Archive for September, 2008

The party of incompetence vs. the party of not-getting-it

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

September 11 has arrived, along with pleasant double-digit temperatures in Central California. It’s still a bit too close for a historical perspective, but some things are clear:

Our government responded with a blend of cynicism and incompetence, letting the main perpetrator go free and failing to follow up the Saudi connection, while using the attack to justify an unrelated war — which it then proceeded to screw up massively.

Some people still do not understand what motivates radical Islamist terrorists. For example, consider the following remarks by Barack Obama in an interview with David Brooks of the NY Times:

He said the U.S. should help the Lebanese government deliver better services to the Shiites “to peel support away from Hezbollah” and encourage the local populace to “view them as an oppressive force.” The U.S. should “find a mechanism whereby the disaffected have an effective outlet for their grievances, which assures them they are getting social services.”

The U.S. needs a foreign policy that “looks at the root causes of problems and dangers.” Obama compared Hezbollah to Hamas. Both need to be compelled to understand that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims.” He knows these movements aren’t going away anytime soon (“Those missiles aren’t going to dissolve”), but “if they decide to shift, we’re going to recognize that. That’s an evolution that should be recognized.” [my emphasis]

First, Sen. Obama apparently does not understand that this is not a civil rights issue. People who blow themselves up do it for religious-ideological reasons, not because they are lacking ‘social services’.

And second — and this is really shocking — he seems to think that Hezbollah and Hamas have “legitimate claims”! Does he mean that Hezbollah’s claim that Israel is still occupying Lebanon is legitimate? Hamas has only one claim, which is that all of historic Palestine is an Islamic Waqf and therefore Israel must be replaced by an Islamic state. Both Hamas and Hezbollah claim that Israel must be destroyed, so violence is not exactly a ‘blind alley’ for them; rather, it is the only alley.

Does he also feel that al-Qaeda had ‘legitimate claims’ which could have been dealt with peacefully?

In exactly 54 days, there will be an election here in the US, and we will have to decide between the party of incompetence — which, by the way, is also the party of regressive taxation and looting the wealth of the middle class — and the party of not-getting-it.

Whichever party wins, I would be guaranteed to feel guilty after voting except for the fact that our electoral system is so thoroughly broken that my vote — I live in California, remember — will have zero effect. The election will be decided in a few ‘key’ states, and the decision will be driven — assuming that one party or the other doesn’t steal the election — by considerations of race, gender, personality, and class.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The Arab world is wacko, but very dangerous

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Michael Slackman of the NY Times has noticed that a huge number of Arabs and Muslims believe that 9/11 was perpetrated by the Mossad, the Bush administration, or both, in order to give the US an excuse to attack Muslims.

After all, didn’t we immediately invade Iraq? Weren’t Jews who worked at the WTC forewarned?

Teenage Mohammed Atta with his fatherI don’t know why it took so long for the media to notice this phenomenon.  I recall an interview given by the father of Mohammed Atta, a lawyer in Cairo, shortly after it became known that Atta had piloted AA flight 11 into the north tower of the WTC. In the space of about a minute, he managed to say both that the operation was a great victory for Islam and that the Mossad was responsible for it.

Although the facts are easily checked, a determined individual can ignore them or can construct an explanation that shows that any apparent contradiction to his belief is only apparent. As everyone knows, there is a burgeoning “9/11 truth” movement in the US. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of blogs and websites, videos and podcasts, purporting to prove that the events were something other than a terrorist attack by Islamic fundamentalists (personally, I was convinced that President Bush was innocent after I saw his first statement, made from Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana: that man was scared to death because something awful was happening and he didn’t have a clue what to do about it).

In any event, the collective insanity surrounding 9/11 is par for the course in the Arab world. Note that it is never enough to blame the US, the real source of evil in the world — Israel — has to be implicated. Here is a snippet from an article by one Tariq Majeed in the Pakistan Observer:

The US War on Terror is in reality a Zionist war against Muslims of the world. In fact it is Third World War which has been going on one-sidedly since 1948 i.e. after the creation of Israel. Since the present democratic government coming into power, the US officials have been rushing to Pakistan to ensure that the leaders of the new government will continue their support in achieving the US goals of War on Terror. While there are no declared goals but the real goals are hidden and it is necessary for us to know these. The ultimate and hidden goal of War on Terror is to make all the Muslim countries US colonies and capture their natural resources. The other goal is to malign and ridicule the Muslims and distort the concept of Jehad. The ultimate Zionist goal of War On Terror is to create justification and then to actually carry out attacks on Mecca and Madian [sic] and then to fulfill the Zionist dream of a greater Israel. Zionists are using US and NATO to achieve their goal. The UN is also helping the Zionists in every respect [!].

Majeed continues,

What is CIA and Mossad role in the War on Terror? CIA and Mossad are playing a very important role in the so called War on Terror. They plan the war on the basis of information secretly gathered by their agents and then carry out sting operations like 9/11 and suicide bomb attacks to create harassment for people and justification for continuing the US attacks on Muslim countries.

