Friday, September 30, 2011

Bad Brand/Pakistan

Once again the world sees Pakistan facing another catastrophic flood. The country that chose to build their own nuclear infrastructure and produce fissionable material to become the only Muslim nation to have nuclear bombs because of its incendiary hatred of India, has also chosen to leave their vulnerable flood-prone populations to their own devices.

Work might have been advanced on ameliorative defences against flood potential, but the plight of millions of Pakistanis came in a distant third to the imperative seen by the administration of President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was voted into power on the strength of his food aid promises to the indigent of Pakistan. Nonetheless, Pakistanis take great pride in their nuclear 'strength'.

And now, once again, another flooding disaster, under the watch of Bhutto's son-in-law, even as those who were impacted by last year's floods still have not been assisted by their government busy with so many other vital matters, like strengthening their military, buying up new arms with U.S. funding; effectively diverting funding that should be going to safety infrastructure, instead to Islamist militants.

Last year the international community responded generously to the plight of Pakistan's flood refugees. this year, the monsoon rains have killed 430 people and impacted on the lives of nine million people, left to camp out in the open, desperate for food, water and shelter. This year the international community has not been responding to open appeals by the International Red Cross and the United Nations for direly-needed assistance.

Pakistan's unenviable reputation as a haven for terrorists, its training camps and madrassas that turn out jihadis versed in the chapters of the Koran that inspire to violent jihad, has won it few friends. Its hosting of the Afghan Taliban and their great good friends, al-Qaeda, its ongoing squabbles with allies with whom it insists it struggles to contain terror, has diminished its reputation to the point of no return.

The September 13 attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, conducted by the Haqqani network, supported by Pakistan's military and the ISI, have finally, on top of the covert and successful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad put the nail in the coffin of trust - which was, in any event, misplaced - between Pakistan and western donors.

That the poor people of Pakistan are left to fend helplessly for themselves, with little international aid forthcoming and the government of Pakistan itself doing little-to-nothing, is simply the ill fortune of the disadvantaged in an unfair world.

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Pakistan's "Own Human Rights"

"Are we some jungle people that you can do anything with? This is the feeling of the people of Pakistan. Are we some animal that they are treating us like this? We are a sovereign country and we have our own human rights."
Too bad Pervez Musharraf, in that interview, did not set out what the Pakistan version of human rights might look like. It might have been an interesting exercise in evasive tactics. But then he was and continues to be a master at that game. Persuading the United States that in exchange for billions of U.S. Treasury, the Americans could count on Pakistan to be their trusted ally.

All the while the Inter Services Agency and the Pakistan military were merrily going their own way, fomenting problems for India, and conspiring within Afghanistan to ensure that no one in the region might become too complacent, feeling that perhaps an accommodation of co-operation could be attained. Pakistan remains fully committed to chaos in the region.

Pakistan's incendiary hatred for India ensured on the one hand it would always arm its terrorist groups to attack Indian Kashmir. And not just stop at Kashmir, as Mumbai and other attacks amply demonstrated. And because Pakistan was jealous of its hegemony in Afghanistan, mistrustful of India's assistance to Afghanistan, there was yet another reason to protect the Taliban.

Musharraf himself on a number of occasions saw fit to sue for peace between his government and the hill tribes that threatened government stability. Those tribes that sheltered the country's own version of the Taliban, attacking police and army installations to demonstrate they were under no government's thumb.

"If I was in government", Musharraf said, fully intending to return to Pakistan from his exile in London, "I would certainly be thinking how best to defend Pakistan's interests", which is code for continuing to have good relations with the powerful Islamist hill tribes whose loathing for the U.S. and support for al-Qaeda Pervez Musharraf himself, as president, surreptitiously supported.

"Certainly if Afghanistan is being used by India to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan, we would like to prevent that." This is Pakistan's tradition, its perennial fall-back position, its paranoia, clinging to their national pathogenic distrust and hatred of India.

He brought the outraged wrath of the Islamists down upon himself only when he finally decided to attack the fanatics of the Red Mosque who had gone about Islamabad threatening the insipid faith loyalties to Islam of the general population in the capital.

I'm a straight talker and I accept straight talk", he said, when nothing could be further from the truth; he always spoke with a forked tongue and always will. Claiming to be the great good friend of the United States while ensuring that the Pakistan military and the ISI continued to give cover to the Taliban which swept into Afghanistan to attack, then withdrew back into Pakistan.

"The United States doesn't understand the sensitivities of Pakistan - that the United States is in league with India, that Indians are allowed to do whatever they are doing in Afghanistan", he insisted. The man is delusional, and obsessed like all of Pakistan, on attacking India at every opportunity. Many of the continuing attacks in Afghanistan itself are directed at the Indian presence.

"As time passed I realized that President Hamid Karzai is playing more in the hands of Indians who were trying to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan. These were irritants that kept developing over the years and got converted into almost open hostility", he added. Almost?

Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani reporter, sets out in detail in his book Descent Into Chaos just how sinisterly-hypocritical the entire state apparatus was and continues to be in dealing with the United States. The current situation where the Americans have finally come straight out and charged Pakistan with double-dealing has been long in the making.

Pakistan smarts under the charges that they've been faux allies, avidly taking American funding and using it to help arm the militant groups that prey on Afghanistan and India, and who make occasional forays to attack ISAF troops and American forces in particular.

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Another PA Boycott

Imagine, Tony Blair, the special rapporteur for the Middle East Quartet is in bad odour with the Palestinian Authority. Who believe him to be rather too sympathetic to Israeli interests. However would they arrive at that consensus of opinion? They're threatening to take action that will effectively neutralize him; neuter him at the very least, giving his 'special envoy' status a heave into the garbage dump.

"There is no one within the Palestinian leadership that supports or likes or trusts Tony Blair, particularly because of the very dangerous role he played during our UN bid", said one Palestinian official. "He is considered persona non grata in Palestine. Although we can't prevent him from coming here, we can hopefully minimize the role he can play because he is not a mediator. He is totally biased on one side."

Could've fooled the Israelis, methinks. He does have rather impeccable credentials, nonetheless. There's his wife Cherie and her leftist enthusiasms, and her sister, Lauren Booth, who was inspired to become a Muslim; surely their influence has canted his bias toward the Palestinians...?

Let's face it, Mr. Blair was quietly going about doing his job to the best of his abilities. He didn't shout from the rooftops: "Give the Palestinians their State!" because it might have seemed rather at odds with his mandate on behalf of the Quartet. His mission was to bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

To prod them to find enough common ground to reach an agreement whereby each country would, through some form of sacrifice in abandoning some aspirational goal for the greater good of peace between them, find a peace agreement within reach. And with that agreement signed, sealed and delivered, progression to a Palestinian State.

Which state would continue to be reliant for a goodly portion of its economic success on ongoing placid relations with its neighbour. Receiving much of its energy resources through a compliant Israel, and trade opportunities, as well as the sharing of security, and guidance in best practises of all sorts, inclusive of social services, education, manufacturing, and the judiciary.

That's the pie-in-the-sky aspect of the situation, reflecting what the world at large feels should be happening, and which the PA has put the skids on. Removing themselves from the peace process in an orchestrated huff over something that has offered them a way out of an arrangement they are not fully invested in.

