Saturday, September 20, 2014

Time to get real with Iran

From PJ Media, 19 Sept 2014, by Joseph Raskas:

Critics, both on the left and right of the ideological spectrum, claim President Obama has no foreign policy strategy. But they are wrong. The president has two strategies: One is lost and the other is out looking for it.

Time and again, President Obama has promised that a reduced global presence would achieve a benevolent world order. A multi-polar concert of powers would be derived through a careful balancing of the national interest and mutual displays of goodwill, the president professed repeatedly. Serious statesmen and a conscious public genuinely believed that if America just moderated its behavior, her enemies would make reciprocal gestures.

So far, exactly none of that has happened.
Abdication of U.S. leadership has brought only chaos and consequences of regional and global proportions. From radical Islam to Iran to Russia to China, departure from dominance has given rise to dangerous enemies, each seeking to exploit our very retreat by arming themselves to the hilt.

Reversing these setbacks into gains requires performing honest and meaningful introspection about the nature and direction of American leadership, which has spiraled downward in recent years.

A sea change occurred in Cairo on June 4, 2009, when President Obama addressed the Arab world and apologized for American hegemony. He expressed his belief that America is exceptional – just like every other country is exceptional. It’s hard to underestimate the significance of that statement. Then the president proceeded to hollow out the military, and he did things like ban use of the term “radical Islam” from security training manuals. America’s enemies took notice.

Substantively, the president’s speech and subsequent actions cast serious doubt about whether or not he would sustain the means and motivation necessary for ensuring American leadership. Diplomatically, it meant his administration would seek to downgrade ties with allies and strengthen its enemies. What’s followed has been nothing short of a stunning reversal of key U.S. interests, especially in the Middle East.

First and foremost, the president has sought to achieve a grand bargain with Iran over its nuclear program. His administration has continued to conduct nuclear negotiations, even as Tehran continues to fund and support terrorism against the U.S. and the Western world more broadly.

The allies America has abandoned have been forced, as a result, to take defensive measures into their own hands. They are forming regional alliances, not with the U.S. but around it. The Middle East has fragmented and formed into regional blocs, with an Iranian-dominated camp aligned opposite a group of America’s traditional allies. The U.S. has become an observer rather than shaper of events.

Lest Iran’s terror activity spoil the nuclear negotiations, President Obama has simply decided to downplay the danger posed by the regime. Israel, which has warned the world of the consequences of signing a bad deal, not Iran, the leading state-sponsor of terror, has become the main problem.

History demonstrates that American leadership remains the best chance for imposing peace and stability. On a constitutional level, the commander in chief’s basic job is to win America’s wars and guard its shores. If the criticism of President George W. Bush is that he took the mission too far and didn’t carry the nation enough, President Obama has barely accepted the mission and largely ignored the nation.

Ronald Reagan split the difference – communicating his leadership effectively, while conveying a strong belief in the people he was leading, essentially preserving the nation. His power politics enabled the U.S. to win the Cold War by basically scaring the Soviets into submission. In the end, the U.S. didn’t have to fire a single shot. The projection of American hard power made the use of force unnecessary.

The good news is that Iran is much weaker than the Soviet Union, and there are options for defeating it short of war. A prerequisite to that is being clear-eyed about the nature of evil – which is to say, accepting that it is manifest and must be stopped. To persist, America must preserve its values and retain its dominance.

A good way to start demonstrating American leadership is by being a reliable partner to the allies who count on us for protection. For instance, the U.S. could extend its nuclear umbrella to strategic partners in the region. A more ambitious undertaking would see the U.S. deploying naval and ground expeditionary units, as well as additional intelligence assets, across the Middle East. Doing so would signal — both to America’s allies and enemies — the U.S. has the will, power, and resolve to counter the Iranian threat.

A more comprehensive strategy could mirror the politico-military strategy the U.S. wielded successfully against the Soviets. In the case of Iran, that would entail drawing a direct link between the regime’s regional policies and any improvement to its economy. The administration would make the relaxing of sanctions contingent on Iran ending its support for terror abroad and repression at home. To be fully effective, U.S. support for these policies must be explicit, outspoken, and ongoing.

The American people have not forgotten their moral obligation to lead. We have always defined our strategic interests and sought to defend them by dictating strength and displaying leadership. We know that sometimes, as is the case with Iran, if we do not act decisively now, we will pay an even greater price later.

It’s still not too late for President Obama to get serious about the nature of the threats America faces and to take the appropriate measures. Our allies are counting on us to counter attempts to undermine American interests, and our enemies are hoping we won’t.

It’s time the president utilized the ultimate deterrent: belief in American exceptionalism.

Jihadists among us

From The Australian, 20 Sept 2014, by Frank Furedi*:

IT is not just the threat of particular horrific acts of terror on the streets of Sydney that Australia has woken up to this week.  
Khaled Sharrouf poses with an AK-47 in Iraq. Picture: Twitter
Khaled Sharrouf, from Australia, poses in Iraq, on Twitter.  

It is the disturbing realisation a significant minority of its Muslim youth [still living in Australia] feels greater solidarity with jihadist fighters in the Middle East than with the citizens of their own society.

Until now, the focus of concern has been on young Muslims who have taken the dramatic decision to travel to the war zones of Syria and Iraq. This week the spotlight swung back to their stay-at-home peers, who regard the jihadists as heroes and share their hostility towards Australian society.

Calls for measures to deal with the threat posed by Australian recruits to Islamic State are coupled with incomprehension regarding the reasons that incited these individuals to turn against their society and embrace the jihadist cause.

Experience indicates that there are no obvious and distinct social or psychological characteristics that typify the new breed of global jihadists. There appear to be diverse pathways towards the adoption of the jihadist cause.

Recruits come in different shape and sizes. In their previous life some of them were high-spirited young men whose main preoccupation was to have a good time. A few were idealistic teenagers, who were socially engaged in their community’s life. Some were into music, others into sport, while still others were drawn towards casual crime and their local gang scene. In Europe a few were exemplary students with good career prospects. Many were the beneficiaries of the economic security and opportunities afforded by Western society.

