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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Charles Malik: The West Is the Problem

Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools.

Charles Malik was a former president of the UN General Assembly, a former foreign minister of Lebanon, and a professor of philosophy. He was not only a knowledgeable insider in world politics but had the intellect to understand what was happening in a historical perspective. Malik was deeply disappointed by the West's failure to defend Lebanon as --in part and imperfectly-- an outpost of Western civilization in the Middle East. In 1984 he wrote an op ed in the Wall Street Journal where he stated:
For months now the world has been focusing on Lebanon as a problem. The problem is not Lebanon or the importance of Lebanon. The problem is the West. Indeed, the importance of Lebanon is precisely that it raises the problem of the West. Lebanon would never have been a problem if the West itself were not the problem. And the West is not only the problem but also the solution. That is its singular greatness. And the solution is to be true to the deepest value of the West: the primacyof the spirit and the freedom of the soul. [WSJ 3-28-1984]
To confirm what Malik wrote, Lee Smith points out how US policy [he refers mainly to the Obama administration] has befriended the Syrian Assad regime despite its many many offenses against the United States and against Americans:
To survive, Damascus needs the world to ignore what it is up to. It particularly needs indifference in Washington, where the Obama administration has seemed sadly oblivious to the fact that what a regime does at home is indicative of how it will act abroad—or, in the case of Syria, a state sponsor of terror and ally of Iran, how it has acted over the last 40 years, targeting especially American citizens, interests, and allies.
For all that, the administration just wants the Syria issue, the uprising, the opposition, to go away. It would prefer not to deal with it and thus has come up with all sorts of excuses to do just that.
It was five months, and many thousand dead, into the uprising before Obama called on Assad to step down. Instead of leading, the president tasked Syria policy out to Turkey, then to the Arab League, which sent a monitoring delegation led by a former Sudanese intelligence chief suspected of war crimes in Darfur.
Smith goes farther. He argues that its position on Syria, since it asked Assad to leave office, does not indicate real opposition to Assad but rather reluctance to see the Assad clan's fall. Smith raises the question of where the Obama administration and the State Dept really stand:
Unfortunately, the White House has painted itself into a corner. Because the administration has never really wanted to see Assad fall, it has talked only of stopping the violence . . . , with the unstated provision that once the murders stop, the murderer still rules. . . .
The question of where Obama & Co. really stand arises concerning the Iranian nuke bomb project as well. Bear in mind that Iran's ayatollahs are major supporters of the Assad regime and vice versa:
What’s odd is that the White House has let on, through various media surrogates, that it may come to accept the inevitability of the Iranian nuclear program and move toward a policy of containment and deterrence. . . . In its dithering on Syria, the administration shows a lack of seriousness in dealing with Iran. . . .
Yet the Assad regime, going back to 1983 at least, has a record of killing offcial Americans as well as American troops in both Lebanon and Iraq:
Under Assad the Damascus airport was a jihadist transport hub from which foreign fighters were either bused directly to the Iraqi border to fight U.S. troops, or warehoused in Syrian prisons until they could be put to some use. Washington knew very well that Syrian intelligence was working with al Qaeda because it had evidence of it in the Sinjar documents, showing that 90 percent of the foreign fighters in Iraq were coming through Syria. When a series of suicide bombings killed hundreds of Iraqis in the fall of 2009, the Obama administration hushed Iraqi officials who pointed a finger at Damascus. In other words, al Qaeda’s position in Syria was a problem U.S. officials were content to ignore when, with the help of Assad’s intelligence agents, the organization was killing American troops and Iraqis. But now the fact that al Qaeda elements, which may still be under the control of Syrian intelligence, are targeting regime installations, is a reason not to support the opposition [here Smith is pointing at Obama administration hypocrisy]. . . . The regime in Damascus that has so much Syrian blood on its hands also, along with its allies in Iran and Hezbollah, has killed many thousands of Americans. In Lebanon, U.S. Marines, diplomats, and intelligence officials were slaughtered by Iranian and Syrian assets; in Iraq, the Syrians and Iranians backed both Sunni and Shia fighters in their war against American troops, leaving almost 5,000 dead and many more thousands wounded [The Weekly Standard, 5 March 2012]
So the Assad regime in Syria has been an enemy of the United States and of Americans, including rank and file soldiers plus diplomats and intelligence officials. Yet the Syrian Assad regime was being coddled by the State Dept in the mid-1970s, under Kissinger and since then. The Baker-Hamilton Report drawn up for the Bush 2 administration in about 2006 recommended helping solve all Middle Eastern problems by pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights to Assad-ruled Syria. Apparently, Israel's welfare was secondary to Assad regime welfare. Or just how does one explain the situation that Lee Smith describes together with my extending the picture of Washington indulgence of the Assads back to the mid-1970s?