After over 60 years of being 'refugees', hugely dependent on the generosity of the international community for their ongoing financial support, the Palestinians still refuse to acknowledge to themselves that their drive to destroy Israel by whatever means possible; either violent revenge, or malicious reputation-bashing, will not gain them what they most wish for.

And that is, of course, to go back in time, to that era when they felt they were the inheritors of the land that was contested by Egypt and Jordan and eyed by others in the region as well. When Israel pulled the rug out from under their assurance of being masters of the geography the choice to divide the land simply wasn't a palatable option for them. Nor for their Arab neighbours.

That's all water under the dam, but the damn dam keeps bursting.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Irately Hurt, Poor Al-Qaeda

I guess they're entitled to feeling a little testy about the situation. After all, they are responsible - and bloody proud of it - for having perpetrated the most celebrated modern atrocity of our times. They aren't shy about promulgating their ideological rants against the Satanic evil West, and particularly the United States. They burnish their well-earned laurels throughout the Islamist world, dining out on that spectacular coup.

The attacks on the New York World Trade Center, the centre of American financial prestige; on the Pentagon, that inviolable military redoubt; and the failed attempt at the White House which still managed to evoke horror, terror and slaughter innocents, was theirs, and theirs alone. Al-Qaeda is jealous of its reputation, and intends to defend it from any and all intemperate slurs that it was not their bold and brilliant act, but represented instead an American conspiracy.

The bloody nerve! But what can you expect from those Shias anyway? Doing their best to tarnish the gold on a Sunni operation planned and carried out to perfection.

You'd think the United Nations would know better than to give that guy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, always spouting off about the Great Satan, another chance at the podium.
"The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al-Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government. So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?"
Pure hurt-feelings-rhetoric to which they kindly supplied their own answer online in their Despicable (oops, Inspire) magazine. "For [the Iranians] al-Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world." And al-Qaeda, don't you know, is really big on logic and evidence.

And al-Qaeda's inspiration to the disenfranched Muslims that populate the world is heart-warming in the extreme.

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Saudi Munificence

There exist within Canada Muslim schools which Saudi Arabia has generously funded. Saudi Arabia does lovely things like that; using its vast wealth to advance learning. Of course, it is not just Canada that is so generously endowed by Saudi altruism. It is also most of Europe where huge migrating Muslim populations have settled. And it is also the United States of America.

One should not overlook the fact that madrassas, as they are called, where young Muslim boys are indoctrinated into the finer points of Koranic precepts and law in the only language which has the sublime right to the Koran, Arabic, exist first and foremost, in Muslim countries. Muslim countries, that is, as diverse as Pakistan and Indonesia, for example.

Indonesia, using an example, is a most populous country, in fact the most populous Muslim country in the world. It has also been historically an open society, respectful of other religions, ethnic groups, that kind of open-mindedness. So it is interesting to note that Saudi Arabian generosity has been witnessed there with some degree of skepticism. Some might term it hostility.

Which might appear to be mightily ungrateful. After all, here is Saudi Arabia, willing to share its wealth through the publishing and dissemination of badly-needed school texts. Free! If any country might be responsible to be helpful in teaching young minds about Islam, it seems right that it be Saudi Arabia, since that country is, after all, the steward of the holiest sites in Islam.

And Saudi Arabia takes its responsibilities to the world of Islam seriously indeed. Just as it is serious about the brand of Islam that it adheres to, promotes and shares.

Yet that ingrate, Abdurrahman Wahid, in 2005, as then-president of Indonesia wrote of the danger of Saudi ideology, claiming it to be responsible for a "well-financed, multifaceted global movement that operates like a juggernaut in much of the developing world, and even among immigrant Muslim communities in the West".

Oh my, whatever would bring Mr. Wahid to that unkind conclusion? Anyone curious enough to find out on their own can do so by seeking online information where the texts are posted at the official Saudi Education site. As, for example, the following excerpts from school texts exported from Saudi Arabia to international destinations:
  • A grade 8 text: "The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians";
  • Lesson for Grade 8 class: As an exercise, students can spend time listing "Jews' condemnable qualities";
  • A Grade 10 text regarding abominable The Protocols of the Elders of Zion from 19th Century Czarist Russia: "These are secret decisions that aim at achieving domination of the world. They were exposed in the 19th Century and the Jews have tried to deny them, but evidence exists to prove their validity and their reproduction by the Elders of Zion";
  • For Grade 11: "Baha'ism: is one of the most destructive esoteric sects in the modern age".
The Saudis had promised to undertake to reform their school texts four years ago, and to "eliminate all passages that disparage or promote hatred toward any religion or religious groups". They simply haven't got around to it. It's a busy kingdom, after all, serving all those clients in other Muslim countries, and stressing the Wahaabist ideology of violent jihad in the struggle for Islamist domination.

A reminder of Saudi Arabia's perfidious position as an honoured 'friend' of the United States proven so adequately when fifteen of the 19 9/11 suicide-attack 'martyrs' were of Saudi origin is timely. Which is precisely one of the items that Nina Shea, director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom pointed out.
"Because of the Saudis' great oil wealth, it is able to disseminate its textbooks far and wide", she wrote in her report, Ten Years On. "These textbooks are posted on the Saudi Education Ministry's website and are shipped and distributed free by a vast Saudi-sponsored Sunni infrastructure to many Muslim schools, mosques and libraries throughout the world.

"This is not just hate mongering, it's promoting violence." Nina Shea

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Dividing Jerusalem

Wailing Wall (series) -12

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.
For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those plundered us requested mirth, saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth-- if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, "Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!"
O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!

Whose sacred city is this if not that of the ancient Israelites handed down through posterity to the nation of the Jews who inherited it? Next Year In Jerusalem, that ancient yearning for return has become reality, the re-establishment of a Jewish nation in a Jewish country as a Jewish state was achieved in the dark shadow of mass Jewish annihilation. The return to Zion was accomplished.

Now Zionism is held in scorn by the international community, claimed within the United Nations to be apartheid in nature, racially discriminatory, criminally bigoted, unsupportable. Those who have newly charged that Zionism is equated with racism have found a receptive audience world wide among others who are only too engaged in general agreement fostering anti-Semitism.

The scourge that will not die. Where once it was Europeans that promoted anti-Semitism for useful deployment in blaming Jews for all the ills that afflicted Europe, now it is the Muslim/Arab community that has found great use in the hateful slander. The ancient city of the Jews now is held to be the rightful inheritance of Palestinian Arabs. Not just any part of Jerusalem but the Old City where stands the most holy relic of Judaism's past.

When Jordan took 'possession' of the Old City of Jerusalem, it was made Judenrein, no Jews were permitted to remain there or to enter its confines, or to worship at the Temple Mount; the Wailing Wall. When Jordan saw fit to attack the State of Israel yet again, and lost, Israel took re-possession of the Old City, and with it Judaism's most sacred holy place.

Three thousand years of possession retained; yet the city's international legal position remains in bitter dispute.

"Gilo is not a settlement nor an outpost. It is a neighbourhood in the very heart of Jerusalem about five minutes from the centre of town", explained Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Netanyahu government, in response to the declarations of concern by the international community in the wake of news of the planned construction of a thousand new homes on annexed land.

Claims that peace talks would be further compromised ring out.

