Archive for January, 2008

Nurturing the mindset of war

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

When one nation is supposedly at peace with another like Israel and Egypt, or when negotiations intended to achieve peace are taking place, then hateful expressions intended to demonize are, shall we say, inappropriate. But the prevalence of it in ‘friendly’ Arab media actually sends a message, to which we should pay attention.

For example, here’s a cartoon from Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official newspaper of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA — our ‘peace partner’) published in October 2007 (Palestinian Media Watch):

Al-Hayat cartoon, Oct. 2007

The text on the missiles reads, “Allah, scatter them!”

“And turn their wives into widows!”

“And turn their children into orphans!”

“And give us victory over them!”

This was published during the period immediately preceding the Annapolis “peace” conference. One would think it came from Hamas. Is there any wonder that several recent murders of Israelis in the West Bank have been carried out by members of the PA “security” forces?

But nobody comes close to Egypt, with whom Israel has supposedly been at peace since 1976, for anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic incitement. Here’s a sample from the official Al-Ahram newspaper from April 2001:

Al-Ahram cartoon, April 2001

Nice, isn’t it? I can’t read Arabic, so maybe one of my readers will translate the captions — not that it’s necessary in order to understand it.

Of course, Jordan is different. Right?

Ad-Dustur (Jordan) cartoon, October 2003

This one is from the Jordanian government-owned Ad-Dustur newspaper. The sign says “Gaza Strip or the Israeli Annihilation Camp.”

Words and pictures can have great power. Sometimes people minimize the importance of hateful messages and incitement, as if to say “as long as nobody was hurt or killed, it’s no big deal”. Or they say “it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just internal politics”.

The fact is that every information tool at hand to the ‘friendly’ Arab regimes, not just newspapers but radio, television, schools and universities, mosque pulpits, children’s books and schoolbooks, etc. is turned to the tasks of creating hate, destroying credibility, preventing reconciliation, and above all preparing their citizens for war.

The first thing Yasser Arafat did when he returned from exile in 1994 to lead the PA after the signing of the Oslo accord was to establish a Palestinian educational system designed from the ground up to teach children that Israel is illegitimate, that ‘Palestine’ would be redeemed through armed struggle, and that they would be the ones to do it. Peace, which became part of Israeli schools’ curricula, was not mentioned. David Meir-Levi wrote,

After Hitler, Arafat is the first national leader in history to set up a school system whose purpose was to teach the nation’s children to hate another ethnic group and to instill in them the ambition to murder as many as they could.

So what’s the message that all this sends? That there is no real peace available, only various forms of hudna (temporary truce). Because the right to make war is reserved, and the necessary mindset nurtured.

Egypt, despite the peace treaty, continues to buy expensive, sophisticated weapons that it has absolutely no use for — unless there is another war with Israel. All of the plans for “normalized” cultural and economic ties between Israel and Egypt that were intended to break down the barriers between peoples have not come to fruition, because the Egyptians want it that way.

The PA and Arab nations have made it clear that they will not withdraw their hatred. Indeed, at this point — as a result of their own highly effective ‘educational’ activities — perhaps they cannot.

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US plan is falling apart as Abbas sides with Hamas

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

It should only happen:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is considering resigning from his post if Israel continues its military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a top PA official said Thursday.

The official said Abbas, in a series of phone conversations with Arab, American and EU leaders and government officials, strongly condemned Israel’s attacks as a “severe blow” to the peace process. — Jerusalem Post

Israel, of course, is fighting a war with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations in the south. It is illustrative of the contempt in which Israel is held by its “peace partner” that in his view Israel is not permitted to defend herself against the continuous rocket attacks — dozens each day — as well as murderous sniping, etc.

“The president has said that he will resign if the military escalation and daily killings continue,” the official said. “Israel’s actions undermine the Palestinian Authority and drive more Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad”…

Several Fatah officials on Thursday visited Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar in Gaza City to offer their condolences over the death of his son, Husam, in Tuesday’s IDF operation. The delegation was headed by top Fatah operative Ibrahim Abu al-Naja. The visit came hours after Abbas phoned Zahar to also offer his condolences. It was the first time the two had talked since Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last June.