Why Muslims are being targeted? Islam and Muslims are the only hurdle before the Zionist plan to implement the New World Order and to achieve the economic and political control of the world. Hence the Muslims are being targeted and victimized all over the world. Why 9/11 was carried out? 9/11 was the biggest CIA sting operation carried out in its history. The purpose of this operation was to create a fear in the American people that US can be and has been attacked by Muslims and there was a justification to increase and accelerate the war against them. A fear is constantly created amongst Americans that the incidents like 9/11 could happen again.

Pakistan is a great source for this kind of thing. Here is some text from an article in the Pakistan Daily by Dhruv Gadhvi:

The dominance of Jewish interests over American interests could also be seen in 2003 when the ziocons pushed the Bush regime into a proxy zionist [sic] war against Iraq. The ziocons hoped this would be the first of many zionist [sic] proxy wars against anti-zionist [sic] Arab/Moslem countries — devastating each country in virtually the same way as the Jews-only state has devastated Palestinian society.

But not only are the Zionists responsible for the war an Iraq, they are even a danger to the US itself:

So, even if the Jews-only state does not yet have nuclear missiles which could reach America it has submarines which could probably traverse the oceans to bring America within range of its nuclear weapons. It is bizarre that America helped to fund the acquisition of these subs for the Jews-only state…

With each transfer of military technology and military hardware, the Jews-only state becomes militarily stronger and thus more capable of striking a terrible blow to America. And yet since 1967, all American administrations have seemed perfectly willing to provide most types of military hardware and technology to the Jews-only state.

The idea that Israel would attack the US with nuclear weapons is what is bizarre, actually. On the other hand, it is not so bizarre to imagine Pakistani nuclear weapons being transferred to terrorists for use against the US. But that’s another story (read it here: Douglas Bloomfield, “Iran may be bombastic but Pakistan has the Bomb“).

Technorati Tags: , ,


Another week, more anti-Israel bias from the wire services

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Israel’s enemies have lots of allies in the information war.

Things We’re Not Told
By Barry Rubin

In the olden days, when night watchmen patrolled the streets of towns, they had a standard chant: “Ten o’clock and all is well!” Sleep soundly; nothing’s wrong.

Each week, when I start to write this column I hope to be able to do the equivalent. I could just write one sentence: “This week, the stories are fairly and accurately reported so there’s nothing to write about.”

Unfortunately, for your reading time, my workload, and the state of the world, each week there is indeed something to write about. Alas, such is true this week.

Increasingly, print media coverage comes from Associated Press and Reuters as newspapers close down costly foreign bureaus. This should be good news since these two wire services are supposed to be fair, objective, and balanced — even bland — in their presentation of events. At times in the past they have been biased against Israel, though not all the time by any means and also aware that it was not right to slant their coverage. Like Adam and Eve, driven from the Garden of Eden, they knew their nakedness and were ashamed.

Nowadays, however, both shame and restraint are gone. Many articles — again not all — are extraordinarily biased. For this to happen requires several things:

  • The reporters know they will not be punished for doing so, either by verbal criticism, a slowing of their career rise, or firing.
  • Editors know the same.
  • High-ranking executives do not fear the complaints of their media subscribers.
  • And all have redefined the purpose of journalism from fairness and accuracy to political advocacy.

Of course, they will say that this is all nonsense and they do a very good job, thank you very much. The problem, however, is that it is so ridiculously easy to show this isn’t true that it is hard to believe that the evidence will not persuade at least those outside these organizations that the case is proven.

One of the most common patterns, presented repeatedly in my columns on AP, is the presentation of the Palestinian but not the Israeli side.

A second is to give Israelis who oppose their country’s policy and support Palestinian positions more space than the Israeli government and mainstream view.

A third is to blame Israel for problems but not the Palestinians, or at least not the Palestinian Authority or Fatah. It is permissible to criticize Hamas.

Among the most frequent abuses is to say what the Palestinians want but not what Israel needs; to stress alleged Israeli failures to meet commitments but not even to mention — even as issues raised — Palestinian failures.

Consider Mark Lavie, “Palestinians reject Israel’s offer on interim peace plan,” September 1, 2008. It is true that the lead attributes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s rejection of Israel’s idea for an interim peace agreement as “insisting on an all-or-nothing approach that virtually ruled out an accord by a January target date.” Yet this is more than made up for by the space given for Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to explain his side’s position:

We want an agreement to end the [Israeli] occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

What does Israel want? We don’t know. We could be told: a permanent end to the conflict, incitement, and terrorism along with security guarantees for a starter. One might add border modifications or other things. But I literally cannot remember ever seeing such a passage.

We are told:

Officials in Olmert’s office said Israel has proposed giving the Palestinians all of Gaza, 93 percent of the West Bank along with Israeli land equivalent to 5.5 percent of the West Bank, as well as a land corridor through Israel to link the two territories. The Palestinians have said that offer is unacceptable.

But we are not told what the Palestinians offered Israel.

There is, however, room for two paragraphs of Palestinian complaints:

….The Palestinians complain bitterly about continued Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, despite an Israeli pledge to halt the building as part of a 2003 peace plan that still serves as the framework for negotiations. Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo called settlement construction “the most critical issue that threatens the whole peace process now.

