Monthly Archives: April 2011

Women, Journalism, and Violence in the Middle East

The Grey Lady reports on the Egyptian demonstrators’ assault on Laura Logan in Tahrir Square last month and the issue of both violence against women and against journalists in the Middle East (except, of course, Israel, which despite being better by far on these issues, is somehow viewed as worse). Logan shows great courage in discussing these matters, even if she reveals an amazing naivete. (HT: NBH)

CBS Reporter Recounts a ‘Merciless’ Assault

Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Lara Logan, a CBS News reporter, was sexually assaulted while working in Cairo on Feb. 11.

By 
Published: April 28, 2011
Her experience in Cairo underscored the fact that female journalists often face a different kind of violence. While other forms of physical violence affecting journalists are widely covered — the traumatic brain injurysuffered by the ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff in Iraq in 2006 was a front-page story at that time — sexual threats against women are rarely talked about within journalistic circles or in the news media.

There are huge areas of violence and intimidation against journalists that are not reported. We didn’t hear for months that NYT reporter David Rhode had been kidnapped in Afghanistan; and we don’t have any idea how often reporters are abducted in places like Iraq, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories, etc., for a few hours and then released, thoroughly intimidated (including about speaking about what happened) into the mainstream pool to then report back to us about “what’s going on.”

Eli Valley mocks Kryptonite, thinks he’s funny

Well, I’ve now read some of the exchanges between Eli Valley and some of my readers, and the long interview with Valley in the Comics Journal which Eli himself recommended to us as a good representation of his positions, especially on the issues of “pride and self-hatred.”

I know that some of my readers will roll their eyes at what I’m about to do, but I’d like to try and reason with you Eli about your arguments and positions. I do so because I think it’s important to take people seriously, even people who pretend not to take themselves so seriously.

Let me start out by saying that I was a big fan of Mad Magazine in my youth, although I think at some point I found its humor a bit fatuous, so that while I can appreciate your admiration for its work in the 50s and 60s, I don’t quite share your awarding them an iconic status. Indeed, if you wanted to increase the pungency and depth of your satire, I’d consider doing a satire of Mad Magazine. It might help you get rid of some puerile baggage.

Second, I’d like to address your attribution to modern Jews of a kind of superpower status. You say, for example:

But I don’t believe we’re powerless.  Paradoxically, that might be the chief difference between my critics and me.  A couple times I’ve been accused in the comments of being a “Ghetto Jew,” scurrying around trying to curry favor from “the Gentiles.”  I like this comment because I think it’s a bit of a projection.  I’d argue that my comics reflect Jewish confidence, not ghetto-like fear.  A ghetto mentality is afraid of open discussion of communal problems, because that might lead to a pogrom.  We have the power of superheroes but we perceive ourselves as shlemiels.

This is closely reminiscent of much of the “progressive” attitude towards the modern West and its democracies, and a distinctive mark of the Israeli left who believe that Israel is “strong enough to take it,” and therefore they virtually ‘prove’ Israel’s strength by their remorseless self-criticism. The abandon with which such critics, in Israel and in the West insist that we tolerate the intolerant (deeply regressive) speech and behavior of Islamists in our midst “in order to prove our tolerance” strikes me as based on a) a fallacy about how strong – indeed invulnerable – democracy is… itself a deeply flawed reading of the nature and vulnerabilities of democratic systems, and b) a teenage fantasy of immortality, akin to someone drunk, high on drugs, driving a motorcycle at top speed through mountain roads on an icy night without a helmet: nothing can hurt me.

If I sound harsh on this one, it’s because this attitude, as irresponsible as it is somehow attractive – who doesn’t at some level admire James Dean? – lies at the heart of much of your satirical “art.” It’s only if Jews had superhuman strength, so that your attacks would be a) warranted, and b) funny. If we’re not, or if we are, but surrounded by Kryptonite, then it’s a different story. From my point of view, you’re looking at Superman hit by Kryptonite and laughing at him: “stop faking it you phony.”

Here’s a good example:

Gleanings, 26.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

TheBlogIsMine: WikiLeaks: BBC Part of ‘Propaganda Media Network’ for Al Qaeda

The BBC could be a part of a ‘possible propaganda media network’ for al-Qeada, according to the leaked U.S. files on the Guantanamo detainees, published by WikiLeaks.

A phone number of someone at the BBC Bush House, the headquarters of the BBC World Service, was found in phone books and programmed into the mobile phones of a number of militants seized by the U.S. forces.

“The London, United Kingdom, phone number 0044 207 XXX XXXX was discovered in numerous seized phone books and phones associated with extremist-linked individuals,” according to the assessment on one of the detainees at the Guantanamo camp, dated 21 April 2007. “The number is associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).’

The U.S. assessment file said forces had uncovered many ‘extremist links’ to the BBC number – indicating that extremists could have made contacts with employees at the broadcaster who were sympathetic to extremists or had information on ‘ACM’ (anti-Coalition militia) activities.

It says: “Analyst Note: Numerous extremist links to this BBC number indicates a possible propaganda media network connection. Network analysis might provide leads to individuals with either sympathetic ties to extremists or possibly possessing information on ACM operations.”

[NB: This is a key element in cognitive war, and a good reason why the progressive West is losing to regressive fanatics. Apparently hatred of self overrides any commitment to real values. -RL]

Benny Morris: Palestinians Dupe West

Palestinian strategy is rather simple (and not particularly clever, though it does manage to take in a surprising number of Westerners): Because of the demographic threat (an Arab majority in a Jewish state) and because of international pressure for self-determination for the Palestinians and an end to Israel’s military occupation, Israelis will eventually accept, however reluctantly, a Palestinian state encompassing the Palestinian-majority territories of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Israel will eventually unilaterally withdraw (as it has already done from the Gaza Strip). So why offer or give the Israelis recognition and peace in exchange?

Rather, once this mini-state is achieved, unfettered by any international obligations like a peace treaty—and having promised nothing in exchange for their statehood—the Palestinians will be free to continue their struggle against Israel, its complete demise being their ultimate target. Inevitably, the armed struggle—call it guerrilla warfare, call it terrorism—will then be resumed. And, alongside it, so will the political warfare—the delegitimization of the Jewish state and, most centrally, the demand for the refugees of 1948/1967 to be allowed to return to their homes and lands (what the Palestinians define as the “Right of Return”). The refugee issue plays well with public opinion in the West, which somehow fails to notice that such a return will mean that Israel proper will become an Arab-majority territory, i.e., no more Jewish state. In democracies, what publics accept or support eventually becomes what leaders advocate.

And, on the military and political levels, no one will be able to fault the Palestinians. They will have broken no treaty and violated no solemn agreement. They won’t have signed a “no further claims” clause or a “no more war” commitment, as Barak, Clinton and Olmert had demanded as essential components of a two-state peace settlement. They will have received their mini-state, a launching pad for further assault on Israel, without giving anything in return.

FP: Palestinians preach to the choir. But Morris contradicts himself at the end of his article.

Howard Jacobson: Ludicrous, brainwashed prejudice (MUST READ)

Myself, I wouldn’t bet heavily on there being good times ahead for Jews. Anti-Zionists can assure me all they like that their position entails no harm to Jews – only witness how many Jews are themselves anti-Zionist, they say – I no longer believe them. Individually, it is of course possible to care little for Israel and to care a great deal for Jews. But in the movement of events individuals lose their voice. What carries the day is consensus, and consensus is of necessity unsubtle. By brute consensus, now, Israel is the proof that Jews did not adequately learn the lesson of the Holocaust.

Forget Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is old hat. The new strategy – it showed its hand in Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children, and surfaced again in Channel 4′s recent series The Promise – is to depict the Holocaust in all its horror in order that Jews can be charged (“You, of all people”) with failing to live up to it. By this logic the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t. “Jews know more than anyone that killing civilians is wrong,” resounds an unmistakably authorial voice in The Promise. Thus are Jews doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to the moral wasteland of having found no humanising redemption in its horrors.

It matters not a jot to me that the writer/director of The Promise is a Jew. Jews succumbing to the age-old view of them and reviling what’s Jewish in themselves has a long history. Peter Kosminsky would have it that his series is about Israel, not Jews, but in The Promise Israel becomes paradigmatic of the Jews’ refusal to be improved by affliction.

Cinnamon Stillwell and Judith Greblya: Anti-Israel Jewish Studies

The field of Middle East studies is notorious for producing apologias for radical Islam, particularly where anti-Israel and, at times, anti-Semitic sentiment is concerned.

These same tendencies are also increasingly common in an unexpected sector of university life: Jewish studies. An open letter dated March 3, 2011, and signed by 30 University of California Jewish studies faculty members, is a case in point.

… Unbelievably, one of the signatories actually opposes efforts to combat the crisis. When the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reinstated protection for Jewish students from ethnic- or race-based harassment in October 2010, UC Davis professor David Biale criticized the decision, calling it “a very bizarre tactic” because, as he put it, “the Jews are a group with power.”

FP: Note carefully how leftist ideology overrides reason and drives against Israel.

Robert Satloff: The Middle East Needs More Israels

If anything, Oren — currently Israel’s ambassador to the United States — understates the case for Israel’s value as a strategic asset to America. For example, his diplomatic mantle prevents him from discussing at length the unique contribution Israel has made to counterproliferation, i.e., its raids on nuclear facilities in Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007). There has been much armchair-quarterbacking about the wisdom of these attacks, but it does not really take a Metternich to realize that the Middle East — and U.S. interests — are better off without either Saddam Hussein’s clan or Bashar al-Assad’s wielding nuclear weapons. And Oren’s diplomatic politesse prevents him from banging his fist on the table to remind Barack Obama’s administration that now is precisely the time to bolster America’s remaining allies in the Middle East, especially the limited number that are democratic allies (still, ahem, one).

Last July, in a debate with another realist making the case for Israel-as-a-liability (Chas W. Freeman), I argued that “what we really need in the Middle East are more ‘Israels’ — not more Jewish states, of course, but more strong, reliable, democratic, pro-American allies…. The absence of those sorts of allies is precisely what has gotten us into such deep trouble over the past 30 years.” I hope that the Arab Spring produces a few more Middle Eastern states that are “strong, reliable, democratic, pro-American allies” — and I believe there is a chance that this may eventually come to pass. In the meantime, as Oren persuasively argues, Washington should be wise to do everything it can to strengthen and protect the only one it has.

Lawrence F. Kaplan: How Libya revealed the huge gap between U.S. and European military might (MUST READ)

A campaign devised to showcase the benefits of multilateral action has done exactly the reverse. Easy talk about declining power, multipolarity, and cooperation raises a fairly straightforward question: Exactly whose cooperation do we mean to obtain? Here, the reply also tends to be straightforward: the Europeans, obviously. Leaving aside the question of will—that is, whether the Europeans wish to cooperate in garrisoning the farthest-flung precincts of (what used to be) American influence—is it really necessary to point out that, given the assumption European power alone would suffice to persuade Qaddafi to back down, someone on the Obama team ought to have inquired about European capabilities—that is, whether the Europeans can do this or, more to the point, anything at all? Because, for ten years—or 20, or 60, depending on one’s reading of the international scene—it has been fairly straightforward, obvious even, that the Europeans have left their historical role to history.

… For ten years now, it has been clear that, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has put it, NATO is “evolving into a two-tiered alliance, in which you have some allies willing to fight and die to protect people’s security and others who are not.” What Gates said was true in Kosovo, where 83 percent of the bombs dropped came from U.S. planes; in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops account for two-thirds of the NATO presence (and a much higher fraction of the combat force); and now, in Libya, where, at least before it abandoned the battlefield, America’s strike aircraft were flying more than one half of the sorties.

… “The Libyan crisis has strikingly exposed the lack of a European defense policy: no ability to achieve a common political vision and no capacity to take on an operation of this kind,” said French defense analyst Bruno Tertrais, while a European diplomat predicted to the German news agency Deutsche Press Agentur that a common European defense policy “died in Libya—we just have to pick a sand dune under which we can bury it.” Indeed, the Germans have remained strenuously neutral during the conflict, other than to snipe at the French and the British, while the latter, according to The Washington Post, have nearly run out of bombs to drop.

… Where all this leads is clear. Regardless of his own inclinations, President Obama has been presented with successive crises to which he has been obliged, kicking and screaming, to respond. The United Nations has not been able to. Europe has not been able to. Either the United States will respond, or no one will.

David Pryce-Jones: How Many Torments Lie . . .

These are important developments with the potential to change the balance of power in the world. Whether Syria ends up as an even more subservient colony of Iran in its campaign against the United States, or on the contrary becomes independent and — who knows — free, is an issue of life and death. Nobody would think so from the lukewarm responses of Washington and London. It is hallucinating to hear that the White House is examining policy choices towards Syria and considering imposing sanctions. How urgent is “considering?” The president is not even recalling the American ambassador who has just arrived in Damascus, which is inexplicable. William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, trots out the word “unacceptable” about the crimes of Assad against his subjects. Unacceptable, from the man who occupies the office once held by Lord Palmerston, Canning, Curzon.

