Archive for September, 2007

It’s up to Hamas to keep the lights on

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

The UN Secretary-General apparently believes that Israel must continue to supply electricity to the Qassam rocket factories in Gaza:

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Israel on Wednesday to reconsider its decision to declare the Gaza Strip an “enemy entity,” warning that any cutoff of vital services would violate international law and punish the already suffering civilian population.

In one of his toughest statements aimed at Israel since taking the reins of the UN on Jan. 1, Ban said he was “very concerned” at the Israeli government’s declaration earlier Wednesday “and its announced intent to interrupt essential services such as electricity and fuel to the civilian population.” — Jerusalem Post

The Secretary-General should direct his warning to Hamas, which is currently violating international law every day by permitting Qassam missiles to be fired into Israel.

If Hamas’ (sometimes successful) attempts at murder and mayhem were to stop, there is no doubt that Israel would continue to supply electricity to Gaza. And Hamas could stop the rockets in a minute.

There is no reason that a country should allow its citizens to be sitting ducks. The decision to keep the lights on is up to Hamas, not Israel.

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For Lebanese politicians, opposing Syria is hazardous to health

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Antoine GhanemIt’s funny how anti-Syrian members of the Lebanese Parliament keep having accidents:

A powerful bomb killed a pro-government lawmaker and six others Wednesday in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut, threatening to derail Parliament’s already deeply divided effort to elect Lebanon’s next president in voting due to start in days.

Antoine Ghanem, a 64-year-old member of the right-wing Christian Phalange party, was the eighth anti-Syrian figure and fourth lawmaker from the majority assassinated since 2005, reducing the ruling coalition’s margin in Parliament…

The assassination of anti-Syrian figures began in 2005 with the death of [Rafik] Hariri, the former prime minister. Hariri’s death sparked massive protests that helped bring an end to Syria’s nearly 30-year domination of Lebanon. Damascus was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in 2005, and a government led by anti-Syrian politicians was elected.

Government supporters have accused Syria of seeking to end Saniora’s slim majority in parliament by killing off lawmakers in his coalition. — Jerusalem Post [my emphasis]

Syria denies everything, of course. This sort of thing has been going on for a lot longer than the last few years. According to Barry Rubin in his book “The Truth About Syria“, Syria was responsible for the 1977 murder of Druze leader Kamal Jumblatt, as well as the 1982 bombing which killed President Bashir Jumayyil, torpedoed a peace treaty with Israel, and provoked the Christian Phalangists — who blamed the Palestinians — to massacre scores of them in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

If the UN were worth anything, it would force Syria to leave Lebanon alone. Instead, it has rewarded the murderous Assad regime with a seat on the Security Council.

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Jenin, Jenin

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Mohammed Bakriby Vic Rosenthal

Operation Defensive Shield (March 29 – May 3, 2002) was carried out in response to a series of catastrophic terror attacks against Israelis. Several IDF soldiers who took part are now suing Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammed Bakri for libeling them in his film “Jenin, Jenin”:

During the fighting in Jenin, Palestinian spokesmen, human rights organizations and foreign journalists accused Israel of conducting a civilian massacre. In the end, it emerged, according to Israeli figures, that 52 Palestinians were killed in the refugee camp, including 38 armed fighters and 14 civilians. Twenty-three IDF soldiers died in the fighting.

Basing itself mainly on interviews with Palestinians in the refugee camp after the fighting ended, but also on film clips, Bakri portrayed Israeli troops as committing a series of war crimes. Although he described the film as a documentary, he did not interview Israeli officials or give them an opportunity to refute the allegations contained in the film. — Jerusalem Post

The film was full of false testimonies, dishonestly edited and faked footage, allegations of events that never happened, and so forth. Like the ‘shooting’ of Mohammed al-Dura, “Jenin, Jenin” became a focal point of worldwide condemnation and fury at the “brutal massacre” that in fact did not take place.

Even after the UN investigated and agreed that the Israeli accounts of what took place were accurate, the blood libel did not go away. And “Jenin, Jenin” is still shown regularly around the world (it’s been shown several times here in Fresno, by CSU Fresno administrator Dr. Vida Samiian).

Here’s my personal connection: sometime after the film came out (and long after the facts about what actually happened in Jenin were known), my daughter met Bakri at a party in Tel Aviv. Bakri, an Israeli citizen who speaks perfect Hebrew, was asked if he actually believed that the his film was a true depiction of what had taken place.

His answer was something like this (unfortunately I have no direct quotation):

Yes, it is true. I’m an artist, not a historian, and the truth is that Israel is crushing my people and that’s what I depicted.

So, in perfect post-modern fashion, truth is whatever serves the artist’s political purposes. I will await the outcome of the trial with great interest.

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A true axis of evil

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

If you have been wondering what sort of activities the peace-loving Syrians have been involved in recently, here’s one example:

Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane’s Magazine report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.

According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas and VX gas. Jerusalem Post

Syria has been developing chemical and biological weapons since 1973. Some details on their chemical weapons program, from

…Syria has developed a robust chemical weapons program, perhaps one of the most advanced in the Middle East, and a variety of delivery methods. The country is still very depending [sic] on outside assistance in procuring important precursor chemicals and equipment….

