Twitter users need not worry about bit.ly going down
I was wondering about this myself, since I use Twitter Feed and Twitter Feed uses bit.ly to shorten URL's. Unlike others, I knew that bit.ly was hosted in Libya. But there's no need to worry about the Libyan government shutting bit.ly down.
Until Feb. 15, Twitter users who rely on bit.ly to shorten their Internet links didn't give much thought to what the "ly" stands for. Turns out the "ly" means the domain is registered in Libya, where dictator Colonel Moammar Khadafy restricted Internet access in the wake of unrest.
Bit.ly CEO John Borthwick took to the Q&A site Quora to assure users that, "Should Libya block Internet traffic, as Egypt did, it will not affect http://bit.ly or any .ly do main."
For problems to occur in .ly do mains, all five .ly root servers would have to be offline, he wrote. Of the five, two are in Libya, two are in Oregon and one is in the Netherlands.
By the way, if you don't yet follow me on Twitter, you ought to go here and start.
"That pipeline may stay offline," said Delphi Global Analysis Group founder David Wurmser, who from 2002 to 2003 was senior adviser to Under Secretary of State John Bolton. "I think the days of that pipeline are numbered."
Israel needs the natural gas. Experts said the country has enough energy resources to last only until 2013, including gas shipments from Egypt. Its promising $3 billion Tamar natural gas project is not expected to begin delivering fuel until the end of 2013.
"The question is how do you get to 2014?" Wurmser said.
Michael Makovsky from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank, said Israel cannot buy fuel from its Arab neighbors but could cobble together a solution by buying coal or expensive diesel and fuel oil.
Even before the Egypt uprising that put the military in power, the Egyptian Energy Minister faced pressure to shut off the pipeline because Egypt itself is facing an energy shortage.
"The military might see closing the pipeline as an easy way to show protesters it is listening to their concerns," Makovsky said.
Anyone want to provide two years' worth of natural gas for a small Middle Eastern country? I may have some helpful connections....
Obama administration sought UN cover for military action in Libya
Over the weekend at the United Nations, the United States sought cover for military action in Libya, to deliver humanitarian aid to the local population and to rescue its own nationals there. It succeeded in part, but at a price: Gadhafi's African mercenaries will not be hauled in front of the International Criminal Court.
The U.S. amendment called for authorizing member states, working with the cooperation of the United Nations, to use "all means necessary to protect civilians and key installations." In the diplomatic terminology of U.N. resolutions, the phrase "all means necessary" has traditionally served as a code for military action.
The debate over the use of force unfolded behind closed doors last week as the Obama administration began exploring options for ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Libya. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will arrive in Washington on Monday to discuss international plans to address the worsening violence in Libya. Over the weekend, the U.S. held talks with Europe and other countries to explore the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya, according to a report in the New York Times.
One U.S. official, while declining to comment on confidential negotiations over the Security Council resolution, cautioned that the U.S. diplomatic effort in New York was purely humanitarian. "Our intention on any of the language that had to deal with this particular issue was humanitarian in nature. None of this has to do with putting U.S. boots on the ground."
The United States had hoped its amendment would be included in the resolution that was eventually unanimously adopted on Saturday by the U.N. Security Council resolution, which imposed a range of financial and military sanctions on the Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi and his closest associates, and authorized an investigation into crimes against humanity. The U.S. had conditioned its support for the sanctions resolution on the inclusion of another provision that ensured that no foreign nationals inside Libya would be subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court, according to France's U.N. ambassador, Gerard Araud.
The provision provoked criticism of the United States because it shields large numbers of foreign mercenaries operating on behalf of Qaddafi from possible prosecution by the Hague-based court. But the provision would also immunize American and allied forces from possible prosecution if they enter Libya to help protect civilians or protect humanitarian relief efforts.
The provision was included in the final resolution at the insistence of "one country," Araud said Saturday night. "It was absolutely necessary for one country to have that, considering its parliamentary constrains. It was a red line for the United States, it was a deal breaker. This is the reason why we accepted this unanimously."
The U.S. provision allowing for the use of force, however, was shelved.
Honestly, I am truly shocked that the US tried to get that into the Security Council resolution - it's so unlike this administration. Unfortunately, since it failed, you can bet that the US will not take any military action no matter what happens there.
Israel Television's nightly newscast (which is simulcast on radio) is reporting that the United States is massing forces opposite Libya's coast and is saying that Muammar Gadhafi must leave Libya. All US citizens have been evacuated from Libya. But the US will not act unless the rebel forces invite them into Libya. The US is also preparing to enforce a no-fly zone.
Meanwhile, Gadhafi is claiming that all the Libyan people love him.
Tripoli continues to be under the control of the pro-Gadhafi forces.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has said the government of Muammar Gaddafi must be held to account over atrocities committed in Libya as she reiterated calls for the leader to step down.
Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, Clinton said Gaddafi must leave power "now, without further violence or delay".
"Gaddafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency," she said.
"We have seen Colonel Gaddafi's security forces open fire on peaceful protesters. They have used heavy weapons on unarmed civilians. Mercenaries and thugs have been turned loose to attack demonstrators."
Clinton said Washington was keeping "all options on the table" in terms of action against the government, and that a no-fly zone was "an option we are actively considering".
She also said two US humanitarian teams are being sent to Libya's borders with Egypt and Tunisia to provide aid to refugees fleeing the country.
Meanwhile, a Pentagon official said the US military was repositioning naval and air forces around Libya.
"We have planners working and various contingency plans and I think it's safe to say as part of that we're repositioning forces to be able to provide for that flexibility once decisions are made ... to be able to provide options and flexibility," Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said.
Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from the eastern city of Benghazi, where the opposition is in control, said people there were opposing any possible foreign military invention but would welcome a no-fly zone.
"They say that would diminish the ability of the regime to bring in mercenaries from Africa, those mercenaries that the opposition accuse of fighting alongside government forces," she said.
"Also, they say a no-fly zone will safeguard the opposition in the sense that it would prevent any kind of aerial bombardment. That's one thing people here are very scared of."
The man in the picture with Hillary Clinton is Mutassim Gadhafi, the son of the Libyan leader who is in charge of Libya's military.
Arab League President Amr Moussa has announced that he is a candidate to be President of Egypt.
While very possibly the best alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Muhammad ElBaradei, Moussa is a flamboyant demagogue who is sure to try to score points by bashing the United States, the West, and Israel.
Syria, and thus also its ally Iran, would be pleased by his election; the Saudis will be horrified. Israel will do its best to deal with him, knowing he will be a rhetorical headache but hoping his actual behavior will be pragmatic. He will be no great bargain for U.S. interests either.
I don't see any candidate for President of Egypt that will not be anathema to American and Israeli interests. I'd be pleasantly surprised if one emerges.
Here's Mona Eltahaway speaking to J Street's conference in Washington on Sunday. Watch what excites the J Street crowd. For those who have limited time, start at 4:40. Just keep track of what the J Street crowd cheers.
It is wrong–for anyone–to cheer for hate. It is wrong, at a pro-Israel conference, to cheer someone who professes her hatred for Israel–not her disappointment, not her concern, but her hatred. She can hate whoever she wants. And if J Street wants her to come to their conference and speak at a major session, they can do that too. But when she comes to that pro-Israel conference, starts talking about hatred for Israel and draws the loudest cheer from the crowd, that’s bad. It’s bad for J Street and it’s bad for J Street’s supporters if they intend to show their support for the Jewish state.