JOSEF JOFFE: The Arab Spring and The Palestine Distraction

In politics, shoddy theories never die. In the Middle East, one of the oldest is that Palestine is the “core” regional issue. This zombie should have been interred at the beginning of the Arab Spring, which has highlighted the real core conflict: the oppressed vs. their oppressors. But the dead keep walking.

Every “Palestine-first” doctrine in the end comes down to that fiendish “Arab Street”: The restless monster must be fed with Israeli concessions lest he rise and sweep away our good friends—all those dictators and despots who pretended to stand between us and Armageddon. Free Palestine, the dogma goes, and even Iran and Syria will turn from rabid to responsible. The truth is that the American and Israeli flags were handed out for burning by those regimes themselves.

Gleanings, 25.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Christopher Dickey: Obama’s Middle East Head Spin (MUST READ)

Surely President Obama can do better than that. Or perhaps not. The drama—the tragedy—increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all, a persuasive politician and diplomat who gets others to crawl out on limbs, has them take big risks to break through to a new future, and then turns around and walks away from them when the political winds in the United States threaten to shift. It’s not enough to say the Cabinet is divided about what to do. Maybe the simplest and in many ways the most disturbing explanation for all the flailing is offered by veteran journalist and diplomat Leslie H. Gelb: “There is one man in this administration who debates himself.” President Obama.

These patterns of behavior and their consequences have been on horrifying display in the blood-drenched streets of Misrata, Libya, where the population has begged for more support from NATO and the United States. But they did not begin with Libya, or with the surprise uprising in Tunisia in January or the stunning fall of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in February. They were evident from Year 1 of the Obama presidency in his excruciating deliberations over the Afghan surge, in the hand extended ineffectually to Iran, and the lines drawn in the sand, then rubbed out and moved back, and further back, in the dismal, failed efforts to build a Palestinian peace process. But in Libya the crisis of American tentativeness has grown worse almost by the day. Muammar Gaddafi holds on, despite Obama’s demand for him to leave, and the civilians that the Americans, their allies, and the United Nations vowed to protect are being slaughtered.

Omri Ceren: Abbas: Full Settlement Freeze Was Obama’s Invention

Again, this is all more or less conventional wisdom. Still, it’s nice to have confirmation:

[Abbas] told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it.”

The question, as always, isn’t just about the decision but about the decision-making process. Which obviously clumsy advisers convinced the president that the strategy was sound, and are they still prognosticating on Israeli calculations and Palestinian intentions? What obviously inaccurate assumptions were they using, and are those beliefs still guiding our Middle East policymaking? Because generally when someone charts a course that’s flawed in precisely predictable ways, when they dismiss those precise objections with specific justifications, and when they turn out to be precisely wrong — they generally get replaced. But there’s not much evidence that ever happened.

Gideon Rachman: Egypt’s liberals are losing the battle

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Egypt’s young liberal middle-classes are discovering that they were not the only forces set free by the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak. One leading liberal politician told me last week that he had been barely aware of Salafism until after the revolution. Suddenly, Salafi spokesmen are all over the media and are organising politically. By some reckonings they could get 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the vote in parliamentary elections planned for September.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the more established and less fundamentalist Islamist organisation, is generally reckoned to be good for at least a third of the vote. Add in a couple of fringe Islamist parties and you could be looking at an Islamist majority in Egypt’s first parliament. “Entirely plausible,” says a western diplomat in Cairo, as he sips his coffee.

Anne Bayefsky: The Syrian Spectacle at the UN

And Syria’s run at the U.N. on Friday didn’t end there. Syria is currently running for a seat on the U.N.’s flagship “human rights” body, the Human Rights Council. Seats are allocated to five regional groups, and just to make sure Syria’s ascendancy is unimpeded, the Asian group has only nominated the same number of states as they have seats. So barring any unexpected additions, Syria will join fellow U.N. human rights authorities like Saudi Arabia on the Council in May.

… That might be another bad joke. Except that the Obama administration announced on March 30 that it was so “pleased to note the landmark achievements of the most recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council” that it was going to seek a second term. That characterization of the Council’s main March session is somewhat dubious, at least if the administration cared at all about the concept of equality and the welfare of Israel. The last session was the worst on record for the demonization of the Jewish state, the Council adopting more anti-Israel resolutions in one sitting than ever before. The wildly premature announcement – the U.S. term will end in December 31, 2012 according to a new General Assembly deal – erases any possibility of using prospective U.S. membership or associated dollars as clout.

… However ludicrous, make no mistake about how this classic U.N. debate will turn out. The U.S. idea of caring about human rights as a qualification for membership will be set off against Syria’s list and result in maintaining the status quo – namely, the laughable pledge. There is no possibility whatsoever, that the same countries who comprise the majority of members of the U.N. General Assembly – only 87 of 192 are fully free democracies according to Freedom House – are going to police themselves. Even if the Syrian candidacy is eventually challenged, there is no shortage of like-minded comrades to join Cuba, China, Russian and the Saudis on the U.N.’s idea of a human rights body.

Sadly, none of the above stopped United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice from telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill a week ago that “the U.N. promotes universal values Americans hold dear” and “the United Nations… make[s] Americans safer.” With the Obama administration looking to the U.N. for guidance on protecting “human rights” and combating “terrorism,” Americans are in serious trouble.

Anthony Cordesman: Libya: Will the Farce Stay With US (And France and Britain)?

American connoisseurs of schadenfreude can take some comfort in the parallels between this course of action and the equally naïve and dangerous approach used by the Bush Administration in Iraq. After all, watching a French President,  a British Prime Minister, and a Democratic President of the US repeat the Bush Administration’s failure to plan for the decisive and lasting use of force, fail to plan for the civil side of military operations and to support stability operations, and focus on short term goals without a realistic plan for a successful strategic and post-conflict  outcome is not without irony and touches of black humor. And as for historians, the whole thing is yet another demonstration that they have the world’s easiest profession; all they have to do is wait for history to repeat itself.

Unfortunately, there is nothing amusing about the fact that the lives and futures of some 6.6 million Libyans are at stake. The Franco-Anglo-American gamble now seems far too likely to fail at their expense. Moreover, it seems likely to  drag the other nations that support the operation into their failure — along with part of the reputation of NATO and credibility of the UN.

FP: As I argued in my blog, if the might of NATO cannot handle Ghadafi, how able is the West to take on Iran or Hezballah? You are indeed watching the PostWest.

David Thompson: I’m Not Condoning Violence, But…

“Activist” Sam Allen has a way with words. Which is handy, given that she’s the spokesperson for the ‘No Tesco in Stokes Croft’ campaign. The campaigners have taken exception to the building of a Tesco supermarket, citing concern for local businesses, the environment and workers’ rights. Other concerns include deforestation and the selling of cheap food. Both of which are bad.

She says,

Our objections clearly outlined how opening this Tesco store would pose a threat to public safety. Our community is well known for having people who, if they are silenced, will act in a way that will ensure they will be heard.

Note the rhetorical sleight-of-hand. It’s quite bold. Being “silenced” is apparently indistinguishable from not being agreed with, and “being heard” now entails being obeyed.

… If the overwhelming majority of residents share Ms Allen’s piety, as she would have us believe, then there’s no obvious reason to set about destroying someone else’s property while expecting other locals to pay the subsequent bill for policing and repairs. If anything, the readiness to threaten and vandalise suggests a fear of being revealed as something much less edifying. However, such views aren’t exactly welcome on the campaigners’ website:

Please fuck off and die screaming of cancer you Zionist parasite scumbags.

FP: Note how local issue almost automatically brings up anti-semitism, with which it has nothing to do. 1930 anybody?

Let’s not confuse Palestinian children with reality: They are the true victims, nothing else matters

In the sometimes it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry category. This just in from the indefatigable chronicler of Palestinian madness and its enablers, Itamar Marcus:

UNRWA workers “adamantly opposed” to Holocaust education that will ”confuse the thinking” of children

by Itamar Marcus

The following is the article in the official PA daily:

Headline: “The [UNRWA Workers'] Union emphasized its opposition to teaching the Holocaust of the Jews as part of the curriculum in the [UNRWA] Agency’s schools…”

“The [UNRWA] Workers’ Union emphasized its adamant opposition to teaching the Holocaust of the Jews within the educational curriculum of UNRWA schools, as part of the topic of human rights. The union said, ‘We emphasize our adamant opposition to confusing the thinking of our students’ by means of Holocaust studies in the human rights study curriculum, and emphasize study of the history of Palestine and the acts of massacre which have been carried out against Palestinians, the most recent of which was the war against Gaza.’

[Union chairman, Suheil] Al-Hindi, explained to France Press, that UNRWA ‘approved teaching the Holocaust…’ but [the teaching] has not yet started.”

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 14, 2011].

It’s hard to know what’s more racist, the hatred of Israel and the Jews, or the belief that Palestinian children are too stupid to hold more than one idea in the mind at the same time, and are therefore really only good for hate-mongering propaganda and cannon fodder.

This, or course, is the same UN that is about to award Syria with a chair on the UN “Human Rights” Council.

Gleanings, 24.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Christopher Dickey: Obama’s Middle East Head Spin (MUST READ)

Surely President Obama can do better than that. Or perhaps not. The drama—the tragedy—increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all, a persuasive politician and diplomat who gets others to crawl out on limbs, has them take big risks to break through to a new future, and then turns around and walks away from them when the political winds in the United States threaten to shift. It’s not enough to say the Cabinet is divided about what to do. Maybe the simplest and in many ways the most disturbing explanation for all the flailing is offered by veteran journalist and diplomat Leslie H. Gelb: “There is one man in this administration who debates himself.” President Obama.

These patterns of behavior and their consequences have been on horrifying display in the blood-drenched streets of Misrata, Libya, where the population has begged for more support from NATO and the United States. But they did not begin with Libya, or with the surprise uprising in Tunisia in January or the stunning fall of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in February. They were evident from Year 1 of the Obama presidency in his excruciating deliberations over the Afghan surge, in the hand extended ineffectually to Iran, and the lines drawn in the sand, then rubbed out and moved back, and further back, in the dismal, failed efforts to build a Palestinian peace process. But in Libya the crisis of American tentativeness has grown worse almost by the day. Muammar Gaddafi holds on, despite Obama’s demand for him to leave, and the civilians that the Americans, their allies, and the United Nations vowed to protect are being slaughtered.

Omri Ceren: Abbas: Full Settlement Freeze Was Obama’s Invention

Again, this is all more or less conventional wisdom. Still, it’s nice to have confirmation:

[Abbas] told me bluntly that Obama had led him on, and then let him down by failing to keep pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank last year. “It was Obama who suggested a full settlement freeze,” Abbas explained. “I said OK, I accept. We both went up the tree. After that, he came down with a ladder and he removed the ladder and said to me, jump. Three times he did it.”

The question, as always, isn’t just about the decision but about the decision-making process. Which obviously clumsy advisers convinced the president that the strategy was sound, and are they still prognosticating on Israeli calculations and Palestinian intentions? What obviously inaccurate assumptions were they using, and are those beliefs still guiding our Middle East policymaking? Because generally when someone charts a course that’s flawed in precisely predictable ways, when they dismiss those precise objections with specific justifications, and when they turn out to be precisely wrong — they generally get replaced. But there’s not much evidence that ever happened.

Gideon Rachman: Egypt’s liberals are losing the battle

Please respect FT.com’s ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article.

Egypt’s young liberal middle-classes are discovering that they were not the only forces set free by the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak. One leading liberal politician told me last week that he had been barely aware of Salafism until after the revolution. Suddenly, Salafi spokesmen are all over the media and are organising politically. By some reckonings they could get 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the vote in parliamentary elections planned for September.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the more established and less fundamentalist Islamist organisation, is generally reckoned to be good for at least a third of the vote. Add in a couple of fringe Islamist parties and you could be looking at an Islamist majority in Egypt’s first parliament. “Entirely plausible,” says a western diplomat in Cairo, as he sips his coffee.

Anne Bayefsky: The Syrian Spectacle at the UN

And Syria’s run at the U.N. on Friday didn’t end there. Syria is currently running for a seat on the U.N.’s flagship “human rights” body, the Human Rights Council. Seats are allocated to five regional groups, and just to make sure Syria’s ascendancy is unimpeded, the Asian group has only nominated the same number of states as they have seats. So barring any unexpected additions, Syria will join fellow U.N. human rights authorities like Saudi Arabia on the Council in May.

… That might be another bad joke. Except that the Obama administration announced on March 30 that it was so “pleased to note the landmark achievements of the most recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council” that it was going to seek a second term. That characterization of the Council’s main March session is somewhat dubious, at least if the administration cared at all about the concept of equality and the welfare of Israel. The last session was the worst on record for the demonization of the Jewish state, the Council adopting more anti-Israel resolutions in one sitting than ever before. The wildly premature announcement – the U.S. term will end in December 31, 2012 according to a new General Assembly deal – erases any possibility of using prospective U.S. membership or associated dollars as clout.