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cash Short EU Gives Greece Ultimatum, While Donating Liberally to the PLO/PA

REVISED, LINKs ADDED 2-20&3-19&20-2012

Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools

On February 7, this year, the EU announced a grant of funds to the Palestinian Authority, as reported by the PLO/PA's press agency, WAFA:
The European Union and Sweden Tuesday contributed €24.7 million to the payment of the January salaries and pensions of around 84,300 Palestinian civil servants and pensioners in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, according to an EU press release.

The European Commission made €22.5 million contribution and Sweden made €2.2 million. [here]

The next day Luxembourg, an EU member state, announced a donation of 15 million euros to the UNRWA, also for the benefit of Palestinian Arabs:

". . . in order to bring aid to the Palestinian people. . . The UNRWA which carries out remarkable and still indispensable work on behalf of 5 million [sic!] Palestinian refugees, is Luxembourg's principal partner in matters of aid to the Palestinian people,"
quoth the Luxembourg development minister.

A significant point about this aid was made by UNRWA's commissioner-general, Filippo Grandi:
In these times of political and economic uncertainty, both in this region [the ME] and worldwide, Luxembourg's increasing commitment in favor of our work is welcome. [original below]

Le Luxembourg donne 15 millions d'euros à l'UNRWA pour "porter assistance au peuple palestinien" Le Luxembourg a annoncé mercredi qu'il faisait un don de 15 millions d'euros à l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations Unies pour les "réfugiés de Palestine" au Proche-Orient (UNRWA). L'accord a été signé par la ministre luxembourgeoise du Développement Marie-Josée Jacobs et le commissaire général de l'UNRWA, Filippo Grandi. "En ces temps d'incertitude politique et économique tant dans cette région que globalement, l'engagement croissant du Luxembourg en faveur de notre travail est le bienvenu", a déclaré Grandi. "L'UNRWA, qui poursuit son travail remarquable et encore indispensable au service de 5 millions de Palestiniens réfugiés, est le principal partenaire du Luxembourg lorsqu'il s'agit deporter assistance au peuple palestinien", a affirmé la ministre Jacobs. [Guysen News, 2-8-2012]
These are times of political and economic uncertainty indeed. Greece, a fellow member of the EU, is on the verge of bankruptcy, partly of its own doing and partly due to very mistaken policies of the EU [led by Germany] since 2010 and of the International Monetary Fund [since Christine Lagarde took over] to force a severe austerity program on Greece as a supposed remedy for its economic ills, while not providing Greece with a facility for borrowing funds at reasonable rates of interest, particularly without implementing the eurobonds idea, and thereby ensuring that Greece would not be able to pay off its ever increasing sovereign debt. That is, without growth and without a way to borrow at reasonable rates Greece could neither grow economically nor pay its debts. Failure of the "rescue plan" was foreseen by some economists back in 2010.

Nevertheless, all the while, economic experts from the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF [since Lagarde's takeover] have been making all sorts of demands on Greece. Among them Greece must cut the minimum wage by 22% [according to Natalie Savaricas, France24], cut 150,000 public sector jobs by 2015 [in a country of ca. 9 million pop.], accept a commissioner from abroad for the tax administration, and reduce public health service reimbursements for purchases of medicine, etc. Germany moreover, wanted an outside commissioner to veto Greek government policies, which the EU Commission has not yet agreed to.

