Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nuclear Energy and C02

Radiation in soil around the site of the Fukushima nuclear plant is soaring, approximating the "dead zone" of Chernobyl. Radiation, it would appear has spread over 600 square kilometres, from the most recent report of contamination. Tetsuya Terasawa, spokesman for Tokyo Electric explained that the radiation levels are similar to those found after a nuclear bomb test. Well, obviously, since three of the five reactors had exploded, after all.

And we're brought up to date by the International Energy Agency which has related that "Energy-related carbon dioxide (C02) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history. This significant increase in C02 emissions and the locking in of future investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2.0C (3.6F)."

Reliance on coal-fired and gas-fired energy and wind-sourced and solar energy is rising and will continue to rise. And carbon emissions will follow that trend upward. Nuclear reactors of newer design with better safety features are coming on line in various parts of the world, although many countries have suffered a conscious set-back of insecurity in their plans for a nuclear future.

Nuclear-powered energy, however, is clean, and non-carbon emitting. It is dependable and capable of delivering energy when it is needed at rates that are needed, and it is less costly than other sources. The key watchword is caution and exacting design and specifications for safety taking into account all possible scenarios, attention to which the Tokyo Electric executives gave famously short shrift.

Now here is the fourth largest economy in the world suddenly announcing its politically-motivated decision to bypass nuclear energy; to take out of commission and mothball all its nuclear installations. Ironically, Germany is a country where the Greens are front and centre in environmental activism, and how a clean, reliable energy source gets a failing mark is a mystery.

France will remain dedicated to extracting a major portion of its energy requirements from ongoing and newly-installed nuclear facilities. And it will be more than happy to sell their energy to Germany. Germany will accept nuclear-based energy as long as it is sourced elsewhere than within the country; let others take the risk, not them.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Day Of Anger"

Egyptians packed Tahrir Square again. To express their dissatisfaction with the pace of change. Did they anticipate, truly, a wholesale and instant changeover from the tyranny of a dictatorship to a beneficial democracy? When the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is in charge? Much of what their immediate demands consisted of have been undertaken.

The forcible removal of their former president, and his ruling council, for example. President Hosni Mubarak ensured peace and stability in Egypt for the length of his tenure. He ruled over a people who submitted to a military-type dictatorship, one which saw the emergence of a healthier economy, but it seemed to benefit an entitled elite, not the dwindling middle class.

There was the syndrome of the Middle East reflected in Egypt where the youth, of whom there is a decided surfeit, were largely unemployed, restless, resentful and increasingly vocal. Motivated to use social networking to express their frustrations and plan among themselves to demonstrate in sufficient numbers to ensure that their ruling elite noticed.

The people were fed up with high food and energy costs. With lack of employment opportunities. They resented the strong arm of the police. They were aware of the corruption in government and in fact everywhere around them, because this too represented a way of life that spoke of tradition. Everything must change; they, the youth, were exposed to the knowledge of freedoms available in other countries, denied them.

It was everyone involved together; the secular, the religious, the indigent, the middle-class, teachers and doctors, lawyers and tourism employees. There was room for everyone, even the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Absent from this Day of Anger, however, since the evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood's recognition by the military.

This new Egypt is one in transition from dictatorship to arrested civility. The civil liberties that were demanded are not yet in sight, but criminal incivilities are, and socially-destructive tendencies among deviants within society have been unleashed. The new Egypt, absent the firm controlling direction of Hosni Mubarak has moved to a strange place resembling a tyranny of the oppressed.

While former president, Hosni Mubarak, his sons and his trusted friends must now stand trial on charges of corruption and murder in the unfortunate deaths of protesters, to the satisfaction of those same revolutionaries, the country appears to have dissolved into crime central. Extremist Muslims attacking Coptic Christians, burning their churches, threatening their very existence.

Thievery is becoming endemic. The police simply do not seem to be around in numbers sufficient to quell the criminal activity. People no longer feel free to venture out for strolls in the evenings as they once did. They prefer to be safe and remain at home. "We no longer control the streets", claimed one police officer tardily investigating a car theft.

The price of food staples is steadily increasing. There are fewer customers now for goods for sale. Shop owners are barely making a living. Neighbours who once were interested in helping one another now feel alienated from each other. "We can't find fuel. Things are being stolen every day."
"Even though there was no money, people would take care of each other. We would all find something to eat at the end of the day. today, no one cares about one another."
The country's economy seems in free fall; tourism has fallen off, and Egypt is appealing to the international community to keep the economy afloat. The World Bank has agreed to provide up to $4.5-billion to assist Egypt in its modernization efforts. And then?

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Rudimentary Caution

How utterly perilous fate and fortune can seem at times. When the unpredictable - despite that human caution should have predicted a similar scenario - occurs and all the best laid plans go awry. Except that the plans were not in the category of 'best laid'; they were shoddy and presumptive and insecure and inappropriate.

An island kingdom (comprised of three islands) with few natural resources other than the industry, resourcefulness and clever capability of its hard-working population, wholly committed to nuclear energy, building nuclear plants across the length and breadth of its geography, with far more in the planning stages.

Nuclear energy is clean and dependable and abundant, while requiring a high degree of caution.

Where was the caution when this very geography resides in an immense natural tectonic fault, with plates of the Earth undersea continually grinding, resulting in commonplace earthquakes. Quakes which, for the most part, are relatively minor in their effects. But for those which are not. And Japan has experienced a number of tremblors which had serious consequences.

But none in living memory that resulted in the consequences that arose from a 9.0-magnitude quake and a following tsunami with 15-metre-high waves. Japan's nuclear installations were built to a certain presumptive standard felt to be adequate for protection from disaster - but that standard was woefully inadequate.

The world's third-largest economy has been struck with $400-billion in damages, and shunted back into a recession. Ensuing power shortages have impacted on Japanese manufacturing. Nuclear fallout has ruined lives and livelihoods, destroyed critical crops and farm animals, imperilling the lives of people living in proximity to the Fukushima Plant.

The death of 15,000 people as a result of the quake and tsunami might not have been avoidable, but the fall-out from the arrogance of inferior decision-making with respect to best-practises in building safety codes and preparedness certainly could have been. The country must now continue coping with its attempts to shut down the destroyed reactors, plug the radiation leaks and place everything in cold storage.

The horrible mess of garbage left by the disasters, the ruined building and infrastructure debris, the appliances that must be discarded, the wrecks of ships, of vehicles, of innumerable items that were destroyed and must be cleared away will take a long time to complete. And the fall-out on the country's ability to continue manufacturing must be resolved.

It would be a further disaster if manufacturing, due to lack of reliable energy sources, would have to be sent elsewhere, putting Japanese out of work, on top of all the other untenable disasters already visited upon the country. TEPCO and the government of Japan itself has a lot to answer for to its population; both deserve public condemnation.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hard To Believe...?

Say it isn't so. The Islamic Republic of Iran is actively conspiring with the Government of Syria to brutalize Syrians who protest against their tyrannical government. That seems so out of character for Iran, doesn't it? It doesn't? Well, perhaps not. Shia Iran and Alawite Shia Syria do, after all, have much in common. Majority Sunni Syrians and Syrian Kurds are somewhat less than impressed with the government of Bashar al-Assad whose brother's militias are breaking their heads.

Since Iran has had ample opportunity to develop a functioning response to their own Iranian protesters who themselves have aspirations for a different kind of government, in employing the hard, brutal reactions of the Revolutionary Guard to quell the revolt of the reformers, both following the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and again in the wake of the Egyptian protests, it makes eminently good sense they would wish to share their response-effectiveness with their ally.

Image: A garbage can on fire in Tehran, Iran
AP A garbage can is set on fire as protesters march in Tehran, Iran, on Monday. Eyewitnesses reported that sporadic clashes erupted in central Tehran's Enghelab, or Revolution, Square between security forces and protesters.

To which end a stream of aid from Tehran has entered Syria in the form of trainers and advisers so that the anti-government demonstrations can be handily crushed. Computer surveillance developed by Iran has enabled Syria to arrest hundreds of its citizens. and Iranian military trainers are instructing their Syrian counterparts in their successful restraining techniques used against the "Green Movement" in 2009.

It is doubtful whether Syria requires any further lessons in incarceration techniques and the effectiveness of torture, rape and beatings, along with 'disappearing' those whose insufferable complaints against the administration cannot be tolerated. On its own, Syria has developed some truly impressive protocols for exacting discipline and punishment upon protesters.

