Archive for March, 2007

The Arab initiative, as it stands, is a document of surrender

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

The so-called Arab peace initiative is on the agenda for the Arab summit in Riyadh that begins today. There has been a great deal of recent interest in this plan, much pressure on Israel to accept it, and suggestions from Israel that it might be acceptable in some modified form.


Iranian asymmetric warfare

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

The British hostage crisis continues, with Tony Blair saying that if Iran doesn’t release the 15 sailors soon, he will move to a “new phase”. This sounds aggressive, but it probably only means that he will release GPS information proving that they were in Iraqi — not Iranian — waters. This could have been done in phase 1, in my opinion.

The Iranians are holding out 1) to humiliate the UK and punish them for voting for sanctions in the UN Security Council, 2) possibly to trade the sailors for Iranians (captured in Iraq) held by the US, or 3) even just to create some excitement in order to drive up the price of crude (it did go up a bit, to nearly $63 today).

The US Navy has two aircraft carriers and about 100 planes in the area, and is holding war games. This was almost certainly planned before the British sailors were captured, in part to show Iran that we are prepared to protect shipping in the gulf in the event that we attack their nuclear facilities. Of course the US will not unleash the Navy to recover a few hostages.

Keep in mind that it’s relatively certain that Ahmadinijad played a central role in the taking of 66 American hostages in 1979, most of whom were held for 444 days. So he’s an old hand at this highly effective form of asymmetric warfare.

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The story that Johnston needed to tell

Monday, March 26th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza two weeks ago. Hamas and Fatah have both criticized his kidnapping, but seem to be unable to recover him.

Z. [a Fatah worker] told Haaretz he believed the worst was yet to come. “Pretty soon there will be militants in each and every junction. Everybody knows who’s holding Alan Johnston…It’s a large family, and they’re after money. Instead of surrounding the premises and acting against them, the security forces are negotiating with them,” he complains. “Breaking in their will cost lives, but there’s no alternative. You have to move in with force to restore order.”

Johnston’s position is not enviable.

Foreign journalists who have been kidnapped and then released by the family say they were treated in an especially demeaning manner. They go on to say that the Iraqi influence was obvious in the clothing of their captors, their language and their methods of handling prisoners, including forced conversions to Islam. — Avi Issacharoff, Ha’aretz

BBC director Mark Thompson said Johnston was “one of those amazing BBC people who make extraordinary sacrifices and take considerable risks because they believe a story needs to be told“.

While I am horrified by the thought of what he is undoubtedly going through and wish for his speedy release, there’s a certain irony involved when one contemplates the story that Johnston apparently believed needed to be told, a story of the Palestinian David versus the brutal Israeli Goliath.


Ban Ki-Moon: ignorant of history

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Ban Ki-Moon in RamallahBan Ki-Moon, the new UN Secretary General, is either a historical ignoramus or…I don’t know what else to call him.

Ban Ki-moon met yesterday morning with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, following a tour of the West Bank separation fence in the Al-Ayada refugee camp near Bethlehem.

“It saddens me deeply to see many people suffering as a result of the establishment of the separation fence, which prevents them from enjoying any possibility for basic sustenance,” he said. “This has strengthened my determination and commitment to advance peace in the Middle East.” — Ha’aretz

Unless by ‘basic sustenance’ he meant the need to kill Jews, his statement was foolish at best. But never mind:

He placed a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat, one of the worst men in history, the single person most responsible for the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the instigator of wars in at least three countries, the father of international terrorism, murderer of countless Jews and root of Palestinian suffering — this is the man he honored in the name of the United Nations!

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Rachel Corrie again, in Seattle

Monday, March 26th, 2007

By Vic Rosenthal

Last August, Rachel Corrie’s parents came to Fresno to speak about their daughter. Rachel Corrie was the young International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer who was killed in Gaza in 2003 by an IDF bulldozer. Corrie’s parents and others (ISM leader Adam Shapiro was scheduled but did not appear) presented her death as martyrdom for the cause of peace, and claimed that she was trying to protect a Palestinian home when she was deliberately murdered by the IDF.

The real story is that Corrie’s death was accidental, and ISM photos that allegedly showed Corrie in full view of the bulldozer were taken at a different time and with a different bulldozer. Rather than demolishing a home, the bulldozer was clearing brush near an unoccupied building which sat over the entrance to a tunnel used for smuggling weapons and explosives through the Egyptian border. The ISM is a Palestinian-run organization which recruits young people around the world (but particularly in the US) and uses them to directly obstruct the IDF’s anti-terrorism activities.