What peace talks? Would those be the intermittent and always-failed talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and its predecessor, both of whom always managed to find fault with any and all concessions, however painful that Israel offered? Each of those peace plans that were proffered included an intact Jerusalem, inclusive of Gilo, as Israel's prime possession.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton insists new settlement building to be "counter-productive". The question is, counter-productive to what, exactly? First off, Gilo is not a settlement, and an extension of needed housing that is being planned for the area, irrespective of the Palestinian Authority's insistence that this area must be considered as a future capital of a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians have a capital city and it is called Ramallah. The Jews have a capital city as well and it has always been, from antiquity to the present - except for the 16 years when it was under Jordanian domination, Jerusalem. Indivisible. The pre-condition that Mahmoud Abbas has declared for resumption of peace talks is an entirely new invention, one that earlier such talks were never predicated upon.
"As the navel is set in the centre of the human body,
so is the land of Israel the navel of the world...
situated in the centre of the world,
and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel,
and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem,
and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary,
and the ark in the centre of the holy place,
and the foundation stone before the holy place,
because from it the world was founded."
The dire insistence on immediately halting settlements before peace talks may once again resume, assumes that those peace talks could conceivably conclude with a reasonable settlement satisfactory to each of the protagonists. In the mind of the Palestinians nothing the Jewish State could offer would be grounds for peace. In the mind of the State of Israel, past offers however conciliatory and sincere, have been futile.

A studied look at the history of the area of the past 70 years by an observant and open mind could only conclude that the differences between the two antagonist-protagonists are irreconcilable. Even when a desperate effort is put forward to conclude a peace treaty, the other side withdraws, while declaring it is that side which has invested an effort to be at fault.

A little-observed fact that Jordan was invested as a 'country' where none had been before, and in the process took up the major portion of the land dedicated to the Palestinians is simply overlooked. There, in Jordan, is Palestine.

As for Gaza, Egypt may reclaim it, and best of wishes.

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Fighting Battles

If memory serves, this is the very motley group that banded together, ignoring ideological differences and historical tribal and clan agitation to forge a working group to remove their dictator whose enforced popularity on his unwilling subjects has worn too thin for continued fealty. Before they gave themselves the honorific of National Transitional Council, that is, when the Libyan warriors declared they needed no outside assistance, thanks but no thanks.

Oops, on second consideration, wait just a minute. Overflights, you say? Covering the rebels' backs? Oh, protecting the innocent citizens of Libya. Certainly, certainly there's an obvious need for that when the Lion of Africa's military minions concentrated on following his bidding to stifle the insurrection of the lowly insects who dared oppose his continued rule. The foreign elements and the terror groups that worked to bring him down. The Islamists awaiting opportunity.

So, please, they said, and thank you very much. And the United Nations agreed on the need for NATO to perform in its much-practised role as defenders-of-hapless-Muslims-from-their-tyrants. Without NATO involvement how successful might the opposition to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi have been in the final analysis? Even with NATO's investment in the bombing ritual, taking out loyalist troops' tanks and artillery, warplanes and assaults, the rebels struggled.

And as they struggled, complained that NATO was just sitting on its haunches when it should be fiercely attacking. Not protecting Libyans from heavy-metal onslaughts, but attacking. Who should be fighting their battles for them, after all? After all, wasn't it they who pridefully boasted they neither needed nor wanted nor would allow foreign boots on the ground? They were capable and more than capable of fending for themselves.

And now that the battle for the country is all but won, and the international community has pretty well unanimously recognized the new leaders of Libya to be the National Transitional Council, there they go again. Complaining that NATO is not sufficiently pulling its weight. The rebel troops, armed and even trained by NATO-member countries, well provisioned and encouraged by NATO's hovering presence, insists NATO must intensify the air war.

The rebels are wearying of the struggle to free themselves from tyranny of their own volition on their own dime. Government forces are out-matching their ferocity in Bani Walid and Sirte. It's those damned sons of Moammar Gadhafi, hanging in there, spurring the loyalists to prove their loyalty to the governing clan. The rebels are chafing, champing at the bit, fed up.

Whose war is it, pray tell?

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Only In Japan

In the context of a culture that has expectations that the social contract accepted widely within Japan with people respecting each other, their society and public and private property, it is hardly surprising, although it is admirable in the extreme, that Japanese exhibit the kind of honesty rarely seen elsewhere. It was recently revealed that the population has been responding to the discovery of lost wealth found in unexpected places by turning it in to the authorities for restitution to the owners.

In the wake of the dreadful tsunami that followed on Japan's record-breaking earthquake that resulted in a triple emergency hazard impacting on the Fukushima nuclear plant and surrounding area, envelopes, purses, safes and other containers have been found with money and valuables inside. Those making the discoveries have gone to great lengths to return them to central authorities, urging that the original owners be found and their property restored to them.

Needless to say, those Japanese who were not directly affected by the triple catastrophes would have compassion for those who were. But, in fact, it is generally reflective of the Japanese character, persona, psyche, that what belongs to others must be respected. Where else on Earth would you find bicycles, electric bikes, motorcycles and other conveyances left in central areas on busy streets, unattended, unlocked, unchained and never disturbed?

Where else might you find that people will place their coveted, treasured family heirlooms in the shape of fabulous, well-tended bonsai, sitting outside a door on an urban street, in crowded downtown Tokyo, and no one would dream of taking possession of it, or harming it? Where else would you see beautifully proportioned and painted fishbowls sitting outside the entrances of private homes on busy main streets with gold-and-silver carp swimming peacefully therein, and no one would think of harming or taking that treasure?

Where else could you see other than on busy thoroughfares in Tokyo, vendors of pricey jewellery displaying them casually on knock-down shelving as crowds throng past, and no one would conceive of the notion to steal anything from the vendor, distracted by serving a customer, an onlooker ignoring the opportunity to surreptitiously take an item without payment?

The Japanese public is scrupulously honest. People are not easily led astray. Tens of millions of dollars (yen) have been discovered carried away on flood waters as houses, automobiles, safes were washed out to sea, and then bits and pieces carried back inland. Over 5,700 safes have been recovered as nearby residents alert police to retrieve them from the waters.

Of the $30-million so far turned in by finders or discovered in various vessels, only a half-million has yet to be restored to its rightful owners. In those instances where ownership cannot be determined, the finders have waived their legal right to take ownership of the found treasure, insisting instead that it be included in a fund to assist those who were impacted by the tsunami.

Yet another incomparably admirable feature of the people of Japan.

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The World's Newest Nation

It was only a matter of time. Not very much time, at that. Any onlooker might have predicted that it would come to this, and worse. In fact, it never stopped; it's just now in the process of escalating, and escalating to the point of no return. The bloodshed that Sudan saw in its civil war in which two million people died, and which the long-awaited partition vote resulting in the creation and UN acknowledgement of the country of South Sudan, will soon be re-visited.

Squabbling and violence between the north and the south never really ceased. It was land, of course, and the use of the land, the nomadic sheep-herders versus the traditional farmers. It was territory of course, that the north did not wish to surrender to the south. Above all, it was oil wealth that complicated the issue beyond measure. The threats that ominously emanated from the north to the south did not, however, deter the people of the south from claiming their autonomy.

