Archive for November, 2008

King promotes ‘Culture of peace’

Monday, November 10th, 2008

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, in order to change the image of Saudi Arabia promote religious tolerance, has embarked on a program of interfaith dialogue.

Reuters reports:

King Abdullah, promoted by Saudi Arabia as a moderate who can deal with the rest of the world, met Pope Benedict in the Vatican last year, brought Sunni and Shi’ite clerics to Mecca in March and religious leaders to Madrid in June.

Now the king and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are organizing a special session of the U.N. general assembly on Wednesday and Thursday for talks on “interfaith” issues and the “Culture of Peace.”

How is it possible to make sense of this, from the country that does not permit Jews to reside there and only rarely to visit (until recently, the official Saudi Arabian tourism website indicated that “Jewish persons” would not be admitted), where it is illegal to construct a Christian church, where some cities are off-limits to non-Muslims, and where “insulting Islam” is punishable by beheading?

About thirty world leaders including President Bush and Israeli President Shimon Peres are expected to attend. But just in case you are pinching your cheek to see if you are dreaming, keep in mind that Jew Peres wasn’t invited by the King and may have to scuttle in through a side door:

After the Saudi Ambassador [to Lebanon], Abdel Aziz Khoja, clarified Saudi’s position regarding Israel’s invite to the inter-faith conference stating that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not responsible for extending an invitation to the Israeli president, ex-premier Salim al Hoss issued a statement that said, “I apologize for anything in my statement that has offended our big sister, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, directly or indirectly.” — Asharq al-Awsat, (a “pan-Arab” newspaper published in London)

God forbid that anyone should think that the Saudi king was that tolerant! Peres’ invitation came from the UN, which unlike King Abdullah, has to keep up appearances.

OK, so what does the Monarch of Megapetrobucks expect to get out of this conference? Is he planning to build a cathedral in Riyadh? Will Chabadniks walk the streets looking for Jews to get them to put on tefillin?

Hardly. Here’s what he said:

“I will go to America for the dialogue of followers of religions,” the king said at a meeting with Information Minister Ayad Madani and newspaper editors. “The dialogue comes at a time when the world is criticizing Islam.”  — Jerusalem Post

Now we begin to understand. The problem that needs to be solved is not the treatment of non-Muslims in Saudi Arabia, but the treatment of Muslims in the rest of the world. Although it is unlikely that he can get the US, the EU, and other more or less democratic societies to behead those that insult Islam, maybe they would agree to an ear or a nose.

Saudi road sign

Saudi road sign

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Zionists in the White House!

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

The Palestinians would like a fair shake from the Obama administration. One would think that they should be optimistic, given Obama’s much-ballyhooed connections with Rashid Khalidi, Ali Abunimah, etc. But look at how they go about it:

Al-Kuds al-Arabi, an Arabic language publication in London, claims that Rahm Emanuel’s father was “personally involved” in the Deir Yassin massacre. Here is a slightly cleaned-up Google translation of the item:

Nazareth – ‘Jerusalem is Arab’ from Zuhair Andrews: Benjamin [Emanuel]…  father of [Rahm], who was appointed by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama as White House chief of staff, which is the second most powerful post in the White House, [was] personally involved in the implementation of the Deir Yassin massacre in 1947 [sic: 1948].

Emanuel’s father was a member of the Irgun (or Etzel, short for Irgun Tzvai Leumi, [National military organization], the pre-state militia commanded by Menachem Begin, one of whose units took part in the Deir Yassin incident. Here is what a relatively well-documented Wikipedia article says about Benjamin Emanuel:

Benjamin Auerbach was born in Jerusalem in 1927, the son of pharmacists who had fled Russian pogroms. The family adopted the surname Emanuel in 1933, after Benjamin’s brother, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem. In the 1940s, Benjamin Emanuel interrupted his medical school training in Switzerland to take part in an unsuccessful scheme to smuggle guns from Czechoslovakia to the Israeli underground. He later served as a medic in the 1948 Israeli war of independence.

The business about Deir Yassin is new, but extreme right- and left-wing, anti-Semitic and pro-Arab websites have been happily claiming that Rahm Emanuel is the ‘son of a terrorist’ and illustrating it with quotes about the Irgun’s activities.

I am not going to try to write a history book here, but everyone is aware that the last days of the British Palestine Mandate were characterized by a struggle of various militias — Jewish and Arab — to control the land when the British left. Most of the Irgun’s violence was directed at the British, but not all of it. It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that everyone involved in the conflict except for the British was a ‘terrorist’ in some sense.

Regarding Deir Yassin, accounts differ but probably about 110 Arabs were killed, combatants and non-combatants. There is no doubt that some civilians were murdered by undisciplined Irgun and Lehi troops, but Arab accounts were exaggerated, both in numbers and in details. For example, there were no rapes — even Arab sources admit that these were fabricated in order to stir up the populace. As far as I know there is no list of Jewish participants in the battle, and no evidence that Benjamin Emanuel was among them. Certainly there seems to be no source cited in the al-Kuds al-Arabi article.

I could be wrong, but unless evidence to the contrary shows up, I will assume that this ‘fact’ is simply made up.

Perhaps this is preparing the ground to attack Obama’s administration if it takes anything other than an extreme anti-Israel position. Look, the White House is still dominated by Zionists!

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How not to let the people of the Middle East down

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

From the introduction to a compendium of comments in Arab blogs that appeared in the New York Times, by Josie Delap:

Barack Obama’s election in the United States has fired imaginations around the globe, perhaps nowhere more than in the Middle East, where people wonder how the future president’s approach to the Arab world will differ from that of his predecessor.

