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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Sunday, March 18.
1) The Washington Post holds the Obama administration accountable

On March 2, the Washington Post ran an editorial, Egypt's Small Concession, about the release of the American NGO workers from Egypt. The editorial concluded:
The generals may suppose that freeing the Americans will be enough to preserve their aid money. It must not be. The Obama administration appears to recognize this: On Thursday, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the administration remained concerned about “the ultimate outcome of the legal process” and wanted to see the NGOs registered. Importantly, officials say that no decision will be made on continuing aid until April and that it will be based on a broad assessment of whether Egypt is moving toward democracy, as required by Congress.
The Obama administration has demonstrated that aid to the Egyptian military is not inviolate; it can and should be used as leverage to achieve a transition to democracy. Now the administration must see that transition through.
Late last week it was reported Despite Rights Concerns, U.S. Plans to Resume Egypt Aid.
The Obama administration plans to resume military aid to Egypt, American officials said on Thursday, signaling its willingness to remain deeply engaged with the generals now running the country despite concerns over abuses and a still-uncertain transition to democracy.
To restart the aid, which has been a cornerstone of American relations with Egypt for more than three decades, the administration plans on sidestepping a new Congressional requirement that for the first time directly links military assistance to the protection of basic freedoms.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to waive the requirement on national security grounds as soon as early next week, according to administration and Congressional officials. That would allow some, but not yet all of $1.3 billion in military aid this year to move forward, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so that they could discuss internal deliberations.
In other words the editorial's expressed confidence in the administration was misplaced.

Without much delay the Washington Post has followed up with A bad decision on Egypt:
After a year of turmoil, U.S. relations with Egypt’s political actors — from the military to the secular elite to the ascendant Islamist political parties — are shaky. A waiver would send the wrong message to all of them. It would confirm the widespread suspicion in Cairo that Washington cared only about its own citizens, not the underlying democratic principles in the NGO case. It would tell the military that, provided Americans are not harmed, it is free to persecute peaceful citizen activists and subvert the democratic transition. It would cruelly break faith with those Egyptians who went to work in U.S.-funded democracy and human rights programs and now will face an unjust trial alone.
The Washington Post has been pretty consistent in its criticisms of President Obama's foreign policy.

2) On "Judaizing" Jerusalem
You haven't heard Shakespeare until you've heard it in the original Klingon.
Chancellor Gorkon - "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country"
In one of its more blatant attempts to rewrite history, on a recent television program, the Palestinian Authority claimed that "If I forget thee, Jerusalem ..." is from the Crusaders, not a part of the Bible. (It is from Psalms, chapter 137.) Palestinian Media Watch reports:
The purpose of the current PA TV song may be to generate Palestinian feelings for "ancient Palestinian roots" in Jerusalem while denying Jewish history there. PMW reported on a PA TV broadcast of an interview with a Palestinian historian who told the audience that the term "If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem" was not from the Bible, but was a crusader term misappropriated by modern Zionism to falsify a Jewish connection to Jerusalem.
Along these lines, Yedidia Atlas writes (via Daled Amos)
“Jerusalem” is mentioned 669 times in the Jewish Bible (Tanach). It does not appear at all in the Koran or in Islamic prayers. Islam’s founder and prophet Mohammad never visited Jerusalem, and no mosque was built there until 682 CE, when the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman Abd al-Malik built the mosque on the Temple Mount to create from scratch an alternative holy site after Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Islamic rulers in Damascus, conquered Mecca and prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca for the hajj. And even then, Jerusalem never served as the seat of any Islamic political entity. In fact, after the Arab/Islamic conquest of the region, the aforementioned Umayyad Caliph subsequently built the city of Ramla in 705 CE and his appointees ruled the region from there, not Jerusalem.
While the Caliph called the mosque “al-Aqsa”, claiming after the fact that this was the “al-Aqsa mosque referred to in the Koran, as “the further mosque” where Mohammad prayed, this was merely a political contrivance due to the rebellion of al-Zubayr who then controlled Mecca. As Dr. Mordechai Kedar noted in a 2008 article in Yediot Ahronot, Islamic tradition in fact tells us that the aforementioned “al-Aqsa mosque” referred to in the Koran is actually near Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula.
“Islamic tradition tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula. This was unequivocally stated in “Kitab al-Maghazi,” a book by the Muslim historian and geographer al-Waqidi,” Dr. Kedar writes. “According to al-Waqidi, there were two “masjeds” (places of prayer) in al-Gi’irranah, a village between Mecca and Ta’if – one was “the closer mosque” (al-masjid al-adna) and the other was “the further mosque” (al-masjid al-aqsa,) and Muhammad would pray there when he went out of town."
This is consistent with Ehud Rosen's report, The Global March to Jerusalem: Part of the International Campaign to Delegitimize Israel:
Over the past few years there has been a Palestinian campaign which focuses on the so-called "Judaization" of Jerusalem. A number of related topics have been raised recently in what appears to be an orchestrated campaign initiated by leading figures in the PA, Hamas, and Muslim Brotherhood.
On February 24, 2012, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh delivered a sermon in Cairo at the prominent Al-Azhar Mosque, in which he reportedly stated: "We paid a lot in blood in order to keep Jerusalem an Arabic and Islamic city. The Arab Spring brought the Islamic nation to the threshold of the city of Jerusalem."3
On the same weekend, a large conference on the defense of Jerusalem was held in Qatar under the patronage of the Arab League,4 featuring what has been called "an unprecedented coalition against Israel."5 This is the second Arab League conference on the topic; the first took place in Sirte, Libya, in March 2010, hosted by the country's late president Gaddafi.6 The current conference reportedly7 featured the Qatari emir, politicians, and diplomats from other Middle East countries, secretaries-general of both the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Sheikh Qaradawi and various other figures from the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,8 Arab-Israeli MKs, senior Fatah and PA figures including President Abbas, and several rabbis from the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group. In addition, eight UN officials from various departments attended, as well as Western politicians and academics, representatives of far-left political groups, and at least one Western individual, Prof. Hans Köchler, president of the Vienna-based International Progress Organization (IPO), tied to both the European far-right and far-left.9
Generally claiming that Jerusalem has been of central importance to Islam (or specifically that it is mentioned in the Koran) isn't simply an innocent flight of self-deception, it is part of a larger effort to delegitimize Israel. (h/t Israel Matzav)

Those who wish to minimize the importance of Jerusalem to Jews (and inflate it for Muslims) have an agenda in mind. The point is not greater harmony between Israel and its neighbors.

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