Whether or not it's bad for J Street is irrelevant. It exposes the truth and truth is always a good thing.
J Street is not pro-Israel and it does not belong as part of the pro-Israel community. It's time we all called the spade a spade. J Street is a pro-Obama, Leftist organization that at best is indifferent to Israel's continued existence. If anything, the fact that it masquerades as a pro-Israel organization is what makes J Street so dangerous.
If it's a choice between Israel and the 'Palestinians' (and truthfully, that's what the choice is, for the 'Palestinians' aspire to end Israel's existence), J Street will feel guilty if Israel wins.
Those who are truly pro-Israel will be happy if Israel wins at the 'Palestinians' expense.
Video: Children being trained for global jihad at the West's expense
This video - which speaks for itself - was posted by Baron Bodissey at Gates of Vienna. It shows children training for jihad at a camp in Sudan, and is being used to raise money to train more children.
I suppose this shouldn't come as too big a surprise.
In an interview today on the Al Arabyia news network, an informed source within the Revolutionary Guards Corps revealed that Iran has several military bases in Libya.
The source, who requested anonymity due to his sensitive position within the Guards, elaborated further that the Iranian military bases are located mostly along Libya’s borders with the African countries of Chad and Niger. From there, he said, the Guards actively smuggle arms and supply logistical assistance to rebellious groups in the African countries.
According to this source, Guards enter Libya under the guise of oil company employees. Most of these companies are under the control of the Revolutionary Guards.
The source, who is a colonel in the Guards, added that Gaddafi and his government are quite aware of these activities and have even signed joint contracts with those Iranian oil companies so that the the Guards can enter Libya without any trouble.
The colonel stated that with the current unrest in Libya, over 500 Guards have been unable to evacuate and are under orders to destroy all documents.
According to this source, the military collaborations between the Revolutionary Guards and the Gaddafi government date back to 2006.
Then why has Ahmadinejad come out in favor of the revolution in Libya? Especially when Gadhafi has behaved toward Libyans in the exact same way that Ahmadinejad behaved toward Iranians since the summer of 2009.... Probably because he figures that Gadhafi's done anyway, so there's no point in not hopping on the revolutionary bandwagon. Besides, Ahmadinejad's angling for Libya's new rulers to let him keep those bases there. The bases are staging areas for smuggling arms and training out of sight of the West.
The two leaders of Iran's Green Movement and their wives were kidnapped on Thursday night, and are being held at an undisclosed location, possibly awaiting a show trial. The West is silent.
Yes it is true, not exactly as any one source has been reporting, but the two top leaders of the Green Movement, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, were kidnapped on Thursday night — when the streets of Tehran were full of armed men. It was a typical Mafia-style snatch. The two men — already under house arrest — were beaten and bloodied, and then were led out of their homes in blindfolds and handcuffs, stuffed in the trunks of the cars of their captors from the Revolutionary Guards and, along with their wives, taken to a location in Tehran, then, on Friday, to another in Parchin, and finally to a third location, a heavily protected private residence.
So far only a few voices, most notably that of Ayatollah Dastgheib (sorry for the link in Persian, but I can’t find a translation online yet), have been raised to denounce the action and call for the release of the hostages. Needless to say, no Western leader has done anything yet, and nobody should expect any tough talk from Western capitals. After all, Mousavi and Karroubi were never contacted by any Western leader after the electoral hoax of June, 2009, although at least some of those Westerners sent intermediaries to negotiate with representatives of the Iranian regime.
Terror works, you see.
I do not know if we will see Mousavi or Karroubi alive. For the moment, I imagine they are being interrogated and tortured in an effort to extract “confessions” of their obedience to foreigners. Indeed, the very evening of the kidnapping, Intelligence Minister Moslehi — whose name is on a list of Iranians under EU consideration for being sanctioned for their role in grave human rights violations — gave a late evening interview on national television in which he spoke extensively of the “foreign hand” behind Iranian protests, and the next day he was quoted in a national news service as identifying yours truly as the inspiration behind at least some of the dissidents (again, it’s in Farsi, but in compensation there’s a flattering picture of me). He claimed that an Iranian arrested as a CIA agent was somehow inspired by my writings to work against the regime.
Actually it’s the other way around. It’s the courage of the Iranian opposition, and the hope that one day this evil regime will be removed, that inspires these blogs. And to judge by Moslehi’s rant, it’s doomed, because he has real trouble with information. For all the attention and vitriol these fanatic buffoons direct at me, their Intel Minister does not even know where I work. He and his vaunted network can’t manage to find out that I have been at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies for two and a half years, which is pretty amazing when you consider that they have obviously been reading Pajamas Media.
One has to wonder what Iran's Greens have to do to get the West to notice. That's not to say that I'm enamored with them because I believe they will stop the nuclear weapons program. You all know that I am not. But at least with them, there might be something about which to negotiate rationally. And maybe they won't have the apocalyptic desire to bring about the coming of the 12th Imam by bombing Israel, like Ahmadinejad has.
Michael Rubin is getting a little ahead of the curve here, but I hope he's right anyway.
Qaddafi’s exile or death will be the last nail in the coffin of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Egyptians thought, “If Tunisians can do it, why not us.” When Mubarak fled, Libyans concluded that it was their turn. If people power can topple Qaddafi, not even the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will be able to contain the rage of the Iranian people. And if the Islamic Republic collapses, then suddenly the threats from Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad will decline as their state support evaporates.
In an earlier post, I reported that two of the six 'Israeli Arab' MK's who visited Libya last spring now regretted going. Haaretz interviews former Arafat adviser and current MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al), who was one of the initiators of the Libya trip. Tibi says that he has no regrets about visiting Libya.
I guess that it goes without saying that Tibi's interview is full of disingenuous claims regarding both the visit to Libya and Israel's treatment of 'Israeli Arabs,' but this is perhaps the most bizarre claim of all:
So it is correct to accept an invitation from anyone, without exercising judgment?
"First of all, he invited us and secondly, no one imagined he would do what he is doing a year later. Anyone who says he could have foreseen these events is not speaking the truth and is being deceptive."
Everyone today seems to be in favor of the people and against the regime in Libya, but isn't it true that even before the visit, Gadhafi was not a democrat or a believer in human rights?
"I admit the connection with the Arab world is one that involves non-democratic regimes. There's a difference between visiting and being loyal to or trailing after one regime or another. I am saying clearly and unambiguously that a visit does not constitute an expression of support for Gadhafi's policy in Libya - and such things were said there. For example, I personally expressed criticism of the backwardness in the world as a result of certain regimes, and the fact that rights are not granted to citizens. And we said that the role of the revolutions that erupted and overcame colonialism in the Arab world has been to give freedom and liberty and democracy to the Arab world."
No, no one could have predicted a year ago that the Gadhafi regime would be on the verge of being overthrown. But it was definitely predictable that Gadhafi would react violently to any demonstrations. And the Libyan regime was one which was already known a year ago to practice torture. Go here and here.
