

....In my view, the Middle East today is simply repeating patterns seen elsewhere in the world. For centuries, Europe was beset by wars in which one ideology or leader thought it possible to gain power over the whole continent. For hundreds of years there were bloody ethnic and religious conflicts. Pragmatism was rejected, superstition overwhelmed science, and so on. Better types of thinking won out only after the high costs of reactionary notions were proven time after time. The same was true with the historical experience regarding the impossibility that the total victory of any state, ideology or ethnic group would lead to peace.

Propoganda as Truth
A second element here is a tendency to acceptance of regional ideology as truth...that if an Arab dictatorship, terrorist group, extremist movement or ideologically committed Arab intellectuals say something, it is either the truth or reflects their real beliefs. And if public opinion polls in the Arab world or Iran show the effects of decades of propaganda, this, too, reflects the masses' real sentiments.

Wishful Thinking
Finally, the culture-denying mind-set includes a strong streak of utopian and wishful thinking.
...people want peace or democracy, or prosperity or international fraternity ...The desirable is not necessarily possible. Underestimating difficulties is a way of ensuring failure. What is needed instead is the most objective analysis ...Goals or preferences ....should not be allowed to make us misread reality. What is especially dangerous here is that once people get starry-eyed .... evidence to the contrary is rejected.

The unsurprising outcome of these three fundamental mistakes can go beyond appeasement of the villain to reversing the roles of hero and villain entirely.

For example:
  • believing the Palestinian movement is moderate, pragmatic and ready to make peace....ignoring the movement's daily rhetoric, failure to keep commitments and continued incitement...
  • considering Iran to be a responsible regime...Despite its overall record and consistent breaking of commitments on nuclear matters...
  • thinking that radical Islamist movements do not really mean what they say about revolutionizing their own societies and destroying the West, and proposing they be given rewards to induce moderation....
  • assuming that ideological dictatorships, those who benefit from serving them, and those shaped by decades of their propaganda speak freely and honestly...

These are the real difficulties .... Unless they are confronted and addressed, the common pattern of recent years, in which misunderstandings produce disasters and crises, will continue.

The writer is editor of the journals Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) and Turkish Studies

Friday, May 27, 2005

Wanted and Imprisoned Terrorists to Run in PA Elections

Extracted from Arutz Sheva - Israel National News
17:14 May 26, '05 / 17 Iyar 5765

Several alarming candidates, including Marwan Barghouti and a terror chief known as 'Hitler,' have announced their candidacy for the upcoming PA elections.

Many terrorists currently serving time in Israeli prisons will be permitted by the Palestinian Authority to run in its upcoming parliamentary elections...(including)...convicted Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti...(and) wanted Al-Aqsa Brigade chief Jamal Abu Roub, who goes by the nickname "Hitler". Roub said, "I got this name because of my personality. I am a guy that has a strong personality and uses violence, if needed, to respond."

The London-based Al Quds al-Arabi newspaper reports that Abu Mazen has persuaded the Hamas terror group to agree to a postponement of the PA elections, originally scheduled for mid-July. Hamas had previously demanded that the elections be held on time. However, Hamas spokesman Mohammed Ghazal said the terror group has been promised that an amendment to the electoral system will be made that would favor the election of its members.

Jewish leaders back Sharon

Extract from Ynetnews ...
Prime minister addresses 1,200 Jewish group leaders in New York; says a million Jews must be brought to Israel in next 15 years; earlier, Sharon's speech disrupted by anti-disengagement protesters.

By Yitzhak Benhorin and Efrat Weiss

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon delivered a speech before about 1,200 American Jewish leaders in New York's Baruch College, receiving a strong show of support over the upcoming pullout plan.

Those in attendance included major donors and Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox leaders, who praised Sharon and stressed their support for his policies.

The six speakers who addressed the audience before the prime minister were senior Jewish education figures, who said the American Jewish community stands united behind the Israeli government.

In his speech, Sharon addressed the disengagement plan, spoke of the danger of assimilation, and stressed the need to bring another million Jews to Israel in the next 15 years. The future of the Jewish people also depends on Israel’s character as a Jewish, democratic state, the prime minister said, and added this was the spirit behind the disengagement plan.

The upcoming Gaza Strip and northern West Bank pullout would boost Israel’s security and serve as an opportunity to initiate talks with the Palestinians, he said. The withdrawal would also serve to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel and allow Israelis to keep important Jews sites forever, he said.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was met Sunday evening with curses from anti-disengagement protesters, many of them of Lubavitch Hasidim, while speaking to New York Jewish leaders in Baruch College. ...part of the audience stood up, cursed the prime minister and chanted anti-disengagement slogans.

