Sunday, May 31, 2009

Propaganda Succeeds

Tell someone something long enough, often enough, emphatically enough, and however implausible the claims may have seemed initially to the reluctant ear, they gain the respectability of possibility, and finally solid acquiescence in practical acceptance. Repetition and determination make the most originally unassailable propositions of belief equate with an accepted truth.

This is all the more easily achieved when addressing a collective for whom the maligned entity is a stranger, an outsider, not within the norms of perceived social mores, and acceptance. Which is why skillful and ongoing propaganda colouring Jews as parasites on society, as sub-human heralds of misery, as mendacious money-grubbers found a ready acceptance in fascist Germany, enabling the Nazis to round up and ghettoize Jews.

Which is why so little sympathy for the plight of Jews was expressed by the larger community, despite that, in Germany, Jews were completely assimilated, ingrained in German lifestyles and values. In an environment of instability, economic uncertainty and societal upheaval it is always useful to point the general population in the direction of the scapegoat and heap accusations readily accepted.

More latterly, Tutsis were treated to the dehumanizing effects of propaganda by the militant Hutus, setting the stage for a genocidal maelstrom. Propaganda is used by governments the world over, to various degrees. But the manipulation of peoples' minds, values and sense of human justice sees its apogee in the learned skills of terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and their enabler Iran in portraying Jews as interlopers and enemies.

Themselves on the pious side of justice and humanity, eagerly seeking peace against an insatiable, blood-thirsty enemy, one whom they target and provoke, then reel back in purported horror when their victim strikes in self-defence. A self-defence that becomes a vicious slaughter of innocents undeserving of their dire fate at the hands of a merciless enemy, goes the propaganda, eagerly received by a readily-manipulated world.

Little wonder that the Taliban has been found to indulge in propaganda in Afghanistan, encouraging the belief among Afghans that the Taliban have their best interests at heart, they are agents of peace. Whereas the Western powers, allied with the government of Afghanistan is committed to killing innocent civilians, most particularly women and children. "They are the cruelest in the world", goes the Taliban line.

And since Afghans do see what appears to be evidence of coalition forces in their country mounting attacks that so often result in damage to civilian infrastructures, and far worse, the deaths of innocent civilian bystanders, it's clear to them that it is the foreign presence that is at fault. "We are being out-communicated by the Taliban", stated U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reporting to a Senate appropriations subcommittee in Washington.

Making it imperative that the coalition forces not only face action on the military battlegrounds of Taliban choice and selection, but in addition mount information tactics of their own to counteract those of the Taliban insurgents. Necessitating the installation of satellite transmitters across the country, to mount anti-insurgent messages. Broadcast and print media 'operation centres' to be established at coalition-run bases.

With specialized public affairs officers staffing them. Welcome to the new world of conflict.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Breaking News!

North Korea
North Korea test-fired another short-range missile off its east coast Friday and said it would take "self-defence measures" if the UN Security Council punished it for this week's nuclear test. South Korea said an increasingly aggressive North may be preparing fresh provocations after Chinese fishing boats were spotted leaving a disputed sea border on the west coast. A Pentagon spokesman said there had been no sign of stepped-up North Korean military activity on the ground. But a U.S. defence official said satellite imagery showed "above-average activity" in the past 24 hours at a site in North Korea that has previously been used to test-fire long range missiles.

An Iranian official accused the United States on Friday of involvement in a mosque bombing that killed more than 20 people in volatile southeastern Iran, two weeks before a presidential election. Washington denied the allegation. Jalal Sayyah of the governor's office in Sistan-Baluchestan province said three people had been arrested in connection with the blast on Thursday in a crowded Shia mosque in the city of Zahedan in a region where many of Iran's minority Sunnis live. A Sunni opposition group named Jundollah (God's soldiers), which Iran says is backed by the U.S., said it was behind the bombing, according to Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television. Elsewhere in the city, gunmen attacked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election campaign centre. State-run IRNA news agency said gunmen on motorbikes opened fire at the centre, wounding three people, including a child.

United States
U.S. President Barack Obama said he will name a White House-level czar to co-ordinate government efforts to fight cyber-crime, saying such acts have become epidemic and even touched his presidential campaign. "Cyberspace is real and so are the risks that come with it", Obama said during a speech at the White House in which he discussed threats to the country's digital infrastructure from organized crime, industrial spies and international espionage. Obama said he would name an official to co-ordinate cyber-security policies across the government and organize a response to any major attack.

A former minister on Friday became the 13th British lawmaker to announce he would stand down at the next general election after revelations about expenses. Elliot Morley, who claimed nearly $30,000 to cover mortgage payments even though the loan had already been paid off, made the announcement after meeting Labour party officials. After emerging from the meeting in this Scunthorpe constituency, Morley said he was standing down but insisted he had made a "genuine mistake" and said he believed he would be cleared of any wrongdoing: "The last two weeks have been traumatic for me and I have to think of my family", he said.

Sri Lanka
Canada accused Sri Lankan police of failing to guard the Canadian embassy in Colombo when it was targeted by stone-throwing protesters, and demanded a fully enquiry. "Canada has expressed concern about the inadequate response by the Sri Lankan police to protect the Canadian High Commission and its staff in accordance with Sri Lanka's international obligations", the embassy said in a statement. Dozens of protesters pelted the mission building with stones on Wednesday and spray-painted the entrance to the diplomatic compound. The protesters accused Canada of being sympathetic to the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were wiped out in a final battle earlier this month.

Pakistan stepped up its offensive against the Taliban on Friday, slapping a $600,000 price on the head of a rebel and claiming to have captured the militant stronghold of Peochar village. The government hopes the bounty will help it get - dead or alive - Maulana Fazlullah, a hardline Taliban cleric and commander who master-minded a two-year uprising in the northwest Swat Valley to enforce sharia law. Fazlullah led thousands of supporters in a brutal campaign that beheaded opponents, burned scores of schools and fought against government troops since November 2007.

The Russian navy said Friday that one of its anti-submarine ships fired artillery at a village by mistake, state RIA news agency reported. The navy said no one had been injured when a small anti-submarine ship on Thursday opened fire on a village in the Byvorg region of St.Petersburg. "On the 28 May, a small anti-submarine ship from the Baltic fleet was working on a host of exercises in the gulf of Finland including artillery fire at aerial targets", RIA quoted a navy spokesman as saying. "No one was injured."

United States
A small newspaper in northwest Pennsylvania apologized Friday for running a classified advertisement that called implicitly for the assassination of U.S. President Barack Obama. The Warren Times Observer, with a circulation of about 11,000 ran the ad in Thursday's paper and pulled it as soon as it was discovered by a manager, publisher John Elchert said. The ad read: "May Obama follow in the footsteps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy", Elchert said.

Pictures of rotting lungs, miscarried fetuses and bleeding brains should be put on all tobacco packages because they are effective in preventing tobacco use, the World Health organization said Friday. Graphic warnings have been put on cigarette packs in Canada, Singapore and Thailand. Studies have indicated that they work, according to the UN health agency, which launched its own poster campaign for World No Tobacco Day on May 31. The WHO said nine out of 10 people in the world have no access to such warnings.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Horrendous Megalomania

Iran goes to the polls. The voting public can make a choice; whether to retain its current president, that flamed-out symbol of anti-Semitism flaunting his hatred of Israel and speaking for the ruling council of ayatollahs of their bitter disgust at the presence of a Jewish state blemishing the holiness of Islamic geography, or to vote in an alternative.

Of course, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already made it known that the incumbent is his personal choice, to ensure that the legacy of the Iranian Revolution and the mission of Ayatollah Khomeini is not forgotten or set aside. And although it is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose bellicose pronouncements are blared on the world stage, it is the sentiments of the ruling ayatollahs that he pronounces.

Illustrating, graphically, the conscience and preoccupation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A blend of megalomania and religious fanaticism, bolstered with more than a shade of fascism. It's questionable what might change if Ahmadinejad is not returned to office. The four challengers for his office will in all likelihood be prepared to mute the anti-American rhetoric, but unlikely to do likewise in that targeting Israel.

With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in fervid collusion with the ayatollahs, close attention is being paid to the world's reaction to North Korea's lunatic assaults on the world's nuclear sensibilities. Lobbing missiles is particularly favoured by Iran. Whatever North Korea can get away with, so can Iran. The bluster of the West, if not accompanied by meaningful and practical sanctions will serve to encourage Iran.

Like North Korea, albeit not quite as dire, the Iranian population is suffering hard times. State coffers that could be subsidizing food and energy for those facing hard times have gone instead to building up armaments. North Korea has been subsisting on the avails of blackmail and the foreign cash received from selling technical expertise, while Iran still has substantial oil revenues.

Insisting that it needs to invest in nuclear energy, to advantage its national industries; diverting its treasury to that end. Whereas the country could be aiding its poor and disadvantaged with that same funding, and at the same time establishing and building national refineries instead of exporting crude oil and then having to import the refined product, but that's too sensible.