The Libyan regime was known a year ago - and even longer ago - as one that practiced torture. It was more than 'just' an undemocratic regime. Tibi's claims not to have been aware of the nature of the Libyan regime are completely disingenuous. He and his colleagues gave support and comfort to a tyrant. The least they could do is own up to it.
Attendees at the J Street conference in Washington report that it is literally not Kosher (Hat Tip: My Right Word).
Of course, plenty of Jewish organizations serve non-kosher food at their events, and that’s fine. Given that the vast majority of Jews don’t keep strict, certified kosher, there’s no reason to foot that bill. But almost all Jewish organizations, and certainly all major ones, make the effort to provide kosher options for those Jews who do require a hekhsher. At the very least, they would offer kosher food for purchase.
Not so with J Street.
When I arrived at the conference this morning, before 8 a.m., I asked a staff person if the breakfast would include kosher options. She told me it would. But when the food arrived, there was nothing kosher to be found–not even fruit. I sufficed with coffee and decided to wait for lunch, when–with an hour of free time–I could rush on the metro to a kosher restaurant.
When that time came, I got ready to hurry out of the conference room only to be told by multiple J Street staffers that there were sandwiches for purchase across the building and yes, some of them were kosher.
You can guess what happened next. I arrived at the sandwich cart and requested the kosher option. I got a blank stare in return, and when I asked the manager she told me she had no idea what I was talking about. She hadn’t heard anything about kosher sandwiches. The best they could do, they said, was a regular turkey sandwich with the cheese taken off. No good. I bought a Clif bar, a Nature Valley, a Kit Kat, an apple and a banana. I filled the feast out with some mini Twix I found at a conference table.
Maybe I’m making too much of this, but I think that an intentionally Jewish organization that bases its platform on Jewish values should make more of an effort to respect a basic traditional Jewish practice. This is especially true for J Street, which emphasizes pluralism and acceptance. I think it’s great for an organization to encourage myriad political ideologies, but there needs to be space for a multiplicity of religious observances as well. And on perhaps the most practical level, I have trouble thinking about the nuances of US Middle East policy when I haven’t eaten all day.
Maybe if William Daroff is there, he can take everyone on a trip to Eli's (if you follow his Twitter feed, you know exactly what I mean). But why does it not surprise me that J Street would run a conference that is 100% Glatt treif?
NGO Monitor has called on Sarah Leah Whitson, the head of 'Human Rights Watch's Mideast and North Africa division, to resign, on the grounds that she misled the public regarding the nature of the Gadhafi regime in Libya and the intentions of Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam.
Following Human Rights Watch's (HRW) neglect of brutal human rights violations in Libya and false claims and cover-ups about prospects for reforms there, NGO Monitor today called for the immediate resignation of Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's director of its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division. HRW's MENA division failed to devote the necessary resources to speaking out against human rights violations by oppressive Middle East regimes, including Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Lebanon, and most notably, Libya. Recent statements by Whitson regarding Seif Islam, a son of Moammar Qaddafi, demonstrate that she consistently whitewashed the reality in Libya and further embarrassed her organization.
"Human Rights Watch, and specifically MENA director Sarah Leah Whitson, has soft-peddled Qaddafi's oppressive acts and offered no help to the Libyan people," says Anne Herzberg, legal advisor for NGO Monitor, a research institution that tracks NGOs. "Whitson was well aware of the atrocities committed by the Qaddafi regime, but she chose to present the façade that Qaddafi's son was prepared to implement 'reforms.' The events in Libya over the past weeks reveal Whitson's gross incompetence. She has failed to retract her previously misleading statements. She cannot continue to head the MENA division, and we call for her immediate resignation."
NGO Monitor notes that Whitson held a press conference last year in Libya that was abruptly halted and ended in "pandemonium." Yet, Whitson spun her trip and the event in a positive light in her 2010 "Postcard from Tripoli," in which she said that Libya had a "moment of opportunity." Even more egregious is Whitson's enthusiastic marketing of the Qaddafi regime from 2009's Tripoli Spring (published in Foreign Policy):
For the first time in memory, change is in the air in Libya. The brittle atmosphere of repression has started to fracture, giving way to expanded space for discussion and debate, proposals for legislative reform, and even financial compensation for families of the hundreds of men killed in a prison riot a decade ago.
Many Libyans say the changes were unavoidable in the face of the open satellite and Internet access of the past decade.
These assessments differ sharply from the Libya Whitson now admits she saw, as part of her attempts to rewrite the record. In contrast to the earlier fiction, she recently wrote "most Libyans we spoke with never had much faith that Moammar Qaddafi would learn new tricks, or that the announced reforms were anything more than an endless loop of promises made and broken."
"What Sarah Leah Whitson admits she knew about the Qaddafi family's fraudulent reform agenda completely contradicts statements during her Tripoli trip," says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. "Reform was never on the horizon and Seif Islam was simply seeking to validate the eventual transfer of power to his hands, using allies like Whitson. Her attempts to give a facelift to MENA's treatment of Libya is indicative of the division's approach to many of the repressive regimes in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Syria, Hamas, and others."
Israeli police open fire on Jewish civilians, wound 15; UPDATED with new video
The most amazing thing about this story is that it is not even being reported on Israel Radio. Perhaps that isn't so amazing. It's no secret that Israel Radio is totally Leftist and hates the revenants (what some of you call 'settlers').
Israel's border police - who are largely made up of what is so delicately called 'minorities' (Bedouin and Druze) - shot rubber bullets and tear gas at revenants at Gilad's Farm during a raid that took place at 4:00 am on Monday. Gilad's Farm is an outpost that overlooks Route 60, the main North-South road through Samaria. It is just north of Geva Binyamin and Kochav Yaakov.
Setters claimed that Border Police forces shot rubber bullets and tear gas at them during the demolition of three structures at the unauthorized outpost of Gilad Farm in Samaria on Monday.
According to police, eight settlers were arrested during the clashes that broke out when they entered the outpost in a pre-dawn raid. Settlers claimed that 12 people were bruised by rubber bullets.
Police said they responded only after stones were thrown at them and they understood that a number of settlers had knives and instruments which could be used for stabbing.
Settlers have called for an immediate investigation into the incident. Police said they operated according to the rules of engagement, but they did not respond to the specific charges.
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), who was at Gilad Farm, claimed that Border Police pushed him to the ground. He added that he retrieved a rubber bullet from the scene.
Here's video of the incident - decide for yourselves.
Let's go to the videotape.
And for those of you who question whether they really used rubber bullets, over at the Muqata, Joe Settler has pictures of people who were wounded that were taken by Jameel (who was there).
UPDATE 12:07 PM
Israel Radio reports on its 12:00 newscast that the police claim they used paint bullets and not rubber bullets.
UPDATE 8:15 PM
Here's a longer version of the same video, now up on YouTube.
You can add Oman to the list of countries where there are protests against an autocratic regime.
Peaceful protests, demanding higher wages, more jobs and an end to corruption, among other things, have spread to other parts of Oman since Friday, according to reports reaching here.
A woman blogger, who writes Random Ramblings about Life in Salalah under the name of Dhofari Gucci, has written: "Protesters gathered outside the Governor's office after Friday prayers and evidently they have not moved and won't until their demands have been fulfilled. I sent my brother to investigate. They've been chanting ‘People want an end to corruption'."