The ritual of Friday prayers resulting in following protests are being answered by a full-blown crack-down of the Syrian military. The promise of reforms does not appear to have made those invested in the possibility of a different kind of country for their future and that of their children confident. Nor do they feel that their government feels their pain and their demands have been heard and understood.

And the United Nations, the EU, the US, and the G-8 have had their opportunities to express disaffection with the violence meted out by Syria toward its civilian population.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

G-8 Funding Arab Aid

The G8 has met again; the world leaders of the industrially, technologically, economically advanced countries of the world have discussed issues of global significance. The emergence of the world economy out of a severe downturn, for example, and the fragile economic condition of some countries like Greece and Portugal, Ireland and Spain, for example.

But it would seem the lion's share of discussion evolved around the "Arab Spring". The commitment of NATO in Libya, the new governments in Tunisia and Egypt, and the plight of Yemen and Syria with the governments of both exacting casualties among the protesters appealing for employment and political freedom.

The Group of Eight is concerned primarily with the issues that brought these protests into the light of day. Mass unemployment among the young of Arab and African countries. Restless youth who become easy recruits and foils for extremism. For behind all of these popular uprisings lurk the potential for yet another type of tyranny to take over from the old, discarded ones.

From the tyranny of inherited rule through family dynasties, the political elite, the military elite, the royal elite, the oil sheikdoms, to the more threatening tyranny of the politicized, extremist Islamists for whom the ideology of jihad and conquest is a threat not only to the populations at risk, but in their jihadi outreach, to the world of the West.

So the United States and Great Britain and France have expressed urgent appeals to their confreres to commit to providing additional economic support to Egypt and Tunisia - both in dire economic straits because the insurrections that so recently transformed the governance of both countries impacted badly on their trade and tourism.

The World Bank claims that without intervention all of the affected countries will continue to be unable to provide employment for their large and growing cohorts of young people coming of age and becoming increasingly frustrated and angered. The European Union, the International Monetary Fund are all pledging to assist.

Finally, and most importantly, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also pledging $4-billion and $10-billion respectively. But it must be noted that the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are fabulously wealthy from oil revenues. It makes little sense that it is the West, the United States, the European Union, the G-8, that are leading the charge to bring economic balance to Arab states.

What are those oil-invested rich Arab states waiting for? Islam decrees that it is an obligation for Muslims to aid one another. Why is it that it requires the impetus of Western countries to become involved and pledge billions they themselves are not in possession of, struggling to uplift their own economies out of recession, before the wealthy Gulf States think of assisting their Muslim brethren?

For its part, the Government of Canada has announced that monetary assistance will be funnelled through its contributions to such financial institutions as the African Development Bank and NGOs, rather than handing funding over directly to Egypt and Tunisia.

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Judgement Day Arrives

Yet another world-class psychopath has been apprehended. Ratko Mladic, for whom Serbia has long turned a blind eye to the urgent requests of the international community and the International Criminal Tribunal, has now finally been apprehended. Serbians in general, by a ratio of 7-to-1, consider him a war hero, someone whose exploits on the field of battle is heartily applauded.

His sixteen-year protection by the Serbian military, the government and the people, 78% of whom claimed in a recent enquiry that they would never turn him in, if they were aware of his presence, has come to an end. The reason for this is no mystery, for economics played a great part in the final collapse of his mendacious security.

The security of being enabled to join the European Union simply overrode the pride in continuing haven for the Butcher of Sarajevo.

"Ratko, our hero", is no more. Uncomfortable questions will continue to be asked, of course, how it was that Ratko Mladic was able to evade capture and extradition to the Hague for so long. He has been seen openly attending public events, dining at popular eating establishments, and living in peace and serenity tending his flock of goats at a farm owned by a cousin. He had powerful protectors.

The savagely bloodthirsty atrocities he commanded in the slaughter of civilian Bosnian Muslims marked him as extraordinarily conscienceless. Such hatred is exemplified by ethnic strife and resentment and historical events that become deeply seared in the collective memory of ethnic and tribal groups that have always despised one another.

It is not particularly that the Serbs were more heartless than the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims, since all three groups were fully capable of launching inhumanly deadly missions against one another. General Mladic's father was a partisan who was killed by pro-Nazi Croatian soldiers in 1945. The 500 years of Turkish rule in Serbia, detested and resented by Serbian Christians, linked Bosnian Muslims to the former oppressors.

These are entrenched background resentments and hatreds that could explain in part why each of the groups, Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, responded to their own impulses to slaughter one another. It is the order of the magnitude of Ratko Mladic's offence against humanity that sets him apart; his demented, anti-human determination to cleanse Bosnia of Muslims by driving them out, by massacring them.

The atrocities attributed to his urging of his troops to corral civilian males of all ages and in one fell swoop slaughter 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in a UN-protected 'safe' area of Srebrenica, sets him and them apart. Rape, torture, mutilation, and unspeakable atrocities were committed under his instruction and insistence.

Serbia's new president, Boris Tadic, anxious to bring his country into the EU, will be viewed by many Serbians as a traitor for allowing himself to be bullied by the United States and Britain with their security intelligence aiding him in the location and apprehension of Serbia's self-proclaimed "God". Now a sick, elderly man, no longer the fiercely fearful general charged with two counts of genocide.

A symbolic victory that will offer a ghost of closure for some, but not all of his victims, whose bleak lives echoes their loss of brothers, fathers, husbands, sons, and the carnage their daughters and they suffered, which can never be ameliorated.

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Another Hideous UN Travesty

As though more proof was needed that the United Nations, its minions and associated commissions represent an insult to rationality and democratic action. This world body whose function was to have been a universal representation for accommodating peace in the world, and ensuring that universal human rights be recognized as a basic right for all populations, has allowed itself to be turned inside out and owned by the very forces it was put together to vanquish from the world.

Those human-rights-abusing governments which violate the very tenets of human rights and cause untold suffering to their own populations are represented in positions of influence on the world body. They ensure, by their very numbers, that others like themselves are elevated to similar positions of influence through membership on various committees.

Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran, all countries which could stand as posters for corruption and the infliction of degraded misery on their populations - and for many of them the additional distinguishing marks of bloody slaughter in putting down insurrections - are supported by heads of countries whose own records are obviously deleteriously compromised.

Iran, a country known for its liberal use of the death penalty for political protesters, for 'enemies of the state', for torturing, raping and murdering homosexuals, apostates, women and men who protest their government's rule, remains a respected member of the UN. The country loudly proclaims its intention to destroy a neighbouring state, and no formal censure from the UN results.

And now the UN Economic & Social Council has voted to give an extension to Iran's membership in its Commission on Population & Development. It was removed months earlier from the board of a new agency of the UN whose purpose was to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women; another devious, laughable mismatch, but the wildly lunatic antics of UN members continues apace.

This is rationality and honest brokering gone amok, when a rogue country like Iran which defies UN sanctions brought against it for its defiance against the IAEA, in its determination to build unauthorized nuclear installations for the clear purpose of owning its own arsenal of nuclear warheads, can nonetheless be granted presence on various UN commissions.

While a country like Canada, which has finally broken with the General Assembly unspoken compact to never criticize any country - with the exception of the State of Israel - to call attention to Iran's dreadful human rights record, is denied a rotating seat on the temporary Security Council.

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Unrecognized Realities

NYT’s Tom Friedman Wants to Bring Tahrir Square to Jerusalem
by Prof. Phyllis Chesler Chesler Slams NYT’s Tom Friedman

This week, Tom Friedman more than earned his keep at The New York Times by essentially calling for the “non-violent” destruction of the Jewish State. I am not exaggerating. Wait until you read exactly what he’s written in his column: “Lessons From Tahrir Square.”

First, Friedman calls for a “Tahrir Square alternative” in terms of the 'Israel-Palestine'” impasse.

Tahrir Square? Did the man sleep through journalist Lara Logan’s gang rape there? Does he view such a mob as “peaceful” or “non-violent?” Does he not understand that the young Egyptian Wael Gonim has, perhaps unintentionally, paved the way for the far more organized Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists to assume power? Does Friedman actually believe that the Islamist factions at war with each other and with their overlords, chieftains, and dictators, are all engaged in “non-violent” social change?