The rigid theocracy of Iran prefers to govern as a fanatical autocracy, and to threaten the balance in the Middle East, and by extension the world at large. Encouraged by the success of other rogue states; North Korea and Pakistan, the original fount of the nuclear Pandora's box now bedevilling the world community.

The country's oil wealth has met a rigid wall of declining revenues as a result of the global financial collapse, but this has not stopped the country from continuing to invest billions in nuclear availment, strictly for civic, peaceful purposes. President Ahmadinejad was elected on the promise of sharing those oil revenues more equitably, supporting the country's vast indigent population.

Unemployment is rampant, inflation spiralling, and people are being bribed by handouts of free potatoes in rural areas, with the expectation that this will help the current government in re-election. The constant boasts of thousands of centrifuges spinning away to enrich uranium for the peaceful nuclear program is a source of pride for Iranians. It's a reprise of Pakistan.

Ahmadinejad's spiritual rantings of the imminent appearance of the Hidden Imam heralding the end of days is met with approval by the devout. His promises to the poor, although never kept, still resonate, and rural residents, still living in poverty, still support this political charlatan. The country's senior clerics have no intention of permitting a rival to head the country, if they can help it.

Ahmadinejad's closest rival in the election advocates economic liberalization and greater social freedoms, but then so did Ahmadinejad. Mir Hossein Mousavi, however, has demonstrated that tradition is not written in stone for him, with his wife out in full view, campaigning alongside him. Of the 70 million people in the country, three-quarters are under 30 years of age.

That kind of refreshing change might appeal to them. They could, conceivably, out-vote the millions of security forces and morality police who will vote for Ahmadinejad. There is always hope.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

How's This For Perspective?

Special Dispatch - No. 2364
May 20, 2009 No. 2364
Egyptian Liberal Magdi Khalil: 'The Peace Treaty with Israel Was the Most Significant Milestone in the Last Three Decades of Egyptian History'

The executive director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, Coptic Egyptian-American journalist Magdi Khalil, [1] recently penned an article on the advantages of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. He wrote that contrary to its critics' claims, the treaty is not the reason for Egypt's internal problems - these are the fault of the country's oppressive, corrupt, and inefficient regime. As for claims that the peace treaty eliminated Egypt as a side in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Khalil says that this was an advantage rather than a drawback, for Egypt is no longer embroiled in endless wars, and is no longer harnessed to the agendas of others. He stresses that the treaty has brought Egypt stability, prosperity, and good relations with the international community, and laments the fact that the Egyptian regime never took full advantage of this to propel the country forward.[2]

Following are excerpts from the article:

"On March 26, 2009, exactly 30 years had passed since the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty on March 26, 1979. I consider this treaty to be the most significant milestone in the last three decades of contemporary Egyptian history.

"There is a sore lack of scientific studies and broad surveys designed to probe and measure Egyptian public opinion with regards to the treaty. What can be gauged is the view of the Egyptian media, as reflected in the massive amount of writings that have been penned since the treaty was first signed. On the whole, the Egyptian media has taken a negative stance towards the treaty - but this does not reflect the real attitude of the Egyptian mainstream. The Egyptian media, like other Arab media, is controlled by Islamists, nationalists, pan-Arab and socialist factions, as well as by the regime's reporters and staffers, who are adept mainly at defending their personal interests. The critics of the treaty are guided by rigid ideological convictions that are totally irrelevant to the average Egyptian citizen, and which leave no room for a factual assessment of the treaty based on its benefits and costs.

"Most opponents of the treaty blame it for neutralizing the Egyptian role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, the real question is whether we should consider this an advantage or a disadvantage! In my view, the removal of Egypt from the conflict should definitely be seen as an invaluable advantage. For what reason, and by what means, should Egypt continue to fight for the Arabs in the absence of any benefits furthering its development and prosperity? Is it reasonable to expect Egypt to pay an exorbitant price and make continuous sacrifices that are neither acknowledged nor rewarded, just because others have thus defined its role in the region? A simple cost-benefit analysis clearly shows that prior to the signing of the treaty, Egypt sustained great and continuous losses. Was it supposed to continue on that debilitating path, just in order to be praised as the 'dutiful older sister' of the Arab world?...

"The Egyptian role - the subject of much talk and lament - has two facets. The first, a militant role which played out under the leadership of Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser, ended with the defeat of 1967, and can be best described as catastrophic both for Egypt and for the region as a whole. The other facet is gentler - namely, influence and power exercised through cultural, creative, educational and artistic means. The decline of [this] role has nothing to do with the Peace Treaty; it has been hampered and stifled by lack of freedom, and by the failure to implement a valid development and revival plan."

"Others blame the treaty for the setbacks that have befallen Egypt in the last few decades. This claim is unfounded and erroneous. Can we possibly hold the treaty responsible for the corruption that has spread through Egyptian society, from top to bottom? Is it responsible for the lack of democracy, freedoms and proper governance?

"Should the treaty be blamed for class inequality and the unfair distribution of income and wealth, or for the terrifying population explosion? Is it responsible for Egypt turning into a forbidding police state, and for the oppression that has taken root within the regime and the religious institutions? Can it really be blamed for the absence of an authentic vision of progress and development, for the absence of party-politics, or for the deterioration of schools and universities?

"Is it responsible for the unholy alliance of power, wealth and corruption, for election fraud, or for the absence of justice standards and guarantees of judicial independence? Is it responsible for the increasingly poor performance of the media apparatus and of the legislative authority? Is it responsible for the growth and expansion of the fundamentalist Wahhabi and Bedouin ideology, or for taming, corrupting and smothering civil society?

"No, the fault clearly lies with a failing regime, and not with the Peace Treaty, which was, and continues to be, one of the best and most valid actions taken by Egypt since 1952.

"As for Arab solidarity, the question ought to be whether the treaty can be blamed for the Iran-Iraq war, for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, or for Syria's free rein in Lebanon, which lasted for three decades marked by assassinations and the elimination of national figures. Is the treaty responsible for the civil war in Algeria, or for the Polisario Front problem in Morocco? Should it be blamed for the death of over two million souls in South Sudan, and 300,000 in Darfur? Did it precipitate the fragmentation of Somalia or start the on-going war between Fatah and Hamas. Did it cause the personal disputes between the Arab rulers?"

"The treaty's opponents also criticize it for leaving most of Sinai devoid of heavy weaponry, which they claim has somehow compromised the security of Egypt's eastern borders. However, we actually ought to question whether it is better for Sinai to remain occupied or to be liberated under conditions that pose no restrictions on development but only on war.

"This also raises another question about the continuous perception of Israel as the enemy despite the fact that all the formerly occupied Egyptian territories have been handed back to Egypt, and the mutual skirmishes have ceased. Shouldn't this attitude be considered an assault on peace itself, and a return to the old ways of subordinating Egyptian causes to the Arab agenda?

"President Mubarak raised an even more significant question in a February 16, 1981 interview with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassa. He asked: 'What is the Arab alternative to the treaty?... Nothing can be achieved by going to war with Israel, it is impossible …Before Camp David, did any force succeed in getting a commitment out of Israel to retreat [from the occupied lands]? The Palestinians have sold themselves over to many countries; they have sold themselves to Libya, Iraq and Syria.'

"The question raised by President Mubarak almost 30 years ago is still valid and awaiting an answer from the Arabs and the fans of empty slogans. What is the alternative to the Treaty? What actions have the Arabs taken in the past three decades to free their lands? Has Syria managed to shake itself out of inertia and move away from futile slogans? Has the situation of the Palestinians improved, or has it in fact gotten worse as they have become even more divided? Hasn't Jordan followed Egypt's example by getting back its territories before the opportunity could be lost? And didn't the Arabs finally go to Madrid, and the Palestinians to Oslo, in a much weaker position than the one they could have held at Camp David?

"On the other hand, there is no doubt about the many advantages of the treaty. Thanks to the treaty, every inch of the previously occupied Sinai has been restored to Egypt, along with its oil and wealth. Egyptian tourism has undergone an unprecedented revival, and the city of Sharm Al-Sheikh has become the most important tourist resort in Egypt as well as a center for major international conferences. Continuous wars are the worst ordeal for any nation, and when the war finally came to an end, the drain on human and financial resources ended as well.

"After signing the treaty, Egypt was granted an annual sum of $2.1 billion by the United States. Since 1979, it has thus received a total of $63 billion. Egypt also received aid from other sources in the form of debt waivers and extensive credit. Thus, thanks to the treaty, Egypt has obtained approximately $200 billion from the United States, other Western countries, and various international financial institutions.

"Thanks to the treaty, Egypt has also regained its status in the international community as a peacemaker and important partner in the ongoing peace negotiations... In light of this, is it reasonable to claim that the former tension in Egypt's relations with Syria, Iraq and with Yasser Arafat should have outweighed the significance of building and maintaining strong relations with the United States, Europe and the international community? The regimes of Saddam and Arafat were based mostly on slogans, assumptions and policies that cost their people dearly, and the same goes for Assad's regime.