According to another witnesses, life is going on as usual in the other parts of this southern town, where Lulu Hypermarket opened their 87th outlet and the National Geographic exhibition was also launched.
"We hardly felt protests are being held in town," a Muscat resident who is in Salalah said over the phone on the condition of anonymity.
The peaceful protests, however, are spreading to other towns as well. Reports coming in say that there were peaceful protests in Shinaz as well as Sohar.
The first of the protests was held in Muscat on January 17 followed by another at the Muscat ministerial enclave on February 18 - named Green March - during which the protesters gave a message for the country's monarch Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed.
The government last week announced that the message has reached the country's leader. There were no protests reported in Muscat after that.
However, on Saturday, people, mostly youth, held peaceful marchs in Shinaz, Sohar and Salalah. The demands made through banners and slogans are: 1) An end to corruption in the government; 2) More jobs for people in need; 3) increase in salaries for the poor, widows and divorced women; 4) Lowering prices; 5) An end to financial and administrative wasta (influence) in the government and private sector.
The protests have been peaceful and the security agencies have not interfered.
This is tame compared to some of the other protests.
In an instance of 'freedom of speech for me but not for thee,' the American Civil Liberties Union has been supporting silencing supporters of Israel on college campuses.
Michael Oren—a distinguished scholar and writer, a moderate supporter of the two-state solution, and now Israel's Ambassador to the United States—was invited to speak. The Muslim Student Union set out to prevent him from delivering his talk Here is the way Erwin Chemerinksy, Dean of the law school, described what the students did:
"The Muslim Student Union orchestrated a concerted effort to disrupt the speech. One student after another stood and shouted so that the ambassador could not be heard. Each student was taken away only to be replaced by another doing the same thing."
Chemerinsky understates what happened, as anyone can see by watching a video of the event, available online (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfLs_ptJzQA). This was more than a "concerted effort to disrupt the speech." It was a concerted effort to stop it completely—to censor Oren's right to speak and his audience's right to hear him. The efforts to disrupt succeeded; the effort to stop ultimately failed. Moreover, Chemerinsky fails to mention what happened both before and after the concerted effort. There is undisputed evidence that there was a well-planned conspiracy to censor Oren's talk, and then to lie about it, which the students did after the event.
The students were disciplined by the university for their actions, though the nature and degree of the discipline has been kept confidential. Campus sources have characterized it as a "slap on the wrist." Since the students were arrested, the District Attorney, quite understandably, commenced a criminal investigation. After learning of the careful planning that went into the concerted effort to prevent Oren from speaking and the subsequent cover-up, the DA filed misdemeanor charges against those who were involved.
This decision resulted in an outcry by radicals, many of whom favor censorship of pro-Israel speakers. In a letter to the DA signed by many well-known anti-Israel zealots, the incident was described as merely a protest: "The students nonviolently and verbally protested…"
Then, in an effort to blame the victims, the letter pointed the finger at pro-Israel students who wanted to listen to Oren speak claiming—quite falsely—that the Muslim Student Union censors "conducted themselves in less of a disruptive manner than some of the counter-protestors…" This is simply a lie, as anyone can see by viewing the video. Moreover, the intent of the so-called "counter-protestors" was simply to hear the speaker, whereas the intent of the Muslim Student Union was to censor the speaker.
The fact that radical anti-Israel zealots would support censorship of a pro-Israel speaker comes as no surprise. But the fact that the letter of support was signed by two ACLU leaders should shock all civil libertarians and supporters of the ACLU. I have been a supporter of the ACLU for half a century and was a national board member. I supported the right of Nazis to march through Skokie and I defend the right of the most virulent anti-Israel speakers to participate in the marketplace of ideas. The ACLU policy has always been to oppose concerted efforts to prevent speakers from delivering their remarks. While supporting sporadic heckling and jeering that merely demonstrates opposition to the content of the remarks, the ACLU has always condemned concerted efforts to silence invited speakers.
Yet signatories of the letter—which never once criticizes the censoring Muslim Union students while condemning those who wanted to hear the speaker—include "Chuck Anderson," who identifies himself as President ACLU Chapter, Orange County and Chair, The Peace and Freedom Party, Orange County;" (a hard left anti-Israel group), and "Hector Villagro," who identifies himself as "Incoming Executive Director, ACLU of Southern California."
Read the whole thing. George Orwell described it perfectly. Some animals are more equal than others.
Former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri, who has been out of politics for several years due to his conviction for a 'crime involving moral turpitude' (bribery), would take seven seats - five of them from the Right - if he were to start his own political party, according to a Dahaf poll.
The dream of the Left is that a party headed by Aryeh Deri, who was previously in the Shas party, would grab enough right wing voters to enable him to put the left into power. Deri is friends with Chaim Ramon and critics say he is devoted to the "holy trinity" (me, myself and I).
For those basing their plans on the results of the poll a word of warning: these results are before any effort has been made to warn that a vote for the Deri party is a vote to bring the left to power, leave the Golan, divide Jerusalem etc. Israel's recent political history is full of people that Yediot Ahronot promoted with favorable Dahaf polls that puttered out at the real poll on election day.
Telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Dahaf for Yediot Achronot the weeks of 25 February 2011 and published on 25 February 2011
If elections held today (expressed in Knesset seats) Current Knesset seats in [brackets]. 28 30  Kadima lead by Livni 21 23  Likud 15 16  Yisrael Beiteinu 08 10  Shas 07 07  Labor 06 06  Meretz 06 06  Yahadut Hatorah 05 05  Nat'l Union 03 03  Jewish Home/NRP 12 12  Arab parties 02 02 [---] Green party 00 00 [---] Ehud Barak Atzmaut 07 --- [---] Party headed by Aryeh Deri
I know that those of you in the West are probably horrified that a man who has been convicted of bribery could actually return to the Knesset and gain that many votes. Welcome to Israel.
LSE worries about 'donations from American alumni'
Tongue firmly implanted in cheek, Melanie Phillips takes on the London School of Economics, which is now in a panic over its ties to Libya.
The university has already been urged by its own dons to give up the £300,000 it received from a foundation headed by the son of Colonel Gaddafi. Howard Davies, the LSE director, is said to have told academics this week that he was ashamed of the institution’s links to the dictatorship.
Questions have been emerging about the LSE’s wider reliance on finance from authoritarian regimes. One of its lecture halls has been named in honour of a sheikh reputed to have promoted anti-Semitic material.
An academic source said the university has become nervous about being seen as anti-Israel because of a threat to donations from American alumni.
Al-AP published this photo of President Obama (Hat Tip: Elder of Ziyon).
This was the caption:
A Palestinian protester holds a burning Israeli flag with a photo of American President Barack Obama during a demonstration against an American veto last week on a U.N. resolution that would have condemned Israel, in the West Bank city of Nablus, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011.
Find two things that al-AP 'missed' that make it clear that the 'Palestinians' aren't just anti-Israel, but anti-Semitic.
Libyan defector defended Gadhafi regime a few months ago
Adel Shaltut, the Second Secretary at the Libya U.N. mission in Geneva, defected in front of the U.N. 'Human Rights Council' on Saturday and denounced the Gadhafi regime. But just a few months ago, he tried to silence victims of Libyan torture who were brought before the Council by UN Watch.