… However ludicrous, make no mistake about how this classic U.N. debate will turn out. The U.S. idea of caring about human rights as a qualification for membership will be set off against Syria’s list and result in maintaining the status quo – namely, the laughable pledge. There is no possibility whatsoever, that the same countries who comprise the majority of members of the U.N. General Assembly – only 87 of 192 are fully free democracies according to Freedom House – are going to police themselves. Even if the Syrian candidacy is eventually challenged, there is no shortage of like-minded comrades to join Cuba, China, Russian and the Saudis on the U.N.’s idea of a human rights body.

Sadly, none of the above stopped United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice from telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill a week ago that “the U.N. promotes universal values Americans hold dear” and “the United Nations… make[s] Americans safer.” With the Obama administration looking to the U.N. for guidance on protecting “human rights” and combating “terrorism,” Americans are in serious trouble.

Anthony Cordesman: Libya: Will the Farce Stay With US (And France and Britain)?

American connoisseurs of schadenfreude can take some comfort in the parallels between this course of action and the equally naïve and dangerous approach used by the Bush Administration in Iraq. After all, watching a French President,  a British Prime Minister, and a Democratic President of the US repeat the Bush Administration’s failure to plan for the decisive and lasting use of force, fail to plan for the civil side of military operations and to support stability operations, and focus on short term goals without a realistic plan for a successful strategic and post-conflict  outcome is not without irony and touches of black humor. And as for historians, the whole thing is yet another demonstration that they have the world’s easiest profession; all they have to do is wait for history to repeat itself.

Unfortunately, there is nothing amusing about the fact that the lives and futures of some 6.6 million Libyans are at stake. The Franco-Anglo-American gamble now seems far too likely to fail at their expense. Moreover, it seems likely to  drag the other nations that support the operation into their failure — along with part of the reputation of NATO and credibility of the UN.

FP: As I argued in my blog, if the might of NATO cannot handle Ghadafi, how able is the West to take on Iran or Hezballah? You are indeed watching the PostWest.

David Thompson: I’m Not Condoning Violence, But…

“Activist” Sam Allen has a way with words. Which is handy, given that she’s the spokesperson for the ‘No Tesco in Stokes Croft’ campaign. The campaigners have taken exception to the building of a Tesco supermarket, citing concern for local businesses, the environment and workers’ rights. Other concerns include deforestation and the selling of cheap food. Both of which are bad.

She says,

Our objections clearly outlined how opening this Tesco store would pose a threat to public safety. Our community is well known for having people who, if they are silenced, will act in a way that will ensure they will be heard.

Note the rhetorical sleight-of-hand. It’s quite bold. Being “silenced” is apparently indistinguishable from not being agreed with, and “being heard” now entails being obeyed.

… If the overwhelming majority of residents share Ms Allen’s piety, as she would have us believe, then there’s no obvious reason to set about destroying someone else’s property while expecting other locals to pay the subsequent bill for policing and repairs. If anything, the readiness to threaten and vandalise suggests a fear of being revealed as something much less edifying. However, such views aren’t exactly welcome on the campaigners’ website:

Please fuck off and die screaming of cancer you Zionist parasite scumbags.

FP: Note how local issue almost automatically brings up anti-semitism, with which it has nothing to do. 1930 anybody?

Gleanings, 23.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Pakistan stops US using air base to fly drones

“Yes I can confirm that Shamsi Air Base is no more under the use of Americans and the 150 Americans previously stationed there are now gone,” a senior military official told NBC News.

The news came as four missiles fired by two suspected U.S. pilot-less aircraft hit a house in Pakistan’s tribal region of North Waziristan on the Afghan border Friday, killing at least 25 people, Pakistani intelligence officials said. They said the house was being used as a militant hideout, but some civilians were among the dead. The death toll included five children and four women, NBC News reported. The strikes wounded about 10 others.

FP: I am waiting for the Amnesty, HRW and Goldstone reports on the US war comportment.

PowerLine: A Crescendo of Violence in Syria

The latest killings prompted President Obama to get tough, by his standards, with the Assad regime:

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators,” Obama said in a statement on Friday. “This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now.”

Obama likes that word “must.” Mubarak must resign; Qaddafi must go; Assad must stop shooting Syrians. Evidently he thinks that if he can command the oceans, commanding Arab dictators is a breeze. The Washington Post wasn’t impressed, however. Its editorial condemned President Obama’s “shameful inaction” on Syria …

Israel’s Arabs: The enemy from within? (MUST READ)

“On the political level, we have no option for a solution on the issue of Arabs in Israel,” Schueftan asserts today. “They are unwilling to accept a solution that is less than what is perceived as the Jewish nation-state’s suicide. We are dealing with an especially difficult branch of the complete rejection of the Jewish state in the Arab world.”

… ”This will be Israel’s great dilemma domestically, vis-à-vis Europe, and later vis-à-vis the Untied States as well,” Schueftan says. “Even if a solution is found to the conflict with the Arab world and with the Palestinians, this will be the next area where they will try to de-legitimize Israel.”

“Recognition of the Palestinian collective as a national minority granted a recognized status, while eroding the state of Israel’s national Jewish aims to the point of annulling them. The Jewish nation-state is illegitimate in the eyes of the main camp within Israel’s Arab minority, even if an Arab-Palestinian state is established alongside Israel in the same land, between the Jordan River and Mediterranean.”

Lester Brown: This will be the Arab world’s next battle (MUST READ)

Population growth and water supply are on a collision course. Hunger is set to become the main issue

… Thus in the Arab Middle East, where populations are growing fast, the world is seeing the first collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline. Because of the failure of governments to mesh population and water policies, each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed, and less irrigation water with which to feed them.

Kenneth L. Marcus: The Wrong Statement on Campus Anti-Semitism

On April 20, Cary Nelson and Kenneth Stern issued a widely discussed but troubling statement in response to recent allegations that anti-Semitism has gotten out of hand at three universities:  the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Rutgers.

On each of those campuses, activists have alleged a pattern of intimidation and harassment of Jewish students who support the State of Israel.  These two authors carry weight because Nelson is president of the American Association of University Professors and Stern is the top anti-Semitism expert at the American Jewish Committee.  Having spear-headed the federal government’s work on campus anti-Semitism for several years, I am pleased that these two figures are turning their attention to the topic, but I am disappointed that their statement is more critical of activists who are fighting this problem than of the perpetrators who have created it or the administrators who tolerate it.

The problem is that many incidents go well beyond Israel-bashing to include anti-Jewish harassment, vandalism or violence … some university administrators continue to deny that there is any connection between anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism.

The Four Sons, Forward Style

The Forward published this cartoon of the four sons, just before Passover.  It’s by Eli Valley, who blogs at EV Comics and has been described as “satiriz[ing] the Jewish world’s taboos.” An iconoclast by avocation.

As far as I can make out, most of these are lame efforts to slip in sly questions in the mouths of the first three and smear (to use a favorite word of the “progressive” Jewish crowd when they get criticized), the pro-Israel crowd. What interests me most in this set is the matching pair: Wicked Son/Son Who Does not Know How to Ask. Apparently (probably without reading it) the author has echoed David Mamet’s The Wicked Son, whom Mamet identifies (with significantly more humor and intellectual wattage than Eli Valley), with the Jew who finds reasons why others hate Jews.

The Wicked son’s question is particularly lame.

In one of his “biting” satires, Eli does a piece on mild mannered Jew Bruce Banner who, at the “slightest criticism” of Israel turns into the raging Hulk. Richard Silverstein would feel at home here, I think.

It’s pretty clear that the crowd Eli hangs with is enamored with the promise of an “Arab Spring” and they’re all enthused at the prospect of democracy breaking out all over the Arab world, especially in Egypt.  The idea that that kind of paper-thin excitement, like Dante’s famous “hoar frost” which vanishes with brief exposure to the morning sun (or in this case, will with exposure to reality) has inspired world Jewry more than anything in the last 30 years (which includes, among other things, the liberation of the Ethiopian and Russian Jews), just illustrates the kind of bubble that some “progressive Jews” live in… legends in their own mind, where their juvenile fantasies define what Jews really think.

Gleanings 22.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Caroline Glick: Obama’s altruistic foreign policy (MUST READ)

But then, even if the Libyan mission were crowned in success, it wouldn’t make the moral pretentions of the US adventure there any less disingenuous. And this is not simply because the administration-backed rebels include al-Qaida fighters.

The fact is that the moral arguments used for intervening militarily on behalf of Gaddafi’s opposition pale in comparison to the moral arguments for intervening in multiple conflicts where the Obama administration refuses to lift a finger. At a minimum, this moral inconsistency renders it impossible for the Obama administration to credibly embrace the mantel of moral actor on the world stage.

Consider the administration’s Afghanistan policy. Over the past week, the White House and the State Department have both acknowledged that administration officials are conducting negotiations with the Taliban … Apparently, the supposedly moral, anti-genocidal, pro-women Obama administration needs to be reminded why it is not merely distasteful but immoral to engage the Taliban. So here it goes.

… Back in the pre-Obama days, when US foreign policy was supposed to serve US interests, it would have mattered that these policies all weaken the US and its allies and empower its foes. But now, in the era of the purely altruistic Obama administration, none of that matters. What does matter is that the purely altruistic Obama foreign policy is empowering genocidal, misogynist, bigoted tyrants worldwide.

FP: See my critique of the Obama “moral intervention” policy, The problem with humanitarian intervention.

CAMERA: Machsom Watch Radicals and Fogel Family Killers

Machsom Watch spokeswoman Raya Yaron comforts the mother of one of the Fogel family murderers.

Even the murders of Jewish children in their beds in the community of Itamar weren’t enough to deter extreme Israeli left-wingers from offering expressions of solidarity with families of the suspected perpetrators. Members of Machsom Watch visited the Palestinian town of Awarta to comfort those whose relatives were under arrest. Spokeswoman Raya Yaron is seen above in what may come to be an iconic image of the far-left alliance with Palestinians against Israel. Israeli media and blogs have taken up the subject.

[RL NB: At this point, Yaron did not know for certain that the woman she was comforting was the mother of one of the murderers (although that was already rumored). The mother, on the other hand, had no problem insisting that her son could not have done the deed. Yaron probably found this claim more credible than the IDF's claim that they have forensic proof. Apparently she (and her friends in the "Human Rights" community) hasn't watched enough CSI to hear Grissom's dictum: Concentrate on what can't lie: the evidence.]

Nathalie Rothschild: Palestine: occupied by Western liberals

In the same article in This Week in Palestine, the writer says: ‘In London, where I grew up, this conflict was a “red-line” topic. If you took the wrong position on Palestine-Israel, it was as bad as supporting the death penalty, or liking Margaret Thatcher, and you would be considered the devil incarnate. As I overheard at a Kensington dinner party: “You cannot be a good person if you think the occupation is okay”.’

This just about sums up the extent to which, for many Western, ‘dinner party’ liberals, where you stand on Palestine and Israel has become a barometer of your moral worth. Serious and complex political questions are pushed to one side as instead people embrace Palestine to show that they are a ‘good person’ rather than the ‘devil incarnate’. And although life in the Palestinian territories is no Kensington dinner party, such conversations are echoed here, too. To this outsider, it seems that self-imposed estrangement from the Israelis, and the acceptance of international pity missions, can only further entrench Palestinians’ new degrading status as noble victims.

Victor Davis Hanson: The Nature of Arab Unrest

In such a mess, the challenge for America should have been to prod pro-American authoritarians to reform (but not to abdicate), to support staunchly our very few democratic friends, to oppose publicly anti-American totalitarians, and wherever possible to stay out of intervening militarily, given that no resistance group as of yet has proved democratic, or indeed has even published much of a liberal reform manifesto. Instead, the Obama administration has done exactly the opposite in every case.

[RL: As Iago the parrot says in Alladin: "Why am i not shuprished?"]

Robert Kaplan: After Bashar al-Assad, the deluge

Pan-Arabism — of which the post-World War II independent state of Syria claimed to constitute the “throbbing-heart” — became a substitute for Syria’s very weak national identity. Indeed, Syria’s self-styled “steadfast” hatred of Israel was a way for Syrians to escape their own internal contradictions. Those contradictions were born of the parochial interests of regionally based ethnic and sectarian groups: Sunni Arabs in the Damascus-Homs-Hama central corridor; heretical, Shiite-trending Alawites in the mountains of the northwest; Druze in the south, with their close tribal links to Jordan; and Kurds, Christian Arabs, Armenians, and Circassians in Aleppo.

… Remember that Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel are all geographically and historically part of Greater Syria, a reason that successive regimes in Damascus since 1946 never really accepted their legitimacy. The French drew Lebanon’s borders so as to bring a large population of mainly Sunni Muslims under the domination of Maronite Christians, who were allied with France, spoke French, and had a concordat with the Vatican. Were an Alawite regime in Damascus to crumble, the Syria-Lebanon border could be effectively erased as Sunnis from both sides of the border united and Lebanon’s Shiites and Syria’s Alawites formed pockets of resistance. The post-colonial era in the Middle East would truly be closed, and we would be back to the vague borders of the Ottoman Empire.