It is frequently claimed that at least in Australia those drawn towards the jihadist cause are likely to have a previous record of anti-social behaviour. They are said to be economically unskilled and marginalised. Such claims echo the findings of a study of 378 German radical Islamists who travelled to Syria. A third of these jihadist recruits had criminal convictions and most of them were poorly educated and unemployed.

However, such studies should be treated with caution. These people may have had low expectations towards their lives. But it takes motivation, initiative and a sense of purpose and organisation to leave your comfort zone and travel halfway around the world to take up arms to fight for cause.

Many of the Australian recruits, like those from other Western societies, are disturbingly ordinary. 
Ahmed Succarieh was in many ways an unremarkable schoolboy in Runcorn State High School in South Brisbane. Having made his way to Syria, he died last September and became Australia’s first suicide bomber. Amira Karroum, whose voyage from suburban Gold Coast to the battlefields of Syria led to her brutal death was in her previous life a very normal schoolgirl.

Individuals like Karroum, who are drawn towards the violent lifestyle of jihadism, are very different to the highly politically motivated members of previous terrorist networks. Today’s home grown jihadists have little in common with their 1970s European counterpart such as the Italian Red Brigade or the German Baader-Meinhof Group. These tiny extremist groups, like the Animal Liberation Front, consisted of a handful of fanatical individuals, who had little influence over others.

In contrast to the lack of appeal of these [1970s] isolated terrorists, the culture of radical jihadism [today] exercises influence over significant sections of Muslim youth in Western societies. If anyone is in doubt about this influence they should go online to see the visibility and support it enjoys. The online jihadist community is not confined to a few thousand hard-core militants. It embraces a far wider audience of passive supporters who, at least emotionally, side with their active brethren.

So what are the influences that motivate young Muslims to reinvent themselves as radical jihadists? In reality, what security officials characterise as radicalisation of young Muslims can be more accurately expressed through terms like “alienation” and “estrangement”. The sense of estrangement from and resentment towards society is logically prior to any radical dogma that individuals internalise.

In Australia and elsewhere the attraction of radical Islamist ideology is preceded by a rejection of society’s Western culture. Many young people who find it difficult to gain meaning from their lives in their wider community life react by rejecting it. Their Muslim peers sometimes go a step further and express their alienation through the medium of a jihadist outlook. The appeal of this is that it provides a coherent and edgy identity. It offers the cultural resources for the constitution of a distinct Islamic youth subculture.

Radical young Muslims self-consciously distance themselves from the moral and social conventions of a society they claim to loathe. However, their rebellion against the way of life of their community is coupled with a rejection of the customs and behaviour of their elders and family members.

Invariably such a response bears the hallmark of a generational reaction against the behaviour and way of life of the parents. That reaction is also directed ­towards the way their elders express their cultural and religious identity. One manifestation of this reaction against the conventions of their elders is the adoption of the outward markings of an in-your-face Islamists cultural iden­tity. That is why young Australian Muslims are likely to be more religious and anti-Western than their parents. They are likelier to sport a beard as symbol of piety, wear the veil or go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. They are likelier to perceive the West as a threat to Islam.

However, the embrace of the outward symbols of Islamic identity should not be interpreted as the adoption of a traditional religious way of life. The politicisation of identity and the attempt to construct a jihadist lifestyle is not unlike the lifestyle politics that flourish among different sections of Western youth.

Moreover the jihadist subculture draws on the resources of Western youth culture — music, social media, language — as freely as it does on the Koran.

Most young people who are attracted to jihadist websites are not searching for a new religious experience or world view. Their behaviour is not all that different to the numerous non-Muslim Westerners who visit nihilistic websites and become fascinated by destructive themes and images.

Jihadist social media, like some conventional internet sites, provides young people with an outlet to let off steam. Young people use these sites to express their frustration and alienation. They often use extravagant language and boast about their defiant behaviour. The sites often offer a synthesis of Middle East symbols and images and angry Western rap music. Jihad is often presented not just as a religious duty but as an exciting adventure.

Take the recently released Islamic State video Let’s Go For Jihad. This relatively skilful production harnesses the power of upbeat music and violent scenes of battles to offer an inspirational representation of the life of young Western jihadists.

For many, these are “cool” sites that encourage their fantasies to flourish. For others — a relatively small minority — such sites provide something more, a medium through which they can make sense of their life.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, the parliamentary secretary in charge of multicultural affairs, has asserted that the jihadist subculture is comparable to other manifestation of youth rebellion such as drug taking. However, although the jihadist subculture shares many of the attitudes of alienated Western young people, its goals and trajectory are strikingly different to conventional form of intergenerational rebellion.

Since the 1960s the rebellion of youth has tended to adopt an explicit anti-authoritarian orientation. Often it called into question not only a specific symbol of authority but also authority itself.

In contrast to the rebellion of Western youth that of the jihadist subculture explicitly celebrates authority and laments its absence. It even exhibits powerful authoritarian tendencies. Indeed, one of the recurring themes of the jihadist critique of the West is that this is a society that lacks authoritative cultural values and institutions and therefore cannot give meaning to human experience.

In my conversations with young radical Muslims I have been struck by their caustic remarks regarding the absence of moral clarity and authority in their host society. From their perspective Western societies are typically immoral to the point that they cannot even uphold the institution of the family. As far as they are concerned Western societies lack an authority that can give its people direction and meaning.

The nihilistic violence celebrated in jihadist videos and the rage expressed by radical Islamists should not blind one to the paradox that these young rebels are also disposed towards conforming to authority. Unlike their Western peers they have found a cause that offers a total view of the world. It is a cause that provides meaning in exchange for obedience and duty.

Unlike the alternative lifestyles of Western dropouts, the outlook of the jihadist subculture requires total submission. Such submission is willingly offered by most of the young Muslims who volunteer to travel to Middle East to take up arms. Their quest for meaning and authority finds its most disturbing expression in their willingness to die for a cause.