Sunday's London Telegraph has a lengthy interview with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Here's what he has to say about the Brits.
He is, he admits, "worried" about Britain. In his view, there are "two streams" in British attitudes to Israel and the Jews. One, exemplified by Lloyd-George's "understanding of history" in the Versailles era, is admirable. He cites Col Richard Meinertzhagen, intelligence chief to General Allenby in the Mandate era in Palestine, who, despite having had little previous contact with Jews, quickly discovered that, contrary to his fellow-countrymen's prejudices, they were "very good fighters" and would "provide a bulwark against the aggression of Islamic militancy". He also refers to Arthur Stanley, late 19th-century Dean of Westminster, as one of many British luminaries who found the Holy Land neglected and argued that "the Jews would come back and build up this country". Mr Netanyahu has a portrait of his greatest British hero, Winston Churchill, on his shelves. He poses beside it for our photographer.
On the other hand, there are bad attitudes. "Britain was a colonial power, and colonialism has been spurned." Britain therefore tends to look at the Israeli question through its "colonial prism", which makes the British "see us as neo-colonialists". But this is wrong. "We are not Belgians in the Congo! We are not Brits in India!"
In the United States, the situation is different because the Americans were not colonisers, but in revolt against colonial power. Their vision was "one of a society based on the New Jerusalem, the promised land", so they naturally saw Israel as "partners in freedom".
He agrees that Western loss of support for Israel is "a huge issue" and "tragic because, in many ways, we are you and you are us". This has been a talk with Mr Netanyahu in statesmanlike mode. He shows me his books, including the huge, definitive history of the Spanish Inquisition written by his father, who is still alive aged 101.
It seems a pity to drag the talk to mere politics, but I have a parting shot. We now have a coalition in Britain. In Israel, they never have anything else. Has he any advice for David Cameron? He permits himself an amused look: "Lower taxes." Then he adds: "I believe you are thinking of reforming your voting system. Be careful of proportional representation. I give you that as a free tip."
The problem is that Britain is on the verge of being overrun by the Islamists.
To a generation of politically active if not morally consistent campaigners, the Middle East has meant Israel and only Israel. In theory, they should have been able to stick by universal principles and support a just settlement for the Palestinians while opposing the dictators who kept Arabs subjugated. Few, however, have been able to oppose oppression in all its forms consistently. The right has been no better than the liberal-left in its Jew obsessions. The briefest reading of Conservative newspapers shows that at all times their first concern about political changes in the Middle East is how they affect Israel. For both sides, the lives of hundreds of millions of Arabs, Berbers and Kurds who were not involved in the conflict could be forgotten.
If you doubt me, consider the stories that the Middle Eastern bureau chiefs missed until revolutions that had nothing to do with Palestine forced them to take notice.
• Gaddafi was so frightened of a coup that he kept the Libyan army small and ill-equipped and hired mercenaries and paramilitary "special forces" he could count on to slaughter the civilian population when required.
• Leila Ben Ali, the wife of the Tunisian president, was a preposterously extravagant figure, who all but begged foreign correspondents to write about her rapacious pursuit of wealth. Only when Tunisians rose up did journalists stir themselves to tell their readers how she had pushed the populace to revolt by combining the least appealing traits of Imelda Marcos and Marie-Antoinette.
• Hearteningly, for those of us who retain a nostalgia for the best traditions of the old left, Tunisia and Egypt had independent trade unionists, who could play "a leading role", as we used to say, in organising and executing uprisings.
Far from being a cause of the revolution, antagonism to Israel everywhere served the interests of oppressors. Europeans have no right to be surprised. Of all people, we ought to know from our experience of Nazism that antisemitism is a conspiracy theory about power, rather than a standard racist hatred of poor immigrants. Fascistic regimes reached for it when they sought to deny their own people liberty. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the forgery the far-right wing of the decaying tsarist regime issued in 1903 to convince Russians they should continue to obey the tsar's every command, denounces human rights and democracy as facades behind which the secret Jewish rulers of the world manipulated gullible gentiles.
Last week, Saif, the "liberal" promoter of human rights and dining companion of Mandelson, appeared on Libyan television to say that his father's gunmen would fight to the last bullet to keep the Gaddafi crime family in business, a promise he is keeping. The thinking behind so many who flattered him was that the only issue in the Middle East worth taking a stand on was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the oppression of Arabs by Arabs was a minor concern.
The longevity of the regimes presided over by the Gaddafi, Assad and Mubarak families and the House of Saud ought to be a reason for denouncing them more vigorously, but their apparent permanence added to the feeling that somehow Libyans, Syrians, Egyptians and Saudis want to live under dictatorships.
The European Union, which did so much to export democracy and the rule of law to former communist dictatorships of eastern Europe, has played a miserable role in the Middle East. It pours in aid but never demands democratisation or restrictions on police powers in return. That will have to change if the promise of the past month is to be realised. If it is to help with democracy-building, Europe will need to remind itself as much as the recipients of its money that you can never build free societies on the racist conspiracy theories of the Nazis and the tsars. They are and always have been the tunes that tyrants sing.
Adam Schatz has a lengthy analysis of the aftermath of the Egyptian revolution in the London Review of Books. I don't agree with everything he says - particularly with his description of the American alliance with Israel as 'more of a liability than an asset' - but he makes some valid points about Egypt's future.
I would not be surprised to see another uprising in Egypt directed at the army and led by the Islamists 6-12 months from now. You heard it here first.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that only 20% of American Adults think the United States should continue providing foreign aid to Arab countries in the Middle East. Fifty-eight percent (58%) say that aid should come to an end. Twenty-one percent (21%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Fifty-one percent (51%) of Americans, on the other hand, favor continued foreign aid to Israel. One-in-three adults (32%) oppose further aid for Israel, while another 17% are undecided about it.
New Republican Senator Rand Paul has called for an end to all foreign aid, including the $3 billion the United States gives annually to Israel, as part of a package of deep spending cuts he is proposing. But given Israel’s strong bipartisan support in Congress, Paul’s proposal isn’t likely to gain ground. Egypt has been receiving slightly less than $2 billion in aid annually, with several other Arab countries in the region getting a smattering of millions.
Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans believe America should end all foreign aid to Arab countries in the Middle East, a view shared by just a plurality (48%) of Democrats and 50% of adults not affiliated with either major party.
Similarly, 61% of Republicans support a continuation of foreign aid to Israel. But Democrats and unaffiliateds agree by a much narrower 46% to 34% margin.
So if Israel were to give up its foreign aid package from the US, it would clearly be an Israeli initiative. And we ought to be able to get some solid cooperation agreements in return... once Obama leaves office.
In his speech, Peter Beinart said that "Israel cannot be holy in the time of Bibi, Lieberman and Ovadia Yosef."
Sara Benninga said in her speech: “Our critics portray us as enemies of the Jewish State. But it is ironic that a country claiming to be the victim of a campaign of delegitimization, shamelessly delegitimizes sections of its own citizenry. We reject the false dichotomy between security and democracy."
"We refuse to settle for anything less than a true end of occupation that is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for realizing our goal of substantive equality and genuine democracy in Israel. We know that true friends do not reinforce your weaknesses, but bring out the best in you," she said.