But even though the two countries are now separate, and they are, for all intents and purposes, irreconcilable, there are other areas of Sudan that pose a challenge to the domination of the government in Khartoum. It is an area of the world where tribalism, clan warfare, religious strife and ethnicity all conspire to continue the war footing.

The Islamic government that rules Sudan and which violated the human rights of its black African farmers in Darfur, by mass deportation, mass rape, mass murder is set to repeat the crimes that the International Criminal Court found its president, Omar al-Bashir guilty of: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

2010_Sudan_<span class=Bashir.jpg">

Al Bashir is contemptuous of the charges and has refused the court's summons to appear before it. He has the support of all the Islamic countries of the Middle East and Africa. He will not be held to account, to stand before any elements of the West representing the international community and he is free to continue his oppression, exploitation, human rights abuses, and war against Black Sudanese.

The Arab/Muslim dominated north is free to and will continue to dominate the non-Muslim, African-populated south. Sudan's military, with its bombers, fighter jets, ground troops, armoured personnel carriers, battle tanks and artillery is prepared to mount their offensive against the ill-equipped people of the south.

Assaults against various southern regions of the country are ongoing to drive out the rebels battling the Muslim forces. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the areas under attack, some crossing over into Ethiopia as refugees. As for the new nation of South Sudan, UN agencies point out a chronic food shortage, a refugee problem, and security problems.

Stressed additionally by inter-communal conflicts that are so common in Africa with battles over tribal entitlements, land, animals, access to water, a famine situation is emerging where a third of the population is said to be "moderately or severely food insecure".

Not a very auspicious coming-out for the world's newest nation.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Martyrdom-Prone Jihadis

Saddam Hussein, though he boasted that he had the capability to be eminently destructive to those who opposed him, did not actually possess weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations had been treated to an expose of Saddam Hussein's diabolical plans by George W. Bush's administration when Colin Powell, against his better judgement, was dispatched to lecture on the hypothesis-turned-reality that there were moving caravans of nuclear materials and laboratories full of deadly pathogens floating through the desert on wheels, undetected.

The plan was, obviously, to give the American public the indelible impression that Saddam Hussein, that truly mendaciously evil man, had intentions beyond mass slaughter through conventional means, but that he posed a dire and direct danger to America itself, however improbable that might seem. If not America itself, then its European allies, and American troops stationed in the Middle East, who must be protected at all costs. Those costs would include an invasion of Iraq, to rescue Iraqis from the tyranny of evil.

An invasion which, with America's reliable (and gullible) allies, would take no time at all, to sort things out and set things to rights. Above all, Iraq would become the Arab world's first real and true democracy thanks to American temporary oversight, introducing that country to the delights of freedom and opportunities never before imagined. The new world of republican democracy teaching the old world of antique regency how to suck eggs big time. Which set the stage for a grand display of atrocities as one Islamic sect set upon the other, settling old scores.

But that's Iraq. Now, in Libya, the discovery of a number of casually neglected sites that represent military stockpiles of uranium offer another story. Another country, another ruthless and dedicated purveyor of terror and mayhem, erstwhile ally-cum-enemy. This is the Middle East and North Africa, after all, Arab and Muslim countries for whom yesterday is as near and dear as today, and old animosities and tribal vengeance are as vibrant and necessary as the air breathed there.

Niger yellowcake meant to be maintained under a regimen of strict security lest it and its deadly potential for refinement into nuclear-weapons-grade be accomplished, simply left to moulder and seethe. Causing, according to the newly-alerted tribeal Bedouin living nearby, any number of dreadful birth defects in the babies born in the general vicinity.

Iran might have been amenable to taking the yellowcake off Moammar Gadhafi's hands after he assured Western nations that he no longer harboured the ambition to become a nuclear state.

And of course, al-Qaeda affiliates would have been more than a trifle interested, even eager to acquire it as well, for their fledgling ambition also to become nuclear-armed. Whether some of the depots were discovered for what they contained, and whether they were depleted of their stock may yet to be determined. Discovered, however, were some ten thousand drums with a total capacity of two million litres rather carelessly stored, the barrels rusting.

The IAEA has been alerted and is in the process of arranging for those depots to be safeguarded in their desert dumps. Presumably, it is unknown where the blueprints for developing nuclear weapons obtained from the estimable and ever-so-accommodating A.Q. Khan might be located. These are irritating little details that may or may not be sorted out in days to come. The public may or may not hear further on the subject.

Weapons of mass destruction? Presumably lethal gases and deadly disease pathogens fall into that category, should the means for delivery be secured; in some cases poisoning municipal water systems would do quite well; one such was a source of the Black Plague that historically decimated Europe on several occasions, after all. Such scourges occur naturally from time to time, but there's no gainsaying that diabolical plans to deliberately impose such horrors could not succeed.

And of course, the ultimate achievement, the procuring of nuclear warheads to tip ballistic missiles. Now there's a wet dream for the growing community of dedicated martyrdom-prone jihadis.

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Fearlessly Courageous: Unbowed

<span class=

Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, center, dances with traditionally dressed Kenyans as she returns to Nairobi from Norway with her prize in 2004. (Radu Sigheti, Reuters Photo)

"OK, this is the tree. We're going to observe the tree until it produces seeds. When they're ready, we'll harvest them. We'll germinate them. We'll nurture them. We'll plant them in our gardens. If they are fruit trees, within five years we will have fruits. If they're for fodder, our animals will have fodder." Wangari Maathai
Women: empowered, they become the hope of Africa. One African woman empowered herself and by that process inspired others. She was, of course, a remarkably capable and self-assured woman who had achieved much through determination, intelligence and strength of character. A Kenyan woman who remembered her childhood, of being affected by the sight of forests cleared, the flora and fauna destroyed so that crops could be grown for commercial plantations and export.

Children's memories that make a true impression on their psyches remain with them, form their outlook on life, represent their emerging values. Exploitation of a natural resource that harboured life, destroying that life to replace it with something of little value to the people who lived there, but which would make financial gains for foreign interests and a corrupt government represented a fundamental wrong to the child, and eventually inspired the woman to action.

Had she done little else, she would have been remarkable for the fact that she won a scholarship to study biology in the United States, returning to Kenya and earning a doctorate in veterinary anatomy at the University of Nairobi, and finally being appointed to a professorship there. She became a director of the Kenyan branch of the Red Cross. She spoke to the United Nations of women struggling to survive in a hostile environment of penurious want.

She understood that her country's ecology was dependent on a life-cycle of interdependence; forests protected wildlife and also ensured the continuity of water preservation; environment degradation led to further disentitlements and endemic poverty and disease. She decided she would lead a movement of women dedicated to replacing the forests that had been destroyed. She taught women to plant trees.

"It wasn't something I had given much thought to. But it turned out to be a wonderful idea because it is easy, it is doable, and you could go and tell ordinary women with no education, "OK, this is the tree, we're going to plant it." She founded the Green Belt Movement to protect green spaces and forests and soon planting groups were busy in their thousands, planting trees.

She opposed political corruption, leading effective protests to change government action. After the fall of the government of Daniel Arap Moi, whom she opposed, she was elected an MP, and served for five years, appointed deputy minister of the environment. In 1991 she won the Africa Prize for helping to eradicate hunger. In 2004 she won the Nobel Peace Prize, recognized as a source of inspiration to those struggling for sustainable development, democracy and peace.