Friedman does not focus on Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi or Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa —all of whom have been shooting down their own people in cold blood in the streets. He does not call for people of good will to “nonviolently” go and face these evil men down. No. Instead, listen to Friedman’s clarion call. He suggests that we should:

Announce that every Friday from today forward will be ‘Peace Day,’ and have thousands of West Bank Palestinians march nonviolently to Jerusalem, carrying two things — an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other. The sign should say: ‘Two states for two peoples. We, the Palestinian people, offer the Jewish people a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders — with mutually agreed adjustments — including Jerusalem, where the Arabs will control their neighborhoods and the Jews theirs.”

If Palestinians peacefully march to Jerusalem by the thousands every Friday with a clear peace message, it would become a global news event. Every network in the world would be there. Trust me, it would stimulate a real peace debate within Israel — especially if Palestinians invited youth delegations from around the Arab world to join the marches, carrying the Saudi peace initiative in Hebrew and Arabic. Israeli Jews and Arabs should be invited to march as well. Together, the marchers could draw up their own peace maps and upload them onto YouTube as a way of telling their leaders what Egyptian youth said to President Hosni Mubarak: “We’re not going to let you waste another day of our lives with your tired mantras and maneuvering.”

Alright, the man’s a regular Gandhi, hand him his dhoti (loincloth). However, why doesn’t Friedman also call for an international delegation to march to Sderot to serve as human shields against Hamas rockets? Why did he never call for thousands of peaceniks to “nonviolently” board Israeli buses during the heart of the Second Intifada — a new group of Freedom Riders to give innocent Israelis freedom from savage, bloody death?

Why doesn’t Friedman call for Western supporters of the Arab Spring to swarm over Syria’s or Libya’s borders holding signs calling for Assad’s and Qaddafi’s ouster? Thomas Friedman and Hosni Mubarak both came to power in 1981 (Friedman joined the Times that year).

Mubarak is now on trial for murder. Friedman should be on trial for murdering the truth. Alas, we live in America and in times in which the Big Lie is granted every academic and free speech right and the truth goes begging.

No one is less qualified to speak in support of the “Arab Spring” than Friedman who, on September 9, 2009, argued that America’s “one-party democracy” is worse than China’s “one-party autocracy.” As Martin Peretz has recently described him: “He wishes America were China, almost the way some native fascists like Charles Lindbergh wanted America to be like Germany and the way ignorant but ‘idealistic’ oodles of American intellectuals and radical Jewish immigrants wanted the country to be like Soviet Russia.”

Friedman views Israel as having “all the leverage,” as somehow capable of turning the tsunami of global Jew hatred right around. He scorns Netanyahu for refusing to use the “leverage” he now presumably has to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians. Has Friedman talked to Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, lately, or, for that matter, to his paymaster, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Has Friedman found them trustworthy, flexible, “non-violent?”

I find it chilling that Friedman calls for these “non-violent” marchers to do so “every Friday.” Is he unaware that violent jihad is often waged right after Friday Muslim religious services? Equally troubling is Friedman’s failure to understand how vulnerable Israel is geographically. Does the man even own a map of the region? Israel is vulnerable in the north (Lebanon, Hezbollah/Iran and Syria/Iran); Israel is vulnerable in the south (Gaza/Hamas/Iran and a potentially Islamist Egypt); Israel is vulnerable in the east given the “Palestinian” launching of suicide bombers from the West Bank. If, in addition, Jordan turns hostile, Israel is rendered further vulnerable and absolutely must command the Jordan Valley in order to protect Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion International airport.

What is Friedman really doing? Like Tony Kushner and many other Jews, Friedman also wants to be ahead of the curve when they come for the Jews. He wants to be the Jew who is spared because he is known for having condemned “Israeli apartheid” and the “Jewish apartheid state.” The burden of defending Israel merely by telling the truth is simply too much for the Friedmans and the Kushners to bear.

They refuse to condemn real apartheid—as it is practiced among Muslims and in Arab lands. It is far safer to condemn the Jewish State and to call for activists to “nonviolently” march against it. These marchers can be certain that Jewish soldiers will not shoot them down like dogs. They can be sure that the world and the wind will be at their backs. Were they to surge into Syria or Libya, they would be dead.

This way, they hope to avoid being beheaded, and in fact, decorated as heroes. They are not self-hating Jews. They are rank opportunists, mere conformists, extreme cowards.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 27 May 2011

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Correcting Associated Press Inaccuracies

Rebuttal to AP's Unprecedented Rebuttal of Netanyahu's Speech
by Hillel Fendel Rebuttal to AP's Rebuttal of PM

Someone named Josef Federman has written a rebuttal for the Associated Press - said to be an unbiased, international news source - to points made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his speech before the U.S. Congress this week.

Federman wrote that the Prime Minister's address reflected only the world view of "Israel's nationalistic right wing" - though a full 47% of Israelis said they were pleased with the speech.

The points with which Federman/AP wished to take issue appear below, followed by Federman/AP's rebuttals, followed by Israel National News commentary.

NETANYAHU: "In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We are not the British in India. We are not the Belgians in the Congo."

The rest of the quote (not provided by Federman/AP): “This is the land of our forefathers, the Land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one God, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw a vision of eternal peace. No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year old bond between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”

Federman/AP: While the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, is promised to the Jewish people in the Bible, the international community considers the West Bank occupied territory. Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war but has never annexed it. Its occupied status is underscored by the presence of tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers who protect Israeli settlements and control the movement of Palestinian residents in the name of security.

INN: Some in the international community do consider this land occupied, but in fact, the last nation in history to be both sovereign in Judea/Samaria and inhabit it was the Jewish People – in the year 68 C.E. Since then, the area has been under occupation a number of times, with Israel ultimately reclaiming it during the Six Day War from Jordan - the country that illegally invaded the area in 1948, and followed this up with an occupation and annexation recognized by no one in the world other than Britain and Pakistan.

Israel's legal claim to these areas, on the other hand, stems not from illegal invasion, but rather from its victory in a defensive war.

In fact, jurist and international law expert Stephen Schwebel - later the president of the International Court of Justice in The Hague - wrote in 1970 that "Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."

NETANYAHU: "You don't need to send American troops to Israel. We defend ourselves."

Federman/AP: Israel is a leading recipient of American foreign aid, including more than $1 billion in military assistance each year.

INN: Netanyahu meant to contrast Israel and its independent defense forces to the countries where US Army troops are deployed and risk their lives to help the local armed forces, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

His statement was made in the context of a comparison to other Arab states, and was followed by an expression of deep thanks.

Here is the full quote: “In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American. My friends, you don’t need to do nation-building in Israel. We’re already built. You don’t need to export democracy to Israel. We’ve already got it. You don’t need to send American troops to defend Israel. We defend ourselves. You’ve been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel’s security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this."

Federman/AP also did not mention that ahead of Israel in U.S. foreign aid are Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that in fourth place is Egypt.

NETANYAHU: "You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it."

Federman/AP: Israel does give its Arab minority full civil rights, including participation in elections. But Israeli Arabs suffer from systematic discrimination in housing and the workplace. Also, more than 2 million Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have Israeli citizenship and therefore cannot vote in Israeli elections.

INN: Yes, Israel does give its Arab minority full civil rights, including participation in elections and Arab MK's, precisely as Netanyahu said, and in sharp contrast with minorities in many Arab countries. The claim of systematic discrimination is groundless, as is evidenced by the number of Arab judges, lawyers, doctors, as compared to their population figures. The number of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria is nowhere near 2 million, and is in fact closer to 1.3 million; unlike their brethren in Israel, they do not have Israeli citizenship and do not vote because they are citizens of the Palestinian Authority.

NETANYAHU: "Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda."

Federman/AP: While Hamas and Al-Qaeda have killed hundreds of people in religious holy wars, they have no connection, and Hamas has in fact come under criticism from the global terror network for being too moderate. Al-Qaeda preaches global jihad. Hamas says its struggle is solely against Israel, not the West at large. In its Gaza stronghold, Hamas has violently clashed with smaller armed groups that claim inspiration from Al-Qaeda.

INN: Yes, Hamas and Al-Qaeda sometimes differ and even clash; does this mean that Hamas is not a murderous organization bent on Israel's destruction, just as Al-Qaeda is? And if Hamas wishes to concentrate its murderous intentions on Israeli Jews, or on Jews in general, and not on other Westerners, does that make Hamas an acceptable negotiating partner for Israel – or for any country?

NETANYAHU: "The vast majority of the 650,000 Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and greater Tel Aviv."