"We see the same story unfolding here in the United States, where an outdated Jewish Establishment vilifies those in the Jewish community who dare to criticize Israel’s policies. This is why J Street is such a ground breaking organization, and why I am so proud to receive this honor tonight," Benninga added.
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost his three daughters in January 2009, and established “Daughters for life” foundation said, "I am moved and proud to be with you at this hopeful event. If only my daughters could come out of their grave and see that their blood wasn’t in vain."
"We need to live the human values. As a Muslim I swore to God and to my daughters not to rest, because I will meet them one day, and I want to bring them the gift – to bring justice. To solve our problems peacefully we have to change our course." Abuelaish said.
“Our enemies are greed, ignorance and that we don’t know each other. I truly believe that political solution of the conflicts is based on mutual recognition and two states for the two peoples." She said that one cannot be pro-Israeli without being pro-Palestinian.
After the frustrations of Oslo it is tempting to give up, said Abuelaish. "But giving up peace is not the answer. I believe in you. Have hope, have faith, but take action."
Hamas trying to get Egypt to lower anti-smuggling profile
Taking advantage of its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is attempting to cozy up to a future Islamist regime in Egypt, hoping that Egypt can be induced to let weapons flow freely into Gaza by way of the Rafah crossing.
1. On February 19 Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, contacted Sheikh Dr. Yussuf al-Qardawi and invited him to visit the Gaza Strip to hold prayers. He also congratulated al-Qardawi and the Egyptian people on "the victory of the revolution." Ismail Haniya expressed his personal appreciation and the appreciation of the Hamas administration for al-Qardawi's support of the Palestinian cause and for his call at the mass rally on February 18 for the lifting of the Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip. A Hamas website reported that al-Qardawi had accepted the invitation and promised to try to arrange a visit. He also praised the Gaza Strip's "firm stance" (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, February 19, 2011).
2. The previous day, February 18, Qardawi, who was expelled from Egypt in 1997 and found refuge in Qatar, appeared at a mass rally in Tahrir Square in Cairo and delivered the Friday sermon. His speech, which dealt with the Egyptian revolution, sent a message of unity between Muslims and Christians. However, he ended his speech with a call for the "liberation" of Al-Aqsa mosque and asked the Egyptian army to open the Rafah crossing and allow convoys to enter the Gaza Strip (Al-Jazeera TV, February 18, 2011).
3. In our assessment, Hamas is trying to make political capital from the recent events in Egypt, the strengthening of the Muslim Brotherhood and the return to Egypt of Sheikh al-Qardawi, the source of religious authority for Hamas (See Appendix I). That centers on bolstering Hamas' status with the Egyptian authorities, in the internal Palestinian arena (strengthening Hamas' position in its competition with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority) and in the Arab-Muslim world. In our assessment, Hamas is especially interested in having the Rafah crossing opened ("lifting the [so-called] siege") and in having Egypt lower the profile of its security activities regarding the smuggling-tunnel industry. That would make it easier for Hamas to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip via routes which pass through Egypt, which it regards as necessary for military buildup, both its own and that of the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
Israel fears Russian cruise missiles could end up in Hezbullah's hands
Three months ago, I reported on the sale of Yakhont land-to-sea cruise missiles from Russia to Syria and Israel's fear that they could end up in the hands of Hezbullah. Now, in light of the chaos throughout the Middle East, Israel and the United States are hoping that the Russians will cancel the deal.
"The question of these missiles' delivery to Syria really has triggered a negative reaction in Israel," the Israeli ambassador to Moscow, Dorit Golender, told the Interfax news agency.
"And this is understandable since Hizbullah has repeatedly used weapons that they received either from Lebanon or Syria."
"The contract is in the implementation stage," news agencies quoted Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying.
Russia initially agreed to send a large shipment of anti-ship Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria in 2007 under the terms of a controversial deal that was only disclosed by Serdyukov in September 2010.
The revelation infuriated both Israel and the United States and there had been speculation that Russia would decide to tear up the contract amid the current turmoil plaguing north Africa and the Middle East.
The disputed sale is believed to be worth at least $300 million and is meant to see Syria receive 72 cruise missiles in all.
Russia has not officially confirmed making any Yakhont deliveries to date.
An Egyptian delegation will visit Ramallah this week for the first time since Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was deposed. The delegation will meet with 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud AbbasAbu Mazen to discuss reconciliation with Hamas and the 'peace process.'
The official said that the delegation would be headed by Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim, a senior official with Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, the Mukhabarat.
The decision to dispatch the delegation to Ramallah was taken by the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Army, which has been entrusted with running the affairs of the country since Mubarak stepped down.
Nabil Amr, a former PA minister, said that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank was worried about the departure of Mubarak from the political scene.
“The Mubarak regime was a close ally of the Palestinian leadership and President Mahmoud Abbas,” he pointed out. “But now the Palestinian Authority is cautious because the Egyptians are preoccupied with internal problems and don’t have time for Palestinian reconciliation.”
I'm surprised this delegation is showing up at all. I would guess that it is doing so under a lot of pressure from the United States. The Egyptians have better things to do with their time right now, and even the 'Palestinians' know it.
NY Times reporters confirm that Tripoli is all you've heard about
The Libyan government reversed itself and decided to allow foreign reporters into the country on Friday night. And while the Libyans tried to keep control over where the reporters went, the truth eventually came out: Everything you have heard about the brutality in Tripoli is true.
Witnesses described snipers and antiaircraft guns firing at unarmed civilians. Many said security forces had been removing the dead and wounded from streets and hospitals, apparently in an effort to hide the mounting toll.
But when government-picked drivers escorted journalists on tours of the city on Saturday morning, the extent of the unrest was unmistakable. Workers were still hastily painting over graffiti calling Colonel Qaddafi a “bloodsucker” and demanding his ouster.
Just off the tour route were long bread lines where residents said they were afraid to be seen talking to journalists.
And though government forces dominated the city center — heavily armed checkpoints staked out downtown while orange-suited cleanup crews were out in force around the central Green Square — there were signs of defiance in other neighborhoods, where the streets were blocked by makeshift barricades of broken televisions, charred tree trunks and cinder blocks left over from protests and street fights the night before.
“I have seen more than 68, I think, people killed,” said a doctor who had been helping out at a neighborhood clinic in Tajoura and gave his name only as Hussein. “But the people who have died, they don’t leave them in the same place.
We have seen them taking them in the Qaddafi cars, and nobody knows where they are taking the people who have died.” He added, “Even the ones with just a broken hand or something they are taking away.”
In some ways, the mixed results of Colonel Qaddafi’s theatrical gamble — opening the curtains to the world with great fanfare, even though the stage is in near-chaotic disarray — are an apt metaphor for the increasingly untenable situation in the country.
There were unconfirmed reports Saturday that thousands of armed rebels from other regions of the country were marching toward Tripoli. Rebels have already taken over and held the eastern half of the populous coast. On Saturday, after days of fighting, they also reportedly took Sabratha, a town near the capital known for its Roman ruins.
At the birthplace of the revolt, in the eastern city of Benghazi, a group of senior military officers who had defected were forming a council to lead their troops against Colonel Qaddafi’s forces. One of them, an air force general, said three air bases had defected to the rebels, along with the region’s military police.