France has threatened to abandon European Union freedom of movement by “suspending” Europe’s Schengen Treaty due to an influx of Tunisian and Libyan migrants from Italy.

Italy has given up to 26,000 illegal migrants six-month residence permits, allowing them to travel freely in the border-free Schengen zone, which covers all EU countries except Britain and Ireland. The decision to issue travel documents to the Tunisians and other Arab migrants has triggered a French warning over the 1995 treaty.

FP: The future of Europe

Gleanings, 21.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

PowerLine: The Key to Democracy and Peace? Why? (MUST READ. An excellent takedown of Turkey Islamist President’s faulty logic and veiled threats.)

Note how Gul comes full cycle. He begins by claiming, with no support whatever, that the Israel-Palestine conflict “holds the key” to whether the current uprisings in the Muslim world lead to “democracy and peace” or to “tyranny and conflict.” This claim is false. The future of the Arab and Persian world is not in the hands of either Israel or the Palestinians. In conjunction with this claim, Gul assures us that Israel “need not fear” Muslim upheaval, because democracies in the region around Israel are “the ultimate assurance of [that] country’s security.”

But that supposed assurance transforms rapidly–in the space of a single op-ed!–into a threat. The Arabs are winning the demographic war, and the younger generation of Arabs will no longer stand for a lack of “national dignity.” So Israel had better cave in to longstanding pressures to vacate the West Bank, bless a Palestinian state, and hope for the best–the same course that in the past has only enabled Palestinian violence.

If Muslim states like Turkey would pressure the Palestinians to abandon their hope of conquest and the “right of return,” then possibly a lasting peace could occur. But they haven’t done this; instead, they have maintained the Palestinians in a perpetual state of dependence and have used them as shock troops and, as Gul observes with respect to extremists, as a pretext for their own policies.

It may well be true that the current uprisings will impact Israel, for better or worse. In particular, the overthrow of Mubarak has the potential to cause grave problems–depending, obviously, on what sort of regime succeeds him. But whatever happens, Israel has no choice but to defend itself. Knuckling under to international pressure to take actions that will compromise its security makes no more sense now than it did before the current unrest began.

Bennett Ramberg: Syria’s Secrets

The IAEA, however, hasn’t exhausted its means of enforcing compliance. Syria’s success in stonewalling comes despite the agency’s explicit authority to initiate special inspections in particular circumstances. Under Article 73 of the organization’s agreement with Syria, “the Agency may make special inspections … if the Agency considers that information made available by Syria, including explanations from Syria and information obtained from routine inspections, is not adequate for the Agency to fulfill its responsibilities under this Agreement.” Yet IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has not pressed for a special inspection.

If the agency were to push forward with such a request, Syria’s continued recalcitrance could tripwire a declaration of noncompliance by the IAEA’s board of governors and open the door for Security Council action. Even then, however, the Council is likely to dither—meaning Washington will ultimately be forced to make a choice between accepting Syria’s defiance or cajoling its European and other allies to cut off diplomatic and economic ties with Damascus.

In the meantime, Syria is getting a free ride. It has suffered no consequence for snubbing the IAEA. Already shaken by North Korea’s defection and Iran’s manipulation, the nonproliferation treaty now finds itself at a crossroads. If it cannot be enforced in Syria, a relatively weak country currently buffeted by its own Arab spring, the wounded agreement risks falling into irrelevance—and the region into a tense nuclear future. The treaty’s survival requires that the international community draw a line. It should start at the gates of Damascus.

Michael Weiss: While Hamas turns Gaza into an Islamist state, the Western media praise it for keeping ‘law and order’

When Vittorio Arrigoni was abducted and killed last week in Gaza, the press wasted little time establishing its line that Hamas has done a great job of maintaining law and order.

In the words of the Financial Times’s Tobias Buck, Gaza is now “a safe destination for foreign journalists, aid workers and diplomats.” Conal Urquhart of the Guardian noted that, since winning its first parliamentary election in 2006, Hamas has gone “mainstream.”  The real nasties in the Strip are now said to be the “puritanical” Salafi-Jihadis, Koranic literalists with possible ties to al-Qaeda who think Hamas is run by softies no better than bearded Zionists.

Unfortunately, there are several problems with this analysis.

Avi Jorisch and Asaf Romirowsky: Israel and Hezbollah Prepare for War

Do people living in that part of the world wish to live under an Islamic regime, or would the vast majority prefer a liberal democracy? The answer can be found in the Western embassies throughout the Arab capitals that are packed with people trying to emigrate to places that offer a brighter future.

Many have come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas really care not about the people of the region, but about amassing power and implementing their world-vision. Ultimately, Hezbollah and Hamas are only paying lip service to destroying the State of Israel and fighting on behalf of the oppressed. Their raison d’être is to create radical republics, and their primary tactic of getting there is to divert people’s attention to the “perfidy” of the Zionist entity.

Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza have effectively become the front lines of not only the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also the low-intensity conflict between liberal democracy and those who wish to install Islamist-compliant regimes. We should be prepared for the battle to continue as both Hezbollah and Israel gear up for more hostilities.

FP: I am not so sure that the majority don’t want to live under Islamic law. Those who leave are the infidels and liberals, who are minorities.

Inside Higher Ed: Another Middle East Effort Challenged

“It would be a very different model than what schools are doing there now,” McCarty said in an interview. “It would not be about attracting students. It would not be a tuition model. It would be about an emirate trying to transform its society and doing it on the strength of their teachers.”

McCarty said the university is not close to making a decision on whether to get involved in the project, and would probably debate the topic for the next year.

FP: Here we go again, academia transforming their societies. The money temptation is just too strong.

Gleanings, 20.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Efraim Inbar & David Weinberg (U.S. Strategic Fatigue Worries Israel)

In fact, America wants out of the Middle East, they suggested. Out of Iraq; out of Afghanistan; and to a certain extent, out of Israeli-Palestinian affairs, too. The U.S. certainly has no zitzfleish, or stamina, for truly confronting a nuclear Iran.

You could almost feel the exhaustion in the room. America is overextended, we heard. While the tenor of the discussion was not isolationist, the positions expressed indicated an inclination to disengage from overseas commitments. Call it strategic fatigue.

Even more disturbing was the hint that America’s withdrawal from the Middle East stems from a deeper, more ideological place. It’s not just fatigue. It was hard to shake the feeling that American foreign and defense policy practitioners — at least those close to the current administration — no longer want to project American power in the Middle East because they no longer believe in the justness of doing so.

President Obama’s difficulty in openly identifying with American exceptionalism is well known. He seems embarrassed by, has often apologized for, the exercise of American power. The shadow of such feckless thinking seemed to loom over the conference.

Yet, strategic fatigue and ideological indolence were only one part of the pictured we Israelis were presented with in New York. We also found policy confusion.

… All this reinforces the Israeli view that Washington has lost it. A mix of strategic weariness and naïve ideology supporting a half-baked doctrine of sporadic intervention for humanitarian reasons is a recipe for growing uncertainty about American wisdom and leadership. Many Middle Eastern states will distance themselves from an unreliable U.S., especially if its leaders appear to be misguided amateurs.

A confused and unpredictable America is even more frightening than a tired superpower. A Middle East without clear and strong American leadership is a very unruly place, especially for Israel.

FP: My take is that America does not really “want” out. It is more or less out. Major domestic and foreign policy incompetence induced steep decline which, in turn, caused power loss. The Obama policy of engagement is an attempt to gain the friendship of the strong horse in the ME, the islamists, in the delusion that they will be kinder to it on its way down. Good luck with that.

AlMasryAlYoum: Brotherhood leaders announce they’ll implement Sharia, set off storm

Mahmoud Ezzat, the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy Supreme Guide, said in a forum held in the Cairo district of Imbaba on Thursday that the group wants to establish an Islamic state after it achieves widespread popularity through its Freedom and Justice Party. Meanwhile, Brotherhood leader Saad al-Husseiny, said at the forum that the group aims to apply Islamic legislation and establish Islamic rule. His remarks rattled the leaders of several political parties, who said the statements, which were at odds with the concept of a civil state, would worry liberals.

The Coptic Orthodox Church decided to suspend its dialogue with the group after additional Brotherhood leaders said it was seeking to implement Islamic Sharia and declare Egypt an Islamic state, church sources said. The sources said the Brotherhood is trampling over the principles of equality and citizenship, and that its rhetoric changed after the 25 January revolution to adopt the language of the toppled regime.

FP: Democracy Arab style

Barry Rubin: Obama’s Passover Message Misses The Message of Passover

There’s some controversy about President Barack Obama’s Passover message. The key passage is this:

“The story of Passover…instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails. This year that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa.”

… I think the greater problem here is the endless universalizing of specifically Jewish experiences that are never seen as sufficient in their own right, as well as the basic opportunism of making Passover into an event backing Obama Administration policy.

…It remains to be seen whether recent events in the Middle East will ultimately be ones of liberation for the people living under the new regimes. It should already be obvious, however, that the result in Egypt is dangerous for Israel’s security and probably very bad for U.S. interests.

Lebanon and the Gaza Strip have gone the opposite way from liberation with no serious U.S. effort to reverse events or even realization that what has happened is disastrous social transformation at the hands of radical Islamism assisted by Iran and Syria. Indeed, in Iran and Syria, two places where change could be genuinely liberating, the Obama Administration has done nothing to help.

More genocidal-minded radical nationalist and Islamist forces may come to power elsewhere. The main concern stemming from Obama’s Passover message is that he still has no clue about such things. Indeed, I think Obama genuinely does not understand that social transformation and change can be a very bad thing.

PowerLine: Obama as political historian

Barack Obama is a creature of the modern university and therefore an amazingly shallow man. I have written about his historical howlers in the New York Post column “Anti-terror oops,” in the Weekly Standard column “The Kennedy-Khrushchev conference for dummies,” and in the Power Line post “Obama veers into the Daily Ditch.”

Obama’s historical ignorance could be a full time beat for somebody who does this work for a living, and it tells us something truly important about Barack Obama. His ignorance is as broad as it is deep. Not that you couldn’t deduce that on your own from his performance on the job.

Yesterday he was at it again, in his peevish interview with the feisty local broadcast reporter from Texas. Why are you so unpopular in Texas? the reporter asked. Obama being Obama, he was unable to laugh off the question and say he’d do better next time around. Obama responded: “Texas has always been a pretty Republican state, for, you know, historic reasons.”

Has the guy ever heard of LBJ? You know, the fellow who first brought us socialized medicine? Has he ever read a single volume of Robert Caro’s monumental biography of LBJ? It’s hard to miss the extent to which the Democratic Party dominated Texas politics for the duration of LBJ’s (long) political career.

Obama majored in political science at Columbia. Did he miss the fact that Texas was part of the solidly Democratic South — the slaveholding, segregated, Jim Crow South — more or less from statehood in 1845 until Nixon’s 1972 landslide?

Did Obama skip class the day he might have learned that in the the postbellum South, including Texas, the Republican Party was virtually nonexistent? Apparently so. Or maybe he was just de

Christopher Hitchens: Beware the In-Laws

Does Kate Middleton really want to marry into a family like this?

Myself, I wish her well and also wish I could whisper to her: If you really love him, honey, get him out of there, and yourself, too. Many of us don’t want or need another sacrificial lamb to water the dried bones and veins of a dessicated system. Do yourself a favor and save what you can: Leave the throne to the awful next incumbent that the hereditary principle has mandated for it.

Andrew Ross: Human Rights, Academic Freedom, and Offshore Academics

The rush to create universities abroad, especially in countries with authoritarian governments, can come at a high cost: from exploitation of migrant labor to uncertain protection of free speech and basic rights.

Gleanings, 19.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Michael Ledeen: The Death of Vittorio Arrigoni

So there’s a pattern of pro-Arab Italian lefties falling into the hands of men who don’t see much of anything to like. For their captors or killers, the Italians were simply targets of opportunity. The notion that they were allies or supporters, let alone friends, was totally alien to them. That’s a Western notion, and these killers and kidnappers reject such happy thoughts. They’re in a war against the West and Westerners, pure and simple.

Arrigoni’s comrades have strained to place the blame for his death on Israel, which is both predictable and disgusting. Predictable, because hatred of Israel and the Jewish people knows few bounds nowadays, and disgusting because such nonsense only makes it more likely that others will be seduced into walking the same suicidal paths.

It’s very hard for ideologically committed people to see that the objects of their affection and support don’t respond in kind. For people like Arrigoni, Sgrena, and Frammartino, admitting that there were Arabs who would kill them and take pleasure in the act would have challenged the fundamental principles on which their activism rested. They had come as friends, and they expected to be welcomed as friends … But you can’t save them. Even their families welcome their doom.