A long time before the current wave of conflict in Syria and Iraq intelligence analysts were concerned about the powerful influence that jihadist ideas exercised over young Muslims. Back in 2006, Ian Blair, the former commissioner of police for the London Metropolis drew attention to the fact that young British Muslims are “willing to die for an idea” and “this is a phenomenon we have not seen en masse, since the Spanish Civil War and the battle against fascism”.

Idealism among the young was and continues to be monopolised by the wrong side of this conflict. Of particular concern for Blair was the fact that the appeal of their “coherent narrative of oppressions, war and jihad” seems “very potent”.

Yet, what the experience of the past two decades indicates is that it is not the potency of jihadist ideology but the failure of Western societies to motivate and inspire its youth that constitutes the crux of the problem. That 54 of the 378 German Islamists who have travelled to Syria since 2012 were converts indicates this crisis of motivation is not simply confined to those born as Muslims.

Australians, like other Western societies, need a positive account about who they are and the values that bind its citizens. As the recent arguments over what history should be taught in school demonstrate, cultural divisions are not confined to the divide between Muslim and other Australians. The history debate indicates that Australia, like many other Western societies, has become uncomfortable about its own tradition. Consequently its intellectual, scientific and moral inheritance rarely succeeds in providing a positive sense of meaning.

Within the West there are formidable cultural influences that disparage its historical achievements and belief in progress and enlightenment.

Some commentators take the view that the West faces a moral crisis and finds it difficult to believe in itself. In such circumstances many young people feel deeply estranged from their way of life. But the real problem is not the impressionable and immature mind of a youth suffering from identity issues but the failure of society to offer inspiration with positive and forward looking ­ideals.

The rebellions of the young tend to soon exhaust themselves. There is evidence that the revolt of jihadists will follow a similar pattern. Already many of the Western youth who travelled to Syria have become exhausted and demoralised by their experience.

But unless Western society can actively engage in a battle for hearts and minds it will continue to provide a terrain for the flourishing of a zealous and destructive subculture.

*Frank Furedi's latest book, First World War: Still No End in Sight, is published by Bloomsbury.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Gas chambers at Sobibor death camp uncovered in archaeological dig

From JPost, 17 Sept 2014, by Staff*:

Some 250,000 Jews murdered at camp in Poland which Nazis bulldozed and covered up with trees to conceal their crimes; personal effects of victims, including wedding rings found near gas chambers.

Sobibor death camp
Sobibor death camp. (photo credit:REUTERS)

An archaeological dig in Poland has revealed the location of the gas chambers at the Sobibor death camp, Yad Vashem announced on Wednesday.

Some 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor, but on October 14, 1943, about 600 prisoners revolted and briefly escaped. Between 100 and 120 prisoners survived the revolt, and 60 of those survived the war. After the camp uprising, the Nazis bulldozed the area and planted it over with pine trees to conceal their crimes.

The archaeological dig at the camp, which has been carried out by an international team of experts since 2007, has in the past uncovered thousands of personal items belonging to those interned at the camp, including jewelry, perfume, medicine and utensils.

A well was uncovered this week which was used by the prisoners in Camp 1, where the revolt took place. The well contained several personal items belonging to Jewish prisoners because German guards had thrown trash into it when the camp was being destroyed.

Dr. David Silberklang, a senior researcher at the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust research said, "The discovery of the exact location of the gas chambers at the Sobibior Camp is a discovery of the utmost importance in Holocaust research."

He said it was important to understand that
"there are no remains from any Jews who worked in the area of the gas chambers, and therefore these findings are the only thing left from those who were murdered."
Silberklang said
"a small window has been open into their daily suffering."

He said for the first time researchers would be able to better understand the murder process in the camp and what the Jews went through before their death.

"Finding the exact size of the gas chambers will enable us to understand what their capacity was and from there we can determine a more precise estimation of the number of people killed at the Sobibor Camp," Silberklang said.

He said the finding will also help fill in the puzzle of what happened to the prisoners who escaped from the camp during the rebellion.

Archaeologist Yoram Haimi said they were surprised at the size of the structure that housed the gas chambers and how well the chambers' walls were preserved.

"The most exciting part is that we found near the gas chambers wedding rings with the inscription in Hebrew "Hare at mekudeshet li" (Behold, thou art consecrated to me)."

*Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Qatar paid Martin Indyk $14.8 million ...for what??

From Tablet Magazine, September 17, 2014, by Lee Smith:

The New York Times recently published a long investigative report by Eric Lipton, Brooke Williams, and Nicholas Confessore on how foreign countries buy political influence through Washington think tanks.

...buried deep in the Times’ epic snoozer was a world-class scoop ...

Martin Indyk, the man who ran John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, whose failure in turn set off this summer’s bloody Gaza War, cashed a $14.8 million check from Qatar. 

...In his capacity as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at the prestigious Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk took an enormous sum of money from a foreign government that, in addition to its well-documented role as a funder of Sunni terror outfits throughout the Middle East, is the main patron of Hamas—which happens to be the mortal enemy of both the State of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

... It is pretty hard to imagine what the words “independent” and “objective” mean coming from a man who while going from Brookings to public service and back to Brookings again pocketed $14.8 million in Qatari cash.

At least the Times might have asked Indyk a few follow-up questions, like: Did he cash the check from Qatar before signing on to lead the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians? Did the check clear while he was in Jerusalem, or Ramallah? Or did the Qatari money land in the Brookings account only after Indyk gave interviews and speeches blaming the Israelis for his failure? We’ll never know now. But whichever way it happened looks pretty awful.

Or maybe the editors decided that it was all on the level, and the money influenced neither Indyk’s government work on the peace process nor Brookings’ analysis of the Middle East. Or maybe journalists just don’t think it’s worth making a big fuss out of obvious conflicts of interest that may affect American foreign policy. Maybe Qatar’s $14.8 million doesn’t affect Brookings’ research projects or what the think tank’s scholars tell the media, including the New York Times, about subjects like Qatar, Hamas, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other related areas in which Qatar has key interests at stake. Maybe the think tank’s vaunted objectivity, and Indyk’s personal integrity and his pride in his career as a public servant, trump the large piles of vulgar Qatari natural gas money that keep the lights on and furnish the offices of Brookings scholars and pay their cell-phone bills and foreign travel.