Meanwhile, the PA is faring much differently.

The European Commission's contribution comes from the €155 million package of financial assistance to the recurrent expenditures of the Palestinian Authority committed for 2012, said the release.

The European Commission agreed to a request by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to frontload €116.2 million of this package in the first five months of 2012 in order to help the Palestinian Authority meet its urgent financial needs.

The €2.2 million contribution by the Swedish Government is part of its continuous support to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.

Most of the European Union's assistance to the Palestinian Authority is channeled through PEGASE, the financial mechanism launched in 2008 to support the PA Reform and Development Plan (2008-2010) and the subsequent PA Palestinian National Plan (2011-2013).

Since February 2008, €1.23 billion have been disbursed through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programs. [here]

No mention here of austerity. No demands to reduce expenditures, let's say, on the PA's print & broadcast media which regularly spread genocidal hatred of Jews. No talk of a special commissioner to oversee tax collection. No demand by Germany for a commissioner with power to veto Palestinian Authority policies. If there is accountability to the EU for funds spent or if there is EU supervision of fund disbursement, then why are there Nazi-like propaganda and genocide incitement in Palestinian Authority institutions: TV, radio, official PA newspapers, schools, mosques, etc.?? Yet, the Greeks are held to standards and demands are made of them. But no ultimatums for Arabs. It doesn't bother anybody at the EU that many if not most of the PA's civil servants are superfluous and indeed some of them are involved in creating and spreading hate propaganda against Jews or in terrorism now or in the past. Yet Greece is to fire 150,000 civil servants.

Furthermore, after the Greek parliament followed the government in accepting the demands of the EU, ECB, and IMF, new obstacles were raised to Greece getting the needed and promised funds. And one of those holding up the funds was very conspicuously Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Euro Zone, the EuroGroup, who also just so happens to be prime minister of Luxembourg, which was so happy to be helpful and accommodating with the Palestinian Authority by supplying additional funds to UNRWA.

Indeed, helping the PA/PLO seems to be a paramount, supreme policy of the EU. It may also be EU policy to make propaganda against Israel, considering the many millions in subsidies by the EU and member states to Arab and pro-Arab/pro-PLO/anti-Israel NGOs that carry out propaganda and agitate against Israel. We don't hear of reductions in funds for the PA and the pro-PA NGOs despite the Euro debt crisis.

Meanwhile, Greece is treated differently. Moreover, it is not the only EU country in financial trouble. Ireland and Portugal too have received EU bail out funds, while Spain and Italy are under watch for fear of financial collapse, while Belgium, France and even Germany are seen as not entirely healthy financially, as under potential threat. The EU & its member states need money. Lots of it. But there is room for funding for the Palestinian Authority --cheerfully and helpfully with few or no questions asked.

So what explains the differential treatment of the Palestinian Authority and of Greece by the EU? The PA produces little, its economy is mainly based on donations from the EU, USA, wealthy Arab states and Japan. Much of its employed work force works for the PA administration and "security" services. Its corruption is notorious. It spreads hatred and incites war and genocide through its press, TV, radio, schools, and govt-supervised mosques. Meanwhile, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs commissioner, is eager to see a PLO/PA state created, whether or not it makes peace with Israel. Why are the PA and Greece treated differently?

