Thursday, November 21, 2013

Atrocity could ignite fire beneath Middle East's sectarian cauldron

From: The Times, November 21, 2013, by Michael Binyon:

Iranian embassy bombing Beirut

Forensic experts work at the site of the twin suicide bombings outside Iran's embassy in southern Beirut yesterday. Source: AFP

THE suicide attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut has brought the Syrian civil war to the heart of Lebanon. 
It threatens to reignite the bitter 15-year Lebanese civil war at a time when the country is overwhelmed with more than 800,000 Syrian refugees - about a fifth of its own population.
The attack, claimed by an al-Qa'ida offshoot, is clear revenge for Iran's support for President Bashar al-Assad and its backing for Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militia now deeply engaged in Syria fighting for the government.
It comes after an escalation of tit-for-tat attacks on Shia and Sunni leaders and communities in Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli that threatens to trigger all-out fighting between Shia and Sunni Muslims.
The precarious religious balance in Lebanon could be upset by further attacks on Hezbollah. Lebanon's Shia Amal opposition has long depended on Hezbollah to protect it, but it now fears that the larger community of Sunni Muslims will see it as an Iranian fifth column seeking to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty. Whereas the 1975-90 civil war largely pitted Lebanon's Christian minority against the Muslim majority, the Christians now fear that they could be caught in the crossfire between al-Qa'ida-linked jihadists and Iranian-backed Shia militias.
Assassinations, gunfights and car bombs have claimed hundreds of lives, culminating in two blasts outside mosques in Tripoli in August that killed 40 people and wounded 400.
Iran lamely tried to blame Israel for Monday night's atrocity in an attempt to dampen tensions, but Tehran's proxies in Lebanon are sure to respond with revenge attacks on prominent Sunni politicians. The spectre terrifying the Muslim world is that of outright war between Shia and Sunni Islam. The escalating hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran could quickly spark new flare-ups across the Middle East. Already tensions in Bahrain, Libya and northern Yemen have divided the Muslim population along sectarian lines.
Saudi Arabia, fearful of what it sees as encirclement by Iranian-backed Shia rivals, is now fearful that a nuclear deal between Iran and the West will remove all restraint on Tehran and encourage Iran and Shia militants to threaten Saudi Arabia's internal stability and privileged religious position in the Muslim world. The bombs in Beirut might be the catalysts for an ideological struggle that could devastate global Islam.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Duplicity as the UN Secretary-General Visits Auschwitz

From The Jerusalem Post, 18 Nov 2013, by Anne Bayefsky:

Today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will pay a visit to Auschwitz where he will make a show of concern for the demonization of Jews in the past century. However, at the very same time his UN staff is actively discriminating against Jews at UN Headquarters in the here and now.

On Friday, November 15, 2013, an official UN-accredited Jewish non-governmental organization had its security clearance to attend an open UN meeting in New York revoked at the behest of the UN Division for Palestinian Rights.

The group of 18 Birthright Israel alumni had been invited to witness the annual offensive “UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” by the UN-accredited Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

The annual event marks the anniversary of November 29, 1947, the day that the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which partitioned Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. It was a resolution accepted by Jews and rejected across the Arab world.

It was also a day celebrated by the victims of the Nazis and the Jewish people in their ancient homeland and around the world.

But not by the modern United Nations. Former secretary-general Kofi Annan characterized it as “a day of mourning and a day of grief,” and every year under UN auspices, member states and NGOs gather to mourn the creation of the Jewish state.

This year, the admission passes of the Jewish group had been officially approved, security clearance had been granted, and the passes were scheduled to be picked up.

That is, until UN security official Lt. Paul Jankowsky reversed course and unilaterally decided that the chief of the UN Palestinian Rights Division, Wolfgang Grieger, had a veto over who could attend.

The November 15 message sent to the Touro Institute from Jankowsky reads: “The Division for Palestinian Rights... are the meeting organizers.... The organizers instruct me not to issue additional passes that they did not request.”

Jankowsky and Grieger’s interference occurred despite the fact that the meeting was clearly advertised on the UN’s own website with the simple statement: “NGOs are invited to attend.” Furthermore, an open invitation announcing the date, time and place had been advertised with no restrictions of any kind in the UN’s Daily Journal of the very same day, November 15.

The campaign to exclude Jewish groups which support Israel from attending UN meetings is only the latest affront to the UN Charter’s promise of “the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

In 2005, the UN marked Palestinian Solidarity Day by displaying a map of the region which was missing the UN member state of Israel. After the embarrassing map was photographed, and a letter of objection sent from American UN ambassador John Bolton to then secretary-general Annan, the map was not shown again.

But instead, every year the UN meeting room holding the event is decorated with only two flags – the flag of the United Nations and the flag of “Palestine.” The flag of Israel is never flown, notwithstanding that the 1947 resolution commits the UN to a two-state solution.

Palestinian Solidarity Day is a major event in the UN calendar. Speeches in New York are given by each of the president of the general assembly, the president of the Security Council and the secretary-general.

Also in attendance, and welcomed with open arms, are selected NGO extremists and representatives of so-called “civil society” who are prepared to contribute to the ritual demonization of Israel.

An example of the kind of person who makes the cut of the UN Division for Palestinian Rights is Roger Waters, who represented civil society at last year’s event.

He accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” voiced his support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns, claimed “Hamas is open to permanent peace with Israel,” and even demanded the General Assembly terminate the membership of Israel in the UN until its “illegal apartheid regime” ends.

Undoubtedly, the Division for Palestinian Rights will have hand-picked another such “civil society” representative to grace this year’s event, which will take place on November 25 because of Thanksgiving in the US.

Today in Poland the secretary-general will pose for the cameras at Auschwitz and the UN media machine will move into high gear. One week today in New York, the secretary-general will bar selected Jews from attending a public UN meeting and deliver a statement marking the partition vote absent the flag of the Jewish state. The duplicity could not be clearer.