And the rebels said they were in the process of forming an interim government to oversee the areas no longer under Colonel Qaddafi’s control. It is expected to include Mustafa Mohamed Abd al-Jalil, a former justice minister who quit to join the insurrection and may now assume the role of interim prime minister.
“The temporary location of the government will be Benghazi, until the liberation of Tripoli,” said Iman Bugaighis, a spokeswoman for a coalition of antigovernment activists.
But so far, the protesters say, the rebel force heading for Tripoli has been stymied at Surt, a Qaddafi stronghold on the coastal road where his tribe is concentrated. In Tripoli, home to nearly two million of Libya’s roughly six and a half million people, Colonel Qaddafi and his special militias may have unleashed enough firepower to enable them to keep a firm grasp on the city for some time.
His plainclothes police and uniformed security forces appeared in control of most of the city’s largely deserted streets on Saturday, and there were unconfirmed reports that he was following through on his threats to distribute weapons to his supporters.
Clearly, both the rebels and Colonel Qaddafi appear to have the will and the wherewithal to fight on for some time.
The trend toward religious fundamentalism preceded the Hamas takeover. In recent years, hardliners have burned down the cinemas. Their charred remains are still visible in Gaza City. Militants blew up the last bar in 2005.
Gaza women, whose attire once varied from Western pants and skirts to colourful traditional embroidered robes, began donning ankle-length loose robes. Women with face veils, once rarely seen in Gaza, are now a common sight.
After winning the 2006 election, Hamas vowed it wouldn't impose Islamic law. But within two years, bureaucrats began ordering changes that targeted secular Gaza residents.
Today, plainclothes officers sometimes halt couples in the streets, demanding to see marriage licenses. Last year, the Interior Ministry banned women from smoking water pipes in public. Islamic faith does not ban women from smoking, but it is considered taboo in Gaza society.
"In the end, the people who think differently are leaving," said Rami, a 32-year-old activist in one of Gaza's few secular groups. He refused to give his last name, fearing retribution.
This is the danger that awaits every Arab Muslim country that is currently undergoing regime change. If the Islamists are successful, it will be back to the 8th century for most of this region, with religious wars aimed at Israel and at the region's few remaining Christians, and a continuing cycle of poverty in the countries currently undergoing regime change. If you think that those currently revolting won't tolerate it, recall how Wael Ghonim was treated in Cairo last Friday when he was barred from the stage when Yusuf al-Qaradawi was speaking. Imagine if this whole region becomes like Iran and Gaza.
'Your Muslim husband is a Jew'; when the Mossad got into the conversion business
This is an amazing story.
Fearful that the country's 'Israeli Arabs' would join in a war against Israel, in 1952, the Mossad planted ten Jewish immigrants from Iraq in 'Israeli Arab' villages to warn in case such an event took place. There was one small problem: The Mossad quickly came to the conclusion that in order to maintain their cover, the men would have to marry Arab women.
"Your husband is not who you think he is. He is not Arab. Your husband is a Jew who was sent into your village on a mission by the defense establishment." This was the news a few Israeli Arab women received from the head of the Mossad mission in France in 1964. This was how they discovered that the fathers of their children were serving in a top secret Israeli unit sent to spy in their villages.
The training process took one year; the men learned the Palestinian dialect, studied the Koran and espionage techniques in an Intelligence Corps base near Ramla. With a new identity and a detailed cover story, they were sent into Palestinian villages and cities. They pretended to be refugees from the 1948 war returning home. Their real families in Israel were kept in the dark about their whereabouts and activities; they were forbidden from trying to discover where their loved ones served.
After integrating into Arab life, village elders expected them to find a match, as per tradition. Senior Shin Bet personnel thought that the men should get married for the operation to succeed, but agreed to leave the decision up to the agents. Most of them did marry young Arab women.
"Our guys just didn't have a choice," Moriah says. "It seemed suspicious that young vigorous men would stay alone, without a spouse. When we sent them on the mission we didn't order them to marry, but it was clear to both sides that there is such an expectation, and that it would do the job better."
As many of you have probably heard already, on Saturday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved sanctions against the Gadhafi regime in Libya.
The United Nations Security Council approved the sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The sanctions include limitations on the movement of Gaddafi [and all of his children CiJ] and senior officials in his regime, the freezing of their assets, and the transfer of the handling of Gaddafi and his people to the International Court of Justice in The Hague on suspicion of war crimes.
The resolution also includes an arms embargo.
The unanimous vote means that Lebanon, which is an Arab country voted in favor, as did China, which debated exercising its veto, and decided to vote in favor. You might think that Gadhafi doesn't have a friend left in the world. You'd be wrong.
On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United Nations not to impose sanctions on Libya.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the United Nations not to impose sanctions on Libya, warning Saturday that the Libyan people would suffer most, not Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
Erdogan also suggested the international community might be acting more out of concern about Libya's oil reserves than about the welfare of the country's people.
"The people are already struggling to find food, how will you feed the Libyan people?" Erdogan asked. "Sanctions, an intervention, would force the Libyan people, who are already up against hunger and violence, into a more desperate situation."
"We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns," he said.
We heard that excuse with Iran and Iraq too.
Maybe Erdogan would like to do something constructive by convincing Gadhafi to accept an offer of asylum?
But what's most significant about Erdogan's statement is what it shows about Turkey. Turkey claims to be a Western country and continues to seek admission to the European Union. But Erdogan's statement shows that Turkey - or at least its leadership - is an Islamist country that should not be considered part of the West.
Bernard Lewis on the explosion of outrage in the Muslim world
94-year old Bernard Lewis is probably the World's foremost expert on Islam. This week, before an invited audience at the home of US ambassador to Israel James Cunningham, he had a lengthy conversation with Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz, parts of which are reprinted in Friday's JPost. Even the 'excerpts' are quite long. I will give you a very small excerpt of the excerpt and suggest that you read the whole thing.
Broadly speaking, the notion of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is much disputed – from being perceived as essentially benign, unthreatening, even secular, according to one remark (later corrected, by US National Intelligence Director James Clapper), to being perceived as a radical and terrible threat. How would you judge it?
To say that they’re secular would show an astonishing ignorance of the English lexicon. I don’t think [the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt] is in any sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical Islamic movement. If they obtain power, the consequences would be disastrous for Egypt.
I’m an historian. My business is the past, not the future. But I can imagine a situation in which the Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations of the same kind obtain control of much of the Arab world. It’s not impossible. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but it’s not unlikely.
And if that happens, they would gradually sink back into medieval squalor. Remember that according to their own statistics, the total exports of the entire Arab world other than fossil fuels amount to less than those of Finland, one small European country. Sooner or later the oil age will come to an end. Oil will be either exhausted or superseded as a source of energy and then they have virtually nothing. In that case it’s easy to imagine a situation in which Africa north of the Sahara becomes not unlike Africa south of the Sahara.
As we look at this region in ferment, how would you characterize what is unfolding now? Can we generalize about the uprisings that are erupting in the various countries? Is there a common theme?
There’s a common theme of anger and resentment. And the anger and resentment are universal and well-grounded. They come from a number of things. First of all, there’s the obvious one – the greater awareness that they have, thanks to modern media and modern communications, of the difference between their situation and the situation in other parts of the world. I mean, being abjectly poor is bad enough. But when everybody else around you is pretty far from abjectly poor, then it becomes pretty intolerable.