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Bernard-Henri Levy BHL on the Greek debt crisis.
Executive of the German firm Bosch wants Greece out of the EU [or only out of the eurozone?]
Paul Krugman thinks the EU failed to solve the crisis, partly due to their arrogance.
Charles Wyplosz points out six mistakes of Germany's finance minister.
Sarkozy & Merkel make demands on Greece [here--see video]

Qui links are in Italian, Ici links in French:
Wolfgang Schaeuble, German finance minister, speaks out against Athens [qui]
Jacques Attali on the Eurocrisis & Germany's role [ici]
The Troika's demands on Greece as of 30 January 2012 [qui]
Athens accepts cuts [qui]
Krugman's solution, print money, among other things [qui]
Economist Charles Wyplosz criticizes German dictates to the EU & Greece [qui]
The EU wants guarantees from Greece[qui]
Economist Jose Antonio Ocampo finds fault with Schaeuble and German policy [qui]
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3-19-2012 Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, displays --in her shallow & pedestrian manner-- her warm sympathies for the Arab cause and for the notion of an Arab state in the Land of Israel, while drawing an absurd parallel between youth in Gaza and the Jewish victims of the massacre today in Toulouse, France.
The EU & Catherine Ashton unblock another 35 million euros for the palestinian authority in an agreement with PA prime minister Salem Fayyad.
3-20-2012 Jonathan Tobin comments on Catherine Ashton's fatuous comparison of children deliberately murdered in Toulouse & Norway [by Breivik last year] with Belgian children killed in a bus accident and with Gazan children who may have died as a byproduct of wars and battles started by the Islamists in Gaza in their endeavors to murder Israeli civilians, including children.
Jonathan Neumann sees Ashton's fatuousness as allowing us a peek at the EU's real anti-Israel agenda and proving once again that the EU cannot be an "honest broker" between Jews and Arabs.
Elliott Abrams points out that despite Ashton's claim to have been misunderstood, "her remarks quite obviously drew a parallel." She did not explicitly deny --in her response to criticism-- that she sees a parallel between the accidental deaths of the Belgian children, unquestionably tragic, with the deliberate murder of Jewish children in Toulouse and Arab children in Gaza who are often used as human shields. For Abrams, this failure to explicitly deny a parallel confirms that she indeed wanted to draw a parallel, however false it may have been. She may be too stupid to understand this.
Walter Z Laqueur demonstrates the foolish illusions of the admirers of the EU and the "Arab Spring."

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

The "Arab Spring" Teaches Lessons about the Past

UPDATING 2-9&11&12&14&25-2012 at bottom

Anti-Zionism is the anti-imperialism of fools.

Let's take the "Arab Spring" at face value. It is a struggle for freedom & democracy by peoples long oppressed by their own governments. Let's overlook the cultural pathologies that infect both Arab regimes/dictatorships and Arab peoples. Taking this supposed Arab version of the 1848 "Springtime of the Nations" at face value, we are left with the indisputable fact that Arab regimes have terribly oppressed their peoples. But this was a fact many years ago.

In 1982, Syria's Assad regime, then led by young Bashar's father, Hafiz, slaughtered thousands in the rebel-dominated city of Hama [Muslim Brotherhood rebels]. Estimates of those slaughtered range from 10,000 to 40,000. On June 27, 1980, about 800 political prisoners were released from the Syrian prison at the Palmyra oasis [Tadmor in Hebrew, Tadmur in Arabic]. They were released from the jail and were walking towards a place to catch buses. While walking on the road they were attacked by helicopter gunships and slaughtered, two years before Hama [see another version of the massacre here]. Even Tom Friedman, that notorious apologist for Arab cruelty and ruthlessness, used the Hama incident as a metaphor for all Middle Eastern cruelty and ruthlessness. He calls them: Hama Rules.

So the ruthless cruelty and barbarity, the murderousness of the Assad regime, were known --at least to those who wanted to know-- thirty years ago. The regime was quite capable of slaughtering fellow Arabs. Even the supposed cherished darlings of the Arabs, the Palestinian Arab refugees. Robert Hatem, a militiaman in Lebanon, wrote in a book that Syria was behind the Sabra-Shatila massacre of Palestinian Arabs in Beirut (1982) through the instrumentality of his own leader, Elie Hobeika, a Christian Phalangist militia leader secretly in the service of Hafiz Assad.