"On October 5, 1981, just 24 hours before his death, the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat told the Egyptian magazine October: 'I would like to confirm to our Arab brethrens that I used to feel exactly as they do, and maybe even more so… I used to believe that the American attitude was hopeless [for us], and that the U.S. would [always] support Israel, unjustly or justly. But it [eventually] became evident that this is a total misconception. If you get to understand the American people, and get them to understand you, you are able to resolve all your problems, because they are fair - providing that you remain fair and honest [with them], and refrain from doublespeak, [that is,] from saying one thing then doing another'...

"I believe that Egypt's real setback was its failure to take proper advantage of the stability and of the outpouring of funds in order to devise a valid development plan...

"In sum, the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty was a remarkable step for both Egypt and Israel, and is in no way responsible for the failed development plans or for the lack of progress in Egypt. That failure lies squarely on the shoulders of the regime. It is ludicrous to claim that putting an end to wars and making peace resulted in setbacks and failure. The culprit in our case is bad governance. To prove this point, we only need look at the sustainable progress that Israel has made since the signing of the treaty. Egypt's failure is of local manufacture - so blame no one but yourselves."

[1] Magdi Khalil is executive director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, and executive editor of the Egyptian Coptic weekly Watani International. A syndicated columnist for several Arabic Language newspapers, he has also authored and co-authored 20 books and numerous articles on the topics of the Middle East, Arab-Western relations, Islamic extremism, and the situation of non-Muslim minorities in Islamic states. He is also a prominent political commentator on a number of Arab satellite channels.

[2], April 5, 2009.

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Hostage to a Moronic Madman

The scenario the world sees unfolding before our apprehensive eyes is one best left to the lunatic writerly antics of a creative fiction novelist, hoping to create an epic of suspense and anti-moralistic bravado in an atmosphere suited to a lunatic asylum. Just for laughs, and a bit of a send-up of international strains between countries. But then it has been so often remarked that truth can be and often is, stranger than fiction.

Now, a bumptious, ego-driven ignoramus - complacent to leave his nation foundering in a perpetual state of semi-starvation for the greater achievement of Kim Jong'Il's "military first" policy - honing his legacy to at least equal that of his father's - the saviour of North Korea - holding the world hostage. It does not take much to raise his ire, any move or criticism or suggestion that runs counter to his agenda elicits threats.

South Korea's new no-nonsense attitude toward its failed-state cousin insults North Korean sensibilities. That South Korea has imposed sanctions on deliveries of food aid and energy in response to the North's aggressive tactics where once it simpered and spoke of forbearance, and now has signed on to the Proliferation Security Initiative, is grounds for war.

The long-held truce that ended the Korean war is in danger of collapse, with North Korea warning it may yet launch a military attack on the South. Kim Jong-Il claims now the North will no longer tolerate the assaults against its sovereignty. Nor will it permit its ships to be searched for carriage of forbidden weaponry.

"Those who have provoked us will face unimaginable merciless punishment", claims the military statement on North Korea's Central News Agency. "Any tiny hostile acts against our republic, including the stopping and searching of our peaceful vessels ... will face an immediate and strong military strike in response."

The 1953 armistice will be abandoned. A reasonable and peaceful North Korea is fed up. Its military will "no longer be bound" by the end of hostilities and the reasons are many and obvious, the latest that the U.S. has drawn its South Korean "puppet" into the PSI pact. And with the collapse of the armistice "the Korean peninsula will go back to a state of war."

Well, how much worse can things get, in fact.

North Korea's pauper government has visions - aside from its delusional visions of nuclear empowerment and trembling world powers - of selling its successful technology to other countries of the world, not held in particularly high esteem by the Western powers.

It has already sold some of its missile technology to Iran, Yemen, Syria and Pakistan. What a web of intrigue; Pakistan's mad nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan sold nuclear data to North Korea, to Libya, and to whoever else expressed interest in acquiring it. In a spirit of solidarity among Islamic nations. And to earn a little extra cash.

It's fairly clear that the Syrian nuclear reactor destroyed by Israel in 2008 was built with imported technology and assistance from North Korea. Experts also believe that North Korea is helping Burma build a reactor of its own. To achieve some kind of regional balance, Taiwan and Japan are in the process of attempting to protect themselves through nuclear conversion to weaponization.

All of this traces back to India's accession, Pakistan's following, the two mortal enemies clashing, and rogue Pakistani scientists sharing technical expertise with all the unsavoury and dangerous countries of the world. Pakistan also distinguishing itself by presenting as the breeding ground for the world's store of Islamist jihadists. An unbeatable combination of world terror; fanatical Islam and nuclear warheads.

Leaving us with the current deadly duo, the nightmares of dealing with North Korea and Iran. Both barking mad.

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Clarification: Canada Responds

Published: National Post, Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Canadian government has a clear position on the Middle East: We are committed to the long-term goal of a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We believe the continual threat of terrorism and some countries' failure to recognize Israel's right to exist are the primary obstacles to moving forward. Israel has an unequivocal right to defend its citizens against continued rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups that deliberately target civilians. As stated by our Prime Minister, "those who threaten Israel also threaten Canada, because, as the last World War showed, hate-fuelled bigotry against some is ultimately a threat to us all and must be resisted wherever it may lurk."

Our government believes that a battle between a democratic state and terrorist groups who seek to destroy it is not a matter of ambiguity - it is a matter of right and wrong.

On the question of Israeli settlements, Canada's policy has not changed. We continue to believe that the expansion of settlements is illegal, as per the long-standing policy of the government of Canada. We do not, however, prejudge the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and remain ready to assist in any way we can. When it comes to foreign policy, we believe that we should be guided by our interests as a country but also by principles and values. Freedom. Democracy. Human rights. The rule of law. And the uncompromising opposition to terrorism.

Our support for Israel is guided by clear principles and shared convictions rooted in moral clarity, and is unswayed by polls or the shifting opinions of the international community.

Lawrence Cannon,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Et Tu, Canada?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Canada for several days before embarking to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama. Mr. Abbas, meeting first with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon must have been more than a little pleased to have Mr. Cannon speak at a news conference of Israeli settlements and their expansion as being 'illegal', and responsible for undermining the peace process.

As for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, doubtless mindful of the backlash from the Canadian-Arab community, more numerous in voting potential than the Canadian-Jewish community, a somewhat modified line emerged a day later. Where the Prime Minister "stressed the importance of peace talks and both leaders discussed options for approaches to some of the key final status issues. Canada", he emphasized, "believes that these issues must be settled between the parties themselves."

In a sense he is now moving closer to the U.S. position on the matter. On the other hand, not quite, since American President Obama has forcefully intervened, placing pressure on Israel to relent its new government's position on the two-state solution, and submit to huge state sacrifices, while making little of Israel's existential cri de coeur on Iran. The Palestinian Authority is asked to make no sacrifices, to soften its increasingly strenuous and strident demands.

One thing only is required of the Palestinians, that they undertake a serious commitment to controlling Palestinian violence against Israel. At historic times in the recent past when Israel was prepared to sacrifice much to sign a peace treaty with the Palestinians, it was the Palestinians who pulled back at the last moment, allowing failure to triumph. And each time this occurred, the Palestinians dug in deeper and harder and flailed violently against Israel.

How much sincerity is there in the Palestinians' stated desire for peace between themselves and the Jewish State? They practise a charade of arresting peace violators, then surreptitiously releasing them to continue their violence. They celebrate openly and champion the crude violence of murderers of Israeli children. The PA teaches their young that Israel represents an illegal colonialist entity. Denying any historic Jewish traditions on the land.

While speaking one way to the foreign press in English, in Arabic the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mr. Abass, encourages jihad, and honours suicide bombers. How reliable is such a partner for peace? Fatah and Hamas are incapable of forming a coalition to responsibly represent the needs of the Palestinians. What use is there of an agreement for peace leading to a state alongside another, when there is no assurance that there will be security?

Israel has more than sufficient problems, with the U.S. and the EU reproaching it for its unwillingness to completely surrender to all the demands made upon it with little assurance for its safety. The bilateral talks leading to upgraded relations between Israel and the EU are now in suspension, with the Netherlands continuing to advocate a special relationship and other member states mum on the issue. Owing much to EU expectations about Israel signing onto the two-state solution and the curbing of settlement expansion.

The European Union is also ever-mindful of its relations with the Arab countries, particularly in the wake of Israel's Gaza offensive. Israel is still hopefully awaiting movement on its bid for the European Commission to agree to diplomatic co-operation, integration with the single market, along with joint transport and education projects, pushed off the agenda, post-Gaza. Mostly, it would appear, on the initiative of Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU external relations commissioner.

A meeting scheduled between the EU foreign relations chiefs in Brussels and Israel's new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman will likely see nothing accomplished. Word has leaked from one pro-Israel EU diplomat that Ms. Ferrero-Waldner's past relations with the late Austrian United Nations Director General Kurt Waldheim, known to have been an active Wehrmacht officer during WWII, and later president of Austria, tainted her views of Israel.