But people in the Middle East may be a little less blasé about this kind of behavior than we are.

Officials in the Netanyahu government, likely including the prime minister himself, say they’ll never trust Indyk again, in part due to the article by Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea in which an unnamed U.S. official with intimate knowledge of the talks, believed to be Indyk, blamed Israel for the failure of the peace talks. 

Certainly Jerusalem has good reason to be wary of an American diplomat who is also, or intermittently, a highly paid employee of Qatar’s ruling family. Among other things, Qatar hosts Hamas’ political chief Khaled Meshaal, the man calling the shots in Hamas’ war against the Jewish state. Moreover, Doha is currently Hamas’ chief financial backer—which means that while Qatar isn’t itself launching missiles on Israeli towns, Hamas wouldn’t be able to do so without Qatari cash.

Of course, Hamas, which Qatar proudly sponsors, is a problem not just for Israel but also the Palestinian Authority. Which means that both sides in the negotiations that Indyk was supposed to oversee had good reason to distrust an American envoy who worked for the sponsor of their mutual enemy. In retrospect, it’s pretty hard to see how either side could have trusted Indyk at all—or why the administration imagined he would make a good go-between in the first place.

Indeed, the notion that Indyk himself was personally responsible for the failure of peace talks is hardly far-fetched in a Middle East wilderness of conspiracy theories. After all, who benefits with an Israeli-PA stalemate? Why, the Islamist movement funded by the Arab emirate whose name starts with the letter “Q” and, according to the New York Times, is Brookings’ biggest donor.

There are lots of other questions that also seem worth asking, in light of this smelly revelation—like why in the midst of Operation Protective Edge this summer did Kerry seek to broker a Qatari- (and Turkish-) sponsored truce that would necessarily come at the expense of U.S. allies, Israel, and the PA, as well as Egypt, while benefiting Hamas, Qatar, and Turkey? Maybe it was just Kerry looking to stay active. Or maybe Indyk whispered something in his former boss’ ear—from his office at Brookings, which is paid for by Qatar.

It’s not clear why Indyk and Brookings seem to be getting a free pass from journalists—or why Qatar does. Yes, as host of the 2022 World Cup and owner of two famous European soccer teams (Barcelona and Paris St. Germain), Doha projects a fair amount of soft power—in Europe, but not America. Sure, Doha hosts U.S. Central Command at Al Udeid air base, but it also hosts Al Jazeera, the world’s most famous anti-American satellite news network. The Saudis hate Doha, as does Egypt and virtually all of America’s Sunni Arab allies. That’s in part because Qataris back not only Hamas, but other Muslim Brotherhood chapters around the region and Islamist movements that threaten the rule of the U.S.’s traditional partners and pride themselves on vehement anti-Americanism.

Which is why, of course, Qatar wisely chose to go over the heads of the American public and appeal to the policy elite—a strategy that began in 2007, when Qatar and Brookings struck a deal to open a branch of the Washington-based organization in Doha. Since then, the relationship has obviously progressed, to the point where it can appear, to suspicious-minded people, like Qatar actually bought and paid for John Kerry’s point man in the Middle East, the same way they paid for the plane that flew U.N. Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-Moon around the region during this summer’s Gaza war.

Indeed, the Doha-Brookings love affair has gotten so hot that it may have pushed aside the previous major benefactor of Brookings’ Middle East program, Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban. The inventor of the Power Rangers will still fund the annual Saban forum, but in the spring Brookings took his name off of what was formerly the Haim Saban Center for Middle East Policy, so that now it’s just Center for Middle East Policy. Maybe the Qatari Center For Middle East Policy didn’t sound objective enough.

Another fact buried deep inside the Times piece is that Israel—the country usually portrayed as the octopus whose tentacles control all foreign policy debate in America—ranks exactly 56th in foreign donations to Washington think tanks. The Israeli government isn’t writing checks or buying dinner because—it doesn’t have to. 

The curious paradox is that a country that has the widespread support of rich and poor Americans alike—from big urban Jewish donors to tens of millions of heartland Christian voters—is accused of somehow improperly influencing American policy. While a country like Qatar, whose behavior is routinely so vile, and so openly anti-American, that it has no choice but to buy influence—and perhaps individual policymakers—gets off scot free among the opinion-shapers.

It turns out that, in a certain light, critics of U.S. foreign policy like Andrew Sullivan, John J. Mearsheimer, and Stephen Walt were correct: The national interest is vulnerable to the grubby machinations of D.C. insiders—lobbyists, think tank chiefs, and policymakers who cash in on their past and future government posts. But the culprits aren’t who the curator of “The Dish” and the authors of The Israel Lobby say they are. In fact, they got it backwards. And don’t expect others like Martin Indyk to correct the mistake, for they have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion that the problem with America’s Middle East policy is the pro-Israel lobby. In Indyk’s case, we now know exactly how big that interest is.

Righting a historic wrong: 'Aramean' officially recognized as nationality in Israel

From Israel Hayom, 17 Sept 2013, by Yori Yalon:

"It is a historic decision ... proof that Israel protects its citizens and identity of its minorities, unlike all the Arab nations around us," Aramean-Christian community leader says • Interior minister instructs Population Authority to act accordingly.
Aramean-Christian community leader Shadi Halul
Photo credit: YouTube
Aramean-Christian community leader Shadi Halul
Photo credit: YouTube

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

93-year-old former Auschwitz guard charged

A 93-year-old man has been charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder for serving as an SS guard at the Nazis' Auschwitz death camp, prosecutors said Monday. 

Oskar Groening is accused of helping operate the death camp in occupied Poland between May and June 1944, when some 425,000 Jews from Hungary were brought there and at least 300,000 almost immediately gassed to death.

In his job dealing with the belongings stolen from camp victims, prosecutors said among other things he was charged with helping collect and tally money that was found. 