In the 1970s, Hafiz Assad had the Lebanese political leader Kamal Jumblatt --father of Walid Jumblatt-- assassinated. These assassinations were repeated in the year 2005 and since in Lebanon, starting with Rafiq Hariri, former Lebanese prime minister. Hariri's murder has been attributed to Hizbullah operatives by the International Tribunal for Lebanon. But the Lebanese know that Hizbullah operates in the service of Syria & Iran. The top terrorist of Hizbullah, `Imad Mughniyyah, lived outside Lebanon in Damascus under Assad regime protection [until his own assassination in February 2008].

Again, Assad regime murderousness has been no secret for 35 years or more. Yet Assad's Syria has been in good odor at the UN "human rights" commission and at its replacement, the "human rights" Council. Western "Leftists" and Western haters of Israel flocked to Damascus to pay homage to Assad Senior and Junior. George Galloway, the British hater of Israel and toady to Arab dictators, openly admired the Assad regime and sought its aid for an alleged "humanitarian" operation to "Free Gaza" and shame Israel in world public opinion through a "Gaza Freedom Flotilla." Likewise, the American Friends Service Committee, the social action arm of the Quaker Church [Society of Friends] and recipient of US Govt funds, was eager to carry out a "Free Gaza Flotilla" against Israel, denouncing Israel's partial blockade of Gaza which was and is ruled by Hamas, an Islamist, jihadist terrorist organization which happens to have its headquarters in --you guessed it-- Syria where the top Hamas leadership enjoyed Assad regime protection and sponsorship. In other words, Westerners who supposedly and avowedly wanted to liberate Arabs collaborated with the butchers of Arabs [and of Jews too, of course]. Michael Rubin points out the AFSC's hypocrisy here. Rubin asks: "Where's the Syria Flotilla?" We have not heard of Galloway or the AFSC or the Free Gaza gang or the "International Solidarity Movement" organizing a Free Syria Flotilla or doing anything to alleviate the suffering of Syrian Arabs, although every day lately brings reports of scores or even hundreds killed in Homs and elsewhere in Syria by those whom Galloway obsequiously called the defenders of Arab dignity.

Not only "human rights" fakers but diplomats and high ranking politicians in the West have been eager to win the favor of the Assads, Senior and Junior both. Several years ago, James Baker, a Bush-family hanger on, secretary of state for the first Prez Bush, got together with Lee Hamilton, a former US congressional representative and mentor to Prez Obama, drawing up a report that envisioned Israel surrendering the Golan Heights --which enjoyed a large Jewish population in Roman times and overlooks Israeli towns and the Sea of Galilee-- to Syria under Junior Assad. Israeli surrender of the Golan to Syria would supposedly do wonders for American interests in the Middle East, including stopping Syrian aid for terrorists attacking American troops in Iraq. In February 2008, Zbigniew Brzezinski, another Obama mentor and Prez Jimmy Carter's national insecurity advisor, went to Damascus to notify the Assad regime that Obama in the White House would mean a friend of theirs in power in Washington. Providentially, while Zbig was in Damascus, arch-terrorist mass murderer `Imad Mughniyyah was assassinated there.

Another Washington well-wisher of the Assads was Martin Indyk, ex-US ambassador to Israel, who tried to arrange a meeting in Damascus in 2009 for high-ranking Americans with Junior Assad and other regime personalities. One of those that Indyk wanted to bring to meet Assad was former US president, Bill Clinton, of "I-did-not-have-sex-with-that-woman fame." Fortunately, for whatever reason, the meeting did not come off.

To be sure, not all of the friends and would-be friends of the Assad regime or its allied Iranian regime are Americans or British, far from it. The Turkish intelligence chief obtained custody of Iranians fighting in Syria to suppress the uprising in behalf of the regime --and captured by rebels. He released them back to Iran after their capture in Syria. He was working in collaboration with the Turkish jihadist organization, IHH, tied to the present Turkish govt and sponsor of the "Free Gaza Flotilla" of 2010, and which in particular had sent the jihadist thugs on the Mavi Marmara --a ship under lease to it-- who attacked Israeli naval commandos who had boarded the ship to enforce the anti-Hamas blockade of Gaza. Michael Rubin commented: "The IHH may describe itself as a humanitarian organization, but in practice, its main goal is to provide aid and comfort to terrorists."