Another thing is the sexual aspect of it. One has to remember that in the Muslim world, casual sex, Western-style, doesn’t exist. If a young man wants sex, there are only two possibilities – marriage and the brothel. You have these vast numbers of young men growing up without the money, either for the brothel or the brideprice, with raging sexual desire. On the one hand, it can lead to the suicide bomber, who is attracted by the virgins of paradise – the only ones available to him. On the other hand, sheer frustration.
Tell us more about the nature of the Arab masses, their sense of their own religion, their sense of the agenda that Islam sets out for them.
Well, you see, two things have happened. One is that their position on the whole has been getting worse. The second, which is much more important, is that their awareness of that is getting much greater. As I said before, thanks to modern communications, they can now compare their own position with that in other countries. And they don’t have to look very far to do that. I have sat with friends in Arab countries, watching Israeli television, and their responses to that are mindboggling.
What is so striking to them?
One particular instance that I remember: There was a little Arab boy whose arm was broken by an Israeli policeman during a demonstration and he appeared the next day on Israeli television with a bandage on his arm, denouncing Israeli brutality. I was in Amman at the time, watching this. And sitting next to me was an Iraqi, who had fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and he looked at this with his jaw dropping and he said, “I would gladly let Saddam Hussein break both my arms and both my legs if he would let me talk like that on Iraqi television.”
If we have different potential Islamic paths that these peoples could now go down, how strong is a more moderate Muslim tradition? How likely is it that that would prevail? I ask you that because of your bleak characterization of the Muslim Brotherhood which, again, some experts claim is relatively benign.
I don’t know how one could get the impression that the Muslim Brotherhood is relatively benign unless you mean relatively as compared with the Nazi party.
There are other trends within the Islamic world which look back to their own glorious paths and think in other terms. There is a great deal of talk nowadays about consultation. That is very much part of the tradition.
The sort of authoritarian, even dictatorial regimes, that rule most of the countries in the modern Islamic Middle East, are a modern creation. They are a result of modernization. The pre-modern regimes were much more open, much more tolerant. You can see this from a number of contemporary descriptions. And the memory of that is still living.
It was a British naval officer called Slade who put it very well. He was comparing the old order with the new order, created by modernization. He said that “in the old order, the nobility lived on their estates. In the new order, the state is the estate of the new nobility.” I think that puts it admirably.
Are you leading toward the possibility that the unraveling of these modern, non-consultative regimes could return us to a genuine, potential, wider peopleto- people partnership between the Muslim world and the West? And if so, how do we go about achieving that?
The only time when they began to look favorably on outside alliances is when they see themselves as confronting a still greater danger. Sadat didn’t make peace because he was suddenly convinced of the merits of the Zionist case. Sadat made peace because Egypt was becoming a Soviet colony. He realized that on the best estimate of Israel’s power and on the worst estimate of Israel’s intentions, Israel was much less of a danger to Egypt than the Soviet Union at that time. That is why he set to work to make peace, and he was of course, right.
One sees similar calculations later than that. Consider for example, the battle between the Israeli forces and Hezbollah in 2006. It was quite clear that the Arab governments were quietly cheering the Israelis and hoping that they would finish the job and were very disappointed when they failed to finish the job. The best way of attaining friendship is by confronting a yet more dangerous enemy. There have been several such [enemies] in the Middle East and there are several at the present time. That seems to me the best hope of understanding between the Arabs on the one hand and either the West or the Israelis on the other hand.
People talk about American imperialism as a danger. That is absolute nonsense. People who talk about American imperialism in the Middle East either know nothing about America or know nothing about imperialism. American imperialism is a term which might justly be used to describe some of the processes by which the original 13 states increased to the present 50. But as applied to American policy in the Middle East at the present time, it is wrong to the point of absurdity. Take the classical examples of imperialism: When the Romans went to Britain 2,000 years ago, or when the British went to India 300 years ago, an exit strategy was not uppermost in their minds.
When you look around the region, which are the potential enemies which may be regarded as the greater threat?
At the moment, principally the Iranian revolution. On the one hand they’re afraid of what you might call Iranian imperialism, and on the other hand of the Iranian Shi’ite revolution.
The Sunni-Shi’ite question is obviously different according to which country you’re in. In a country like Iraq or Syria, where you have both Sunnis and Shia, the distinction between Sunni and Shia, the clashes between them, are very important. In a country like Egypt where there are no Shia, which is 100% Sunni, it’s not an important issue. They don’t see the Shia threat as an issue.
There’s one other group of people that I think one should bear in mind when considering the future of the Middle East, and that is women. The case has been made, and I think there is some force in it, that the main reason for the relative backwardness of the Islamic world compared to the West is the treatment of women. As far as I know, it was first made by a Turkish writer called Namik Kemal in about 1880. At that time an agonizing debate had been going on for more than a century: What went wrong? Why did we fall behind the West?
He said, “The answer is very clear. We fell behind the West because of the way we treat our women. By the way we treat our women we deprive ourselves of the talents and services of half the population. And we submit the early education of the other half to ignorant and downtrodden mothers.”
It goes further than that. A child who grows up in a traditional Muslim household is accustomed to authoritarian, autocratic rule from the start. I think the position of women is of crucial importance.
That is why I am looking with great interest at Tunisia. Tunisia is the one Arab country that has really done something about women. In Tunisia there is compulsory education for girls, from primary school, right through. In Tunisia, women are to be found in the professions. There are doctors, lawyers, journalists, politicians and so on. Women play a significant part in public life in Tunisia. I think that is going to have an enormous impact. It’s already having this in Tunisia and you can see that in various ways. But this will certainly spread to other parts of the world.
Elsewhere, the question of women and the role of the women is of crucial importance for the future of the Muslim world in general.
And so to the Israel question. Israel, like everybody else, was taken completely by surprise. How should Israel be responding to these protests?
Watch carefully, keep silent, make the necessary preparations.
And reach out. Reach out. This is a real possibility nowadays. There are increasing numbers of people in the Arab world who look with, I would even say, with wonderment at what they see in Israel, at the functioning of a free and open society. I read an article quite recently by a Palestinian Arab whom I will not endanger by naming, in which he said that “as things stand in the world at the present time, the best hope that an Arab has for his future is as a second class citizen of a Jewish state.” A rather extraordinary statement coming from an Arab spokesman. But if you think about it, he’s not far wrong. The alternative, being in an Arab state, is very much worse. They certainly do better as second class citizens of the Jewish state. There’s a growing realization of that. People would speak much more openly about that if it were safe to do so, which it obviously isn’t.
There are two things which I think are helpful towards a better understanding between the Arabs and Israel. One of them is the well-known one, of the perception of a greater danger, which I mentioned before. Sadat turned to Israel because he saw that Egypt was becoming a Russian colony. The same thing has happened again on a number of occasions. Now they see Israel as a barrier against the Iranian threat.
The other one, which is less easy to define but in the long run is probably more important, is [regarding Israel] as a model of democratic government. A model of a free and open society with rights for women – an increasingly important point, especially in the perception of women.
In both of these respects I think that there are some hopeful signs for the future.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-three years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 10 to 31 years and seven grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com