There is nothing in the slightest surprising about this because although Hamas and Fatah disagree on the nature of ‘Palestine’ (should it be a ‘normal’ secular dictatorship or an Islamist state governed according to Shaaria), and on tactics (should they even pretend that Palestinians will be satisfied with a state that does not extend to the Mediterranean) — both factions agree that Israel must eventually be replaced by an Arab state.

Possibly this was what Abbas had in mind last summer when he angered many Fatah partisans by responding to the Hamas coup in Gaza with inaction, pretty much allowing Hamas to seize the Palestinian Authority’s arsenal of US-supplied weapons without having to face any organized resistance.

Meanwhile Fatah’s own war against Israel continues, with yet another shooting in West Bank, this time not fatal.

It’s incredible to me that all this can be going on and the US administration does not realize that its plan to suppress Hamas with Fatah, armed and trained by the US, cannot possibly work and will only result in more dead Israelis.

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A real-life moderate Muslim

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Dr. M. Z. JasserThis guy gets it from all sides. He’s Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, specialist in internal medicine and nuclear cardiology from Phoenix Az., former naval officer, critic of CAIR and the Flying Imams, and a real-life moderate Muslim. He’s Chairman of the Board and founding member of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), which supports

…the expression of Islam which is in synergy with American democracy, the U.S. Constitution, and the clear separation of religion and state. AIFD was formed on the basis that the development of this ideology at the core of the American and global Muslim consciousness is the central mission necessary in order to ultimately defeat the threat of Islamism and jihadism.

Dr. Jasser interprets the “Flying Imams” lawsuit — you will recall that several Imams behaved in ways calculated to draw attention to themselves on a US Airways flight, got themselves kicked off, and then sued the airline, the Minneapolis Airports Commission and even the anonymous passengers who complained about them — as part of a campaign by the Islamist, Saudi-funded Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to establish itself as the voice of American Muslims in opposition to moderate groups like his own. He writes,

While the press may focus on the flying imams case, for American Muslims, the battle is broader. On one side are the imams represented by CAIR, the Islamic Society for North America, and the North American Imams Federation, all of which lean toward an Islamist view supporting greater interplay between religion and politics and the primacy of sectarian identity. On the other side are Muslims embracing Western secular democracy. The two are mutually exclusive in their interpretation of religious hierarchy, the interplay between theology and contemporary politics, individuality, and tolerance.

Responsibility for the victory of traditional, tolerant, and pluralistic interpretations of Islam lies with Muslims and Muslims alone. The intellectual marginalization of Islamists is the duty of Muslims who value the principles upon which the United States was built and now stands. This requires recognizing the primacy of the Constitution in political life, even if Muslims turn to the Qur’an in their spiritual life. Islamists, though, insist that regardless of temporal government, the Qur’an should be the central guiding document for legislation and interpretation. Islamists believe the Qur’an is the only source of law while non-Islamists believe it is just one source.

Perhaps this was the reason why the Prophet Muhammad and his companions sought to avoid creation of the same religious intermediary class that today CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Imams Federation presume to fill. — M. Z. Jasser, Exposing the ‘Flying Imams’

Dr. Jasser has been attacked from the American Right for saying that the correct interpretation of the Quran is one of tolerance and peace, and by Islamists for…lots of things. Here’s one Islamist’s response to Dr. Jasser:

Arizona Muslim Voice cartoon

Arizona Muslim Voice cartoon showing Dr. Jasser as a dog

I’m certain that Dr. Jasser’s views on the Arab-Israeli conflict aren’t anything like mine. But I think that our basic approach to concepts like truth, fairness, and above all the proper roles for religion and state are probably pretty close. This is a guy I could talk to.

Which made me wonder why, when Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism decided to reach out to American Muslims, he chose the Saudi-connected, highly controversial Islamic Society for North America (ISNA) as a partner, rather than Dr. Jasser’s AIFD.

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LA Times publishes anti-Semitic cartoon

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

The rules of the game regarding anti-Semitic expression have changed. Here is a cartoon chosen by the editors of the Los Angeles Times to illustrate a violently anti-Israel article written by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the authors of the book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, a book which many have argued is itself anti-Semitic.

Anti-Semitic cartoon from the LA Times

Anti-Semitic cartoon from LA Times, January 6, 2008

CAMERA has written a response to the Mearsheimer-Walt article, and has even purchased a full-page advertisement in (other) LA-area newspapers criticizing the Times for its distorted coverage and incidentally pointing out the similarity of the cartoon to one in a German newspaper of the Nazi era.