The Syrian arsenal is said to be comprised mostly of large amounts of Sarin in addition to tabun, mustard gas and is reportedly producing and weaponizing VX.

…Syria’s principle [sic] suppliers of CBW production technology were reported to be large chemical brokerage houses in Holland, Switzerland, France, Austria and Germany.

Syria also apparently has a close relationship with North Korea, from which it has obtained Scud missiles, components, and blueprints — and now possibly nuclear material.

The Syrian desire to commit mass murder of Jews is not surprising. They had good teachers:

Israeli military intelligence reports during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war were filled with references to the presence of Nazis among the Syrian forces attacking northern Israel. Some of them served as commanding officers.

The names of prominent Nazis living in Syria began to surface during the 1950s and 1960s. One was SS Captain Theodor Dannecker, who helped Adolf Eichmann implement Hitler’s genocide policy in France, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Another was Karl Rademacher, a senior Eichmann aide who had been involved in the mass murder of Jews from Belgium, Holland, Croatia, and elsewhere. After World War II, Rademacher escaped Allied capture by fleeing to Syria, where he became an official in the Syrian Secret Service.

The most notorious of the Nazis granted asylum in Syria was another top Eichmann aide, SS Lieutenant Alois Brunner. After being convicted in France in 1954 of responsibility for the murders of more than 100,000 Jews, Brunner disappeared. Two decades later, the famed French Nazi-hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld tracked down Brunner in Damascus, where he was making a comfortable living as an adviser to the Syrian intelligence services. And he is apparently still there. — Dr. Rafael Medoff, ‘Why Syria welcomed David Duke’

Consider all of the above, and then ask yourself why Israel has developed atomic weapons.

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The real root of the trouble

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

The idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the root of all of the problems in the Middle East and between it and the West keeps coming up again and again, for example in the Iraq Study Group report as well as in numerous less respectable places.

But this view is obviously and demonstrably false, as is the related one that the conflict itself is caused by the Israeli occupation of ‘Palestinian lands’, a creatively ambiguous concept that means ‘the occupied territories’ to most Westerners but ‘all Palestine, from the river to the sea’ to Arabs. Barry Rubin writes,

“The problem is, ‘as it always was’ still rooted…in Israel and Palestine.” Really? Conflict between Middle East and West isn’t rooted in decades of colonial rule over Algeria, Egypt, or Iraq? In Western support for Arab regimes past and present including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt while radical Islamists want to overthrow them? Not rooted in jealousy over the West’s greater success and power? In the Islamist view that the West is decadent and the Arab nationalist view that it is imperialistic, whether or not these accusations are true? Not rooted in murderous conflict between Sunni and Shia, advocates of capitalism and socialism, and other internal disputes spilling over as participants think they can get Western help or use anti-Western xenophobia to mobilize support? Not rooted in the false picture daily presented of Western society, religions, and culture? Not rooted in antagonism that powerful Muslim groups find in Islam itself, whether or not they “misinterpret” it?

The idea that the “essential rift between Islam and the West is still to be found in the Israeli-Palestinian divide,” is also highly inaccurate. Inasmuch as there is a rift, Islam is a different religion with its own historical culture and worldview whereas the West has been shaped by different religions. Ordinary Muslims worry about their societies becoming secular like the West, overwhelmed by Western culture and attitudes. Islamists know the West opposes its goal of turning the Middle East into the equivalent of Iran and Taliban Afghanistan. September 11 didn’t happen because of Israel but due to al-Qaida’s goal of spreading radical Islamist revolution and most immediately due to U.S. backing for the Saudi regime, their top target. To believe the problem is mainly or basically Israel is to fool oneself.

Moreover, the greatest outpouring of attacks on Israel happened after Israel made the Oslo agreement, withdrew from southern Lebanon, the whole Gaza Strip, and virtually all populated portions of the West Bank, proposed an independent Palestinian state, and so on. — Barry Rubin, Israel Is Not the Cause of All the World’s Problems

The real reason that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so intractable is the refusal of the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbors to accept the idea of a Jewish state of any size on what they believe to be their land, and the fact that the behavior of the West encourages them to believe that they can keep trying to ‘redeem Palestine’ by war and terrorism until they succeed.

The fact that withdrawals and concessions to the Palestinians have not tended in the direction of a solution to the conflict, but rather have resulted in more violence should be a lesson to Israel about the need to develop a new strategy. This should be based on the idea that no concessions or accommodations must be made with the Palestinians until terrorism entirely stops and until there is a clear commitment to the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state in the Middle East.

What about the broader Mideast problem? From the standpoint of the West, there needs to be an understanding of the complex forces at work in the Middle East, a determination to not allow political goals to be achieved by terrorism, and a decision to take radical Islamism seriously as a threat rather than to try to appease it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to believe that this will happen until the importance of Middle Eastern oil in the Western economies can be significantly reduced.

Until then, at least keep the Israeli-Palestinian issue in perspective as just one of the many similar disputes over ‘whose land is it’ in the world today.

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