And although her office denies any link between the commissioner and Mr. Waldheim, the talkative EU diplomat said, "She spent all her time in the United Nations getting close to the Arab delegations and that's where all this comes from." Everyone has their own agenda in this difficult and nuanced relational situation.

But no singular entity has anything much to lose, exclusive of the State of Israel.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Standing Up To North Korea

How? Sanctions have not worked. North Koreans have been taught that the world is against them, and they are fearful and patriotic to a fault. Kim Jong-il may appear to the world of the West like a lunatic yet risible figure, but to North Koreans, kept on the edge of survival by a leader more concerned with allocating scarce national resources to nuclear attainment and rocketry than feeding his people, he is a truly malevolent dictator with few parallels. South Korea's previous 'sunshine' policy toward North Korea failed to produce a relaxation of hostilities between the two countries.

The very man whose reign exemplified that sincerely hopeful but ill-starred government policy, former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun felt mortally disgraced by revelations that his wife and relatives illegally benefited from a bribery scandal. His successor laid to rest his efforts to pacify North Korea through brotherly empathy. Neither kindness nor condemnation has made a dent in North Korea's trajectory toward nuclear enablement. Convinced that North Korea is in the cross-hairs of the U.S. military, Kim Jong-il refuses to set aside his nuclear agenda.

This is where the current UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon comes into the picture, as a South Korean diplomat well versed in the intransigent belligerence that continually emanates from North Korea, threatening the stability of his country, along with that of Japan and U.S. interests in the region. As China's protege-country presenting as a separation-barrier between democratic South Korea and China, North Korea has been immune from criticism from its mentor, up until now.

And since China is not anxious to witness the failure of the current North Korean regime which could very well herald an outbreak of civil war of ascension on Jong-il's death, with the potential of millions of desperate North Koreans flooding the Chinese border, it finds itself in a very hard place indeed. Still, China too, like Russia, another erstwhile-supporter of North Korea, finds itself sufficiently alarmed by North Korea's underground nuclear test and the succeeding missile launches after its satellite rocket blasted into space, to ally itself with UN and U.S. concerns.

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi did not enjoy the strict sanctions imposed on Libya as a result of his country's support of terror groups, its own terrorist attacks against the West, and its commitment to arming itself with nuclear warheads. The strictures wounded his country, its global social standing, its economy, its ability to educate its privileged youth abroad. Its pariah status grated on the leader's and the country's sensibilities, leading him to agree to surrender all nuclear ambitions, to sunder all terror connections.

Mr. Gaddafi was once thought of as being completely mad. He regained his sanity, it would appear, once 66 American jets launched an attack on Tripoli and the Benghazi area. Although the strikes purportedly were meant to hit key military sites they also hit a populated suburb of the capital, killing 100 people, among them Moammar Gaddafi's
adopted baby daughter. That event could well be said to have been a sobering experience. Mr. Gaddafi was prepared to talk about the bombing of Pam Am flight 103, where 270 died in the Lockerbie tragedy, and admit responsibility and arrange for reparations.

North Korea currently has two American reporters in their custody, charged with espionage, spying on the country. The United States, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan are all engaged in hand-wringing over North Korea's intransigent passage toward achieving nuclear warheads that can be fixed to their increasingly-successful long-range rockets, propelling them toward a world unready for nuclear annihilation. Russia has declared the nuclear explosion just undertaken to be comparable in size and explosive value to those that hit Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

The U.S. could plan a pre-emptive attack on the country. To do so would be to effectively sacrifice their two nationals cleverly held as insurance by North Korea. Clearly, North Korea remains undaunted by the general condemnation it has earned with its latest assaults on world sensibilities. Despite the ongoing censure, it will not be contrite, for it feels it has nothing to regret or apologize for. It is protecting its sovereignty. And aiding world peace by ensuring that it has the capability to 'protect' itself from the evil intent of other countries.

Rationality has no power of persuasion over unhinged minds.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Politely Bullying

Israel the country, its government, its citizens, are so predictably prickly. They have this irritating habit of thinking first and foremost of their safety and security at every juncture. Even while the most impressively powerful man of the most importantly powerful country of the world admonishes them, informs their prime minister that he must set such concerns aside for the good of the Middle East, to achieve better relations on the international sphere of political balance.

Logic has it that knowing America, the European Union, Russia, China and the United Nations all believe in the goodness of their collective hearts, that Israel should relent and think of the greater good in the Middle East communities - surrender their unreasonable ambition to remain a country of Jewish permanence on the landscape - and accept what they feel to be their death knell. A flood of Palestinians to be absorbed into the country? Don't sweat it.

After all, the moderate PA leader, Mahmud Abbas said it isn't up to him to name Israel as a Jewish state, nor would he. Israel is to take it on trust that the Arab world will jump at the opportunity to 'normalize' relations with it. All Israel has to do is accept the Arab League Peace Plan, the one that Saudi Arabia formulated years ago, and still insists that this represents Israel's sole route to acceptance in the Middle East.

Give up East Jerusalem, welcome the 'right of return' of six million Palestinians, to even out the balance of the Jewish majority, relinquish the Golan Heights, eradicate all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Then sit back and wait for the Palestinians to establish their state in the West Bank. And wait for Hamas and Hezbollah to attack from Gaza and from Lebanon. And for the new citizenry of the new Palestinian state to join in the fray.

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had his own agenda to foist on President Barack Obama; kindly grapple with the existential dilemma of Iranian nuclear warheads, and then a re-assured Israel will be prepared to countenance the establishment of a Palestinian state that will be eager to give up their fixed idea of eventually re-taking all of the area that they still believe belongs to them, sans the State of Israel.

While Iran remains a dire threat, and with it, its terrorist proxies, the Palestinians have no need to bargain in good faith. Time and the tides of men's plans are on their side. Israel has no friends, the Palestinians have the good wishes of the entire world. The Palestinians are asked in this unbalanced act of formulating two states side-by-side, to give up nothing. Not even their vicious anti-Jewish campaigns of violence leading to eradication of the Jewish presence.

Israel must attend to the wishes of the international community that it heed their claims that will inevitably lead to sweetness and light. The Palestinian communities, while receiving sixty years-worth of international aid have been incapable of fashioning anything remotely resembling a civil society that could be pulled into a nascent state. Instead, they preferred their 'refugee' status, dependent on international charity to soothe their eternal grievance.

Israel, which has succeeded in establishing itself as a liberal democracy with a standard of living unmatched by any but the most successful democratic societies, bringing into its fold refugees from around the world, permitting Israeli Arabs to sit as elected Members of the Knesset, receiving accolades for its academic, scientific and social advances, yet disdained for its inconvenient insistence on demonstrating the usual Jewish arrogance of showing up where they're not wanted, remains the world's pariah.

It's as though the global community is insulted by success. As though they're awaiting some kind of come-uppance to devolve, whereupon Israel will be smacked down to the level where Jews should remain. The United Nations, the European Union, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States, even Russia and China are all aware of Iran's deadly antipathy toward Israel, and its commitment to both nuclear refinement leading to warheads, and Israel's destruction.

The precondition for Israel to drop its self-defence and self-reliance because a powerful nation and a powerful leader insists it must to attain a global end is a betrayal of trust. One man's vanity in believing that by force of personality and goodwill he can achieve a relationship with a belligerent Islamist theocracy that welcomes death as an entry-point to Paradise bespeaks a level of egotistical self-confidence that no experience can justify.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Impressionable Conscript

The story of the once-fascist James McQuirter who set up a Canadian arm of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1980s presents as quite an enquiry into the frailty of human nature. And the propensity of young people to take up a cause they feel sympathy with. In Mr. McQuirter's case, it was the racist cause of preserving the purity of 'white' supremacy in North America. To agitate for the separation and removal, of 'outsiders' by any means, whether through oppression and isolation or violent underground atrocities.

People of colour should not be admitted entry to Canada, nor should Jews, long resident in the country, be allowed to remain in the country. Their presence defiled the purity of 'white' quality of thought and values in the British and Nordic traditions. While he was a young man he was exposed to racist thought and printed material, as a student at York Mills Collegiate Institute in Toronto. His parents spurned these racist activities and forbade his newfound fascination with rescuing the country from tarnished races, so he left home.

On a trip to New Orleans he met David Duke of the Louisiana KKK and was inspired to begin a Klan in Canada. His reasoning was that no one paid much attention to him, as a young man spouting racial hatred, but if he were to found a KKK branch in Canada it would garner attention from the news media and it most certainly did that. Suddenly he became well known, a hideous caricature of the rights of the white man. Suddenly all media outlets scrambled to interview him, as he became a public figure of notoriety.