Dead now at age 71, this remarkable woman will truly rest in peace, her efforts having succeeded magnificently in helping to make the world a better place for African women.

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A Broken State

Mexico has become a shuddering horror of a country. Where ordinary Mexican citizens cannot really feel safe anywhere, because lethal gang activity threatens the very fabric of life in that country. It is hard to imagine that drug cartels have such a solid foothold that the government has been incapable of responding effectively to turn the situation around.

With all the municipal, provincial and federal security forces, including military, that have been dispatched to counter the war against civil life that the drug gangs represent and little discernible success, it is clear that for the time being in any event, life in Mexico represents a ghoulish rendezvous with chance.

People try not to take notice. Newspapers in particular try not to report horrendous murderous slaughter because the gangs don't appreciate being noticed. Local public security agencies have been given the message loud and clear to stand off and away. Police chiefs, mayors, newspaper reporters have all been targeted in the most hellish way as examples to others.

People are abducted, tortured, beheaded, bodies mutilated and left dangling from bridges to ensure that the message is heeded. Do not seek to curtail in any measure the criminal activities of the drug cartels, do not try to avoid personal disaster in due payment of ignoring these notices for they are unavoidable.

No form of torture and mutilation is too gruesome and unspeakably inhuman for the drug gangsters to indulge in. Nothing much holds them back. They are accountable and answerable to no force within society, the public safety and security and justice systems are effectively maimed, broken, sadly irrelevant and unusable.

Where in other countries ordinary people try to use social media like Facebook and Twitter to contact one another and keep in touch and make one another aware to avoid the horror that is ongoing, this annoys the criminals who would prefer to act in an information vacuum. People who take it upon themselves as a public good to post warning of areas to avoid pay with their lives.

Mexico is inexorably turning from a decent, civil society with its people struggling to become upwardly mobile, to a poisoned failure that is resorting to unspeakable barbarity, afflicting Mexicans with a dread virus of unspeakable fear they cannot escape. It is a dilemma that appears to evade solace and solution.

It is a pathogenic disease of human conscience afflicting a society that does not deserve such dread and horror. As though the deadly psychosis of brute psychopathy has metastasized.

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On Suspicion of Espionage? Hardly

American hiker freed by Iran has Israeli father

Jacob Fattal, Josh Fattal's father, immigrated to Israel from Basra, Iraq in 1951, beginning in a transit camp with his family, later moving to Pardes Katz; after his military service, he left for the United States.

By Rutie Zuta

For more than two years, relatives of Josh Fattal, one of the two American hikers freed from prison in Iran last week, managed to hide a vital piece of information from his captors: Fattal's family is Israeli.

Jacob Fattal, Josh's father, immigrated to Israel from Basra, Iraq in 1951. He lived with his parents and siblings in the Kiryat Ono transit camp, and later in Pardes Katz. After his military service, he left for the United States, where he studied engineering and raised a family. Today, he is the publisher of a high-tech magazine distributed in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Iran students - Reuters - September 24, 2011

Shane Bauer (L), Josh Fattal (C) and Sarah Shourd, U.S. hikers who were held in Iran on charges of espionage, wave before boarding a flight back home in Muscat September 24, 2011.

Photo by: Reuters

"We're very happy; it's the greatest gift we could have dreamed of receiving for Rosh Hashanah," Jacob Fattal told Haaretz yesterday.

Jacob's two sisters and his brother, who live in Israel's central region, knew about the arrest from the first day.

"The problem was their being American, not Jewish," Fattal said of the freed hikers. "The Iranians used them as a political weapon for two years."

To avoid drawing attention to the family's background, Josh's brother and mother led the campaign to free him, while Jacob refrained from giving media interviews.

"I want to thank the media in the United States and Israel for cooperating with us," Fattal said.

Now that his son is back home in a Philadelphia suburb, Fattal can contact the family of another Israeli captive.

"I listen to Israeli radio here and every now and then I hear Aviva Shalit talk," he said, referring to the mother of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "I wanted very much to call her and encourage her, tell her my heart is with her and [her husband] Noam, but I stopped myself because we were making a special effort not to make a big deal of it. Now I can talk to her."

Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, both 28, and Bauer's girlfriend Sarah Shourd, 32, were arrested by Iranian soldiers in 2009 as they were hiking near the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq. Shourd was released about a year ago following heavy international pressure. Fattal and Bauer were freed last week on $1 million bail, following mediation by Sultan Qaboos of Oman.

As published online at, 27 September 2011

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He Has A Vision

Whoops, Saudi Arabian oil is on the verge of becoming respectably acceptable. Before we know it, say in five years or so, it will be 'ethical oil'. For look here, King Abdullah has been so stung by criticism from the international community on the plight of Saudi women's utter lack of civil liberties and rights that should append to the individual, that he has taken the initiative to launch an inevitable (perhaps) alteration in the situation.

He is prepared to advantage Saudi women. Finally. To offer them the opportunity to almost be as free in the country as men are. They may, from the next election, seek to take municipal office. They may seek to have a voice. They will have to wait, of course, since King Abdullah did specify that this change will, if it proceeds, take place only from the next term. At which time much will change for women in Saudi Arabia.
"Women will be able to run as candidates in the municipal election and will even have the right to vote". King Abdullah
Women in Saudi Arabia must be beside themselves with expectant glee. They will even have the right to vote. Can they take that to the bank? Might it be possible too that women in Saudi Arabia may eventually have the option of dressing without an all-enveloping tent? In public, that is. That they may make, eventually, choices for themselves like normal people? Say, for example, appearing in public unescorted by a man?

Saudi women are grateful beyond words. Almost: "This is a huge step forward. On the Shura Council the women will be highly visible. People wills see them talking. It will be much more powerful", said one women's rights activists, seeing pearls where pebbles have been tossed. Of course her enthusiastic expectations will have a lapse in time before becoming reality; she must wait four years.

It is in 2015 that this wonderful news of Saudi female emancipation may take place. Still, this is the kind of response that has been elicited from Saudi women, poor things:
"Friends have called me, crying, still not believing it. This is the first time Saudi women will be part of the decision-making. Of course conservatives will criticize the King but he has a vision. Soon we may see the first female minister."

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Monday, September 26, 2011

The Darkest Place

Photo by Reuters

Hail the returning conqueror. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, having plead the case for the poor, abject Palestinians within the forum of the United Nations, is welcomed home a hero. It was balm to his wounded soul to be the subject of all that anxious grovelling on the part of the United States, the European Union and others all inspired to make an additional effort to sway him from his objective.

Objective? Why to continue the track the PA has found so successful to date. Urging the international community to view the Palestinians as wronged, dreadfully wronged, and the State of Israel and the Jews therein - and elsewhere wherever they taint the geography - as fiendishly racist, merciless occupiers determined to refuse justice for the Palestinians.

Highly successful a public relations move, too. Inspiring those sanctimonious Jew-baiters on the left who have managed to proclaim themselves as spiritually high-minded and practically progressive, to champion the plight of the Palestinians and in revenge take steps to slander, embarrass, challenge and delegitimize Israel.

