Monthly Archives: April 2011

Gleanings, 09-10.04.11

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

Christopher Dickey: Middle East Revolutions Off the Rails (MUST READ)

In less than four months, as uprisings have swept through the Arab world, we’ve seen that the once-comfortable Arab elites and their backers in Europe and the United States not only don’t know what to do, they don’t even know what to say … As this beat goes on, there’s an ill-disguised hope in Washington and in European capitals that somebody can be stomped—a dictator here, a rebellion there—and somehow everything will calm down…

Decades ago, historian David Fromkin put his finger on the essential problem in his classic history of the partition of the Middle East after World War I, A Peace to End All Peace. “The characteristic feature of the region’s politics,” he wrote, is that “in the Middle East there is no sense of legitimacy—no agreement on rules of the game—and no belief, universally shared in the region, that within whatever boundaries, the entities that call themselves countries or the men who claim to be rulers are entitled to recognition as such.”

What we’re watching right now is the painful creation of a new Middle East where, eventually, countries will be recognized as legitimate reflections of their people’s national identities, and governance will have the legitimacy of popular support. As Fromkin pointed out, after the fall of the Roman empire, it took Europe more than 1,500 years, and many disastrous wars, to get that far.

Niall Ferguson: The Mash of Civilizations (MUST READ)

It seems paradoxical. In Samuel Huntington’s version of the post–Cold War world, there was going to be a clash between an Islamic civilization that was stuck in a medieval time warp and a Western civilization that was essentially equivalent to modernity. What we’ve ended up with is something more like a mashup of civilizations, in which the most militantly antimodern strains of Islam are being channeled by the coolest technology the West has to offer … In short, Google’s pro-democracy Wael Ghonim is probably a less significant figure than Fouad X, the head of IT for Hizbullah in Lebanon, who tells Joshua Ramo (at the beginning of his superb book The Age of the Unthinkable) that “our email is flooded with CVs” from Islamist geeks wanting to “serve a sacred cause.” …

So far, so bad. Now here’s the real problem. Many of these same Islamist geeks (among them Al-Awlaki) have hailed the so-called Arab Spring as a golden opportunity. The March 29 issue of Inspire declared: “The revolutions that are shaking the thrones of dictators are good for the Muslims, good for the mujahideen, and bad for the imperialists of the West and their henchmen in the Muslim world.” The clash of civilizations would have been easy for the West to win if it had simply pitted the ideas and institutions of the 21st century against those of the seventh. No such luck. In the new mash of civilizations, our most dangerous foes are the Islamists who understand how to post fatwas on Facebook, email the holy Quran, and tweet the call to jihad.

CAMERA: The Lure of Clichés

So the core staff is not opposed to “resistance … by all means,” a phrase generally understood to include suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians … Would the New York Times use the word “peace” to describe a hypothetical Israeli cultural institution whose leader opposed a Palestinian state, promoted Greater Israel and accepted violence in the service of that cause? Of course not. But consistency is not the newspaper’s forte.

Elliott Abrams: Russia + Syria + Hizballah = Hamas

The ultimate culprit remains Russia, which is selling Syria missiles that it has every reason to know will be given to terrorist groups.  Russia is of course a member of the Middle East Quartet, whose goal is supposed to be peace—not arms supplies to terrorists.  If the scheduled Quartet meeting takes place this Friday, April 15, Sec. Clinton should lead off by telling Russia Foreign Minister Lavrov that this must stop.  A discussion of how Russian arms get to terrorists who murder Israelis would be a great deal more useful than hours of debate over what tactics to use in the United Nations.

FP: Don’t hold your breath.

Guy Bechor: The Syria peace myth

For some 40 years they told us that peace with the Alawite family ruling Syria will bring us peace with the entire Arab world. Later they told us that such peace deal would restrain Lebanon and Hezbollah. After that they said that a deal would sever the ties between Syria and Iran. And after all that we were told that we didn’t make enough effort to appease Damascus. All of this was accompanied with a certain degree of romanticism and admiration for the Assad family; the father, the son and the holy spirit.
Woe would be us had we finalized an agreement with this family and with this Syrian minority. We would have lost the Golan forever and the Syrian regime would have settled it with a million citizens that would spread “resistance” against Israel.” The deal we would have signed with the Assad tyranny would have been worthless. The Syrian people would have said that this is a peace agreement between Israel and an ethnic minority that lacks legitimacy.

Israel has an interest in living at peace with its neighbors, but we must secure agreements with peoples, not with isolated regimes. Under no circumstances should we sacrifice existential interests in favor of any tyrant, especially as it turns out that they won’t stay there forever.

PowerLine: Sharia In Indonesia (VIEW PICTURES)

Indonesia has long been held out as a country where moderate forms of Islam flourish. Perhaps so. But sharia law has been adopted in a number of areas in Indonesia. The effect was seen yesterday, when four people were caned in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra. The presumed offense was adultery, although commission of the actual act was not clear …

In some precincts of the Left, it seems to be an article of faith that sharia is a figment of “Islamophobic” imaginations. But the howling mob in Jantho didn’t consider the brutality of Islamic law to be imaginary:

The jeering crowd recorded the brutal beating on their mobile phones and camcorders and shouted for more beatings in the strict Muslim city.

Gleanings, 08.04.11

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

Benny Morris: Activist-Actor’s Tragic Murder in Palestine

The murder casts a bleak light on prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Many Israelis and some Palestinians may talk about eventual peace. But Mer-Khamis, who embodied Israeli-Arab co-existence, splitting his life between Haifa and Jenin in the end fell victim to those who would uproot both Israel and the Jews from the country, those who won the Palestinian parliamentary general elections in 2006. What the murder tells Israelis is that whatever moderate, or pretend-moderate Palestinian voices enunciate, peaceful intent and propagation will always, ultimately be drowned out, and overpowered, by the fundamentalist true believers and their Brownings.

Barry Rubin: Hamas Is Moving Toward War With Israel

What is new is a shift in the strategic situation. The recent upheavals in the Arab world have emboldened revolutionary Islamists and Hamas most of all. Its close ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, can operate freely in Egypt. There is much support for Islamism in the Egyptian army. And even the “moderate” presidential candidate Muhammad ElBaradei said that Egypt would go to war if Israel attacked the Gaza Strip.

Does Egypt want war with Israel? Of course not. But Hamas calculates — and, of course, it often miscalculates — that crisis with Israel will increase its support from Egypt and perhaps even create a situation where Cairo intervenes on its side on some level.

At a minimum, thousands of Egyptian volunteers, mobilized by the Brotherhood, might fight on its side, money would be raised in Egypt on its behalf, and large amounts of arms would flow across the border.  Then, too, international public opinion could be mobilized against Israel with tales — often phony — of atrocities as happened last time. And the Palestinian Authority (PA), ruling the West Bank, could be shamed and subverted. While the PA can claim to be delivering some prosperity — which the West thinks is all people care about — Hamas can deliver heroism and jihad.

MATTHEW KAMINSKI: Among the Muslim Brothers

The Muslim Brothers, who favor Western clothes and neatly trimmed facial hair, have clashed with the traditional Salafists, who looked down on political activity until the revolution. Mr. Ghazor, a teacher, once backed the Brotherhood but went over to the Salafists. “The Brothers care about politics more than the application of Islam,” he says. Yet Brothers tend to practice the Salafist brand of Islam—raising the possibility that their movement could become Salaficized.

… The Brotherhood abandoned violence against Egypt’s government in the 1970s, but it endorses Hamas and other armed Islamic movements. Every Brotherhood member I spoke to calls the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Camp David accords existing international law that a future government might reopen. Egypt’s liberals say the same. “Israel treats us as enemies,” says Mr. Saleh. “If they are enemies for all its neighbors, why is it there?” Should Israel exist? “When they admit our peoples’ rights,” he says, referring to Palestinians, “we can study this.”

George Friedman: Immaculate Intervention: The Wars of Humanitarianism (MUST READ)

Humanitarian war is prolonged by the unwillingness of the intervening forces to inflict civilian casualties. This is reasonable, given that their motivation is to prevent civilian casualties. But the result is that instead of a swift and direct invasion designed to crush the regime, the regime remains intact and civilians and others continue to die … If you must go in, go in heavy, go in hard and get out fast. Humanitarian warfare says that you go in light, you go in soft and you stay there long. I have no quarrel with humanitarianism. It is the way the doctrine wages war that concerns me. Getting rid of Gadhafi is something we can all feel good about and which Europe and America can afford. It is the aftermath — the place beyond the immaculate intervention — that concerns me.