There is no "Free Syria Flotilla" by the usual "human rights" campaigners against Israel. There is no counterpart of the "Goldstone Commission" for Syria, no fact-finding mission to Syria sent by the UN "human rights" Council as was sent to Gaza.

Just in the past week, on February 5, while Syrian civilians were being slaughtered, bombarded with artillery shells in Homs, Human Rights Watch held a press conference in Jerusalem at the usual location for such events --the American Colony Hotel-- to denounce alleged Israeli abuses of Arab human rights. On that same day, this story was the top main item on the HRW homepage. But we see no comparable actions on the part of HRW in favor of Syrian Arab victims of their own government. [UPDATING: on 9 February this neglect of the story of civilians being slaughtered in Homs was finally corrected. On that day the story went up as the top item. However, the agony of Homs under bombardment had been going on for weeks. No urgency on HRW's part, of course]

We see that for decades, Western powers and other great powers, including Washington, were quite willing, indeed eager, to be friends with the Syrian Assad regime. All that time, wild, crude mendacious Judeophobia, implicitly genocidal, was emanating from Damascus against the Jews and Israel, including endorsement of the 1840 ritual murder libel in Damascus against the local Jewish community. This Judeophobia did not deter either the EU or USA from befriending the Assad regime. And some liars and some lunatics in the West believe that Israel controls Western policy.

Furthermore, we see that among those who worked against Israel in the name of humanitarianism and peace and human rights --as in the Gaza Flotilla/Mavi Marmara affair-- there was and still is a cynical disregard of humanitarianism and peace and human rights when Arabs oppress fellow Arabs, slaughter fellow Arabs, deny rights to fellow Arabs, and so on. So the real motive of the "peace," "human rights" and "humanitarian" assaults on Israel in the past was not as advertised. Can we exclude the possibility that humanitarian concern, and so forth, for Palestinian Arabs concealed and conceals rancorous Judeophobia and contempt for the rights and welfare of Arabs --as well as of Jews??

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UPDATING 2-9-2012
Lessons about past indictments and excoriations of Israel on moralistic grounds:
1- The Western press and electronic media have in the past minimized the severity and horror of Arab govt assaults on their own peoples. This can be applied to Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and of course Syria.
2- Western "human rights" and "peace" campaigners have neglected to a great extent Arab govt oppression and brutality against their own peoples. Western governments have done the same for decades, in step with their own "Leftist," "human rights" and "humanitarian" groups, or perhaps the moralistic "civil society" groups in Western lands were in step with their own governments.
3- Therefore, the Western moralizers, whether in govt or in civil society groups cared little for the human rights and welfare of Arabs if this could not be blamed on Israel. Therefore, the moralistic attacks on Israel were pretexts for Judeophobia.

Palmyra prison massacre of June 27, 1980. According to the French press that I read around that time, the prisoners were killed by helicopter gunships. Another version has troops entering the prison and killing the prisoners in their cells.
2-11-2012 Lee Smith uncovers the shameless toadying of Western elites, journalists, & academics to the Assads, father & son & their hangers-on [here]
2-12-2012 The late Franklin H Littell wrote back in 1990 [Jerusalem Post, 10-28] about Syrian slaughter of several hundred prisoners of war by the Syrian army. This was accomplished in October 1989 when the Syrian army --commanded by today's Assad regime-- was crushing [with US State Dept approval] the last remnants of Lebanese independence. The troops slaughtered were Lebanese army troops under General Aoun. These were Lebanese army troops, once again, and they had surrendered to the superior force and armaments of the Syrian invaders. Slaughtering them was clearly a violation of international law, but that did not matter to the "international community." Yet this "community," the UN, the Arab League, EU, the OIC, US, did not complain. International law, which is so often brought up when it seems that violations can be imputed to Israel, was largely disregarded worldwide when Syria clearly violated the international laws of war. The horror of the lack of international response or reprimand at that time is not lessened by the fact that Aoun has since switched sides since returning from France in 2005, apparently seeing no way for Lebanon to free itself from Syrian-Hizbullah domination and choosing joining the enemy as the safest course, that is, he likely saw allying with Syria and its Hizbullah catspaws as the safest course.