"Given his charm, and his capacity to interact with people beyond the movement, especially in the media, he was able to not only galvanize the movement but he was also able to put a positive light on it that nobody else had been able to achieve", said Professor Stanley Barrett of the University of Guelph who had interviewed Mr. McQuirter, researching the Canadian far right. A positive light on racism? Making racism respectable? Personability and charm enabling a racist to spread his blighted message?

One thinks back to the descriptions of Chancellor Herr Hitler's purported magnetic charisma, in disseminating his racist agenda, the fascist fantasy of Aryan physical perfection, and the miasma of his anti-Semitic pathology of hate, enabling him to infect an already-ripe population to accept Jews as scum, bacteria to be eradicated without a qualm. Jewish organizations in Canada were fearfully alarmed, and to this date credit McQuirter with popularizing anti-Semitism within the larger community.

"It created a lot of fear and anxiety within ethnic communities, specifically within the Jewish community and communities of colour", according to Bernie Farber of B'nai B'rith. "He had a terrible, terrible impact." To which Mr. McQuirter, the new McQuirter who re-fashioned himself as a respected businessman and educator post-prison under a pseudonym responded: "I never thought about the impact. I don't think my sense of empathy was fully developed."

The irony is that this man who miraculously developed a conscience rather late in life, and who was sent to prison for hiring a hitman to kill another Klansman, read the literature of a Jew, Ayn Rand, while in prison, seeing in her view of individualism another perspective entirely: "It gave me a way to view the world differently." Abandoning his mission of achieving white supremacy within Canada. "Prison allowed me the time to sort out my mistakes and understand fatal flaws in my beliefs. Gradually I changed."

He discovered multi-level marketing, as a "good industry" to get involved with, and there, under the name of James Tavian Alexander, he embarked upon a new life. Becoming successful, writing books, explaining the "ancient cycles" of the universe, enabling the practitioner to "double or triple your income", his method amenable to anyone's successful use: "It doesn't matter who you are, where you live, your background, language, sex or colour".

The pity is that someone who had potential to succeed in life succumbed to hate before he turned himself to other means of expressing his wish to be a leader in society. The damage he managed to wreak on society with his impassioned belief in the superiority of one 'race' over another, denigrating those who are different, denying them their humanity, cannot be erased by regret, by covertly posing as someone else.

He speaks now of shame and remorse, but it is open to conjecture whether those emotions owe to the fact that his wretched racist background was revealed through the work of an intrigued reporter, or by the realization of the damage he brought to society.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Plot To Kill

Rather pathetic, the four alleged plotters. One with previous convictions for assault burglary, petty larceny. Another with 27 arrests on his conviction sheet, mostly for drug offences. A third, a crack-addict, sentenced on drug charges, claiming after his conviction he was on the road to reform. and the fourth an extremely violent psychopath who served sentences for drug and weapons possession. All of them incarcerated at one time or another in American prisons.

And, it would seem, all of them, during their incarcerations, found Islam attractive, through inmate interaction and exposure to the tenets of Islam, to the extent that each took on Muslim names and thought of themselves as Muslim, and visited a particular mosque in New York. Where, according to the imam there, they were not regulars, but occasional visitors. And where a stranger to the mosque, speaking of jihadist intrigues, openly sought conscripts to jihad.

And he found his eager conscripts in those four individuals; Laguerre Payen, a Haitian-born schizophrenic, James Cromitie, Onta and David Williams, all American-born. All petty criminals, more familiar with the seamy side of life than with the precepts of Islam, but willing to learn, equating Islam with the excitement of inciting to violence. All four committed to the imperrative of killing Jews.

These fanatical converts to Islamist jihad were willing associates of that mysterious jihadist from the mosque whom other mosque-goers steered clear of. He encouraged their jihad ambitions, helped them to plan their potential attack sites, and generally made himself very useful to these men. In the end, he enabled them to purchase 'explosives' and 'missiles'.

The explosives to be planted under vehicles parked beside a targeted synagogue, the surface-to-air missiles to be used to shoot down planes. Neither the explosives nor the missiles were useful, having been deactivated. For their enabler, the man who so successfully conscripted them into the jihad that so attracted them was an FBI agent.

The men are now charged with one count each of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States, and one count of conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles. These petty criminals, anti-Semites, and generally antisocial misfits of the first order have had their grand plans deflated, and now face prison. Again.

Where it's possible they'll be inducted into a more virulent type of jihadist cell, and on their eventual discharge will have no need of an FBI agent to stoke their interest and guide their intent. Will the FBI be charged with anything?

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Beauty Is As Beauty Does

The Lebanese pop star Suzanne Tamin was incredibly blessed with the kind of physical presence that is rare anywhere in the world. She was a true head-turner, a symbol of female perfection. And that she also had talent as an entertainer meant that she was rather extraordinary in a sense. It's hard not to judge a book by its cover, and in her case, her beauty was spell-binding. One wouldn't think that someone blessed with those looks might find life difficult.

On the other hand, women who are especially beautiful are held to standards that not all would be comfortable with. Others are held in awe of their perfect beauty. It's something like the extremely wealthy who can never be quite certain that they are respected, held in esteem, even loved for themselves, for their qualities as a human being, rather than for the estate they've inherited.

In the instance of a woman of such great beauty, her inner essence as a woman might be unappreciated and unrecognized, causing her some level of personal uncertainty and anguish over what her value to others might constitute. Regardless, women of superior beauty and women of no particularly outstanding physical characteristics are not immune to making unfortunate choices in their lives.

They will settle for far less than they deserve as human beings, succumbing to the first, and often inappropriate choices set before them. In the unfortunate case of Suzanne Tamin, she may very well have used her beauty and acclaim as a counter-balance to the wealth and prestige of the wealthy and well-connected Hisham Talaat Moustafa, who has just received the death sentence in Egypt.

It is entirely possible that they sought one another out; he to possess her physical beauty, and she to take advantage of his position in society, and his wealth. Ms. Tamim's life trajectory appears not to have been a satisfyingly happy one, with several failed marriages behind her. Her liaison with Mr. Moustafa, a married man unlikely to leave his marriage for her another ill choice.

The brevity of her relationship with the men she was intimate with before initiating intimacy certainly meant she knew little of them before committing to a relationship. It may very well be that she was disappointed time after time, discovering them to be less than what she had anticipated. She might, on the other hand, have herself been lacking as a companion.

Her last choice in marriage after leaving the company of the man who commissioned her death certainly did nothing to save her from an early demise. Her beauty availed her nothing but failure and unhappiness. Beauty, intrigues, anger and betrayal. Another of life's sad little dramas. The superficiality of beauty, despite our admiration of it, is as nothing in comparison to other human characteristics; kindness, empathy, humour, intelligence.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's star continues to shine. Could he be more triumphant? Hard to say, everything just seems to be going his way. From one wonderful accomplishment to another, Iran's nuclear agenda just keeps getting bigger and better, and what's more, Allah has willed it so. We have it on the highest authority. And the country's enemies had better watch out. Iran is sick and tired of taking it on the chin, accused by the West of harbouring ambitions that the West simply will not allow it.

The Islamic Republic of Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei has spoken his mind, and we should all listen up. This man of God whom Allah has authorized to ensure that his great republic achieve nuclear sufficiency, and even go beyond that simple necessity toward a greater one of nuclear weaponization knows whereof he speaks when he asserts that the United States is guilty of promoting terrorism. Just think: the world has always thought otherwise. But the simple fact is, the United States is terror incarnate.

That open hand of friendship that America's new president is proffering doesn't fool anyone. That public split with Israel over Iran's threats to annihilate the Jewish state is a ploy that is so inept only a fool would believe it. So there's Iran's response to Barack Obama's secretive plans with Israel to launch a perfectly unprovoked attack on the Islamic Republic. Don't even think of trying it; we can do you one better. Remember: Jews abhore death, Iranians embrace it; it's the calling card of Islamist jihadists.

The thing of it is, the need to destroy Jews and the Jewish state is so paramount, so vicariously entrenched in the psyche of the ayatollahs and the ahmadinejads of the country that a few hundred thousand, or let's be more practical, a few million incinerated Iranians here and there represent a tolerable sacrifice in the achievement of the greater goal of triumphalist Islam. Anyway, what's the big deal, the Hidden Imam is soon to reveal himself and it will all be moot.

A Pentagon spokesman, all puffed up with his own importance claimed "Iran is at a bit of a crossroads. They have a choice to make. They can either continue on this path of continued destabilization of the region or they can decide that they want to pursue relationships with countries in the region and the United States that are more normalized." Is this man sleep-walking into the future? Guess which they'll choose. Is Allah Muslim?

But of course President Barack Obama's offer of friendship is thought of as irresistible. Who would not warmly grasp an outstretched hand of friendship, choose diplomacy over warfare? To do otherwise is to deny the rationality of human capabilities. Is fundamentalism rational? Is there a modicum of naivette here rather surprising in a cosmopolitan academic of Mr. Obama's stature? That he feels goodwill extended is goodwill accepted?

Mr. Obama has asked Iran to "unclench its fist".