Alex Joffe: Clash of Civilizations

As for America, longstanding custom suggests but does not demand respect for religion; nor, in a free society, can any law forbid blasphemy or require indulgence of specific religious beliefs. To suggest otherwise in the case of 21st-century Muslims is tantamount to conceding that they are incapable of containing their anger. It is also explicitly to yield to threats or fear of violence.  For now, free speech and Quran-burning collide like two plates of the earth’s crust, creating earthquakes that affect us all.

NICK COHEN: They Missed the Story

The BBC’s Middle East editor is not the only expert whose expertise now looks spurious. The Arab uprising is annihilating the assumptions of foreign ministries, academia and human rights groups with true revolutionary élan. In journalistic language, it is showing they had committed the greatest blunder a reporter can commit: they missed the story. They thought that the problems of the Middle East were at root the fault of democratic Israel or more broadly the democratic West. They did not see and did not want to see that while Israelis are certainly the Palestinians’ problem — and vice versa — the problem of the subject millions of the Arab world was the tyranny, cruelty, corruption and inequality the Arab dictators enforced.

Put this starkly, it sounds as if the charges of double standards and anti-Semitism habitually directed at liberal Westerners are justified. But liberal prejudice — “anti-liberal prejudice” is a more accurate description — is a process as well as an ideology. Dictatorial states and movements shepherded liberal opinion into a one-way street by exploiting the logistics of news-gathering.

PowerLine: Does anybody know what time it is?

The White House declared when it was time for Mubarak to go. It declared when it was time for Qaddafi to go … is it time for Assad to go? Or does he retain “legitimacy with his people”? Do tell … Do tell … Ah. It’s not time for Assad to go. Some of the “aspirations of the Syrian people” are “legitimate,” and Assad hasn’t addressed them. It’s time for Assad to enact “meaningful political and economic reforms.” … One of the most basic distinction in politics is the distinction between friends and enemies. It is a distinction that seems to be lost on the Obama administration and its “smart diplomacy.”

I have my own quick and incomplete guide to American friends and enemies in the Middle East for the benefit of the Obama administration. It’s a difficult subject, and things aren’t always what they seem in the Middle East. But here’s the easy part.

Israel — friend. They might be our only legitimate friend in the region. Have you got that yet? I don’t think so. Iran — enemy. Syria — enemy. Egypt — used to be friend — might want to check on influence of Muslim Brotherhood. They’re an enemy. Gaza — Hamas is running the show, and they’re an enemy. Lebanon — might want to check on influence of Hezbollah. They’re an enemy.

Gleanings, 07.04.11

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

The Commentator: Sarkozy snubbed by his own prime minister as Islam debate convulses France ahead of burqa ban

On Tuesday, Sarkozy’s UMP party held a conference in Paris to address widespread public concerns about Sharia law and immigration in a country where Muslims make up at least 10 percent of the population and are dominant in large sections of several major cities.

Analysts say that as Muslim populations rise across (western) Europe, mainstream parties will have to face the conundrum of how to mount a credible defence of western values without rekindling the flame of ethnic nationalism. Far right parties have seen a resurgence across many parts of Europe in recent years on the back of public resentment over large scale immigration.

In recent months German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron have turned their attention to the related question of multiculturalism, both denouncing it as a failure. Mr. Cameron said it should be replaced with a “muscular liberalism”. But his remarks caused divisions with his deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, again illustrating that mainstream political leaders across the continent have a long way to go before they reach a consensus on what to do about Islam in Europe.

FP: The mechanism for undermining civilization

Ari Shavit: Israel’s left needs to wise up to Middle East reality

How would the left have reacted had Juliano Mer-Khamis been murdered by Jews?

… A post-colonial complex makes Western enlightenment systematically ignore injustices caused by anti-Western forces. Thus it loses the ability to see historic reality as a whole, in all its complexity. It also makes it act unfairly and unjustly.

It discriminates between different kinds of evil, different kinds of blood and different kinds of victims. It treats third-world societies as though they are not subject to universal moral norms.

It is not yet clear yet who murdered Mer-Khamis. The motive could have been financial, personal, religious or cultural. But it is clear he was not murdered for being an occupier, or an oppressor or a settler. Mer was murdered because he was a free man, who spread freedom in a society that is not free.

This is the hard truth we must deal with. This is the hard truth we must look at straight in the eye. The Western enlightenment and the Israeli left cannot continue to ignore the dark side of Middle Eastern reality.

Barry Rubin: The Middle-East US score so far

And all Islamists can take pleasure in the dramatic decline of U.S. credibility and alliances, with Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and probably soon Yemen no longer cooperating with U.S. policy at all. Let’s list the main aspects of U.S. policy:

–It is now in no way opposed to Muslim Brotherhoods or Hizballah being in government and has helped create a situation in Egypt where the Brotherhood is making a bid for leadership.

–Backing for all practical purposes Syrian repression of its own democratic upsurge because it sees dictator Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer.” (Ironically, Mubarak was much more of a reformer than Assad, at least on social and economic issues.)

–Doing nothing about Lebanon, where Hizballah and its allies have gained power, making the country a satellite of Iran and Syria;

–Thinking that the Turkish regime is just fine, in fact a model for other countries (which is strange since the regime is now an ally of Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah);

–Highly critical of Bahrain’s suppression of its opposition (part of which is pro-Iranian);

–Intervening in Libya, an operation to which none of the Islamists are opposed because they hope to benefit from it. In addition, the U.S. forces could get bogged down in there. Isn’t the Libya war just another version of the invasion of Iraq except with less rationale, less to gain, and more to lose?

–Distancing itself more from Israel than any previous administration has for the last 50 years.

–Refusing to back the Saudis, having created the worst friction in the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.

Daniel Pipes: Should We Blame a Florida Pastor for Deaths in Afghanistan?

As I wrote last September, when Jones threatened to burn a Koran, the “violence stems from Islamic law, the Sharia, which insists that Islam, and the Koran in particular, enjoy a privileged status.” That insistence, which has been asserted in the West since 1989, when Ayatollah Khomeini put an edict on Salman Rushdie for his novel, The Satanic Verses, must not be indulged. Islam is one religion among others, with no claim to superior status. Indeed closing down the claim to Islamic supremacism may be the single greatest challenge to modernizing Islam.

However distasteful, Jones’ act is both legal and non-violent. He is not responsible for the 43 deaths; the repugnant, barbaric ideology of Islamism is to blame. When will U.S. politicians realize this basic fact and stand up robustly for the civil liberties of American citizens? Critiquing Islam, tastefully or distastefully done, is a Constitutional right. Indeed, done intelligently it is a civilizational imperative.

Melanie Phillips: For Israel-bashers, recantation is heresy

Can you believe this?! The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is saying that it is only because Goldstone wrote his report that we now have the information that enables us to see that the report promulgated a falsehood — and so therefore the report is still just as important!

… So first he claims Israel deliberately killed civilians and might therefore be guilty of crimes against humanity; then he says he now realises this was not the case and he would have written a different report had he known this at the time; now he says he nevertheless sees no reason to reconsider any part of his report.

How can this man have any credibility at all?

Ten Scariest Abductions/Arrests of American Journalists in Recent Times

An interesting selection of abductions (and executions) of American journalists in war zones. Mistitled (I’ve given my suggestion in the title of this post), it covers mostly cases in the last decade (two exceptions), and raises the crucial and disturbing question about intimidation of journalists covering a-symmetrical warfare especially in Muslim countries (seven of the ten).

HT/Jennifer Lynch

10 Scariest Journalist Arrests in American History

There’s something about the kidnapping or apprehension of journalists that feels tragic in a way separate from the rest of war. It’s because reporters aren’t in foreign lands to fight an enemy or support one side over another; they’re simply there to record what’s happening and tell the world what they see. They haven’t signed up for combat. They’re storytellers, not soldiers. So when a journalist is taken prisoner — or worse, killed — simply for doing their job, it strikes a note of fear back home. These men and women travel the world knowing the risk involved, but that doesn’t make it easier to take when those risks turn into real threats. So many journalists have been taken, arrested, beaten, imprisoned, or detained without reason abroad. This list represents just a fraction of those who were willing to put themselves in danger at the cost of telling the truth.