Fundamentally, Aoun was acquiescing to the pro-Syrian position throughout the years of the Great Powers, the UN, EU, etc. Franklin Littell points out the pro-Syrian policy of President Bush I which was not much different from that of Obama until embarassment over Assad regime brutality pushed Obama to demanding that Assad leave office several months after he had begun slaughtering his own civilian population. It took Obama and Hilary several months to realize --or to acknowledge-- what was going on. Until Assad's brutality in his own country was obvious to all, Obama and Hilary had always referred to him sympathetically [Assad was "a reformer"], as previous administrations had done for his father. Franklin Littell wrote in 1990 about Syrian completion of the takeover of Lebanon in October 1990:
"For an American, a most wretched aspect is the role the White House and State Department have played. They threw away a stable Lebanon, rescued from terrorist invaders [by Israel] when it was handed to them in 1982 [by Israel]. They apparently gave the signal to Assad that the US would not interfere. Assad [Senior], like Hitler in 1938 at the time of the Austrian Anschluss, had nothing to fear from the world." [Jerusalem Post, 28 October 1990]. Note that the American president at that time was not Obama but his supposed Republican antithesis, George Bush I.
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2-25-2012 Martin Sherman uses current events in Syria & Egypt to show the foolishness of Israeli leaders in the past.

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Thursday, February 02, 2012

What Motivates Arabs & Muslims in the Struggle against Israel?

The Muslim religion has been a chief motivating factor for Arabs opposing a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. The Ottoman Empire settled Europeans in Israel in the late 19th century and they were welcomed by the local Muslim Arabs. Why? Because they were Muslims. The Ottoman state, in which Arabs --including Palestinian Arabs-- held high posts was a Sunni Muslim state. When the European great powers at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 assigned Austria-Hungary to take over Bosnia --then as now dominated by the Muslim minority-- from the Ottoman state, many of the Bosnian Muslims did not want to remain in Bosnia that was coming under Austro-Hungarian --that is, infidel-- rule. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims were resettled elsewhere in Ottoman territory, including a couple of thousand in Israel. They were welcomed as fellow Muslims, although they did not speak Arabic and many of them were blonds.

On the other hand, Jews were coming to Israel in the same period from many parts of the Jewish Diaspora, from Ukraine, Belarus and Rumania [an Ottoman possession up to 1878] as well as from Yemen, Morocco, Georgia, Bukhara, Iraq and so forth. Indeed, the Arab-Muslims were not so much opposed to Jews immigrating into the country in the 19th century, as they were to Jews having power, Jews not acting like inferior, oppressed and humiliated dhimmis. As long as Jewish immigrants knew their place --their inferior place-- as Jews, and paid the Islamically ordained head tax on non-Muslims, the jizya, they were treated with the usual contempt but not prevented from immigrating. However, the jizya and some of the other disabilities on dhimmis in Muslim law were abolished in the late 19th century due to European pressure on the Ottoman Empire. The local Muslim resentment of Jews increased years after abolition of the jizya and of the full dhimma [parts of the dhimma remained in effect] in the last decade of the century. Abolition of the dhimma was part of the reason for the resentment.

When the Arab League secretary general, Abdul-Rahman Azzam Pasha, threatened Jews with war if a Jewish state were set up [October 1947], he spoke in terms of a jihad lasting scores of years, like the crusader wars and the Mongol invasions. He spoke in terms of Muslim volunteers --not only Arabs-- coming from far flung zones of the domain of Islam in order to fight the Jews. Why was this so?