President Ahmadinejad's response is how're we doing, chum?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Been Done - Called The Mossad

The newly-appointed U.S. commander in Afghanistan has quite the curriculum vitae. Starting with his academic education, a B.S., U.S. Military Academy; M.A. in national security and strategic studies, U.S. Naval War College; M.S. in international relations, Salve Regina University, he appears as a new breed of academic-military men. He's had ample military experience, commanding the 74th Ranger Regiment, tours of duty in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Army's chief of staff in Afghanistan, head of the Joint Special Operations Command in the military.

He is well-positioned, given his education, experience and tactical engineering of a new type of joint fighting force using specially trained forces, science and technology to organize a unit whose war-footing is somewhat unorthodox, out of the stream of a regular army unit, secretive and covert. His personal dedication to the complex marriage of intelligence, technology and rapid-strike teams waging a conflict to balance that of guerrillas waging their strike-and-flee techniques is responsive to that type of challenge.

He might try using his intelligence and expertise in 'black operations' in tracking down just how it is that modern arms and munitions supplied at great cost by the United States to the Afghanistan army and police are somehow finding their way into the possession of the Taliban, making it even more difficult for allied troops in that country to counter the increasingly successful Taliban offensives, enabling them to take possession of greater portions of the country.

Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal's refining of his special operations branch he terms "collaborative warfare" integrating signals intercepts, human intelligence, spy planes and forensic sciences representing a top-secret strike body, sets him apart from his peers, and has given him an air of special mystique. Their purpose to track and kill terrorists in lightning-quick raids. Sounds familiar. Sounds very much like something that Israel perfected.

All the latest in technology in intelligence-gathering electronics is useful but there is nothing quite so successful as human intelligence, and the ability of secret agents to conscript spies to work on their behalf, divulging classified information, or data that can be useful in understanding and clarifying the tactics and priorities and placements of opponents' strategies. As such, Israel has long been considered the high-point in achieving 'human intelligence'.

Israel's Mossad agency has long been recognized as a pioneer in the techniques now being ascribed to the West Point's Lieutenant-General McChrystal. His Joint Special Operations Command's reputation as hard-boiled, practical and practised warriors has accrued a reputation not quite admired by Human Rights Watch; they are not immune to using extreme methods of physical coercion or psychological abuse to extract information of detainees.

Nor are they squeamish about tracking and killing, and conducting swiftly successful armed raids on targets they have determined exist to the detriment of the United States. Those targets named and recognized as leaders of al-Qaeda, insurgent leaders, renegade militia leaders, and general high-value targeting of terrorists and jihadists known to be involved in anti-American activities.

Are they prepared to give credit for their inspiration where it is due?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Israel is a nation of just over seven million people comprised of slightly in excess of 5-million Jews and another million-plus citizens that are Arab Palestinians, (Muslims and Christians) Bedouin and Druze. The number of Israeli Jews is roughly similar to that of American Jews. The nation is surrounded by Arab countries most of which have been at war with Israel over its 60-year existence. Aside from Egypt and Jordan which have signed peace agreements with Israel, relations with its neighbours range from cordial to uneasy to threatening.

Although no country-to-country war has been fought in decades, Israel remains beset by armed incursions by terror groups and regular bombing within its borders by irregular armies of 'resisters' to Israeli 'occupation' of Palestinian land. The guerrilla armies of Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas and other smaller factions all dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state constitute an everpresent threat to its population. The Islamic State of Iran presents as an even greater threat, vowing to eradicate Israel from the Middle East.

Its proxy armies of Hezbollah and Hamas remain front-and-centre in both Iran's and Syria's bonded dualism of destruction of Israel as their first order of business; Syria to regain the Golan Heights and to assuage its hatred of Jews and Israel, Iran to destroy a country and a benighted people whose spurning of Islam cannot be countenanced. And Lebanon, through the political power that Hezbollah, Syria and Iran now exert within it, the third of the triangulated axis.

As though that were not sufficient to cause each and every adult Israeli nightmares of anticipated disaster, the very people residing within the country, as Israeli-Arabs to whom Israel has granted full citizenship and who share in the political process by electing their own Arab-Israeli representatives to the Knesset increasingly demonstrate a growing antipathy to their own state.

Professor Sami Samocha of Haifa University has published results from the latest annual "Jewish Arab Relations Meter" that reveal 2 of every 5 Arab citizens of Israel, 40.5%, claim the Holocaust to be a myth, up from the 28% who denied the Holocaust in a survey taken three years earlier. Holocaust-denial is a given among the Arab population, inclusive of the 37% of Arabs with higher educations.

Taking their cue from the PA's Mahmoud Abbas, 41% of Israel's Arab citizens now recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish, democratic state as opposed to the 65.6% who recognized that right in 2003. While 53.7% agree with Israel's right to exist as an independent state at all, compared with 2003's 81.1% Another 56% of Arabs feel the 'right of return' of Arab 'refugees' should not be permitted into Israel's pre-1967 borders compared to the 72.2% who felt that way three years earlier.

Those who claimed to have participated in 'protest actions' over the last year numbered 44%, compared with the 28.7% who did in 2003, and 12.6% are in support of utilizing 'all means, including weapons' in the battle to 'improve their situation'. Up from the 5.4% who claimed similarly three years earlier. Arab citizens of Israel who feel comfortable with Arab children studying in a Jewish school represent 53.8% in proportion down from an earlier 70.5%.

Three years ago 27.2% of Israeli Arab citizens preferred not to accept Jews as close neighbours, and that number now stands at 47.3%. Not to worry over these statistics, according to Professor Samocha. Despite the hardening of positions, the obvious widening of the solitudes between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs in the opinion of Israel's Arab populations, no serious deterioration in the traditional stances has really penetrated the perceptions of the Arab population.

In reality, Israeli Arabs wish to live together with their Jewish neighbours - albeit not right next door, in peace and security. In other words, as much as they detest, distrust and decry their Jewish counterparts, they would still far prefer to live in the Jewish state with the freedoms and opportunities open to them, in comparison to living in a majority Arab state where none of those freedoms and opportunities can be assured.

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Face to Face

They met, they conversed, they conducted the meeting that both were somewhat apprehensive of. They certainly did not agree with one another's point of view. And little wonder; one state concerned over its longevity and the safety of its population, the other over its international reputation and the continuing availability of energy sourcing.

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: AP

One represents a powerful state, a world power capable of exercising its influence in a way that few other countries can, a country of over three hundred million people, with untold wealth and world influence taking up one-third of a continent shared by other, friendly nations. The other a tiny, still-fledgling state of seven million on a minuscule plot of land struggling to exist amidst other, larger states viewing its presence as an assault on their religious, social, heritage sensibilities.

The world power is accustomed to other countries listening carefully when it speaks and recommends a course of action. The tiny country has accustomed itself to listening and responding to the powerful pull of its inbred and hard-earned sense of security, toward its finely-honed antennae for resisting advice that will prove to be inimical to its existence, while remaining dependent on the goodwill of the other.

Their meeting was that of two strong-willed men, intelligent and cautious, each representing the highest executive office of their countries, each seeking the advantage, to impress the other by the forcefulness of their separate arguments. President Obama is concerned with settling the vexatious issue of Israeli-Palestinian adversity, to be concluded with a peace treaty and the establishing of a Palestinian state alongside that of Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is concerned with first things first; extracting from his country's long-time supporter the understanding that peace between adversaries comes a dim second to establishing security from the very real threat of extinction promised by a nuclear-weaponizing Islamist neighbour whose fiercely deadly agenda is to destroy Israel. That threat is a cudgel that even the Palestinians use to their advantage.

Islamist Iran and its fanatical ayatollahs use their proxy armies in Lebanon and Gaza to threaten the security of Israel, so the matter of peace and a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is moot, at best, accomplishing a questionable settlement for peace, one that no agency, individual or government in the Middle East outside Iran can guarantee.

The Israeli Prime Minister candidly states "I want to make it clear that we don't want to govern the Palestinians. We want to live in peace with them. We want them to govern themselves absent a handful of powers that could endanger the state of Israel." The PA has demonstrated no anxiety to meet the most basic Israeli assurance; that of acknowledging it as a Jewish state. For to do so would be to deny the PA's longer-range agenda.

There truly is not that much difference between Fatah refusing to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, and Hamas refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel as a state. Both have a similar agenda, approaching the conclusion of their agenda in a different fashion, toward the same end. If Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, leaving it to Hezbollah, and Israel's withdrawal from Gaza leaving it to Hamas leaves any lesson it is that peace is illusory.

Mr. Netanyahu wants to be cautious. The Palestinian Authority must demonstrate it is capable of building a firm and reliable infrastructure for a fully autonomous state, one that will not be caught up in building an army for the purpose of mounting an attack on its neighbour. It must show, conclusively, that it is interested in furthering the quality of life of Palestinians in a state of their own, committed to peace and neighbourliness.