Federman/AP: Nearly all of these communities were built in the face of overwhelming international opposition and are considered illegal settlements by the world, including the U.S. There are 300,000 Israelis living in the West Bank and 200,000 in east Jerusalem, making a total of 500,000.

INN: Much of what Israel does, and even its very existence, is not applauded by all “the world.” The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were and are built not only in strict accordance with Israeli law, but in accordance with the British Mandate that recognized the right of the Jewish people to "close settlement" in the whole of the Mandated territory. As Eugene Rostow has written, “That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors. And perhaps not even then, in view of Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, the 'Palestine' article, which provides that 'nothing in the Charter shall be construed... to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments...'"

In addition, though some governments interpret the Geneva Convention of 1949 as forbidding Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, for one, did not agree, and specifically said that though the settlements pose a psychological obstacle to the peace process, they are legal.

For the record, over 300,000 Israelis live in Judea/Samaria and another 300,000-plus live in the Jerusalem areas liberated in 1967.

NETANYAHU: " The Palestinian economy is booming. It's growing by more than 10 percent a year."

Federman/AP: The West Bank economy is indeed growing rapidly. But the World Bank has noted that the growth comes after years of contraction during fighting with Israel and has been fueled by huge amounts of foreign aid. It warns the growth is unsustainable unless Israel does more to encourage the Palestinian private sector.

INN: Netanyahu actually followed the above by saying, “Palestinian cities … have shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, banks. They even have e-businesses. This is all happening without peace. Imagine what could happen with peace. Peace would herald a new day for both peoples. It would make the dream of a broader Arab-Israeli peace a realistic possibility. So now here is the question. You have to ask it. If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear, why has peace eluded us? … Because so far, the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it. [emphasis added]

As published on line at ArutzSheva, 27 May 2011

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Waiting In The Wings

The "Arab Spring" has made front-page news for months. The illusion in the minds of the West is that the protesters who were successful in Tunisia and Egypt, and who are now struggling in Libya and Yemen and Syria to force their governments to end traditional tyrannical rule running roughshod over human rights will be replaced eventually by democracies.

But this is the Middle East, and North Africa, under Islam. And Islam has undergone a stark transformation over the past fifty years and more. It is no longer the benign, albeit all-encompassing religious ideology it once was, calling its faithful to prayer five times daily, and exhorting them to be kind to one another as Muslim brethren.

This new manifestation of Islam, long in the brew, harks back to the original, whose evangelism succeeded by the sword. Instead of the sword, suicidal martyrs for the cause as fanatical jihadists are being constantly recruited and trained, making their faithful mark as living bombs. They slaughter Muslims and Westerners alike.

And it is not a benign version of Islam, the religion of peace that most of its adherents describe it as, that is waiting in the wings to take power, but offshoots of Wahhabism, and the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda, whose ultimate mission is the unification of Islam and the renaissance of a global Islamist presence under Sharia law.

Egypt, the most populous of the Arab countries is undergoing its transformation, in response to the call of its Tahrir Square protesters for freedom from dictatorship. It was the young, the unemployed, those who are familiar with Internet technology and social communication that led the way and they espoused democracy. Waiting in the wings, the Muslim Brotherhood.

While the youth espoused democracy, they and much of the 'street' denounced their President, Hosni Mubarak, for maintaining the country's peace treaty with Israel. The military was faithful to President Mubarak only until it could no longer confine the protests, then agreed to depose him. At which time the Muslim Brotherhood felt far freer to agitate for its agenda.

Things are beginning, slowly, to unravel. For Israel, as a nation seen as a creature of the West, an interloper, a foreign presence, an ethnic and religious apostasy within the Middle East. An official enquiry has found former President Mubarak and his two sons must stand trial for murder and corruption for which the death penalty will be exercised.

This is greatly pleasing to the Muslim Brotherhood. As is the decision to open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, to 'relieve' the blockade of Gaza. A spokesman for the European Border Assistance Mission has expressed concern that no invitation has been expressed to them to re-activate international standards for security checks in accordance with the 2005 agreement.

Israel's concern, needless to say, is the greater latitude available now to Hamas to continue smuggling arms and terrorists into Gaza from Egyptian sources. The peace deal between Egypt and Israel looks increasingly fragile.

Since Jordan is comprised of a majority Palestinian population its peace agreement with Israel too is hugely unpopular. The failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to re-commence is used as another excuse by Jordan to reconsider the viability of the peace agreement.

Syrians, embattled by their government, would far prefer that President al-Bashir go to war with Israel to reclaim the Golan Heights, than target their peaceful protests. Libyans too see Israel as an enemy, even while they struggle against their dictator.

Waiting in the wings in all these countries, as in Yemen, are the Islamists, for their opportunity to capture the opportunities now being extended to them through the overthrow of more secular-oriented tyrants within North Africa and the Middle East.

All is not as it seems to naive Western diplomats and politicians.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Comprehension Compromised

The Unbridgeable Obama-Netanyahu Gap
by Hillel Fendel Unbridgeable Obama-Netanyahu Gap

Analyst and former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger says Obama’s pro-Muslim advisors keep him unbridgeably away from understanding Netanyahu.

Amidst all the commentary and verbiage regarding the recent speeches by Obama and Netanyahu, American-Israeli expert Yoram Ettinger says the cultural and political gap between the two is unbridgeable – largely because of Obama’s pro-Muslim advisors and tilt.

The gap won’t be spanned, Ettinger writes, ”as long as the President assumes that the ethnic, religious, tribal and ideological violent power struggles on the Arab street constitute ‘a story of self-determination’ and ‘the vanguard of democracy.’"

Similarly, “Netanyahu cannot bridge the gap between himself and Obama as long as the President's world view is heavily influenced/shaped by his senior advisors: Valery Jarrett, who is the favorite of Muslim organizations in the U.S., Ambassador Susan Rice, who considers Israel part of the exploiting Western world and the Palestinians part of the exploited Third World, and Samantha Power, who is one of Israel's harshest critics in the U.S. In addition, Obama considers Prof. Rashid Khalidi, who was a key PLO spokesman in the U.S., a luminary on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Another issue preventing Obama from understanding Israel is his underlying assumption that the Israel-PLO issue is the “root cause of Middle East turbulence, the core cause of anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism, and the crown jewel of Arab policy-making.”

Assumption of Security in Insecure Borders

And possibly most significant of all, according to Ettinger, Obama “assumes that Israel can be secure - in the most violent and volatile region of the world - within the 1967 borders. Such borders would rob the Jewish State of its Cradle of History and would reduce its waistline to 9-15 miles (over-towered by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria) - the distance between JFK and LaGuardia airports...”

“How can the gap be bridged,” Ettinger asks, “when Obama considers the 1967 lines - and not hate-education in Abu Mazen's schools, media and mosques - the crux of the conflict?”

Ettinger has long said, and continues to say, that Israel must respond to illogical American demands with firmness and facts on the ground – as it has done, with positive results, several times in recent decades. Ben-Gurion defied the State Department; Eshkol built in and reunited Jerusalem over Johnson’s objections; Golda built four new Jerusalem neighborhoods when Nixon proposed the Rogers Plan; and Shamir rebuffed Presidential pressure in several areas.

On the other hand, Ettinger says, Netanyahu should focus Israel’s relations with the U.S. on issues such as enhanced strategic cooperation, the mounting threats to U.S. interests, the absence of any reliable/capable Arab ally, the intensified Iranian threat, the increased Russian and Chinese profile in the Middle East, the development of energy alternatives, water technologies, homeland security, and more.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 26 May 2011

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Concessions Breed Contempt

MORE Painful Concessions? Really?
by Jack Engelhard MORE Painful Concessions-Really?

Jack Engelhard wrote the international bestselling novel “Indecent Proposal” that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned in a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His award-winning book of memoirs, “Escape From Mount Moriah,” in the form of Nikila Cole’s filming of the book’s short story “My Father, Joe,” is an official selection in the CANNES Film Festival 2011.

Maybe I spoke too soon.

In these pages (“Bibi to World – Swap This!”), I wrote that Bibi found his inner Jabotinsky, which was true in his cage duel smack-down with Obama.

But when he spoke before Congress he also found some inner Olmert, and this is not good.