Robert Reilly has explained the core motives for Muslim opposition to a Jewish state within any borders. Reilly attempts to:
elucidate the source of Arab intransigence in refusing to reach an accommodation with Israel short of the restoration of all that was lost in the repeated attempts to destroy it. In fact, even that restoration may not be enough. Anyone familiar with Al Manar (. . .) TV and the general propaganda against Israel throughout the Middle East might reasonably ask if there are any conditions under which the Arab world would allow Israel to continue to exist, other than by the strength of its own arms. And if not, why not? Organizations such as Hamas, quoted above, and Hezbollah repeatedly make clear that the real problem is the very existence of Israel. But why is this a problem, and is its nature political or religious and theological? If it is the former, a negotiated settlement may be possible. If it is the latter, this is highly unlikely, if not impossible. Which is it? The answers to these questions must be sought in the heart of Islamic revelation – in the Qur’an.

Islam says nothing about states, only peoples, and these it defines through religion. How does Islam regard Judaism? In Surah 5, Allah says that He established a Covenant with the Jews and gave them His revelation. The Jews possessed the Holy Land by virtue of this Covenant. But then the Qur’an cites the offence for which the Jews are forever cursed: “they changed my words.” The Jews changed God’s words; they changed His revelation. One can only appreciate how great and unforgivable this offence is by grasping the orthodox Muslim understanding that the Qur’an has co-existed eternally with God, in heaven, in Arabic, exactly as it exists today. Within this understanding of the Qur’an, the enormity of the Jewish offence becomes clear as a blasphemous act of colossal pride, for which they lost their right to the Holy Land.

Therefore, the Jewish claim to, and exercise of, sovereignty over the Holy Land and, indeed, sovereignty over some Muslims there, on the basis of Surah 5, is an incalculable offense and, for many Muslims, simply unacceptable. This is what drives the animus against Israel’s very existence. Until someone comes up with a new interpretation of Surah 5 that is widely accepted in the Muslim world, it is hard to have a great deal of hope for the sort of peace in the Middle East that we see in Europe.

If Jewish sovereignty in Israel is incompatible with the Qur’an, the rest becomes clear. Then one sees why, when Gaza was given the chance for self-rule, it was not used to display Palestinian capacity and desire for the rule of law and democratic constitutional government, but was turned into a weapons platform against Israel. It is why, at the 2000 Camp David summit, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat turned down Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of more than 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem, without even bothering to make a counter offer. By proffering a Palestinian state and substantial reparations, Israel was interested in ending the conflict. Arafat was interested in using the conflict to end Israel. Little has changed since then, including the recent Palestinian attempt to declare a state unilaterally.

Reilly contradicts the usual hokum about the Arab struggle against Israel being motivated by nationalist causes, hatred of "European colonialists" or "European intruders" [as if the Jews living in Europe were simply considered "Europeans" by the majority of Europeans], and so on. As I noted at the beginning, the Arab Muslims in the country welcomed the settlement of Europeans in the country provided that they were Muslims. The Ottoman Empire sometimes sent natives of Europe to govern parts of the country [not a distinct entity in Ottoman times]. One of these was Ahmad al-Jazzar Pasha. He was not liked but not because he was a native of Europe. So the colonialism charge against the Jews/Israelis is a red herring. Moreover, for many years about half of the Israeli Jewish population has been Oriental Jews, usually defined as Jews from Muslim countries. That didn't make a difference to Arab enemies of Israel. The Oriental Jews were fleeing Muslim lands where they had been oppressed as dhimmis for centuries. The charge of being "Europeans" is another red herring. Likewise, the charge of having a different skin color, of being "white" compared to the "non-white" Arabs made against the Jews. Indeed there is a broad range of skin colors among both Jews and Arabs, and that includes the Ashkenazi Jews who also show a range of skin colors. Reilly has explained the Muslim religious motives which keep Arabs from recognizing and making peace with Israel [here]. That said, some Arabs of Muslim background have supported Israel on Quranic or other grounds. More on one of those Arabs in another post.

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