"He helped the Nazi regime benefit economically, and supported the systematic killings," state prosecutors in the city of Hannover said in a statement.
Groening's attorney, Hans Holtermann, declined to comment on the charges. 

Groening himself has openly talked about his time as a guard and said while he witnessed horrific atrocities, he didn't commit any crimes himself. 

In 2005, he told Der Spiegel magazine he recalled one incident on "ramp duty" when he heard a baby crying. "I saw another SS soldier grab the baby by the legs..." he said. "He smashed the baby's head against the iron side of a truck until it was silent." 
Groening, who lives in the Hannover area, is one of some 30 former Auschwitz guards who federal investigators recommended last year that state prosecutors pursue charges against under a new precedent in German law. 
Groening is the fourth case investigated by Hannover - two have been shelved because the suspects have been deemed unfit for trial, and one was closed when the suspect died. 

Holtermann said, however, his client is in good health. 
Thomas Walther, who represents 20 Auschwitz victims and their families as co-plaintiffs in the case against Groening as allowed under German law, said it's their last chance "to participate in bringing justice to one of the SS men who had a part in the murder of their closest relatives." 
"Many of the co-plaintiffs are among the last survivors of Auschwitz," he told The Associated Press.

Hello, Kurdistan! ...and welcome.

From The Washington TimesSeptember 10, 2014, by Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum:

Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is flourishing.

Before welcoming the emerging state of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, I confess to having opposed its independence in the past.

In 1991, after the Kuwait War had ended and as Saddam Hussein attacked Iraq's six million Kurds, I made three arguments against American intervention on their behalf, arguments still commonly heard today:

  1. Kurdish independence would spell the end of Iraq as a state, 
  2. it would embolden Kurdish agitation for independence in Syria, Turkey, and Iran, leading to destabilization and border conflicts, and 
  3. it would invite the persecution of non-Kurds, causing "large and bloody exchanges of population."

All three expectations proved flat-out wrong. 

  • Given Iraq's wretched domestic and foreign track record, the end of a unified Iraq promises relief, as do Kurdish stirrings in the neighboring countries. 
  • Syria has fractured into its three ethnic and sectarian components: Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Shi'i Arab, which promises benefits in the long term. 
  • Kurds' departing Turkey usefully impedes the reckless ambitions of now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 
  • Similarly, Kurds decamping Iran helpfully diminishes that arch-aggressive mini-empire. 
  • Far from non-Kurds fleeing Iraqi Kurdistan, as I feared, the opposite has occurred: hundreds of thousands of refugees are pouring in from the rest of Iraq to benefit from Kurdistan's security, tolerance, and opportunities.

I can account for these errors: In 1991, no one knew that autonomous Kurdish rule in Iraq would flourish as it has. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which came into existence the following year, can be called (with only some exaggeration) the Switzerland of the Muslim Middle East. Its armed, commercially-minded mountain people seek to be left alone to prosper.

One could also not have known in 1991 that the Kurdish army, the peshmerga, would establish itself as a competent and disciplined force; that the KRG would reject the terrorist methods then notoriously in use by Kurds in Turkey; that the economy would boom; that the Kurds' two leading political families, the Talabanis and Barzanis, would learn to coexist; that the KRG would engage in responsible diplomacy; that its leadership would sign international trade accords; that ten institutions of higher learning would come into existence; and that Kurdish culture would blossom.

But all this did happen.
As Israeli scholar Ofra Bengio describes it, "autonomous Kurdistan has proved to be the most stable, prosperous, peaceful, and democratic part of Iraq."

Every map of the Kurdish peoples differs from the others. This one offers an estimate of their geographic extent, including a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea.
What's next on the KRG agenda?

The first item, after severe losses to the Islamic State, is for the peshmerga to retrain, re-arm, and tactically ally with such former adversaries as the Iraqi central government and the Turkish Kurds, steps which have positive implications for Kurdistan's future.

Second, the KRG leadership has signaled its intention to hold a referendum on independence, which it rightly presumes will generate a ringing popular endorsement. Diplomacy, however, lags behind. The Iraqi central government, of course, opposes this goal, as do the great powers, reflecting their usual caution and concern for stability. (Recall George H.W. Bush's 1991 "Chicken Kiev speech.")

However, given the KRG's superior record, outside powers should encourage its independence. Pro-government media in Turkey already do. U.S. vice president Joe Biden might build on his 2006 suggestion of "giving each ethno-religious group – Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab – room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests."

Third: What if Iraqi Kurds joined forces across three borders – as they have done on occasion – and form a single Kurdistan with a population of about 30 million and possibly a corridor to the Mediterranean Sea? One of the largest ethnic group in the world without a state (a debatable claim: e.g., the Kannadiga of India), the Kurds missed their chance in the post-World War I settlement because they lacked the requisite intellectuals and politicians.

The emergence now of a Kurdish state would profoundly alter the region by simultaneously adding a sizable new country and partially dismembering its four neighbors. This prospect would be dismaying in most of the world. But the Middle East – still in the grip of the wretched Sykes-Picot deal secretly negotiated by European powers in 1916 – needs a salutary shake-up.

From this perspective, the emergence of a Kurdish state is part of the region-wide destabilization, dangerous but necessary, that began in Tunisia in December 2010. Accordingly, I offer a hearty welcome to its four potential parts joining soon together to form a single united Kurdistan.

Christians and Jews are on the same side

From Spengler, 13 Sept 2014:

I had to read the penultimate paragraph of Ross Douthat’s New York Times piece on “friendless Middle East Christians” before the enormity of it sunk in. Douthat wrote:
If Cruz felt that he couldn’t address an audience of persecuted Arab Christians without including a florid, “no greater ally” preamble about Israel, he could have withdrawn from the event. The fact that he preferred to do it this way says a lot–none of it good–about his priorities and instincts. 
In so many words:
Jew-hatred among Middle Eastern Christians is so rampant that it should be ignored in the interests of saving this oppressed minority. Never mind that it is impossible to conceive of any strategic configuration on the Middle East that might help Middle Eastern Christians without including Israel; never mind that Israel’s supporters in the United States are among the first to urge America to act on their behalf; and, above all, never mind that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians can practice their religion in security and safety, and that Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a growing Christian population.