Where have we heard this before about “painful concessions?” We heard it from every prime minister preceding Bibi the past few decades and where did it get Israel? It got Hamas to the left and Hizbullah to the right. This brings to mind Einstein’s theory of stupidity – keep trying the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

Bibi – in addition to your readiness to make “painful concessions,” you also told Congress that you were prepared to be “very generous” with the Palestinian Arabs if only they’d come around. Olmert was also prepared to be very generous, and indeed he was, and his approval rating in Israel was two percent.

What is it about Israeli prime ministers that make them so “ready” to offer up Jewish territory?

Through successive prime ministers, Israel “painfully conceded” Sinai, Gaza and that buffer in Southern Lebanon which offered some strategic depth. How very generous, but what did it do, all these painful concessions, except whet the appetite for more painful concessions – until we’ve reached an American president who wants a painful concession all the way back to Auschwitz.

We call it “making peace through compromises.” They call it “making war through STAGES.”

Israel is nobody’s private real estate, to give or to share, and even Bibi came close to getting religion when he called the land “historic,” meaning God-given Biblical rights. Alert to liberals: When I say Biblical I don’t mean The New York Times. I mean The Five Books of Moses. (Alert to Fox News conservatives: Drop Neil Cavuto. On his show he listened to a man blame Israel for everything and he, Cavuto, uttered not a word in protest. Keep Glenn Beck!)

But then Bibi offered some of this historic territory for “two states for two peoples.” Not again! This was not what friends of Israel were rooting for in the speech to Congress.

Hasn’t this already been tried?

Take Gaza, please. How’s this “peace and security” working out for ya?

Concessions lead to concessions.

Even Menachem Begin never figured this out. When he gave up the Sinai (which never belonged to Egypt anyway, but that’s another story) he was under the impression (illusion?) that the entire world would embrace Israel. Typically Jewish – “if we give them one more thing, they will love us.” After Sinai, what more could they want?


Channeling Jabotinsky, Bibi was good…never again means never again…Israel reserves the right to defend itself…united Jerusalem…

We cheered. Even Congress loved those blunt words of defiance and valor.

I still say Bibi made a fine presentation, overall, and all that up against a world that judges Israel at every step with “mockeries and backbiting” (David/Psalm 35). He has been by far the best leader after a long line of disastrous dreamers. But he certainly slipped up when he repeated, word for word, the appeasements that doomed his predecessors.

The world has no pity for the weak, only admiration for the strong.

As King Solomon would say – “A time to dream and a time to get REAL.”

As published online at Arutz Sheva, 26 May 2011

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Declaration of War"

"It's time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, 'I will accept a Jewish state'. Those six words will change history." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Enunciating that phrase would make history too, for the sentiment on Mahmoud Abbas's tombstone after his untimely death would read: "He sold out". After all, his predecessor was given guarantees that the PLO would be given their demands within reason, with Israel prepared to make conciliatory sacrifices toward a peace agreement. And that craftily corrupt PLO leader Arafat, knew that signing the agreement would be tantamount to signing his death warrant.

No agreement, but the First Intifada ensued. And the rest is history there, too. Same game, same result. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority had ample time to come to the negotiating table when West Bank construction was suspended, but chose to dally until the last month of the suspension. Then moved away again from peace talks when the IDF entered Gaza to halt the bombardments over the border into Israel.

Timing is everything. Abbas and the PA need no longer make any pretense that peace is on to achieve their Palestinian State. Refusal to resume talks until and unless settlement construction is halted knowingly guaranteed to result in no obligation to join any talks. And preconditions such as right of return, division of Jerusalem and defined borders, some of which had been previously promised by Israel, yet rejected by the PA, are resolutely in place again.

The rock is the demands of the preconditions to even begin to talk, the hard place is the resolve to go directly and unilaterally to the United Nations for the ultimate declaration of a sovereign Palestinian State. The groundwork has been well laid through the careful pursuit of votes in the UN; Latin American states, Norway and many within the European Union are prepared to vote in favour.

Much is made of the Hamas charter, determined to push Israel out of the Middle East and reclaim all the land for one Palestinian state. Fatah is described as the 'moderate' faction representing Palestinian interests. But the Fatah charter, as made clear with the annual general meetings that reinvest in the concept, is very similar to the one articulated by Hamas. The difference is that Hamas is up-front, Fatah deceptive.
"You have to understand this: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We're not the British in India. We're not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers."
That claim, and $50 will get you a ticket for the operetta titled "No peace with Palestinians while Hamas in". Which will still not answer the burning question: how do you make peace with an entity dedicated to your destruction?

And the insistence that West Bank construction will commence as a reflection of normal growth and expansion patterns, and that it is only reasonable for reasonable people to shift into bargaining mode with the intention of agreeably addressing the potential of 'swaps' that the PA will buy into is a delusion. The PA buys into one scenario only, clearly stated to their core audience, but shielded from international view.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's well-received address to a joint meeting of the American Congress where his words were roundly applauded and he was feted as a statesman and an intellectual warrior, was greeted as a "declaration of war against the Palestinians", by the PA. Clearly, what Israel is resolved to maintain for itself, is not what the PA envisions.

Israel looks toward the potential, while understanding the realities on the ground, of living side-by-side with a Palestinian state which will harbour ambitions to destroy it, to satisfy the demands of the international community, while the Palestinian Authority comprised of Fatah and Hamas looks with glee to the potential of completely eviscerating Israel, while the international community looks on.

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Palestinian Revisionist History

Video: Abbas Says Palestinians 'Own History'
by Elad Benari Abbas: Palestinians Own History

The Palestinian Authority leadership, while telling the world it supports peace talks with Israel, continues to say otherwise when talking to its people through its own television channels.

The Palestinian Media Watch research institute presented on its website on Tuesday a video which aired on PA television on May 14, as part of the official events in Ramallah and in Gaza to mark ‘Nakba Day’ - the day the Palestinian Authority mourns what they term the “catastrophe” of the creation of the State of Israel.

Email readers: click HERE and scroll down to view video.

The video shows that in PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech in Gaza on Nakba Day, delivered in his name by his advisor and representative, he denied that Jews have a history in the Land of Israel and claimed a fictitious 9000 year-old Palestinian history dating back to 7000 BCE. This history, said Abbas, made Palestinians “the owners of history.”

Furthermore, Abbas taunted in his speech Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, saying: “National reconciliation [between Hamas and Fatah] is required in order to face Israel and Netanyahu. We say to him [Netanyahu], when he claims - that they [Jews] have a historical right dating back to 3000 years BCE - we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7000 year history BCE. This is the truth, which must be understood and we have to note it, in order to say: ‘Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history.’”

The canard that Palestinians are Canaanites was claimed by Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi tens of years ago in National Geographic and received with amusement. The Canaanites, as well as the other peoples mentioned in the Bible as living in the parts of the land of Israel, disappeared as distinguishable nations thousands of years ago. Except for the Jewish people, they are untraceable today.

PMW rightfully notes in its report that Abbas’ so-called history is a brazen distortion of known facts. Judean and Israeli history in the Land of Israel, says the report, dates back thousands of years and is documented by ancient Jewish and non-Jewish sources.

"Palestinians", however, is a term that has only recently begun to be used to identify Arabs in the region, most of whom, as documented in the book From Time Immemorial by Harvard professor Joan Peters, came in the early twentieth century hoping to cash in on Zionist economic prosperity.

There is no reference to a Palestinian-Arab nation in antiquity as Abbas claims. PMW notes that Islamic sources as well do not refer to Palestinians. In fact, the holy Muslim book, the Quran, refers to the people of Israel and to the destruction of their Temple in Jerusalem.

As published on line at ArutzSheva, 25 May 2011

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Pakistan, Defending Itself

"It is not possible for people with no familiarity with the military establishment to be able to carry out such an attack. Like in Rawalpindi, the militants had inside facilitators who provided access" Kamran Bokhari, Middle East and South Asia director for global intelligence firm STRATFOR.
Or, for example, the precision-like and accurately premeditated attack by a handful of jihadis on the Indian city of Mumbai, successfully slaughtering 138 Indians, 28 foreigners and wounding 293. The dead were represented by civilians, Indian security personnel and nine of the ten terrorists. The well-laid plans included attacks at the harbour, an elite hotel, a popular cafe, the rail station, a cinema, hospital and synagogue.

In a currently ongoing trial in Chicago two men originally from Pakistan, one with American the other with Canadian citizenship, testified to having been involved in planning the attack by providing the initial surveillance work, identifying sites to be focused upon and drawing up maps to assist the work of the ten terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba who trained the attackers had support from Pakistan's ISI and military officers.