  1. Daniel Pearl: Daniel Pearl (pictured above) was one of the earliest and most prominent journalist victims in the war on terror launched after 9/11. The South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, Pearl went to Pakistan in January 2002 to investigate the background of Richard Reid (the infamous “shoe bomber”) and possible ties to Al-Qaeda. On January 23, he was abducted in a town called Karachi by a group that called themselves warriors for Pakistani sovereignty. The group emailed the U.S. government with a list of demands, and they also released images of Pearl holding up a newspaper (to confirm the date) as he sat handcuffed with a gun trained on him. Pearl was beheaded less than two weeks later by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed to the crime years later. In May 2002, Pearl’s decapitated body was found in pieces in a shallow grave outside Karachi. His brutal death was a shock to his family back home and to everyone who watched the tragedy unfold, and it also served as a wake-up call for the way Americans might be treated in certain parts of the world. In February of that year, a video was released that showed his dead body, and it also featured him talking. At one point, he said he could begin to understand how detainees at Guantanamo Bay felt. The video’s out there online for those who are curious, but be warned: it’s not easy to watch.

Read the rest.

Gleanings, 06.04.11

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

Benny Morris: The Islamic Reformation (MUST READ)

The target of the ire of various newspapermen and spokesmen was not the murderous mobs in Mazar e-Sharif and Kandahar who did to death relief-bestowing UN representatives, but the American pastor Terry Jones who had burned a copy of the Muslims’ sacred text. Yet the burning of Bibles around the Islamic world—in Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq—is an almost daily occurrence and goes unremarked, and in these parts it is often accompanied by the arson of churches and the murder of parishioners. And these acts never trigger murderous responses by Christians thousands of miles away. And few will publicly and explicitly utter in this connection that awful phrase and truth, “clash of civilizations.”

Peter Day: Extremism in power (MUST READ)

The emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood (technically illegal under Mubarak) as a fully-fledged political player is in line with the changed position of the United States, which has direct relations with the Army. The US provided Egypt under Mubarak with aid of around $1.3 billion a year – principally military aid for the Army – on the tacit understanding that the regime would continue to keep the Brotherhood away from the levers of power.

That position however has undergone a radical shift. After many years of assiduous lobbying of US officials and Washington foreign policy wonks by Brotherhood representatives, President Obama now says that the Egyptian Islamists should have a ‘seat at the table’ of power in Egypt. The Egyptian army has taken him at his word. The army’s management of arrangements for forthcoming national elections more or less guarantees a powerful position for the Brotherhood in the new parliament. It is the new groups that were so prominent in the Tahrir Square demonstrations after January 25 which will be left out in the cold…

The parliament elected in September will be responsible for drafting a new constitution for the country. A strong Brotherhood presence will produce a constitution based on an even bigger role than at present for sharia – Islamic law.

Needless to say, this is extremely bad news for all non-Islamist and minority groups, including Egypt’s indigenous Coptic Christians (about 10 per cent of the population), human rights activists, writers, intellectuals, and so on. And of course for women.

It also raises significant national security issues for Australia, along with much of the rest of the world. Every year, thousands of Muslim students from around the world – including from some of Australia’s near neighbours — flock to Cairo to sit at the feet of the scholars of Al Azhar, the Islamic world’s oldest and most prestigious university. They will now find themselves among Islamists who are in the throes of converting mass support into real political power. For many of the students, this may well turn out to be a heady revolutionary experience – one that they could want to take home with them.

The Muslim Brotherhood has the financial backing of Saudi Arabian and Gulf sheikhs possessing untold wealth. It already operates on a huge scale in Europe and the United States, as well as in the developing world, through dozens of front groups. It also has a below-the-radar presence in Australia. To the extent that the Brotherhood now acquires direct access in Egypt to the resources of a fully fledged nation-state, it will be an even more formidable global actor.

The Obama administration is largely discounting the risks inherent in all this and acting on the basis of a benign view of the Brotherhood. The cautionary tale of the Americans’ dealings with Nasser, as outlined below, suggests that the consequences of being wrong about this may well be severe, far reaching, and of long duration.

Politically influential observers such as the New York Times, which recently expressing surprise at the emergence of friendly relations between the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood, would also do well to look more closely at the history of both these institutions, both in the recent and not so recent past.

… The New York Times ruefully commented on March 24 that the emergence of the Brotherhood’s ‘links’ with the military regime is a development that ‘surprises many’. In truth, the development of a closer relationship between the Army and the Brotherhood has been underway for years.

The Brotherhood is well represented in the military, certainly among the junior officer corps and perhaps much higher than that. How high is anyone’s guess. Increasingly, officers identify the army’s core mission with the cause of Islam, rather than with an inclusive Egyptian national identity. Coptic Christian conscripts in the Army complain of relentless pressure by superior officers to convert.

Roger Kimball: Terry Jones and Preemptive Capitulation (MUST READ)

No, what we see in the Terry Jones case is the latest outbreak of preemptive capitulation in the face of Muslim incitement … Bottom-line question: What are we willing to give up in order to appease a bunch of murderous thugs who approach the world with a pocket full of Semtex and say, “Do — and don’t do — what I want or I will blow myself and you to smithereens”?

There’s the Lindsey Graham-Joe Klein-Yale UP-and (I very mush regret to say) David Petraeus answer: “OK. You tell us no cartoons of Mohammed: we won’t draw or publish any. You say, no burning of the Koran, we will prohibit that, too.” The problem is, as I noted about another incident of Muslim insanity some years ago,

the list of the things Muslims are offended by would take over a culture. They don’t like ice-cream that (used to be) distributed by Burger King because a decoration on the lid looked like (sort of) the Arabic script for “Allah.” They are offended by “pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet” appearing in the workplace. They take umbrage at describing Islamic terrorism as, well, Islamic terrorism and have managed to persuade Gordon Brown to rename it “anti-Islamic activity.” But here’s the thing: one of the features of living in a modern, secular democracy is that there is always plenty of offense to go around. No Muslim is more offended by cartoons of their Prophet than I am by their barbaric reaction to the cartoons. But their reaction when offended is to torch an embassy, shoot a nun , or knife a filmmaker. I write a column deploring such behavior. You see the difference.

As I said above, Terry Jones is a pathetic buffoon. But what we should be alarmed about is not his stunt but the alacrity with which our leaders and commentators rush to curtail free speech because they fear the reprisals of barbarous people addicted to violence and intoxicated by a repulsive, freedom-hating ideology. The spoiled child says, “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll hold my breath till I faint.” The overgrown spoiled children of Islam require the same sort of medicine, though age adjusted, that little Johnny does.

Victor Davis Hanson: A Middle East Policy in Shambles
Almost every promise, almost every reset proclamation from Barack Obama about the struggles against, and those within, the radical Muslim world has either been withdrawn or proven bankrupt.

Aaron David Miller: Obama’s 21st-Century War

In America’s latest wars, leaving — not winning — seems to be the yardstick for success. But that goal is all the more difficult if the objectives and reasons for getting in aren’t clear from the outset.

Lee Smith: Fashionable (MUST READ)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is every bit as dangerous and thuggish as his autocratic counterparts across the Middle East, yet for some reason Washington continues to embrace him

Raymond Ibrahim: Obama’s Misguided Libya Policy

President Obama’s recent explanation for militarily engaging Libya is yet another example of how U.S. leaders increasingly rationalize their policies by sentimental and idealistic platitudes, rather than reality, the long view, or just plain common sense. As even Obama explained it, not only does his decision to intervene militarily in Libya fail to serve any tangible American interests, it directly serves the interests of the Islamists.

Washington Times: Israel vindicated

In February 2010, President Obama’s genocide muse, National Security Council senior director of multilateral affairs Samantha Power, harshly criticized Israel’s reaction to the controversial Goldstone report on the 2008-2009 Gaza War. “Is the correct strategy fighting Goldstone on all fronts?” she asked. Turns out it was; good thing the Israeli government ignored Mrs. PowerMr. Obama still doesn’t seem to understand what separates the legitimate use of force from terrorist violence. After a March 24 terror bombing in Jerusalem in which one woman was killed and 38 wounded, Mr. Obama expressed his “deepest condolences.” But in the same note, he expressed sympathy to Palestinians killed in an Israeli counterstrike against Hamas missiles launched against Israeli cities from crowded residential areas in Gaza. The implicit message was that Israel is on the same moral plane as the terrorists. Since Mr. Obama is racking up scores of civilian deaths by Hellfire missile in Pakistan, it’s strange he’s not more sensitive to this critical distinction.

From Alexander Joffe:

Middle Eastern politics

Defund the UNRWA.” Wall Street Journal Europe, 1 April 2011. With Asaf Romirowsky.

At the beginning of March a disabled Palestinian boy from a ‘refugee’ camp in Lebanon was turned out of a hospital because his parents couldn’t pay the bill and UNRWA wouldn’t pay. This is a tragic example of how UNRWA exists to prevent Palestinians from establishing normal lives, and abets some of the worst elements in Palestinian society. Asaf and I argue that the US and EU should follow the example of Canada and defund UNRWA.