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a member of Land of Israel Forum maintaining contact with Chabad Hasidim in New York, told Ynet, “Every Jew can help in the struggle against the uprooting and expulsion plan.”

Brit boycott lifted

Some good news today!...From Ynetnews News
By Diana Bahur-Nir and Wire Services

The British Association of University Teachers (AUT) has decided Thursday to lift the academic boycott imposed on Bar-Ilan and Haifa Universities about a month ago.

In a meeting called in the wake of an international campaign orchestrated by the Israeli universities and the Foreign Ministry, lecturer representatives were asked to vote on whether to continue the boycott. A group representative announced the decision to end the ban was taken by a "very large majority.

The decision to boycott the two universities was lauded by Palestinian Authority figures, who expressed their hope to see more international groups to exert pressure on Israel. Meanwhile, senior Jewish figures in London slammed the decision as irresponsible and dangerous.

Israel’s Ambassador to London Tzvi Hefetz told Ynet in response to the decision “We are very pleased with the result...“Ironically, the fact that the boycott was imposed and lifted within a month and stirred public outcry has strengthened our position” he said.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Palestinian union wants academic fired

From Aljazeera.Net
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Monday 23 May 2005, 22:26 Makka Time, 19:26 GMT

A Palestinian teachers union has called for the dismissal of Al-Quds University President Sari Nussaiba for 'normalising ties with Israel' and 'serving Israeli propaganda interests'.

A statement by the Palestinian Union of University Teachers and Employees (PUUTE), published on the front page of the Ram Allah-based daily Al-Ayyam, on Monday accused Nussaiba of 'normalising relations with the Sharon government' despite the Israeli prime minister's policy of 'bullying the Palestinians and stealing their land'.

"We call on all concerned parties within the Palestinian Authority, including President Mahmoud Abbas and the Higher Education Council, to take the necessary measures to put an end to this behaviour..."

...The statement also accused Nussaiba of acting against a recent decision by Britain's Association of University Teachers to boycott Israel's Haifa and Bar Ilan universities.

...Nussaiba was accused of giving attention to Israeli needs while ignoring Palestinian rights.

Jordan to remove limits on Palestinians entering

From Jerusalem Post

The Jordanian government will remove on Wednesday all limitations regarding Palestinians entering its borders, which have been in place since the beginning of the Intifada... for the last five years, Israel Radio reported.

Map of Israel

Hey, check out this useful ... Map of Israel

(Thanks Roy for pointing it out...)

UK Academic Union to reconsider boycott

From Jerusalem Post

British Lecturers will hold another vote Thursday on its decision to boycott Haifa and Bar-Ilan universities. 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.

"More than a thousand professors from all over the world have expressed strong opposition to the boycott," Bar- Ilan President Prof. Moshe Kaveh said on Monday. "Nobel laureates, professors who are leaders in their fields, non-Jews, all have shown their support."

The University of Haifa was boycotted for purportedly restricting the academic freedom of Ilan Pappe, a senior lecturer in the department of political science. However...Pappe admits AUT's claims against Haifa are baseless and that the boycott's real aim is to stop Israeli 'occupation.'

Israel builds ties with Hamas city leaders

Extract from an Exclusive in the Jerusalem Post

Interaction between Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank and elected Hamas municipal leaders is gathering pace, even as Israel formally insists that it has banned all contacts with the terrorist group and is urging the international community to do the same.

The Jerusalem Post has been told of several cases of close cooperation between the Civil Administration and Hamas officials in resolving specific disputes and problems in the last few weeks. Both .... say that far broader liaison is inevitable, especially as newly elected Hamas-run councils set about providing basic services to their constituencies.

Specifically, the Post has learned of negotiations between the Civil Administration and a Hamas-affiliated council member at Silat al-Dhaher, near Nablus, that led to the IDF lifting a closure order it had imposed on the village after several rock-throwing incidents. In another instance of interaction, the newly-elected mayor of Jayyus, in the Kalkilya area, negotiated with a local IDF officer for improved procedures at an access gate in the security fence.

... an Israeli military source told the Post that Israel was increasingly reconciled to such interaction: "[The contacts] are both good for us and good for them," he said. Hamas's West Bank leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef hesitantly agreed. "Nothing will stop us from carrying out our civilian projects," he said... even if we have to deal with the occupier [Israel]," he said in an interview from his Ramallah home Wednesday.

This attitude contrasts sharply with the position taken by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman Asi Shariv, who told the Post that "the prime minister's position is that there should be no relations with Hamas whatsoever. Hamas is Israel's enemy" he said flatly, adding that "if any contacts are happening now, they should be stopped."