Pakistan denied any involvement in the horrendous attack. So well organized that ten men were able to murder 166 people, including high-ranking Indian police. The jihadists were in constant contact with their mentors, exhorting them to kill as many innocent people as possible. Pakistan initially denied the attackers were Pakistani in origin, until the one captured attacker made further denials impossible.

Now Pakistan is experiencing huge embarrassment because al-Qaeda's famous founder has been proven to be sheltered by Pakistan just as claimed, for years. The Navy SEALs attack on a private compound dedicated to Osama bin Laden and his entourage, located right next door to the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad, is being treated as an unforgivable assault on Pakistan's sovereignty; denials of complicity in sheltering bin Laden are secondary.

And the Taliban, threatening to avenge the blood of their blessed martyr are striking back. Pakistan boasts its well-trained and -equipped military is second to none; in size perhaps, but effectiveness is questionable. Pakistan nonetheless assures the world, concerned about the inflamed presence of violent religious fanatics in the country and constantly breeding more, that its nuclear installations are safe.

They are contained within impenetrable confines, the mechanisms separated, with the military closely guarding the areas. Which came close to being over-run by a successful insurgency just a few years ago, eventually beaten back into the tribal areas by the military. But just yesterday a secure naval air force base was breached by a handful of well trained terrorists who simply cut through a wire and entered the confines.

The six well armed attackers, two of whom eventually escaped custody, successfully killed 12 security officers in a 17-hour gun battle. A process that saw them destroying a billion dollars' worth of U.S.-manufactured aircraft. This well-staged attack put the lie to Pakistan's boasts that its military is expertly capable of fending off attacks and controlling the extremists.

The problem is largely fuelled by the fact that the extremists are well entrenched within the military. Insider information is very useful in giving the terrorists huge advantages in timing and staging and executing their highly successful attacks.
"On the one hand, you've got elements within the security establishment that are helping the militants, and at the same time, the militants are attacking that same security establishment." Kamran Bokhari
But there is nothing particularly revelatory about any of this; it has been acknowledged and well known that the military and the intelligence services have sheltered elements of the extremists. Always denied, but generally accepted. And the military continues to play its role of controlling the government.

While urging the population to feast on its hatred for the U.S. whose predator drone attacks on leading Taliban militants are a matter of great concern. Of greater concern now that the U.S. has staged a coup of its own in destroying Osama bin Laden's home away from home, and taking him with it. Offending Pakistan and its military no end.

What is to stop the terrorists from availing themselves of some of the stock of nuclear warheads owned by Pakistan? They have the assurance of knowing that assistance will be forthcoming at the highest military levels to guide them unerringly to the source, and the knowledge that the military is not as alert, trained and capable as they claim themselves to be.

The world has good reason to shudder with grim anticipation.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nature, Raw

"Tornado deaths require two things. You have to have the tornado and you have to have people in the right or the wrong place." Harold Brooks, research meteorologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.

Now that's some title. But it would entitle him, as an expert, a professional with vast experience behind him in parsing the atmosphere and weather systems, to express his considered opinion. Which is that people seem to have a tendency to position themselves awkwardly in terms of proximity to natural systems, and at the same time insufficiently shielding themselves from the fall-out of weather systems.

Like building homes in flood plains. They're called flood plains for a reason. It's reasonable to assume that a river basin will at regular intervals, given extreme weather conditions, over run the constraints of their natural water runways, and flood the surrounding area. This is not extreme environmental science, it is rudely obvious and continually observed.

If someone insists on building homes at the foot of a volcano known to erupt on a regular basis, it is not a very prudent decision. If soil is mostly comprised of sand and clay it is well enough known that this is a very unstable combination where the soil can suddenly turn to slippery mush when inundated and cause landslides; don't build there.

In areas of the U.S. mid-west where high winds collide with the extremes of cold and warm air becoming hysterical in the process, tornadoes regularly ensue; it is the stuff of legends and even fondly, of very popular movies. In such tornado-prone environments it is a good idea to build after excavating basements. It is not a very good idea to place too many trailer homes on concrete pads.

"The biggest single demographic change that probably affects things is that the fraction of mobile homes in the United States has increased over the years." (Harold Brooks) People are advised to take shelter underground, if possible; this is where basements come in very handy in saving lives. For the powerful force of a tornado easily lifts mobile homes, cars and trucks.

When atmospheric conditions are just right, those twisters are formed. Warm, moist air colliding with cold, dry air. "In April, essentially, we were stuck in a pattern where that was the way things were for a couple of weeks, and that pattern didn't move so we had repeated episodes that were favourable for producing significant tornadoes"...Harold Brooks.

That said, it is horrible that the people in Joplin, Missouri, suffered the dread nightmare of a tornado with winds as high as 320 km/h, making their circumstances deadly beyond their imaginations. The city lost 116 residents to a cruel, early death, and there may be more deaths discovered as search teams continue to look for survivors.

Stories are recounted of survivors experiencing the terror of the sound and fury of tornadoes roaring through their town, their homes, the structures in which large numbers of people gather routinely to shop, to mingle, to receive medical treatment - being destroyed and with the material destruction, human deaths.

Sobering, soul-scorching trauma.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Lust and Anger in the Seraglio

Not quite the ascetic he enjoyed portraying himself as, after all. Abstemious, perhaps, preferring to live modestly as befits a man of god, who has committed himself to a holy jihad and prefers to live sparingly, as would a mujaheddin. But forswear from the comfort of sex on demand? Well, that's another thing altogether. Warriors of god require the comfort of feminine presence, available and biddable.

Is that not, after all, the reward for stalwart shaheeds, those who surrender their lives as martyrs for the love and honour of Islam? One may live in isolation and with anger and frustration, but it must be well directed, toward one's enemies. One may not with entirely good will live without the comfort of multiple wives, for the lack of their presence becomes an unnecessary distraction.

So for six or so years the most sought-after man in the world lived comfortably enough, hidden in plain sight from those who sought him. Exceedingly careful not to draw attention to his presence; which is to say the attention of those he sought to evade, and successfully did for many years, thanks to the kindly connivance of well-wishers in a location that had an unofficial plenitude of such.

But eschewing an Internet connection and ensuring that all such communications take place at a distance is not the only - although it is the most technologically modern - method of detection. An older one yet - that of a male-female relationship, and tracking one to the other - proved just as useful in the final analysis.

Who might have imagined that the man worshipped by jihadis the world over, and dreaded by intended victims the world over, lived in a buzzing beehive of female bitterness? Women, like his wives, well versed in Islamic heritage and the achievement of scholarship are just as susceptible as any others to issues of jealousy and unfair disentitlements.

To have invoked as his right the need and utility of assembling all his current wives within a close communion rather than disperse them, giving them separate dwellings in the commodious compound that was his in Abbottabad, was not a brilliant move. But it did expedite his convenience in deliberating where he would spend the night; on the second floor with his two older wives, or the third floor with his young and nubile wife.

Surely the vicious back-biting and spitting contests will soon come to an end, with the wives no longer seeing any need to blame one another and claim first place in the heart of their husband? Even if, because of his own lust for younger female flesh he called upon his youngest wife to join him in the compound, giving the CIA the tracking opportunity they required.

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Asian Allies In Need

Japanese Disaster Provides a Path for Asian Rapprochement
by Amiel Ungar Trilateral Summit in Tokyo

Sometimes natural disasters can help facilitate a rapprochement. Mass tragedy can evoke human sympathy, even amongst rivals, and and a rival smitten by disaster appears less threatening. The Chinese News Agency Xinhua, that habitually keeps the bitter memories of the Japanese occupation alive, was struck by the disaster as it accompanied Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on his visit to the stricken port of Yuriage.

Boats lie hundreds of meters away from the sea; sedans and trucks crashed or buried in the mud; wooden and metal materials and furniture for homes, shops or any other vulnerable buildings scattered around, leaving some concrete schools and hospitals stand, lonely.

Against the backdrop of Japan's disasters , Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak convened for a summit in Tokyo. Both China and South Korea promised aid to the stricken regions and the leaders paid their respects to the victims.

The countries got down to the issue of nuclear safety and security and, as opposed to the reaction in Germany the trio remains committed to nuclear energy with proper safeguards and reporting.

Another positive development emerging from the meeting was the planned trilateral free-trade agreement, pending the conclusion of studies by officials, academics and corporate representatives. The Chinese premier supports launching negotiations next year, although he will then be retiring from office.