For the moment, Arabs are mainly excited about Mr. Obama’s victory, and have much good will toward him and the country that chose him. But Middle Easterners are more skeptical than anyone else about American politicians and their intentions, and already it seems Mr. Obama is no exception.

His speech during the primaries to Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, did little to assuage fears that America will continue to support Israel unconditionally. And there remains a more general anxiety that, like previous American presidents, Mr. Obama will somehow let the people of the Middle East down.

May I remind Ms. Delap that “the people of the Middle East” include Israelis?

It is apparently easy for some Arabs and their supporters to believe that Israel continues to exist despite their best efforts, just because America stands behind her. And that their problems would go away if Israel did.

There are many excuses for every Arab problem: lack of development and conflict are blamed on colonialism, Zionism, Israel, the US. But the sooner Arabs accept their portion of responsibility, the sooner things will get better.

An American President who makes it clear to the Arabs that they need to give up their dream of  a world without Israel and start trying to solve problems — like the situation of the Palestinian ‘refugees’ — instead of exacerbating them, would do a great service for all the people of the Middle East.

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Condoleezza Rice’s Freudian slip

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Condoleezza Rice meets Mahmoud AbbasI can hardly wait for this woman to go home:

“The distance to that peace has been narrowed, although the peace has not yet been achieved,” [Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice said in a joint news conference with [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas. “We knew … that if that agreement was not reached by the end of the year, that there would be those who would say that the Annapolis process, the negotiations, had failed.”

“In fact, it is quite the opposite. The Annapolis process has laid the foundations for the eventual establishment of the state of Palestine,” she said. “The Annapolis process … is vital, it is vibrant, and it is continuing, and I am quite certain that carried to its conclusion, it will produce a state of Palestine.”  — Jerusalem Post

Revealing, isn’t it. Rice seems to equate “the…establishment of the state of Palestine” with ‘peace’. But nothing could be further from the truth. While the Palestinian leadership — both Fatah and Hamas — does not accept the continued existence of the Jewish state and officially supports ‘resistance’ (i.e., terrorism) against it, then the establishment of a Palestinian state would be premature, to say the least.

But since 2006, the Bush Administration’s goal has been to produce a Palestinian state as soon as possible — and then worry about peace (or not). Since I’m convinced that this is not President Bush’s personal view, I have to conclude the policy in this area is directed by the traditionally Arabist State Department and other influential elements.

Now that Barack Obama will be taking over, we can speculate whether the highly rational Obama will reject the irrational position that Palestinian sovereignty can precede an end to violent rejection of Israel.

It’s probable that he will more than have his hands full with economic issues for at least the first six months of his presidency. If this leads to neglect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s probably just as well. If on the other hand he gives the State Department a free hand, we can expect the present policy of pressuring Israel for concessions to continue.

The worst-case scenario will be if Obama and his Secretary of State accept and act on the left-wing and European ‘line’ that the entire cause of the conflict is ‘the occupation’ and ‘settlement activity’.

It is imperative that we present the case that the pressure should not be on Israel to make concessions to hostile Palestinians, but rather on the Palestinians to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel. 

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Zionism and President Obama

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

It’s President Obama (well, after January 20, anyway).

Ami Isseroff commented,

Every historical event presents opportunities as well as dangers. A healthy political movement needs to utilize the opportunities and act constructively to minimize the dangers, not fret about them. Barack Obama, unlike George Bush, will have the confidence of the nations of the “south” or “third world” and if he so chooses, he can be a much more effective advocate for Israel and the things that really matter to us than any previous US president. He and only he among all US presidents can possibly put an end to persecution of Israel at the UN. He can stop the second Durban conference from being another anti-Israel exhibition. If Barack Obama says anti-Zionism is racism, people will probably listen. If President Barack Obama will insist on Israel’s right to exist in security, then Zionism and Israel will gain a new respectability that Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain, for all their many virtues, could not give them.

Of course none of this will matter if President Obama also insists upon a full withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders while Hamas lives, supports Palestinian demands for ‘right of return’, prevents Israel from defending herself against Hamas and Hezbollah, or allows Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. And he may well do these things if he allows people like Rob Malley or Samantha Power to become influential — and God forbid that he should listen to the like of Ali Abunimah or Rashid Khalidi.

Some of my fellow Zionists think that this is a forgone conclusion and the appropriate response is to dig in and fight to the death. For example, “Emet m’Tsiyon” [Truth from Zion] writes,

It is likely that he will soon make lying propaganda against Israel. He might declare that Israel is an apartheid state, that it oppresses “poor palestinians”, that it took Arab land away from “poor palestinians”, that it has no right to exist [this might be insinuated rather than explicitly stated], that Jews have no human or civil right to live on “Arab land,” that Israel is to blame for the wars, etc. Since this is what is likely to happen, especially if no opposition emerges, then Obama should not get any days of grace at all. Strong criticism of Obama must continue. His critics must continue to demand release of what Obama said at the Khalidi farewell party in Chicago. Public demos and rallies would be helpful if some participation is assured. Even a small demonstration can be helpful. Interviews on talk radio, letters and articles for Jewish newspapers, lectures by and interviews with competent experts should be considered.

This is a poor approach, which will cause us to be lumped with the attack-dog Right (you know who you are) and be ignored. One thing that impressed me about Obama is his apparent ability to learn quickly.  And I don’t agree with many of his political opponents that he is a doctrinaire leftist — rather, he seems to be highly pragmatic, no less so than Bill Clinton, who did finally learn something about the Mideast (although it took some years and and a few thousand deaths to teach him).

Therefore the goal should be to educate and inform him rather than to beat him over the head. Engage in “tough diplomacy”, to take a page from his own book — at least at first. Let’s treat him as innocent until proven guilty.

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