Archive for February, 2010

How Bashar Assad made a fool of the US

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

News item:

The U.S. administration has asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to immediately stop transferring arms to Hezbollah. American officials made the request during a meeting Friday with the Syrian ambassador to Washington…

The move was described as an opportunity to discuss the next steps following the visit to Damascus by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns on February 17. The administration also said the meeting was part of its efforts to achieve a direct dialogue with Syria on issues of interest to both sides.

Haaretz has learned that Burns’ visit to Damascus ended unsatisfactorily for the U.S. administration. During Burns’ meeting with Assad, the Syrian leader denied all American claims that his regime was providing military aid to terrorists in Iraq, or to Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups.

Assad essentially told Burns that he had no idea what the American was talking about.Ha’aretz

The US recently presented a gift to Bashar Assad, by nominating Robert Ford as the first US ambassador to Syria since the recall of our ambassador following the Syrian-perpetrated murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Barry Rubin notes that to add insult to to injury to pro-Western circles in Lebanon, this was done on the 5th anniversary of the murder!

In keeping with the strategy of ‘engagement’, the Obama Administration preferred to literally let Assad get away with murder in order to promote US strategic interests.

Important interests indeed: nothing is more likely to bring about a regional war in the Middle East than a massive rocket attack on Israel by Hizballah. Once the rockets start flying, Israel will not feel constrained to spare Iranian nuclear facilities; and then Iran will retaliate in various ways which may include harming US troops in the Mideast and will certainly affect the oil supply. No matter how they feel about Israel, the administration and State Department are very serious about oil. The US might even get dragged into conflict with Iran as a result.

And by the way, wouldn’t it be helpful if Assad would make it easier for Obama to get out of Iraq without too much trouble from the insurgents that Syria presently arms and supports?

We were just asking for a quid pro quo. Well, we gave them the quo and what did we get for a quid? Assad doesn’t know what we’re talking about!

Update [1 Mar 0920 PST]: Read Barry Rubin’s latest comment on this subject here.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Intelligent sheep with foreign passports

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

As you may know, next week is “Israeli Apartheid Week” on campuses around the world. Airline tickets from Israel to London must be on sale for the event, because

A Tel Aviv University professor is set to open this year’s “Israel Apartheid Week” taking place at three London university campuses.

Adi Ophir, an associate professor at TAU’s Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science, will open the event on Monday. “Israel Apartheid Week” takes place at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the London School of Economics and University College London.

In a talk titled “Anatomy of rule in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Ophir, who is author of the book The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, will share a platform with Sari Hanafi, an associate professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut…

Ending the week of events will be Israel-born filmmaker Eyal Sivan, who will answer questions following the screening of his film Yizkor: Slaves of Memory.

The event program describes the film as “a portrait of the Israeli society that has never been shown before” that looks “in depth at this imperative that is imposed on the children of Israel.”

The film accuses Israel of using the “myths and symbols” of Purim and Pessah to indoctrinate Israeli youth.

“In Israel during the month of April feast days and celebrations take place one after another. School children of all ages prepare to pay tribute to their country’s past. The collective memory becomes a terribly efficient tool for the training of young minds,” the program states.

Speaking also next week is Michael Warschawski, described as a “leading Israeli anti-apartheid figure,” and Arab-Israeli Salah Mohsen, a member of the Balad party’s General Council…

The event will also take place at Oxford University; participants include Israel-born academics Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim as well as MK Jamal Zahalka, chairman of the Balad party, who has a doctorate in pharmacology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

I apologize for the length of the quotation, but there are so many of these people (see also here, here and here)! It seems that every day I read or write about another Israeli intellectual who is part of the anti-Zionist movement.

Note that I am not talking about people expressing disagreement with the policies of the government, dissidents. I am not talking about left-wingers who advocate withdrawal from the territories in exchange for peace. I am talking about those who, in their writing and speech, explicitly oppose the existence of the Jewish state, delegitimize it, or support its enemies.

I think no other nation on earth has such a great proportion of its elite who, to put it simply, hate their homeland. Here’s a snippet from one of them, Michael Warschawsky:

In my opinion, the core of our discussions should not be about solutions and models, but values and rights. In that perspective, one has to unequivocally reject the very idea (and existence) of a Jewish state, whatever will be its borders. For a Jewish state (in the demographic sense of the concept) necessarily implies the drive for exclusion and expulsion. Any ethnic (or confessional) state considers the non-dominant ethnicity as a threat, and aspires to its disappearance through more or less violent means. As former Yugoslavia and Rwanda have tragically shown, ethnic states are always both the cause and the result of mass-expulsions and massacres, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1947-1949 is one among many examples of that historical phenomenon.