The leaders also were prepared to cooperate in the fight against terrorism and the common threats of piracy off the coast of Somalia, a mutual interest of the 3 countries, as they all are dependent on oil shipments that pass near the troubled area.

As in the economic dialogue with the United States, one could discern that the Chinese were making an effort at reconciliation, having seen Japan and South Korea draw closer due to disappointments with China's failure to rein in North Korea. China made a concession on this issue by agreeing that North Korea should make gestures of goodwill before the 6 nation talks on resolving the nuclear crisis could resume.

But what does China intend to do when North Korea refuses to be conciliatory and stages further provocations? The Chinese response is that the six nation talks are the only game in town or as the Chinese premier told a joint news conference. "We're convinced that only dialogue and consultations are the ultimate way forward for resolving the peninsula's problems."

The divide between China, on the one hand, and Japan and South Korea on the other, were emphasized when during the talks it became known that North Korean leader Kim Jung Il was traveling through China for the third time this year. The likely purpose of the visit was to solicit more Chinese aid and to spur the development of border towns along the Yalu River. The cover story was that the North Korean leader was going to study Chinese economic development methods. This at least was what Wen relayed to South Korean president Lee.

It is doubtful that Lee bought the idea that Kim was about to dismantle his Stalinist system for the hybrid system of economic capitalism with one party political control. The exchange showed that disaster diplomacy has its limits.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 23 May 2011

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"Border Swaps"

On Obama’s Call for “’67 Borders w/ Swaps”
by Hillel Fendel Obama's Swaps - Arab Victory

Gamal Helal, a former Middle East affairs adviser to US presidents, says that Obama’s insistence that Israel must shrink to the size it was before 1967, even if inside different borders, is a victory for the Arab world.

“This new thesis, which President Obama presented in his Thursday's speech, supports the Arab viewpoint,” Helal told the A-Sharq al-Aussat newspaper, “and is a basic hindrance for the Israeli side, which links the size of Israel before 1967 to the ability to defend it.”

Helal explained why Israel does not wish to return to borders based on those of June 4, '67: “The Israelis say that if Israel is of small area, it will be difficult to defend it."

Other points, as well, in Obama’s two speeches over the past few days are worrisome to Israel supporters. Obama implied that the “Arab refugees” problem still needs to be negotiated, even if not immediately, and that the possibly-future PLO state must share a border with Jordan.

Passing Up Vagueness

However, the very fact that Obama delineated the size of future Israel, if not its borders, is a particularly blatant departure from prior US policy - to Israel’s detriment. Ex-Presidents Bush and Clinton both passed up chances to specify their preferred future borders. The famous April 2004 Bush Letter to Ariel Sharon, for example, stated only, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”

Many analysts have noted that neither UN Resolution 242 - which called for Israel to withdraw “from territories” and not “from the territories” - nor other binding requirements have ever defined the exact quantity of area that Israel might be required to leave.

Bad for Israel, US, and Peace

Ari Shavit, columnist for left-wing Haaretz, wrote that the manner in which Obama introduced the concept of the 1967 borders into the fray was “very bad for Israel, and very bad for the United States, and very bad for peace.” Shavit wrote that instead of “presenting the 1967 borders as the end of the process, Obama made them its start. Instead of tying them to the end of demands and the end of the conflict, they were tied to greater demands and continued conflict.”

This, Shavit continued, “presented Israel with a suicidal proposition: an interim agreement based on the 1967 borders… a proposal that will result in certain conflict in Jerusalem and in the inundation of Israel with refugees. It's a proposition that spells an end to peace, an end to stability and an end to the State of Israel.”

As published online at Arutz Sheva, 23 May 2011

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Perennially Vulnerable

It's an old adage, that war is hell. That civilian populations suffer inordinately, in the ravages of war. That, in the fog of war, destructive emotions run deeply, withdrawing the humanity from those who pursue it, and that the most immediate looting that follows battles and victories is that of women's human rights. The violation of women during, throughout, and as an aftermath of war has always been a given.

The bestial occupation of killing an enemy embraces also the rape of women and children; helpless victims of men entirely subscribed to the mindset that there is nothing and no one to respect, and that utter submission to the most elementally base instincts are permissible. It is an expression of anger, of revenge, of abysmal hatred. It is sometimes state-sanctioned as a mode of ethnic murder.

It is a living, human tragedy that victimizes and traumatizes and horrifies.

Girls of eight, of ten years of age, gang-raped. Women and girls brutalized, their vaginas torn as though beyond repair, setting them up for a lifetime of pain and suffering. Mothers raped in front of their children. Fathers forced to witness their daughters being gang-raped. Grandmothers raped as a sign of contempt in a complete breakdown of societal norms. But then, what is normal?

The rapes take place as soldiers enter villages and towns and look for victims. They take place as rebel militias seek revenge on rival tribes or clans or political supporters. Rape has not become a weapon of war. It has always been a weapon of war. It has been assumed since time immemorial that soldiers returning from a day on the battlefield would look for releasing recreational opportunities.

In Africa, in Rwanda, in Democratic Republic of Congo, in Sierra Leone, in Liberia, in Angola, in Burundi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Central African Republic it has become institutionalized, a recognized and useful way of leaving an indelible impression of fear and loathing on the population.

What should be respected and held sacrosanct, a woman's body, a girl's emerging womanhood, as the wellspring of the future, is mocked and destroyed. It is not just in Africa, needless to say. Although Africa is where the worst of the vile excesses take place.

It is an age-old practise that demeans us as humans, as human predators, viciously victimizing the helpless, those most deserving of care and protection.

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A Hard Place

"Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide, half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace. They were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive from them.

"We've gone through expulsion and pogroms and massacres and the murder of millions, but ... even at the nadir of the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of re-establishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the land of Israel.

And now it falls on my shoulders, as the prime minister of Israel at a time of extraordinary instability and uncertainty in the Middle East, to work with you to fashion a peace that will ensure Israel's security and will not jeopardize its survival."
Except that 'working with' President Obama and adhering to his stern advice - not meant to be rejected - to recede to former borders than those from which Israel is enabled to be vigilant, and to hope to be able to bargain with the Palestinian Authority which might very well be, at that point, under the complete aegis of Hamas, survival might very well be impossible to attain.

President Obama might have felt pretty good about issuing his considered opinion and his final statement on the situation, but it is not his country whose future is at stake, it is not his citizens whose survival is being imperilled, it is not he who will have to explain to future generations, should they ask, what went so horribly wrong ... again.

President Obama exceeded both his authority and his moral intelligence. Or he is willfully ill-informed. Failing that excuse, he is simply willing to appear the neutral interlocutor and to seem to do the bidding of those with formidable influence upon his way of thinking - and that is, of course, the 'progressive left', which is where his social conscience resides and always has. And, fact is, there are more Muslim and Arab votes in the U.S. than Jewish ones.

Not a bad place to be under some circumstances in some places, for many reasons, but a formula for disaster in the Middle East. The countries in the Middle East that are now grappling with social unrest, whose rulers are embattled and either forcibly stepping away from power, or forcibly instructing their military to use the power of violence against their own, are fractured by tribal, ethnic, religious and clan antipathies.

They do, however, have one issue in common. And 'they' represent both the ruling class and the violated underdogs, the repressive, dictatorial heads of state and the vastly disgruntled populations at large. Their common enemy is readily identified. They may detest one another and engage in brutal sectarian violence against one another, but there is still a unifying element that draws them to a common conclusion: Israel must go.

In this atmosphere and this background, President Obama has stated that Israel must withdraw and create for herself yet again a more vulnerable geography to defend. The issues of 'right of return', of the fracturing of Jerusalem, of the insistence of Prime Minister Netanyahu that any peace arrangement must include a vigilant Israeli military presence to head off any further, future attacks against Israel, were somehow lost in the shuffle of the discussion.

"I hope he makes the choice, the right choice, of choosing peace with Israel", Benjamin Netanyahu stated, knowing full well that Fatah's choice was to conciliate Hamas and reconcile as a reflection of what most Palestinians demanded. "Not going to happen", he said, addressing the issue of Israel absorbing returning Palestinians and their descendants; he could have been speaking of the right choice; choosing peace with Israel.

"The vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees. Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel: accept the grandchildren, really, and the great grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel's future as a Jewish state. Everyone knows it's not going to happen. and I think it's time to tell the Palestinians, forthrightly, it's not going to happen."