That it was the Palestinians who in 2000 and 2008, when offered their demands in exchange for peace, spurned the final offers appears totally irrelevant. Mahmoud Abbas stood in that great Hall of Shame and Blame and spouted the nonsense that it was Israel, time and again that had shut down the peace talks, not the Palestinian Authority.

Never before during talks was it demanded that settlement abandonment be the primary requisite for talk-resumption. That elusive resumption of talks must hinge on something that presents as unachievable is now a given; if it is not the settlements, it is the right of return, if it is not the right of return it is the status of Jerusalem for it is Israel alone that must sacrifice; Palestinians are entitled.

The Prime Minister of Israel, a skilled diplomat who had once frequented as an ambassador the very halls and assemblies he now addressed, sought to put perspective and balance into the discussion, while acknowledging that neither were a recognizable commodity in discussing the place of the State of Israel within the confines of the United Nations.
‘Remember that even in the darkest place the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.’ Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.”
Mr. Netanyahu made his own appeal:
"I came here to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East, at all times but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen."
What Mr. Netanyahu has allowed to slip his mind is that truth is an inconvenience, a deterrence, an irrelevance, an absurd delirium and an obstacle within the United Nations. Truth may be absolute, like reality, but the reality and the truth that prevails in the United Nations is quite unlike what is recognized outside of its confines.

A total perversion of recognizable truth and reality is what takes place within the United Nations. For from its noble inception it has undergone an inconceivable alteration, a total corruption of responsibility and integrity, honesty and reliability. Look for truth there if you will. Prepare not to be taken unaware.

Prepare to witness expedience's stranglehold on truth, aided and abetted by group interests by bodies whose interests are totally and explicably inimical to truth.

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Political Disputes

Interesting what is revealed that is suspected to have occurred. Wikileaks has certainly gone far in its capacity to elucidate details through its publication of many 'leaked' documents. Embarrassment for public officials and their governments obviously rank very high indeed in the raison d'etre of Wikileaks' formidably reason-resistant founder.

Here is the news that a cable from the American embassy in Mali is critical of the Government of Canada: "paying ransom will only make citizens of the ransom-paying nations targets of future hostage taking attempts". Well, yes. Governments are all in agreement that none should succumb to paying ransom to terrorists for the release of their nationals.

In this particular instance two Canadian diplomats who were doing work for the United Nations appear to have gone off on a private tangent in North Africa where they were captured and abducted by members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Robert Fowler and Louis Guay, the two distinguished gentlemen. Who, after 130 days of being held captive, were released, along with a few others.

Obviously not a good-will gesture on the part of their captors. Obviously not released for no quid pro quo, since the purpose of their abduction was to acquire some advantage; the release of some of their AQIM members from prison, or the payment of a substantial amount of money - to help further the cause. Both, it would seem, on this occasion, procured their freedom.

The Government of Canada, needless to say, takes umbrage at the very suggestion it would resort to breaking an international vow not to advantage terrorists by giving them what they seek. Someone, of course, paid the ransom. A friend of Canada from within the international community. Wikileaks is not, evidently, in possession of a document that would reveal solid fact, apart from speculation.

So the two Canadians returned to Canada. Enabling Robert Fowler to spew venom upon the Conservative-led government of Stephen Harper. Who, if he truly did see it as necessary to rescue abducted Canadians, may very well feel that, having done his duty to them, he might have thought a trifle deeper in hindsight about managing to rescue the two while abandoning the principle of not enabling terrorists' agenda.

There's just something about Westerners who fault their own countries and feel a sense of admiration and brotherhood with those countries who harbour or encourage terrorism. Admiring the courage of the people living under repression and the stranglehold of endemic poverty, lack of justice and freedom. Their affinity for those places affords them no protection.

They are, withal, forgiving. Fowler, while excoriating his own government, has nothing but praise for Africa. And the two American hikers just released from Evin prison in Iran? Two (three with their female companion, earlier released) innocent American youth, hiking on the border between Iran and Iraq and imprisoned as Big Satan's spies? Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal could protest all they wanted that they were not spies, Iran knew otherwise.

Who do the two young men blame in their heart of hearts for their long incarceration as 'hostages' of the Islamist Republic of Iran? Why of course, the United States of America. "The irony is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility", Arabic-speaking Shane Bauer explained.
"The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran. We were convicted of espionage because we are Americans. It's that simple".
That simple. Quite. And, of course, it was not the United States government that undertook to free the two young men from their mind-impoverishing imprisonment. It was the Gulf State of Oman that handed over a cool one million $ to Iran, as "bail".
"It was clear to us from the very beginning that we were hostages. This is the most accurate term because, despite certain knowledge of our innocence, Iran has always tied our case to its political disputes with the U.S."
Those boys certainly know their history, do they not?

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The Drama King

He's had his shining moment, with huge applause for the dramatic content of his impassioned, carefully choreographed Dance With Destiny. Posing as a responsible, prepared, independent government-in-waiting, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has presented the United Nations' general body with his anguished plea on behalf of the world's longest-reigning, most-internationally-assisted people, the ill-done-by Palestinians.

The strategy, to pull the rug out from under Israel's expectation that the PA will eventually behave in a state-mature manner and sincerely seek the peace it has successfully evaded for over 60 years in the belief that it would eventually succeed in pulling statehood legitimacy out from under the State of Israel, enabling it to recapture, even by default, (since violent militancy didn't work), what they believe to be rightfully theirs.

Repeated efforts by outside parties, most particularly various presidents at various times of the United States, to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis to agreement on peace parameters have failed. The Palestinians insist that it is their right to expect preconditions to apply. None, obviously, may apply for Israel. The Right of Return, Jerusalem, and borders afflict the process. If Israel surrenders to those demands there will be no Israel. Precisely.

The Palestinians see fit to surrender none of their expectations to practicality. They will not, under duress, or any consideration, acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. The anticipated 'return' of six million Palestinians in lieu of the 540,000 that fled in 1948, not taking into account the 600,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries, whom no international agency stepped forward to help to secure their forfeited possessions represents a dreadfully askew picture of self-entitlement.

In his speech to an adoringly-receptive audience at the United Nations, Abbas spewed a blame-filled tirade against Israel, accepting no responsibility whatever for the Palestinians who had turned down the opportunity of forming their own state immediately on Partition, and who sought instead, repeatedly, to enlist the assistance of their Arab brethren in rousting Israel violently from its perch.

Israel, he insisted, was responsible for consistently evading each and every opportunity to reach a peace agreement. When in a forum that eats hypocrisy for breakfast, evades responsibility for lunch, blames others for all the ills they have themselves brought upon themselves for dinner, he was in the right setting. Israel's popularity as a pariah state with no standing, no respect, the victim of slander and reproach is unparalleled in that august body.

Nowhere did Abbas acknowledge that he has been personally responsible for ensuring that an invidious aura of 'resistance' equated with violent bloodshed continues to prevail. Nowhere does he state that he and Fatah celebrate the terrorists who inflict suicide-murder on Jews, as blessed martyrs. Nowhere does he happen to mention that school textbooks and curricula paint Jews as dangerous, threatening oppressors to be defeated, and that the future State of Palestine consumes the current State of Israel.