In the words of the Washington Times editorial, it should 'earn the right to statehood', not merely be declaring that it is ready but by building the infrastructure for a nascent state, by accommodating itself to an even-handed acceptance of its neighbour. And not by demanding that Israel accept the 'right of return' for 6-million descendants of Palestinians who fled the "Naqbah" as a means of undermining Israel's Jewishness.

And while President Obama will not place an 'artificial deadline' on his country's diplomatic attempts to 'reach out' to Tehran, he must be prepared to listen to the counter-arguments of Israel's Prime Minister, that Israel considers Iran's threats against it as far more serious, far more needful of immediate attention and resolving than the two-state solution.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

In The Throes - Of What?

The United Nations has declared a dire situation unfolding in Pakistan's Swat Valley with hundreds of thousands of desperate Pakistani tribal villagers attempting to evade the war zone a humanitarian disaster in the making.

While Pakistani troops resolutely battle the Taliban for control of the country's Swat valley in ferocious battles a mere 100 miles from Islamabad, fearful civilians are attempting to flee the battle area. It is estimated that one million civilians have thus far fled to safety. And military officials suspect that among the refugees now being housed in temporary refugee camps some Taliban have managed to mingle with them, dressed in civilian garb, shaved of their typical facial hair.

The government of Pakistan has persuaded the international community that it is highly aware that this is a battle for its longevity as a government, for the country as a moderate and secular democracy. The impoverished country is hugely dependent on the billions of aid it receives from the United States, determined to push and shove the country to destroy the Taliban and with it, the al-Qaeda safe havens between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The agreement the government made with the Taliban in Swat, trading Sharia for peace, led to a final recognition that there is no pacification of the Taliban.

Once the terror groups entered Mingora, leading them close to the country's nuclear installations and military weapons caches, it became glaringly clear even to the most optimistic ostrich in the Pakistani administration that they were leading the country toward the kind of Islamification that would render it a victim to fanatical Islam, creating a nuclear time bomb for the world at large.

Pakistan resisted efforts by Washington to agree to enabling the U.S. to assist in safe-guarding their elderly nuclear devices, insisting it had the wherewithal to protect them on their own. The international community had nightmare visions of militant Islam taking possession of Pakistan's nuclear weapons arsenal, relatively crude and few as they are.

But the U.S. Congress has now been briefed about the disposition of billions in American military aid delivered to Pakistan being utilized in a way they hadn't anticipated.

Matthew Cavanaugh/European Pressphoto Agency Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, during a Senate hearing on Thursday.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, advised Congress of an increase in Pakistan's nuclear arsenal; that Pakistan, while in the throes of battling and controlling the Taliban advance has expended huge sums on new nuclear arms, producing an increasing nuclear arsenal at the very time that the old weapons presented for increasing concerns they might fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists.

Pakistan is busy with the production of new bomb-grade uranium and building a series of new reactors toward a new generation of weapons. For a country whose president recently declared itself in a position of existential concern, committed to battling a resurgent, well-armed and determined Islamist army, this dilution of attention and resources to re-stocking and modernizing the country's nuclear armaments more than adequately reflects its traditional priorities.

That the country is in no position to demonstrate its ability to protect that arsenal from falling into the hands of terrorists, along with its traditional mode of appeasement of those same terrorists gives no comfort to wary onlookers. A Brookings Institution scholar, Bruce Riedel, co-author of the U.S. president's review of the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy pointed out that Pakistan "has more terrorists per square mile than anyplace else on earth, and it has a nuclear weapons program that is growing faster than anyplace else on earth."

The country is in a chaotic condition in its battle against terrorism, funded by an American administration that chose to believe it was funding counter terrorism, now confounded by the reality that an independent country will comport itself in accordance with its values and priorities. And clearly Pakistan's priorities have always been to arm itself with the latest in nuclear weapons technology, while playing off the intent of the fundamentalists against national interests.

A blueprint for potential future collapse of a state neglectful of its internal priorities and international obligations. Scary as all hell.

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Obama's Abortion Position

President Obama could not be mated with a woman such as his well-educated, confident, professionally successful wife and not have been exposed to female-empowerment which insists on the right of a woman to determine whether she will carry a pregnancy to term. Aside from which the man is attuned to the needs of underprivileged women, whether living in his country or in parts of the world where American foreign-aid is supportive of the needs of women, making it imperative that he recognize that unwanted pregnancies benefit no one.

Appearing at the prestigious American Catholic University of Notre Dame, President Obama's stance on the abortion issue - no secret to anyone in the United States, since he expressed his firm views on abortion during his election campaign - has infuriated American Catholics. A resolutely condemnatory protest has issued from American bishops who have taken grave issue with the university for insisting it would award an honorary doctorate of laws to the president in recognition of his momentous election victory.

A protest petition of over 300,000 signatures of Catholics incensed against the university for stifling its own religious position with respect to abortion-as-murder was unable to compel the university president to stand down from his determination to give full honours to the new president, nor was the public criticism of some 70 American bishops. Barak Obama, president of the United States still walks on water. Irrespective of his second-guessing on some campaign issues, he enjoys a position of sheer adulation from a nice majority.

The Catholic Church stands by its position that the right to life represents a universal human right that abortion rights defile. President Obama goes beyond a tentative abortion-rights position that many supporters hold with rigidly defined lines in the sand. He not only insists that the right to abortion is a human right, in direct opposition to the stance of the Church, but he favours lifting all restrictions, inclusive of the period of gestation; that a full-term foetus can still legally be aborted.

He is actively against 'born-alive' laws; in favour of denying medical care for babies who somehow survive late-term abortions. And he has extended American foreign-aid dollars to funding abortions abroad, overturning his predecessors' withholding of aid to family planning centres in under-developed countries of the world which also counsel for abortion. A position originally taken by President Ronald Reagan, consigning poor women in third-world countries to an additional misery of unwanted children they can not care for.

Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president stoutly asserts it is President Obama's position as the first black president of the United States - without a doubt a singular achievement both for the president and for the country - that is being honoured. Both presidents appear to be a tad out of tune with the sentiments of what now appears to be a majority of Americans, given the results of the latest poll on the issue of abortion rights.

A new Gallup poll conducted May 7 - 10 came up with new figures: 51% of Americans claim to be pro-life, interpreted as opposition to abortion under any circumstances, a change in majority opinion since 1995. A mere year earlier 44% of Americans claimed to be pro-choice. Now, in this new poll 42% of American respondents claim to be pro-choice, down from 50% on 2008.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tiger, Tiger Burning Dim

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers may now see their shining star of Tamil liberation burned out in its plunge toward the atmosphere of defeat, but as an empowering symbol of guerrilla warfare unleashed on a state power, it served its purpose to inspire and to train other terror groups, most notably those in the Middle East. Tamil Sri Lankans had historically suffered degrading human rights abuses by the majority Sinhalese government of the country, and saw a country of their own the only solution to their subservient and oppressed condition.

Enter the Tamil Tigers, a dedicated, conscienceless group of terrorists determined to wreak havoc within the country by creating terror through their own version of massacres; attacking Sri Lankans in general and murdering Tamils who opposed their methodology, while blackmailing the general Tamil population into supporting their grimly murderous tactics to prevail in their nationalist battle. Tamil civilians, mindful of their delicate position, bereft of full status as protected citizens of the country, dependent on the success of a terror group for a homeland of their own, caught in an existential vice.

After decades of battling the ever-insurgent guerrillas, despite the occasion cease-fire that never had any lasting value, the government of Sri Lanka finally decided, after beefing up their military, to make an end to the insurgency. This was no casual army of volunteers they fought. The Tigers operated within a mini-state they had fought for, complete with a police force, ships and submarines, small planes and an arsenal of tanks. Funding from abroad through enforced expatriate Tamil 'charities' ensured a steady supply of underground munitions.

The Sri Lankan military were this time determined to obliterate the Tigers, and they didn't much care about fall-out. Hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians were held hostage by the Tigers, and fired upon by the military and the Tamil Tigers, both. Those who could fled in huge numbers, the wounded and the merely fearfully starving, to settle in meagerly-provisioned refugee camps. Humanitarian groups and foreign diplomats, along with news media were not permitted entry into the disputed area where fighting raged.

As the Tamil Tigers finally were forced to surrender, many of their elite opting for cyanide capsules rather than submitting to torture or death at the hands of the military, the sheer numbers of internally displaced and desperate civilians present as an overwhelming disaster of humanity in dire straits. The United Nations estimates are that 7,000 civilians were killed in the massive offensive, and 16,700 wounded.

There is an eerie resemblance between this offensive by the government of Sri Lanka against the terrorist Tamil Tigers and that between the State of Israel and its own terrorist entity in Gaza, Hamas. Hamas too presents as the protector of Palestinian Gazans, with its own police force, its armaments, its constant attacks on Israel leading to the Israel-Gaza offensive. Like the Tigers, Hamas used its population as a human shield, drawing fire from the military. Like the Tigers, Hamas murdered its own.