Jacob Heilbrunn: Samantha and Her Subjects

What is missing from Power’s work, however, is a political context. There seems to be the assumption that Washington can always be on the right side of history—that American presidents can ignore domestic and international considerations simply to plunge into conflicts on the side of the beleaguered whenever they feel like it.

… It is also notable that Power, in her extended case studies of genocide, ignores some of the biggest examples of the past century. There is no mention of Stalin’s man-made Ukrainian famine. There is no mention of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which killed tens of millions … As Saul Bellow once observed, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”

… Where does Power draw the line? The bar for preventing genocide may well have been set too high in the past, as she argues. But she, in turn, may be setting it too low, providing an ideological smokescreen for the use of American military force in dubious circumstances, something she never adequately addresses. She runs the risk of exposing America to the charge of hypocrisy for not intervening in countries where brutal mistreatment of the local population is taking place, as in Zimbabwe, while providing a validating and dangerously palatable logic for American overextension. Power’s solution to the conundrum that has bedeviled the Democratic Party since Vietnam—when to sanction the use of force abroad—is to support wars of national liberation. This is likely not a solution at all.

The new round of engagements abroad by the Obama administration may well come to be seen as the last glimmerings of American hubris. “Kings can have subjects,” George F. Kennan once observed, “it is a question whether a republic can.” … It would be no small irony if, in her zeal to reshape American foreign policy in the image of liberal internationalism, Power were to usher in its demise.

Alan M. Dershowitz: Wiki Leaks and The Goldstone Report

No “Goldstone Commissions” have ever been appointed to investigate the far greater number and proportion of civilian deaths caused by British, German and U.S. military actions—and the frequent lack of credible investigators.

Whenever efforts are made to put Israel’s actions in a comparative context with other democracies, demonizers of Israel, who always impose a double standard on the Jewish state, respond by arguing “we’re talking about Israel now; don’t change the subject by talking about other democracies.” That reminds me of a famous story about Harvard’s notoriously anti-Semitic president, A. Lawrence Lowell, near the beginning of the 20th Century. In an effort to defend his decision to impose an anti-Jewish quota, he said, “Jews cheat.” A distinguished Harvard alumnus, Judge Learned Hand, wrote President Lowell a letter saying that “Protestants also cheat,” to which Lowell responded, “you’re changing the subject; we’re talking about Jews now.

You can’t just talk about Jews, or about the Jewish state when making accusations of war crimes or violation of international law. Comparison is everything, especially since international humanitarian law is expressly based on how democratic nations customarily behave in comparable situations.

According to the materials disclosed by Wikileaks, Israel shines in comparison to other democracies. It has a significantly better ratio of combatant to civilian deaths; it takes greater steps to avoid such casualties, and it does a better job investigating negligent and criminal behavior on the part of its soldiers. Moreover, it is seeking to protect its own civilians directly from ongoing cross-border rocket attacks and other terrorist acts, whereas the other democracies are fighting wars of choice many miles from its civilian areas.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Islamic Hypocrisy in Europe

Would it ever occur to a Christian or Jew to move to Saudi Arabia and demand the right to drink alcohol and eat pork? Can anybody imagine what would happen to a Christian if he or she were wearing the cross on the streets of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia? Or if a Jew wearing a skullcap were seen walking in the streets of Kabul or Khartoum?

Just as most non-Muslim women do not feel comfortable living in Islamic countries where women must cover their heads and faces and are not allowed to drive a car, Muslims have no right to impose their lifestyle, culture and religion on others.

Non-Muslims who travel to Islamic countries often respect the laws, traditions and religious beliefs of their hosts. Christians who have broken sharia laws in some Islamic countries often find themselves behind bars and end up facing deportation. But why is it that when Muslims goes to live in a France, Britain and Canada, they do not hesitate to demand that the people living in these countries accept their ways?

Gleanings, 17-18.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

David Harris: Judge Goldstone Shouldn’t Be the Only One to Reconsider

Take the upheaval in the Arab world. Many so-called experts didn’t begin to see it coming, not even close. Why? For many, like Goldstone, they were looking in the wrong direction. What should have been quite obvious — namely, the societal conditions breeding growing discontent over many years — was anything but. Yet, unlike Goldstone, they haven’t even attempted an apology, at least so far. To the contrary, they continue to appear on the talk shows, at the lecterns, in the editorial and op-ed pages, and throughout the blogosphere with their “expert” views, though they were totally blindsided by the dramatic developments.

… You see, it’s not about the freedom deficit, gender deficit, or knowledge deficit, as the UN Arab Human Development Report revealed. It’s not about cronyism and corruption. It’s not about intolerance of minorities. It’s not about the absence of jobs and investments. It’s not about those who turn faith into fanaticism. No, it’s not about any of those things. There’s only one problem in the Middle East, said the Turkish official, in a view echoed by his prime minister, and that’s the “Palestinian question,” which, of course, means Israel.

It’s as if the Iran nuclear problem doesn’t exist, nor al-Qaeda’s ambitions, nor nuclear-armed Pakistan’s precarious future, nor the despotic dynasties in the Middle East that deny human freedom and human rights, nor the aspirations of those who wish to restore the caliphate – not to mention problems of a more global scale from poverty to disease. No, once again, it’s all back to Israel.

… I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for all those who’ve made a cottage industry out of blaming the Middle East’s ills on Israel to start recanting, even in the face of pretty obvious facts from Misurata to Latakia, from the Arab Human Development Report to Freedom House.

But I do hope the editors at the Washington Post will make room for any of them that do.

Michael Doran: Battling the Heirs of Nasser (MUST READ)

As the United States seeks to build a new order in the Middle East, it is worth remembering what happened in the course of the last Arab revolution. Like Obama, President Dwight Eisenhower came to power intent on solving the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to line up the Arab world with the United States. Together with Britain, Eisenhower focused on brokering an Egyptian-Israeli agreement. Nasser, like Damascus today, played along, while simultaneously turning up the heat on the Israelis, working to oust the British, and sparking a region-wide revolution. By 1958, America’s position had grown so tenuous that Eisenhower felt compelled to send U.S. troops to Lebanon, lest one of the last overtly pro-U.S. regimes in the region fall to Nasser-inspired forces.

Although the resistance bloc may not be as influential as Nasser was, it is nevertheless poised to turn the turmoil of the region to the detriment of American interests. If Washington is to minimize the pain of the transition to a new order, it must remain focused, amid all the turmoil, on the sophisticated asymmetric threat that the resistance bloc presents.

Leslie Gelb: How Libya Saps America’s Power (MUST READ)

Here’s what America’s worst enemies like Iran and North Korea are spouting on the international circuit about Libya: If the vaunted and mighty NATO and the U.S. can’t humble that weirdo Col. Gaddafi and his pint-size army, “what do we have to worry about?” To be sure, NATO and the U.S. haven’t hit Gaddafi with all they have for fear of killing civilians. But they have hit him hard and on the open desert—presumably ideal terrain to show off the West’s devastating air power, as opposed to the muck-like guerrilla war in Afghanistan. And while the West’s enemies know well NATO’s self-imposed restrictions on air attacks, they assume that NATO and the U.S. would put such limitations on themselves no matter where they fought. Thus, to Tehran and Pyongyang, the lesson of Libya is that the West can’t do decisive harm to them.

All of which is to say that barring a stroke of luck, the West is up the creek without a paddle—and can’t stop paddling. There are no promising solutions. Best under such circumstances to maintain military operations at about current levels rather than do more and still fail. Best to let Paris and London complain about NATO (read the U.S.) not doing enough and leave the brunt of the fighting to them. After all, they were the prime advocates of military intervention.

Jamie Glazov: Pajamas Media » How Vittorio Arrigoni Went to Gaza Hoping to Die

This episode was, of course, all part of an expected script: even though the media and our higher literary culture never discuss the reasons, the historical record reveals one undeniable fact: like thousands of political pilgrims before him, Vittorio Arrigoni went to Gaza to die. Indeed, consciously or unconsciously, in their unquenchable quest for sacrificing human life on the altar of their utopian ideals, fellow travelers always lust for death, and if not the death of others, then of their own.

Beneath the leftist believer’s veneration of the despotic enemy lies one of his most powerful yearnings: to submit his whole being to a totalist entity. This psychological dynamic involves negative identification, whereby a person who has failed to identify positively with his own environment subjugates his individuality to a powerful, authoritarian entity, through which he vicariously experiences a feeling of power and purpose. The historian David Potter has succinctly crystallized this phenomenon:

. . . most of us, if not all of us, fulfill ourselves and realize our own identities as persons through our relations with others; we are, in a sense, what our community, or as some sociologists would say, more precisely, what our reference group, recognizes us as being. If it does not recognize us, or if we do not feel that it does, or if we are confused as to what the recognition is, then we become not only lonely, but even lost, and profoundly unsure of our identity. We are driven by this uncertainty into a somewhat obsessive effort to discover our identity and to make certain of it. If this quest proves too long or too difficult, the need for identity becomes psychically very burdensome and the individual may be driven to escape this need by renouncing his own identity and surrendering himself to some seemingly greater cause outside himself.

FP: There is much more recognition of the fascism of the extreme right than that of the extreme left. But Lenin/Stalin were not that different than Hitler/Mussolini.

Daniel Pipes Review of: Guarding the Secrets: Palestinian Terrorism and a Father’s Murder of His Too-American Daughter

In November 1989 in St. Louis, the FBI inadvertently tape recorded the entire episode of a teenage girl’s being killed by her Palestinian father and Brazilian mother (the Feds were looking for evidence of terrorism, which they also found). In a ghastly eight-minute sequence, Zein Isa stabbed his daughter Palestina thirteen times with a butcher’s knife as his wife held the girl down and responded to Palestina’s pleas for help with a brutal “Shut up!” The killing ends with Zein screaming “Die! Die quickly! Die quickly! . . . Quiet, little one! Die, my daughter, die!” By this time, she is dead.

FP: An example of the same culture that produced murderers like those of the Fogel family. The elder of one of them was jailed by the PA 5 years for participation in a similar honor killing.

My book is off to OUP. At last!

Today I finally sent in my indexes and page proofs to Oxford University Press. I hope to be more attentive to this blog now that that deadline is off my shoulders. Thanks to the readers who are still with me, and to Fabian Pascal, who has kept this blog alive in my distraction.

Heaven on Earth

The Varieties of the Millennial Experience

Richard Landes
ISBN13: 9780199753598ISBN10: 0199753598Hardback, 592 pages

Jun 2011, Not Yet Published

Price:

$35.00 (01)

Description

Millennialists through the ages have looked forward to the apocalyptic moment that will radically transform society into heaven on earth. They have delivered withering critiques of their own civilizations and promised both the impending annihilation to the forces of evil and the advent of a perfect society. And all their promises have invariably failed. We tend, therefore, to dismiss these prophets of doom and salvation as crackpots and madmen, and not surprisingly historians of our secular era have tended to underestimate their impact on our modern world. Now, Richard Landes offers a lucid and ground-breaking analysis of this widely misunderstood phenomenon.

This long-awaited study shows that many events typically regarded as secular–including the French Revolution, Marxism, Bolshevism, Nazism–not only contain key millennialist elements, but follow the apocalyptic curve of enthusiastic launch, disappointment and re-entry into “normal time.” Indeed, as Landes examines the explicit millennialism behind such recent events as the emergence of Global Jihad since 1979, he challenges the common notion that modern history is largely motivated by secular interests. By focusing on ten widely different case studies, none of which come from Judaism or Christianity, he shows that millennialism is not only a cultural universal, but also an extremely adaptive social phenomenon that persists across the modern and post-modern divides. At the same time, he also offers valuable insight into the social and psychological factors that drive such beliefs.
Ranging from ancient Egypt to modern-day UFO cults and global Jihad, Heaven on Earth both delivers an eye-opening revisionist argument for the significance of millennialism throughout history and alerts the reader to the alarming spread of these ideologies in our world today.

Features

  • Revisionist argument about the significance of millennialism throughout history
  • Focuses on millennialism across many religious and supposedly secular groups, showing that the movement is not exclusive to Judaism and Christianity
  • Chapters on Xhosa Cattle Slaying (1856-67), Cargo Cults, Pharaoh Akhenaten (1350 BCE), the Chinese Taiping (1850-64), UFOlogy, French Revolution, Marxism, Soviet Revolution, Nazism.
  • Final Chapter on Global Jihad as an active, cataclysmic apocalyptic movement aiming at a hierarchical Millennium.
  • Conclusion comparing Anthropogenic Global Warming with Global Jihad Warming as “empirically-based” apocalyptic prophecies for the 21st Century.

Product Details

592 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4;ISBN13: 978-0-19-975359-8ISBN10: 0-19-975359-8

Gleanings, 16.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Lee Smith: Will They Be Devoured? (MUST READ)

To be sure, the Muslim Brotherhood is bound to play a role in post-Mubarak Egypt. But it will bide its time. It has little to gain by claiming ownership of the country’s daunting economic problems. Those who do want to become Egypt’s rulers, meanwhile, are already playing the populist card. Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a likely contender for president, says that if the Israelis attack Gaza, Egypt will declare war on Jerusalem—a warning that Iran might very well read as an invitation to accomplish a longstanding strategic goal by trashing the Camp David accords. Recent calls for the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza were spearheaded by Amr Moussa, the front-runner for president.