On those several occasions when Israel finally accepted most of the Palestinian demands, it was not Israel that pulled back from the brink of a peace agreement, but the Palestinian negotiators. On the first occasion it was Yasser Arafat, fearing the reaction of his own PLO militant wing, who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

On the second occasion, when Mahmoud Abbas himself made the ultimate decision to turn down the opportunity to reach an accord when his demands had been accepted by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it was obvious that nothing would appease the insatiable need for the Palestinians to own all of the territory, bar none.

His bid on behalf of the Palestinians at the United Nations is beyond unrealistic. The Palestinian Authority is utterly dependent upon Israel's goodwill for its electricity, water and gas. And for trade opportunities. More Palestinians were employed in Israel, making better wages, than the PA can make available to them with their current economy sustained by international welfare.

The encouragement to violence by the PA to the Palestinians laid the groundwork for the importation of foreign workers from abroad to take the place of Palestinian workers in Israel.
Construction work on the detested West Bank settlements gainfully employs Palestinian workers who have no opportunity to work elsewhere profitably in the West Bank.

Fatah and Hamas have incendiarily hateful relations with one another; one rules in the West Bank the other in Gaza; how will the Palestinians profit from a state that includes one, precludes the other?

Are these inconvenient truths of no interest whatever to the nations who will vote in the General Assembly?

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Game Is On...!

As though there was any mystery as to how it would unfold. It's a predictable game of pre-planned political Musical Chairs. Quid pro quo in a country whose ruling governing elite always indulged in it. Russians are still, and will likely always want to be dependent on 'strongmen', those alpha male personalities who exude the confidence of psychopaths, with the facade of indomitability and physical strength and vigour.

Their valorous exploits are uncontestable. Face a tiger? He's your man. Bend an iron shovel? No problem. Ride a stallion bare-back and bare-chested? Right up there. Physical fitness, an accurate shot, capable of wrestling a man half his age to the ground? No problem, none at all, and the adoring Russian public is presented with all the photographs they hanker over.

Vladimir Putin's love of country and fierce defence of traditional hegemony yet another symbol that the past lives on. As much as Egypt was a quasi-democracy through its mock voting rituals where the president of the country captured over 80% of the popular vote, so too is Russia a democracy, where the ruling party sits as a majority holder of the Kremlin authority and power.

Should powerful, wealthy interests wish to unseat the power of the first ministers they have the example of an oligarch who tried and now languishes in prison with little hope of freedom; the only freedom accorded him was the state capture of his oil enterprise, Yukos. Mikhail Khodorkovsky has had ample time to re-think his failed strategy of a new political party to challenge Vladimir Putin.

News reporters who have had an unfortunate tendency to investigate stories that do not reflect well on the government, from its battles in Chechnya, to its imposition of state dictates not quite in accord with democratic rule have discovered just how life-threatening such public disclosures can be, with the mysterious and violent deaths of a succession of reporters. The deaths have been bruited about to have been ordered by the Kremlin, but proof there is none.

Vladimir Putin, who served two terms as president of Russia, feels that one term as prime minister is sufficient. His acolyte whom he blessed and elevated to temporarily take his place, seemed at one time to promise of an independent mind and indeed seemed to take exception from time to time to some of his mentor's statements. His independence appears to have evaporated, if indeed it was ever anything more than a useful facade to leave an impression that he was more than he seemed.

Dmitry Medvedev proved to be a good protege, fully cognizant of where the real power lies, and fully prepared to render unto Caesar what Caesar claims as his own. A change in the constitution to extend presidential terms from four to six years, to begin with in the transition from president to prime minister, enabling the real force to retake his presidential seat and lay to rest the pretext that Putin ever played second fiddle to Medvedev.

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Acknowledging A Reality

Spain recognizes Israel as Jewish homeland, for first time

FM Jimenez's UN speech is particularly dramatic since Spain is considered a leading EU country to support Palestinian rights.

By Barak Ravid Tags: Palestinians Palestinian state

Spain’s Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez presented a new policy for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Saturday, declaring Israel as the homeland of the Jews for the first time and saying that the issue of Palestinian refugees should be solved in such a way that it does not compromise Israel’s current demographic makeup of a Jewish majority.

Jimenez’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly is particularly dramatic in light of the fact that Spain is considered the leading EU country to support Palestinian rights. Adopting such a pro-Israel stance may lead to other countries to follow suit.

Spanish FM

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez meeting with President Shimon Peres, Jerusalem, February 8, 2011.

Photo by: AP

The foreign minister stressed Spain’s commitment to Israel “as the embodiment of the project to create a homeland for the Jewish people.” She recounted how since Israel’s inception, it has suffered through many wars and terrorism against its people, adding that Israel’s security is a top priority for Spain.

Jimenez called for the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines, with agreed swaps and Jerusalem as a shared capital with Israel.

“The security of Israel and Palestine will require effective guarantees in the future peace agreement, including a possible international participation, should the parties request it,” the Spanish foreign minister said. She made clear that the best way to achieve such a deal would be through a negotiated peace treaty.

The Spanish foreign minister also addressed “the painful drama of the Palestinian refugees”, presenting a new policy on this issue as well. She said that the refugee problem should be justly agreed upon by both Israel and the Palestinians, while still preserving Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

Jimenez said that Spain supports the General Assembly granting Palestine the status of a non member observer state, explaining that the international community must show that it is committed to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“Effective, sustainable peace can only be achieved through negotiations between the parties,” she stressed, clarifying that “Spain believes that the Palestinians could find in this new status a stimulus for the prompt resumption of negotiations.”

She also warned that this new status should not be abused or used in a way that is incompatible with the spirit of negotiations.

Jimenez recounted Spain’s longstanding support for the Palestinians’ struggle against the occupation; however, she also emphasized Spain and the Jewish people’s centuries-long relationship.

“Spain’s identity cannot be understood without her Arab and Jewish heritage,” she added.

As published online at, 25 September 2011

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Speaking To A House of Many Lies

Netanyahu to Abbas: Let's Just Negotiate Peace!
by Elad Benari, Canada Netanyahu to Abbas: Let's Just Negotiate Peace!


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, just a short time after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas officially submitted his bid for membership of a Palestinian state in the world body.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, just a short time after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas officially submitted his bid for membership of a Palestinian state in the world body.

Netanyahu began by saying that he extends his hand to peace to all the surrounding nations, including Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with whom relations have been rough lately, and also to Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.

“But most especially I extend my hand to the Palestinian people with whom we seek a just and lasting peace,” Netanyahu said.

He spoke of Israel’s hope for peace which never wanes, and reminded the audience of all the good things Israel has, such as doctors, scientists, innovators who work to improve the work of tomorrow, and its artists and writers who “enrich the heritage of humanity.”

Netanyahu added, “I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland was branded shamefully as racism. It was here in 1980 that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised. It was denounced. And it’s here, year after year, that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined.”

Netanyahu said that “this is an unfortunate part of the UN institution. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain it often casts real villains in leading role. Qaddafi’s Libya chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights. Saddam’s Iraq headed the UN Committee on Disarmament.”

“You might say that’s the past,” he added, “but here’s what’s happening now: Hizbullah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the UN Security Council. This means in effect that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing world security.”

He recalled what the Lubavitcher Rebbe told him in 1984, when he became Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations. “He said to me, ‘You’ll be serving in a house of many lies’, and then he said: ‘Remember that even in the darkest place the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.’ Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.”