Unlike the government of Sri Lanka, Israel agreed to pull its IDF forces out of Gaza. Unlike Sri Lanka, Israel was internally perturbed, conscience-stricken at the deaths of civilians caused by the offensive in Gaza. Unlike Sri Lanka, whose deliberate ignoring of the censure of the international community led to a successful conclusion in obliterating the terror army of the Tigers, Israel has always been sensitive to pressure from abroad, pulling back before it might accomplish success.

Sri Lanka's problem has been put to rest, for the time being - before a resurgent group of militant Tamils once again surfaces. Israel's viciously vexatious problem with Hamas is infinitely more complex; that of a state forced to negotiate with a population wishing a state of their own alongside one that they covertly intend to continue terrorizing. Even from within the State of Israel, which has extended full citizenship to Palestinians living within the nation there are threats of upheaval.

Regardless of legitimizing Palestinians as fully-recognized citizens of the state, enabling them to elect Members of the Knesset, those MKs often prove to be resiliently devoted to the cause of jihad rather than the flourishing of the country that nourishes them. Where Israeli Jews celebrate the anniversary of the creation of their state, Israeli Palestinians view it as a day of mourning, "Nakba Day", where rallies are held to mourn the creation of Israel as a Jewish state.

The Israel-based Islamic Movement warns that Israel as a Jewish state is in the descendant, while Islamism within Israel is on the ascendancy. "The sun of Zionism will set as the sun of an Islamic state rises" proclaimed the sheik who is second in command of the Islamic Movement. "If there will be a future Nakba, it will be suffered by another people, not ours." The 'nakba' referred to is referenced as a 'catastrophe'. Young Israeli Muslims are warned to avoid serving Israel in any manner: "Do not fall into the trap of national service."

Sri Lanka faced a movement for secession, one it could have solved by ceding a parcel of land to the Tamils whom they have systematically and historically demeaned and ill-treated. Israel has no assurance that with an agreement to pull its settlements out of the West Bank and to agree to a two-state solution, it can secure peace for itself. The Israeli Arabs who have full nationhood in the State have no intention of leaving Israel to join a nascent Palestinian state.

They will work assiduously from within Israel to destroy the state and reclaim the entire geography, in tandem with the terror group Hamas. Handily assisted by Hezbollah, in deference to their masters in Syria and Iran.

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Twisting In The Nuclear Wind

North Korea has nuclear devices - and so has Pakistan, two states whose balance of power and power of unbalanced properties - in one instance a self-empowered, sado-masochistic muse of destructive entitlement, in the other a politically-conflicted state uncertain whether it can attain a measure of security hampered by the lethal forces of Islamofascism it had itself nurtured - worry the international community.

They represent a global headache whose impact has been raised a notch by the reality that a third nation ruled by religious-political fanatics is soon to join them.

Difficult in the extreme to ensure that rogue nations or nations whose underpinnings are so decidedly frail they may well join the growing ranks of the unpredictable fundamentalists whose ideologies grow them into threats to the rest of the humanity, do not attain to nuclear weaponry. It is, for the most part, the responsibly-governed, sanely executived nations who in good faith sign on to international codes meant to protect the global community, with rare exceptions.

Israel, herself a nuclear power, albeit officially undeclared, faces a belligerently overt threat to her existence by a neighbour boasting of its attainment of nuclear facilities, its entitlement to the same nuclear opportunities that respected, reliable, stable nations have attained, none of which would ever dream of threatening the existence of their neighbours, unprovoked, let alone with nuclear explosives. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that Israel can do to release herself from this threat.

To believe that if Israel gave up its (internationally illegal) presence in the West Bank, withdrew its self-protective troops from the Palestinian Territories, surrendered half of Jerusalem, offered unimaginable reparations to those Palestinians who fled the State of Israel in 1948 during the 'Nakbah', (in lieu of diluting the Jewish presence by accepting the 'right of return' of 6-million 'descendants') is delusional. It is the entirety of the geography, the very presence of Israel on "Islamic soil" that demands rectifying; the withdrawal of Israel by any means.

The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, Russia, China and the Arab League demand that Israel accept a 'peace plan' through the acceptance of a two-state solution whose details are mandated entirely by the Arab League and the Palestinians. Israel may have no say whatever in the details; no give-and-take, no bargaining for position, no trade, simply acceptance of what is being offered. And what is on offer is that the Arab states will accept Israel's presence and no longer be on a war-footing.

What is not on offer is their dedication to the removal from the equation of the Iranian threat, that of Syria, and their support, encouragement and funding of their proxy Islamist-jihad armies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The new American administration has presented Israel with an entirely new relationship. Once completely supportive of Israel, the United States' administration has taken an arms-length stance, demanding Israel surrender to the 'inevitable'.

And take her chances that a fully nuclear-armed Iran will turn out to be more bluster than blast. Would the United States' administration take that risk for themselves? When Iraq's Saddam Hussein felt entitled to secure Kuwait as a vassal-state, did not the U.S. administration of Bush senior assemble an international force to beat back Iraq and rescue Kuwait? The very same issue that impelled the Americans to rescue Kuwait is involved in the Israel-Iran equation: energy security.

Israel is to be the sacrificial lamb. Oil exports are not to be interfered with. The Arab oil states proved once in history how worrisome for the West an oil embargo could be to their economies, and neither the U.S. nor the E.U. wishes to provoke an energy backlash from irate oil providers.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Incitement To Genocide

Could there conceivably exist a more evil, transparently wretched human rights abuse than a state espousing the elimination of another, and with it the eradication of an entire ethnic group? Not that there is anything particularly new about the phenomenon. Been there, done that. The world looked back in horror with the realization that Nazi Germany fought two wars; one an overt battle with its Axis supporters against the Western-based Allies to achieve dominance over the world as an exemplary state of superior beings.

And the second was a semi-covert operation to which fascist Germany allocated scarce funding, dedicated resources that might have availed war-time advantage deployed elsewhere in the actual theatres of war. A sacrifice of time, personnel, funding, materials and technology for a singular purpose: to totally eradicate European Jewry. To extract from other European countries which the Nazis had overrun, their Jews, for the purpose of total annihilation. Perfecting a protocol and a mechanism whereby lives of men, women and children could be expedited into oblivion.

And succeeding singularly well. Millions of people died in the military campaigns of World War II. And then there were the mentally ill, the physically fragile and compromised, gypsies, homosexuals, political dissenters - all targeted for incarceration in death camps, work camps. And one group comprised solely of members of a particular 'race', an ethnic grouping with a tradition and a heritage dating back millennia in history set apart as representing a sub-human anomaly, a blight upon humanity, bearing commonality with primordial sludge.

With the defeat of the Axis powers, and the discovery of the extent of the Nazi dedication to obliterating Jews from the face of the Earth, the enormity of what that catastrophic event represented stunned the international community. It needn't have. There were many politicians and heads of state and international bodies that held a clear understanding of what was occurring. While deplorable, it was held to be a distraction from the main event.

Jews were generally held in such questionable esteem that one country after another simply turned away hopelessly desperate refugees on ships commissioned to take them to safety from the Holocaust. Including ships conveying refugee Jewish children. All spurned, all forced to return from where they had embarked. And to face the inevitable. But the World, post-conflict, swore it would never again permit any event so all-encompassing, so horrendous, to re-occur.

And we know where that led. We've seen Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur, all unfortunate events of history, reflecting in large part humanity's inability to forestall horrendous events of mass murder, deliberate attempts at genocidal cleansing. And look here, the Jews who were targeted for annihilation in 1939 have their counterpart in the Jews slated for obliteration in 2009.

For there is nothing quiet and covert about the stated determination of a theistic fascism declaring their intent to repeat the Holocaust. While steadfastly denying the historical occurrence of the original.

A perniciously backward and paranoid regime in Iran which yet arrogantly declares itself the inheritor of Islamic might and right, is able to stand in the United Nations, address the General Assembly, and have their president declare their intent to destroy Israel. That same nation, the same president which claims its God-given right, its status as a sovereign country, to own nuclear technology.

Unabashedly certain of their position in the world as the premier Islamist nation, expressing a universal distrust, grievance and hatred toward another UN member-country that this distinct threat can be repeated with confidence, time and again in the public sphere.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not alone in representing Iranian public policy; a former president and head of the Iranian military, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani added his polished world view.

In an interview he made the boast than an Iranian nuclear attack would be successful in killing up to five million Jews. A counter-attack by Israel would result in approximately fifteen million dead Iranians, he estimated. All expendable in the greater search for re-dedicating the geography Israel sits upon to Islam. Iran's dead would be considered a small 'sacrifice' from among the billions of Muslims world-wide.

And Iranians and Iran are not fearful of facing death. They believe that the End of Days is nigh, when the Hidden Imam will return, and Doomsday will be transformed to the 'Golden Age', bringing bounty and blessings to those who worship the true religion. Those infidels who do not worship Islam will lose their way in life. They have nothing to lose in sacrificing Muslim lives to advance that agenda. Heavenly bliss awaits.

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