Last July, I called for a boycott of the Times after they ran a op-ed by Hamas mouthpiece Moussa Abu-Marzouk, in which he asserts that murder of civilians within Israel is justified as ‘resistance to occupation’.

But the Times is just one example of a more widespread phenomenon. The fact is that extreme anti-Israeli expression (which I have argued is often actually anti-Semitic) as well as outright Jew hatred are becoming more and more commonplace. The recent case of Ms. Magazine refusing to print a completely innocuous advertisement that was pro-Israel illustrates the degree of animosity toward Israel in some circles.

US college campuses are presently awash in anti-Semitic expression and have been for some time, as documented in a 2005 hearing before the US Commission on Civil Rights:

The excessive fascination with Israel and the tendency to hold it up to disproportionate scrutiny has turned over into attitudes and acts of hatred and anti-Semitism on many of the nation’s college campuses. There have been a number of examples. For instance, in 2002, at San Francisco State University, Jewish students held an Israeli-Palestinian sit-in hoping to engage the pro-Palestinian students on campus in a dialogue. What ensued as the rally was closing was a hate-fest in which pro-Palestinian students surrounded the 30 remaining Jewish students, screaming “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and “Die racist pigs.” In April, a flyer advertising a pro-Palestinian rally featured a picture of a dead baby with the words, “Canned Palestinian Children Meat – Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites under American License,” thereby reinvigorating the 900-year-old blood libel that Jews eat Gentile children.

During Passover of that year, a brick cinderblock was thrown through the glass doors of the University of California at Berkeley’s Hillel Building. A week after that, two Orthodox Jews were attacked and severely beaten one block from Berkeley’s campus, with anti-Zionist graffiti on blocks and buildings near the school. During a vigil for Holocaust Day, Jewish students who were saying the mourner’s kaddish, the prayer for the dead, were shouted down by protesting students saying a prayer in memory of the suicide bombers. Northwestern University’s Norris University Center was marked with a three-foot swastika in 2003, accompanied by the words “Die Jews.”

However, I doubt that even three years ago we would have seen the kind of mainstream presentation of extreme anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic views as appear today. One of the precipitating events was the 2006 Second Lebanon War, in which much of the media presented an image — almost entirely false — of a diabolical Israel, wantonly killing Lebanese civilians. In addition to made-up incidents, fake casualties, faked news footage and Photoshopped pictures, the war was presented as Israeli aggression, ignoring the fact that Israel responded to an invasion of her territory and the killing and capture of her soldiers. The fact that Hezbollah operated from civilian areas, using residents as human shields was also deemphasized.

There were two major reasons for this: one was the academic bias against Israel which has come to be widespread in the college-educated media as well, and the highly effective media management strategy employed by Hezbollah, which tightly controlled access by the foreign media and assured, sometimes by means of simple intimidation, that they reported what Hezbollah wanted in the way that they wanted.

In any event, the reporting of the war fed anti-Israel sentiment (already strong in Europe) in the US, and interestingly — but not really surprisingly — it seems to spill over into anti-Semitism.

Another factor has been the opposition of some left-wing elements to the Bush Administration, in which it’s become useful to blame “neo-cons” — many of whom are Jewish — for the invasion of Iraq, etc. And the fact that the US economy seems presently to be on a downward trend will certainly give rise to the usual scapegoating.

Anti-Semitism has a viral nature, in which it spreads and intensifies in proportion to its prevalence. So once started, it seems to take on a life of its own.

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New Jihadware soon to be available

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Original Mujahideen Secrets jihadwareAttention Islamic terrorists everywhere! A new version of Mujahideen Secrets, Jihadware for secure communication over the Internet will soon be available.

The first version, which was released a year ago, was described as “the first Islamic computer program for secure exchange [of information] on the Internet,” providing users with “the five best encryption algorithms, and with symmetrical encryption keys (256 bit), asymmetrical encryption keys (2048 bit) and data compression [tools].” — MEMRI

MEMRI notes that the Al-Ekhlas Islamist forum on which it was announced — — is hosted by NOC4Hosts Inc. in Florida. Just business, I guess.

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