... Unlike some of my conservative friends...I can’t blame Syrian Christians for supporting the Assad regime, which protects them from murdering Sunni jihadists. It isn’t about blame, but about the future–if there is one. Israel has a prominent role in any possible state of the world in which Christianity continues to exist in the Middle East (outside of Israel itself).

...the Catholic Church remains in the grip of nostalgia for its past influence in the region, and a great many of its Middle Eastern specialists simply cannot abide the idea that  Israel might be the home to the remnant of Middle Eastern Christianity as well as the protector of Christian minorities elsewhere. But that is how things have worked out. That’s reality, and it’s the job of political leaders like Sen. Cruz to explain reality to their constituents. That’s not “florid.” That’s leadership.

An analogy might be useful:
Evangelical Christians are among Israel’s strongest supporters in America, yet some Jews–including liberals as well as Christianophobic ultra-Orthodox–reject this support. That is hysteria. 

Israel’s supporters in America are among the strongest defenders of Middle Eastern Christians, yet some Middle Eastern Christians reject this support. That is also hysteria. 

Jews who reject Christian support are crazy, and Middle Eastern Christians who reject Jewish support are crazy. 
It’s the job of leaders to tell them so.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and Palestine Under International Law

From ACPR Policy Paper No. 147, 2003, by Howard Grief (and now expanded to a 700-page book available on Amazon):

The objective of this paper is to set down in a brief, yet clear and precise manner the legal rights and title of sovereignty of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and Palestine under international law. These rights originated in the global political and legal settlement, conceived during World War I and carried into execution in the post-war years between 1919 and 1923. Insofar as the Ottoman Turkish Empire was concerned, the settlement embraced the claims of the Zionist Organization, the Arab National movement, the Kurds, the Assyrians and the Armenians. 

As part of the settlement in which the Arabs received most of the lands formerly under Turkish sovereignty in the Middle East, the whole of Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan, was reserved exclusively for the Jewish people as their national home and future independent state. 

Under the terms of the settlement that were made by the Principal Allied Powers consisting of Britain, France, Italy and Japan, there would be no annexation of the conquered Turkish territories by any of the Powers, as had been planned in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 9 and 16, 1916. Instead, these territories, including the peoples for whom they were designated, would be placed under the Mandates System and administered by an advanced nation until they were ready to stand by themselves. The Mandates System was established and governed by Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, contained in the Treaty of Versailles and all the other peace treaties made with the Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey.

The Covenant was the idea of US President Woodrow Wilson and contained in it his program of Fourteen Points of January 8, 1918, while Article 22 which established the Mandates System, was largely the work of Jan Christiaan Smuts who formulated the details in a memorandum that became known as the Smuts Resolution, officially endorsed by the Council of Ten on January 30, 1919, in which Palestine as envisaged in the Balfour Declaration was named as one of the mandated states to be created.

The official creation of the country took place at the San Remo Peace Conference where the Balfour Declaration was adopted by the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers as the basis for the future administration of Palestine which would henceforth be recognized as the Jewish National Home.

The moment of birth of Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty thus took place at the same time Palestine was created a mandated state, since it was created for no other reason than to reconstitute the ancient Jewish state of Judea in fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and the general provisions of Article 22 of the League Covenant. 

This meant that Palestine from the start was legally a Jewish state in theory, which was to be guided towards independence by a Mandatory or Trustee, also acting as Tutor, who would take the necessary political, administrative and economic measures to establish the Jewish National Home. The chief means for accomplishing this was by encouraging large-scale Jewish immigration to Palestine, which would eventually result in making Palestine an independent Jewish state, not only legally but also in the demographic and cultural senses. 

The details for the planned independent Jewish state were set forth in three basic documents, which may be termed the founding documents of mandated Palestine and the modern Jewish state of Israel that arose from it. These were 

  • the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920, 
  • the Mandate for Palestine conferred on Britain by the Principal Allied Powers and confirmed by the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, and 
  • the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920
These founding documents were supplemented by the Anglo-American Convention of December 3, 1924 respecting the Mandate for Palestine.

It is of supreme importance to remember always that these documents were the source or well-spring of Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty over Palestine and the Land of Israel under international law, because of the near-universal but completely false belief that it was the United Nations General Assembly Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947 that brought the State of Israel into existence.

In fact, the UN resolution [of November 29, 1947] was an illegal abrogation of Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty to the whole of Palestine and the Land of Israel, rather than an affirmation of such rights or progenitor of them.

...The San Remo Resolution on Palestine became Article 95 of the Treaty of Sevres which was
intended to end the war with Turkey, but though this treaty was never ratified by the Turkish National Government of Kemal Ataturk, the Resolution retained its validity as an independent act of international law when it was inserted into the Preamble of the Mandate for Palestine and confirmed by 52 states. The San Remo Resolution is the base document upon which the Mandate was constructed and to which it had to conform. It is therefore the pre-eminent foundation document of the State of Israel and the crowning achievement of pre-state Zionism. It has been accurately described as the Magna Carta of the Jewish people. It is the best proof that the whole country of Palestine and the Land of Israel belong exclusively to the Jewish people under international law.

...It was originally intended that the Mandate Charter would delineate the boundaries of Palestine, but that proved to be a lengthy process involving negotiations with France over the northern and northeastern borders of Palestine with Syria. It was therefore decided to fix these boundaries in a separate treaty, which was done in the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920. The borders were based on a formula first put forth by the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George when he met his French counterpart, Georges Clemenceau in London on December 1, 1918 and defined Palestine as extending from the ancient towns of Dan to Beersheba.

This definition was immediately accepted by Clemenceau, which meant that Palestine would have the borders that included all areas of the country settled by the Twelve Tribes of Israel during the First Temple Period, embracing historic Palestine both east and west of the Jordan River. 