… Many press accounts reported that there was precious little anti-Israel sentiment in Tahrir Square. The fact remains, however, that Egyptian officials know this is a powerful card they can play to win support. And the issue is not simply opposition to Zionism or Israeli policies. It’s anti-Semitism. This is the subject of much of Bargisi’s work with EULY. He considers anti-Semitism the telltale sign of an illiberal society.

… “They brought in the food, the blankets, they took care of people,” says Hassan. “When night came, it was the Brotherhood who camped out at Tahrir, not the young middle-class activists. At first they denied that the Brother-hood was there, but then after the camels, it became impossible to deny. The Brotherhood protected the activists, and they got a lot of credit for it. And all of a sudden the rhetoric changed. Now it was okay that the Muslim Brotherhood was there, so long as they served the same objectives, even though the young activists had no sense of how they’d deal with the Brotherhood after the revolution.”

… Around the region, Mubarak’s successors and peers have drawn their own lesson from the Egyptian revolution. To wit: When the Americans tell you to reform, tell them to jump off a cliff, because regardless of your standing with the World Bank, the White House will abandon you when your own people rise up. Accordingly, a month after Mubarak resigned, the Bahrainis rejected the Obama administration’s demands for reform and national dialogue and instead invited in a Gulf Cooperation Council Force to quell their Shiite population. The Saudis turned a deaf ear to calls for reform and simply bribed their population with $93 billion in pay raises, subsidies, housing benefits, and so on. As it happens, that medieval monarchy can afford the bribe; pity the Syrians, whose cash-strapped regime can barely pay for the bullets it uses to shoot its own protesters in the street—reform Damascus-style.

Mark Silverberg: Next Steps in the Middle East (MUST READ)

Such attitudes suggest an enormous ethical and moral divide separating Palestinian and Israeli cultures. What the Obama Administration and the Europeans fail to understand — or pretend not to understand — is that Hamas was elected in 2006 because its very rationale for existence — the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state – - reflects the prevailing attitude of mainstream Palestinian society. For the Palestinians, terrorism is not a weapon borne of desperation or poverty; it is a strategic choice. Supporters of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both seek the annihilation of Israel, as is openly stated in their charters.

… The US administration and the Europeans are misguided in believing that there is “no military solution” to the problems caused by Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah throughout the Middle East. Multicultural tolerance, appeasement, concessions, and utopian pacifism do not work well against radical Islamists who seek absolute power.

… One thing is certain – only a society freed from the mental illness that now controls it can evolve into a proper state that can take its rightful place in the family of nations. The imaginary rewards of “martyrdom” — an act never performed by the children of leaders or dispatchers — and the aggression that epitomizes Hamas and Hezbollah must be defeated. Anything short of this merely prolongs the conflict; delays reconstruction; sows the seeds for future conflict, and renders peaceful Middle East impossible.

David Pryce-Jones: In the Phony “Spring,” Arab Politics Stay the Same

Moammar Qaddafi and Bashar Assad are making sure to smash up their own cities, killing at random by way of exercising power. It is the same in Yemen and Bahrain, and might well replicate elsewhere, for instance Jordan and Algeria. The Iranian regime shoots and executes its people on a horrifying scale, and sees fit to support Assad’s repression in Syria while condemning the repression in Bahrain. Such cruelty and hypocrisy may look like evidence of bad character, but more to the point derive from the fact that the Arab and Muslim order does not have, and never has had, any agreed means of handing power over peacefully. Those in power or who want it have to be ready to resort to violence. At this moment rival forces — Islamists, secular Westernised folk, the military — are frustrated because absolute power so far has escaped their grasp, and now they have the chance to grab hold of it. Ersatz nations are dissolving as their constituent sects and tribes jostle with each other for supremacy.

What is passed off as a Spring, in other words, is really a repeat of the brutality that is the age-old instrument of everyone who has ever sought power in the Arab and Muslim order. The process is self-perpetuating, as vital as it is lethal. The would-be power-holder has only his family, tribe or sect to rely on, and he has to be rid of everyone in his way, exactly as Qaddafi and Assad and the rest of them are doing. So the former Tunisian and Egyptian ministers are already in prison. So the Egyptian security forces are already arresting dissidents and beating them to death in prison. As the French proverb puts it, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Finally a train of thought for the pundits and politicians: What induces the likes of Barack Obama and Tony Blair to keep on trying to breathe life into the defunct peace process? It defies history, custom and political reality to believe that a Palestinian state will abolish violence in the Middle East. In Gaza and the West Bank they too have only set up tribal or sectarian tyranny. Meanwhile Israeli Arabs are going about their business peacefully instead of holding mass demonstrations in some central public place. They’re the only Arabs living in a real democracy and maybe that enables them to recognize a phony Spring when they see it.

Jim Wald: Barghouti

Like students at Berkeley and elsewhere, Barghouti gets to endlessly complain about his movement being silenced, even as jets around the planet delivering his message and penning articles that routinely get published in major newspapers. Like the BDSers who endlessly claim to be showing great courage by standing up to “Jewish power,” he rails against fantasy threats knowing full well that a late night knock on the door by his alleged oppressors will never materialize.

If the global leadership of the BDS movement resides anywhere, it resides at Tel Aviv University where a graduate student who does not seem to engage in any academic activities gets to dwell in highly-subsidized perpetual adolescence, jetting around the planet in luxury condemning the very institutions that support a comfortable lifestyle. In this role he takes no risks while claiming great courage, the ultimate middle class warrior acting as a stand-in for the repressed of the world.

Gleanings, 15.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Gil Troy: Hamas, Gilad Schalit and the Problem of Evil (MUST READ)

Firing an anti-tank missile at a school bus is evil – as Hamas terrorists did last week. Celebrating the slaughter of a baby and her sleeping family, let alone slaughtering them, is evil – the villains remain at large; Gazans cheered last month.  Honoring the criminal who masterminded the infamous Seder suicide bombing which murdered thirty people is evil – as the PA is doing. Isolating a kidnapped soldier from loved ones and the Red Cross is evil – as Hamas is doing. These outrages, among others, demonstrate how the Palestinians keep escalating a solvable border dispute into an existential fight over Israel’s right to exist.

While focusing on Obama, the [Stephen L. Carter’s] book demonstrates how rationalizing Palestinian violence has undermined the Western quest to keep war “a rule-governed activity,” as the Princeton philosopher Michael Walzer calls it, “a world of permissions and prohibitions – a moral world … in the midst of hell.”

Closer to home, the failure of those who call themselves “pro-peace” to condemn Palestinian crimes intensifies the Great Betrayal Israelis have experienced since Oslo.  Obscuring clear moral issues including targeting a school bus with neutral warnings against “escalations of violence” equates Hamas terror tactics with Israeli defenses, discouraging compromise … Who can negotiate with baby killers, suicide bombers and delegitimizers?   Why trust “guarantees” of an international community which cannot muster appropriate outrage at brutal murders?

Daniel Pipes: Palestinians Murder Their Supporters

Note the pattern of Palestinians who murder the groupies and apologists who join them to aid in their dream of eliminating Israel.

Angelo Frammartino, an Italian, was killed by stabbing in eastern Jerusalem in August 2006 by someone affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Juliano Mer-Khamis, who appears to have been an Israeli citizen, killed in early April 2011 in Jenin by persons unknown.

Vittorio Arrigoni, another Italian, killed in recent days in Gaza by a Salafi group holding him hostage.

(Readers are invited to send in further examples that I may have missed; and this list will be updated as needed.)

Comments: (1) These murders neatly sum up the frenzy and depravity within Palestinian society, surely the sickest on earth, what with its suicide factory, its celebration of terrorists, and its cult of death. (2) Consistent with this morbidity, it also devours its admirers. (April 15, 2011)

Investors Business Daily: How Free Israel Prospers As Islam Remains In Dark

Adding to Egypt’s travails, the Muslim Brotherhood is calling for “modesty police” — mirroring the actions taken by Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Gaza, after its 2006 electoral win and subsequent bloody purge of its more secular rival, Fatah.

These would-be mullahs of misery are also calling for the criminal prosecution of those who made money during the Mubarak era, coupling that call with a return to Egyptian socialism. This sure recipe for economic failure will inevitably cause Egypt’s new leaders to blame Israel, the Jews and America for Egypt’s problems. As the availability of bread declines, the index of hate will rise. This volatile equation is good for neither Egypt nor Israel.

FP: Validation of my prediction at my blog that anti-semitism and Israel hatred will increase due to the frustration with the inability of the uprisings to resolve insurmountable economic problems exacerbated by Islamic regression.

Mordechai Kedar: We need a very different Arab League approach (MUST READ)

In the ensuing televised discussion, I argued that the API comprised positive components like recognition of Israel and comprehensive Arab peace with us. The Arab League should, I stated, negotiate with Israel regarding the details. Al Zulfa insisted that Israel must accept the plan word for word without deleting a single letter and implement it, only after which the Arabs would agree to talk to Israel. The Arabs would not negotiate with Israel over anything until the latter completed implementation. Al Zulfa insisted this was a non-negotiable condition.

I went on to offer my opinion on this approach by posing a simple question: would Saudi Arabia accept and implement any proposal whatsoever, down to the most elementary issue, if it had not participated in drafting and determining the conditions? Is there any other Arab state that would agree to be dictated to by a foreign entity? Is it conceivable for Israel to accept a document relating to Israeli national security that has been drafted by the Arab summit without having the right to change a single word?

This approach, as presented by the most important formulator of Saudi foreign policy, projects a sense of superiority and disdain, and broadcasts a clear intent to bring Israel to its knees, to deny it security and return it to the 1948 borders that all agree are not defensible (“Auschwitz borders”, according to the late Abba Eban). The Arab desire to tear away the Old City of Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, essentially reflects an Islamic refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish religion and expresses the belief that Islam emerged to replace Judaism rather than coexist with it. (Incidentally, according to this approach, Christianity too lost its role after the arrival of Islam.)

Caroline Glick: Turkey’s Cautionary Tale

Earlier this week the US Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone gave an interview to the Turkish media in which he romantically upheld the US-Turkish partnership. As he put it, “Our interests are similar. Even if we have different methods and targets, our strategic vision is the same.”

Sadly, there is no way to square this declaration with Turkish policy.

This week it was reported that NATO member Turkey is opening something akin to a Taliban diplomatic mission in Ankara. Turkey supports Hamas and Hizbullah. It has begun training the Syrian military. It supports Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It has become the Iranian regime’s economic lifeline by allowing the mullahs to use Turkish markets to bypass the UN sanctions regime.

In less than 10 years, the AKP regime has dismantled Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. It has inculcated the formerly tolerant if not pro- Israel Turkish public with virulent anti-Semitism. It is this systematic indoctrination to Jew-hatred that has emboldened Turkish leaders to announce publicly that they support going to war against Israel.

The Turkish government stands behind the al- Qaida- and Hamas- linked IHH group. IHH organized last year’s pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza in which IHH members brutally attacked IDF naval commandoes engaged in a lawful mission to maintain Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of Gaza’s coast. With the support of the Turkish government, IHH is now planning an even larger flotilla to assault Israel’s blockade of Gaza next month.

Barry Rubin: The Mobile Phone Dealer Explains Qadhafi-Zionist Witchcraft

Then there’s Mr. el Faitouri (I’m not responsible for the bad transliteration). He equates “the Israeli Star of David” with demonic powers, taking us back to the Middle Ages. By the way, by saying “Israeli Star of David,” makes him an “anti-Zionist” while if he had said “Jewish Star of David” that would supposedly make him an antisemite. Such is the sophistication of the Western intellectual debate on such issues today. But never mind.

The gap between Mr. el Faitouri, whose cause is now being aided by NATO forces, and Mr.Ahmadinejad,who will soon have nuclear weapons, is not very wide at all.

Steven Metz: Swan Song: Is Libya the end of NATO?

And so, for the third time since the end of the cold war, NATO has accepted a major mission and then demonstrated that it does not have the unity of purpose or the military capability to perform it. At least, not without the United States dominating. Meanwhile, the United States has not fully grappled with the idea that NATO may have outlived its usefulness: Its costs may outweigh the contribution it makes to American security, and the notion that the U.S. needs to remain heavily involved in European security seems less and less evident.

It is time for this debate over NATO’s viability to take place. While NATO may serve as an institutional reminder of the shared democratic values of the Atlantic community (and NATO’s not-so-Atlantic new members) and help with interoperability between its members’ military forces, the Alliance, in its current form, has proven it cannot lead and execute complex, sustained operations in today’s world. Three strikes in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and now Libya may not be enough to put NATO out of business, but it certainly should be enough to place the question of its value on the table.