In a predictable response that would be amusing if it weren’t so pathetic, UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness attacks us in a letter to the Wall Street Journal

Letter to the Editor: The UNRWA Deserves Funding, Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2011.

The original version of his letter claimed that UNRWA facilities are not used by groups that name events like soccer tournaments after terrorists. This is a typically mendacious UNRWA move. He knows full well that these things are permitted to go on at UNRWA schools, after official hours. Alas, thus fact-checked, the claim was removed from the letter.

Cultural politics

The Archaeology War.” Jewish Ideas Daily, 31 March 2011.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) recently held a meeting about Israel’s ‘Judaization’ of Jerusalem. In yet another example of ‘lawfare’ against Israel, they are now threatening to bring the case to The Hague. My prediction is that one day an Israeli archaeologist or cultural official will get off a plane in London or Madrid and find the police waiting with an arrest warrant issued at the behest of a Palestinian NGO or ISESCO.

Egypt’s Antiquities Caught in the Revolution Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2011.

Egypt’s relationship with its past was brought into focus during the revolution earlier this year when the Cairo Museum was looted, along with other sites. How Egyptians think about their pasts – Pharaonic and Islamic – is a telling indication of how they think of their identities and their future. Anger at Mubarak, the latest Pharaoh, the Muslim Brotherhood’s drive for Islamization, and the economic role of tourism are all factors.

One correction: When this piece went to press the ubiquitous Zahi Hawass had resigned as minister of state for antiquities, but now it appears he is back. This suggests that the new military regime recognizes that antiquities and tourism are crucial to the Egyptian economy, and the Hawass is the best salesman they have in that department. It also suggests that he will again be appearing on American TV seven nights a week. Sigh.

The page of my web site with book reviews was just redone and a couple of items were added, including links to my comments on Ofira Seliktar’s important book Doomed to Failure? The Politics and Intelligence of the Oslo Peace Process. There still a backlog of about one hundred archaeology book reviews to add. Please bear with me.

Gleanings, 05.04.11

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

David Thompson: There’s No Such Thing as Intelligence?

One feature of academia’s less reputable quarters is the imperative to shun the obvious and prosaic, even when the obvious and prosaic happen to be true. As Theodore Dalrymple noted in his review of Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society,

Intellectuals, like everyone else, live and work in a marketplace. In order to get noticed they must say things which have not been said before, or at least say them in a different manner. No one is likely to obtain many plaudits for the rather obvious, indeed self-evident, thought that a street robber cannot commit street robberies while he is in prison. But an intellectual who first demonstrates that the cause of an increase in street robbery is the increase in the amount of property that law-abiding pedestrians have on them as they walk in the streets is likely to be hailed, at least until the next idea comes along. Thus, while there are no penalties for being foolish, there are severe penalties (at least in career terms) for being obvious.

… It was perhaps inevitable that this contrarianism should dovetail with the left’s rather awkward relationship with intelligence and its unequal distribution – a subject that, for some, is likely to cause unease in ways that the unequal distribution of musical or athletic talent does not. Readers may recall Lani Guinier, a tenured professor at Harvard Law School and advocate of “critical thinking,” whose egalitarian preferences led her to insist that standardized testing is “racist” because “talent is equally distributed among all people.” This equal distribution is simply taken as a given and anything that calls that premise into question is, by her definition, racist.

Moshe Dann: Enough Already: Are Israeli Settlements Actually ‘Illegal’?

Despite all the legally binding treaties, covenants, and agreements that established the Palestine Mandate in 1922 and empowered its British administration to ensure that this area would become “the Jewish National Home,” it’s strange that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) are condemned as “illegitimate,” “illegal,” and “violations of international law.” How did this happen? …

The core legal issue, according to Michael Newton — professor of law at Vanderbilt University and a leading expert in the field — is which nation-state had full sovereignty in this territory when Israel took military and political control. Logically, since Jordan renounced its claim to Judea and Samaria in 1988, and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, recognizing its current border, the only other possible valid legal claim, defined in the Mandate, is that of Israel; Palestinians have no claim because the area was never a Palestinian state.

According to Professor Newton, “Occupation itself does not change sovereignty, but temporarily displaces it until full sovereignty is either restored or reasserted.”  By extension, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is legal and legitimate because it did not acquire territory belonging to another state or legal entity.

Stanley Kurtz: Samantha Power’s Power

A member of the president’s National Security Council who shares Noam Chomsky’s foreign-policy goals? An influential presidential adviser whom 1960s revolutionary Tom Hayden treats as a fellow radical? A White House official who wrote a book aiming to turn an anti-American, anti-Israel, Marxist-inspired, world-government-loving United Nations bureaucrat into a popular hero? Samantha Power, senior director of multilateral affairs for the National Security Council and perhaps the principal architect of our current intervention in Libya, is all of these things … Superficially, Power’s chief concern is to put a stop to genocide and “crimes against humanity.” More deeply, her goal is to use our shared horror at the worst that human beings can do in order to institute an ever-broadening regime of redistributive transnational governance … Beyond that, Power embodies a style of pragmatic radicalism that Obama shares. Both Obama and Power are skilled at placing their ultimate ideological goals just out of sight, behind a screen of practical problem-solving.

John Hannah: End of the Dream: Obama and the Middle East

The unhappy results? A pervasive — and corrosive — sense of waning American power. Adversaries emboldened to continue pressing every challenge. Disheartened friends resorting both at home and abroad to short-sighted measures of self-help and self-preservation. And a vital region of the world increasingly brought near the boiling point, poised between revolution, chaos, and civil war; teetering between the malignant ambitions of an aspiring Persian hegemon and the withering resolve of a traditional patron grown uncertain in the rightness of its cause and weary of shouldering the burdens of leadership … Multiple muses seemed responsible for the badly misguided framework that the president brought to office. A worldview heavily shaped by the leftist, anti-Western claptrap that pervades much of what passes for Middle East studies in the American academy. An obsession with distinguishing himself from everything Bush. And a remarkably naive conviction that simply by showing up on the world stage, Obama — by virtue of biography, personality, and charisma — could somehow transcend the immutable laws of an international system dominated by self-interested nation states, several of which happen to be ruled by tyrannical regimes that perceive their very survival as inextricably linked to the humbling of American power, influence, and prestige. The “Obama Factor,” like so much else in the president’s Middle East policy, did not survive first contact with the enemy.

Marty Peretz: Richard Goldstone Recants a Blood Libel

There should be many shamed faces in the crowd. The foreign high priest of the Palestinian cause is Desmond Tutu who, like his rival Jimmy Carter, finds no charge against Israel too preposterous to leave to, well, the gagasphere. But they have neither been heard from on Goldstone nor explained their silence. The Financial Times, which is the most consistent and hyperbolic critic of Israel in the United Kingdom, initially went bananas in praise of the Goldstone Report. It has not been heard from since the jurist’s own mea culpa. The human rights organizations? Ditto. Stephen Walt, Juan Cole, John Esposito, Naomi Klein, Michael Lerner, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, J-Street, which peddled the report door-to-door on Capitol Hill. Here’s my projection: Not a one of them will come clean.

As is the case with the Israeli “peace left.” Not Peace Now, not the New Israel Fund, not B’tselem, not Agudah Lezchuyot Haezrch. And not Ha’aretz, either. They have made pacts with the devil.

John Rosenthal: Libyan Rebel Commander: ‘Cut Gaddafi’s Throat, Then Establish an Islamic State’

While American intelligence experts search for “flickers” of jihadist involvement in the Libyan rebellion, a French reporter on a brief visit to eastern Libya had no problem finding numerous jihadists on the front.

Peter Berkowitz: The Goldstone Mess

Contrary to Tutu, however, even a cursory glance gives reason to believe that the Goldstone Report is more interested in taking sides than discovering the truth. While no side escapes the report’s censure and it does abound in evidence of destruction “of life and property” in Gaza, the report overwhelmingly focuses on allegations of Israeli unlawfulness; the “documented evidence of Israeli misconduct” — as opposed to victims’ testimony and unsubstantiated speculations about Israeli war aims and conduct of the war — is thin; and its urging of Hamas, which respects neither rights nor the rule of law, to undertake investigations of war crimes allegations is a risible indulgence.

Gleanings, 04.04.11

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

Stanley Kurtz: Did Peter Berkowitz Change Goldstone’s Mind? (MUST READ)

It’s also important to note that the Goldstone Report’s (false) charges against Israel have taken on particular importance in light of the war in Libya. Our military action in Libya is based on the new (and justly controversial) doctrine of “responsibility to protect” (R2P). Under R2P, if a country fails to protect citizens under its power, a “humanitarian” military intervention is justified. Samantha Power, one of the architects of the Obama administration’s Libya policy, is an enthusiastic advocate of R2P. Power is also notorious for having advocated American military action against Israel, the purpose of which would have been to impose a “solution” to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

The now repudiated findings of the Goldstone Report could potentially have been combined with a robust R2P doctrine to justify international military action against Israel. For now, Goldstone’s reversal helps remove this sword from above Israel’s head. Yet as the doctrine of R2P is further entrenched by progressives eager to press international law into the service of partisan ends, expect future human rights accusations and associated calls for multilateral military action against Israel. That is the dangerous ground the Obama administration is laying, whether intentionally or not, through its appeals to the United Nations and international law.

Mark Silverberg: Slitting Throats is “Natural”

By excusing these murders as a justifiable Palestinian response to Israeli suburbs, the Western media is preventing the solution to this conflict: If, to them, calls to murder, acts of murder and celebrations of murder have been considered socially acceptable forms of behavior for over two decades, why should the Palestinians ever see a need to confront this savage aspect of their society? If they are never held to account for their actions, why should they ever think anything they do is wrong?

Jonathan S. Tobin: Asking the Wrong Question about Goldstone

Rather than focus on the embarrassment of the foreign-funded leftist NGOs that trumpeted slanders about Israel’s counter-attack against Gaza-based terrorism, the paper had this to say: “Israel grappled on Sunday with whether a retraction by a United Nations investigator regarding its actions in the Gaza war two years ago could be used to rehabilitate its tarnished international image or as preemptive defense in future military actions against armed groups.”

The answer to the question is so obvious that it hardly even needs to be asked. Of course, the retraction of inaccurate and inflammatory accusations ought to bolster the country’s reputation. Since Goldstone’s lies were the United Nations-funded legal prop that served as the foundation for false charges of Israeli war crimes, why wouldn’t Israel and its foreign friends seek to give the recantation at least as much publicity as the international press gave the original report?

Even to ask the question you would have to believe that any effort on Israel’s part to defend itself against terror attacks deliberately aimed at civilians is somehow wrong.

But as to whether the damage Goldstone did can be completely undone, that is a thornier query.

NGO Monitor: Goldstone’s NGO partner: The Arab Thought Forum – E.U. funding to Promote Demonization

  • Goldstone is the chair of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation (IHJR).
  • IHRJ’s Middle East Project to “establish a ‘shared history’ that will acknowledge a set of accepted historical facts” is being conducted in partnership with a Palestinian NGO, the Arab Thought Forum (ATF).
  • The ATF’s narrative consists of demonizing language: “The Palestinian Holocaust is unsurpassed in history…the ugliest crime of modern times.”
  • ATF employs terms such as “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” and “collective punishment,” while promoting the boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
  • Judge Goldstone’s role in this process, as with his connections to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, reinforces the criticism of his report on the Gaza conflict.

Jerusalem Post: Muslim Brotherhood advocates Egyptian modesty police

Call adds to concerns among liberals that the country is going Islamic after attacks on Muslim mystic tombs, Christians.

Ynet News: The New Egypt

Gunmen abducted the 12-year-old grandniece of the late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat but released her nearly 24 hours later for 5 million pounds (about $840,000) in ransom, security officials said Monday.

The girl was kidnapped on her way to school Sunday morning in the upscale Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, the officials said. (AP)

Gleanings, 03.04.11

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

James Crabtree: Philosophes sans frontieres as Plato battles Nato

It is a story straight from a Bond film. A man on a top-secret mission seeks a taxi to sneak across the Libyan border. Finding no willing drivers, he commandeers a vegetable truck and races through the desert for a clandestine tête-à-tête with the rebels. Yet this is no super-spy but the dapper philosophe and soi-disant diplomat, Bernard Henri-Lévy.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s deployment of “BHL” was a further coup de théâtre for France’s most telegenic Left Bank intellectual. But as the west ties itself in knots over the limits of its UN resolution, his gambit also provides clear justification for escalating the only truly Gallic military doctrine: liberal philosophical intervention.

Even so, we must be realistic. Hot-air strikes alone cannot control events on the ground. Gaddafi Jr might not play ball. And the campaign now faces that most existential of military dilemmas: no exit strategy. Faced with such problems, Gauloises on the ground can only go so far. It may be that a full-scale philosophical invasion is the only solution.

John Podhoretz: Have a Rotten Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone

There’s a lot more throat-clearing and argle-bargle about the necessity for investigations and the need for balance and the like, but the simple fact is this: That Richard Goldstone did not know in 2009 that Hamas is a terrorist monstrosity which functions parasitically off civilian populaces while Israel is a beacon of war-fighting restraint in a manner practically unknown in the course of human history suggests even more plainly than the report itself that he is a dupe, a fool, a clown, and a worldwide embarrassment. Not to mention a special kind of reprehensible and appalling figure of inglorious, hideous shame to his own people through the delivery and promulgation of a false document that helped anti-Semites everywhere feel themselves justified.

He was then, and is now, an entirely despicable public figure—and so is his op-ed, by the way, which continues to act as though it is appropriate to draw parallel inferences about Hamas and the state of Israel. It would be right for world Jewry that his name be hereafter summoned as we summon Benedict Arnold’s, or Tokyo Rose’s.

ElderofZiyon: Western darling ElBaradei says he’d go to war if Israel attacks Gaza

Egypt’s Masrawy and other Arabic media outlets are quoting Egyptian presidential hopeful Mohammed ElBaradei as saying that Egypt may go to war if Israel attacks Gaza. He is quoted as saying that if he becomes President, in the event of any future attack on Gaza he would discuss ways to implement the joint Arab defense agreement, for all Arab atates to respond “in the face of Israeli aggression.”

He also is revealed in a new Wikileaks document as saying that if he becomes president he would restore Egyptian relations with Tehran that were severed after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Joseph Stiglitz: Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Americans have been watching protests against oppressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.

Of all the costs imposed on our society by the top 1 percent, perhaps the greatest is this: the erosion of our sense of identity, in which fair play, equality of opportunity, and a sense of community are so important. America has long prided itself on being a fair society, where everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead, but the statistics suggest otherwise: the chances of a poor citizen, or even a middle-class citizen, making it to the top in America are smaller than in many countries of Europe. The cards are stacked against them. It is this sense of an unjust system without opportunity that has given rise to the conflagrations in the Middle East: rising food prices and growing and persistent youth unemployment simply served as kindling. With youth unemployment in America at around 20 percent (and in some locations, and among some socio-demographic groups, at twice that); with one out of six Americans desiring a full-time job not able to get one; with one out of seven Americans on food stamps (and about the same number suffering from “food insecurity”)—given all this, there is ample evidence that something has blocked the vaunted “trickling down” from the top 1 percent to everyone else. All of this is having the predictable effect of creating alienation—voter turnout among those in their 20s in the last election stood at 21 percent, comparable to the unemployment rate.

JINSA: Goldstone’s Lament and the Damage Done

“Mistaken” is a mild word. A thesaurus would be the place to find a word deep enough to describe what it was for Sir Richard and company ever to have credited Hamas with a moral code to which the “international community” could appeal. There are 93 synonyms for “stupid,” including two British usages, but there wasn’t one black enough.

The question remains, why bring it all up now? Perhaps he just wants to be sure he’ll be invited for Seder. Somewhere.

Goldstone recants… sort of.

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

Melanie Phillips: Richard Goldstone recants. What price the Israel witch-hunt now?

By his own admission, the man stands revealed as at best an abject idiot and at worst a moral and judicial bankrupt. His report blackened Israel’s name for defending itself against existential attack; encouraged its attackers to ratchet up their onslaught safe in the knowledge that the international community now had official confirmation that Israel was morally beyond the pale; put Israeli civilians, along with Israel’s very survival, at increased risk by helping delegitimise Israel as a global pariah; and fuelled the pressure on Israel not to defend its civilians by military means against the attacks which have relentlessly increased in audacity and scope.

Regardless of its manifest moral and intellectual inadequacies, however, his recantation carries inescapable consequences. All those who have used Goldstone’s report as a basis for their own delegitimisation of Israel now also stand revealed as having endorsed one of the worst officially sanctioned international falsehoods in history. All their attacks on Israel which relied upon Goldstone’s report are now shown to be equally baseless and discredited. Any future such attacks which use this report as an authority will be demonstrably false and malicious. The UN should now declare the Goldstone report null and void. Any less will make it knowingly and demonstrably party to a travesty of justice.

But of course, like all previous blood libels against the Jews, the poison this one has injected into the global bloodstream has no antidote. The damage is done – and no amount of self-serving recantations by Richard Goldstone will undo the terrible harm he has done.

CAMERA: But Why Didn’t Goldstone Know Then What He Knew Then?

While that’s a dramatic and notable admission, the question remains: Why didn’t he know then what was known then?

Ron Radosh: Judge Richard Goldstone’s Stunning Re-evaluation of His Own Report

So whatever Judge Goldstone’s current obfuscations, and his intent to pass off his report’s failures as the fault of Israel’s non-cooperation rather than his own weaknesses and lack of impartiality, his current re-evaluation is more than welcome. Despite its limitations, Goldstone’s article today helps minimize the damage attempted by those like Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner and Philip Weiss — the left-wing enemies of Israel who compiled the volume that Berkowitz reviews.

David Bernstein: Richard Goldstone: Chief Kangaroo

Goldstone apparently is starting to regret his role in the whole fiasco, and it’s certainly amusing to read various anti-Israel blogs that formerly lauded Goldstone as a hero for speaking truth to power now worrying about the “damage” he is doing to their cause. The key lines in his op-ed: while “the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional,” “civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy.”

But Goldstone agreed to lead a kangaroo court appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which includes such human rights stalwarts as China, Cuba, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Penance is always welcome, but Goldstone will go down in history as the head kangaroo.

Jeff Goldberg: Judge Richard Goldstone: ‘Never Mind’

It is not clear, reading Goldstone’s mea culpa in The Washington Post, that he fully understands the consequences of his work … Well, I’m glad he’s cleared that up. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to retract a blood libel, once it has been broadcast across the world.

Roger Simon: Will Goldstone’s semi-apology be a wake up call?

Late and weak as Richard Goldstone’s apology for his execrable report on the Gaza war in today’s Washington Post may be, the fallout should be interesting. Ron Radosh here on PJ has much to say, but I hope this is only the beginning. The amount of public lying about the Arab-Irsaeili conflict that has been countenanced in our society is reprehensible beyond words. It has infected our public universities to an extraordinary degree, not to mention our media and even the Jewish community, a significant portion of which suffers from their own version of the Stockholm Syndrome.

Ya, basta! Time for everyone to wake up!

DAVID HOROVITZ: Goldstone the belated penitent

By alleging, unfoundedly, that we were an immoral enemy, the sanctimonious judge put all of our lives at greater risk.

Michael J. Totten: Quote of he Day

Richard Goldstone repudiates his own report … Those of us who have been covering the Israeli military without an axe to grind knew this from the very beginning, but it’s better he figured this out belatedly than not at all.

Ed Lasky: Richard Goldstone’s Mea Culpa

Sadly, it may be too little and too late … Or perhaps, the blowback to him personally led him to backtrack from his conclusions. After the release of the Goldstone Report his history as a “hanging judge” in apartheid  South Africa came to light. Some drew the conclusion that Goldstone, far from taking to heart that the role of the judiciary is to be judicious, seems to approach with alacrity the goal of pleasing his superiors — be they South African leaders or anti-Israel UN apparatchicks. Will the conspiracy-minded Middle East just chalk up his op-ed to the machinations of the all-powerful Jews? Probably.

RL: And Charles Enderlin? What’s up with you?

Gleanings, 02.04.11

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

Alexander Bligh: New rules for the region (MUST READ)

In every Arab country where the old regime falls, its place will be taken sooner or later by a radical Islamic regime. At the moment, there is no alternative.

Like most of the West, Israel is dependent on four strategic maritime passages into our region: the Black Sea straits, which allow the Russian navy access to the Mediterranean, over which the sovereign is Turkey’s Islamic-tinged government; the Suez Canal, controlled by Egypt’s interim government, which will most likely be replaced by a radical Islamic regime; the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, which connects the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean and is not far from Yemen, the country whose regime is destined to be next in the region to fall; and the Strait of Hormuz, the opening to the Persian Gulf begins, the most important route for transporting oil in the world, and which since the Khomeini revolution of 1979 has been controlled on one side by Iran’s radical regime.

The fact that the naval blockade of Israel during the Yom Kippur War was enforced in Bab-el-Mandeb, and that just last month Iranian warships passed through the Suez Canal, means that Israel must engage in strategic thinking to prepare for any possible conflict.

Mark Steyn: Obama’s Missionless War (MUST READ)

So, having agreed to be the Libyan Liberation Movement Air Force, we’re also happy to serve as the Qaddafi Last-Stand Air Force. Say what you like about Barack Obama, but it’s rare to find a leader so impeccably multilateralist he’s willing to participate in both sides of a war. It doesn’t exactly do much for holding it under budget, but it does ensure that for once we’ve got a sporting chance of coming out on the winning side. If a coalition plane bombing Qaddafi’s forces runs into a coalition plane bombing the rebel forces, are they allowed to open fire on each other? Or would that exceed the U.N. resolution?

FP: The one article about US intervention in Libya you should read

Lee Smith: Assad State of Affairs

A rumor circulating in Lebanon’s Shia regions is that the Saudis have reached out to a number of Syrian Sunni sheikhs and told them to keep people off the streets. Even as Syria’s relationship with Iran has set it against Riyadh over a number of issues these last few years​—​from the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri to Iraq’s 2010 elections​—​in the end, both are Arab regimes that must stand back-to-back or else risk losing power should the wave of uprisings keep coursing through the region. The Saudis see Syria as a good place to stop the domino effect​—​by helping the Syrians dig in, the Saudis hope they can save themselves.

PowerLine: Two News Stories

This one got a lot of attention: Afghan Muslims rioted in Mazar-e Sharif, storming the United Nations headquarters there and murdering at least seven people … This photo was taken in Mazar-e Sharif, apparently before the violence began. The sign says, “Down with America, down with Obama.” Apparently having a President with the middle name “Hussein” isn’t such a big deal after all … A more recent report says the death toll may be 20, and that the Muslims beheaded two of the U.N. guards

The second story took place in London and got little publicity. An Israeli company called Ahava, which makes skin care products and the like, had a store in Covent Garden. After years of protests by “pro-Palestinians,” the store was finally driven out … Maybe Israel should just disappear. But, of course, the problem is not Israel’s; it is everyone’s. There is a great deal of evidence that Islam is an inherently aggressive, expansionist movement–more a political movement than a religious one.

Can Islam coexist in a diverse world? It has done so in recent centuries, of course, but it is beginning to appear that this period of accommodation may have been an aberration caused by the extreme weakness of Islamic countries and the relative lack of interaction between Islamic and non-Islamic cultures. Whether coexistence is still possible under modern conditions is a question that does not yet have an answer.

STEPHEN MOORE: We’ve Become a Nation of Takers, not Makers

Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government. It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined.

Yoram Ettinger: Arabs prefer life in Israel

For example, Israeli ID cards have been sought by senior PLO and Hamas officials and their relatives, such as the three sisters of Ismail Haniyeh, the top leader of Hamas. They married Israeli Arabs and migrated from Gaza to Tel Sheva in Israel’s Negev. Two are already widows, but prefer to remain in the Jewish State, and the son of the third sister serves in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Akrameh Sabri, the top Muslim religious leader in eastern Jerusalem, who delivers anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist sermons, retains his Israeli ID card as do Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO, Muhammad Abu-Tir of Hamas, Jibril Rajoub’s wife, etc.

Some 150,000 non-Israeli Arabs, mostly from Judea and Samaria, married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards between 1993 and 2003. In addition, scores of thousands of illegal Arab aliens prefer Israeli – over Palestinian – residence.

Gleanings, 01.04.11

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

CAMERA: BBC Ethics Unveiled: Lies About Jerusalem, Lies About Guidelines

The BBC revealed its complete disregard of its own Editorial Guidelines when it defended an egregiously one-sided and inaccurate documentary about Jerusalem. This video investigates the flouting of these guidelines by Panorama and the disingenuous ruling of the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee in support of the January 2010 segment. For more details, see CAMERA’s original analysis and the BBC Editorial Standards Committee ruling.

Mordechai Kedar: Small Homogeneous States Only Solution for Middle East

If the world wishes to bring stability and calm to the Middle East, there is no choice but to let the modern Arab countries – those whose boundaries were set by colonialism – collapse and break up into small states, each based on one homogeneous group.

Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander Joffe: Defund the UNRWA

This latest tragedy underscores these practical barriers against the development of Palestinian civil society. But the organization meant to help them is also a major obstacle to their well-being and peace with Israel. UNRWA facilities are hotbeds of anti-Israeli, anti-Western and anti-Semitic indoctrination, and according to the Palestinian Press Agency, Hamas has stored weapons in tunnels dug beneath UNRWA schools. The organization still refuses to screen its employees against lists of known members of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups (although it does say it checks for and excludes al Qaeda and Taliban members as required by a U.N. Security Council resolution). Meanwhile, its staffers intimidate anyone from taking a stand in favor of peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Just Journalism: Thousands of leading Islamists set to ‘come back’ to Egypt

Lawyer claims that thousands of leading Islamists will soon arrive in Egypt from a variety of notorious centres for radical Islam – including Afghanistan, Somalia and Chechnya … The article concludes by naming three such prominent Islamists, including one from London … ‘Among those waiting to come back are Osama Rushdi, who lives in London, Hussein Shemeis, who was convicted of the assassination attempt on ousted President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, and Mohamed Shawki al-Islambolly, brother of Khaled al-Islambolly, who assassinated former President Anwar Sadat.’

EDL: Israel and the Unholy Trinity

There is an unholy trinity that has come together to bring about what Palestinians shout at their demonstrations ‘From the River to Sea, Palestine will be free!’ It is a tripod of hate from the intellecutally bankrupt Left-wing communists and right-wing fascists and Nazis, supported by Islamists. From the River to the Jordan to the Mediterranean sea Palestine will be established at the expense of the state of Israel. Yet there has never been a state of Palestine, there has never been an Arabic nation based in Palestine, it was invaded in the 7th and 8th Centuries by Arab Islamists seeking to spread their evil ideology to the world. Arabs were offered 80% of the British Palestine Mandate known as Trans-Jordan, but they rejected it. They wanted it all. Ever since, Muslims everywhere have sought and fought to bring about the destruction of the Jewish state.
FP: Ignore the source, read the content

Andrew Whitley the outgoing director of the UNWRA’s  New York office,  made headlines this past fall when he told the  told the National Council for US-Arab Relations’ annual conference on October  22, 2010 that it was time to level with the refugees:

“If one doesn’t start a discussion soon with the refugees for them to consider what their own future might be – for them to start debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless but preserve rather the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes – then we are storing up trouble for ourselves….We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent…It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.”

IPT: Turning the Revolution Islamist

However, the latest issue of al-Qaida’s Inspire Magazine, as well as the rise of renewed Salafist movements in the revolutionary states, suggest that religious ultraconservatives have no intention of ceding the future. The revolutions may have been secular, but the character of new governments is still up for grabs … “The biggest barrier between the mujahidin and freeing al-Aqsa [Jersualem] were the tyrant rulers,” writer Yahya Ibrahim noted in his introductory article to the latest issue of Inspire. “Now that the friends of America and Israel are being mopped out one after the other, our aspirations are great that the path between us and al-Aqsa [Jerusalem] is clearing up.”

Robin Shepherd: Britain’s policy on Israel a total mess

But it’s not just the abandonment of any semblance of basic decency in Britain’s foreign policy towards Israel, it’s the fact that it is totally incoherent. Here’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, one week previously, discussing the recent seizure by Israel of an arms shipment to Gaza from Iran: “If, as the evidence suggests,” he said, “this was indeed an arms shipment from Iran… it would be another flagrant and unacceptable breach of UN Security Council Resolutions by Iran and further evidence of Iran’s intention to disrupt stability in the region.”

So let’s put all this together. The Foreign Office does understand there’s an issue here over ships bound for Gaza to support Hamas. Since Israel cannot know for sure what is on these ships, it knows that basic principles of self-defence mean Israel has the right to board them. It has seen the video of jihadists attacking Israeli soldiers on the Marmara, and it therefore knows that this is the reason for the loss of life. Tragic, to be sure. But all perfectly straightforward. No case to answer.

So then Britain votes with the dictatorships at the UN to slate Israel and say that it does have a case to answer, even though it knows it doesn’t. Marvellous.

Gleanings, 31.03.11

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

Jonathan S. Tobin: What Do You Mean by Democracy?

Hence although [Roger Cohen’s) ringing manifesto “Arabs Will Be Free” in today’s New York Times was ostensibly about the cause of freedom in the Arab world that he says won’t be denied, it paired a call for the end of the Assad regime in Syria as well as other autocracies with support for Hezbollah. What, you may ask, does the Iranian-supported Lebanese terrorist movement have to do with the Arab Spring? Isn’t Hezbollah the main ally of two of the most repressive regimes in the region: Iran and Syria?

Walter Russell Mead: The Shores of Tripoli: Our Latest Wilsonian War

We have had Wilsonian wars before and I have no doubt we will have them again.  You can, sometimes, wage Wilsonian war.  What you cannot do, at least not yet and probably never, is build a Wilsonian peace … Like Wilson, President Obama is going to find it easier to fight for humanitarian ideals than to make them prevail.

Judith Levy: IDF Releases Maps of Hezbollah Bunkers

The impending publication of the UN tribunal’s indictments of Hezbollah members for the assassination of Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri will make things very uncomfortable for Nasrallah and, by extension, for Iran, which has set up Hezbollah as its local proxy. The best way for Hezbollah to deflect both Lebanese and international attention away from its guilt in the Hariri killing is to provoke Israel. From Hezbollah’s point of view, an ideal result would be carnage in Lebanese villages wreaked by the IDF. Who’s going to quibble about UN indictments when Israel is killing Lebanese civilians?

Patrick Martin: Time of revolution in Arab world provides opportunity for Islamists

But while Islamist movements for the most part weren’t at the forefront of the revolutions, the upset of authoritarian regimes is providing opportunities for Islamists to flourish. Here’s a look at some of the fronts on which they are making gains, and the implications.

George Jonas: The spring of my Arab discontent

I say toppling a number of repressive, corrupt, inefficient and bellicose dictators friendly to the West and replacing them with equally repressive, corrupt, inefficient and bellicose dictators hostile to the West is the most likely outcome of the events that began in Tunisia in 2011. For historical models, think of Mao Zedong replacing Chang Kai-shek, or Fidel Castro replacing Fulgencio Battista, or the Ayatollah Khomeini replacing the Shah of Iran. Such changes, far from making the world a better place, make it worse. It seems 21st-century America’s quest isn’t to rescue fair maidens. It’s to level the playing field between princesses and dragons.

Gleanings, 30.3.11

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

Barry Rubin: Flash: Bashar al-Assad to Demonstrators: Surrender or Die

My sympathies are with democratic reformers, but my analysis says that from his own standpoint Assad did the right thing. This is the precise opposite of how Westerners look at the situation. They assume that a hardline policy will make the people angrier and intensify the revolt. In fact, if the regime is serious about repression and has a large base of support, a tough stand it will put down the opposition.

Have no illusions: this regime is going to survive by being brutal.

Lee Smith: Shock Waves

However there is a clear connection between the Palestinian cause and the wave of popular discontent that has upended the foundations of Arab politics. By pushing the centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the past four decades, the West has helped to underwrite Arab repression at home. The rationale behind the emergency laws in places like Syria and Egypt (even now after Cairo’s “revolution”) is that because of the war with Israel, the Arab security states must be ever-vigilant and therefore forbid their people from exercising basic rights like freedom of speech—or, in the words of Gamal Abdel Nasser, “no voice louder than the cry of battle”—diktats that they enforce through torture and murder.

If the recent wave of revolutions in Arab countries has proven anything it is that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process isn’t even a convenient fiction by which Washington can make nice to the Arabs. Rather, it has been a recipe for failure on a grand scale—social, political, and economic—that has now been laid bare. While the Arab regimes are being held responsible for their failures by their fed-up populations, Washington seems to feel no need to hold itself accountable for the collapse of a set of enabling fictions that has greatly diminished our position in a region that is of crucial strategic importance for the United States both militarily and economically.

Phyllis Chesler: America: Beware Giving in to the False Concept of Islamaphobia

To me, this is a sign and signal of a desire to live in a parallel universe, one in which Muslims are taught that they are superior to non-Muslims; one in which Muslims are taught to hate Jews and other infidels;one in which Muslims are taught that Sharia Law is, indeed, superior to American law. That is why CNN invites Harvard Professor Noah Feldman on. He assures people that “Our constitution prohibits any religion from becoming the law of the land.”

John Rosenthal: R2PAQ (‘Responsibility to Protect Al-Qaeda’)

The supposed “responsibility to protect” has taken America into a war on the side of the ultimate killers of innocents: al-Qaeda. (See also “Rebel Libya: ‘Brothers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, now is the time to defend your land!” on the Tatler.)

Gleanings, 29.03.11

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

George Friedman: What Happened to the American Declaration of War?

In my book “The Next Decade,” I spend a good deal of time considering the relation of the American Empire to the American Republic and the threat the empire poses to the republic. If there is a single point where these matters converge, it is in the constitutional requirement that Congress approve wars through a declaration of war and in the abandonment of this requirement since World War II. This is the point where the burdens and interests of the United States as a global empire collide with the principles and rights of the United States as a republic.

Daniel Pipes: Four Middle Eastern Upheavals (MUST READ)

In Libya, Syria, and Yemen – but less so in Egypt – Islamists have opportunities significantly to expand their power. How well will the former Muslim inhabiting the White House,* so adamant about “mutual respect” in U.S. relations with Muslims, protect Western interests against this threat?

‘Reza Kahlili’: Iranian Rulers, Believing Pre-Messianic Destruction Is Imminent, Make Film To Prepare Muslims

We can’t overstate the importance of the English translation of this film: the Iranian leaders are telling the Muslim world to prepare for the annihilation of Israel and the fall of the West. (Watch it exclusively at PJTV … Currently this movie is being distributed throughout the Basij and Revolutionary Guards’ bases. The producers are in the middle of translating it into Arabic, with the purpose of mass distribution throughout the Middle East. Their intention is to incite further uprisings, with the hopes of motivating Arabs to overthrow U.S.-backed governments.

Dina Guirguis: Egypt’s Transition: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Clearly, the military’s pursuit of a mandate through the referendum for its proposed transition is rooted in interests it wishes to protect in the new Egypt. Less clear is why the military is contributing to growing sectarian tension. Several weeks ago, army elements stormed two Coptic monasteries, for instance. They have also seemingly encouraged the proliferation of Salafist preachers in the media and beyond. Beyond this, the military continues to tolerate key National Democratic Party (NDP) regime symbols representing the party “old guard,” such as the head of the presidential diwan (chief of staff), Zakaria Azmy, who recently stated publicly that he continues “to go to his office every day.” At the same time, strengthening Islamist trends, including the Salafists, are allying themselves with the SMC, giving rise to theories of a web of complicity among the military, the old regime, and the Islamists. This very network governed Egypt for the past thirty-plus years.

Stanley Kurtz: Obama in Libya

Obama is not a neoconservative democratizer. When he talks about our values of human rights and democracy, he has in mind the progressive vision of a UN-dictated rights regime that constrains and encroaches upon national sovereignty, including our own. This is the portion of his policy goals in Libya (drawn from advisors like Power) that he does not explicitly spell out. It depends on doctrines like “responsibility to protect,” liable to future expansion and abuse by international bodies. Instead of going into all this, Obama merely highlights the “historic” UN resolution that enshrines the new doctrine, and speaks of his worry that a failure to act would have rendered the UN’s “writ” meaningless. There are immense problems with all of this, of course, both from the standpoint of American interests more conventionally defined, and from the standpoint of humanitarianism.

Barry Rubin: It’s Official: Egypt Will Hold Parliamentary Elections in September

Presumably, the Brotherhood will make deals to get religious and social clauses it wants in exchange for compromises on things it doesn’t care about very much. Egypt, then, will take a big step closer to Islamism and an even bigger step toward being hostile to the United States and Israel, while moving into a virtual alliance with Hamas.

Moshe Arens: The policy of deterrence failed on Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Why did Operation Cast Lead not establish a long-standing deterrent against rocket attacks on the south? Leaving aside the question of why the IDF was not ordered to complete the job and put an end to the rocket capability of Hamas in Gaza, there is good reason to believe that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad believe that in the wake of the Goldstone report and the wholesale condemnations of Cast Lead, the Israeli government would hesitate to undertake another ground operation in Gaza. And the rocket attacks can only be stopped by a ground operation. Are we seeing a failure of deterrence or are Hamas and the Islamic Jihad miscalculating?

Egypt—The Hangover

Cairo’s liberals tell a different story than Team Obama

Mohammed Dajani Daoudi & Robert Satloff: Why Palestinians Should Learn about the Holocaust

One of the sad realities of many modern Arab societies is that Arab students have been denied history, their own and the world’s. For decades, millions of Arabs have lived under autocrats resentful of the legacy of the leader they replaced and fearful of the leader-to-come. Although Arabs revere the study, writing and teaching of history, and have produced many famous historians, their rulers often tend to view history as a threat. The result is that many historians in Arab countries are more like the court chroniclers of long-dead dynasties, and entire chapters of history have been expunged from the curricula that Arab governments teach their students.

Gleanings, 28.03.11

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

Yid with Lid: Samantha Power; President Obama’s Anti-Israel Rising Star (MUST READ)

Samantha Power is the “mind” behind President Obama’s policy of  Responsibility to Protect which drove him to the “kinetic military action” [war] in Libya.  As her influence continues to grow, the Obama administration which has already backed off from the US/Israel friendship, might very well accelerate its move away from the only democracy in the Middle East.  I shudder to think what she may convince the president to do should he win a second term and will no longer need to worry about what Ms. Power calls alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [the Jews].

Lori Lowenthal Marcus: Uniting for Peace or Cut and Run? (MUST READ)

That may no longer be true. I’ll wager that few have carefully read the densely packed and dimly reasoned advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, in which the court of kangaroos jumped on and tried to crush the exposed neck of Israel, the courtyard nerd. No surprise there. But a few paragraphs tucked away in the Opinion sent a shiver down my spine. In a rarely utilized tool about which few are aware, there lurks a means to trump the veto power protection of the US for Israel. That tool, Resolution 377 (A)(V), is known as the “Uniting for Peace” Resolution. This procedural anomaly allows a majority of the Security Council members to override a permanent member’s veto of a resolution. That resolution can then be forwarded to the General Assembly for action on a measure that had otherwise – most would have assumed irreversibly – already been rejected.

JoshuaPundit: A Message For The Tribe (MUST READ)

As Goldberg alludes to at the end of his article, a great many Jews living in the Diaspora no longer support Israel either financially, emotionally or in the voting booth, and the message they give out to the Jewish State is essentially: “Please don’t embarrass me with my Leftist friends.” … Many of them were ignorant of [Obama’s] background and history, or simply didn’t want to know. But enough of them weren’t so that his subsequent actions as head of the most anti-Israel administration in US history should have come as no surprise. And while I might personally consider it suicidal, they were and are certainly entitled to make that choice. What they’re not entitled to is to feel they have a right to an active voice in how Israel conducts its affairs simply by virtue of the accident of having been born Jews, something many of them try and distance themselves from whenever possible anyway.

Spengler: Food and Syria’s failure (MUST READ)

From the Straits of Gibraltar to the Hindu Kush, instability will afflict the Muslim world for a generation, and there is nothing that the West can do to stop it. Almost no-one in Washington appears to be asking the obvious question: what should the United States do in the event that there are no solutions at all? No one, that is, but US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who told Washington Post columnist David Ignatius March 22 that “the unrest has highlighted ‘ethnic, sectarian and tribal differences that have been suppressed for years’ in the region, and that as America encourages leaders to accept democratic change, there’s a question ‘whether more democratic governance can hold … countries together in light of these pressures’.” The implication [Ignatius writes]: ”There’s a risk that the political map of the modern Middle East may begin to unravel too, with, say, the breakup of Libya.”

Elderof Ziyon: Hamas getting cozy with new Egyptian leaders

Looks like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are getting quite cozy in this new Egyptian “spring” and that Hamas is trying to be recognized as the official Palestinian Arab government to Egypt … It also means that the Egyptian revolution may have destroyed the “peace process.” Egypt was an important intermediary between Israel and the PA, and that seems to be gone now. Not only that, but by strengthening Hamas politically, it puts the idea of unity between the PA and Hamas that much further away, and any unity government would be much more extremist making peace with Israel even less likely.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer: DICTATORS STRIKE BACK

These, however, are short-term fixes. The real danger is that authoritarian states in the Middle East and elsewhere will now develop more cunning strategies to tame the web. Instead of just blocking critical websites and harassing bloggers, we will face sophisticated internet propaganda, more intense and devastating cyberattacks, and new forms of online surveillance. Here is an example of a video promoting the idea that the Arab uprising is a sign of the coming of the messiah or the Mahdi. It was “produced in Iran by an organization called ‘Conductors of The Coming’ in collaboration with the Iranian president’s office and the Basij (Iranian paramilitary force).”