For elected Hamas officials, the practicalities of local government have spurred a professed pragmatism in dealings with the Jewish state.Kalkilya council member Sabri, who said he had not yet had any contact with the Civil Administration, said he wanted to open a new page in attitudes towards Israel, and added that he had even purchased a Hebrew primer. Although he worked in Israel in 1991-92, he said his Hebrew was now "rusty."

"I am not ashamed to say that I am religious," protests Sabri, "but we are not Hamas. We do not support military operations inside Israel [terrorist attacks]."

"The people elected us because they want better streets, water, electricity, work, schools and hospitals," said Sabri. "We cannot tell them, 'We want to destroy Israel.' They are not interested in this. My job is to give him [the voter] those things that he needs." And for that, Sabri added, "we know we need to talk to the Israelis. We are open to that."

Hamas swept the 15-seat Kalkilya council...(which) is the largest West Bank city to participate in the last two rounds of municipal elections. In the May 5 round, Hamas won about a third of the 84 contested municipalities – all of which had been previously run by officials from Fatah, the largest Palestinian faction. But election observers said last week that Hamas's dominance of the larger Palestinian towns indicated that it may have garnered more overall votes than Fatah.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sharon sets Israeli terms before Abbas visits U.S.

From Top News Article
Mon May 23, 2005 02:07 PM ET
By Jeffrey Heller

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday coupled a long-standing vow to hold on to three West Bank settlement blocs forever with a signal that other parts of the occupied area could be traded for peace.

I would say that, for instance, we will take Maale Adumim and we will take Gush Etzion and we will take Ariel ... they are going to stay in the hands of Israel forever and ever...As about other places, all that, I think will be the final phase of the permanent agreement negotiation and talks," he said, hinting about a willingness to discuss land-for-peace under a U.S.-backed "road map."

But ...Sharon said there could be no talks on a final peace deal until anti-Israeli militants were disarmed."

PA hate speech and Mideast peace

Extract from The Washington Times: Editorials/OP-ED - May 23, 2005:

When President Bush meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, Mr. Bush will need to emphasize to the Palestinian leader that his continued failure to act decisively against anti-Semitic incitement could have catastrophic consequences. Mr. Abbas needs to put an end ...(to) the obscenity which continues to be broadcast on PA Television, such as a May 13 sermon likening Jews to AIDS and calling for 'the extermination of every single Jew.' " Germany, advocates of Nazism and wearers of Nazi regalia in public have been subject to legal sanction,...In the Palestinian Authority, by contrast, it appears that people who advocate the modern-day equivalent of the Final Solution get a check from their elected government and are given the opportunity to appear on Palestinian public television.

Today, no Palestinian talks seriously...about banning the kind of raw anti-Semitic hate speech that is routinely heard from the likes of Hamas — which is right now, the second most powerful political party in the West Bank and Gaza, right behind Mr. Abbas' Fatah.

But Mr. Abbas needs to understand ...the longer he delays attacking this political cancer, the longer it will continue to spread.

Ibrahim Mudeiris, the preacher who delivered the May 13 speech ... is a paid employee of the Palestinian Authority.

For a video of parts of the sermon follow this link to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) web site.

For a summary of the speech see Hitler would be proud of him

This speech is hardly a lone exception. The organizations MEMRI ( and Palestine Media Watch ( document on their Web sites that this has been going one for years; the PMW site, in particular, shows that this problem has continued to fester since early February, when Mr. Abbas agreed to a cease-fire with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

After receiving a firestorm of criticism in recent days, PA officials denounced the incitement and announced some firings and staff shakeups in the PA media bureaucracy. That's not enough. This kind of hatred is the antithesis of what President Bush is attempting to create peace; but the kind of incendiary propaganda being broadcast by the PA media is creating a new generation of suicide bombers and jihadists. (See the Teach Kids Peace website)

Mr. Bush needs to let Mr. Abbas know in no uncertain terms that he won't be getting a free pass on hate speech.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Teach Kids Peace

I just signed the petition at: Teach Kids Peace the web site of an international human rights organization dedicated to ending the Culture of Hatred that is being taught to children in conflict zones, though raising public awareness and calling on world leaders to take the required action to prevent this form of child abuse.

This is for anyone who's concerned about the rights and future of children in the Middle East. For anyone who believes that all children deserve happy dreams -- and not dreams of becoming suicide bombers.

The petition calls on the US and Canadian Governments, European Union, Arab League, and United Nations:

* To demand a stop to the training of children for combat and conducting warfare in areas with children.

* To promote values of democracy, and the teaching of peace curricula in schools.

* In particular, to stop the Palestinian Authority from promoting a culture of hatred, encouraging violence, and glorifying suicide bombing.