The Palestinians accuse Israel of swallowing up West Bank land that they claim for their state. Israel counters that it is not expanding settlements; rather, it is building inside settlement blocs it plans to keep in a final peace accord.

Does Israel have complaints? Do Israelis accuse the Palestinians of doing anything?

The rest is silence.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA and other GLORIA Center publications or to order books, visit

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Preventing a catastrophe

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

News Item:

“Iran is taking a very big chance when it continues with the process of attaining nuclear weapons — and on that we are certain,” [French President Nicholas] Sarkozy said during a press conference in Damascus. “We may wake up to the day when Israel — regardless of who is in charge — attacks.”

“The question here is not whether an attack of this sort is legitimate or worthwhile,” he continued. “The question is what will be done in that instance.”

“It would be a catastrophe and we must prevent it,” Sarkozy concluded.

Israel, with or without American support, could almost certainly set the Iranian nuclear capability back more than a few years (see Whitney Raas and Austin Long, ‘Osirak Redux’).

The catastrophe would not be the Israeli attack — which would be relatively ‘surgical’ — but Iran’s reaction, which would unleash Hezbollah’s missiles against Israel and international terror squads against Jews worldwide. But the part that the West worries about is the interruption of the oil flow that Iran could easily orchestrate, which could quadruple the world price of oil, or more.

Without being overly cynical, a few Jews more or less and their “shitty country” are not enough to make Western leaders lose sleep — it didn’t  in the 1940’s and today is no different. But imagine gasoline at $15-$20 per gallon in the US!

The US has apparently taken the position — and this cuts across party lines — that Israel must be discouraged from attacking Iran. That will only work up to a point.

Think about it: take a people traumatized by mass murder within living memory, suggest that their nation ought not to exist and threaten to destroy it in the vilest terms, and then develop the means to do so — don’t you expect that there will come a time when they defend themselves?

So Sarkozy is quite right, the West “must prevent it” unless we plan to populate our freeways with donkey carts. But if discouraging Israel won’t work, what will? Here’s one answer:

According to Ma’ariv, [Knesset member Ephraim] Sneh offered the two [American presidential] candidates the “sane, cheap and the only option that does not necessitate bloodshed.” To prevent Iran’s nuclear aspirations, Sneh wrote, “real” sanctions applied by the US and Europe were necessary. A total embargo in spare parts for the oil industry and a total boycott of Iranian banks would promptly put an end to the regime, which is already pressured by a sloping economy and would be toppled by the Iranian people if they have outside assistance, he said.

The window of opportunity Sneh suggests is a year and a half to two years, until 2010.  — Jerusalem Post

I suggest that the Bush administration and the new one that will take office in January take both Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Sneh seriously. Instead of trying to solve the problem of Iranian aggression by creating a Palestinian state (confused? So am I), they should take steps now to solve it directly.

Otherwise, as Sneh suggested, “Ido” (IAF commander Gen. Ido Nechustan) will solve it for them.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Booth: I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

News Item:

Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, who arrived in Gaza with a boatload of activists protesting an Israeli blockade, said on Tuesday she was stuck there because both Israel and Egypt had denied her entry.

Lauren Booth, sister of the former British prime minister’s wife Cherie, revealed her predicament as Blair visited the region to further Western-backed efforts to achieve a limited Israeli-Palestinian peace deal…

Booth said she has tried unsuccessfully in the past few days to leave through Gaza’s land crossings with Israel and Egypt. “I tried through the proper channels, through the United Kingdom’s embassy, but I was told I was not allowed to come through,” she said after trying in vain to enter Israel.

Overheard on a Gaza beach:

“Hello, Tony? It’s Lauren. Yes, how many Laurens do you know? Guess where I’m calling from!”

“Oh please, not that again. I’m a journalist. This is part of my job.”

“Yes, well, anyway, I’m stuck here.  The beastly Israelis won’t let me in, and neither will the Egyptians. And the boat’s already sailed.”

“Yes, of course, I know. But I was so seasick on the way over, and that absolutely horrid Jeff Halper — don’t ask. The freedom fighters here have been very accommodating, but I’m tired of wearing this thing over my face all the time, and although they are fighting for justice and to end oppression, their attitude towards women is still a little too, er, old-fashioned for comfort. By the way, what’s a sharmuta?

“What? Oh my. Can’t you just get them to send a frigate or something? Something large that won’t pitch about so much. Tony, I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!”


Booth claims that Israel is violating the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms a right “to leave any country and to return to his country”. Of course it doesn’t say anything about the right to enter a third country. Look at it this way:

  1. Booth entered Gaza from which rockets continue to be fired despite a ‘truce’;
  2. She’s done her best to help the murderous, antisemitic Hamas in their war against Israel;
  3. And now she wants to be admitted to Israel?

Lauren Booth with her Palestinian 'passport'

Lauren Booth and her Palestinian passport. This and  a few quid will get her on the Underground, if she can swim that far

Technorati Tags: , ,