Phyllis Chesler: The Battle That Dare Not Speak Its Name: 48 Hours in the Life of an Anti-Islamist

A deservedly popular network radio program asked to interview me—but then begged me to “work with them” because they are being closely monitored in terms of their “Islamic” content. “Please be sure to say something like ‘Many Muslims are moderate,’ or ‘All Muslims are not jihadists.’” I assured him that I usually say these kinds of things anyway because I believe them—but still, a cold wind blew across my grave.

A distinguished American government publication had previously interviewed me at great length and very respectfully about honor killings. The editors ultimately asked me to participate in a debate about whether coverage of honor killings in the West “stigmatizes” Muslims. I said it did not—that if anyone was “stigmatized” it was Hindus, whose India-based honor killings are covered by the same American mainstream media which will not cover Muslim honor killings in America. Guess what? When they sent me the final version for my approval I saw that they had dropped the word “Muslim” before “honor killings” and had added a sentence that softened what I had to say about such Muslim-on-Muslim crimes. I immediately re-inserted the word “Muslim” and hope that the piece sees the light of day as I wrote it.

Finally, on the same day, a magazine commissioned me to write a piece about honor killings but the editor asked me to “try to be balanced so that his bosses will approve the piece more easily.” I pointed out that it was an opinion piece, not a news item. I wrote the piece. It is slated to run—but alongside a piece which will oppose my point of view.

The message is clear: Either steer clear of all Muslim subjects or write only positive things about Islam. At the very least, be prepared to have a companion piece which differs from your own, not in the next issue, but right alongside you, speaking over you, as you speak. Be prepared to have to “debate” as the price for being able to present your own arguments.

Gleanings, 14.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Israel Harel: Israel should have carried on its Gaza operation (MUST READ)

In the middle of a counter-attack against Hamas’ men and infrastructure, Israel has blinked, and agreed to a ceasefire. The government, which is full of ministers with military backgrounds, ignored one of the most basic rules of managing a battle: Take advantage of success (if it had not been a success, Hamas would not have begged for a truce ) until the fight is won.

Even though residents in the south would have had to suffer enemy missiles for some time, they also have trouble grasping the government’s strange logic. The enemy will now recover, just as it did after Operation Cast Lead, another military operation which drew to a halt before its completion; Hamas will arm itself for another, even more lethal, round of fighting. Who knows how many yellow school buses will be attacked as a result of the decision-makers’ weak will? …

Ahead of the Passover holiday, Hamas received, in addition to the ceasefire, an unexpected gain. A number of Israel’s “former” security officials joined forces in calling on the government to surrender to Hamas’ demands and release about 1,000 terrorists, in exchange for Gilad Shalit. The wisdom of this demand and its perfect timing shows just how we got ourselves to this low point: There is now an inability to bring an end to terror activity of organizations which kill Israeli citizens, fire thousands of missiles, kidnap civilians and soldiers, and dictate terms of surrender for the release of these hostages. These “former” security officials headed unsuccessful struggles against Hamas, Hezbollah and other, similar groups. What gives them the moral right to demand such a capitulation? Now we are slaves -, to borrow a phrase from the Haggadah – to cowardice, to erroneous conceptions and delusions. Next year, let us be free, and accomplish the worthy goals of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

Efraim Inbar: The Delusion of Peace Initiatives

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel is under pressure to present a new “peace initiative,” but the wisdom of such a move is not self-evident. While a peace initiative may deflect some of the international criticism, it is unlikely to bring about conflict resolution – it will hardly meet the approval of the Palestinians or even the Americans. Moreover, it will propagate the fallacy of a two-state solution, which until now has totally failed.

Giulio Meotti: Israel’s pacifist tragedy

…Yet all of Mer-Khamis’ pacifism, idealism and radicalism did not protect him from the genocidal ideology that Israel had to confront since its foundation. Just like Massoud Mahlouf Allon, an observant Jewish immigrant from Morocco, wasn’t spared by the terrorists because he was giving blankets to poor Palestinians. And how can we forget all the Israeli kibbutzniks and pacifists decimated in buses and cafés during the Second Intifada?

…Mer-Khamis’ body was transferred through a checkpoint to Israeli authorities. It was his sad return to reality. The ancient Greek Thucydides said that it is normal for children to bury their parents, but parents burying children contravene the laws of nature and anger the gods. That’s the most important and saddest difference between Israel and the rest of the “civilized world.” Hatred doesn’t differentiate among Jewish targets.

The Atlantic: Prominent During Revolution, Egyptian Women Vanish in New Order

The current crop of 31 ministers contains just one woman, down from three under Mubarak. And as the political space narrows, the physical space for women to assert themselves is also shrinking. A gathering of a thousand or so demonstrators on March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day turned ugly by the afternoon, with arguments about gender roles degenerating into violence and gunshots.
“They claimed the women are not religious, that they are seeking to destroy Egypt and undermine family values and the sanctity of the family by telling women to desert their husbands,” he said. The following day, Tahrir Square became the scene of even more unpleasantness: as police sought to clear the square of remaining protesters and tents, they arrested 19 women, beat and verbally abused them, accused them of prostitution, and subjected several to forced “virginity tests.” …

And what better way to cope with potential societal breakdown than shoving some good old law and order at it, in the form of a Saudi Arabia-style morality police force? That proposal came from the Islamist group Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, which, like the extreme Islamist group the Salafists (who incidentally burned the furniture of a woman they accused of prostitution), is feeling a rush of freedom after living under the heel of Mubarak’s boot for the past three decades.

FP: Arabs will be Arabs

Mark Giuliano: The Post-9/11 FBI: The Bureau’s Response to Evolving Threats

“First, let me characterize the current threat environment as we see it and the challenges we face in understanding and getting in front of the threat. I do not think this nation has ever faced a more fluid, more dynamic, or more complex terrorism threat. We are seeing an increase in the sources of terrorism, a wider array of terrorism targets, a greater cooperation among terrorist groups, and an evolution in terrorist tactics and communication methodology. The long-term planning undertaken by senior core al-Qaeda leaders which led to the 9/11 attacks is much more difficult for them to attain in today’s environment. It is replaced with somewhat less sophisticated, quick-hitting strikes that can be just as lethal but which take less funding, fewer operatives, less training, and less timing to execute….”

FP: Giuliano is assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division

Stanley Kurtz: Congressional GOP Gets One Right

Academics are already screaming about the “devastating” nature of the cutback, and the alleged damage to our national security, since the programs in question support the teaching of languages of strategic importance to the United States (like Arabic and Pashto). Yet Title VI programs in international studies have largely failed to channel students fluent in strategic foreign languages into defense and intelligence agencies. Title VI subsidized centers ha

Gleanings, 13.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

Mark Silverberg: The Middle East Mindset (MUST READ)

It is now clear why Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have refused negotiations with Israel for more than a year, even after Israel agreed to freeze Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem: they have been busy working behind the scenes with South American leaders to obtain a declaration of statehood for “Palestine.” Abbas has reason to gloat. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina recently recognized “Palestine as a free and independent state based on its pre-1967 borders,” and other South American countries have followed her lead …

This is what the Arab-Israeli conflict was about in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973; this is what the conflict is about today. Are we to believe that U.S., South American and European leaders are ignorant of these facts or willfully blind to them due to their own domestic and foreign agendas? The dispute is, was and always has been about the destruction of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state in the midst of the Islamic world. As such, Israel’s return to the 1949 armistice lines (euphemistically referred to as “borders”) will not mark the end of this conflict. On the contrary, a Palestinian state established on the West Bank and Gaza will serve as the staging area for even further aggression and destabilization in the region — as promised in the Palestinian and Hamas Charters; in the Arab media, schools, summer camps, textbooks, and even crossword puzzles [www.palwatch.org and www.MEMRI.org].

Rick Richman: All Set to Be a Failed State

Not to put too fine a point on it: if you can’t finish drafting your constitution; if your “president” is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap . . . well, you might not be ready for a state.

Efraim Karsh: How Many Palestinian Arab Refugees Were There?

The number of Palestinian Arabs fleeing their homes during the 1948 war has constituted one of the most intractable bones of contentions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, not least since the Palestinians have insisted on the “right of return” of these individuals and their descendants to territory that has long been part of the state of Israel. More than a half-century later, these exaggerated initial numbers have swollen still further: as of June 2000, according to UNRWA, the total had climbed close to three and three-quarters million, though it readily admits that the statistics are largely inflated. For its part the PLO set a still higher figure of 5 million refugees, while Israel has unofficially estimated the current number of refugees and their families at closer to 2 million.

At the end of the war, the Israeli government set the number of Palestinian refugees at 550,000-600,000; the British Foreign Office leaned toward the higher end of this estimate. But within a year, as large masses of people sought to benefit from the unprecedented influx of international funds to the area, some 962,000 alleged refugees had been registered with the newly-established UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

[NB: The BBC rpresents five million as the accepted number. -RL]

NGO Monitor Analysis: NGOs vs. Goldstone

Judge Richard Goldstone’s Washington Post op-ed, retracting the substance of the UNHRC “Goldstone Report” on the Gaza conflict, undermines the credibility of the NGOs that provided the false allegations of “deliberate killings” by the IDF. In response, NGOs and NGO officials have issued numerous statements distorting and rewriting Goldstone’s words, in an effort to preserve their credibility.

Gleanings, 12.04.11

NB. Most of the postings (and the regularity of) the Gleanings comes from Fabian Pascal (oao), who blogs at The PostWest.

George Friedman: The Arab Risings, Israel and Hamas (MUST READ)

In the face of the decision by Arab demonstrators not to emphasize Israel, in the face of the apparent failure of the Egyptian rising to achieve definitive policy changes, and in the face of the reversal by Goldstone of many of his charges, Hamas clearly felt that it not only faced a lost opportunity, but it was likely to face a retreat in Western public opinion (albeit the latter was a secondary consideration) …

Another Israeli assault on Gaza might generate forces that benefit Hamas. In Cast Lead, the Egyptian government was able to deflect calls to stop its blockade of Gaza and break relations with Israel. In 2011, it might not be as easy for them to resist in the event of another war. Moreover, with the uprising losing steam, a war in Gaza might re-energize Hamas, using what would be claimed as unilateral brutality by Israel to bring far larger crowds into the street and forcing a weakened Egyptian regime to make the kinds of concessions that would matter to Hamas.

Egypt is key for Hamas. Linked to an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas Cairo, the Gaza Strip returns to its old status as a bayonet pointed at Tel Aviv. Certainly, it would be a base for operations and a significant alternative to Fatah. But a war would benefit Hamas more broadly. For example, Turkey‘s view of Gaza has changed significantly since the 2010 flotilla incident in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish civilians on a ship headed for Gaza. Turkey’s relationship with Israel could be further weakened, and with Egypt and Turkey both becoming hostile to Israel, Hamas’ position would improve. If Hamas could cause Hezbollah to join the war from the north then Israel would be placed in a challenging military position perhaps with the United States, afraid of a complete breakdown of its regional alliance system, forcing Israel to accept an unfavorable settlement.

Hamas had the same means for starting a war it had before Cast Lead and that Hezbollah had in 2006. It can still fire rockets at Israel. For the most part, these artillery rockets – homemade Qassams and mortars, do no harm. But some strike Israeli targets, and under any circumstances, the constant firing drives home the limits of Israeli intelligence to an uneasy Israeli public – Israel doesn’t know where the missiles are stored and can’t take them out. Add to this the rocket that landed 20 miles south of Tel Aviv and Israeli public perceptions of the murder of most of a Jewish family in the West Bank, including an infant, and it becomes clear that Hamas is creating the circumstances under which the Israelis have no choice but to attack Gaza.

FP: I think his claim that the Arab uprising did not include an anti-Israel dimension and that Mubarak’s fall did not improve Hamas’s situation considerably is wrong, but I agree with his analysis of Hamas’s motive for violence.

Barry Rubin: Saudi Arabia, Gulf States: Iran Is Attacking Us; Obama Administration: Excuses, Excuses!

How sadly ironic. A few years ago, the two previous U.S. presidents were trying to get Gulf Arab states to do more to foster an Arab-Israeli peace settlement and to stand up against Iran. They didn’t respond very much. Now they are ready for the battle and the current U.S. government is at best neutral and at worst on the other side!

Efraim Inbar: Israel and the Old-New Middle East

The unprecedented events in the region have deflected attention from the Palestinian issue, and the demonstrations are obviously not fueled by concern for the Palestinians. Still, experience suggests that eventually Israel will be blamed, if only partially, for the radicalization of the Muslim street. Consequently, misguided attempts “to solve” the insoluble Israeli-Palestinian conflict will likely ensue. Slogans about the “urgency” of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and about the need to capitalize upon “the last window of opportunity” will be revived. Yet, the slim chances for a stable agreement are becoming more remote as the fragile Palestinian Authority faces increasing pressure from a more powerful and popular Hamas. Indeed, the virulently anti-Israel Hamas, encouraged by the developments in Egypt, might adopt a more aggressive posture toward the Jewish state.