Netanyahu then proceeded to address the conflict with the Arabs, saying: “I came here to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East, at all times but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.”

He said that the greatest danger facing the world is militant Islamic fanaticism, such as that of Iran and its president. He warned against Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons.

“Can you imagine that man, who ranted here yesterday, armed with nuclear weapons?” Netanyahu said, referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tirade on Thursday. “The international community must stop Iran before it’s too late.”

“We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present,” he said, warning that militant Islam wants to tear apart the peace treaties Israel has with Egypt and Jordan and saying that it “opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.”

“Some argue that the spread of militant Islam - especially in these turbulent times - if you want to slow it down, Israel must hurry to make territorial compromises,” added Netanyahu. “The theory sounds simple. It goes like this: Leave the territory and peace will be advanced. The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay, and don’t worry the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself. International troops will do the job.”

Netanyahu noted, however, that Israel has tried that theory and it hasn’t worked. He reminded the audience how in 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that was rejected by then PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, and how former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made an even more sweeping offer in 2008, to which current Chairman Abbas didn’t even respond.

He also reminded the audience that Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, moves which resulted in rockets being fired at Israel from north and from south.

Netanyahu said that given the failure of the Gaza expulsion, Israelis rightly ask what’s to prevent this from happening again in Judea and Samaria. He reminded that while most of Israel’s major cities in the south are within a few dozen kilometers of Gaza, in the center of the country, Israeli cities are a few hundred meters or at most a few kilometers from the edge of Judea and Samaria.

“Would any of you bring danger so close to your cities? Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens? Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in [Judea and Samaria] but we’re not prepared to have another Gaza there.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s needs to have security solutions and long-term military presence in critical strategic areas, an arrangement that Abbas refused. He stressed Israel’s concern over the fact that the Ben Gurion International Airport is near Judea and Samaria and that without peace airplanes could be targets for terrorists.

“I believe that in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed,” he said. “But they will not be addressed without negotiations….Israel needs greater strategic depth and that’s exactly why Security Council resolution 242 didn’t require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six Day War. It talked about withdrawal from territories to secure and defensible boundaries.”

“These are not theoretical problems,” he emphasized. “They’re very real, and for Israelis they’re life and death matters. All these potential cracks in Israel’s security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared. Not afterwards. If you leave it for afterwards, they won’t be sealed. The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state. But I also want to tell you this: after such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member to the United Nations. We will be the first.”

Netanyahu reminded the audience that soldier Gilad Shalit has been held captive for five years by Hamas. He reminded that Hamas is violating international laws by not allowing Shalit to receive visits by the International Red Cross, and said that Shalit is “the son of every Israeli family. Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release. If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that’s the resolution you should pass.”

He reminded of his Bar Ilan speech in which he outlined his vision of a demilitarized Palestinian state which recognizes the Jewish state, and said it’s about time the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel.

“Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the one million Arab citizens of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for as Palestinian officials made clear the other day, the Palestinian state won’t allow any Jews in it. They’ll be Jew free – Judenrein. That’s ethnic cleansing.”

He called the PA to give up its fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Arabs, and dismissed Abbas’ claims that the core of the conflict is the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu said that the issue remains the refusal of the Arabs to recognize a Jewish state under any border.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace,” said Netanyahu. I worked hard to advance that peace. The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions. President Abbas didn’t respond. I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two people. He still didn’t respond. I removed hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, but again – no response. I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for ten months. Once again, there was no response.”

Netanyahu concluded by calling Abbas to end the generations-old conflict and start negotiating. He quoted the Arab adage that one cannot applaud with one hand, adding that one cannot make peace with only one side talking either.

“President Abbas, why don’t you join me?” said Netanyahu. “We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace! Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same building. So let’s meet here today, in the United Nations!”

There was perfunctory clapping at the end of Netanyahu's speech, except for the Israeli delegation, a sharp contrast to the waves of applause that greeted Abbas' inflammatory words.

To view video click HERE

As published online at ArutzSheva, 25 September 2011

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sarajevo, Beirut, Damascus, Ramallah Won With Erdogan

"Believe me, Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul. Beirut won as much as Izmir; Damascus won as much as Ankara; Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank and Jerusalem won as much as Dyarbakir", Recep Tayyip Erdodan crowed when he delivered his victory speech on his third consecutive national election win.
Ah, those WikiLeaks, making life edgily difficult for diplomats whose secret missives have now become discussion fodder for the common folk. Telling us things that we may already have observed through careful follow-up of the news as it is disgorged day by day. Particularly of late, in a restive world where East keeps banging its petulant nose against the stability of the West's more sturdy, even-tempered chin.

Isn't it then, a surprise to heard that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a haughty autocrat with a thin skin and a sense of himself as being infallible, his decrees inviolable, his riotous anger justified. A ruler, in effect, who has circled himself with an "iron ring of sycophants (but contemptuous) advisors", understanding little beyond Ankara, and who foster "exceptionally dangerous", "neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies".

Precisely. Well put. Quite an excellent summation. Give that man a cigar.

Erdogan has distinguished himself as a capable politician. His party, first by careful stealth, then with growing confidence, has been in charge of a growing economy. His party has also, first stealthily, then with a clarified self-assurance, began distancing itself and the country from a historical alliance with the State of Israel, claiming itself more pure in intent and practise than the other.

Israel attempts to protect its population from constant attacks from militant (read terrorist) Palestinians representing all manner of violent factions from Fatah to Hamas, none of which have any intention of recognizing the legal reality of the existence of Israel a Jewish state, all of which insist on destroying Israel so the Palestinians may once again 'own' the geography.

Turkey refuses to admit it conspired to destroy Armenians in a mass, violent slaughter. Its ongoing argument with Greece over the disputed territory in Cyprus mark it as a country that invites the prospect of violence. And its brutal repression of the Kurds, the world's largest ethnic group without a country of their own, distinguishes Turkey as a human rights violator; it protects its territory, while violating the rights of its own citizens.

While the world sits in apprehension over the long-range plans of the Islamic Republic of Iran which is determined to create and own their own nuclear weaponry, just as Pakistan did, to become the second Muslim country to proudly boast of its destructive potential, threatening its neighbours and the stability of the geography, Turkey, although a member of NATO, applauds the exploits of official Iran.

Turkey has refused the consensus opinion of the UN special investigation into the Mavi Marmora incident where Turkish thugs were killed by Israeli naval personnel who had been violently set upon by those thugs. That opinion being that Turkey should have made more of an effort to dissuade its nationals from their rash and dangerous intention, and emphasizing that Israel was within its rights in its response. The blockade of Gaza is internationally justified.

Turkey refuses to acknowledge the Greek Cypriot government, despite that it is internationally recognized. Erdogan has visited the 'Arab Spring' countries of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen to congratulate its citizens for throwing off the yoke of dictatorship, extolling the virtues of democracy. Arab-style democracy brought Hamas to Gaza, and Hezbollah to Lebanon, both utter social, civil, economic, failures.

Revelling in his growing popularity on the Arab street because of his approval rating resulting from casting Turkey's traditional relationship with Israel aside, he has felt empowered to challenge Greece and Israel militarily in the Mediterranean, claiming that he has ordered jet fighters, frigates and torpedo boats to patrol those waters where gas exploration is being conducted.

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