What is actually going on here is that wackos like Warschawsky, with arguments made by violently maiming historical fact to fit the Procrustean bed of post-colonialist ideology, want to overthrow a legitimate, thriving state based on democratic principles and replace it with yet another failed Arab dictatorship — if you believe that ‘Palestine’ will be something else, just look at the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Today the weapon of choice to be wielded by “internationals” and anti-Zionist Israelis is the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movement, whose function is to weaken outside support for Israel in order to make it easier for the more traditional weapons in the hands of Hizballah, Hamas, Iran and Syria to do the bloody work of finishing off the Jews in the Middle East.

Jewish nationalism — Zionism — is viciously rejected by these Israeli intellectuals, whose parents in some cases were given the chance to live a normal life by the Jewish state, the one Jewish state alongside the 22 Arab nations in the neighborhood. Nevertheless, they have absolutely no trouble showing profound reverence for the national rights of the ‘indigenous Palestinian people’, most of whom are descended from Arabs of Syria or Egypt who entered ‘Palestine’ after 1820!

These ‘intellectuals’ aren’t even sheep that can easily be led to slaughter. They are intelligent sheep with foreign passports that actively push the less accomplished members of their flock ahead of them into the chute at the abattoir  in the name of the highest moral principles.

They are traitors no less culpable than an Israeli selling weapons to Hamas terrorists.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Happy Purim!

Saturday, February 27th, 2010
Today's would-be Haman

Today's would-be Haman

Technorati Tags: ,

Therapist-assisted suicide

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I am beginning to think that the criteria used by the editors of the NY Times for evaluating op-eds about the Mideast are these:

Is it weird enough? Is it far enough removed from reality? Is it bad enough for Israel?

Today there’s one by a Tel Aviv University psychologist, Dr. Carlo Strenger, who advocates “diplomatic therapy” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

The trauma is mutual and multilayered. The Palestinians have never been able to mourn what they call the Nakba, the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. Their ethos of national liberation was based on the idea that all refugees would be able to return to their homes in Jaffa, Ramle and Lod. Letting go of this dream, a condition for the two-state solution, requires a process of mourning that has been made almost impossible by the humiliation of the occupation and the force of Israeli retaliation, culminating in the Gaza war last year.

Trauma is not the Palestinians’ alone: Israeli Jews live under a fear of annihilation that overshadows any consideration of compromise. Many critics of Israel believe that such a statement is a cheap ploy to justify colonial ambitions, but right or wrong this is the reality of the country’s collective psyche. Israelis still look back at the attacks by Arab armies in 1948, 1967 and 1973 as moments when they could have been wiped out, and this fear is revived today by the possibility of Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons.

Where to start? How about the bias implicit in Strenger’s exposition: were all the Palestinian refugees expelled? Some were, certainly. But many left voluntarily to escape the chaos of the war that their leadership had a great part in bringing about; and most of the responsibility for their inability to return lies with the Arab nations.

Regarding the Jews, what exactly is the point of suggesting that their fear of annihilation may be unreasonable — worse, “a cheap ploy to justify colonial ambitions?” Are the Hizballah, Syrian and Iranian missiles chopped liver? Strenger does not suggest that the Arab nakba tales might be exaggerated, so why are Jewish fears?

Furthermore, it’s gratuitously false to say that the recent Gaza war was “retaliation.” That’s pure Goldstone.

But OK, he’s a psychologist, not a historian, and what’s important for therapy is not what is in reality, but what’s in the patient’s head. So Palestinian Arab fantasies are as important as historical facts. The nakba stories with their imaginary or exaggerated massacres, rapes, etc. are as important as the very real history of Arab war and terrorism against Israel, the treachery of Arafat in the Oslo period and the murderous ambitions of Hamas.

How can the therapist help calm this anger and fear? There’s a problem, and of course it’s Israel’s fault: the “humiliation of the occupation” and Israeli “retaliation” have made it impossible for the Palestinians to ‘mourn’ (it seems to me that they’ve been mourning violently since 1948 and what they haven’t been able to do is get even. But that’s just me). The implication is that to enable this mourning, Israel has to leave the territories and stop defending itself.

Strenger also brings up the issue of religion, so that he can equate the danger from “Israel’s ideological Right” to the well-armed, Iranian funded, antisemitic, genocidal fanatics of Hamas who rule 40% of the Palestinian Arab population. Is he kidding?

So what does diplomatic therapy look like?

As in Northern Ireland, the sponsoring parties, presumably the members of the so-called quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — should maintain a permanent peace conference that will convene until an agreement is reached. And the quartet needs to find ways to engage all parties in the region, most of all the Arab League, but also Hamas and possibly, at some point, Iran.