The very words “from Dan to Beersheba” implied that the whole of Jewish Palestine would be reconstituted as a Jewish state. Though the San Remo Resolution did not specifically delineate the borders of Palestine, it was understood by the Principal Allied Powers that this formula would be the criterion to be used in delineating them. 

However, when the actual boundary negotiations began after the San Remo Peace Conference, the French illegally and stubbornly insisted on following the defunct Sykes-Picot line for the northern border of Palestine, accompanied by Gallic outbursts of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist sentiments, though they agreed to extend this border to include the Galilee but not any of the water sources from the Litani valley and the land adjoining it. As a result, some parts of historic Palestine in the north and north-east were illegally excluded from the Jewish National Home.

The 1920 Boundary Convention was amended by another British-French Agreement respecting the boundary line between Syria and Palestine dated February 3, 1922, which took effect on March 10, 1923. It illegally removed the portion of the Golan that had previously been included in Palestine in the 1920 Convention, in exchange for placing the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) wholly within the bounds of the Jewish National Home, and made other small territorial adjustments. The British and French negotiators had no legal right to remove or exclude any “Palestine territory” from the limits of Palestine, but could only ensure that all such territory was included. The exchange of “Palestine territory” for other “Palestine territory” between Britain and France was therefore prohibited as a violation of the Lloyd George formula accepted at the San Remo Peace Conference.

The decisive moment of change came on May 14, 1948 when the representatives of the Jewish people in Palestine and of the Zionist Organization proclaimed the independence of a Jewish state whose military forces held only a small portion of the territory originally allocated for the Jewish National Home. 

The rest of the country was in the illegal possession of neighboring Arab states who had no sovereign rights over the areas they illegally occupied, that were historically a part of Palestine and the Land of Israel and were not meant for Arab independence or the creation of another Arab state.

It is for this reason that Israel, which inherited the sovereign rights of the Jewish people over Palestine, has the legal right to keep all the lands it liberated in the Six Day War, that were either included in the Jewish National Home during the time of the Mandate or formed integral parts of the Land of Israel that were illegally detached from the Jewish National Home when the boundaries of Palestine were fixed in 1920 and 1923. For the same reason, Israel cannot be accused by anyone of “occupying” lands under international law that were clearly part of the Jewish National Home or the Land of Israel. Thus the whole debate today that centers on the question of whether Israel must return “occupied territories” to their alleged Arab owners in order to obtain peace is one of the greatest falsehoods of international law and diplomacy.

The most amazing development concerning the question of sovereignty over Palestine is that the State of Israel, when it finally had an opportunity to exercise its sovereignty over all of the country west of the Jordan, after being victorious in the Six Day War of June 5-10, 1967, did not do so – except in the case of Jerusalem. The Knesset did, however, pass an amendment to the Law and Administration Ordinance of 1948, adding Section 11B, which allowed for that possibility and was premised on the idea that Israel possessed such sovereignty. Israel did not even enforce the existing law on sovereignty passed by the Ben Gurion Government in September 1948, known as the Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance, which required it to incorporate immediately any area of the Land of Israel which the Minister of Defense had defined by proclamation as being held by the Defense Army of Israel. 

Israel’s legal rights and title of sovereignty over all of the Land of Israel – specifically in regard to Judea, Samaria and Gaza – suffered a severe setback when the Government of Prime Minister Menahem Begin approved the Camp David Framework Agreement for Peace in the Middle East, under which it was proposed that negotiations would take place to determine the “final status” of those territories. The phrase “final status” was a synonym for the word “sovereignty”. 

It was inexcusable that neither Begin nor his legal advisers, including Aharon Barak, the future President of the Israel Supreme Court, knew that sovereignty had already been vested in the Jewish people and hence the State of Israel many years before, at the San Remo Peace Conference. The situation became much worse, reaching the level of treason when the Government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Declaration of Principles (DOP) with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and agreed to give it about 90% or more of Judea and Samaria and most of Gaza over a five-year transitional period in order to “achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peaceful settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process” with the Arabs of Palestine. 

The illegal surrender of territory to the “Palestinian Authority” originally called the “Council” in Article IV of the DOP was hidden by the use of the word “jurisdiction” instead of “sovereignty” in that article. 

Further dissimulation was shown by the sanitized reference to “redeployment of Israeli military forces in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip” to disguise the illegal act of transferring parts of the Jewish National Home to the PLO. A spade was not called a spade. 

To understand why even the State of Israel does not believe in its own title of sovereignty 
over what are wrongfully termed “occupied territories” even by leading politicians and jurists 
in Israel, it is necessary to locate the causes in the Mandate period....

...The end result of British sabotage, misinterpretation, distortion and outright denial of what the Mandate stood for was that Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty over the whole of Palestine as originally envisaged in the San Remo Resolution and the Mandate became so blurred, obfuscated and confused by the time the Mandate ended, it was no longer understood or held to be true. Not even the legal experts of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the Zionist Organization asserted Jewish sovereignty over the whole country in any official paper or memorandum submitted to the British Government or to the League of Nations. 

The mutilation of the Mandate Charter was continued by the United Nations when this new world organization considered the question of Palestine. 

On August 31, 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) proposed an illegal partition plan which recognized Arab national rights in western Palestine, specifically in the areas of western Galilee, Judea, Samaria, the southern coastal plain from Ashdod to the Egyptian frontier and a portion of the western Negev including Beersheba and what became Eilat. It apparently did not occur to the members of the Committee representing eleven states headed by Swedish Chief Justice Emil Sandstrom, that the UN did not have the legal authority to partition the country in favor of the Arabs of Palestine who were not the national beneficiary of the Mandate entitled to self-determination. 

The trampling of the legal rights of the Jewish people to the whole of Palestine by the United Nations was in clear violation of the Mandate which forbade partition and also Article 80 of the UN Charter which, in effect, prevented the alteration of Jewish rights granted under the Mandate whether or not a trusteeship was set up to replace it, which could only be done by a prior agreement made by the states directly concerned. 

The illegal partition plan, with some territorial modifications made in the original majority plan presented by UNSCOP, was then approved by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947 as Resolution 181 (II). 