FP: Exactly what I have been warning at The PostWest (www.fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com)

Asaf Romirowsky and Nicole Brackman: Ramallah’s Pyrrhic victory

The term “learned helplessness” was coined by psychologist Martin Seligman, who investigated the process by which people are exposed over a prolonged period to a situation where there is no connection between their reactions to stimuli and changes in these stimuli. In other words, there is no connection between actions and their immediate consequences. The psychological concept embodies Palestinian society and the inability of Palestinians to see beyond the victimhood status that has been thrust upon them by their own leaders for over 60 years. It is also why the so-called Palestinian occupation is more mental than physical …

If logic played a factor in Palestinian nationalism, there would be a consensus that a new Intifada would constitute an unprecedented campaign of political suicide by West Bank residents. But experience reveals that at every similar historical juncture, anti-Zionist ideology and unrestrained nationalist zeal trump pragmatic realpolitik – and Palestinian leaders balk at the crucial moment when a chance of peace might be possible.

PowerLIne: The Free Gaza Flotilla, the Beslan Massacres and the Progressive Librarians

Among the “endorsers” are such groups as the Progressive Librarians Guild.

PLG reaffirmed, significantly, that the development of public libraries was initially spurred by popular sentiment which for one reason or another held that real democracy requires an enlightened citizenry, and that society should provide all people with the means for free intellectual development. Current trends in librarianship, however, assert that the library is merely a neutral institutional mediator in the information marketplace and a facilitator of a value-neutral information society of atomized information consumers.

A progressive librarianship demands the recognition of the idea that libraries for the people has been one of the principal anchors of an extended free public sphere which makes an independent democratic civil society possible, something which must be defended and extended. This is partisanship, not neutrality.

Progressive librarians: Are you quite sure you want to be mixed up with these fellows? I have a feeling that the world they seek to bring into being is not going to be one with an “extended free public sphere which makes an independent democratic civil society possible.” Just a hunch. You may want to think about that. I could be wrong, but it would be a real shame for you if I weren’t.

Have a close, close look at that video, progressive librarians. A lot of dead kids. A lot of mothers whose hearts will never be put together again. Roll the words “zionist virus” around in your mouth a bit, see how that sits. Not really peaceful language, is it? That’s because these are not really the friendly peace activists they’re telling you they are.

Oh, why am I even wasting my breath.

IowaHawk: War Is No Excuse For Forgetting One’s Manners – War Etiquette Tips From Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

The Right Reverend Ayman Al-Zawahiri
Cave 37-B, Kandahar Arms

My Dearest Reverend:

On behalf of my colleagues, please allow me to express our deepest shame at the blasphemous action of one our citizens in the incident that so rightly vexed you and other devout followers of the Prophet. Please rest assured that as a civilized nation we in no way condone or tolerate this type of behavior. Although we cannot undo the unimaginable hurt his thoughtlessness caused, we will leave no stone unturned until he has made amends. Your recommendations for a just punishment will of course be given every consideration.

In closing, I hope by putting this incident behind us, we can return to an existential conflict befitting our two great and gentlemanly peoples. I remain, as always,

Your Faithful Servant, etc.,
The Hon. Lindsey Graham of the Charleston Grahams

William Langley: France’s burka ban is a victory for tolerance

Britain’s politicians take fright at the idea – but Sarkozy’s brave step is both popular and right

… But this generation’s influence was starting to fade, and in the unlovely satellite suburbs where many Muslim immigrants settled, or – to be more accurate – were dumped, a new kind of identity began to emerge. Today, virtually cut off from mainstream society, the populations of many of these places have become hostages to virulent strains of radicalism. Women who refuse to wear the hijab, and, increasingly, the burka, are intimidated and brutalised by gangs whose ideas about female emancipation are on an exact par with those of the Taliban.

This, as Mme Amara painstakingly tries to explain, is the problem with all those charming liberal pieties about allowing women to choose how they wish to dress. Large numbers of the women who wear the burka – whether in France, Britain or anywhere else – don’t have a choice.

[RL addition: What happens when you don't ban headscarves]

‘Wear a headscarf or we will kill you’: How the ‘London Taliban’ is threatening women and trying to ban gays in bid to impose sharia law”

Women who do not wear headscarves are being threatened with violence and even death by Islamic extremists intent on imposing sharia law on parts of Britain, it was claimed today. Other targets of the ‘Talibanesque thugs’, being investigated by police in the Tower Hamlets area of London, include homosexuals. Stickers have been plastered on public walls stating: ‘Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment’.

It is believed Muslim extremists are behind a spate of attacks being investigated by police, according to the Sunday Times.

An Asian woman who works in a pharmacy in east London was told to dress more modestly and wear a veil or the shop would be boycotted. When she went to the media to talk about the abuse she suffered, a man later entered the pharmacy and told her: ‘If you keep doing these things, we are going to kill you’. The 31-year-old, who is not a practising Muslim, said she has since been told to take holiday by the pharmacy owners and now fears she may lose her job. She said: ‘Why should I wear a hijab (headscarf) or burqa? I haven’t done anything wrong.’

Daniel Pipes: Ambitious Turkey

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu grandiloquently proclaimed a few days ago that, “If the world is on fire, Turkey is the firefighter. Turkey is assuming the leading role for stability in the Middle East.”…

Ankara’s ambitions must be checked. Less provocatively and more intelligently than the Iranian regime, it aspires to reshape Muslim countries in its Islamist image. The opening salvos of this effort have gone well, being both effective and largely unnoticed.

Possible methods to block AKP influence include: expressing displeasure with Ankara’s “neo-Ottomanist” policies; publicly questioning whether Turkish actions are compatible with NATO membership; quietly encouraging opposition parties in the country’s June 2011 elections; and, at this moment of AKP hostility and of Kurdish uprisings in eastern Turkey, reconsidering the delicate question of Kurdish civil rights.

Simon Tisdall: Gaddafi figures prominently on the roadmap for peace

It would be easy, but probably unwise, to dismiss out of hand the African Union’s roadmap for peace in Libya. The main objection, from the point of view of the rebels and protagonists such as Britain, is that the proposals would leave Colonel Gaddafi and his sons in power, at least in the short term. This also holds true for the mooted Turkish peace plan. Gaddafi’s political survival is certainly an unedifying prospect. But it is the price David Cameron and his allies may be forced to pay if they are to extricate themselves from the mess their ill-considered intervention has created …

It’s a fair bet Museveni’s caustic opinions are widely shared not only in Africa but also by governments across the Middle East and the non-western world. They help explain why the AU mission in Libya will not produce a result that suits Britain and its allies. And they are also a clear indicator that the proposition that Gaddafi and his kin must, at all costs, be forced to relinquish power is very much a minority view, with scant support beyond London, Washington and Benghazi. With even France backsliding on its previous insistence on Gaddafi’s departure, Cameron may have to accept the only way to end the war is to surrender its primary objective.

Anna Geifman on Terrorism and the Creation of “Fear Zones”

My colleague from the History Department at Boston U., who teaches now at Bar Ilan U. and also volunteers in Sederot, just sent me the following piece. All references are from Anna Geifman, Death Orders:  The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia (Praeger, 2010).

Terrorism today is not what it was a century ago—or ever.  Its patterns changed—from assassinations aimed to punish specific targets to what perpetrators called “motiveless terror” against civilians.  Presently, unnoticed by most, they focus on the creation of “fear zones.”  They do so by intentionally targeting children.

In a cross-border raid from Lebanon on May 15, 1974 gunmen from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), affiliated with the PLO, took 102 students and their teachers hostage in the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot, which the children from Safed visited during a school trip.  Some managed to escape by jumping out the windows, but when the IDF special unit assaulted the building, the terrorists detonated hand grenades and sprayed the 14-16-year olds with machine-gun fire, killing 21 and wounding 66.  On June 1, 2001 an Arab suicide bomber blasted himself and yet another 21 Israeli teenagers in the “Delphinarium” disco in Tel Aviv.  In 2002 the Chechen terrorists have chosen the Moscow Dubrovka theater as their site during the “Nord-Ost” musical based on the novel The Two Captains by Veniamin Kaverin, a favorite travel adventure story for the young audience.

On September 1, 2004, amid the “Day of Knowledge” festivities, at least 32 heavily-armed, masked terrorists held hostage 1,200 children, their relatives, and their teachers inside School No. 1 in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia, in the former USSR.  This terrorist act yielded at least 334 dead, among them 186 children; over 700 were wounded.  Violence against children soared to a new level.

Beslan is a town of relatives; everyone has familial ties to everyone else.  Even distant family members are very close, so much more the siblings, little ones are frequently left in the care of their older brothers and sisters.  In this traditional community, for decades people live on the same street or in the same house and are more than neighbors:  they spend a great deal of time socializing, celebrating birthdays and holidays together; they have common troubles and memories; their children grow up as playmates and “share moms.”  Prisoners inside the school constituted approximately 3.3 percent of Beslan’s 35,500 inhabitants, but by orchestrating the holdup, the extremists aimed at every household and the locality as a whole:  by murdering and maiming hundreds of children, they mutilated the town.

Psychologists who have been treating victims in Beslan have designated it as a “special place,” a “death space” or “zone,” analogous to “zones of sadness,” which instantaneously mushroomed from Ground Zero into areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, as far as Staten Island and New Jersey on 9/11.  In Beslan, one and all have experienced dying and bereavement and are suffering from collective traumatization, as well as individual intense post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.  Their sense of time is broken into “before” and “after” the violent incident, to which the residents refer as “the event” or simply as “that” (as in “when that happened”).  Everyone agrees that “Beslan is a very sick place.”

Parents took the bodies of their children murdered in Ma’alot for the burial in their home-Safed; the “Delphinarium” and the Dubrovka carnages horrified, yet did not stop the lives of citizens in metropolitan Tel Aviv and Moscow.  But Beslan became a closed “infected sphere,” explain the locals; it is like living in a cemetery.

The town of Sderot is the Israeli “trauma zone.”  With few fatalities, it is not a site to pick up sensational news items; random and inaccurate Hamas qassam fire from Gaza has become almost a regular event.  The shelled town is another instance where, overlooked by most observers, modern terrorism has reached a new phase by specifically targeting children.

There is a “Qassam generation”–kids who over the last eight years have been growing under the rockets, terrorism being the hallmark of their daily life.  A Sderot child is aware of the location of every bomb shelter on his way to a local store; some prefer to walk forty minutes to school every morning instead of ten because the circuitous route has better protection; others argue that the safest way is to run all the way.  During periods of heavy shelling, parents keep them at home for days or entire weeks; even during ceasefire school attendance is sparse, often as low as 60 percent.  Like children in Beslan, their peers in Sderot react emotionally to loud noises, such as those of a thunderstorm or even a voice.

Every playground is equipped with protective shield.  Some slides and climbing walls are under metal covers; the make-belief tunnels and labyrinths are made of concrete pipes, so that small children could play inside in relative safety.  Each child has his own sophisticated routines and safety rituals for performing most ordinary tasks; in that generation, there is no one who has not been deeply traumatized by habitual threat of violence.  “Qassam” is the word always in people’s minds and on the tip of the tongue:  when a science teacher asked her little students why a lizard needs its scales, everyone in class knew:  “Against the Qassams!”

The “death space” that the terrorists have succeeded in creating in Beslan by way of the massacre of children, in Sderot has been systematically constructed over the course a decade.  The Qassam rockets are very imprecise and do not inflict great casualties, but as it turns out, not much bloodspilling is necessary to keep the town population in perpetual fear, as long as it is sustained over a long time and reinforced systematically.  “A present for the start of the new school year,” the Islamic Jihad website flaunted the terrorists’ September 2007 missile attack, which sent twelve kindergarteners to the hospital for shock treatment.

Sderot is damaged with collective anxiety.  At present, the full extent of the trauma is known only indirectly; for example, by evidence of symptomatic panic, tenseness, insomnia, nightmares, diminished concentration and ability to perform regular tasks, periodic aggressiveness, depression, as well as high percentage of powerful tranquillizers prescribed to town residents; psychiatrists have classified dozens, if not hundreds, as handicapped.  Mass fear is not a cut-rate sacrifice, when the devotees of death are incapable of showing themselves as free-handed as they had proven to be in the Ossetian town at the other end of the world.  And, having demonstrated quite a commitment to destruction in the designated “fear zone” of Sderot, the terrorists have also tried their hand at transforming larger communities into similar sectors of terrorization in the cities of Beersheba, Ashkelon and, recently, Jerusalem. On March 6, 2008 students were massacred in Merhaz HaRav.  Two weeks ago, most of the wounded were teenagers:  a bomb was set to detonate at a bus stop at 3pm. when children return from school.  Yesterday the terrorists fired an anti-tank weapon at a school bus.

Health and safety of children are among the very few impervious values in our skeptical post-modern reality.  Terrorism came to direct itself specifically against that which remains ethically and socially sacred, revealing itself as a brutal form of counterculture.  Its proponents inevitably had to strike against children — the quintessence of vitality, of sparkling aliveness, the most vibrant and spontaneous of the living.  They are the very life that is being sacrificed because the terrorists “love death.”