Any volunteers? Obama...?

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Affronting Obama

Those at the pinnacle of power and prestige do not take kindly to being lectured. A personality already well endowed with a robust sense of entitlement and confidence who now occupies the unique position of presenting as executive head of state of the most powerful, influential and wealthy country in the world is not a humble person, willing to be publicly rebuked. Political, elected peers may disagree with one another, but rarely is that disagreement discharged in public.

Particularly when one is highly dependent upon the discharge of goodwill from the powerful other. Knowing that ruffling the highly esteemed psychological feathers of the power elite might very well redound in a manner that would leave the weaker of the two whose position is really that of a political supplicant - to limp home with his mission a complete failure. But when it comes to the very existence of a country against the plans of hostile neighbours, desperate people make desperate decisions.

It is one thing for a country whose borders - though contested in its early formative years, are now writ in stone - to recommend to another, more recently-developed country, that its borders should be altered to suit the demands of an aggressively militant population aspiring to nationhood. One country has represented as a nation for hundreds of years, the other just over a half-century. No one would suggest to the United States that they are a usurper nation, other than native Americans.

Who have had to live through generations of occupation as original claimants of land that European settlers demanded be surrendered to them in recognition of their superior ethnic origin, wealth and social and technical advancement. Native Americans live in their distinct enclaves, still suffering discrimination - memories of government militias slaughtering them in their own struggle for recognition as original inhabitants - with residual resentment, but no longer claiming their rights of possession.

This is an ancient story, as old as humankind itself; a powerful tribe seeking the expansion of its territory and embarking on the adventure of conquest. Conquest-empowering clans seeking enlarged territories. Eventually, the conquered populations melded into that of the conquerors, each taking from their combined populations those attributes that enhanced the whole of society. And, traditionally, the last of the conquerors held the right of ownership of the land taken and control of the people absorbed.

Those who fled became migrants and were eventually absorbed by other, neighbouring countries. Like the ancient Israelites who saw their original and then second Temple of Solomon destroyed, memory of the homeland never faded, and the people returned, time and again to the geographic source of their original heritage. The Palestinians who were displaced, some willingly thinking it a temporary situation while Arab armies advanced to destroy the new State of Israel, were treated differently by history.

No Arab state was willing to absorb them, to give them the status of citizens, to take the recently-vacated place of Jews who had been summarily ousted from the Arab countries they had long lived within, their goods and chattels looted by the expelling states. They were to remain outcast from their land, a festering sore of aggravated resentment. The United Nations, suffering pangs of compassion, engineered into existence a first-and-only permanent refugee administration to service the needs of Palestinian refugees, in perpetuity.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in responding to U.S. President Barack Obama's decision that Israel must withdraw to its pre-1967 borders has decreed an imposition he had no moral or practical right to decide, imperilling the future of the State of Israel. The borders that the Palestinian Authority, the Arab world and the American president envisage as needful to arrive at a solution to the historical impasse, is the very one that left Israel a sitting duck when the assembled armies of the Arab world converged to destroy it, time and again.

In vigorously and compellingly defending itself, Israel took possession of the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the West Bank and Gaza. The latter two represented territory that the Palestinians refused to accept as mandated by the United Nations through Partition, while Israel jubilantly celebrated its portion. After continued spirals of violence and interregnums of resentful peace, the Palestinians now have decided to make a nation of their allotted geography, only it has now been altered in size.

And this alteration is not deemed suitable for the Palestinians, who demand not only that Israel vacate the less than 6% of that geography they occupy with settlements by right of actively protective response to attacks, but also welcome the return of the multitude of descendants of the original 'refugees' who fled the land. The ancient capital of Jerusalem must also be surrendered in part - that part most vital to the people of Israel - to the aspirations of the Palestinians.

For refusing outright President Obama's dictate to sacrifice the future of Israel to the aspirations of the Palestinians, Prime Minister Netanyahu has defended his country, his people, his integrity, dignity and role as leader of an embattled Jewish state. All of this has displeased President Barack Obama greatly. But not nearly as much as it has horrified Israelis that he has abandoned their right of existence. And not quite so displeased as the White House staff who have seen their man impudently dishonoured.

He is, after all, American president, President Barack Obama, one who has attained the heights of socio-political accomplishment. Nobel Laureate.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Godly Warriors

To be faithful to Islam is to totally surrender curiosity, the spirit of enquiry, belief in the rational, and of course to neglect purposely and purposefully free will. Those who succumb to the belief of Islamic precepts, accepting without question the necessity to utter surrender of self to the greater vision of an omniscient, omnipresent, all powerful being to whom they are but puppets, do so with relief that the ardency of their belief will relieve them of the struggle to be self-disciplined and intelligently discriminating.

When the entire purpose and script of life is laid out in a circumscribed manner that will permit of no other, there is no need to creatively make use of the cerebellum, all natural urges to learn and to become what fate and fortune may have in store are set aside. Allah will provide, and the providence of meek surrender will see everything through to an acceptable conclusion. Any conclusion, in fact, becomes acceptable because it is the will of God.

Believers' obligation begins and ends with implicit, inviolable belief. Islam is not an original or even an authentic religion; it is a distillation of religions that pre-dated it. An inheritor of Bedouin sensibilities and tribalism brilliantly took it upon himself to create a hybrid, and slowly but surely built upon an existing scaffold of religious devotion to create one more suitable to express the needs required to dominate a tribal, warring, Bedouin society.

The need to employ the aphorism of conquest drew its inspiration from what already motivated the people for whom the religion was constructed. And by contrast to this fine new religion that incorporated many of the initial concepts of its predecessor religions, Islam was the completion of Judaism and Christianity, both of which represented stages of development, with Islam presenting as the final and most authoritative version that pleased God mightily.

Believers were stimulated to pursue and discharge their mission to impress upon other tribes and eventually other national entities the superior exceptionality of Islam. If those to whom the virtues of Islam were presented balked at shedding their original and adapting to this new religion, they were persuaded to do so through militias whose slaughter of the recalcitrant became legendary. Conquest was a powerful incentive to changing minds.

And while the conquering hordes spread the vision and the glories inherent in Islam, they themselves settled into the conquered lands and found much there to admire and to adapt toward their own use. Cultures that represented originality and superior artistic and practical and philosophical and scientific advances were useful in the extreme, and given the Islamic stamp of approval, their nature and substance reflective of early Islamic practical advances.

And God approved, also. The divine word of God and the revelations contained therein were absorbed by greater numbers of the conquered. And all was well, with nations thriving under Islam seeing beauty in architecture, literature, and scholarly tracts all reflecting the divine character of Islamic ideals. Then all was not well, when a tide of Christian nations pushed back against the invaders and re-conquered lands originally theirs.

And humankind too was transformed in its philosophical and religious conversions toward the enlightenment touching the bastions of religious devotion and scholarly interpretations of same. With the exception of Islam, which remained rigidly mired in the perfection of the Koran and the sacredness of Allah's original dictation. The pathology of anger and hatred of those outside Islam created an atmosphere of more modern violent militancy that developed over time.

Dogmatic religious fanaticism bred intolerance and a vicious disregard for human rights, along with the creation of a permanent vision of jihad, necessary to hold back the tide of reason and the muffling of religious dogmatism. The theology of Islam which worked so well with its original targeted Bedouin tribal society has been hugely successful in trapping its faithful in the Middle Ages.

Radical Islam now at war with all the vestiges of Western influence has learned to manipulate the values that have resonance where rational thought lives, without itself succumbing to reason. It persuades its targets that they are wrong and Islam is right and the penalty for being wrong, is death, for infidels are not beloved of Allah for their stubborn resistance of his message.

There is no usefulness in the current state of affairs in the West where accommodation and concession to Islamic rules and messages and values, in the hopes that conciliation will take place between intellectual and religious solitudes will auger in a new age of co-operation. For accommodation and concession is interpreted as another kind of surrender; to the superiority of Islam.

And those who resist accommodation and concession, interpreted as surrender, are ripe for the backlash of Islamic anger; violent jihad. It is that long, simmering, inexorable underground war that is now waged against the West by Islamists. And which Muslims themselves are encouraged by their scholarly elite, their mullahs, ayatollahs and imams to name Islamophobia.

The phobia that Islamists wear and react against remains officially unnamed. Its godly warriors are those the West name terrorists, and this does not displease the Islamists for what they seek to impose upon the West is indeed terror.

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