The Jewish Agency for Palestine, recoiling from the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust and trying to salvage something from British misrule of Palestine, accepted this illegal Resolution. By doing so, it lent credence to the false idea that Palestine belonged to both Arabs and Jews, which was an idea foreign to the San Remo Resolution, the Mandate and the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920. 

The Jewish Agency should have relied on these three documents exclusively in declaring the Jewish state over all of Palestine, even if it was unable to control all areas of the country, following the example of what was done in Syria and Lebanon during World War II. 

...The gravest threat to Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty over the Land of Israel still comes from the same source that has always fought the return of the Jews to their homeland, namely, the medley of Arabic-speaking Gentiles who inhabit the land alongside the Jews. They no longer call themselves Arabs or Syrians, but “Palestinians”. This has resulted in a switch of national identity. The Palestinians used to be the Jews during the Mandate Period, but the Arabs adopted the name after the Jews of Palestine established the State of Israel and began to be called Israelis. 

The use of the name “Palestinians” for Arabs did not take general hold until 1969 when the United Nations recognized the existence of this supposed new nation, and began passing resolutions thereafter affirming its legitimate and inalienable rights to Palestine. The whole idea that such a nation exists is the greatest hoax of the 20th century and continues unabated into the 21st century. This hoax is easily exposed by the fact that the “Palestinians” possess no distinctive history, language or culture, and are not essentially different in the ethnological sense from the Arabs living in the neighboring countries of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. The very name of the supposed nation is non-Arabic in origin and derives from Hebrew root letters. The Arabs of Palestine have no connection or relationship to the ancient Philistines from whom they have taken their new name. 

It is a matter of the greatest irony and astonishment that the so-called Palestinian nation has received its greatest boost from Israel itself when it allowed a “Palestinian” administration to be set up in the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. 

The situation in which the Arabs of Palestine and the Land of Israel claim the same legal rights as the Jewish people violates the authentic international law that was created by the San Remo Resolution, the Mandate and the 1920 Franco-British Convention. 

It is part of the worldwide folly that has occurred since 1969 when the “Palestinian people” were first accorded international recognition, that authentic international law has been replaced by an ersatz international law composed of illegal UN Resolutions. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907 are acts of genuine international law, but they have no direct application or relevance to the legal status of Judea, Samaria and Gaza which are integral territories of the Jewish National Home and the Land of Israel under the sovereignty of the State of Israel. These acts would apply only to the Arab occupation of Jewish territories, as occurred between 1948 and 1967 and not to the case of Israeli rule over the Jewish homeland. The hoax of the Palestinian people and their alleged rights to the Land of Israel as well as the farce that results from citing pseudo-international law to support their fabricated case must be exposed and brought to an end. 

The Arabs of the Land of Israel have ignited a terrorist war against Israel to recover what they consider to be their occupied homeland. Their aim is a fantasy based on a gross myth and lie that can never be satisfied, since that would mean the conversion of the Land of Israel into an Arab country. It is up to the Government of Israel to take the necessary steps to remedy what has become an intolerable situation, which threatens the Jewish people with the loss of their immutable rights to their one and only homeland. 

PA finance minister paid thousands to Hamas while working at Arab Bank

From JPost, 14 Sept 2014, by FRANK G. RUNYEON, YONAH JEREMY BOB:

Bishara admits paying terrorist Osama Hamdan knowing he was on the US blacklist

Shukri Bishara, finance minister for the Palestinian Authority and former chief executive at the Arab Bank, admitted before a New York federal court on Thursday that he had cut a check for thousands of dollars to a senior Hamas leader while working for the bank.

Bishara had originally testified that the bank would not have anything to gain by funding terrorists. Many terrorist operations cost far less than the $8,000 check paid to the Hamas operative.

A total of 297 plaintiffs are suing the Arab Bank for billions of dollars. They allege that the bank is liable for wrongful death damages, because it helped move money that was used to finance attacks that killed their family members.

Plaintiffs said the bank facilitated massive payments to Hamas leaders and institutions, as well as to the families of imprisoned Hamas members and suicide bombers, via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s al-Shahid Foundation, mostly between 1998 and 2004 (though evidence has focused on 2001-2004.) The Arab Bank, which functions practically as Jordan’s state bank and is one of the largest in the Middle East with branches in 30 countries, said the plaintiffs cannot prove the funds contributed to terrorist attacks and that the bank knew of a terrorist connection.

Because of the bank’s prominence, the Jordanian government has already tried to intervene, implying that a judgment against the bank could wreck anti-terrorism cooperation with the US and undermine the monarchy’s very stability.

While being questioned by his own lawyers as a supporting witness, Bishara presented in much the same manner as Arab Bank chairman Sabih Al-Masri: a charming, Western-educated finance executive with strong ties to the West whose own family was touched by terrorism.

“We were living in complete fear, panic,” Bishara said of his family’s time living in Jerusalem during the second intifada. After a suicide bomber attacked his children’s school, he moved them to Amman, Jordan.

Bishara asserted that banks have a vested interest in peace, not violence. The intifada “was a calamity for the economy” and the banking sector was “very close to having systemic meltdown,” he said.

Under cross examination by counsel for the plaintiffs Mark Werbner, Bishara’s tone changed from gregarious to acrimonious. A heated exchange took place when Werbner asserted that Bishara had released funds from a bank account belonging to senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan.

“You gave this terrorist $8,000, the man who moves weapons and explosives,” Werbner stated. “You had no other choice than to give this terrorist $8,000?” “My concern was to get rid of the account,” Bishara explained, having admitted he knew Hamdan was on the US terrorist blacklist at the time. “There was simply no way” to close the account without a court order or Hamdan being designated a terrorist by Lebanon, he said.

Defense lawyers say the so-called “Beirut account” was first brought to the bank’s attention in 2004 by this lawsuit. After waiting five or six months to find another solution, Bishara said, the Arab Bank ultimately cut a check to Hamdan and closed the account.

This fund transfer has burdened the bank’s main defense, which was that most transfers were made to those who were not on any US watch list at the time.