Strenger proposes, therefore, that the borderline-hostile Quartet (only the US can be called even ambiguously pro-Israel) maintain a permanent institution designed to beat Israel until the Palestinians and others are satisfied with the result! And look at those others: the Arab League, which fought to prevent the creation of Israel and has been implacably opposed to its existence ever since; Hamas, which explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of its Jewish inhabitants; and Iran, whose President called (yesterday) for the “nonexistence of the Zionist entity,” which is directly responsible for the last two wars fought by Israel, and is preparing the ground now for the next.

This is a therapy group? It sounds more like a lynch mob. But Strenger thinks there will be a catharsis:

An open-ended process would allow Palestinians to voice their rage and pain about what they have gone through and to express their need for Israel to recognize its part in the Nakba. In the same way patients progress by talking about their traumas, a therapeutic process may lead the Palestinians to realize that they have not just been passive victims, that they have made decisions, ranging from rejection of the American partition plan in 1947 to the use of suicide bombers since the 1990s, that have driven back the possibility of peace.

Likewise, Israel’s Jews need to be able to voice their fear that Arabs will never accept the existence of Israel, and that the two-state solution is just a step toward its destruction. Therapeutic diplomacy will help them gradually accept their share of the responsibility for the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948. In this way both parties can come to realize that accepting the other’s narrative and point of view does not mean annihilation.

I expect that the Palestinians will voice their rage and pain, something that they are expert at and do all the time. But why should this cause them to stop thinking of themselves as passive victims? It seems to me that the more they express their rage, the more convinced of their victim status they get. And they’ll get a lot of reinforcement from the other group members.

Israelis, for the most part, do accept that some Arabs were expelled in 1948, and that some of them were innocent people who suffered needlessly. They do not in general (except for those like Strenger) think that they must accept the responsibility for everything bad that happened to the Palestinians, they do not accept the Palestinian definition of the ‘crime’ that they are accused of, and they most assuredly don’t agree that they must accept 4-5 million hostile Arabs who claim to be descendants of  all of the original refugees in order to atone for it.

With all due respect, I don’t see a two-sided process of reconciliation here. I see only more pressure for Israel to make still more concessions, to move closer to the Arab position — which has not budged a centimeter since 1948 — until it finally gives up on the idea of Jewish self-determination.

It’s not therapy, it’s therapist-assisted national suicide!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Quotes of the month

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

…because I’m too lazy to write something serious!

An Israeli cabinet minister is more likely to face prosecution in the United Kingdom nowadays than a terrorist who has murdered Israeli civilians. — Barry Rubin, 2/22

What was disproportionate this time? Was there a disproportionate use of passports? — Tzipi Livni, 2/24

The Goldstone Report seems to be objective and well-grounded — Diego López Garrido, the secretary of state for the European Union in the Spanish Foreign Ministry, 2/25

A Middle East without Zionism is a divine promise… Time is on the side of the peoples of the region. The Zionist entity is nearing the threshold of nonexistence. Its raison d’être is finished, and its path is a dead end. If Israel wants to repeat the mistakes of the past, the death of the Zionist entity is certain… This time, all the nations of the region will stand fast in the face of the [Zionist regime], and will uproot it. — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Damascus (tr. MEMRI) 2/25

Iran, like Syria and Lebanon, will from now on not permit [a situation] in which any of them will fight alone in the [upcoming] war that Tel Aviv has for some time been trying to involve the U.S. in… — Muhammad Sadeq Al-Husseini, columnist for Syrian state daily Tishreen (tr. MEMRI), 2/24

The most important thing gleaned from the report by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) circulated on Feb. 18, which states that Iran may indeed be bent on developing a nuclear bomb, is not new information about Iran. It is that for years the United Nations apparatus lied about what they knew and actively stood in the way of efforts to prevent the world’s most dangerous regime from acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapon. Anne Bayefsky, Eye on the UN, 2/22

Hating Israel as a unique aggressor is simply predicated on five unspoken truths: 1) rampant anti-Semitism (one can hate Jews by the loftier notion of being “anti-Zionist”; 2) fear of radical Islamic terrorists; there are apparently no radical Tibetans hijacking planes or blowing up Madrid train stations due to Spanish ties with communist China; 3) oil, oil, oil. The Cypriots cannot enlist the Greeks to withhold 500 billion barrels of oil in the Aegean from world markets. If such a fantasy were true, Nicosia would be on the front pages; 4) Israel is Western, like the U.S., and in a most un-Western neighborhood, so hating Israel is a mechanism of hating the U.S. on the cheap; 5) demography. If there were a billion-person Orthodox community energized by a half-billion Greek-speakers, we most certainly would wish to solve the “Cyprus crisis”. — Victor Davis Hanson, 2/5

Technorati Tags: