January 2011 Archives

On Egypt

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If you're not reading Barry Rubin on a regular basis these days, you're probably not getting a clear picture.  I'm sure there are other sober and reliable sources out there, but too many of the ones I expected to count on have disappointed and I find myself going back to The Rubin Report a few times a day.

You can also usually find it cross-posted at Solomonia, along with other good stuff.

Making sense

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There appears to be very little of it out there right now, with events seeming to overtake the ability to process them.  Here are two beacons of clarity in the fog.

On the PaliLeaks, Isi Leibler:

Of course the absurdity of these "concessions" is that they directly contradict every public statement expressed by the PA in relation to these issues.

It is totally legitimate for diplomats to deal with controversial issues in camera. However to pay lip service to negotiating peace in good faith whilst simultaneously assuming a contrary hostile public profile must invariably end disastrously. Instead of attempting to dampen the flames of incitement and hatred, the Palestinian leaders have been encouraging all levels of their society to sanctify and glorify suicide bombers and promote hatred in the kindergartens, mosques and media.

Such behavior confirms that the PA representatives realized that they could never convey to their constituents an arrangement that sanctioned the maintenance of Jewish sovereignty. It demonstrates that when the Palestinian leaders indulge in private negotiations, they speak with a forked tongue and have no intention of ever publicly presenting compromises to their people. They were simply negotiating to obtain more concessions from Israel as part of their strategy to dismantle the Jewish State in stages.

However, this has now resulted in the PA is now being hoisted by its own petard. The incitement against Israel has succeeded to such an extent that their own people now feel betrayed and accuse them of behaving like quislings. Their bitter rage may undermine the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and ultimately lead to the demise of the duplicitous "moderate" Palestinian leadership. The net gainers may be the more "honest" genocidal Jihadists - Hamas.

And, on a somewhat related note, John Bolton on the riots in Egypt:

Let me be clear here, this is not just the Mubarak-family government. The military has ruled Egypt since Gamal Nasser and they over through King Farook. 

It's the military that is the real government and they are not going to go peacefully. 

I think the question is whether and to what extent the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamists have infiltrated the leadership. If the military holds firm it's entirely possible, although bloody, that the government can hold onto power. That doesn't necessarily mean Mubarak will be in power, but the military will be, and I think that is why this contrast makes it so important for people to understand, this is not a choice between the Mubarak government on one hand, and sweetness and light, Jeffersonian democracy on the other. 

I don't think we have evidence yet that these demonstrations are necessarily about democracy. You know the old saying, "one person, one vote, one time." The Muslim Brotherhood doesn't care about democracy, if they get into power you're not going to have free and fair elections either. 

And I think there is substantial reason, for example, to worry the minority Coptic Christian population, about 10% of the population will be very worried if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. 

Let's be clear what the stakes are for the United States. We have an authoritarian regime in power that has been our ally. We don't know at this point what the real alternatives are. 

Interesting times, as they say.

Shabbat Shalom.

Only one thing on their mind [sic]

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Per the palileaks ...

Saed Erekat's minutes of a meeting that allegedly took place on June 16, 2009, between a high level palestinian delegation to Washington and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, contain the following quote:

Mullen said to AM [Abu Mazen]: "We're helping you; General Dayton is with you; and US laws don't allow us to send you even a single bullet. You're the most important person in the Middle East. Arabs and Muslims have only one thing on their mind: Palestine. So, we want to help you establish a Palestinian state. We don't want it to go the path of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. We don't want another failed state. Help us by showing us accountability, transparency, good laws. We know you have good people who can do it. I have 230,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and I am bringing back 10 each week draped in American flags or in wheelchairs. This is painful for America. Because I want to bring them back home, a Palestinian state is a cardinal interest of the U.S.A. Washington today is different from Washington yesterday."
The Guardian, predictably, opines that this statement reflects "the growing understanding of the US defence establishment of the strategic importance of the Palestinian issue."  If the statement is genuine, it in fact reflects just the opposite.

I doubt, however, that Adm. Mullen said any such thing (although I'd sure like to see that confirmed by the Chairman himself).  The statement is loaded with suspicious remarks, such as the implication that the US would like to send the PA weapons but is legally prevented from doing so, not to mention a revised version of the discredited "Petraeus brief" story (and subsequent Biden rerun) asserting a link between American military casualties and the Israeli-Arab conflict.  But perhaps the most egregious element is the short list of things Abbas supposedly needs to do to help pave the way for a palestinian state: accountability, transparency, good laws.  Fluffy stuff.  Not so much as a reference to terrorist attacks and incitement.

This sounds pretty much like a Saed Erekat fantasy of what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs might say to him in his ideal world.  How much, if any of it, is reality-based remains to be seen. 

J Street shows true colors, again

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Not only are the so-called "Palestine Papers" most likely a forgery or a fraud, but look who has jumped all over them to launch a whole new campaign of vitriol against ... Israel.  Yep, it's that "pro-Israel, pro peace" snake oil train a/k/a J Street.

Almost funny.  But not quite.

Of note

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I'm not sure when we're going to hear something like this again from a highly placed US official, let alone a Clinton, so I just wanted to memorialize it here.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged the limits of US power Thursday in a combative exchange with an Al-Jazeera reporter, saying, "We can't stop a lot of countries from doing things that we disagree with and we speak out against."

In the Qatari capital of Doha for a regional development conference, Clinton was asked why Arab countries should listen to her criticism when the US can't even get its longtime ally, Israel, to make peace with the Palestinians.

"Israel is a sovereign country and it makes its own decisions," Clinton responded.

"I wish there were a way we could tell a lot of countries what they should do because there are a lot of countries doing things that are not in the best interests of their own people, their neighbors or the world," she added.

Clinton pointed out that Israel has reasons to be cautious. "You often make decisions based on your own experience and history," she said. "And when the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon they got Hizbullah and 40,000 rockets and when they pulled out of Gaza they got Hamas and 20,000 rockets."

Still, she said, the US will continue to work toward achieving a separate state for the Palestinians.
Of course it will.  But ... just for a moment there, ... wow.  Emes.

Irony of ironies

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Do these people listen to themselves?  On the demolition of the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem:

The first bulldozers arrived around 5 a.m.; by noon the right half of the four-story structure was a pile of rubble.

"It's not just a disgrace against the owners, it's a disgrace against history," said Adnan Abdul Razeh, a resident of Bab e-Zahara, a neighborhood south of Sheikh Jarrah. His wife was a niece of Haj Husseini.

"They're trying to erase this, but it will stay in people's minds, they can't erase a whole nation. No imperial power has ever stayed in Jerusalem, not the Ottomans, not the British, and not Israel."
Nor the Romans, nor the Byzantines, nor the Arabs (skipping a few before and between), the latter being the imperial power that conquered Jerusalem by force in 637-38 CE.  The husband of the niece of Hitler's accomplice Haj Amin al-Husseini got that almost right and he can perhaps be excused for not knowing his history, as his schooling was undoubtedly deficient in this area. 

Despite the Arab invaders' incessant attempts to erase the ancient Jewish heritage of Jerusalem, it will always stay in the minds and hearts of her people, who have prayed and wept and yearned for her every single day of their separation from her for more than two thousand years.  And, G-d willing, it will stay in our hands as well.

Parallels: "targets" and the political left

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This headline tops a blog over at Forbes.com.

Gabrielle Giffords Shooting And Sarah Palin's Conscience
And not only there, but all over the internet and the Sunday morning news shows.

But should we pretend that the violent rhetoric of Palin and her followers is "just an overheated metaphor," asks Huffington Post writer Marty Kaplan. How many times have we heard Jon Stewart and others speak out about how the GOP-Tea Party machine, with its angry bombast, pushes people? This "lock-and-load" mentality is today's U.S. politics-reptilian, raging, uncivil, unyielding and here, possibly murderous.
Pretend?  Does Marty Kaplan or anyone else really believe that Sarah Palin or "the GOP-Tea Party machine" ever intended to encourage physical violence through campaign rhetoric?  Or that the murderous rampage of a twisted, enraged man in Tucson can be in any way, intentionally or even unintentionally, be laid at their doorstep?  And why is all of this sounding so familiar?  Where have we heard this kind of cheap, dirty, political exploitation of tragedy before?

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz sparked furious debate Wednesday by saying that there was "no indication" that the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin had been sparked by incitement.