It takes less than 10 seconds to sign the petition.


Don't let today's children become tomorrow's terrorists.


and pass the message on...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Video of a megalomaniacal Islamic cleric

We recently posted a brief summary of the genocidal "sermon" that was broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV on Friday 13th May (see "Hitler would be proud of him").

For a video of parts of the sermon follow this link to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) web site.

Democracy's not a devil for Islamists

Extract from...
The Australian: Democracy's not a devil for Islamists [May 23, 2005] by Saad Eddin Ibrahim, May 23, 2005

ELECTION results around the Middle East mark a new trend: Islamist political parties those that base their platforms on Islamic law are highly popular.

Where elections are held, Islamists do well: Hamas among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; the religiously oriented Shi'ite coalition in Iraq; a parliamentary faction in Morocco; and, most significantly, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey.

Democracy movements in Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere in the region must face the challenge of incorporating Islamist parties into democratic systems.

But can the Islamists be trusted? If they rise to power, will they respect the rights of minorities and women and leave office when voted out? Will they tolerate dissent? Or will such elections be based on 'one man, one vote, one time?' "

....The late King Hussein (in Jordan) took up this challenge in 1989.... The Islamists signed on, pledging their respect for the rules of the game. In the four ministries the Islamists ran, they imposed restrictions on female staff members, triggering widespread protests that ultimately forced the four ministers to resign. Their share of the vote in subsequent elections declined sharply.

.....political reform ought to include them under the following conditions:

* Respect for the national constitution, the rule of law, and the independence of the judiciary.
* Acceptance of the rotation of power, based on free, fair and internationally monitored elections.
* Guaranteed equal rights and full political participation for non-Muslim minorities.
* Full and equal participation by women in public life.

Whatever one thinks of American military intervention, one must concede that it has altered the region's dynamics. Domestic opposition forces, while distancing themselves from the US, have been markedly emboldened in Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. We are all watching for signs of opening among our neighbours.

Something about the past few months feels new and irreversible. Too many people in too many places are defying their oppressors and taking risks for freedom.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian pro-democracy and peace activist, is Professor of Political Sociology at the American University in Cairo and heads the Ibn Khaldun Centre.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Calls for Israel's destruction in London

The monster hatred that engulfed the world 70 years ago is alive and growing...

Extracts from an article by YAAKOV LAPPIN
Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World
May. 22, 2005 1:42 Updated May. 22, 2005 1:48


A central London rally ... on Saturday heard ...MP George Galloway advocate a general boycott of Israel, as well as other speeches calling for Israel's destruction.

Dark gray clouds poured heavy rain on London's Trafalgar Square, as a crowd waving Palestine flags and anti-Israel banners filled the square to hear speakers shout vitriolic anti-Israel speeches. Demonstrators chanted Islamic slogans and flags calling for 'victory to the intifada' were waved.

Andrew Birgin, of the Stop the War Coalition, urged the destruction of the State of Israel. "Israel is a racist state...When there is real democracy, there will be no more Israel!" "Allahu Akbar!" yelled several men repeatedly in response.

The Palestinian representative to the UK, Husam Zomlot, also addressed the rally. "As we speak today, the Israelis are continuing the ethnic cleansing campaign they started in 1948...there will absolutely be no peace without the right of return...(which) is non-negotiable! ...!" exclaimed Zomlot.

"We urge our government to cease all trade with Israel," said Jeremy Corbyn, a backbench Labor MP, who went on to express support for nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu.

Former Labor MP Tony Benn said that "the apartheid wall should be removed..." Calling American president George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the "two most dangerous men in the world," Benn condemned America's military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel's anti-terrorism measures.

Paul Mackney, president of Britain's second largest university teachers' union, NATPHE, also spoke to the rally. "We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters...We are calling on all unions to join us," he added. There has been speculation that NATPHE may hold a vote in its upcoming meeting to join the AUT's boycott of Israeli universities.

Galloway, the newly elected MP for the anti-Iraq war Respect Party, used the rally as an attempt to launch an international boycott of Israel. "It's about time that the British government made some reparations for the Balfour declaration... We will join (the Palestinians), by boycotting Israel..." he said to cheers and applause.

Azzam Tamimi, head of the Muslim Association of Britain: "I want Jaffa free, I want Haifa free, I want every inch of Palestine free!...the most racist form of nationalism is Zionism... the most racist on the face of the earth."

Stuart Pexley, a former Catholic bishop, and a member of Pax Christi, said: "Jesus Christ attempted to create a new humanity without divisions. As a Christian I am opposed to the apartheid wall."

For more (if you want more...) go to the whole article on the Jerusalem Post web site.