On the other hand, Mazuz told the Knesset State Control Committee, "what is certain is that there was a failure of security at the site of the murder."

Rabin was shot dead by right-wing extremist Yigal Amir in November 1995, at a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Vehement opposition at the time to the prime minister's land for peace initiatives, in the form of the Oslo accords, was widely believed to have contributed to the assassination.
That "contribution" was heavily promoted at the time by the Israeli left.  And for so many reasons simply not borne out by the facts.  Appropriately, the same concerns about balancing free speech and incendiary speech that are flooding the airwaves and the blogosphere today were given a full airing in the aftermath of Rabin's assassination.

Mazuz warned that excessive use of laws against incitement could curb free speech. "The atmosphere within the public has an influence, but it must not be used as an excuse to shut people's mouths," he said.

According to Mazuz, prosecutors have refrained on principle from filing charges against people suspected of incitement. "We do not believe in enforcing the law [as a tool] to change the atmosphere of public life," he said.

"A skullcap does not confer immunity from observing the law," Mazuz continued, "But no one wants to link the words of one person and the acts of another."

But if you look back at the political rhetoric that followed Prime Minister Rabin's assassination, you'll find a lot of the same tricks the left is hauling out today.  It was shameful then and it's shameful now.  And when the smoke had cleared, Israel's Attorney General explained that there was no evidence Yigal Amir had been provoked by overheated metaphors.  That announcement was met with rage from the left.

The Peace Now organization reacted with anger to the attorney general's comments, stating that "The attorney general is himself paving the way for the next political assassination in Israel," Israel Radio reported.
And yet, over 15 years later, the only other political assassination to have taken place in Israel is that of Rehavam Ze'evi, a perpetual "target" of the political left.  Nobody blamed his death on their overheated rhetoric, nor should they have.  We would do well in the coming days to heed AG Mazuz's warning and refrain from linking the words of one person to the heinous acts of another.

~ ~ ~

Our prayers go out to Congresswoman Giffords and her family with best wishes for a full recovery as well as to all the victims and their loved ones.

UCI's shame

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For a dismal view of the state of affairs on American campuses and most especially at the University of California at Irvine, don't miss this comprehensive exposé by Professor Leila Beckwith at The American Thinker.

For eight years, the administration has refused to name, identify, or condemn anti-Semitism at UCI.  Even at the regents meeting to address bigotry, Chancellor Drake disregarded the evidence that the MSU, a student group on his own campus, was the perpetrator of the disorder against Ambassador Oren.  Instead, he spoke vaguely of some students and "external organizations or nonaffiliated individuals" as the cause of the intolerance.  Even when he broke his usual silence to condemn an endorsement of terrorism made by Imam Malik Ali during a speech sponsored by the MSU May 15, 2010, Chancellor Drake ignored Malik Ali's statement that "[y]ou Jews ... are the new Nazis" and ignored the MSU posters with clear anti-Semitic imagery.  In a bizarre identification of anti-Semitic speech and imagery as a benign interchange of beliefs, Chancellor Drake praised the MSU event as "the hallmark of an educational institution committed to an exchange of ideas."

So bigotry against Jews is a tolerant "exchange of ideas" according to the UC administration, whereas bigotry against other groups is forcibly condemned.  When UC President Yudof states that his administration has "a responsibility to speak out against activities that promote intolerance or undermine civil dialogue," he chooses to ignore the fact that accusing Jewish students of being Nazis is a promotion of intolerance.  Neither he nor any chancellor spoke out.  An egregious double-standard does exist at the University of California.
For the full scoop, annotated with extensive links, please click through.

Shabbat Shalom.

The opposition speaks

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Tzipi Livni is trying to do via J Post interview intended to generate international pressure what she's been unable to do at the ballot box and through back room negotiations -- get her butt back in power.

Here's my very brief summary:  I want peace.  Abbas wants peace.  Bibi doesn't want to pay the price for peace.  The only chance for peace is if I'm in charge.  Oh, and nothing that went wrong under Kadima's last watch was my fault.

I don't think it's going to work.  Especially in light of Livni's weak and wobbly performance in this farce of a "debate" between her and Salam Fayad last month (although, in fairness, she wasn't helped any by the incredibly condescending and dismissive attitude of Christiane Amanpour, who predictably fawned all over Fayad like a starstruck groupie).

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